September 29, 2011

Thai Coconut Soup with Pac Choi & Soba Noodles

I'm really surprised at how well dinner turned out tonight.  I loosely followed a BBC Good Food recipe, and would definitely make this again.  It's a soup, but not really because it requires a fork to eat it :)


I made a few changes to the recipe, and used the following ingredients:

6oz soba noodles
1 can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of pac choi
1/4 tsp coriander

I used ginger that I had previously peeled and frozen, and it worked really well.  I highly recommend keeping frozen ginger on hand.  I also recommend Penzeys' Vegetable soup base for making vegetable stock.

September 25, 2011

Foodbuzz 24×24: Autumn Harvest Dinner

Last night was my first time participating in Foodbuzz's 24x24 dinner party, in which 24 bloggers host dinner parties around the globe over a 24-hour period. 

This month's 24x24 had a specific theme: budget-friendly inspiration from your own pantry, which was created to help offset the cost of attending this year's Foodbuzz Blogger Festival.  For my participation, I will receive $250, which greatly helps with the cost of going to San Francisco in November.


Our dinner guests were Jen & Ernesto, who you may remember from the birthday party celebration last weekend.  This weekend has been cold and rainy here in Wisconsin, but yesterday was made better by being able to spend the evening eating and chatting with good friends.


As I was setting the table, I tried to remember what my grandma taught me. 


Appetizers consisted of tomato salsa, Garden of Eatin' tortilla chips and naan pizzas.


For the main course, I chose to make farro soup, not only because we always have the ingredients on hand but because this vegetarian soup satisfies my meat-loving husband.  It's a basic soup, but yet has terrific flavor.



I made bread in our dutch oven for the first time yesterday and was surprised at how well it turned out.  Ernesto asked for the recipe, which was a great sign because he's from Italy and knows good bread :)


I made this same bundt cake last weekend, and it received rave reviews, so I decided to make it again for the dinner party.  Instead of the glaze, I added a dusting of powdered sugar which was a nice alternative, although both finishing methods are tasty.


All of the recipes I made for the September 24x24 can be found on my Recipage...

Tomato Salsa
Naan Pizza
Farro Soup
Rustic Bread
Apple-Walnut Bundt Cake

I really enjoyed hosting a 24x24 dinner and spending the evening with Jen and Ernesto.  Guests who bring vino and a bouquet of peppers are especially loved! 

September 19, 2011

Apple-Walnut Bundt Cake



I really like Martha Stewart's Living magazine.  This recipe comes from the October 2011 issue.  I couldn't find an online version of the recipe, but I made a few changes to her overly-fussy recipe, so I wouldn't recommend following her exact recipe anyway.

Apple-Walnut Bundt Cake

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 tart green apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider




Chris and I each ate one piece when I made it last night and we both loved it.  I could have easily eaten more, therefore I brought the rest into work so my co-workers could help me avoid temptation... although I did have another slice at work today.

The first co-worker I ran into said "oh no, I just joined Weight Watchers this weekend!"  We then decided the apples made it a healthier choice and it would count as a fruit exchange.  Hey, there are 3 apples in the recipe! :)


My newest favorite product is Baker's Joy.  I saw it recommended on America's Test Kitchen and immediately purchased some.  It is a fantastic way to grease and flour a pan all in one slick move.

September 15, 2011

Vegetable Paella

After receiving peppers, tomatoes and eggplant in today's CSA box, I decided to make paella for dinner.  I followed a recipe on StrongWomen.com, making only only one change, which was to add a bit more salt at the end.

This dish is delicious, but does not look nearly as appetizing after it has cooked.  Therefore, I've shared a before and after photo to encourage you to try this recipe!


Printer-Friendly Recipe

10 strands Saffron
1 medium eggplant, cut into ¾ inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bell peppers (any color), sliced in 1″ pieces
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/4 cup Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 lb tomatoes, fresh, chopped
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
6 oz mushrooms, fresh, cut into chunks
15 oz garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

I made this same recipe almost exactly a year ago, on 9/12/10.  It's no surprise, considering the seasonal nature of my cooking during the CSA season.

I do not like the cooler weather because it means winter is just around the corner, however I do like that the change in seasons gives me a chance to try some new pumpkin and soup recipes, and revisit old favorites.

September 07, 2011

Birthday Cake Pops

Have you heard of cake pops?  They were made famous by Bakerella, and now even Starbucks is serving them.  I've wanted to try making them, but there are quite a few steps involved and didn't want to do it on my own.


Luckily, my co-worker Katie agreed that we should make birthday cake pops to bring into work for our birthday treats (her birthday was 9/3, mine was 9/4).  Katie is just a young thing, having just celebrated her 24th birthday.  I have a friend who is 11 years older than me, and I used to think she was ancient...now that's me!


I made a white cake and chocolate cake last night, to allow time for each to cool.  After a long weekend of camping, I did not have time to make cakes and frosting from scratch, so I used two Betty Crocker cakes mixes and frosting. 

There are many, many cake pop recipes online.  Here's my version...

Birthday Cake Pops

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes


Ingredients (40-50 cake pops)
  • 9x13 cake
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup frosting
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon paramount crystals (optional)
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • drizzle bottles (optional)
  • lollipop sticks (sold at Michael's, Jo-Ann's, cake supply stores, etc)
  • styrofoam (at least 2 feet long)
Instructions
  • Bake a 9x13 cake, and let cool for several hours. Do not cover until cake has completely cooled.
  • Crumble the cake into a large bowl with your hands (or in a food processor until fine crumbs    form, which is much faster).
  • Add a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of frosting (I needed a 1/2 cup for a white cake, and 3/4 cup for a chocolate cake). Mix with hands.
  • Roll cake mix into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with wax/parchment paper (40-50 cake balls total). A small Oxo scoop forms the perfect size balls.
  • Place cake balls in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Melt 1 pound of chocolate (add 1 tbsp of paramount crystals, if desired, to make the chocolate thinner for dipping). I used two Wilton melting pots which worked really well.
  • Insert stick into chocolate, until 1-inch of the stick is covered. Then place into the center of each cake ball, and insert into styrofoam for a few minutes until hardened.
  • Dip cake ball and tap on the edge of the pot until the excess chocolate drips off.
  • Add desired decorations. You will need another 1/2 pound of chocolate if you drizzle chocolate after dipping.
  • Place cake pop in styrofoam to hold upright, while the chocolate hardens.
Notes:
  • It's helpful to only remove half of the cake balls from the freezer at one time, because they will slide down the sticks if they soften too much.
  • If adding sprinkles, do so immediately before the chocolate hardens. If adding drizzle, be sure to allow chocolate to harden completely.
  • I use Wilton's 3x4" treat bags to cover each cake pop individually, and tie them around the lollipop stick.
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We got tired of decorating with sprinkles and drizzled the majority of our cake pops, which was much faster!  Be sure to add sprinkles immediately after dipping before the chocolate hardens.