Thursday, March 31, 2011

Strawberry Nutella Panini

I have been in a bit of a strawberry craze lately. You, know, it is that time of the year and strawberries are my favorite fruit. For my birthday every year I get a strawberry cream cheese pie, not a cake, because that's how I roll. It is one of those traditions I love and look forward to every year.

On an unrelated note, tomorrow is the first of April. That means I graduate in 23 days. Then I have to get a real job and help support the fam and whatnot and I am midly terrified. Not more living from semester to semester.

That can be scary for a girl who has known nothing but school for the last 18 years of her life.

So what do you do when all you've ever known is passing you by? You make a Strawberry Nutella Panini. Duh.  I decided to try this concoction a few days ago when I was eating a bowl of strawberries and decided to dunk just one in Nutella. It was really good. Really, really good in fact! So I started thinking about what I could do with the mix and decided to give this a go.

I was a little apprehensive because I thought that maybe the strawberries would get warm and that would be gross. Then I thought about putting butter on the outside of the bread to toast it on the panini maker and that sounded icky too.  But in the spirit of adventure I pressed on and was really glad I did.

It was yum! I put hardly any butter on the outside which was a pro, and two light layers of Nutella on both bread slices which was a con. Next time I will be a little more liberal with my Nutella application because I wanted more! I also put a thing layer of strawberries in the middle. Perfect. The strawberries did not get mushy and the Nutella was melty perfect.


Strawberry Nutella Panini

  • Thick, crusty bread
  • Nutella spread
  • One large strawberry
  • 1/2 tsp butter
  1.  Lightly butter the outsides of two slices of bread.
  2. Generously spread Nutella on the opposite sides of bread.
  3. Strategically place strawberries in a single layer on one slice of bread. 
  4. Put in panini makers or grill pan until browned. 
  5. Eat immediately.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream and THE BEST Strawberry Glaze You'll Ever Taste

For the love of all that is sweet and tasty, make this glaze.

It was amazing and delicious and once I made it I sat there with a spoon and shamelessly ate it out of the bowl. I sunk to new lows, it was that good.

The ice cream is also a winner but was upstaged by the glaze.  Too bad ice cream, maybe someday you'll get the praise you deserve.

So go ahead, do yourself a favor. Make the strawberry glaze. Put it on strawberry shortcake, on ice cream, on a spoon, on waffles, on toast...

As you can tell, I kind of liked it ok.


The Best Strawberry Glaze You'll Ever Have

  • 4-6 small to medium strawberries
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Mash up the strawberries. If you don't like chunks purify them in a food processor or blender. I like the chunks.
  2. Put the strawberries and their juice in a bowl and add the powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla. Blend until a runny-syrupy consistency is reached.
  3. Enjoy.

Not-the-least-bit-Boring Vanilla Ice Cream

Combine and mix in a bowl:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbs powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups cream
Then add:
  • 3 cups whole milk
Blend all ingredients together. Can be refrigerated for a few hours, over night or whatever. Or, put it in the ice cream maker right away.  Blend to ice cream makers instructions.

Glaze generously adapted from here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce from a jar is offensive. I just can't do it unless extreme circumstances (like my uncontrollable laziness) merits the jarred stuff.

My step-grandpa is from Italy and he taught my dad, who then taught me, how to make a delicious sauce.

It's really simple and the slow-cooking process makes all the flavors melt together. Yum.

I like mine with a little kick but omit the cayenne pepper and tone down the black pepper if you want it more mild. I usually make a lot so I can put 1/2 in the fridge and the other 1/2 in the freezer so it lasts longer.


Spicy Slow Cooked Spaghetti Sauce
  • Two 26 oz cans traditional spaghetti sauce (I like the Del Monte kind)
  • 1 lbs hamburger meat
  • 3 TBS cooking white wine (I'm not into the real stuff)
  • 1 TBS fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 TBS salt
  • 1 TBS italian seasoning
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • dash of onion powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  1. Cook up the hamburger in a skillet. Keep the excess oils for flavor.
  2. In a slow cooker or large pot, combine the hamburger, spaghetti sauce, onions, garlic and spices.
  3. Cook for a minimum of 3 hours.
  4. Adjust spices to taste at this point. Refrigerate, freeze or serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Perfect Panini

I made these for lunch on Sunday and they were so good we ended up having them again on Monday.

Well, that and the fact that we didn't have anything else in the fridge.  What can I say? I hate going to the grocery store.

But really. The combination of the goat cheese which melts into delicious sauciness with the grilled onions and artichoke hearts was amazing.

I love paninis. They are spring's comfort food. Not that it is spring yet here in Utah, but I keep trying to pretend it is.

Mind over matter! Where there is a will, there's a way! And all other cliches that make me think I can use the power of positive thinking to warm up the weather.

So go ahead and treat yourself to something nice, a panini is the perfect weekend treat.


Fully Loaded Panini

For the grilled chicken:
  • 1 whole chicken breast
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of onion powder
  1. Pound the chicken breast thin and use a knife to trim off the fat pieces. 
  2. Rub seasonings over one side of the breast.
  3. Place the chicken in a grill pan (I have a panini/grill pan combo which I love and use on the daily) and cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side until cooked through. 
For the Panini:
  • 2 pieces sourdough bread (or other crusty, yummy bread--sandwich bread not recommended)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 TBS goat cheese (or other yummy cheese but goat cheese is the best)
  • 1/4 (or a little less) purple onion
  • 4-6 artichoke hearts
  • 6-8 spinach leaves
  • 1 grilled chicken breast
  1. The the same pan used to cook the chicken, grill up your onions for approximately 5 minutes or until brown and soft.
  2. Lightly butter the outside pieces of bread (not both sides, just the one that will touch the pan).
  3. Spread the dijon mustard over the other sides of the bread.
  4. Place the goat cheese, onions, artichoke hearts, spinach, and chicken breast in between the two slices of bread.
  5. Put the sandwich (buttered sides out) on a panini pan and flip after 3 minutes or until desired color/crispiness. 
Serve with a side salad, or, if you are fancy like me, tator tots.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hello Poppy Seed Bread!

I first had this at my friend Carrie's house. It is a special treat her mom usually only makes around Christmas time. I had 8 slices of hers, went into a sweet sugar coma, came out of it, and begged for the recipe.  Funny thing was, once I got around to making it I found I had a very similar recipe, just a bit naughtier (you know, a little more oil, butter, sugar... all the good stuff). So I went ahead and made that one.

I really liked it. The only thing that wasn't so great was the glaze. I think it was a little too much quantity wise and sugary wise. Maybe next time I'd half it or just leave it out all together. The bread was good enough to stand alone.

So... it's time. It's time to stop consuming Costco poppyseed muffins like they are going out of style and make something even better.

When I first told Andrew I was going to make poppyseed bread, he told me he compared all poppyseed-type goods to Costco's muffins and I would have some major competition because those are hard to beat.

The first words out of his mouth after the first bite were, "Ok, these are better."

I might have be a little thrilled.


Poppy Seed Bread
For the bread:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • 1 1/2 TBS poppy seeds 
  1. Mix all ingredients together and beat two minutes.
  2. Pour into well-greased pan.
  3. Bake at 350 for an hour. (Yes, an hour. I am sorry.)
*Makes 2 loaves

For the glaze (I would half this!):
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 TBS butter
  1. Mix ingredients together with a wire whisk until blended.
  2. Boil all ingredients in a small sauce pan.
  3. Pour over warm bread.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Grilled Salmon, Brown Buttered Gnocchi, Sauted Spinach and Grilled Onion

It's Monday and that makes me think of the weekend.

It's best not to dwell on the present when it is a Monday and you have 4 days of work and school ahead of you.

I had a great weekend spent in Alta, UT skiing and relaxing in with the fam.  A Monday after a get-away weekend is kind of like a slap in the face. Mondays are cruel like that.

So on this Monday, we need a pick-me-up. Something to take our mind off of what we once had (glorious weekend freedom) and focus it instead on something else.

What better to think of then Grilled Salmon, Brown Buttered Gnocchi, Sauted Spinach with Shallots and Grilled Onion-- aka a fancy pants dinner.

I went to a restaurant a while back called Communal and it was incredibly good. So good that I was craving it the minute I finished my meal and decided I had to do my best to recreate it.

I would say that everything was just as good as Communal's food except the brown buttered gnocchi, which I will hopefully perfect someday. My gnocchi was good, but theirs was divine.  Baby steps.

This meal feeds two.

Let's do this, shall we?

Grilled Salmon
  • 1 Salmon fillet 
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • Dash of onion powder
  • Dash of garlic powder
  1. Place butter on grill pan and turn heat to low. While heating, rub a dash of onion powder and garlic powder over the salmon. 
  2. Place salmon on buttered grill pan and turn heat to medium.  Pour on 2 Tbs of lemon juice. Cook a few more minutes until the middle is a whitish pink (about 8 minutes) and pour on last Tbs of lemon juice. 
  3. Remove from heat, serve immediately.
*From start to finish, 15 minutes

Brown Buttered Gnocchi
  • 1 1/2 cups gnocchi, pre-made (you can buy it at a grocery store but it's yummier if it's homemade)
  • Browned butter (directions on how to make it here)
  • Onion powder
  • Parsley
  1. Boil water. When water has reached a full boil, add gnocchi and let cook for 3 minutes, or until they float to the top. As soon as they float, remove and drain immediately-- they get mushier the longer they are in there.
  2. While the gnocchi are draining, place one inch of browned butter in a shallow pan. Turn heat to high. 
  3. Pour gnocchi into hot browned butter and watch them sizzle. Let them brown.
  4. Add onion powder.
  5. Sprinkle on parsley for an extra kick. (Communal did this but I forgot to buy some at the grocery store. It made a big difference. I was sad I missed out.)
*From start to finish (minus the boiling water part) 6 minutes

Grilled Onions 
  • 1/3 large purple onion
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs butter
  1. In a small pan, melt butter. Over high heat add onions and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add browned sugar and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until onions are soft.
*From start to finish, 6 minutes.

Sauted Spinach with Shallots
  • Two large handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 of a medium sized shallot
  • 2 tbs butter
  • Feta cheese
  1. Melt the butter in the pan used for the grilled onions.  Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add spinach and cook until whithered and shrunken (about 1 minutes).
  3. Add crumbled feta cheese on top to add an extra level of deliciousness.
*From start to finish, 4 minutes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Whole Wheat Zucchini Spaghetti

Warming! This post leads from this:

to this:

to this:

Consider yourself warned.

Tonight's dinner was Whole Wheat Zucchini Spaghetti  and it was a success.

I adapted the recipe from here because I didn’t have 1. the equipment 2. the ingredients and 3. the time to make this recipe as she made it. She was a bit intensive. Plus, I only wanted to feed two, not four. So anyway my end result was probably very similar. We loved it and slurped up every last noodle.

The red pepper flakes gave this a really nice spice which was perfect. Don’t skimp on that or the cheese. Feta is my recent cheese love and it plus the parmesan help amp up the flavor. 

All in all, this was a light, guilt-free, very refreshing dish that makes you feel good about yourself afterward. It’s the food equivalent of running a mile.  Except more enjoyable.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Spaghetti 
  • 1 whole zucchini 
  • Half dollar size handful of wheat pasta 
For the garlic olive oil sauce:
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • Heaping 1/2 tbs minced garlic
  • 5 dashes red pep flakes (if you container has the holes. Otherwise probably just ¼ tsp.)
  • 1 tbs chopped basil
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Feta and Parmesan on top

Basil olive oil mix:
  • ¼ cup basil
  • 2 tbs olive oil

For the pasta and zucchini:
  1. While the water is boiling, use a veggie peeler and cut thin strips of zucchini. Stop when you reach the middle- only peeled till the mushy seed part. Then, use a paring knife to cut the strips into strands (or if you're an expert peeler, just peel them into strands).  Season with salt and pepper. If your zucchini is very thin, leave it be. If it is on the thicker side, put a colander over the pot of boiling pasta and steam them for a few minutes.
  2. Put fresh basil leaves in a food processor or finely chop. Heat the 3 TBS olive oil in a pan and add garlic. Saute until garlic is light brown.  Add the red pepper flakes, stir for a minute and then add the basil. Remove from heat.
  3. Make the basil-olive oil sauce by putting the leftover minced basil and 2 TBS olive oil in a blender. Liquefy.  Then, in the same pan used for the other olive oil mix, heat for a minute to combine the flavors.  The recipe said to strain this but I don’t have a small sieve so that was out of the question for me. Instead we threw the entire thing into the pasta and it was delicious.
  4. When pasta is cooked and strained, add the zucchini, olive oil sauces and cheese into a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with more feta and parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Browned Butter Cinnamon Rolls and Vanilla Browned Butter Frosting

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early (7:30 on a Saturday!) so that I could make cinnamon rolls.

I wouldn't usually endeavor this so early in the morning but there was a BYU basketball game that day at 1:30pm and if you've heard anything about BYU basketball, you know it's kind of a big deal. Students camped out for days leading up to the game in order to get good seats.

Well, I love basketball and I love getting good seats but I hate camping out on cold, slanted concrete all night. So a compromise was made. My dear friends Maddie and Tyler  would camp out all night (don't be alarmed! they're married!) and then, in exchange for breakfast, I would come join them in line at 8 am.

Wait 5 hours instead of 18 and get to bake something yummy? Deal.

So I made browned butter cinnamon rolls and yummy frosting. They were so good. The browned butter adds a kind of warm, nutty, deep taste and it is the perfect addition.

I know the recipe seems a little daunting and there is a lot of rising that has to happen, but I promise that if you make this recipe, you will never be satisfied with another cinnamon roll ever.  

Never ever.

Need more convincing? Here's 9 reasons to try it:

Browned Butter Cinnamon Rolls

·  1 cup Whole Milk
·  1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
·  1/4 cup Sugar
·  1 TBS vanilla
·  1/2 TBS Active Dry Yeast
·  2 cups (Plus 1/2 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
·  1/4 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
·  1/4 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
·  1/4 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
·  1/2 cup Browned Butter (please, please use browned butter. It adds a nuttier, richer, more delicious taste. If you absolutely refuse, you can just use melted butter)
·  1/4 cups Sugar
·  Lots and lots of cinnamon

1.     Constantly mix the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and sugar in a pan.  Heat until just before it begins boiling (aka scald it). Turn off heat and leave to cool 20 minutes to 1/2 hour. Brown the butter while you wait.
2.     Now, browning butter. It is the best thing ever. I looked up three different “how to’s” because I was intimidated but it was a cinch. It takes about 15 minutes so be patient. It is crucial to keep the heat on medium. You do not want to burn the butter. That would be bad. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to make browned butter.
3.     When the mixture is warm, sprinkle in vanilla and yeast. Make sure it is warm because that activates the yeast, but if it’s too hot, it kills the yeast. Let this sit for a minute or so. Then add 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least half an hour.
4.     After rising, add the other 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, I put my dough in the fridge overnight because I wanted to use it the next morning. You can store this for up to two days as long as you punch it down every now and then.
5.     Sprinkle rolling surface with flour. Form dough into a rectangle and roll it thin. Drizzle 1/2 cup melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
6.     Tightly roll the dough into a cylinder.  Pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
7.     Coat round cake pan with butter. Cut the roll into 1 inch segments and place the rolls in the pan.
8.     Let rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Vanilla Browned Butter Frosting
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup browned butter, softened
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • About 1 Tbs milk
 Mix powdered sugar and margarine.  Stir in vanilla and milk; beat until frosting is smooth, and is spreading consistency.


Browned Butter

Browned butter. I like it.

 It should be used in everything. In excessive quantities.

I made it on Saturday and used it repeatedly for the follow 24 hours until it was all gone.

It makes food taste a little nuttier/richer and it will make your kitchen smell divine.

It was a good Saturday.

Now you can make it too! It's really simple and a total myth that this is a "chef's only" ingredient. Go look at yourself in the mirror. Stare long and hard. Now repeat after me, "I am the chef in my kitchen and I will ROCK browned butter!"

So let's make some, shall we?

Browned Butter
  1. Over medium heat, melt a stick or two of salted butter in a frying pan for about 15-20 minutes. DO NOT BURN.
  2. Strain because the foam that develops on top will sink down and burn during the cooking process. It doesn't change the flavor though and I didn't remove mine because I don't have a small strainer.
  3. Use immediately or put in a storage container and refrigerate up to two weeks. Remelt in the microwave.
That's it. It really is that easy. The only thing is, it does get kind of scary because the butter doesn't move from one stage to the next nice and smoothly. It kind of goes to one stage, then to the next, and then back again. So, I have a minute-by-minute photo shoot for you to see the entire process

Minute 1: Heat butter in pan on medium heat. Here is how my flame looked.

Minute 2: Melted butter. Nothing more exciting than that.

Minute 5: Lots of foam stuff on top.

Minute 7: Some rapid boiling happening under the foam.

Minute 10: Bubbling foam action.

Minute 11: Foam is going away thanks to the rapid boiling-ness happening.

Minute 12: Foam came back but still bubbling.

Minute 13: Brown foam patches begin to appear. I cheered here because I was beginning to wonder if this would ever happen.

Minute 15: Here is what is going on underneath the foam: browning butter! (At this point I am stirring vigorously and shouting to Andrew "Hurry! Snap it! Did you get the shot?! Can you see the brown?!")

Minute 18: The final stage should be this dark amber color and your kitchen should smell great.

Minute 20: Safely stored away in its container and about to be tucked into the fridge to be used in tomorrow's goodies.  It should be this nice cafe color and if you have stained it, it wont have that foam.