Friday, February 22, 2008

Easiest Dessert Ever

No need to save chocolate covered strawberries for a special occasion. This dessert can be prepared in 1 commercial break! lol.

Take chocolate chips, throw them into a ramekin or any small bowl.
Nuke for 40 seconds, stir, pop back in the micro for another 10 seconds.
While the chocolate is melting, just go into the fridge, grab a bunch of strawberries, rinse and throw on a plate.

Dessert is ready just in time to get back Project Runway!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Valentine's Day Prime Rib

Moving right along, i decided that prime rib would make a fabulous Valentine's Day dinner. And it DID! Only the 2.25lb roast i bought took 2.5 hours to reach 140 degrees (basically ALOT longer then we expected). We ended up eating our fabulous prime rib at 10:30, lol.

First of all, the piece of meat i bought was nearly $40 (the most expensive meat i've ever bought to cook myself), this already put some serious pressure on me to get it right, cause you know, 2 bites into dinner, you can tell if you messed up the protien, and for this dinner, it was all about the prime rib!

I seasoned it with evoo, s/p, a little bit of ground thyme, and roasted garlic.
I used the basic guidelines of preheating the oven to 500, put the roast in for 5min/lb, then turn oven off and wait until the meat thermometer reaches 140 (no opening the oven to peak in the process), remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes, carve and serve.

This is what it's like waiting for the temp to rise to 140. It's at 120, 20 degrees to go- woo hoo this is so exciting! It's at's at's at 130...132...133...134... Can you tell we were anxious! lol. At around 136, it climbed to 137, then started going BACKWARDS back down to 136. At this point we were starving and over 2 hours had passed, so i cranked the oven to 250 and it was at 140 within 2 minutes. FINALLY!

By the time we cut into it, the temp had risen slightly and it wasn't med rare as we'd hoped, but it was perfectly medium and delicious!

I served it with roasted garlic potato croquettes in panko. I got this recipe from my friend Lisa, and they were the perfect match for our prime rib.

Seasoned day old mashed potatoes (which i made with roasted garlic)
Oil for frying- i like canola!

Take the mashed potatoes, form patties, roll in panko, fry till golden. Could not be any easier.

Sorry, i have no more pictures, it was late, we were starving and it was time to eat! lol. Dinner was great, another intimidating meal squashed! :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Whole Roasted Chicken

A whole chicken with bones is something that i just always blow right past while grocery shopping. I know this is a weekly staple in many, many households but for some reason, this simple dish just intimidated me. So i started telling everyone i'm making a roasted chicken, i emailed my mom who was vacationing out of the country, i told my grandmother, anyone who could listen, I'M DOING IT, I'M MAKING A WHOLE CHICKEN! lol.

With everyone waiting on pins and needles to find out how the chicken turned out, i proceeded to defrost it (it took 2 days to defrost) and started looking for just the right recipe to initiate me into the 'Roasted Chicken Maker Club'.

The whole roasted chicken was unbelieveably easy to prepare, the worst part was patting dry the cavity of the chicken after rinsing. *My hubby carved (THIS was the part that would have REALLY freaked me out, i don't do well with bones).

I used this recipe and it turned out great, not sticky, but still delicious!

Roast Sticky Chicken-Rotisserie Style

While the recipe was great, it was way too much chicken for just us, so roasted chicken is a good one if we are having guests. Especially since the oven does all the work, the prep was quick and easy, the flavor options are endless and the end product is juicy and delicious!

When i took the chicken out of the oven to set aside to rest, i threw in some fresh broccoli into the drippings and put it back in the oven as detailed in this recipe.

Broccoli in Roast Chicken Drippings

By the time the chicken was ready to carve, the roasted broccoli was finished, and it made one fabulous meal!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Easy as Pie

There's a list of foods i resolved to cook this year that intimidated me last year. They are, in no particular order, a whole roasted chicken, prime rib and a REAL apple pie. As of yesterday, mission accomplished!

As with most things, the build up and anticipation is so much worse then actually getting down to business and getting it done. The next couple posts are going to detail the intimidating food trifecta.

I'm going to start with the motherload, an apple pie!

I was in CA this January and had the best apple pie ever. Thinly sliced apples piled on top of each other, tucked in between 2 flakey crusts. This was the apple pie to end all apple pies.

I came home and knew i had to make one. Even though the thought of making a pie made me shudder. The crust is NOT easy to do my friend told me over lunch. My other friend told me oooh like a REAL apple pie (different friend, different lunch ;)). Yes, i told her a REAL one, made with REAL apples, not the crap that comes out of a can. So i went out and bought Betty Crocker pie mix and there it sat in my pantry for about a month.

Then Valentine's week was here and i figured it time to get this party started, so i picked up 5 golden delicious apples and set off to find a recipe. WOW there's a TON of apple pie recipes out there. I even went so far to print out a couple of them. And i set out all the ingredients and prepared to start baking.

Then i got completely overwhelmed, do i make the crust first or prepare the apples first. If i do the apples first, won't they turn brown if i take too long with the crust? If i make the crust first, won't it dry out while waiting for me to peel, core and slice all the apples? I swear i went back and forth so much, that i just decided to scrap it and i walked away.

The next evening, i decided enough was enough and it was time to make the apple pie. And the easiest recipe ever was staring me in the face right on the Betty Crocker Box. All that research for nothing, i threw away the other recipes, and decided to follow Betty's recipe!

Fresh Apple Pie

It was a looooong process, but i did it, and it wasn't as hard as i thought. Peeling, coring and slicing apples is no big deal if you have a peeler and an apple corer and slicer. I prepared the apples first, tossed them into the sugar, spice and flour mixture and let them sit while i tackled the crust.

Making the crust was interesting, i definitely need more practice, there was a lot of rolling, stretching an flouring being done, only to have a tear in it and trying to patch it up using a wayward scrap of crust. I guess this is where the 'it's not easy' comes in. ;)

The lattice work, wow, that was a whole other adventure. Here i had no clue what i was doing at all. Betty doesn't tell you how to do this, so it was just roll the dough, slice strips of dough, curse a little as the dough strips would break while trying to lace them, only to pull it back off the pie, re-roll and relace. WHAT.A.MISSION!!!

Then half way through the pie, i'm like hmmm, something doesn't look quite right and i realized i screwed up the up,down,up,down pattern in the middle of the pie. Whatever, there was no looking back, i just needed to finish and get this thing in the oven.

According to my hubby, my little pie making adventure lasted 2 hours. When i walked out of the kitchen to announce the pie is in the oven, he said that's what you've been doing in there the whole time? (um, sha! that stupid lattice crust took FOREVER to do and i still didn't lay out the strips the right way!)

About 30 minutes later, this came out of the oven. It was beautiful, even with it's flaws. MY FIRST APPLE PIE!!!! YAY!!!

Slicing into it, you can see, i need a little practice slicing apples, but it was perfectly cooked, the apples still had some texture to them and the sugar and spice mixture just enhanced the pie perfectly.

I served it with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream, also known as the best ice cream i've ever made. The cinnamon flavor was surprisingly nostalgic for me. It tasted exactly like abuela's natilla (a Spanish custard topped with a generous shake of cinnamon). In fact, the ingredients are almost identical.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

I made the recipe as written only substituting fat-free half and half for the full fat half and half. It was simply what i had in the fridge, and though i was worried that it would alter the consistancy in the recipe, it made a fabulous rich ice cream.

It was the perfect pairing for the perfect apple pie!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hot Vanilla

I had these crappy madelines from Starbucks (not that madelines are crappy, i love madelines, but it's just that these came in a cello bag and just weren't the best) in my purse and all i wanted to do was dunk them, but i wanted to maintain their vanilla flavor. So i went on a search for something hot, sweet and vanilla-y. I acutally started looking for a chai tea recipe, but when i came across this recipe, i realized, this was exactly what i was looking for.

Hot Vanilla

I made a couple changes to this basic recipe. I added an additional teaspoon of sugar and instead of 1C of milk, i made mine with 1/2C of fat free half and half and 1/2C of milk.

i LOVED this! I am a serious chocoholic, but sometimes i need a change of pace, and this was that perfect change.

Fascinating! What the World Eats

If you haven't gotten this forward in your inbox, you'll get it soon, or maybe you just did! ;) My friend Carrie sent this to me this morning and it is truly fascinating!

This is taken from a Time magazine photo essay highighting a part of Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio.

What is eaten in one week around the world? (Take a good look at the family size & diet of each country , and the availability & cost of what is eaten in one week).

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week $341.98

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11

Mexico : The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09

Poland : The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27

Egypt : The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53

Ecuador : The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55

Bhutan : The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03

Chad : The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23

Just a little food for thought! :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Knauss Berry Farm

I've lived here my whole life and have never been strawberry picking. The only strawberries i've ever picked were in the produce section of Publix.

So a couple friends and i went down to the famous Knauss Berry Farm today to have a strawberry shake, pick strawberries and tomatoes, pick up some of their homemade cinnamon buns, herbed bread, some hot pepper jam and oh other fresh produce (beets and green onions); i'm telling you, it was an adventure!

Getting there is a trek, take US1 allllll the way down south, make a right on 248th street follow it to the farm. Far, but totally worth it.

The strawberry shakes were divine, not too sweet with just the slightest taste of strawberry, almost like the essence of strawberry.

Picking strawberries was fun, like my friend Christy said, i feel like it's Easter and i'm looking for Easter Eggs.

Picking tomatoes was also interesting, felt like 'picking strawberries light' cause there's no squatting. ;) lol.

And i realized i've never had a green tomato, so i got inspired right there among the tomato vines to make fried green tomatoes!

But that'll have to wait, i was also inspired by some beets and they are taking up alot of room in my fridge right now! lol.

I felt like i was on vacay, saw the sights, ate the food, came home with some souveniers. The perfect little weekend adventure!

UPDATE: I in no way meant to downplay the phenomenol cinnamon buns, so per YOUR request, here you go!

And the herbed buns for good measure! ;)

Knauss Berry Farm
15980 SW 248th Street
Homestead, FL 33031
Mon-Sat 8am-5:30pm, Thanksgiving through April

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sexual Chocolate!

Less then a week to Valentine's Day and the perfect recipe to share is this amazing chocolate ice cream.

Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream

The mouth-feel of this ice cream is perfectly described as velvety. I'm guessing it's cause of the raw eggs; the eggs add to a custardy texture.

Amazing! Like eyes rolling into the back of your head and moaning loudly when you taste it amazing! ;)

The only changes i made was i grated (with the microplane) a block of chocolate into the ice cream mixture and then finished it off with a handful or two of mini chocolate chips.

It was divine!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Short & Sweet

I headed to allrecipes to find a recipe spotlighting spinach. Well for some reason in the ingredient search, my fingers start typing POPCORN instead of spinach. I backspaced and retyped, but no, POPCORN came flying out of my fingers again. I'm not going to fight the universe, i'm on a new mission now, and it has something to do with popcorn.

So i click click click through the pages, then come across this recipe:

Cinnamon Popcorn

Did you just hear the choir of angels singing? I swear i just heard AHHHHHHHH!!! lol.

And just like that, i'm preheating my oven, popping snack bags in the micro and mixing the glaze.

So i halved the recipe (it takes 2 snack bags of popcorn to make 8 cups) and baked it for 20 minutes at 300 instead of 10 minutes (this might just be because i live in Miami, and the humidity is probably a factor).

Oooh Aaaahhh, cinnamon popcorn is AWESOME! The glaze creates a crisp little shell of cinnamony goodness around every kernel.

Thank God i halved the recipe, and only served myself a small bowl, cause for sure, i could have polished off the entire recipe at one sitting.

As for the spinach recipe, i'm still looking, just not tonite, my hubby just said he wants pizza tonite! SWEET!

UPDATE: I'm going to enter this into the first Master Baker Challenge. Hopefully this passes as a baked good. It did go into the oven, and it's a pretty extrordinary cinnamon dish. We'll see, fingers crossed! :)