Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sweet Potato Hash

When we got back from Cincinnati with a cooler full of veggies from my dad's garden, and a big poblano growing out in my pots, I knew this week's dinners would revolve around the veggies. I always have eggs and potatoes on hand, so I figured a hash would be quick and easy.

Southwest Sweet Potato Hash

1 large sweet potato, cubed
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 poblano chile, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Splash of chicken stock
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 eggs
Sour Cream, optional
Grits, optional

Steam the sweet potato for 6-8 minutes until just tender. Set aside.
In a large pan over medium heat, sautee peppers, onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sweat for 8-10 minutes until just soft. Turn heat up a bit, add potatoes, cumin, chili powder, half the cayenne and chicken stock. Press the potatoes into the peppers and let the mixture brown and form a bit of a crust.
Meanwhile, heat another nonstick skillet over medium low. Spray with nonstick spray, crack in eggs. Sprinkle with cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook until desired doneness, then flip and cook.
Flip and press the hash mixture continuously until browned and crispy.
Plate over grits, top with egg and sour cream.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Becky's 21st Birthday Cake!

My sister is turning 21 on October 11, howver she'll be studying abroad in Geneva, Switzerland, so we had a surprise 21st birthday party for her over the weekend. Her favorite beer is Heineken Light, so I made her a Heine cake. I asked her what her favorite cake flavors would be because I had a cake to make for a wedding shower as well, and I she told me I should make lemon cake with a strawberry creme filling. So I used that flavor combo for her!
I used this recipe for lemon verbena cake, I used Dorie's pastry cream recipe, halved, mixed with 1/2 c. fresh pureed strawberries, and my standard buttercream and fondant.

This is the pastry cream, no cake photo!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chicken and Rice Tortilla Soup

After the party on Sunday, we had a good amount of leftovers. My favorite way to jazz up leftovers and make something new is to make a big pot of soup/stew/chili. This one was a no-brainer, there! I diced up the chicken and some veggies, added some chicken stock and the rice, and it was delish! JJ and I have both been fighting sinus infections, so the hot and spicy soup was delish!

Southwest Chicken and Rice Tortilla Soup

2 c. diced marinated and grilled chicken breasts
2 c. southwest spiced rice
1 zucchini, cubed
1 green bell pepper, cubed
4 c. chicken stock
1 c. leftover tomato sauce or salsa (I had leftover zesy marinara from friday)
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp. cumin

Sour Cream
Cheddar Cheese
Tortilla Chips, crushed

Place all soup ingredients in a crock pot on low for 8 hours, or high for 3. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with lots of toppers!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My TWD Pick - Black and White Banana Loaf

This week was my week to choose the TWD recipe. I had the hardest time deciding what to choose! I wanted to please the group, as well as my husband, and myself!
I decided to make this cake because we haven’t made a loaf cake yet, and I have never made a marbled cake. When I first saw this cake, it reminded me of the marbled loaf cake at Starbucks, as well as the banana chocolate chip cake, one of my favorites!
I have remade a few of Dorie’s recipes to tweak it a bit, and that’s what I had to do this week! The first time I made it, the batter was too runny and the marbling didn’t stay intact (that’s the photo down below). Since it was my host week, I was determined to get it right, so I tried it again. The second time, I cut the nutmeg back for taste, used only 1 banana, ¼ c. milk, and added ¼ c. flour, used light butter, and omitted the granulated sugar and rum (because I could barely taste it in the first loaf). This time, the cake marbled beautifully and tasted even better!

I hope everyone enjoyed this cake as much as I did, though I wish it came out ‘right’ the first time, it was nice to be challenged a bit to get it right! I ate mine with some chocolate milk (JJ had vanilla) like Dorie recommended and it was a fantastic breakfast.

Black-and-White Banana Loaf

1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 ½ ripe bananas, peeled
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of ½ lemon
1 tbsp. dark rum
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick plus 2 tbsp. room temperature butter
2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ c. whole milk

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8 ½ x4 ½ x 2 ½ inch loaf pan on an insulated baking sheet.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
In another small bowl, mash the bananas with lemon juice, zest, then stir in the rum.
Melt the chocolate and 2 tbsp. butter together in a microwave or saucepan over simmering water.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for 2-3 more minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk and when it is blended add the remaining dry ingredients.
Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas. The batter will look even lumpier.
Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into prepared pan (or follow any of the marbling techniques on page. 229). Then, using a knife, swirl the batters taking care not to overdo it.
Bake for 1 hour and 20 – 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes, if the cake browns too much, cover loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Continue to cool on the rack.
The original loaf, not exactly marbled, and too wet!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Grilled Corn Salad

12 ears of corn, grilled
1 red onion, grilled and diced
2 poblanos, grilled and diced
1 jalapeno, grilled and minced
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. honey
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients, serve at room temperature

Strawberry-Kiwi Creme Tart

To make this tart, I used a basic tart shell with Dorie's Pastry Cream recipe. I filled it with fresh sliced Kiwi and Strawberries. It is beautiful and very tasty!

Strawberry Kiwi Tart

Tart Dough:
2 cups flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsp. ice water
½ tsp. salt
To make pastry, combine flour, sugar and butter ina food processor. Pulse until it resembles crumbles, add yolk and water, process until a soft dough forms, wrap in a ball in plastic, chill for an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough and press it into a tart shell. Cover dough with aluminum foil. cover with pie weights and bake for 15 minutes.

Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly--as I always do--put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Key Lime Pie

I found this 5 star key lime pie recipe on food network. It was simple, basic, and fantastic! I used my basic graham cracker crust, again, for this.

Key Lime Pie

3 egg yolks
2 limes, zest grated (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

For the graham cracker crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers: place in a food processor and process to crumbs. (If you dont have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag: seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling:
Meanwhile, in a electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at a high speed until very fluffy, abut 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Coconut Creme Pie

For dessert for the party, I decided to go with three fruity, summery desserts. I love coconut, and had some in the pantry, so I decided to try out a coconut cream pie. I went with Emeril's recipe because he's never given me a bad recipe! However, I made a graham cracker crust instead of a regular pie crust. It was delish!

Coconut Cream Pie

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
Toasted coconut, for garnish, optional
Basic Graham Cracker Crust

In a nonstick 1-quart saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 2 3/4 cups milk together. Bring the milk to boiling point and scald the milk. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the remaining milk, egg yolks, and cornstarch together. Whisk until smooth. Temper the egg yolk mixture into the scalded milk. Bring the mixture up to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the flaked coconut, vanilla and butter.
Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Chill the pie completely, about 2 hours.

2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, press into a pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Cool before filling.

Southwest Spiced Rice

4 c. quick cooking rice (brown or white)
3 1/2 c. chicken stock
2 poblanos, grilled and diced
1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes with green chiles
1/2 red onion, grilled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a casserole dish, bake at 300 for 40 minutes.

Dippers Trio

I wanted to have a few dipper options for the party, keeping with the tex-mex bbq theme, so I did Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, and Mango Tomatillo Salsa.
I made my standard Guacamole and Mango Salsa, but I switched up the pico a bit by grilled the veggies.


4 haas avocados
2 lime, juiced
2 tsp. salt
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. ground cumin
Chop the garlic and sprinkle with salt, paste it together. Dice the avocado, add to a bowl, squeeze lime juice over, add garlic paste and cumin, stir and cover with plastic to keep from browning.

Mango Tomatillo Salsa

1 mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tomatillos, husked and chopped, and pureed in a food processor
2 tbsp. minced grilled red onion
1 tbsp. minced grilled jalapeno
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp. honey
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors develop

Grilled Pico de Gallo

2 cups tomatoes, diced
¼ cup grilled red onion, diced
2 tbsp. cilantro, minced
½ lime, juiced
1 jalapeno, grilled and minced
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate to let flavors combine.