Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trying Out New Recipes

There are so many recipes I want to share with you, but there are also so many new recipes I want to try. I don't know about you but I'm always on the lookout for something new to add to my repetoire that my family will love and that I won't have to spend hours preparing. So rather than making & photographing my own recipes, I've been trying out lots of new recipes. Here are just a few of the recipes I have tried out so far.

I've recently become addicted to watching Nigella Lawson on the Cooking Channel. I especially enjoy Nigella Express and on one of my trips to the library at the first of the year (I spend a lot of time at my local library) I found the cookbook of the same name. It's absolutely packed with recipes I want to try, so I sticky noted (yes, I really said "sticky noted", no I don't suspect that's an actual word) some of them to try right away. I really love Nigella's approach to cooking - very simple techniques, lots of one pot dishes, very quickly put together, and filled with fresh, quality ingredients that won't break the bank. So Tuesday night we tried out her Sweetcorn Chowder with Toasted Tortillas. It was so simple and so delicious. I don't have a food processer so I used my blender and some of the broth to get the consistency right, but it was, as I said so delicious!

Another Nigella Lawson recipe I tried recently is her and, to be perfectly honest, am already addicted to them. I have made so many batches already they're practically a staple in our pantry now. Amanda pointed out to me that we're out several weeks agot now so I really need to make some more.

Back in January or so, I listened to an audiobook of a favorite book series of mine - the Hannah Swensen Mysteries - maybe you've heard of them? The herione owns a cookie and coffee shop and the books are absolutely filled with recipes - and all the recipes I've tried so far have been absolute winners. Joanne Fluke is the author and I understand all the recipes that go into the book are thoroughly tested. Anyway, I was listening to Key Lime Pie Murder and a cookie called "Chippers" was included in the story. These cookies have potato chips in them - being a "crunchy/salty snacker" myself, I was intrigued, but since I didn't have a hard-copy of the book, I didn't try to copy the recipe. Then, I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day - Smitten Kitchen - lo and behold, she posted a recipe for Potato Chip Cookies! Of course, I had to try them. They are buttery, shortbready (is that even a word?), cookies with toasted pecans as well as crushed up potato chips. You should hop on over to the Smitten Kitchen, grab the recipe and give it a test drive yourself! I have since wrangled a hard-copy of Key Lime Pie Murder and tried those out too. I have to admit, I like Joanne Fluke's recipe even better. Hers recipe calls for a couple of egg yolks in the dough - so they came together a bit better. In both cases the cookies come out crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. I did use the Smitten Ktichen's method of rolling the whole dough ball in sugar before flattening - I like them that way very much. You end up with a lovely combination of sweet/salty/crunchy/chewy. Hard to believe, right!? But I am SOLD and wholly addicted to these gems!

Our 15 year old, Arynn, was cast in the production of Les Miserables at her high school this year. She had rehearsals 4 days a week until 6 or 7:00pm - which spells L-A-T-E D-I-N-N-E-R for us. So, one day, after making not just the Potato Chip cookies but also another batch of my signature cookies (I promise, I will post this recipe - someday) for a friend of the family, I decided we'd go with a simple dinner of pasta tossed in butter and parmigiano reggiano and that I'd use my bread machine to make some bread to go along with the pasta. I have a bread machine cookbook and so far the recipes I've tried from it have been pretty good so I decided to try a new recipe from that and chose the Italian Scallion and Herb Bread. It starts with chopped scallions, dried basil, thyme and rosemary sauteed in butter then added to the other ingredients in the bread machine. The photo in the book of this particular bread showed it cut into slender pieces and toasted - so we did the same and it made for a crusty, savory accompaniment to our pasta.

I have also finally gotten around to trying out some recipes I found on Pinterest, but I'll save those for separate posts - FOP (Found On Pinterest) - that I'll try to start posting on some sort of regular schedule TBD later. I'm sure there's more I should be sharing with you but I'll call it good for now and try to get some more posts up (and add photos) in the near future! Until then, Ciao!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

FOP#1: Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

April 4th our "niece-daughter" Arynn turned 16. We totally surprised her with a trip to the mall with 4 of her close friends, followed by an overnight at our house. Arynn doesn't like pancakes *gasp*, shocking right? She's also not a fan of cake in general so we made home-made ice cream sandwiches instead of birthday cake, but I was a bit stumped on breakfast. My original plan was to do a cereal bar with a few kinds of cereal, set out cut up fruit, milk, maybe some yogurt plus juice, etc., but it turned out one of the guests has to limit her gluten intake. Said guest suggested bacon & scrambled eggs for breakfast with pancakes - but there's that whole Arynn not liking pancakes thing. So I also considered waffles, but my waffle maker only makes 2 at a time - and is in dire need of replacing. So I decide I'd make a coffee cake or something along those lines that could bake in the oven while I worked on everything else.

So to introduce a new post theme I'm going to be working on (on an as-yet-undetermined schedule) Found On Pinterest aka: FOP, I'm kicking of entry #1 with this tantalizing recipe for Lemon-Blueberry-Yogurt Loaf. This recipe has been very popular on Pinterest. When I pinned it I had just been experimenting with blueberry coffee cake and thought I wanted to add lemon to my recipe - the photo was just so pretty and the idea of lemon and blueberry together sounded amazing. Sooooo, I decided to make it for the birthday breakfast. Mine didn't come out as pretty as the photo and as I read through the comments on the Sweet Peas Kitchen blog today I noticed that she said she always thaws the berries thoroughly, then pats them dry with paper towels. I, however, broke the cardinal rule of cooking/baking and failed to read through the recipe so the berries weren't thawed. I measured them out, then left them sitting in a sieve while I mixed up the batter, then decided not to worry about thawing or rinsing them - so long story short, the "bled" all over the batter. Regardless, the bread was delicious and was a hit with all the kids (even the picky 8 year old cousin who happened to be staying with us this past week too)! It was gobbled up so quickly I didn't have a chance to take any photos. I'm really looking forward to making this again (following the instructions properly this time) and when I do, I'll be sure to take some photos and post them here.

Ready to try to recipe yourself? Hop on over to Sweet Peas Kitchen for the recipe and that photo that caught the attention of so many pinners!