Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sausage, Pesto, and Tomato Pasta

My work scheduled recently changed - which means I now work 12 hour days. Don't think I'm complaining about this at all. On the contrary, I love it. 12 hours doesn't really feel that much longer than 10 and in exchange I only work one weekend a month and only 3 days a week. What this does mean though, it that when I get home I am hungry and need food as fast as possible. I don't have a lot of time to slave over a dish, nor do I have the patience to wait very long. Because of this, I am always on the hunt for quick and tasty recipes.

This one fits the bill perfectly. It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and is bursting with flavor. And the sausage is oh, so good. Side note - I never really touched Italian Sausage until I started dating my husband. Now I use it just about every chance I get - things like spaghetti, meatballs, lasagne all got the ground beef swapped with Italian sausage.

My mom and brother happened to be visiting when I made this and they were both raving about it. And lets not forget my husband - he loved it too!

Yield: 4-6 servings

16 oz pasta of your choice
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
5 hot Italian Sausages, sliced
1 package of grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 prepared basil pesto
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain and return to original pot.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and sausage. When the sausage is cooked, add to the pot of pasta along with the pesto, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Add the tomatoes to the skillet (with additional olive oil if needed to prevent sticking) and heat through - about 3 minutes. Add to the pot of pasta and stir to combine.

Source: adapted from Pepper Lynn

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chocolate Ice Cream Shell

This chocolate ice cream shell takes me back to the days at the good old Dairy Freeze - my high school place of employment. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I dipped ice cream cones or made chocolate chip shakes with the magical melted chocolate that instantly hardened when it touched the ice cream.

It always seemed so mysterious and I never even dreamed that this could be made at home. That is until I saw this recipe on Food Gawker. I was beyond excited at the prospect.

And who knew that this would probably be the easiest recipe I have posted to date on this blog? Seriously  if you have 5 minutes - or even less - this will make your ice cream eating experience so much better. My chocolate ice cream loving husband has been eating vanilla or cookie dough ice cream with this instead of the normal chocolate. We have had an unopened carton of chocolate ice cream in our freezer for a full week - which has to be a new record.


7 oz chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil

Melt the chocolate in a small metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water (or a double broiler). When it is all melted, add in the coconut oil and stir until smooth.

Pour over your ice cream and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

When I first decided I wanted to really learn how to cook, this is one of the first things I made. I still haven't decided if this was a reasonable choice or not, but I had looked over numerous recipes and gave it a go anyways. Needless to say, it was a success. Despite all the recipes I have tried since then, this one still remains one of our favorite.

Now, go enjoy some Beef Stroganoff!

Yield: 6-8 servings

4 pieces of bacon
1 lb round or sirloin steak, sliced thin
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 cube beef builion
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp season salt
8 oz fresh mushrooms*
1 cup sour cream
1 bag wide egg noodles

Cook the bacon in a medium pot. Remove and dice. Dredge the meat in the flour. Fry the dredged meat in the remaining bacon fat to brown (don't worry about cooking the meat through at this point). Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one more minute. Add water and bring to a boil then add the builion cube, worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, pepper, seasoned salt and bacon. Stir and return to a boil. Simmer until the meat is for tender, about 1 1/2-2 hours; add more water as needed. Add mushrooms and heat until they shrink a little. Turn off the heat and fold in the sour cream. Serve over egg noodles cooked according to package directions.

*I dice mine really small so I get the flavor and not the texture. I'm sure they would be good whole or sliced if you were into the whole mushroom texture thing.

Source: adapted from BigOven "The Best Beef Stroganoff" submitted by sunnyd36

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Almond Joy Hot Chocolate

Compliments of these sporadically placed cool March and April days, I started craving hot chocolate. I was recently gifted a Food Network Magazine - the All Chocolate one - and it just happened to contain a couple recipes for just that. 

This was the winning recipe (compliments of Bobby Flay). It was very good - but be warned, it is also very rich. I could barely finish my cup so don't plan on having too much at once. It is wonderful, thick, and exactly what we were looking for. 

Yield: 2-4 servings

Whipped Cream:
3/4 cup very cold heavy cream
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Hot Chocolate:
1 cup milk
1 3/4 cup coconut milk (or one 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted

To toast the coconut, heat a small frying pan and on medium heat lightly toast the coconut until it browns slightly.

To make the whipped cream, combine the heavy cream, fluff, almond extract, and vanilla in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

To make the hot chocolate, combine the milk and coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cocoa powder, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar and chocolate melt and the mixture is smooth and thick.

Divide the chocolate among mugs and top with the whipped cream and garnish with the toasted coconut.

Source: slightly adapted from Bobby Flay's Coconut Hot Chocolate with Almond Fluff Whipped Cream, Food Network Magazine, March 2012, page 54

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Coconut Rolls

About a month ago while I was at the grocery store I saw a carton of Coconut Milk. It was sitting right next to the almond and soy milk in the dairy section. It was Silk brand and I was intrigued. Not knowing what I would do with it exactly, I bought it. The expiration date was long so I figured I could use it by then. I proceeded to use it in various things - I ate it with granola, drank some of it straight, my mom swears the best bowl of honey nut cheerios she ever had was with that coconut milk, aaaaand I baked with it. Here is one of the products:

Coconut Rolls, kinda like a cinnamon roll, but with coconut instead of cinnamon. The original recipe was for Coconut Swirl Bread but I wasn't feeling swirl bread the day I set out to make it. The only problem was that I already had gone through the first part and the dough was rising so I had to use it somehow. After staring at the recipe for a while, this is what I came up with. I must say, I was quite pleased with the results.

The only thing I might do differently next time is not make a sponge - I hadn't done that before this recipe and it freaked me out a little bit. I hovered over it like a mother hen which of course meant that I couldn't really tell if it was rising or not. Eventually I decided it had to be working and moved forward. In the future, I would just let the yeast dissolve in the warm coconut milk and then proceed to add the other sponge ingredients from that point. This way did work though so if you aren't terrified of sponges, by all means go for it! Also, I froze half the dough because there was no way Hunter and I could have eaten that many coconut rolls ourselves.

Yield: the original recipe says two 9x5 loaves, I think this translates into 14-16 rolls.

1 tbsp Yeast
1 tbsp Sugar
1 2/3 cups warm coconut milk
2 cups bread flour

2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Coconut Filling:
12 Tbsp butter at room temp
1 cup sweetened coconut + more for sprinkling

Chocolate Ganche Topping:
8 oz semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine the sponge ingredients and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size or about 30 minutes.

Add the eggs, salt, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of flour to the sponge. Stir until combined. Add 1/3 of the coconut out and knead until combined. Add another 1/3 of the coconut oil and repeat. Add the final 1/3 and knead until combined. Knead in the reamaining flour until smooth and silky*. You may not need to use all the flour, or you may need to use more. Dough should feel soft and satiny but not stiff. Knead thoroughly.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to double in size, 1 1/2 -2 hours.

Make the coconut filling while the dough rises by stirring together all the filling ingredients in a bowl until combined. If you are only going to cook half the dough, only make half the filling.

Once the dough has risen, cut into two equal pieces. At this point I froze one and will only give directions for one piece of dough...if you are doing both, do everything twice! Roll out the dough into a rectangle. Spread the filling all over the surface and then roll into a long log. I think such a thing as cooking string exists, but I use floss to partition my dough into correct size pieces. Put the string under the log and move it to the size you want your rolls. Then pull the ends of the floss together like you were choking the dough (gruesome, I know but I couldn't think of a better way to describe it. Note to self: take pictures next time. A picture is worth 1000 words). It should cut though smoothly. Repeat for the length of the dough. Put the dough in a pan (I used a pie pan) and allow to rise for about an hour, again until they have almost doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

To make the ganache, put the chocolate pieces in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream on the stove. Once it begins to boil (but hasn't got to the point of spilling over your pan and all over the kitchen) turn off the burner and pour the cream over the chocolate pieces. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes then whisk until smooth. Pour over your coconut rolls and fall in love with the chocolate coconutty goodness!

*If you use butter instead of coconut oil, it should be room temperature and cut into pieces. It will also require significantly less flour so I would start out by cutting out 1 cup and go from there.

Source: heavily adapted from Clockwork Lemon, originally from Coconut Babka