Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mint Chip Ice Cream

Did you know you can eat the cone? That's what my daughter is always asking people at an ice cream store - wants to make sure everybody knows not to throw away the best part! Last week we had ice cream cones in the backyard with her grandma. This was one of the best "easy" ice cream recipes I've made (dump it all in the ice cream maker - no custard involved).

15 days until baby girl #2's due date!

Mint Chip Ice Cream (about 5 cups)

1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
3 Hershey's milk chocolate bars, chopped
green food coloring (optional)

Combine milk, cream and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla, peppermint and salt and 4-5 drops of food coloring (if desired). Stir well. Make according to your ice cream maker's instructions - mine took about 20 minutes. Add the chocolate to the mix in the last 5-10 minutes. Transfer to another container and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours for firmer texture.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coconut Oatmeal Muffins

Not too much of a story about these muffins. As usual, my daughter has been asking me to bake with her and one morning where it wasn't too hot and we had some friends coming over, we tried out this recipe. I used the vinegar/milk substitution for the buttermilk (put 1 T in a 1 cup measure, fill the rest of the way with milk, let it rest for a few minutes) and the blackberry fruit spread that we had on hand. Little girl liked putting the jam in the middle of the muffins but she made a mess!

If you like coconut, the texture and flavor of these were great. They lasted a few days tightly wrapped at room temperature. We made mini muffins and I got about 20 of them, not the full 2 dozen that you can probably get if you don't fill them quite as full.

Coconut Oatmeal Muffins (1 dozen)
from LATimes Food section . . . not sure when

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
3/4 cup shredded coconut
Some kind of preserves (I used seedless blackberry - original recipe says strawberry)

Combine oats and buttermilk in bowl. Let soak at least 30 minutes. Whisk flour with salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Blend together oil, brown sugar, egg and coconut, then add to oatmeal mixture. Blend well. Stir in dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten.

Spoon into greased muffin tins. Using small teaspoon, place preserves in center of each muffin and cover with dab of dough. Bake at 375 degrees 20 minutes for 1 dozen regular sized muffins or 12 minutes for 2 dozen mini muffins.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Caprese Salad

To me, caprese salads taste like summer and the fresher the tomatoes and basil, the better. I had leftover tomatoes and basil the other day so I bought some mozzarella (fresh buffalo mozzarella packed in water is the best kind to use) and made caprese stacks like the picture above. Yesterday, we were in Claremont and had lunch for the first time at Some Crust Bakery and I had a caprese sandwich on toasted french bread. The bread wasn't too thick and the vegetables were so fresh and yummy. Enjoy summer and make a caprese salad or sandwich today!

Here's what I did for those stacks:
Put some extra virgin olive oil on a plate and drizzle some balsamic over it. Grind some pepper and sprinkle a little salt. Then layer in this order (from the bottom up): tomato slice, mozzarella, basil. Sprinkle a little more olive oil/balsamic/pepper and repeat the layering. I think the basil on the very top looks festive!

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Waffles

I saw a friend's post about these waffles and went to buy yeast the next day. Then I waited until I had some friends over to make a batch. I'll admit, I didn't know how many waffles the recipe will make and there were 5 kids there so I made them bisquick waffles before I served these to the big people. Is that mean? We had maple syrup, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream to go with the waffles. I can't wait until the day I can have a strong cup of black coffee or a mimosa!

I don't often bake with raised batters or dough but this couldn't have been easier. I think it's my new favorite waffle recipe. You have to plan ahead and start the night before, but it's really easy in the morning - the batter will be ready before your waffle maker heats up.

If you're weirded out by leaving milk out all night (didn't bother me), this is what David Lebovitz says: "If you are concerned about leaving the yeast mixture on the counter overnight with the milk in it, you could probably put the mixture in the refrigerator, then take it out 1 hour before you plan to use it."

Raised Waffles (makes 8 in a belgian waffle maker)
From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham

1/2 cup warm water
1 package dried yeast
2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Use a rather large mixing bowl--the batter will rise to double its original volume. Put the water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand to dissolve for 5 minutes. Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth and blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs, add the baking soda , and stir until well mixed. The batter will be very thin. Pour about 1/2-3/4 cup batter into a very hot waffle iron. Bake until golden and crisp. This batter will keep for several days in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dessert on the Grill

We had friends over for dinner last week and Nicole brought dessert to make on the grill. I'll admit that I've looked at recipes in my Weber Grill Deck and a few cookbooks over the years but have been a little chicken to do something sweet on the grill. I was missing out!

Nicole brought peaches and plums that she had soaked and we sprinkled them with sugar before grilling. Amazing. Our neighbors snuck in the back gate just before dessert to help us eat it all up. It was beautiful and I wish I had some photos to share.

Grilled Stone Fruit ala Nicole
Heat 2 cups OJ, 2 cups water, 1 cup light brown sugar until the sugar dissolves. Then off heat, add 1/4 c light rum. Soak 3 firm stone fruits, cut in half, pits removed for 2 hours.

Remove from liquid, dredge in turbinado sugar and grill each side for 2 minutes. Nicole used spiced rum and sucanat for both sugars and got all 7 pieces of fruit into that amount of liquid.

I made homemade key lime ice cream to accompany the fruit. I think next time I might try making a coconut ice cream (recipe, anyone?) but the tartness of the lime went well with the fruit.

Key Lime Ice Cream (makes 1 qt)
from Cooking Light May 08

Easy as can be - combine the following ingredients, pour into your ice cream maker, follow your maker's instructions (mine took about 20 minutes) and transfer to the freezer for an hour or two so it'll firm up a little.

1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
2/3 cup Key lime juice (bottled or fresh)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies in a Stand Mixer

One purchase that has never disappointed me has been my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I have a well-used and loved hand mixer that I still get out for different cooking & baking tasks, but when I'm doing a big batch of cookies, whipping egg whites (that flourless chocolate cake) or making bread dough (the dough hook is what originally inspired the purchase), I turn to the Kitchen Aid.

Here's a recipe for easy oatmeal cookies where you just dump the ingredients into your mixer. I made them for no other occasion than I just felt like having a cookie. (Almost) instant gratification.

Bec's Oatmeal Cookies (3 dozen)

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar

1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Reduce the speed of the mixer and add
1 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 c. oats

Put it on the stir setting and stir in
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. cranberries
(Can substitute 1 cup of other dried fruit, nuts, etc. - this is what my husband likes in his oatmeal cookies!)

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Take them out when the middle looks not quite set but the edges are brown and crispy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Corn & Tomato Salad with Cilantro Dressing

This is only the second time I've made this salad. I once took it to a barbecue where it wasn't a big hit and I took almost all of it back home. The crowd at the 4th of July picnic we were invited to this year liked it much better. It was a really fun, tasty picnic for the 4th followed by a great fireworks display in Monrovia. Wish I had a picture of my daughter grinning and laughing while she covered her ears - it was so special.

The recipe calls for raw corn kernels, which I think is a little unusual. I didn't see any great looking sweet corn at the grocery store (missed farmer's market last week) so I used bags of frozen sweet corn from Trader Joe's which I dumped in boiling water just long enough to thaw it. The dressing is great - I'd make it for other salads or to use as a marinade - and the simplicity of only a few vegetables in a cold salad works well.

Corn and Tomato Salad with Cilantro Dressing (serves 6-8)
Adapted from Bon Appetit July 2006

Combine in large bowl: ;
3 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 small ears of corn)
3 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded, chopped
Half of a red bell pepper, finely chopped
2/3 cup finely chopped red onion

In blender, purée until smooth:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper

Stir the dressing into the vegetables and serve at room temperature or cold.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer so far

Our summer has been great. I've only been out of school about a month and baby girl #2 is going to arrive in another month but we've been enjoying the simple pleasures of summer.

Some highlights have been our family trip to Pismo beach (thanks mom and dad!)

Watching the progress on our new home. The interior isn't much to look at yet but I can picture it in my head and we sometimes take little girl out for ice cream in our new town to check on the work.

Praising art work and new swimming skills

Good times with girlfriends (leisurely breakfasts, even with 5 kids in tow and making s'mores over our backyard fire pit - missed you Lisa)

Celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary with two wonderful meals and an overnight away (first course at the Bungalow in Corona Del Mar).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cilantro Lime Rice

I know making rice isn't rocket science. I've relied on boxes of rice pilaf (Near East is my favorite brand) for a long time but lately, I've been skipping the box and spice packet and spicing it up myself. I've also noticed that the step of toasting the rice a little before adding the liquid makes the end product a lot better.

Here's one of our current favorites, modeled after the rice they use at Chipotle. It goes well with Mexican flavored dishes or grilled fish. I like it in burritos or with tacos al carbon. Hope you like it as much as we do!

Cilantro Lime Rice (4 servings)

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 cup long grained rice (I like to use brown)
2 cups water
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
1 lime (juice and zest)

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add the rice and toast in the oil for a few minutes.

Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered until tender, about 20 minutes for white rice or 40-50 minutes for brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the cilantro, lime juice and zest.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baking Cake Part 2

The day after the church potluck, I went to a baby shower for a very dear friend from college who is also expecting her second child. Our due dates are only 10 days apart and since she lives out of state, it was especially fun to get together. I can't wait to meet her baby boy but it's kind of crazy to think that the next time we see each other, we'll have 4 kids between us. We enjoyed a great meal with other college friends and I brought a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Here's my belly and the dessert (thanks Amber for the photos!):

I haven't made this recipe in probably 4 or 5 years. There aren't many ingredients and choosing a good quality chocolate is key (I used Scharffen Berger 72% cacao). Separating and beating the egg yolks and whites is the hardest part. If you know someone who has to eat gluten-free, this is a decadent dessert that you can serve. I really wanted to toy with the ingredients (add a teaspoon of cinnamon or sub the vanilla for almond extract or add some espresso) but since I hadn't made it in so long, I stuck to the recipe.

I used to serve this with raspberry puree which is really easy to make: Thaw a bag of frozen raspberries, put them in the blender until smooth, and strain the seeds. This time I served it with sliced strawberries (macerated with about 1 tablespoon of sugar for 2 cups of strawberries) and whipped cream.

When the cake came out of the oven, it was really puffy and cracked on top and I thought I had overbaked it. The cake sunk quite a big as it cooled (which is normal) and when I unmolded it, the edges crumbled a bit. I thought it looked cakier than I had remembered, which is suprising because there is no flour or leavening agents. However, when I sliced it, the cake was moist and fudgy and just like I hoped it would be.

Flourless Chocolate Cake (serves 8-10)
from Bon Appetit, January 1999

12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; butter paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring often.

Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold lukewarm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, then fold in vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack (cake will fall).

Gently press down crusty top to make evenly thick cake. Using small knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto a plate or tart pan bottom to peel off parchment paper. Serve at room temperature.

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