Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tartine's Lemon Tart

This was a rich, deliciously tart, crispy dessert that we all really enjoyed.  I found this recipe in Tartine, and we liked that the tart wasn't too sour, as sometimes lemon tarts can be.  We all gave this a perfect 10, and the calories per serving were around 450, depending on the tart shell used.

1 recipe pate sablee (here is a link to one from Martha Stewart, I used the one in Tartine), cooked and cooled

1/2 c plus 2 T lemon juice
3 whole large eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 sticks/1 cup butter

In a double boiler, combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt.  Whisk together constantly, allowing the mixture to become very thick, which could take quite a while.  Remove the bowl from the boiler and allow the mixture to cool a little.  Cut the butter into small pieces, and then place the butter piece by piece in the lemon mixture, and using an immersion blender, blend up the butter.  The cream will be opaque and quite thick.  Pour it into the tart pan, cover and let cool completely.  Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Owen's Copycat Taco Bell Beefy 5 Layer Burrito

Well, here's another Taco Bell treat, and this turned out so well.  Everyone felt like these tasted just like Taco Bell's Beefy Five Layer Burrito, but with a better tortilla and a little more flavor, so all good things :).  Owen loves this burrito, and so we decided to recreate it at home, and hooray, everyone but Owen gave it a perfect 10, he only gave it a 9 because he doesn't like the spice in the nacho cheese (he gets his without nacho cheese at TB :)).  This isn't really that difficult, the only thing that is in any way difficult is the nacho cheese, and it is important to note that it uses some Velveeta, because nacho cheese isn't the same without processed plastic cheese ;).  Anyway, each serving is around 450 calories and here's what to do:

home made nacho cheese sauce 
1/2 c of 1 lb velveeta melted with 1 can Rotel or Rotel dip
1 lb hamburger
1 T chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 can refried beans (canned is better than homemade because of trying to taste like TB, homemade is better if you like food to taste delicious :))
grated cheese
sour cream

Mix together the Rotel dip with the homemade nacho cheese, stirring well, and keeping warm.
Brown the hamburger in a skillet and drain the fat from the pan.  Add in the spices to taste, and set aside.  Cook/warm the tortillas, then layer the tortillas with nacho cheese, hamburger meat, refried beans, grated cheese, then sour cream.  Roll and serve.

Thanks Owen for a fun dinner idea :)!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Anne Burrell's Roasted Pork Loin with Cider and Applesauce

While I wasn't sure we were going to love this, especially when things went south with my applesauce, we ended up really loving this.  I found this recipe on food network, and it is Anne Burrell's recipe.  Each serving was 267 calories for six servings, and the score was a 9 from everyone.  I didn't use nuts, and the apples ended up burning, so I supplemented with unsweetened apple sauce that I cooked down with the rest of the ingredients in the recipe, then followed the recipe normally.  This was a fun, easy to make recipe, and we enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Owen's Baked Mug Root Beer Donuts

So making baked donuts is similar to making muffins, you just get to use a fun pan :).  Anyway, these donuts Owen came up with were a hit with the boys, and they worked well.  I wanted my glaze to harden more, so I used the idea from Peabody for her glaze.  This will give you a nice frosting rather than the syrup we got :).  The calories are 311 per donut, and the boys gave them a perfect 10, and I gave them an 8.  We didn't have any root beer flavoring, this would be better with a root beer flavoring, but if you just like a sweet, semi-root beer donut, use vanilla extract like we did :).  Anyway, Owen loves root beer, so we made these donuts for him.  Here's what to do:

2 cans root beer, cooked to concentrate it  (it takes at least 20 minutes to cook it down to 1 1/3 cup)

2 1/4 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c sugar
1 T vanilla (or vanilla and root beer extracts)
1 c concentrated root beer
2 T butter melted
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 c yogurt

1/3 c concentrated root beer
8 T butter
2 1/2 c powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a donut pan or line a muffin tin.
In one bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In another bowl, mix together the vanilla (root beer extract), concentrated root beer, melted butter, egg yolk, egg, and yogurt.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stir until just coming together, then place in the greased donut pan (or place in paper muffin cups) and cook for 10-12 minutes for the donuts.  Remove from the donut pan, let cool a few minutes, the dip in the glaze.

Cook the concentrated root beer and butter until the butter is melted, then stir in the powdered sugar.  Let cool a little then dip the donuts in it and let them cool.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cook's Illustrated's Pot de Creme au Chocolat

Soooo crazy good :).  That's what I have to say about this recipe from Cook's Illustrated International Best Recipes cookbook.  It was really rich, it is imperative to let this chill completely, but man is it delicious.  Each ramekin was 553 calories, for 6 servings, and we all gave this a perfect 10.  It is smooth, luscious and so decadent.  The recipe calls for this to be split into eight portions, and it would be better if the servings were smaller than I made them.  Anyway, here's the great recipe:

10 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
5 large egg yolks
5 T sugar
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c cream
3/4 c half and half
1 T vanilla extract
1 T strongly brewed coffee

Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; set a strainer over the bowl and set aside.
Whisk the yolk, sugar, and salt together in a bowl until combined, then whisk in the heavy cream and half and half.  Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until thickened and silky.
Pour the custard through the sieve, let the mixture stand to melt the chocolate, about five minutes, then stir until smooth and whisk in the vanilla and coffee.  Divide the mixture between the eight ramekins, then cool to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.  Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Aaron McCargo Jr.'s Chicken Taco Pizza

So these were a HUGE hit at our house, especially with Aaron.  This was an easy recipe I found here, but I made some changes.  The calories, the way I made it, were 620, and Aaron, Noah and I gave this a perfect 10, Jonah says he gave it a 9, and Owen gave it a 7 because he said it was too spicy :).  Here's what I did:

1 T onion powder
1/2 T chili powder
1/2 t dried oregano
1 dash cayenne pepper
1 t ground cumin

1/4 c oil
4 whole garlic cloves, minced
pinch of cumin
1 tube crescent roll dough
1 lb (I used a little more) chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces and seasoned with salt
2 c shredded Pepper Jack and Mexican blend cheeses
Pico de Gallo

Preheat the oven to 425.
Mix the spices together and set aside.
Mix the oil and garlic together with the cumin.  Roll the crescent roll dough out into 2 long strips on a cookie sheet, brush with the oil, sprinkle with a little of the spice mixture, then set it aside.  Mix about 2/3 of the remaining spice mixture with the remaining oil.
Place the chicken in the oil/spice mixture, turning to coat, and then leave it to marinate, around 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, place it on a broiler pan, and bake for about 10 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 375, then bake the crescent roll dough about 7 minutes.  Remove the dough, spread it with more seasoning, then top it with the chicken and the cheese.  Bake for another 5 minutes or so, maybe a little more, then cut into pieces and serve it with pico and guac.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Owen's Cherry Daiquiris

So, we didn't get a picture of this, but this is a fun smoothie to make together with kids :).  Owen loves the strawberry daiquiris in the freezer section, the Bacardi mixers, and we add Sprite to them so the kids can have virgin drinks.  Owen wanted to try to reproduce this using cherries, and it turned out really well.  We all gave this a 9, we felt like it needed more grenadine.  Here's what to do:

1 lb frozen, pitted sweet cherries
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 c sugar (more or less)
1/4 c grenadine

Blend together and serve.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dave Lieberman's Salmon with Three Bean Salad

I love this easy, fresh fish recipe, it really hit the spot for me, and everyone else seemed to enjoy it as well, just maybe not as much as me :).  I found this recipe on, and here is the actual link.  I used black beans instead of navy beans, and I baked the salmon in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, since Aaron likes his salmon well done.  Cook less time for a medium rare, about 10 minutes or so.  Each serving was 420 calories for six servings with the avocado on top.  Noah gave this a perfect 10, I gave it a 9, Owen and Aaron gave it a 7.  This is fresh and delicious!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Cook's Illustrated's Sticky Toffee Pudding

I know that often times English cooking is said to be less than delicious, but after spending time there, I have to heartily disagree.  English pub food, and English desserts, might be some of my favorite foods ever.  I found this recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding in my Cook's Illustrated International cookbook, and it was amazing.  Noah and I gave it a perfect 10, Owen gave it a 9, and Aaron gave it an 8, saying it's one of his favorite "cake" desserts he's ever had.  Each pudding, with the creme Anglaise was 832 calories, so ouch! but worth it ;).  Although called a pudding, it isn't like our pudding, rather it is more like bread pudding, a solid, cake-like steamed pudding that is so moist and delicious.  This has dates in it, and although I don't like to eat dates by themselves, I do love them in desserts.  This seems to have a lot of steps, but it is relatively easy to put together.

Creme Anglaise:

1 c cream
1 c half and half
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
4 egg yolks
1/2 t cornstarch (this isn't required, but makes it a little thicker)
pinch of salt

Bring the cream and half and half to a simmer, and keep it at medium-low after reaching a simmer.
In a medium bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Slowly temper the eggs with the hot cream, then add the egg mixture to the pan and stir constantly until thickened a little and the temperature of the cream is 180 degrees.
Pour the creme anglaise through a fine mesh sieve, stir in the vanilla, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.

Pudding Cakes:

butter, flour and parchment for the ramekins
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
14 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 c water
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
4 T unsalted butter, melted

Toffee Sauce:

8 T unsalted butter
1 c packed brown sugar
2/3 c heavy cream
1 T rum (optional, use rum flavoring or more vanilla if desired)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour the ramekins, then cut a parchment round to fit the bottom of each ramekin.  Place a kitchen towel in a large roasting pan, place the ramekins on top, and bring some water to a boil.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
Combine the water, half the dates, and the baking soda together and set aside to soften, about 5 minutes.  Remove the dates and reserve the liquid.
Process the remaining dates in a food processor with the brown sugar until just blended.  Add in the reserved soaking liquid, the eggs, and vanilla and process until smooth.  With the food processor running, pour in the melted butter.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add in the rest of the dates.
Gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined, divide the batter between the ramekins, and pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, with the towel there to keep things moist and securely in place.  Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, then bake about 40 minutes.

While the cakes bake, melt the butter for the toffee sauce in a pan, whisk in the brown sugar until smooth, about 3-4 minutes, then stir in the cream and rum.  When well combined, set aside and cover to keep warm.

When the cakes are done, transfer them to a rack immediately to cool for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, poke holes all over the top of the cakes, and spoon toffee sauce over them, allowing the sauce to soak in.  When ready to serve, unmold the cakes from the ramekins, invert them onto a plate with creme anglaise on it, then top the cake with more toffee sauce and serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Copy Cat Taco Bell's Seven Layer Burrito

Yay for Taco Bell!  I love Taco Bell, and anyone who knows me is prepared to have me vote for Taco Bell every time we go out to eat :).  I used to love Seven Layer Burritos from them, but they changed the recipe of their rice, probably to make it more healthy, but that changed the flavor and now I don't like the seven layer burritos anymore.  So I set out to make something similar, but since I like my beans to have more flavor, and be spicier, it wasn't the same.  It was a huge success here, since we all love burritos anyway, and this was a good one.  Aaron, Noah and I gave this a perfect 10, and Owen gave this a 9 because it was spicier than he liked.  This is highly dependent on how big your burrito is for calories, but count around 400.
Here's the fun and easy recipe:

My Favorite Refried Beans, using chorizo rather than bacon 
grated cheese, I used Pepper Jack and Monterey Jack
Wholly Guacamole (I wanted a Taco Bell Guacamole flavor)
Sour Cream
Shredded Lettuce (I used spinach, green onions, and cilantro mixed, ice burg is traditional)

Layer the ingredients on the tortillas, and serve

Monday, September 7, 2015

Flour, Too's Pork Loin with Mojo Sauce

So I wasn't sure I was going to feature this recipe, since I changed it a little, and didn't do all the recipe said to, but we really enjoyed this pork and sauce, all of us giving this a 9, except Noah who gave it a perfect 10, and it was relatively easy, so good things :).  Each serving was 292 calories for six servings.  Flour, Too, is where I found this recipe, and I was happy to be able to crockpot this and still have it turn out well.  I ended up leaving the pork in the brine for almost 48 hours in the fridge, and it was just so flavorful and tender.  Here's what to do:


1/4 c salt
1/2 c packed brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, halved
1 t dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 T fennel seeds
1 T coriander seeds
3 bay leaves
1-2 lb pork loin

Oregano Mojo:

1 cup (more or less) fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 c olive oil
1/3 c freshly squeezed lime juice
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 t salt

onion powder, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper to season the pork

Mix the brine ingredients in a large pot with 2 1/2 qt water, bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Let it cool completely, then place the pork in the brine and refrigerate at least over night.

Make the Mojo by mixing all the ingredients together, stirring well.  Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

When ready to cook the pork, season the pork, then place in a greased crockpot.  Allow the pork to cook for around 4-6 hours on low, making sure not to overcook.  Serve with the mojo sauce.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Picky Palate's Ultimate Queso Bean Dip

I found this fun recipe at Picky Palate's website, and although it was fun and easy, I would've liked more cheese.  I followed the recipe pretty closely, just using refried black beans rather than refried pinto beans, and milk rather than cream.  Each serving was 247 calories, and we gave this an 8.  Try it for a fun and easy dip!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vicki's Crockpot Beef Stew

This was a really good beef stew, but it didn't come out the way I wanted it to, which was more like beef borgignon.  Oh well, it was delicious anyway, and very beefy :).  I always love making things in the crockpot, because I have way more energy in the morning, and then when dinner rolls around, I am ready to go without any extra work.  This came to about 250 calories per serving, and we all gave this an 8.  Here's what to do:

3 slices thick cut pepper bacon, diced
2 lb beef stew meat, well seasoned
2 T flour
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 T tomato paste
1 T butter
1/2 c mushrooms, chopped
thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper
1-2 c red wine
3-4 c beef broth
2 T tapioca

In a pan, crisp the bacon, then set it aside.  Toss the beef with the flour, then in the same pan as the bacon, brown the meat on all sides.  Set it aside.  In the same pan, cook the carrots and onions, season them and allow them to soften, mix in the tomato paste, allow the tomato paste to cook a little, then pour the veggies into the crock.  Place the bacon and beef on top of the veggies.  Deglaze the bacon cooking pan with the red wine, allowing the wine to reduce a little, then add in the thyme and rosemary, and pour the wine over the beef.  Add in the beef broth and tapioca, just enough broth to cover the meat completely.  In the same pan, cook the butter and mushrooms, seasoning them and allowing them to soften.  Place them in the crock, turn it to low, then cook for at least 8 hours.  About 1/2 hour before serving, turn the heat to high, and take off the lid to allow the liquid to reduce a little.  Serve.