You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Say Cheese! Cheesecake Pops - Daring Bakers April Challenge

When I found out that this months Daring Bakers Challenge was cheesecake pops I was excited. Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts to make. I've even won a second place in a local baking contest years ago when I was living in Tennessee. It was a white chocolate-raspberry swirl cheesecake. (and not to be out done, I won first place the following year with dark chocolate raspberry brownies)

For those of you who do not know who the Daring Bakers are, let me tell you. We are a group of avid cooks and bakers who all receive the same recipe at the beginning of the month. We have most of the month to make this recipe but we wait until the same day at the end of the month to post. Until that day, our challenge is a secret.

I planned to make the cheesecake a couple of weekends ago but my plans were set aside when we had to take Sophie to the emergency vet. Thankfully she's ok but I was wiped out so no baking. The following weekend was less hectic so the cheesecake was made and set in the fridge to await pop making.

I soon figured out that freezer side of my skinny side by side fridge was way too narrow to fit my cookie sheets. Rats! I had to improvise by using a smaller baking dish and freezing only eight naked pops at a time, letting them set up, moving them to another small baking dish and repeating the process until all 40 pops were formed.

Similarly, I also did this when Jim and I dipped them in chocolate. We could only do about eight at a time because of the skinny freezer space. But once we got a rhythm going all went smoothly. I had an assortment of toppings for the pops set on the counter and Jim stood command at the stove to dip.

We had an assortment of toppings like crushed macadamia nuts, coconut, crushed almonds, mini M&M's and shaved dark chocolate and some pops were just dipped without any extra topping. It took about 2 hours to get all the pops done dipped and back into the freezer. The next day I brought them into work for my staff. Needless to say, they didn't last long and my staff are looking forward to next month's challenge.

And to see other Darking Bakers pops check out the blogroll.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Win Stuff! A Bloggy Giveaway

If you like to win stuff (and really, who doesn't), head on over to the Clean Plate Club to enter two bloggy giveaways. The first one is for a Williams-Sonoma Gift Card and the second one is for a cake decorating cookbook.

Let me know if you win!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Skillet Fried Corn

Having three ears of corn sitting in the fridge for a week, I knew I needed to use them and fast before they spoiled. Simply boiling them would have been tasty but messy and I wasn't in the mood for messy. So I did what any good Southern cook would do, I cut the corn kernels off the cob and fried them up in a skillet.

First I cut off the kernels and with the back of the knife, scrapped off all the pulp still left on the cob. Setting that aside, I finely diced half a small onion and cooked them over medium heat until they were lightly browned then tossed in two cloves of finely diced garlic, some salt and black pepper. Once all that was combined together, I added the corn and about 1/4 cup of chicken stock and let it cook over medium heat until most of the liquid was nearly cooked away.

I served it with some sauteed bok choy and pork chops.

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Spicy skirt steak

Kudos to Joe over at Culinary in the Country for this recipe. I saw it last Wednesday and immediately printed it out and made for dinner that night. I substituted skirt steak (or flap steak) for flank steak but otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter. It was so easy to make and tasted absolutely wonderful. All the flavors were perfectly balanced. According to Jim, the leftovers heated up quite nicely the next for lunch.

Check out Joe's recipe and picture here.

I've also copied the recipe below.
Flank Steak with Hot Peanut Sauce
Culinary in the Country)

1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

16 ounces trimmed flank steak, sliced diagonally into thin pieces

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons canola oil

In a small bowl, whisk together green onions, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, lime juice, sesame oil, crushed red pepper and garlic. Place 1/4 cup of the sauce into a zip-loc bag along with the sliced steak. Seal the bag, move the steak around so the pieces get coated and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.

In a small saucepan, add remaining soy mixture, water, peanut butter and cornstarch. Bring to a simmer - cook for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Remove steak from the marinade and discard any excess liquids.

Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high - add beef and cook 2 minutes on each side, or until they are as done as you prefer. Serve with the peanut sauce and hot cooked rice, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

A sick pup and weekend meals by Jim

I'm glad Jim's been in the mood to cook this weekend. I'm exhausted from being up all night with a sick doggie. Sophie had me up almost all night panting, scratching and acting very hyper. Turns out she was having a bad allergic reaction to something. By 9:00 this morning she was covered in welts and miserable. I'd given her an antihistamine during the night but it didn't seem to help so we put her in the car and took her to the Alexandria Animal Hospital which is, thankfully, about 2 miles from home.

They gave her a shot of Benadryl, we got a bottle of pills to give her for the next 10 days and we were on our way. She slept most of the day from the Benadryl and is now welt-free. I, however, am exhausted. Only 3 hours sleep is not near enough for me. I was dragging my ass all day. But at least our little girl is feeling better. In fact she's curled up next to me while I write this and snoring. I'll be doing the same shortly myself.

But getting back to Jim's cooking this weekend. Yesterday we went to Wegman's and saw them filleting a huge halibut. We picked out two pretty pieces, got some morel mushrooms (gads those things are expensive) and Jim began to put together a plan for dinner. He made a sauce for the halibut out of onion, white wine, a touch of cream and the morel mushrooms. Then he cooked the halibut in an iron skillet while he cooked some pasta. Once it was all done, he plated the pasta and put a piece of the halibut on top then poured some of the sauce over it. We also had a fresh baguette was also on the table to sop up the sauce.
The meal was great. The halibut was fresh and flavorful and topped with the sauce made it out of this world. The sauce had just enough creaminess to it from the cream to give it a nice mouth feel and flavorwise everything was perfectly balanced. The only thing Jim would do different next time would be to use a stick blender to puree the onions and make the sauce completely smooth.

Tonight he prepared a couscous paella. It was fairly easy to put together which made me happy since it meant I could zombie out on the couch with a still sleepy dog. The recipe is a true creation of Jim's that he made using what he thought would be good together and he was spot on. For the meat, he used a smokey chorizo sausage and chicken legs. Poblano peppers, onions and saffron joined the party to boost the flavor. Served with a nice sauvignon blanc, it was absolutely fabulous. I told him to write this recipe down so it can be made again and I'm posting it here to share with everyone.

Halibut with with morel chardonnay cream sauce
Cooked pasta (I used campanelle, other short pastas would work as well)
1 onion, diced
1-2 tablespoons Smart Balance spread (you can use butter)
6 large morel mushrooms
1 cup chardonnay (or other dry white wine)
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
2 large halibut fillet pieces with skin (about a half-pound each)
Italian parsley

Sautee onion in Smart Balance (This is the only thing that is healthy in this dish). Slice morel mushrooms longways, wash gently on inside and out. Place in skillet with the onions, cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, put wine and chicken stock in skillet. Reduce with onions until liquid is reduced by 1/2.

While this is reducing, heat olive oil iron skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Salt and pepper halibut fillets. Add halibut pieces meat side down and cover. After 5 minutes, flip fillets to skin side, reduce heat and cook for 5-10 minutes until done. Skin may stick; that's ok, just take the meat right off and leave the skin in the pan.

After sauce has reduced, add cream, stir, then add mushrooms. Cook for a short time on low heat to let the mushrooms absorb some of the sauce.

To plate, put pasta on plate. Spoon chardonnay cream sauce, with onions and mushrooms, on to pasta. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley. Place halibut fillet on top.

Couscous paella
4 chicken legs
4 oz Spanish chorizo (dry sausage)
2 poblano peppers
2 small or 1 large onions
3 cloves garlic
1 box (10 oz) couscous
2 cups chicken stock
large pinch saffron
1 lime

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Salt chicken legs then brown in olive oil, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove.

While chicken legs are browning, dice onions and poblano peppers, rough chop garlic and slice chorizo into 1/4 inch slices. Sautee onions and poblano peppers until they start to brown, then add chorizo and garlic. While this is sauteeing, put the large pinch of saffron in a little (1 oz or so) hot water to let it bloom.

After chorizo gets a little crispy and brown around the edges, add 2 cups chicken stock and saffron and water. Return chicken legs to skillet. Braise covered for 10 minutes, then flip chicken legs and braise for another 10 minutes. Remove legs, strip meat from legs and return meat to pan. Return pan to boil. Add couscous to skillet, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Add lime juice and salt to taste.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Challah Bread French Toast

A few months ago I made challah bread with thoughts of French toast running through my head. Jim managed to save the last two pieces of the loaf for just that purpose and it was good, very, very good.

Well, the craving was back and with family in town it seemed like a good idea to make challah bread French toast for Sunday breakfast. So about 6 last night I pulled out the recipe and made some bread. It came out of the oven as we all were getting ready for bed and let me tell you, it's pretty dang hard to fall asleep with the aroma of fresh baked bread in the air.

Still, I managed to sleep and wake up looking forward to breakfast. Jim got up ahead of me and sliced some nice thick slices of bread and let them dry out a little before he made the French toast. And the recipe couldn't be any simpler.

Challah Bread French Toast
4 (3/4" thick) slices of challah bread
2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup of milk

2 tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp salt

Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar and salt together and place in a shallow bowl. Lay the bread, one slice at a time in the egg mixture for a minute or so then flip it over and let it sit another minute. Place on a plate while you prepare all the slices.

Melt some butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Place the slices in the skillet and cook on each side until golden brown.
Serve with butter and maple syrup or honey. YUM!

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Friday, April 04, 2008

We're famous......sort of

Some of my regular readers know that I am part of an online baking group called "The Daring Bakers." Each month a recipe is selected by one of the many members and we all make the recipe but keep it underwraps until the a selected date at the end of the month when we all post our results.

Well it seems the Washington Post knows about us! The group was mentioned in the Post a couple of days ago. You can find the article here.

And if you're wondering where is my post for the March Challenge? Well, I didn't quite have the time because Jim and I were in Malaysia half the month. But the April challenge has been revealed (to the Daring Bakers only) and it's one that I will be participating in. And for any of my library staff who read this, you will be the lucky recipients of the finished product. (makes you want to work for me, doesn't it.)