Scrapbook Winner!

October 31, 2010

Congratulations Joni Taylor, you’ve won the Martha Stewart Scrapbook. I’ll contact you via email with details. Thanks to all who entered!

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Baked Ziti

October 29, 2010

I’ve been looking at the cookbook: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2nd edition. I got it from the library. I totally love the idea of this cookbook – they’ve tested many recipes to find the very best recipe for everything they include. I’m going to be making several things from this, but so far the best thing I’ve made was Baked Ziti. I know this is considered a staple for many Italians, but it’s not really something I’ve had very often, except at big banquets, where it is inevitably bad (mushy pasta and bland sauce) The recipes in this book start out with a description of the problems they see with regular preparations of the dishes and the various things they tried to remedy them. This explanation mentioned the mushy pasta and bland sauce complaints, so I was drawn in. And I HATE ricotta cheese, but this used cottage cheese. It sounded really good though, so I gave it a try.

Amazing. Out of this world, insanely good. I thought it was going to be very tomato-y but somehow the sauce gets absorbed or mixed in with the creamy/cheesy sauce. We nearly came to blows over the leftovers. Don’t tell anyone, but when I made this I separated it into two pans and froze one, so we’ll be having it again (no one in the family knows there is another pan of it in the freezer or they would demand I heat it up NOW).

This recipe gets HUGE points from me and I can see why it made it into the book. The only changes I made were that I used whole wheat penne instead of ziti and I ended up adding more sugar than the recipe says since I like my tomato sauce to be sweet. And I used dried basil.

1 lb whole milk or 1% cottage cheese

2 large eggs, beaten

3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

salt

1 lb ziti

2 tbsp olive oil

5 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 28-oz can tomato sauce

1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tsp sugar

pepper

3/4 tsp cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz while milk mozzarella, cubed

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup of Parmesan in a bowl. Cook the pasta with salt, about 5-7 minutes until it begins to soften.

Heat oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano. Simmer until thickened about 10 min. Then stir in 1/2 cup of basil and sugar, season with salt and pepper.

Mix cornstarch and heavy cream and cook over medium heat until thick, 3-4 min. Remove from heat and add cottage cheese mix to it with 1 cup of tomato sauce and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella. Add the pasta and stir.

Pour the pasta into a 13 x 9 dish and spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan on top. Cover with foil and bake 30 min. Remove foil and bake another 30 min. Cool for 20 min. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp basil.

I loved this and so did everyone in this house. Truly a fantastic recipe.

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How to Make Fried Rice

October 28, 2010

Every once in a while I will decide to have a Chinese night. I often make potstickers, stir fried vegetables, egg drop soup, or some kind of lo mein. But no matter what, I always make fried rice. What I love about it is that it is a recipe you can adjust to what you have in the fridge.

I start by steaming two cups of brown rice in my steamer. I cook two scrambled eggs in a deep skillet and then set the eggs aside. In a little oil, I quickly cook a couple of garlic cloves and about 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger. Then I add the rice. I usually add about 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari and cook it for about 10 minutes, stirring once in a while, so some of the rice gets a little crunchy and it all gets an opportunity to become less sticky.

Next I add veggies. You can add anything you want. I always like to use bean sprouts and some chopped napa cabbage or bok choy. Broccoli crowns, diced carrot, frozen peas, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, or just about anything else you have hanging around works well. I usually saute things like broccoli, carrots or zucchini enough to soften them, before adding tem because they take much longer to cook in the rice. Sometimes I add a few teaspoons of hoisin, stir fry sauce, or sesame oil to give it a different taste. I add the eggs back in at the very end.

My kids love this and it tastes so much better, and has so many more veggies in it than take out.


French Onion Soup

October 27, 2010

French onion soup is one of my favorite things to order when we eat out because it’s something I just never make at home. Well, that is no longer a problem because I’ve hit upon a great recipe for it. It’s adapted from one I tore out of Health Magazine.

4 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

3 large sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp flour

1/3 cup sherry

8 cups beef broth

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp thyme

4-8 pieces of whole wheat or whole grain bread

4-8 slices Swiss cheese

Heat 1 tbsp butter and olive oil in a large skillet and add the onions and 1/4 tsp of the salt. Cover and cook for five minutes over medium high. Uncover, add1 tsp sugar, and cook, stirring often for about half an hour, until the onions are a light brown or golden color. Add flour and reduce heat to low. Stir for about one minute. Add sherry and cook until reduced, about a minute. Transfer to a large pot and add remaining 1 tsp sugar, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, beef broth, soy sauce, remaining 3 tbsp butter, and thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for about half an hour or until onions are completely tender. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Toast bread, then melt the cheese on it under a broiler. Place bread in bowl and ladle soup over it.

The key is using sweet onions and being patient. This isn’t a quick thing to whip up, but there’s nothing hard about it either. You just need time to wait for things to cook.

This was velvety, smooth, sweet and very flavorful. The sherry brought in some nice flavor and the onions were soft and melted in your mouth. I like to melt the cheese right on the bread because it’s less messy to eat. My only regret is that I did not double this recipe because I wanted to freeze some, but there just wasn’t any left.

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Martha’s Greatest Hits: Crafts Edition

October 26, 2010

I recently posted my list of Martha’s best recipes. I have done some Martha crafts (more in the first year of the blog, but I still do some from time to time). I’m not a big crafter and so I didn’t think I would have any craft greatest hits, but in looking back through the blog, there were a couple that really stood out for me as being beautiful and easy to do, so I want to share the craft version of Martha’s Greatest Hits with you!

Map Coasters I still love the concept of this

Scarf Dyed Eggs Possibly the best craft EVER

Nut Wreath I still get a lot of comments on this post from last fall. The wreath hangs in my kitchen in fall and is gorgeous!

Glitter Eggs As frustrating as they were to make, they did turn out pretty well and are very impressive looking.

Fish Print This was one of my more controversial posts. The prints I made hang at the family lake house and are gorgeous.

Do you have any favorite Martha crafts?

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Martha Mondays 11/1

October 25, 2010

Desiree at SteakandPotatoesGirl has chosen Guacamoldy with Creature Chips for next week’s project. Should be great for Halloween!


Martha Mondays: Candy Bar Cake

October 25, 2010

This week’s project was chosen by yours truly:Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Crunch and Caramel Sauce. This cake is from the Oct issue of Living and is a 20 bowl, 30 hour project. Ok, not really, but it did sound that way when I read it, but I found it didn’t take as much time as I thought it would. And for two weeks running, I completely screwed up my Martha Mondays project. This is supposed to taste like a 100 Grand candy bar, one of my childhood favorites. Mine didn’t quite work out as planned!

You start by baking a chocolate cake. I thought it had too much salt in it. Then you make Rice Krispie and chocolate candies. To anyone considering making this recipe – buy Nestle crunch bars instead! It would be much quicker and would come out much better.

Then you make the caramel which goes between the layers with the candies. This is where my disaster ensued. Mine got too hot. I took it off at the right temp, but it just got too hard. I couldn’t spread it. I was able to drizzle it but it hardened. We couldn’t even chew it and ended up picking it out of the cake. I’m sure this would have been good if it was edible. I was really upset about it.

Then you make a chocolate frosting. You do a crumb coat, refrigerate then do another layer.

The cake looked nice. We had a hard time cutting it since the caramel got so hard. The Rice Krispie candies got mushy, so the rice was no longer crunchy, which is why using candy bars would be a much better answer.

I think if I hadn’t completely ruined the caramel this would have been pretty good. I’m so disappointed in myself. Oh well. Onward and upward. Did anyone else make this?

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