Monday, July 25, 2011

Grilling- Asian inspired meal

Jim received a great grilling cookbook from my sister Ana for his birthday. It is called The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbeque. The first page that I opened the book up to called our names.

We made Thai Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spicy, Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce, Coconut Curried Fried Rice, and Sesame Lemon Cucumber Salad.

I almost think we had too many flavors on our plate. They were all VERY good. Everything smelled AMAZING too. I am nuts for coconut so the rice really, really appealed to me. It was also a bit spicy from the curry paste so that was great too.

I did prep everything- the brine, the chicken rub, the sides- but Jim gets lots of credit for the grilling because I don't know even know how to turn it on :) Without Jim this meal wouldn't have been possible.

Lots of spice in the rice. My rice cooker bowl is permanently stained yellow I think. Oh well. The rice cooked with coconut milk... mmmmm......

This dipping sauce was THE BOMB. So easy.

The rub was also pretty easy. I always thought rubs were dry ingredients, but this was one was really wet with lots of lime juice, oil, and spices. Jim said it flared up a bit in the grill but luckily enough of the rub was also placed under the chicken skin. It was really flavorful and MOIST (Ana!) because of the brining.

James stole his Daddy's seat at the table. Too bad he didn't try the grub.

The recipes for the Chicken and then the Cucumber Salad were both from the cookbook. I did find the recipes online and they are linked below. The rice recipe is from a trusty food blogger.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Big Fat Bacon Sliders

Another PW recipe. This was GOOD. I think sliders are usually pretty tiny but I followed the recipe and we still ended up with 1/4 lb burgers. Each burger was wrapped in a slice of bacon and they were baked for 30 minutes. I could hear the bacon sizzling in the oven and of course my husband could smell the bacon.

He really enjoyed the burgers. I think to make the bacon crispier next time I would use thin sliced bacon. Our usual thick cut bacon was still a bit chewy on our plates but it's an awesome burger idea.

I didn't use a bottled BBQ sauce but instead used another PW favorite recipe.

Watermelon & Cherry Sangria

This isn't from just one recipe. I came home with a bottle of white wine and knew I'd throw together some kind of sangria with my watermelon. We also threw in some brandy, cherries, and ginger ale.

The sangria in the glasses is a bit lighter in color because I put an extra splash of ginger ale in them. The sangria was sweet and light. Yum.

Beer & Pretzel Caramels

Boys are invading my home this weekend. My husband is having a (small) poker party for his buddies and cupcakes didn't seem appropriate. I found this recipe a long time ago and it seemed like a perfect time to try making it.

The candy itself is made with a few cups of beer, along with tons of sugar and corn syrup, but I also had to simmer a cup of beer down to a syrupy reduction. It was supposed to reduce to a teaspoon of an extract-type of flavor, but I ended up with a few tablespoons even with some extra time on the stovetop. I tasted it and it sure was strong, so I'm sure it was fine.

The candy was cooked to a temperature of 245 degrees (hot!) and quickly poured into a buttered pan. I set the pretzel rods on top and then hoped for the best.

Success! I don't know why I was worried. It even came out of the pan in one neat chunk of gooeyness. The beer taste is very subtle. I think it's more of an aftertaste. Pleasant though.

Really, this is too many caramels for half a dozen guys. I will need to share with others.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Watermelon Margaritas

I'm still working on that watermelon. We blended up some margarita, liquor, lime juice, and ice for margaritas!!

Again, refreshing! And so easy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Watermelon Basil Agua Fresca

The fancy, edited picture.

The ordinary picture.

Watermelon is on sale at Cub. A nice man in the produce department helped me pick out a melon. He did good. I knew I wanted to puree watermelon and freeze it into cubes but I can't find my ice cube trays. Darn.

I also have my basil plants that needed to be trimmed, especially before the intense heat dries them out. Pine nuts are extremely expensive right now, so pesto needs to wait. I found this recipe just doing an online search for "watermelon agua fresca". How nice to use up (some of) my watermelon and basil.

I think I would make this without the basil next time, just to make the it the traditional way. But this is pretty yummy. It will be pretty refreshing tomorrow when my friend Sara and I are working here at my house. (We're doing school work.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nicollet Ave Pothole Ice Cream (copycat)

I had this ice cream once in Minneapolis. My sister mentioned it again and I was interested in trying to make my own version. I looked up Sebastian Joe's description of the ice cream and went from there.

Chocolate ice cream with fudge (ripple), truffles, crushed Heath bars, and sea salt. I turned to my trusty book, The Perfect Scoop, and of course found recipes for the fudge ripple, truffles, and ice cream. And they were SO EASY. I am mad at myself now for not making mix-ins earlier. I am even convinced that I could substitute my Almond candy for the Heath bars next time- it's basically a butter toffee with milk chocolate.

With so many mix-ins I didn't use all of the truffle mixture, so I rolled them up in small balls and then rolled them in pecan pieces. Jim was in favor of this :) They are safe in the freezer for future munching.

I kept sneaking spoons of ice cream, you know, to taste test. When it was finally hardened.... a glorious cone!

I was a little puzzled how to include the sea salt but my sister Ana suggested that it should just be sprinkled on top of the ice cream. When I was layering the ice cream in the freezer bowl, I did put rivers of fudge ripple, sprinkled truffles and Heath candy, and just a tiny bit of sea salt. When I made my cone I made sure to put a little more, figuring we can just add it to our taste.

This stuff is GOOD. It's sinful.

The recipes are all in the Perfect Scoop. This ice cream would convince you to buy the cookbook if you make your own ice cream!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strawberry Freezer Jam

I picked SEVEN pounds of strawberries yesterday. It actually didn't take too long. James was at daycare so I went by myself and picked fast.

I used a reduced sugar pectin and followed the directions in the box for Freezer Jam. I had first bought boxes of regular pectin but was horrified to read that for every four cups of smashed strawberries I'd need THREE cups of sugar. Too much. My Facebook friend Sylvia told me that she used the reduced sugar pectin successfully to make her freezer jam. I went back to the store and found it. Four cups of smashed strawberries and just one cup of sugar. It is definitely sweet enough! The strawberries were awesome to begin with so they barely needed sugar, really.

The recipe is very easy. From about 5 1/2 pounds of strawberries I ended up with twelve 1-cup containers of jam that will stay good in the freezer for up to a year. I think I might need more because I'll probably give some away :) We're definitely picking more strawberries next week since I didn't have enough this time for this ice cream.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Malted Milk Ice Cream

I guess this ice cream is so good it's inspired a song! Here's a youtube video I found when I did a simple search for the recipe online:

I've wanted to make this ice cream for a long but every time I buy the carton of Whoppers they slowly disappear (Jim!) This time I made the ice cream soon after buying the Whoppers and there were even some leftover to satisfy Jim's urge to snack :)

The ice cream itself tastes like a vanilla malt! It's super creamy and is still soft after a night in the freezer. The malted milk balls add a great crunch!

Jim has given this ice cream TWO thumbs up! He has even promised to help eat it all. Whenever I make ice cream he might taste it but he never takes more than a bowl. I think maybe, just maybe, he'll enjoy at least two bowls??

And I'm hoping my friend Emily will share a bowl with me tomorrow when she comes over for lunch :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bacon Lover's Mac & Cheese

Yeah, my husband loves bacon.

I damn near had to do a bacon intervention a few weeks ago and I purposely stopped buying the bacon. I did give in to this recipe because... well, I love my husband but I do love my bacon too.

This was gooooood. Jim gave it a 9.5! I discovered that I love Fontina cheese- so tangy and creamy. YUM.

The baby bella mushrooms and spinach made me feel a LITTLE better about using so much bacon and then using the bacon grease to cook the mushrooms, and then a little grease added to the butter for the roux. Oh, and a little more grease on top of the entire dish before it went into the oven. Hey, the recipe said to do all that!

Stained Glass Jello

Why oh why didn't I take a before picture??

The jello looks cool but it didn't turn out the way it was intended. I made two colors of jello (red and blue) and then cubed it. I made a gelatin mixture of sweetened condensed milk and unflavored gelatin and poured this over the colored jello in a 9x13 pan. It was very cool looking. The idea was to cut out star shapes and have cool looking stained glass jello. You can check out the link for the original idea/picture.

I hope this is still BBQ worthy!

I think I should have made half a recipe so it was thinner? It would have been easier to cut.

4th of July Strawberries

I saw these on a food blog but the idea is simple- white chocolate dipped strawberries with blue sparking sugar.

They are very sweet but also very pretty!