Saturday, June 9, 2012

Very Simple Roasted Potatoes

Eric and I never know what to make as a side dish when we cook. It's almost always comes down to some sort of potato--mashed potato, homemade French fries, or roasted potatoes. More often than not it's roasted potatoes because we don't have any instant mashed potatoes in the house (and making real mashed potatoes is time-consuming) and cutting potatoes into French fries is a bit of work. Plus, roasted potatoes are so versatile. You can easily change up the spices to make it new and different every time.

1/2 pounds potatoes (russet, red, Yukon, whatever you have on hand), chopped into bite-size pieces
2/3 tablespoons olive oil
any other spice you'd like

Set oven to broil. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Toss potatoes with olive oil and spices and place in a single lay on baking sheet. Cook for 10 to 15, stir and flip the potatoes, cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp on the outside, tender on the inside.

I love making these with thyme (especially fresh thyme) or rosemary. Eric usually does a garlic-cayenne powder mix so they potatoes have a little heat to them. They're also really good with garlic powder or just salt and pepper. Try Italian seasonings or with grated Parmesan cheese.

Maybe six or eight months ago I went to make these potatoes, already had the potatoes chopped and the oven hot, and discovered we were out of olive oil. So I melted some butter and tossed the potatoes in that. They potatoes turned out absolutely heavenly. Sometimes when I don't mind doing an extra step, dirtying an extra dish, and being a little unhealthy, I make these potatoes with butter.



White Chocolate Filled Raspberries

This is yet another Pinterest-inspired recipe. I've seen what seems like dozens of pictures of raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips. I tried this--well, I tried it with M&Ms since that was what I had on hand. While I liked the tartness of the berry and the sweetness of the chocolate, I didn't so much like the soft fruit with the crunchy candy. The texture just wasn't right. Recently I made a White Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie which called for a white chocolate ganache. I decided to make a little extra ganache and fill my raspberries with it. The results were absolutely delicious.

6-ounce container raspberries, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon heavy cream

In a small sauce pan, heat the chocolate and cream over low heat until the chocolate and cream is combined and smooth, stirring frequently. Allow to cool. Next, put the chocolate into a pastry bag or a plastic sandwich bag with a corner cut off, and pipe into the center of the raspberries.


Fun Fact: When I was little I had a tabby cat named Raspberry. My friends and I had found a wild raspberry bush growing in the back of a neighbor's yard. Living in a suburb of Detroit, this was an unusual and magical find for us. Later that same day, there was a person giving away free kittens in front of a drug store. Somehow we managed to talk my mom into letting us have one (we already had one cat and a dog). Back home as we tried to come up with names for the brown and black tabby, I saw the raspberries we'd pick sitting on the window sill and knew in my heart that the kitten's name had to be Raspberry.

Me and Raspberry

Thursday, June 7, 2012

White Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie

White chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate. Hazelnut chocolate. You would think so much chocolate would make an ultra treacly, heavy dessert. Not so. This is a great light, airy dessert for summer. I started with Giada De Laurentiis's white chocolate hazelnut tartlet recipe and transformed it into a pie recipe.

1 9-inch prepared pie crust*
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
2/3 cup homemade chocolate-hazelnut spread (or Nutella)
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, garnish

In a small saucepan, heat the white chocolate and 1/4 cup cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir continually until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat, pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool to barely lukewarm. Do not put it in the fridge to hurry along the process. I made this mistake; it makes the next step difficult. 

In another large bowl, beat the remaining 1 1/4 cup cream into medium-firm peaks with a hand mixer. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled white chocolate. Cover and place in the refrigerator until cold, approximately an hour.

Spread the chocolate-hazelnut on the bottom of your cooled pie crust. Pour the white chocolate cream on top. Garnish by sprinkling the mini chocolate chips on top.

*For the pie crust I used Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust and prepared it according to package directions. I usually make my pastry from scratch. You could also use a graham cracker crust.



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Slower Cooker: Alfredo Green Bean Casserole

This is another recipe I tested out on my parents over Memorial weekend. My mom was a little skeptical of this dish. She had never tasted Alfredo sauce and when she tried a bit, she wasn't impressed. But I told her to trust me. Alfredo sauce is great for picking up other flavors like garlic or roasted red pepper, which she loves. Well, after sampling this casserole, she said she's never going back to your typical green bean casserole.

This recipes comes from Pillsbury with a few small changes.

2 pound green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned. I used canned, drained)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers (jarred or homemade), cut in strips*
1 1/4 cups Alfredo sauce (I prefer Bertolli, never Ragu)
1 cup water chestnut, drained and sliced (optional)**
1 cup French fried onions
Pepper, to taste

Whenever I use the slow cooker, I always spray the inside with cooking spray. It makes cleaning it so much easier. So spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray.

Add the beans, water chestnuts, Alfredo sauce, pepper, and roasted red peppers to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 4 hours, stirring after an hour and a half. Before serving, stir in the French Fried onions.

*Jarred roasted red peppers are so expensive so I make my own roasted red peppers in the oven. My mom thought I was nuts, making my own roasted red peppers. She even came into the kitchen to watch me make them because she didn't believe it was as easy as I said. I recommend making your own using the link above.

**I am the only person I know who likes water chestnuts. So I left them out of this recipe. However, I would have loved to have them in the casserole.

I can't wait to make this casserole for Eric's family, especially his mom. She loves red pepper just like my mom and this dish has such a prominent, delicious red pepper flavor. Eric does not find red peppers as exciting and tasty as the rest of us so I might had crumbled bacon topping to the top of the casserole just to entice him to try it.



How to Make Roasted Red Peppers

I love red peppers, especially when they're roasted. But purchasing roasted red peppers is pricy and unnecessary when they are so easy to make yourself.

Red peppers (or any colored pepper), washed and dried
Vegetable oil (DO NOT use extra-virgin olive oil, it will burn)

Preheat your oven to broil. Completely coat your peppers in the oil and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place the pan on the highest rack in your oven. Bake until the skin turns blacks, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn using tongs (peppers will be very hot, do not handle with your hands). Repeat three more times until all four sides of the pepper are charred. Don't wander far from your oven while cooking these. You can easily burn them if you're not paying attention.

Once the peppers are blackened, remove from the oven and immediately place in a heat-proof bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Seal well. The steam trapped in the bowl will loosen the skins of the pepper, making them easy to remove.

After approximately 20 minutes or when the peppers have cooled enough to handle, remove the plastic wrap. Carefully peel the skin of the pepper; it will come off easily. Pull the stem out and with it will come most of the seeds. Slit your pepper open with a knife and scrape off any remaining seeds and ribs.

Slice, dice, or puree into a sauce. Good in salads, on sandwiches, or in soups.



Monday, June 4, 2012

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

My great aunt and uncle came over for dinner on Memorial Day. As we brought the food out to the picnic table, my uncle's eyes went straight to the baked parmesan tomatoes or as he called them "those fancy tomatoes." There is nothing really fancy about these tomatoes other than their taste. Sometimes it amazes me how the simplest foods and recipes taste the best.

Tomatoes, washed and dried
Grated Parmesan cheese
Herbs such as oregano, basil, rosemary, or thyme (fresh or dried)
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and arrange them on the baking sheet. Generously top with Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with your herb of choice--I used oregano. Bake for 15 minutes.

Most of us ate these tomatoes as is. They reminded me of little cheese pizzas but without the crust. My dad put one on top of his turkey burger (I can't believe my truck driver father not only tried my turkey burgers but ate about three, he liked them so much!) along with avocado and lettuce and loved it. Needless to say, there weren't any left overs. With summer on its way and tomatoes coming into season, I can't wait to make these again and again.



Sunday, June 3, 2012

Creamsicle Chocolate Chip Cookies (Cream Cheese Cake Mix Cookie)

Pinterest is bursting with all kind of cream cheese cake mix cookie recipes. While up north for the holiday weekend with my parents, I finally made a batch. My mom had an orange cake mix in the cupboard so I decided to use it for something different than your typical chocolate chip cookies. The cream cheese and butter make these cookies very rich. My mom said they reminded her of bakery cookies. They reminded me of orange creamsicles. Duncan Hines, my favorite cake mix brand, makes an orange cake mix.

1 orange cake mix
1 stick butter, (½ cup) softened
8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the egg and vanilla and combine. Gradually stir in the cake mix. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips. Spoon approximately 2 tablespoon of the batter on a cookie sheet (be warned, the dough is very sticky) and bake for 12 minutes or until the edges brown.

I can't wait to make these for Eric!



Other Cake Mix Cookie Recipes:

Also Check Out These Cake Mix Recipes:

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Black Bean and Sausage Stovetop Casserole

I spent Memorial Weekend in northern Michigan with my parents at their river-side cabin. Sadly, Eric had to work and couldn't come. My mom doesn't really like to cook, so I told her I'd do all the cooking for the weekend because as you all know, I love it. I introduced my parents to some of my favorite recipes such as my tomato and artichoke chicken (my mom's favorite), turkey burgers with avocado sauce, zucchini chips, and roasted chickpeas. I tested out some new recipes on them too: baked parmesan tomatoes, Alfredo green bean casserole, orange chocolate chip cookies, and this black bean and sausage.

I would like to thank Martha Stewart for this recipe. I only changed a few minor things. It was simple yet full of flavor and incredibly filling.

Parents didn't have a large skillet at the cabin so I used a stock pot.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ cup carrots, diced small (I used baby carrots)
2/3 cups yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 pound sausage (I used bratwursts but next time I think I'll use something spicier) 
2 cups chicken broth
2 can black beans (15.5 ounce each), rinsed and drained

Cut the sausage into 1 inch pieces. Heat oil over a medium-high in a large skillet and add the sausage. Cook until all sides are brown. Remove from pan and transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Add the carrots and onions to the oil and cook until the vegetables soften. Season with pepper. Add garlic and cook until golden brown.

Pour in black beans and broth; bring to a boil. Add the sausage back into the pan, reduce heat to a rapid simmer, and cook until the carrots become tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat and serve.

I think this was my dad's favorite recipe. After dinner he kept picking at the pot, first eating all the sausage, then the carrots, and finally the beans.