Apple Gouda Bacon Sandwich, a fancy lunch

When I go to the grocery store, I have to stop at the cheese case. They have these baskets filled with small chunks of cheese, little samples of heaven. A few weeks ago I couldn’t resist buying a gouda wedge, I was so excited but unsure of what I was going to do with it. After searching for some gouda goodness on Pinterest, I found a perfect idea – gouda, bacon, apple sandwiches!

Whip out the ingredients!

Yummy bread, I used a baguette sliced at a severe angle super thin

Bacon, more bread more bacon, I used 3 pieces

Granny Smith apple wedges sliced thin

GOUDA, slices are best, I cut up a wedge

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First thing, cook the bacon in a large pan. You will use the same pan to make the sandwiches. Drain the grease and add a pat of butter. Place the bread slices in the pan and put the gouda on top of half of them. I failed here, I only put half of my slices in the pan and it increased my cooking time by having to flip and toast the other side of the bread – this sandwich is not easy to flip.

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Let the cheese melt over medium heat. This took about seven minutes on the enterprise. Keep checking the underside of the bread to make sure it isn’t burning.

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Cut the bacon in half and place on top of the gouda, then the apple slices, and finally the other side of the bread. At this point, you will be enjoying a yummy sandwich. I had to flip and wait another seven minutes. :/

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So yummy, a very classy lunch that took about twenty minutes to make. Bon appetit! 🙂

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Lemony Shrimp Scampi

Weeks ago I was sitting at home watching Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa D’Arabian, she made this delicious scampi that looked so easy I had to try it. I waited a while for frozen raw shell-on shrimp to go on sale, eventually the medium sized guys were $8 for 60 and I jumped on it. Shrimp is so easy when cooking for one, you only defrost what you need – this justified my decision for the grocery splurge.

The thing that really turned me on to this scampi is that it’s made with a shrimp stock. I am a huge fan of homemade stock and this one is super simple, only takes about 30 minutes! The stock enhances the scampi sauce so brilliantly, I will never waste a shrimp shell again. I immediately began to think of other ways to use shrimp stock – ramen, rice, gumbo or soup. Awesome.

So here’s Melissa D’Arabian’s Lemony Shrimp Scampi

6 garlic cloves, grated2013-10-20 18.16.50

2 lemons, zested and juiced separately

5 tbs olive oil

1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes (watch the heat!)

KosherS&P

1/4 of an onion

25 or so medium shrimp (check below for prep)

3/4 box of linguini or spaghetti

2 tsp butter

bunch of fresh parsley

Defrost the shrimp by running them under, or soaking them in, cold water for about 5 minutes. Then pull off the shells and the veins and leave the tails, put the shells to the side for the stock. Butterfly the shrimp by running a knife down the back.

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Put the butterflied shrimp into a bowl, along with the zest and juice of one lemon, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Set this aside to marinate while the stock simmers.

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Chop up the onion and put it into a pot with the shrimp shells, cover them with water and bring to a boil. Once they have boiled, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. While the stock is simmering, bring a large pasta pot to a boil – salt the water liberally, I think I remember Melissa saying something about creating an ocean for the pasta..

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Cook the pasta for about 9 minutes, save 1/2 cup of pasta water. Strain the onion and shrimp shells out of the stock over a bowl. You will need 1 cup later.

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I used the same pot for the stock to cook my shrimp, it was shallow enough. If yours isn’t grab a skillet and heat up on high. Pull the shrimp out of the marinade (save the marinade!) and drop them in the skillet at the same time. Cook for 3 minutes, any longer and they may become tough. Pull the shrimp out of the pan and set them on a plate.

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Pour the marinade into the skillet and cook for a couple minutes. Add a cup of stock and 1/2 cup of pasta water to the marinade and let it reduce by about half.

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Add the zest and juice of the other lemon, chopped up parsley, and butter to the skillet. Let the butter melt and mix well. Add back in the shrimp and the pasta and use a pasta fork to combine. Top with grated parmesan!

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This was lemony and zippy. A huge hit with the boys! Next time, I am going to cut down on the red pepper flakes. 🙂

Chili To Go

Today at lunch, Brian requested a vat of chili to take home and consume throughout the week. I have never made chili. So I looked up an award winning recipe on.. drum roll please.. PINTEREST! I tried My Biscuits are Burning’s award winning chili, with a few variations of course.

Pull these things out (or acquire them from the store – as I had to):2013-10-20 17.35.40

2 cans of tomato sauce (16 oz)

1/2 jar of salsa (choose your heat!)

1 can of light red kidney beans

1 can of dark red kidney beans

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 pkg of chili seasoning

2 lbs ground beef

1/2 white onion

Brown the ground beef along with the onion in a large pot over medium heat. This took about 20 minutes on the Enterprise, maybe 10 on yours. Depending on the fat content of your chuck, drain the mixture – I used 80/20 and drained about half of the liquid out.

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Add the tomato sauce, salsa, drained kidney beans, black pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and package of chili seasoning to the pot and stir well to combine everything.

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Simmer on medium-low for an hour uncovered, stirring occasionally. Then cover the pot and continue to simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally. You could put it in a crock pot to keep warm or make it to go!

This chili is zippy and meaty. I would make it with medium or mild salsa but Brian likes it spicy.

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I cooled the chili for about an hour before distributing it into different containers for freezing. Let those containers cool before putting them into the freezer. This recipe made about 12 cups of chili. You could easily make it in a crock pot by browning the beef first and then transferring everything to the crock pot (high for 4 hours, low for 8 hours).

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Enjoy on hot dogs, over rice, with a baked potato. The possibilities are almost endless with chili. 🙂

Parmesan Garlic Oven Baked Fries

Thursday night I made french fries. Potatoes are my absolute favorite food and french fries are probably my absolute favorite way of eating them (mashed is pretty good, too). Not owning a fryer and failing a few times at pan frying, I learned to make them in the oven. When I think of oven fries I imagine soggy Ore-Ida crinkle cuts (not entirely sure why), so the oven was a last ditch effort. But prepare to be amazed as I was, because its all about the preparation.

Here’s your ingredients (I only used two potatoes, you should probably double):2013-10-17 18.27.54

2 russet potatoes

3-4 tbs olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/4-1/2 cup of grated parmesan

First thing, prep the potatoes. Wash them and get all of the dirt off of them, pick out any spuds (or as my mom tells me, the eyes). If you don’t want skin, peel them. I didn’t peel mine, I think it’s too much effort for a minor difference.

Then prep the pan and oven. I preheat to 400 or 425 depending on the severity of my hunger or impatience. Pull out two sheet pans, I crammed mine onto one, and cover them with aluminum foil, I have non-stick (which is AMAZING) if you don’t drizzle olive oil on the pan.

Now comes the part that took me many times to figure out, cutting the potatoes. Everyone has a preference on their fry size (shoestring, steak, thick, or McDonaldesque), but the initial cuts will be the same. Slice the potato lengthwise into four pieces, lay them flat and cut them into strips. If you like them thinner, lay them on their side again and cut each strip in half.

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Here are a few different fry sizes, you can’t go wrong with anyone you choose. Once they are all chopped up, put them in a bowl full of water. I learned this from watching Sandra Lee. Let them soak for at least 15 minutes, changing the water once. This pulls the starch out making a crispier fry. I let mine soak for a while, I’m usually making something else during this time, about half an hour changing the water at the 15 minute mark. Then drain the water and dry your potatoes on paper towels, get as much moisture out as you can (I learned this from making hash browns!), this will also help keep your oven fries crispy.

I work in batches, one potato equals a batch, pour about 2 tbs olive oil into the bowl along with 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1/8 cup or so of parmesan. Don’t be afraid to eyeball here, you really can’t go wrong UNLESS you don’t put enough.

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Drop in your potatoes and use a fork to distribute the goods. Coat them all! If you need to, add more olive oil and S&P.

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Use your fork to scoop them up and put them on the sheet pans, try not to let them touch each other (they WILL stick together). Use the same bowl for all batches, and for the initial soaking, to minimize your dish usage.

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Once all taters are on the pan put them into the oven. At 400 they will take about 45 minutes, flipping at the 15 minute and 30 minute mark. At 425 they will take about 35 minutes, flipping at the 10 and 25 minute mark. When you go to flip the fries for the final time, sprinkle them with more parmesan cheese. When you pull them out, sprinkle a little kosher salt on them and use a spatula to put them straight onto your plate. If you coated your sheet pans in olive oil, you may need to blot your fries on paper towels (OR paper bags if you happen to have excess).

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EAT IMMEDIATELY. 🙂

Pumpkin Layer Cake

Personally, I think it is a little early for everyone to be so pumpkin crazed. While it is fall, I associate the pumpkin flavor with November. HOWEVER, I need to decide on the batter for my Thanksgiving pumpkin cakes. So I don’t tire myself out on pumpkin, I am spreading out my pumpkin baking sessions across the next few weeks.

So after looking through tons of recipes and the required ingredients, I finally found one that I have all most of the things required to make: Jill’s Junction Pumpkin Cake

I really hope this first cake is a winner! There are A LOT of ingredients here, the only thing I’m lacking is cardamom but I think the results will be the same. I want to jazz it up so I am going to make a layer cake with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting tying my layers together and enveloping my cake!

pumpkiecakeingredients

3 cups of cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar (I have light & dark)

3 eggs

1 can of pumpkin

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

Jill gives a really great recipe for a buttermilk syrup topping, I am going to go a cream cheese frosting route though. Recipe to follow.

Let your refrigerated ingredients come to room temp on the counter, take this time to decide how you’d like to bake your cake – bundt, round, rectangle, layered, cupcakes… After much deliberation I think I am going to make a round layer cake. Seems like a lot of work for a Tuesday night!

Preheat your oven to 350F and butter and flour your pan of choice.

Preparedrounds

Combine cake flour, salt, powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, & ginger in a medium bowl (save the large one for your wet ingredients!). You can sift them, whisk, or use a pastry blender. If you aren’t using a sifter, I recommend a glass bowl so you can see what is going on inside!

Smells so good already and I’ve only added the spices! Go ahead and put all of those ingredients away, you won’t need them again, and set the bowl aside. Grab a big one and add the sugars and butter, with a hand held mixer blend together on medium for about three minutes (you want to smooth out all of the butter balls, nice creamy looking mixture – mine looks like peanut butter.)

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Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture one at a time, until all are incorporated. Then turn the speed from low to medium-high for a minute or two until the mixture turns light and fluffy.

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Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Then back away from the mixer, we’ve been beating those eggs a lot, and fold in the flour mixture with a spatula.

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Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in preheated oven.

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For Jill’s bundt cake she recommends 45-50 minutes. Cupcakes will take about half that. Just make sure to keep and eye on them and test them with a knife or cake tester, seeing that the tester comes out clean. Since I divided my batter into two pans, I am going to check on them in about 30 minutes.

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Beautiful! Now I am going to get started on a yummy cream cheese icing recipe from SimplyGloria. She makes this icing for snickerdoodle cookies but think it will be amazing with my cake!

2013-10-15 21.27.592 1/3 cups of powdered sugar

8 oz. (1 pkg) cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla

3 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup whipping cream

Holy crappola. That is some yummy frosting. I threw all ingredients in a bowl and mixed with my electric mixer on low until completely combined. Wow.

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Here comes the fun part, ICING! So I waited until both of my cakes were completely cooled, at least an hour out of the pan. I hate to cut my cakes to get them to sit nicely so instead: flip one upside down on the plate, with the pan side facing up, ice the top, then place the other cake right side up on top of the first, ice the whole cake. 2013-10-15 22.13.11 2013-10-15 22.23.53

REMEMBER because this is cream cheese frosting, you need to keep the cake refrigerated! After a few hours of chilling, this baby should be ready to slice in! 🙂

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Update!! So I have now tried the cake and I have thoughts! First, very pumpkiny. Second, I definitely need a second opinion. Third, it is a tad crumbly – this quite possibly could be user error. Fourth, with some vanilla ice cream this cake would be perfected. And final, what an amazing start to my pumpkin experimenting; this cake is yummy. I worry I will have this cake for weeks IT IS SO HUGE!!! 🙂

Let there be light

I have been cooking in the dark for weeks. My overhead light stopped working long ago, I have been making due with the light above the stove. Yesterday, after some prodding, I put in a maintenance request and today someone came and fixed it! I’m very excited to cook with some light, it’s been far too long.

Tonight I have the apartment to myself. Usually I would take advantage of this and cook whatever I want. But today, I want a fatty burger and salty fries from Wendy’s. Wendy’s is my go to cheat spot, I love their fries and square patties.

But I can’t resist using my kitchen light. So once it gets dark outside I am going to make dessert! I am no stranger to desserts. In fact I learned how to bake loooonng before I learned how to cook (I’m still learning..). My favorite desserts involve chocolate, but today I am going to make a pumpkin cake recipe that I found on Pinterest. I have yet to make anything pumpkin this fall and I’m dyinggg!

Cooking on the Enterprise

My oven is from 1966. That is what the repairman said when he came to fix my one and only large burner, the same year the Starship Enterprise was born (a picture of which happens to be hanging in my living room). Other than its appearance, it seems to do okay. But maybe I’ve just gotten used to the quirks. When you turn the oven on, the back right burner seems to heat up right along with it (a scary realization that has deterred me from using it). The big burner simmers at 5, or what should be medium, or way too damn hot on most other cooking surfaces. All in all I’ve made do with the trusty Enterprise. We have made some fabulous meals together; along with some not so fabulous.

Oven

This past Saturday was my marathon of cooking. I started the race off with egg muffins, a lovely recipe I found on Pinterest. Lacking frozen or refrigerated hash browns, I made some from scratch with my box grater, 4 russet potatoes, S&P, paprika, and olive oil. Yum. Could have just eaten hash browns. By the time I finished these egg muffins, it was too late for lunch so I moved onto dinner – sweet and sour chicken. Another recipe from pinterest, I have made this one before but lacking soy sauce I substituted worcestershire sauce. After dinner I made a cheesecake. I won’t divulge this recipe, as it is a family gem, but I did whip up some great toppings – whipped cream and a strawberry reduction. I made this Saturday night, it is now Monday afternoon and the cheesecake no longer exists. Finally! I made a pizza. The dough I made the day before, Bobby Flay’s with unbleached all-purpose flour instead of bread flour. I drizzled some olive oil, spread garlic, fresh parsley, dried basil and oregano, shredded mozzarella, and a sliced roma tomato.

Needless to say it was a lot of food and a lot of dishes.

Today I made my oatmeal raisin (chocolate chip) cookies. This is a recipe that I have doctored over time after reading a bunch of recipes and trying them all out on my friends.

OatmealCookieRecipe

OatmealCookies

These cookies are so yummy! I made a double batch to share. I’m mailing a quarter of them to my grandparents out in California, half are going to NoVA, and the rest are staying here with me. 🙂