Monday, August 29, 2011

Sriracha Burgers

These burgers are pretty popular in the blog world and after using Sriracha in another recipe, I knew I needed to make them soon. If you don't like spicy foods, I'd stay away from this recipe. :)

Sriracha Burgers
Adapted from: Blissfully Delicious, as seen on Oishii Food, originally from The Sriracha Cookbook
Servings: 4-5 burgers
Printer Friendly

Burger Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
    • 2 tbs. Sriracha
    • 2 tbs. soy sauce
    • 2 tsp. black pepper
    Sauce Ingredients:
    • 3 tbs. Sriracha
    • 2 tbs. mayo
    • 2 tbs. shredded Asiago cheese
    Toppings Ingredients:
    • 1 vidalia onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 tbs. butter
    • 4-5 slices bacon
    • 4-5 slices Swiss cheese
    • tomato slices
    • spinach leaves
    • hamburger buns

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the burger ingredients and form into patties. Place on a plate and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion slices and lower the heat to low.
3. Stir occasionally until the onions are caramelized.
4. In a small bowl, add the ingredients for the sauce and stir until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Cook the bacon and break each slice in half. Set aside.
6. Place the burger patties on the grill or on a George Foreman and cook until desired doneness.
7. Toast the hamburger buns. Spread the sauce on both sides of the buns.
8. Top each burger with a slice of Swiss cheese and cook until melted.
9. Assemble the burger by placing the bacon, caramelized onions, tomato and spinach leaves on top of the burger. Serve with additional sauce for dipping.

Tom and I both thought these burgers were absolutely delicious! We used regular hamburger buns which got a bit hard to manage with the burger and all of the toppings, so I'd recommend a heartier bun for these. Either way, the spicy flavor of the Sriracha came through in the burger and on the sauce. I'm pretty sure Tom will be asking for these on a regular basis!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Cookies: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

It's been an interesting couple of days for the east coast. Mineral, Virginia experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake which was felt from North Carolina to New York. We definitely felt it here and it took a few minutes for us to realize exactly what it was. It's not like Maryland is known for their earthquakes or anything.

And this weekend, Hurricane Irene is coming up the east coast and heading right for the New Jersey beaches and New York City. Tom and I have quite a bit of family who live by the Maryland and Delaware beaches. I gotta say it was quite scary when Ocean City, MD did a mandatory evacuation. I've lived in Maryland all of my life and I don't remember this happening before.

Right now Irene is slowing down to a category 1 storm before she beats up my favorite beach towns, but that still isn't very comforting to me. Back in 2003 there was Isabel, which didn't come nearly as close as Irene is planning and she still caused a ton of damage. I remember driving to my high school the day after the storm and all of the homes surrounding it were flooded. The water came all the way up to the intersection past the high school, at least a mile in. Annapolis, the Inner Harbor, and Fells Point flooded as well.

I honestly don't know whats going to happen with this storm but I'm not looking forward to it. We're not located too close to the water but we're pretty prone to power outages during thunderstorms so I'm not taking any chances. We have candles, flashlights, 3 cases of water and enough junk food to feed any army for a few days. Part of me thinks I'm crazy for even getting that much stuff, but since this is still a hurricane and all we experienced with Isabel was barely a tropical storm, I'm not taking this lightly.

So, what better to do when you think the power might go out for days? Make cookies!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Nestle
Yield: 5 dozen
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 2 sticks butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 3/4 bag Nestle Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Morsels

Directions:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.
2. Add in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla extract.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda.
4. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the stand mixer until fully incorporated.
5. Sprinkle in the morsels until combined.
6. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 375. Roll the dough into small balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes.
8. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to continue cooling.

So while I do feel a bit bad making light of a serious situation by making "hurricane" cookies, I hope everyone up the east coast stays safe and dry this weekend. And as someone who worked for a disaster restoration company, get the belongings you want to keep in rubber totes or up as high as you can get them. Good luck east coast!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recipe Swap: Chicken and Orzo Frittata

This recipe swap was based around Italian dishes. I was given Chicken and Orzo Frittata from Jenna at A Journey Through Trying New Things who found it on foodnetwork.com. Jenna hadn't made this recipe yet but said it was on her list of recipes to make.

When I looked at the recipe, I immediately realized I was going to need to find a substitution for creme fraiche. This living in the middle-of-no-where, Maryland stuff is really putting a damper on my recipe making! Luckily, Google advised me that sour cream is a good substitution for creme fraiche.

Chicken and Orzo Frittata
Slightly Adapted from: Giada De Laurentis, recommended by A Journey Through Trying New Things
Servings: 4-6
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
    • 3/4 cup orzo
    • 1 red pepper, stem and membrane removed
    • 1/3 cup whole-milk ricotta
    • 1/4 cup creme fraiche (or sour cream)
    • 6 eggs
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 4 green onions, minced
    • 1 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    •  olive oil 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to broil. 
2. Slice the red pepper into quarters and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and broil for 8-10 minutes, until just lightly charred. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Reduce the oven temperature to 375.
3. Bring a small pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook orzo according to package directions for al dente.
4. While the orzo is cooking, spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Cook the chicken until lightly browned on all sides. Set aside.
5. In a large bowl, add the ricotta, sour cream, and eggs. Whisk until combined.
6. Dice the red pepper. Drain the orzo. Add the red pepper, orzo, green onions, parsley, salt and pepper to the bowl. Stir until combined.
7. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour the contents of the bowl into the baking dish.
8. Bake for 25 minutes and then switch the oven to broil. Broil for 5 minutes or until the top of the mixture is lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Tom and I both thought this dish was just okay. It was pretty bland and the egg portion was a bit dry. I'd like to make this again with a Mexican flair to it. I think shredded chicken, taco-style seasoning, green pepper, cheddar cheese and maybe even some chipotle peppers would really increase the flavor.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekly Menu 8/21 - 8/26

I can't believe August is almost over. Or that my accounting class starts on the 27th. Good-bye weekends. Good-bye free time. Hello accounting class.

I baked quite a few things over the weekend that just did not turn out pretty enough to be blogged, so I'm a bit short on postings for this week. I hope I can get enough done in the next week or so to make up for all of the extra time I'll spend doing homework.

Sunday - gnocchi

Monday - buttery beach sandwich with roasted zucchini

Tuesday - recipe swap!

Wednesday - spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce

Thursday - sriracha burgers with sweet potato fries and corn

Friday - pizza with roasted red peppers and zucchini

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

I bet you're thinking "Another Secret Recipe Club post? Didn't she just post one?" Well, I did. But this afternoon I got an email from Amanda, the creator of the Secret Recipe Club letting us know that only one person in the A group didn't have a recipe from their blog posted. :-(

I know how impatient I am on reveal day at 7 AM looking through all of the posts to see who posted something from my blog, so I can just imagine how disappointed Connor's Cooking must have been to find out their assigned blogger didn't post anything. Amanda asked for volunteers to make a recipe from Connor's Cooking that could be uploaded tomorrow. So I did what any good blogger does. I immediately scrolled through the postings until I found something I could make on short notice.

It turned out there were quite a few volunteers, 33 of us in fact so Amanda came up with the great idea that as many of us as possible would make a recipe and she'd do a special blog hop for it.

So if this doesn't convince you to sign up for the Secret Recipe Club, I don't know what will! :-)

Sweet Potato Fries with Yogurt Dipping Sauce
Source: Connor's Cooking
Servings: 2-4
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
2 tsp. cajun seasoning
1 tsp. cumin
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chili sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425.
2. Place the potatoes slices in a ziplock bag and add the cajun seasoning and cumin. Seal the bag and shake it around to distribute the seasonings over the fries.
3. Spread the potato slices in a single layer on an un-greased large baking sheet.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
5. While the fries are baking, in a bowl, combine the yogurt, chili sauce and soy sauce. Stir until well combined. Serve as a dipping sauce with the fries.

I had already planned to make sweet potato fries for dinner tonight so finding this recipe was perfect for me. I've never seasoned sweet potatoes with cajun seasoning and cumin before. I usually do salt, pepper and paprika for spicy ones. The combination of these flavors was great!

My fries did end up a bit overdone for my liking which is why I suggested 30 minutes as a checking point for the fries. I'm assuming mine where done at 30 minutes but I didn't even think to check them until 35 minutes. As for the dipping sauce, Tom and I both thought it was okay but we'd like to mess around with the ingredients next time we make these to get a bit of a different flavor. Either way, I now have a new seasoning for my sweet potato fries!

(My apologies for the picture, it was dark out by the time we ate dinner.)





Monday, August 15, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing

This is my third month participating in the Secret Recipe Club.  If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend clicking on that little link there to see what its all about. You can view the previously posted recipes and sign up for the next month!

Even before I was assigned a blog for this swap I already decided that I was going to challenge myself and not make a dessert this time. Not because I'm doing anything crazy like dieting again, but because my go-to choice on almost every blog I look at is the desserts section. I can't help it. I try to look at recipes with chicken, beef, pasta or seafood but somehow my mouse scrolls down the page and ends up on chocolates, cakes, pies, cupcakes or whatever else. Hence the reason why I made Fruited Bran Muffins and a Croquembouche. I'm starting to think I have a bit of a desserts addiction. Or maybe just a really hungry sweet tooth.

Anyway, I was given Dana's Food for Thought as my blog this month. I immediately clicked on the Recipes tab and then selected the entrees. Then there was a bit of a pause. I'd  have no problem eating any of the recipes on the list, but Tom is another story. He's a bit picky. I debated on making a separate dish for him so I could pick anything I wanted. Then I realized I just couldn't decide.

Honey Garlic Chicken or Southwestern Turkey Burgers with Red Onion Marmalade? Portobella Mushroom Burgers with Red Pepper Relish or Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas? I'll admit it, I started at that list of entrees on and off for a good week before finally deciding to make Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing. Wanna know why I chose those? Its rather simple...I've never had an empanada before.

Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing
Source: Dana's Food for Thought 
Yield: 30+ empanadas
Printer Friendly

Crock Pot Ingredients:
    • 2 limes
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 2 chicken breasts
    • 2 tsp. chile powder
    Dough Ingredients:
    • 4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 cup + 1.5 tbsp. cold water
    • 1 egg
    Filling Ingredients:
    • 1 large vidalia onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 6 oz. goat cheese
    • salt and pepper
    Dressing Ingredients:
    • 1 cup ranch dressing (Hidden Valley)
    • 1/2 tsp. cumin
    • 1/4 tsp. chile powder

Crock Pot Directions:
1. Add the chicken stock and lime juice to the crock pot. Sprinkle the chile powder over the chicken and place in the crock pot.
2. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until cooked through.
3. Shred the chicken and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the juice from the crock pot over the chicken and set aside.
Dough Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Use your fingers to cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
2. Add 1 cup of cold water and mix it just until the dough comes together. It should be tacky but not too tacky that you can't work with it.
3. Lightly flour a surface and turn out the dough. Divide into two equal portions and knead each for 2 minutes, forming it into a smooth ball.
4. Lightly oil a bowl and place both balls of dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
Filling Directions:
1. While the dough is rising, heat olive oil and sugar in a large skillet over low heat.
2. Add the onions to the skillet and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently or until the onions have caramelized.
3. Transfer the onions to the chicken mixture. Add in the goat cheese and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assembly Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Roll out each dough ball to 1/4" thickness. Using a glass or circle cookie cutter, cut out 4-5" circles. Place them on the prepared baking sheets.
3. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of each dough round. Fold the dough over to make a half moon shape and crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. Repeat with remaining dough.
4. In a small bowl, which the egg and 1.5 tablespoons of water together. Brush the egg wash over the dough, being careful not to brush all the way to the crimped edge. 
5. Bake the empanadas for 15 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes.
Dressing Directions:
1. While the empanadas are baking, mix together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Since Tom doesn't like any type of meat with a citrus flavor, I used one less lime than the recipe called for. I didn't taste the lime juice at all, so if you'd like a strong lime flavor, I'd use all 3 limes and zest half of one and add it to the chicken mixture once its cooked.

I ate mine with the ranch dressing and Tom had his with taco sauce. We both thought these were pretty tasty. Next time I think I'll add red pepper and a little cayenne pepper to give them some more color and heat. I think these would be perfect as appetizers for a party or get together.

Also - if you want to freeze some of the empanadas, Dana says to freeze them for 2 hours on a baking sheet after crimping the edges. Once they're frozen, you can wrap them in plastic and transfer to freezer bags.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekly Menu 8/14 - 8/19

I can't believe we're half way through August. Where in the world did summer go? Although, I did just get back from our 5th or 6th trip to the beach so I probably shouldn't complain too much.

Thursday morning we drove down to Tom's parents house. We spent most of Thursday relaxing. Friday I sat out in the sun for a bit to become less translucent. I went with his mom to the grocery store where I found that Giant was having there seafood sale special. I couldn't resist picking up a pound of lump crab meat and sashimi grade tuna steaks. Oh how I miss Giant.

On Saturday we headed into Lewes and went to their farmers market. It's all outdoor and features local produce from tons of different vendors. There was a tomato tasting with probably more than 100 different types of tomatoes but the line was pretty long so we passed on that one. I did pick up four red peppers for $2 (amazing!), gala apples and two different types of goat cheese. We also tried some organic chocolate milk, which I have to say was rather tasty. And thats coming from someone who doesn't really like milk, chocolate or otherwise. After the farmers market we headed over to the Italian Deli which was an experience in itself. There were glass cases of cheeses, olives, tomatoes, and more desserts than I could count. It took Tom and I a good 5 minutes to even notice the Italian meats hanging above the glass cases or the assortments of homemade pasta, olive oils, capers and truffle butters. We didn't end up buying anything this time, but I'm sure we'll get something the next time.

After a quick mimosa at The Wharf, we headed over to The Buttery for lunch. I had stalked out their menu beforehand and decided that I pretty much needed to make everything they serve at home. Absolutely everything sounded delicious! For lunch I got the soup and sandwich combo. I chose the Buttery Seafood Chowder and the Buttery Beach sandwich. The chowder (or chow-dah, depending on where you're from) was full of hunks of fresh seafood, rich, creamy and delicious. While that was tasty enough on its own, the sandwich was to die for. Its smoked turkey breast, smoked gouda cheese, lettuce, tomato, mango chutney and mayo on a french baguette. Unbelievable. I can't wait to make this at home.

Stuffed, we finally made our way back to the house and spent the rest of the day relaxing. This morning Tom and I checked the weather before coming home. Its uh...a bit rainy out there. I'm pretty sure we drove through 3 monsoons on the way home. When we started lugging everything towards the apartment we quickly realized that the sewage drains had just stopped working from all of the rain and our only way to the apartment was through water deeper than our ankles. Who knew I had waterfront property? :-)

The rain seems to have died down a bit for the time being, but neither of us are even mildly interested in going out to get groceries. Looks like we're doing it tomorrow evening, even though the forecast is calling for severe thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening practically every day this week.

Which is really messing up my meal plan. There is a Maryland superstition that you can't make crab soup during a thunderstorm. During just rain, as long as you're not picking the crab meat, you're okay but absolutely do not make it while its raining. Some people blame it on the change in the atmospheric pressure, others say that it has something to do with the cabbage in the soup making it spoil. Critics think that either we're all just superstitious idiots or we're leaving the soup out on the counter too long before refrigerating it, but ask any fisherman in Maryland and he'll (or she'll) tell you its not worth the chance.

Anyway, Wednesday is the only day that doesn't have a chance of thunderstorms so I'm planning on making my soup then. Since it takes a while, I hope I have enough time Tuesday evening to cut up all of the vegetables and put them in the pot. That way, Tom can just add the crab meat and turn it on around 2:00 so it will be ready for dinner.

As for the rest of the week:

Sunday - Chicken with dirty rice

Monday - pulled chicken sandwiches with sweet potato fries

Tuesday - possibly dinner out

Wednesday - crab soup, weather pending

Thursday - creamy taco mac

Friday - Island pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes and green beans

If you're in Maryland or Delaware this week, keep dry! ;-)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Each week I ask Tom for suggestions on what I should make for dinner the following week. Usually he tells me the same things over and over again, pizza, tacos or burgers. This week when I asked him he responded with "breakfast".

Well, that narrowed things down, didn't it? Later on he decided to elaborate and tell me that he wanted pancakes. We typically make pancakes from the boxed mix, which he did remember to pick up at the grocery store at the last minute, but when I got ready to make dinner, I decided I wanted to make the pancake mix from scratch.

When I need a recipe in a hurry, I pop on over to allrecipes.com. That's where I found this recipe. I decided to make a slight adjustment and add chocolate chips to the pancakes.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Source: www.allrecipes.com 
Yield: 6-10 pancakes
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tbs. sugar
    • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
    • 3 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl. Transfer to another large bowl and sift everything through again.
2. Add the milk, egg and butter to the flour mixture. Stir until mostly smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium. Once hot, pour about 1/4 cup of the pancake batter into the center of the skillet.
4. When the batter forms bubbles around the edges and in the center, flip the pancake over and brown on the other side.

I have absolutely no idea why I've never made pancake batter from scratch before. Its incredibly easy and (this recipe at least) uses ingredients that I always have on hand. Once the box of the pre-mixed stuff is gone, I refuse to buy another box.

These pancakes were light, fluffy and had just enough chocolate in them for a slight sweetness. Otherwise known as my idea of a perfect pancake!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recipe Swap: Tomato Sauce

When I was given this recipe for the Recipe Swap I was really excited. I've always wanted to make my own tomato sauce but hesitated a bit due to the amount of tomatoes I'd need. I ended up getting this recipe the day that two of my co-workers who grow their own tomatoes brought about 30 tomatoes into work. It couldn't have been better timing!

Tomato Sauce
Slighted Adapted from: Mrs. Regueiro's Plate, adapted from Alton Brown
Yield: 6-7 cups
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 14 large, ripe tomatoes
    • 1 vidalia onion, quartered
    • 1 red onion, quartered
    • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
    • 1/4 cup olive oil 
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 2 tbs. rosemary, chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups red wine
    • 1-2 tbsp. sugar
    • 1/4 cup oregano, chopped
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil.
2. Slice off the tops of the tomatoes, cut off any remaining hard portions and remove as many seeds as possible. Cut the tomatoes into quarters or eighths.
3. Add the tomatoes to a large bowl, along with the vidalia onion, red onion, garlic cloves, rosemary, salt and pepper. Pour in the olive oil and toss well to coat.
4. Spread out the mixture onto the baking sheets, making sure all of the tomatoes are cut side up. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for another 30 minutes.
5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let cool.
6. Use a food mill with a coarse plate to process the mixture or if you don't have one, peel the skins off the tomatoes and remove as many remaining seeds as possible. Then transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse for 20-30 seconds until just blended but still chunky.
7. Transfer the mixture to a large dutch oven. Add the red wine, sugar and oregano and bring to a boil.
8. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I had to make some adjustments to this recipe, first because of the tomatoes and second because I think Tom might strangle me if I come home with another kitchen gadget like a food mill. The grocery store was out of fresh basil and my oregano plant was starting to take over the balcony.

Make sure not to use a very dry red wine. I didn't taste the one I used first and the sauce had a very bitter after taste, which led me to add the sugar.

Tom and I both really liked this sauce. I'm still waiting on the verdict from my coworkers, but I'm sure they're going to like it too. As soon as I get a deep freezer (*hint, hint Tom*), I plan on making this sauce again and freezing what we can't use in one meal.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa

When this recipe from Lindsey at Our Share of the Harvest popped up in my reader, I knew I needed to make it right away. I love cherries and I'm always looking for new pork recipes. It was a perfect combination.

Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa
Slightly Adapted from: Our Share of the Harvest
Servings: 4-6
Printer Friendly

Ingredients for the Pork:
    • 1-2 lb. pork tenderloin, fat trimmed
    • 1 tbsp. cilantro
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Ingredients for the Salsa:
    • 1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
    • 2 tbsp. red onion, diced
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. jalapeno, minced
    • 1 tsp. lime juice
    • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1 tbsp. sweet red wine
    • 2 tbsp. cilantro

Directions:
1. Season the pork with 1 tbs. of cilantro, the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Cut the pork tenderloin into 2 inch medallions.
2. In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the salsa. Stir well and set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Sear the pork on both sides for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown on each side.
4. Transfer the pork to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
5. Spoon the salsa over the pork and serve immediately.

I made some adjustments to this recipe, not grilling the pork (stupid apartment complex) and adding sugar and red wine to the salsa because I figured Tom wouldn't eat it if it wasn't sweet enough. He did end up liking it this way but suggested next time I use fresh cherries to make a sauce, not just a salsa. I thought it was delicious though!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Peach Sorbet

Did you know August is National Peach Month? I couldn't help picking up a basket of peaches at the Farmer's Market over the weekend. They smelled delicious! So be warned, there will be quite a few peach recipes posted this month. :-)

I had a plan for two of the peaches I purchased but no idea what to do with the remaining 4 in the basket. I looked around for recipes but every one I found would have required a trip back to the grocery store to pick up additional ingredients. Finally I decided to just make a peach sorbet.

Peach Sorbet
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Yield: about 3 cups
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 4 ripe peaches
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 3 tbsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions:
1. Using a knife, make a X in the bottom of each peach.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
3. Add the peaches to the boiling water, making sure they're completely submerged. Blanch the peaches for 1 minute.
4. Remove the peaches from the boiling water and immediately place them into the ice water. Let them cool for 1 minute and then remove, patting them dry.
5. Once they're cool enough to handle, peel the skin off from the X marks in the peaches.
6. In a small saucepan, add the water, sugar and lemon juice over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then remove from the heat.
7. Meanwhile, cut the peaches into slices and place them into a blender.
8. Pour the sugar water mixture over the peaches and pulse until smooth.
9. Pour the peach mixture into a plastic container and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Like the cherry sorbet, this also didn't firm up completely to make pretty scoops, but the fresh peach flavor was delicious!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekly Menu 8/7 - 8/10

It's a short menu this week because guess what? I'm taking a vacation!

After being annoying stressed at work since April, I finally decided to put some of my hard earned vacation days to use. I'm taking off this Thursday and Friday and Tom and I are going to the beach to stay with his parents. Sun, being on the water and relaxation! Just what I need.

I'm using up some more of my vacation days in September where at 4:30 on Thursday, September first I'll leave work and I won't go back until 7 AM on Monday, September 12th. THAT'S 11 DAYS OF NOT WORKING! Okay fine, I realize there are two weekends in there but thats besides the point.

And if I really want to be honest, I'll still be working, just in a different sense. My Accounting II class starts on 8/29 and I'll have two weeks worth of assignments to complete while I'm on vacation. I'm hoping for one cloudy or rainy day so I won't feel so bad ignoring the beach to read a New Your Times business article or to analyze financial statements.

Anyway, since we're only going to be here for a few days I decided that simple recipes for dinner were the way to go.

Sunday - It's A Surprise! You'll find out what I chose to make on Monday 8/15 at 7:00 AM for the Secret Recipe Swap reveal!

Monday - spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce

Tuesday - turkey reubens

Wednesday - grilled cheese and tomato soup

I couldn't pass up baking for a weekend, so I decided to make chocolate cheesecake brownies!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cherry Sorbet

I love cherries but hate how expensive they are. For such a small fruit that requires a decent amount of work, they're pretty darn expensive! I went a bit overboard on buying them when they were on sale at the grocery store. I had planned out a dinner and dessert involving them with some extras left over for snacks. After making the dinner and dessert, I still had quite a bit left over. So I randomly decided to make cherry sorbet without the help of my KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker, because my freezer was too full to hold the bowl.


Cherry Sorbet
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Yield: about 3 cups
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 1/2 lb. cherries, stems removed and pitted
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tbsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, add the water, sugar and lemon juice over medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Add the cherries to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
3. Transfer the mixture to the blender and pulse until smooth.
4. Place a mesh sieve over a plastic container and strain the cherry mixture, discarding any pieces large pieces of skin.
5. Seal the container and refrigerate for 6 hours to overnight.

For not using the ice cream attachment, I think this turned out pretty well. The sorbet is a bit crumblier than a regular one and I'm assuming that has something to do with just freezing the mixture. But its easier to scoop and has a cherry flavor that you just can't get with store-bought sorbet.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Connor's Birthday Sugar Cookies

Back in June when I made MyKenzie's Birthday Sugar Cookies, I mentioned to my friend Kayleigh that I could make sugar cookies for her son's upcoming 2nd birthday. She said that she was planning on having a baseball themed party and we instantly started talking about menu ideas, including baseball and bat sugar cookies.

Of course, I came home and instantly ordered a baseball bat cookie cutter. A few weeks later I followed up with Kayleigh about the cookies and she said that they had changed the plan to a luau party. We decided on hibiscus flowers and palm trees.

I have to say, adding coconuts onto palm trees seems simple but for some reason I just can't do small details on sugar cookies. So some of the palm trees are lying up against the base of the tree. Because, palm trees fall you know.

Anyway, here are the cookies.



The cookies went incredibly fast!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pink Lemonade Funfetti Cupcakes

When these cupcakes popped up in my google reader I knew I wanted to make them right away. Pink lemonade is one of my favorite drinks and always reminds me of summer time.

Pink Lemonade Funfetti Cupcakes
Slight adapted from: Gina's Skinny Taste
Yield: 20 cupcakes
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 1/2 single-serve packets of Crystal Light Pink Lemonade drink mix
    • 18.9 oz. box funfetti cake mix
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1 tbs. vegetable oil
    • zest from 1/2 a lemon
    • 1 drop pink food coloring
    • sprinkles

Directions:
1. Stir together the water and the pink lemonade mix.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 and line cupcake tins with paper liners.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the cake mix, applesauce, lemon zest, vegetable oil, food coloring and pink-lemonade mixture. Mix until all of the ingredients are combined.
4. Scoop the batter into the cupcake pans. Top with additional sprinkles and bake for 22 minutes.
5. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

I topped these with the cream cheese icing found here and added some additional sprinkles.

Gina's recipe calls for 2 1/2 tsp. of the pink lemonade mixture. I'm guessing we used different types, because 2 1/2 tsp. of the Crystal Light kind was so tart I knew it would make the cupcakes impossible to eat. I did end up with hot pink cupcakes instead of light pink ones because my "drop" of food coloring ended up as a blob. Oops! But hey, at least they'd be the perfect color for a little girls birthday party.

Even with the adjusted amount of pink lemonade mixture, these did pack quite a bit of punch but they're still really good.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce

I've been saying that I wanted to make gnocchi for a long time now. I planned it out quite a few times and even included it on the weekly menu but it never happened.

Determined to have some new recipes to share before my college classes begin again and take away from my time to blog, I decided that we were having gnocchi on Sunday. No ifs ands or buts.

Gnocchi 
Slightly Adapted from Closet Cooking
Servings: 4
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. baking potatoes
    • 1/2 - 3/4 cup flour
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tbsp. milk 
Directions:
1. Scrub the potatoes well and prick with a fork. Use your desired method to bake the potatoes. (I cheat and use the microwave for the sake of time, but the oven is fine too.)
2. Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a medium bowl and mash with the milk.
3. Add the egg and salt and stir with a fork until combined. Start with the 1/2 cup of flour and use your hands to combine until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add additional flour.
4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Roll the dough into long 1/2 inch wide rolls.
5. Cut the dough into 1/2" pieces and dip in remaining flour, shaking off the excess.
6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a dish towel over a wire rack.
7. Using a slotted spoon, drop batches of the gnocchi into the boiling water, making sure not to crowd the pot. Once the gnocchi float, about 2-3 minutes, remove with the spoon and transfer to the dish towel. Let drain before serving.

Fontina Cheese Sauce
Slightly Adapted from: Allrecipes.com
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
    • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 2 tbsp. shallots, minced
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 7 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
    • 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
Directions:
1. Once the pot of water for the gnocchi is boiling, heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Add the butter and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the butter is melted and the shallots are soft.
3. Stir in the heavy cream and heat to an almost boil. Gradually mix in the Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
4. Remove immediately from the heat.
5. Serve the cheese sauce over the gnocchi. Garnish with oregano.

I realized after I spooned the cheese sauce over the gnocchi that it would be really difficult to distinguish which one was which in the picture. It just looks like a pile of white cheesy-ness. Oops! Tom and I both really, really liked these. The gnocchi were perfect little pasta pillows and the cheese sauce, while really rich, was a great pairing for this. If serving the gnocchi as a meal, a big green salad and glass of wine is a must!

Tom wants me to make them again and try pan frying the gnocchi so they have a crisper texture. I think next time we'll go with a brown butter sauce as well.