Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great holiday season and a great new year ahead of you!  Tonight I plan on ringing the New Year in with a nice, relaxing and low key dinner with my boyfriend.  On the menu:

Wild King Crab legs with butter herb dipping sauce
Linguine with Roasted Grape Tomatoes in a Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil Sauce
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Lemon
Key Lime Pie

Rather than the bubbly, we are going to go with a nice bottle of wine and a Belgian beer.  Hope you all have a great time ringing in the New Year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Tis the Season: Rolo Pretzel cookies made with Grandma Gen

My Grandma Gen is the Christmas cookie master.  Every year she brings us dozens of delicious cookies, which is great, because my mom and I do not bake often.  This year she delivered some cookies that inspired me to learn the recipe. They are sweet, they are are salty, and they are crunchy--just about everything you want in a Christmas cookie.  The best part is--they don't require mixing, sifting and blending.

Pretzel rings 
(1) 12 oz pkg of Rolos (contains 56 Rolos)
8 oz  bag of M&Ms or pecans or walnuts

1) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to tin foil.
2) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
3) Cover the baking sheet with pretzel rings, so none of the pretzel rings are touching one another.
4) Unwrap a Rolo and place the big end inside the pretzel ring.  Some might not quite fit, but secure it in there the best you can.
5) Set a time for 4 minutes.  Place the cookies in the oven and hit the timer.  When the time goes off, take them out and gently push an M&M or a pecan in the center so the chocolate spreads out.  You may want to hold the pretzel so it does not slide around. 
6) When there is an M&M in the center of each pretzel, set aside the baking sheet and let them dry for 30-60 minutes.  I would suggest putting them in the fridge or if you live somewhere like Minnesota, put them in a cool garage.  Use a metal spatula to remove them from the parchment paper or tin voil and you're done.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Now Eat This! My first cookbook review.

Since it is the holiday season, and many of you may be looking for gifts for foodie in your life, or perhaps someone who is slightly inept in the kitchen.  I purchased Rocco Dispirito's  Now Eat This! 150 of America's Comfort Foods All Under 350 calories upon recommendation from a friend.  While I am not interested in cutting calories, I am interested in eating healthy so I gave it a shot.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Difficulty--The recipes in this book are all very easy to make.  You can make most in 3 to 6 steps and those steps do not include instructions that require a food dictionary.  The instructions are clear and straightforward.

Ingredients--The ingredients in this book are not hard to find and you won't have to venture into any specialty grocery stores for them.  However, the recipes do call for some things that you may not regularly use such as panko bread crumbs.  One knock I have for this book is it calls for a few things I personally do not like to cook with such as Splenda (blech!) and reduced fat Cabot cheddar cheese (C'mon it does not even melt properly.  I use cheddar made with 2% milk and I just use less of it).  It also calls for a lot of "light" and "reduced fat" products.  While I will not knock those completely--please read the labels and see what you are trading-off for the smaller amount of calories.

Presentation-- The cookbook has lots of pictures which I love.  It makes me much more likely to try the recipes.  It is also arranged in a very logical fashion which always wins points with me.  I also like that a full page is dedicated to a recipe.

Taste-- Everything I have made in the Rocco cookbook has been great.  My favorites are the tortilla soup, the sweet potato fries, and grilled chicken with warm mango salsa. I can't wait to try the sweet potato gnocchi and the shepherd's pie.  Oh--and the dessert section looks amazing, but I never make time for dessert.

Overall-- This cookbook is a great buy.  While I have a problem with a few of the ingredients, they are easy to replace.  The recipes are easy to make, they taste great and there is something for everyone in this book whether you are cooking for a picky child or your foodie friend.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow Day Soup

What is better on a day so snowy, that leaving the house is impossible, than homemade chicken noodle soup? The soup was originally meant for a neighbor who is kind enough to let us use his driveway during the frequent snow emergencies we have, but I accidentally added so many vegetables that more broth was needed, so everyone got to enjoy soup for lunch.  The recipe is taken from Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso's New Basics Cookbook.  I have altered the recipe quite a bit to my taste.

Ingredients for the Soup
5-6 cups of chicken broth
1 to 1 1/2 cups for chicken
3 parsnips sliced
3 carrots sliced
3 stalks of celery sliced
1 medium yellow onion chopped
3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for the egg noodles
1 egg
2/3 cup of flower
1/2 tsp salt

1)  This recipe could not be any easier.  Combine all the ingredients in a large stock pot.  Let it simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the carrots and the parsnips are soft.  Once this is done, it is time to make the noodles.  If you do not want to make homemade egg noodles then add about 8 oz of egg noodles and let them simmer in the soup until they are soft.
2)  Break an egg into a small mixing bowl.  Add salt and whisk into the egg.  Gradually add 2/3 cup for flour while stirring.  The mixture will seem really dry and pebbly, but this is okay (I used to panic and want to add more egg, but that just makes a sticky mess).  Cover your hands in flour and mold it into a ball.
3) Cover a surface in flour.  Roll the ball until it is very thin.  Cut into strips that are about 1/4 wide and 1 inch long.  Let them sit for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile bring the soup to a boil.
4)  When the soup is boiling, add the noodles and let them simmer in the boiling water for about 4 minutes.  The soup is done! Enjoy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finals time! and a tip.

Well--I don't have much to offer in the cooking department since it is finals time.  However, it is this time of year when the meals I have frozen really come in handy.  It is also great having a boyfriend who will deliver Chipotle with a surprise raspberry torte from Cafe Latte. :)

During finals, one thing I always fall behind on is cleaning.  I feel like I just do not have the time to spare.  On the other hand--I dread going into a messy kitchen and I hate clutter while I study.  Solution--I set the timer for 20 minutes and just clean until the time runs out.  20 minutes is such a small amount of time and it is amazing what you can accomplish.  So if you feeling short on time, but you don't want your house to be a total disaster, this is a great method do get a little done.