Friday, October 30, 2009

Kinda like pizza, but not really

For the last few months, I've been poring over this great recipe blog called Joyful Abode. I have book marked about 20 recipes, but have yet to make any of them...until today!

I thought I'd start with this simple recipe for focaccia bread. Focaccia bread is delicious. It's great as a snack, it's good with soup, salad, or dipped in tomato sauce or pesto. It's easy to make because it doesn't require any kneading, and though it's a yeast bread, it only requires 1 hour of rising, so it's not as time consuming as regular bread recipes.

Sorry again for the lack of pictures this week!

Focaccia Bread (by Emily of a Joyful Abode)
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 4 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 3 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
Directions
  1. Start with 1 1/2 cups of warm water and add 4 teaspoons of active dry yeast.
  2. Stir until dissolved
  3. In the large mixing bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, and the yeast-water.
  4. Beat on high for about a minute to a minute and a half (I would say don’t try this recipe unless you have a standing mixer / you don’t mind putting in the arm power with a dough whisk. My handheld mixer didn’t quite do the trick!)
  5. Drizzle a 9” x 13” pan with some olive oil and brush it all around.
  6. Scoop the sticky dough into the pan with a spatula and lightly pat it around until it’s situated. Don’t worry about it going all the way to the edges.
  7. Grab your saran wrap and tear off a sheet to cover the dough with. Hold it up and give it a light spray of pam.
  8. Cover the bread dough with the saran wrap and let it rise for an hour.
  9. After about 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. In a small mixing bowl, combine parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, and garlic salt.
  11. Thinly slice your tomato into as many slices as you can get.
  12. Now that your dough is puffy, use a fork to make little holes all over it.
  13. Drizzle the top with olive oil, sprinkle half of your seasoning, lay your tomatoes on top, and top with the rest of your seasoning.
  14. Pop your dish in the oven and in 35 minutes you’ve got golden brown focaccia bread.
Served with Pacific Natural Foods Tomato Soup!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You know what a goddamn banana seat is

I'll this preface this post by saying that I am a big fan of writer/director Rian Johnson. Brick is one of my all time favorite movies and I have spent quite some time watching the dvd extras, reading about him, and scouring his web page, which is frequently updated with anything he finds interesting. So for months, I've been dying to see his second film The Brothers Bloom.

I was a little nervous about the movie at first because Brick was truly an independent film. It was shot in 20 days, for under $500K, using all 35 millimeter film. The special effects were all super neat in-camera tricks. The actors were all pretty much unknown except for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is my favorite actor. The Brothers Bloom is a studio film with famous actors and a large budget. That being said, it wasn't filmed in a studio, but on location all over the globe, which adds a true sense of adventure to the conman love story.

The movie was great though. I had nothing to fear. Adrien Brody was a doll, Mark Ruffalo a cad, and Rian Johnson even found a way to write Rachel Weisz a character I could actually love. The story focuses around two orphaned, brothers, Stephen and Bloom who grew up conning their way through towns and foster homes. As adults, Bloom becomes tired of being a conman, but decides to stick it out for one last time. The brothers set their sites on the wealthy, eccentric Penelope Stamp. Hijinks, explosions, and fake blood ensues.

Though not as good (in my opinion) as Brick, Rian Johnson stays true to his roots, writing his scripts the way "Russian poets write novels, with thematic arcs and embedded symbolism." He even pays homage to Brick with cameos by Levitt, Noah Segan, Lucas Haas, and Nora Zehetner.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tricks and treats to try tonight


When I was little, I loved trick or treating.

I loved getting dressed up, being a little scared, and gathering pillowcases full of candy. Living in New England, Halloween was always a lesson in dressing in layers. Before heading out, my mom would make sure we had something warm and filling to keep us going through the night.

For the last few weeks, I've been craving beef stew, her Halloween night special. So, since we don't have a stew pot, I decided to give my slow cooker a try. I've never used a slow cooker before and my goodness, it is as easy as people say it is. Especially for beef stew!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew (by Valisme at All Recipes)
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
Directions
  1. Place meat in slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper
  3. Pour mixture over meat, and stir to coat.
  4. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery.
  5. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.
Sorry for the lack of photos. Alex and his sister had the camera while I spent the day cooking! Such a good Sunday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Do the dew

I am always looking for an excuse to make cupcakes. You'd think there would be more of them in life, but cupcakes are tough because you can't just make one and they are loaded with butter and sugar and everything that is not great for your waist line. Sometimes I wish I had kids so I'd have an excuse to bake cupcakes more often.

One of my favorite cupcake recipes is for Mountain Dew Cupcakes. They don't taste exactly like Mountain Dew, but they are citrusy and sweet and delicious. The recipe was created by the writer of my favorite blog, How to Eat a Cupcake, which I found when my roommates and I threw a cupcakes and champagne party last year.

I decided to bake them again for my mom's birthday a couple of weekends ago and they turned out fantastic as does almost any recipe I steal from How to Eat a Cupcake!

Mountain Dew Cupcakes (by Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake)
Makes 12 cupcakes (I got 14 cupcakes)

Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tsp Mountain Dew
  • 2 Tsps frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • zest from 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime
  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a measuring cup, combine Mt. Dew and concentrated orange juice.
  4. Combine butter, sugar, and zest in a large bowl.
  5. With a hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat until fluffy.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl before adding flour.
  8. Add dry mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the wet in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined.
  9. Pour batter into cupcake papers about 2/3 full.
  10. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Cool on wire racks.
Frosting
  • 1 cup Mountain Dew
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tsps heavy cream
  • 2 tsps frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • zest from 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of Mt. Dew to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat until it no longer bubbles (medium-low or low depending on your stove).
  3. Let Mt. Dew evaporate for about 15 minutes. It should reduce by 3/4. You should end up with between 2 tablespoons and 1/4 cup of syrup.
  4. Pour it in a small glass measuring cup to cool.
  5. Sift the confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl.
  6. Add butter and beat, gradually increasing speed to high, until combined.
  7. Pour in heavy cream and Mt. Dew syrup.
  8. Continue mixing on high until fluffy.
  9. Add OJ concentrate, zest, and food coloring.
  10. Mix on low speed until combined.








Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How do you like them apples?

Nothing says fall in New England like Mack's Apples in Londonderry, NH. We've been going there since we were little kids. They have great apples, great cider, and fantastic cider donuts.

Alex and I picked lots of apples this weekend. Way to many to eat on their own. So I decided to try making apple crisp. I've never done it before, but it looked easy enough and who doesn't love apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

I found this recipe for the Best Ever Caramel Apple Crisp at All Recipes and it is the best apple crisp I've ever made!

Best Ever Apple Crisp (from St Matthew First Graders at All Recipes)

Apple Filling
  • 3-4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsps and 2 teaspoons water
Crumble
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
Caramel Sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium size bowl, toss apples with sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon juice, and water.
  3. Spread evenly into a 8x8 inch pan.
  4. In a heavy sauce pan over low heat, melt the caramels with the evaporated milk, stirring frequently, until mixture has a smooth consistency. (I just used pre-made caramel syrup ice cream topping. Easier, just as tasty, and less messy!)
  5. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top of the apple mixture.
  6. In another bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, oats, and butter.
  7. Spoon mixture evenly over apples.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 20 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream and caramel syrup.










Monday, October 12, 2009

In 1492, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

Happy Columbus Day!

Columbus Day is one of my favorite holidays. In New England it means colorful leaves, apple picking, cider donuts, half marathons and in my family it means my mom and sister's birthdays. It's a great holiday!

This weekend we did, saw, and ate all of the above. We did some leaf peeping in NH. We visited my sister for her birthday and had cider and cider donuts. We went apple picking at Mack's Apples with my nephew. And, on Sunday, Debra, Emily, and I ran in the BAA Half Marathon. I clocked in at 2:08:04 which is a 9:47 minute mile (a personal best!). Thanks to Alex and Allie for being there and cheering us on. It was so nice to see you at the finish line!!

Over all, it was a great weekend! Today we are taking it easy, enjoying the day off, catching a movie, and having a beer with lunch. Hope everyone is having a great day too!