Friday, February 25, 2011

Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese



I had planned to make this a week ago, but life kept getting in the way.  But today I finally gave in to Bellamy's begging for macaroni and cheese, and I made this delicious concoction.

I found this recipe a little while back on Eat Me, Delicious, and I just had to have it.  I love anything with feta cheese, and the fact that it is the only cheese in this makes it a little more special.  It's a mild cheese, so it gives everything else a chance to come through while still making a presence.  This isn't your run of the mill straight out the box variety, so if you have picky or unadventurous eaters, save this for yourself.  I'm lucky enough to have a child that will eat anything that isn't mooing or twitching, so everyone enjoyed this.  The only thing I will do differently the next time is to add some chopped sun dried tomatoes, that will make it perfect!


Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese recipe adapted from Eat Me, Delicious


1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Flour
1 1/2 Cups Milk 
1 can Diced Tomatoes, any variety
1/3 Cup Kalamata Olives, chopped
2 teaspoon Oregano, Basil, Marjoram mixture
1/2 Pound Gnocchi Pasta
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
8 ounces Feta, crumbled
4 ounces Herbed Feta, crumbled
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400F/200C.  Boil pasta 2 minutes underdone and drain. Splash with olive oil so it doesn't clump, set aside. 

Melt butter on medium heat, add flour and whisk a minute or so.  Slowly add in milk while whisking and continue until smooth.  Slowly bring up to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Take off heat and add in 8 ounces feta, greek yogurt, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  

Combine tomatoes, olives and oregano mix, add to cheese sauce.  Combine sauce and pasta, put in an 8 inch casserole dish. Top with more oregano seasoning.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.   





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Pecan Pie



This pie was a special request by my lovely friend Leslie who apparently hasn't enjoyed some good old pecan pie since being back in the states who knows when.  This was fun for me to do since I don't make nearly as many pies as I should, but I really enjoy them and I lurve me some pecan pie. 

My goal was to re-create the pecan pie from Phillipe's in Los Angeles.  If you haven't had their pecan pie, you ain't lived.  It's that good.  I don't know if I succeeded, but if I can manage to scrounge a few crumbs from Leslie I'll let you know.  It's pecan pie though, so no matter what the outcome, it can't be bad.


Update:  According to Leslie, the pie was "absolutely delicious, a more than perfect pecan pie!"


Pecan Pie


Filling:

5 Tablespoons (70g) Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
3/4 Cup Golden Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 Eggs, lightly beaten


Crust: (recipe adapted from Teri's Kitchen)

1 1/2 Cups Flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Sugar
1/4 Cup Vegetable Shortening, chilled
1/4 Cup Butter, chilled and cut into cubes
3 Tablespoons Cold Water, more or less if needed


Method:



To prepare the crust, combine flour, salt and sugar.  Add the shortening and butter and using a pastry cutter, forks, food processor or your hands, combine it until its coarse and mealy.  If using your hands, be careful not to melt the butter into the flour too much, chunks are your friend, it makes the crust flaky.


Add the cold water in one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together and holds when you squeeze it.  Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge at least one hour.  Once chilled, roll it out to the desired size, press into pie pan, cover and return to the fridge until you're ready to use it.


Set your oven to 350F/175F.  Spread the pecans on a lined baking sheet and bake 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and roughly chop, set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, syrup and salt.  Stir this until the sugars are melted down nicely, this will take about 5 minutes or so.  Bring the mixture to a boil and let it boil for one minute, stirring continuously.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and nuts.  Let this cool for about five to ten minutes, stirring it every now and then.  It may seem like it's getting hard or goopy, that's okay.


Important note - Do not add your eggs to the sugar mix until its sufficiently cooled, you will get scrambled eggs!  Not cool!  If you can stick your finger in the sugar and it feels warm but not at all hot, you're good!


Stir you're beaten eggs into the sugar mixture and blend it very well until its smooth.  Fill your pie crust.


Bake 25 minutes, cover with a crust lid or aluminum foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.


Can be served warm or room temperature.


Makes one 9 inch pie.


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Friday, February 11, 2011

Low Fat Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 


These are so good!  Usually when a recipe has no milk, butter or even oil it tends to be a bit dry and bland.  Not these!  They are chocolately and delicious and the hazelnut really comes through tying it all together.  At 40 minutes start to finish and so little fat there is no reason you can't have these tomorrow with your morning cuppa.  I think next time I'll throw in a scoop or two of chocolate protein powder just to give myself even more of an excuse to eat them.  Word to the wise though, don't try to take pictures of your food with a nosey kitten around, it results in things like this:






You're lucky you're cute ya little shit.


Chocolate Biscotti recipe from SkinnyTaste.com 

1 2/3 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
3/4 Cup Sugar (Superfine or 'Caster' sugar is best)
3/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (optional)
2 Eggs
1-2 Egg Whites
Hazelnuts/Almonds/etc (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F/190C.  Line a pan with parchment paper.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Add chips and nuts if using.  
Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between.  Add an egg white.  

If the dough isn't holding together, add one more egg white and mix well. 

Form into one or two ovals on the baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes.  Cool about ten minutes, then cut into slices.  Bake an addition 5 minutes, flip, 5 minutes more.

Cool completely.  Makes 16 - 24 biscotti

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate and Golden Vanilla Triple Layer Cake


 

  


This pretty little thang here was a special super chocolately birthday cake for Rebecca.  I guess I shouldn't call it little, since everyone said it was huge, but my Amurican brain says it's tiny damnit.  I can't imagine what they would think of our birthday cakes.  Could probably feed half of this country with those things.  Anyway!



I made her some cupcakes too, and they got heffered.  I should have brought more but I was all out of frosting and stuff to make it, sorry lady.  





This cake was made with two dark chocolate fudge cake layers and a center of a classic yellow cake.  Super yummy stuff right there.  I'm glad everyone liked it!






You know what's best about a friend's birthday?  I get to make the cake and eat it too ;)

Happy Birthday Rebecca!



Fudgy Chocolate Cake recipe from Food.com 

2 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Hot Coffee
1 Cup milk
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F/160C.  Grease and flour pans.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and sugar together.

Add the oil, coffee and milk and beat for two minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat two minutes.

For a 9x13 bake 45 minutes, for two 9 inch rounds bake 27 - 30 minutes.  Cool in pan ten minutes then remove and cool completely on a cooling rack. 


Golden Vanilla Cake recipe from King Arthur Flour 

 2 Cups Sugar
3 1/4 Cups Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup (150g) Butter, soft
1 1/4 Cups Milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla
4 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Grease and flour pans or line cupcake pan.

Whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt.  Add butter and beat until sandy.

Combine milk and vanilla, and add to butter mix.  Beat on low 30 seconds, then medium 30 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl.  

Add an egg while mixing, beat 30 seconds then scrape the bowl.  Repeat with each egg.  Scrape the bowl a final time and beat on medium for 30 seconds.

Put batter in a 13x9, two 9 inch rounds, three 8 inch rounds, or do as I did and make one 9 inch round and 12-14 cupcakes.  Cool ten minutes in the pan then cool completely on a rack.

Baking times: 
 13x9 - 40 minutes
9 inch - 27 minutes
8 inch - 24 minutes
Cupcakes - 23-25 minutes

Frostings:  

Layers, crumb coat and detail: 
 1/2 Cup (113g) Butter, softened
4 Tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

Beat butter, milk, and vanilla until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add cocoa powder and blend until incorporated. 


Main Frosting: 

1/2 Cup Butter, softened
2 2/3 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
1/3 cup Cream or 1/3 cup Milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder 

Combine powdered sugar, cocoa powder. Combine milk and vanilla.

Beat butter until creamy, alternate adding powdered sugar/cocoa and milk/vanilla.

Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add more milk or powdered sugar to get the texture you want. 



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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Smore's Blondies

 



These were born out of the need to entertain Bellamy.  She was whiiiining about being bored, and nothing was good enough for her.  Friends were boring, games were boring, coloring was boring, she didn't want to watch a movie, DS was boring which is amazing.  I offered to play Guess Who with her, but nooo that was boring too.  So my only other suggestion was to bake.  That's never boring.  So, I let her do all the measuring and mixing, and somewhere between putting the batter in the pan and sticking it in the oven she ran off somewhere.  Apparently she wasn't bored anymore.  Truth is it's more likely she just forgot what she was whining about in the first place.  Either way, her not complaining makes me happy.  Her not complaining and me eating blondies makes me even happier.  You know what would make me happiest?  About five of these and a pint of Ben and Jerry's.  Oh well, can't have it all I guess.


Smore's Blondies

1/2 Cup (113g) Butter, melted
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Egg
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract 
1 Cup Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 Cup Chocolate Chunks
1 Cup Miniature Marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350F/175C

Beat together melted butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla extract, mix well.

Combine flour and salt, slowly add to wet ingredients while mixing.  Add graham cracker crumbs, chocolate and marshmallows. Mix well.

Press into a greased 8 or 9 inch square baking dish.  Bake 20-25 minutes, do not over bake.  22 minutes was perfect for me.  The blondies should be very soft when you take them out.  Cool completely.
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