Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spiced Applesauce Cake

This is another recipe I learned about through my sister (and no surprise it's a recipe from Smitten Kitchen). Last time I was in Denver visiting her she had just made a huge batch of fresh applesauce that needed to be used. She made this cake before and thought it was great, so while she was stuck at work, I raided her kitchen and made this. This is another perfect autumn recipe. Apples and cinnamon seem to be getting used quicker than ever this year, thanks to my vacation time. I've been experimenting with lots of fun fall recipes, most of which have been really good (my summer experiments were 50/50).

This is a really moist cake that can be served as is for breakfast or as a snack. Or you can top it with a cream cheese frosting and make it the perfect cake for any brunch or dessert table. I have not yet tried the cream cheese frosting, but I will add the recipe since I have never made a cream cheese frosting that wasn't delicious. I'm sure this one will not disappoint. I also have not yet tried this with the walnuts since the people I made this for preferred having it plain. This cake also freezes really well if you want to make one now while apples are still in season.

Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Angel Hair with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

I don't usually make pasta dishes as a main course, but sometimes it is the perfect thing. The other week my mom and I were preparing her yard for winter, which means hours spent outside raking, cutting, mulching, and lugging tons of yard waste to the compost pile. This can build up quite an appetite. We came in one afternoon just as the rain was beginning to come down, and at that point we decided to have lunch. I had already bought the ingredients for this recipe, so I got started.

This meal comes together really quickly without too much effort. I love goat cheese, so this was the perfect, comforting meal to enjoy on a cool autumn day. Next time I make this I will try it with basil instead of parsley since I tend to prefer basil in my pasta dishes, but the parsley version was still great. My mom and I devoured the entire dish in about 10 minutes (not a pretty sight). I don't know from experience, but I imagine cold leftovers would even be good.

Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Orange Poppy Seed Cookies

Before you start comparing my cookies to the perfect looking ones on the Fine Cooking website, have some mercy. I forgot to set the timer when I put them in the oven, forgot about them altogether, and only realized they were still baking when the house smelled like (slightly overdone) cookies. I had to throw half of them away and the rest were really tasty, but extra crispy. Oven failure aside, these cookies are great! They're really easy to make, the dough freezes well if you want to prepare it ahead of time, and the flavor is just right. The citrus and poppy seed combination is always one of my favorites, so these cookies quickly made it into my baking repertoire.

I was going to serve these as part of a holiday cookie platter, where they would have been a nice change from the usual ginger and chocolate and sugar cookies that seem to be popular this time or year. From my small sampling, these were nice to have with tea and coffee (probably because of the added crunch). Don't get me wrong, the cookie is meant to be crispy, but mine just took it to the next level. Give these cookies a try for a refreshing flavor this holiday season.

Pin It Now!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mini Blackberry Caramel Cheesecakes

I love cheesecake, but for some reason I rarely make it. I was flipping through Alice Medrich's cookbook when I stumbled upon this recipe. I kept turning back to the recipe, so I knew I had to give it a try. It is definitely time consuming, but the end result is delicious. I tried versions of this recipe with and without the caramel sauce, but it is worth the extra effort to make the sauce. I also didn't have ramekins when I made these and used a muffin tin. It works OK, but it's a bit tricky removing the individual cheesecakes when they're all on the same tray. It works, you just need patience. If you do not need as many mini cheesecakes, the recipe can easily be halved.

This dessert would be an impressive addition to any small gathering (a ladies lunch, a family dinner, etc...). Just remember to prepare them the day before. These cheesecakes require a lot of time to set in the fridge. Also, when you're turning them onto your serving dish or individual plates, make sure you flip them over where you want them placed for serving. They are delicate, so I don't suggest moving them around too much. Even with all these finicky little details, I love the end result. If you have time and was to make a beautiful, mouth-watering dessert, these mini cheesecakes are the way to go.

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vivian's Cod with Tomatoes and Herbs

When I was going to college in Illinois, my parent's friends took me in for all holidays as well as occasional family dinner nights. This was always a treat for me since Vivian, the lady of the house, is an excellent cook as well as great company. She made this dish at one of the many times I was invited over. I loved it and asked for the recipe. Vivian is the kind of cook that doesn't need a recipe, so she gave me the list of ingredients she uses (with no specific amounts) and the cooking process.

As it turns out, this recipe is really easy to make and really difficult to mess up. It's extremely healthy and flavorful, thanks to the spices and herbs. You can make this with any kind of white fish you want, as long as it doesn't fall apart too easily. I've tried it with tilapia before and that combination was just as good. Also, adjust the crushed red pepper amount to your liking. If you feel like the dish is drying out in the last 15 minutes of baking (this has never happened to me, but if you double the amount of fish without adding more sauce, it may occur), add a little bit of water to the dish. I've made this dish many times and it has always turned out great. This is a perfect, easy, weeknight dinner idea.

Pin It Now!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pesto alla Genovese

The last of the basil was just picked from my mom's garden. She had 2 huge plants this summer that have provided more than enough basil for the summer and autumn. Before the weather got cool, my mom picked most of remaining leaves and decided we'd make pesto. She's made lots of pesto already this summer, but its a great way to use up any leftover basil and it is delicious.

I've experimented with different types of pesto in the past (such as pistachio pesto), but have never been that impressed. This recipe has the classic pesto taste I was looking for. If you have leftover, or if you double the recipe, it freezes well for later use. I like serving my tossed in whatever kinds of pasta I have at home. I keep it simple so the pesto flavor shines, but you can use it for whatever you like.

Pin It Now!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cranberry Almond Coffee Cake

We always have leftover cranberry sauce floating around after Thanksgiving, even after all the turkey has been eaten. This coffee cake is a great way to get rid of your extra cranberry sauce. It has a strong almond flavor with bursts of cranberry and a crunchy crumb topping. The batter of this cake is thick, but that's normal. Spreading it into layers isn't the easiest task, but it does not need to be perfect in order to get a good result.

This cake lasts about 3 or 4 days if you store it in your fridge. You can also bake it ahead of time and freeze it for future use. When I baked this, it got rave reviews from friends and family (even from some of my toughest critics). If you like almond cakes, you will love this festive variation.

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Flaky Cheese Biscuits

This is my favorites biscuit I have made to date. The addition of cheese into the dough make the flavor perfect. I don't know why I had never made a cheese biscuit before, but I am sold. I had about 1 cup of provolone and 1 cup of Mexican cheese mix the first time I made these and they were phenomenal. Even when I made these for the first time and overworked the dough, they turned out fluffy and flaky.

If you plan on making these, you can really choose flavorful any cheese you enjoy. I used about 1 3/4 cup of cheese the first time I made these, but the entire 2 cups from that point on. If you're slightly short on cheese, these will still be great. These are best served right after you bake them. When I ate the leftover biscuits the next day, I quickly popped them into the microwave to get the cheese back to its melty state.

Pin It Now!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Double Ginger Crackles

Last Thanksgiving I attempted a ginger cookie recipe which sounded amazing but was 100% horrible. It was so bad that we all ended up laughing about the awful gingery taste. Every time I'd convince someone to try them I'd laugh all over again seeing the looks of disgust on their faces. I gave up on ginger cookies for the year and threw away the rest of the batch. This year I began a new search and found a promising recipe from Fine Cooking. Lately I have been loving every recipe I try from their website or magazine, so i'm not surprised that this was another winner.

The key in this recipe is the crystallized ginger. It adds great flavor and a slight kick to the cookies. I found a Japanese version of crystallized that cost a lot less than the stuff found in your grocery stores spice aisle. Another key to this recipe is to not over-bake the cookies. My first batch was left in a minute too long and the cookies turned out crispy. They still tasted great, but I prefer when they are softer. Luckily my sister remembered to put a slice of bread in the cookie jar with the crispy cookies and they softened up the next day. These cookies will last about 5 days stored in an airtight container.

Pin It Now!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Salmon Cakes with Lemon-Caper Yogurt Sauce

Years ago I watched a cooking show where 2 contestants made salmon cakes and I was intrigued ever since then. Somehow the idea of salmon cakes went on the back burner until last week, when I realized there was still some salmon in the freezer that needed using up. I don't love the flavor of frozen salmon as much of that as fresh salmon, so I wanted a recipe that would make the salmon flavor less apparent. Then I started researching different salmon burger and salmon cake recipes. I didn't want to have to buy a bunch of spices that I didn't already have, and I didn't want to make patties that were filled with tons of different veggies.

I loved the idea of the sauce that Giada used with her salmon cakes, but didn't love all of the fillings she used. I wanted to keep the flavors slightly Mediterranean (though I would not consider this a Mediterranean recipe). I love dill and decided I wanted to add it to my recipe. If you're not a dill fan, you can scale it back or omit it completely and these would still be good. I started on these pretty late at night and didn't read over the step where they need to be chilled for an hour. At that point I was starving, so I decided I'd cook the salmon cakes the next afternoon for lunch. They held their shape well overnight and tasted great the next day. Serve these immediately, as with all fried food, for the best flavor.

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fast Fudge Cake

If you are looking to make an easy, chocolaty cake, look no further. This recipe is extremely easy to make and is really hard to mess up. It is moist and just slightly dense with a smooth ganache covering the cake. I made this cake when my sister and her chocolate loving husband were in town and it was approved by both of them. Keep in mind that it is a fudge cake and has a rich flavor, so a glass of milk or coffee might be needed to accompany this cake. It's not dense and creamy like fudge, but it is rich and delicious.

The cake tastes best on the first day, but will still be good on day 2. I stored my cake in an airtight container overnight, but on the second night I put it in the fridge since I didn't want to leave the ganache topping on the counter too long. I suggest lining the bottom of your springform with parchment paper so your cake will come out of the form easily without breaking or leaving behind a layer. The ganache recipe will make more than you need, so you can scale it back or keep the extra for topping ice cream or using it for dunking fruit.

Pin It Now!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Meat and Vegetable Stir Fry with Sherry

Why does this stir fry have such a vague name? Because you can use veal, beef, or pork as the meat in this recipe. Just choose whichever your prefer. This stir fry recipe is a great way to learn how to make a basic, easy stir fry. The sauce is one you can use with any combination of veggies and meat and once you have the sauce ingredients in your fridge and pantry, this becomes a quick, easy weeknight dinner. Leftover tastes great too, so I always make a generous portion and count on leftovers.

I enjoy serving this over rice to soak up the delicious sauce. I'm sure it would be great over a variety of grains, but I am pretty boring when it comes to that and enjoy jasmine or basmati rice with my stir frys. Don't take the ingredient list too seriously when it comes to the veggies. Use what you have or like and leave out what's not available. I added more veggies than the original recipe calls for since I love stir fried veggies. I've made this with veal and beef and both have turned out great (sadly, it's almost easier to find veal than beef in Switzerland).

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Shrimp Cocktail

This is the first time I've made a homemade cocktail sauce and was pleasantly surprised. It was so easy to make and this meal comes together in minutes, especially if you buy shrimp that is already peeled and deveined. My sister and I spent what felt like hours peeling and deveining shrimp, but even with the extra effort, this recipe was worth it. You can serve this as an appetizer or as a main course.

This sauce can be easily tweaked to your liking. Deb from Smitten Kitchen adds extra lemon juice to her sauce. If you want more spice to it, increase the amount of horseradish or cayenne pepper. We grilled shrimp when we made this recipe, but you could also sauté your shrimp if grilling is out of the question. The cooking instructions are exactly the same as with grilling, except that instead of threading the shrimp on skewers, you just cook them individually in a pan over medium-high heat. Serve the shrimp when it is just cooked and enjoy.

Pin It Now!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

My sister's neighbors have an apple tree, which means there is a surplus of apples in her kitchen. In efforts to make a dent in the apple pile, we decided to tackle a variety of apple dishes. She had made these muffins before and loved them, so I started peeling and chopping apples without any questions. The apples we have are smaller, so I used 4 and it worked well.

These muffins turned out great and stayed fresh for 3 days stored in an airtight container. I love the effect the brown sugar has on the tops of the muffins. It adds a little crunch as well as a delicious caramel like flavor, so don't get lazy or too health conscious and skip that step. Even though these are made with whole wheat flour, that flavor does not dominate the muffin and you don't even realize it's been used.

Pin It Now!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Three Bean and Beef Chili

Chili season is slowly making its appearance. The mountains are getting their first signs of winter, and leaves are falling everywhere. I decided to make a pot of chili one cold evening and was instantly brought back to my childhood when we used to order chili in a bread bowl at our local ski area. This recipe makes a generous serving of healthy chili. I love the adobo sauce flavor that comes through, but if you're not a fan or you'd rather have a mild flavor, you can scale back the amount of chipotle chilis and adobo sauce you use. The ingredients for this recipe are simple. I couldn't find black beans or pinto beans when I made this, so I just added extra kidney beans and cannellini beans.

As with all chilis, this freezes really well and can be served with biscuits, bread bowls, rice, or you can just eat it plain. If you're trying to keep it healthy, use a lean ground beef, like 90% lean. In Switzerland I don't have the option to see how much fat is in my ground beef, so I'm sure mine was more of an 80% lean beef. If you have never cooked with chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, don't worry about the extra chilis you will have left over. They freeze really well and once you get hooked on the flavor, you will find many other was to use them up. The picture below if proof of just how cold it was in my town. There are actually really big mountains behind those clouds.

Pin It Now!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Brie and Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Living in Switzerland, there is almost always a wedge of brie in my fridge. I usually cut off slices and snack on them when I walk by the kitchen, or I put the slices on bread and top it all with some chutney. Not matter which way it gets used, brie is delicious. The other week my friend and I had lunch together and we both decided on having a lighter meal. I wanted to make a salad that would be filling, but not heavy, so I decided I was going to add some chicken breast and cheese.

The mixed greens available in Switzerland are different to those in the U.S. I combined salade de mâche with some red leaf lettuce, but any combination of colorful lettuce would be great. If you have leftover chicken in your fridge, this salad is a great way to use it up. I also make this same salad with crumbled blue cheese instead of brie sometimes. You can easily add or subtract veggies or even fruits to this dish. Serve with some rustic bread and your meal is complete.

Pin It Now!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peanut and Sesame Noodles

I know I have more than enough Asian noodle dishes on this blog, but I keep coming across new ones that are also great, so you can take your pick. I chose this recipe since I actually had all the ingredients for the sauce in my pantry. Usually I find an Asian recipe and realize that I'm missing some key component and then opt against making it. This is a really easy noodle dish. It makes a great lunch if you have any leftovers as well.

In this recipe, the veggies are quickly cooked with the boiling pasta so that they are crisp tender. I often just use raw veggies in an Asian noodle salad, but decided to give this method a try. I actually liked the result, but you need to be careful to not overcook the veggies. If you are hesitant at all, just use raw peppers, carrot, cucumbers, or any other veggie you like in an Asian noodle dish.

Pin It Now!