Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The End

Well, this is the end of the blog, I won't be updating it any longer, but Oma, we will still send fun recipes we try to you.  

Bean and Ham Soup

Back when I was a kid, my mom would often serve us Campbell's Chunky soup, which I loved and still really enjoy.  They had this one kind, just called bean and ham, and my sister Andrea and I really liked it.  Then they changed the recipe on us, changed it to hearty bean and ham, and we lost all interest in it.  The heartiness was added by tomatoes apparently, and we just didn't love it.  I haven't ever seen the old fashioned version again, so I decided to make it myself.  This was an easy, delicious dinner, and the only thing that was hard was trying to keep the sodium down.  Noah and I gave this a perfect 10, and Aaron, Owen and Jonah gave it a 9.  This is very low in calories, about 260 for a large serving.  Anyway, here is the easy recipe:

1 lb navy beans, rinsed
1 ham steak, chopped
1 T oil, if needed
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 T flour
2-3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 t poultry seasoning
4-8 c chicken broth
Seasonings to taste

Cook the navy beans in water in your crockpot over night.  Check the beans are tender, then reserve some of the bean cooking liquid, and drain the rest of the beans.  On the stove, brown the ham, then add in the carrots and onions, and oil if needed, seasoning as you go.  Stir in the flour, making sure to coat the veggies well.  Add in the herbs, then the chicken broth and reserved bean water and beans.  Cook on the stove until the soup has thickened and is very flavorful and the veggies are tender and the beans are soft, I let mine cook about 3 hours.  Serve.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cook's Illustrated's Baklava

     I LOVE baklava, yes that strongly ;).  Here's the truth though, I hate nuts, so how can I love a nut pastry so much?  Part of it is memories, and part of it is just how delicious baklava is.  When I was a kid living in Michigan, we would sometimes take the Detroit People Mover into Trapper's Alley (it doesn't exist anymore :( ), and visit Greek Town.  I loved these trips, and Greek Town is awesome (or was 20-30 years ago, I haven't been there in about 20 years).  We would eat at Pegasus Taverna, see the waiters lighting the cheese on fire and yelling opa, and shopping in the cool little stores around us.  My dad, another of the sweet tooths (teeth?) in our family, bought us baklava as we went around Trapper's Alley shopping center.  Man, that was some good pastry, and I don't know that I've ever had baklava that good, but this one I made was pretty darn great.
     Baklava isn't a dessert that comes together quickly, but it is so worth the effort.  Aaron really enjoyed this, he said it was his favorite baklava ever, but then he hasn't ever been to Greek Town :).  I found this recipe in my Cook's Illustrated International Best Recipe cookbook, and Aaron and I gave this a perfect 10, and the boys gave this a 9.  Although my cuts didn't make nice diamond shapes like I wanted, they still came out great, and we had about 28 slices in our 9x13 pan.  Each slice was 247 calories, but I had to change the recipe a little to make up for my lack of almonds, so here's what to do:

1 lb of phyllo pastry (about 30 sheets or so), thawed
24 T unsalted butter

Sugar Syrup
1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c water
1/3 c honey
3 2-inch strips lemon zest plus 1 T lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
1/8 t salt

Nut Filling
1 c chopped, blanched almonds
1/4 c pine nuts
1 1/2 c walnuts
2 T sugar
1 1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/8 t salt

Bring all the sugar syrup ingredients to a boil together, stirring occasionally.  Allow to cool then remove the spices and lemon zest.
Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely chopped, add in the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt and pulse quickly, then set aside.
Preheat the oven to 300.  Melt the butter slowly, about 10 minutes, until the milk solids have separated from the butter fat, about 10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat, allow it to cool about 10 minutes, then skim off the top.  Separate the butter fat from the liquid, toss out the fats, and have about 1 c clarified butter to use.  Grease your baking pan, then layer 8 phyllo sheets in the pan, brushing each one well with butter, then repeating for each of the eight sheets.  Gently spread 1 c of the nut mixture over the sheets.  Layer and butter six more phyllo sheets, then sprinkle with 1 more cup of the nut filling.  Repeat with six more sheets, then 1 more cup nut filling.  Layer remaining 8-10 phyllo sheets, brushing each layer except the final layer with butter, then press carefully with your hands to compress the layers.  Spoon the remaining butter over the top layer and brush to cover the entire surface.  Using a serrated knife tip, cut the pastry into diamond shapes (or try :)).  Bake about 1 1/2 hours, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  Remove the pan from the oven, immediately pour all but 2 T of the syrup over the cut lines.  Drizzle the remaining syrup over the surface.  Garnish each piece with some of the nut filling.  Let baklava cool completely for about 3 hours, then cover with aluminum foil and let sit at room temperature for about 8 hours before serving, although it still tastes good after only three hours :).

Friday, October 16, 2015

Crock Pot Honey Mustard Chicken

Aaron really likes honey mustard, and I decided to make him some in the crock pot, because everything for me is better when it can be made in the slow cooker :).  Anyway, this is a quick, easy dinner, and we all liked it with our cheesy mashed potatoes.  Each serving was about 150 calories, and there were six servings.  This received an 8 from everyone except Noah, who gave it a 9.  Here's what I did:

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1/4 c honey
2 T olive oil
2 T whole grain garlic mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 T tapioca

Spray the slow cooker with oil.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Mix together the honey, oil, and mustard.  Stir in the lemon juice, and then stir in the tapioca.  Pour over the chicken, and cook it on low about 4 hours, checking to make sure it doesn't over cook.  Serve.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Michael Symon's Pasta with Mushrooms and Sage (and Sausage)

So Michael Symon came out with a new 5 in 5 cookbook, so of course I bought it as soon as possible :).  This is one of the first recipes we tried out of his new cookbook, and although we made slight changes, this is pretty close to the original recipe.  We love us some 5 in 5 around here!  Obviously, we can't have a vegetarian meals around here, so we added Italian sausage to the mix, which was a huge hit.  Aaron gave this a perfect 10, Noah, Jonah and I gave it a 9, and Owen gave it an 8.  Each serving, with the sausage, was 558 for six servings.  Here's what we did:

12 oz Italian sausage, cooked and sliced and set aside

1 lb pasta
1 T olive oil
8 oz (more or less) mixed mushrooms, I used cremini, porcini and oyster
3 T unsalted butter
3 T chopped fresh sage
1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Boil the pasta in well salted water until al dente, then reserve 1 c of the pasta water, drain the pasta and set aside.
Over medium high heat, heat the oil and cook the mushrooms, about 3 minutes.  Flip the mushrooms, add the butter, and cook until the butter melts.  Stir in the sage and season with salt and pepper.
Add the pasta and reserved pasta water and cook, stirring until blended.  Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and sausage, and serve with more cheese.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Rachael Ray's Black bean and beef Chili

This was a great chili, and I found the recipe for it on food network's site again.  We gave this a 9, it was tasty, and we liked how there was a rich spice without being burning and overpowering.  I followed the recipe very closely, substituting the mushrooms for a can of drained kidney beans, using only one pound of beef, and I didn't use any oil.  Other than that follow the link to the great recipe!  Each serving, for six servings, was 488 calories.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Cook's Illustrated's Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies

I love sugar cookies, and so do our boys, so I knew these would be a hit.  The nice surprise was since they were made with brown sugar, Aaron also enjoyed them, so that was a great plus.  We all gave them a 9, and I had to change the recipe just a little because I ran out of brown sugar, so I added molasses, sigh :).  Anyway, these come together easily, and the molasses and brown sugar really added a nice rich flavor.  I found this recipe in my Cook's Illustrated Baking cookbook, and each cookie for 24 cookies was approximately 174 calories.  Here's what to do:

14 T unsalted butter
1 c packed brown sugar, plus 1/4 c for rolling
3/4 c white sugar mixed with 1-2 T molasses, plus 1/4 c sugar for rolling
2 c plus 2 T flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 T vanilla

Melt 10 T butter over medium-high heat.  Continue cookie, swirling pan constantly, until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes.  Transfer browned butter to a large heatproof bowl.  Add remaining 4 T butter and stir until completely melted.  Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Mix 1/4 c brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined; set aside.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together and set aside.
Add remaining brown sugar and salt to the bowl with the cooled butter; mix about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl; add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix about 30 seconds.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Roll the dough into balls, roll them in the sugar, then place them on the lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool on the sheets five minutes, then let cool on racks.