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Monday, September 26, 2011

Roasted Sweet Cherry Tomato Pasta

This is one of the easiest dinners ever. Throw some cherry tomatoes and diced garlic into a shallow baking dish, season with salt and pepper and cover with some really good olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes. While they're roasting, cook some pasta. After the tomatoes are done combine with pasta, basil, Parmesan and additional salt and pepper to taste. 

Wow. This is my second favorite meal (next to the homemade pizza) all month. Kyle and I couldn't get enough. We were so sad that we were out of cherry tomatoes and are planning on making this again as soon as we get some more. 

I got the recipe from Bon Appetit

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Amazingly Fluffy Pancakes

Kyle was so sweet and made me pancakes one night, and he even took a picture! He used a recipe from Leite's Culinaria that was absolutely amazing. The combination of whipped egg whites and a tablespoon of baking powder make these amazingly fluffy. These are now our favorite pancakes and will probably revisit our kitchen for many years.

My cute cooking man

Once upon a time (aka before we got married and early marriage) Kyle used to swear by pancake mixes. He always agreed that from scratch was better but loved the convenience of a mix. I think by now though that I've finally convinced him that it's always worth it to make them from scratch, especially like this!

On another semi-side note I really hate going to places like IHOP and Denny's for breakfast. I'm always disappointed because I know that we can make better breakfasts at home that cost less and take about as much time after you drive there and wait for your food. Now that's even more apparent since these are even more delicious than my previously yummy pancakes and only take about a half hour from start to finish. I'd pay $10 for a plate of these, but I don't have to! Do you have any favorite at-home breakfasts?

Clinton St. Baking Company Pancakes Recipe

Featured at Leite's Culinaria from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, unmelted for the griddle and lots more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup for serving

  • 1. Preheat the griddle to medium or medium low.

    1. Mix the dry ingredients together. 

    2. Separately mix the egg yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla together.

    3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. 

    4. Using a mixer (or by hand if you have strong arm muscles) whip the egg whites to medium peaks (mostly hold shape). Make sure not to overbeat.

    5.  Butter the griddle.

    6. Use 1/4 cup of batter for each of the pancakes. Flip them when bubbles have formed on top and they are golden brown on the bottom. Repeat the buttering process as needed while finishing off the batter.

    7. Prepare your tastebuds for amazement. Enjoy with butter, maple syrup and any other toppings you desire! 

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

    We made these cookies for the Chemistry Department Picnic the other weekend. Before you get your hopes up, know they're not as good as they sound. I think it's a great idea, but there were a few flaws with the recipe. The peanut butter cookie dough turned out cookies that were too dry. So, use your favorite moist peanut butter cookie recipe. Also, the way the recipe described swirling the nutella made it loose the wonderful distinctive flavor. A guy in my lab had no idea they even had nutella in them. He thought it was just chocolate. This still has potential and I think I'll be making them again sometime, but in a different form. I'll probably put a little puddle of nutella in the center instead, kind of like a peanut butter blossom cookie.

    Kyle did absolutely love the dough though! It was his favorite snack for about a week. So, if you're a dough person, this one's for you!

    Sunday, September 18, 2011


    I'd never had gazpacho before, but then I saw this recipe for the perfect gazpacho. I figured it might be good. It wasn't. I'm not into cold soup at all. Also, it made a huge mess, as seen below. If you like gazpacho, I'm sure this would be good, but it was not worth it for me. Do you like cold soups?

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Cereal Marshmallows

    Yes, those are cereal marshmallows. My anniversary gift to Kyle. Find them here.

    Feta-Stuffed BLT Burgers

    We made some monstrous burgers. Seriously. I couldn't fit one in my mouth without some serious squishage. The reason ours turned out so huge is because we freeze our ground beef in 1/4 pound hamburger patties, so when we sandwiched the two patties around the feta it was larger than what the recipe called for. (1/2 lb instead of ~1/3 lb).

    Still, they were pretty good, especially the bacon part. In addition to what the Martha Stewart recipe (found here) called for we added mayonnaise (me), pickles (Kyle) and red onion (both). If we made them again we'd cut down on the feta a little. Otherwise, a fun new burger combo! 

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Peach Butter

    We got a ton of peaches from the farmer's market intending to snack on them, but unfortunately they ripened too quickly and some fruit flies were telling us we needed to do something with them quickly! Luckily Deb at smitten kitchen posted about some great looking peach butter! Peach butter is basically boiled down and concentrated peaches and sugar, like apple butter. It was absolutely delicious and not at all hard to make. It did take some time, but most of that was just stirring a pot.  I'll be really glad to have some of this throughout the long winter! Kyle doesn't really like peaches  that much, but he loves this!

    This was the first time we tried canning anything, and it wasn't too bad. Luckily, this recipe used boiling water canning which is much easier than pressure canning. All you have to do is boil the jars and lids in water for 10 minutes before and after putting the hot peach butter into them. Just make sure you turn on the right burner. That will save you a lot of time wondering why your water isn't boiling. Seriously, a lot of time. I really miss having a gas stove where you can always tell which burner is on. Despite that, I think I could get into this! 

    So you know, this made us more than the recipe says. We got three pints and a little extra to eat right away. Extra is never bad, but it did take us a little longer because we had only boiled two jars. Still, more for winter!

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Strawberry Ice Cream and Peach Ice Cream

    Finally! Fresh Fruit Ice Cream Success! Thanks to Zoe Bakes! The secret to the strawberry ice cream is roasting the strawberries with balsamic vinegar. It was absolutely amazing! We'll definitely be making it again. You can find the recipe here

    The roasted strawberries:

    The peach ice cream was pretty good too, but definitely not up to the strawberry ice cream level. It's okay, I was just happy not to have another stone fruit ice cream failure. I like peaches better for snacking, but if you need a decent peach ice cream recipe here it is. Also, if you're around Provo and want some, let me know!

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Bacon! BLT Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

    I have a confession. I'm really bad at salads. Seriously. I can't make good salads (or sandwiches either). That might be because I usually try to throw together whatever's in our crisper drawer and that doesn't usually work out so well. This time, I used a recipe! And it called for bacon, which makes most things better (I don't believe in bacon desserts). You can find the recipe at the kitchn. It's definitely one of my favorite food blogs. 

    It was really easy and I got to make my own croutons again- this time on the stovetop. I know this isn't the healthiest salad ever, but it was sure delicious! It wasn't that great as leftovers, because our tomatoes got mushy. If you want it as leftovers, I'd recommend storing everything separately, heating up the croutons and bacon and leaving some tomatoes uncut for the second day.  By the way, we definitely cooked more bacon than it called for, but I think it only improved the taste. 

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Tomato Failure

    Those of you who are my facebook friends may have noticed my status about getting a great deal on a bunch of tomatoes at the farmers market a couple weeks ago. We decided to try and roast and freeze them to save for winter, but that didn't work. More like it failed miserably. We got our instructions from here. If you try it, be warned this picture was taken before 3 hours was up. So check them more often or get an oven window.

    One of our pans was too big for one piece of aluminum foil to cover it. As evidenced below, two didn't do a great job. But unexpectedly, after scrubbing it was cleaner than before. Look at the shiny scrubbed parts. Cool, I guess. 

    Mostly I was just sad that 7 pounds of wonderful tomatoes were ruined. I'm not trying this again, at least this year.

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Overnight French Toast Casserole with Pecans

    Notice the sunlight? It's because morning is the only time I get natural light in my kitchen.

    These might beat cinnamon rolls as my favorite breakfast. Maybe. Actually cinnamon rolls have frosting, so probably not, but these are a very very close second. Or maybe a first. Either way, this is the whole reason I made brioche: to make this breakfast. Wow, it was so amazing! Basically it's brioche soaked overnight in an egg, milk, and spice mixture and stuck into the oven in the morning. Topped with real maple syrup (which I finally had for the first time and love!) and powdered sugar, it's divine! You can find the recipe here

    If you've been in Utah (and some parts of Arizona and Idaho) you may have had Kneaders french toast. This is similar, but I'd dare to say better. I have a couple notes on the recipe: We did 1" slices because 1 1/2" looked too big. Unfortunately, that meant that we had to layer a bit. Next time I'll use a bigger pan instead so that I can put the slices in a single layer. The layered parts got a little soggy, and while they still tasted good, the texture wasn't great. Also, I doubled the cinnamon because I kind of really love it. 

    If you don't feel like baking brioche, you can still make this. Just find a local bakery with brioche or challah. If that fails, you can use texas toast or another thick eggy bread. It's definitely worth it at least once in your life to make this from scratch, brioche and all, but I'm sure it'll be good either way. 

    One warning: it's filling. Kyle and I both tried to eat two pieces and this is what happened:

    Kyle collapsed and we both managed to only eat about one piece. Our leftovers:

    But don't worry, it heats up very well. We stuck it in the microwave to warm up and then finished it in the toaster oven so that it was still crispy. My breakfast life is forever changed.

    Friday, September 9, 2011


    Brioche! Why don't I have any better pictures of the loaves outside of the pan? Because we started eating them right away! This is definitely more involved than most of the other recipes on the blog. It's not actually too hard if you have a stand mixer though. The recipe I used can be found here. You have to mix the ingredients together one day and then let it rest overnight. The next day, you shape the loaves and let it proof some more. I got impatient and used the oven. I preheated it to it's lowest temperature, turned it off and stuck the loaves in to speed stuff up. I think it rose maybe a little too much, but it still tasted good! We enjoyed it with jam and honey as well as in overnight french toast!

    I have a couple pictures to help you along:

    This is what the dough looked like after finishing beating together everything but the butter:

    After adding the butter and all of the mixing is done it should look like this:

    I found that marks in the dough were very helpful to fold it in even thirds when shaping the loaves:

    It is very delicious with homemade jam!

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Basil Pesto Pasta and Chicken

    We got a huge bunch of basil from the farmers market and despite our best efforts to use it all it started to go bad. What do you do with basil that won't last much longer? Make pesto of course!

    We used this recipe for the pesto from the kitchn. We only got 1 cup of basil (this is a picture of the basil at the beginning), so we used about 1/6 everything else. When making pesto, you blanch the basil. We cooked the pasta in the basil blanching water which gave it even more flavor! This was really good, but I think it'd be even better with sun-dried tomatoes. Maybe next summer...

    Basil Pesto Pasta and Chicken
    Serves 3

    1/4-1/3 cup basil pesto
    1/2 pound pasta
    1 chicken breast
    Parmesan cheese

    Cut and saute the pieces of the chicken breast in some olive oil. Meanwhile cook the pasta. If you made your own pesto, cook the pasta in the blanching water for extra flavor. Once the chicken and pasta are done, coat them both with the pesto and sprinkle Parmesan on top. 

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Super Easy Slow Cooker Beef and Veggie Stew

    Just so you know, this recipe works much better if you remember to put the beef in the slow cooker. But, I can attest now that it works either way. 

    I guess this is more a technique than a recipe. I chop up whatever hearty vegetables I have around (here carrots and potatoes) throw them in the slow cooker with a couple cans of diced tomatoes, lots of spices, some beef and cook! This is great for when you won't have much time to cook in the evening, but you still want something new.

    The reason I forgot the beef this time is that I prepped everything the night before because I knew I wanted to sleep in. I cut the beef, but kept it separate from the veggies in the fridge overnight for food safety reasons. I slept in more than I expected the next morning and in my rush I only remembered the chopped veggies and cans of diced tomatoes in the morning. Halfway to school I remembered the beef, but I couldn't turn back or I'd be late.

    Luckily, the beef was defrosted that night and we sauteed it in the skillet and tossed it in. It wasn't quite as tender as it would have been otherwise, but it still tasted good! Also, this makes great leftovers which are perfect to stick in the freezer for later days when you don't want to make dinner.

    Here's an approximate recipe:

    Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew
    Serves 6 (or 2 for 3 days!)

    1 pound cut stewing beef
    2-3 pounds cut hearty vegetables (ie potatoes, carrots, onions, some mushrooms, leeks, etc.)
    2 cans diced tomatoes
    2ish cups water or beef broth (enough to almost cover everything)
    Spices (ex: salt, pepper, bay leaf, paprika, garlic powder, dehydrated onions, fennel seed, oregano)

    The night before: cut the hearty vegetables and combine them with the spices. Refrigerate. If your slow cooker has a removable insert you can put them in there. Cut the beef and refrigerate in a separate container. Maybe put it on top of the vegetables so you don't forget it. 

    The morning of: put everything you prepped into the slow cooker along with the diced tomatoes and water. Set on low for 8ish hours. Luckily this is pretty flexible and forgiving depending on your schedule. Come back and enjoy! Or come back and realize you forgot the beef. Then cook that real quick and enjoy!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Yellow Beans

    This was my first try at cooking lentils, and guess what? I really like them! The inspiration for this recipe was a colorful lentil salad with walnuts and herbs from the kitchn. I adjusted ingredients and amounts to what we had on hand, so feel free to do the same! I would definitely make this again, but I think I'd use bell peppers or carrots instead of yellow beans because I think they'd match the other flavors better. The yellow beans were still pretty good though. Another plus for this recipe is that it can easily be made vegetarian or vegan.

    Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Yellow Beans
    Serves 8

    1 1/4 pounds lentils
    5 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
    1 red onion
    4 cloves garlic
    1 pound green or yellow beans
    1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
    1/2 cup celery leaves
    1/2 cup carrot greens
    1/4 cup basil
    1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
    1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (optional, but delicious!)
    2 tablespoons molasses
    2 tablespoons pomegranate red wine vinegar

    Sort and rinse the lentils. Place them in a large stockpot with the chicken broth or water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. Check to see if they're done by eating some lentils. They should be tender but not mushy. Our ended up a little mushy, but still tasted good. If you want the salad to be cool you can spread the lentils out on a baking sheet. If you're fine with warm lentils, you can just take them off the heat.

    Dice the onion and the beans. Mince the garlic. Chop up the greens and herbs. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and saute the onions and beans for 4-6 minutes. Then add the garlic, greens and herbs. Saute until fragrant, about one minute more. Stir in the molasses and vinegar and cook for about another minute.

    Combine the vegetables and lentils. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and enjoy!

    Strawberry Freezer Jam

    We made strawberry freezer jam for the first time earlier this summer. I never realized it was so easy! Here it is: mash fruit, combine with sugar and pectin, stir, let stand, freeze. So easy right! Just FYI, don't be tempted to use your food processor or blender to make the process go quicker. You'll end up with strawberry syrup instead. That's what I did the first time. I learned my lesson and this time we used a potato masher as directed. It wasn't too bad. We used 10 pounds of strawberries and that made 18 cups of jam. It took us about 2-3 hours, mostly in hulling. If you only do a couple pounds you could get it done in an hour. Here's the process, photo style: (recipe at the bottom)

    Hull the strawberries with a paring knife. Hold the knife at an angle like below and turn either it or the strawberry. 

    Tada! FYI, this is the longest step, so have some good music going.

    Mash your strawberries with a potato masher. Measure them out so that you know how much pectin and sugar to add. Kyle came up with the genius idea of mashing them in a giant measuring cup. I love that guy!

    Calculate how much pectin and sugar you need (from the recipe below) and stir. Then spoon into containers.

    After those have set for half an hour, let them take over your freezer like so:

    Enjoy with fresh-baked brioche! Post to come :) P.S. I'll probably cheat and use this picture for that post too. I hope you're okay with that. 

    Strawberry Freezer Jam
    source: Ball Instant Pectin container

    For every 2 cups of jam you'll need:
    12/3 cups mashed strawberries (we got about 11/3 cup per pound)
    2/3 cups sugar or splenda
    2 tablespoons Ball Instant Pectin

    Don't exceed 6 jars per batch or it might not set. That's about 3 1/3 pound per batch.

    1. Hull, mash and measure strawberries

    2. Stir required amount of pectin and sugar in a bowl.

    3. Stir into strawberries for 3 minutes

    4. Ladle into clean freezer containers leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Let stand for 30 minutes.

    5. Freeze or enjoy!

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Roasted Tomato Soup with Herbed Croutons

    If you want to see a prettier picture of this recipe, head on over to Letie's Culinaria where I got the recipe from.  While you're there, check out all their other great recipes and hilarious commentaries on each one. I think my favorite is their commentary here about the annual tomato slinging fest in Spain. "Gosh, we hope they're not using heirlooms."

    This is hands down my favorite tomato soup I've ever had. Kyle wholeheartedly agrees! It gets it's lovely deep flavor from the tomatoes' stint in the oven. It's not only delicious, but also pretty easy. The hardest part for us was sourcing all the fresh herbs. Luckily, there was a sweet old lady with an herb cart at the farmers market the day we first made it. I highly recommend trying to find as many of the herbs fresh as you can, but it's definitely worth making even if you can't. 

    We loved it so much that we made it twice in one week! The first time we used a yellow onion instead of red because we thought it would give more flavor. Unfortunately, it was a little overpowering. The soup was still good, but not perfect. The second time we used half a big red onion and it was so much better! I'd call this tomato soup perfection. 

    The croutons are definitely worth trying. And don't bother cutting the crust off your bread, not worth it. I honestly don't think I'll ever buy croutons again because they're so easy!

    P.S. 3 minutes in your oven could be the difference between this:

    and this:

    The first picture is from our second try at the soup. We learned our attentiveness lesson the first time. So check your croutons. Or have a less ghetto oven than us with a window. That would help too.

    Easy Heirloom Tomato Sauce

    I intended to do an uncooked tomato sauce with these beautiful heirlooms, but unfortunately they were a little mushy by the time we got to them. With an outstanding flavor though, I knew they didn't need much extra to shine in a cooked tomato sauce.

    Aren't they gorgeous! I chopped them up and cooked them with some basil. A splash of extra virgin olive oil at the end was all it needed! I wish it was this easy to have wonderful pasta sauce all year round.

    Easy Heirloom Tomato Sauce

    6 heirloom tomatoes, any variety
    1/4 cup fresh basil
    salt to taste
    2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    Dice the tomatoes and cut the basil into long thin strips. If your tomatoes are fresh, you can skip cooking and enjoy with the olive oil on pasta, rice or your choice of grain right away! If they're a little past ripe, cook the tomatoes, basil, and salt in a small saucepan on the stovetop until they have reduced to your desired consistency. Add the olive oil and enjoy!