Friday, March 9, 2018

Roasted Garlic Asparagus

We thought we had asparagus figured out with the pre-steaming trick we started doing which resulted in all asparagus being cooked evenly. Then, we decided to try this recipe and now it's our new favorite for asparagus. We only used thin asparagus for this recipe the both times that we have made it, but it has come out absolutely perfect both times.

Here's the original recipe: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/roasted-garlic-asparagus-364212






Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped parsley
2 pounds thin asparagus, ends trimmed
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Prepare a cookie sheet with a silicon mat. Spread the asparagus (chop off about 1-2" of the end) in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. In a small pot, heat the oil, garlic, onion powder, and parsley on medium-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes, until the garlic mixture is fragrant but not browned.
4. Drizzle on the garlic-oil mixture.
5. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus are bright green; do not overcook.
6. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

What we liked:

This turned out perfect! We served it as a side to mashed potatoes and salmon and it was delicious!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great!

What Kaspian thought about it:

He gave it a try. 

Next time:

No change

Ranch

So, we had some pizza that we bought from Costco and we were home and we thought, it'd be really nice to dip it into some ranch. We did have some ranch from the grocery store, Kraft brand in our fridge...but after eating Dion's ranch, it really just didn't do it. So, we thought, well, let's see what goes into ranch and it so turned out that we had all the ingredients! So, we made some. And now I don't think we could ever go back to anything else. Super easy to make and very delicious. It does taste better on the second day once the spices have had some time to permeate through though. This shouldn't stop you from enjoying it immediately though!

Here's the original recipe: https://barefeetinthekitchen.com/homemade-ranch-salad-dressing/

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk or regular milk
3/4 - 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon finely cracked pepper
freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste approximately 1-3 teaspoons, adjust to taste

Directions:

Mix everything together for a super delicious ranch dressing!

What we liked:

So simple and good!

What we didn't like:

Why didn't we decide to do this sooner!? 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He's not really a dipping sauce child... Astrid enjoyed it though :) 

Next time:

Adjust spices as you see fit!

Breadsticks

These were SOOO easy to make and turned out great both of the times we have made them. They are fun, fast and delicious! They pretty much get eaten instantly by the children.

We got the original recipe from here: https://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/02/olive-garden-breadsticks/






Ingredients:

1½ cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
3½ cups all purpose flour, add more or less as needed
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 Tablespoon salt

Topping to smother them with:
½ cup butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the water, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix and let stand for a few minutes.
2. Add flour and melted butter. Mix with dough hook attachment until thoroughly mixed. Add more flour if needed.
3. Knead dough for a few minutes just until dough is smooth and all flour is incorporated.
4. Prepare two cookie sheets with silicon mats.
5. Divide the dough in Half. Then, each half into 6 pieces. Roll out into strips (6 for each cookie sheet).
6.  Cover the dough with a towel and let sit in a warm place for about an hour.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
8. Bake the bread sticks fro 6-7 minutes.
9.  While bread sticks are cooking, microwave ½ cup butter, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt.
10. After bread sticks have cooked for 6 or 7 minutes, brush the bread sticks with half the butter mixture. Then continue to bake for 5-8 more minutes.
11. After removing bread sticks from oven, immediately brush the other half of the butter on the sticks.

What we liked:

Better than olive garden's!

What we didn't like:

A little too much butter. For the second time, we did closer to 1/2 a stick of butter (1/4 cup) for the basting sauce rather than a full stick. That seemed to work out better. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He LOVED them. 

Next time:

Continue with less butter. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Beef Bulgogi - Costco prepared meal

We got this prepared meal from Costco. It was a beef bulgogi, that just needed to be fried and served over rice. We prepared the rice and were so excited to try it. It was very disappointing. The dish was SOOOO sweet. Definitely will not be getting it again.






Chocolate Tipsy Bundt Cake

This was a very dense chocolatey cake. It turned out very yummy.
The original recipe was from The Costco Connection Magazine October 2017.
It was not too tedious to make and definitely satisfying.





Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pan
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/2 cup rum
1 cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing:
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
2 tablespoons rum

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F
2. Spray the bundt pan with oil and dust with cocoa powder
3. Place coffee, rum, butter and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk until butter is melted.
4. Remove from heat and add sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
5. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. When the chocolate mixture has cooled, add it in to the stand mixer. Add in the flour mixture until well incorporated. 
7. Pour the  batter into the bundt pan and bake for 40- 50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
8. Place on wire rack to cool.

Icing:
1. Melt chocolate in a double broiler. Add butter, milk and rum and simmer for 5 minutes constantly stirring. Add more milk or cream if needed to reach proper consistency.


When the cake has cooled, invert it onto a wire rack over parchment or wax paper. Dust with powder sugar (optional) and drizzle with chocolate rum icing. 

What we liked:

It was great and chocolatey!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He wasn't into it. 

Next time:

No changes. 

Citrus Salmon with Lemon Garlic Broccolini

This salmon was supposed to be this Citrus-Marinated Salmon recipe from a Magazine page that we saved (which is even missing a page number, much less a title) but we ended up not having some of te ingredients, so we kind of made it up as we went along. The broccolini recipe was mostly from the back of the broccolini bag.  Both turned out yummy. We also had added red potatoes with simple olive oil, salt and rosemary for the side.





Ingredients:

Salmon:
Salmon Filet, about 2 lbs
2 limes, sliced into thin rings
2 tablespoons olive oil
chopped fresh dill
chopped fresh parsley
chopped chives, about 2 large stems
salt and pepper

Broccolini:

1 lb of broccolini
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt
pepper

Directions:

Salmon:

1. Preheat oven to 250 F
2. Place salmon skin down on a cooking sheet with either a silicon cooking mat (LOVE) or foil.
3. Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper, dill, parsley and chives. Pour olive oil over it.
4. Place lime rings all overlapping the salmon.
5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until flaky and cooked.

Broccolini:
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Chop off about 1 inch of the broccolini stems. Place them in an alternating pattern on a cookie sheet
3. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Mix, and pour evenly over the broccolini.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes until done. 

What we liked:

This was a great dish that came together nicely even though we didn't end up following the original recipe plan. 

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He actually liked the fish, though not all the "green stuff" on it. Astrid, LOVES salmon. 

Next time:

no changes. 

Spinach Artichoke Dip

We made this spinach artichoke dip and it was yummy and extremely filling!
We combined a couple of recipes to make it happen. Next time, we think we should include some water chestnuts for an extra crunch in the dip.

Here are the two recipes we used for reference:
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018248-spinach-artichoke-dip
http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/spinach-artichoke-dip-1209





Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
about 12 oz fresh spinach, chopped
1 can chopped artichoke hearts
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
4 oz fresh mozzarella, grated
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 can water chestnuts, chopped

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add garlic and cook until softened, but not browning.
2. Add spinach, a handful at a time.
3. Add artichokes and water chestnuts.
4. Reduce heat and add cream cheese and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, stirring the entire time
5. Add sour cream, continue stirring.
6. Add salt and pepper.
7. Serve with pita chips. 

What we liked:

It was fun to make!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was yummy

What Kaspian thought about it:

Too suspicious a food for him to try. 

Next time:

Add in the water chestnuts!

German Pancake with Apples

We saw this recipe and it looked quick, easy and yummy! It was. The first recipe we made used a WHOLE stick of butter and turned out a bit too oily. We lost that recipe and made it a second time from a different recipe with it being even more yummy. We totally forgot to sprinkle the powder sugar on it though, that would make it only even better.
It is great for a weekend morning breakfast with either syrup or jam. Alona likes it with lingon berry preserves. The dough is yummy and flaky and the apples add an extra crunch and flavor to it. You could probably make it with other berries such as blueberries as well.

Here's the original recipe, although we added about half a cup of sugar to the dough because we didn't make the buttermilk syrup. You should adjust the sugar content to taste:

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/german-pancake

Attempt 2
 The below pictures are from the first attempt, with WAY too much butter in our opinion.




Ingredients:

6 large eggs
1 cup WHOLE milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 apples cut up into slices..or smaller, if you like
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

1. Heat up oven to 400F
2. Combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth.
3. Melt butter and pour into a large baking dish. Spread apple slices evenly on the bottom.
4. Pour the batter over the apple slices.
5. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes until golden brown. The apples will float up to the top and the sides of the "pancake" will fluff up.
6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
7. Serve with syrup or jam. 

What we liked:

So quick and easy to make and it just bakes. Everyone gets a hot piece at the same time too. 

What we didn't like:

We didn't like the amount of sugar in the original recipe...so we changed it :) 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked it. Although, he was suspicious of the apple pieces. 

Next time:

No changes. Keep this modified recipe

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Black Pepper and Herb Mashed Potatoes

We tried a new mashed potatoes recipe. This was good. The only missing thing might be some horseradish. It really adds to the potatoes if you mix some in.
It was really fun making a new mashed potatoes recipe and the red potatoes were great. The buttermilk was a new ingredient for us in mashed potatoes.

Here's the original recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/black-pepper-herb-mashed-potatoes 
The potatoes are in the upper left corner



Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

horseradish to taste

Directions:

1. Steam the red potatoes for about 25 minutes, until cooked
2. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer.
3. Mix until well combined
4. Add horseradish to taste.
5. Serve!

What we liked:

It was a great mashed potatoes recipe!

What we didn't like:

Needed the horseradish :) 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He liked it!

Next time:

add in the horseradish

Spice Rubbed Roast Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce

This year, for New Years, we made a tenderloin. We had never made tenderloin before and were extremely pleased with how great this came out. The sauce took quite a bit of work and was the best wine reduction sauce we had ever had. Looking back, for the amount of work it took, we would probably just go with a simpler horseradish cream sauce next time, but it was great to have for the special occasion! We do like our meat more on the done side and less on the bleedy side and this came out beautifully with melt in your mouth meat. For those more keen on the rarer meat, can definitely take it out of the oven earlier and it will be more rare than what we made.
We paired the dish with some Black Pepper and Herb Mashed Red Potatoes, the recipe for that will be in the next post.

We used a bottle of shiraz for the red wine sauce reduction. We omitted the mushrooms from the sauce..because Alona doesn't like em. The sauce was really good, but if you are making it same day, keep in mind that it does take at least a good hour to make it.

Here's the original recipe: http://www.finecooking.com/recipe/spice-rubbed-roast-beef-tenderloin-with-red-wine-sauce

Plated

Cut up and ready to eat!





The wine reduction sauce

Wine Reduction cooking

Herbed beef prepared the night before. 

Ingredients:

For the beef
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbs. ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds, coarsely ground
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 2-1/2-lb. beef butt tenderloins, trimmed
For the sauce
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot (1 medium)
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
Kosher salt
3 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
1 750-ml bottle dry, hearty red wine,such as Shiraz or Zinfandel
2 cups lower-salt beef broth
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Season the beef the night before.
1. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, thyme, fennel, caraway, 1 Tbs. salt, and 1-1/2 tsp. pepper.
2. Pat the tenderloins dry with paper towels and coat them with the spice mixture, using your hands to spread it evenly; it will sparsely cover the meat.

Roast the beef
1. If you’ve seasoned the beef ahead of time, remove it from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about an hour before roasting.
2. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
3. Arrange the roasts on a flat rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 120°F for rare , 125°F to 130°F for medium rare, or 135°F for medium, 40 to 50 minutes.

Make the sauce
1. Melt 1 Tbs. of the butter and the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
2. Cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the thyme, peppercorns, and half of the wine.
3. Simmer briskly until the wine reduces and just covers the solids, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the remaining wine and reduce again until the wine just covers the solids, 10 to 12 minutes more.
5. Add the beef broth and simmer until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve set over a 1-quart measuring cup, pressing lightly on the solids.
6. If you have more than 1-1/2 cups liquid, return the sauce to the pan and simmer until reduced to 1-1/2 cups
7. Melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking often, until smooth and light beige in color, about 1 minute. Slowly add the wine reduction, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve
If the sauce was made ahead, heat gently in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking a few times, until barely simmering.
Meanwhile, let the beef rest for 15 minutes before carving crosswise into thick slices. Slice only as much as you plan to serve right away (leftovers keep better unsliced). Spoon the sauce over each serving or pass at the table.

What we liked:

The tenderloin was spectacular. 

What we didn't like:

The sauce was probably not worth the time investment :) 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He was not into the meat. He did like the mashed potatoes though. Astrid LOVED the meat. 

Next time:

Try a horseradish cream sauce instead. 

Borsch

Remember that greenhouse with the aquaponics system that we put together? Well we planted some plants and these beets were the first harvest! We made some borsh with the beets! It turned out really great. The beets were some heirloom kind which resulted in small roots and lots of leafy greens.


Ingredients:

1 lb of cubed beef
2 shredded carrots
about 1 lb of beets, shredded
beet greens, chopped
1 onion, chopped
beef broth or water
2-3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 potatoes cubed
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream for serving

Directions:

1. Saute carrots and beets in a dutch oven until soft. Add in garlic and onions.
2. Add in the beef until browned.
3. Add in potatoes, tomato paste and cover with beef broth or water
4. Add in the chopped beet greens.
5. Cover and simmer until cooked about 30-40 minutes
6. Serve with sour cream.  

What we liked:

We loved using our first harvested beets from our aquaponics system!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was great. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

He was too suspicious to eat it. Well...it is a pink soup 

Next time:

No changes. 

Pelmeni with a Butter Dough

Pelmeni are a very traditional Russian food. They do take a while to make but on the upside, you make a lot of them, freeze them and have quick and easy meals for later. This time we tried a new recipe for the dough. This one had a lot of butter and resulted in very soft, almost melty pelmeni dough. It was MUCH easier to roll out but the pelmeni also had more of a tendency to fall apart as they boiled as well.
For the filling, you may do any combination you like. We like to use lamb and pork and beef mix. It is important that you chop your onions very small so they don't poke through the meat when making this.

This recipe has made the perfect meat to dough ratio, we didn't have one of the two left over at the end. It was perfect.

It is great served with sour cream or vinegar and salt and pepper!

Here's the original recipe that we took the dough from: http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/appetizers/pelmeni/


Ingredients:

Dough:

2 cups of water
1 cup butter
1 tsp of salt
2 eggs
6 cups of flour

Meat Filling:

2 -3 lbs of ground meat - we used a half lamb half pork mixture
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
6 Tablespoons of warm water

Directions:

First, prepare the dough:
1. In a medium pot, bring the water and butter to a boil.
2. Add the salt and two cups of flour all at once. Mix vigorously with a wooden or silicon spoon.
3. Take off the heat, until the mixture is slightly cooled and add in the eggs.
4. Add the remaining four cups of flour. Mix until combined.
5. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 20 minutes.

Filling:
1. Mix together all ingredients until thoroughly mixed through and no clumps remain. Letting the meat get to room temperatures will make it easier to work with as your hands will not get cold mixing it.

Creating the Pelmeni:
1. Roll out the dough into large sheets and cut small circles out of the sheet. We like to use a template because it keeps all the pelmeni uniform.
2. Into each dough circle place a little bit of meat, do not overfill as it will not close and fall apart if you do.
3. Fold the dough circle in half (resulting in a half moon shape dumpling) Pinch the edges together.
4. take the two sides of the half moon and bring them together, pinching them together. The result will be a pelmen'!
5. Place finished dumpling onto a floured cookie sheet. Once cookie sheet is filled up place it in the freezer.

After you have done making all your pelmeni, or shortly before you finish, Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, bay leaves, garlic salt, and any other spices you like to the soup, especially if you plan on eating the broth. When the water boils. Add the pelmeni and stir. It is best to cook these in small batches using the same broth rather than in one huge batch all at once. The resulting broth from all the batches of cooked pelmeni will also be the best. After you add in the pelmeni, stir to make sure they don't stick to the bottom or sides of the pan. When they float up, about 5 minutes, the pelmeni are cooked and you can get them out.

Serve with sour cream, sprinkle with greens such as parsley on top. 

What we liked:

We loved trying a new dough recipe. It is always fun to get together with family and make a delicious meal. 

What we didn't like:

Nothing, these were great. 

What Kaspian thought about it:

Both Kaspian and Astrid enjoyed these. 

Next time:

no changes needed. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Turkey and Biscuit Bake

Well it's been a while and it's a new year! Things have gotten a little hectic and we have fallen behind updating!

This was a wonderful dish that was way better than a pot pie. We used left over turkey to make it but imagine that it would be just as delicious with chicken and the biscuits from scratch really make this dish yummy! We did add more veggies to the dish than the recipe called for and do not regret it at all!

Here's the original recipe: https://www.thespruce.com/turkey-and-biscuit-bake-3061833



Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons chicken stock base
1/4 teaspoon  poultry seasoning
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups milk
3 cups diced turkey meat
2 cups mixed vegetables

Homemade Biscuits:
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup​ buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter (melted, for brushing the tops of the biscuits)

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a large casserole dish.
2. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until tender. Stir in the flour, chicken stock base, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is blended and bubbly. Gradually add the milk; cook, stirring, until the sauce mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in the diced cooked turkey and the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is bubbly, about 5 minutes. Spoon the turkey mixture into the prepared large baking dish.

Biscuits:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar; whisk to blend dry ingredients thoroughly.
2. With a pastry blender or fingers, work the 6 tablespoons of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the mixture is moistened and the dough begins to hold together.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times, until a cohesive dough has formed. If necessary, work in a little more flour or buttermilk.
4. Don't overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough. Drop biscuits on top of the casserole and brush with melted butter.
5. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and the casserole is bubbly.

What we liked:

Easy, quick and delicious!

What we didn't like:

Nothing, it was yummy

What Kaspian thought about it:

he liked the biscuits...as long as they didn't have any of the filling on them.

Next time:

no changes