Search This Blog

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sugared Raspberries

I really really don't want summer to be over. This year especially I'm in love with all the fresh summer produce. Fall used to be my favorite season, but that's when I lived in Vegas. Fall in Utah means winter is around the corner.  (There's not really Winter in Vegas). Winter means snow, and although that can be gorgeous, I prefer less deadly driving conditions. Plus, you can have the beauty of winter snow on the sugared raspberries without all the inconvenience. 

I saw this awesome idea at the kitchn, which is one of my favorite blogs ever. You don't even need a recipe to make these. All you do is brush or roll raspberries (or any berry-like fruit) in egg white and then roll in sugar. You let them dry for a few hours and presto! A delicious, crunchy, and very sweet summer treat that looks like winter!

We got some delicious Bear Lake Raspberries at the farmers marker the other week. They were spectacularly delicious on their own, but quite good this way too. I think next time though I'd use less amazing raspberries because I'm pretty sure rolling in sugar would make any raspberries taste good and great fruit can be enjoyed without any embellishment.

Raspberries wait for their turn.

Brush the outside of each raspberry in egg white. If you don't have a pastry brush, you can put some egg white on a small bowl or plate and roll the raspberries in it.

Put some sugar on a pate and roll the brushed raspberries in the sugar until they're covered. 

The instructions say to place them on a parchment sheet to dry for 4-8 hours. I can testify that they're delicious as soon as they've been dipped, but the extra drying does give them a really fun crunch!

Enjoy on their own or topping your favorite summertime dessert, like ice cream! (So I was going to post the recipe for this white chocolate ice cream, but it didn't turn out that great. Apparently we suck at ice cream because we've failed more times than we've succeeded...)

If you have someone around to help you with the brushing and dipping, the whole process goes much quicker. The first half on my own went a little slow, but once Kyle started helping me on the rest we were done in no time!

You can store the raspberries in the fridge after they're dry. Since they have raw egg, you should probably eat them as soon as you can, but we kept snacking on them for three or four days and I'm still alive. 

In awesome news, my sweet friend Katie of From the Mind of Katie nominated me for a Liebster blog award. Her blog is one of my favorites to read (and I follow over a hundred, so that's a pretty big deal). She and her husband are in Philadelphia embarking on grad and med school adventures. She has fun everyday observational posts and awesome adventure stories!

This award is meant to highlight blogs with less than 200 followers. You link back to the blog that nominated you. Then, you pick five and let them know in a comment. Here's the problem, I read so many blogs and love them all, so if you don't see yours here I still love you!

These 5 consistently make me laugh and smile, and you should definitely check them out! I've linked to one of my favorite posts of theirs.

Note on raw egg whites: I eat whole batches of chocolate chip cookie dough (literally) without baking any cookies, so obviously I'm okay with raw eggs. I know there's the whole salmonella risk, but I love cookie dough so much that I figure I'm willing to keep eating raw eggs until I get it once and then I'll stop (if it's bad enough). If you would like to avoid raw eggs, you could try brushing the raspberries with water instead. They probably wouldn't get as crunchy, but they'd still look pretty.

Note on Fall: I still love fall and you'll probably hear me extolling it's virtues when I begin to bake apple pies and sugar cookies, but for now I'm holding onto long sunny days with afternoon thunderstorms and fresh produce inspired dinners. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brownies- delicious and gluten free!

We made these a while ago. I totally meant to take more pictures, but by the time I got around to it (about 20 hours after the brownies were out of the oven) this is all that was left. You should take that as a testament that these brownies are delicious. They're from David Lebovitz's blog. He's an awesome American pastry chef who lives in Paris. What could be cooler? Check out the brownies on his blog

P.S. Step 4 says to beat the batter vigorously until it's nearly smooth. Kyle and I both got worn out doing this by hand and then I realized that someone invented an electric mixer to beat things vigorously. I used that and was done fairly quickly. So, do yourself a favor and if you have a handheld mixer, use it. Your arm muscles will thank you. Or do it by hand if you feel guilty about making brownies and want to justify it by exercise. It's up to you.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chinese Five Spice Stir Fry

I love trying new flavors, so I ordered some interesting new spices I'd heard about but never tried thanks to a Penzeys gift card from some awesome relatives! One of those was a Chinese Five Spice powder. There was a recipe for sauce on the bottle that we decided to try the other day in a stir fry. Penzeys mix is Chinese cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger, and cloves, so if you don't have the five spice blend you can make your own.

I love making stir fry. It's such an easy way to combine whatever meat and veggies you have on hand. In this one we used some pork, orange bell peppers, broccoli, and chard stems (don't throw out the stalks! they're great!). In case you don't already know this technique, here is an easy way to julienne a bell pepper:

Cut off the top and bottom (which also happens to make really cool looking flower-like pieces).

Make one vertical cut and open the pepper. Take out the seeds. You can also scrape off the ribs if you care about looks, but I didn't so I left them on. Then cut into strips (please ignore my non-uniformity). Done!

We cut up and browned some pork and then added our veggies and sauce. 
After cooking until meat and veggies were done, we served it over brown rice. 

 The sauce recipe called for 2 TB orange juice, 3 TB soy sauce, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tsp honey, 2 tsp five spice blend, and hot peppers to taste. We didn't have the hot peppers, so we omitted them.

The stir fry was a fun new flavor. There was definitely a spicy element missing though, so next time I'll be sure to add the hot peppers called for in the sauce. It was still pretty good without it.

P.S. Remember how I said this blog would be mostly desserts, well I guess I was wrong. Sorry!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tacos for Karen

My sister Karen was in town earlier this week, which is always fun. When I found out she didn't like ground beef or avocados, I was a little scared that this dinner would be a flop. But I made it anyway because I figured if any tacos would convert her, these would. The key to success is great taco seasoning and homemade tortillas. We used Penzeys bold taco seasoning, which I highly highly recommend. You can use a good supermarket brand too, or make your own.

We never buy whole wheat tortillas anymore, since we've discovered this recipe. It's super easy and tastes so much better than store bought tortillas (it also costs way less too). I was a little intimidated at first by making my own tortillas, so I was surprised at how easy it is. The longest part is letting the dough rest for 20 minutes twice, but we've cheated that down to 10 minutes before and they still turn out fine. You can pump out this dinner in an hour if you follow the correct times, or 30 minutes if you're in a rush and cheat.


Blend together 2 cups of whole wheat flour and a teaspoon of salt. Then mix in 3 tablespoons of canola oil and 1/2 cup warm water. If you can knead the dough into a slightly sticky ball, you're good. If not, you can add a few more tablespoons water. You then stick the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl (think sprayed with pam), cover and let rest for 20 minutes. After kneading the dough a few times, you shape smaller balls out of it. I like mine about double golf ball size. Cover those little balls and let the dough rest for 20 more minutes.

We doubled the recipe here for extra big tortillas

After resting,  you roll them out on a floured surface (parchment or a silpat also work) and then cook them in a non-oiled nonstick or cast iron skillet on medium heat. We didn't trust the recipe the first time we made it and used oil anyway. Our first tortilla turned into a weirdly fried but undercooked concoction. Don't use oil to first cook them, but you could probably pan fry them like taco shells if you so desire after they're cooked. Anyway, back to the recipe. They should take about a minute on each side. I've found that heat-wise it's a trade off between more even cooking on low heat and faster cooking on high heat, so you can decide what you want your compromise to be. If you have extras these survive in the fridge for a few days, or you can freeze them for later use.

My lovely assistant/sister rolling the tortillas out

This is when you want to flip them

While the tortilla dough is resting, you can prepare the rest of the tacos. I always make my taco meat by browning ground beef with chopped onion in a skillet. After the meat is cooked, you add 4 tablespoons of taco seasoning per pound and cook for a minute. Then you add some water (~3/4 cup) and let it simmer down to your desired thickness. If  you want to go meatless, we've loved black beans with these! Or do meat and beans- also good.

The other toppings we had that night were chopped red onion, mango, avocado, grated cheddar cheese, and diced fresh tomatoes. You can use whatever your favorite taco toppings are. These were nowhere near authentic mexican, but they were pretty darn good.

Ignore the ghetto power strip, our kitchen needs more plugs.

Karen loved them! She couldn't get enough.

"Don't you not like ground beef and avocados?" I asked.

"Yeah, but this tastes so good! It's better than any Mexican restaurant I've been to lately." she replied.

Mission accomplished.

My sister admitted to me that her friend was surprised when Karen told her we were making tacos for dinner because she thought I'd make something special to celebrate my sister being in town. After having dinner, Karen said she understood why I chose this meal.

One other funny thing: Once upon a time Kyle left a barbeque to come home and eat these. All his friends thought he was nuts, but he told me that he knew he made the right decision.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why I shouldn't study O chem

Because then this happens:

I tell myself that I won't be on Google reader all day. So instead, I read about 64 of Cooks Illustrated extremely in depth taste tests. (Best $35 dollars on a membership ever) And then I decide that our current chocolate chips bought in bulk at Sams Club (Nestle Toll House) are not up to par and that we really need to expand our vinegar and oil selection. So I spend $88 on chocolate, vinegar, oil, and vanilla extract. 

And then Kyle and I have a half blind chocolate tasting on a Monday night. He was the blind one, I opened the bags and fed us, but still tried to be impartial. 

What we concluded:

Real extra virgin olive oil with homemade artisan bread is so worth it

Smith's private selection white chocolate chips taste like chalk

Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate is divine

Kyle still loves Nestle, I haven't been won over by anything yet

Pompein balsamic vinegar sucks

McCormick real vanilla extract is amazing! 

Other things I learned/ considered while procrastinating:

I really really wish there was a Trader Joe's near us because according to Serious Eats they have the best chocolate chips.

Most extra virgin olive oil sold in the U.S. isn't actually extra virgin olive oil because the US doesn't regulate it and doesn't follow the standards of the International Olive Council.

I can't wait to order a bottle of olio nuovo (limited reserve) from California Olive Oil this November and use it on everything!

Regular olive oil is better for cooking because it has a higher smoke point and the distinct flavor of extra virgin is lost anyway.

Fat isn't as bad as it sounds

I really want to order some leaf lard from Flying Pigs Farm for pie crusts this fall.

I almost spent $175 on heritage pork and grass fed beef- go my sensible husband for talking me out of that one ( I also briefly considered buying half a pig for a much better price per pound, but that was killed by lack of freezer space).

It's not worth using pure vanilla in anything that'll achieve a temperature above 280 F because the additional flavor compounds bake off. So use it for anything uncooked or slightly cooked, but nothing like cookies. Cakes are all right because they only reach about 210.

If anyone ever goes to New York and buys me a bag or two of Jacques Torres chocolate chips you will be my best friend ever and I'll make you wonderful cookies. I don't want to order them online because the shipping is like $40.

Pinterest is awesome and addictive.

I'm probably going to fail my organic chemistry proficiency test next week. Oh well, I'll be able to make some mean chocolate chip cookies. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Breakfast for dinner- German Pancakes

Edit: I should apparently not publish posts late at night because I forget things, like salt.(Thanks Katie!)

During my freshman year in college, we didn't have church until 1 in the afternoon. I usually got up in the morning (not too early), but most of my roommates would sleep in until noon or later. I'm a pretty social person, so I was bored sitting around the apartment by myself. The awesome girls next door started inviting me over for breakfast Sunday mornings, and often they featured German Pancakes. (One girl also made some pretty darn good aebleskivers, but for some now mysterious reason I never got her recipe.) Those breakfasts were great bonding time for us freshman girls talking about boys, drama, school and life. Eating German Pancakes now reminds me of those wonderful friendship-forming moments.

My other memories of this awesome breakfast food are with my family. We had them once in a while for Saturday breakfasts.  They were also sometimes featured at dinner when we had a breakfast theme. All of us kids loved to get the edge pieces because they rose up on the sides, which is pretty cool. 

The other day we didn't feel like putting much effort into cooking dinner, so we made my family's recipe. It's super easy and quick to whip up. These go great with jam, fresh fruit, whipped cream, nutella and maple syrup either separately or all at once. One great benefit to making it in a cast iron skillet like we did is that every piece gets an edge.

German Pancakes
Serves about 2, if you're hungry like us 
You can easily make a double batch in a 9x13

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 F. (I really need to learn how to insert symbols like degree signs into blogger....) Melt the butter and pour it into the pan you're using (12" cast iron skillet, 9'x13" etc), or if your pan is safe on the stovetop, melt the butter in the pan. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour on top of the butter. Bake it in the over for 15ish minutes, or until it's nice and bubbly and risen on the sides. It's good at many levels of doneness, but I like a little brown on my edges. Cover with whatever toppings you desire and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Grandma Arta's Brownies

I crave these. Often. Even though I made them so recently, I really want to make them again. And again. No, seriously. 

I've had people who don't like chocolate love these. My friend who doesn't like much frosting licked it off the parchment paper I gave it to her in. 

My mom said tasting these made her want to marry my dad so she could get the recipe. She did both, but I may be exaggerating the recipe as a reason. Only slightly.

They're not only delicious, but also very easy. (I hope you weren't guessing I would say healthy, because they're definitely not that).

If you skip the marshmallows and the frosting, they're as quick as box brownies, and still 1000000 x better tasting (or more). But I never leave out the marshmallows and frosting. I've planned on not adding them many times before, but once you know how much the top two layers add, it's really hard to go back.

This is not the frosting. It's the batter. Yes it's that rich.

Yum! Just wait until you get to the frosting! (Don't worry, I spread the brownies before I licked the spatula, and washed it before it touched anything else)

Now that I've taunted you enough, here's the recipe:

1  cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour

3ish cups mini marshmallows if desired (they're definitely desired)

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 13 pan. Mix the sugar, butter and cocoa. Add the eggs and vanilla. Blend in flour. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for about 22 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Pour/spread marshmallows on top of the brownies until covered by a single layer (or more) and stick it back in the oven for about 1-2 minutes. You just want the marshmallows to puff, but be white still and not at all golden. Like this:

Take them out and let them cool (if you can wait) and frost. Please frost, even if you can't wait. You'll be glad you did. 

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Mix. Spread. Enjoy. Or enjoy and spread at the same time. That's what I do. I also wouldn't substitute anything else for the evaporated milk. It's what gives the frosting its distinctive taste.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that they're kind of messy, but totally worth it. Most of the pan may have been eaten within 24 hours of baking by 2 of us. Don't worry, we also joined Gold's Gym in that same time period. Still, worth it.

WARNING: Putting them in the refrigerator to slow down consumption does not work. I think they actually taste better cold, and are less messy that way. Or at least that's my excuse. Maybe the back of the freezer or your neighbor's fridge might work better (if your neighbor is allergic to marshmallows that is).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Make this mango chicken

Not my picture, I'm not that skilled yet.

We did. We liked it. The recipe can be found here at serious eats (which is where the picture is from as well):
Pan-Fried Mango Chicken

I didn't change anything except using frozen mint instead of fresh. It was pretty delicious. Just don't wait until the day of to buy your mango.

Also enjoying the food with us was my awesome friend Naomi. If you don't know her you should.

P.S. Sorry to those of you that follow on Google reader. Sometimes I publish before I'm done editing and you get double posts. I don't know how to change that.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Roasted Cherry Tomato Risotto

These cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market were intended for bruschetta, until I saw this awesome roasted cherry tomato recipe on Leite's Culinaria from Heidi Swanson's cookbook and I knew their destiny was changed. I decided to add them to a risotto because it would let the tomatoes shine.

For the tomatoes, you stem and cut in half about a pint of cherry tomatoes. Then you mix a cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt together. You pour that over the tomatoes, toss and arrange them cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast at 350 F for 45 min to an hour. Pretty simple, and darn delicious.

I cheated on the risotto and used my rice cooker because I didn't feel like stirring over a hot stove. I cooked a cup of rice along with a can of chicken broth and enough water for a total of 2 cups liquid. During the last bit of the rice cooking, I sauteed a chopped onion in a saucepan for about 8 minutes and then added 2 cloves of minced garlic for another minute. I turned off the heat and added the rice once it was done. A 1/2 cup of mozzarella and some peppercorn melange finished the dish. Funny thing, I didn't realize my peppercorn melange was anything different from a variety of peppercorns until I tasted it. It was good, but not what I expected. The ingredients also listed allspice, so if you season with pepper and allspice that should have a similar flavor. Or you can use whatever spice rocks your boat.

We stuck the tomatoes on top of the risotto and ate! We both really enjoyed it that night on it's own and as leftovers the next with some grilled chicken. I'd definitely make it again, but I might use less sugar since the tomatoes were quite sweet. If I was feeling healthy I'd use less cheese, but we'll see.

If you want to make real risotto, you can find some great instructions here.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Don't add half a bottle of almond extract to your apricot ice cream. It doesn't taste very good.