Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coconut Bread and Garlic Herbed Shrimp

I saw this recipe for coconut bread while browsing the Whole Foods website. I loved the idea of using coconut milk in a yeast bread. The rolls were fabulous! Light, fluffy, and almost creamy on the inside with a perfectly crispy crust!

The coconut bread went perfectly with the garlic herbed shrimp from Ina Garten's new cookbook: Make it Ahead. I did assemble the dish earlier in the day, so come dinnertime I simply just had to roast the shrimp. I cannot say enough about this dish. The shrimp were so tender, perfectly flavored, and simply divine! The coconut bread was absolutely incredible dipped into the garlic oil...yum, yum, and yum! This shrimp would be wonderful with a crusty french bread, or topped on spaghetti or even a salad. Supremely easy and so amazing. This cookbook is a total winner!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup with Arugula Fig Salad

I have to admit that we have been eating like kings and queens in this house these past few weeks. The inspiration from Ina Garten's new cookbook Make it Ahead keeps our meals fabulous! Tonight's dinner delight was this amazing cauliflower and celery root soup. I don't know why, but I'd would never order a soup like this in a restaurant, but when I saw the picture in the cookbook I wanted to make it almost immediately. Boy, am I SO glad that I ended up making this soup! It tastes very creamy and rich, although there's virtually no actual cream in it, and the finishing touches of the croutons, chives, and olive oil drizzle really complete the perfect nature of all the flavors and textures. We definitely helped ourselves to seconds!
We went European style with this meal, and finished it off with a salad inspired by the warm fig and arugula salad in Ina's book, but not exactly so because it turns out that it's virtually impossible to find fresh figs now...that season is officially over! No problem here! I subbed with some dried figs (and skipped the whole "warm" part). I found a really pungent and delicious roquefort cheese at our local Whole Foods, and with the figs it was so creamy and fabulous! Dinner is long over, but I'm definitely still dreaming about it;)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread

6 tbs butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/4 c orange juice
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In the stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well.
In a smaller bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.
Fold in the cranberries and walnuts, and place into a prepared loaf (or gingerbread!) pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out just clean.  Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

It's the pumpkin season, and I have about 3 or 4 boxes or cans of pumpkin puree lying around the pantry at any given moment. The other day I saw a bag of fresh cranberries, and I just had to purchase them. I love tart fresh cranberries, especially in baked goods. I've never made a cranberry pumpkin bread before, but thought that these fall flavors must be baked together! I am SO glad that I tried out this recipe.

This bread is addictive. It's sweet, tart, crunchy, and creamy all at the same time. Ms. L had seen this gingerbread pan about a month ago in a kitchen store, and has been asking for it ever since laying her eyes on the pan. I found it on super-sale, and scooped it up, and surprised her with this shape. The smily face just made this bread that much more fun. Happy fall baking!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Herb Roasted Fish and Gingered Basmati Rice

Tonight's dinner was another Make It Ahead adventure from Ina Garten's new cookbook. And, again, I used some of her tips to do most of the work before hand, so by dinnertime, it was a breeze to make a really fancy meal.

I packaged up the fish (I used foil in place of parchment paper for ease of operation) earlier in the day, and placed the packets in the fridge until I was ready to bake them just before dinnertime. I pre-made the rice, just under cooking it, and then added a bit of water and reheated it at dinnertime.

Both of these dishes were fantastic. The fish was so simple, and flavorful, and those green olives were divine! I enjoyed the rice, but I think I could have used a lot more ginger to give it a real kick. I loved the nuttiness of the brown basmati rice however, and it was a lovely side to the simple fish dish. Another easy, and totally delicious meal!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Zucchini-Basil Soup and Sour Cream Cornbread

Tonight's dinner was absolutely fantastic, easy, and all from Ina Garten's new cookbook: Make it Ahead.  I can't find recipe links yet, but we enjoyed the Zucchini-Basil Soup and the sour cream cornbread.

First off, I must say that most of the recipes can't really be made too far ahead, but the two I made tonight most certainly can, and are well worth a little planning.

Since going back to work in a structured office setting, I am seeking dinners that I can make ahead, and still feel like we're eating a fabulous meal without the stress of trying to cook one right after walking in the door from a day at the office!  I made this soup two nights ago, when I had some extra time, and finished it off tonight with the yogurt and the parmesan cheese.  It was full of delicious flavors and had a little spice. The kids enjoyed theirs with some alphabet vegetable noodles I recently found at our local Whole Foods.

I also made the cornbread two nights ago, and once it was cooled, I froze it. This morning I took it out of the freezer, placed it on the counter to defrost, and by dinnertime you'd never know that it didn't come straight from the oven. Sliced, toasted, and with a touch of butter the bread was warm, sweet, so moist and hearty.  Totally fantastic! This made-ahead meal was one for the books. And, Ina's new cookbook is totally worth checking out!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 c rolled oats
1 1/2 c flour
1 c shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
1/3 c maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c chocolate chunks
3/4 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a medium bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, coconut, salt, and baking soda.
Meanwhile, mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the maple syrup, egg, and vanilla and mix.
Mix in the oats, until just mixed, and then fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or just until the edges start to turn brown.

These cookies are adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, and they just might be the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I've ever made.  They stay chewy, and the various flavors peek out at different moments through each bite.  So, so, so delicious!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fresh Capellini

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
1 3/4 c semolina flour
5 eggs

Place flours into a stand mixer and whisk together.  Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Use the paddle attachment to mix until a dough forms. Knead for about 3 minutes. The dough should not be too tough or sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap, and let it sit for an hour at room temperature. Use a pasta machine to roll dough into desired shape. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, and enjoy!

D and I used to make pasta a fair amount. We've been moving our pasta machine around the country, and it hasn't been getting much use these past few years. Making pasta can be a bit of a production, but it's really fun, and always superb.

J had been asking to make pasta for a while now, and today it seemed like the perfect family activity. The kids were SO excited to help, and they really worked for their dinner using all their muscles to crank the machine! They were the ones who opted for the capellini, and I'm so glad that they did. This dinner was fabulous! I topped mine with some olive oil, freshly grated parmesan cheese, cracked pepper, and red pepper flakes. The kids had oil and cheese, and D had some meatballs;) Yum, yum, yum, and yum! We will certainly be breaking out the pasta machine more frequently around here.