Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shipping Day, 2010

It's Cattle Shipping Day, and once again, I'm making lunch for a fairly big crew of cowboys. No matter what time we end up eating, even if it's after dark, it's called "Shipping Day Lunch." This year, there's a possibility of 16 people, and it's cold outside, so I needed a big pot of something warm.

If you want to know more about what Shipping Day entails, please read my ranch blog post from a couple years ago!

In previous years, I've made my Rustic Chili or Beef Stew. This year, I wanted something a little different, especially since I just served up a big pot of chili for the cowboys a week or so ago.

I thought I'd share the Shipping Day Lunch Menu with you, so follow the links for recipes (stew recipe coming soon, and pictures will be coming soon too!)

Shipping Day Lunch, 2010

Beef Burgundy Stew

Artisan Bread

(any salad will do)

Chocolate Sheet Cake
(picture coming soon!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mexican Hot Cocoa Cookies

Wow is time flying by! I thought I was all set for Taste & Create, having finished my Stracoto with Shiitake Mushrooms a few days early. Then I noticed that I was getting a few hits on my blog from A Whisk & A Prayer...hmmm. The name sounded familiar, and I remembered perusing that blog...OMG! My Stracoto entry was from LAST MONTH!! Ack!

Let's get on with it, the deadline is approaching!

My partner for THIS month's Taste & Create is Liz from A Whisk and A Prayer. Taste & Create is a fabulously fun food blog event, created by the lovely Nicole of For the Love of Food. Participants are randomly paired off to choose and create a dish from their partner's blog. (If you'd like to learn more about T&C, go here!) And here we are. Liz chose to make my Yoghurt Coffee Cake...

I needed a dessert for dinner for cowboys tonight anyway, and had something chocolate in mind. I told Number One about Liz' Black Bean Brownies, but after a lively discussion about how "just" adding beans to something doesn't make that something "healthy" and him saying "Don't make brownies with beans in them"...I decided on a different course.

I noticed Liz' recipe for Mexican Hot Cocoa Dream Cookies, savory chocolate gems filled with...marshmallow fluff! YUM. (and I assume that's where the "Dream" part comes in)

Sadly, I'm almost completely out of marshmallow fluff myself, because someone has been eating it with a spoon. Ahem. So anyway, because we're having cowboys over for dinner, it just wouldn't be right to only have a few with fluff and the rest plain. That is not to say I won't personally sneak a couple cookies filled with fluff before everyone else arrives...I'm just being honest, here, sorry cowboys, maybe next time!

So, this time they're not exactly a "Dream," but I'm sure they'll be good.

Right in the middle of making these cookies, I realized with shock that our Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix is GONE!! We have the Abuelita tablets (very very hard and must be mixed with hot milk), but no powdered mix. I was already committed <>ingredients up to the flour in the bowl<> to making a double batch of cookies, so I powered through it. Some of you may remember that I live 35 miles from the nearest town, so "running to the store" is ALWAYS out.

I added 5 packets (about 1 cup) of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Mix with mini Marshmallows (of course). I also threw in some cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of cloves to make up for my sad lack of Abuelita. (see amounts below) I also substituted bittersweet chocolate chips for the semi-sweet. I have to say that I actually liked the taste of the dough (unlike Liz and the girl she got the recipe from). I am quite hopeful for these at-this-stage-experimental cookies! *After a test pan of 6 cookies, I decided to line the pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Also, these really spread so be sure to space them apart on the parchment. *I am sure the hot chocolate mix, which Liz originally substituted for baking cocoa, messed with the consistency--these might need some adjustments to compensate, but I don't have time right now*

The cookies are mildly spicy and pretty good after they've cooled down, although they do bake up thin. I decided to bake them smaller and turn them into ice cream sandwiches. I think I baked each batch right around 13 minutes, they weren't very golden, and still a bit soft, so that means when cool they are still chewy with just a bit of crunch around the edges.

As ice cream sandwiches, these cookies are AMAZING. Yum. The spices, the bittersweet chocolate, the ice cream, all complement each other perfectly. Not bad for an experimental emergency substitution!

I ran out of time to try one with fluff before everyone arrived, but there's always tomorrow!

Mexican Hot Cocoa Cookies

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix OR 5 packets Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Mix with Marshmallows + 1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg + 2 to 4 dashes cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vanilla or white chocolate chips
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat the oil, butter & sugars until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat after each one. Beat in vanilla.

Combine the flour, hot chocolate mix, & baking powder. Gradually add to oil mixture & mix well. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until edges barely begin to brown. Cool for 1 minute before removing cookies from pans to wire racks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

I had some cherry tomatoes that had begun to dry in the refrigerator, so I decided to finish off the process. I remembered reading somewhere about oven-drying tomatoes (similar to sun-drying, but faster), but of course I couldn't remember where. So I googled it.

I looked at a bunch of recipes for oven-dried cherry tomatoes, and man is there a lot of variation. Olive oil, no olive oil, cut, not cut, herbs, no herbs, low temperature, high temperature, etc!!

What's a girl to do? Whatever she wants, that's what! My first batch I drizzled the tomatoes with olive oil before baking, then I didn't quite get them out of the oven in time before they burned. Drat. The second batch, I didn't use the olive oil, just salted the tomatoes and kept a more careful eye on them. Success! (except I forgot how many hours it took...I have more tomatoes to do, I'll update when I figure it out!)

Oven-Dried Cherry Tomatoes

approximately 2 pounds cherry tomatoes, washed
kosher salt
olive oil

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread cherry tomatoes in a single layer on top of the parchment. Drizzle with a couple tablespoons olive oil (if desired, I decided not to) and sprinkle with salt. Place pan in oven for 2 to 6 hours, until tomatoes are completely dry and shriveled, yet still chewy and not burnt! Remove from oven, cool completely.

Store in jar, covered with olive oil. You can add garlic and some fresh herbs if you'd like. These should keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, and would make a fantastic gift.

In fact, I'm going outside to pick the rest of my cherry tomatoes right now!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Zucchini Bread

Everyone who's ever been near a garden has a recipe for zucchini bread. I've tried quite a few different ones, but this is one of my favorites. It's from The Martha Stewart Cookbook, and I think the best ingredient in it is walnut oil. I use my absolute favorite: La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil (for a yummy vinaigrette made with this oil, go here!)

The reason I'm making zucchini bread today is simple. I saw Uncle Paul yesterday, who said, "We were on the mountain for 2 weeks and our zucchini got out of control...want some?" I said, and I quote, "sure, I'll take a couple."

The next thing I know, there are 5 of the biggest zucchini I have ever seen in the back of my car! I'm not kidding, the largest ones are almost two feet long and over 5 inches in diameter!! And there are five of them!

I had to do something with them, and quick. Another good thing about this recipe is that the bread freezes very well! I'll make some big loaves, some little loaves, and have a freezer full of deliciousness.

Reality check: I managed to get the zucchini all grated with my beloved Bosch, in two phases. 70 cups of shredded zucchini in total. I used 5 cups for one batch of this bread, with two more 5-cup bags waiting. Ended up with three large loaves from the batch, we ate one and put two in the freezer. All the rest of the zucchini is in the freezer in 2-cup bags, but I have some ideas! I also had to harvest ALL of the tomatoes (red AND green) and 5 kinds of peppers from the garden before we left for the weekend because I was worried about a frost, so I've got my work cut out for me. Luckily zucchini bread can wait!

Zucchini Bread
Makes 4 large or 8 small loaves

This tea bread is a favorite on summer buffet tables. I serve it with cheese, with herb butter, and as a base for chicken salad hors d'oeuvres. The flavor is enhanced by the addition of walnuts and walnut oil.

6 eggs
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups light vegetable oil
5 cups unpeeled grated zucchini
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups chopped walnuts
1/4 cup walnut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray with vegetable oil 4 large loaf pans (9 x 5 x 3 inches) or 8 small pans.

Beat the eggs until light. Add the sugar, mixing well. Add the oil, zucchini and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Sift the dry ingredients. Add by the cupful to the egg mixture. Stir until well blended. Add the nuts and walnut oil.

Spoon into the pans and bake for approximately 1 hour. Cool on racks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Roasted Salmon with Potatoes

Here's another recipe from Real Simple's website that we had for dinner last night. I had some salmon fillets, but didn't know how I wanted to cook them. This is easy, and you only use one pan. The recipe calls for mushrooms, which I didn't have...I'm not sure how good they would have tasted with this, so let me know if you add them!

H-Bomb LOVED this, even with the sauce, and kept saying, "Thank you for making this salmon, Mom, I love it!" He said it at least three times. Sawed Off didn't like it one bit. Number One and I thought it was good.

Roasted Salmon with Potatoes (and mushrooms)

Serves 4

Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
  • 1 pound small new potatoes (about 10), halved
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, optional
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • salmon fillets (1 large or 4 small = 1 per person)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  1. Heat oven to 400° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  2. Roast, tossing once, until the potatoes begin to soften, about 20 minutes.
  3. Push the vegetables to the edges of the pan and place the salmon in the center. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  4. Roast until the salmon is opaque throughout, the mushrooms are tender, and the potatoes are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, honey, and parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Drizzle over the salmon and vegetables before serving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fettuccine with Peas, Shallots & Herbs

Since soccer practice kept us in town an extra hour this afternoon, I needed a quick dinner. I hadn't made any plans ahead of time. I found this recipe on Real Simple's website, and I honestly can't recommend Real Simple magazine enough.

I didn't have fettuccine so I substituted some kind of curly pasta. I also accidentally overcooked the shallots, but that was the only problem. This recipe is very quick and pretty good. I like cooking the peas with the pasta, it is a shortcut that just makes sense. We always use more Parmesan than recipes call for too.

Fettuccine with Peas, Shallots & Herbs
from Real Simple magazine
Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
  • 12 ounces fettuccine (3/4 box)
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, drain, and return the pasta and peas to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the shallots, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

Toss the pasta and peas with the shallots, ¼ cup of the cheese, and the reserved cooking water.

Fold in the parsley and mint. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of cheese and serve.
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