Thursday, August 25, 2011

Famous Ice Cream



Keep your Lady Gaga and your Katie Holmes, William & Kate... etc.  I'm into local celebrities.  And recently, I got to meet one of the BEST Ohio celebrities (IMO), Jeni Britton Bauer.  Owner of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and author of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.  I was so star struck that I honestly couldn't tell you much about the moment, but I DO have a picture to prove that the event occurred.









Here is Jeni telling her story and answering questions :)  She was great!









They gave out mini-macaroons at the book signing.  I LOVED this size.  Wish they had these in the store.  If i ever make these, I'll probably do the mini's.  I had never tried the macaroons before and boy were they delicious!




This ain't any ol' ice cream truck.






The book :)

You have absolutely no idea just how excited I was by the idea of Jeni's ice cream in my own home.  


So I was ecstatic when a friend graciously offered me her extra ice cream maker.  I immediately invited a fellow Jeni ice cream enthusiast to try it out.  We occupied our boyfriends for a few hours with the Xbox. 


This was their table.  How cute.
My friend chose the flavor, and boy am I glad we went with that one because it was aaaaaaaamazing.  And this flavor is not in Jeni's stores so it was truly a special treat.  I didn't gain permission to post the recipe so just go buy the book, seriously, its worth it.  Honestly its more than a cookbook.  The book is beautiful and is full of background stories about the vendors from whom she gets her ingredients from.  Truly phenomenal.  Buy it.
Ok, ok.. so what was the flavor?  


  
Toasted Rice Ice Cream with Coconut and Black Tea



Using Snowville Creamery Milk is a MUST.  
Best milk ever.  Jeni uses it in her shops.
This was the rice-black tea- coconut concoction.  It needed to cool before we whipped it into ice cream.  






It was so yummy, I couldn't stop licking the bowl.

Makin' Ice Cream!!!


Seriously, at this point, I might as well be president, or Queen of England or something.  Thats how much power I feel like I have now that I can make ICE CREAM IN MY HOUSE.  :D

At the book signing they gave away these Jeni's containers and labels.  (Did you know, they still handwrite all those labels at Jeni's?  Pretty cool).  We did it!


Sadly, we didn't plan ahead and didn't even finish making the ice cream until 1 AM.  Which means we didn't get to eat the ice cream 'til the next day because it needs to sit in the freezer for a few hours.  The next morning however, I had a wonderful bowl of ice cream for breakfast :).

Only downside was that it wasn't very scoopable upon leaving the freezer.  My friend suspects too much water content.  Considering that this recipe required us to manage the coconut milk and ice cream base, an error in water content isn't too surprising.  The flavor was phenomenal though!!!  As much as I want to make this again, I'm excited to try some of the other flavors first :). 









Saturday, August 20, 2011

Millions of peaches...



Every grocery store/farmer's market I've visited recently has had MILLIONS of peaches.  Ok maybe not really millions but lots.  And peaches are great.  I've had to hold myself back from giving into every sale now that they're in season.  When I saw this Martha Stewart recipe for peaches and cream pound cake, I knew I just had to make it.  And CREAM! because pound cake totally needs more fat added on top, right?

I wasn't happy with the pound cakes in the store (soybean oil in the ingredients, really?) so I decided to make my own.  (Always making things more complicated...)  I really liked the idea of using cream cheese in pound cake (and I had some in my fridge that needed used up) so I gave this recipe a try over at Smitten Kitchen.  You really don't taste the cream cheese but the texture is just delightful.  And yes, the almond extract is worth it (if you don't have it on hand already).

You can click on the links above for the recipes but I'll walk you through the process below.  I halved the recipe for the pound cake and used a loaf pan.  It was the perfect amount.



1. Flour and butter your loaf pan.   Mix the butter, cream cheese until its nice and smooth.  Then add the sugar.




2. Add one egg at a time.  I read on different pound cake recipe that the eggs should be at room temperature.    Next add the almond/vanilla extract.  I also added some lemon zest.











3.  Add in the flour and sugar.  I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour (so 1/3 of the flour since I halved the recipe) to make the cake marginally healthier and it still came out great.  Also, I sifted the flour before mixing.  Not sure if this is necessary but I feel that baked goods tend to come out better when the flour is sifted.











 4.  Mix everything until well combined.  Try your best to not eat the batter. ;)









5.  Bake!  Be careful with the temperature.  Mine browned very quickly on the outside.  My oven tends to be finicky so that could be why but just keep a close eye on it.













6.  While its baking, slice your peaches.







Pound Cake!






7. Layer whipped cream, peaches, and ... I decided to throw in some blueberries.  I whisked the whipped cream because Martha said so but I have a feeling using the mixer would've been MUCH easier. 














I sliced the pound cake into 3 pieces and had 2 layers of whipped cream and fruit.  I was almost tempted to leave it like this because it was so pretty!










Enjoy!


















 Its excellent with coffee.  Treat yourself for breakfast :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

there's a genie in my kitchen

I have a TON of great meals to catch up on.  I've been so busy in the kitchen that I haven't been blogging frequently enough and I can't wait to share everything with you.  Part of the problem is my lack of dishwasher which is going to be remedied in a few weeks.  In addition to the dishwasher, I'm also gaining a crock pot, bread maker, and more counter space.  I'm beyond ecstatic about all of these things.

My boyfriend told me tonight that I tend to like "variety".  Its true.  And it often gets me in trouble.  I'm known for overstuffing things like enchiladas, omelette... over-topping pizza.  I want it ALL.  I like picking at a million different foods while he's content with eating one big bowl of pasta.

This whole "variety" business is really not cool when you have a tiny kitchen and no dishwasher.  Luckily I'm on vacation and can afford to spend all day in the kitchen (and there's no other place I'd rather be).  This Mediterranean platter ended up being hella cheaper than ordering in or going out.  AND I used up my pizza dough :)

The menu.


Pita (made from left-over pizza dough)
For the pita, I basically just made tiny balls, rolled it out, and baked in the oven for a few minutes.  I also seasoned a few (basil, oregano etc.)   I only had 1 or 2 actually have a pocket.  I think those were rolled out thinner.  Regardless, it tasted delicious.  I do want to try an actual pita-recipe in the future to see if it puffs better than the pizza dough.










Quinoa Tabouli
I used this recipe.  I thought it was great, my boyfriend liked it but thought it was too quinoa heavy.  I might try bulgar next time.  









Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Basically my hummus recipe with some roasted pepper added.  I use a little less oil since the pepper adds some liquid.  I don't buy jarred peppers (too pricey).  Instead I slice the pepper, spray it with olive oil, and roast in the oven at ~400F for about 20 minutes.

Falafel (fail) 
It was way too crumbly, not sure why.





Perfectly Marinated Grilled Chicken (with cucumber sauce).
This was by far the best marinated chicken I think I've ever had.  I got the recipe here.  I'm really obsessed with the Budget Bytes blog right now so expect it to come up again :). Side note, I used greek yogurt for my marinade.
We dipped our chicken in the cucumber sauce (that was supposed to be for the falafel).  You can find it here.  It was a GREAT combo.

Greens, olives, feta, artichokes, greek dressing
You know, the basics.  I got my dressing recipe here.  Warning: you need to scale it back by a lot so don't be alarmed by the crazy ingredient list.

Feast fit for a genie.  If only I had a genie for the clean up.  :(



Monday, August 15, 2011

Bringin' the restaurant home

Eating at home just makes dieting a whole lot easier.   While on SBD Phase 1, I also noticed it did wonders for my wallet.  This has inspired me to strive to be a bit more "frugal".  In the past few days I've even experimented with making my own pita, yogurt, and english muffins. More on that later.  
While trying to save some $$$, I don't want to miss out on my favorite restaurant meals, so I decided to bring it home!
My friend got me HOOKED on Brio/Bravo's Grilled Salmon Salad.  I really wanted to use up the salmon I had in my freezer for this but I didn't have a grill.  That's when I purchased my awesome flattop griddle/grill/pizza pan thing at Target (we've already used it about 5 times in the past week).  Voila!  Grill in my kitchen.


My version of the Brio/Bravo Salad

  • salmon
  • thyme
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • asparagus
  • greens
  • feta
  • vinaigrette 
  • desired salad toppings (I included onion, tomato, artichoke hearts*, and pita chips). 






1. I roasted the asparagus instead of grilling it.  The grilled asparagus at Bravo definitely tastes better, but for at-home preparation this was much easier and still very tasty.  Simply toss the asparagus spears in olive oil.  Salt & pepper.  Bake in the oven for ~ 45 minutes at 400-425F.  
2. While the asparagus is roasting, fire up the grill.  Sprinkle salmon with thyme, lemon juice, salt & pepper the salmon if desired.  I sprayed a little olive oil on my grill to prevent sticking.  Grill the salmon with skin side up first.  Flip after ~3-4 minutes.  Grill other side for ~ 3 minutes.



3. Supposedly the skin should come off easily.  I experienced some trouble.
4. Toss greens, feta, toppings, and dressing.  Lay asparagus on top, then salmon.









The Brio/Bravo version features potato strings but I'm not a huge fan so I sprinkled some crushed pita chips to add some crunch instead.  I was feeling too lazy to make my own dressing so I used a favorite.. Marzetti® White Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing and it was great!
Enjoy :)







*Since I'm talking about being frugal, its worth mentioning that I get my artichoke hearts at Aldi.  Only $2.50 and great :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

pizza from scratch

It has been a really great cooking week.  I planned on posting about my awesome restaurant salad remake that I made last night, but I'm just way too excited about this pizza.  First lets discuss my new toy that made this happen: my grill/griddle/pizza pan.  I bought this baby at Target yesterday for a mere $25 and I get 3 uses in 1!   
On to the pizza.  I've always wanted to make it but something about it seemed so daunting to me.  Not sure why.
Now that I've done it, I want to make it ALL THE TIME.  Crust was crispy but chewy in the center.  Sauce was definitely my favorite part.  TRY IT.  You won't regret it.


DOUGH.
I used this dough recipe.  I was trying to be as SBD friendly as I could but I felt using 100% whole wheat flour was too risky for my 1st attempt @ dough.  So I only used 1/2 whole wheat, as the recipe suggested.






Step 1.  Dissolve the sugar in warm water.  Sprinkle the yeast on top.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.  When its frothy, add the olive oil and salt.










Step 2.  Mix in all but 1/2 cup of the flour.  Put that flour on a clean surface.  Put the dough mixture on the surface and knead the remaining 1/2 cup into the dough until it is smooth.






Step 3.  Spray a bowl (or lightly cover) with olive oil.  Roll the dough into a ball.  Place in bowl.  Roll around in the oil.  Cover bowl lightly with a towel and let it sit and rise for an hour @ room temperature.




While you're waiting... 

SAUCE.
My sauce was inspired by 2 recipes -- here and here.
Here's my version:


Ingredients

  • Some olive oil (like 1/2 T or something)
  •  2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (6 ounce) can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water 
  • 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  •  1 T of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Step 1. Cook the garlic in some olive oil.          

Step 2.  Mix the spices.  
BTW, my spices amounts are an estimate. I originally planned to quadruple the spices from the 1st recipe and use a WHOLE can of crushed tomatoes and NO water (as the 2nd recipe suggests).  


Then I realized, I didn't have a whole can of tomatoes.  So I only used about 1/2 of the spices I originally mixed.  This is about 2x the called for amounts in the original recipe.  However, I did omit some spices from the original recipe (because I didn't have them)
All in all, the amount of spice is really up to you and how bitey you want it.  We like ours bitey.  
Someone commented on the original recipe that they mix a bunch of the spice, keep in their pantry, and use approx. 1 T of the spice combo every time they make the sauce. Great idea! 



Step 3.  Mix the spices, garlic, water, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  
Let it sit for 30 minutes.

While you're waiting....


DOUGH.



Step 4. If its been an hour, the dough should be about 2x the size like this ----->  








Step 5. Roll it out onto a lightly floured surface.  With a butter knife, cut in half.  

Save half for a 2nd pizza (or whatever). I put mine in the fridge.  Make sure you put it in a large container because it WILL rise.  I made the mistake of putting it in a small container.  I opened the fridge to find that it had bursted through the top of my tupperware!  For some reason, it made me think of this.






Step 6.  Roll dough into a ball and place back in bowl.  Cover and let rise again for 45 minutes.









While you're waiting...


TOPPINGS. 



We went veggie style...

baby bellas
green pepper
black olives
garlic
roma tomato
onion


Also, sometime... Pre-heat your oven to 425° F.











PIZZA ASSEMBLY

Step 1. After you've waited about 45 minutes, your dough should be about 2x larger.  If you haven't already, preheat that oven to 425° F.

Step 2. We tried the whole spinning-the-dough-in-the-air-thing, and it didn't go very well.  I suggest taking your ball, lay it on some parchment (or something that'll make it easy to slide), and roll it out with a rolling pin.  Ours still got nice and round.  We didn't use parchment, however, so it was tricky getting it onto our pizza pan.

Step 3. Lay down your sauce.  We only ended up using about 3/4 of the sauce, but you can always dip your pizza in the amount that is left over, or lick it with a spoon.  Its yummy enough for that sort of thing.











Step 4.  Apply the cheese (we used ~ 1/4 c. parmesan and 1.5 c. mozzarella) & toppings. 











Step 5.  We added more cheese.  ~ .5 cup of mozzarella.  I think this step is important because I love it when there's some bubbly browned cheese on pizza.  This is the cheese that does that.  :)







Step 6. Bake.  Our oven cooks quickly.  It was ready in about 15 minutes.

Step 7.  Let it cool.  Seriously, be patient, let it cool.  Go pour a drink if you need to distract yourself.













Step 8.  
Slice and enjoy.









Warning
This is a pretty hearty pizza.  Don't ingest too much too soon (even though its really yummy).  According to my estimates here, its roughly 300 calories per slice (when divided into 6 large slices).  These estimates are assuming using half the dough (per the above instructions), approximately 3/4 of the sauce, and the toppings listed above.