Monday, February 28, 2011

Steak Dinner

Andy is a Leap Year baby and his actual birth date only comes around once every four years. Typically we celebrate on the day after February 28, be it the 29th or March 1. However this year, we have plans tomorrow night, so I decided to make him his favorite meal tonight: Rib-Eye Steak with Blue Cheese Butter, baked sweet potatoes with Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Butter (just stir together these three ingredients—fancy!), Cornmeal-Crusted Onion Rings, and steamed broccoli (to balance out all the calories). Andy really liked his special meal. Enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Butterscotch-Golden Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

This is another variation on my basic cookie recipe.
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 bag butterscotch chips
6 oz. golden raisins

1. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer until fluffy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Add in butterscotch chips and raisins. Scoop dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
2. Bake at 350° for 10 to 14 minutes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cranberry-and-Apple Cake

This recipe, from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?, has been on my must-try list since December. It is great for dessert or for breakfast. At some point, I want to try this batter for muffins. This is similar to an upside-down cake technique—the fruit is on the bottom and the batter is spread on top—except you don’t turn it out of the pie plate. Enjoy!

Cranberry-Apple Cake
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
Zest and juice from 2 oranges
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Combine cranberries and next 4 ingredients; set aside.
2. Beat eggs with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Add in granulated sugar and next 3 ingredients. Combine flour and salt; gradually beat into egg mixture.
3. Place fruit mixture in a lightly greased pie plate; spread batter over top. Place pie plate on a baking sheet.
4. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until done. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cookies-and-Cream Torte

I’m not really sure what to call this unusual recipe, which is a combination of several different desserts—suggestions are appreciated. The cream mixture is reminiscent of tiramisú. I used amaretto, but kahluá would be nice as well. I used three 9-inch cake pans to make the really big chocolate chip cookies (my basic cookie recipe). You will get numerous servings from this dessert. Enjoy!

Cookies-and-Cream Torte
3 (9-inch) Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups heavy cream
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup amaretto
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Grated bittersweet chocolate

1. Place one cookie on a cake plate.
2. Combine cream and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat mixture with an electric mixer until firm peaks form. Spread some of cream mixture over top of cookie; top with another cookie. Spread with cream mixture; top with third cookie. Spread top and sides with cream mixture. Top with grated chocolate. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Add in vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture. Add in chocolate chips. Spread batter in three lightly greased 9-inch cake pans.
2. Bake at 350° for 12 to 14 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Baked Feta in Marinara

This is a super-easy and tasty appetizer from Frank Stitt’s Bottega cookbook. Serve it with toasted foccacia bread. (What I served came from Continental Bakery.) The original calls for homemade marinara sauce; I used a jar from the grocery store. Enjoy!

Baked Feta in Marinara
1 (28-oz.) jar marinara sauce
1 (4-oz.) block feta
Salt and pepper
Thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Pour marinara into a baking dish. Crumble feta over marinara, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Bake at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Roasted Tomatoes with Risotto Cakes

My in-laws are in town to help us with our house project. After working on the roof all day, dinner needed to come together fast! My solution: Use leftover risotto cakes from supper club as the base for very easy Roasted Tomatoes. (I used grape tomatoes because it’s winter and other tomatoes are tasteless.) The combination was delicious and, best of all, was on the table in about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Roasted Grape Tomatoes
2 pints grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Place tomatoes in a baking dish; sprinkle with chopped garlic, salt, and pepper. Drizzle tomatoes evenly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes or until tomatoes are softened.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This is totally made from scratch and is totally worth the effort. You will never make your old mayonnaise-based spinach-artichoke dip recipe again! I wilted the fresh spinach in the hot bacon grease, which added another layer of flavor. Definitely serve this at your next party. Enjoy!

Spinach-Artichoke Dip
4 bacon slices, chopped
2 bags fresh baby spinach
4 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Juice from 1 lemon
1 (8-oz.) block Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 (6.5-oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bagel chips, toasted baguette slices, tortilla chips

1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp; drain on paper towels. Remove bacon drippings, less 1 Tbsp.; add in spinach, and cook until wilted. Place spinach in a colander, and rinse with water. Use a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Wipe Dutch oven clean.
2. Melt butter in Dutch oven, and add in onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until onions are softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add in flour, and cook for 1 minutes. Gradually stir in milk, stirring until mixture is combined and thickened. Stir in lemon juice, Monterey Jack cheese, artichoke hearts, and bacon. Cook, stirring often, until cheese is melted and mixture is thoroughly heated. Pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
3. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Serve with bagel chips, etc.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mustard-Roasted Fish and Risotto Cakes

We hosted our supper club tonight and these were the main dishes. I forgot to take a photo of the fish, but it was hard to see with sauce all over the top. The fish was super simple and came together in no time. The risotto cakes were not difficult, but they do have a lot of steps (you would definitely save time if you have leftover risotto). Both of these recipes were inspired by ones in Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. It is a delicious pairing—enjoy!

Mustard-Roasted Fish
8 tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
16 oz. sour cream (the original called for crème fraiche, but I couldn’t find it at the store)
6 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
3 shallots, minced
4 tsp. drained capers

1. Place fish on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine sour cream and next 4 ingredients; spread over top of fish.
2. Bake at 425° for 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.

Risotto Cakes
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. chopped chives
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Olive oil

1. Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full of water; bring water to a boil. Add in 1/2 tsp. salt and rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Drain rice completely; rinse under cold water. Drain.
2. Whisk together yogurt and next 4 ingredients; season with salt to taste. Stir in rice. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
3. Place panko in a shallow dish. Use a scoop to create balls of rice mixture; roll in panko. Cook in hot oil in a skillet in batches, flattening slightly with spatula, until crisp and golden on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Keep warm in a 250° oven, if desired.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blueberry-Orange Yogurt Muffins

It’s no secret that I love to make variations of recipes. This one is based on my new favorite (and good-for-you) yogurt muffin recipe. For this recipe, I omitted the simple syrup mixture that is brushed on the tops of the muffins after they come out of the oven—the blueberries make them moist enough without that step. Enjoy!

Blueberry-Orange Yogurt Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. orange zest (2 oranges)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pint blueberries
1. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients. In another bowl, combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients. Gradually stir flour mixture into yogurt mixture until combined. Stir in vegetable oil until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into 24 lightly greased muffin cups.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until done. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pappa al Pomodoro

This fancy-sounding soup recipe is from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. Don’t be fooled—it’s basically tomato soup made thick and creamy with the addition of ciabatta bread; the mixture is pureed until smooth. Red wine, which I don’t use in my basic tomato soup recipe, adds a nice depth of flavor. Andy and I both really liked it, so this may be our new standby on a cold winter night. Enjoy!

Pappa al Pomodoro
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 (16-oz.) loaf ciabatta bread, cut into cubes
2 (28-oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (32-oz.) carton chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Parmesan cheese

Toasted ciabatta slices

1. Sauté onions and next 2 ingredients in hot oil for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add in garlic, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add in ciabatta cubes, and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes.
2. Use immersion blender to puree soup until smooth. Ladle into bowls, and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with ciabatta slices.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

I needed an easy side dish to go with steak and oven-baked french fries. There was a pint of grape tomatoes in the fridge, so this recipe was born. You don’t get any easier, and the taste was the perfect partner for the other foods. This makes enough for two to three people, but it is easily doubled. BTW, if you have fresh herbs, feel free use them instead of dried. I plan to make this dish again and serve it with hot cooked pasta. Enjoy!

Roasted Grape Tomatoes
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1. Place tomatoes and garlic in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and next 2 ingredients.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are softened.