Sunday, December 31, 2006

Eggs Mar (as Mom dubbed them)

I was originally going to make pancakes this morning, but the picture of the pecan sauce above the recipe got Mom's attention yesterday, so I decided not to make pancakes with vegetables today and to make the sauce to go with them in a few days from now.
So I thought of Eggs Florentine, but I'm not much for hollandaise, nor did I want to attempt it this morning without any knowledge about it whatsoever. But this seems similar enough, but it gets its flavor from garlic.

We have an egg poacher, so this recipe uses one, but you could also poach the eggs in water, I just haven't quite figured out how to get the eggs in one piece.

Mar's Eggs Florentine
serves 3
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 oz. baby spinach leaves
3 large eggs
butter, to grease poaching cups
1 1/2 english muffins
3 slices extra sharp white cheddar, about 2/3 oz each

Grease the cups of the egg poacher. Bring water to a simmer below rack for the cups.

Toast the english muffins.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sautee 30 seconds to a minute, or until slightly golden. Add the spinach and sautee for an additional two minutes, or until all spinach is at least wilted.

Meanwhile, crack each egg into a cup of the poacher. Cook, covered, for 4 minutes or until whites are completely set.

On a baking dish, pan or sheet, place toasted English muffins, insides facing up. Divide spinach among English muffins. Place one egg on top of each. Top with a slice of cheese and place 4 inches under broiler for 15-30 seconds, or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Chicken Chilaquiles

One of my favorite dishes that Mom makes is her Chicken Chilaquiles (or, as mom calls them, Chicken Chicalayas.) I'm sure they're far from traditional chilaquiles, but they're still delicious. They come from Mom's favorite cookbook, but she changes the recipe up a bit depending on the audience, adjusting the spice.

Tonight she made it for us, Granma, and Tiff and her boyfriend, so it was a bit milder.

Chicken Chilaquiles
serves 6

5 tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
4 1/2 tablespoons oil
4 1/2 tablespoons flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lb tortilla chips
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (a little more than a cup)
1 cup sour cream
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cilantro leaves

In a small bowl, combine the paprika, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, sugar, and 3/8 teaspoon (half) of the salt.

In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over low-medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds; add paprika spice mixture and then slowly add broth, whisking, until smooth. Bring to simmer and cover, simmering, about 25 minutes, or until thick enough to coat a spoon.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with remaining salt and the pepper and cook until browned, about 5 to 10 minutes a side. Remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Slice.

Add the tortilla chips to the saucepan with the sauce and cook, stirring, until the chips are soft (but not yet falling apart), about 3-5 minutes. Put the sauce with the chips on plates, top with feta, onion, cilantro, chicken and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with remaining sour cream.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Eve at Uncle Larry's

As usual, Christmas Eve was lots of fun. It's nice to be with family.

And, Uncle Larry outdid himself with dinner. I wish I could represent all of it, but I was already getting yelled at for slowing things down, and I didn't want anyone to have to eat cold food because I was taking too long to take pictures. Fortunately, I did get a picture of the stuffing, which was by far my favorite part, and of the bread pudding since it needed time to cool.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Caramelized Sugar & Mint Brownies

I was originally going to try to make brownies Thursday night to take to school on Friday to spread some sugar-high-holiday-spirited-sugar-chocolate-did-i-say-sugar cheer. But, that didn't happen. Instead, much to Aunt Dana's delight (since she loves peppermint patties), I'm making them as dessert tonight, since I highly doubt the Peppermint Dark Chocolate Whipped Cream Tart (or whatever its name is) travels well. It'll be for New Year's Eve now.

However, don't be mistaken by the peppermint patties. Due to some error on my part, they were no longer peppermint patty-like. But if you like a crunch in addition to the chew in your brownies, they're quite good.

Caramelized Sugar & Mint Brownies
based on mint chocolate brownies in Everyday Food Dec. 2006, p.115

1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into tablespoons, plus more to grease foil
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
24 (12-ounce bag) small peppermint patties, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350º. Put water in saucepan on stove to come to a simmer. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang. Butter foil.

In a small bowl whisk cocoa powder and flour together.

Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir occasionally until just melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until smooth; whisk in eggs. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa powder just until smooth. Do not overmix.

Spread 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties in single layer. Top with remaining batter and smooth. Bake until toothpick in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, around 45 minutes.

Cool completely in pan and remove using foil. Peel off foil and cut into 16 (2x2) squares. The brownies from the border will have a caramel crunch.

Christmas Eve = Paninis for lunch

Mom thought paninis would be a quick and easy lunch, so while Mom and her sister dropped my cousins and Granma off at the L stop, I put together lunch. Mine (pictured) was fresh mozzarella, Italian seasoned baked tofu (gotta use it up), and spinach. Mom and Aunt Dana's was fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, spinach, and balsamic vinegar. Dad's was fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, spinach, and Dijon mustard.
I personally liked the creaminess from the tofu and flavor from its seasonings went quite well with the chewiness of the melted mozzarella.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

White Asparagus

Dad picked up some asparagus and a $5 rotisserie chicken from Costco. Going through the cheese drawer, he came up with white white asparagus, using Manchego, white cheddar, and cream cheese. He didn't know there was still fresh ricotta (though a week old, so probably almost at it's end.)

Cookie Tins

This year the cookies I delivered to our neighbors were the tassies that Granma made, Grasshopper Squares, and a new recipe: Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies.

I hope they're enjoyed.

Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookie

I originally saw this recipe last month browsing the December issue of Gourmet during breakfast. I changed it a bit, but barely, more to suit the ingredients I have and know how to get. Mine don't look nearly as square as the ones in the magazine picture, but I'm bad with shapes. They taste good (the batch that wasn't darkened, that is), and that's the important part.
I found it was easier to handle the dough taking only one bar out of the fridge at a time, I didn't have to worry about it softening too much that way.

Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies
from December 2006 Gourmet

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest
2 1/2 oz cup shelled pistachios (around 1/2 cup)
1 1/4 oz dried cranberries (around 1/3 cup)

1 large egg, lightly beaten
turbinado sugar

First make dough:
Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Beattogether butter, granulated sugar, and zest in bowl of an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just clumps together; mix in pistachios and cranberries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Using a sheet of plastic wrap as an aid, form each piece of dough into a rectangular prism of a log with a base of approximately 1x1 inch.

-Approximately 2 hours to 3 days later slice and bake cookies:
Put oven racks in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Brush egg over 4 long sides of bars (but not ends). Sprinkle turbinado sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well (or press sugar into bars, which is a bit more effective).

Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.

Bake sheets one at a time until edges are pale golden, about 9 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a spatula and cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves

I wanted to give my friends a present, and as much as I didn't want it to be edible, it makes it easiest, and the most fun on my part. Armed with cheap foil mini-loaf pans and a can of pumpkin puree, I was ready to bake! I dug out Pumpkin Bread recipe from last year, and with a
few simple changes I hoped would make it better, out it came. Next time though, I won't top it with nuts (they burned) and load it with fresh cranberries on the inside, and maybe some chopped walnuts or pecans.

Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves
Makes 5 mini

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
Grease (I use Baker's Joy because I'm lazy) 5 mini loaf pans.

Sift flours, spices, rising agents, and salt into a large bowl.

Beat sugar, butter, and applesauce together in another large bowl. Mix in eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture in two additions, just until combined.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans (or 3 #10 scoops per pan). Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 5 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on racks.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chicken and Cheese Casserole

Mom and I were going to be late home, so Granma made dinner and my cousin joined us.
Granma says it would've been better with water than wine, but she was scared she wouldn't be able to get it open.

They also must slaughter chickens the size of turkeys now, because those were some huge chicken breasts. Or they were pumped up later...

Chicken and Cheese Casserole
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can Cream Of Mushroom Soup
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup white wine (or water)
slices of swiss cheese

Place chicken in casserole dish and top each breast with a layer of swiss cheese.

Mix soup and wine together until its the right consistency. If more wine is needed, use more. Pour over chicken in dish.

Top with breadcrumbs and drizzle with melted butter.

Put it oven at 350 or 55 minutes or until chicken cooked through and top is crispy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pork Chops with Mushroom Dressing

A dish from Mom's One Dish meals cookbook that she loves so much.
Thereis a bad memory associated with this dish from quite a few years ago, and I'm not sure if Mom had made it since then. But I learned my lesson: leave pot holders near hot dishes, or even better, on top of them.

Pecan Tassies

This would be a tradition in our family. There aren't too many of those that I can think of. Granma makes them every year, and since she came up for Christmas a week ago, and I told her (I know I should have asked instead) to make some, I came home from school to the smell of tassies on Monday. Now Dad, and the neighbors, can enjoy them.

Golden Tassies
Makes 4 dozen

2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, softened
1 (6 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

3 slightly beaten eggs
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped pecans

To make crust:
Place butter and cream cheese in a bowl. Work in flour and salt with a fork. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Pinch off dough and roll into approx 1/2 inch balls and press into mini muffin tins.

Making filling:
Mix together all ingredients for filling and spoon approximately 1 teaspoon of filling into each prepared muffin cup.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350º and then 10 minutes at 250º.


We had a leg of lamb in the fridge, and Dad always seems to find a way to turn it into a delicious meal. Usually involving plenty of garlic and onions. This one also had celery, peppers, and tomatoes, and was paired with spinach rice.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Gingerbread Crowd

I decided to give making Gingerbreadfolk a try with a recipe that came in my e-mail as part of Cooking Light's 25 days of cookies.

Gingerbread People
makes 5 dozen
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons water

To make cookies, combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth and well blended. Add molasses and the egg and beat until well blended.
Beat flour mixture into sugar mixture until well blended.
Divide dough in half; shape each dough portion into a flat disk. Wrap dough portions separately in plastic wrap; chill 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll one round of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut with a 3-inch boy or girl cookie cutter. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on parchment paper or silicone mat lined baking sheets. Reroll scraps and repeat with all dough. Bake at 350° for 9-11 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned.
Remove from pans and cool completely.

To give the cookies features, combine powdered sugar and water, stirring until smooth. Spoon mixture into a Ziplock bag and snip a tiny bit off of one corner of the bag. Pipe eyes, buttons, hands, and feet onto cookies with more precision than I did.

Spinach, Pepper and Garlic Individual Frittatas

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thai Noodles with Shrimp and Vegetables

in your grocer's fridge at Jewel and Sunflower Market stores

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Grasshopper Squares

Grasshopper Squares were part of the cover spread of the December 2005 issue of Gourmet, and I had to try them when I saw them.

I first made these last year, using Baker's chocolate and borrowed Creme de Menthe. This year, I put some creme de menthe in our cart at the liquor store and now have my very own bottle. We also upgraded to even fancier chocolate. The mint ganache turned out better using the Valrhona chocolate than it did with the Ghirardelli last year, but that's the only place I really noticed a difference.

Also, the brownie cooks through in less than 20 minutes, so I learned that last year too. My mint ganache set much quicker this year due to some changes I made in measurements, in addition to the change in ingredients, but since I'm not sure of the exact measurements, I don't want to modify the original recipe.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Salad and Souffle

Grocery stores are a dangerous place. Let me rummage the aisles, and I can spend hours in there, usually leaving empty handed with a mental list of things to try.

Unfortunately, I'm the same way at Costco, and Dad'll out of curiosity let in. It was just me and Mom, but the packaging, and curiosity for how something refrigerated came from the UK, led me to throw the Cheese Souffle's into the cart. I've never had a savory souffle before, so I have nothing to compare it to. But I'd say, for something that just has to be tossed into the oven, they're awfully good, if just too salty (possibly from the cheeses?), and paired with a salad similar to the one on the box, a satisfying starter or light meal.
Not to mention the added bonus of the fact they come in reusable little ramekins.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brie Breakfast

served with homemade quince preserves (that weren't really preserves since they wouldn't have lasted long...)

Dad knows how to make the contents of our fridge while having mom buy eggs and bread at the store go a long way.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cream Cheese Penguins

Granma called me back, and during our conversation, we got around to Christmas Mice she makes, and she told me about a different animal her friends make. These are savory though. Cream Cheese Penguins. I may just have to give them a try since I'm not making mice this year, and they look so cute!