Sunday, December 30, 2007

Folded Red Pepper Tortilla Pizza (About 15 minutes)

I was trying to find something to make for lunch today with ingredients we had on hand. These pizzas came out great.

Ingredients:
Flour tortilla
Red pepper pesto*
Mozzarella cheese
Pepperoni
Red pepper flakes
Dried oregano

Preparation:
Turn broiler on high. Place tortilla in pan. Spread a couple of teaspoons of red pepper pesto onto the tortilla as if on pizza dough. Add your toppings (mozzarella, pepperoni, red pepper flakes and dried oregano, in my case). Cook under the broiler until bubbly and starting to brown. Fold the tortilla over halfway (will look like a soft taco). Cook until browned. Turn over and repeat. Enjoy!

As usual, you can try out all different types of toppings. It's a great way to use up leftovers in an entirely new way.

* We used Bella Cucina Red Pepper pesto
Click here. It was part of my birthday gift from MTH's parents.

Green Chile Tortilla Roll-Ups (About an hour)

This recipe is another easy one. You could make up different flavors. You could also add ham instead of turkey. I'll definitely make these again for future get togethers.

Adapted from cooksrecipes.com

1 (4-ounce) can Diced Green Chiles
4 ounces neufchatel, softened
1 cup mixed shredded Mexican cheeses
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
sliced turkey
4 (6-inch) fajita-size flour tortillas

Combine green chiles, neufchatel, shredded cheeses and hot pepper sauce in medium bowl. Spread 1/2 cup cheese mixture over each tortilla. On some, add some slices of turkey. Roll up. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut each tortilla roll into ½-inch slices.

Mexican Wedding Cookies (AKA Russian Tea Cookies) (About an hour)

These are simple cookies. Also, if you know someone who is vegetarian (not vegan though), these cookies will be great for them as there are no eggs in them. I not only made them for the party but also for Christmas with the family.

From the Food Network 12 Days of Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for coating baked cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands
1 cup pecans, chopped into very small pieces

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until smooth. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed gradually add the flour. Mix in the pecans with a spatula. With floured hands, take out about 1 tablespoon of dough and shape into a crescent. Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll in additional confectioners' sugar. Cool on wire racks.

Homemade Marshmallows (About 30 minutes)

The great thing about this recipe is that it is extremely easy (although takes some time) but it wows just about everyone who sees them. Most people don't really understand how marshmallows are made. In the end, it's very similar to making meringue but using gelatin instead of egg whites.

3 packages unflavored gelatin
From the Food Network 12 Days of Cookies, 2005

1/2 cup cold water, plus 1/2 cup
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Deviled Eggs (About an hour)

Deviled Eggs
Adapted from Epicurious.

12 medium eggs
some mayonnaise
some Dijon horseradish mustard
some cayenne pepper

Used http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/BoiledEggs.htm for instructions on how to boil eggs perfectly.

Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Carefully remove yolks and mash in a bowl with a fork. Add mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne and stir with fork until smooth, then season with salt and pepper. Taste. Add more of any of the ingredients as you see fit for your taste. Using two spoons, spoon the yellow mixture into the egg whites. If you're ambitious, use a pastry bag and pipe it into the egg whites.

Pictures from Baking for my Party


Ready to bake!


Playing around with the camera.


Sugar cookies.


Pecan Mandelbrot - before the first bake.


Pecan Mandelbrot - after the second bake.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Orange Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Fondue (About 1 1/2 hours)

One of the cookies that I've made for the past 3 Annual H Christmas Parties is the Orange Sugar Cookie. The recipe actually calls for lemon zest and lemon juice but I thought that the orange flavor would be awesome with the dark chocolate fondue that I serve at the party. I also made marshmallows and cut up fruit for dipping in the chocolate. Here are the sugar cookie and chocolate fondue recipes:

Orange Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Christmas

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 cup unsalted butter, (2 sticks), softened
2 large eggs
Granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
2. Put sugars and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 30 seconds. Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then the orange juice. Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
3. Scoop dough using a scoop; space cookies 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Flatten cookies slightly with wet fingers. Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar
4. Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Chocolate Fondue
From Epicurious
1 cup premium cocoa powder (Valrohna or Scharffen Berger), sifted
1 1/4 cups spring water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons heavy cream
5 ounces (premium) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Sift the cocoa into mixing bowl and set aside. Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup into a pot and bring to boil. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until sugar solution has reduced by about 30%. Pour the cocoa powder into the solution and blend with a whisk until smooth. Return the chocolate mixture to the stove and continue cooking over medium heat. Add heavy cream, bring to boil and allow to simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in chopped chocolate. Pour into fondue pot and keep warm.

Lots of Cookies

I cooked a lot over the month of December. I took a few pictures of the process (although not as many as I would have liked). I will be posting about some of those cookies. Yummy!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Beer, Beer and Turkey? (About 2 hours)

Tonight, I made beer and "beef" chili. I put the beef in quotes because I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef. I started with sauteing onions and garlic and then the ground turkey is added. At this point, you can decide which chili spices you like the most. We put in chili powder, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, basil and thyme. Also, beer, chicken broth, tomatoes and tomato paste were added at this point. The chili is left to simmer for as long as you like. Then add the beans.

Why did I mention two beers in the title? Because I also made beer batter bread. It's another very simple recipe. I got this one off the epicurious website and didn't make any changes - Beer Batter Bread Recipe.

Beers used: Amstel Light in the chili and Guinness in the bread.