Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I moved!

You can now find See Jen Eat posts over at

You know; as soon as I post another one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thai Mojito

OMG, yes please.

Thai Spring Mojito
1 ounce of white rum (or vodka, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 pinch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 medium Thai basil leaves
3 mint leaves
juice of half a lime
club soda

In the bottom of a Collins or mixing glass, muddle the sugar, water, herbs and lime juice. Pour in rum and stir. Top with crushed ice and club soda. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cocktail Cherries

I'm with the folks at The Spir.It - screw those maraschinos.  I like the little boozy cherries in my drinks!  Hello future Christmas gifts. . . .

The author notes that while she uses Wild Turkey American Honey liqueur (which I have never even heard of, let alone have stocked in my bar), the rest of us can use a mixture of 3 parts bourbon to 1 part honey.  That, I can do.
She also offers up the option of using sour cherries for a more traditional cocktail cherry, even though she went the Bing route.  Rainiers are up for grabs too, though I doubt they'll be as pretty.

Honey Bourbon Cocktail Cherries
3/4 cup bourbon + 1/4 cup honey
1 pint Bing cherries, stemmed and pitted

Simmer liqueur in a small pan for five minutes, then add the cherries and reduce heat. Cook for an additional five minutes then remove from heat and let it cool. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for two days before use. 
I'm going to try jarring these bad boys.  I imagine they'll last quite well that way, what with the sealing of the jars AND the booze.  I think I'll add the cherries and liqueur to the jars and then seal them straight away (versus cooking them on the stove top and letting them cool before jarring), otherwise I think they'll disintegrate.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Summer Salads

The Kitchn knows just what I'm craving.  Light and healthy, not just rabbit food salads for summer.
I cannot WAIT to try the lemony, goat cheese, asparagusy one!

Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese
serves 6
8 ounces uncooked spelt or farro
3 cups water
8 ounces uncooked pearl couscous, or Trader Joe's Harvest Grain Blend
1 3/4 cups water
1 pound asparagus
Olive oil
1 cup sliced toasted almonds
4 ounces soft goat cheese, chilled and crumbled
2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
Salt and pepper
Cook the spelt or farro in a large saucepan or sauté pan over medium heat, adding one cup of water at a time and stirring until absorbed before adding more. Keep cooking and stirring until the grain is al dente and dry with no water remaining to be absorbed.
Meanwhile, simmer 1 3/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Add the Harvest Grains blend, stir, cover and turn to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then remove the lid and cook, stirring, until any remaining moistness evaporates. Mix the two cooked grains in a large bowl and set aside.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut each spear into a 2-inch piece. Rinse out the large sauté pan and dry. Heat a little olive oil over medium heat, and cook the asparagus until just barely crisp-tender - about 1-2 minutes. Add to the grains and toss.
Also toss in the sliced toasted almonds, goat cheese and lemon zest.
Mix the Meyer lemon juice with the oils, taste, and adjust. Pour over grain salad and toss, along with salt and pepper to taste.
This salad lasts very well in the fridge; the herbal flavors of the Meyer lemons bloom nicely when it sits.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I love this idea for serving ravioli.  Why cut them up separate, when you can serve a nice little slab o'rav?  They look like legos.  :)

Photo from a Daily Candy email I got, but I cannot find a source for it. . . .
graffeats at boogaloos san francisco!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta in a Lemon Cream Sauce

Chef Chris DiMinno at Clyde Common in Portland is my new hero.  He made a dish of roasted cauliflower with a lemon cream pasta that blew my mind.  Of course I had to try to make something similar, and this looked like just the recipe to start me off, even though the reviews are pretty hit or miss with some people loving it and others thinking it was too bland.
To start things off, I oven roasted my cauliflower with olive oil and garlic powder - 400 for about 30 minutes, with a quick stir in the middle until it's soft and a bit golden brown.
I put on some whole wheat rotelli pasta once the cauliflower was done and while that was cooking, I started on the sauce.
The juice of one lemon to start, with a packet of concentrated chicken stock from Trader Joe's (I love that stuff), then a little bit of pasta water once the pasta was done to make a sauce.  I cooked the pasta til it was still a bit underdone so it could continue to cook with the sauce.  I used some fat free half and half, and a scoop of fat free sour cream to thicken the sauce and make it creamy - though it really just went kind of gritty - I guess I DO need some fat in there somewhere.  I seasoned it up with a bit more garlic powder and the juice of another lemon, some salt & a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
I had some (boiled - I know, shush) chicken that I used to give the dish a bit of protein power.
The texture was all wrong, but the taste was really good.  I'll keep working on it.

The recipe I mentioned above seems like it might offer up better results - I should've taken my own advice.

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (8 ounce) package rotelle pasta
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place chicken in a lightly greased baking dish. Squeeze lemon over both sides of the chicken breasts and season both sides using 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake for 40 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is no longer pink inside. 

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, season the chicken broth with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and add lemon juice and pasta. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir into cooked pasta, along with the cream and lemon zest. Cook, stirring, over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly before serving.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brussels Sprout Salad

Twice upon a time, I had the most delicious Brussels Sprout Salad ever at Pizza Antica in San Jose.  I had no idea.  I only pan or oven roast the little buggers with various delicious combinations of flavor.  It had never occurred to me to slice them thin and make a warm slaw type salad out of them, but they are AMAZING this way.  I'm so excited to have found this recipe - I cannot wait to make it!!!  Is it way more steps than I thought possible?  Yes.  Will it be worth it?  YES.
Thank you

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad
1/2 slab bacon (approximately 9 slices of pre-cut bacon)
2 Tbsp canola oil, plus 3 Tbsp for salad
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
6 slices country-style bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2" squares
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 large eggs
2-3 brussels sprouts (should have about 40 sprouts)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large shallot, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

To make the vinaigrette, soak the garlic, shallots, and thyme in vinegar for roughly 45 minutes. After soaking, slowly whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reserve covered.
Cut bacon into 1/2" squares and cook over low heat until almost crisp; drain off the fat and set aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp canola oil until just smoking and cook sliced onions over medium-high heat until golden brown; drain and set aside.
Toss cubed bread with extra-virgin olive oil and toast in a 300-degree oven until golden brown and crispy (approximately 20-25 minutes); allow to cool to room temperature and set aside.
Cover the eggs with cold water, bring to scald, and let sit in scalding water for 8-9 minutes (be sure the yolk is firm); run cold water over eggs to stop cooking.
Peel eggs and cut into 1/8ths; when cut, reserve covered in the refrigerator.
Clean the sprouts by removing the first few dark leaves and discarding. Cut off the stem, and separate the leaves one by one. When you get to the light green center and can't pull off the leaves, either slice the heart very thin or reserve for other uses.
In a large sauté pan, heat remaining canola oil until almost smoking and add sprouts leaves; toss until wilted (about 3 minutes), season with salt and pepper.
Add reserved onions and bacon and warm until hot; when hot, add vinaigrette and toss to distribute.
Add croutons and chopped eggs, toss to incorporate, and serve!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jalapeno Poppers

I might get smacked for this, but I always feel like Jalapeno Poppers are a little too greasy, and. . . I don't know.  Just somehow wrong.  I've never been a huge fan.
But this last Super Bowl Sunday (no, we didn't watch any of the Super Bowl), seemed like a fantastic time to try this recipe out.  I had seen it the weekend before and thought, "OMFGthoselookgood."  And you know what?  OMFGtheyAREgood.
I really like that Aarti writes her recipes with a similar voice to me - with lots of editorial.  :)

1 8 oz container of lowfat/light cream cheese, at room temp
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced (cored too, duh)
3 green peppers, roots and tips sliced off and sliced thinly
10 jalapenos
10 slices of bacon, sliced in half
20 toothpicks
** this makes 20 jalapenos with a little bit of the cream cheese mixture left over - oddly enough it is delicious on banana chips (I know, but my boyfriend used to be a stoner and he gets these weird ideas about things I'm cooking and other items in the kitchen for snacking and from time to time I humor him and he frequently finds some new delicious combination that makes me scrunch up my face and say no way), but I imagine on a bagel or toast or crackers or whatever, it's also delightful.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.

In a large bowl, stir the cream cheese until smooth. Add the apples and scallions, plus as much salt as you like.

Slice each jalapeno in half lengthwise, and then scoop out the membranes and seeds.

Using that same spoon, fill each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture; fill until just over the rim of the jalapeno. Wrap each pepper with a bacon half and secure with a toothpick.
Line then up on the baking sheet and pop into the oven until bacon has browned on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes so you don't burn off the inside of your mouth.  Trust me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mushroom smothered pork

No photo because quite honestly, this meal is kind of ugly looking.  It's DELICIOUS though, and pretty easy.  I was inspired by this recipe over at All Recipes.
1/2 - 1 lb mushrooms - cleaned and sliced (I had one of those bags of ready to go sliced mushrooms, so however much that is)
1 can (or box) of condensed cream of mushroom soup
garlic - a couple of cloves, minced
1 small onion or a couple of shallots, minced
4 pork chops
salt & pepper
white wine

Season the chops with salt and pepper.  Saute the onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and allow to get a little bit browned.  Season with salt and pepper.
While the mushies are doing their thing, sear the chops over medium-high on both sides in a nice big skillet.  Once they're browned, add the mushie mixture, the soup, and a glug or two of white wine to the skillet with them.  Cover, and allow to cook away over lowish for about half an hour or so until the pork hits 160.
Serve with mashed spicy sweet potatoes and Aylene's green beans.  I swear nearly everything we make is served with these two sides.  It's warm, and comforting, and perfect for an early spring evening when you're ready for things to start heating up but the rain hasn't quite given up on you for the season yet.

** Updated to mention that it MUST be good if I'm posting it twice - with the same freaking sides.  I am so predictable.  **

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pasta with sausage and peas

I know I've had delicious pastas before that featured crumbled sausage and peas.  I had some chicken (uh, jalapeno chicken actually) sausages in the fridge, and my roommate had some cream and frozen peas that looked stealable.  This could've gone horribly wrong, but actually turned into a pretty tasty Scavenged Dinner.
I sliced up the sausage (it had no casing, and is pre cooked or something so I couldn't crumble it) and set it aside.
I heated two minced garlic cloves in some olive oil til fragrant, then added the sausage.  Once I felt like things were probably pretty close to heated through, I added the frozen peas, the last of my 1% milk, some cream, salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp or so of butter.  I wanted to add lots of romano or parmesan, but only had like, 2 tbsp, boo.  I let it thicken up and added a little bit of the pasta water to make it nice and saucy.  :)
It actually turned out really well - the sauce was super flavorful and I will totally make it again.

Here is a really close recipe, though I did not use anywhere NEAR the amount of cream or butter it calls for!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions

Pr0n tenderloin is more like it - this stuff  is disgustingly delicious.  Thanks Epicurious - for blowing my recent pork tenderloin with onion and apple relish right out of the water.

1 large pork tenderloin (about 14 ounces)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large onion, sliced
2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup dry white wine or apple cider

Preheat oven to 450°F. Season pork with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and sear until all sides are brown, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to plate. Cool slightly. Spread mustard over top and sides of pork. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add onion slices and apples; sauté over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Spread evenly in skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork atop apple-onion mixture.
Transfer skillet to oven and roast until apple-onion mixture is soft and brown and meat thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, about 15 minutes. Transfer pork to platter and tent with foil. Let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour apple cider over apple-onion mixture in skillet. Stir mixture over high heat until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Cut pork on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon apple-onion mixture onto plates. Top with pork and serve.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Mini and regular sized baked donuts - oh boy!!  The chocolate ones are regular sized, the pastels are mini.  They turned out pretty freaking chewy (boo), but the taste was good.  The ones with chocolate glaze were AH-MAZING.  I can't wait to try other flavors and frostings and stuff.  You can pick up the pans (below) online or even at Mollie Stones, which is where I found my mini pan and saved myself the shipping (and waiting, which I hate).
See the difference between the top of the donut (pale) and the bottom (super bronzed)?  Also, you can see that the one mini guy over on the lower left looks a bit like a little bundt - that's him upside down, and that's his brother right side up, above him.
I followed the recipe that comes on the pan (though of course there are others, even by King Arthur!) - the one on the larger sized pan was perfect to make one batch of large (6) and two batches of tinys (24).  They're a bit tricky though.  The big ones looked great, but were BROWN on the bottom and white on top.  If I wasn't frosting with chocolate that may have looked odd.  And the little guys puff up like little round topped muffins with holes in the middle or get weird ridges around the side if you're not careful.
I used nonstick on one batch of my tiny guys, and I thought those ones actually turned out worse than when I didn't use the spray.  On the non-sprayed pans, I just used a couple of toothpicks to pluck the donuts out of the pans while they were still warm - worked perfectly for me.

2 cups of cake flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used vanilla sugar, but don't know that the flavor really showed up in the finished product)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3/4 c buttermilk (I was out and had to do the milk + lemon juice trick)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp melted butter

Preaheat oven to 425.  Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray (if you want).
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  Add buttermilk, eggs and butter.  Beat until just combined.  Fill each large cup about 2/3 full.  Fill the minis about half full.
Bake the bigguns for 7-9 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.  Bake the littleuns for 4-6 minutes or til the same.
Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, or just go for it as I did.  If your donuts are sticking, let them cool a bit.

You can sub out the nutmeg for some grated lemon zest, and I imagine about a jillion other options to flavor the donuts as you like.  Once these were cooled, they did taste just like the good old cake donuts we know and love, if a bit chewy.

Variations and Frostings
Cinnamon Sugar:
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp melted butter
In a shallow bowl or plate, stir together cinnamon and sugar.  Dip the donuts in the melted butter and roll in the cinnamon/sugar mix to coat.

Chocolate Glaze:
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tbsp corn syrup (I only had honey and it worked a treat, though I'm guessing it didn't solidify quite as it would've had I used corn syrup)
1 tsp hot water
In a medium bowl, nuke the chips, butter & corn syrup on 50% power at 30 second increments, stirring in between until everything is completely melted.  Stir in 1 tsp hot water til the glaze is thick and smooth - add another tsp if it's too thick.  Use immediately.

Powdered Sugar:
Put 2/3 cup of powdered/confectioner's sugar in a resealable plastic bag.  Add a donut to the bag and shake the heck out of it to coat.  Don't breathe in or sneeze while eating.

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk (I needed to add more)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or whatever flavor you want - almond, rum, imitation banana. . . have at it)
In a small bowl, stir together sugar, milk & vanilla (or other flavor) until sugar is dissolved.  Use immediately.

And as if that wasn't all bad enough, you can make your own custom colored sprinkles!  I can see myself getting WAY too carried away with this. . . . 


Friday, January 21, 2011

South Beach Hot Chocolate

Tired of buying the little packets of Swiss Miss Sugar Free hot chocolate, I figured it was high time I make my own.  Aside from being simple, (I mean what - cocoa, Splenda, and nonfat milk powder right?), it has the added bonus of no weird ingredients I can't pronounce (for the most part).  How hard can it be?  I started here and was off and running.
Now, this is a giant batch because I have a big old container and really, what else am I going to do with powdered milk?
This can easily be made non South Beach by using regular sugar.

6 cups nonfat dry milk
1 3/4 c Splenda (go for the full 2 cups if you have a sweet tooth)
1 cup*  of unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 (2.1 ounce - the big one) package of fat free/sugar free instant chocolate pudding mix

Combine all ingredients in a container and shake well until combined - it takes a while, keep shaking.  It's better than stirring though, unless you wanted to breathe this stuff in.
Add 3 tablespoons to a mug and fill with hot water.  Stir until combined.
Add a pinch of salt for salted chocolate; a pinch of cinnamon for Mexican hot chocolate; or a shot of Sugar Free Peppermint Syrup for a Snuggler without the buzzy feel good feelings.  Top with Sugar Free Cool Whip (or marshmallows if you're not going South Beach and you used regular sugar instead of Splenda - lucky).

* I tasted it with 1 cup of cocoa powder and wanted more chocolate oomph.  I added another 1/2-3/4 cup or so.  I think it's great, but the boy roommates are politely letting me know without actually saying so, that it is very chocolatey.  Maybe TOO chocolatey.  Pshaw.  As if.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

After seeing a recipe for Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cookies, and eyeballing the LOADS of peppermint bark in my kitchen leftover from Christmas indulgences, I knew what had to be done.
I'll keep some of these in the freezer to see how they bake after being frozen, and bake the rest today and deliver them to two darling families that I know will love them.  Temptation gone, creative urges sated, and friends made happy.  Win-win-win.

1 cup of butter
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder\
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
1+ cup of peppermint bark, broken into little chip size pieces
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until well incorporated and light in color.  Add the egg and the extracts until well incorporated, about a minute. Be sure to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl halfway through.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture cup by cup at medium speed, stopping once all of it is incorporated (do not overmix).  This batter is very dry - do not be alarmed.  It'll form into balls nicely.
Fold in the peppermint bark chips.
Take small spoonfuls of the dough and roll into one inch sized balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 2 1/2 - 3 dozen cookies.

While these were okay, I think I'd prefer to find a better chocolate cookie recipe and alter that, or stick to my beloved peppermint brownies. I found these cookies to be a little greasy and not as chewy as I'd hoped.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookies name is too long.  I think I'll call them OAR cookies (oatmeal-apple-raisin).  I don't need the C - I mean cinnamon just comes with the territory, right?
My problem here is making them somewhat South Beachy.  The last ones were okay taste wise, but a flop texture wise.  I'm hoping the addition of sugar free applesauce and fresh apples will moisten them up a bit.  Science I am fairly good at, but baking science is new.  I'm not quite sure if my moisture to flour to rising agents is right.  I looked at a couple of new recipes, plus the recipe from my last attempt, for guidance, but we won't know until we try, right?

The plan:
2 tbsp butter
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c Splenda
1/4 c Splenda brown sugar blend (or 1/2 c brown sugar if you must)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c AP flour (I may experiment here with leaving this out altogether and going with a full cup of whole wheat flour)
1 1/4 c of oats (quick cooking or old fashioned)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of grated nutmeg
3/4 c chopped walnuts
1 medium apple, peeled, cored & diced
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 c raisins

Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat. 
Prep the apple, toss in the lemon juice and set aside.
Cream the sugar and butter together until creamy using a stand mixer.  Add the egg, applesauce and vanilla and incorporate well. 
Whisk the dry ingredients together, and slowly add to the wet, cup by cup until incorporated, at low speed.
Fold in the nuts and fruit.

Drop tablespoon fulls onto cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until desired doneness.  Allow to cool a bit on sheets, then transfer to wire racks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Goat Cheese

Well, I've finally done it.  I made goat cheese.  It's a ricotta really - same steps I used as when I made the cow's milk ricotta, but I added salt, garlic & herbs de provence to this batch once the whey had drained out.
It's the same grainy, loose sort of crumble, which is. . . . disappointing.  Don't get me wrong, the cheese tastes nice, it's goaty and herby and light and very fresh tasting.  It's just not And the Heavens Parted And The Light Shone Down And The Angels Sang kind of good.  Which is what I'm going for.
Next step - chevre. 
I mean, did I really think great cheese was as simple as adding lemon juice to heated milk?!  Or that I'd magically knock it out of the park on my first go?
(And yes, I'm as guilty as the next guy for referring to chevre as goat cheese, as if that's the only kind.  That's like saying cow cheese, I understand, and yes, I am ashamed).

Note: New England Cheesemaking Supply Company is a great resource.  I just bought a starter kit and some chevre culture from them.  I mean, they've been doing this almost as long as I've been alive - I figure they know what's up.

And to that end, I do believe this woman is my future, if that one post is anything to go on.

Patrick's Birthday

Patrick is already putting in requests for his birthday dinner and cake in April.  Looks like I'm not the only one that plans things four months in advance. . . .
Of course neither is South Beach even a little bit, but it's okay to splurge once in a while, and splurge we will.  I know that it will make me sick afterward, binging on non SB foods always do when I've been good for a long time, which will hopefully only encourage me to stay good.

First up - a bacon wrapped meatloaf he saw on the cover of a magazine called Fine Cooking, which I've never even heard of.  I tweaked the recipe just a tiny little bit based on preference and user reviews.

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
4 oz. cremini (baby bella) or white mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped (1-1/3 cups)
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
3 Tbs. dry sherry
1 Tbs. minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oz. day-old rustic or dense white bread, torn into about 1/2-inch pieces (1-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 lb. ground beef (85% lean)
1 lb. ground pork
2 Tbs. light or dark brown sugar
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
8 slices center-cut bacon

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.
In a medium bowl, toss the mushrooms with the onion, sherry, garlic, 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread, milk, and egg. Stir well, lightly mashing the bread until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the beef, veal, pork, brown sugar, Worcestershire, and the onion-mushroom mixture. Using a large, sturdy wooden spoon or your hands, gently mix just until all the ingredients are blended; you may need to push the meat against the side of the bowl to get the pieces to break up.

Put the meat mixture in a 9x13-inch metal baking pan. Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf about 10x4 inches. Wrap the strips of bacon around the loaf crosswise, overlapping them slightly and tucking the ends securely under the loaf. Pat the loaf back into shape if necessary.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 160ºF, 60 to 70 minutes. Take the meatloaf out of the oven and position the oven rack about 6 inches from the broiling element. Heat the broiler to high. Broil the meatloaf until the bacon is brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Let the loaf rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

Use two flat spatulas to transfer the meatloaf to a serving platter. Slice and serve with the mushroom gravy.
Just in case you were wondering:  Calories (kcal): 340; Fat (g): 19; Fat Calories (kcal): 170; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 26; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 610; Cholesterol (mg): 105; Fiber (g): 1;

Sherry Mushroom Gravy 
1 cup lower-salt beef or chicken broth; more as needed
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices center-cut bacon, minced
6 oz. cremini (baby bella) or white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced about 1/8 inch thick (2 packed cups)
1/2 cup minced yellow onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. dry sherry
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour

Combine the broth with 1 cup of hot water. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring to break apart the pieces, until just starting to crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, onion, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have cooked through and start to brown the bottom of the pan, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the sherry and stir to release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture has browned and is slightly dry and crumbly, about 30 seconds.
Whisk in half of the broth mixture and continue whisking until the liquid is absorbed into the flour, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the remaining broth mixture and bring the gravy to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and thin with water or broth if necessary. Transfer to a small saucepan, cover, and keep warm. Reheat the gravy if necessary before serving.

Served with butter laden mashed potatoes, this is certain to make us very happy to eat and then very ill for having eaten it.  Then of course there will be the meatloaf sandwiches the next day. . . I can hardly wait.  But there's more!!!  Maybe laying in bed on the weekend watching Food Network until we're too starved to stay horizontal any more isn't a good thing.  We saw Paula Deen try to awkwardly set up her son with a pretty blonde AND make an amazing looking meal.  I'd like the whole thing actually, but the cake certainly caught Patrick's attention.

Double Decker Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Nonstick cooking spray

3 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
1 cup butter, softened, plus 1/2 cup, melted
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole buttermilk
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple slices in juice, drained well (reserve 2 tablespoons juice for frosting)
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained well
Pineapple Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows
Chopped pecans, for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and coat with flour.
In a large bowl, beat 1 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
In a small bowl, add the 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Divide the brown sugar evenly into each pan. Pour the melted butter equally over the brown sugar. Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries over the brown sugar. Reserve remaining pineapple slices and cherries for another use.
Pour equal amounts of batter over the fruit and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, carefully arrange 1 cake layer, pineapple side up, on a cake plate. Carefully stack the remaining cake layer, pineapple side up, over the first layer. Frost the sides of the cake with Pineapple Buttercream Frosting. Press chopped pecans into sides of cake, if desired.

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Beat all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.

Yield: about 2 cups

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Being the pickle lover I am. . . .

And being on South Beach as I am. . . . 
I decided to make pickled eggs.  Yes, pickled eggs.  They're like a joke.  Like pickled pigs feet.  Like, who eats those?  And ew.  And so on.

And you know what?  They're not awful.  They're even - strangely addictive.  And the onions that you use to flavor the pickling liquid?  They're good too!  I have no idea "how" to eat them or what they should be eaten with; for now we're just grabbing them as snacks.  And as a SB snack, they do a pretty good job - some nice filling protein from the egg (no, I still don't eat the yolk in these ones), the tangy pickle of the vinegar, and the sweet from the cloves and the little bit of Splenda you use to sweeten the brine; they're pretty well rounded and satisfy a few cravings all at once.
I used a couple of cups of every type of vinegar I had since I didn't have enough of any one. . . I believe it was 1/2 cup of distilled white, a cup of rice wine, and a 1/2 cup of apple cider.  Add to that 1/2 cup of water, 2 tbsp of Splenda, 1 tbsp of pickling spices, one sliced onion, and maybe a couple of smashed garlic cloves?  Something like that (maybe without the garlic). You put your dozen hardboiled and peeled eggs in a jar, pour the pickling liquid over top and leave in the fridge.  We gave ours a good 24 hours before sampling.  The pickling liquid firms the eggs up quite a bit, so texturewise, don't freak out when yours go rubbery.

Bottom line, if you like eggs, and you love a good pickle - fear not, the pickled egg.  Give them a try.  Lord knows Ontarians do if you believe the stories of Canadians who will let you know you're not alone in your pickled eggedness.  I guess they're quite a pub treat for our Northern Neighbors. Can't wait til I can try them with beer and see how it goes.

I absolutely adore the idea of COLORED pickled eggs too (in also loving pickled beets this works doubly).  Roll on Easter!  The idea of that color combo gets me all worked up and wanting to put some in my ramen.
And again with the tiny. . . eeee!  Even better!!

Texas Sheet Cake

Lest I forget to post this horrible "I can hardly read it" recipe before the next time my mom asks me if I have it (even though it is HER favorite), I'd better do it now.  My Aunt Kathy & Uncle Skip's Texas Sheet Cake Recipe!  Ta da!
Texas Sheet Cake
Preheat oven to 350.
2 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine these and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring to a boil:
1 cup butter
4 tbsp cocoa
1 cup water
Then add to the flour mixture.

Now also add:
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla
and mix well.

Spray jellyroll pan (see below) with Pam and bake 20-25 minutes at 350.

1/2 cup melted butter
3 tsp cocoa
4 tbsp buttermilk
1 box confectioner's sugar
Mix well and pour over cake while warm.   
Allow to cool and slice into large squares to be individually tin foiled so they can then be gifted to your mother who can store them in the freezer and enter Nirvana any old time she pleases.

You'll need one of these if you don't already have one:

Meal and shopping planner

Best thing since sliced bread?  Yes, probably.
Especially if you ever catch a glimpse of my "We Need to Shop for South Beach So We Have The Right Kinds of Food In The House So We Don't Fall Off the Wagon, But I Don't Know What We Need, So Let's Look Through the Recipe Books and Select Recipes For Each Day and Then Cram Ingredients Off On The Side and Try To Shop, Which We Both Know Means Crossing the Store 80 Times To Pick Up Some 'Forgotten In The Produce Section' Item."

In any case, enjoy.

I'd LOVE to laminate this bad boy and be able to reuse it.

Yet another steak & mushroom option

Williams Humbert'S Dry Sack Sherry Advertisement 1956
I feel like steak and mushrooms are everywhere, especially in South Beach Diet meals.  Last night after returning from a burger joint (where I only ate my patty, some salad, some sparkling water, and okay fine, five sweet potato fries), my darling co-South Beacher had not yet eaten.
I whipped him up a steak (seasoned with salt, pepper, Garlic seasoning and onion powder), perfectly medium rare (it was really a thing of beauty) and some sauteed mushies.  I didn't just want to leave them MUSHROOM flavored, so I reduced down some beef broth with a dash of Dry Sack and some fresh cracked pepper, and finished it off with a tablespoon of butter.
I cooked the mushies in another tablespoon of butter and a little bit of olive oil and some garlic.  I'm sure the Dry Sack was a bit of a no-no, but what can I say?  My dad got me hooked on Dry Sack and mushrooms as a child and it's one of my favorite flavor combos to this day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hash Brown Quiche

Paula Deen had to take my hashbrown casserole and up the ante with a hash brown quiche.  While I got four thumbs up from my brunch guests, Paula has nearly 300 for this recipe.  What a show off.
This can also be scaled up into larger casserole dishes for larger groups, and the ingredients can be subbed out for just about any others you want to try. I agree with one reviewer though, in that I will cut WAY back on the butter - starting with maybe a quarter stick rather than a half. 
This can easily be served for any meal, not just breakfast or brunch.

Hash Brown Quiche
3 cups, shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and drained
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
1/2 cup diced green onions
1 cup shredded Cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Gently press the drained hash browns between paper towels to dry them as best as possible. In a 9-inch pie plate, toss the hash browns with the melted butter into the plate. Press them into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and starting to crisp.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. When the hash brown crust is ready pour the egg mixture over it and return to the oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes until the quiche is light golden brown on top and puffed.

French Dinner

South Beach and the Food Network do not mix.  Especially not YOU, Ina Garten.  Your treat for Jeffrey - I want all of it and I can only eat one part of it.  CURSE YOU.  But, Phase 1 doesn't last forever. . . . until we meet again, French pastries.

Filet of Beef au Poivre
6 filet mignon, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped shallots (3 to 4 shallots)
1 cup canned beef broth
1/2 cup good Cognac or brandy

Place the filets on a board and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the filets with salt and then press the black pepper evenly on both sides. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the butter almost smokes. Place the steaks in the pan and lower the heat to medium. Saute the steaks for 4 minutes on 1 side and then for 3 minutes on the other side, for medium rare. Remove the steaks to a serving platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, pour all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the saute pan. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the beef broth and cook over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, until reduced by half, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the Cognac and cook for 2 more minutes. Off the heat, swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve the steaks hot with the sauce poured on top.

Matchstick Potatoes - the crispiest fries are my favorite, so I am SUPER PUMPED to try these 
peanut or canola oil 
2 large oval Idaho potatoes, peeled 
sea salt or Kosher salt

Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, optional 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour at least 1-inch of oil into a deep pot and heat it to 350 degrees F.
Slice the potatoes into thin matchsticks (1/8-inch thick) with a vegetable slicer or mandoline, dropping them into a bowl of cold water as you cut. Drain the potatoes and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Drop the potatoes in batches into the hot oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the pot with a wire basket skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the potatoes.
Sprinkle the potatoes with parsley, if desired,(I do not desire - I'll be sprinkling with some kick ass French sea salt thanks) and serve hot.

 p.s. - I really need to pick up one of these for frying stuff

Strawberry Tarts - I fell in love with fruit tarts when I lived in Australia, and they are a favorite to this day; I love the ones with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and kiwi
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, halved, optional

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Roll out the dough and fit into 4 (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides. Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.

Pastry Cream:
5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.
With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.
Yield: 2 cups

I think I need these too. . .


Whiskey Sours - Sidecars would be great with this meal too, and are quite similar, just a bit less tangy - simple syrup can be used in those as well instead of Triple Sec
3/4 cup whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
2/3 cup sugar syrup (see note)
Ice cubes
Maraschino cherries

Combine the whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice, and syrup. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and pour in the drink mix 2/3 full. Shake for 15 seconds and pour into glasses. Add a maraschino cherry and serve ice cold.

Note: To make the sugar syrup, bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil, and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Chill before using.

Turkey Meatloaf

Now that we're back on South Beach (curse you, phase 1!!), we planned out a menu and did a huge shopping trip to get ready for the week.  Somewhere along the line, I thought turkey meatloaf sounded like a great option so we got the stuff.  When I went to make it yesterday, it occurred to me that all of my SB meatloaf recipes are phase 2 or later - everyone wants us to use some sort of grain as a binder.  I wanted to just go for it and not worry about a cup of bread crumbs or oatmeal in the grand scheme of things, but Patrick was adamant.  No starch!!!  Well crap, now what?
This is the recipe I have in my book, and here is one from Kalyn, but flax seed meal?!  I don't exactly have that laying around. . . I had to improvise, and while not ideal (the way the fat came out of the meat was horrifying - I poured at least a cup of liquid off throughout cooking - ew), the loaf actually turned out quite well, and really delicious.  Who knew?

1 package of Jennie-O ground turkey meat (I think they tend to be around 1 1/2 lbs)
1 can of Italian seasoned stewed tomatoes, well drained and smooshed with your hands  (the better you drain these, the less liquid you have to worry about in your loaf later)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp of salt
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese (I'd recommend more if you have it - I would've used more but we were out!  Keep the calories in mind though and don't go nuts)
1 egg

Smoosh everything together - with your hands or a fork if you're squeamish.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, and fill with meatloaf.  Sprinkle a little more parm on top if you'd like (I borrowed a few shavings from my roommate).  Bake until 160 - it took us about 40 minutes.  You might want to check it a few times and pour off any creepy oily water.  Let it sit for a bit and serve with South Beach ketchup (and Sriracha if you're so inclined, and we usually are; Patrick went for it, I went without).
The Italian flavors were really delicious and I'd recommend the combo for any regular meatloaf as well.

We served these with goat cheese stuffed Portobello mushrooms which I cooked alongside, based on another SB recipe that I also couldn't fully execute due to a lack of pasta sauce and basil (should've saved some of those stewed tomatoes I guess).  I put some sliced roasted red peppers down in a baking dish, put some medium sized portobello mushrooms (not the huge ones you'd use instead of a burger, but not the baby creminis either) on top of that, and filled the mushies with a slice of goat cheese and a sprinkling of pine nuts and baked at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Yum.  :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Salad

This looks like a great phase 3 South Beach recipe - just use whole wheat flour in place of AP.  I'd actually really like to eat this right now. . . . thanks Self!

 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 
1 whole egg 
1 egg white 
1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal 
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
2 teaspoons salt 
2 teaspoons sugar substitute
Vegetable oil cooking spray 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 oz each), sliced lengthwise into 1 1/2-inch-wide strips 
1 avocado 
8 oz mixed greens 
1 jar (7 oz) roasted red peppers, thinly sliced 
3 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 tablespoons grapefruit juice 
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 
1 teaspoons honey 
Heat oven to 425°. Set out 3 shallow bowls: Put 1/2 cup flour in the first, egg and egg white in the second and cornmeal and the remaining 1/4 cup flour in the third. Season flour and cornmeal bowls with 1 tsp each of cumin, salt and sugar substitute and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir each bowl to blend ingredients. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Dust each chicken strip with flour mixture, then dip in egg, dredge in cornmeal mixture and place on sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, turning once halfway through, until chicken is cooked and crust is golden brown. Cut avocado into thin wedges. 
Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl big enough to accommodate greens; toss greens in dressing and divide among 4 plates. Top greens with chicken, avocado, peppers and goat cheese.