Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Week 8: Tomato Mozzarella Soup

I totally dropped the ball last week, so now tomato mozzarella soup is week eight instead of a bonus. Oops :)

1 can (26 oz) tomato puree
1 c. vegetable juice (such as V8)
1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 c. shredded fresh basil, plus 1 Tb. for serving
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 c. milk
Black pepper, to taste
1 c. shredded mozarella cheese

Place the tomato puree, vegetable juice, broth, 1/4 c. basil, and oregano in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors blend, stirring occasionally.

Add the milk to the soup and stir to combine. Continue simmering (don't boil) until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with pepper. Pour the soup into bowls and top each with 1/4 c. cheese and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

My Review:
This recipe was okay. The tomato taste was a little too overwhelming for my liking. I'm not sure how to remedy that--add a little cream, perhaps? Ryan felt the same way. On the other hand, our picky 15-month old LOVED this soup. He gobbled it right down when I was sure he would turn his nose up at it.

And I couldn't find a small can of vegetable juice, so now have a huge tupperware full of it. What should I do with that???

Monday, February 15, 2010

Week 7: Favorite Muffins

Remember that Betty Crocker cookbook I mentioned? The one from 1973? Well here is another keeper from that cookbook...

1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400*. Grease bottoms of 12 medium muffin cups. Beat egg; stir in milk and oil. Mix in remaining ingredients just until flour is moistened. Batter should be lumpy.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan.

Yield: 12 muffins

And because I have a sweet tooth, I went for one of the variations in the cookbook:
Apple Muffins: Stir in 1 cup grated apple with the oil and add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon with the flour.

My Review:
Yum! I didn't realize how easy it is to make muffins from scratch. I liked these muffins because they were not quite so sweet as the muffins you buy from the store or make from premixed packages. I would have loved a crumb time that will be a definite addition.

Week 6: Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwiches

Our original plan was to make chicken cordon bleu. But when we pulled out our chicken, they were really small and would have been very problematic to roll up. So...we improvised and came up with something equally delicious but quite a bit easier (I think). So, without further ado, may I present....

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwiches
1 egg
1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
2 chicken breasts
4 slices sourdough bread (or any other bread that will hold up on a panini grill)
swiss cheese
butter or margarine

Crack the egg into a flat dish (big enough to dip your bread in) and scramble it with a fork. Pour the bread crumbs into a separate flat dish. Dip the chicken first into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Then place onto heated panini grill (you could also cook it in olive oil on the stove if you wanted to). Cook thoroughly. In the meantime, butter the backs of the slices of bread. Put mayo and mustard on the fronts of the slices of bread. Pile desired amount of ham and cheese onto one slice of bread. When chicken is done, place it atop ham and cheese and top with a second slice of bread. Place it onto the heated panini grill for approximately 2 minutes. Viola! You have a delicious sandwich.

My Review:
So I know that I am the person who made this recipe up, so it may seem a little presumptuous to give myself a good rating; but this sandwich was really good. I love sandwiches, so I really liked this interpretation of a classic chicken cordon bleu. I will definitely make it again!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Week 5 (aka the real week Orange Cake

This recipe has a story attached, as many recipes do.
It was Saturday night. Ryan and I were watching "Burn Notice" on (we don't have cable) (but at least we have CastTV and Hulu). I got the sudden urge to bake. But I didn't want to bake just anything--chocolate chip cookies or brownies or anything normal wouldn't do. I wanted to make something different. Ryan somehow came up with the idea of an orange cake (and he didn't even know we had oranges!). After a little searching, we found a ridiculously awesome looking recipe in our Betty Crocker Cookbook--the one printed in 1973. The recipes in 1973 were so much yummier than the recipes today because there is actually fat and calories (and a lot of it) in the recipes. Anyway, I made a quick trip to the store and got started on my first ever cake made from scratch. I didn't start it until 9:00 p.m., so we didn't get to eat any until about 10:30 or 11:00; but it was worth the wait. Here is the recipe:

2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
Juice of one orange + enough milk to make one cup
Grated peal of one orange

Heat oven to 350*. Grease and flour baking pans (2 round layer pans). In small mixer bowl, beat egg whites until foamy (My note: Don't throw away the yolks! You need them later). Beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until very stiff and glossy. Set meringue aside. (My note: You have to beat it for a long time! Don't worry if it is taking a while.)

Measure remaining sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt into large mixer bowl. Add oil, orange juice + milk combo, and grated rind. Beat one minute on high speed, scraping bowl constantly. Add eggs yolks; beat 1 minute, scraping bowl occasionally. Fold in meringue. Pour into pan(s).

Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (My note: my oven cooks very hot and fast, so it only took my cakes 23 minutes.) Split to make four layers. Fill layers with Orange filling (below). In chilled bowl, beat 1 cup chilled whipping cream until stiff. (My note: I definitely added powdered sugar and vanilla to my whipping cream--I like it sweet!) Frost side and top of cake.

Orange Filling:
Prepare 1 package (3 oz.) vanilla pudding and pie filling (My note: not instant pudding!) as directed on package except omit milk and add grated peel of 1 orange and juice of 1 orange plus enough water to measure 1 cup liquid. Cool. In chilled bowl, beat 1/2 c. chilled whipping cream until stiff. Fold in pudding.

My Review:
Oh. My. Goodness. Cake heaven. This cake was SO good. I think it is my favorite cake of all time and is definitely going to be my birthday cake this year. YUM. Ryan and I would have eaten it all on Saturday night, but decided that would be a bad plan so took it over to my parents' house to share on Sunday. YUM!!!

Go make an orange cake. You know you want to.

Week 4: Pasta Carbonatta

1- 16 oz. package pasta, any variety (I used mini shells)
12 oz. bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 pt. whipping cream
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, but do not rinse. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add pasta to bowl with beaten eggs and mix well. Hot pasta will cook eggs. Fry bacon with chopped onion until bacon is crisp.  Pour whipping cream over  bacon and onion in skillet. Stir in peas. Pour half of cream and bacon mixture over pasta. Stir well. Add half of Parmesan cheese. Stir well. Add the rest of the cream and bacon mixture. Stir well. Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Stir well. Garnish with extra Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley if desired.

-Jan Beutler

My Review:
I was kind of nervous to try this recipe because it sounded like it could be weird. Luckily, it was not weird--it was delicious! I would definitely add chicken next time, because chicken would taste so good with this pasta. The recipe is kind of vague on what to do once you put the cream into the skillet with the bacon, so I just heated it until it was just barely bubbling. I also halved this recipe, which made more than enough for the two of us--it made about 4 servings when halved, judging on the amount of leftovers we had. The final verdict: this one is definitely going in the recipe box.