Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Romantic Dinner

Dan and I recently celebrated 8 years of being together (8 years!)
We decided that instead of going out, spending lots of money, and having to get a babysitter, we would stay in and make dinner together.
This was an amazing night, and decidedly far more romantic and intimate than going out to eat at any fancy pantsy restaurant. The meal was amazing to boot! This was by far one of my favorite anniversary celebrations, and I look forward to next time!

The menu we decided on was Lobster Thermador, Bacon Wrapped Fillet Mignon, French Onion Soup, and ginger carrots. All said and done - we forgot the carrots.

Dan took care of the fillets, seasoning lightly, grilling briefly and then baking, simple and elegant.

The lobster was a good amount of work, and full of butter and cheese (so healthy).
Lobster Thermador

I purchased frozen tails - and thawed in a water bath earlier in the day.

First the tails are boiled about 10 minutes - before they are cooked through.
Rinse with cool water until you can handle them - split the shell down the middle and take out the meat. Cut into bite sized pieces. Wash the shells and put aside.

Next, finely chop 2 shallots, 2 tsp fresh tarragon (we later decided that more would have been welcome), and 2 tsp chervil (the produce guy at the store helped me pick out fresh parsley instead - since they didn't usually have chervil. Boil these all in 1 cup of fish stock with a splash (or three) of white wine - reduce to half.

While this is reducing, start a roux - in a pan melt 1/4 cup butter - add 2 tbsp flour, 1 tsp dry mustard and stir constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. don't let it brown.
While stirring, slowly add the reduced stock and 1 cup of milk while the pan is off the heat, stirring until smooth. Pout back on the heat and slowly bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Allow to simmer (Stir every now and again) for 3 minutes, the sauce will thicken. Add 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan. Taste. YUMMY isn't it? Add salt an pepper in small amounts until it's irresistibly good (like a really really rich bisque).

Leave that pan where it is - and now use another pan to melt another 1/4 cup of butter. Fry the lobster until *just* done and starts to brown.

Preheat the broiler.
Divide half of the sauce among the 4 shell halves. (photos shoe the soup in ramekins as well)

Add the lobster to each tail in even amounts - and then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Divide 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese over them.

Put them all in the broiler until the cheese starts to colour a nice golden brown. remove and serve!
oh it's to die for... artery clogging joy.

The soup, I started around 5... we didn't eat until midnight because the soup took that long... while it was very good, and even Des enjoyed leftovers - I've made French onion Soup before will a different recipe and it was far better, so I won't detail the recipe I used here, since I don't care t share a recipe I wasn't thrilled with!

Our meal was excellent, and although it was certainly a good amount of work - it was all easy. The ingredients themselves cost us less than going out for this meal would have been, but it was still not a cheap meal..

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Can you believe it? MORE COOKIES!

After receiving one of the cookie bags that I made for the baby shower last week - my friend Darlena asked if she could put in an order for herself - HECK YEAH!
80 cookies total (plus an additional 24 that I made *just in case*), it's been far more work that I thought it would be (if they had all been the same one or two designs it would have been infinitely easier) but I'm done, a day early - and pretty happy with the results!
I learned, as always, a lot - and I can see a noticeable difference in the first cookies I decorated vs the 100th (bees and ducks were last, bunny was first). Also - I got to use my shimmer dust on the inset wings, and I almost never get to use that stuff.

She's giving most of these away as gifts, but liked the cookies themselves so much, she divulged some would make it to her own freezer.

The colouring and shimmer doesn't come through well in photos - but the lines you see in the frosting are colour from the dust, and the whole wing glimmers like ruby slippers...

Would you believe that I hardly ate any?
Eh, me either.. about 5 made it into my tummy over the three days of preparation.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cookies cookies cookies COOKIES!!!!!!!!!! (Part 3)

Brandy got this sinister book for me.
I craved chocolate.
I looked for a simple recipe in this book to satisfy.
I found it.
The cookies were simply called "Chocolate Cookies" and they were more than just that. Mmmmm...

I made ice cream sammiches with a bunch of them - and I have to say I don't know that I can every justify buying ice cream sammiches ever again, because these blow store-bought ones out of the water.

So yes. One recipe down, and Crave is a winner so far.

Cookies cookies cookies COOKIES!!!!!!!!!! (Part 2)

Lemon Drops!

What you need:

Sugar cookie dough
small cookie cutter, or not, you could just roll and flatten little pieces of dough
lemon juice
powdered sugar

  • Cut and bake little cookies, I used my linzer cookie cutter set, and actually cut small lemons

  • Mix up a thin glaze by combining lemon juice and powdered sugar

  • Toss cooled cookies in the glaze - spread on a rack and left dry - toss again in glaze for more flavor if desired and let dry again

  • Toss cookies with powdered sugar to coat

  • Devour

Cookies cookies cookies COOKIES!!!!!!!!!! (Part 1)

My birthday happened recently.
My sister sent my way an assortment of cookie cutters and candy molds that made me giddy - a butterfly set I'd been eying, and a bunch of totally cute animal cutters - totally random too!

So, of course - I had to make me some cookies!
I finally found a fantastic sugar cookie recipe that actually works for me - the dough holds it's shape as it cooks, and the cookies come out soft yet firm - perfect!
As usual, it's a recipe I found on AllRecipes - which if you haven't noticed already is one of my favorite recipe resources.

As I was babbling to Erin about my cute new cutters at work, she asked if I would be able to make some cookies as favors for a baby shower tomorrow - of course!
We decided that the person the shower is for is so random (no, he's like crazy random, in the more awesome way) that the cookies didn't have to - and perhaps shouldn't - make any sense whatsoever.

Thanks Kristi for giving me a frog and camel cutter - the perfect totally odd pair of animals!

This was my first time using the color fill method for frosting - and considering that I'm totally happy with the results. This is a great technique that I really want to play with some more. (and man do I need to work on my piping)

These cookies will be paired up and put into cello bags tied with blue and light blue ribbons. I'd take a photo - but they aren't dry enough to bag yet!

Thanks Kristi - I can't wait to make a huge batch of bumble bees! I think that's my favorite cutter! (oohh.. I could also make flies for a poo cake. someone request a poo cake so I can make some flies!)

Tastes like chicken

While stocking up on my 50lb bag of sugar, and 25 lb bag of flour (oh yes, really - I've gone through a few of each too) at Smart & Final last week, I passed by chickens - and they called out to me.

I decided to stuff the bird with mushrooms, which I sweated with onions, butter, cloves, thyme, and ginger before stuffing and dressing the chicken (with.. toothpicks and green sewing thread. yes. thread. I might consider investing in some kitchen twine... )

While the bird was roasting, I sauteed up the innards and gave them to Gabby and Fizzgig. - I actually had reservations about that, since it seems I really should have attempted to cook up and eat the bits, but I just couldn't bring myself to be that brave - besides, the animals were *stoked*.

The chicken was tasty, but a little dry, and the stuffing was bland. Dan made up some lemon tarragon cream sauce and pasta - which was super totally awesome - and the sauce was just what the chicken needed! (that sauce could have fixed anything)
It was a pretty bird though!

10 minute pizza

On the way home the other day, I asked Des what she wanted for dinner - Pizza!
I spend the ride home trying to convince her that we do not, infact have pizza.

"We don't have any pizza at home honey.. what about chicken?"
"No, I want pizza"
"We can't have pizza.."
"What about... grilled cheese and soup?!"
"No soup, Mommy, pizza for Dessy" (she has started making things, and herself sometimes, cuter - Dessy, chairy, shirty.. you name it)
... etc.

So anyway, when we got home I had finally decided "Hey, why can't we make a pizza? Duuhh... I bake things, I can bake pizza!"

And so, we did.
And it was actually pretty awesome - and unbelievably easy, and fast. It really did only take us about 10 minutes to mix, assemble and toss in the oven.

This recipe for dough was great, and the toppings were just a conglomeration of what was in the fridge, leftover marinara and a shredded 'mexican' cheese mix. Des helped measure and sprinkle toppings - she's getting pretty good at helping cook - and is learning what the measurements are called!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friends and Food

Chris and Brandy have come over a few times now for dinner - they bring something, we make something, our powers combined - we eat awesome food!

This last week was no exception. Dan and Brandy were in charge of this meal, and it was stellar.

Chicken burgers with slices of grilled pineapple and thousand island dressing. Roasted veggies, and fried rice. It was awesome!

The burgers were *really* big. Des's was practically the size of her head! All of us had something of a struggle taking bites of those monsters.

I'm pretty sure we're doing dinner again tomorrow... I need to clean the house!
And make something for tomorrow!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Apple Fritters!

Earlier this week, there was a conversation.

Me: Man. I want a donut.
Dan: I've been craving them all week!
Me: ME TOO!! We could make some you know.
Dan: Yeah, but do we need to?
Me: Well... no...

I won't bother repeating the recipe here, since we followed this one with no modifications.

They were excellent.

Splendid Brownies

A long while back, I bought a bag of Splenda for Baking - because I was curious. I've only used it once, with not so great results. So tonight, while trying to think of a tasty, and not so unhealthy desert to make for the dinner we're having with Chris and Brandy tonight - I decided to try to make brownies - with Splenda!

These are cakier than I would prefer for a brownie (next time - one less egg), but once covered in chocolate and refrigerated they almost have an ice cream cake quality that I really like.
Since the recipe has chocolate in it, there is sugar present, which is I think why the recipe actually works. These come out to about 100 calories a cake, and 5 grams of fat. (Next time I will also work to lower the fat - its all those chocolate chips)

Ok, so theyre not so healthy either, but they're a start...

I modified this recipe

Splendid Brownies

1/2 cup Splenda for baking
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 inch square pan.
In a medium saucepan, combine the splenda, butter and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling.
Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth.
Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture.
Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Turn out of pan and cut into squares.
Allow to cool completly in refrigerator.

Melt choclate chips of varying flavor and coat brownies.
Place on parchment paper to solidify - put in fridge to speed up solidification.

I dipped mine in combinations of mint, milk chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Best cold, in my opinion! (and the mint are stellar, next time, all mint/milk chocolate!)

Home Made (Lazy) Bread

Dan spent the last year pining for a bread maker, and finally got from from work simply because it was so cheap. So now we have a bread maker (a cheap one, but so far it's proving to work just fine).

We've only made a few loaves of bread in it, but this one is the first that I really liked. I adapted this recipe.

Pecan Oat Wheat Bread
2 1.4 tsp (1 packet) Yeast (I used Active Dry)
1 cup warm water (about 110F)
2 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup ground oats (I attatcked some oats with a mortar and pestl)
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Combine the water, sugar and yeast in the breadpan. Let rest for 10 minutes. Add all other ingredients, set on Whole Wheat setting. Start.

Only downside to this recipe is because of the time for the yeast to rest,  you can't leave it on the timer and have it ready and warm in the moring.
Talk about lazy.

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