Sunday, December 31, 2006

scone head

I made scones this morning. As I said in the last post, I recently discovered the glory of scones. Of course I'd seen them and knew what they were, but they just never appealed to me. Well, I tried one and my eyes were opened! Delicious!

When I looked up recipes, they seemed easy enough to make, so here on this lazy 3-day weekend, I tried it. I know I said I was gonna try lighter recipes, but for my first time I thought it would be better to make a regular scone recipe. Alton Brown is a trustworthy source, so I chose this recipe.

It was very simple and the results are very pleasing. Crumbly but moist, buttery and slightly sweet. I could go with more cranberries...Anyway, here's the results:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

holiday recap-kinda random

Sorry I've been a slowpoke on this thing. I've actually been cooking quite a bit. A couple weeks ago, I made my very first Roasted Chicken!! I can't believe it took me so long to try that. It's so easy. I used Nigella's method of rubbing the bird with salt, pepper and butter, sticking a lemon "up it's bum" and cooking for 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes. Voila. Juicy delicious chicken.

In fact, that's what I made for Christmas dinner. As I side dish I made roasted brussel sprouts. I love brussels sprouts, but that was my first time using fresh instead of frozen, as well as my first time roasting them. Mmmm-mmm! Maybe I should just roast everything from now on. Roasting is da bomb. The sprouts were kind of sweet, buttery...just darn good. Apparently roasting is a good method...even brussel sprout non-lovers are coverted by this method. Oh, and speaking of brussel sprouts...TURTLE FARTS!!!! that story is kinda cute, dontcha think?

So, today I tried my first scone. I know! I never was tempted...they don't look all that appealing to me. But I tried a St. Louis Bread Co. (Panera for out-of-towners) Golden Raisin one. And it was soooo good! Who new?!? Scones are yum! But, hence, it's almost a new year....holidays winding down and all that, so the nutrtion info on that particular scone isn't terrible, but If I make my own I can drop that fat and calorie content a bit. One recipe I found is Pear and Cardamom scones. I've got plenty of cardamom, and the sweetheart has been on a pear kick lately. These cranberry ones are gonna have to make an appearance also. These don't look too tough too make. They seem to be one step up from quickbreads and simple cookies, but not as scary (for me) as bread. I got a bunch of green tea as a gift...scones will go nicely, eh?

I've been enjoying being a Crockpot owner. I made the Fennel and Sage Pork I had on my links list. It was good. I subsituted Pork shoulder roast for pork loin, though, because loin? Hella expensive. Isn't the whole point of slow cooking that you can utilize the fat and connective tissue of the tougher cut of meat anyway? Yup. It turned out plenty moist. Same with our chuck roast and Jack's BBQ brisket/chuck roast combo.

The most fun crock pot thing we've made for is a recipe from the book Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes. It's delish chocolate lava brilliant thingy that our friend was generous enough to let us cook at her house while we all went out to dinner even though she is pretty terrified about heating elements left on while she's away...hopefully the wine and laughing and good food helped calm her anxieties...The result was worth it. Served over ice cream, it was chocolatey, warm, and rich. Here's the recipe ('cept in place of sweet cocoa powder I used unsweetened, and instead of crushed sweet chocolate I used finely chopped dark chocolate bar...Dark is the way to go...):

Hot Fudge Spoon Cake

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sweet ground chocolate, such as Ghiradelli
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup sweet cocoa powder, such as Ghiradelli
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Vanilla ice cream or coffee frozen yogurt for serving.

1. Coat the slow cooker with butter-flavor non-stick cooking spray
2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, ground chocolate, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center, add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla, stir the liquid ingredients until well blended, and continue stirring in widening circles, gradually incorporating the dry ingrediaents, until you have a smooth batter. It will be thick. Spread evenly in the cooker.
3. To make the topping, combine all the ingredients in another medium size bowl and wisk until smooth. Gently pour over the batter in the cooker; do not stir. Cover and cook on HIGH until puffed and the top layer is set, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
4. Turn off the cooker and let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes before refrigerating or serving right out of the cooker.
5. To serve, scoop the cake into individual bowls. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or coffee frozen yogurt alongside the cake. Spoon some of the fudgy pudding at the bottom over the cake and ice cream.

The restaraunt we went to on that night, BTW, was the Pitted Olive. What a neat little place. A small hubby and wife operation with really good food. A small menu, with the chicken, pork and trout specials changing nightly. It's almost the kind of place I'd like to run someday with my babycakes. He cooks and controls the menu, I greet and host and decorate and wait and help develop the wine list and menu....We'll be going back. the food was impressive, and not expensive.

That's about all I can think of for my holiday recap. Oh! I got a new digital camera for Christmas, so expect even more food porn.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

what a crock!

A generous christmas elf brought me a brand new crock-pot the other day. My very first one! IÂ’m very excited. This should make for some good winter eats! IÂ’ve been looking out for recipes all week. HereÂ’s some IÂ’d like to try:

Southwest Steak and Beans

Chicken Curry

Lentil Curry (you know I like curry!)

Fall Lamb & Vegetable Stew (IÂ’ve never cooked Lamb)_

Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Rosemary (speaking of lambÂ…)

Creamy Pork and Apples with Corbiscuitsicuits

Pork Roast with Fennel and Sage (I Love Fennel!!!)

Goose and Kraut (crazy!)

I also have some slow-cooker recipe books on order from the library:

Not Your MotherÂ’s Slow Cooker Cook Book

How To Make Love and Dinner at the Same Time (ooh la la! saucy!)

Food Made Fast; Slow Cooker

I'll end with some Beastie Boys Lyrics..."let it flow! let yourself go! Slow and Low, that is the tempo!" I'm so hip with my crock-pot and 90's hippity hoppity.

Monday, December 04, 2006

not the most appropriate post to follow the brownies...

It's that time of year when food is king. It's everywhere. Delicious cookies and cakes and comfort foods. I like it and usually don't feel much guilt. But I know I will be paying for it when it comes time for getting out the summer clothes again....the dreaded swimsuit and shorts and tank-tops. I love summer, don't get me wrong. But all my winter sloth and gluttony shows. It's the weather, I think, mostly. It's cold and dreary most days. You want to stay inside. Warm and comfy. And what's warmer and comfier than a belly full of yummy food?

Then New Years comes and we make all our resolutions to eat less, exercise more, etc. etc. Well why not start sooner? I've been searching for more healthy comfort food recipes. I read several bits about an author named Jeanne Jones who is famous for taking traditional recipes and lightening them up. I've gotten a couple of her cookbooks from the library, and tried one recipe: meatloaf in an onion. I liked the idea of it, but it turned out quite poorly. For one it's really meant to be something you wrap in foil and cook on the embers of a fire. But there were baking instructions, too. They didn't say NOT to put the foil on, so I wrapped all my onions in foil. It probably would have turned out better if I hadn't. What I got was bland steamed hamburger in a bland steamed onion. Very "cafeteria at the retirement home." Oh well. I'm not giving up on her recipes just yet, I'll just have to think about them more before I try them.

Wild Oats' website has all kinds of recipes. As far as healthier comfort food, this meatloaf and these mashed potatoes both look yummy and warming.

They also have a whole list of recipes to make using "super foods." Super foods are those which pack the most healthy stuff nature has to offer. I like this idea of not so much concentrating on "low-fat" and "low-calorie" but on quality ingredients that have naturally beneficial nutrients, fats, vitamins, etc. For more lists and recipes featuring the healthiest foods, check out the World's Healtiest Foods website, which has all kinds of info, including the list, a database of recipes, and featured food and recipe each week.

Also, this article lists 5 of the healthiest foods in the world, from around the world, such as Olive Oil from Spain. Click on each food to find out more about it, and see a recipe. Neat!

Okay, one more list. The 29 healthiest foods on the planet. It's something I'll keep in mind when planning my next meal.