Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake

Aaron’s birthday was last weekend and I wanted to do something very special. He loves ice cream cakes and I thought, as I often do, “Hey, I’ve never done this before, but I bet I can.” For the most part, I was right, but I also definitely learned some important lessons while making this. This was also made possible because Alberta Co-Op sells vanilla beans for $2 a piece (sooo much better than grocery store prices).

I got most of my help from those masters of ice cream, Ben & Jerry. The results are super decadent and worth the mess created while making it. I made a double recipe of the brownies because my cake pans are larger than those used in the original recipe. The double recipe is listed below.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book and Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker Manual (plus my brain):

Makes one fantastic cake

For the ice cream-
2 c. heavy cream
2 c. whole cream
1 2” piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 egg yolks
½ c. sugar
2 Tb. vanilla extract
1 c. crushed Oreos

For the brownies-
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I went Ghirardelli because it was a birthday cake)
1 c. butter
8 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. salt
4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour

For the cake-
Ice cream
1 qt. heavy or whipping cream, cold
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. confectioners’ sugar
10 Oreo cookies

Make the ice cream ahead of time if you can. I didn’t, so I did the brownies first.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour two 10” cake pans. Do this well. Seriously. I had issues getting my brownies out of the pan. You’ll see this below.

Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool in the pan to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can quickly cool it in the refrigerator, but be sure it doesn’t get solid again. This method works really well.

Beat the eggs and salt in a mixing bowl until very fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture. Add the flour and fold just until blended. (It is important to fold in the chocolate and flour gently to keep the batter as fluffy as possible.)

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans completely.

Make the ice cream if you haven’t already. Perhaps give yourself a vanilla bean mustache before moving forward.

Combine cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add vanilla bean and heat until mixture almost boils, about 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Meanwhile beat yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until light yellow and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Mine wasn’t quite light yellow because I used natural sugar and that’s not super-white and refined sugar. Add 4 tablespoons hot cream/milk mixture and stir until combined. Gradually add egg yolk mixture to warm cream mixture, stirring continuously to prevent eggs from curdling. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 3-4 minutes.

Cool completely. Place mixture in a covered container and store in the refrigerator overnight. Or, if you’re like me and didn’t give yourself a lot of time, chill over an ice bath for about 30 minutes to make the ice cream right away.

When cool, scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to ice cream mixture. Discard bean shell. Stir until well combined. Pour into freezer bowl of ice cream maker and freeze for 20 minutes. Add crushed cookies and freeze for another 5 minutes.

Turn the brownie cakes out onto a cutting board. This is where it got a little messy, but it was easy enough to slap them together again. Clean out one of the cake pans. Place one of the brownie cakes on the bottom of the pan. Spread a layer of about half the ice cream over the brownie and try not to leave any gaps. I recommend doing this in a sink as the ice cream will start to melt everywhere. Place the other brownie cake on top of the ice cream and repeat. Place the cake in the coldest part of the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours. Overnight is best.

When the cake is hard, remove the outer part of the cake pan and transfer to a plate. Return to the freezer until it is hard, about 10 minutes.

While you wait for the cake to harden, bear or whisk the cream, vanilla extract, and sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, spread the whipped cream over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with more cookies.

This was super delicious, but I would change a number of things. For one, I think a single layer of ice cream between two brownie layers would be better than the two ice cream layers. I felt like that as the cake became softer to make it easier for cutting, the top ice cream layer became very thin. I think it would’ve seemed more ice cream cake-y with a thicker layer of ice cream. The other possibility would be cutting the brownie layers in half and creating more layers in general.

Also, the whipped cream topping, with a quart of whipped cream, makes way too much. You could get enough topping with half the amount of cream. Other than making it in the sink and just having more lead time in general, this cake was awesome. It was a big hit at Aaron’s birthday party and I’m so glad to have made something that awesome for his birthday. The brownies are super rich and very chocolaty. The ice cream was the best vanilla I’ve ever made. Overall, so worth the time.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alaskan King Crab Legs and Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Aaron and I aren’t all that big into Valentine’s Day anymore. This has a lot to do with the fact that our anniversary is February 2 and his birthday is the week following V-Day (February 21). So we celebrate love an awful lot in such a short month. Well, we do every month. Not the point.

ANYWAY, Alaskan king crab legs were on sale and we had to get them. It’s ALASKAN KING CRAB. I don’t feel like I need to say much more than that. We decided to get a pound and a half and then pick up some sea scallops from Sheridan’s (which has an amazing meat and seafood counter. You should check it out if you’re in the Portland area). When we were in Juneau this past winter, Aaron made bacon wrapped scallops and his mom’s place and they were fantastic, especially since he had never done them before. For a fancy V-Day dinner, they seemed like a good idea. And they were!

Steamed King Crab Legs and Bacon Wrapped Scallops by Becca and Aaron:

1½ lb. Alaskan king crab legs
6 large size sea scallops, gently rinsed
6 pieces of bacon (turkey bacon can work, but it crisps faster, so it’d be a bit more difficult)
2-3 garlic cloves, cut in half
¼ c. butter, melted
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Mashed potatoes

Place bacon in a medium skillet and cook until slightly crispy. It should be mostly cooked, but still flexible. Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet.

Wrap the scallops with the bacon and skewer with toothpicks to hold in place. Set aside.

Boil water in a large pot with thyme, rosemary and garlic. If you have a steamer tray, this next part is easy. I had to rig on up, so it was a little harder, but still worked even though I had to cut the legs in half. Add legs to steamer tray or rigged up steamer tray and cover. Steam for about seven minutes, or until you can smell the delicious crab aroma. Crab legs are generally already cooked once when you get them. They do this on the fishing vessel to preserve the supreme freshness and delciousness that is Alaskan king crab. So don’t overcook!

While the crab legs are steaming, reheat the bacon skillet. Place the scallops in the skillet and cook until translucent, flipping a couple of times. Scallops cook really quickly and get tough, so watch it.

Serve crab legs and scallops with melted butter mixed with the minced garlic, mashed potatoes, and lemon wedges.

This was a ridiculously fantastic dinner. The only issue we had was that we don’t have crab crackers, so we had to cut all of our legs open with kitchen scissors, which takes a bit of time. Still, though, worth it. Alaskan king crab is so good and I wish it were always available and not super expensive.

I recommend topping off your evening with a viewing of Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Feb. 25, 2010

Are you lactose intolerant? This article is a bit dense, but worthwhile. I have self-diagnosed as partially lactose intolerant because milk and I are not really friends, but I love the heck out of cheese and it doesn’t make me feel like milk does. Anyway, this is worth a read.

World’s Strongest Beer: Oh goodness, this sounds dangerous. Very, very dangerous.

Butch Bakery: What? Everyone loves cupcakes. Okay, not everyone, but I don’t feel like dessert needs to be split along gender lines. This is just ridiculous. Sorry for posting something I don’t love, but that is kind of funny.

In something else I’m not loving, but you should read. No Brownies at Bake Sales in NYC: What I do love? Homemade foods. I understand wanting kids to be healthy, but Doritos are not the answer. Teach kids a love of cooking and food and guess what? They’ll appreciate it in a whole new way.

Adobe Photoshop Cook:

Adobe Photoshop Cook from Lait Noir on Vimeo.
This is amazing! Aaron showed this to me and I wish it were real.

Holy yes! Pizzacones: The cones are handmade and you can so many things in them. I want to eat here! Or have one be in Portland. Whichever.

Apparently I really like food that looks like something else. Jell-o-scape: This is the most beautiful jell-o I’ve ever seen.

I’m also loving: Nancy’s non-fat yogurt (especially with muesli); taco Tuesdays @ Por Que No; and on that note, Dutch tacos from FlavourSpot (thanks for sharing the love Corey!); learning how to make raised beds; PB&J sammies; the fact that Burgerville allows bikes through the drive-thru (excited for biking with smoothies this summer); also the fact that the Portland Farmers Market starts up again in less than a month; spinach, just because.

Food Flowchart by Sarah Cue the Sun

What are you loving this week?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creamy Artichoke Dip

Honestly, I’m not sure how I haven’t blogged about this before. My mom sent me this recipe ages ago and though I don’t make it all the time, I’ve definitely made it since starting this blog. You’ll have to forgive me because this dip is just that good. I made a double recipe of the one below and the leftovers are not going to waste. I promise.

Creamy Artichoke Dip:

Yields about 1½ cups

8 oz. softened cream cheese
2 oz. artichoke hearts
1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 Tb. chopped parsley (I usually just add however much I think will taste good)
½ tsp. salt or to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper or to taste
¼ tsp. lemon zest or to taste (always more!)
1-2 garlic cloves or to taste (You might guess that my taste is around 3)

In a food processor, pulse garlic until finely chopped. Add parsley and repeat. Add lemon zest and repeat.

Remove all ingredients from the work bowl, set aside, and clean bowl.

Cream the cream cheese in work bowl. Add artichoke hearts and pulse until well blended, but still chunky. Add parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and the garlic mixture. Pulse a few more times until all blended.

I am in love with this dip. We had it, at Super Bowl, with pita chips, salt and pepper potato chips, and veggies. Since then, I’ve been snacking on it like crazy, put it on a sandwich, and Aaron mixed it in with some penne and chicken sausages. It’s tangy and fantastic. And so easy!

Like I said, sorry for not sharing it before! Try it now, you’ll love it! Plus, then you can take fancy pictures with it. The reason for this is two-fold: one, I wanted a better shot of the dip itself, not across the table and two, I have a new camera! Yay! No more 2002 digital camera pictures! I’m really excited about this and will hopefully use that excitement to take lots of pictures of lots of new things.

I’m also including the mini-calzones we had with everything else. They weren’t as mini as I would have liked, but they are fairly small. And tasty! There weren’t any left at the end of the evening.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

To be fair to both teams in the Super Bowl, I decided to also make a dessert for the Indianapolis Colts. Problem was, though, that I couldn’t think of anything very Indianapolis. Food and New Orleans is easy! There was just nothing out there that was very Indianapolis. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

So anyway, I decided to make mini blueberry cheesecakes because they are white and blue (mostly) and the Colts colors are white and blue. Plus, I love cheesecake. Also, it allowed me to not only dig back into The New Moosewood Cookbook, but to also use the recipe Hannah, who bought me the book, recommended. It was just a win all around! I used a half recipe to make these and that’s what I’m listing below. I may make a big one sometime here in the future because cheesecake is delicious.

Montana’s Mom’s Dynamite Cheesecake slightly modified from The New Moosewood Cookbook:

Makes 12 fabulous mini cheesecakes

For the crust-
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
¼ stick butter, melted

For the filling-
8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, softened
1/6 c. sugar
2 eggs
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
1½ Tb. lemon juice
¼ tsp. lemon rind (I didn’t measure this and I’m sure there was more, but lemon is awesome!)
¾ c. wild blueberries

For the topping-
¾ c. sour cream
1½ Tb. sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. wild blueberries

Make the crumbs in a food processor or blender. I used about ½ a sleeve of crackers to get a cup. Combine ¼ stick melted butter and crumbs together and press firmly into the bottom of a 12 spot cupcake tray. As I had issues later on, I’d recommend using liners and pressing the crumbs mixture to the bottom of those.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat filling ingredients together until smooth. Pour onto crusts and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. You will need the oven again, so you can either leave it on, or reheat it.

Have oven at 375 degrees. Blend topping ingredients, except for blueberries, well and pour on top of cooled cakes.

Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle tops with remaining blueberries. Cool to room temperature, then cover tightly (still in pan) and chill for at least 12 hours.

The only issue I had with these was getting them out of the pan. The normal size cheesecake uses a springform and I didn’t think about this until after I was done. I had to turn the pan upside down and whack the bottom of it to get them out. So yeah, use liners.

In any case, these were fantastically delicious! The cheesecake is not too dense and I think the blueberries, both in and on the cheesecake, were a great touch. Side by side, these were great desserts. And yes, those are the cookies at the top of the photo. They show up at many parties. And now that I’ve made this cheesecake, it probably will too.

Anyway, even though the cheesecake was delicious, the Colts lost. I did tell Aaron that if the Saints won it was because of my cupcakes and I did make twice as many. That’s right, football games are determined by my dessert making.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Here is another Alton inspired, Aaron made recipe. He decided to give meatloaf a shot. I’m not usually a big fan, but it’s also been quite some time since I last ate it, so I figured why not. Aaron modified the original a bit and ours was about half as big. However, the basic technique is the same, so thanks again Alton!

Meatloaf modified from Good Eats:

Serves 6-8

3 oz. stale bread
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ onion, roughly chopped
½ carrot, peeled and broken
2 whole cloves garlic
7 oz. ground beef
4 oz. ground buffalo
7 oz. ground turkey
1½ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg
¼ c. ketchup
½ tsp. ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce (he used Sriracha)
½ Tb. honey

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

As a quick note, we didn’t have even amounts of the ground meats, but Aaron suggests keeping them even .

In a food processor bowl, combine bread, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, and ground meats with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the egg and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.

Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155 degrees. We don’t have a probe, so Aaron checked the temperature of the meat occasionally to make sure it was cooking properly and that it was at a safe temperature.

Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I fried up some potatoes with olive oil, herbs, and parmesan cheese and the whole meal was served with green beans.

This was a delicious meatloaf and I was really surprised by how much I liked it, especially the glaze. I really thought it was neat that the loaf didn’t cook in an actual loaf pan. I’d love to try a turkey/buffalo version or an all turkey version.

Things I Love Thursday: Feb. 11, 2010

Beer is good for you! Well, sorta. The silicon in beer is good for your bones, which is great news because I do love beer. The downside of this is that IPAs are the best for you (not really a fan) and wheat based beers the least. Guess my favorite just isn’t cutting it when helping out my bones. Oh well, cheers!

New Heinz ketchup packets: This has been all over the internet lately. New packets for easier dunking, I suppose. I’m not sure I’m on board with this as I have many fond memories of jumping on the old packets and squirting my friends with ketchup. I just love how much internet buzz this is getting.

Not something I love, but I did find this very interesting and you should read this. The real cost of Coke: I’m not a big cola drinker and when I do, it’s generally the store version because it’s cheaper and I can’t tell the difference. The full article (here) has more to do with Coca-Cola’s problems in general, but the bit about how expensive it is to drink Coke in general is ridiculous.

When was tofu on the top of the food chain? Bacon stuff is so overdone, but this is still cute.

Farm on former freeway: This is amazing! These people are really dedicated to urban farming and even though this may not end up being a permanent farm, it’s definitely a springboard for others to take up urban farming.

Uhm, yes!


Eat Pray Love: I know, welcome to 2006 Becca. I’ve had this book on hold at the library for some time now and just got it a few days ago. I’ve already torn through the Eat part and loved every second of it. Sure, most people can’t get a years’ worth of traveling paid for and Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences are just that, hers, but still, it’s amazing. It’s a lifelong dream of mine to get to Italy and just eat. I will make this happen someday.

Foodscapes: You’ll never look at your food the same way again. I’d love to live in a broccoli forest! These are so beautiful and it’s all food.

I’m also loving: Pita chips; a thousand uses for leftovers; oregano all over my pizza (like at the Laurelhurst); deep, dark corners at happy hours with pseudo-Communist art and friends; giving away baked goods; replacing given-away baked goods because someone dropped it on the ground (also known as turning a frown upside-down); along with that, the smiles on your friends faces when they bite into something you made; Tillamook’s Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese; whiskey sours

What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wings and French Fries

When I mentioned that Aaron has been cooking a lot, he’s also been cooking from Alton Brown’s recipes a lot. I’m a huge Alton Brown fan (I think I’ve mentioned that before) and I’m glad Aaron is too. This dinner Aaron made was fantastic. I’m not normally into wings, but these were some of the best I’ve ever had. Thanks Aaron (and Alton, whose original recipe is here.)

Buffalo Wings modified from Good Eats:

Serves 2 for dinner

12 chicken wings
3 oz. unsalted butter
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and julienned
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Hot sauce
Apricot BBQ sauce
Chopped garlic (a few cloves)

Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket and 1-inch of water in the bottom, over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Aaron said that because we don’t have a steamer basket, he used a mini colander over the pot.

Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the fries. In a large bowl, add julienned potatoes and coat with olive oil. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Place these on a baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown. Bake fries along with the wings. Aaron said they took about the same amount of time.

While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a bowl large enough to hold half of the chicken and stir to combine. Mix the apricot BBQ sauce (which tastes only like apricot and not like BBQ so I liked it) with the chopped garlic.

Remove the wings from the oven and transfer half to each of the bowls and toss with the sauces. Serve warm with the fries.

The fries were crisp and warm and delicious. I love when a fry is both crispy and potato-y soft on the inside. The wings were super crisp and yummy. I was sad when we ran out. Like I said, I’m not normally much of a wings person, so that should tell you how good these are.

Who Dat! Bananas Fosters Mini Cupcakes

In honor of the New Orleans Saints making it to their first Super Bowl and also because I was rooting for them, I made bananas foster mini cupcakes. Bananas foster was invented in New Orleans and seemed like an appropriate choice for the Saints. I didn’t think that bananas foster in and of itself would be appropriate for a Super Bowl party, so I decided to make them as cupcakes and mini cupcakes at that. Small, snack size food is so perfect for parties.

I found this recipe after a cursory search and I really liked her ideas about adding in whole wheat flour and cutting a bit of the butter. We both did half size recipes and had similar results with our flambé attempts. There’s a video on the original recipes page you should check out to see how mine went. I had the perfect amount of batter for the number of silicone mini cupcake liners I have, but that’s partially because I was eating some of the batter. Hey, it was good!

Bananas Foster Mini Cupcakes from Erin’s Food Files:

Makes 24 mini cupcakes

For the Bananas Foster-
½ stick unsalted butter
¼ c. packed brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 ripe, but still firm banana quartered (halved crosswise, then lengthwise)
1 Tb. dark rum (I used Mount Gay)
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

For the cupcakes-
1 ¼ c. flour (I did 1/3 c. whole wheat and the rest all-purpose)
½ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
¾ stick butter, softened
¾ c. granulated sugar
2 eggs (Use 1 egg if you have extra large)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp dark rum
Banana mixture already prepared
¾ c. sour cream

For the frosting –
4 oz. cream cheese (½ block), softened
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1½ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. butter, softened
Slightly less than ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. dark rum

½ ripe banana for decorating cupcakes

In a sauté pan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cook until butter melts and sugar is dissolved, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the banana slices and cook until tender, turning once for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remember that the second side will cook faster than the first. Also, don’t get any of the butter sugar mixture on you. It’s very hot and it will hurt.

Stir together rum and vanilla. Turn off the burner and add the rum mixture to the pan.

(teeny tiny flame!)

Using a long match, light the alcohol by placing the flame just in the outer edge of the pan. Stand as far back as possible. The flame should extinguish in a few seconds. Or not get started and then be kind of piddly, so I added just a little more rum to make it happen. If I’m going to flambé, there’s going to be fire. I did spend a bit of time swearing at the pan and bananas for not catching fire. If anyone had been around, I’m sure it would’ve been quite amusing.

Gently shake the pan from side to side to coat the bananas with the sauce. Spoon the bananas into a bowl and set aside.

To make the cupcakes, heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, vanilla, rum and banana mixture. Mix well.

Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream; blend thoroughly but do not over mix. Pour into prepared cupcake pans. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool in pan on rack. Remove after a few minutes and cool completely before frosting. The excellent thing about silicone liners is that they just pop right off and they are easier to frost and there’s nothing to remove before you eat. It’s fantastic!

To make the frosting, beat together cream cheese, butter, cinnamon, rum, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. I misread the recipe and added not enough cinnamon and then adjusted by adding too much. I think I might have made it better, but I couldn’t tell you how much extra I accidentally put in.

Add about half the powdered sugar and beat until mixed well. Then gradually add the remaining powdered sugar until you reach a spreading consistency.

Frost the cupcakes. Cut up the other banana into half slices and decorate the cupcakes as you see fit. Serve to football fans and enjoy.

I thought these were fairly fantastic, but not that much different from the banana cupcakes I made previously. Certainly not different enough to justify flambéing and swearing. I’d love to try bananas foster again and flambéed foods in general, but probably not for these cupcakes. I might adjust it and have it so there are chunks of bananas in the mixture. That might make it worth the extra time. The base cupcake recipe with the rum, though, is a winner and I will have to fiddle around with that. All in all though, these were a big hit and I’m glad I did it.

At least I didn’t set my hair on fire.

And the Saints won!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

German Dinner

One of my favorite things lately has been how much Aaron has been cooking. I’ve been behind in my posting, so there will be a number of Aaron made recipes coming up soon!

This meal was all Aaron’s idea. He saw chicken bratwursts at Freddie’s and the whole plan came together. We made pretzels again earlier in the day and he went about making everything delicious. And it was quite the dinner.

German Dinner by Aaron:

Serves 2

Soft pretzels
4 chicken bratwursts
A small jar of sauerkraut
One delicious tasting bottle of beer
A few cloves of garlic, chopped
Mustards galore

The first thing Aaron did was poach the sausages in beer. He poked a few holes in each, added the beer to pot, brought it to a boil, and reduced it to a simmer. He then added the sausages, allowing them to cook for about 15 minutes.

Because sauerkraut from the jar is kind of lame, he jazzed it up by adding chopped garlic and some of the remaining beer from the sausage pot.

The brats went onto the grill and they cooked for about ten minutes.

After the sausages were done, everything was served with mustard. This was a fun dinner and a great mid-week meal. You will have leftover kraut, but I promise you it will taste better and you can use it for sandwiches.

Anniversary Dinner

On February 2nd, Aaron and I celebrated nine years together. Over time our celebrations have gotten a bit smaller, especially since we also have our wedding anniversary to celebrate, and now we mostly cook for each other. I kept it fairly simple this time around and I think it was really nice.

We had baked salmon, spicy broccoli, dill Israeli couscous, and garlic crostini. I didn’t follow recipes for any of these, but it was such a fantastic dinner that I had to share.

This is what I did:

The salmon was a gorgeous about one pound piece of sockeye. I heated the oven to 350 degrees. In a big casserole dish, Aaron rubbed it down with butter. I cut the skin off of the filet and he rubbed both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. We then dotted the salmon with butter, squeezed some lemon juice on it, and sprinkled it with diced garlic.

It went into the oven for about 20 minutes. You can tell when the salmon is done when it turns a much lighter pink and it just looks tasty.

For the Israeli couscous, I put it in a pot with water, mixed in dill, pepper, garlic, and kosher salt and brought the water to a boil. It’s a similar ratio of couscous to water like rice to water. I reduced to a simmer and covered it while it cooked for another eight minutes or so. The consistency is a lot more like pasta, but it cooks like rice. I love it.

While the couscous was going and the salmon was in the oven, I heated olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, tossed in broccoli florets, crushed red pepper, my ubiquitous garlic, salt, and pepper, and cooked that for about 30-45 seconds. When the broccoli was still bright green, but a little toasty, I turned the heat down, added about ½ a cup of water, and covered until the broccoli was cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.

Finally, while the salmon was cooking, I cut up a couple of pieces of rosemary loaf, brushed them with garlic olive oil, and put them in the oven with the salmon until they were crispy and browned. While the salmon was resting, I pulled them out and rubbed them with a cut clove of garlic.

Overall, the dinner was delicious and it was a great way to celebrate another year with my baby.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: The Beginning

This new feature is inspired by one of my favorite blogs, icing by Gala Darling. It’s filled with tons of cute outfits and positive ideas. I adore it and so should you. Anyway, she does this feature every week called Things I Love Thursday and on Friday’s she does Carousel. TILT is filled with things that make her happy and that she loved. Carousel is a collection of awesome links from all over the internet. My version of TILT is going to be a combination of her two features, all related to the cool food stuff I see. It might not be every week because, well because, but I’ll endeavor to do it as often as possible. There’s lots of really great food articles and such out there and I want to share with you. So this is what I’ve got!

The 25 Most Awesome Mugs Ever Created: My favorites are this one,and also this, this, and of course this. I find these especially cool after Renai’s post about tea. I also don’t have a ton of very nice mugs, but I do have some serviceable ones. I may have to invest in a nice mug. Or Darth Vader. Whatever.

Coffee Foam Art: I don’t drink coffee, but this makes me wish I did. Especially this one.

Coolest Teabag Ever: I swear these won’t all be about tea/coffee, but this is amazing! Want, want, want. I'm singing it in my head now.

Message in a Cookie Cutter: Since baked goods are already a great way to say thank you, you can make it even better by having the cookie itself ACTUALLY say thank you. This would work out well for me because my penmanship, particularly my icing penmanship, leaves something to be desired.

Lady Gaga Cupcakes: Heck yes.

Speaking of cupcakes, here are 100 Game Cupcakes: It didn’t surprise me much how many of these games I’ve played.

200 Food T-Shirts: This is an amazing list. Found it through a friend’s mom posting it on her Facebook page. The magic of social networking! Favorites includes this, this, this, this one because it reminds me of my dad, and this one. This one is really cute too. I’ve seen this one in person and I still think it’s funny. Oh, just go look at the list!

PS: These are acceptable presents. Just FYI.

Legos + Kitchen = AMAZING! Two things I love in the same place.

What are you loving in food this week?
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