Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ina Garden's Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Every year for our family's Thanksgiving party, my sister and I always make the dessert and side dishes, which usually consists of crescent rolls (and I'm not ashamed either, they're way better than anything I could make) and cornbread. This year, I decided to give Ina Garden's cornbread recipe a try. I'm a big fan of Ina's show on the Food Network, Barefoot Contessa, and her simple approach to French cooking. Though this recipe was certainly not French inspired in any way, it was undeniably delicious, and true to her words, this cornbread definitely did not disappoint. The crisp, golden brown cheese was definitely the thing that put me over the edge. To those of you afraid of the jalapenos, don't fret, removing the seeds and the inner membrane cut down on a lot of the heat while still providing just enough bite to counter the sweet corn flavor.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread:
Yields: about 18 muffins

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded plus extra for garnish
3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/3 cup of scallions, chopped plus extra for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan, set aside. Combine the first five ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk and cooled butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix, be careful not to over mix. Fold in the two cups of the cheddar, 1/3 cup of the scallions, and the jalapenos. Let the mix sit at room temperature for roughly about 20 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with the remaining cheddar and scallions. Then pop into the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve.

Note: You can also bake these as muffins using a muffin pan, cook time change: 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

During the fall, you begin to see a flurry of new and old pumpkin recipes floating around the web, and this is no exception. Chilly weather invites the comforting heat from traditional spiced pumpkin, whether it be in the form of a pie, cookie, or cupcake. Pureed pumpkin makes for a deliciously moist cake while a spiced icing adds depth in flavor. Who can resist a cupcake anyway? It really doesn't matter if it's fall, winter, summer, or spring... deliciousness is never out of style.

Pumpkin Cupcakes:
Yields: 24 cupcakes

For the cake:
3 1/3 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp/ cinnamon
3 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup oil
1 cup eggs
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 275 F. Combine first five ingredients, sift to remove any unwanted lumps. In a separate bowl, combine the next five ingredients. Mix the two, making sure not to over mix. In a lined cupcake/ muffin pan, use an ice cream scooper to divide the mix into the pan, that way you will get uniform portions. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. To make sure the cupcakes are done, stick a toothpick into the center of a cupcake. It should come out clean, not wet. 

For the icing:
2-3 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup lowfat milk
1 stick of butter (melted)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Sift two cups of the powdered sugar into a bowl, add all remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add extra powdered sugar until you reach a consistency that you like.

After cupcakes have completely cooled (about 30-45 minutes), frost, decorate and enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lazy Day Sundays

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

1. Cinematic Orchestra - To Build A Home
2. Lali Puna - Faking the Books
3. Maria Taylor - A Good Start
4. Nico - These Days
5. Patrick Watson - Giver
6. Rocky Votolato - White Daisy Passing
7. Sia - Breathe Me (Four Tet Remix)

Classic Rick Rolling

Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up

Wow, I am completely amazed at how this man seems to have not aged one bit. Still mighty fine!

Picnics & Paninis

There are some days where the sun is shining just right; not too hot with just the right amount of warmth grazing across your face. The days when a picnic is just calling your name and you can linger in the freshly cut grass under the shade of a big tree.

"Where springtime always lingers, where winter never enters, and where the last rose of summer is never seen. Where rains fall gently and ocean winds breathe softly under the Western sky. In the glow of the setting sun, there is Orange County."

- Unknown

My Ultimate Picnic Panini:
Yields: Enough for 2

4 slices of sourdough bread
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. cesear dressing
4 tsp. pesto (you can use pre- made)
4-6 slices of turkey
6 slices of bacon (cooked)
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
4 slices of mozzarella cheese
8 basil leaves
garlic powder
freshly ground pepper

With your sourdough bread, spread the butter on one side of each slice (use more butter if needed). Then sprinkle the garlic powder on the side that you spread the butter on. Lay the butter side down and on the other side of two slices spread both the pesto and cesear dressing. Then layer with the mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, tomatoes, turkey, and cooked bacon. Sprinkle with pepper and close the sandwich. Heat through in a panini press or George Foreman grill until the cheese is melted and the crust is nice and golden brown, about 6-9 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rachel Ray's "The Only Pizza You Will Ever Want Again"

After a long day of school, a long tedious meal is the last thing on anyone's mind. Rachel Ray sure comes to the rescue when you're in need of a quick and satisfying meal, after all she has come to be known as the "Queen of Quick." This pizza was definitely a tummy pleaser and full of flavor and actually surprisingly nutritious and substantial. 

As a note, I recommend making a stop at your local Trader Joes for your ingredients. They have individual portions of pizza dough for only about $1.50 and in plain, whole wheat (which we used), and garlic & herb. You can find all of the other ingredients there also, which makes for an easy shopping trip. 

Recipe is as follows (tweaked for convenience):

For the crust:
1 (16 oz.) package of pizza dough 
2 tsn. olive oil
2 tbsp. grated Parmigiano Reggiano

For the toppings:
1/3 lb. broccoli, chopped and steamed
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lb. chicken (pre-cooked), chopped
1 cup of part-skim ricotta cheese
10 sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
12 - 15 leaves of basil, chiffonaded
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large baking sheet lined with foil, stretch out your pizza dough and form the crust. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and minced garlic, mix well. Spread the mixture over the crust. Top with the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and broccoli. Next, sprinkle the pizza with the mozzarella, salt, and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Top with the basil and serve.

How to Chiffonade Basil:
Stack your basil leaves on top of each other, then roll the basil into a little cigarette. Take your knife and slice the "cigarette" very thinly. And there you have it!

Orange trifle with Grand Marnier Cream

My mom absolutely adores Tiramisu, so as a mother daughter project we decided to take on this trifle for our Thanksgiving dinner. It has all of the essential elements of a tiramisu, except exchanges the coffee flavor for a fresh orange flavor, which makes it absolutely perfect for spring or summer (although it's just as delicious at all other times of the year). It's decadent yet light at the same time, and unbelievably delicious at all times - and super easy considering you don't have to slave over your stand-up mixer or oven!

Orange Trifle with Grand Marnier Cream (courtesy  of Sunset Magazine):
Yields: Enough for 8 - 10 

10 - 12 medium sized oranges (check that they are sweet)
1/2 cup and 1 tbsp. Grand Marnier (keep separate)
12 oz. Marscarpone cheese
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup orange marmalade
2 loaves of pound cake, sliced into 1/2 in. slices (I recommend Sara Lee)

Zest 5 oranges using a microplane, set aside. Next, peel the oranges, removing as much white piff as you can. Segment the oranges by slicing in between the membranes on each side and gently pulling the segments out. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into a strainer. Repeat this process until you have about 4 cups of orange slices and 1/2 cup of orange juice. Keep separate. 

Add the zest and 1/2 cup of liqueur to the orange juice. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip the marscarpone and cream until stiff peaks form (caution: do not overbeat or else you will end up with butter). Once you have stiff peaks, fold in 3/4 cup of the marmalade.

Next, take your trifle bowl, and layer the bottom with the slices of pound cake. Use a pastry brush to soak the cake with 1/4 cup of the liqueur mixture. Then layer 1/3 of the marmalade cream and spread evenly. Arrange 1 cup of the orange segments and repeat until you are out of ingredients. You should end with the marmalade cream on the top and the last cup of orange segments for decoration. 

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the last 1/4 cup of marmalade with the remaining 1 tbsp. of liqueur. Microwave until the marmalade is melted, about 30-60 seconds. Brush the mixture over the orange slices. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.