Friday, February 26, 2010

Some of My Faves Right Now

If you live in an area that has Publix Grocery Stores you should check out this hummus. Great with veggies and pita chips! SO GOOD. I've also found that sprinkling Penzy's Pizza seasoning over plain hummus is delicious.

I have made THESE baked sweet potato fries 6 times in the past three weeks. Can't. Stop. Making. Them....even though nobody in the house eats them but me. I found them through Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge (I didn't choose to make them but two other participants did and I'm so happy they did!). They are amazing! The avocado dip was good but not essential. I threw some onions in with this last batch and they tasted a little like onion rings. The fries are good and good for you. Like nothing sweet potato I've made before. Spicy!
Enjoy these random food tidbits. I just needed to tell someone :)

Kid Friendly Friday - Spring Flowers

It sure doesn't feel like spring today but our window line has been without adornment for too long. Each season we try to think of something to hang on this little cord I hung in our back windows. The projects are then clipped to the line with mini clothes pins. I usually cut out everything they need to put the projects together and they can be creative with the different combination. These turned out nice and colorful! Hope your Friday (and weekend) is wonderful!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kids in the Kitchen - Classic Pudding Parfait

The players are classics; instant pudding and whipped topping.

You probably have some in the house already.

I'm always trying to think up great new recipes to make with my kids but often forget the easy ones. Mimi has never made pudding so it was all new to her!

We learned that two minutes is a long time when you are whisking.

We learned that a 4 year old is not strong enough to get the topping out of this aerosol can.

We learned that pudding is an oldie but a goodie!

Fancy dishes also help!

Go over to A Little Fun With Me and Lu to check out more Kids in the Kitchen posts!

FNCCC Assignment #25 - Michael Chiarello

This week's chef is Michael Chiarello. "Known for Napa Valley icon, the Tra Vigne Restaurant, Chef Michael Chiarello is host of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello on Food Network. He is also the creator of NapaStyle specialty foods and handcrafted products for kitchen, home and garden." Know his name yet?

We will post Michael's recipes on Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Can't wait to see what you are cooking!

HERE is the list of upcoming chefs if you want to plan ahead.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FNCCC #24 - Mary Nolan, Masaharu Morimoto , Melissa d'Arabian

This week we had a choice of three different chefs, Mary Nolan, Masaharu Morimoto , Melissa d'Arabian; All very different. I picked Melissa d'Arabian's Potato-Bacon Torte. It had over 700 comments and still had 5 stars, which intrigued me. You rarely see that. I give it 5 stars as well. It was so good. The leftovers were even better. It had a beautiful presentation. You could even make this the day before.

I made it for dinner but it would be great for a guest brunch. The herb infused cream really made the dish pop with flavor. Play around with the cheeses. Use ham or chirizo instead of bacon. Mix some chipotle in with the cream for a bit of a kick. Go wild :)

Potato-Bacon Torte
Recipe courtesy Melissa d'Arabian

4 strips bacon (I used double)
3 sprigs fresh thyme (I used rosemary)
2/3 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
2 Pie Crusts, recipe follows (pre made, gasp :)
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese (I used fontina)
1 egg yolk, whisked with a splash of water (just do it, it makes for a beautiful looking pie!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until just crispy. Drain on paper towel lined plate and set aside. Crumble the bacon when cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the thyme and cream over low heat to a bare simmer. Turn off the heat and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. (This step makes a wonderful infused cream. I couldn't believe how nicely it flavored the torte)

Remove the pie pan from the refrigerator. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then finely slice the potatoes. Working in circles, arrange the potato slices in the pie crust, stopping to season each layer with salt, pepper, and about 1/4 of the crumbled bacon. Continue layering until the pie pan is nearly full. Top with an even layer of the cheese and gently pour cream around and over the entire pie, allowing it to seep down between the potato slices. (You may not use all the cream.)

Roll out the remaining disk of refrigerated dough. Cover the pie with the dough and crimp the edges closed. Brush the top and edges of the crust with egg wash. Make a few slits in the center of the top crust, for the steam to escape, and put the pie pan on a baking sheet. Bake the torte until the crust is browned and crispy and the potatoes are cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes. If the crust edges get too brown, cover them with some strips of aluminum foil. Remove the pie from the oven and let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Pie Crust (I cannot attest to the pie crust, I cheated and used pre made crusts):
1 cup butter (2 sticks), cubed and chilled
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 to 10 tablespoons ice water
Put the butter, flour, and salt in the food processor, and pulse lightly just until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly after each spoonful of water. Keep adding water until the dough just begins to gather into larger clumps. Transfer equal amounts of the dough into 2 resealable plastic bags and pat each into a disk. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Remove 1 of the disks from the bag to a flour coated surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Gently fit the rolled dough into a 9-inch pie pan, and refrigerate while you prepare the torte ingredients.
Yield: 2 (9-inch) pie crusts

I can't wait to see what chef you chose to cook! Link up with MckLinky below.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

FNCCC Assignemtn #24 - Mary Nolan - Masaharu Morimoto - Melissa d'Arabian

What a Smörgåsbord of chef's we have next week. Mary Nolan, Masaharu Morimoto , Melissa d'Arabian . None of them had many recipes so I figured that I would combine them.

Mary Nolan is an Iowa girl (I was born in Iowa) who went to University of Wisconsin (I LOVE Madison). "She shares her sophisticated yet simple meal ideas and crowd-pleasing tips for memorable occasions on Food Network's Chic & Easy."

Masaharu Morimoto - "While his cooking has Japanese roots, it's actually "global cooking" for the 21st century. His unique fusion cuisine takes advantage of Japanese color combinations and aromas and uses Chinese spices and simple Italian ingredients, while maintaining a refined French style of presentation." Come again? Can we say challenge? Too bad he only has 4 recipes on the FN site....although if you do a Google search you will find many more and they ALL sound like you need to invite guests over to enjoy this amazing feast you just created. You can also search the FN site for just "morimoto" and get a few more recipes.

And on a completely different note is Melissa d'Arabian. "In August 2009, Melissa d'Arabian won season five of The Next Food Network Star, beating out thousands of hopefuls for the ultimate dream job: her own Food Network show. As a wife and a stay-at-home mother to her four preschool-aged daughters, Melissa embodies family home cooking at its finest. On her daytime cooking series, Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian, she shares her tasty recipes and $10 promise: four people, ten bucks, infinite possibilities." Awesome! Can you relate??

We will post recipes on these folk on Wednesday, February 24, 2010. Can't wait to see what you will choose!
HERE is the list of upcoming chefs if you want to plan ahead.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FNCCC #23 Mario Batali

I am linking this recipe to 12 Days of Bloggie-Mas at A Moderate Life!

This week's featured chef is Mario Batali. He hosts the Food Network programs, Molto Mario and Ciao America. I look forward to seeing many Italian recipes this week!

I had barley in my pantry that was calling my name so I decided on this Bean and Barley soup. It was fantastic. Very flavorful with the simple ingredients and simple preparation. I thick soup, nice for cool days. I will be making this again.

Bean and Barley Soup: Minestra di Fagioli
Recipe copyright 2001, Mario Batali. All rights reserved.


3/4 cup dried borlotti beans, soaked for 8 hours, drained and rinsed (I used one can of baby butter beans)
1 medium potato, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 fresh bay leaf
2 fresh sage leaves
1 fresh rosemary sprig
4 sprigs Italian parsley
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, finely chopped (I used bacon that I fried first)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a large stock pot, combine the beans (because mine were already cooked, I didn't add these until the second hour of cooking), vegetables, herbs, garlic, and 1 quart water (I used chicken stock). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, over very low heat for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, rinse the barley and place in a large saute pan with the pancetta, and pepper to taste. Cover with 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Add the barley to the bean soup and cook for 1 more hour, until the barley is very tender.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Drizzle individual portions with olive oil.
I can't wait to see what you have been cooking! Use MckLinky below to link your recipe.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Card 2010

These were the pictures we used for our Valentine's Day cards this year. Last year's card is HERE. It's fun to see the changes :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kids in the Kitchen - Apple Faces

When my parents were here in January, my mom made these apple faces with the girls. It's a recipe out of Mimi's favorite Apple Dumpling cookbook :)

Core apple.

Make sure you have 100% visibility.

Spread with peanut butter. Make faces with whatever you have on hand!

Go over to A Little Fun With Me and Lu to check out more Kids in the Kitchen posts!

FNCCC Assignment # 23 - Mario Batali

Mario Batali! When I think of him I always see his bright orange Crocs. He even wore them when they did the Iron Chef at the White House (which I never got to finish watching - anyone know who won??). He just amazes me in the Iron Chef challenges. Who wouldn't want to be able to cook like that? Makes me want to get in the kitchen and whip up a 5 course meal with quail eggs, a box of mac and cheese, and a jar of pimentos.

"Always eager to educate the masses about Italian cuisine, Mario hosts two Food Network programs, Molto Mario and Ciao America. He also engages in fierce culinary battles in the Food Network series Iron Chef America. Mario splits his time between New York City's Greenwich Village and Northport, Mich., with his wife Susi Cahn of Coach Dairy Goat Farm, and their two sons, Benno and Leo." Don't you just love to know fun facts about the chef you are cooking with? Picture I found on his web site :)
We will post Mario's recipes on Wednesday, February 17, 2010. Can't wait to see what you are cooking!
HERE is the list of upcoming chefs if you want to plan ahead.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FNCCC #22 - Jamie Oliver

What fun it was to look through the recipes of this weeks FNCCC chef, Jaime Oliver. It felt a little foreign. There were several ingredients I am not familiar with (rocket). The lingo was a bit bazaar at times (pip, glug!). I enjoyed it!

I loved the simplicity of the recipe I chose, a bruscetta. I used the same ingredients that he did...just made big adjustments to the preparation. Unfortunately nothing was squashed or smashed but I believe the flavors would have been the same The baby ate it and even my olive hating husband enjoyed it (I did not point out that it had olives, hence, the fine chopping)

Squashed Cherry Tomato and Smashed Olive Bruscetta
Recipe courtesy Jamie Oliver

2 handfuls cherry tomatoes (had to use diced roma tomatoes, while squashing them sounds fun, they were too expensive)
1 handful black olives (used finely chopped black olives - trying to camouflage them)
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
A drizzle herb vinegar
1 dried chile (didn't use because I wanted everyone to eat it)
A handful fresh basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 ciabatta or other rustic bread, cut into thick slices (I used a whole wheat french bread)
1/2 clove garlic
4 boccacini (this is mozzarella cheese)
Parmesan, for shaving
This is probably the quickest salad or bruschetta I make, but no less tasty for that. Very few ingredients, simple flavors, complete sense. Try to make use of the wider range of cherry tomatoes available now: yellow, tige, and plum cherry tomatoes for instance. And, as I always say, it's much better, taste-wise, to buy olives with their stones still in than without. Trust me.
Simply squash your tomatoes into a bowl. I always have to put one hand over the tomatoes as I do this as juice and pips go everywhere (generally on me). You can be as rough with the tomatoes as you like, as the salad looks much better rough and rustic than perfect and pretty. Then, gently smash the olives on a board with a hard object, like a cup or a rolling-pin. Remove the stones, throw the olives in with the tomatoes, and toss together. Add a few glugs of oil, the oregano, a drizzle of vinegar, crumbled chile, and rip in the basil. Season, to taste, and that's your salad.

Griddle or toast the slices of bread and rub with the garlic clove, pile on the tomatoes, and rip the mozzarella and lay over the top drizzle with a little bit more oil and finish with shaves of Parmesan.
Can't wait to see what you are cooking! Did you find looking at the recipes as fun as I did? Link your post below. HERE is the list of upcoming chefs if you want to plan ahead.

Wordless Wednesday - Static

Check out more Wordless/Wordful Wednesday posts HERE or HERE.

Monday, February 8, 2010

TMTT and WFMW - Brownie Sundae Bar - Party Idea

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday Brownie Sundae Bar
I love to decorate cakes (I post them HERE) but am not a big cake eater. So, when my daughter suggested we do something different for her birthday I was excited to plan it. We decided on a brownie sundae bar; and boy, am I glad we did!

Not only was it really easy, everyone REALLY enjoyed it. I was expecting around 60 people so I did have to make a ton of brownies (just time consuming). I used a cookie cutter to cut the brownies into circles that would neatly fit into the bottom of the bowls. We topped them with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, marshmallows, m & m's, sprinkles, whipped cream and cherries. Everyone was pleased. If you are tired of the same old cake and ice cream, give it a try!

I couldn't resist and made a big slice of faux cake (made of brownies, of course) covered in fondant (picture above). She had to have something to stick the candles in!

The goodies bags consisted of brownie leftovers (corners and outsides from cutting the circles), marshmallows and m&m's. Again, easy but yummy!

Go check out other Tempt My Tummy recipes at Blessed With Grace! Check out We Are THAT Family for more Works For Me Wednesday ideas!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

FNCCC Assignment # 22 - Jamie Oliver

Our chef next week will be Jamie Oliver. He has cookbooks, TV series, awards, and has even helped the UK better their school lunches. His bio is extensive and his recipes look eclectic. Fun, fun!

"Growing up in Essex, where his parents run their own highly respected pub/restaurant in Clavering, Jamie Oliver was frequently found helping in the kitchen. At 16, Jamie left school to complete his training at Westminster Catering College. After spending time working in France and at Antonio Carluccio's Neal Street Restaurant in London, Jamie joined the acclaimed River Café where he worked for three and a half years alongside Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.
In 1997, Jamie was featured in a television documentary about the River Café. Jamie was then offered his own television show, and The Naked Chef was born. The concept was to strip food down to its bare essentials, and Jamie's hands-on style and general laid back outlook was like a breath of fresh air, inspiring everyone to cook."
We will post Jamie's recipes on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. Can't wait to see what you are cooking!
HERE is the list of upcoming chefs if you want to plan ahead.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

FNCCC # 21 - Ingrid Hoffmann

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge. HERE is the list of upcoming chefs, if you would like to play along. Jump in at any time.

Still no still not blogging, except for FNCCC (sigh)...hopefully soon.

There were several recipes that I wanted to try but just didn't get around to them. I did make the grilled pineapple but I didn't make the topping and the pineapple were not very pretty so I am not including it here. It was tasty and everyone in the family ate it. I'm finding that everything can be grilled.

I had all of the ingredients on hand for this slaw. It was easy to make and very tasty. I'm not a huge fan of mayonnaise salads but liked the southwest flavor of this one. I completely forgot the raisins before serving. I'll make this again.

Broccoli and Celery Slaw
Recipe courtesy Ingrid Hoffmann, 2008

1 medium head broccoli, stalks thinly sliced and florets chopped
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, zested and juiced (used a cube of lime juice from the freezer - next year I need to add zest to some of the cubes I freeze)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons sugar (I didn't add sugar)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup golden raisins
Combine the broccoli, celery, and red onion in a large mixing bowl.
To prepare the dressing, in a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, zest, cumin, chili powder, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir to combine. Cover and allow the slaw to sit for at least 30 minutes, tossing every so often to combine well. Top with raisins before serving.

I can't wait to see what you are cooking! Link your post to MckLinky below. There are several added links to past weeks if you care to go back. You have to go back to Guy Fieri's week and check out the ham on Rebekah's Le Hog Pizza. Too cool! Tomorrow I'll post a little about next week's featured chef, Jamie Oliver.