Monday, October 19, 2009

Punkin Cookies

Fall is my absolute favorite season! It's time to break out the cinnamon and the nutmeg and the pumpkins and the apples... I love everything about this season! One of my favorite things is smelling all the warm smells of cookies baking, so I figured that I could combine a lot of my favorite things and make PUMPKIN COOKIES!!!

I used a basic recipe that I found online and followed it through without making many changes (which is pretty rare for me)! I just love the flavor of brown sugar, so I swapped out 1/2 cup of granulated sugar for brown sugar... they turned out great!

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

~ Preheat the oven to 350
~ In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt).
~ In separate, larger bowl, cream together the sugars and butter until thoroughly combined. Add in the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla.
~ Slowly, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend with hand mixer until all ingredients are combined.
~ Drop the cookie dough by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Set on cooling rack to dry.
~ Again, I love sugar and cinnamon, so I whipped up a quick icing with powdered sugar, cinnamon and a little bit of milk. Once all combined, I drizzled over the cooled cookies with a fork.

Because I had a HUGE can of pureed pumkin, I doubled the recipe and came out with TONS of cookies... I took half of the batch to school with me (which my fellow teachers all ate very quickly!) and sent the other half with Curt to his office!

Does anyone else have any good pumpkin recipes?
I think I want to try making a pumpkin cheesecake next!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

I absolutely love living so close to my parents. They are about 10 minutes down the road, so we get to spend time with them. For my mom's birthday, Curt and I thought that it would be nice to have them over for dinner at our place rather than go to a boring old restaurant. I decided to make a feast, so here's what was on the menu!
  • Mussels Josephine (My mom's name is Josephine, so I thought it was perfect!)
  • Steak Au Poivre
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Raspberry Tiramisu
Mussels Josephine

If you haven't had the Mussels Josephine from Bonefish grill, you are completely missing out! I love the way the sauce has a garlicky, lemony, licoricey (is that a word?) taste. It's delicious to dip the mussels in... when you're out of mussels, it's perfect to dip in fresh, warm bread! I found a copycat recipe online. The only problem I have with cooking mussels is that I get annoyed when you buy a whole bunch of them and some of them are dead. I always wash them and if some of them are open a little bit, I tap them on the counter to see if they close... if they do then they are still alive and ok, but if not, you have to throw them away.

Here's a picture of what they look like! I just followed the recipe, except I doubled the recipe for the lemon butter sauce since that's my favorite part!

Steak Au Poivre
Traditionally, this recipe calls for the steaks to be crusted in black peppercorns, but, of course, I made my own modifications!
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup Brandy
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 small ribeye steaks
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
First, I let the steaks come to room temperature so that they would cook evenly. Then I patted them dry with a paper towel. I covered both sides of the ribeyes in a mixture of the pepper and kosher salt, then set aside. Next, I heated a pan to high heat and melted the butter with a little bit of the olive oil so that the butter wouldn't burn. If you just put butter in the pan, it would burn a lot faster than the butter and olive oil. I wanted to sear the outsides of the steak to capture all of the flavor. Once the pan was nice and hot, I added the steaks and didn't touch for about 2 minutes. If you want to form a nice crust, you can't touch the steaks... just let them cook. After 2 minutes, flip the steaks and let them cook for 2 more, then remove to a plate.

In the pan, I added a bit more olive oil and then, once that was warm, I added the onions and garlic and sauteed until tender. Steak Au Poivre really isn't supposed to have the onions or garlic, or the mushrooms, for that fact, but I love the flavors they add, so I added them. :)

After cooking the onions and garlic, I added in the brandy to deglaze the pan. Since Curt and I really don't drink brandy, I just bought a few small airplane bottles from the ABC store. The brandy did a good job of deglazing the pan (this means that all the yummy brown bits from the steaks cooking and the onion and garlic, were dissolved into the brandy which helps to flavor the base of the sauce that the steaks will finish cooking in.

After adding in the brandy, I added the sliced mushrooms. I had button mushrooms, so that's what I used, but I bet that portobello mushrooms would taste delicious! Once they were cooked, I added in the heavy cream and stirred until it thickened a bit. I think I added a bit more salt and pepper until I found a taste that was just right!

Once the sauce was made, I returned the steaks to the pan with the sauce and let the steaks continue to cook through. For a rare steak, (like Curt likes) I cooked it for about 5-8 minutes. For the others (medium rare), it took about 10-12 minutes.

So overall, it wasn't exactly traditional, but it was really good!!!

Roasted Potatoes

This is a easy go-to recipe for me. Curt and I love potatoes... baked... fried... mashed...scalloped... and roasted!
* 2 lbs of red potatoes
* 2 tbs olive oil
* 2 tsp garlic salt
* 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. I cut the potatoes into chunks about 1 inch thick and put them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Then I just sprinkled the olive oil, rosemary, and garlic salt over the potatoes. With my hands, I just tossed everything together until it was throughly covered, then popped them in the oven. I made sure to move the potatoes around and stir them every 15 minutes for about 45 minutes, or until they were a nice, golden brown!

Raspberry Tiramisu

I wanted a nice summery dessert and thought a trifle would be perfect! This recipe was absolutely amazing, although it was a bit intense to make because you needed so many little steps to put it all together... the result was well worth it though!

  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 6 tbs orange liqueur
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 28 lady fingers
  • 3 baskets of fresh raspberries

In a small bowl, mix the raspberry jam and 4 tbs of the orange liqueur. In a separate bowl, combine the mascarpone and cream cheeses with the remaining 2 tbs of orange liqueur. In yet another bowl, combine the whipping cream and vanilla. Mix with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form (for a short cut, just buy some Cool whip or ready made whipped cream!). Once the stiff peaks form, slowly fold in the mascarpone cheese mixture until combined.

In the trifle bowl, line the bottom with a layer of lady fingers. Brush the tops with the jam mixture, then layer the whipped cream/mascarpone cheese mixture. Lastly, add a basket of the fresh raspberries on top. Then you just repeat until you are out of ingredients. I think that I made 3 layers... but I'm not 100% sure. Once assembled, cover and let it all set in the refrigerator for a few hours.

The flavors were delicious and after the steak au poivre, this was a great way to end the dinner. It was a great dessert that was satisfying and not too heavy!

Curtman Cooks

So occasionally my husband tries to cook for himself. This typically ends up with him boiling water for pasta, then adding a jar of spaghetti sauce on top... then he'll throw on some sort of cheese... if we don't have parmesan, he'll just melt American cheese on top. I know... american cheese on spaghetti?... but, yes, this is a combination that doesn't seem to bother him.

One night a week or so ago, I had to work a late shift at the restaurant (Dogfish Head Alehouse). I knew that I hadn't had time to cook food for Curt in a while and didn't want to make him eat his random dinner creations. I had made some amazing jerk seasoning marinade a while ago(recipe to follow in another posting), and I had some chicken legs. I dumped the chicken into a tupperware and covered it with the marinade. I wrote down the directions on a little white board that we keep on the refrigerator. All Curt had to do was preheat the oven to 350, then place the chicken legs on a pan and bake for 30 minutes. I made sure to explain what to do and the importance of preheating the oven rather than just sticking the chicken in there and turning the oven on.

The next night, I came home around 11:30. After the long day of work, I had completely forgotten that I had marinated some chicken for Curt. I walked through the door and instantly detected the smell of something burning. It didn't seem like anything was on fire, and it was a pretty faint smell. It definitely smelled like someone had burned something throughout the course of the night. I went to the kitchen to investigate, but everything looked fine- there were no dishes in the sink or pans on the stove (tell tale signs that Curt had been cooking). Having found nothing... I went upstairs to crawl in bed with my hubby. As I was crawling in bed, I asked Curt (who was half in and out of sleep) if he had burned something earlier that night. His response was, "It sure smells like it, doesn't it?" I just assumed Billy had made some dinner and maybe burned a little bit of it. Then Curt says, "Ohhhh, I never took the chicken out....don't worry, I'll still eat it... I'll just put ranch on it!"

Curt had apparently gotten home from work around 7 and put the chicken in at 7:30 (he did, in fact, preheat the oven). Apparently he found something else to eat for dinner, because he forgot completely about the chicken in the oven. All in all, the chicken legs baked for about 4 hours. Needless to say, they were a little bit overcooked for anyone's taste!

Lesson learned: I need to be more specific in my directions for Curt. I had told him to bake the chicken for 30 minutes... but I never told him anything about having to take the chicken out of the oven :)

Here's the what happens when you bake chicken legs for 4 hours!