Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recipe Round-up

Well here we are.  The end of 2010.  The beginning of 2011.  2011 is a year that I never thought would come.  It is the year so frequently used to answer the question, " when are you going to graduate?"  Over the past (almost) five years, the year 2011 sounded no different than 2111.  Ya know, like it didn't exist?

Apparently, it does exist!  And it is now!  And gradumacating sounds just has hard now as it did back then.  But we can do it!

After endless hours of discussion on the best way to present my recipe round up, I decided to be 100% selfish.  Here are my favorites of 2010 (old to new).  :)

Eggplant and Fried Green Tomato Parmesan - This was a recipe I kind of put together from several different sources.  Highlights include the tomato butter sauce, the corn meal breading, and the method used to extract the water out of the eggplant before frying.   

Meatballs in Sauce with Creamy Polenta - Totally amazing.  Although it is hard to choose, these have to be my favorite meatballs.

Chicken Piccata - My favorite way of cooking a chicken breast.  I love citrus and briney miscellany. Apparently I wanted a lot of asparagus that night too!  I need to remember to make this more often!

Pot Stickers - Oh baby, oh baby.  One of my very favorite things of 2010.  If I ever get around to rating all my old recipes, this is for sure a 10/10.

Korean Tacos - Definitely not easy to just throw together.  But this is another 10/10 for me.  I just can't imagine something better.  And although my number one goal in LA was to try the real deal Korean Tacos, we never got around to it.  Guess I will just have to make these again!

Kimchi Bokkeumbapa - I made all Korean, all week in April.  Best week of my life.  No but seriously, I loved it all but this Kimchi Fried Rice was so easy to make that I was blown away by how good it was.  It is very breakfasty with some Korean flare.

Zucchini Noodles with Shrimp and Goat Cheese - One of Cara's many genius ideas.  If you are trying to find some healthy recipes to start the New Year off right, check out Cara's blog.  This one was amazing. I could eat it forever and always.  In fact, my sister says she makes it on a very regular basis.

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo - A delicious and healthy burger (subtract the mayo).  It was burger mania up in here this summer.  This was one of our favorites for sure!

Grilled Fish Tacos - I have made and tried millions of grilled fish tacos recipes.  Lie.  That is a lie.  But I seriously make them so often and I have posted many that I have tried on the ol' blog here.  These are my favorite.  I wish I could BE this fish taco.

Mushroom Crostini with Goat Cheese - I love these for lots of reasons.  First, goat cheese.  Second, it is a nice change from the more typical crostini toppings.  Third, "everyone is raving about the crostini".

Red Onion Marmalade - This stuff changed my life.  I put it on pizza.  I put it on burgers.  I eat it straight up.

Potato and Cheese Pierogies - I tend to really love things that take a ridiculous amount of time to make.

Lemony Shrimp Scampi Pasta - This pasta is SO good to me.  Just looking at it now makes me want to make it immediately.  It is light and fresh.  Screams for some crusty bread.

Coconut Chicken Salad - This has to be one of the more popular recipes I have posted.  And it is my favorite salad of all time.  It was originally created by Jam's restaurant in Omaha, NE and I have recreated it for us at home.

Oxtail Soup - My favorite soup of the year.  The oxtail creates such a beautifully delicious broth.  With the fresh squeezed lemon juice, it is absolutely perfect.  Thank you oxen, for your amazing and useful tails.

Italian Drip Beef Sandwich - I love a good sandwich and this spicy drip beef was the best thing that ever happen to me.

Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta - As long as we are on the topic of beef, this is the most excellent special occasion dinner.  We celebrated Christmas over this meal.

I left out any sweets, baked goods or desserts.  Might get a round up of those at a later, less dangerous time in our lives.  Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

PW’s Simple, Perfect Enchiladas

I got Pioneer Woman's cookbook for Christmas.  I read the whole thing on our trip back home for the holidays.  I even read the recipes.  Turns out, I have pretty much already made everything in the cookbook.  Turns out, I am not that disappointed because I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  

It also turns out that when I was trying to find something new to try, I just could not make a decision.  That cookbook is a death sentence to anyone on a diet.  Dangerous.  

I finally decided  by process of elimination to try her enchilada recipe.  The rest of the recipes I have left to try are going to have to wait until I become a marathon runner.  

Anyways, this is a family recipe for Pioneer Woman.  I thought it looked interesting because of the addition of olives and green chilies.  And also the fresh green onions and cilantro sounded like a great idea.  Plus, I am a firm believer that the only way to make enchiladas is to fry the tortillas first, and PW agrees!

I have to say, these were a pain in the A to make.  So messy.  I am a freak about washing my hands in the kitchen.  And I had to control my OCD between rolling every enchilada in order to keep myself from running my hands under water. Yikes.  

I have to say, these were pretty good considering they used a canned red sauce and all the other ingredients are really easy to find.  I don't recall ever making enchiladas with a red sauce before and these were definitely delicious.  I guess I am not jumping out of my pants about them, but I would surely make them again.  

Sorry, I am no salesman.  :|  

I feel like I can brag about my dog bc he doesn't have my genes.  
Here are some of the other enchilada recipes that I have tried:

Summer Squash Enchiladas - a nice summer, vegetarian version

PW’s Simple, Perfect Enchiladas

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 can (28 ounce) enchilada or red sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

For the meat:
1-1/2 pound ground beef
1 whole medium onion, finely diced
2 cans (4 ounce) diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoons salt

For the tortillas:
10 whole (to 14) corn tortillas
1/2 cups canola oil

To assemble:
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cups chopped black olives
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cups chopped cilantro

Prepare the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Prepare the meat: Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Prepare the tortillas: Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Assemble the enchiladas: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.

(Servings: 6-8, Prep Time: 2 hours, Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Taste (Shanon):  6/10
Taste (Scot):  7/10
Effort;  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  5/5

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chicago Style Deep-Dish Pizza

After all the holiday fun and food, I randomly decided to make deep dish pizza tonight. I also made fish tacos last night. Did you know I make fish tacos a lot? Oh, you.

My dad grew up in Chicago. I have been to Chicago more times than I can count. And I have had plenty of Chicago Style pizza. Lots of good. Lots of bad. But, I am definitely no expert. I just know I love it.

To me, the key to good deep dish pizza is first: the crust. Pretty obvious. And it needs to be soft, buttery and flakey on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside. The other key to a good deep dish pizza is the sauce. It HAS to be amazing. I am extremely picky when it comes to tomato sauces. It can't be too sweet and can't have to many complicated dry spices in it. This recipe satisfies both of these requirements, as far as I am concerned.

This recipe makes two 9 inch pies. I pulled a Martha Stewart and made both and froze one. God, I am domestic. I obviously can't tell you how the frozen one turned out, but I can tell you that I froze it after I assembled (but before baking). 

And I labeled it. Makes me feel organized, even though I hardly freeze anything and totally have a mental inventory of what is in my freezer. Rubber bands? Good question.

I do have to give a few shout outs. I found out about this recipe via Annie's Eats. Then, since I didn't have access to the original recipe from Cook's Illustrated, I googled the recipe to find the original typed out (not halved like Annie's) and found this which I used too: The Food Spot.

Lastly, I have to say that anytime I am trying a new pizza recipe or tasting one of "the best" pizzas out there, I always go for very simple toppings (in this case: bottomings). And pepperoni is my ultimate favorite, so that is what I added. Sausage would also be great.

Chicago Style Deep-Dish Pizza
slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

For Dough:
3 1/4 cups (16 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water (10 ounces), room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon olive oil

For Sauce:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup onion, grated
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For Pizza:
4 tablespoons of olive oil
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
1/2 ounce of parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
6-8 slices of pepperoni (optional)

Prepare Dough: Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, run on low speed for about 1 minute. While still running on low, add the water and melted butter and mix until fully combined–scrape down the sides as needed. Increase the speed to medium.  Allow to run until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl, about 5 minutes. It should be fairly smooth and only slightly tacky.

Coat a large bowl with 1 tsp olive oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Turn the dough ball once or twice to coat lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until nearly doubled.

Prepare Sauce: While waiting for dough to rise, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the onion turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir in tomatoes and sugar and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until the sauce is reduced to 2 1/2-3 cups (about 30 min). Before using, stir in shredded basil and oil, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Laminate Dough: Remove the risen dough from the bowl and roll it out on a dry work surface into a large rectangle (approx 15 x 12 inches). Spread the softened butter over the dough. Leave about 1/2-inch along edges unbuttered (this will allow the dough to seal again). Roll dough into a cylinder starting from the shorter side. Place seam-side down and gently flatten into an 18 x 4 rectangle. Cut rectangle in half to make two 9 x 4 smaller rectangles. Set one of the halves aside for the moment.

Take the other half and fold into thirds like business letter (the top folds about a third of the way down, then the bottom comes up to cover it). Pinch the seams together to seal it into a taught ball, don’t force the dough too much or it may tear. Repeat with remaining half. Place the two balls into oiled bowls and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.

Assemble Pizza: Adjust oven rack to a lower position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Oil two 9-inch round cake pans (or cast iron skillet) with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. One at a time, roll out the dough balls to make 13-inch disks about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to baking pan. Press the dough into the pan and 1 inch up the sides. If dough is tough and resists stretching, let it relax for at least 5 minutes before trying again. Layer on half of the shredded mozzarella, pepperoni and sauce. Top with half of the grated parmesan cheese.

Repeat with remaining dough and ingredients.

Bake the Pizza: Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 2.5 hrs., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

foodforscot Ratings:  

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  5/5
Effort:  5/5

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Braised Short Ribs over Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta

This meal was ridiculously good.

I love short ribs.  And all braised meat.  I have been waiting for a special occasion to make this meal and finally made it for my and Scot's "holiday dinner".  When combined with the goat cheese polenta, I am telling you, you will not be able to imagine anything better.

The meat just falls off the bone.  The sauce turns into a reduction of beef broth and red wine with all the chopped veggies.  And I really like the carrots.  Since the sauce reduces so much, it is very strong and pretty salty, but you just want to put a little over the top and it is perfect.

We finished off the dinner, sipped on egg nog, and exchanged gifts.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate.

Braised Short Ribs
slightly adapted from Pioneer Women

4-8 beef short ribs (about 4 lbs, depends on how they are butchered)
kosher salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cups flour
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole medium onion, diced
3 whole carrots, diced
2 whole shallots, peeled and finely minced
2 cups red or white wine
2-4 cups beef broth (enough to almost cover ribs)
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary

Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove bacon and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Add olive oil to pan with the bacon grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits of glory. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.  Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.  Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. (Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.)

Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy polenta (recipe below), spooning a little juice over the top.

Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta
adapted from Pioneer Women

3/4 cup fine cornmeal or polenta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 tablespoons butter
2 ounces goat cheese

Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add cornmeal to the water in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for a few minutes, adding salt and extra tablespoons of water or cornmeal, as needed. When polenta is done, stir in butter and goat cheese. Check seasonings, and add salt to taste. Serve with your favorite meat main course. Yummy!

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 3 hrs, Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  10/10
Scot (taste):  10/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Pizza

Sauerkraut smells.

Right?  That is what I always thought.  One of my Boulder friends gave me a bottle of her homemade sauerkraut recently.  Homemade food thingies have a very special place in my heart.  Tear up a little when I am gifted food.  However, of all the things in the world that you can make, I have never once considered making sauerkraut.   

When my friend was telling me she made sauerkraut, first I thought...weirdo.  Second, I listened and she said it tastes nothing like the canned stuff at the store.  And I had a revelation, "you know, I have never had non-fresh kimchi and I have always loved the stuff."  Then I thought, "I bet homemade sauerkraut is just as amazing."  And, it is!  And it does NOT smell so bad.

Don't get me wrong, I totally plug my nose and scoop plenty of canned sauerkraut on my Reuben.  Once it is mixed in with all the other lovely Reuben ingredients, it tastes fine.  And you gotta have it.  But, boy does it reek.  

I really wanted to try this sauerkraut on pizza, so I searched around to find an interesting recipe.  I found this one, and it inspired the recipe below.  I loved the sauerkraut on this pizza.  So good!  I used a turkey kielbasa and thought it added a nice salty balance.  But, I think any sausage or salty meat would be great.  And of course, I topped it with some sliced dill pickles.    Sorry if that makes you want to puke, but I am telling is good!    

Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Pizza

1/2 of PW’s pizza dough recipe
1 small to medium yellow onion, sliced
2 cups of sauerkraut, plus some juice
2 tbsp of Dijon mustard
2 ounces of cream cheese
4 ounces of mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 ounces of Swiss cheese, shredded
4 ounces of kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced
fresh cracked pepper
sliced dill pickles

Preheat the oven to 475-500 degrees F.

In a small skillet, sauté onion slices in a little olive oil. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, until soft. Add sauerkraut and a tsp or so of the juice. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Stretch out the dough onto an oiled baking sheet. Spread Dijon mustard all over the dough with the back of a spoon. Crumble the cream cheese on top. Layer the onion/sauerkraut mixture on next. Sprinkle on shredded mozzarella and Swiss cheese. Top with sliced kielbasa sausage and plenty of fresh cracked pepper.

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve with sliced dill pickles!

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 20 min., Cook time: 15 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Another holiday treat!  Scot, the baking man chef, made these guys too.  Are you wondering why?  Lemme tell you.  I wanted to bring a few things to a Christmas party that we attended last weekend.  However, there were lots of errands to be run.  But mostly...Christmas shopping.  And that boy is not a shopper.  And that is actually an understatement.

The thing is:  I am not sure I believe the "I am not a shopper, I am buyer" thing.  When we go to REI, he sure is a shopper.  And I am the one dragging him out of the store.  In fact, this weekend we were at Play It Again Sports.  We left with a whole car load of equipment that we didn't go in there to buy.  So in response to my mother-in-law's tweet about how Scot's dad is also a bad shopper...I would say these men are most probably what I like to call "selective shoppers".  


The point is, our compromise was that he helped me out by making these treats while I held down the Christmas shopping fort.  And everything he made was excellent!  

These buckeyes (also known as Peanut Butter Balls...clearly not as impressive of a name) are just like a Reese's peanut butter cup, but probably not quite as sweet.  We recently came across a real life Buckeye tree in LA.  Very pretty!

I worked with some Ohio students several years ago and they went on and on about buckeye this and buckeye that.  During a presentation once, they actually passed out buckeye candy!  I must say, they are good!

adapted from Baked Explorations via smitten kitchen

1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 14 graham crackers)
1/4 tsp table salt
3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped or milk chocolate

Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat for 10 seconds. Add the sugar and butter, and mix on the lowest speed until it stops floating off everywhere, then increase the speed until the ingredients are combined. Scrape down the whole bowl well, then mix again. The mixture will be quite sturdy and a little dry — perfect for shaping. Set it aside while you prepare the coating.

Make the coating: Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, stirring until it is completely smooth or in a microwave in 30 then 10 second increments, stirring before you start it again until it is completely smooth. Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degrees, though I’d go a little cooler next time for a thicker coating; I had a few ounces of chocolate leftover) while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Assemble the candies: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than one tablespoon’s worth of filling (their suggestion; I used a scoop that made them a little smaller) and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet and repeat the process until all of the candies have been shaped. They can sit close to each other but make sure they are not touching.

Using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coating, leaving a small circle uncoated. Play around with a few practice pieces; I found it easiest to stick the skewer in the side, angle the bowl I was using towards it and make sure it became submerged as I rolled the candy around. But don’t fuss too much; even the “ugly” ones won’t go to waste.

Chill the buckeyes until they are set, about 30 minutes.

(Servings: 36-42 pieces, Prep time: 1 hour, Chill time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Monday, December 13, 2010

PW's Lasagna

Nicole's lasagna post last week got me looking through all the lasagna recipes that I have saved.  So, I thought I would try out Pioneer Woman's "The Best Lasagna.  Ever." recipe.  

I have a strange and complicated history with lasagna.  It is one of those things that I have never loved, but at the same time, never hated.  And while Nicole's lasagna was pretty healthy (for a lasagna), most lasagnas are just a pile of fat and carbs.  And I can appreciate something like that.  Don't worry.  But only in moderation.  

This particular recipe intrigued me for the following reasons:

-Lots of meat.  About 2.5 lbs and a mixture of sausage and beef.  Yikes!  That is like 4 cows.  ...and a pig.
-Cottage cheese instead of ricotta.  Wha?!?!  I'll try it.  
-Two layers only.
-Meat on top!

The truth is, I could hardly handle all this meat.  Although I am a big talker about my love of meat, truth is, I cannot and do not desire to eat large quantities of meat.  This is a man's lasagna.  Men should eat this after a long day of hunting.  Or after playing Rugby.  In the rain.  Covered in mud and blood.  

On the other hand, I absolutely loved the entire meat/tomato layer while it was simmering on the stove.  Maybe I should just put it in a little ramekin and eat it with a tiny spoon.  Wearing a skirt.  

How do I feel about the cottage cheese layer?  Eh.  Not sure.  Indifferent.  Ricotta any better?  Eh.  

I mean:  lasagna is lasagna.  And I am still waiting for one that changes my life.  This one was good.  This butternut squash version is better.  But so different, so how can you even compare them?

Eating a salad with your lasagna automatically makes it healthier.  
PW’s Lasagna
by Pioneer Woman with modifications by foodforscot

1 1/2 pound ground beef (90/10)
1 pound mild Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 32-ounce can whole tomatoes
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
4 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried basil
3 cups lowfat cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for top
1 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
1 package (10 ounce) lasagna noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain half the fat; less if you’re feeling naughty. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil and some salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for 45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.

In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside. Cook lasagna until “al dente” (not overly cooked).

To assemble: Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of mozzarella cheese. Spoon a
 little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.

Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.

Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.

(Servings: 8-10, Prep time: 1 hour, Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:  

Shanon (taste):  6/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Toasted Coconut Macaroons

It is crazy how much more common a gluten intolerance is nowadays.  I know quite a few people who can't or don't want to have gluten for one reason or another.  I am always trying to find good gluten-free recipes to bring to our different events and potlucks.  I don't mind substituting one of the many gluten-free flours into some recipes like sauces, soups, breadings, etc.  However, I am not a big fan of turning gluten-full foods into gluten-free foods.  I feel like it never lives up to expectations.  I will leave the gf breads, cookies and cakes to the experts.  

However, there are tons of options for gluten free dishes that just naturally don't have any gluten in them.  Think butter.  Think chocolate.  Cream.  Veggies.  Fruits.  And a macaroon is a great gluten-free dessert.  

I know this is called foodforscot, but these babies are foodbyscot.  He made them!  And I have to say, they were amazing.  And everyone at the party loved them too.  He likes dark chocolate, so he dipped some in dark chocolate, the rest in milk chocolate (my preference).  

Chocolate Dipped Toasted Coconut Macaroons
by Alton Brown via Joy the Baker

4 large egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
12 ounces sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
2 (3 ounce) kosher milk chocolate bars, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place coconut on a baking sheet, spread out evenly and place in the oven. Return to the oven every five minutes to stir the browning coconut. Once evenly browned, after about 15 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment. whip egg whites and salt until they become white and begin to stiffen. Add sugar in 3 parts. Continue to whip until the egg whites are very stiff. Fold in toasted coconut.

On parchment lined cookie sheets, drop a teaspoon of the mixture leaving 1 to 2 inches around each cookie. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  The outside should be golden brown but the insides should still be moist.

Place chocolate chunks in a heatproof bowl. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water so that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water. Allow to melt. Stir until loose and creamy. Partially dip the macaroons in the chocolate then allow to cool and harden on a parchment lined sheet. You can place the pan of chocolate dipped cookies in the refrigerator to speed up the hardening process.

(Servings: 32-40 pieces, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty:  Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Turkey and Spinach Lasagna, From Return Guest Blogger

Returning Guest Blogger…Nicole!  And here she is (my comments in italics):

I basically never cook.  Ever. But I  got in the mood for some homemade lasagna and also secretly wanted to impress my Gentleman Friend. So after dusting off some cookbooks (just to clarify, Nicole did not use any cookbooks for this meal) I decided on this pretty healthy version of a favorite comfort food.

Gentleman Friend...looks impressed to me!
I’ll admit it; I had some anxiety over this endeavor. I did everything I could to help the experience go smoothly. I went grocery shopping the night before, g-chatted with Shanon about all my questions and allowed plenty of time to prep. At least double what was suggested in the recipe.  I’m slow.

Evidence of Preppage
Here is what I learned about making this lasagna:

-Dealing with the lasagna noodles after they are cooked is tricky.  Mine kept breaking. Shanon had the good tip to put them in a bowl with olive oil to keep them from sticking together which helped.  It might have worked even better to lay them flat on wax paper with olive oil.

-You don’t need Emeril’s “Essence”. I left it out and it was still amazing.  (the "Essence" is not included in the recipe below per Nicole's request)

-If you are about to put it in the oven for 45 minutes and realize you don’t have any aluminum foil to cover the pan-just use a cookie sheet instead.

-I split this recipe in half and didn’t have enough of everything to do as many layers as the recipe called for. It still turned out (amazing).

-Be generous with the mozzarella cheese topping on the top.

Turkey and Spinach Lasagna
slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse via Food Network

12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped red pepper
1 pound ground turkey breast, white meat only
1/2 pound hot Italian turkey sausage
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
3 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups part skim ricotta
2 cups thawed and drained chopped frozen spinach
1/4 cup grated Romano
2 egg whites
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot, bring several quarts of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until very al dente, 7 minutes. Remove from water and place on a towel lined baking sheet.

Place the olive oil, onion and red pepper in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute until the vegetables begin to sweat, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey, turkey sausage, and garlic, stirring to combine until turkey cooks through, about 10 minutes. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and remaining ingredients and set aside.

Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup turkey mixture in bottom of the dish and arrange 4 noodles over turkey mixture; top with 1 1/2 cups turkey mixture. Spread half of cheese mixture over turkey mixture. Repeat layers, ending with the remaining turkey mixture.

Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Let lasagna stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

(Servings: 8, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Nicole (taste):  9/10
Megan (taste):  9/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

White Chili

Even though I wasn't around for Thanksgiving this year, I still longed for a big Thanksgiving meal.  So, I invited a whole lug of friends over for a big potluck dinner.  I made sure all the necessary Thanksgiving staples were taken care of by various people.  And we made the turkey.  And of course, the gravy and cranberry sauce to go with it.  I used Alton Brown's highly rated and used recipe.  The highlights of the recipe include brining the turkey, starting it off at a very high heat to get a nice golden, crispy skin and then finally cooking it until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 161 degrees F.  

This is after 30 minutes of crisping up the skin initially.
The scariest part for me (this was my first turkey, btw) was the fact that I was cooking a 25 lb turkey.  Woahhhh...that is huge.  We had over twenty people over for dinner so we needed a big guy.  The second scariest part is that I bought a new digital instant read thermometer.  It was supposed to read both the internal temp and the oven temp.  However, it was not reading the oven temp correctly so I was having a hard time trusting it period.  It all turned out just fine.  The turkey was totally delicious.  Lots of people said it was the moistest turkey they had ever had.  I loved the flavor.  It was a seriously good turkey.  Alton Brown is good at stuff like this, trust him.  

So, we have been using up the leftovers over this week.  I made this white chili and replaced the roasted chicken with the leftover turkey.  It is a great soup/chili/white chili.  And it is pretty healthy.  I didn't add the cream because I liked how it tasted without it.  I am sure most of you do not have leftover turkey anymore, but this would be just as good with the chicken.

White Chili
adapted from Melissa d'Arabian via Food Network

For the Roasted Garlic:
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the Chili:
12 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 Anaheim chile peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
7 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can navy beans, undrained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese, for garnish

Roast peppers: Preheat the broiler. Place the chiles on a foil-lined broiler pan and broil until charred on all sides, turning, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel the peppers with your fingers or a paring knife. Stem, seed and chop.

Make the roasted garlic: After chiles are roasted, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel outer skin off the garlic. Slice the upper 1/2 inch off the garlic bulb. Place in a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil. Wrap edges of foil around garlic and roast in oven for 30-40 minutes or until the garlic is soft and squishes out.

Prepare the chili: Cook the shallots in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Add the minced garlic to the shallots and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the wine; simmer 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Add the roasted chiles, 6 cups broth, the chicken, chili powder, cayenne, beans, and salt and black pepper to taste. Return to a simmer.

Meanwhile, squeeze the soft pulp from the roasted garlic into a blender or food processor. Add the remaining 1 cup broth and process until smooth. Add to the chili and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes, adding the spinach during the last 5 minutes. Add the paprika and cream and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the cheese.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5