Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coconut Cream Tart

This is so yummy! I am not a fan of pie crusts so I decided to go a tart crust route. Next time, I'm going to go my favorite route - graham cracker crust. So far, it really is the only crust I happen to like. I'm weird, I know. This tart takes a while to make but it's totally worth it. I can't believe how delicious it turned out. Then again, I LOVE making things from scratch. I think the yumminess factor increases when you are involved in every step of the process. I made this the day before and it was perfect the next day for dinner.

3/4 cup coconut
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut
2 1/2 cups milk (I used 2 cups fat free, 1/2 cup cream and it turned out perfect)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
pinch salt
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the first 3/4 cup of coconut to golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Mix together the flour, butter, sugar and salt to moist crumbs. I used a pastry blender and then my hands. Press the crust onto the bottom and halfway up the side of a tart pan. Freeze for 15 minutes. Prick all over with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cool completely.

Combine the second 3/4 cup of coconut with 2 cups of the milk in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat just until the milk simmers. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture, return the milk to the saucepan and discard the coconut.

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Add 1/2 cup of the heated milk (from the saucepan) to the cornstarch mixture. Then slowly add the mixture to the remaining milk in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking consistently, until the mixture begins to thicken. Cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and add the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

Beat the cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

To assemble, sprinkle 1/4 cup of toasted coconut on the tart shell. Cover with the chilled filling. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of toasted coconut on the filling. Spread on the whipped cream. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of toasted coconut. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grandma Wahlen's Hot Rolls

This is the first time I have made my Grandma's rolls. And I LOVE them. They are so easy because there isn't a bunch of ingredients. There is no kneading involved. And you don't even need a mixer. Seriously easy. And if you are afraid of making anything with yeast, don't be. I'll walk you through the steps of proofing, or activating the yeast and you can't fail. One of the ingredients is scalded milk. This is how you do it: put the milk in a saucepan. Heat over medium high heat until small bubbles start to form, kind of like a mist on top of the milk. That's all!

1 Tablespoon yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup scalded milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons oil
1 egg
3 1/2 cups flour

Mix together the warm water and yeast. Set aside for at least 5 minutes.You should see the yeast start to bubble up. That's proofing!

Meanwhile, scald the milk and add the sugar, salt and oil. Once the mixture is lukewarm, add the egg and yeast mixture. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Stir in the flour.

Rub oil around the sides of the bowl, cover and let rise until double in size. Roll out and cut into circles. Dot with butter and fold in half. Let rise until double in size. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hazelnut Green Beans

I have this book I love. It's called the Flavor Bible. I turn to it for all my greatest creations. Green beans were calling my name for Easter dinner. So I turned to my favorite book for some added flavor help. And I came up with (okay, I'm sure it's not original but in my kitchen it is) this great recipe. And talk about an easy side dish. This key to speed to is to blanch the green beans before. That is, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Then store them in the fridge until it's time to make them. So easy!! 

4 Tablespoons of butter
1 pound green beans, snapped, blanched and rinsed
3/4 cup of hazelnuts, chopped and toasted (you can add more or less to your liking)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the green beans and hazelnuts. Stir until everything is well coated. Cook until heated through. Serve immediately. 

I told you it was easy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Who doesn't LOVE mashed potatoes? My hubbie would like it if we ate potatoes, in some form, every night. When he had jaw surgery a few years ago, he lived on mashed potatoes. This year for Easter, my hubbie asked for garlic mashed potatoes. Everyone has their own way of making their potatoes, but this is how I did it.

5 pound bag of potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup butter
1 cup of milk (I mixed fat free with cream because I wanted to)
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Put the peeled and cubed potatoes in a stock pot. Fill with water until about 3 inches above the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Take that cube of butter and hide it in the potatoes. Leave it for a couple of minutes so the butter will melt. Pour in the milk and add the garlic. Then pull out your handy, dandy mixer and blend them up. Add more butter or milk to taste. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper to meet your taste buds desires. Lather on some gravy and dig in!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apricot Glazed Ham

This glaze is super easy to make and increases the yumminess factor of your Easter ham. I wanted something a little more than the brown sugar packet of glaze my ham came with. And I really wanted a sauce left over that I could put on my ham. But since Easter dinner includes so many more parts, I wanted something super quick that wouldn't slow down putting together Easter dinner. So I came up with this.
1 packet of brown sugar glaze (that comes with your ham)
1 can of apricot halves

Put both ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed. You will cook your ham according to package directions. Remove it 10 minutes before it should be done. Drain all the juices, if you plan on making gravy with it. Then cover and smother that ham in the apricot glaze. Put the ham back in the oven for the remaining 10 minutes.

When it's all said and done - this is what you get:
  
Delicious! Now it's time to dig in!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Apple Blueberry Salad with Cinnamon Almonds and Maple Vinaigrette

I have been a major blogging slacker!! I have a great excuse though. I have been tending and learning all about my new lemon, key lime, and orange trees; 3 blueberry plants and 25 strawberry plants. Plus my hubbie and I have been working on making grow boxes for our amazing garden this year! I'm so excited! However, that has really put me behind on blogging. And cooking for that matter. But I'm back. And soon I'll introduce you to my new garden and all the yummy things I can make with it. Meanwhile, here is the salad I have been promising for a few weeks now. It is amazingly delicious!! The tartness of the apples with the sweetness of the dressing and blueberries, makes a perfect flavor combination.

1 head of romaine lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces
2 Granny Smith apples, cubed
1 container of blueberries
1 (or more) cup of cinnamon almonds
maple vinaigrette dressing (recipe underneath)

Toss all ingredients together. If you are not planning on eating the whole salad at once, I would only add the cinnamon to the part you are eating or they may go soggy. Drizzle enough salad dressing to suit your fancy.

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff)
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil

Pour the vinegar, maple syrup, and mustard in a blender. Turn the blender on and slowly add the olive oil. Continue blending for about 5 seconds after all the olive oil has been added.

Honestly, this dressing didn't taste wonderful after I finished mixing it. However, I was going to be late for work, so I stopped experimenting, poured some in a container for lunch, and headed out the door. Fast forward several hours, I poured the dressing over my salad at lunch and was pleasantly IN LOVE with this salad dressing. It's the perfect amount of maple yumminess!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cinnamon Almonds

Cinnamon almonds you say? What are they for? Well, I personally love them in my salads. They add the perfect flavor to a delicious salad. It takes the salad that extra step to amazing. But it's hard not to munch on a few all by themselves. They are easy to make and take the perfect amount of time to bake so that you can have the rest of the salad done by the time they are ready. Oh, and that perfect salad to sprinkle cinnamon almonds on? Well, just wait for it. It's the next post!

1 1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 egg white
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cups almonds (I used slivered almonds)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Beat the egg white until it's frothy. See the picture below for what a frothy egg looks like.
Stir the vanilla into the frothy egg white. Add the almonds and toss to coat. Then add the sugar and cinnamon mixture and toss to coat again. Spread the almonds on the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes, stir after 10 minutes.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mangos with Coconut Rice

There is this Thai restaurant my hubbie and I go to quite often. They have this deal on Friday nights where you get an appetizer, two main dishes and a dessert for $20! The dessert we, okay I, die for is mangos with coconut rice. It is amazing!! So naturally, I had to figure out how to make it for myself. I did a bunch of research on the internet and discovered you have to have sticky rice. This typically requires soaking the right kind of rice overnight and several other steps. Maybe I won't be making this rice, I thought. Then I researched how to cook rice in the microwave and found I could do this! Problem was, I went to three stores and couldn't find the right kind of rice. So I decided to just use regular rice. It didn't turn out the same as the rice at the restaurant, but it was still delicious!

1 cup rice
water
1 can of coconut milk (you can find this in the Asian aisle at the grocery store)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 mango, sliced

Pour the rice into a microwave safe bowl. Cover the rice with water so the water is about 1 inch above the rice. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Cover the bowl and cook, on high, in the microwave for 3 minutes. Stir. Continue cooking in 3 minute increments, stirring after every 3 minutes. I had to add more water as I cooked the rice. Continue cooking until rice is cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk over medium heat. Stir constantly until the milk comes to a simmer. Do not boil or the milk with curdle. Once the milk is simmering, add the sugar and salt. Remove from heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour 3/4 cup of the milk over the cooked rice. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The rice will absorb the milk. Put the sliced mango on top of the rice and pour the remaining milk over the top.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tomato, Spinach, and Mushroom Frittata

I love breakfast foods. It my most favorite meal of the day. So, you can imagine that we often have breakfast for dinner around here. Eggs were on sale for cheap, I had leftover veggies in my fridge and wah-la, breakfast for dinner. Frittatas are fun to make because it's like an omelet but you don't have to master the flip-over-the-eggs-without-wrecking-the-omelet skill. Basically, the veggies are mixed into the eggs, rather than folded in. Plus, I can overload the veggies and everything turns out perfect. Add a different cheese, or change up the veggies and it's like an entirely different meal.

12 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 cup Montery Jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 package fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
4 cups fresh baby spinach

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Stir in all the cheeses. Set aside.

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, add the tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes soften and release most of their juices, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and saute until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Pour in the egg mixture and gently stir to evenly mix the ingredients. Cook the egg mixture until it begins to set, about 3 to 5 minutes. 

Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the eggs are completely set. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.