Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Braised Brussel Sprouts... Give Them a Chance

I'm going to do a search, and the search is going to say.... Find me a good looking brussel sprout.  I'm fairly convinced they don't exists.  These, like their deep fried counterparts from a few months back are both  hideous.  They didn't even look good on Smitten Kitchen's website... well I  mean they looked good to eat but they weren't lookers per se.

And there you go... these are fabulous, you should try them.  Even if you don't like brussel sprouts you will like these.  Between this recipe and the deep fried brussel sprouts I am becoming a convert... and I'm also very sick, and so is everyone else in the family... sick people don't like to talk about food.  Even delicious brussel sprouts.  I even have the ingredients in the fridge to make these again and I'm too sick to get off the furniture and make something to eat.  Don't be me... get in your kitchen and make these.  Feel free to leave out the breadcrumbs, I didn't find they added anything to the dish and plan on skipping them next time.

I'm so bad... click here.  Then I don't have to copy the recipe :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Five Days and Counting... Buttered Toffee

I don't know how to tell you this but SOMEONE has been  holding out on us!  Well maybe not you but they definitely have been holding out on me!  I was always under the impression that making toffee was difficult and involved and expensive, and many other factors were involved that kept me from ever trying to make it.  My little experiment with Salted Caramel Squares did nothing to ease these fears.

However, I was looking over The Pioneer Woman's blog the other week and there was this gorgeous toffee (not well represented by my sad little picture taken at 11pm when I was completely exhausted and was just happy to be on my way to bed).  I decided I would have to make the toffee, it was lovely, it was calling to me.  I printed the recipe and the only thing I really did was scan the list to see if I had everything I needed...  yuppers... we're good.  Then after I finished my final on Saturday I pulled the recipe out and noticed.... WAIT A MINUTE.... this is simple. 

However the fear from the Salted Caramel Square masacre of 2010 still haunts me a little so I eyed my candy thermometer and quietly and calmly threatened it's aluminum life should it let me down again.  Turns out you can threaten inanimate objects into doing your bidding.  It must have been the fault of the demon oven of days past.... not to be confused with the current demon oven, maybe that should be a lesson to the new demon oven... look what happens when you don't get in line... you are secretly removed from the kitchen in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again.

Here are the basic steps.... add ingredients.  Boil ingredients (I have no picture here because I was afraid to leave the pot less we repeat the nightmare that shall not be named further) until they hit 298 on the candy thermometer.  Spread resulting toffee thinly (however I had one thin batch and one thick batch because it makes quite a lot in my opinion and I prefer the thicker batch.

Let those little babies cool.

Prepare your toppings.  I used sprinkle ball thingies for a little flash of color and toasted pecans on the other batch.  I don't like to make only one batch of things that contain nuts in case someone can't eat them.

Melt your chocolate.  Let cool briefly so as to not crack the toffee.  Pour half over each batch of toffee.  Using a flexi-spatula thing spread chocolate over the toffee and add toppings as thick or thin as you would like.

Let cool... this part took awhile.  Probably not a problem if you're making them during the day but I made them late and was hoping to have them wrapped as part of a Christmas gift for Monkey's teachers.  I ended up sticking them in the fridge.

Let cool completely.  Carefully flip and repeat with second half of chocolate and toppings.  Break into pieces.  I attempted to break them into standardized pieces so I could make a nice little presenation for the teachers but the pieces that are left for us are a mess.... who cares really?  You know other than me and my OCD?

For the recipe, details, and better photos check out Pioneer woman's site here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Swedish Dream Cookies (Drommar)

Drommar is the Swedish word for dream, as in Swedish Dream Cookies.  Fitting as they look like little pillows to me, but do not let that fluffy looking exterior fool you.  These little babies are crispy, light, and crumbly, but they are dreamy.  At least I think so.  They have coconut, J'adore coconut!  More than is normal I think.  In fact the day before I made these I made cherry balls that are also covered in coconut, yum.  Probably not the best combination to bring to a teacher appreciation cookie swap, but when I saw the table heavy with every kind of cookie under the sun I didn't think two coconut treats would call any attention.  How could they... that table was ridiculous, I think they were a little overwhelmed by the response.

'Tis the season for Christmas baking!  Everywhere I look the blogs are all abuzz with Christmas cookies, but I haven't seen these anywhere yet this year.  These are (I believe) a traditional Christmas cookie for some.  I had my first one last year from a very talented baker friend and I had to make them.  "Be warned," she said "they use baker's ammonia."  What is baker's ammonia you may ask... well lets just call it baking sodas distant and more stinky relative.  And I'll end the description there so as not to scare you off. 

As I mixed this stuff up I was certain my house was going to stink to high heaven and that we were all going to be gassed in an attempt at obtaining these delights, but to be honest it wasn't too bad.  Every now and then you catch a whiff of the ammonia, but it disapates quickly and the cookies neither smell nor taste like ammonia in any way, shape, or form.  They are quite simple really.  Mix up the batter, refrigerate for an hour.  Roll into balls (mine was super stiff so I had to ply it between my hands to get it into ball form... I left it in the fridge for about 8 hours).  The recipes says to bake the balls but it was some serious dough so I didn't want them to come out in ball form, so I smushed them a little (as recommended by others who have actually made them or at least seen them made) as you can see above.  Throw them in the oven for 22  minutes exactly if you're making them in my demented oven (we're cursed, the new oven has a million problems).

Cool on a rack next to an open window if possible, because this is where it is a little smelly.


Swedish Dream Cookies
adapted from Gourmet


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon crushed ammonium carbonate (also called baker’s ammonium, available at a pharmacy)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut


Sift together flour and salt.

Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in ammonium carbonate and almond extract until combined well. Mix in flour mixture at low speed just until blended, then stir in coconut. Form dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and arrange 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets. (Smush a little)

Bake cookies in batches in upper third of oven until pale golden around edges, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Two For One Meals: Roast Pork and Pork Panini with Garlic Aioli

I hate this time of the semester.  What sadist timed the end of every quarter and semester to fall near a holiday of one kind or another?  While this can be tiring at the best of times, with 5 weeks to go and a husband often working too late to be of any use around the house this year is brutal!

In an attempt to make sure everyone is still fed, I once again gave the old slow cooker a whirl.  I hate the slow cooker.  No matter how many times I hear... oh this is fantastic, it rarely is.  However, faced with a night alone after a late meeting, and a working late hubby, and child I wanted to do something that didn't involve calling the local pizza place (being that I did that on the Monday and thought twice in a week was probably pushing it).

I had a pork roast in the fridge that was suppose to be all dolled up and served with fingerling potatoes and fried brussel sprouts but it looked like just me and the little man, and while I didn't know if he would eat that stuff to begin with, I knew he wasn't going to leave me alone long enough to safely make anything fried.  So out of desperation I typed Roast Pork Slowcooker recipes in the search engine.  I figured, it was better than nothing, and better than throwing the pork out.  Here is the recipe I got back, and it was simple, and fast, and tasted GOOD, and will be made again and again this weekend, especially after our new arrival makes sleep more important than cooking.

Recipe 1 (no photo because even if it taste good crock pot food rarely looks good):

Slowcooker Roast Pork
(not sure... the internet somewhere)


3 pound roast pork
6 potatoes
6 carrots
1 envelope dried onion soup mix
1 cup water


Peel and chop veggies, place in bottom of slow cooker
Cut roast in half, lay on top of veggies, fat side up if you have a fatty side
Combine soup mix and water
Pour over entire thing
Cook on low for 10-12 hours.
That's it!

I was certain this would be nasty, but it wasn't... it was good, and it was nice to come home late and have the house smelling of dinner and then to only have the one pot to clean as everything was in there. 

Now you may have noticed that it says 3 pounds of meat, and that I said there were two of us eating, which meant a lot of leftovers.  Not only did I used to hate  my crock pot I used to hate leftovers, but they have become my favorite thing in the world as I become more and more exhausted and overwhelmed.  So what to do with all that pork... why turn it into one of my favorite things... the Panini!

A month or two ago my husband went to a highly recommended lunch place and I had a Pork sandwich with garlic sauce... super simple, dry as all get out!  I looked over at my husband while trying to choke it down and said... we could do so much better than this... and did we ever.  Here is your super simple recipe #2.

Pork Panini with Garlic Aioli
from Eileen's little pea brain


Leftover pork from above, shredded and reheated
Fresh ciabatta bread
1/4 cup, plus a good dollop more, of mayonnaise
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
green of your choice
cheese of your choice, I used American because it's what we had but I would go for provolone next time


Cook bread
Cut into servings, trying not to burn yourself like I did
Layer cheese, greens, and pork onto bread
In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients to taste
Throw on the sandwich

Serve with your favorite chips or fries

Coming up... Christmas Baking... hurrah!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving

After a week of hosting, and painting nurseries and bathrooms, I completely forgot that I am also a student... which means I have work... a LOT of work that I didn't even look at the entire week of Thanksgiving... so now I am paying for it.  It's all due on Saturday so I plan on getting back to the kitchen on Sunday... unless you would like a post that sounds like this.... open package of Italian sausage... fry... open jar of spaghetti sauce... dump into pot with sausage.  See you next week.  Hope you had a fabulous holiday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Seriously Ugly Beef and Barley Soup and all things non-Thanksgiving related

So I like to cook.... obviously, but even someone who likes to cook can have too much of a good thing, and that usually hits around the holidays.  As I searched and flipped through blogs for the past week I have gotten pumpkin and pecan and turkey and stuffing overload.  It's two days until thanksgiving y'all and if you don't have a menu set yet you're probably not reading a food blog... so here is a quick and easy and super vegetable laden dish that is incredibly filling and has nothing to do with thanksgiving at all unless you're referring to giving oneself a break in order to rest up for the big marathon of cooking.  This was very, very, very hearty and we had some overly full people.  Being that it is soup you would think you could eat a big bowl with a salad and a slice of bread and cheese and you would be okay but seriously this stuff is serious. 

I made a few adaptations.  For one the original recipe calls for 1 cup turnips.  I'm not a fan... really, really, not a fan.  I was going to swap them for carrots but completely forgot.  Two, if I'm going to spend the money for filet mignon, I'm probably going to grill it not put it in soup so I used sirloin instead.  I tend to think of soup as a cheap and easy dish... even when it ends up being ridiculous such as often happens with soups like French Onion, or other such soups that might contain expensive or millions of ingredients, the stock if made from scratch being the kicker for the French Onion, or the lobster from the time I made my husband lobster bisque from scratch and it ended up costing about $70 for one bowl of soup as I hated it.  Ridiculous.  I did however take note from other reviewers of the recipe and kept the broccoli and cauliflower in despite what my instincts told me and they were great.  I also listened and added them at the end with the beef and let the whole thing go another 45 minutes.  The problem I did have was that I did the begining of the soup and then let it set and despite being reassured it wouldn't happen the barley became morbidly obese and broth logged.  That irks me to no end.  In the future I will probably add the barley at the very end as well or maybe cook it in a net bag and then remove it or something.  And I will probably use straight beef broth, and possibly homemade.  I'm not sure why it called for chicken stock but it made for the ugliest looking soup you've ever seen.  Almost anemic looking.  In the end it didn't matter because we all ate it and everyone loved it, even the teenager that was looking in the fridge for something else to eat when she discovered what was for dinner.  Happy Thanksgiving and may you have a bit of down time to relax this holiday.

Beef and Barley Soup
adapted from Bon Appetite


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup chopped peeled yams (red-skinned sweet potatoes)
1 cup chopped peeled potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
5 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
5 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 pounds filet mignon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add vegetables; sauté 10 minutes. Add both stocks; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add barley, thyme and oregano. Simmer until barley is tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Return to simmer before continuing.)

Add beef to soup; simmer until just cooked, about 10 minutes. Mix in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flour Bakery's Sticky Buns

I first saw these on Throw Down with Bobby Flay, and I thought... man that's a lot of work, who would make those... hey look... me.  I would make those, and it wasn't nearly as much work as I thought it would be.  Nothing ever is once you get started is it.  Except remodeling, I guarantee that is always at least twice as much work as you planned.

I'm not much of a baker, but the new oven has made me bold.  These are the most difficult pastry/bread type item I've ever made but they were delicious.  And to be honest not that difficult, but they were a little time intensive.  As are the directions so I will just link you to the recipe below. And lets face it, a pregnant woman cannot live on orange cream Tums alone.

First step is to make the dough, which makes a double batch.  I halved it after figuring out I could split a 5 egg recipe if I beat and weighed that last egg then split the weight.  I never found out where that elusive 6th egg was suppose to go but I am guessing maybe it was suppose to be an egg wash for the top when you bake them.  I wish I hadn't halved it because then I would have an extra set of dough for next time I want to make these or to make a loaf of brioche, but honestly I only halved it because I didn't plan well and when I opened my fridge I didn't have enough butter or eggs for the full recipe.

While you're making the dough that must mix for one hundred years and thirty seconds, you can make the goo (which I didn't take pictures of for some reason) and toast the pecans.  I did them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350.

When the goo, nuts, and dough are ready.  Place the dough in the fridge, let the goo cool to room temp, and put that in the fridge too, and then bag the nuts.

The next day bring the goo to room temp.  I left it out for 2 hours and it wasn't enough.  Since I am impatient I scooped it into the pan and threw it in the oven at 200 for 5 minutes to loosen it up enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  I then sprinkle half the toasted pecans over the goo.

Roll out your dough.  Sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar mixture, then again with the other half of the pecans.

Roll it up tightly (easier said than done actually, mine didn't want to stay rolled at the end.

Trim the edges and cut into 8 equal portions.  This went better than planned I thought it would fall apart.

Place in the pan evenly spaced on top of goo and tasted pecans

Place somewhere warm to rise for 2 hours.  I placed them on top of the oven since it was warm from my goo melting, and covered them with towels. 

This was helped along because we made lunch which kept the atmosphere warm.  I had to run to the hospital at this point (everything is fine) but it did extend the step by quite a few  hours.  No matter, when we got home they looked like this.

Here is where I started to think... these look like those rolls you get in a can in the refrigerator section.  Maybe that's why I'm adding so many photos this post just for proof that I made these with my own little hands.

Bake in a pre-heated oven until they are golden brown.  I was worried that maybe they hadn't cooked all the way through but they had.  I think I even over cooked them slightly snce I was worried and let them go a few extra minutes.  No one complained.

Let them cool briefly, then depan them.  Scoop out any extra goo from the pan onto the tops of the buns.  Attempt not to eat it, but you will at least lick the spoon I promise.

Serve warm or warm them up before you eat them.  I originally made them for book club but since I was in the hospital I missed it, so we had them for dessert, and I've brought the rest to work to give away.  I cannot have these in the house when I am suppose to be watching what I eat they are that good.  I had mine an hour or two after everyone else and after the first bite I looked at my husband and after adequate eye rolling said... I can't believe I made these.  They were worth the extra effort. Click here. Give them a shot you'll be proud of yourself.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Red-Bean, Lentil, and Spinach Soup

No those aren't Red beans, lentils or spinach... in fact it's not even my picture.  I stole it from another blog a hundred years ago because I love it so much... and if I had any exposure at all I probably shouldn't even post it as I can't credit it, but I want to say it was from Gluten Free Girl (now... and The Chef), but I can't be positive so sorry, sorry, whosever photo this is.  I just wish that my photo for this dish was that gorgeous... no my photo looks like this...

There is no amount of help or editing that can fix that photo.  I attempted to cut the worse out of it... but don't let it scare you... maybe another photo stolen from the original blog would be good... or you could just go to Anja's Food 4 Thought and search for this recipe.  She actually set up her shot instead of taking a photo at her desk fresh from the microwave while searching Forensic Journals.  I think my photo reflects my mood quite well in a tortured artist kind of way... Okay I'm not an artistic but I am tortured... Why do you ask?  OHHHHH let me tell you why.

I am tortured (and I'm sure some people out there can relate) because there are a few things people do not like to hear.... women people in particular.  The two big ones are 1) you're old and 2) you're fat.  And my OB who so lovingly told me not too many months ago... "If you're planning on more children Eileen, you had better get moving.  Reproduction is a young person's game."  Told me yesterday "You need to slow down your weight gain."  Why do I keep this woman around?

I must say I was a little taken aback.  I have felt pretty good about my weight this pregnancy, and not 5 minutes before was told by a nurse that I was fine when I cringed at the scale.  I don't care if I'm pregnant or not there is nothing that makes me feel good about seeing a scale creep up.

After the inital freak out I realized that I am totally okay with how much weight I have gained with my pregnancy.  It's not excessive and I'm still within the normal guidelines.  In fact I still have 10 pounds to go before I hit how much I gained with my daughter and my son, and I happen to have 10 weeks left so I am thinking that I will probably gain the same for this pregnancy as I did for the last two. 

Also, I should not be angry at someone for pointing out what I had already known.  It wasn't my pregnancy weight that was a problem it was my PRE-pregnancy weight.  Even though I lost all pregnancy weight after both of my children I wasn't where I wanted to be before I got pregnant.  In fact I have already been basking in delusions of getting up to nurse a new baby and doing a hand off to the husband for a 5:45am hot yoga class.  Insane visions of early evening runs with a double stroller and double babies (my son will always be a baby to me) to get rid of the extra wedded bliss that has collected on my already curvy frame.  Even when in my best shape, I'm still very.... well shapely.

So after a little denial, followed by some soul/stomach searching I realized man I'm being lazy.  It's no secret that I have been feeling lazy.  I work full-time, go to school full-time, have two kids, and another on the way, a cat, a house, etc., etc., but to BE lazy well that's another thing all together.

There have been far too many bagels to cross my palate over the last seven and a half months.  The once, once-a-week treat, has become a daily stop because I am apparently too lazy to pour a bowl of cereal or heat up the oatmeal like I did before I was pregnant.  And since when did I decide it was okay to drink soda every day?  I never used to drink soda.

And then in the midst of the denial of how healthy I have been eating little thought bubbles of fried potstickers, take out pizzas and occasional Blizzards (a never when not pregnant), settled in and made me realize.... in the weight gain range I wanted to be in or not I am feeding this poor baby a lot of junk food. 

When I was first pregnant the thought of grease made me ill and I was bound to fresh veggies, fruit, rice, and lean proteins.  Which was great because I didn't need to think about eating healthy, it was all I could eat.  Some how that has slipped and must be rectified.  Step one: Bagel ban for the next few weeks.  I will be making  the best granola ever to eat with my low-fat Greek yogurt and berries. 

And for lunch to kill not one or two but THREE birds with one stone.  I  made Red-bean, lentil, and spinach soup last night.  This will help with healthier lunches, budgeting objectives, and last but certainly not least project DO NOT FREEZE to death while waddling your pregnant butt through the soup place line during the winter months. 

The only thing missing are the scones.  I've told you about the scones.  To round out soup as a meal you really need some kind of bread product.  So I am making scones tonight.... I figure since there was only 1 tablespoon of oil in the entire vat of soup the two can fight it out on the way to my stomach!  Maybe I can appease the guilt and calorie counting doctor by making mini-scones (update I did make some mini scones... of course I ate two so it was futile).

Red Bean and Spinach Soup
adapted ever so slightly from Anja's Food 4 Thought Blog

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups cooked red kidney beans (I used a whole smallish sized can because I was in a hurry)
1/2 cup red lentils (I used a little more than 1/2 cup and split it between red lentils and brown lentils)
4 cups vegetable stock
1 lemon, juice of
1 teaspoon dried mint (I left this out)
2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped (I used frozen, and used 2 cups while it was still frozen.  I would cut   
it back to 1 cup next time)


Heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions, garlic and spices until onions are soft. Stir in the beans, lentils, lemon juice, mint and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until lentils are tender, because I added the brown lentils they were not even close to tender at 20 mins.  If you choose to add extra lentils soak them for a few hours first at least.  I had to add extra water as well as it simmered so long I kept evaporating out my liquid.  Apparently although small those suckers are solid and need the soak.  Stir occasionally. Stir in spinach and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Ready to serve.

PS... click here for the scones.  Soooooo yummy.  I could only wish they were my recipe.  Of course no one cares whose they are while eating.  I used a biscuit cutter because they look cute as rounds instead of triangles but do whatever floats your boat.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Do Foodbloggers get bye weeks?

The Sweet Potato Pie Cheesecake I was going to recreat from my birthday... FAIL... still haven't even found a recipe

I'm not sure of the rules.  In fact I am so out of touch with sports I don't even know if I spelled that correctly.  What I do know is I have been feeling slightly uninspired lately caught up in the novelty of being able to cook at all.  I have given into my lazy ways and fallen back on tried and true and simple dishes to get us through the week.  I had class all weekend so the things I had planned on cooking.  Red Bean Lentil Soup, Flour's Sticky Buns, and Pioneer Woman's Ginger Steak Salad (which was a remake as I made it last week and it was great) all fell to the curbside in favor of take out tacos, and gasp McDonald's eaten in the car on the way to a Friday night class.  Oh I paid dearly for that in heartburn levels let me tell you.

Picture of Flour's Famous Sticky Buns Recipe
The Sticky Buns from Flour (image stolen from Food Netowork)  All the ingredients, including $10 worth of pecans are sitting in my cupboard and fridge as I type, and yet no sticky bun has graced our table yet.

The only decent thing I ate at all this weekend is the leftover chicken and pasta that I am eating at this very moment from last night when my husband threw together a last minute meal when he couldn't bear the idea of pizza for dinner.  If I had any technological ability I could post a picture of it from my phone as it is lovely, but I don't, so I can't.  I didn't see him make it but it looks like and tastes like it has fresh garlic, grape tomatoes, capers, and rosemary.  Thin chicken lightly floured, white wine,and pasta.  Safe and delcious.

This one is perfect for my friends with families and busy lives.  I can't wait to post this one.

I also made a delicious enchillada casserole from my cooking class last week (or was it two weeks ago), that taught us how to make home made tortillas and a super quick and easy casserole with fresh enchillada sauce (which was made with tomato sauce, chili powder, and water... that's it, that's all), but I didn't take any pictures of the homemade tortillas and that's the most important part so that recipe since I'm sure even the most inexperienced person can open a can of tomatoes and add some water.  That will be coming in the near future.  Quick, non-processed, cheap, and tasty.... why didn't I take a photo of the tortilla... WHY? 

He wanted to check that it was a good pumpkin by knocking on it

So this week was a culinary failure aside from the small victory that everyone was fed and lives to see another week where there may be tasty treats on the horizon.  Until then I have to get by nibbling on cute little people, like this one here that is still talking about the pumpkin patch where this was taken.  Best day off I've spent in a long time.  Check back soon, maybe I will make a new batch of tortillas or a sweet batch of crack soon.  I mean sticky buns.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Smoked Gouda & Prosciutto Panini

The first celebrity chef I ever recognized so many years ago was Wolfgang Puck.  The only food of his I have ever eaten (before this panini) was the pizza in his take out joint in Chicago which I doubt he's ever been to, but I secretly love it anyway.... my standards drop when the options are reheated pancakes at the Chili's or dealing with really rude McDonald's workers.  If you've ever been to the McDonald's at O'Hare you know exactly what I mean.  Well without an oven for close to a month I could easily have fit in with those women.  I was becoming crankier by the day.  This was the last oven-less meal I made before the oven was installed after lots of work by the husband and a few friends... thank you all!  Ta Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....

However, you may leave your standards where they are because this is amazing.  Paninis are so much better than just a grilled cheese, but really you can make most of the paninis I make just like you would a grilled cheese because I put cheese on everything.... a lot of cheese... a WHOLE lot of cheese... an amount that cannot even be considered diet friendly.  This time I made it just as stated so you can blame Wolfgang for the super rich and tasty and non-diet friendly sandwich. 

I wanted to make this with a Moroccan Tomato Soup kind of an adult version of grilled cheese and tomato soup, but I got tooooooo lazy.  Oh well next time... and there will definitely be a next time... like maybe this weekend.  Oh yeah, it was that good.  We served it with mini gerkins to help cut the creamy richness, and some chips, but next time if we serve it as is without soup I would make sweet potato fries.  Now I want fries.

Insert amazing photo from your mind here of what the soup could of, would of, should of looked like had I not become so ridiculously lazy thanks to my imense disappointment with my kitchen after the gaping black hole where the oven should be sucked my will to live... well cook.

Smoked Gouda & Prosciutto Panini
adapted (or not) from Wolfgang Puck

2 slices good-quality sourdough bread, each about 1 inch thick
2 tablespoons good-quality prepared mayonnaise, extra-virgin olive oil, or unsalted butter
2 ounces thinly sliced smoked Gouda cheese
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or cooked ham
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced red onion
2 thin slices ripe Roma (plum) tomato
1 ounce shredded Fontina cheese


Combine everything, squish between two slices of bread, put onto a hot panini grill and and smash with lid.  Cook until cheese gets all gooey and fantastic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eyes of Newt

Believe it or not I try to do holiday activites with the kids.  When my daughter was younger we spent hours baking and decorating cookies for Christmas and other holidays.  With the monkey man I try to branch out a little more.  I've gotten brave in my old age and have learned that paint, and glitter eventually comes off floors, counters, and little hands.  I am great for trying holiday stuff and then waiting too long to put it up on the blog... like last year when I made hot cross buns for the first time the day before Easter.  I'm sure that recipe was going to come in handy AFTER Easter.  So to get in under the wire, I am posting a second entry this week... not like the soup was all that exciting anyway.

I saw this in an old issue of Martha Stewart Living and thought it would be perfect for double duty.  On one hand it was a fun little project for the Monkey, and they are doubling as little Halloween treats for his teachers at day care.

Pre-step: find a washable location in your house, and a t-shirt you don't mind getting painty... however the paint washed out of our shirt.

Step1: Take one happy kid

Step 2: Add a little acrylic paint and thin it with water

Step 3: Use those little foam brushes to paint wooden craft boxes inside and out.

Step 5: Load on the praise about what a great artist you have

Step 6:  Let dry.  We did ours a few steps at a time to break up the fun and keep the project in 10-15 minute blocks to match a 2-year olds attention span, and a parent of a 2-year olds temper when dealing with very messy projects.

Step 7: Print the clip art from Martha's webite here.

Step 8: Make up some black tea and "age" your labels.

Step 9: Let labels dry

I moved mine after about 10 minutes so it wouldn't dry to the paper plate.

Step 10: Squirt on a little white glue and use the sponge brush to make it into a thin layer to avoid glue bubble and parts that don't stick

Step 11: Fill with "Eyes"... the website says to use green, but these boxes are a little bigger and I thought a mixture might be more enjoyable.  It's the same effect as far as I'm concerned.

Step 12: Let the little ones give their special treats to their teachers.  Happy Halloween.