Tuesday, April 8, 2014

....is Béchamel, Sausage & Peperoncini Pizza


Two weeks ago I celebrated my birthday (with an amazing shared Golden Birthday party!) and this post features two of the lovely gifts I received. CPB found a cookbook for a pizza place in New York, Roberta's, the pictures and recipes are wonderful and the stories of their adventures starting a restaurant are entertaining. This is the best dough recipe I have yet to make. I usually have to par-bake the pizza without the toppings but this one was the perfect amount of crunch and chew baked with the toppings. It was so good we've made this pizza three times since I got the book. 

We made it the third time this weekend so I could get pictures in daylight and have a chance to try out my new lens from Pops, he may have received an anonymous tip in his inbox but it was the perfect gift. I'm still learning the manual setting on my DSLR (most of my blog pictures are taken with my iPhone, for convenience) but from my first attempt I already have a crush on this lens.
(Thank you Lauren for the recommendation! Side note: If you're looking for a photographer in San Diego or Texas check out her blog, she captures amazing moments from military homecomings, family sessions, weddings and underwater photography!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

....is Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai


I squash season over already?!
This winter I fell in love with roasting vegetables. They are just as wonderful by themselves but I would use them in salads or pasta too. I even had Spaghetti Squash for the first time! (I'm a little behind on this wonderful gourd.) I completely undercooked it the first time I tried roasting one. The oven temperature was too low and I may have been  definitely was impatient with the roasting process. 

The first recipe I made was literally turning the squash into a classic spaghetti dish. Roasted Squash, filled with Red Gravy (also known as spaghetti sauce) and fresh Mozzarella. The squash roasts alone until tender and then again with sauce and cheese is warm and until it's wonderfully melty. The 'pasta' is eaten right out of the half of squash, the scooped out center serves as a bowl for the red gravy & cheese. After a few times attempts at this meal, I learned a helpful tip to roasting the Spaghetti Squash perfectly. Roasting it upside down lets the water from the Squash it turn to steam and speeds up the cooking process.

One afternoon, I was talking to Mrs. S on the phone about life and squash recipes (a fairly normal conversation). I asked for her favorite Spaghetti Squash recipe. She didn't have a specific recipe but she loves using the squash to make a gluten free Pad Thai (my recipe was inspired by version I found on the blog 'A Couple Cooks'). The Squash works just like noodles and does a wonderful job holding onto the Thai spices and flavors. I couldn't wait to give it a try!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

....is King Cake for Mardi Gras


Happy belated Mardi Gras!
To celebrate last week I decided to make a King Cake. I was a little nervous so about making this for CPB (a New Orleans native) even though I've had good luck with some of their other classics like Beignets, Gumbo and Jambalaya. A King Cake is essentially a Brioche Cinnamon Roll, instead of cutting the roll and baking individual slices spiral side up the roll remains intact, is formed into a ring and baked. I tried to find a recipe with only basic ingredients, some call for sour cream or cream cheese filling, but I wanted to go a more traditional route. There are a few notes I have that will hopefully help anyone trying to make this for the first time.

1. The Sanding Sugar is the only item I couldn't find in a typical grocery. I located it in a specialty baking shop (Do It with Icing), it's finer than typical sprinkles, which will work just fine or there are a few recipes online that show how to color granular sugar for the topping.
2. Creating a King Cake requires some waiting time, I recommend making the dough the day before and leave it in the fridge overnight. Just let it sit out on the counter to warm up slightly before rolling out the dough.
3. The tradition includes placing a plastic baby (represnting baby Jesus) into the cake. Whoever ends up with this slice is supposed to hold the King Cake Party the following year. Instead of a figurine, I chose to use a pecan half BUT if you are using a plastic baby, put the baby in AFTER you've baked the cake. No one wants to bite into a melty baby Jesus.

It took a little more patience than I expected but the result was wonderful. This is a delicious tradition I plan on repeating next year!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

....is Chocolate Dipped Salted Caramels


Chocolate Dipped Salted Caramels, just in time for Valentines day!

I made these last year for Christmas and while they tasted good, there was a chance biting into them too soon (not letting them melt in your mouth some) would result in a lost tooth. I was determined to do better this year. I think my problem was letting the caramel get too hot and cross over too far into the 'hard ball' stage of candy. Caramels should come off the heat somewhere in between the 'soft-ball' and the 'hard-ball' temperatures. (A candy thermometer is key.) The ideal texture holds its shape in your hand but doesn't require any type of dental procedure, that is you can easily bite through the caramel. Luckily, I was more successful this time around, but even a slightly messed up caramel gets eaten.

Monday, February 10, 2014

....is Coconut Oatmeal



Good Morning!
I'm studying for my (hopefully) last exam before I can officially call myself an Architect. (There are seven nationally required exams and California likes to throw on an extra one for good measure.) As I prepare to study each day I like a nice hearty meal to keep me focused, I also use it as my exam day meal. They don't let you bring snacks into the testing room and I don't test well on an empty stomach. In fact I have a tendency to get 'hangry', a term Mr. & Mrs. M taught me, it's that irrational anger that appears for no reason, except hunger is taking over and anything other than food is slightly infuriating. It doesn't make any sense, and some people manage it better than others, I do not.

So, to fend off the hanger and keep my head in the exam I choose oatmeal. I love oatmeal & brown sugar with a small cup of coffee in the morning, I probably use too much sugar but it's an amazing way to start the day. I like the warmth and it manages to hold me over to lunch without a snack. I also like to top it with Pecan Pie Shortbread, chopped walnuts, or coconut. I had shaved and shredded coconut left over from my winter baking extravaganza. I like a mix of sweetness and a bit of crunch to liven up the oatmeal.
What would you put on your oatmeal?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

....is Steak & Green Beans with Chimichurri


Near the end of Architecture School I spent a Semester abroad in Argentina. And it is one of my favorite places I have ever visited. I love the life style of siestas and late night roof top asadas, the Tango, the wine and the steak. On many occasions I enjoyed what I thought was the best steak of my life, and then we would go out to another place and was sure this was the best steak ever. They were tender, juicy and full of flavor. I can't say this recipe will replicate the lovely meals we had but the sauce does bring back very fond memories.

For lunch, a few times a week, we would walk down the street from our school and eat at The Green Door. (I actually don't know the real name of this restaurant but it had a lime green door and threshold.) I would order the 'Sandwich de Lomo' and for about $2 American enjoy a wonderful cut of steak between a fresh, oversized, French Baguette. The counter and tables all contained a small container of Chimichurri, to drizzle as much as you wanted onto your sandwich. The steak was great by itself but the olive oil, spices and slight tang from the citrus and vinegar only enhanced the flavor. Enjoy!



Monday, February 3, 2014

....is Chocolate Dipped Almond Crescents



In my post on Parmesan Garlic Mashed Potatoes I mentioned I was behind on blog posts, dessert are no exception. Just before Christmas MMcK & I had a baking day extravaganza, we made the Chocolate Dipped Almond Crescent Cookies I'm about to share and five other sweet treats to share with friends and family. We made Pecan Pie Shortbread, M&M Cookies, Peanut Butter Balls, Chocolate Dipped Macaroons, Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels & Molasses Gingerdoodles (only two non-chocolated items). The treat have long since been eaten but I still want to share all of the recipes. Enjoy!

Adapted from Food.com

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