Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chickpeas with Broccolini and Bacon

This recipe was originally meant for broccoli rabe, but it looks like broccolini in the picture, and I had broccolini, so that is what I used. I also had bacon (rare) and a can of chickpeas I did not know what to do with. It was as if this recipe was meant to be cooked by me this weekend. I did not have an onion, but a neighbor took pity on me and provided one.

This recipe is easy to put together, nutritious and different. The onions are sweet and the bacon makes it hearty. I think it would be a great main dish if you used ham rather than bacon. Also, I do not cook with bacon often (other than as a side to breakfast) and I realized after I made this that if you want the bacon crisp that you need to cook it to that point before adding the onions.

Other changes I made were to not parboil the broccolini and I did not use any oil as I knew the bacon would render plenty.

Here are pictures with the Parmesan on top and then plated and the cheese melted.

French Toast

I am on both a breakfast recipe run and an America's Test Kitchen run. I made their recipe for french toast and realized there are two secrets in the recipe that you must do: toast the bread before dipping and use only egg yolks rather than whole eggs. All else I think can be modified for your taste.

I also appreciated America's Test Kitchens recommendation of using challah bread. HEB did not have the bread. They said they do make it but it sells out quickly. I was shown another of their breads, a country loaf, and it worked perfectly. Other options are Arnold Country Classics White, Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White or Thomas' English Muffin Toasting Bread. For my own test, I used Mrs. Bairds bread (as shown) and it was gooey. It was also difficult to work with as it threatened to tear during the entire process. Perhaps if I had toasted it, I would have had different results. But as I did not WANT to use that bread, I was lazy and just threw it in the mixture.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I caught an episode of America's Test Kitchens and there was a recipe for waffles with an ingredient I have never heard of, but promised to be the best waffles ever, so I had to try it. The secret ingredient is buttermilk powder, like dry milk, and it is sold in the baking aisle. I only saw one brand, and it was the brand used on tv. This is going to be my go-to instead of buttermilk from now on.

The recipe also calls for seltzer water which will make the batter light. It results in a crisp on the outside, moist on the inside waffle. The only modification I made, on the second batch, was add a dash of cinnamon and a little more vanilla. It turned out even tastier than the original recipe.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 10, 2011

We met on July 10, 2011 at Carol's house. The theme was New Orleans/southern cooking.

Appetizer: Janet, Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms
Bread and Wine: Carol, Corn Muffins
Salad: Mary, Coleslaw

Side: Lauren, Collard Greens

Main Dish: Angie, Red Beans and Rice

Dessert: Tonya, Praline Chocolate Cake

Janet made these delicious cheese-stuffed mushrooms from a Paula Deen recipe. If Paula Deen is not the epitome of southern cooking, then I do not know who is! The recipe calls for Paula's house seasoning which is simple to make. Janet modified the recipe by using feta seasoned with basil and only used half a cup of Parmesan cheese as topping. I could have popped a dozen of these in my belly but I restrained.

The below corn muffins, made by Carol first for us in September 2009, featured fresh corn kernels and a very thick batter. Coarse corn meal was sprinkled on top, before baking, and this resulted in a wonderful crunch. The muffins were very moist and made even more delicious with a pat of "bunny" butter.

Rather Rich Corn Muffins - Rebecca Rather - Rather Sweet Bakery - Fredericksburg, TX
Yield: About 2 dozen
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 coarse cornmeal plus extra to sprinkle over
1 cup sugar ( can use 1/2 of sugar if you don't want so sweet)
2 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
optional -- add 1 cup fresh corn kernels or 1 canned corn, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 24 standard muffin cups or line them with muffin papers. Pour the butter, cream, and eggs into the large bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt on top. Mix at medium speed just until the ingredients are combined and not lumpy. Stir the corn into the batter. Using a medium sized scoop, fill the muffin cups abut 2/3 full with the batter. Sprinkle cornmeal over the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 12 - 15 minutes, until lightly brown.

Muffins should spring back when you touch the top slightly with your fingertips. They are best served warm, and equally delicious toasted with butter.

Tips: This batter can be refrigerated in a covered container for 3 days and baked just before serving. Be sure to add 3 to 5 minutes to the baking to compensate for the temperature of the refrigerated muffin batter.

As always, Carol set a beautiful table with pinks, greens and zebra print! She arranged the flowers in the zebra coffee mugs herself.

For the salad, Mary made coleslaw featuring poppy seeds and it was the perfect compliment to the spicy main course.

When I was thinking of this menu I hoped that the side dish would be greens and Lauren read my mind and prepared collard greens! They were delicious and slightly sweet. The one pound of greens cooked down and we wish there had been more!

Collard Greens

· 6 slices bacon
· 1 large onion, chopped
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon pepper
· 3 cups chicken broth
· 1 pinch red pepper flakes
· 1 tablespoon brown sugar
· 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
· 1 pound fresh collard greens, cut into 2-inch pieces

1. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and crumble. Add onion to bacon grease, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until just fragrant. Return bacon crumbles to pan. Add collard greens, and fry until they start to wilt.
2. Pour chicken broth in slow cooker, and season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and vinegar. Add collard green mixture. Set heat to low, cover, and cook for 2 hours, or until greens are tender.

The main dish for authentic Louisiana red beans and rice came from I read many recipes and this one had the best reviews and seemed rather simple. The changes I made included adding THE ham bone (from April) to the beans at the start of cooking, then cutting away the ham and adding it before discarding the bone. I also used about a pound and a half of beans and similarly adjusted the seasonings to about 1.5 times. I never added salt, just like the recipe states, and I did not think it was necessary. If this seems strange to you, be sure to not add any until after the sausage has cooked as it adds plenty of salt. Also, I think next time I will use a potato masher to mash some of the beans to give it a thicker consistency.

Tonya's Chocolate Praline Cake was heavenly and made from a "doctored" cake mix recipe. Instead of the whipped topping, as called for in the recipe, Tonya demonstrated the making of Italian Meringue Buttecream. It was fantastic and there was plenty of beater licking! There was a slight emergency when the icing started to loosen up but this was rectified by placing a warm, damp town on the bottom of the mixing bowl and changing paddles. If you wanted to color the icing, do this at the very end of preparation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

A neighbor brought me a tray of these strawberries this weekend. I think there were about 8 on the tray. By the end of the day, all of these delicious Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries were in my belly. I could not stop eating them! The recipe above is the same idea, though I do not know if it is the exact one. The filing tasted like it could have been pre-made cheesecake filling in a tub and the graham cracker crumbs seemed like they might have had some butter and sugar mixed in. Delicious and so pretty!!