Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Dinner Roll Experiment #1

We'll be enjoying an Easter dinner with the Helppies this Sunday (Sharon Helppie is president of the Boise Master Chorale and Dennis Helppie is an artist of acclaim), and I've been asked to bring dinner rolls. Dinner rolls are not my area of baking expertise, so experiments are in order. This is the first round. What I learned: I need to make the rolls smaller. The recipe should have resulted in 14 rolls, and I only got 7.

I need to do some fine-tuning on the recipe. I'll try again later this week. Above are the rolls before the final rise. This recipe called for three rises.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Donnie Mac's Adventure

We had our first adventure at Donnie Mac's last weekend with family and friends. Bonus: we were seated to eat at the pool table, which my daughter thought was really interesting.

Our server recommended the Tucker's Mac-n-Cheese with bacon. It was a true homestyle macaroni and cheese, and look at those sweet potato fries. That's what I'm still thinking about.

Chili mac version. Wait staff was friendly, prices are reasonable, atmosphere is unique and the food was good. I'll be taking my parents to this place next time they migrate through the area. I think they'll love it. Plus, there are other things on the menu I want to try.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Baby Bow Ties with Veggies in Parmesan Cream Sauce

Using up some freezer veggies for this dish. Baby bow tie pasta in Parmesan cream sauce. Cook and drain the pasta and steam the veggies so all are al dente. Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat, add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and simmer until a little thickened. Add 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan. Salt and pepper the sauce to taste and stir in pasta and veggies.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Olive Garden Test Dish

This is a test market dish at the Olive Garden in Boise, Chicken with garlic tomatoes and spinach in cream sauce with cheese-filled pastry purses. The chicken was good, and while the croissant-like pastries were also good, they didn't seem to be a good fit with a sauce-based dish. They got soggy and goopy. We'll see in the coming months if this dish makes the main or specials menu nationwide.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oblatne Experiment #1 - Vanilla Cremes

My first use of some of the Oblatne I featured in yesterdays' post. I whipped up a vanilla creme filling improvisation to make an Oblatne sandwich. Some marshmallow creme, a few drops of vanilla, some sugar, a dollop of shortening and a couple of splashes of heavy cream. I thought it tasted good, but too sugary, however, it was totally kid-approved. I'm still looking for tips on what to do with the rest of the wafer sheets.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oblatne Challenge

Oblatne - crisp sheets of waffle wafers. I'll be turning this into a dessert this next week, but I'm not sure what that dessert will look like yet. Maybe cream filling. Maybe dipped in chocolate. Please send advice!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rosemary Pan-Fried Potatoes

Clipped a sprig off the rosemary plant my friend gave me for my birthday to pan-fry potatoes as a side for dinner last night. These potatoes were also sprinkled with coarse sea salt. I removed the rosemary when the potatoes were done. Mainly, the herb scented the oil.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Got Garlic?

Italian sausage, hamburger, three thinly sliced onions, 4 cans of crushed tomatoes and about 30 cloves of garlic. That'll do it. Brown the onions and meat and some minced garlic, then add tomatoes, basil and more garlic and simmer all day. I think that's the key to really good meat sauce, it has to simmer for hours and hours. Oh...and there has to be garlic. A lot! My husband cooked up a batch of sauce Sunday. We put it in the freezer in packages just the right size for a family dinner. We've got 8 meals ready to go for the next few months.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"The Dish"

Italian sausage and tomatoes in cream sauce over penne pasta. We simply call it "the dish." My friend first served it up a few years ago and it's a favorite. This is a variation of an Epicurious recipe.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion thinly sliced
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 pound of Italian sausage - sweet, not hot, casings removed
1/2 cup of white wine - the drier the better
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 pound of penna pasta
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
Saute onions in olive oil until slightly brown, adding the garlic when the onions become translucent. Add sausage and crumble fine, I use a potato masher. I like to see a little caramelization on the bottom of the pan during this phase. Add wine and cook until liquid mostly evaporates. Add a can of tomatoes, liquid and all, and simmer until liquid reduces a bit. Add cream and simmer until sauce thickens. You can turn off the heat and let the sauce sit to help it thicken, too. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook and drain pasta. Warm up the sauce again if you turned it off. Serve sauce over pasta garnished with Parmesan cheese and parsley (chopped fresh or dried).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blueberry Pancakes

We happened to have a few of these fresh, sweet gems on hand, so I plopped them on the pancakes Saturday morning. I'm not a "from scratch" cook when it comes to pancakes. I depend on Snoqualmie Falls mix.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cheers! Bloody Mary Recipe

Saturday morning greetings. Here's how we do a blood Mary. Two cups of Clamato, 10 drops of Worcestershire, 5 drops Tabasco, the juice of one lime, a dash of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Mix well and pour over crushed ice. Garnish with a strangely-leggy piece of celery like I had, or one of those pretty leafy pieces. Don't forget the green olives.'re looking for the alcohol? We usually mix these up sans alcohol, but add some vodka if you want ;)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Baked Cauliflower Alfredo

Last night's dinner experiment: baked cauliflower Alfredo. A successful experiment! Here are the basics:
4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1 clove of minced garlic
white pepper to taste
1 head of cauliflower chopped into bite-sized pieces
Melt the butter in a skiller, add garlic, then heavy cream and simmer. Stir in about 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and pepper to taste. Place chopped cauliflower in a baking dish and pour Alfredo sauce over the top. Bake at 325 until cauliflower is al dente and the sauce is bubbly.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cheater Guac

I've featured summertime guacamole here before, and this is my cheater winter version. Usually, I like to stir in some fresh cherry tomato salsa, but since that won't be available until tomato season in my garden, here's how I improvise:
5 avocados - 4 1/2 mashed
3 cloves of minced garlic
minced jalapeno peppers - the sliced deli-style peppers in a jar - I used 8 slices
1/4 cup of the brine from the peppers jar
sea salt to taste
Mix ingredients together and then dice the last 1/2 of an avocado and gently stir in.
This is passable until usable limes and cherry tomatoes become available.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shrimp in a Blanket

This started out as a sweet and sour shrimp puff recipe....but ended up as shrimp in a blanket.
Crack open a can of Pillsbury butter crescent rolls and cut each triangle in half lengthwise. Pat dry raw peeled and deveined shrimp - one for each piece of dough = 16. Mix up 4 tablespoons of softened cream cheese, a clove of minced garlic, a touch of grated ginger and about a teaspoon of soy sauce. Spread a half teaspoon of the mixture on the dough. Position the shrimp at the large end of the triangle and roll it up. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, be sure to coat the pan with cooking spray or parchment. Remove from over and brush with slightly melted apricot preserves. The reason I can't call this a shrimp puff is because the canned pastry didn't really puff like I wanted it too. I might try this recipe again with a puff pastry.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pinto Bean Dip

A bag of pinto beans on its way to becoming bean dip. The beans were soaked overnight and rinsed, then added to a crock pot without enough water to cover. Cook on high for 6 hours, throw in 6 cloves of garlic and return to high for 2 more hours. Mash beans and garlic with a potato masher and season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes. Before serving, stir in a small spoon of sour cream. We enjoy this bean dip with chips, and I used it for bean burritos last night. Beans, cheese, salsa, lettuce and tortilla chips rolled in a flour tortilla.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Homemade Corned Beef

I did a baked version corned beef yesterday, and I felt brave. It was the first time I attempted a corned beef. It turned out good. Four hours of baking at 325 degrees. (recipe added)


1 corned beef, 3-4 pounds - soaked in cold water for about 10 minutes, rinsed and patted dry.

This corned beef came with spices/peppercorns. Line shallow baking dish with enough foil to seal the beef. Sprinkle half the spices on the foil, add one sliced orange, 3-4 cloves of garlic and a couple of stalks of celery. Place beef on top and top off with the other half of the spices, another sliced orange, more garlic and celery.

Seal beef and spices and bake at 325 degrees for 4 hours. Internal temp 160 degrees means it's done. Let it cool slighlty and trim the fat. Slice and serve, or slice for sandwiches later.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Salad Night Sans Tomatoes

Chicken garlic Caesar salad with no tomatoes. I didn't think it could be done, but a pretty red bell pepper saved dinner plans.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Marbled Rye Made My Day

Wednesday night is often a dashboard dinner night, while my daughter attends music lessons downtown Boise. I picked this pretty egg salad sandwich up at Gandolfo's on 8th Street.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Santa Fe Burger a.k.a. How Much Can be Stuffed in a Bun?

Lettuce, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, fire-roasted Poblano peppers, sauteed onions and chipotle mayo. This was the burger my husband tried last night at Red Robin. I tasted it and it was good with all those competing flavors mixed together.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tortilla Encrusted Tilapia

This sounded so much better than it tasted. I don't think it was the fault of the recipe, it's just that I've never been a fan of tilapia. The texture is all wrong to my palate - too mushy. I'd rather have halibut or cod, although tilapia is far more budget-friendly.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gravy Makes Everything Better

We had some leftover homemade sausage gravy from our recent biscuits and gravy venture. I thought the gravy would be good on a big Idaho baker, but hash browns were good, too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Treat Creation from My 8-year old

A recipe from my daughter: cotton candy freeze. Dissolve a big tuft of cotton candy in a little water. Mix well and freeze.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Zucchini Boats

Sliced in half with the seedy part scooped out and filled with Parmesan cheese. Broil until bubbly and brown.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grilled Cheese and Avocado

I was craving a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich, but no tomatoes on hand. This may be a new favorite, though - very good!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Homemade buttermilk biscuits for a biscuits and gravy dinner last night. These are no-roll biscuits.
Two cups of flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
4 tablespoons of butter
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
Mix the dry ingredients, cut the butter into chunks and pulse the butter into the dry mix with a food processor. Hand mix in the buttermilk. Scatter about a cup of flour on a baking sheet. Coat a 1/4 measuring cup with cooking spray. Plop 9 scoops into the flour on the baking sheet. Coat a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray. Using your hands, roll the sticky blobs of dough in the flour and arrange them in the cake pan - they'll be touching. Bake at 500 degrees for five minutes, turn heat down to 450 and bake 15-20 minutes longer. Turn out the biscuits onto a no-lint dish towel.
Perfect for tea time, too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Peanut Cilantro Heaven

My birthday lunch: salad with lime marinated chicken and peanut-cilantro dressing tossed with kidney beans, mozzarella, tortilla strips and more cilantro. Cilantro doesn't scare me...although I know people who are terrified of it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Free Cake Magically Appears at Our Door

My friend delivered this cake still-warm on Sunday morning to go with out coffee. It was a streusel cake that melted in our mouths.