Saturday, August 28, 2010

Roasted Green Beans and Onions

With our green bean plants somehow still producing, I found myself in need of a recipe. None of this just boil and eat them business. I turned first to my Taste of Home cookbook that my momma gave me for Christmas. I found the perfect recipe. (Perfect partially because I had everything on hand)
Hubby and I both really enjoyed the dish- but feel free to change it up to your taste. Don't put garlic in if you don't like it. Add more onion if you love the stuff. You get my drift.

Roasted Green Beans and Onions about 4 servings
(adapted from a recipe in Taste of Home)

3/4- 1 lb of green beans, ends snapped off and washed
1 small onion, thinly sliced into rings (or half rings if you're like me)
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 tbl. red wine vinegar
1 tbl. olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (I used my toaster oven here)
Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the beans for approx. 5 minutes or so. Their color will become more pronounced, but still be firm. Drain.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the beans with the remaining ingredients and mix until everything is covered in oil and vinegar. Place on a greased baking dish. Spread out a little bit- too much spreading and things will burn quickly.
Bake for 10 minutes and check. If you want it more cooked, stir and pop back in the oven for another 5 minutes of so. After 10 minutes, the beans and onions were plenty cooked for my taste. Enjoy!

I have linked up this delicious recipe at:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cocoa Meringues

Hello, hello! I must apologize for the lack of posts recently- I haven't been making many perfected recipes worth posting about. This one, however, is a winner.
Remember that creme brulee I made? Remember how it doesn't use egg whites?
The more I get into "fancy" type desserts- custards and such, the more egg whites I end up with on hand. What does a girl do with extra egg whites? Try another meringue cookie recipe, of course!!
These cookies are chocolately, light, and not that bad for you either! Everybody that tried them liked them. And in a sealed container- they were still good a couple days later.

Cocoa Meringues

3 egg whites
3/8 tsp. cream of tartar
dash of salt
1/4 c. + 2 tbl. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. + 2 tbl. powdered sugar
3 tbl. unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with a whisk or balloon whisk attatchment of a stand mixer. Beat until soft peaks have formed, then slowly add in the granlulated sugar while still beating. Continue beating the egg whites until stiff and glossy peaks have formed. Keep an eye on this to make sure they aren't overbeaten!
Sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, then fold into the egg whites along with the vanilla extract. Drop the meringue on the cookie sheet by large teaspoonfuls. (Alternatively, you can load up the meringue into a piping bag with a larger tip and pipe the meringue onto the cookie sheet.) Bake for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes) and then turn off the oven, leaving the cookies inside to cool for at least 3 hours or up to overnight if you baked them in the evening. After cooling, store the cookies in an airtight container to keep them as fresh as possible and enjoy!

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Creme Brulee

Can you believe that I never had creme brulee until just earlier this year? A couple friends of mine are big fans of it, and when we learned it was the dessert special of the night at the restaurant we met at for dinner, there was no getting around having some! It was delicious.Creme brulee is decadent, smooth and just plain fun. The crystalized sugar layer on top is fun to gently tap, then to crack to get to the lovely custard beneath.
Next time hubby and I had dinner with these friends we all four walked to the grocery store and bought creme brulee ice cream. Also delicious. I had to try making it sometime. The creme brulee, not the ice cream.
Alas, I don't have one of those spiffy hand-held torch things that you caramelize the sugar with. I have heard of people using their broilers, but that doesn't sound fun or ideal. It was then that the hubby tells me he has a welding torch. Nothing huge, but certainly bigger than the little hand held ones at the cooking stores. Perfect!
The recipe was a lot easier than I hoped for. With only a few ingredients- the only thing that really matters is following directions. The outcome is very tasty. Very very tasty. We had those creme brulee loving friends over again and I made this recipe for them. What a hit. Everybody loved it. Yum!
Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures- but a quick internet search would surely give you plenty of ideas.
I used Alton Brown's recipe- and found that it makes more than he says. (That or I give smaller portions?) Anyway- I half his recipe and it makes 4, instead of the 3 it should. Whatever. Hubby then cooks the sugar layer on top and it's done! Alton would be proud that we used the welding torch- not buying a uni-tasker! Hehe.

Creme Brulee serves 4
(adapted from Alton Brown)

2 c. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and the insides removed
1/4 c. sugar (vanilla sugar if you got it) + more for topping them
3 egg yolks (use the whites to make meringue cookies!)
hot water

Heat the heavy cream and the vanilla bean (and insides) in a saucepan over medium high heat and just bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for about 15 minutes. Remove the bean and discard (or rinse off, allow to dry and stick in a containter of sugar to create vanilla sugar)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the 1/4 c of sugar and the egg yolks until the sugar is fully incorporated and the yolks begin to lighten in color just a tad.
Slowly pour the cream into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly as you go to prevent scrambled eggs from forming. We want dessert here, not breakfast. Pour your liquid into four 7-8 oz. ramekins and set those ramekins into a cake pan or roasting pan and fill the roasting pan (not the ramekins!!!) with enough hot water to just come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The costard will still tremble and wiggle a bit in the middle- that's just fine.
Remove ramekins from the water bath and refrigerate until comepletely cool- a few hours to overnight.
Alton says to take the creme brulee out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to serve. I usually forgot to, and it worked out just fine. Right before serving, sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of sugar and shake slightly to spread the sugar into an even layer. Safely using a torch (or your broiler), caramelize the sugar on top until nice and browned and bubbly. Let sit for a minute for the sugar to harden. Serve and enjoy!!

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Roasted Tomatoes

My hubby plants a lovely garden every year. I'm convinced he can grow just about anything if he wants to. Tomatoes are something that he grows and we seem to have a lot of. The season starts for us with a few tomatoes. Then we have a bunch.
This poses an interesting challenge for me. What all can I incorporate tomatoes in besides sauces? And, is it possible to have a side dish of just tomatoes, prepared somehow? Yes.
With a bunch of roma tomatoes in need of being eaten, I went to I remember seeing on there a recipe that involves roasted veggies tossed in pasta. Tomatoes must have their own recipe somewhere as the star, right? Yes! Ina Garten has a delicious recipe for roasted tomatoes posted.

I whipped up the dish along with my pre-planned menu of sweet and spicy pork ribs and wine and garlic sauteed mushrooms. Everything went together perfectly! The tomatoes were far better than I thought they would be. I could see this recipe being prepared for a party, or maybe even a way to try to get kids to eat tomatoes since they are a bit sweet.
I made a few changes to the recipe to suit my needs. Feel free to look back at Ina's version as well as mine and prepare how you wish!

Sweet Roasted Tomatoes serves: about 4

12 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cored and seeds removed (easy to do with a spoon)
2-4 tbl. olive oil
1-2 tbl. balsamic vinegar
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder
1-2 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up on a baking sheet, in one layer. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes. You may not need all 4 tbl, it really depends on how big your tomatoes are.
Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes. Then sprinkle the garlic powder and sugar over the tomatoes, and as mush salt and pepper as you like.
Bake for 25 minutes. (I used my toaster oven and it worked perfectly) The tomatoes will flatten out and look burned- but that's just the balsamic vinegar, don't worry. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Thai Green Curry Chicken

I love Thai food. I had two best friends when I was in elementary & primary school that were Thai. With that said, Asian food is one of the scariest things I can think of to try and attempt MYSELF in the kitchen.
But I wanted to try making green curry like I have had in Thai restaurants. It's delicious. Before going to the store, I did what I always do when getting ready to attempt a dish I'm not familiar with- google it. I looked at lots of recipes. But I secretly hoped that the jar of green curry paste at the store would have a recipe. Lots of brands these days have recipes utlizing their products printed on the product or at a website. This was just the case when I found Thai Kitchens green curry paste. There was an oh so simple recipe printed on the jar. Armed with the paste. fish sauce and a can of coconut milk, I headed home.
When I got home, I decided to check out the vendors website. Low and behold, there were lots more recipes there. I ended up doing a mix between the recipe on the curry paste jar and this one.
The final dish was amazing. I thought it tasted just perfect. Hubby didn't care for the jasmine rice it's served on- so next time I'll make some plain rice for him. I feel so much less threatened by Asian cuisine now!
I know I bought the curry paste. But do you know what all is in that stuff? Lots of things I have never seen at my local grocery store, that's for sure. (lemongrass, galangal, and certain chilis just to start) Plus- I wouldn't know how much of what to put in. The premade curry paste is such an easier alternative. Delicious too. :)
*note* The amount of fish sauce and curry paste you will need may vary depending on the brand you choose, as well as the potency desired. Start will a low amount- you can always add more.

Thai Green Curry Chicken serves 4
(adapted from Thai Kitchens)

1 14oz can coconut milk (I used lowfat)
1/3 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. julienned fresh basil leaves
2 tbl. fish sauce (Thai Kitchen brand)
1 tbl. green curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand)
2 tbl. brown sugar
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 large (or 2 small) carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 c. frozen or fresh peas (optional)
1-2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces.
Jasmine rice

Mix together the coconut milk, chicken stock, basil, fish sauce, curry paste and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce down to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in the chicken and all of the vegetables (whatever combination of veggies you prefer). Simmer the whole mixture over low/medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender. About 10-15 minutes.
Serve over rice. Enjoy!

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