Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Lollipops

It is so ridiculously easy to make your own candy that you should never buy any again.

You need a candy thermometer, a lollipop mold, flavoring, and hard candy coloring (different than regular food coloring). And then you're good to go!

2 C sugar
3/4 C water
2/3 C light corn syrup
1 t flavoring
1/2 t coloring

Mix together and cook, over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved (about four minutes). Increase heat to high and boil until it reaches 300 degrees (about eight minutes). Add the flavoring and coloring. Pour into the molds (I like to put mine in the fridge for 15-20 minutes beforehand), add lollipop sticks, and let set (30-45 minutes).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Homemade Lasagna

This is going to look like a lot. It's not. Especially if you make sauce and meatballs and freeze them both. It's worth every second of extra time it takes to make it this way.

Lasagna Noodles
1/2 t salt
3 C flour
2 eggs
3 T water
1 t olive oil

You can either make them the traditional way by combining the dry ingredients, making a well, pouring in the wet ingredients and kneading into a ball. OR you can combine everything in your food processor, with the paddle attachment, and voila!

Once the dough is made, cut off pieces and run through your pasta maker. I set it on the highest setting and run it through. Then the lowest setting to get it as thin as it needs to be. Continue until you are finished with the entire ball of dough.

Bring a salted pot of water to boil. Cook the noodles. It takes less than two minutes so watch them carefully. Set aside.

I use Big Mama's recipe and freeze it. It's better after it's been frozen and thawed. So take a container out of the freezer and thaw it.

White Sauce
1/4 C butter
1/4 C flour
3 1/2 C milk (do yourself a favor and use whole milk)

Melt butter. Whisk in flour. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium until it thickens.

Cheese Mixture
1 container ricotta cheese
1 C parmesan cheese
1 egg

Combine cheeses and egg together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I always have meatballs in my freezer so I just cook them and then crumble into the pan. Or you can make fresh and just cook rather than rolling into balls.

2 lbs ground beef
1 lb sausage (spicy, if you like it)
2/3 C breadcrumbs
3 T minced garlic
1/2 finely chopped red onion
1 t dried basil
2 eggs
2 T water
1/4 C gorgonzola

Mix together everything but gorgonzola. Add cheese at the end and give it a quick mix. Either shape into meatballs (and then freeze) and cook or just cook the mixture for the lasagna.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

Spread some sugo across the bottom of the pan. Layer on noodles. Top with the cheese mixture. Top that with the meat. Then top with the white sauce. Sprinkle on mozzarella cheese. Repeat (it'll take three layers) - sugo, noodles, cheese mixture, meat, white sauce, mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 15 minutes.

I leave the meat out for me and the other vegetarians in my life.

And there you have it! Super delicious homemade lasagna that will beat every other kind you try from here on out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peach Jam

The lady at the farmer's market threw in a bunch of extra peaches the other day, which was really nice of her, but we'll never eat them all before they go bad.

So I decided to make some peach jam.

6 ripe peaches
1 C sugar

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the peaches and let boil for one minute. Remove and immediately place in a bowl of ice water.

Peel and pit the peaches. Slice.

Using a flat pan (I use my cast iron pan), line the peaches along the bottom. Cover in the sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook down until it's the consistency you like...between 30 and 45 minutes. The juice from the peaches and the sugar create enough liquid (like in the photo above) to boil.

You'll have to mix pretty consistently after about 20 minutes, so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Rather than can mine, I just put it in small, round tupperware. Then I threw some in the freezer and kept one in the fridge. Of course, it's delicious on toast, but I also love it with brie on French bread or a cracker.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ricotta Gnocchi and Scallops

I was watching Iron Chef and Cat Cora made ricotta gnocchi with some sweet butternut squash sauce and scallops. Because butternut squash is out of season and Iron Chef doesn't post their recipes, I had to come up with something on my own.

Here it is..richotta gnocchi and scallops with sweet corn, basil, walnuts, and brown butter. Holy cow is it good!

1 pound ricotta cheese, drained
1 egg
1 C shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 C flour
1 t nutmeg

1 C sweet corn, cut off the stalks
1 T butter

3 T butter
1/4 C walnuts
15 basil leaves (I tore mine right from the plant in the garden)

2 scallops
Olive oil

Ricotta Gnocchi
If your ricotta cheese is wet (you can buy it dry at Whole Foods), you'll have to wrap it in cheese cloth and hang it over a bowl to drain overnight.

Once dry, place the ricotta cheese in a bowl. Add the egg, parmesan cheese, salt, flour, and nutmeg. Mix together really well. Using either a pastry bag or a ziploc bag, fill it with the mixture. If using a ziploc, cut off the end so you can squeeze the mixture through.

Coat a cookie sheet with a pile of flour. Squeeze the mixture into one inch logs onto the flour. Coat the logs in flour and roll into balls.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Drop balls into the water. They rise to the top when they're finished cooking. Remove with a slotted spoon. Place in a warm oven to keep warm.

Spring Corn
Warm up the corn and butter in a small saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Keep on low until ready to use.

Brown Butter Sauce
Place butter, basil, and walnuts in a pan. Melt the butter and cook until it begins to turn brown.

Carefully coat the scallops with salt and pepper. In a heated cast-iron pan coated with olive oil, place the coated side down. While it's cooking, add salt and pepper to the other side. Cook on medium high heat until a nice brown crust is created. Flip over and cook the other side.

Place six to eight gnocchi in the bottom of a bowl. Add the corn and sauce. Top with scallops.

I know this looks like a lot of work, but it took less than 30 minutes, from beginning to end. And it's better than anything you can get in a restaurant. YUMMY!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Zucchini Bread

This is my mom's recipe. I've never strayed from it because it needs no improvement.

3 zucchini, peeled and shredded
4 eggs
1 C vegetable oil
3 C flour
3 C sugar
3 t cinnamon
1 t soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 t vanilla
1 C nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour loaf pans.

Beat eggs and oil. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add zucchini and beat. Add nuts. Mix well.

Fill loaf pans 1/2 full and bake for one hour. I use mini loaf pans so you only need to bake for 45 minutes if you do the same.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Margherita Pizza

Last night we were under a tornado watch, the wind was blowing like crazy, and it smelled like rain. And I decided it was a good time to fire up the grill and make some pizza.

Boy am I glad I did! I dubbed it Deliciousness from the Grill on Facebook.

And guess what? It's so easy you're going to be mad you didn't think of it.

1 package whole wheat pizza dough (I buy mine at Whole Foods)
3 T butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package burrata, sliced
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
Basil, torn into bite-sized pieces
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Fire up the grill (I like mine as hot as possible). While it's heating up, roll out the dough and place on a pizza stone. When the grill is ready, put the dough on and cook for four or five minutes. You don't want the dough to be fully cooked, but you do want it to begin firming up.

In the meantime, melt the butter and add the garlic.

Take the dough off the grill and spread the butter/garlic sauce over the dough. Add the tomatoes, burrata, and basil. Using your thumb, place it over the olive oil spout and sprinkle over the pizza. Do the same with the vinegar. Add salt and pepper (about 2 tsp of each).

Return the pizza to the grill and cook 8-10 minutes.

Now I'm hungry again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crab Cakes with Chipotle Pepper Sauce

This was the winning favorite of the boys' side of the table when I tested recipes (the girls liked the lemon aioli better).

Chipotle Pepper Sauce
3 yellow peppers, sliced
2 chipotle peppers
2 T honey
1/4 C seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 t ground black pepper
Pinch of salt

Add everything to a food processor. Blend well. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Crab Cakes
4 Certified Steak & Seafood crab cakes
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove the crab cakes from their packaging. While the meat is delicious, the cakes lose their form. I found if I used a 1/3 measuring cup and reformed the cake in that, then flipped it into the saucepan, it maintained its shape.

Cook on both sides until browned.

Serve immediately.

Disclosure: I used Certified Steak & Seafood Company crab cakes because they were sent to me as part of their March Nutrition Month blogger campaign. Other than them not keeping their shape, they were very fresh and delicious.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tuscan Bread Soup

This recipe began in Italy. We were in some teeny, tiny town in wine country and Tuscan bread soup was on the menu.

Then, my friend Nat Slavin sent me his recipe with a note that said, during the winter, he always has a pot of it in his fridge.

This is a combination of both recipes, with my own little additions.

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 14-oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
6 C vegetable broth
2 Parmesan heels (Whole Foods has them in their cheese department)
1/2 loaf cibatta bread, cut into squares
2 T herbs de Provence
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

In a large stock pot, melt the butter and warm up the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until softened, three to four minutes. Add the celery and carrots and cook another four minutes. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, Parmesan heels, herbs de Provence, salt (just a pinch), and pepper (about 1 teaspoon). Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for an hour. Add the cibatta.

It's actually better if you let it sit, untouched and in the stock pan, in the fridge overnight. But it can be served immediately. It makes excellent leftovers.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese

One of my most favorite restaurants (behind Naha, of course) is The Purple Pig.

They have this beet appetizer on their menu that is AMAZING! And I don't normally like beets.

I wanted to try to make it at home and I think I got it. On the first try, even!

3 large beets
1 ounce creamy goat cheese
2 t heavy cream
Pistachios, chopped (I like the Planters salt and pepper pistachios; I shell them and then chop)
Olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While it's warming up, trim the beets, cut in half and place face down on a cookie sheet with a rim. Drizzle with olive oil, 2 T of water, salt and pepper. Roast until you can pierce the beets with a butter knife - about 50 minutes.

Let cool. Using paper towels, rub the skins off. Cut into fourths.

Goat Cheese
Place goat cheese and cream in a glass bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until it looks like frosting. Top with chopped pistachios.

When the beats are cooled, add the goat cheese mixture to the top and serve.

Trust me on this. Delicious!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli

Lemon Aioli
1/2 C mayo
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
1 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper

Mix all together. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Crab Cakes
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove the crab cakes from their packaging. While the meat is delicious, the cakes lose their form. I found if I used a 1/3 measuring cup and reformed the cake in that, then flipped it into the saucepan, it maintained its shape.

Cook on both sides until browned.

Serve immediately.

Disclosure: I used Certified Steak & Seafood Company crab cakes because they were sent to me as part of their March Nutrition Month blogger campaign. Other than them not keeping their shape, they were very fresh.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Steak and Bean Salad

Bean Salad
2 cans pinto beans, drained (reserve 1/4 C liquid)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 T cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T green onion, diced
Juice of one lime
1/4 C good olive oil
2 t oregano

Mix everything, including the reserved liquid, together. Refrigerate for at least one hour (can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight).

Kosher salt

Remove the filets from their packaging. Season all sides generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Grill or cook over medium heat. For medium rare, cook for four minutes on one side and three minutes on the other.

Let rest for five minutes.

Spoon the salad into a serving bowl. Slice the filets and arrange on top of the salad.

Serve and enjoy!

Disclosure: I used the Certified Steak & Seafood Company filets because they were sent to me as part of their March Nutrition Month blogger campaign. I'm a vegetarian so I can't tell you if they were great or not, but my guests said they were some of the best meat they've ever had.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

French Onion Soup

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 yellow onions, sliced
3 shallots, sliced
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp flour
1 bay leaf
1/2 C dry red wine (I use cabernet or merlot)
6 C vegetable broth (or beef, if you're not vegetarian)

Whole wheat baguette, sliced and toasted
Shredded gruyere cheese

Melt butter and olive oil in stock pot over medium high heat. Add onions, shallots, leek, garlic, and thyme and cook until caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Cook for five more minutes. Add wine and bay leaf. Simmer for five minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Boil for 10 minutes. In the meantime, turn the broiler on high. When soup is finished, take off heat and ladle into bowls. Top with 3-4 slices of bread and shredded cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and begins to turn brown.