Friday, May 22, 2009

My Comeuppance

** Check out Leward's comment in the last posting.**

I warned him that I was going to put up the picture. You rocked that tie, Dude! :) Anyway, it got me thinking of a similar accessory that my mother drags out every St. Patrick's Day so here's my comeuppance:

Guest Cook - Lee Fluty

A friend from college and I were talking on Facebook last night and he reminded me of his recipe for peanut butter bars. I have been making his recipe at Christmas since...well, let's just say...a long time ago. It struck me that this doesn't have to be made only during the holiday season, although that's when he gifted me with his culinary goodie. It would be a fun treat any time!

Lee is an accomplished musician, computer techie and it seems, quite the actor. (I never knew!) He always speaks highly of his lovely family and thank goodness for Facebook - now we can keep up with each other and reminisce about our college-days.

I'm sure you'll enjoy his humor as much as I do. So without further adieu...

Leward's Famous Peanut Butter Squares™

· 1 lb powdered sugar, sifted
· 1/3 pound finely crushed graham crackers
· 1-1/2 cups creamy (or crunchy if you prefer) peanut butter
· 1/2 pound butter (margarine can be substituted, but if you’re only doing it to make this recipe more healthy, don’t bother)
· 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips (if you’re not a true chocoholic, milk chocolate can be substituted)

Mix the first four ingredients in a large bowl. You can do it in any order, but here's my time-tested method: Sift powdered sugar into bowl, pulverize graham crackers (I put them in a zipper bag and use a rolling pin) and stir them in (trust me - you don't want to use an electric mixer here, as powdered sugar and mucous membranes were never meant to come in contact with each other), add peanut butter and mix as well as you can with a large spoon, melt butter on stove and pour over the mixture, then get your hands into it to mix everything together thoroughly. Pad the mix evenly into a 9x13 pan. Wash or lick hands clean.

After you have munched on a few, melt the remaining chocolate chips. I used to do this on the stovetop, but found 1:45 - 2:00 in the microwave does the job pretty well with less risk of burning. Stir the chips to ensure they're completely melted, and then spread the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture, leaving enough on the sides of the bowl to satisfy any now-insatiable chocoholic cravings. Once you have licked all the chocolate off the melting bowl and washed it down with a large glass of non-lowfat milk, chill the choclified peanut butter mixture for 2-3 hours (until chocolate is hardened).

Cutting into squares is a little tricky, as the chilled chocolate will want to break along its own lines. I'd recommend scoring the chocolate a few times before actually cutting through it. You can also bring the finished masterpiece back to room temperature to cut it, but then the peanut butter mixture tends to crumble. Either way something's going to be a little messy, and of course you want your presentation to be perfect, so be prepared to eat all the broken pieces as you go, remembering of course that broken pieces have no calories, fat, or carbs.

Couldn't resist sharing his "Be Our Guest" stage picture of the food, but we caught the cook!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Frosted Cinnamon Rolls

I've made these a few times in the last month. For cinnamon rolls, they are easy and delicious. Of course, all baked goods take a little time and effort, but they are sure worth it. At Christmas I make each of my neighbors a batch of these rolls to have sometime during Christmas week. This past year, they were asking for them before I could even get out the breadmaker. This recipe is a hit as a gift!

Frosted Cinnamon Rolls

1 C milk (70-80 degrees)
¼ C water (70-80 degrees)
¼ C butter, softened
1 egg
1 t salt
4 C bread flour
¼ C instant vanilla pudding mix
1 T sugar
1 T active dry yeast

¼ C butter, softened
1 C packed brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon

4 oz. Cream cheese, softened
¼ C butter, softened
1 ½ C confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ t milk
½ t vanilla extract

In bread machine pan, place first nine ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 min of mixing; add 1-2 T water or flour if needed.) When cycle is completed, turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Roll into a 17 x 10” rectangle. Spread with butter; sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting from a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into 21 slices. Place 12 slices, cut side down, in a greased 13 x 9 x 2” baking pan and nine rolls in a 9” square baking pan. Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 min. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min. or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks for 5 min. In a mixing bowl, beat frosting ingredients. Frost warm rolls. Store in a refrigerator.

Serves: 21 rolls
Recipe Given By: Quick Cooking S/O 2000 p. 28

Is your mouth watering yet?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Regina's Dinner Rolls

These are my family's favorite dinner rolls. We've had them for holiday meals and for leftover sandwiches. This easy recipe makes a batch of about 18 rolls. If you have a breadmaker, this is a great all-around recipe to try out.

Regina’s Dinner Rolls

1 C water
2 T. butter, softened
1 egg
3 ¼ C bread flour
¼ C sugar
1 t. salt
3 t. active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in bread machine in order listed. Select dough setting. When done, grease a cookie sheet. Divide dough into 15-18 approximate pieces, place on cookie sheet. Brush with margarine or butter and cover and let rise for 30-40 min or until double in size. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 12-15 min or until golden brown.

Recipe Given by: my friend, Regina

Fried Rice w/ The Sauce

My all-time favorite "leftover" meal! We can use up grilled meat, random vegetables, and leftover rice to make the most delicious Asian-American entree. We always make a huge batch and it doesn't last long around our house. *The Sauce is the secret - so yummy!

Fried Rice

1-1 ½ T. olive oil
1 ½ slices of onion, cut fine
1 ½-2 carrots, cut fine
sm amount of broccoli, cut fine, if desired
½ cob corn, if desired
¼ C water
1 chicken bouillon
2 italian squash, cut fine
2 eggs
1 ½ T olive oil
1 ½ T butter
leftover white rice (@ 2 C)
leftover meat

In a skillet, add 1-1 ½ T of olive oil and cook onions until clear. Then add the carrots, broccoli and corn, cook and stir for a few minutes. Then add ¼ C water and a chicken bouillon cube and squash. Cover and steam until squash is clear, about 5 min. Put these vegetables in a bowl. In the same skillet over med-high heat, scramble 2 eggs in 1 ½ T each of olive oil and butter. Be sure to break the yolks. Put in leftover white rice, and stir to get brown, about 5-7 min. Then add the vegetables and any leftover meat and stir to get warm. Add 4-5 T of “the sauce” or any soy based sauce, stir.

Recipe Given By: Mark Martens

The Sauce

½ C soy sauce
½” of ginger, sliced
¼ C water
1 t. sesame seeds
½ C brown sugar
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 drops Tabasco

Boil these ingredients for 1 min., then strain and serve as a dipping sauce. (Can be doubled.) Serve with white rice.

Recipe Given By: Sofia Valenzuela/Jon Sugimoto

Monday, May 4, 2009

Waffles & Cinnamon Gravy

Mark's family has another traditional meal they serve at holidays or any other time a big group of the family is together. It's waffles and cinnamon gravy and it's beyond delicious. I know I say that about practically everything I put on the blog and this one seems a bit unusual, but it truly is unique and yummy!

Light 'N Crisp Waffles

2 egg yolks
2 C milk
2 C all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 C oil
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Preheat waffle maker. Put all ingredients except egg whites in a large mixer bowl. Beat on low until moistened. Increase to medium, mix until smooth. By hand, gently fold in beaten egg whites. Pour 1/2 C batter in center of grid. Close waffle maker, bake until golden, 3-31/2 minutes. Repeat. Serve hot with your favorite topping.

Serving: 10 6 1/2 inch waffles

Recipe Given by: Oster Wafflemaker Instruction booklet

Hint: It takes my Oster 3 1/2 minutes to cook one waffle, but my large wafflemaker takes about 5 mintues to make 4 smaller squares so the timing works according to your appliance. OIL your wafflemaker prior to putting the first of the batter on to cook.

Cinnamon Gravy

1 C milk
2 T. flour
1/3 C sugar
½ t. cinnamon

Stir flour and cold milk to a thin-med cream sauce. Start heating up and add sugar and cinnamon while cold. Can double easily.

Recipe Given By: Helen Martens (Mark's grandmother)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sam's Recipes

We tried some of Sam the Cooking Guy's recipes! It was a lot of fun...we sounded like such foodies while critiquing the recipes at the dinner table.

We first tried Ginger Scallops. (I'm not going to print the recipes here since you can find them online through the links.) I DID NOT care for this recipe because I'm not a fan of a lot of ginger. Mark was wondering why I would want to try this recipe in the first place because of that fact...I guess I was caught up in the prettiness of the dish or something. Anyway, even though I did not care for the dish all that much, I DID EAT about 5 scallops (2 to start, 3 as seconds) so I didn't "hate" it that bad, did I? :) It is scallops, so how bad could it be? Anyway, if we try the recipe again, we will use half the ginger, add a little garlic and increase the green, that sounds yummy.

The recipe was super easy to make and it looked very pretty. My family did not really care for this recipe either, btw. If you LOVE GINGER, then give this a try.

Pretty in the dish

Pretty on the plate

Next we tried Chicken Spring Rolls. We LOVED THEM! That's putting it mildly...there were so many moans of ecstasy and full tummies it was silly. We are making them again tonight so we can share the recipe with my Dad who's coming for dinner. We LOVED THEM! I had never tried anything with egg roll wrappers before; it was easy & fun making this healthy dish. Spring rolls or egg rolls from Asian restaurants do not compare with these; these are packed with so much flavor. Tasty! We didn't use deli chicken. I think Mark picked up a box of Perdue original roasted chicken "something." (pieces, slices?) I then shredded the cold chicken for the recipe. It worked just fine. Want to see a picture?

We thought we'd leave off the sesame seeds - didn't know if the kids would like them. They didn't change the flavor profile at all and we thought the ones with the seeds were prettier. Next time we'll probably add seeds to all of them. I do have ONE LITTLE PET PEEVE...Sam doesn't give you cooking times (he uses the excuse that our ovens are all different.) That means you're totally in the dark when it comes to guessing how long it will take to get the spring rolls to a golden brown. We let ours cook for 20 minutes. Come on, Sam, give some general guidelines! We could have timed our two dishes a little better if we had known.

We've created little blog monsters...they love taking pictures of food now before each meal.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chocolate Ganche

I have a little obsession problem, especially with food. I can get fixated on a dish and just want to order it again and again if it's in a restaurant or make it again and again if it's a great recipe I've tried. Self-control and moderation are traits I'm working on.

With that said, Macaroni Grill has the most delicious ganache I've ever tasted. You can try it out by ordering a child's dessert of ice cream covered in ganache. Why go for the big fancy adult delicacies when you can have a simple ganache? Trust me, it's so yummy! Well, you can imagine my problem, I hope. Eating at Macaroni Grill for a family of 5 or 6 can get a little expensive. I got away with going last month because I used it as an excuse to celebrate my birthday and Mother's Day is coming, but I thought it might be kinder to my pocketbook if I just learned to make my own.

I went online and read through a couple of recipes and then came up with this combination on my own. It is VERY VERY close to the ganache at Macaroni Grill. It's close enough that I won't have to go out to eat too often, unless I start obsessing about their Italian cream sodas. Gotta' save something to look forward to, right?!

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz. of Bittersweet Chocolate
1 C heavy cream
1 T butter

Break up the chocolate in a glass bowl, set aside. In a small saucepan slowly heat the heavy cream to just boiling around the edges, stir frequently. Immediately pour the cream into the chocolate, add the tablespoon of butter and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Top on cold ice cream.

Recipe: Angie Martens

Hint: When finished with the ganache, store in a plastic container in the refrigerator. When you want to heat up some more for a single serving of ice cream, scoop out a tablespoon or more and heat for 20 seconds in the microwave. Enjoy!

**Update to Come: We made our first batch with Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate. In the next few days I'll make a second batch with Hershey's bittersweet and tell you if it makes any difference.

** Update: The Hershey's bittersweet did not mix as well. It kept wanting to separate from the butter. The chocolate and butter completely separated when I put it in the refrigerator, so I just scraped off the butter and reheated the chocolate without the extra fat. That worked fine. If Hershey's was all I had available, I would not add the butter. The Ghiradelli had a more bittersweet taste, the Hershey's was not as vibrant. The Hershey chocolate didn't set up as well on the ice cream either. You can see below that the Ghiradelli gets a slight shell consistency when it touches the cold ice cream. The ganache at Macaroni Grill does, as well. Both were very yummy so I hope you'll give it a try!