Friday, May 27, 2011

Baked Salmon

SalmonIt's among the easiest of my recipes, but I never think to post it. Since this blog's in danger of becoming a "dessert blog" I thought I should post something healthy too :)

I can remember years ago not liking salmon at all but one day I decided to try it again and I guess tastes do change because I like this a lot these days.

Among the fillet-type fish I used to favor mild white fish, but given a choice (unless one is stuffed, I love stuffed foods) between baked (no-filling) cod (or similar) and baked salmon, I think I'd choose the salmon. It's meaty, but soft and mild. Unlike tilapia, which to me is the 'meatiest' fish I've ever had and I don't like it very much for some reason. Maybe that will change too, someday. For now, bring on the salmon!


Simple Salmon

1 salmon fillet (one side has skin, a lengthwise cut; same method for a steak)
dill (fresh or dried), to taste
lemon and pepper, to taste
non-fat cooking spray (or a little olive oil, or non-stick aluminum foil)

Line your cooking vessel of choice with foil (regular or non-stick).

Spray on some non-stick spray. Lay your fillet skin-side-down (if it's a steak, either side down is fine).

Sprinkle with dill, and drizzle with a little lemon.

SalmonBake at 350ºF, uncovered, until firm and pink throughout. Depending on the size of your fish steak/fillet, about 30-45 min.

Add more lemon to taste. And pepper if you like. Pairs well with rice and veggies or flaked over pasta.

Delicious!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Instructables

I love the Instructables website. Lot's of how-to's on just about everything and lots of fun stuff in general. Plenty of things I wouldn't dare try but some, like the recipes I do. Here's a few shots of a few I tried, with the links to the relating Instructable. I don't want to detail these because the instructions are pretty good as is.

First thing was the Microwave-in-a-mug popcorn, for when you want just a little bit.
Mug microwave popcorn Mug microwave popcorn
This worked great except I won't use a glass mug anymore because it gets screaming hot and stays that way for a long time. The photos are from the first try, as you can see I used too much popcorn so next time I know to use a little less.


Using the same mug (on a different day), I tried the Brownie for one, a "from scratch," single-serve brownie dessert that you can make as gooey as you like.
Microwave brownieMicrowave brownie
It wasn't pretty but it was very good. Definitely a quick fix for a chocolate urge.


I wanted to make thumbprint cookies for Christmas and searched for recipes. The one that looked the best to me were the Miniature Danish Cookies.
Apricot thumbprintApricot thumbprints

These were fun to make. I think I made them smaller than I should have but that just made more cookies, which isn't a bad thing at all. I also made chocolate thumbprints but that was another recipe (found here, minus the mint).


The latest Instructable I tried were the homemade Cadbury-like Creme Eggs.
Chocolate creme eggsSettingHomemade Chocolate Creme EggMmmmm!

Wow, these were awesome! Not an exact match to a Cadbury Creme Egg, but as close as you can get. I made a half batch of the linked recipe and that was about 12 mini eggs. I don't have egg molds so I made them into pops. I don't think it would be difficult at all to work our way through a whole batch, so next time I plan to make the full recipe. I froze a couple of them too, so I can see if they're good once defrosted. I stored the rest in the fridge. They didn't last long!

I have a bunch more Instructables saved as favorites to try sometime so I may have more experiments to post at some point. These were fun and easy, always a plus.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Fudgesicles

Super easy.

Three ingredients:

Soy milk
Glug of half & half (maybe 2 TBL worth)
Healthy squeeze of dark chocolate syrup

(amounts vary depending on how many pops, I used an 8.25oz single serve container of vanilla soy milk)

Mix well or pour into a bottle and shake well until syrup is dissolved.

Pour into your pop molds, freeze several hours or overnight.
Frozen pops to be

Un-mold, usually have to dip the bottom part in hot water. For the molds I used I had to also dip the top part a second.
fudgesicle

Enjoy!
Yum!

I worried about the texture of frozen soy milk because even the Silk website says frozen then defrosted soy milks texture isn't good but supposedly it's fine for desserts/frozen items. And I've used soy milk for ice cream so this was a good experiment. A bit of an icy/watery texture but sufficiently creamy enough for a quick pop fix. Especially for those times when I can't fit my ice cream maker freezer bowl in the freezer, which is pretty often.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pancakes

Pancakes from scratch When I want pancakes I usually just open a mix but making them from scratch is so worth the effort. There are plenty of recipes out there and plenty of variations. For my first try at this I wanted something easy that didn't require buttermilk because I never buy that. I used a recipe from here but tweaked it by using some of the suggestions in the comments. Also used soy milk instead of milk. Results? A really light and delicate, very delicious pancake breakfast that was totally worth the minimal effort of measuring and melting.

My adapted version:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar (can really be reduced to 1 TBS)
1 and a 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 Tsp. vanilla extract

For the soy milk, I used a whole single serve container of Silk Very Vanilla which is 8.25oz and sweetened so technically I didn't need the sugar at all. If I hadn't used the whole container, these might have been fluffier but they were fine as is.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a smaller bowl mix the egg, vanilla, and soy milk together. Add the melted butter and mix well. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until smooth.

Pancakes from scratch


Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the heated pan, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. When bubbles form it's time to flip, cooking until lightly browned on both sides.






Yummy, pancakes!

Serve hot with butter, syrup, jam, whipped cream and fruit, or any other way you love to eat pancakes. Plenty of options.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Popovers

A very merry breakfastA picture sure can be suggestive. I saw a photo of some popovers on Flickr and suddenly wanted to try some. It occurred to me that I'd never made popovers before (or scones for that matter 'till recently) so I'd have to find a recipe (no recipe with the Flickr photo).

No problem there. Lots of recipes out there. I tried this one because it looked easy and you could change the serving size (and have the correct ingredient amounts) with their handy dandy converter.

Slightly under beaten popover but still quite yummyAnd I learned a lesson or two as well -- don't use butter to butter the sides or popovers won't pop, they'll have a sunken in spot on the bottom, use non-stick spray...and don't forget to use the non-stick spray as I did once or the popovers will stick to the muffin tin (I don't have a popover pan).

Also, don't be afraid to mix them well. I always worry about over mixing but in this case a few more beats would've been ok.

Still... they came out very good. They were light, airy, and yummy with butter or jam or both. I'll definitely be making them again. A great weekend treat.

The recipe:

2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt


Popovers fresh from the ovenPreheat your oven to 450F. Grease and flour six custard cups or the cups of your muffin pan. Or, coat with non-stick cooking spray (as I did on the batch that came out the best for me).

In a medium bowl beat the eggs slightly, beat in the flour, milk, and salt, until just smooth. Try not to over beat. Fill your custard or muffin cups 1/2 full.

Bake at 450F for 20 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 350F and bake for 20 minutes more. Immediately remove from cups and serve hot.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The peanut butter ice (cream) experiment

Peanut butter ice milkI knew I had an ice cream maker somewhere in this house. Found it recently and after this little experiment, remembered why I stored it away... I can't make decent ice cream. But I'm going to keep trying (so long as the thing keeps working anyway) because one of these days I'll get right.



Pouring the ice milk mixture into the ice cream maker

This? Was an adaption from a bunch of different recipes and another something I forgot... soy milk added to a cream mixture makes ice milk (or ice, period), not ice cream. Still, for a first try (in so many years), it was ok. I have something else in mind for any future attempts... like actually using cream (not half & half) and also trying this recipe with peanut butter (I'm allergic to hazelnuts) sometime soon.

I should've used all half & half for this recipe but I was trying to "healthy it up" a bit but by doing so it changed the texture. A lot!


The ice milk mixtureThe recipe:

1 1/2 cups half & half
1 1/2 cup soy milk
(should have tried 2 1/2 cups 1/2 & 1/2 and 1/2 cup soy milk)
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup sugar


I heated all the ingredients in a saucepan until the sugar and powdered milk was dissolved and the peanut butter was melted. Stored the mixture in the fridge and added it to the ice cream maker per instructions the next day.

Peanut butter ice milk
The result was a peanut butter ice milk concoction (that I took out of the freezer and stirred every hour for a few hours to help thicken it up) that wasn't bad at all but not what I was hoping for.

Better luck next time.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Chocolate cake, ganache, and marshmallow

chocolate marshmallow cakeThis almost worked.

I found the marshmallow frosting and ganache* recipes here.

My version? It wasn't pretty but it tasted good. That's pretty much how most of what I make comes out. Tasty, not pretty. Just eat it! :)

My mistake(s) this time was making the frosting too soon and then (gasp!) refrigerating it. Let that be a lesson to all...do not refrigerate homemade marshmallow frosting until you've already frosted your cake! Silly me.

That said... this was still really good.

I used a boxed cake mix...hey, I considered trying one from scratch but I thought I was being adventurous enough trying the homemade frosting. I've made the confectioners sugar (with and without cream cheese) kind, but never a "cook on the stove" kind. Someday I'm going to brave a butter cream attempt (maybe this one). Not this day though.

I sliced the cake carefully (by hand, no dental floss* trick, though I considered it) into 4 layers. Used this* ganache recipe (fabulous!) on each layer, and the marshmallow frosting on top.

The result? Well, as I said, it's not pretty but it sure was good. The ganache keeps the cake moist and the marshmallow frosting is light (even my soupy version, it thickened up after re-refrigeration) and not too sweet and really brought out the chocolate flavor in the (yep, boxed) chocolate cake. Yummy!

A little picture story... click the images to see the larger versions:
two 9x9 chocolate cakes coolingThis WAS perfect. Light fluffy, just perfect. Then I did this. Do NOT refrigerate your marshmallow frosting until you've frosted your cake with it.

Mmmm...ganacheReady to frost

Recovered enough to frost, required additional beating. But it got oozyThen it got reallllly oozy!

I'd make this again. It was a big hit. I just won't refrigerate the frosting until it's on the cake!
(so it won't get oozy next time)It could've been prettier but that's ok, we liked it

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Apple cake

Apple cake, first try...Or overflowing apple cake. Either. My own fault. Always follow your instinct when cooking. I thought I should have split this batter into two pans but for some reason thought it would be fine, and left it as is. Good thing I went with the "cook it on a cookie sheet" option (and listened to that instinctual nudge)!

I've made this recipe twice so far. First time I had the overflow problem, second time I split what looked like too little batter into two separate pans. Good thing. That too-little-looking batter totally filled both pans. So definitely split this into two pans if it looks like a lot. The pan shouldn't be more than 1/4 full.

I got the recipe from here. You can frost this cake but I chose not to.

First time, instead of dicing, I shredded the apple and followed the rest of the recipe as-is. The second time I shredded half and diced half, to see if it made a difference in the texture, and used 1 & 1/2 cups of sugar instead of two. I wanted to see if cutting down changes anything. For some reason the two cups of sugar to only two cups of flour seemed like an awful lot. Using 1/2 cup less of sugar didn't seem to make any difference so I'll make this using 1 1/2 cups of sugar from now on.


The recipe:

4 cups peeled and diced apples (1st try, I shredded 8 small apples, which was about 3-3 1/2 cups or so; 2nd try, half diced and half shredded was about 4-4 1/2 cups)
2 cups sugar (second time, I used 1 1/2 cups sugar, and will from now on)
1/2 cup salad oil
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour (all purpose, not self rising)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Heat your oven to 350ºF degrees. In a large bowl, mix apples and sugar thoroughly.

(The original recipe adds the rest of the ingredients to the apple mixture but I kept the apples and sugar in one bowl and the rest in another and mixed them together after prepping each.)

Add the oil, nuts, eggs and vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the apple mixture.
Apple cake - second try
Bake in a greased 13x9 inch pan for 1 hour. (I used one 13x9 pan the first time and had the overflow problem, second time I used a 13x9 pan and a 9x9 pan, worked perfectly) Slightly underdone is better (according to the recipe, see link above) than overdone. I'd agree with that because you have to factor in carryover*.

Start checking this at the half hour mark if you split the batter. My second (split) batch took 35 minutes to cook.


Apple cakeThis will turn a very toasty shade of brown. That's ok, it's from all the sugar and the cinnamon.

Taste-wise...this was very moist, and tasty. And surprisingly, not overly sweet at all. Dicing the apples does make a difference in the texture. The apple pieces get all soft and pleasingly gooey. I think dicing half and shredding half is a good mix.

I wanted something different from the cobbler-type dessert I usually make when I have a surplus of apples and this worked great. Quick and easy and just the something different I was looking for.

This froze and defrosted well too. I cut up the cake from the second pan into single servings (zippy bagged them) and froze them to take to work. It was just as good as the day I baked it.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stuffed Mushrooms

Something I threw together while making something else. I didn't have a recipe, just went with what seemed right. I was pretty happy (considering I had no recipe) that it came out good! :)

I used large white mushrooms (I had 8 at the time) with the stems removed, and reserved. Lightly salted the insides. Baked the caps empty-side-up, for about 20-25 minutes in a toaster oven on 325F, until they lost some of their moisture, but still held their shape.

For the filling, I finely chopped the following and put it in a small bowl:

1/2 celery rib
1/4 onion
1 plum tomato
8 stems with the (picked side) ends cut off

To this I added one shredded baby carrot, 2-3 tablespoons of flavored breadcrumbs, one tablespoon (store bought) shredded Parmesan cheese, and about a tablespoon of melted butter. Mixed it well, and filled each mushroom cap evenly, and overfilled them with what was left.

I baked this in a toaster oven at 350F for about 30 minutes.

The result? Oh, they were delicious! And I will definitely be making these again. I didn't realize how easy this kind of treat could be. And because the filling would change depending on what ingredients I have handy, it would end up a little different every time. That would add some variety to my usual veggies. Maybe next time I can skip the butter and use a spray on salad dressing instead, or some butter flavored (non-stick) spray.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sweet Cheat Popcorn

sweet cheat popcorn I've been trying to make a kettle-corn style popcorn and an easy caramel type popcorn for ages. By "easy" I mean-- one pot, no separate caramel making, no additional baking, with butter and salt being optional. Easy, you know?

Every time I just tried adding a little (1/4 cup or less) brown sugar to the heating kernels (stove top popcorn prep), I'd end up with hard granules attached to the corn. Not quite what I was looking for. Not to mention a little hard on my teeth.

I think I finally did it though. It was a total fluke. While the kernels were heating up (again, stove top prep, kernels cooking in a little oil) I added some brown sugar, like usual. Only this time, instead of just stirring and hoping for the best, I also added a little water.

This made all the difference! The water dissolved the sugar (have to stir this mixture until the kernels start popping, then continue cooking with the cover on, keeping the pot moving), and the whole works boiled and became a syrupy consistency by the time the kernels started to pop. The syrupy mixture cooked onto the newly popped kernels and finally I had easy stove top sweet popcorn! Yum!
sweet cheat popcorn
Of course, this probably isn't a secret, and many of you out there, likely already knew this. Silly me though for never thinking of it 'till recently. (I worried that adding water to popcorn makes mush; it probably does if the kernels have popped, but not while they're still kernels.)

So, this adds to the many ways you can make popcorn. To this sweet mixture I've drizzled butter on top and added salt. Very tasty! But probably best as an occasional treat.

The best thing is, made this way, it's tasty as-is, which is exactly what I wanted. A little sweet, without the added butter or extra steps trying to make caramel or having to bake it. Still have to be extra careful of the unpopped kernels. Now they'll likely stick to the popped ones. Eat carefully!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cinnamon Gnocchi

I saw this recipe on Everyday Italian, only, the recipe that was in the episode doesn't quite match the recipe on the website. Strange.

In the episode, she used a half of a cup of sugar, and a tablespoon or so of cinnamon, which is different than the website version.

I made my own version so I guess it doesn't matter. I was kind of bummed that I couldn't get the sugar to dissolve in the butter. At least it looked that way but in the end, the sugar dissolved and this came out pretty good.

I've never had gnocchi before so this was a completely different dessert for me and definitely not the way I intended to have it initially. Nice change. (I intended to add the gnocchi to tomato sauce)

This is how I made this:

1 & 1/2 cups gnocchi, boiled in salted water until tender (per package instructions), and drained

Set this aside.

In the same saucepan that I cooked the gnocchi in (empty now but still hot) I added:

1/2 stick butter
1 cinnamon stick

Melt the butter, and then add:

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Cook this mixture until the sugar melts, or, 3-5 minutes on low to medium heat, stirring often.

Remove the cinnamon stick. Add the drained gnocchi.

In both the website and TV episode version of this recipe, that was it. Done. In my version, I cooked the gnocchi in the sauce another two minutes.

That's it. Plate it and enjoy.
Definitely have to serve this warm!


I felt better having used much less butter, but wondered if more butter made the sauce thicker. Possibly. But I'd rather have a slightly looser sauce and know I used a lot less butter.



Another good thing about this recipe is the wonderful way it makes your kitchen smell. Dessert and aromatherapy all in one. Nice!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Birds in a Nest

birds in a nestI was half watching a 30 Minute Meals episode and discovered this fun twist on eggs and toast.

My version for two requires 4 eggs, 4 pieces of bread (any sliced bread, I used Italian, and cooked up the cut-outs too), 1-3 TBS. butter, and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat a frying pan on medium heat. (If you're using a small pan, you can cook these in smaller batches) Use a small cup or circular cutter to cut a circle in the center of each piece of bread. Lower the heat to medium. Melt 1 or two TBS. of butter in the hot frying pan. Arrange your bread in the pan. (I placed the bread in the pan, allowed it to soak up a little butter, then turned it over)

Carefully break an egg into the center of each piece of bread. Pepper to taste. Add a dash of salt if you wish. Cook to desired doneness.

You're basically frying your toast instead of baking it. If you like your eggs soft side up you will be done within 3-4 minutes. If you like them over-easy, just flip and wait a minute.




I like mine well done.


This was kind of fun (new twist, cute name) so it worked nicely. Might try spicing it up a bit next time or sprinkling on some cheese (parmesan or cheddar) right at the end.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A.B.'s Peanut Butter Fudge (easy!)

peanut butter fudgeI saw this recipe on Good Eats. Yummmmy!

Sure looked easy. Alton Brown uses a microwave, but I don't have one (really!) so I did this on the stove top. The episode recipe is here. I think mine is the same except that I don't have a scale so I checked for conversions and came up with what I thought was close enough. Someday I hope to try his chocolate fudge. Looked really good in the episode.

This peanut butter fudge recipe is easy!

Before you start, prepare a square (8"x8" or 9"x9") pan by lining it with non-stick foil, waxed paper, or parchment paper. Set aside.

You'll need:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup creamy (smooth) peanut butter

Melt this in a saucepan on low heat (or in your microwave), stirring often.

In a (metal or heat safe) bowl, add 1 lb (or about 3 and 3/4 cups) sifted confectioners (powdered) sugar.

Add 1 Tsp. vanilla to the bowl.

peanut butter fudgeWhen the peanut butter and butter is thoroughly melted, add the mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Mix well! Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cover with a piece of waxed paper. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (or overnight) and when cool, cut into squares and enjoy!

These were melt in your mouth delicious! Good for the occasional treat.


I also tried a chocolate version of this recipe. I wasn't brave enough to try it without some peanut butter added in case it added something to the texture.
chocolate peanut butter fudge
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth)
1 and 1/4 cups chocolate chips
2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1 Tsp. vanilla
Prepared the same way as above.

For a little variety, the peanut butter chocolate fudge would work out pretty good. A different mouth feel than the version I usually make (when making easy chocolate "fudge"). Fun to experiment sometimes.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bread Pudding

bread puddingThere are so many variations of this recipe out there. I just winged it, and usually do with this recipe. I've made this before and it comes out a little different every time. It always tastes good though, and that's the point. Something about the nutmeg and the milk, comfort food for sure. Very yummy.


This is the recipe I used the last time I made it, and the only thing I would do differently, is add more soy milk. In the bread pudding pictured, I used about 2 cups. The next time I'll use about 2 1/2 to 3 cups.



Ingredients:

8-10 slices white bread, cut in to cubes
2 1/2 - 3 cups soy milk (I used vanilla flavored, you can use regular milk of course)
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 TBS to sprinkle over the top
Dash salt
4 eggs beaten
1 Tsp vanilla extract
Cinnamon & nutmeg (about 1 Tsp. or to taste, plus a couple of dashes on top)
Non-fat cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 325ºF -- preheat to 350ºF if using metal baking dishes. I used corningware in aluminum, so I cooked this longer, at a lower temperature.

Spray a baking dish with non-fat cooking spray and set aside. Set aside a larger baking pan. The smaller one will sit in the larger one, along with some water.

Place your cut up bread in the smaller baking dish. In a bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs well. Add the soy milk and whisk together. Add the 3/4 cup sugar, the nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt, and mix well.

Slowly pour the mixture over the cubed bread. Make sure you do not fill your baking dish to the very top. The mixture will rise when cooked and might overflow if the container is too full. Gently press the bread so all of it soaks up the egg mixture.

Sprinkle the remaining 2 TBS. sugar over the top. Sprinkle a little cinnamon and nutmeg over the top as well. Lightly cover with foil (make a little tent so the foil isn't touching the top of the bread pudding), and poke a few holes in the foil so the steam can vent while cooking.

Place the empty, larger baking dish on a center rack in your oven. Carefully place the smaller, foil covered baking dish inside the larger one. Carefully pour hot tap water in the larger baking dish until the water level is just less than 1/2 up the side of the smaller baking dish.

bread pudding, water bath(This is called a "water bath" and is to ensure even, gentle heating of your custard)


Depending on your cooking vessel and oven, cook for 30-40 minutes and remove the foil cover. Cook for another 20-40 minutes, checking at the 20 minute mark. When the bread pudding is done, it will rise a little in the baking dish, be golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

This is my version which is much thicker. In a milkier version, (the kind I'll make next time!) the bread pudding custard will be a little runny, and will feel slightly firm, and even jiggle a little when the baking dish is gently shaken. The toothpick should still come out clean though.

This is best served warm, and can be gently reheated. Very much a tasty comfort food.