Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dessert in a Hurry

Last night I need to throw together dessert in a hurry as I ended up having a last minute dinner guest and no time to get to the store for more elaborate planning. I flipped through my Lady and Son's cookbook and found a recipe for which I had all the ingredients. Its a popular dessert in the South, known as Better Than Sex Cake. I have seen multiple variations of this recipe through the years. I threw this dessert together in no time and it was really delicious. Think ooey gooey and really chocolaty! I will definitely be making this one again. Its always good to have a few delicious dessert recipes that can be thrown together in a hurry. Two of my other quick dessert standbys are Berry Cookie Cobbler and Peach Cobbler also featured in the blog.

Better Than Sex Cake
As Adapted from the Lady & Son's Cookbook

One 18 1/2 oz chocolate cake mix
One 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
One 6 oz jar caramel or hot fudge topping (I used hot fudge)
8 oz Cool Whip
4 Skor candy bars, crushed (I grated chocolate on top)

Prepare cake according to directions and bake in a 9x13 inch pan. Pierce warm cake all over with a toothpick. Pour milk over cake. Pour caramel over cake. Chill. Before serving, top with whipped topping and sprinkle with crushed candy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Most Amazing Chocolate Cake-Ever

Ever since my Barefoot Contessa At Home Cookbook came, I have been eyeing, the recipe for Beatty's Chocolate cake and looking for a perfect occasion to make it. I set out to make it for my Mother-in-law's birthday last weekend, only to discover I only had about 1/2 cup sugar in my cabinet and I couldn't get to the store. This week, when I decided to take over the play date meeting for a friend who was sick, I new this was the recipe I wanted to make. I have to say this was one of the best chocolate cake's I have ever had. I previously made the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake. It was good but didn't blow me away. This cake was perfection. The coffee subtly but perfectly enhances the chocolate flavor and results in a moist and delicious cake. This will be my standard chocolate cake. Ina recommends using good cocoa powder and chocolate. I used both Ghiradelli chocolate and Ghiradelli cocoa powder. I also recommend Scharffen Berger
chocolate and cocoa powder.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake
As adapted from the Barefoot Contessa at Home

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Still Cold-More Soup Recipes!

Today I hosted a play date with some friends. We take turns hosting and the host always provides lunch. We are all pretty good cooks so we always end up with a great lunch wherever we go. I took over hosting this week for a friend who was sick. I had to come up with a menu on the fly. Since it was cold I decided to try Paula's White Bean Chicken Chili. I served it with cornbread, Spinach Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Pomegranate Seeds and Ina's Chocolate Cake. It was a great cold weather meal and really hit the spot.

I did not make my white chicken chili very spicy. You could adjust the spices according to your tastes. I had a few issues with the recipe and instructions but was able to adjust and correct. After following the recipe, my beans were still crunchy and I had to add a lot more liquid and cook longer. I just added water when the liquid cooked down too much and it was fine flavor wise. They did eventually soften. I have since learned (1) follow the recipe for soaking on your beans rather than the recipe (2) cook the chili with a lid on despite what the recipe says. The only other issue I have with the recipe is that it is not clear how much green chili to use. I used canned but mine were diced so I added what I thought was correct and it tasted fine. This is a great winter recipe.

I would have taken a picture, but the chili just was not photogenic!

White Bean Chicken Chili
Recipe as Adapted from the Lady and Son's Cookbook

1 pound dried navy beans
5 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 cup diced onion (I omitted because I forgot to get an onion!)
1 1/2 cups chopped green chiles (fresh or canned) (I used about 1/2 can diced)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (Omitted)
Pinch red pepper flakes (Omitted)
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

Rinse beans well, cover with cool water, and soak for 2 hours. (Follow recipe for soaking on beans.)Drain. Place beans in large pot with chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. In a saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and chiles and saute for 5 minutes. Add chile mixture to pot with beans. Add chicken, cumin, oregano, pepper, white pepper, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Serve with cornbread, if desired.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Split Pea Soup

To me there is nothing better than being home on a cold and rainy evening with a big pot of soup cooking on the stove. Split pea soup is one of my favorites and I can honestly say I have never made it from scratch. I found Ina's recipe for Parker's Split Pea Soup and was ready to give it a try during our recent cold snap. I read the reviews on Food Network's site and saw that several thought it needed more seasoning. Based on those reviews, I added Not-Chicken Bouillons (its a great natural product that works like a bouillon but has none of the preservatives and other artificial ingredients of regular bouillon). The end result was delicious, thick and hearty soup.

Parker's Split Pea Soup

Recipe as Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 cup chopped yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
1 cup medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled (3 small)
1 pound dried split green peas
8 cups chicken stock or water (I used 5 cups broth and 3 cups water)

I added not-chicken bouillon only need ½ a cube or a little less)

In a 4-quart stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of split peas, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off the foam while cooking. Add the remaining split peas and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until all the peas are soft. Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Game Night

One of my favorite parties to host is game night. Last night we hosted at our house and it was so much fun. We played some old favorites and learned a new game, Spoons. If you've never played it is definitely a funny game. My favorite game night munchie to make is Fondue. Last night I tried a recipe my cousin gave me a while back. This recipe has been in my binder forever. It was really good. Looking at the ingredient list its hard to imagine how it could not be! This was a huge hit. I love to make large platters for the fondue. For this one I did marshmallows, Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies, strawberries and pound cake. When I have done this in the past, I have also added bananas, pretzel sticks, angel food cake, pears, and raspberries. Its really fun to make lots of different combinations. You can even do potato chips for that sweet/salty kick. The recipe calls for making it in a crockpot, however, I did everything on the stove and then put the chocolate in my fondue pot and it worked fine.

Creamy Chocolate Almond Fondue

2 7 0z bars milk chocolate, broken into pieces
3 oz white baking bar, chopped
1 7 oz jar marshmallow creme
3/4 cup whipping cream, half and half or light cream
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds (I omitted)
3 Tbsp. amaretto

In a 4 quart crock pot combine all ingredients except amaretto. Cover and cook on low heat setting 2 2 1/2 hours or until chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. If desired, add amaretto. Stir frequently.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vegetable Enchiladas

A few nights ago, I made Vegetable Enchiladas from Everyday Food. This recipe was touted as a freezer friendly recipe. I made half a batch for dinner and froze the rest. My husband really liked them. I however, think the recipe needs a little something more but I can't quite put my finger on what else I want to add. Maybe some jalapeno peppers or diced tomatoes. I also might do a cheddar cheese or cheese blend. I like that the recipe used a lot of vegetables and that the enchilada sauce was homemade versus a canned/processed product. I know for sure I would double the sauce next time as they were a little dry. Good recipe but needs some work to make it perfect. To round out this meal I served the enchiladas with brown rice.

Vegetable Enchiladas
Recipe as Adapted from Every Day Food

Serves 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 cups grated pepper Jack cheese (12 ounces)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 16 corn tortillas (6-inch)

  1. Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  2. Make filling: In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, spinach, corn, scallion whites, and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square baking dishes; set aside. Stack tortillas, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute. Or stack and wrap in aluminum foil, and heat in oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes.
  4. Dividing evenly, sprinkle enchiladas with remaining 1 cup cheese, and top with sauce. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; serve garnished with scallion greens.
To freeze: Prepare enchiladas through step 3; top with cheese, and cover baking dishes with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Place sauce in an airtight container. Freeze enchiladas and sauce for up to 2 months.

To bake from frozen: Thaw sauce in refrigerator overnight (or microwave on high 2 minutes, stirring once halfway through). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove foil and plastic wrap from baking dishes, and pour sauce over enchiladas; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; remove foil, and bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I don't usually eat a lot of pineapple, but for some reason all of the fresh pineapple in the grocery store has been calling me. I was flipping through this month's issue of Everyday Food (yes, it is my favorite magazine) and saw a lighter version of pineapple upside down cake using fresh pineapple. I must admit I have never made pineapple upside down cake from scratch so I was excited to try this recipe. I was originally making this recipe to go with the pasta bake below that I took my friend. I decided I could make two just as easily as one. I'm glad I did. My husband really liked this recipe. The cake was delicious and as an added bonus it released from the pan beautifully.

Light Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Serves 8
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 ripe firm pineapple (skin removed), cut into 16 thin wedges and cored (see note, above)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-inch square baking pan with oil; line with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Brush paper with oil. Sprinkle bottom of pan with 1/4 cup sugar. Trim pineapple wedges to no more than 4 to 5 inches long; arrange in pan in groups of four, alternating direction.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, oil, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Pour batter over pineapple. Tap pan firmly on counter to settle batter, then smooth top.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool 20 minutes in pan; invert onto a serving platter (peel off and discard paper).

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage

I made this yesterday to take to a friend who recently had a baby. I have to say by the time I was done I was wishing I had made a second one for us for dinner. This dish does involve a bit of prep work but has a beautiful presentation. I'm sure I will be making this for us again soon!

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Serves 8

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup vodka (optional)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, lightly crushed with hands
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 12 ounces smoked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 ounces fontina cheese, 4 ounces cut into 1/2-inch cubes and 2 ounces coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat; add vodka, if desired. Return to heat; cook until almost evaporated, 1 minute.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and oregano; cook until tomatoes are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Add cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Add spinach, and cook just until wilted. Drain, and return contents to pot.
  4. Add tomato sauce, sausage, and cubed fontina to pot; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly between two shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dishes.
  5. Top with grated fontina and Parmesan. Bake until browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 30 minutes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blueberry Pie

A while back I signed up to be a recipe tester for America's Test Kitchen. However, I have been a delinquent tester and not made a recipe in quite some time. When this month's recipe for blueberry pie came, it sounded perfect. I'm not much of a pie baker so I thought I would practice with this one. The pie crust for this recipe was absolutely delicious. The dough was easy to work with and very tender. I'm thinking the addition of the vodka had something to do with this. The bad news is that the filling was not so good. I used frozen blueberries as fresh were not in season. The recipe said this was an appropriate substitution and gave alternate instructions. I'm not sure if the filling would have been different had I used fresh. To me, the filling just had an off potpourri like taste. It will be interesting to see what changes if any they make to the recipe in the July/August issue. This recipe has inspired me to make another pie, I will probably just stick with a Martha Stewart recipe though.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Last night's dinner was again inspired by my favorite magazine, Everyday Food. I have yet to have any of their recipes disappoint. I couldn't believe how few ingredients this recipe used to produce such a well seasoned and filling dish. As recommended in the recipe, I served this over rice.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Mushrooms
Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Serves 4

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large (5-quart) saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium-high heat; swirl to coat bottom of pan. Cook chicken, turning when it easily releases from the pan, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add mushrooms; cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, and oregano. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until tomatoes have broken down, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan; cover, and cook until chicken is opaque throughout, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn chicken to coat with sauce, and serve.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Knife and Fork Burgers and Garlic Fries

I wanted a fun meal for Friday night and Burgers and Fries sounded perfect. I found this Rachael Ray recipe and thought I would go for an upscale burger. We really liked the burgers and the dipping sauce. I didn't have provolone so I used Parmesan instead and it worked perfectly. I plan to save the salad recipes for future use. The addition of the roasted tomato and shallot added so much flavor and was so easy to do. I found the recipe for Garlic Fries on I knew when I saw them it would be the perfect accompaniment for my burgers. We thought they were really good. The extra garlic on top does add a nice surprise.

Knife and Fork Burgers with Provolone Dipping Sauce and Roasted Tomato Salad
Recipe Courtesy of Rachael Ray


1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 large shallots, sliced or chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 lbs lean ground beef sirloin
2/3 cups finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone cheese (I used Parmesan)
1 large bunch of arugula
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Heat the oven to 400°. On a baking sheet, toss the tomatoes and shallots in 1 tablespoon EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes; set aside.
2. Meanwhile, combine the ground beef, parsley and garlic and form into 4 patties, pressing your thumb into the center of each burger to prevent it from bulging when cooking. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO , 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat and cook the burgers for 7 to 8 minutes on each side for well-done.
3. While the burgers cook, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the provolone and, using a wooden spoon, stir in a figure-eight motion until combined; season with salt and pepper.
4. Toss the arugula with the lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon EVOO and salt and pepper to taste. Add the warm tomatoes and shallots and toss to combine.
5. Serve each burger with a pile of salad and a small bowl of cheese sauce for dipping.

Garlic Fries
Recipe Courtesy of Ellie Krieger

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large baking potatoes, 12 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat the garlic and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Strain the garlic from the oil with a small mesh strainer. Set both garlic and oil aside.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the oil, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes onto it in a single layer. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.

Remove potatoes from the tray with a metal spatula. Toss with parsley, reserved garlic, and additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lady and Son's Peach Cobbler

Last night, I made one of my favorite recipes of 2007 which was previously featured in this blog, Giada's Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables. I wanted dessert but didn't want to spend a lot of time making it. I saw this recipe for peach cobbler and it seemed simple enough. The preparation seemed a little unusual but the result was outstanding. I can't wait to try this recipe with fresh blackberries. This is a great recipe to throw together in a pinch. If you don't have self-rising flour you can make it yourself. For one cup of all purpose flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. I only had a regular size can of peaches and it turned out fine. I also found it needed to cook for the whole 45 minutes.

Lady and Son's Peach Cobbler
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 (28-ounce) can sliced peaches in heavy syrup, un-drained (use fresh peaches if available; see note*)
Cinnamon, for sprinkling, optional
Vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream, for serving

If they are available, by all means use fresh peaches. In a saucepan, mix 2 cups fresh peach slices with one cup sugar and one cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir often, making sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Substitute this for the canned peaches.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put butter in a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish and place in the oven to melt. Stir sugar and flour together and mix well. Slowly add milk and continue stirring to prevent the batter from lumping.

Being careful not to burn yourself, remove hot baking dish containing melted butter from oven; pour batter directly over butter in baking dish. Do not stir.

Spoon fruit on top of batter, then gently pour syrup on top. Do not stir. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of batter, if using. (The most important part of this dish is not stirring the mixture at this point in the recipe.)

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Your batter will rise above your fruit, producing the most wonderful of crusts. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tomato Dill Soup with Chive Biscuits

It seems I have been on a kick making Paula Deen and Ina Garten recipes. I have been flipping through those cookbooks during the holidays and found myself wanting to try many of the recipes. I recently was looking through my Lady and Son's Cookbook and saw this recipe for Tomato Dill Soup. I love tomato basil soup but I wasn't quite certain about this combination of tomato and dill. I did, however, have a large amount of fresh dill to use from making Paula's Savory Salmon earlier in the week. I also managed to have all of the other ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a try. My husband proclaims this is the most delicious soup he has ever had. It was amazing how all of the flavors came together to produce a rich and flavorful soup. To go with the soup, I made Ina's Chive Biscuits, as I also had some fresh chives I needed to use up. The biscuits were surprisingly quick and easy to make. Next time I would probably add some cheddar cheese to give them a little more flavor.

Tomato Dill Soup
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

Paula’s Tomato and Dill Soup

1- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes or 3 cups of fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used canned)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups of chicken stock
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped

In a large pot combine first 7 ingredients. Cook on medium-high heat for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.

Chive Biscuits
Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives or fresh parsley leaves
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. With the mixer on low, add the half-and-half and beat until just mixed. Add the chives and mix until just combined.

Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and knead lightly into a rectangle 3/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are firm. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year and Good Luck on a Plate!

I grew up in the south and so I can't have New Years Day without pork, black-eyed peas and, turnip greens. Each portion of the meal symbolizes luck in a portion of your life for the coming year. Growing up I hated turnip greens but we always had them out of the can. Now that I have learned to make them fresh, I am a big fan. I was a little disappointed with the pork. I am a huge fan of Rebecca Rather and so I was excited to make the Spicy Texas Roast Pork from her most recent cookbook, A Pastry Queen Christmas. The pork was good but not amazing. I also made Paula Deen's Turnip Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings. I had a few issues with the recipe and it not being clear at what temperature to cook and whether or not to strain the liquid. I would omit the dumplings next time. They didn't add much to the recipe and fell apart. The greens however were delicious. You could even use this recipe as a soup since it has enough liquid in it. I left the liquid with the greens and served in a bowl. I also made Paula Deen's black-eyed pea salad. I loved the combination of all the herbs and veggies. I recommend making this 24 hour ahead. Finally to top off our southern feast I also made Paula Deen's banana pudding. Her Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding is one of my favorites but today I was in the mood for an old fashioned cooked banana pudding. This recipe did not disappoint. My only complaint is that I did not get enough pudding to fill a 9x13 pan so we had a brownie pan size. I also need to work on my Meringue a little more this was not as light and fluffy as it should have been.

Turnip Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings

Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen
3/4 pound smoked meat (smoked turkey wings are excellent)
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 bunch turnip greens with roots
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon sugar (optional; may be used if greens are bitter)
Cornmeal Dumplings, recipe follows
Place smoked meat in water along with House Seasoning, bouillon, and ginger. Cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Strip turnip leaves free of the big stem that runs down the center of each leaf. Wash in a sink full of clean water. Drain and wash twice more, since greens can often be sandy. Peel and slice or quarter roots. Add greens to meat; cook for another 30 minutes, stirring often. Add roots and continue to cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until roots are tender. (Reserve 2/3 cup turnip liquid for the dumplings.) Add butter and sugar. Serve with dumplings.House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Cornmeal Dumplings
1 cup all-purpose cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 egg
2/3 cup liquid from cooked turnips

Mix all ingredients together. Dipping by teaspoonfuls, gently roll batter in the palms of your hands into approximately 1-inch balls; drop into boiling turnip liquid Make sure each dumpling is completely covered in liquid by shaking the pot gently; do not stir. Boil for about 10 minutes.

Black-eyed Pea Salad
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups black-eyed peas, cooked
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped green onion with tops
1 large tomato, diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
4 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
1 large banana pepper (mild), seeded and diced
1 hot green pepper, seed and diced (optional)-I omitted

Mix olive oil, vinegar and sugar together and pour over the rest of ingredients. Mix well and chill. Use a slotted spoon to serve.

Banana Pudding

Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter
3 medium bananas, sliced
1 (12-ounce box) vanilla wafers

For the meringue topping, optional:
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

Mix together sugar and cornstarch and slowly add milk. This should be cooked in the top of a double boiler, but you can cook it over low to medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens--do not leave it unattended. Slightly beat egg yolks and temper with a small amount of the hot custard; stir well. Add egg mixture to custard pot and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Let cool. In a 9 by 9-inch oven proof baking dish, alternate pudding, bananas, and wafers, beginning with pudding and ending with pudding. Add topping, if desired.

For the meringue topping, if using:
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form, then spread onto top of pudding mixture. Bake until golden brown.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Years Eve 2007-Best Meal Yet!

Perhaps fittingly, I think we ended 2007 with what was one of my best meals of the year. I made my first standing rib roast and it came out perfectly. The preparation could not have been more simple-salt and pepper. The cooking method involved roasting the beef at three different temperatures which produced a perfectly cooked roast. The mustard horseradish sauce was a perfect complement. For sides, I also went simply, Ina's Sauteed Carrots and Paula Deen's Boursin Potatoes. The carrots were probably the best I have ever had. The cooking method really enhanced the flavor of the carrots. I was suspect that a carrot recipe could be amazing but this one was. The Boursin potatoes were very rich but simple to prepare. We enjoyed a wonderful candlelight dinner and even finally used our china! My husband proclaimed this a five-star meal and I would agree! We cheated for dessert and purchased a delicious triple chocolate mousse. All in all a great way to ring in 2008! Happy New Year!

Sunday Rib Roast
Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

1 (3-rib) standing rib roast (7 to 8 pounds)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Mustard Horseradish Sauce, recipe follows
Two hours before roasting, remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (see note).

Place the oven rack on the second lowest position.

Place the roast in a pan large enough to hold it comfortably, bone-side down, and spread the top thickly with the salt and pepper. Roast the meat for 45 minutes. Without removing the meat from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and roast for another 30 minutes. Finally, increase the temperature to 450 degrees F and roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat is 125 degrees F. (Be sure the thermometer is exactly in the center of the roast.) The total cooking time will be between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 hours. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Remove the roast from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes. Carve and serve with the sauce.

Note: Be sure your oven is very clean before setting it at 500 degrees F.

Mustard Horseradish Sauce:
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustards, horseradish, sour cream, and salt in a small bowl.

Sauteed Carrots
Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

2 pounds carrots
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley (I used parsley)

Peel the carrots and cut them diagonally in 1/4-inch slices. You should have about 6 cups of carrots. Place the carrots, 1/3 cup water, the salt, and pepper in a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 7 to 8 minutes, until the carrots are just cooked through. Add the butter and saute for another minute, until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with butter. Off the heat, toss with the dill or parsley. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Boursin Cheese Potatoes
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

3 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 pint heavy cream
1 5 oz package Boursin cheese
Fresh chives or parsley chopped (I used chives)

Preheat oven to 350. Wash and slice potatoes into 1/4 inch thick rounds. (I used the food processor to ensure even results and to speed up the chopping). Toss potatoes with salt and pepper. Heat cream and cheese together on top of stove or in microwave, until cheese has melted. Stir mixture until thoroughly blended. Layer half of the potatoes into a 2 quart baking dish (this is best in a deep dish instead of a long, flat dish). Cover potatoes with half of the cream mixture. Repeat with remaining potatoes and cream mixture. Cover and bake 1 hour. Sprinkle with chopped chives or parsley.