Jan 29, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

The title of this post says it all - these are chewy, chocolate cookies. The were so good and easy to make - the folks at Cooks Illustrated really know their stuff - follow this recipe exactly and you will have the perfect chocolate cookie.  
They are a delicious cookie to have after dinner with a glass of cold milk. Enjoy!
1/3 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup reserved for coating
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp. table salt
1/2 cup dark (or light) corn syrup
1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla extract
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips - no chopping involved and they are big chips - they worked perfect in this recipe)

1. Put 1/2 cup granulated sugar onto a plate and set aside. 
2. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside. 3. In another small bowl whisk together the corn syrup, egg white and vanilla and set aside. 4. Beat the butter, brown sugar and remaining 1/3 cup of white sugar together until light and fluffy (2 minutes). 
5. Add the corn syrup mixture and beat until combined (20 seconds). 
6. Add the flour mixture and chopped chocolate and mix until just combined (30 seconds), making sure there isn't any unmixed flour pockets. 
7. Chill dough for 30 minutes. 
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.
9. Divide the dough into 24 equal portions, roll between your hands into a ball and then roll the balls in the sugar to coat. Put on baking sheets, 2 inches apart and bake 10-12 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheets and then cool fully on a wire rack. 

Jan 28, 2010

Soy-glazed Salmon and Spinach

This meal was from one of those nights where I didn't have something 'planned' and I hadn't been to the grocery store yet - so I had to use what I had available in the house at the moment.   I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to make in this situation (and avoid giving up and just getting take-out).  I usually have some individual salmon portions and I always have frozen spinach on hand - so these recipes were perfect!

  I love the taste of soy sauce on fish - so I really enjoyed this recipe.  My husband prefers my standby salmon recipe to this one - but I think I would still make this recipe again.   I used frozen spinach (since it was all I had on hand) but this would be so much better with fresh spinach. 


  • 2 individual salmon portions
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry white wine (vermouth)
  • sesame seeds (for garnish)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large bunch of spinach (or 1 bag of frozen chopped spinach)
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

for the salmon:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine sugar, soy sauce, oil, lemon juice and wine in a small bowl and stir to combine.  
2.  Place salmon in a baking dish and cover with the glaze.   
3.  Bake for 15 - 20 minutes - occasionally basting with the glaze.   Check the temperature of the fish - it is done at 130 degrees.   Garnish with sesame seeds.

for the spinach:
Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Then add the spinach and soy sauce.   Cook until spinach is wilted and heated through.  Garnish with sesame seeds. 

spinach: adapted from Men's Health

Jan 27, 2010

Mexican Crockpot Chicken

This is a great - very easy - crockpot recipe.  You just throw everything in and turn it on - it doesn't get much simpler than that!  It only takes about 2 hours on high or 3-4 on low, so it's easy to throw together in the afternoon and serve for dinner at night.    I serve this recipe over some rice - but I also think it would taste good rolled in a tortilla with some cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
  • 2 jars (16 oz.) salsa - your favorite kind
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped in chunks
  • 1 red pepper,diced
  • 2 tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1 can (16 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
for serving:
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Rice - white or brown

1.  Combine chicken, salsa, corn, onion, pepper, taco seasoning and black beans in your crockpot and stir to combine. 
2.  Heat in HIGH for 2 hours or LOW for 3-4 hours. 
3.  Prepare rice for serving.  Garnish with cheese and green onions.

Source: adapted from Heather Drive

Jan 26, 2010

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I should call this recipe - quadruple vanilla bean ice cream - it uses real vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract (I make my own using vanilla beans and vodka), vanilla sugar (also homemade - its just sugar and vanilla beans) and vanilla soy milk.  

As with all of my other ice cream recipes so far - this one is from David Lebovitz.  Except this one is even easier than the others since it doesn't require a custard base - it's called Philadelphia style - there are no eggs.  The changes I made are using the vanilla sugar, upping the vanilla extract amount and using the vanilla soy milk in place of the whole milk - just because we always have vanilla soy milk in the house (my husband is addicted to it).  I hoping to make some more ice cream recipes with soy milk if anyone has any suggestions for recipes!   Enjoy!


  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 cup whole milk (I substituted vanilla soy milk)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or vanilla sugar)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1 cup cream and the milk and the vanilla extract.
3. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. 
4. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use (I add it to my vanilla sugar).
5. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Jan 25, 2010

Light Wheat Sandwich Rolls

I love homemade bread, which has become apparent on my blog so far (here, here and here), but I actually never made my own sandwich rolls before - I always just buy them from the grocery store.  So I thought it would be fun to make my own to go with the crockpot pulled pork.   They are so easy to make - and there is something very special about freshly baked bread.  
I did mixture of wheat and white flours - which is definitely my favorite combination for bread.  Next time - I'm going to make these about 5 oz. each, just so they are a bit bigger (I made them 3 oz. this time).  I also did not end up with any left-over to freeze - but these would be so great to have on hand for a burger or sandwich.


  • 2 cups white bread flour  
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour  
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast  
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar  
  • 1 teaspoon salt  
  • 1½ cups water  
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil  
  • 2 tablespoons milk for brushing the rolls
    1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. 
    2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the water and oil. Continue mixing on medium-low until the dough is elastic and supple, about 8 minutes. (You may need to add a little more flour or water to get the correct consistency – it should be soft but not really sticky.)
    3. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

    4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm and rise at room temperature until it’s double the original volume, 2-4 hours.

    5. Give the dough one turn, by folding it into thirds like a sheet of paper going into an envelope, than in half the other direction.
    6. Allow the dough to rise again, which should take about an hour. Give it another turn, then let it rise again, which will probably take less than an hour.
    7. Once the dough has doubled in size for the third time, cut it into 12 pieces (approx. 3 oz. each makes a total of 12 rolls - make them larger or smaller depending on what size roll you want to end up with). Very gently pull the edges of each dough ball around to one side and pinch them together.  Roll the dough between the palm of your hand and a board, lightly floured if necessary. Place the formed rolls, pinched side down, on 2 baking pans lined with parchment paper.
    8. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    9. Let the rolls rise until puffy and about one and a half times their original size, 30-45 minutes. 
    10. Brush them with milk and bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown and an instant thermometer inserted into the center of one measures 185-200ºC.  Let cool until room temperature before serving, about 45 minutes.


    Jan 21, 2010

    Crockpot Pulled Pork

    This recipe is just incredible - I've made it several times and I will definitely continue to make it.  It is a great meal for a party since it makes a lot of pork - but it's also great to freeze for later to have as an easy weeknight meal.   The hardest part of the entire process is separating the pork from the fat - but other than that - the crockpot really does most of the work. 

    My husband will not eat pork unless it is 'pulled pork' with BBQ sauce (or bacon).  So I will probably not be posting many pork recipes (unless he suddenly decides he likes it).  
    So enjoy! 


    Spice Rub

    • 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
    • 1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper
    • 2 tbsp. chili powder
    • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
    • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
    • 4 tbsp. paprika
    • 2 tbsp. table salt
    • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp. ground white pepper

    • 1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
    • Your favorite barbecue sauce


    1. Mix all spice rub ingredients in small bowl.
    2. Coat meat completely with spice rub. Wrap tightly in double layer of plastic wrap; refrigerate overnight.
    3. Unwrap roast and place it in slow cooker and add about a 1/4 cup of water. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, until meat is fork-tender.
    4. Transfer roast to cutting board, discard most of the liquid in the pot.  “Pull apart” by tearing meat into thin shreds with two forks or your fingers. Discard fat.  (I use a separate discard bowl for the fat/bones and place the meat back into the crockpot).  I add back in a little bit of the liquid from the pot. 

    5. You can keep the crockpot on low until ready to serve.  Serve with barbecue sauce on rolls.

    Jan 20, 2010

    Spicy Baked Chicken Fingers

    If you are a fan of chicken fingers but not a fan of deep-fried foods - this is a recipe for you!  They are spicy and crispy and super easy to make.  I like to serve them with a mix of blue cheese and hot sauce. So yummy!   These would also make a great chicken finger sub or an easy appetizer for a Superbowl party - just cut up the chicken tenders into bite-size pieces! 

    I used a tip from this recipe - and I toasted my breadcrumbs in a bit of olive oil before I used them to coat the chicken tenders.   This gives them an extra crunch and that awesome golden color - that you usually only get from frying.

    • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken tenders
    • 1 cup of flour
    • 1 cup of Frank's Red Hot Sauce
    • 2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • salt and pepper
    • blue cheese dressing for dipping
    1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of oil and add 1 cup of  the panko bread crumbs to skillet.  Continue to stir until crumbs are a deep golden brown (but not burnt), about 7 minutes.  Repeat with remaining 1 tbsp. oil and 1 cup of crumbs.   Place in a shallow bowl until ready to use.
    2. Put flour in another shallow bowl and hot sauce in another bowl.  Season flour with salt and pepper.
    3.  Dip chicken tenders in flour - shaking off excess.  Then dip in hot sauce.  Lastly - dip in panko and then place on a baking sheet. 
    4.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 mintutes (or until chicken registers 170 degrees on an instant thermometer).
    5.  Serve with blue cheese and additional hot sauce. 


    Jan 19, 2010

    Chocolate Pudding

    I am a huge fan of cook-and-serve Royal Dark and Sweet chocolate pudding.  It's easy (use the microwave directions!), quick and tastes great.  So I never even attempted to try making my own pudding from scratch, but I was feeling adventurous one day and didn't have any of my beloved pudding mix left in the pantry.  So when I realized that I had all of the ingredients on hand to make Dorie's Chocolate Pudding - I decided to give it a shot. 
    What was I waiting for?!
    It did not even compare to the mix - it was out of this world good!  I cannot believe I went this long in my life without trying to make my own pudding.   It was so smooth and chocolately - it was perfection in a bowl.    I will be making this again...and again...and again.....

    • 2 ¼ cups whole milk
    • 6 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and still warm
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1. Bring 2 cups of the milk and 3 tablespoons of the sugar to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    2. While the milk is heating, put the cocoa, cornstarch and salt into a food processor and whir to blend. Turn them out onto a piece of wax paper.
    3. Put the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, the egg and egg yolks into the processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining ¼ cup milk and pulse just to mix, then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to blend.
    4. With the machine running, very slowly pour in the hot milk mixture. Process for a few seconds, then put everything back into the saucepan.
    5. Whisk without stopping over medium heat – making sure to get into the edges of the pan – until the pudding thickens and a couple of bubbles burble up to the surface and pop (about 2 minutes). You want the pudding to thicken, but you don’t want it to boil, so lower the heat if necessary.
    6.  Scrape the pudding back into the processor (if there’s a scorched spot, avoid it as you scrape) and pulse a couple of times. Add the chocolate, butter and vanilla and pulse until everything is evenly blended.
    7. Pour the pudding into bowls. If you don’t want a skin to form (some people think the skin is the best part), press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of each pudding to create an airtight seal. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (if you can wait that long).

    Source: Dorie Greenspan - Baking from My home to Yours

    Jan 18, 2010

    Vegetarian Lasagna

    This was my second attempt making my own pasta noodles at home.  This ended up being a fun project that my sister and I worked on together and served to our family.  It turned out that a team-effort definitely worked best in my small kitchen – I was boiling the noodles and assembling the lasagna layers while my sister was rolling out the pasta sheets.  I'm not sure I would have had room to put all of the noodles if we had not done it this way! Everyone really enjoyed it and I would definitely try this again. 

    Spinach pasta:
    • 5 ounces baby spinach, washed
    • 1 egg
    • ¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus (a lot) more for dusting and rolling
    Tomato sauce:

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped fine
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 16 ounces mushrooms, minced
    • ¼ cup white wine (I used vermouth) 
    • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and pureed
    • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and pureed
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    Ricotta cheese filling:

    • 16 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
    • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    nonstick spray
    8 ounces (2 cups) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

    For the pasta:

    1. Place the spinach in a 12-inch skillet and add a few tablespoons of water. Turn the heat to high until the water boils, then reduce the heat and stir the spinach until it just wilts, about 1 minute. 
    2.  Remove the spinach from the pan (don’t wash the skillet) and place it on a clean dishtowel. Pat and squeeze the spinach until it’s very dry, then finely mince it.
    3. Add the flour to a wide bowl or pie plate, then make a well in the center of the flour. Lightly beat the egg, then add it to the well with the chopped spinach. Stir the flour, egg, and spinach together until thoroughly mixed, then started kneading. Knead, adding flour (we used a lot more flour during this step) as necessary to keep the dough from being sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

    4. Divide the dough into 3 balls. Work with one ball of dough at a time and leave the others covered with a damp dishtowel. Flatten the dough slightly, then roll it through the widest setting on a pasta roller. Fold it in thirds like a piece of paper going into an envelope, then roll it through the pasta roller again, feeding it with one of the open sides first. If at any point the dough is sticky, brush it with flour. Repeat the folding into thirds and rolling a few times. Without folding, run the pasta through the widest setting once more. Adjust the pasta roller to the next-thinner setting and roll the dough through the machine. Continue to gradually thin the dough until the third-to-last setting. Brush it with flour if the dough starts to stick at all. If the strip of dough becomes too long to handle, cut it into two shorter strips and work with each strip separately. Repeat the rolling, folding, and thinning with the remaining balls of dough, laying the sheets of pasta on dishtowels.
    5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add 1 tablespoon salt and reduce the heat until the water is at a lively simmer instead of a vigorous boil. Cut the strips of dough into 8-inch lengths. One by one, dip each rectangle of dough in the water, leave it for about 10 seconds, then remove it and rinse it under running water. Lay the strips of dough on dishtowels.
    For the tomato sauce: 

    1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the same large skillet the spinach was cooked in. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions just brown around the edges, about 8 minutes. 
    2. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking and occasionally stirring until the mushrooms start to brown. First they’ll release a bunch of liquid, but then that will evaporate and they’ll brown. 
    3. Pour in the wine and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the wine almost completely evaporates, then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. 
    4. Bring to a simmer. Simmer the sauce over medium heat until thick, about 15 minutes.
    For the ricotta filling: 
    1. Combine all of the filling ingredients together until ready to assemble - keep refrigerated.

    1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375ºF. 
    2. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray. 
    3. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of noodles. 
    4. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta on the noodles, followed by 1/4 of the cheese, and 1/4 of the tomato sauce. Repeat the layering (noodles, ricotta, cheese, tomato sauce) twice more, then finish by adding a layer of noodles, the last of the tomato sauce, and the last of the mozzarella.
    5. Spray a large sheet of aluminum foil with nonstick spray, then use it to cover the lasagna. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, until the lasagna is bubbling around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and let the lasagna set for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

    Source: adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

    Jan 15, 2010

    Chocolate Ice Cream

    I seem to be on an ice cream kick lately and I know it's January and it's freezing outside - but I can't help it - homemade ice cream is just so much better than anything else out there.  Plus, I got these cute new bowls from Ikea that look so great with dark chocolate ice cream in them. :)
    I cannot even begin to describe how decadent and chocolately this ice cream is.  If you like good dark chocolate flavor - you will love this ice cream.  Go make some for yourself - now! 

    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 3 tbsp. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 5 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips - no chopping involved!)
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • 5 large egg yolks
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

    1. Warm 1 cup of cream with cocoa powder in medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to boil then reduce heat and gently simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.
    2. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in remaining cup of cream.
    3. Pour mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as much as possible. Set mesh strainer atop the bowl.
    4. Warm milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan.
    5. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
    6. Stir mixture constantly over medium heat making sure the scrape the bottom and corners, until the mixture thickens and reaches 170 degrees.
    7. Pour custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla.
    8. Continue to stir over ice bath until cool.  Refrigerate the mixture to cool thoroughly and then freeze it in your ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s instructions.
    Yields 1 quart.

    Jan 14, 2010

    Macaroni and Cheese

    Homemade macaroni and cheese was always something I wanted to make - but my husband has always told me that he didn't like macaroni and cheese (I know!).  Well a few weeks ago - he says to me, "I like macaroni and cheese - just not the kind from the box - I like the homemade kind".    So I made this recipe as my test of that statement, which proved to be true.  And let me add - he was asking if there was more of this after it was all gone in the fridge. 
    I didn't have to look far for a recipe - since the Pioneer Woman's recipe has gotten so many rave reviews - I just kept to this basic recipe.  Definitely a keeper - it was actually gone so fast - I almost didn't get a photo of it.  We had it with friends one night and for lunch with my family the next day.  I'm looking forward to making it again very soon!   
    • 4 cups Dried Macaroni (one 16 oz. box)
    • 4 Tbsp. Butter
    • 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour
    • 2 1/2 cups Whole Milk
    • 2 heaping teaspoons Dry Mustard
    • 1 whole Egg Beaten
    • 1 pound Cheddar Cheese, Grated
    • 1/2 tsp. Salt
    • 1/2 tsp. Seasoned Salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • Optional Spices: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme (I added as dash of cayenne)
    1. Cook macaroni until very firm (I cooked mine for 5 minutes). Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.
    2. In a small bowl, beat egg.
    3. In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
    4. Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
    5. Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.
    6. Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
    7. Add in cheese (keep 1/2 cup out to add on top) and stir to melt.
    8. Add salts and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed!

    9. Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
    10. Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

    Jan 13, 2010

    Fresh Pasta

    Before boiling

    After boiling

    I have very fond memories from my childhood making homemade pasta with my mom and sister.  We had the pasta maker that attached to the side of the counter-top and we would each take turns 'turning the crank' and watching the pasta strands coming out.  So much fun to do with kids!  I still remember the taste of those noodles - we always ate them right after they were boiled with just butter, salt and pepper.  And it's still my favorite way to eat homemade noodles.  Although - I made these and also served it with Swordfish in a Lunchbag (I added some updated photos to that post too - so check it out!) 
    One of the gifts I asked from this year was the Kitchen Aid Pasta attachment (thanks again Nicole)- and that is what I used with these noodles.  It's much easier to use than the hand-crank!  I cannot wait to keep making homemade pasta - it really is pretty simple and still just as fun as I remember.  
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 tbsp. water, plus more as needed
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt 
    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, 1 tablespoon water, olive oil and flour.  Mix on low speed until the ingredients are well mixed and a dough begins to form.  If the mixture is not coming together add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time just until the dough is formed. 
    2. Remove the dough from the mixer and transfer it to a work surface.  Knead 1-2 minutes by hand.  Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 20 minutes before proceeding.
    3. Divide the dough into four equal pieces.  Flatten each piece with a rolling pin until it is flat enough to go through the pasta sheet roller at its widest setting.
    4. Run the dough through the sheet roller on its widest setting once.  Remove the sheet from the roller and lay it on the work surface lengthwise.  Bring both outside edges into the middle, folding the sheet into thirds.  Flatten with the rolling pin until flat enough to go through the sheet roller on the widest setting once again.  Pass the folded sheet through the roller, open end first.  Remove the sheet from the roller and lay it on the work surface lengthwise once again.  Fold the sheet into thirds as before, flatten with the rolling pin and pass through the roller once again.  Continue this pattern until the dough is smooth and supple, approximately six to eight times total.
    5. Pass the dough through the pasta sheet roller at narrowing widths (folding is no longer necessary), narrowing it one setting at a time, until the dough has reached the thinness you desire.  (If at any time the sheet becomes too unwieldy, simply cut it in half and work with each half individually.)
    6. Set the sheet aside on a floured surface, cover with a towel and repeat the entire process with the remaining three segments of dough.
    7. Once all the pasta sheets are finished, pass through a noodle cutter if desired.
    8. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, 2-5 minutes.  Drain well and serve.
    Source: Annie's Eats based on the KitchenAid Pasta Attachment Instruction and Recipe Book

    Jan 12, 2010

    Vodka Sauce

    Vodka sauce was something I never tried to make at home - but always have enjoyed either from a jar or at a restaurant.  Little did I know how simple it really is to make! I had just about 1/2 cup of heavy cream left over from holiday baking - that this recipe seemed like a perfect way to use it up (I just hate wasting food - we call it ort from my days a summer camp!)  And there was definitely no ort at this meal.  You can also freeze any left-over sauce for use later.  Enjoy!

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves - minced
    • 1 stalk celery, diced
    • 1 carrot, diced
    • 2 tsp tomato paste
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1/8 tsp. dried oregano
    • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
    • 1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
    • 1 (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes
    • 2 tbsp. minced fresh basil (or 1 tbsp. dried)
    • salt and black pepper
    • 1 cup vodka
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese


    1. Combine olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, sugar, celery, carrot, oregano and red pepper flakes in a large sauce pan over medium heat, until fragrant and veggies softened about 5 minutes.

    2. Stir in crushed and diced tomatoes with their juice. 

    3. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened - 15 to 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   Using an immersion blender - blend the sauce until smooth. 

    4.  Add in vodka and simmer for an additional 15 minutes - until sauce has reduced by 1/4. 

    5.  Stir in cream and parmesan cheese and keep warm until ready to use. 

    Source:  Giada DeLorentis and an adaption of my favorite sauce recipe found here.  

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    Jan 11, 2010

    Chicken Pesto Pizza

    Chicken Pesto Pizza with Sun-dried tomatoes and Artichokes 
    This pizza is something I pulled together after making the goat cheese, pesto and sun-dried tomato terrine, and I had some pesto and sun-dried tomatoes left over to use up.   This isn't exactly a recipe - since it the amount of ingredients will really depend on how large your pizza is and it's easy to 'eyeball' the amounts of ingredients on a pizza.  But this combination of flavors is absolutely perfect together.  Honestly - I think it could be my favorite pizza ever (and that is coming from someone how has eaten a lot of pizza!). 
    Basically I took one of the balls of homemade pizza dough that I made previously and froze.  I let that rise and shaped the dough.  Cover the pizza with a layer of pesto sauce, then mozzarella, diced grilled chicken, marinated artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes.   Pre-heat your pizza stone in the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.  Slide this pizza in (I use parchment paper, since I don't have a pizza peel) and bake until cheese is bubbly and dough is crisp (around 10-12 minutes).    Enjoy! 

    Jan 8, 2010

    Goat Cheese, Pesto & Sun-dried Tomato Terrine

    I have been waiting for a chance to make this appetizer since the first time I saw it three months ago. So my family Christmas party this year was the perfect opportunity to try this out, since I knew it was something my family members would appreciate.  It really is a great appetizer, since its easy and quick to put together and doesn't require any preparation once you're ready to it eat (expect for a drizzle of olive oil - but that doesn't count.)   I love the combination of pesto and tomato and cheese (actually I have another amazing meal using these same ingredients coming up soon!).   My family really enjoyed this and I can't wait for a chance to make it again! 
    • 10 ounces goat cheese 
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream 
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 tablespoons basil pesto (homemade or store-bought)
    • 6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped 
    • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
    Directions  1. Line the inside of a 2-cup bowl that is about 4 inches across the top with plastic; let the ends extend over the sides a few inches. 
    2. In a mixing bowl, mash the goat cheese and the cream with a fork and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.
    3. Spoon about one-third of the cheese into the lined bowl and pack it into an even layer. Spread the pesto almost completely to the sides of the first layer of cheese. Top with another third of the cheese, the sun-dried tomatoes, and all but 1 tablespoon of the pine nuts. Top with the remaining cheese. Pack down, fold the plastic over, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
    4. Half an hour before serving, take the bowl out of the refrigerator.  Invert the terrine onto a plate, drizzle with a little olive oil, and let sit for a half-hour to warm up. Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts, season liberally with pepper, and serve with bread, crackers, etc.

    Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles

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    Jan 6, 2010

    Butter Pecan Ice Cream

    Another homemade ice cream, another amazing recipe from The Perfect Scoop (if you are going to make your own ice cream - just buy this book and you'll be all set).  I was trying to use up some leftover egg yolks from making swiss-meringue buttercream from these cupcakes and ice cream is my favorite way to do just that.  And let me tell you - this recipe did not disappoint.  
    The only issue I had was that I only had Bourbon whiskey and not Scotch whiskey, as called for in the recipe - I really have no idea how different they taste - but after some googling - I decided to just use the bourbon.  So if you have Scotch - make this with that and you can call this 'butterscotch pecan ice cream'. 

    • 5 Tbsp. Unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. Coarse Salt
    • 2 cups Heavy Cream
    • 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
    • 6 Large Egg Yolks
    • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
    • 1 Tbsp. Scotch Whiskey (I used Bourbon Whiskey)
     Buttered Pecans, coarsely chopped
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Butter
    • 1 1/2 Cup Pecans
    • 1/4 tsp. Coarse Salt
    for the buttered pecans (make up to 2 days in advance)

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and then toss the pecans in the butter and salt to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes giving one stir during baking.
    for the ice cream

    1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan then add the sugar and salt and mix until well moistened. 
    2. Whisk in the 1 cup of the cream and the milk. 

    3. Warm the sugar and cream mixture and pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl with a mesh strainer set on top.
    3. In a separate bowl whisk together the yolks, then slowly pour the warmed cream mixture into the eggs whisking all the time to temper the yolks but avoid scrambling them. Scape this mixture back into the saucepan.
    4. Stir this mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula (until it reaches 170 degrees).
    5. Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream and stir in the vanilla and scotch/bourbon then stir until cool in an ice bath. 
    6. Chill this mixture thoroughly and then freeze in your ice cream make according to its instructions. Add the buttered pecans during the last few minutes of churning.

    Source: The Perfect Scoop

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    This is my favorite cornbread recipe.  I served it with my beef chili.  It's really quick to whip up while the soup is simmering for two hours!  The addition of the whole corn kernels is one of my favorite parts of this recipe.   Enjoy it!


    • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose four
    • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp. table salt
    • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup frozen (or fresh) corn, thawed
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 2 large eggs
    • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


    1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

    2. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

    3. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl until combined; set aside.
    4. In food processor or blender, process brown sugar, thawed corn kernels, and buttermilk until combined, about 5 seconds. Add eggs and process until well combined (corn lumps will remain), about 5 seconds longer.
    5. Using rubber spatula, make well in center of dry ingredients; pour wet ingredients into well. Begin folding dry ingredients into wet, giving mixture only a few turns to barely combine; add melted butter and continue folding until dry ingredients are just moistened.

    6. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth surface with rubber spatula.

    7. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.  

    Jan 5, 2010

    Triple Coconut Macaroons

    In honor of a very special day (today is my 30th birthday! eek! - This is the first time that I honestly can say I'm starting to feel 'old'!) I'm going to share the recipe for one of the best desserts EVER - triple coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate.  These cookies are simply divine.  In my opinion - coconut and chocolate are just the perfect combination.  They are also simple and quick to prepare - what more can a birthday girl ask for?  ;)  

    • 1 (15 oz can) cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
    • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
    • 4 large egg whites
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 3 cups unsweetened shredded desiccated coconut (found in the natural foods section)
    • 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut 
    • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray parchment with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. 

    2. Whisk together cream of coconut, corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla, and salt in small bowl; set aside. 
    3. Combine unsweetened and sweetened coconuts in large bowl; toss together, breaking up clumps with fingertips. 
    4. Pour liquid ingredients into coconut and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened. Chill dough for 15 minutes.
    5. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Form cookies into loose haystacks/pyramids with fingertips, moistening hands with water as necessary to prevent sticking. 

    6. Bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking.
    7. Cool cookies on cookie sheets until slightly set, about 2 minutes; remove to wire rack with metal spatula.  Cool cookies to room temperature on wire rack, about 30 minutes.
    8. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Melt 8 ounces of chocolate in microwave, heat at 50 percent power for 3 minutes and stir. If chocolate is not yet entirely melted, heat an additional 30 seconds at 50 percent power. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 ounces chocolate until smooth. 

    9.  Holding macaroon by pointed top, dip bottom and ½ inch up sides of each cookie in chocolate, scrape off excess with the edge of the bowl and place on cookie sheet.  Let cool until chocolate hardens.   
    Enjoy - you can thank me later :)