Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Worthy Cause- Nourish the Children

Did you know?
  • Every 6 seconds a child dies of malnutrition.
  • 800 million people are going hungry, mostly children*
  • 50% of the world's children are severely underweight*
  • Over five million people die every year due to malnutrition. Millions more survive, but with their growth and intelligence stunted due to a lack of vital nutrients.

*UNICEF - The State of the World's Children 2002

My husband's company has an intiative called Nourish the Children, for which they've developed a product called Vitameal that provides all the necessary nutrients and vitamins children need to develop properly. Through generous donations, they have provided over 100 million meals in the past five years to children all over the world, including the victims of the China earthquake. If you have a moment, please read a little about the initiative. If you're interested in donating, please click here. Thanks!

TWD- Creme Brulee

After reading a couple other posts on this, I'm not alone in saying that Creme Brulee has always been a favorite dessert of mine. And my husband's. So much so, in fact, that we got a butane torch for our wedding shower (we have yet to buy a tank, though...darn!). So I was pretty excited that this week's recipe was for Creme Brulee, chosen by Merouw Cupcake. There are a few variations given in the book, but I stuck with the normal vanilla version because it's so good. I've made it in the past, but it always involved a water bath. Dorie's version doesn't use a water bath- just baking it at a very low temperature for a longer period of time. The recipe is very simple- just boiling cream and milk and using it to temper the egg yolks and sugar. Pop it in the oven and that's it! Although, the recipe says 50-60 minutes, mine took a lot longer than that (was anyone else's bubbling even though the center was set??!!). Since we don't have a tank for our torch (even though it's been over 5 years), I used the boiler method to crystallize the sugar. I also halved it because that last thing we need at our house is 4-6 creme brulees. Here's the recipe.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

BB- Apple Turnovers

This week's bonus recipe was chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry. I made it for a last-minute dessert the other night when friends came over for our "Italian Night" (a.k.a. husbands cook. yipee!). It's simple and quick- to make it even easier, I used the pre-sliced Granny Smith apples from Trader Joe's. I also cut the recipe in half (it makes 8!!). My husband really liked them, but I thought the filling was a little dry. I served them with cinnamon ice cream, which helped. Definitely a good, simple recipe for comfort food!

Apple Turnovers
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/4 pounds tart apples, such as Empire or Granny Smith (3 apples)
3 tablespoons dried cherries
3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch kosher salt
1 package (17.3 ounces, 2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the orange zest and orange juice in a bowl. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and then cut them in 3/4-inch dice. Immediately toss the apples with the zest and juice to prevent them from turning brown. Add the cherries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Flour a board and lightly roll each sheet of puff pastry to a 12 by 12-inch square. Cut each sheet into 4 smaller squares and keep chilled until ready to use.

Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square. Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges with a fork. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, make 2 small slits, and bake for 20 minutes, until browned and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

So any of you who have spent any time in UT, AZ, or Las Vegas have probably heard of Cafe Rio. For those of you not familiar with it, Café Rio is a Mexican-inspired restaurant that opened in St George, UT in the late 1990’s. I didn’t discover it until the early 2000’s after it migrated north to the Salt Lake area. At that time, I almost always got chicken burritos at Baja Fresh/La Salsa-type places, which is what I thought this was. It was ok, but nothing great- there was much better food in LA. Then I was informed that the ONLY thing to get there was the pork salad. So I tried it- it’s marinated, shredded pork on a homemade tortilla with rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, cilantro, lime, guacamole, tortilla strips, cotija (which I always omit- ick), and just about the yummiest dressing EVER. It’s addicting, as evidenced by Café Rio’s HUGE popularity and rapid expansion (as well as imitators!). I got this recipe from a swap at my church and it’s the closest I’ve had to the real thing.

Cafe Rio Shredded Pork

2 lbs pork (I use pork roast)
16 oz. bottle of chunky salsa (pureed until smooth)
1 can Coke
2 cups brown sugar

Place pork in crock pot and fill it 1/2 way up the pork with water. Cook on high for 5 hours. Drain off water. Cut pork in thirds. Mix together sauce ingredients and put on top of pork. Cook an additional 3 hours on high. Shred pork with forks. Keep on low until ready to serve.

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch
1 cup mayo
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-5 tomatillos - peel off paper, chop
1/3 - 1/2 cups buttermilk, to consistency you want (I never need this)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Put in blender and mix.

For serving:
Warm tortillas (homemade, or we like the fresh ones from Costco)
Shredded romaine lettuce
Lime-cilantro rice
Black Beans (or pinto, if you prefer)
Shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Sour cream

Pile it up, drizzle with lots of dressing and enjoy!

(I didn't have a pic from when I've made it so I borrowed this one)

Monday, September 15, 2008

TWD- Chocolate Chunkers

Claudia of Fool for Food chose this week's recipe. I have to be honest, when I read it my first thought was, "These have a lotta things that I (and/or my husband) don't like." So I actually made the dough, took about a third of it and added cocoa powder, golden raisins, chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. And then I made plain chocolate chip cookies to the rest. Hee, hee. Honestly, the chocolate chunkers baked up beautifully and smelled really good (even though they looked exactly like these??!).

They had nice crispy edges and soft chewy centers. But the raisins in chocolate cookies really didn't do it for me. In all fairness, I'm only a fan of raisins in oatmeal cookies. I ate one, my baby (and her belly) ate one, and I threw the rest of out.

So needless to say, I'm (and my husband) glad I made chocolate chip cookies with the rest of the dough. Check out Claudia's blog for the recipe if you want (I think it will be in English?)!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers- Grown Up Mac & Cheese

This is my first Barefoot Bloggers recipe. When I heard about this group I thought it would be fun since I like Ina Garten, although I don't have much time to watch her show anymore. This recipe is for "Grown Up Mac & Cheese," chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. I make homemade mac & cheese on a somewhat regular basis, but don't use bacon or the types of cheeses this recipe calls for. I did make some substitutions, however. I used ham instead of bacon as we rarely eat bacon, and I used whole wheat rotelle since TJ's doesn't have whole wheat macaroni (we're trying to incorporate more whole grains in our diet). I also used whole wheat bread instead of white bread beacuse we don't eat white bread and I didn't want to buy a whole loaf for two slices.

I figure those are fairly minor substitutions. When your audience is mainly under 3 years old, I'm not too concerned with refined tastebuds. :) I baked mine in a 13"x9" dish instead of the two individual-sized dishes as called for in the recipe.

I baked it at 350 F for 20 minutes and it got pretty brown. The basil tasted a little burnt. I wasn't sure if maybe the individual-sized dishes were a lot deeper than a 13"x9"?

Anyway, it tasted good. The family was happy, but then again, it's rare for hubby and girls to turn down mac & cheese!

Grown Up Mac and Cheese 2007, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I made cupcakes for a family party last weekend. I decided to do cake mix- DH has red velvet!! I had to try it. I used the following substitutions and followed the mixing/baking directions on the box:

1 c whole milk

1/2 c sour cream
1/4 c oil

4 eggs

I topped them with a swirl of Swiss Meringue Cream Cheese Buttercream, and a fondant flower. They were pretty yummy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TWD- Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

These yummy cookies were chosen by Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart. First, as I was reading through the recipe, there's no oven temperature listed?!! I baked mine at 375 F. I made some substitutions- I thought I had chocolate chips, but I only had white. And I wasn't in the mood to spend $6 on a container of malted milk powder so I used chocolate milk powder. They turned out really good- since the baker doesn't bake her own birthday cake, these babies will hold the candle during my song tonight!

Here's the

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Very Merry Un-diaper Cake

So I told my two year old that when she used the potty all the time, I would make her any cake she wanted. She chose Alice in Wonderland since she's obsessed with that movie now. Since we're around all our family, I decided to make it this week so we didn't have a huge cake at our house with only a couple of us to eat it. If she had her way, she would've had every character she could think of from the movie. But since mom only had a limited amount of time, she had to settle for just a few. The cake is red velvet with cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream (YUM!):

(the girl in the white dress with polka dots is Beansy)
And in case any of you are wondering, yes I will use any excuse to make a cake! :o)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

Stefani of Proceed With Caution picked these yummy (really YUMMY!) cookies for the recipe this week. I'm not a huge fan of peanut butter cookies, but I was intrigued by the addition of oatmeal. The recipe says not to use natural peanut butter. I'm assuming it means not to use the kind of natural peanut butter that separates, because I used Skippy Natural Chunky peanut butter and they turned out great. I think using regular peanut butter may make them too sweet.
The recipe says to chill the dough if you have time (which I didn't) and they held their shape just fine. They are pretty delicate until they cool a little, though.

I love how the edges are crispy like peanut butter cookies and the centers are chewy and softer like oatmeal cookies. I admit I ate three (hey, they were broken! That doesn't count, right?). My husband's out of town so I'll have to make these again when he gets back- I know he'll love them!

All I can say is, it's a good thing I'm around family and friends to eat all this stuff! Go here for the recipe!