Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TWD: Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie

Not only is this pie delicious, but the smell that will fill your house while you are just getting started preparing the crust is worth a million bucks. Or at least a quarter of a million...like what Michael won on the Biggest Loser tonight. Yep. This is what I was eating while I watched the season finale. Nothing better than stuffing your face while you watch people work their little hearts out. Really, the crust was by far my favorite part of this pie. Could it have been all the butter? Maybe. If you like coconut & bananas, you're going to love this pie! Visit Spike at Spike Bakes for the complete recipe. I'm gonna have another piece.

Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie
Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baked Salmon w/ Blackberry Ginger Glaze & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes. Easy, right? Well, I know that now, but before last Saturday I had no idea. I had literally never made real mashed potatoes from scratch in my life before that day. Sad, I know. Its not like I'd never tasted them - I've had them many times, and I love them, but I never felt the need when I had instant mashed potatoes in my pantry. The pearls are still there, but I just felt it was time to branch out and try one of the easiest recipes on the planet. And they were delicious! Garlicky and perfect with the skins mixed in & some sour cream to make them nice and smooth. I couldn't believe that they turned out so good, seeing as how I winged the whole thing! You're gonna love 'em. And they are the perfect side for phenomenal blackberry glazed salmon.
This recipe was also a first for me. Blackberries are in abundance (and might I add cheap?) at Costco these days, so when I found this recipe I knew I'd have to try it immediately. I served it with the potatoes and roasted pears from my last post when my parents came over for a little dinner date, and it was a smashing success! My mom texted me the next morning and said she'd had dreams about it - now that's a compliment! I was glad they loved it, and that it seemed like such a fancy dinner, because it made me look pretty darn good. But can I tell you a secret? It was sooooooo easy! Give this one a try, and invite people over when you do. You'll be glad you did.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2-3 lbs red potatoes, washed and quartered
4 cloves garlic
3/4 - 1 c. sour cream
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste
Put potatoes & garlic in a large pot. Fill pot with water until its about 1 inch above potatoes. Bring to a boil & cook until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes and put back in pot over low heat for excess water to evaporate. Add margarine and proceed to mash potatoes and garlic with a potato masher. As you mash, add in sour cream, salt & pepper until they reach your desired consistency and taste.

Baked Salmon with Blackberry Ginger Glaze
From Sunny Anderson of the Food Network

1 c. water
12 oz. blackberries
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled & sliced into coins
1/2 lemon, juice
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 (8-oz) skinless salmon fillets
salt & freshly ground black pepper
preheat oven to 400 degrees.
in a small sauce pot over med-high heat, combine water, blackberries, ginger & lemon juice. bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until berries break down, ~5 min. remove from heat & strain into a bowl, using the back of a spoon to push blackberry pulp through. return blackberry mixture to the sauce pot, add sugar & bring to a boil. lower the heat and simmer until reduced by half, ~20 min, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. remove from heat & let cool.
brush a baking sheet with olive oil & set the fillets on top. brush fillets with oil & season with salt & pepper. once blackberry mixture is cool, brush over salmon fillets & bake for 4 minutes. brush again with blackberry mixture. turn oven to broil and broil another 3 minutes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese = My homerun of the weekend

Last night we had my parents over for dinner. And then we went to see Iron Man 2, but we won't talk about that because I'm starting to lose it just thinking of hunky Mr. Downey! Anyway, I was able to kill not only 2 birds by having them over, but 4. Yep, 4. I tried 3 new recipes last night, and luckily they were all big, big hits. I'm pretty sure everyone's fave was this salad, though. At least that was the vibe I got when Dick licked his bowl clean. Just like the dear in Snow White. Which is why I just invited Mom & Dad to my house rather than a restaurant...I can't take him anywhere! teasing, teasing. You'll be inviting everyone you know over for dinner so that you can dazzle them with this scrumptious, fancy-looking, but super simple salad, too.
Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese
Ina Garten from the Food Network
3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
3 oz. coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. walnut halves, toasted & chopped
1/2 c. apple cider
1/3 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 c. good olive oil
6 oz. baby arugula (I used leafy green lettuce)
Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 375.
Peel the pears & slice lengthwise into halves. Remove the core & seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.
Gently toss the blue cheese, dried cranberries, & walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation.
In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temp.
Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 c. of lemon juice, and 1/4 c. of the basting liquid in a large bowl. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt & serve warm.

Monday, May 3, 2010

~Your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Menu~

Hola, amigos! And that's about the extent of my Spanish speaking abilities, despite the fact that Dick has tried to give me multiple lessons when I'm trapped in the car with him on the 4-hr drive to see his family in So. UT. He lived in Chile for 2 years when he went on a mission for our church, and he loves to speak Spanish any chance he gets. But just because I don't speak Spanish doesn't mean I won't eat it! I tried my hand at some Mexican recipes this week in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, and they were a big, BIG hit!
The entree I chose to make is a copycat recipe from a very popular Mexican restaurant called Cafe Rio. By far the best thing on their menu is the sweet pork salad, so that is exactly what I made! My awesome sis-in-law, Megan, happened to find these recipes on this website, and let me in on her little secret. I thought it would take forever to make them because there are a few different parts to the salad if you want to get them just right, and I did! You start with a warm flour tortilla sprinkled with cheese, followed by cilantro-lime rice, black beans, sweet pork, lettuce, and topped off with the best cilantro ranch dressing in the WORLD! It didn't take long at all, just a little planning ahead for the pork to be in the crockpot, which gives you plenty of time to put everything else together. Trust me, if you like Mexican food, and you like salads, you're going to looooooove this one! And don't skimp on any part - its totally worth making the entire thing!
For dessert, I had to go with Tres Leches, of course! Its super sweet, and super soggy (in the best way you can possibly imagine), and completely and utterly satisfying. That is just a normal slice of this 3-milk cake, but when you add the mango & cinnamon this recipe calls for it will literally uproot you from where you are sitting and take you to a Mexican beach, leaving all of your worries behind. Mangoes are definitely my worst enemy when it comes to pitting a fruit, but they are so delicious, and absolutely take this cake over the top, so it is well-worth the sticky hands and juicy mess - trust me! Well, now you have to make it, don't you?! Enjoy!
Sweet Pork Salad From Cafe Rio
Assembling your salad:
1. start with a warm flour tortilla, sprinkled with cheese.
2. Top with a heaping spoonful of cilantro-lime rice.
3. Top with a spoonful of black beans.
4. Top with 1/4-1/2 c. sweet pork.
5. Top with 1-2 c. of shredded Romaine lettuce.
6. Drizzle with cilantro ranch dressing.
7. Dig in!
Cilantro-lime rice
1 c. uncooked rice (I used brown w/ good results!)
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 c. water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime juice, chicken broth & water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, sugar & cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice & mix in as you fluff the rice.
Black Beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
In a nonstick skillet or saucepan, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over med. heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice & salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro.
Sweet Pork
2-3 lbs pork (I used bone-in Boston butt)
3 cans coke (not diet!)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can sliced green chilies
3/4 can enchilada sauce, medium spiciness
1 c. brown sugar
Put the pork in a heavy duty Ziploc back to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours, or overnight.
Drain marinade & put pork, 1/2 can of coke, water, and garlic salt in a crock pot on high 3-4 hrs, or low for 8 hrs, until it shreds easily (don't let it dry out!). Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred the pork.
In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste...). If it looks too thick, add more coke, little by little.
Put shredded pork & sauce in a crockpot and cook on low for 2 hours. That's it!
Cilantro Ranch Dressing
1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not buttermilk!)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, husks removed, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno (I kept the ribs & seeds for a little kick!)
Mix all ingredients in a blender. That's it!!!

Tres Leches Cake
Adapted from Food Network Magazine, May 2010
Non-stick spray, to prepare your pan
4 large eggs
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. milk (I used skim w/ excellent results!)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
12-oz can evaporated milk
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 ripe mangoes
2 Tbsp. sugar
Whipped cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and 8-inch square baking pan.
2. Make the cake: Beat the eggs & sugar in a large bowl w/ a mixer until pale & slightly thick, ~6 min. Slowly beat in the melted butter, then beat in the vanilla & 1/4 c. milk.
3. whisk the flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture, then gently fold together w/ a rubber spatula to make a thick batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan & bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, ~30 minutes. Run a knife along the edges to release the cake from the pan.
4. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 c. milk, the evaporated milk, & condensed milk in a bowl. Pierce the warm cake all over w/ a fork, then pour the milk mixture evenly on top. Cover & refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight.
5. Before serving, make the mango topping: Peel, pit, & dice the mangoes. Puree half the mangoes in a blender w/ 2 Tbsp. sugar. Transfer to a bowl & fold in the remaining diced mango.
6. Top each slice of cake with mango topping, a little whipped cream, and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Simple Strawberry Sorbet

Ok, so I'd like to think that my cooking abilities have improved leaps & bounds from where I was when I first got married. Actually, that is indeed a fact. But when my blender starts to malfunction and smell like an overheating car, that's when I begin to wonder how far I've really come. This sorbet was seriously one of the easiest things I've ever made in my lifetime - I definitely could've done this even in my zero-cooking early college life. The problem is that I really just need a food processor because my Wal-Mart blender is getting tired of pretending to be one. The poor old girl just can't hack it anymore. I won't hold it against her - she's been a real trooper.
Aside from my appliance woes, this little treat was a big success. The best thing about this recipe, other than the simplicity of it, is that you can substitute any frozen fruit for the strawberries. I'm thinking mango next time, for sure! We're still holding out for some consistently warm weather in Utah, but this would be the perfect little dessert for a warm night on the porch.
Simple Strawberry Sorbet
From Prevention Magazine, April 2010

1 lb. frozen strawberries
1/2 c. plain yogurt (I used vanilla, and it was divine!)
1 c. sugar
Blend all ingredients in a food processor. If the strawberries have trouble blending, add a tsp. of cold water at a time until they blend well. Serve immediately, or reserve in freezer.

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