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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Brie with Caramelized Onions

This is the most amazing and simplest thing to put together for any occasion.  I saw it originally on pinterest (another site I’ve recently become addicting to!) and had to make it.  It’s very simple.  And I saw this at exactly the right time, because I just happened to have a whole wheel of brie in my fridge (another silly Costco purchase haha!).

Preheat the oven to 350.  Slice a red onion in thin strips.  Melt butter in a skillet over low to medium heat and add the onion.  Cook the oven, stirring periodically until the onions are nice and dark.  Place the brie in an oven safe dish (I know that it’s supposed to be fine to cook/ eat the rind, but that creeps me out, so I cut the whole rind off before putting it in the dish) and top with the caramelized onions.  Cook for about 15 minutes until the cheese is melty and bubbly.

Enjoy with crackers or baguette slices.

 

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Mater Basil Bisque

The weather has turned, and fall is in the air!  The crispness in the air makes me want to wrap up in a comfy sweater and scarf, have warm cozy meals, drink apple cider, eat pumpkin stuff, and watch scary things.  I love fall!  One of the cozy meals I love to eat in the cool weather is soup.  I love lots of different soups, but one of my very favorites is tomato basil bisque.  On a recent trip to Costco, I saw a huge 6 + pound can of tomatoes and knew that I had to give homemade tomato bisque a try.  (Side note, I should NOT be allowed to go to Costco by myself.  I become way too drawn in to buying in bulk.  2, 4 pound jars of roasted red peppers, yep!  A huge wheel of Brie, with no party in site, you bet!  5 pounds of buffalo chicken bites, can’t pass that up!  You get the picture.  A person who lives by themselves shouldn’t start thinking about where a deep freeze could fit into the apartment!!)

But I digress.  Back to the maters.  At first I was thinking I would split the ginormous can of tomatoes between this soup and tomato sauce, but when I started to cut open and seed them I decided to only go for the bisque.  I wanted to bulk up the soup a bit, so I added cheese tortellini into the bisque (a little inspiration from pinterest!).

These measurements made almost a whole big soup kettle, and could generously give 6-8 servings (even more if you are serving a nice big oozy grilled cheese!).

1 gargantuan can of tomatoes (ok, 6 pounds)

Fresh basil leaves

1 red onion

2 – 2 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

A little red wine

Cheese tortellini

Cut open the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds (it helped to cut down on the bitterness while the tomatoes roast) and place the tomatoes into a pan.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and place basil leaves around the pan.  Roast in the oven for 90 minutes at 300.  The can will probably have a good bit of sauce in it with the whole tomatoes, leave that in the can.

While the tomatoes are roasting, melt better in a large heavy bottom soup kettle.  Finely dice the red onion while the butter melts, and add to the pan.  You really want to soften the onion, which will take 15-20 minutes at least.  You don’t really want to caramelize it, just soften it (having the right amount of butter helps).  Add in the tomato sauce from the can.  Bring the heat up slightly.  When the tomatoes are done, crush them a little more, they will be really soft so it won’t take much (I used a potato masher).  Add them into the pot.  Add in the milk and cream and stir until combined.  Bring the heat up a bit to really combine the flavors and thicken it a bit.  I threw in a little red wine in the mix, I mean why not!?  Add in more basil to the pot.  I like a chunkier soup, so I left it at that step.  If you’re on team chunk (hey you guyyyysssss), ladle in a big bowl and enjoy!  If you want something very creamy, use an inversion blender or add small amounts to your blender.  If you use a regular blender, you don’t want to fill it completely, because it will expand a bit.  Reheat the soup a bit after this stage and then enjoy!

I boiled cheese tortellini in chicken broth (to really add to the flavor) and water.  I added this to the soup once it was done.

This soup does take a good bit to complete, but the active cooking time is very minimal.  The smell of the roasting tomatoes is so inviting and gets you so ready to enjoy this soup!!

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Stuffed Shells

I recently made shells stuffed with chicken, homemade ricotta, spinach, sun dried tomatoes and topped with a white bechamel(ish) sauce.  They turned out to be pretty yummy.  It takes a bit of time to prepare, but it is well worth it!  I used home made ricotta cheese, but with all of the other flavors going on I don’t think it was necessary.

These measurements makes 6 generous portions.

1 box jumbo shells

3 large chicken breasts

1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese

3 or 4 cups fresh spinach

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350.

I boiled the chicken to cook it.  Once it was cooked (it will turn white, double check by slicing into a piece and making sure it’s cooked no and no longer pink in the center) remove the chicken and place on a plate.  I boiled the shells in the broth from cooking the chicken.  While the shells are cooking, shred or cube the chicken and place in a bowl.  Add the ricotta cheese.  In a skillet, heat olive oil and add crushed garlic.  Let the garlic brown and then remove.  Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and let it wilt.  When the spinach is wilted add it to the bowl and mix with the ricotta cheese and chicken.  Chop the sun dried tomatoes and mix them in.  Once the shells are cooked, let them cool enough that you can touch them.  Stuff the shells with the mixture.  When you have the shells filled, place them all in a 10 x 14 pan.

My version of a bechamel sauce is really easy to do, and comes together quickly.

In a large heavy bottom sauce pan, melt a stick of butter.  When the butter is melted (but be careful not to brown it), sprinkle in a tablespoon of flour and stir until combined.  It took about 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour total to get the right consistency.  You want it to be a paste like mixture.  Keep stirring the mixture to cook the flour taste out.  In a smaller sauce pan, warm milk over a low heat.  Once the flour taste has cooked out, about 4-5 minutes, stir in a small amount of milk and whisk quickly to incorporate.  Keep adding more milk and whisking until the sauce becomes thick.  I added a bit of parmesan cheese once it was thick.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the white sauce over the shells in an even layer.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until everything is heated through.

 

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Summer Peach Cake

This cake was so delish, and there is a crazy secret ingredient… panko breadcrumbs!  It helps make keep the cake from being too mushy when the peaches cook.  I saw this on the Food Gawker app and I knew that I had to make it!  It was a big hit.

 

2 1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and cut into wedges

4 tsp lemon juice, divided

6 TBSP plus 1/3 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

8 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp vanilla extract, divided

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, finely crushed

 

Preheat the oven to 425.  Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.  Cut a couple of the peaches in slices and put in a bowl.  Gently toss with 2 tsp of lemon juice and 1 TBSP sugar; set aside.  Cut the remaining peaches in cubes and place in another large bowl.  Gently toss these peaches with 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 TBSP sugar.  Spread the peach chunks on the prepared sheet in a single layer and bake until the juices begin to thicken and caramelize, about 20-25 minutes.  Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and let the peaches come room temperature.

Reduce the oven to 350 and grease a 9 inch spring pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl and set aside.  Whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and eggs together in another bowl until thick and well combined, about 45 seconds.  Slowly whisk in butter.  Add the sour cream and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, whisking until combined.  Transfer half of the batter into the pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the crushed breadcrumbs (I used my mortar and pestle to ground them finely) over the cooled chunks and toss gently.  Arrange the chunks around in an even layer, and press into the batter slightly.

Spread the remaining batter into the pan and again spread evenly.  Arrange the peach slices in a circular pattern on top, again pressing in slightly.  Stir together the remaining 1/8 tsp vanilla and 3 TSP sugar until the sugar is moistened and sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake until the center of the cake is set, about an hour.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Remove from the pan and let cool another 2-3 hours (I made this the night before, and it was still great).

 

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Baked french fries with basil mayo

I’m still trying to figure out how to make fantastic baked french fries.  After 2 attempts, I think the main problem that I’ve had is that I get scatter brained, and leave them in for too long.  1 trick that I read is that it’s really important to rinse the starch off of the potatoes.  Check and double check.  I soaked them twice (soak, rinse, repeat).  While the potatoes are soaking, pre heat the over to 425 and put a baking sheet in.  Pat the fries dry with paper towels and scatter over the hot baking sheet.  Be careful the pan will be very hot!  But, this will help cooking the fries right away and get them nice and crispy.  Drizzle vegetable oil over the fries and sprinkle with seasoning (I used garlic powder).  Mix around so each fry gets coating (but again, be careful because the pan and fries will be pretty hot).  Place in the over for about 20 minutes.  Take out and flip/ toss, and return to the oven.  Cook for another 15-20 minutes or so.  Enjoy!

I served the fries with basil mayonnaise (such a fatty move, I know!).  A great restaurant called Point Brugge serves their pomme frittes with a garlic mayo and it is fantastic!  So, I gave it a whirl and did the same.  So amazing!  Just take fresh mayonnaise and process in a blender or food processor with lots of fresh basil.

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Orda Up

A while back I was at the dollar store and I saw food baskets (the kind you see at a lot of burger joints) and I thought what a fun way to do a burger night.  But, I wasn’t completely convinced about needing the baskets.  As I kept browsing, I came across mini ketchup and Grey Poupon glass bottles (think fancy room service!) and I knew that I had to get them.  So, back to the baskets I went!  Luckily, I was at the dollar store, so I still didn’t spend too much!  The ketchup was 3 for $1 and the Grey Poupon were 8 for $1 🙂  They were basically paying me to take them!  So, burgers and fries were on the menu along with a summer peach cake.  Delish!  It made me feel like I was flipping burgers short order and was compelled to say “orda up” repeatedly!

 

For the burgers, plan on about 1/4 – 1/3 pound of ground beef per person.  Gently beat an egg in a large mixing bowl and add the ground beef.  Mix in about 1/2 or 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce, about 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp of Trader Joe’s 21 and seasoning salute.     Blend well, but don’t over mix (it can make the burgers tough).  Form into patties that are pretty flat, but don’t smash too much.  Right before the burgers go on the grill, sprinkle with some salt (I used Tastefully Simple’s seasoning salt).  If you salt the burgers too early or mix it in, it will draw a lot of moisture out of the meat leaving you with dry burgers.

Place the burgers on the grill until your desired done-ness is reached.  Serve with your favorite cheese and condiments!

 

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