Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peaches and Cream

This dish truly is simple summer perfection.  I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand the other day (since I have been gorging myself on peaches the last couple of weeks) and realized that I had never had peaches and cream.  It could not be simpler or more delicious, and I have been craving it ever since.  Ok, I'll admit it - I ate this 3 times last week.  It's that good!  It could easily be done for breakfast as well as dessert.  This is definitely going to become a summer tradition at my house.

Peaches and Cream

1 ripe peach, pitted and cut into slices
Heavy cream

Put the peaches in a bowl, pour some heavy cream over the top, and sprinkle with sugar.  Enjoy on the patio or with a good movie!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Classic Bruschetta, First Trial

When I saw the movie Julie and Julia, my reaction to the food was mixed.  Some of the items made me feel a bit queasy, and I don't think I would touch them with a 10 foot pole.  On the other hand, the other half of the recipes in the movie made me so hungry and I was just craving them for the longest time.  One of those is the bruschetta that Amy Adams makes at the very beginning of the movie.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I just about died when I saw that bread going in the oil and getting crispy and brown.  So I took it in my own hands to figure out how to make this delectable dinner.  I served this to my husband along with plain pieces of French bread that we dipped in a garlic dipping sauce and butter and honey.  It was delectable.  I say first trial because this one wasn't 100% perfect.  There's not quite enough basil, and the bread, although delicious, wasn't exactly what I had imagined.  I think the skinny baguette that I used wasn't wuite what I had in mind for a dinner of bruschetta, but it would be perfect for an appetizer.  This meal could not be easier, more delicious, or more satisfying.

Classic Bruschetta

4 tomatoes, chopped in large chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 cup basil, torn into small pieces (I would definitely add more next time - at least 1/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for frying
Baguette, sliced into 1 inch pieces

Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl.  Let marinate in the refrigerator all day.  (I made it that morning after breakfast.)
Put a medium pan over medium-high heat.  Pour enough olive oil in the pan to cover the bottom.  Once it is hot, using tongs and working in batches, put the bread in the oil.  Fry until golden brown and crispy, which will take a few minutes.  Flip the pieces over and let fry until golden and crispy on the other side, an additional few minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil again and repeat the process with the rest of the bread.
Top the bread with the tomato mixture and enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Orange Julius

I got this recipe from my friend Kristen over at Homemade Made Easy.  This is the simplest drink in the world - if you can push a button, you can make it.  It's sort of like a smoothie, but not quite.  It's more like orange juice on steroids.  It would be so easy to pull together in 2 seconds if you want to have company for breakfast or brunch, and is totally refreshing on a summer day.  You may even have everything you need right now, in which case, you should go into your kitchen and make it.

Orange Julius

12 oz frozen orange juice
12 oz water
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
3+ cups of ice cubes

Put in a blender and blend.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Raisin Swirl Bread

I'm not usually one for process shots, but I had to with this bread.  Scroll down to see the finished product.  I have always had trouble cooking with yeast until this summer.  I have been making all kinds of breads and other things that require it so that I can practice, and it has been a huge success.  It is amazing to me that yeast it the difference between flat dough and a puffy loaf of bread.  And this bread was so worth the effort.  Here is what it looked like before the oven:

Here is what it looked like after:
While it was cooking it filled my apartment with the most heavenly smells.  I could barely wait for it to cool down enough to touch it before eating it.  It was phenomenal.  Dorie Greenspan, who I had never heard of about a year ago, is the author of this recipe.  She has some fantastic recipes, and this is no exception.  The bread is thick and chewy with just the right amount of sweetness.  I should have tried it as french toast.  I bet it would have been to die for.  As it was, it was wonderful just plain or toasted with butter.  Please don't be afraid of the yeast.  Use it.  It makes delicious food that makes your tummy happy.

Raisin Swirl Bread
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 packet active dry yeast (if you buy the jars like me, that's 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
1 1/4 cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk (I used 1%)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, I used it)
Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional, I didn't use it)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional, to be honest, I don't remember if I used it)
3 1/4 to 4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional, I used it)
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to a spreadable consistency

To Make the Bread - Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of the warm milk.  Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir - the yeast may not have dissolved completely and it may not have bubbled, but it should be soft (mine did bubble).
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup milk, the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix on low speed for a minute or two.  Add the salt, egg and vanilla, if you are using it, as well as the zest and nutmeg, if you are using them, and mix for a minute.  In all likelihood, the mixture will look unpleasantly curdly (it will look even worse when you add the yeast).  Add the yeast mixture and beat on medium-low speed for 1 more minute.
Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cups of the flour.  Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids - you'll have a sticky mix.  If you've got a dough hook, switch to it now.  Add another 1 cup flour, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for a couple of minutes.  If the dough does not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Keep the mixer speed at medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen.  The dough will be very soft, much too soft to knead by hand.
Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into the bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm enough to be rolled easily.  (At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that's more convenient.)

To Make the Swirl and Shape the Loaf - Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan.  Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa, if using.
Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12x18 inches.  (I can never seem to get a perfect rectangle.  If you can't, don't worry about it.)
Gently smear 2 tablespoons of the butter over the surface of the dough - this is most easily done with your fingers.  Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and scatter over the raisins.  Starting from a short side of the dough, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snugly.  Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf.
Cover the pan loosely with wax paper (or a towel) and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.

Getting Ready to Bake - When the dough has almost fully risen, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.  (I didn't use the baking sheet.)
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and brush the top of the loaf with the butter.  Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes.  Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold.  Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ebelskivers, or Danish Filled Pancakes

I first heard of these cute little round pancakes when Williams-Sonoma started advertising their ebelskiver pans a couple of years ago. I immediately wanted one (of course I did - all I ever want is new kitchen stuff). Whenever I get some extra money, I generally head to Williams-Sonoma first to see if there is something I want. Usually there is. And one of these such times, I very unpractically, decided to buy one. And then I didn't use it until very recently. But oh goodness, these were worth the wait. They are beautiful, delicious, and can be made in tons of different ways. You can pretty much put whatever you want in the middle - let your imagination run wild. Peanut butter, jams, nutella, chocolate chips, pumpkin, and any number of fruits. Here there are just some fresh blueberries in the middle. Unfortunately, you do need a special pan to make them that looks like this.
It is so worth it to own the pan though. You can look at them here. These are easy and fun, and would be great for any number of occasions: brunch, sleepovers, etc. If you can, please make these sometime soon! This, and other ebelskiver recipes can be found at

Blueberry-Filled Ebelskivers

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pint fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Maple syrup, for serving

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg yolks and buttermilk. Whisk the yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.
Put 1/2 teaspoon butter into each well of a filled-pancake pan. Place over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 tablespoon batter into each well and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, 3-5 minutes. Put 5-6 blueberries in the center of each pancake (I only did 3-4) and top with 1 tablespoon batter. Using 2 wooden skewers (I used forks, which takes some practice) flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and blueberries. Makes about 40.

Friday, July 16, 2010

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

I usually love the 4th of July.  We get together with family, eat tons of fabulous food, and watch fireworks, which are always thrilling.  When I was still living with my parents, we would go to my grandparents' house, sit on the golf course they lived above, and watch the fireflies and fireworks after a whole day of swimming.  After I got married, we went to my husband's parents house for their block party and had a great barbecue potluck, and then set off fireworks on the street.  This year, however, was very different.  My husband joined the Coast Guard almost 6 months ago, and as such, we moved to southern Oregon, which is far away from any family.  My husband also just happened to be on duty the whole holiday weekend, including Sunday.  With two very small children, it just didn't work out to get to see any fireworks.  But I will be darned if I won't get good food on the 4th!  I made these delicious Pulled Chicken Sandwiches from Cooking Light, paired them with corn and watermelon, and took dinner to the hubs down at the station.  Even though I saw one measly firework that day, at least I got some good barbecue.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
from Cooking Light, June 2006

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper (I just used a little extra chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used breasts)
Cooking spray

2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (which I omitted, since my husband has onion issues)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar (I used white vinegar)
1 tablespoon molasses

Remaining Ingredients:
8 sandwich rolls, toasted
16 hamburger dill chips

(Note: I halved this recipe, which was really easy to do.)  Prepare grill.  (I just cooked the chicken in a pan on my stove on medium-high heat.)  To prepare chicken, combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl.  Rub spice mixture evenly over chicken.  Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 180, turning occasionally.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Shred with 2 forks.
To prepare sauce, heat canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and next 5 ingredients (through pepper); cook 30 seconds.  Stir in ketchup, vinegar, and molasses; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.  Stir in chicken; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Place about 1/3 cup chicken mixture on bottom halves of sandwich rolls; top each serving with 2 pickle chips and top roll half.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have never had a chocolate chip cookie recipe turn out.  I have been totally cursed as far as that goes, which is weird, because it seems like it would be the simplest thing in the world.  I can't decide if it was because I was at high altitude for the last 5 years, but if it was, that has been remedied since I live 5 minutes from the beach now.  But that's beside the point.  The point is, that even though I still plan on making some other recipes (like the NY Times one and Alton Brown's "The Chewy"), these cookies actually turned out and were really delicious!  Of course, the vanilla ice cream in the middle didn't hurt.  PS - Have you seen the new feature on the sidebar?  Now you can see what I'm making every week for dinner!  Feel free to request pictures, recipes, or whatever in the comments!

Audrey's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 cup shortening (I used butter flavored)
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Beat together shortening, butter and sugars.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Mix together flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix into butter/sugar mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.  Make 4 1/2 dozen.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Guacamole, My Way

I didn't always love avocados.  It was one of those foods that I had to "grow into".  Thanks first to my college roommate Rachel, and then to my husband, I have grown to love avocados over the last 5 years.  And in that time, I have learned that not all guacamoles are created equal.  It seems like thousands of recipes for guacamole exist.  Every time I taste some, it is completely different than the last one.  Some are smooth, others chunky.  Some are pretty much only avocado, while others are salty or spicy.  Therefore, I think all people need to experiment and find what works for them.  This one is perfectly seasoned without overpowering the delicious taste of the avocado itself.  Try it - it might become your guacamole!


3 large, ripe avocados
1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 Roma tomato, chopped

Put the flesh of the avocados into a large bowl.  Put next 5 ingredients (through cumin) into bowl; mash with a potato masher until it reaches desired consistency.  Put chopped tomatoes in the bowl and stir in with a spoon.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Croque Madame

Allow me to reminisce.  I love Paris.  It is by far one of my favorite cities that I have visited.  My first trip there was in 8th grade, and we saw it all.  I was thrilled with the sheer beauty of the place, and I loved seeing all of the art and architecture that I had been learning about in my classes.  We ate at the top of the Eiffel tower and rode the metro.  It was magical.  Since then I have never been able to get enough.  Every time I go to the Louvre, I discover things that I never knew were there.  I love seeing the windows of Sainte Chapelle lit up in the sunlight.  And of course, the food is to die for.  I've eaten crepes with Nutella from street vendors, Chicken Cordon Bleu outside of Moët et Chandon, and of course, onion soup.  One of my favorite memories of Paris includes food.  It was a beautiful day and I had just left Sainte Chapelle.  I walked across the street and bought a beautiful sandwich with brie on a baguette, sat down on a bench, and watched people walk by and light come through the trees on the street with Notre Dame in the distance.  Truly la vie en rose.

Unfortunately, in my times in Paris, I never managed to try a croque madame sandwich.  Of course, it went onto my list of 100 things to make, and it was so worth the wait.  It is fantastically creamy, savory and just wonderful.  It really makes me think of Paris, and now I am wishing that I could go back there soon.  I only wish that the picture did justice to the beauty of French food and the aura of Paris.

Croque Madame
adapted from La Petite Vancouver

1/2 - 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Gruyère or Swiss cheese (or more to taste)
8 slices of ham
4 slices sturdy white bread
2 large eggs
Olive oil

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes.  Whisking constantly, pour in milk, beginning with 1/2 cup and adding more if needed to make a thick, but spreadable sauce.  Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, reduce heat and simmer.  Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.
Make sandwiches by placing 4 ham slices between 2 of the bread slices.  Spread the sauce evenly over each of the sandwiches, then sprinkle cheese evenly over the sauce.
Heat oven to 250 (yes, that's 250).  Bake sandwiches for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese melts.
Meanwhile, fry the eggs in a little bit of olive oil to your preference of doneness. (I prefer medium, but sunny side up, easy or hard would work as well.)  When sandwiches are finished baking, top each sandwich with one egg.  Serve with french fries and salad.  Makes 2 sandwiches.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Whoopie Pies

Please excuse me, but the only thing I can say about these whoopie pies is omnomnomnomnom!  Oh my gosh, they are soft, cakey and utterly delicious.  They are soooo worth making and the recipe makes plenty, so share some and make some friends!  They are easy and wonderful.  Very satisfying.  Make them.  Now.

Whoopie Pies
by Ruth Ann Stelfox from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2009

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup buttermilk

2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups marshmallow creme
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with water and buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 for 5-7 minutes or until set.  Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a small bowl, beat filling ingredients until fluffy.  Spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.
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