Monday, April 23, 2012

Spicy Mac and Cheese

Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm studying for comps and we had a garage sale over the weekend so I have been busy! But I did have a chance to spice up some mac and cheese with the addition of some pepper jack cheese. I don't know why I didn't make this sooner! We served it with some amazing grilled steaks and I always enjoy a side of broccoli with my mac and cheese. I don't really know why, but I think they pair great together. That much cheese needs to be balanced with something light and fresh. If you like mac and cheese but want to spice it up you should try this recipe. Hopefully I'll have time to write more later in the week!

Spicy Mac and Cheese
1/2 lb of macaroni noodles
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup pepper jack cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1) While you're macaroni noodles are cooking prepare the roux by melting the butter and flour together and let cook until browned, then add the milk and stir until thickened
2) Add in the cheese and cook until melted, you can always add more milk if it gets too thick

3) Add the cooked noodles, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Roasted Cod with Roasted Fennel and Potatoes

The great thing about roasted foods is that they are amazingly delicious and usually pretty easy to prepare. I love tossing things with olive oil and spices and letting them do their thing in the oven. Browning and caramelizing are two very good things. Last week was a pretty hectic week so I didn't feel like making anything to intensive, but I also needed some cooking inspiration. I really wanted to try something different. I had some fish in the freezer and some fennel that needed to be put to good use. So I scoured the cookbooks for inspiration.

I found a recipe for roasted swordfish and I figured I could probably substitute the cod. Garlic and rosemary taste delicious on practically everything. In another cookbook I found a recipe for roasted potatoes and fennel. Seemed like a delicious and simple meal that would be perfect. Just throw the fennel and potatoes in the oven and let them cook and then throw in the fish towards the end. Plus, it was probably the last time we would be having a wintery meal for awhile, now that it is heating up again. But who knows with the crazy weather we've been having if another winter is around the corner. Hopefully more grill use is in our future.

Roasted Fennel, Potatoes, and Cod
6 or so red potatoes, quartered
2 large bulbs of fennel, quartered
2 pieces of cod or you can use another firm white fish
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with foil and place in oven to heat the baking sheet so when the vegetables hit the pan they will sizzle and brown

2) In a large bowl coat the veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then toss them onto the heated sheet pan and roast, without turning, for 30 minutes

3) Coat the fish with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper and then place in oven on baking sheet during the last 10 minutes of the potatoes and fennel baking time, cook until done then serve and enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pasta with Bacon, Cherry Tomatoes, and Arugula

There has been some strange weather in Nashville lately. I think we experienced every season within a one week period. A little over a week ago it was already 90 degrees and humid. Ugh. I was not ready for that, especially with the bugs already emerging. But then all of a sudden it got cold again. I was not prepared. The majority of my winter clothing has been packed away. I was all about bare legs and flip flops. But here I am back in sweaters and socks. Oh well, I won't let this chill ruin my warm weather cravings.

So I decided to whip up a dish that would send me back to Spring. A delicious pasta dish with fresh delicious tomatoes and spicy arugula. Cooked up with bacon of course! All you have to do is fry up some bacon and then toss in some cherry tomatoes and let them do their thing as they burst in the bacon fat. Yummy! 

Pasta with Bacon, Cherry Tomatoes, and Arugula
About 6 slices of bacon cut into small pieces
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
A bug handful of arugula, about 2 cups
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked angel hair pasta, 1 cup of pasta water reserved

1) Heat a pan and toss in the bacon and let fry until crispy, then drain on paper towels

2) Place the tomatoes in the bacon fat and let cook until they start to burst and then add in the garlic 

3) Add the bacon back into the pan and toss in the pasta and then the arugula and let cook slightly, so all the flavors get combined

4) Add pasta water as needed to fuse all of the flavors
5) Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rocky Road Ice Cream with Homemade Marshamallows

I've had a recipe for homemade marshamallows in my recipe box for some time now. An index card waiting to be read and covered in powdered sugar. Well the time for me to make these delicious treats finally came. With the arrival of my new ice cream maker I knew that I would have to make a delicious and indulgent version of Rocky Road ice cream. Always a childhood favorite of mine. Along with pistachio and mint chip. We used to go to Thrifty Ice Cream because you could get a cone for under a dollar and I loved the flavors of their ice cream, especially when I could get two flavors. I loved getting Rocky Road and finding the marshamallows and almond pieces stuck in the bottom of the cone.

I knew with my new ice cream maker I would have to make a more grown up version of this treat, which would require homemade marshamallows as well as some salted caramel sauce. Trust me, you only need a little bit of this ice cream. The base is a dark and rich chocolate layered with tiny homemade marshamallows, slices of almonds, and swirls of delicious salty homemade caramel. This may be the best ice cream ever. I adapted the recipe from Jenni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. If you like ice cream I strongly recommend this book. The recipes are amazing and the pictures are beautiful. A great read and must have for ice cream lovers!

Homemade Marshmallows
Butter for coating pan
Powdered sugar for coating pan
2 tbsp gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1) Butter an 8x8 pan and coat with powdered sugar

2) Dissolve gelatin in cold water and whisk together using whisk attachment of kitchenaid
3) Whisk together boiling water, sugar, and salt in a pan for about 15-20 minutes until the temperature reaches 236 F. You will need a candy thermometer for this

4) Remove from heat and slowly pour over the gelatin and then add the vanilla

5) Beat on medium for about 20 minutes until white and thick

6) Add cooled marshmallow cream to the pan and spread out, then coat with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight

7) Coat a bench scraper or knife with powdered sugar and then slice marshmallow into desired shape and size. Toss cut marshmallows in powdered sugar so they don't stick together and enjoy!

Super Rocky Road Ice Cream
Adapted from "The Milkiest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World" in Jenni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
If possible do use local and organic, high quality ingredients, it really makes a difference

1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 oz good quality dark chocolate (55-70%)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp organic light corn syrup (I try and avoid corn syrup as much as possible because of GMO's, but if you use organic you can avoid this issue)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Homemade marshmallows
Sliced almonds
Homemade Salted Caramel (Follow recipe for the caramel part only, not the frosting recipe)

Makes 1 quart

1) Mix 2 tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry and set aside

2) Chop chocolate into pieces and place in metal bowl

3) Fill a large bowl with ice water and water to make a water bath to chill hot ice cream mixture
4) Combine the remaining milk, cream, evaporated milk, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a rolling boil and add the cocoa and whisk. Boil mixture for exactly 4 minutes

5) Remove from heat and pour in cornstarch and milk slurry and return to heat and cook for another minute or so until thickened slightly
6) Add hot mixture to chopped chocolate and stir until melted then pour into a large freezer bag and submerge in ice water bath for 30 minutes

7) Pour ice cream base into ice cream maker and follow instructions for your machine, will take about 20-25 minutes until thickened

8) Add a layer of ice cream to a container then top with a layer of marshmallows, almonds, and salted caramel and repeat

9) Freeze until firm about 4 hours and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cake Decorating and Royal Icing Flowers

I've been taking Wilton cake decorating classes for a few weeks now. I just finished the second class that focused mainly on royal icing flowers. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoy making these tiny decorative flowers that can be stored and used whenever. I will whip up a batch of royal icing and then get to work piping the icing onto tiny pieces of parchment paper to make edible versions of daffodils, apple blossoms, and roses. These flowers last a very long time so all you have to do is let them air dry and then place them in storage containers and save them for when you are short on time and need a little extra something to top off your cupcakes and cakes.

I had a bunch of these little flowers in different styles, shapes, and colors stored in boxes and decided that it was time that I put some of them to use. We had a get together at our professors house and I decided to make cupcakes (of course) and bring them along. Since Spring is in full bloom I picked out a bunch of different flowers to put on top of the chocolate mini cupcakes. Sadly, the photo isn't great of them. My new camera hadn't arrived yet so I had to use my cell phone.

In addition, I also had to make a cake for my final course 2 class. For this one though I had my new camera. I played around with some of the various settings that it has. I really like the Toy camera effect. It makes the photos look vintage. The miniature effect is also fun and really makes the central image pop.