January 31, 2011

The Popcorn Bet

While washing dishes after dinner tonight (I wash, Chris dries), the topic of popcorn came up and I mentioned that I had just read about a unique way to make non-traditional microwave popcorn.  He told me the method would never work based on a story he heard on NPR.  So the bet was on.

This "recipe" involves two ingredients.  A paper bag and popcorn seed.  I'm so thankful that Alison of This Homemade Life blogged about her method for making popcorn!  I will never eat traditional microwave popcorn again.  I highly recommend checking out her blog for other great ideas.


One popcorn setting on the microwave later and you have a delicious snack!  I enjoyed my popcorn with a little salt and melted butter, in addition to an Izze, which is my new favorite beverage.


January 30, 2011

Cranberry-Orange Scones

I had a heck of a time making this cranberry scones recipe this morning.  Whenever I encounter a problem with a recipe, I like to see what online reviewers have said and sure enough, almost every single review of this recipe mentions how incredible sticky the dough turns out.

However, after adding a 1/2 cup of wheat flour the dough was workable, and the final product was delicious.  I will make this recipe again, but will take the advice of a reviewer who pointed out the dough is the consistency of muffin batter, and make them as muffins instead of scones.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled and diced
1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1/3 cup white sugar
1 grated zest of one orange
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup half-and-half cream
1 egg


I love that my microplane zester reaches across the top of my largest mixing bowl.


I had to roll the dough in quite a bit of flour in order to press them into circles and make mini scones.


You can see how sticky the dough is from the way it sticks to the rubber scraper.




January 29, 2011

Valentine Candy Class

I attended a demonstration class this morning at Cake & Bake in Germantown that focused on Valentine Candy.  A friend attended two of their Christmas classes, and highly recommended them so I signed up for Valentine Candy and Easter/Spring Cookies (which is in March).

Since I don't like chocolate, it had never really occurred to me to try making candy, but I've since realized that it's a fun treat to make for others.  I took a few photos of items that were made during the demonstration...she gave us so many ideas! 




I ended up buying quite a few candy-making supplies before leaving Cake & Bake, with the plan of making Packers themed treats for the Superbowl party at work on Friday, and Valentine themed treats for my Mom (who loves Valentine's Day!).

I did hear one idea that sounded great for me to eat, and that was a "nut cup" made with white chocolate, cashews and dried cranberries.  I also bought a book while I was there, and I'm really looking forward to experimenting.

Now I'm headed to work for the afternoon, oh the joy of the fiscal year-end.  Then tonight, we plan to see The King's Speech after enjoying leftover lasagna for dinner, yum!

January 28, 2011

Artichoke Spinach Lasagna

Found another winning recipe from my allrecipes.com highest rank list.  Actually, it was a double-win because Chris (who loves meat), said he didn't miss meat at all in this recipe.  This lasagna was outstanding!  I made no substitutions to the ingredients called for in the recipe, and will definitely make it again with no changes.



I don't have a 9x13 glass baking pan, so I used two 6x8 pans instead. It worked out well, because I put slightly more noodles and less cheese in mine because I love noodles and Chris loves cheese.


Due to the size of pans I used, I could only do 2 layers but I think that worked out just fine.




I think this lasagna pairs really well with a salad.  I made mine with baby spinach, red leaf lettuce, 1 tbsp of sunflower seeds and honey mustard dressing.

January 24, 2011

Jam Bars

This recipe comes from one of my Dad's students at UW-Whitewater, where he taught speech communication.  In fact, he'd let my brother and I watch presentation speeches and critique his students.  I remember taking it very seriously because I was certain my Dad would consider our comments for the final grade.  Thinking back now that was highly doubtful considering we were around 10 years-old at the time :)

So anyway, one of my Dad's students did a presentation speech on how to make jam bars, and I've been making them ever since.  It's a quick and simple recipe, and even better if you have some local homemade jam to use!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup jam

Mix together all ingredients except the jam.  I use a fork if I properly softened the butter, otherwise I use a pastry blender.  Pat 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x9 pan.  Spread jam thinly and cover with remaining mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

It's not easy to spread jam on the bottom crust.  This is the jammy mess I made attempting to spread the jam.  No worries though, no matter how unevenly it spreads, I promise it'll taste wonderful.



Jam bars are delicious in general, but they are exceptional straight from the oven with a glass of milk!

January 17, 2011

Chili-Style Beans and Greens

It's a snowy night here in Wisconsin, perfect for chili-style beans and greens!  This recipe is from the excellent book Cook Food which I read this past weekend.  I started dinner while Chris snowblowed and shoveled...I much prefer where I was at tonight :)


Below are the ingredients I used for my adaption of Lisa Jervis' recipe -
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 large sweet potato, cut into bite-size chunks
1 15oz can diced tomatoes, including the juice
1 bunch kale, destemmed and chopped
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
10oz egg noodles


The author says to use a 4-quart stockpot, but I found that an 8-quart works much better for adding the kale.  I suppose you can add it slowly in a smaller pot, but I prefer my all-in method :)


Heat the oil in an 8-quart stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and the salt, stirring regularly until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and spices; turn down the heat to medium so the spices don't scorch.  Stir steadily and cook for another 5 minutes or so.  If the spice mixture starts sticking to the pot, add a tablespoon or two of water and stir/scrape the bottom.

Add the tomato paste, sweet potato and the diced tomatoes (with their juice) and some broth to barely cover.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or so.

Heat 3 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a rolling boil.  Add egg noodles and boil for 7-9 minutes.  Drain well. 

While the noodles are cooking, add the beans and the kale along with the remaining broth, and continue simmering until the beans are heated through and the kale is wilted and tender (about 7-10 minutes).

January 09, 2011

Pomegranate and Blood Orange Salad

I picked up blood oranges and pomengranates last night while grocery shopping, without any real idea as to what I'd use them for.  Googling recipes today, I found this one that looked good for lunch today.  I really, really liked this salad, minus the red onions (the flavor of onions just didn't seem right in the salad).  I think this salad would be excellent for a brunch!

I used my new microplane zester for the first time for the orange zest and was impressed with how easy it is to use.  So much easier than trying to produce zest with a box grater! 

1/10/11 Update: Chris tried this salad for the first time and lunch today and absolutely loved it, couldn't stop raving about it.  We'll definitely be making it again.


My modified recipe:

3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground rosemary
1 large pomegranate
2 small blood oranges
5 cups baby spinach leaves

1. To make dressing, combine pomegranate juice, orange juice, orange zest, olive oil, and rosemary in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to mix well. Season with sea salt and pepper, and set aside.

2. To cut pomegranate, make five or six shallow cuts in the skin from top to base, around fruit’s perimeter. Immerse in a large bowl or sink of cold water, pull sections apart along score lines, and gently press out seeds. Discard white pith and membranes, strain seeds from water, and pat dry.

3. Using a small, sharp knife, cut peel and pith from oranges. Cut between membranes to release segments. Set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, combine spinach and about one-third of the dressing and toss to coat. Add half of the blood orange segments and half of the pomegranate seeds, and gently toss.

5. Divide salad among four plates. Top with remaining orange segments and pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.

January 08, 2011

Olive Oil Dipping Sauce for Italian Bread

Chris loves those olive oil dipping sauces in restaurants, so I found a recipe online that seemed similar and he loved it.  I thought it had just a little too much balsamic vinegar, but he thought it was perfect as is. 

While preparing dinner this evening, I listed to Chris' Italian Cafe CD.  Chris got the French and Italian Cafe CDs as a birthday gift, and I really like them.


 
Olive Oil Dipping Sauce for Italian Bread
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  • Pour olive oil onto a salad plate. Use a garlic press to press the garlic cloves onto five different spots on the plate. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the oil and garlic. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and oregano. Season with black pepper.
Recipe Source: allrecipes.com
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