Monday, November 30, 2009

Millionaire's Shortbread Repro

When we lived in England we were lucky enough to live near this amazing place. We used to go there every Saturday morning and my favorite treat was their Millionaire's Shortbread - rich buttery shortbread base with a layer of toffee and a thick chocolate topping.

This is the closest thing I've found to it, but it includes nuts. I'm a firm believer that adding protein makes anything a balanced meal!

The recipe says it makes 36 bars. That seemed like a staggering amount from a 13X9 pan, but this is seriously rich, so definitely cut small pieces.

Pretend not to notice how much butter is in these.

No pictures because I made it at my parents' and forgot my camera.

Chocolate Toffee Bars (I found them at Macaroni & Cheesecake, but they seem to be a well-traveled Hershey's recipe.)

Bar Ingredients
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup packed light brown sugar
-1 stick butter
-1 cup pecan pieces
-1 cup chocolate chips

Topping Ingredients
-2/3 cup butter
-1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

-Pre-heat oven to 350
-Combine flour and brown sugar, then rub in butter until it forms crumbs
-Line a 9x13 baking pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray
-Press mixture onto bottom of baking pan
-Sprinkle pecans over crust
-Prepare topping and pour over pecans and crust.
-Bake 20 to 22 minutes until topping is bubbly
-Remove from oven and gently spread chocolate chips over topping
-Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars (makes about 36 bars.)

Toffee Topping:
Combine the 2/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar in small saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
Continue boiling, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Use immediately.

Menu Planning Monday - November 30, 2009

Finally back to full weeks and real meal planning. I just dug up a bunch of recipes I'd saved that I wanted to try, so lots of new things in the rotation this week. Sadly I can't seem to figure out where some of them came from:

-Cranberry beef, maple glazed carrots, and couscous
-African chicken peanut soup
-Chicken curry and peas
-Greek lemon chicken thighs and potatoes with green beans
-Tortellini, white bean & spinach soup
-Eggplant Pasta
-Pregnancy Pizza (Anchovies and pineapple . . . mmmm)



-Cereal bars and clementines
-Waffles with peanut butter and banana
-Muesli with yogurt and applesauce

-Granola bars

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Make Ahead Thanksgiving

What better way to show gratitude than with food?

We shared a Thanksgiving potluck with some special people in our lives and while the food was yummy, the company was the sweetest part.

(sending love to the folks who weren't able to join us, and wishing you guys much nourishment in the days ahead.)

The Menu
The post-turkey tryptophan-induced coma has made me too lazy to copy over the recipes from these fabulous links. Besides, you should visit all these sites anyway - there are way more goodies where these came from.

With the exception of the green beans and mashed potatoes, everything was made ahead and reheated. It made for a mess-free, stress-free morning.

If only we'd used that time to figure out where everybody was going to sit . . . :)

The Bird:
-Turkey (Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade - Put the tablescapes aside in your mind, her turkey suggestions are awesome.)

-Spiced Cranberry Sauce (Eating Well - This is a doctored up version of canned cranberry sauce. It makes it taste like something new altogether. I'd highly recommend making it a day ahead for full-on flavor melding to occur)
-Mashed potatoes
-Pan gravy
-Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese (Epicurious - Bon Appetit November 2006 - this can be fully cooked the day before or stopped right before cooking and refrigerated overnight before cooking the following day)
-Maple Glazed Yams with Pecan Topping (Simply Recipes - I think this gets better every time it's reheated. It is sweet, but in a baked, nutty way rather than some of the candied recipes I've had. We made it with regular sweet potatoes.)
Green Bean Salad with Walnuts (Serious Eats - originally from New Classic Family Dinners - skipped the walnuts and forget to tell people about the dressing, but I enjoyed it!)
-Scandinavian Slaw ("Moosewood Restaurant New Classics" cookbook- This is the only recipe I wouldn't make again. I've never been steered wrong by Moosewood - I have tons of their cookbooks and use them all the time - but I think the fact that I found a container of carraway seeds in the pantry made me think I liked them. Wrong - and they were a pretty key ingredient in this recipe.)
-Guests brought - baked sweet potatoes and spinach salad with sharp cheese, apples, and craisins . . . yumm!

-Devil's Food Pound Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting (Vintage Victuals - DO. NOT. PASS. GO. MAKE. THIS. NOW! We had a little challenge with the frosting - when I heated it, it sort of separated into melted butter and the other stuff - kind of the texture of peanut butter cup filling swimming in butter. I was ready to throw it out and start again, but Mishke made a total husband save with the addition of some milk. So glad he did. I can't stop eating it.)
Guests brought - Tiramisu, pumpkin cheesecake, apple crumb pie from Petsi Pies . . . all amazing!!

Tot in the Kitchen: Brownie Macaroons

Some recipes are so easy a toddler could make them.

This one did.

(and then went to bed, and the grownups decimated the results. Nannan and Dandan, who were visiting, gave this one two chocolate-covered thumbs up.)

(so the epic mess in our kitchen is not the normal state of affairs - which tends toward chaos at the best of times - this baking adventure occurred in the middle of some majorly disruptive renovations . . .)

Brownie Macaroons
Source: Taste and Tell (originally found in "Best of the Bakeoff")
-1 package brownie mix
-2 cups flaked coconut
-4 tbsp water

-2 tablespoons canola oil

-1 egg

-Heat oven to 350F
-Lightly grease cookie sheets
-In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; beat 50 strokes with spoon
-Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (icecream scoop worked perfectly.)
-Place 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet; flatten slightly.
-Bake at for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are set. (Centers will be soft)

mmm . . . angel flake . . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

Squash and Black Bean Chili

We try to eat three meatless meals a week; one fish and two fully vegetarian/vegan. It's good for our health, our budget, and our tastebuds!

This recipe fits all the above categories, and it's fast to prepare.

Mishke made it while I was stuck at a very late meeting, and it was amazing to come home to in my semi-delirious state. I was drooling as soon as I got out of the car.

He made a couple tiny edits based on what we had in the pantry, which are reflected in the recipe below. For the unedited version, which I'm sure is equally delicious, see the link.

We served it (as suggested) with honey cornbread and Harpoon Octoberfest. It made way more than four servings for us. And we eat a lot.

Squash & Black Bean Chili
Source: Love At First Bite (this blog is beautiful. I wish I could take food pics like that!)
Squash and Black Bean Chili

-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 red pepper
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 stalk celery, chopped
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-Dash Frank's Red Hot Sauce
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 15ozs can black beans
-1 25ozs can refried black beans with jalapenos
-1.5lbs butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
-1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
14 oz. can vegetable broth

-In 5-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add pepper, onion, and celery, and cook 5 to 8 minutes or just until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and hot sauce and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring.
-Stir beans, squash, tomatoes, salt and broth into mixture in Dutch oven; cover and heat to boiling.
-Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until squash is tender

Feta Pork Chop Skillet

I like boneless pork chops because they are tender and lean, but I tend not to cook much pork because it's often pretty full of hormones and nasty additives.

(or maybe it's because in high school my best friend used to call me "the other white meat" because of how unfortunately pale I am.)

This recipe is really yummy. Salty, but yummy. Sodiyummy.

We served it with couscous and cherry tomatoes. And several glasses of water.

Feta Pork Chop Skillet
Source: What's On My Menu (originally from Sisters Cafe) - this version reflects my couple mini-adaptations
-2 tbsp Greek Seasoning
-1 tsp minced garlic
-1 pinch black pepper
-1 tbsp olive oil
-5 think cut boneless pork chops
-¼ cup lemon juice
-4 ozs feta cheese with basil and sun-dried tomatoes
-1 summer squash and two zucchini

-Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
-Dip pork chops in lemon juice, and spread both sides with seasoning
-Place pork chops in skillet, drizzle with some of remaining lemon juice, and sear both sides, about 7 minutes per side.
-Remove pork and add squash to pan, cook until caramelized and tender
-Sprinkle feta on top of chops; cover skillet, and cook until cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shake Your Bean-Beans

I have no idea if Ricky Martin has anything to do with these beans. But if I were him I wouldn't complain about having my name associated with them. They're so easy, and it's way too easy to eat too many of them.

Ricky Martin's Beans & Rice
Source: On My Menu (tweaked ever so slightly)

-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 chopped onion
-1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 cup tomato sauce
-3/4 cup water
-1/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
-1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-White rice

-In a large saucepan, saute onion, pepper, and garlic in oil until softened
-Stir in water, tomato sauce, and oregano and bring to a boil
-Stir in beans
-Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
-Serve with rice.

Baked Ham Rigatoni

Before Mishke and I got married, I didn't eat leftovers. No matter how good something was the night before, it just never seemed appetizing the next day. (I also hate watching movies more than once. I love waking up next to the same man every day of my life, though. Some things are perfect when repeated!)

So Mishke has not only gotten me over my leftover-phobia, but I've discovered some things even taste good cold. Witness: the leftovers to this dish, eaten with a fork straight out of the fridge.

This is so, so good. And this from someone who doesn't love mac and cheese.

Baked Ham Rigatoni
Source: Real Mom Kitchen (I tweaked the recipe slightly and the recipe below reflects the way I made it.)

-16ozs package rigatoni
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup flour
-4 cups
-1.25 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
-8ozs ham steak, chopped into small cubes
-Nutmeg and crushed red pepper

-Preheat oven to 425
-Put water on to boil for pasta
-Melt butter in a deep skillet, then whisk in flour with a flat whisk until it forms a paste
-Add milk slowly, whisking continuously until thickened. This takes forever, but don't walk away or you'll bugger up the sauce.
-Cook pasta
-Season sauce; add ham and 1 cup of cheese and stir thoroughly
-Mix drained pasta into sauce, and pour into a greased 9x13 pan and sprinkle with cheese
-Top with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese, and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbling and browned

"Fusion" Cottage Pie

I've lived in the States for fifteen years, but when it comes to comfort food, I revert back to my Brit roots. And for comfort, English-style, nothing beats Cottage Pie (Shepherd's Pie - cow-style.) I used to love the way mum made it with top-of-the-milk in the mashed potatoes when we had milk delivery.

My mother-in-law makes a similar comfort food - American-style. Her hamburger pie has a pastry crust and tomato soup rather than brown gravy. Equally delicious!

So here's the combined version:

"Fusion" Cottage Pie
Source: Our Families

-1.25lb lean ground beef
-3/4 bag or so of frozen vegetables
-1 can condensed tomato soup
-Heavy dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
-6 potatoes
-Liberal glug of heavy cream (first choice) or whole milk (second best.)

-Preheat oven to 350
-Peel (if desired - I never bother), and chop potatoes. Boil until soft.
-While potatoes are boiling, saute ground beef in a deep skillet until browned, draining grease if needed
-While still over heat, add frozen vegetables, soup and Worcestershire Sauce, and warm through
-Mash potatoes with cream
-Decant beef and veggie mixture into 9x11ish baking pan
-Top with mashed potatoes
-Cook until top is browned and meat mixture is bubbling; pop under broiler for a few minutes to speed up the browning process if desired.

Ambrosia (is not a salad)

I mean, it's just not.

I don't know who has managed to convince themselves that whipped topping is a salad ingredient, but I think that state is called denial.

That being said - God bless whoever invented Ambrosia. I don't care what part of a meal it falls under, I love it and I love it some more. Especially when pregnant.

There's some irony to this. I just drove a 1.5 hour round trip today to get my hair colored at a salon that uses all natural products to try to avoid exposing our unborn to unnecessary chemicals. And yet I'm readily contemplating an evening cuddled up with a serving bowl of whipped topping-infused salad, a spoon (heck, I'll take a ladle) and Glee.

Polysorbate 60, anyone? On second thoughts, no. I'm not sharing . . .

Source: Mishmosh of different versions

-8ozs container low fat whipped topping
-2.5 cups dessicated coconut
-1 can each mandarins, fruit cocktail, pineapple chunks
-3 cups mini marshmallows
-1 jar maraschino cherries, drained

-Mix it all up, refrigerate if you can handle the wait, and consume in mass quantities.

No picture. This is just ugly food.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Planning Monday - November 9, 2009

Success! We made five out of six of our planned meals last week! Headed out of town this weekend, so it's a short week.

-Easy dinner - fish, chips, and peas
-Feta Pork Chop Skillet, couscous and tomatoes
-Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats and spinach salad
-Squash and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread
-Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce, Chicken, and Veggies


-Cereal with milk and bananas
-French toast and strawberries
-Toast and honey
-Yogurt and granola

Snacks and Treats:
-Fruit and jello
-String cheese
-Brownie Macaroons

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Menu Planning Monday - November 2, 2009

I've been trying to be good about planning meals ahead so as not to waste food, and so that I don't come home from work wondering what to throw together, desperately ravenous to the point that I can convince myself that a jar of applesauce, a handful of chocolate chips, and some dry cornflakes is actually a balanced meal. I've been following several bloggers on Orgjunkie's Menu Planning Monday for a while now and decided to join starting this month. Here goes:


-Black bean quesadillas, avocado, and green beans

-Shepherd's pie and peas

-Laughing Cow chicken, applesauce, baked sweet potatoes, and broccoli

-Baked ham rigatoni and spinach salad

-Pizza night




-Waffles and banana

-Cereal bar and yogurt

-Rice cakes with peanut butter and apples

-Oatmeal with nuts

-Cold cereal and milk

-Pop tarts