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.