Sunday, September 30, 2012

Knotted Dinner Rolls

Once in a while I enjoy a kitchen challenge. For me, bread is always one of those challenges, since it's a hit-or-miss baking situation. Homemade bread is either great or horrible, but never somewhere in between (if someone says my bread is OK, I can be certain they're being polite and in reality it's pretty bad). I wanted to try something new, so I found this recipe, and gave it a shot. The reviews of the original recipe made me think I'd be able to make these rolls since many non-bakers said they had success with them. Turns out that aside form all the time spent waiting for dough to rise, they're really easy to make. It's also really simple to make them into the knots, even though it looks like you spent hours doing it.

When I was kneading the dough, I ended up adding quite a bit more flour since I found my dough to be really sticky, but I think everyone will have a different experience with this recipe. From what I've learned, this dough is hard to mess up. I'm pretty sure that in  the end I added about an extra 1/3 cup of flour to the dough and it still turned out great. I also got impatient towards the end and didn't give the dough as much time to rise as I should have, but this didn't seem to affect the dough. These are best eaten the day you make them. I froze half of the rolls and they re-warm nicely in your oven. But again, once de-frosted, eat them warm. The dough is much fluffier when these are warm.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yellow Split Pea Soup

Autumn has officially arrived. It's rainy and cold and all I want to to is curl up under a blanket. The other thing I love to do when the weather gets like this is have cooking sprees. On my days off I tend to hang around the kitchen trying out new recipes or remaking some of my favorites. I just had my second rainy day off in a row and decided it was time to make the first soup of the season. I initially wanted to make a traditional split pea soup, but could only find yellow peas. Then I decided to stick with making a healthy soup since I've been eating way too many unhealthy things over the past 2 days.

This soup is incredibly hearty. I served it as a main course for a family dinner night (which is what we call a night when all my roommates are home and we sit down to have dinner together) and everyone loved it, even the fussy eaters of the house. It's a really healthy soup since the only source of fat is the olive oil. If you can't find yellow split peas, this soup is also great with regular green split peas. I made some fresh rolls to go with the soup and found that it was the perfect dinner on a rainy day.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

This Ina Garten recipe has been a go-to pasta dish that I've been making since college. It's one of those meals everyone always loves (though some of my friends have been know to pick out the olives). The flavor combinations of the capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella make this pasta hard to resist. I usually go back for seconds and thirds when I make this, and will gladly eat the leftovers for lunch.

Though the dressing tastes better if you can puree it in a food processor or blender, I've made this in kitchens where neither were an options and just chopped everything as finely as possible. The result was still delicious, even if the dressing was not as smooth. I once made this without any basil, but do not suggest doing so as you will feel like something is missing from the dish. Ina finds a way to feature all these different flavors in one delicious tasting pasta dish. I like this past most served at room temperature. Give it a try on a night when you don't feel like spending hours in the kitchen for a tasty dinner.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Yup, another lemon dessert recipe to add to my blog. I actually made this froze yogurt a while ago, but it somehow got lost in all of my other recipes that I love. This frozen yogurt is the perfect, refreshing treat on a hot day. It was eaten in about 3 days the first time I made it. I also loved the blueberry sauce that gets mixed into the ice cream. It would be great with all sorts of other desserts, like pound cake, plain vanilla ice cream, or spread between cake layers. The texture is also great and it doesn't get too hard in the freezer, as some frozen yogurts do.

When you make this ice cream, my tip is to make large strips when you peel the lemon and to count how many strips you have. You don't want someone finding a piece of lemon peel in their frozen yogurt, and they're not the easiest things to find, especially when you think you've fished them all out, but you aren't quite sure. Also, be patient with the blueberry sauce. When I was first cooking it I didn't think it was going to work out, but then suddenly everything mixes together perfectly.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Honey Garlic Spareribs

I was in a ribs mood a few weeks ago and went on the hunt for an easy recipe with simple ingredients. When I found this one I realized I had all the ingredients at home already and gave it a try. The first time I made these, I served it to my roommates, who were all fans. We devoured them all, even though both of the guys claimed they weren't hungry. These ribs are not smothered in a barbecue sauce, so don't expect anything that will require 1,000 napkins. They're baked in a marinade, which flavors the ribs in a delicious way.

When you make these, make sure your garlic is really finely chopped. I made these a second time and got a little lazy (didn't simmer the marinade as long and only roughly chopped the garlic) and the flavor was not as good. I've made this with and without the brown sugar and both tasted great. The recipe requires lots of baking time, but it also helps tenderize the meat. I've heard of people boiling their ribs before baking or grilling them, but I have never tried that method yet. I was really happy with the result of this extended baking time, so for now I'm sticking with this method.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Classic Deviled Eggs

Summer barbecue season is slowly coming to an end. I've been pretending that this is not the case, but the night up here have been getting cold and even on a clear evening, I end up grilling in a sweatshirt and long pants. I'm trying to squeeze in as many summer foods as I can before bolognese and soup season comes back in full force. This means there have been lots of grilling sessions and, of course, summer side dishes.

Earlier this summer I made deviled eggs with capers and dill, which I absolutely loved. However, dill isn't always available where I am, so I've reverted to classic deviled eggs, with the old fashioned ingredients. I don't have any fancy piping devices in my kitchen, so the filling isn't placed into the egg white all that perfectly, but the taste is what really matters (especially if I am just making this at home and nobody other than my roommates will see). Top your deviled eggs with some chopped scallions or chives for an added color splash.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Olives

Ever now and then I don't really feel like having much for dinner, especially when it's hot outside or if I've been snacking all day. When this happens, I love to have a salad. Sometimes I'll have some bread and cheese as well (yes, we always have a decent stash of cheese in the fridge). This green bean salad makes a great, light evening meal. It's also a colorful side dish for any occasion.

Right now, my local grocery store has been selling green beans pretty consistently. When something is in season, I tend to buy it, especially in Wengen. Otherwise I'd be living off of the same 10 vegetables that are offered year round. This salad is a great way to use up fresh veggies and really let their texture and flavor come through. Make sure you don't overcook the beans, or else you will end up with mushy, limp, and fragile bits of green beans.

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