Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Taste of the Tropics Shrimp

I found this recipe on the Paved with Good Intentions Blog and thought it looked yummy - I love fruit with seafood! It was very yummy!! The only thing I would change it I would use much less onion in the marinade- it was very strong. The Mango tempered it though :)
Broiled Shrimp
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup basil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp creole mustard (couldnt find this so I used southwestern instead)
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1) Combine all ingredients in ziplock bag, refrigerate one hour.2) Heat broiler. Broil shrimp 4 minutes, turning over half way through.

Mango Salsa
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 jalepeno seeded and chopped
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ripe mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/6 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp light brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1) Combine all ingredients but salt and pepper.2) Place in fridge for 30 minutes to let the salsa do the flavor tango.3) Season with salt and pepper
I served it with jasmine rice, and cooked the remaining marinade in a saucepan until slightly reduced and the onions were softened (and the raw seafood was cooked!) and mixed that with the rice, it was great!

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

I was planning to try my hand at pumpkin cheesecake for thanksgiving but made a last minute executive decision to switch to vanilla bean (since I realized that pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake would be a bit redundant!)
This recipe comes from Bon Appetit by way of Epicurious. I ommitted the cranberry topping due to time. My vanilla beans were pretty old and not so strong anymore, and the store was OUT of them, so I used them plus a couple generous tsp of vanilla extract to make sure it have a nice strong vanilla flavor - which it dod (but not too much either, perfect!). I also cooked it in a water bath. My first cheesecake came out eh and I think that was from a lack of water bath. This one, with water bath, cooked PERFECTLY - no cracks or anything!

It was SO GOOD.

12 vanilla sandwich cookies (such as Vienna Fingers; 6 1/2 ounces), broken into pieces (I used a whole pkg to have enough for the sides too, and added extra butter to compensate)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar


2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature (3 pkgs)

1 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

4 large eggs


1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail, thawed

1/4 cup water


For Crust: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F. Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with foil. Blend cookies, butter and sugar in processor until crumbs stick together. Press crumbs on bottom and halfway up sides of prepared pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Set aside. Maintain oven temperature.

For Filling: Using tip of small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla beans into small saucepan; add beans. Add cream. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Set aside uncovered, and cool to room temperature. Discard beans.
Blend cheese, sugar and salt in processor until very smooth, stopping often to scrape down sides of work bowl. Add vanilla cream and blend. Add eggs; process 5 seconds. Scrape down sides of work bowl; process just until blended, about 5 seconds. Transfer filling to crust.
Bake cake until sides puff slightly and center is just set, about 50 minutes. Place uncovered hot cheesecake directly into refrigerator and chill thoroughly, at least 6 hours or overnight.

For Topping: Stir all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil 3 minutes. Press mixture through sieve set over large bowl, pressing firmly on solids. Spoon warm topping over cold cake; spread evenly. Chill until topping is set, at least 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

I am not a big pumpkin pie person but this recipe is so yummy! The filling is from William Sonoma and I stuck with the tried and true Joy of Cooking Rich Buttery Crust recipe.

Crust - Deluxe Butter Flaky Dough/Baked Flaky Pastry Crust, (this is cut in half from the original for only one non-covered pie) and adapted:
Page 862/866 the Joy of Cooking

I made this in the food processor - makes crust-making a breeze!
1.25 cups flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter.
Run food processor so mixture resemples crumbs pea sized or smaller.
Drizzle 1/6 cup ice water over mixture and run processor briefly so evenly moistened. If the dough wont hold together add another 1-2 tablespoons of ice water. If it is too wet, add more flour. Press dough into a disk (should not be sticky) and wrap in plastic. Refridgerate for 30 min, minimum.

Roll dough out and put in pie pan. Heat oven to 400 and place rack in lower third of oven. push foil shiney side down and sprayed into crust and fill with rice, beans or pie weights. Bake 20 minutes. Remove frmo oven and remove weights, and foil. Prick bottom of crust and bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown.
Brush inside of crust with a combination of 1 large yolk and a pinch of salt, beaten. Replace in oven until glaze sets and then fill immediately.
For the filling:

16 oz. fresh or canned pumpkin puree

3 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground mace (omitted, didnt have any)

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup half-and-half

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

(sorry - no pretty slice pics - didnt have time at dinner and we were all too full after dinner when I took these photos for anyone to take one for the team and eat more! :) )

To make the filling, in a large heatproof bowl (I used a double boiler), whisk together the pumpkin and eggs. In another bowl, combine the salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, allspice, cloves and sugar and stir to blend. Whisk into the pumpkin mixture, then whisk in the half-and-half and evaporated milk. Gently stir in the cream. Set the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan and cook the filling, stirring constantly, until very warm (not hot) to the touch, 4 to 6 minutes.Transfer the filling to the pie shell and bake until the filling is just set in the center, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with homemade whipped cream - YUM!

Cheddar Apple Pie

Another fool-proof William Sonoma recipe! I have made this one once before, and it turned out well so I volunteered to make the apple pie this year too. There is a decent amount of cheddar cheese in the crust - I used extra sharp white in a block and hand shredded it. I dont think you would get enough sharpness from teh pre-shredded kind. I also always add extra apples to my apple pie since I prefer it tall and full, and alot of times the apples shrink during baking and you are left with a too-thin pie. There were so many apples in this that I had a hard time stacking them all in the pan without falling! It is nice too, when you eat the pie you get a nice hint of cheddar aftertaste, not overpowering at all. CHeddar and apple is such a yummy combo!

For the dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. sugar

6 oz. white cheddar cheese, finely grated

16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:

2 lb. Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick

1 1/2 lb. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick (I used granny smith only and 4+ pounds total)

3/4 cup sugar

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

3 Tbs. cornstarch

2 Tbs. heavy cream

To make the dough, in a bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar and cheese, breaking apart any large clumps of cheese. Put the butter in a separate bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 10 minutes. In a food processor, pulse the flour mixture until the ingredients are combined, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 15 to 20 pulses. Add 1/3 cup of the ice water and pulse twice. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 Tbs. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (I made the dough the day before)

To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, remove 1 of the dough disks from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. Place the dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured waxed paper and roll out into a 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick. Brush off the excess flour. Transfer to a pie dish and press the dough into the dish. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (I didnt bother)

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Pour the apples into a sieve set over a small saucepan, then transfer the apples to a large bowl. Set the saucepan with the juices over medium-high heat, add the butter and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the apples and toss to combine, then stir in the reduced juices. Transfer the apples to the pie shell. Roll out the remaining dough disk into a 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick. Drape the dough over the apples and press gently to eliminate any air pockets. Trim the dough flush with the rim of the dish. Fold the bottom crust over the top crust and crimp to form a decorative edge. Cut 4 slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the top of the crust with the cream. Bake for 20 minutes. Cover the edges and top with aluminum foil if they begin to get too dark. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake until the apples are easily pierced with a knife, 65 to 70 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 1/2 hours before serving. Serves 8 to 12.

Orange-Cranberry Sauce

I made this recipe for Thanksgiving the first time 2 years ago and it has quickly become a favorite! Very easy and the cranberry and orange and apples meld so well together. Perfect on Turkey! This recipe is by William Sonoma and comes out perfect every time!

Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce

1/2 orange

2 cups water

1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, pippin or McIntosh

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Squeeze the juice from the orange and set the juice aside. Remove and discard the membrane from inside the orange rind and cut the rind into small dice. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rind and the water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cut into 1/2-inch dice and place in a saucepan. Sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the apples along with the orange juice, orange rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Or cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a sauceboat and pass at the table. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups.

This is a dish that you can easily make a few days ahead - oh so important for Thanksgiving menu planning!

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series,Thanksgiving & Christmas,by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1993).

Corn Muffins

Two weeks ago, we had my sis and bro over for dinner and served chili (we were out of our stock in the freezer!) and what goes better with chili than corn muffins? I saw this recipe in Gillians Goodies blog and it looked easy and not too terribly unhealthy, and incorporates kernals of corn, which I like. They were super quick and easy to make (which was important since I was also making 2 kinds of chili) and very yummy!

Yield: 12 muffins


2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the sharper the cheese, the better the flavour!)

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (I was out so I subbed cream for this... oh well!)

1/4 cup chopped onion (subbed for the original recipe's green onions) (I used a little extra)

1 (8 3/4 ounce) can cream-style corn

Dash of hot sauce (omitted)

1 large egg, beaten

Cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next four ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine cheese and remaining ingredients (except cooking spray) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add the cheese mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

3. Coat the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among the cups of the muffin pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in cups 2 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. The recipe says to let them cool completely but they are so yummy served warm!

Reference:The original recipe can be found in the October 2007 issue of Cooking Light magazine. Corn Bread Bites.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

I had the idea to make apple cinnamon cupcakes all fall and when we were invited to a Halloween Party, I used that opportunity to make them. I thought they were great!

1 box yellow cake mix (I was going to make from scratch but no time, and it was yummy this way) Make batter according to directions. Add 2 apples, peeled, diced and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 1 tsp nutmeg. Mix to combine and bake according to instructions.

I made a quick cream cheese frosting from Joy of cooking, plus of course halloween decor. I didnt think to take a photo of the cupcake broken into but trust me that it was great!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

I saw this recipe by Cara's Cravings floating around the cooking board that I frequent and the first opportunity I had I made them (for our local get together for the troops!). I doubled the recipe for a crowd and made it in a 9x13 pan so they were still nice and thick. When I started making them I realized I was short eggs if I needed to double it so I just made them short and kept my fingers crossed. They came out very well and I made them again for a Halloween party, this time with the correct number of eggs. Ryan and I prefered them with less eggs as they were a fudgier consistency so that is the recipe I am writing here (see the link above for the original). They are fabulous!


1.5 cups butter, melted

2 cup sugar

2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

4 tsp cinnamon

Cheesecake Batter

12 oz cream cheese, softened

1 egg

2/3 cup sugar

4 tbsp flour

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 9x13" square metal baking pan. Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together by running a butter knife back and forth through the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.

Oh My Darlin' Clementine Salmon

I saw this recipe on the Good Things Catered Blog and used it as a jumping off point for a new salmon recipe. I am really picky with salmon - I have 2 recipes (one of which is just lemon juice and olive oil heehee) that I love and well nothing else seems to ever measure up. This was really good though - elevates my basic lemon salmon. For the original recipe, see the link. The main things I changed were the type of salsa (since we dont really care for cucumber salsa) and the cooking method (I finished in the pan instead of oven).


2 salmon filets
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 c. dry white wine
1/8 tsp orange zest (I did zest of 2 clementines)
1/8 tsp lemon ( I just did zest of 1 lemon)
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and ground rainbow peppercorns

1 tomato, chopped fine
2 clementines, sections cut in thirds
1/3 a red onion, finely chopped


Heat heavy saute pan over medium high heat .

Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add salmon, to hot pan and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.

Season top of salmon with zests, garlic, and salt and ground pepper. (I combined it in a bowl and them mixed and spooned onto
Flip steak in pan and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove skin from bottom of steak and discard (I used skinless).

In the meantime, mix tomato, chopped clementine, red onion, in a small bowl and set aside.

Add white wine to pan and swirl to coat. Flip salmon steak in pan and swirl to pick up bowned bits in pan halfway through. Cook till salmon is done through. Top fish with fresh tomato mixture and serve.

Honey Roasted Parsnips

I have never had parsnips (as far as I know at least) but I saw a recipe for this in teh new December Everyday Food and it looked interesting. I hit the stores and saw parsnips everywhere so figured, why not. They look like white carrots so I was expecting a more mild carrot flavor but its more like a mild version of sweet potatos, BUT they crisped up in the over much better than the sweet potatos do. This was fabulous and easy, and is definitely added to the veggie side rotation! YUM!

(orig recipe serves 4 - I halved it and it was perfect for Ryan and me)

1 package parsnips (1 pound), peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 2 inch lengths on the diagonal

toss with EVOO and kosher salt

Roast at 450 in rimmed baking sheet until brown (about 30 min) tossing halfway.

After pulling from oven drizzle a little honey (1 tsp at most) over the parsnips and toss to coat. Really good - if you want to try a new veggie this is the one! Very mild for picky eaters and so yummy.

Sweet Brown Butternut Rice

I was always scared of rice because I hated it growing up but I have recently learned more about it (thanks Alton Brown!) and have become a big fan of rice with stuff in it. Still don't much like it plain or the boring white/brown varieties. But different kinda of rice are fun! I went to WHole Foods a while back and they can be very expensive for some things. They had cereal-type dispensers set up wiht about 20 different kids of rice, and unique ones. I bought a bunch of different kinds (nice, at the grocery store you have to buy 5 pounds at a time - ugh!). One was "sweet brown rice" a short brown rice. I decided to try it out on a whim. SO good. YUM. I loved it!

1 cup sweet brown rice


Add both to medium pot over medium high and stir often to toast teh rice a bit. Add:

1 onion, diced

1 (small) or 1/2 a butternut squash, in bite sized pieces (I buy the pre-peeled kind since my upper body strength is lacking, and it is needed to get the hard rind off)

cook another couple minutes, stirring, until onion is softened.

Add about 2 cups of stock. Let simmer, stirring frequently. I think I added another 1/2-3/4 cup of stock - as needed (taste the rice when the stock is soaked up to see if it is soft enough or not).

Towards the end but before totally done, add 1 medium tomato, chopped and about 1 cup of frozen corn. Add a pinch of salt, a few tsp of cinnamon and ginger, a dash of nutmeg, and a tsp of white pepper (more mellow and suble than black I think).

SO good! Nice and creamy texture and a sweetness from the rice, squash and spices.

Red Pepper Fennel Soup

I got this recipe from Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine. It was really yummy! My grocery store did not have fresh fennel so I threw in about 2 T of fennel seeds instead and it still had a nice strong flavor. Very good, very easy!

2 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise (I used 3)

*to roast peppers: I sliced them and put them all skin down on a foil lined baking sheet and broiled them a few minutes until getting dark spots then flipped them all and cooked until black spots on the skin.
6 tablespoons butter, melted (I used olive oil)
1 leek (white part only), thinly sliced crosswise (I used an onion)
1 small bulb fennel with fronds, bulb finely chopped and fronds chopped for garnish (as mentionned, I couldnt find it in the store so I just used approx 2 T of fennel seeds instead)
1 potato (1/2 pound)—peeled, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper
2 pitas, split and cut into wedges (I omitted)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used a little less just enough to make it creamy but it would probably also be good omitted)
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°. Reserve 4 strips of roasted red pepper and set aside. In a medium pot, place 4 tablespoons melted butter over medium heat. Add the leek and chopped fennel bulb and cook until lightly golden, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining roasted red peppers, the potato, broth, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the pitas on a baking sheet and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle with some of the fennel fronds and salt; toast in the oven, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

Using an immersion or standing blender, working in batches if necessary, blend the potato mixture until smooth. If desired, place a sieve over a large pot and strain the soup. Stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup hot or cold with the pita chips. Dollop with sour cream, if desired, and top with the reserved roasted red pepper strips and more fennel fronds.