"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tiramisu - from Caroline

Our friends, Caroline and Franklin, had us over for dessert after supper club this week. We went to an Italian restaurant - so she made Tiramisu! Everyone loved it!! It is made in a triffle dish or large glass bowl so you won't have to make individual servings. It makes a great presentation and is best if made the day before serving.

1 (16 oz) container mascarpone cheese
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp. plus 1/2 cup confections sugar
3 tbsp. plus 1/3 cup coffee-flavor liqueur
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 (1 oz) squares semi-sweet chocolate, grated
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Instant espresso-coffee powder (or regular instant coffee if necessary)
2 to 3 (4 1/2 oz) packages ladyfingers

1. In a large bowl, with a wire whisk or fork, beat mascarpone, salt, 1/2 confectioners sugar, 3 tbsp. coffee flavored liqueur, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 2/3 of the grated chocolate. Set aside the remaining chocolate for the top of the dessert.
2. In a small bowl, with the mixer at medium speed, beat 1 cup whipping cream until stiff peaks form. With rubber spatula or wire whisk, fold whipped cream into cheese mixture.
3. In another small bowl, stir instant espresso-powder, remaining 1/3 cup coffee-flavor liqueur, remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 2 tbsp. water.
4. Separate lady fingers into halves. Line 2 1/2 quart glass or crystal bowl with one-fourth of the ladyfingers; brush with 2 tbsp. of espresso mixture. Spoon a third of the cheese mixture over ladyfingers. Repeat with ladyfingers, espresso mixture, and cheese mixture over ladyfingers to make two more layers. Top with remaining ladyfingers, gently pressing ladyfingers into cheese mixture. Brush ladyfingers with remaining espresso mixture. Sprinkle remaining grated chocolate over top of dessert, reserving 1 tbsp. for garnish.
5. In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat the remaining 1/2 cup cream and remaining 2 tbsp. confectioners sugar until stiff peaks form.
6. Spoon the whipped cream onto the top of the dessert.
7. Sprinkle the reserved grated chocolate on top of the whipped cream. Refrigerate until chilled (at least two hours) - this allows the flavors to blend.

(Serves 16)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup - from Kate

My friend, Kate, brought this AMAZING breakfast treat to a ladies' brunch we had for Sunday School this weekend. Everyone was raving about how great it was!! I have not made it yet but hopefully will soon - Kent will definitely love it! It is a breakfast version of a bread pudding - and it's so good!!

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
1 loaf French bread
7 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of salt
Praline Topping (recipe follows)
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1 inch each. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 x 13 inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk/egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread praline topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping
3/4 lb butter
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and blend well.

Friday, January 22, 2010

French Dip

Several friends have mentioned being interested in more crock pot recipes. This one was given to me by a sweet friend at church. It is so good - and an easy first recipe to try out in a crock pot. It makes great leftovers and is a good "guy food." I e-mailed it to one friend earlier this week, and it received great reviews!

French Dip
(For 4 people)
2-3 lbs boneless round steak
1 packet of dry onion soup mix
1 can beef
loaf french bread
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Put steak in crock pot, pour beef broth over top and sprinkle dry soup mix over all. Cook on low heat 6-8 hours. Slice french bread in half, lengthwise. Layer beef (shredded) and cheese then cover with top of loaf. Wrap whole loaf in foil and heat at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes on a cookie sheet. Remove from foil and slice into sandwiches. Use broth as dip for the sandwiches. (For best results, turn the meet over about half way through cooking to avoid drying out one side.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Mentions

My friend, Sally, told me about this wonderful website, and I wanted to share it with everyone! This website (http://www.tastebook.com/) allows you to create your own recipe book. I have been working on a family cookbook for a while using this website. It is really easy to use because they have wonderful templates. It allows you to add family pictures, fun notes, and a dedication page. I ordered my cookbook just before Thanksgiving so that I could show it to my family. I was very impressed with the quality of the cookbook and am excited to finish it! Because it functions like a binder, you can order the book and your pages whenever you want and then add new pages later.

Also, if you have a lot of recipes saved on your computer from places like Food Network or Southern Living Magazine, you can actually upload them directly to your own personalized cookbook. You can also use pictures and recipes from tons of other on-line sources. Or, you can even order pre-made cookbooks produced by the company that revolve around a theme, like healthy eating or Greek food. This is such a good way to keep all of your favorite recipes organized in one place!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beef Stew

I first tried this recipe about a month ago. It is a great meal to have during all of this cold weather! I'm planning on cooking it again this week! I made it in a stock pot the first time. It was good, but better when we had it the next day because it was able to cook longer so the meat was more tender. This time I may try it in the crock pot so I don't have to watch it, and it will have enough time to simmer.

Beef Stew
1 1/2 pounds stew beef
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
1 to 2 medium carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary, or a dash of crumbled dried rosemary

Trim stew beef and cut in small bite-size pieces. Put in a food storage bag with the flour, onion powder, and seasoned salt; toss to coat well.

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat; add beef to hot oil and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Add the onion and celery; continue cooking, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add carrots, garlic, broth, wine, and rosemary; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for about an hour*, or until beef is tender. Serve with biscuits or hot cooked noodles. Serves 6.

*I would suggest letting it simmer for about 3 hours. It will be good after an hour, but the beef may not be tender enough to eat without a knife yet. If you have time, let it cook for several hours until the beef starts to fall apart easily - the flavors will also be better. This is a really rich stew - so yummy! And it's a meal all on its own. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

My parents sent us home with a ham after Christmas. I was so good! But we wanted to do something with the ham bone when we finished with the ham. We found this recipe and tried it last week. It has so much flavor!

Notes: This recipe does require some preparation since the beans need to soak overnight. If you don't like spicy foods, leave out the anaheim pepper. If you don't have a ham bone, you can substitute vegetable stock for the water.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
16 ounces dry black beans
2 quarts water
bone from a large ham
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeƱo pepper, minced
1 anaheim pepper, minced
2 chipotle peppers, minced
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, cut into chunks (or a 15-ounce/434 g can of diced tomatoes with the juice)
1 teaspoon chili powder
6 cloves garlic, minced
water, enough to just cover the other ingredients
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

*The night before you make the soup, pick through the beans and remove any bad ones. Put the beans into the pot and add 2 quarts of water. Remove the beans that float. Allow to soak overnight. Drain.

Place the ham bone in the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Add the soaked beans, all the peppers, onion, tomatoes, chili powder, and garlic. Add water, just enough to cover everything. Put on the lid and cook on high for about 6 to 7 hours or on low for 9 to 10 hours, until the beans are tender.
About 1 hour before serving, add the salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir and put the lid back on. Immediately before serving, take out the ham bone and use an immersion blender to stir the ingredients together and break some of the beans. It is very creamy and can be served with sour cream, cheese, and corn chips.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Mentions

With the start of the New Year I decided to start a new blog series - "Monday Mentions"! On Mondays I will give recommendations for restaurants, food products, cookbooks, etc. I will continue to post Wine Wednesdays about every other week - especially since my blog always receives more visits on Wednesday than any other day!!

For the first Monday Mention I wanted to recommend the movie Julie & Julia. Several people asked me when I started my blog if I got the idea for a recipe blog from last summer's movie about Julia Child. I actually hadn't seen it yet. But, I got to watch it over the holidays. And it was so cute! It made me want to start trying some exciting new recipes! If you enjoy cooking, you will definitely enjoy watching this movie!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Grape Salad

This recipe is great for a brunch or party. It works well as a side or a dessert since it's so sweet. Kent's aunt makes a similar recipe for Christmas every year and it's always a big hit!

Grape Salad
2 lbs green seedless grapes
2 lbs red seedless grapes
8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Wash and stem grapes; set aside. Blend together sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Stir grapes into mixture until well covered. Place the mixture into a serving bowl. Stir together topping ingredients in a separate bowl, then sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the grape mixture. Chill overnight before serving.
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