About Me

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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bruschi Steak Tips

I have some amazing friends.  My friend Corinne brought over a ton of meals for me, knowing that this was a tough time.  She always denies being a good cook, but I have to disagree.  Everything we've had is so good!  We have been making this recipe, once of her husband's specialties for a while, but it's always a favorite.
It's also another prep on sunday, cook on tuesday kind of meal!

Bruschi Steak Tips
adapted from Teddy Bruschi Via Todd

4-5 lbs of steak tips
1 12 oz can of coca-cola
1 bottle of A1 Steak Sauce
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
(should be roughly equal parts of each)
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced

Use an extra large ziplock bag or large bowl and put all ingredients in (except steak tips) and mix until a uniform marinade has formed. Then add steak tips and let them marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Place over a red hot grill. Cook to desired donness.

By Teddy Bruschi and perfected by Todd

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Baked Tex Mex Pimento Cheese Dip

This dip is so much more complex than your average cheese dip.  It's not spicy because all that cheese just blands out all that spice.  It is flavorful, and you will find yourself putting it on burgers for a topping, in omlettes, and just about anywhere else, so don't be afraid to make a double batch!

Shred your own cheese for best texture- the preshredded stuff has cornstarch in it!

Baked Tex Mex Pimento Cheese Dip
Adapted from Annie's Eats

½ cup mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt)
6 oz. cream cheese (reduced-fat is fine)
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
2 jalapeño peppers, ribbed, seeded and minced
2-3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well with a spatula until evenly combine.  Spread the mixture in an even layer in a large shallow dip (2 quart or 10 inch pie dish).  Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and bubbling.

Remove from the oven, garnish with additional cilantro if desired, and serve warm with tortilla chips.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sweet Tea

My mother in law makes some killer sweet tea.  Lemon is not in her recipe.  But I love lemon.  My husband is uber-health conscious, but he always sucks down her sweet tea without guilt.

It never fails to amuse me that when we cross into arkansas, being that close to route 40 has such a profound effect on his eating habits.  I made this for the last "party" I threw, which was a lousy event/occasion, but I needed some sugar available to mainline.

It also had the benefit of being a dish made with love by a mom dear to me, so it had a comforting effect.  This tea is sweet.  Sweet.  Sweet.  And addictive.  The baking soda neutralizes the acidity, and removes any bitterness.  It goes down easy!

You have been warned.

Sweet Tea
Adapted from my mother-in-law, Tina
inspired by Jennifer Rather --Ezra Pound Cake

3 family sized bags or 12 regular size bags of luzianne or lipton tea
12 cups water
1 - 1/2 or 2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 lemon, halved; optional

Measure about 4 cups of water into a pan, and bring to a boil.
Place 4 cups of boiling water into a pitcher, and place tea bags in water.  Add the baking soda and sugar.
Let it sit and steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, but do not squeeze them- it adds bitterness.

Add remaining 8 cups cold water and the juice of half a lemon (or to taste).
Slice remaining lemon half into wedges, and serve with tea.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Black Bean, Corn, and Edamame Salad

When you have just been at the funeral mass for your mom, and you dig into a salad, and you think "Man, that's tasty.  I have to figure out how to copy that"....you know it's good.

Or that you have a serious cooking obsession.  Either one.

I also had to make this right away, so that it wouldn't build up in my head as "that salad the day we said goodbye to mom."  It had to be a tuesday salad, a nothing salad, a "boy, it's hot out" dinner.  I'm trying to reinvent my life into bundles of time that are less sad.  Wish me luck with that.

Let it be so for you, too- perhaps "that delicious salad I made for my mom."

Black Bean, Corn, and Edamame Salad with Cilantro and Lime Dressing
adapted from tastefully julie

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (or sugar)
2 cobs of corn, cooked, cooled, and corn cut from cob (about 2 cups)
1 cup edamame, cooked and cooled
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine the lime juice, oil, and agave or sugar. Whisk together and set aside.
Add the corn, edamame, black beans, onion, and cilantro to a bowl.
Pour dressing over the mixture and stir together gently.
Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight, to allow flavors to blend.

NOTE: updated on 8/18/12 to omit garlic.  Much better without!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer cake

So, about a month ago I made this cake.  It was scrumptious.  It was perfect.

And we ate it with my mom and dad, with some freshly caught fried, beer battered blue fish, on father's day.  And 3 days later, my mom was admitted to the hospital and never came home.

That was a few weeks ago.  I haven't recovered.  Don't like talking about it.  Don't like thinking about it.  Don't like admitting it's real.

It is.

So now we are making our way without a Mom, without a Wife, without a Nonna.  And it sucks. But we'll get through...with each other.

Chocolate chip cookie dough layer cake
Inspired by annie's eats (dough and frosting recipes from there)

Cake- a suppers at sunset original recipe- inspired by Baked on Bon Appetit

 batter weight= 3 lb 10 oz

1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (305 gm)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar (200 gm)
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar (200 gm)
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free) 263 gm
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp salt

special equipment
Three 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides.

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayonnaise in large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with water in 3 additions, beating until blended after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Divide batter among prepared cake pans (about 2 1/3 cups for each--1 lb 3 oz).
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans in the freezer for about 2 hours- covered with plastic wrap and tin foil to trap the moisture in.

Run small knife around sides of cakes to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto racks and prepare to frost.

Cookie dough filling

For the filling:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed (180 gm)
2 cup plus 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour (260 gm)
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients.   It will be easier to spread if you keep at room temperature.

For the frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, packed (100 gm)
2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar (260 gm)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (73 gm)
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat butter and sugar, then add salt, milk, and vanilla extract.

To assemble:   place first layer down, top with about 1 1/2 cups cookie dough, then repeat with second layer.  Add 3rd layer and frost.  Write short messages in chocolate chips.  Chill and serve!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Black Bean Patties

More vegetarian meals are always welcome, especially ones that are as packed with flavor as this one!!!  The Patties also lend well to baking at 450 for 8-10 minutes, liberally sprayed with cooking spray.  I think the avocado cream sauce makes a big difference.  These are also easy to pop in the freezer, and pull out on a moment's notice.

Black Bean Patties
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the patties:
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups cooked black beans), divided
2 roasted red bell peppers, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
½-2/3 cup cornmeal or panko (plus more, as needed)
Salt and pepper
Canola or vegetable oil

For the avocado cream sauce:
1 avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
½ cup greek yogurt or light sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the bean patties, place half of the beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 coarsely chopped bell pepper, the eggs, oregano, cumin, and chipotle.  Process until smooth.  Finely chop the remaining bell pepper.  In a large bowl, lightly mash the remaining beans.  Stir in the bell pepper, onion, and smooth bean mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the cornmeal or breadcrumbs, a bit at time, mixing lightly just until the mixture firms up.  (Pick up a bit and see if it can be easily molded into a ball.  If it is too sticky, add a little more cornmeal.)  Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.

To make the avocado cream sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Process until completely smooth.

Form the bean mixture into patties approximately 3½ inches in diameter.  Heat about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned and firm, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve the patties warm topped with the avocado cream sauce.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Romaine, Chicken, Avocado, and Balsamic Reduction Sauce Salad

Here's the nice, light salad I promised!

We have this great place by us.  It's total bar food.  There's lousy, not so fresh popcorn served as soon as you sit down.  It has great burgers, great hot dogs, and also-unexpectedly- some amazing salads. This is one of them.  Any way I can eat more avocado is always welcome.  The balsamic reduction sauce is really sweet- I want to try it with strawberries!

 Romaine, Chicken, Avocado, and Balsamic Reduction Sauce Salad
Balsamic reduction adapted from Jeff Mauro

Balsamic Reduction

4 cups balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
8 fresh basil leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large shallot, roughly chopped

1 head romaine lettuce
Grilled chicken breast or thighs
Cherry tomatoes
1 avocado

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, garlic and shallots into the saucepan and stir. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and let cook until the liquid is reduced to 1 1/3 cups, 45 to 60  minutes. To measure, you may have to strain at 45 minutes, see where you are, then poor back in pot.  It's ok not to re-add all the onions and such back at that point.  Otherwise, once the mixture is reduced, strain it through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and let cool. Store the balsamic base in the fridge; it's great as salad dressing, marinade, drizzled over steaks, over strawberries.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

I made these for my son's last day of preschool.  The coolest thing about these is how much they look like ice cream, as well as the insane amount of frosting per cupcake.  They were a big hit with the kids! They also were very easy.

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes
Adapted from Living Locurto

Your Favorite chocolate cupcake recipe
12 oz chocolate chips
24 maraschino cherries, well drained

2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
Beans scraped from one vanilla bean
a few drops of ivory gel food color

In the bowl of a mixer, mix butter, vanilla, vanilla bean, and milk until well blended and smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix on low until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for a minute or two, until fully combined and fluffy. Place frosting in the refrigerator for an hour to chill.
Remove the frosting from the refrigerator and spoon it on top of cupcakes. It looks just like ice cream!
Now melt some chocolate chips. Drizzle over the frosting, then place a cherry on top, and add sprinkles.  You want your chocolate to harden.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni

I know it's summer, and you don't want to turn your oven on.

I respect that.  I promise a nice, summery meal tomorrow.  Today, cook up some chicken til crispy.  Bathe it in tomato sauce until it's braised and tender, and completely flavor melded.  And you are welcome.

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

serves 4

4 chicken breast halves, pounded thin
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 ounces turkey pepperoni
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
28 oz  marinara sauce
1/4 cup canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

In a shallow dish or pie plate, combine the eggs and milk. In another dish, pour the panko and in one more, spread the flour.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and working with one breast at a time, dunk in the eggs/milk, then the panko and finally the flour. Repeat until all chicken breast halves have been battered.

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and lightly fry until golden on each side and cooked through. Drain the chicken on paper towels and then lay in a greased casserole dish. Cover with tomato sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella. Finally, lay the pepperoni slices on top.

Bake for 60 minutes. Serve with spaghetti or bucatini noodles.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I love the combination of lemon and blueberries, especially as a sweet breakfast treat.  Think of this as an excellent blueberry muffin, in cake form!  Of course, my daughter wouldn't touch it because it has fruit, but it was a great hit with my son.  Anything entitled "cake" starts with a 10 score in his book, and then is adjusted accordingly.

One day, L is going to realize she missed out by choosing cheerios that morning!

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Serves 6-8
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar (to sprinkle on top...)
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk

* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cream the butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Boston Baked Beans

This recipe is exactly what you expect.  Sweet, comforting, but also savory.  We used to eat these with hot dogs for dinner.  It was my dad's favorite meal.  Believe it or not, it's a surprisingly good combination.  I don't think they were homemade, but they were doctored up enough to be called my mom's own!  Anyway, homemade or not, these homemade beans taste exactly like my mom's.

Boston Baked Beans
Adapted from cooks illustrated

6 ounces bacon cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons brown mustard
2 cans white beans (cannelini)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Ground black pepper

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Add bacon to 8-quart Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and most fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Add onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup molasses, mustard, beans, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 9 cups water; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cover pot and set in oven. Bake until beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring once after 2 hours. Remove lid and continue to bake until liquid has thickened to syrupy consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove beans from oven; stir in remaining tablespoon of molasses, vinegar, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Magic in the Middles

The combination of peanut butter and chocolate is timeless.  These have to be among the absolute best cookies I have ever had.  The texture of the peanut butter inside is still like a little peanut butter mousse inside the chocolate.  So worth it.

Magic in the Middles
Adapted from King Arthur flour

Chocolate Dough
1 1/2 cups (177gm) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (43gm) cocoa powder, unsweetened baking cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (99gm) granulated sugar 
1/2 cup (106gm) brown sugar
113g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (67gm) smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

peanut butter filling

3/4 cup (202gm) peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, your choice
3/4 cup (85gm) confectioners' sugar

 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line with parchment two baking sheets.

To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In another medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg, beating to combine, then

stir in the dry ingredients, blending well.

To make the filling:
 In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and confectioner's sugar until smooth.

With floured hands or a teaspoon scoop, roll the filling into 26 one-inch balls.

To shape the cookies: Scoop 1 tablespoon of the dough (a lump about the size of a walnut), make an indentation in the center with your finger and place one of the peanut butter balls into the indentation.

Bring the cookie dough up and over the filling, pressing the edges together cover the center;

Roll the cookie in the palms of your hand to smooth it out. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Roll each rounded cookie in granulated sugar, and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.

 Grease the bottom of a drinking glass, and use it to flatten each cookie to about 1/2-inch thick.

Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until they're set and you can smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.