Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cinnamon Bun Muffins


I was going through my Google reader a few weeks ago and saw this post for Cinnamon Roll Muffins on the blog Cara's Creature Comforts. I said the name of the recipe out loud, and Jon stopped what he was doing, looked at me, and desperately pleaded, "make them now!!" He asked me to read off the ingredients while he went through the pantry to see what we had, and within 5 minutes he was out the door with a list on his way to buy the rest of the ingredients. Maybe he was having some sympathy cravings? I don't know what it was, but the man wanted the muffins! When he got back from the store, we made them together.

I'm not a baker, and don't own a rolling pin... so Jon improvised with a wine bottle. It did the trick!


Ingredients

  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3-3.5 c flour

Filling Ingredients (these are 1.5 times the original recipe based on Cara's recommendation, and I probably used even more than the amounts below as I didn't measure this part, but went on how it looked)

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or cream (I used heavy cream)
  • Optional: splash of vanilla (I added it and liked the flavor it gave)

Directions

  • Measure the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and egg into a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, then the flour; stir until thoroughly combined into a dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a 12x24 inch rectangle and spread with the butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Roll the dough into a log beginning with the wide side. Stretch slightly. Cut into two-inch pieces and put these pieces into greased muffin tins or cupcake liners.
  • Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the muffin tins.
  • Drizzle with icing; reheat in microwave for 10 seconds if needed.



While these muffins weren't the real thing - cinnamon buns - they definitely satisfied the craving!!


The next morning I reheated one for breakfast - just 10-15 seconds on reheat in the microwave was all it took. YUM!!






Saturday, May 22, 2010

Polenta with Gorgonzola and Sage


Polenta is so easy to make. I have had a tube of premade polenta in my fridge for a while (hmm, that long shelf life kind of worries me...) and I have been ignoring it because I'd rather make the real thing. Like this one that I made last time - Roasted Garlic Polenta.

Last week I picked up a pre-made crabcake for myself (I know, I know, but hey, I'm almost 8 months pregnant and felt like something easy and surprisingly, it was really good!!). I decided to make sauteed spinach and polenta as sides. For the polenta, I added the flavors of fresh sage and gorgonzola cheese.

Ingredients
  • 3/4 c stoneground yellow cornmeal
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Approximately 1/2 c crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • If needed, salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Bring liquid to a boil
  • Add sage, then slowly start to whisk in the cornmeal. Continue to whisk until it thickens but is creamy, and pulls away from the sides of your pot - about 12 minutes.
  • Add cheese and continue to whisk
  • Season with salt and pepper if needed (I only used freshly ground black pepper, about 2-3 turns of the pepper mill)

The gorgonzola and sage couldn't have been better together. And look how creamy this is - yum!!!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pasta in a Creamy Leek and Tomato Sauce


One of my favorite things about cooking is when I just make things up as I go along. I love when I have ingredients to use up and don't know where I'm going with them, but end up with something deliciously satisfying.

Last week I had a craving for pasta, and had some leeks and tomatoes as well as some light cream that needed to be used up. I pulled together a very simple but flavorful dish - pasta in a creamy leek and tomato sauce. I was so happy with it that I'd definitely make it again.


Ingredients


Note - I didn't measure anything, so my amounts are estimated.

  • 1/2 pound pasta; I used Rotini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only; halved lengthwise then sliced (and cleaned thoroughly!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c light cream
  • Approximately 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; cook pasta, drain, set aside
  • In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan
  • Add leeks and saute over medium heat until softened, about 8-10 minutes
  • Add garlic and saute 2-3 minutes
  • Add tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, and thyme
  • Add wine and stir until absorbed.
  • Continue to cook veggies another 3-4 minutes
  • Add cream and bring to a simmer, stirring often
  • Add Parmesan cheese, stir.
  • Add pasta, toss. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Asparagus in a Gorgonzola Sauce

As a kid, I would eat all of my veggies and salad, and would hide pieces of meat under the edges of my plate thinking it would look like I ate them. What kid would rather eat broccoli and green beans over meatballs and chicken? Me! On top of that, I married a guy who loves veggies. He eats all of them and even loves Brussels sprouts. Lucky me!!

So needless to say veggies are a big part of all of our meals and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare them.

Last year I starred a recipe for
Asparagus in Gorgonzola Sauce that I saw on the blog Closet Cooking. Cheese and veggies? Yes, please. I made it last week along with grilled chicken and roasted potatoes, but the asparagus was definitely the star of the meal.

The sauce starts out by sauteing leeks until soft. Even more veggies!

Ingredients (I increased the amounts of some of the ingredients; my version is below)
  • 1 pound of asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and sliced
  • 2 sage leaves, minced
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs

Directions

  • Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add asparagus, remove after 2 minutes and run under cold water. Place asparagus in a baking dish in a single layer.
  • Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
  • Add leeks and cook until softened, about 10 minutes, adding the sage halfway through.
  • Add the cream and gorgonzola; bring to a simmer and cook until it begins to thicken, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Season with just a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Pour the cream over the asparagus.
  • Top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
  • Place under the broiler until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
This sauce was SO delicious. Gorgonzola is a cheese I just tried a few years ago and I love how wonderfully creamy and rich it is. Doesn't this look delicious?
The crumb and cheese topping was a great way to add some crunchy texture and extra flavor. This sauce would be delicious on chicken or potatoes, too.


Sugar Snap Peas with Sprouts


Sugar snap peas - they are the fat ones. I always confuse them with snow peas, the flat ones. Last week I made sugar snap peas with sprouts, ginger, and garlic.

I found the recipe in the blog
Pink Parsley. I starred it a while back to make along with the fish in the recipe. We did make the fish but were not fans - it may have been the sweet chili sauce I used. It tasted metallic or chemical-like. But the sugar snap peas were delicious.

The recipe called for fresh ginger, something I have only started to eat and cook with over the past few years. When a recipe calls for grated ginger, I love putting it through the microplane - you end up with a liquidy or pasty version of the ingredient, and it mixes into sauces, marinades, and glazes very easily.




Below is my adaptation of the sugar snap pea recipe, originally for a sugar snap pea salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (feel free to use more if you love this flavor)
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb sugar snap peas
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce

Directions

  • Heat olive and sesame oils in a large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat
  • Add ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  • Add sugar snap peas and stir, cooking until crisp tender, about 3-4 minutes
  • Add sprouts and saute another 2-3 minutes


I love how the sugar snap peas stayed nice and crisp - this is one veggie you definitely don't want to serve mushy (not that any veggies are good when they are mushy and overcooked). We both enjoyed this one!




Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Roasted Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

On Cinco de Mayo, I went out for Mexican for lunch - my favorite kind of lunch! I wanted to cook something Mexican for dinner, but since I had just enjoyed enchiladas, rice, beans, and nachos at lunch, I decided to go with Mexican inspired, instead.

Jon marinated pork chops in a tequila/chili marinade that he whipped up and then grilled them. I found potato inspiration in
this recipe for Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes.

I love roasting peppers and the smoky flavor they bring to dishes. Jalapenos are spicy, but roasting them brings out a deeper heat, not the on the surface, tongue burning heat you get from raw jalapenos. To roast them, I simply placed them on the grates on my gas stove top. I flipped them around a few times until all sides were black and charred. Then I covered them for 10 minutes before gently removing the skins.



Ingredients

  • 2 lbs red potatoes
  • 2 jalapenos, roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped, then mixed with 1/4 c light cream and a few dashes salt to puree
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 pt light (or heavy) cream
  • Salt to taste
  • Shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • Chopped chives

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Wash potatoes, halve them, and put in a pot of lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain.
  • In the meantime, transfer the jalapeno/cream/salt mixture to a blender and puree. I used my handheld immersion blender with one of the cup attachments since it was such a small amount.
  • Add jalapeno puree, butter, salt, and cream to potatoes. Whip until creamy using a handheld mixer; adjust salt as needed, add more cream and butter if you want to get them lighter/creamier. Note, I normally use my hand masher, but wanted light whipped potatoes for this dish.
  • Mix in the sour cream and transfer to a baking dish.
  • Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted into the potatoes.
  • Top with chives and serve.

I wish you could taste these potatoes through your computer screen! The jalapeno added the best flavor - not overpowering, but deep and smoky with just a touch of heat. We both had seconds, and I have to admit that I finished the potatoes over the next 2 days... leftovers were great!