Saturday, February 27, 2010

Basic Vietnamese Spring Rolls -- My Kitchen My World Vietnam

The February destination for My Kitchen My World was Vietnam and I decided to make something I've seen many times in photos but never tried or made myself, Vietnamese Spring Rolls. These have always intrigued me, and being a huge fan of egg rolls and traditional fried spring rolls, I was excited to try these fresh spring rolls.

There are many recipes on food blogs and food sites for Vietnamese Spring Rolls, I looked at a lot and just decided to follow the style of the spring rolls and not go with a specific recipe. Mine were very basic in regards to the filling, using rice sticks (rice noodles, also called rice vermicelli, or mai fun) carrot, celery, and black wood ear mushrooms. Lots of the spring roll recipes I looked at also had a lettuce, sprouts, and some meat or protein. Next time I'm thinking of marinating some thin strips of tofu and baking them and using that for the filling.

The kids had an amazing time "helping" me make these, what a combo of textures and flavors, and they were amazed at the rice paper wrappers and rick sticks softening in water. After I made a plate of spring rolls, I let them just play around with my extra ingredients, what a sensory experience!

Making these is also a pretty time consuming and messy experience, but it was well worth it. I was so surprised to like these, taste wise, as much as I did! I didn't think I would like the wrapper and was ready for the filling to be way too bland, but even though I used very basic flavors, they were delicious served with some peanut sauce for dipping. I loved the chewiness of the wrapper, which really surprised me, I was expecting them to be more delicate and possibly falling apart in my hands, which they were not at all. I bought three packs of rice paper wrappers online (these are not something you can find locally), not realizing how many were in each pack, so I have a ton left over and look forward to trying lots of Vietnamese Spring Roll and dipping sauce recipes in the future :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scampi Style Baked Fettuccine -- Barefoot Bloggers

Time for Barefoot Bloggers! I have missed participating in this group for a while and am excited to be back cooking delicious Ina Garten recipes with everyone. The second recipe for February, Ina's Baked Shrimp Scampi, was picked for the group to try by Jill of Insanely Good Food, thanks Jill!

Since scampi is apparently an Italian word for large shrimp or prawn, vegetarian scampi doesn't really fit but oh-well. I was toying around with lots of shrimp substitutes for this one, tofu? Mushrooms? Nah, I was in a pasta mood, and figured the kids would be more likely to eat fettuccine than tofu. So instead of serving shrimp scampi with fettuccine, I used the fettuccine as a shrimp substitute. It turned out wonderfully! The cooked fettuccine was tossed in a garlic infused olive oil and white wine, then topped with a buttery panko bread crumbs, herb, roasted garlic, and lemon mixture, then baked until the top was golden brown and crunchy and the noodles were tender and loaded with flavor. I absolutely loved the pasta and the kids did too, they especially had fun squeezing lemon wedges over the pasta to give it some extra lemon kick -- my kids love lemon!

On the side I served another Barefoot Contessa recipe, Ina's French String Beans, which were divine! For that recipe I changed up a few little things, using triple the amount of peppers and subbing out onions for celery, which may sound like a strange sub, but we were out of onions and always keep celery on hand (another favorite of the kids) so I figured I'd roast it with the peppers and it turned out perfectly.

The peppers were sweet from the roasting and the celery added a nice crunch. This is a perfect veggie side dish that can be personalized with many different veggies, I'm thinking next time I'll roast some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms along with the peppers.

Baked Fettuccine Scampi
adapated from Barefoot Contessa's Baked Shrimp Scampi

2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
2 tbsp white wine
12 ounces dried fettuccine

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) softened butter
4 cloves roasted garlic
2 tsp Italian herbs
zest of one lemon
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente and rinse under cold water when done. While pasta is cooking, mash together the softened butter, roasted garlic cloves, herbs, lemon zest, and panko crumbs.

Perfectly roasted garlic thanks to my Roasted Garlic Express, yum!

Put the pasta into a 8 inch square glass baking dish or similar sized casserole dish. Toss with the garlic olive oil and wine.

Spread the butter crumb mixture over the top of the pasta, bake at 435 for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. This is a little messy to serve so my best suggestion is to cut a square of pasta and then remove it from the dish to your plate with pasta or salad tongs, trying not to loose too much crumb topping. Serve with lemon wedges.


At first I was a little nervous this would be bland, but it was so flavorful and the buttery garlicky wine sauce was perfect with the crunchy panko topping. I'm betting this dish would be amazing with homemade fettuccine, I was going to make some to do this dish with, then I opted to just use boxed Barilla pasta because I didn't want to "waste" homemade pasta with a dish I didn't know would work or not. Silly me, it would have been perfect!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Honey Wheat Cookies -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Time for Tuesdays with Dorie! Our treat today, Honey Wheat Cookies, was picked by one of the sweetest blogging friends I have, Michelle at Flourchild. Thanks for a wonderful pick, Michelle! These cookies are delicious! They were one of the stand out recipes for me that was noticed right after I got Baking From My Home To Yours, and I am so glad these goodies finally got picked. They sure were worth the wait, and have me wishing I would have tried this recipe on my own a long time ago.

I love that these cookies use wheat germ, something that I had never tried until 2004 when I was pregnant with my first child and I had read about it being a good source of omega-3s, I think it was on a list of foods that was recommended by my ob, if I remember correctly. I bought a jar of it and used it on yogurt with fruit and oatmeal, but didn't know of any recipes using it.

These cookies also feature honey, one of my favorite flavors! I used a local orange blossom honey that I recently bought for these, see about how dark it is? It really kicked up the citrus zing in these from the lemon zest. This was my first jar of orange blossom honey and I wasn't sure what to expect but you really can taste a little hint of citrus in it, I of course had to do a taste test with all of the honey varieties in my pantry, and was surprised how much I noticed the citrus in the orange blossom honey.

These Honey Wheat gems were easy to make and baked up beautifully soft and a little chewy. They are the perfect cookie texture to me and I look forward to making them many times again :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cinnamon Bursts -- Cinnamon Roll / Monkey Bread Hybrids

Don't these look delicious? They really are! Soft and gooey, with a little crunch from the cinnamon sugar, the portability of cinnamon rolls and pull-apart fun of monkey bread. This recipe for Bakery Style Cinnamon Bursts comes from one of those little grocery store check-out lane cookbooks, I have a ton of them and love finding little recipe treasures hidden inside. Sometimes you have to tweak the recipes a little, but if nothing else you get a nice picture and an idea of a recipe as a jumping off point.

These were featured in a Betty Crocker / Gold Medal Flour special edition mini book called Soups & Breads from 2005. It's the same book I recently made this Chipotle Cheddar Bread from. I think I made a few things from in when I got it in 2005, but it had been sitting on a bookshelf since then -- until last month when I randomly pulled it out and found some fun recipes to try. My husband actually picked these to try, and I am sure glad he did! Not only were these treats delicious, it's always fun for me to make a recipe he picked, maybe that sounds a little corny but it's true, something about being in the kitchen, making a recipe for and picked by someone you love.

I adapted this recipe to make the dough in the bread machine on the dough cycle, I've also included the by hand directions. This would be a great recipe to do with little helpers in the kitchen who can roll the dough balls with you!

Cinnamon Bursts

adapted from Betty Crocker / Gold Medal Flour

2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package regular or fast-acting dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast)
3/4 cup very warm water (120°F to 130°F)
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg

Cinnamon Sugar Coating:
1 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 teaspoons milk

Put the dough ingredients into your bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer (my Oster calls for the liquids first, then the flour, then other ingredients and yeast) and set it for the dough cycle.

Or by hand -- in medium bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt and yeast. Add warm water, 3 tablespoons butter and the egg. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

On lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Grease medium bowl with shortening or cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until double in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Grease 12 regular-size muffin cups, 2 3/4x1 1/4 inches, with shortening or cooking spray -- I used Baker's Joy Spray. In small bowl, mix 1 cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Pinch each piece into 6 small balls.

Roll balls in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon-sugar. Place 5 balls in each muffin cup; top with 1 ball in center. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place 30 to 45 minutes or until double in size.

Heat oven to 350°F. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. The pan will look kind of difficult to clean but it wasn't a problem thanks to the Baker's Joy Spray, and I had no sticking issues.

Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack (place rack on waxed paper to catch glaze drips). In small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over rolls. Sprinkles optional. Serve warm.

We all loved these as a special breakfast treat. I hope you love them as much as we did if you give them a try. Now at our house monkey bread and cinnamon buns have a brunch rival :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Time for Tuesdays with Dorie! Our treat today was picked by Kait of Kait’s Plate and she decided on Dorie's chocolate chip cookie, titled My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, in Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours.

We love chocolate chip cookies here, and my go to recipe is Nick Malgeiri's chocolate chip cookie recipe from his book Cookies Unlimited. It's been my go to chocolate chip cookie recipe for the last 7 years and never lets me down. It's thick and puffy and loaded with chocolate chips, and everyone always wants the recipe when I make them.

Dorie's chocolate chip cookies are thinner, crisper, and more chewy, and if those are the qualities you like in a chocolate chip cookie, you will love these. Basic ingredients, butter, flour, sugar, salt, these are classic. Although nuts are in the recipe there are no nuts in these, I was wishing for pecans or macadamias, but sadly I am the only one in my family who likes nuts in cookies, so no nuts. My two year old and three year old loved these. My three year old said to me, "Mom, I love you, you make the best cookies ever," after having two of these warm from the oven. I think that even though I lean toward puffier cookies, my little guy is of the crisp and chewy persuasion.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Jumbleberry Crumbles -- I Heart Cooking Clubs

Time for another edition of I Heart Cooking Clubs, this week the theme is "A Little Romance..." and I picked Nigella's Jumbleberry Crumbles. Aren't these cute? And what's more romantic that sharing a special little dessert made for two? These are equally fun to share with your children (which is what I did), and they are even good for a treat all by yourself to help with portion control, what do you know, a multi-tasking dessert :)

Jumbleberry Crumble
Nigella Lawson

For the Crumble Topping
(I doubled this and used it all on the 7 flower pot cups)

2/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar

To Make One Crumble-In-A-Cup (approx. l¼-cup capacity):
*I made 5 times this amount to use up the fruits I had in my freezer, and had enough for 7 small ramekins*

¾ cup frozen summer fruits -- I used blueberries and tart cherries from my freezer
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar or granulated sugar and a drop of vanilla
½ cup frozen crumble topping
To Make the Crumble in a Ramekin:
generous ¼ cup frozen summer fruits
½ teaspoon cornstarch
1½ teaspoons vanilla sugar or granulated sugar and a drop of vanilla
3 tablespoons frozen crumble topping

Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the cubes of butter with your fingers until you have a mixture like coarse sand. This is such a small amount, it’s not really worth getting out the heavy machinery.
Stir in the sugar and then put into a freezer bag to freeze.

This mixture would make 4 jumbleberry crumbles in the cups, and about 8 ramekins.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Put the summer fruits in either a cup or a ramekin and sprinkle over the cornstarch and sugar. Stir around a little.

Sprinkle over the frozen crumble topping and bake the cup for 20 minutes and the ramekin for 15 minutes.

I sprinkled some Maple Sugar on top before baking...

Ready to taste! These were delicious little crumbles and everyone who tried them loved them. The tart cherries made this not too sweet and the simple crumble topping was wonderful, I did add quite a bit of topping, probably double what the recipe recommends because I love crumble and crisp toppings. I would make these again for sure, and look forward to using this recipe anytime I have some odds and ends of berries and fruits in the freezer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chipotle Cheddar Bread

After all of the sweet treats I've been baking lately, I was in the mood for something savory and found this recipe in one of my mini cookbooks. After googling it, I found that someone posted on recipezaar, it really is an easy (one bowl!) and delicious savory quick bread.

Zesty Cheddar Bread
a Betty Crocker/Gold Medal Flour recipe

1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (I baked this at 350!)
Spray the bottom of a 9" loaf pan with cooking spray (I used Bakers Joy and sprayed the whole pan).

Combine the buttermilk, butter, sugar, chilies and eggs in a large bowl. Mix well. Add in remaining ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Spread in the loaf pan.

Bake 40-50 minutes (mine was perfectly done at 40 minutes at 350) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool 15 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan.

This bread was so delicious! I loved it warm with a little butter, and bet it would be great with a creamy potato soup or corn chowder. It had a nice crunchy crust and was still soft and tender inside. It had a little heat from the peppers, but wasn't overwhelmingly spicy. You could always leave out the chilies or only add 1 tbsp to lessen the heat if you have some sensitive palates you are cooking for.

This one is going into the make again file for sure. Recently I decided that I wanted to go through some cookbooks that I never use, and this recipe just caught my eye after randomly picking this book, Betty Crocker -- Gold Medal Flour, Soups & Breads off the shelf. Can't wait to see what other little recipe treasures I find in this one :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brownies for Julia -- Tuesdays with Dorie

The treat of the week for TWD? Brownies! Specifically Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia, picked for us to try by Tanya of Chocolatechic, thank you Tanya! Be sure to check out her blog for the recipe and lots of other reasons to smile.

I loved the little back story about Rick Katz in the preface to the recipe, and was really excited to try his brownie technique, which requires some whipping of the eggs and sugar to equal some extra decadent ooey gooey brownies.

Lots of talk on the P&Q about adding extra time, using a different pan size, etc. I was planning to follow the recipe exactly, intrigued at Dorie's suggestion to use a 9 by 9 glass Pyrex baking dish for these instead of the metal pan lined with tin foil that I'm used to for brownies. I got out my one small square glass baking dish (seems like I have at least ten rectangular glass dishes, but only one square) and read the measurements on the bottom -- 8 by 8! I was nervous when I saw the amount of brownie batter than was I thought I might get away with in my pan that was a size smaller than called for, so I made a last minute decision to get out a 9 by 13 glass dish. I figured I'd end up with thinner brownies but would not run the risk of overflow while baking.

I checked the brownies at 25 minutes, minimum baking time suggested, added the additional 3 minutes taking us up to 28, check again, and they still looked underdone. I added another five minutes, bringing us to 33 (if I can still add correctly :) ) and I figured I'd pull them since they *should* be done at this point. After cooling for only ten minutes or so I spooned out a little corner piece and wow, what an intense chocolate flavor. My first thought was, this is brownie pudding cake! They did firm up a bit after cooling for an hour or so, I cut one for the kids and added a little whipped cream and sprinkles, they loved these! My four year old said these were the best brownies ever. The rest are sitting in the refrigerator uncut, but I'm thinking these are best served warmed up and with some whipped cream (or ice cream) and a spoon...mmm, brownie bowl!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lemon Linguine -- I Heart Cooking Clubs

This is my first time cooking with I Heart Cooking Clubs, a weekly cooking club spin-off of Tyler Florence Fridays (which has sadly ended) that picks a celebrity chef and cooks their recipes to go along with a weekly theme. I Heart Cooking Clubs has been cooking Nigella Lawson recipes for the past 6 months or so and I'm really excited to finally jump in! I've spent lots of time browsing Nigella's recipes on foodnetwork and Nigella's site ever since I Heart Cooking Clubs started and many caught my eye but this was the first one I actually had time to try to go along with the weekly theme.

You can find the recipe for Nigella's Lemon Linguine here at the foodnetwork site, I did change it up a bit, I left out the egg yolks and also used double the amount of sauce for the pasta (the original recipe calls for two pounds of linguine) -- so I just used a one pound box of linguine and kept the sauce as written minus the egg. Sorry that sounds so confusing!

Lemon Linguine

1 pound box linguine (I used Barilla)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 lemon, zested, and juice of 1/2, plus more juice, as needed
Salt (I used 2 tbsp to salt the boiling water)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Cook pasta in salted boiling water. While the pasta is cooking grate the parmesan cheese and zest and juice the lemon. After the pasta is cooked and drained, add butter stir the pasta around so it is evenly coated in melted butter, then add the cream, parmesan, lemon juice and zest to the pot of buttered linguine and stir until the sauce ingredients are combined and the pasta is evenly coated in sauce. Serve immediately with extra freshly grated parmesan.

This week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs is Budgets and Bargains, and this pasta dish clearly fits the bill, you probably have everything you need already in your fridge and pantry and if not only cost a couple of dollars at the store. Served with a salad this makes an absolutely delicous dinner for any pasta lover. I've made lots of lemon pasta dishes (I love lemon and pasta :) ) and this is one of my favorites, especially because of the no fuss ingredient list. My husband is not a pasta fan so I made this while he was working late, my 3 year old is in a no-pasta phase so I had to make him something else, but my 2 year old and 4 year old and I really loved this dish!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes & Cocoa Buttermilk Cake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Today's treat, Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes, was picked by Kristin of I’m Right About Everything, thank you Kristin! These were fun to make and I liked being able to use my mini bundt pan that doesn't get used very often.

A lot of people mentioned issues with the glaze in the P&Q section on the TWD site, I have to admit that my glaze didn't look like the book either, it just seemed too thick and seemed to set up immediately, without really dripping down the sides all pretty like. I tried to add some Valentine nonpareils, but they wouldn't even stick (I sprinkled instantly after pouring the glaze) and they all kind of pooled up in the middle. Oh-well.

I must admit we are on chocolate overload here. My husband's birthday was last Sunday and I made him the Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake that was our anniversary TWD pick last month. It was delicious and the birthday boy liked it. I had been busy in the kitchen all day making his favorite lasagna and the kids really wanted to help make daddy a cake so they could sing to him and he could blow out candles. It meant so much to them and they were so excited for daddy's special day, quite possibly more excited than he was :)

I had fun making this cake and loved how moist it was. I think the key to this one is to eat it the day it is made, it didn't taste nearly as tender the next day. Still an amazing cake, and I'm so glad to have had a chance to finally make it!

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