Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Orecchiette

On Saturday I made a pasta dish that I found on Pioneer Woman's web site. Both Big Bear and I really enjoyed it. It was quick and simple. This is definitely a keeper.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

3 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half & half)
Flat leaf parsley, finely minced (I didn't have any so I julienned some basil.)
Fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated1/2 to 1 pound pasta: orecchiette, penne, fusilli, etc.

Roast red peppers, then place in a Ziploc bag to allow to sweat. Peel the charred skins from the peppers, then removed seeds. Set aside.
Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet. Set aside.
Puree peppers with pine nuts. Set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions.
In a skillet or pot over medium heat, drizzle in olive oil. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt.
Pour in cream and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Add cooked pasta, and then stir together. Place pasta into a bowl, top with chopped parsley and plenty of shaved Parmesan.

Follow the link to the Pioneer Woman's site and you can see a much better explanation of how to roast the peppers. I put mine on the grill. It was simple. I won't be buying any more roasted red peppers in a jar, these were simple and good. :o)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Outrageous 'Referral' Brownies

Referrals came out this week and I wanted to bake something special, because a lot of special referrals came out this week. I decided to make Outrageous Brownies from Ina Garten. I’ve seen her bake these a couple of times on her show – yes I admit I watch her show. I learn a lot when I do. Any way, I thought I would make these to celebrate an outrageously amazing batch of referrals.

Chocolate and peanut butter in a fudgey brownie ~ what could be better? How about a recipe that makes a HUGE pan. :) You bake these in a 12x18 half-sheet pan. From all of the reviews I read it is really important to follow the directions precisely when making these brownies. If you don’t tap the pan half way through baking the brownies will over-flow ~ mine were heading that way. It was hard to keep Big Bear out of them, but it is also suggested to make the brownies and then refrigerate them over night. I think that is important, it let the brownies rest and wow what a dense brownie you get. The directions say to cut the pan into 20 servings. These are much too rich to cut that big, for me any way. I cut it into 40 brownies.

If you are looking for a decadent brownie to celebrate with lots of friends, give these a try. Everyone at work loves them.

Congratulations to all the new families. I am so excited for all of you!!!

Orzo and Spinach

Tuesday night Big Bear had a couple of late meetings. I was originally supposed to go to dinner with a friend, but she got the nasty virus that is going around. At first I thought I would go home and have a bowl of cereal or something simple. Right before I left school I was scanning through some of my blog roll and came across a recipe that caught my eye on Ezra Pound Cake, a new favorite blog. I had all of the ingredients so I thought I would give this Orzo with Spinach and Feta recipe a try.

The recipe called for a pound of spinach, but I only had a half of pound. I thought it would be enough, but next time I make this I will add the full pound. I didn’t stir in the spinach like the recipe instructs. I just put it in the pot and then dumped it in the strainer when I drained the orzo. This caused the spinach to clump. Next time I will mix in the spinach with the orzo.

It was really, really good. Even though I forgot to add the pine nuts. Big Bear got home just as I was dishing this up ~ good timing, don’t you think? We both really enjoyed this. It will be REALLY good next time when I remember the pine nuts! :)

Monday, March 23, 2009


I know I've posted this recipe before, but I wanted to get it on the food blog.

At the market the other day they had a HUGE display of avacados. They looked wonderful so of course I couldn't pass them up without grabbing a bunch to make some guacamole. This is what Big Bear and I had for dinner last night. Hopefully there will be some for tonight too if Big Bear doesn't take it all for lunch ~ he said he wouldn't.

If I do say myself it was one of my better attempts. I can't help but think of last summer in Georgia every time I make guacamole. Fun times!

4 ripe avocados, chopped
2 limes ~ squeeze the juice over the avacados
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
½ purple onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped fine
large bunch of cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Serve with chips.

Banana Surprise Cupcakes

The other day I noticed that my banana bread stash as disappearing at a faster rate then it should be. When I asked Big Bear about it he said that he has been taking a couple of pieces to work every day for a snack. This is from the man who used to always turn his nose up at banana bread. Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY happy about it.

While looking at food blogs last week I came across a post for banana cupcakes with Nutella swirls. Big Bear and I have thought about buying some Nutella, but never have. This recipe looked interesting, so I thought I would give it a try.

Of course when I finally had time to make the cupcakes I couldn’t remember where I saw the recipe. (I really need to start book marking the ones I like.) Any way, I thought how hard could this be? I found a banana cupcake recipe and fumbled along from there. Here is my finished cupcake:

It was impossible to swirl the Nutella. The batter was too light, and the Nutella was too dense. This stuff is like peanut butter. So I just pushed it below the surface of the batter. I didn’t realize it would fall to the bottom. It does make a nice surprise when you eat the cupcake.

Even though I am not wild about the Nutella, the cake part is excellent. I wanted to freeze them so Big Bear can take them to work. I had already planned not frosting them, and they really don’t need it. I will make the cake part again and frost them with chocolate or maybe a peanut butter frosting. Yum!
*I didn't have any butter milk so I used a little more than a teaspoon of vinegar with 1/4 cup of milk.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Since I don't make or eat corn beef and sauerkraut I was wondering what I could cook or bake for St. Patrick's Day. After a little search I found St. Pat's Pistachio Cookies. Well, cookies are my thing so I thought I would give them a try.

The recipe is really simple. The finished cookie is like a short bread. They are not an extremely exciting cookie, but I think they'll be good with tea. They are perfect for St. Patrick's day because they sure are green! If you do make them I would offer one suggestion. If you can't find unsalted pistachio nuts cut the amount of salt in half or leave it out all together. I wish I would have.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cozy Comfort Sunday

A week ago I tried my first ever pie crust. Remember this? The recipe makes enough for two single crust pies. I had one left so I attempted to make another pie. Big Bear asked for an apple pie. That’s good, I don’t like apple cooked anything ~ except applesauce ~ so I won’t be tempted to eat it.

I bought lots of apples (six pounds) on Saturday. Yesterday I pulled out the dough all ready to start rolling. Ha! HA!!! What a joke. The so called crust was a crumbling mess of butter, Crisco and flour. I couldn’t roll that mess out if I wanted to. Great! Now what was I going to do with six pounds of apples. We don’t eat THAT many apples.

I pulled out my faithful King Arthur Baking Companion Cookbook. I found a recipe for Apple Cobbler and Apple Crumble. When I saw the ‘secret’ ingredient for the crumble the decision was made. See the ‘secret’?

This recipe made the house smell like fall. It smells wonderful. I did try it, but still not a fan, not even with some of ‘The Captain’ in there. Big Bear says that it is really good. That is all that matters. :)

Earlier in the day Big Bear decided that he wanted to make his mac & cheese. Talk about a great way to spend a cold/rainy Sunday afternoon. In the kitchen making comfort foods.
Luckily I put the foil under the crumble, because it made a bubbling mess.

Big Bear's Mac & Cheese ~ YUM!!!

Banana Coconut Bread

We had some bananas that were well past their prime again. Sometimes we go through a bunch of bananas in less than a week. Then we must get bored with them because we’ll have several left at the end of the week. Not that I mind. I like making this bread. Even Big Bear likes this, and he doesn’t like coconut!

I’m posting this again because there was some interest in what recipe I use. I had a couple of emails from people who wanted the recipe. I thought I would just post it here instead of going back through the emails. Lazy – I know.

The original recipe is from a bag of nuts. My mom cut it off a bag of walnuts 100 years ago. We have been making this bread forever! I have changed it up a little bit, but the basic bread is the same. If you are not a fan of coconut just leave it out. Add three tablespoons of milk instead of the coconut milk. Also reduce the bananas to 2-3. I add four because the coconut can make the bread a little drier. The original recipe also calls for granulated sugar instead of brown sugar. I like the flavor of the brown better. Which ever you prefer works well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Comfort Food

This weekend I wanted to make something to take to my parents’ house. My mom just had surgery, so I wanted to bring a comforting dinner. In my opinion nothing is better than soup when you’re not feeling good. It is so warming – inside and out. I decided to make a Minestrone soup. At least that is how it started. I took some liberties here and there, but the bottom line this turned out to be a really good soup. It made a HUGE pot that we were able to share with my parents, my in-laws, and still have five servings to put in the freezer.

I typed up the recipe after I finished the soup. The measurements aren't exact because I don't measure when I am cooking, only when I bake. If you’re like me just use it as a guideline and add whatever vegetables, beans, or pasta you have in the cupboard. It all works!

A few weeks ago I took a class to learn to bake pie crust. I want to make my own pie crust and not use one from a box. I haven’t had the time to practice what I learned until this weekend.

For my first pie I made a banana cream. It is a pie that everyone in both of our families enjoys. The crust came out 'ok' for a first attempt, but I still need to practice. Thankfully the cream and meringue were pretty good.

The recipe for the cream filling and meringue came from The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. My grandma and my mom have used this recipe for as long as I can remember. Whenever I bake a cream pie I always go to this book and this recipe. It is the best!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March Referral Baking

This month's recipe for my 'Referral Baking' spoke to me as soon as I saw it. It has been said that 'it is darkest right before the dawn'. It is just about to be dawn for several of my friends: Pug Mama, Sea Star, Lisa, and Lisa so when I saw the name of this recipe I thought it would be fun. Then after the sad number of days referred I thought that the chocolate overload was most definitely needed. :) So for the March Referral Baking I made Midnights.

This recipe if from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion I love this cookbook. This is the second cookie I've made from this book, and both times I thought the cookies were going to be dudes, but they came out amazingly good.

When making Midnights you chill the batter for an hour before baking. It was almost two hours before I could get to them, so all of the melted chocolate and butter was as hard as a rock. I really didn't hold out any hope for a good cookie. I was about to chuck the entire thing into the garbage. Big Bear convinced me to give at least one batch a try.

Luckily I did, because these are sinfully good. They are more like little fudgy brownies. They have TONS of chocolate. There is not much flour in the batter so the cookie is very tender. There is also an extra bite of salt. I almost cut down the amount of salt because I thought it was too much, but I'm glad I didn't. I have seen several recipes for salted chocolate cookies lately, it is a good combination.

You can see the recipe HERE. Let me know if you give them a try. I'm telling you, if you need a chocolate fix these are the way to go!