30 December 2010

Double Take: Beef Stroganoff

Are you ready for a bowl of comfort?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know that my all-time comfort food is beef stroganoff. Full of mushrooms, onions, beef, and sour cream, how can you go wrong? When I first saw a recipe for beef
stroganoff in the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, I was excited. Until I actually read the recipe. It called for beef tips instead of ground beef. I don’t dislike beef tips, but I just prefer my comfort food to be the way I grew up eating it: with ground beef.

16 December 2010

Double Take: Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce

What is it about me and procrastination with these recipes? Once I get out of the habit of making things early, it is very difficult to get back on track. With a Christmas trip coming up, I’ve really got to get back in the swing of things! I’ll be missing two Thursdays, which means things must be made in advance! I had great plans to make today’s recipe and next week’s recipe on Tuesday, but I got lazy. So that put me back to scrambling to make today’s post last night. And next week’s will just have to wait. (Maybe Sunday lunch?)

I can’t put a point on when or how it started, but I love Asian food. Since I’ve moved to Germany I have come to realize that I love Americanized Asian food… not so much German Asian food. Believe me, there is a difference. Of course, I’d rather eat German Asian food than German cafeteria food, so I end up ordering German Asian food whenever I don’t have food for lunch at work (which is surprisingly not that often). Bender likes my other food more, so when I cook Asian food at home, it’s just for me. Hence why this recipe easily fell by the wayside Tuesday night when I decided to spend time with Bender rather than cook after dinner.

13 December 2010

Daring Cooks: Poaching

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num. 

09 December 2010

Double Take: Shredded Brussels Sprouts

This week's Double Take is a little different. We've both been sick this week and failed to make the challenge recipe scheduled ahead of time. Luckily, we both had a recipe stashed away for times like these so you still get a recipe!

A culinary match made in heaven: ribs, Brussels sprouts, and garlic smashed potatoes.

07 December 2010

Double Take: Whole Cooked Artichokes

I’m not sure why, but I kept putting this recipe off. I love artichokes. I picked this recipe to help convince Tabitha she should try them. But week after week they made my list of things to make, but I never made them.

I was first introduced to artichokes when I was 16. One of my friends and I had a brilliant idea to have a medieval feast, and well, when my friend put her mind to something, things happened. We decorated her finished attic, made medieval dresses, and she and her mom prepared a feast for kings (or rather, princesses). One of our appetizers was artichokes. Until then, I had only ever had them marinated or thrown into a spinach dip… in other words, I’d never really tasted a pure artichoke. She served them simply, with salted clarified butter, very similarly to how one would serve lobster (mhmm, lobster). I thought I’d gone to heaven. One bite of that succulent, butter-dipped, silky plant-flesh had me converted to an artichoke fan. I haven’t liked canned artichokes since. The canning process completely robs the artichoke of its umph. The texture completely changes and you are left with a limp, woody mass that squeaks as you bite into it. Eww. Give me fresh artichokes or give me none! (I know, I know, that saying isn’t quite the same without ending in death, but I don’t think I would die without artichokes. I’m much more likely to put my life on the line for people or liberty than a particular type of food.)

25 November 2010

Double Take: Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas (sort of)

Whilst everyone is gathered around the Thanksgiving table in the US today, I’m stuck at work. I’ve been reading facebook status updates all week: 3 days til vacation, 2 days, Today will feel like Monday and Thursday at the same time!, etc. Well, not me. I really can’t complain though, I had a wonderful week of vacation at the beginning of November, am taking a weekend trip to London soon, and will be spending Christmas with most of my immediate family (yay!). But on Thanksgiving Day, I went to work. And ya know what that means? It means I am incredibly lucky to have picked the field of environmental science when I got my bachelor’s degree. And even luckier that I decided I wasn’t ready for the real world so I went to graduate school for a master’s in biology. All of that led me to a point where, when Bender announced he got a job offer in Germany, I was able to get a job there too. I am thankful for the ability to work in a foreign country. This time last year, I knew I had a job lined up for me, but did not yet know when I would start. Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of when I started my job. Today is a day of giving thanks, and I am thankful to be at this point in my life and to be able to call it good. And incredibly thankful that you are reading my blog so I’m not talking to myself over here!

18 November 2010

Double Take: Tabbouleh

One of my favorite lunch places in Winston-Salem served a great Tabbouleh. It was always a little too heavy on the dried cranberries, but it was always enjoyable. So when I saw a different Tabbouleh in the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, I got excited. Bender and I also ate a lot of salad during the three weeks of summer (way too hot to turn on the oven when our apartment had zero circulation, zero fans, and zero air conditioning), so I was also on the lookout for more salad recipes. Thus, this Tabbouleh recipe made the list.
But I’m just now getting around to making it. Outside my window, I see fall in Germany in full swing: cold and rainy. My seven day forecast is calling for wintery mix soon. I’m not thrilled. I’m wanting those three ridiculously hot weeks of summer back!

Oh right, you’re here to hear/read about this Tabbouleh, not my dislike of the weather.  This recipe definitely brought a bit of summer into my mouth! The warmth didn’t exactly extend to my apartment, but that’s okay. I guess you can’t expect too much out of shredded lettuce, bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, mint, garlic, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Unfortunately, this recipe is the first one in a while that is not linked online, and since I followed the recipe almost exactly (I did halve it), I can’t post it. But I’ll take you through the steps and give you some recommendations!

15 November 2010

Double Take: Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Tabitha started getting excited about fall soups long before fall actually arrived in North Carolina. So I started looking at our “To Make” list that takes us into January and realized our mistake: we didn’t have a single soup on the list! I had already gone through the list, so I asked Tabitha to do the same. Would you believe that I had rated 28 recipes, but her two top choices I hadn’t rated at all? I didn’t rate them for a simple reason: there was no way Bender would even try them. She’d picked out two pumpkin recipes and Bender just doesn’t eat pumpkin. And I can’t buy canned pumpkin here. I couldn’t imagine that prepping the pumpkin for soup would be difficult, but it just wasn’t something I was terribly interested in trying if I were the only one eating it. So I picked one of Tabitha’s two recipes to make for our Double Take series and gave her my blessing to make the other one without me.

 I've been learning a lot about pumpkins since I moved to Germany. For instance, the rest of the world calls all winter squash “pumpkins.” I only thought something could be called a pumpkin if I could turn it into a jack-o-lantern. Boy was I wrong. And then I learned that Libby’s agrees with the rest of the world and that their canned pumpkin is generally butternut squash. Huh. I’ve never enjoyed pumpkin pie and my mom certainly did not cook with pumpkin, so it was never something I really thought about. So readers, what is your definition of a pumpkin?

Roasted pumpkin sure is pretty. 

13 November 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Soufflé

Slightly fallen but oh-so-delicious Hot Chocolate Soufflé

When I first saw the Daring Cooks Challenge for November, I was dismayed. My oven still isn't fixed and the hosts for this month made it clear that you had to use the oven. I told Bender what the challenge was, explained to him that our oven doesn't keep the correct temperature, and then he came up with a brilliant suggestion: Why don't you use someone else's oven? Duh. How dumb am I? Of course someone will let me use their oven if I promise him/her soufflé! 

04 November 2010

Double Take: Smothered Enchiladas

I love fake enchiladas. And when I say fake, I mean I use flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas. I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t like corn tortillas. I’ve even had homemade tortillas made by someone who learned how to make them by watching his mother in Mexico. But I just don’t like them. So I always cheat and use flour tortillas. I assumed I’d have to do that with these enchiladas as well, but for some reason the recipe writers at Southern Living agree with me and both of their enchilada recipes call for flour tortillas. Yay!

Enchilada deliciousness! 

28 October 2010

Double Take: Tuscan Pork Chops

I’m always on the lookout for a new pork chop recipe because, well, pork chops, when cooked properly, can be very tasty. It’s easy enough to sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and grill or sauté them, but occasionally I like to change things up a bit.

When Tabitha suggested this recipe for Tuscan Pork Chops (p. 314), I had my doubts. I had put it on the list of “I will eat it, but Bender* will not.” But it was time to make something from that list since we hadn’t yet. The reasons Bender would eat it: balsamic vinegar and capers. If there is one thing that Bender doesn’t like, it’s vinegar… which means he also doesn’t like anything that has been pickled… like, say, capers. I checked to see if the recipe was online, and nicely, it was AND it had several reviews. I checked out what others had said and came to one conclusion: I could not use 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and expect Bender to like it. But I did notice that several people had suggested subbing your favorite wine. I agreed to make the recipe provided I could make such a substitution. Of course, Tabitha’s always happy to allow substitutions, so we decided to make this recipe.

21 October 2010

Double Take: Golden Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a staple in our house (er, tiny apartment). I’ve tried over a dozen recipes and generally come back to two: my grandmother’s recipe and a cheese sauce based recipe. The recipe for Golden Macaroni and Cheese from the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook looked most similar to my grandmother’s as it does not require a roux. But like my grandmother’s, it looked unassuming and boring. But I was also interested in finding a non-roux recipe that did not call for eggs (I made the mistake of serving that recipe to someone who was allergic to eggs once… eek!), so I thought we should give this one a day.

The original recipe made 8 servings, so I decided to halve the recipe since it was just the two of us. At the last minute I discovered that I did not have quite enough Cheddar, so I supplemented with Parmesan rather than going to the store. The second time I made this recipe, I forgot to use Parmesan and discovered the Parmesan gives it that lift that brings this recipe over the top to fabulous. The recipe listed here is what I used the first time I made it.

14 October 2010

Double Take: Herbed Tomato Tart

I knew this recipe would be a winner the moment I looked at it. I liked all the ingredients, woot! I begged Tabitha to let me make, despite her dislike of puff pastry. She agreed and we set a date. Originally, I had this one listed for making in November, but I realized how incredibly stupid that was. Tomatoes are already out of season here and it’s the beginning of October, so I knew I would only be able to find mealy, yucky tomatoes in November, so I moved this one towards the top of the list.

Then I had to find the perfect time to make it. It’s not exactly main-meal material, or at least I was nervous enough about whether or not Hubby would like it that I didn’t want to serve it as the entrée. Luckily, the perfect opportunity presented itself last weekend. We went hiking with some friends, and Hubby decided to reward us all afterwards with his famous lasagna. Well, we didn’t get back from hiking until 6:30 and lasagna takes 3 hours to make, so I decided to make the Herbed Tomato Tart (p. 475) as an appetizer for us. I knew one of our guests isn’t a fan of tomatoes, so I just left them off his part of the tart.

I made a couple substitutions/changes, but not many. Instead of using preshredded mozzarella, I used two balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced about ¼ inch thick. For my herb mix, I used fresh basil, chives, and parsley. Instead of wasting a second puff pastry sheet, I simply cut the edges from the sheet I was already using (I also didn’t bother to roll out the dough).

13 October 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Stuffed Grape Leaves

I've been a little quiet on the Daring Cooks front for the past two months. I actually completed the August Challenge (pierogis), but never got around to posting them. I found them bland and dull and just had no inspiration to write about them. When September rolled around and the challenge was revealed, I was thrilled. And then I realized that all the stores nearby had stopped carrying canning supplies already so I got annoyed and didn't participate. Horrible excuse, I know, but I was lacking inspiration again. 

When the October Challenge was revealed, I knew I couldn’t shirk my responsibilities again. Hubby would not go near the challenge (though when I asked him about it he said he might try it). So I decided if they were going to happen, I’d need to kick him out of the house for the day. And by golly, he kicked himself out and had a Star Wars Marathon over at The Dude’s place. The plan was that they would watch the original cannon and then come back to our place for dinner and Spaceballs.

Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

30 September 2010

Double Take: Stuffed Peppers

My laptop has been having a hard time. You see, I got in the fall of 2004, and it is now the fall of 2010. I got it in North Carolina, but it has also traveled halfway across the country to Oklahoma twice, countless times to Georgia, and well, it made the move to Germany a year ago. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve knocked it, how many times my dear cat, Lorelai, decided to take a nap on the keyboard, or, for that matter, how many times I dropped it. The biggest drop came during the time I was writing my Master’s thesis, and it hasn’t shut properly since (luckily, my thesis was not destroyed during the drop). Though I have a nice sturdy laptop, it’s obviously on its last leg. My laptop will be replaced by a netbook in just over a month, but in the meantime you’ll have to bear with me as my old laptop slowly becomes a large paperweight.

23 September 2010

Double Take: Skillet Creamed Corn

Corn, glorious corn!

The picture in the book for this recipe looked divine. Despite my dislike of creamed corn as a child, I decided I was going to try this one anyway (I only liked corn on the cob. I could watch my grandmother cut it off the cob and still wouldn’t eat it because it was no longer on the cob… what can I say? I’ve always been particular.) So I was taking a big leap when I picked this recipe. Hubby and I both adore fresh corn, so I was quite appalled when all I found last fall was corn in a package. That’s right, no silk, no husk, and it had been preserved and vacuum packed. Bleck. (Or so I assume… I’ve never tried it.) Around the end of June, when my cousin was talking about his 140 ears that he just picked from his garden, I was green with envy. I started looking everywhere for fresh corn and much to my dismay, found nothing. Finally, during a World Cup game, I pleaded my case to a local and discovered that I would not be able to find fresh corn. Hubby and I were both devastated.

16 September 2010

Double Take: Loaded Garlic Smashed Potatoes

This recipe has been on the back burner for quite some time. Tabitha wanted to make it back in the day, but that was before red potatoes were in season and I was unwilling to make changes to the recipe. Well, I’ve loosened up a bit and red potatoes came into season, and we decided it was time to make this recipe. And boy, am I glad I did.

I have always been a huge mashed potato fan. I can now make them in a way that hubby will eat them, but he never goes back for seconds. Me on the other hand, I generally go back for thirds, which probably isn’t the healthiest thing in the world for me. I even tried preparing Momma’s Holiday Mashed Potato Casserole for Hubby, but he still didn’t go back for seconds. I didn’t see how this recipe would be any different, but decided to make it anyway since we both love garlic and bacon. I failed to mention to Hubby that this recipe contained sour cream, and just served it up as potatoes. He went back for seconds. Twice.

09 September 2010

Double Take: Ham-and-Cheese Omelets

I picked out this recipe for one simple reason: I wanted something other than bacon and eggs for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Apparently, I was more than willing to replace bacon and eggs with ham and eggs.

I went to gather the ingredients. After looking through the list, I knew locating havarti cheese might be problematic. That is one is difficult to find around here, and I’ve never seen it in block form. However, we do have butter cheese here and the cookbook described havarti as buttery, so I decided that would be a simple sub. But when I got to the store, I actually found havarti. I was so excited to find it that I didn’t look at the package closely or check the expiration date. Oops.

I set out my ingredients the next morning. Our plans for canoeing that day had been cancelled because the river was so high, so we opted to go visit the castles we would have looked at from the river instead. It was raining when we got moving that morning, so it looked like we wouldn’t even get to go hiking either. I gathered my ingredients that morning and decided first things first: grate the cheese. The swiss grated, I turned to the havarti. I opened the package and was hit with a foul smell. I closely inspected the cheese: it was slimy. Into the trash went the havarti. Swiss only it was.

02 September 2010

Double Take: Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza (sort of)

Don't have access to hot Italian sausage? Make your own! Instead of grinding it myself, I buy it pre-ground and just add my seasonings. 

I miss Americanized pizza. Hubby misses Americanized pizza. Delivery pizza is just not the same here. The crust is blah. It make the normal delivery pizza companies in the US taste outstanding. There are a few Italian pizza places in town, and they have great pizza, but it's not Americanized... it's Italian. Which is all well and good, but I've grown accustomed to lots of topping, a choice between thick, thin, and pan crust, and lots of cheese, and that's not traditional Italian. So when I order from a delivery pizza place in town, I generally order Indian food (yes, you read that correctly, most of the delivery joints deliver pizza and Indian food... and beer and wine). And Hubby has given up on ordering from the delivery places.

So when I noticed this week's challenge, I was a little nervous. I've only made pizza once before, and Hubby wasn't around for that. On top of that, he eats at the local Italian place quite frequently since it's so close to his work and has free wi-fi, which means he can work and eat lunch at the same time (such discipline, I would spend the whole time surfing the net instead of working). So, I was nervous about making pizza for him. So much so that I didn't tell him that I was making it until about an hour before I got home from work. I mentioned that the recipe called for chicken, but he asked for bell peppers and Italian sausage instead. I obliged.

If you'll notice, the subtitle of this blog is Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza (sort of), but I didn't use my grill or chicken. The broiler function here is called the grill function instead, so I took that as license to use my broiler instead of making Hubby get out and light up our tiny charcoal grill that the pizza dough probably wouldn't fit on. Since Hubby doesn't like chicken on pizza (and frankly there is only one chicken pizza I really like and it's only available at the Domino's in the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center), I begged Tabs to let me change up the recipe a bit. Considering I've always been the stickler for sticking to the recipe, I knew it'd be fine. And that's how my Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza turned into Semi-Homemade* Broiled Italian Sausage Pizza (2 ways).
Hubby's pizza ready to go back in the oven for the final broil.

Semi-Homemade Broiled Italian Sausage Pizza (2 ways)
(heavily adapted from the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, original recipe here)

2 containers refrigerated pizza crust
2 tsp olive oil
2 (14 ounce) cans hot pizza sauce, gently warmed on the stove
10 ounces hot Italian sausage, castings removed, browned and drained (see photo note above)
1/2 green bell pepper, thin sliced
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small onion, sliced into half rings, submerged in water and chilled at least 30 minutes
1 pound shredded mozzarella
12 fresh basil leaves
yield: 2 pizzas

Preheat oven on high heat (as high as it will go), positioning rack in the middle of the oven.

Unroll one crust and brush evenly with 1 tsp olive oil. Invert dough directly onto cooking rack, peel off the baking paper it came on, and broil using top heating element only 3 to 4 minutes or until the top of the dough is browned. Turn dough over (I used two sets of tongs for this step) and broil 2-3 minutes or until top is set. Carefully remove crust from rack to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

Spread half of the sauce evenly over crust; sprinkle evenly with 8 ounces of mozzarella. Sprinkle with 7 ounces crumbled Italian sausage and the bell pepper. Return to hot oven and broil 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly brown on top.

While the first pizza is on it's final broil, unroll the next crust and brush with remaining olive oil. When the first pizza is done, remove from oven to large cutting board and serve immediately. Repeat initial broiling process with the second crust.

Once the second crust is set and out of the oven, spread the rest of the sauce evenly over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese. Top with 3 ounces crumbled Italian sausage, the sliced onion (drained), sliced mushrooms, and fresh basil. Return to oven and broil 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted ans slightly brown on top. Serve immediately.

You might notice that the upper right corner of the pizza is... weird. I might have had trouble flipping it the first time because one of my sets of tongs focuses all the pressure on one point instead of spreading it out. Nicely, I had this issued worked out by the second pizza.

Hubby's pizza was gone before I pulled mine out of the oven. However, in the future, I'll use my own pizza crust and sauce because the crust available in the refrigerated section was absolutely tasteless. It made me yearn for Mellow Mushroom's springwater crust. So now I have to learn how to make pizza crust. Wish me luck! As far as the original recipe goes, I like the method and it translated easily to the oven. I've been waiting to get a pizza stone before I made pizza in the oven, but this method allows me to get a nice crispy crust without burning the cheese and other toppings. If you don't have a pizza stone, I highly recommend this method of mostly prebaking the crust directly on the cooking rack before adding the toppings.

Please-make-me-Americanized-pizza-again-but-with-better-crust-and-sauce: 1 vote
Yay-I-actually-got-to-eat-a-mushroom-and-onion-pizza: 1 vote

 For Tab's take on Bistro Grilled Chicken Pizza (sort of), head on over to Double the Garlic!

* Is it bistro because it uses store bought crust and sauce?

My favorite pizza: heavy on the mushrooms and onions, light on the Italian sausage

Do you have a great crust recipe? Please share! And what is your favorite pizza? Restaurant pizza? (Mine's the Magical Mystery Tour from Mellow Mushrooms with added onions)

26 August 2010

Double Take: Margarita Pork Tenderloin

Margarita Pork Tenderloin (p 254) was one of the first recipes Hubby noticed in the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, but we've only just now gotten around to making it. Sorry, Hubby!

Notice I mention my jalapeño was still good, I didn't say it was still green!

19 August 2010

Double Take: Green Bean Risotto

We've headed away from the sweet, fruity dishes and back into the land of savory, where I am much more comfortable. I enjoyed perfecting a pastry crust and learning about shortcakes, but I'm ready for something with a bit less sugar. Enter: Green Bean Risotto

Green beans boiling in a ridiculously tiny amount of chicken broth.

08 August 2010

Double Take: Fresh Peach Pie

Peaches! Peaches are loved here. Not quite as much as in nectarines or strawberries, but peaches are easy to come by when they are in season. They’ve been sweet and gorgeous this year. But when all the other blogs were posting about peach cobbler (with blueberries), Tabitha and I decided to make peach pie (without blueberries).

Just cut an X in the peach before you dip it in boiling water.

Comfort Food

The other day I was inexplicably craving ground beef. To me, sauting ground beef just smells like home, so it was no big surprise that I was craving it, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do about it. I didn't want burgers. I suggested spaghetti sauce made with beef instead of Italian sausage to Hubby, but he vetoed it. It finally dawned on me... I wanted beef Stroganoff. Knowing Hubby wouldn't go for a mushroom and sour cream laden dish, I graciously offered to make him whatever he wanted if I could make Stroganoff for me. He was kind and asked for blackened chicken (rub chicken with spices. grill.), and I set off to recreate the dish I was craving.

A slew of mushrooms and onions... how could this dish not be perfect?

05 August 2010

Double Take: Party-Perfect Strawberry Shortcakes

Surprise! I'm back! And with a recipe at that! 

We decided to take a short, three week summer break. I do hope you don't mind! My original intent was to deliver you with blogs on Sundays, but alas, the month without internet got me out of the habit of turning on my computer in the evenings. And my left hand got a much needed break from typing. I've been spending 8 hours on the computer at work daily for the last couple months, and my tendinitis has been flaring up. Thus, I've been feeling less inclined to type. But I'm back!

13 July 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Nut Butters

When I saw the new challenge for this month, I wasn't quite sure how to react. The idea of making a nut butter has always been intriguing to me, but Hubby is not a huge fan of nut butters, so I wasn't sure how easily I'd be able to pull off the taste. But then I realized a holiday was near. And holidays means parties. Parties mean food. Plenty of food... which means I can make whatever I want on the side as long as Hubby has enough food. And oh boy, I went to town on this challenge.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

11 July 2010

Grilled Chicken and Pasta in Fresh Basil-Cream Sauce

Remember my Ravioli Double Take? The sauce had potential, but it just fell short of the mark (both in taste and quantity). After reading your comments, I decided that I really need to revamp the sauce and give it a chance. So I did. Thank you readers for convincing me to try this one again!

I knew I didn't want to try more ravioli, but I also wanted to stay away from my normal pastas: macaroni, tagliatelle, and spaghetti. And, surprisingly, I stumbled across orechiette when I was looking for a grill. Crazy, huh? I grabbed the orechiette and wandered over to the chocolate section. I found a bar of Lindt salted chocolate, and feeling adventurous, I grabbed it. Hubby has never been so surprised to like a chocolate before, claiming whomever came up with the idea to add salt to chocolate was a genius. I concur.

08 July 2010

Double Take: Cheesy Chive Biscuits

I was looking for something quick and easy for this week because Tabitha’s summer schedule is beyond crazy. For some people, biscuits might be intimidating, but not for these two Southern gals! Tabitha is actually the person who taught me how to make biscuits (follow the recipe on the back of the White Lily bag) and I tried to get the right before I left Winston-Salem. That didn’t happen. With White Lily flour not an option in Germany, I had to get creative. Self-rising flour was not an option either (Okay, so there is self-rising here, but the rising agent is yeast rather than baking powder). Nicely though, baking powder is available in these cute little one use packets with the perfect amount for two cups of flour. So I switched from the famous White Lily recipe to baking powder biscuits. And by golly, I perfected biscuits.

01 July 2010

Double Take: Beef and Chicken Fajitas

A big plate of grilled meat... yum!

I’ve always been a fan of soft tacos, but I’ve never been one to order fajitas on a regular basis at Mexican restaurants. I’d rather have the tacos de asada... or quesadillas... or chimichangas. I have always been attracted to the sizzling cast iron skilt it arrives on, and the smell of course, but not necessarily the fajitas themselves. Most likely because it always comes with tons of green bell peppers. And well, I’m not a fan of bell peppers.

But the recipe in the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (p. 248) did not call for bell peppers. In fact, it didn’t call for much of anything. It’s basically a recipe for a marinade with serving suggestions. Which means easy peasy, right? Well, actually, right. This recipe was incredibly easy.

Prepare a spice mix: chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Add Italian dressing, mix well. Add meat (steak and chicken) to a bag or glass dish with the marinade, let sit two hours, grill. You’re done. Right? Right. Except, don’t forget to prep all your toppings. But you have 2 hours plus grill time to prep, so no big deal. You even have time to throw a chile con queso together. Yum.

24 June 2010

Double Take: Ravioli in Basil-Cream Sauce

 Mushroom Ravioli in Basil-Cream Sauce

EDIT: To see an updated version of this sauce, complete with recipe, check out this post!

17 June 2010

Double Take: Key Lime Tarlets

"Key Limes! Pastry! I'm making it!" That was my reaction to reading the title to this week's Double Take: Key Lime Curd Tartlets. Yum. It just sounds good, doesn't it? How can you go wrong with these fabulous ingredients? Don't worry though, you can... just add water.

This recipe is also another one of those that is impossible to look up in the index: both tart and dessert leave you befuddled. I guess Pies and Pastries don't count as dessert. You can find this recipe on page 354 of the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, but I'm not sure why you'd bother. There have got to be better recipes out there.

The curd itself is relatively tasty and easy to make: combine butter, eggs, key lime juice (go for the bottled stuff, squeezing them yourself takes way too much time and effort), and butter. Heat until thickened, strain, stir in lime rind, chill 4-6 hours.

Tabitha and I failed to strain the curd (Did I mention we actually got to make this in the same country?! In the same kitchen?! At the same time?! Yipee!), but in the future I'll be straining my curds.

10 June 2010

Double Take: Yukon Gold Mash with Morel Sauce

Ew! I'm not making that! 

This week's Double Take challenge with feature a different recipe on each blog. Tabitha and I have a list of many of the recipes from the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, and we've rated them: Yes or No. (It actually even gets a bit more complicated than that b/c I also rate what Hubby will eat.) All items marked Yes by both people have to be made at the same time, but all items marked No can be made by the other person at any time. We will feature these recipes every-so-often, and here is the first one! (Do you like the title?)

03 June 2010

Double Take: Croissant French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Syrup

This recipe jumped out at me the first time I read it, but I know that Hubby doesn't exactly love French toast. I also knew that I'd be seeing Momma in a couple months, so I bookmarked this recipe to make "with" her when I went to visit. I wasn't disappointed.

You can find the recipe for Croissant French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Syrup on page 122 of your all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.

Start by making your Fresh Strawberry Syrup. Slice some strawberries, add some sugar, orange juice or orange liqueur (we used Triple Sec), and orange zest. Let stand until sugar dissolves (I stirred it every few minutes just to check on it, though I'm not certain it sped things along), then cook until warmed through. If you are accustomed to the ridiculously thick corn-based syrups, syrup will seem like a bit of a misnomer as it was quite runny, but it was delicious nonetheless. Whilst the sugar is disolving, make your whipped cream.

30 May 2010

Time Off

My notice is a bit late, but I've been taking time off from blogging to hang out with family and friends. I had hoped to have blogs stashed away before I left for the US to get me through the time, but alas, when Hubby broke his leg those plans changed. I'm back in Germany now, but my landlord told me today that our internet will be turned off at midnight and the new company can't install their version for several weeks. So please bear with me during this time!

I've managed to complete and schedule three Double Take posts today, so make sure to check in on Thursdays! But I'm not sure how many Sunday blogs I'll be able to complete!

I hope everyone in the States is having a lovely Memorial Day weekend! Think of me when I'm at work tomorrow and you aren't!

17 May 2010

Double Take: Italian Sausage Brunch Casserole

This week's Double Take is a little late, so I hope you will forgive us (well, I hope you will forgive me, it's my fault it's late). I got my days of the week confused and thought Thursday was the 14th instead of the 13th, and the 14th is Daring Cooks post date, so I didn't want two posts on the same date. But this also means I didn't have to think about making something new and creative to post this week since my normal post date is Sunday. And isn't it always nice to get a surprise on a blog? Instead of a regular post, you get a Double Take! You can find this week's Double Take recipe in the all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook on page 118.

I've generally avoided bready breakfast casseroles, but the ingredients were simple and flavorful, so I thought I'd give this one a try. Plus, how can you go wrong with Italian sausage?

14 May 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Enchiladas

Our hosts this month, Barbara of BarbaraBakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh. 

When I first read the challenge, I was thrilled. Mexican food! I love Mexican food (well, I know that I love Americanized Mexican food, I don't really know about the real stuff). But I came down from my excitement high pretty quickly: the recipe was asking for ingredients I couldn't find immediately. Tomatillos, peppers, cheese. Yuck. A couple months ago, a PhD student in Jason's lab hosted a Mexican cooking night of sorts at our place. The group was truly international, and the Germans wanted to know what I missed the most food-wise from the US. Well, my answer came quickly... Mexican food. And of course the guy hosting the event agreed with me, but I think he was a little surprised, too. Traditional Mexican is not the same as Mexican food in the US, and by golly, the Mexican food here in Germany resembles German food more than it resembles Mexican food. Okay, so I don't know if that blanket statement is true, but I do know that the Germans I have questioned think Mexican food is just kidney beans with that nasty movie theater nacho cheese sauce, perhaps wrapped in a tortilla. With chopped kohlrabi and bell peppers on top.  Um, that's not even bad American-Mexican, let alone Tex Mex or Mexican. 

08 May 2010

Lighten It Up: Poulet Sauté Aux Herbes de Provence

Shortly after I moved to Germany, I had the chance to watch Julie and Julia in English. (The movie theater in town hasn't shown a movie in its original language since.) I had the fire in me, and I was determined to make a Julia Child recipe. But it was September, and hot, and there was no way I was going to make Boeuf Bourguignon. So I set out to find something a bit less heavy that didn't use my oven. With no air conditioning here, I wasn't about to turn on the oven for hours.

I came across a selection of Julia Child recipes on Epicurious.com that had been featured in the August 2009 issue of Bon Appetit. The ingredients were simple: butter, chicken, herbs; so I knew Hubby would like it.

06 May 2010

Double Take: Vegetable-Quinoa Pilaf

This week’s Double Take is brought to you by the section “Meatless Mains.” I’m a little aggravated with this section. Why is chicken broth considered an acceptable ingredient in a section entitled “Meatless Mains?” I know that this particular dish is not labeled vegetarian, but you’d think in a section entitled “Meatless Mains” all the dishes would be labeled vegetarian. Grr.

I love quinoa, which is why I chose this recipe. I also haven’t cooked anything in almost a week, and I needed something fast and filling. This recipe easily works as a one-dish meal because you’ve got your protein (quinoa is a complete protein so it's great for vegetarians), fats, vegetables, fruit, and dairy all in one dish (we’re going on the my definition of fruit here: any plant part that encloses a seed, thus peppers count as fruit).

So colorful!

02 May 2010

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I promised you Chicken Cordon Bleu, and I can't let you down. So while this weekend has been a bit crazy, I'm happy to take the time to blog (thank goodness I'd already moved the pictures to the computer!)

I used to have a lot of trouble figuring out what Jason would eat, and my choices were generally hit or miss. But Chicken Cordon Bleu, oh my, that was a grand slam! I found this recipe wandering through the chicken section on foodnetwork.com, and made the sauce that accompanied it based on recommendations from other reviewers. But I only made the sauce the first time... it's completely unnecessary and I'm a sauce lover. This Chicken Cordon Bleu is awesome on it's own!

29 April 2010

Double Take: Stir-fried Broccoli

We are making our rounds through the sections, and today's recipe comes from the "Side Dishes" section. Five recipes down, 1245+ to go!

The goal this week was to pick out a side dish that would come together easily and be enjoyed by all. We'd originally picked out a mashed potato recipe, but at the last minute we noticed that the recipe called for red potatoes, which aren't quite in season yet. So look for that recipe later this spring (or next year). Broccoli is available year round, so Tabitha picked out "Stir-fried Broccoli."

25 April 2010

Super Amazing Brownies

Hubby and I both love brownies, and I started making them from scratch several years ago. I always used the Baker's One Bowl Brownie Recipe with great success, but when we moved to Germany, Baker's Chocolate was no longer an option. And unsweetened chocolate was no longer an option. I found some baking chocolate that is about 60% cocoa, and I made decent brownies with that by reducing the sugar in the recipe. But I'm an avid blog watcher, and my watching paid off.
In the bowl over the pan, just before the butter melts.

22 April 2010

Double Take: Chicken Breast Saltimbocca

My kitchen is clean now. Thank you Double Take challenges. 

I have this brand-new, beautiful cookbook, and I can't bare the thought of it getting yucky just yet. So I carefully clean the entire kitchen before making a Double Take challenge. Which means my kitchen has been thoroughly cleaned four weeks in a row now. Woohoo.

13 April 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Brunswick Stew

Blog Checking Lines- The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this month's challenge. Brunswick Stew. Oh wow, where do I begin. A southerner myself, I'm no stranger Brunswick Stew, but it's never really done it for me. I've asked Hubby about his feelings on Brunswick Stew in the past, and he's never seemed thrilled by it either. So I was nervous about telling him what I had to make this month. And I was nervous about whether or not I would like it. 

11 April 2010

MacCain and Cheese

I don't have a recipe for you today, but I do have a picture! I'm making mac and cheese for dinner tonight and had to go to my original post for it to get the recipe. While there, I remembered that I never posted the delightful picture of my Red, White, and Blue Mac and Cheese that I not-very-cleverly dubbed MacCain and Cheese for the 2008 election night. Well my folks, Meghna was kind enough to send me the picture, so you get to see it. Despite it's gross appearance, it was actually quite tasty!

Check back on Wednesday for this month's Daring Cooks Challenge and Thursday for the next edition of Double Take! 

08 April 2010

Double Take: Caramel Sticky Buns

I'm not a candy maker. I've never made candy before. I've watched my mom make her fudge icing a bajillion times, but I never watched for the purpose of learning, only to get the soft ball of caramel when the fudge hit the soft ball stage. But that is the entirety of my candy making experience.

I figured it was my turn to pick a recipe for the Double Take series. Thus far, we've made a sandwich and pork chops. So I wanted something completely different. I went to the breakfast/brunch section, and picked out Caramel Sticky Buns because I was 90% certain Hubby and Tabitha would like them even if I didn't get excited about them (I have rather strange feelings about cinnamon). Hubby and Tabitha approved, and we were off.

04 April 2010

Spring Time Means Grill Time!

Throwdown with Bobby Flay inspired another one of our favorite meals: Jerk Chicken. Unlike the Cuban Burger Recipe, we did not end up using Bobby Flay's recipe, nor the one from his opponent, The Kitchen Diva. However, the recipe we use again and again is much closer to The Kitchen Diva's recipe than to Bobby Flay's recipe. I have not made either of their recipes, so I cannot comment on them, but I do know we love this recipe!

02 April 2010

Double Take: Stuffed Pork Chops

Tabitha gave Hubby a list of six items she wanted to make from The all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. I handed him the cookbook, opened to the first recipe on the list: Stuffed Pork Chops on page 313. He looked at the ingredients, said "Sure," and went back to watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine. So Tabitha and I made plans to make them, and here we are, with the second recipe in our Intercontinental Cooking Event.

27 March 2010

Snacky Dinner Evolution

We have a particular meal that has had a major overhaul since we moved to Germany. We call it Snacky Dinner because it's basically a meal of small snacks. It has always been one of Jason's favorites, but I never particularly warmed to it because it's not a warm meal. I know, I know, I'm picky, but I just don't like cold meals... breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I want something hot (or at least warm). It can be 95 degrees outside and I'd rather have something hot than cold. It's why I'd rather have grits than cereal, or when I'm forced to eat a sandwich, I'm much more likely to be happy about it if it's grilled or baked.

25 March 2010

Double Take: The Grinder

A couple weeks ago, Tabitha from Double the Garlic and I were discussing fig cake. A friend of hers was cooking through a cookbook with her mom and brought a fig cake (recipe from the aforementioned book of course) to Tabitha's bookclub. The cake interested me, but cooking through a cookbook with someone else is what really peaked my attention. Tabitha and I cooked dinner together most Thursday nights for well over a year. We've both been missing that since I moved away, so we decided we should cook through a cookbook together.

We made a LOT of Asian food and other non-traditional foods since my picky eater wasn't around those nights (he had to teach, which actually is how we started cooking together in the first place... I had the house to myself and could experiment with foods I liked, and, as it turned out, so did Tabitha). However, my picky eater is around now, so we had to chose a cookbook that would satisfy him too. Amazingly, it only took us about a week to pick one out!  And the winner is...

The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook!

This cookbook had a nice mix of southern classics and other random food styles thrown in for good measure. My copy arrived last Thursday, and I spent the evening thumbing through it while Hubby and I watched Frasier (we finished the series Friday and promptly put in season 1 episode 1). I even got Hubby to look at the book (which he describes as a textbook... it does have over 1250 recipes) and he picked out several recipes and even asked me to make one for lunch on Saturday. I was thrilled that he was interested, but a bit worried since Tabitha and I had not laid out any rules yet. We knew we wanted to cook the same recipe around the same time and blog about it, but that's where our planning had ended. So I made Hubby tell Tabitha that we'd be making a dish from the book before her copy even arrived.

It did, however, work out just fine. Tabitha's copy arrived Saturday and she was able to make the sandwich Monday night for dinner. We threw together a few rules (no subsitutions if at all possible, post Thursdays after making the recipe at 12pm EST). So now the unveiling of our first intercontinental cooking event!

The Grinder is a warm sandwich (which means that I like it), but comes together quite quickly (which means Hubby likes it). As far as the recipes goes, the cooking time seemed a bit too long, the prep time listed a bit short, but overall it was a tasty sandwich! I'm not a fan of bell peppers, but I cooked them long enough such that they didn't bother me. The recipe asks you to put the olive oil (used to cook the garlic and peppers) on top of the bell peppers, but it seems the sandwich would be less messy if you placed it on the top piece of the bread instead. I also used fresh mozzarella, which was a bit too moist for the sandwich and made the lower layer a bit soggy. Hubby wanted a bit more spice, but with a few tweaks the sandwich will be great! Oh, the recipe does call for green peppers, but our grocer was out so I substituted red (with the blessing of the cookbook of course). Since the recipe is not available online, I won't be posting it, but you can find it in the All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.  Enjoy!

Make Again: 2 votes! :)
Never Again: 0 votes

For more pictures and a third opinion, head on over to Double the Garlic and see what Tabitha has to say about The Grinder!

20 March 2010

Beef Soft Tacos

I came across a recipe for taco meat a few years ago. The first time I made it, Hubby declared it was not that much better than the seasoning packet you get at the grocery store. But two days later, when we were driving down Reynolda Road, Hubby changed his mind. It was completely out of the blue, we weren't talking about the tacos again, but it was in his head and he said as much. I couldn't believe it. And ya know what, we haven't used that little packet since.  

14 March 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Risotto

The Daring Kitchen popped up on my radar about six months ago, and I've been watching it closely, trying to decide if I were up to the challenge.  In February, I caved and joined.  I was initially worried that the challenges would be a bit too far out there for Jason (hence my hesitance to join).  But I threw caution to the wind and today you get to see my first challenge. 

Mandatory taglines: The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

28 February 2010

Braised Paprika Chicken

When we were living in Winston-Salem, we cooked at least 75% of our meals on the grill.  So when we moved to Germany, our cooking style had to change completely.  No more going to the grocery store, picking out a pretty piece of whatever was on sale, and throwing it on the grill for a few minutes.  During my four months of unemployment, I spent a LOT of time online looking for new recipes and trying to figure out what Jason would like.  I came across Braised Paprika Chicken by Aida Mollenkamp on foodnetwork.com, and I knew I had to try it.  I was a Food Network junkie, but I'd never tried one of Aida's recipes before.  A lot of the reviews commented on the amount of salt, so I've adjusted the salt to fit our tastes.  While Hubby doesn't go for the sauce, he's not a sauce guy, so I didn't expect him to.  However, I like the sauce, especially when I serve it with our favorite rolls to mop it up.  To make it a one dish meal, I add green beans and/or green peas during the last step.  My additions/comments are in italics.

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