Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rainbow Float

This is definitely more of an idea than a recipe, but it's such a smashing idea that I had to share!  My brother's soon to be wife is the one who told me about rainbow floats when we were down visiting my family a couple of weeks ago.  We may or may not have stopped at the grocery store that night to get the ingredients, and after we got home to Alaska, I may or may not have taken myself right over to the store again!  That really says something coming from a person who is not especially fond of sherbet (until a couple of weeks ago, I hadn't had sherbet for maybe 10 years) or root beer floats, and who has a dessert/sweet treat once a week.  There's just something about the sherbet-soda combination that is just perfect, though.  Three flavors of ice cream if you go with rainbow sherbet, the bubbly tartness of the 7 Up, the creaminess and foam of the two together.  Yum!

I even took a picture of my rainbow float to share, but it looked so bad that I figured we'd be better off without.  A decent photographer would make it look beautiful, though, and it certainly tastes beautiful!

Rainbow Float

rainbow sherbet (or whichever flavor you want)
cold 7 Up

Scoop sherbet into tall glasses, then top with 7 Up.  It will foam up a lot, so don't add too much soda at once!  Serve with a straw and a long spoon.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Secret Recipe Club
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal!  This month, my blog assignment was Jessie Weaver's blog.  Her blog has recipes on it of course, but also posts about all kinds of other things.  I spent a solid two hours reading her posts the other day and really enjoyed it!  Jessie is a great writer and seems very thoughtful and kind.  Her kiddos are super cute, too.

Anyway, on to the recipe.  Hope Jessie doesn't mind that the recipe I went with is one she posted 7 years ago!  I can't help it, I love broccoli cheese soup, and the recipe she shared sounded really good.  I did alter it some.  Butter and full fat cheddar instead of cooking spray and light cheese, added an extra cup of chicken broth in place of one of the cups of milk because I didn't want to waste part of the carton of broth, and after tasting it I added both salt and a bit of mustard to punch up the cheese flavor.  I also decided to sprinkle the cheddar on the individual bowls of soup as a garnish so it could just barely melt into the soup- yum!

In any case, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the soup.  It's thick, creamy, has great flavor, and is basically the perfect comfort food.  I can pretty much guarantee I will make it again!  Next time I would try doing 8 oz Velveeta because it was surprisingly difficult to detect, and I say that as someone who cannot stand even the tiniest bit of Velveeta in any other recipe.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 Tbsp butter
1 C diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 C chicken broth
1 lb frozen broccoli florets (or can use fresh, chopped broccoli)
1 tsp bottled yellow mustard (not dried)
1/4 tsp black pepper
salt to taste (start with 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 C milk
1/3 C whole wheat flour
6 oz Velveeta by weight, diced
shredded cheddar cheese for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat and add onion.  Saute until the onion begins to soften, then add garlic, and saute until golden.  Add chicken broth and broccoli.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and whole wheat flour until smooth.  Bring pot of soup to a boil and pour in milk mixture in a thin stream while stirring the soup continuously.  Let simmer about 5 minutes so the flour has time to cook and thicken the soup.  Add Velveeta and stir until melted.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your preferences, I made sure to leave some bigger pieces of broccoli.  Divide soup among bowls and sprinkle each bowl with a tablespoon or two of grated cheddar.

Yield: 6 servings 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ina Fridays: Bibb Salad with Basil Green Goddess Dressing

It's Ina Friday time again!  This is my third month participating, and the recipe I chose this month was a big hit at our house.  The recipe category this time was Appetizers/Drinks.  There are lots of tasty looking Ina Garten appetizer recipes, but this one for Bibb Salad with Basil Green Goddess Dressing immediately caught my eye.

For some reason the idea of green goddess dressing has always intrigued me.  I've only had it once before, on a large lunch salad at a restaurant.  Unfortunately, the combination of herbs they used was extremely off putting and strange tasting, to the point that I couldn't force myself to eat it!  Lucky for us, though, this recipe was pretty amazing and unlike any other dressing I've had.  The basil is incredible and the flavors all just work together perfectly, especially after spending a couple of hours in the refrigerator.  It reminds me a bit of a good caesar dressing, but the basil really sets it apart.  It was great on salad of course (I used bagged butter lettuce), but I think it would also be good in pasta salad, potato salad, or with fish, shrimp, or chicken.  I also had some as a snack with baby carrots and cucumber and it's great that way, too.

Quick Note:  This recipe makes a lot, about 3 cups!  I halved it (though wrote the full amount of ingredients below) and it turned out great.

Basil Green Goddess Dressing

1 C chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
1 C chopped green onions, green and white parts
1 C mayo
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 tsp anchovy paste
1 C sour cream

Place everything but sour cream in a blender, the bowl of a food processor, or in a bowl compatible with an immersion blender.  Blend until smooth.  Scrape down sides, then add sour cream, and blend until completely incorporated.  Taste the dressing and add more salt if necessary.  The dressing will look a bit thin, but should thicken nicely in the refrigerator.

Refrigerate dressing for a couple of hours before serving so the flavors can develop.  A few other blogs that have shared this recipe say the dressing stays good in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, but I'm skeptical and think 1 week sounds more likely!

To make the salad, just arrange washed, dried, and torn bibb or butter lettuce on plates, then top with tomato wedges and dressing.

Yield: About 3 cups

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

Secret Recipe Club

I'm very excited to have joined a new cooking group called the Secret Recipe Club!  I've been wanting to join it for well over a year, so this is a long time coming.  The idea behind it is that each month, you are randomly assigned another member's blog, and your blog is assigned to someone as well.  Then you poke around on the other person's blog and pick any recipe, make it, then post about it on a specific day.  Fun!

My first match is the blog This Gal Cooks, which is written by a very nice sounding lady named Julie.  You should really check out her blog, the recipes all look amazing (I had a heck of a time narrowing down my options) and she takes lovely photos.  The recipe I chose was Oatmeal Molasses Rolls because they just looked so tasty and although I love wheat bread with oats on top, I've never actually baked bread with oats or molasses before.

I followed Julie's directions pretty much word for word, and the rolls turned out wonderfully!  They're hearty from the oats and whole wheat flour, but still very soft and fluffy with a hint of molasses.  Most definitely a keeper!  The only changes I would make are that next time I would sprinkle the oats on the rolls right after forming them into balls and really press them in with my hands because the oats ended up just falling off the baked rolls when I waited to sprinkle them on until right before baking.  Also, next time I'd like to experiment with adding 1/4 cup of brown sugar along with the yeast because I think the bit of sweetness would complement the molasses nicely.

Quick Note:  To make a warm place for dough to rise, I turn my oven to 350 for exactly 1 minute, then turn it off, place the dough in a container in the oven, and leave it to rise.  All ovens are different so you may need more or less than 1 minute.  It should be decidedly toasty warm when you stick your hand in the oven, but not hot since you don't want to actually bake the dough.  You can repeat the warming process after an hour or so if the oven has gone cold.

Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

1/4 C butter, plus 2 tbsp more for top
1 C milk
1/3 C molasses
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 C white flour, divided
1 packet yeast
2 eggs
3/4 C whole wheat flour
3/4 C rolled oats, plus 1 tbsp more for top

Place 1/4 C butter, milk, molasses, maple syrup, and salt in a small saucepan and heat over medium until butter is melted.  Remove from heat and let cool until mixture is lukewarm (about 115 degrees) so it doesn't kill the yeast.

While molasses mixture cools, place 2 C white flour and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Attach the paddle attachment and turn the mixer on low for a minute or two, just to combine the flour and yeast.  Add cooled molasses mixture along with the eggs and mix on speed 4 until well combined.  Add whole wheat flour and 3/4 C oats to bowl and continue to mix until well combined.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and add 3/4 C of the remaining white flour.  Mix on speed 2 until flour is incorporated.  If needed, add additional flour 2 tbsp at a time until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and is barely sticky to the touch.  My dough ended up needing exactly 3 C white flour (so 1/4 C more), but yours may be different.

Reduce speed to the lowest setting and knead for 8 to 10 minutes.  Form dough into a ball.  Lightly oil dough ball and the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until it's doubled in bulk.  This will take 1 to 2 hours.

When dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down.  Place on a lightly floured surface and roll into a log.  Cut in half, then cut each half into 8 pieces.  Form into balls and divide evenly among two greased 8 or 9 inch cake pans.  You should have 16 roll balls.  Oil some plastic wrap (I just use no stick spray) and loosely cover the pans. 

Set pans in a warm place and let rise until rolls have doubled in bulk, about 30 to 60 minutes.  Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle rolls with about a tablespoon of oats per pan.  Turn oven to 375 and bake until rolls are golden and cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from oven, brush with melted butter, and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Yield: 18 large rolls

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ina Fridays: Brownie Pudding

This month's Ina Friday assignment was for a dessert, and with my husband's birthday coming up, I quickly decided to make him Brownie Pudding.  The guy loves brownies, chocolate, and batter, so it seemed like a perfect choice. 

I had to halve the recipe because I didn't have baking dishes that would have worked for the whole recipe (you need to make a water bath), used vanilla extract instead of the seeds from a vanilla bean, and did not have the optional framboise. 

Regardless, the brownie pudding turned out really well!  It has a crunchy, sugary crust on top, then the inside is insanely chocolaty (there's more cocoa than flour in it!), soft and chewy near the edges, and delightfully gooey at the center.  I think I may have baked it a smidgen too long because the center was not actually runny, but it doesn't seem to have hurt things one bit.  My husband gave this 10 stars and had two large servings.  Most definitely a repeat, and better than any molten chocolate cake either of us have had at restaurants.

As a plus, this is super easy to make with pretty impressive and very yummy results!  And since you serve it warm (with ice cream, no less), unlike with a cake, brownies, cheesecake, or pie, you don't have to wait for it to cool before serving.

Brownie Pudding

1 stick butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1 C sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder, plus 1 Tbsp
1/4 C flour
seeds of half a vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 Tbsp framboise liquer, optional (I did not have this)
vanilla ice cream to serve it with

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a flat, 1 quart baking dish that fits comfortably inside of another baking dish (you're going to make a water bath).  In the bowl of a stand mixer, place eggs and sugar.  Attach paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and light yellow.

While the sugar and eggs mix,sift together the cocoa powder and flour.  Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the cocoa powder-flour mixture, vanilla, and Framboise.  Mix only until combined.  With the mixer still running, slowly pour in the cooled, melted butter.  Again, mix just until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared baking dish.  Set baking dish inside the other baking dish and place it in the oven.  Fill the larger baking dish with enough hot tap water to fill it halfway up the side of the dish.  Bake until a toothpick inserted 1 1/2 inches from the side of the baking dish comes out mostly clean, about 45 minutes.  Do not over bake. 

Let the brownie pudding cool for 15 minutes, then serve with vanilla ice cream.

Yield: 4 servings (recipe says 3, but 4 or even 6 is more realistic)

 Here's a list of the other bloggers that participate in Ina Fridays!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Eggs Woodhouse

My husband and I like watching the show Archer, which is basically about the antics of a James Bond-like guy with a drinking problem and mommy issues, among other things.  Archer enjoys a certain egg dish that he makes his poor, downtrodden English valet named Woodhouse prepare.  The recipe can be found in Adam Reed's book How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written and is ridiculously convoluted and expensive, with an estimate of $130 per serving if you make it exactly as specified.  My husband requested Eggs Woodhouse for his birthday breakfast.  I don't have $260 to spend on eggs (if I'm putting this kind of work into a recipe, I want some, too!), but we all do things for the ones we love, so I decided to give it a go.

Before making it, I went over the recipe and slightly adapted it to make it a little more stream lined and a little less bankruptcy inducing.  For example, my salt was just regular salt, the ham was nice sundried tomato rosemary ham from the deli, and I skipped the saffron and caviar garnishes.  You will be happy to know that I did use BROWN eggs though, just like the recipe says!  I also used a recipe for Hollandaise sauce (from AllRecipes) that doesn't need a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water because I have don't have either of those things.

After a practice run making poached eggs the night before and a solid hour and a half of work in the kitchen the next morning, the eggs were ready!  The recipe may have been a bit of a pain to make, but now I know how to poach eggs, make Hollandaise sauce, and make creamed spinach.  Even better, I'm happy to say that Eggs Woodhouse are delicious.  All the flavors go together very well and we found it extremely enjoyable.  Definitely won't be making it all the time (it also took half an hour to wash all the dishes), but I would make it again for special occasions if my husband asked nicely.

 After all that work, I forgot the paprika!  It was added after the photo was taken.  Toast, too.

Eggs Woodhouse for Two

Creamed Spinach:
2 C tightly packed fresh spinach, chopped finely
3 T butter, divided
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/8 tsp pepper
2 T whole wheat flour
2/3 C milk
1 bay leaf
8 drops hot sauce

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add spinach, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.  Saute until spinach wilts and softens, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat. 
In a small sauce pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour to make a roux.  Whisk constantly until mixture bubbles and begins to turn slightly golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the milk 1/3 C at a time, making sure the sauce is completely smooth before adding more milk.  Immediately add bay leaf, hot sauce, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce comes to a simmer and thickens.  Cook for 1 more minute to make sure there is no raw flour taste.  Discard bay leaf and stir in sauteed spinach.  Heat through, then cover the pan with a lid and set aside

Poached Eggs:
4 fresh eggs (they hold their shape better)
1 tbsp white vinegar
I made my poached eggs exactly according to Alton Brown's video, and they turned out perfectly!  Below I've basically written down what Alton says to do.

Crack each egg into its own small bowl.  Heat 1 1/2 inches of water in a large nonstick skillet over medium.  Use a digital probe thermometer to track the temperature.  Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the water at 190 degrees.  Stir in the vinegar.  Right before you're ready to add the eggs, use a nonstick skillet safe slotted spoon to scrape the bubbles from the bottom of the skillet. 

Wait a few seconds for the water to go still (you don't want to make egg drop soup!), then quickly and carefully add an egg to the skillet by turning the bowl on its side and allowing water to go into the skillet so the egg gently slides out of the bowl.  Repeat with the other 3 eggs.  Set timer for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  Continue to monitor the temperature of the water as the eggs cook. 

When their time is up, gently remove the eggs (in the order you placed them in the skillet) with the slotted spoon.  They may stick to the bottom of the skillet a bit, but you should be able to gently jiggle them loose.  Remove the eggs to a plate lined with 3 layers of paper towels, and cut off any excessive bits of egg white with the edge of the slotted spoon.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce: 
 2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp yellow mustard
4 drops hot sauce
1/4 C butter

Place egg yolks, mustard, hot sauce, and lemon juice in a small bowl (one big enough for an immersion blender to fit into) and blend with the immersion blender for a few seconds.  Place butter in a glass measuring cup and microwave until completely melted and quite hot, about 1 minute if the butter is straight from the fridge.  Turn immersion blender back on and blend the yolk mixture while you add the butter in a thin stream.  Blend until sauce thickens and is smooth.

Additional Ingredients:
-4 artichoke bottoms (I used canned, fresh ones would be better)
-4 oz shaved deli ham, sliced chiffonade
-2 button mushrooms, sliced as thinly as you can
-buttered toast (optional)

To Assemble:
Prepare artichoke bottoms, ham, and mushroom, and place in the refrigerator until needed.  Make the creamed spinach and set aside.  Make the poached eggs and set aside.  While the eggs poach, you should have enough time to put bread in the toaster and make the Hollandaise sauce.  Be sure to work quickly after the eggs are done cooking because you don't want them to get cold!

Place the pan of creamed spinach back on the stove over low heat so it can warm up for a minute.  Heat the ham and mushrooms.  I just stuck the covered bowl of ham in the microwave for 45 seconds and the mushrooms for 20 seconds.

Divide the creamed spinach between two plates.  Arrange the artichoke bottoms over the spinach, then top each artichoke bottom with a poached egg.  Sprinkle the ham over the egg, then sprinkle on the sliced mushroom.  Pour Hollandaise sauce over everything and sprinkle with a bit of paprika.  Serve with toast on the side if you'd like.

Yield: 2 servings

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Copycat Frito Lay Bean Dip

This is just a really tasty, easy, and CHEAP recipe for bean dip.  We think it's better than the canned stuff from Frito Lay.  It has more flavor, as well as a definite spicy kick.  You could also make two batches of this for the price of one tiny can of bean dip!  I found the recipe over at Food.com and it's basically perfect exactly as written.

Copycat Frito Lay Bean Dip

1 can refried beans (check the ingredients if you want to make your dip vegetarian or vegan!)
2-5 jarred jalapeno slices (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 Tbsp brine from the jar of jalapeno slices
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Blend all ingredients in a food processor, or alternatively, place everything in a smallish bowl and blend it with an immersion blender until smooth.  Serve with corn chips or tortilla chips, or you can make a quick lunch by spreading some on a flour tortilla, sprinkling with a bit of shredded cheddar, and rolling it up.

Yield: About 8 servings