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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jennifer's Week Thirty-Seven Recipe - Erik Approved Super Yum Yum Apple Sauce

Chad named this recipe.

I had a bag of apples from the farmer's market sitting in the fridge and I needed to do something with them. I thought about making another pie, but after how frustrating the crust was the last time, I decided to do something else. I did a little research to see what people put in their applesauce and then said "That's easy!" So I made applesauce.

Erik Approved Super Yum Yum Apple Sauce

12 Macintosh apples, cored, peeled and chopped

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups water

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Throw all of the above ingredients into a pot over medium heat and cover. Cook until the apples mush with a fork or potato masher. Serve warm since that is the best way to have apple sauce.

This was also Chad approved. We had it tonight with pork chops (apple sauce on the side, since Chad thinks that fruit+meat=unmanly). My guys ate it up! 12 apples went in and I think there is enough applesauce left that would equate 2 or 3 apples. Chad also told me that my apple sauce "tastes like fall."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chris's Week Thirty-Nine Recipe: Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese ala Alton Brown

It all started with a terrible craving for macaroni and cheese combined with the desire to find a new blog recipe for this week. So I started thinking.... I've made boxed macaroni & cheese. I've made baked macaroni and cheese. I've even made cheater's macaroni and cheese where you toss butter and shredded cheese on the noodles and hope for the best. But I've never actually made my own stove top macaroni and cheese. Where to find a recipe...?

I tweaked the seasonings slightly - less salt, more hot sauce, but the real difference is in the Mac:Cheese ratio. I like lots of noodles with a modest amount of sauce, so I doubled the amount of pasta. This really would have been cheesy otherwise!

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese ala Alton Brown

1 pound whole wheat rotini
4 T butter
2 eggs
6 oz evaporated milk
1 t hot sauce
1/2 t kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper (in the sauce or added later - you're choice!)
3/4 t dried mustard
10 oz sharp cheddar, grated

Cook the pasta al dente or slightly past that point if desired. Drain. Return to the pot and add the butter. Toss to coat. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and seasonings. Stir into the pasta and add the grated cheese. Continue to stir over low heat for about three minutes or until creamy.

Would I make this recipe again? It's definitely Good Eats!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chris's Week Thirty-Eight Recipe: Squash-Bacon Medley

I'm still working my way through my cookbooks to see if I can get a recipe out of each of them by the end of the year (or if they'll be heading to the library book sale!). This week's recipe has its origins in Pumpkin, a Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel. The original recipe, which I'm certainly going to try sometime, is Pumpkin-Turkey Medley. I decided to substitute squash and bacon since that's what I had on hand.

This hotdish definitely takes a little prep. Yesterday I cooked the bacon, roasted the squash, and cut up some old bread for croutons so I could bake the casserole today.

Squash-Bacon Medley

1 large acorn squash, roasted and mashed (2 cups)
2 c croutons (you can cut up old bread and let it sit out overnight)
1 T butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 t rubbed sage
1 t poultry seasoning
1/2 t salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1 c vegetable broth
8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 c grated sharp Cheddar

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the onions until tender and slightly brown. Stir in the seasonings and croutons and cook for about a minute. Add the vegetable broth, squash and bacon, stir and scoop into a greased 2 quart baking dish. Bake for 20 min at 350F. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese on top and bake for another 5-10 min until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly.

Would I make this recipe again? Oh yes! And I want to try this with turkey, too. The original recipe calls for 2-3 cups cubed, cooked turkey, and I think you'll need something bigger than a 2 qt baking dish as mine was pretty full with only about a cup of meat.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chris's Week Thirty-Seven Recipe: Quick Refried Beans

I have some tortilla chips that need to be eaten and I realized this afternoon that I've never made refried beans. This recipe is a mash-up (pun intended) of various recipes I examined in preparation for dinner.

Quick Refried Beans

1T garlic olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-15 oz can pinto beans, drained, but not rinsed

Saute the minced garlic in the garlic olive oil until tender. Add the drained beans and stir with a wooden spoon, mashing the beans as you go along. Add water if you want a thinner consistency.

Serve with tortilla chips and, if you like, grated pepperjack cheese.

Would I make this recipe again? ¡Por cierto!

Jennifer's Week Thirty-Six Recipe - Eggplant Parmesan

In my continuing quest to find vegetarian dishes for my guys, I made this dish for them this evening. Every once and a while I make a beef and eggplant pie that Chad just loves, so I decided to branch out using eggplant. I found the original recipe on I apologize for the editorial comments.

Eggplant Parmesan

3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 2 and that was plenty. More on that below.)

2 eggs, beaten (ok, this would have been no where near enough! I used 8 egg whites!)

4 cups Italian breadcrumbs (I used plain breadcrumbs since I had them on hand. I seasoned them with basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, thyme and parsley. And I probably used more than 4 cups.)

6 cups of spaghetti sauce (I used a huge jar that was just over 7 cups.)

16oz shredded mozzarella cheese (Again, I used more since my guys love cheese)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (No idea how much I actually used since I took my Parmesan wedge to my Microplane)

1/2 tsp dried basil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

(Based on the suggestions of several reviewers of the recipe, I sweat the eggplant slices in a colander for 15-20 minutes before using them. What is meant by that - for those who may not know - is I layered the eggplant slices in the colander, sprinkling a generous amount of salt over each layer. After the appropriate period of time has passed, I rinsed the slices well under cold water and then patted them dry with paper towel.)

Dip the eggplant slices in egg, then the bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet ("a baking sheet"?! It took 3!). Bake in the over for 5 minutes on each side. (I just waited until they started to brown on top without turning them. Trying to keep a six-year-old, a dog and kitten in line while cooking means that I skipped this not completely necessary step!)

In a 9x13 baking dish, spread a layer of the pasta sauce followed by a layer of eggplant, then the cheese. Repeat this until all the ingredients are used, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle the basil on top. (This results in a dish that weighs about 20 pounds when you go to move it to the oven.)

Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

(I also served it with pasta.)

Would I make this again? Yes. And invite everyone I know over to eat it since it makes a TON of food. Stupid me did not notice the "Servings: 10" until after I started to make it. Also, getting the slices thin is important (and uniform would also be a good thing). This is the first dish where I seriously considered buying a mandolin. Chad and Erik both complained about chewing and yes, some of the pieces of eggplant were chewy - because they were too thick. (And if they ate instead of inhaled, this may not be such an issue) Overall, they liked it, but next time I will at least halve the recipe and try to cut the eggplant more uniformly.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jennifer's Week Thirty-Five Recipe: Granny's Apple Pie

I know I'm a bit behind in posting on the blog, but this week will see some catching up. Now that Erik is back in school I have more time to do some recipe research. Hooray!

This recipe is one that I have been meaning to make for years: my grandmother's apple pie. Yum!

Granny's Apple Pie

Crust (makes a top and bottom crust)

1 Crisco bar - butter flavor

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup water

Mix the Crisco, flour and salt together. Gradually add water until a nice dough ball has formed (not sticky). Roll out the dough to make the top and bottom crusts.


1 1/2 to 2 pounds of Macintosh apples, peeled and sliced thin

2/3 to 1 cup sugar (depends on the tartness of the apples)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbs flour

Gently toss the apples with the sugar, cinnamon and flour to coat. Assemble the pie, making sure to have holes for venting. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes (until crust is a nice golden color). The apples will bake down substantially.

Would I make this again? Yes. I need to. The crust is tricky to get right (I was warned about this), although with the short ingredient list, you would not think that would be the case. While it was very close to the flaky texture my grandmother achieves, it still was not right. And I must get it right.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tricia's Week 36 Recipe: Pizza Tacos

I was in a bit of a conundrum.  I had left-over pizza sauce, left over italian sausage (from making sausage for pizza), and a jalepeno and bell pepper from the garden.  I took a look around my house and found enough ingredients to try making pizza tacos.

1/2 lb mild italian sausage
1 jalepeno
1 bell pepper (red in this case)
crushed red pepper and Essence seasoning, to taste
left-over pizza sauce (about 1 tbsp per taco)
shredded sharp cheddar and jalepeno-jack cheeses
soft taco shells (could use hard shells, but we only had soft)

Brown sausage with seasonings in pan.  When close to done, add chopped up jalepeno and bell pepper.  Drain meat.  Meanwhile, warm soft shells in microwave.  Also warm pizza sauce.  Place shell on plate, add pizza sauce to bottom as though making pizza.  Spoon on meat mixture, top with cheeses.  Roll and enjoy! 

A very easy recipe, but surprisingly yummy! I don't know if I'd go out of my way to make it again, but it was a great way to use up the leftovers in a way I haven't tried before.  

Now I just have to find something to do with the 15 tomatoes, 12 jalapenos,  2 bell peppers, random zucchinis and cucumbers that are left in my garden.  I think I feel some salsa coming on!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chris's Week Thirty-Six Recipe: Chocolate Banana Bread

Three over-ripe bananas nestled in my kitchen basket next to a couple of winter squash. As I walked past, they cast up a slightly reproachful glance as if to say, "You're going to throw us away, aren't you?"

Heaven forfend! Doing a quick search, I came up with this recipe for chocolate banana bread. I halved the recipe and gave it the usual 'slightly healthier' tweaks like olive oil instead of margarine, turbinado instead of white sugar, and whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour.

What's that? I forgot to cut the amount of cocoa powder in half? No, I didn't forget....

Chocolate Banana Bread

6 T olive oil
1 c turbinado sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
1 t vanilla
1.5 c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 c yogurt
1 c walnut halves

Beat the eggs and mix in the olive oil, vanilla, sugar and bananas. Fold in the dry ingredients, then mix in the yogurt and walnuts. Bake at 350F for 50 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Would I make this recipe again? Definitely! The original recipe calls for chocolate chips instead of walnuts, but I like the crunch of the nuts. If you're making this for my mother, don't forget to chop the nuts first!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Guest Recipe from Nate: Artisan Bread

I know, you're thinking that this recipe would somehow involve meat. Surprise! It doesn't. Amazingly enough, my wonderful husband likes good bread when served alongside his favorite meat. He particularly likes the sourdough types which can be hard to find in our tiny grocery. After discussing this fact the other night, he decided to take it upon himself to learn how to bake a nice sourdough boule. I have a book on baking bread entitled, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, that has the premise of mix the dough up once for up to 4 loaves of bread in a week. Each loaf is a bit more sour than the one before. With a bit of apprehension as to how my kitchen was going to look after this experiment, I left him to it.

Artisan Bread (Master Recipe)

3 c lukewarm water
1 1/2 T granulated yeast (1.5 packets)
1 1/12 T kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 c unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measure with the scoop & sweep method
Cornmeal for pizza peel

Pour warm water into 5-qt mixing bowl (I had him use the one on the Kitchen-Aid). Add yeast and salt to water; don't worry about dissolving it. Mix in the flour, adding it all at once (this is where the apprehension of kitchen condition came in). Mix with dough-hook, but don't knead!! until mixture is uniform. This will yield a very wet dough. Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits reasonably well (he used a pot lid for a 10-in pan).

Allow mixture to rise at room temp until it begins to collapse or flatten on the top, approximately 2 hours. In our house, this took longer, as it was chilly. Refrigerate dough overnight.  Dough can stay in fridge for up to 2 weeks with no problems.

On baking day, sprinkle a pizza peel liberally with cornmeal. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with some flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-lb piece about the size of a grapefruit. Add more flour as needed so that it doesn't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of your dough around each side to the bottom so that you have a rounded loaf. Place ball of dough on pizza peel and let it rest for 40min.

20 min before baking, turn oven on to 450deg with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Put an empty broiler pan on the bottom shelf. After resting, dust loaf with flour and slash top of loaf with knife about 1/4in deep.  When oven has been heating for 20 min, with a quick jerk, slide loaf off of pizza peel onto baking stone in oven. Quickly pour about 1 cup hot tap water into the broiler tray and close oven door to trap steam. Bake for about 30min.  Cool on wire rack.

Results of this experiment were very tasty, and my kitchen survived. Bread had a nice crust and was soft and chewy inside. Nate's since made another loaf that was even a bit more sour. I think he might try some of the variations in the book next time. Now we just have to figure out where to store the dough in the fridge!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Karin's Week Thirty-Four Recipe: Linguine ai Gamberi

This week was pretty busy for me, so Nate stepped up and picked a recipe to be our trial recipe for the week. It needed to quick and filling. He chose a recipe of Linguine with Shrimp, from Cucina Rustica, as we had most of the ingredients on hand.

Linguine ai Gamberi

1/4 c EVOO
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes, or to taste
3 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, ~ 4.5 cups
1 c dry white wine (we used Wollersheim Prairie Fume)
15 fresh medium basil leaves, roughly chopped (or 1 T dried Penzeys basil)
1/2 c chopped Italian parsley (or about 3-4 T dried Penzeys parsley)
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb linguine, or other long pasta

Heat EVOO in 10-12 inch skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and red chile pepper flakes to the oil and stir. Lightly saute the garlic until it gives off its garlicky aroma. Add the tomatoes and wine to the skillet. Cover and cook the tomatoes over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until they begin to break down. Add the basil and the parsley. Stir frequently and continue cooking over moderate heat, cover removed, approximately 10-15 minutes until a sauce is formed. Add the shrimp to the sauce and cook over high heat just until shrimp are pink.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce. Toss pasta with sauce over high heat so that the pasta begins to absorb some of the sauce.

This turned out excellent. Another recipe to use my ever present frozen shrimp in! I was a bit worried with the amount of red pepper flakes that went in to it, but it wasn't super spicy. It did get a bit spicier as leftovers. Both of us liked this recipe quite a bit, and I can see it becoming a quick winter staple.

Karin's Week Thirty-Three Recipe: Scalloppine di Pollo con Salsa Cruda

Being slightly bored with the normal options for cooking chicken breasts, I decided to try something a bit different - a chicken scaloppine. I've had this type of dish at restaurants, but never tried to make it myself. The recipe is from Cucina Rustica - Herbed Chicken Scallops with Tomato and Arugula Salad.

Scaloppine di Pollo con Salsa Cruda

2 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned and split
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
1 T fresh rosemary (or about 1.5 T dried Penzey's Rosemary)
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil for frying
5-6 Roma tomatoes (I used some yellow ones that I had canned)
1/4 cup chopped arugula
Lemon juice

Pound chicken breasts to flatten slightly. Beat eggs in a small shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste in larger bowl. Pour enough olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan to measure 1/4 inch up the side of the pan. Heat oil until hot, but not smoking. Dip the chicken breasts in the beaten egg and let the excess drain off. Coat with bread crumbs, shaking off the excess. Saute chicken in olive oil until golden on both sides, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and let drain. Combine the tomatoes and arugula with the EVOO and arrange on plate. Top with chicken breasts and serve.

I liked this recipe quite a bit. Nate liked the flavor and crust on the chicken but said the yellow tomatoes were too sweet for his liking, and he could have used a bit more substantial side dish. I think I'm going to try this again for the chicken, as it was a light crust that was very flavorful.

Karin's Week Thirty-Two Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

This recipe is an adaptation from a risotto recipe for roasted vegetables from my Risotto cookbook. It has only red peppers because that was the vegetable that I found, and it was already roasted.

Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

1 16oz jar roasted red peppers with juice
~5 c chicken stock
1T olive oil
3T butter
1 small onion, chopped
generous 1 3/8 risotto rice
1/2 - 3/4 c grated Parmesan
2T random herbs

Drain red peppers and reserve juice. Place juice and enough chicken stock to make 5 cups total liquid into small pan. Heat until simmering.

Heat oil with 2T of the butter in a deep pan over medium heat until butter has melted. Add onion and cook until soft; do not brown. Reduce heat slightly, add rice and stir to coat rice. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until grains are mostly translucent. Start adding hot stock 1 ladleful at a time. Stir constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding next ladleful. Increase heat so that liquid bubbles. Cook for about 15 minutes, then add the red peppers. Cook for another 5 minutes until rice is creamy.

Remove risottos from heat and add remaining 2T of butter. Mix well, then stir in cheese until it melts.Serve either as a main dish or with chicken or fish.

The risotto looked very pretty with the red peppers and ended up a bit pink due to the juice of the peppers, but ended up not being quite as creamy as other risottos I've made. Both Nate and I decided that it needed to have more liquid added and should cook a bit longer to make it more like we thought it should be. This amount of liquid made more of a crunchy rice. I might make this recipe again, but add more liquid than is called for.