Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spinach Lasagna( CI)........

Yummy!! This lasagna rocks. Here we have another winner from Cook's Illustrated. I've made this a few other times, but couldnt remember if I'd blogged about it. Its a bechamel based sauce with 1 cottage cheese layer. I've never been a fan of CC in my lasagna, I much prefer ricotta, but you puree the cheese in a food processor and it really works well. This lasagna is pretty much so you only need a small slice. Thats a good thing because I made a German Chocolate Cake for dessert that was amazing!!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cowgirl chicken casserole and Shrimp Etouffee.....

One day last year I was surfing through the zillions of foodblogs and found a recipe for a chocolate peanut butter pie. The recipe came from Emeril's book called PotLuck kicked up comfort food with attitude. The book was less than 1.00 used so I bought it. We were invited to a bday party potluck on Friday so I pulled out the book and found these two recipes. I REALLY wanted to make the shrimp etouffee because shrimp was on sale ( 31-40) for a really low price of 3.99 a bag. Robin nixed that idea saying a lot of people don't really like shellfish so I made it for us instead. It was super easy to make and really tasty. Etouffee means smothered and thats basically what it was. You start by making a light roux and then you add the famous cajun trinity. Bell peppers, onions and celery. Shrimp stock is added next( I used Better than Boullion lobster stock and it worked fine) and this mixture simmers for awhile. Shrimp is added in last and its served over rice. I had some white rice leftover from a Chinese food meal we had so it was a snap to reheat.

We decided on this cowboy( I renamed it cowgirl) chicken casserole for the Friday Potluck. I did a lot of the prep on Thursday night so it came together fast. Emerils recipes include a lot of steps, but the flavor really comes thru. This dish consists of diced or shredded chicken( you poach it in a flavorful broth) over crushed crunchy tortilla chips. Next you make a mushroom bechamel( no canned soup here!!) and pour that over. Diced onions, peppers, cheese and spices round out the next layer. Oh and lots of shredded cheese. Canned chopped tomatoes and green chilies finish it off. It bakes for 40 min and voila!! It was very tasty and as you can see, it make a huge dish.

ps: The blogger upload picture thing wasnt working so I had to use a cut and paste from snapfish. The pics are big, sorry for that.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Big super nutty peanut butter cookies(CI)......

We all know by now that Robin is a peanut butter freak, a title she wears happily. My friend J is also a lover of all things peanut butter. I'm off to Ann Arbor to visit J and her partner for a few days so I thought I'd whip these up. The recipe came to me in the America's Test Kitchen newsletter and as per usual, Cook's Illustrated didnt dissapoint. These were very peanutty, thanks to a dose of chopped nuts. I actually halved the recipe but while mixing I realized I added the full amount of peanut butter. I didnt have another full stick of butter softened, but I did have 2 tbls so I used that and proceeded with the recipe( but I did use only half the amount of chopped nuts). They're still really good, next time I make them I'll use the correct amount of butter. I used the ridged side of my meat pounder to make the marks( spray it with pam first).

Big, Super-Nutty Peanut Butter Cookies Add to Favorites Shopping List
Bringing the butter, peanut butter, and eggs to room temperature makes it easier to blend the ingredients. Be sure to grind the peanuts, since whole, and even chopped peanuts tend to slip out of the dough. If using unsalted butter, increase salt to 1 teaspoon. Keep finished cookies refrigerated in airtight container. To restore just-baked chewiness, wrap a cookie in a sheet of paper towel and microwave for approximately 25 seconds. Cool before serving.
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), salted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter , preferably Jif
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup roasted salted peanuts , ground in food processor to resemble bread crumbs, about 14 pulses (about 1 cup, packed)

1. Adjust oven rack to low center position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

2. In bowl of electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with electric mixer, stopping to scrape down bowl as necessary. Beat in peanut butter until fully incorporated, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gently stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture. Add ground peanuts; stir gently until just incorporated.

3. Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time (see illustration 1 below), roll into large balls, placing them 2 inches apart on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Following illustration 2, press each dough ball with back of dinner fork dipped in cold water to make crisscross design. Bake until cookies are puffed and slightly brown along edges, but not top, 10 to 12 minutes (they will not look fully baked). Cool cookies on cookie sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 7 days.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Grilled pizza's( Cook's Illustrated) and a puppy....

Robin and I have a favorite pizza place. We love it so much that we could eat it for breakfast( we havent), lunch or dinner. Unfortunately, the pizza place is in S. Florida. We're both a big fan of thin crust pizza though so we really enjoy this Cook's Illustrated recipe for grilled pizza. We hosted a small cooking get-together a couple weeks ago and I demonstrated the pizza dough, sauce and grilling method. One of the couple's brought their new dachshund puppy over and Oliver and Harley fell in love!! I've wanted another dachshund for awhile now and was hoping that the cute puppy would sway Robin( We're not having 3 dogs!!) but alas he didnt.

Nevertheless, we had great grilled pizza and a fabulous chopped salad. Some of the varieties I made were.
Pesto w/ grilled veg and goat cheese
marinara w/ pepperoni and fresh mozzarella
marinara w/ sun dried tomato chicken sausage, fresh mozzarella and romano.
bbq sauce, chicken, red onion, cilantro and mozz.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake.....

When I was in Florida last month, I met up with Egulleter Kathryn. We had a great time going out for lunch( Cuban Food), shopping at a restaurant supply and a Super Target and going out to a favorite restaurant for dinner. When we met up, Kathryn gave me 5 of the biggest Meyer Lemons I'd ever seen. These things were huge. They were the size of grapefruits. I gave one to my sister and my BIL made a pasta dish with it. I schlepped the other 4 back to Canada. The day after I arrived back in Canada, I had a dr. appt and I pulled it out to show the nurse. She actually walked around the office showing everyone because she'd never seen a lemon that big either. I found this recipe in Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More ,a book I checked out of the library. The flavor and texture were divine and while a bit fussy to make( anything to requires separating eggs is fussy to me), it was well worth it. I was excited too, to use my new loaf pan I picked up at Williams- Sonoma. I've always been a big believer in the saying " You get what you pay for". This is my second pan in the goldtouch series( I also have the 9 x 13) and I'm a big fan!!