Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We're back!

It has been a while since my last post and a lot has happened in that time. We were up in Maryland for our wedding! From there we went to Aruba for our honeymoon and just got home and finally get a home cooked meal. I did take lots of pictures of the delicious food we ate while on our honeymoon but somehow you always still want a home cooked meal. A lot of our beach and pool reading material were cooking magazines, no surprise. So by the time we got home I had lots of pages folded over or ripped out to try.

Below is the recipe to Pork and Brussels Sprouts stir fry. I would never think to use sprouts in a stir fry but they were soft and a nice change. While you don't taste the brown sugar in the sauce it makes the soy sauce a little bit sweeter and not such a harsh flavor. I might add a few dashes of red pepper flakes next time for a little kick.

I am not a fan of handling meat so since Jason was home I took full advantage and had him slice up the pork into the 1/4 inch strips.

I took care of washing and cutting the brussel sprouts in half being sure to remove the outer leaves. Then you put them in the pan until they become golden brown and tender. Our store only had big sprouts so it took a little bit longer to cook.

Pork and Brussels Sprouts Stir-Fry
Serves 4
Adapted slightly from Everyday with Rachel Ray Magazine 
3Tbsp Oil
¾ lb boneless pork loin chops cut into ¼ inch thick strips
1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts, halved
2 scallions, greens and whites sliced separately
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup light sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add pork and cook until golden; transfer to plate. Cover the pork with foil to keep it warm.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil and sprouts to pan and cook stirring occasionally until brown and tender; 5-8 minutes.

Add scallion whites and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, brown sugar and ¼ cup water until sauce is slightly thickened.

Return pork to pan and toss to coat and heat through. Top with scallion greens and serve with rice.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lemon Bars

I am not a huge fan of lemon bars but I know Jason loves all things lemon so these were made especially for him. I had never made them before and every recipe is a bit different. It certainly took a ton of lemons but gave a nice flavor and the sugar kept it from being too tart yet still nice and gooey in the center with a tiny crunch from the short bread crust.

Lemon Bars
Serves: 20 squares

For the crust:

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into squares or triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar. 

Source: Barefoot Contessa

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes. It was not always this way growing up but somewhere along the line I came to like their flavor better, and of course the fact that they are better for you than a regular potato doesn't hurt. I have never made mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes before but love them when we eat out. 

This recipe was really easy to make with just boiling the potatoes and then mashing in the other ingredients. It meant I only had to dirty one pot instead of using a food processor or whipping them with an electric mixer. The orange juice brightened up the flavor while the cinnamon and honey gave it  the sweetness and warmth you look for.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 8

sweet potatoes (about 4 pounds), peeled and cut into eighths

3 Tablespoons 

1/2 cup 
orange juice

1/4 teaspoon 
kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon 
ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 Tablespoon butter 


Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.

Add the remaining ingredients and mash with a potato masher or fork. Season to taste with more salt if necessary.
Adapted from: Real Simple 

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Scones

One thing I love about the weekends is having the time to bake something from scratch and have a relaxed home cooked breakfast. It is something my parents used to do when I was at home and still do today when I am home visiting. I bought some huge fresh blueberries the other day and had come across this recipe as a perfect opportunity to use some of them up. This recipe was really easy to make but I will warn you that the dough was a bit thick and despite my best efforts did squish a few blueberries. Despite that the flavor was really bright from the lemon zest that you can even see in the pictures. I sprinkled a little sugar on top to look pretty. The scones themselves are not that sweet since the original recipe has a glaze on top that I omitted. Not bad for a home made breakfast in 30 minutes!

Lemon Blueberry Scones
Yields 8 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour  ( I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 all purpose)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 lemons, zested
Pinch of salt
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cold and cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles a coarse sand (alternatively, if using a stand mixer, mix in butter with paddle attachment until butter is pea-sized or smaller).

In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy whipping cream and egg until well blended.  Stir in the blueberries to the thick dough (over-mixing the blueberries will burst the berries and dye the batter purple—try to avoid this). Pour cream into scone mixture and mix until it comes together as a dough.

On a lightly floured surface, place dough and form into a circle, flattening the top until dough is roughly an inch thick. Cut dough into 8 pie-shaped pieces and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until scones are lightly browned. 

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

In our family we each pick our favorite cake for our birthdays and my mom would let us pick out our favorite cake for her to bake us. This even applied to my Dad, who this cake is in honor of. Her sour cream coffee cake is his favorite and I always think of his birthday when I make it. Growing up my mom would make one half for us kids that didn't have any nuts, just chocolate chips and then another side for them with the walnuts. Now that I am all grown up I think I can handle walnuts in the whole cake.

In my opinion this is one of the best coffee cake recipes. The sour cream keeps it moist and light, the walnuts give it a nice crunch and the cinnamon, sugar and chocolate chips sweeten it but not overly sugary as some can be. While my layers aren't even you can see there is a yummy middle layer that is filled with the cinnamon, sugar, chocolate chips and walnuts that give you a perfect bite of everything.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
16oz low fat sour cream
2 cups flour (preferably cake flour, otherwise all-purpose is fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350F

Cream butter with sugar. Add eggs and sour cream. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and add vanilla.

Mix the filling ingredients together.

In a greased tube/angel food pan, put a layer of dough, then 1/2 of the filling mixture, remainder of dough and top with remaining filling.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden brown.

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