Put This One on Your SuperBowl Party Menu!!!

Spinach Pizza Rolls

The spinach makes this healthy, right?

The spinach makes this healthy, right?

So first, think of the texture of garlic knots.  Then think of the perfect level of salty -garlic-parmesan-mixed with herbs.  And you have the spinach pizza rolls.  Sure, the filling it pretty good too.  But the best part is the texture and the awesome flavor infused into the crust.

Is that a perfect golden brown or what?!

Is that a perfect golden brown or what?!

I would tell you I plan to make this again, but I’ve already done it.  Yeah.  I’ve made this twice in approximately two weeks.  The frozen spinach and the store bought pizza dough makes it so easy.  Next time you are craving garlic knots, skip them and make this instead!

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A Couple of Seriously Delicious Sides…

Mushroom and Leek Gratin

Celery Root and Apple Remoulade

Now, you may notice from the titles of these dishes that one recipe is truly decadent sounding and one is fairly healthy sounding.  Those impressions would be correct.  The Mushroom and Leek Gratin was so rich I struggled to eat all I had put on my plate despite how delicious it was.  The Celery Root and Apple Gratin was also super delicious but was light enough that I was able to keep going back for seconds.

Here’s the Gratin:

I may have gotten lazy and gone with pre-sliced cremini mushrooms instead of portabella…

I may have gotten lazy and gone with pre-sliced cremini mushrooms instead of portabella…

The cream and parmesan worked so well with the leek and mushrooms.  I also have yet to meet a dish that feature leeks that I don’t love.  They are just so good.  Mmm… now I’m remembering those braised leeks…  This is definitely a special occasion dish and not an every-night-of-the-week dish.

The Celery Root Remoulade, however:

It may not be the most photogenic dish...

It may not be the most photogenic dish…

This is seriously, seriously good.  I was picking at it all evening.  I’ve also made the executive decision to try to incorporate celery root into cole slaw in the future.  Don’t bother with the celery seed, go for the celery root.  Seriously.

Three desserts and nearly 2 dozen eggs

Who knew that December was such an eggy month?  I certainly didn’t.  Since there were so many sweets this month, M,G, and I decided to split them evenly.  And somehow I ended up with the Orange Cream Pavlova (8 eggs), the Chocolate Soufflé (4 eggs), and the Tangerine Cake with Citrus Glaze (6 eggs).  Okay, so that’s only 1.5 dozen, but you have to admit those are some egg heavy desserts.

Let’s get started.  I decided to make the Chocolate Soufflé at my mom’s house over the holidays, almost entirely because she actually had a soufflé dish, but also partly because it’s better to share supremely decadent desserts right?

The dish I used was slightly too large so you can't tell how puffy the soufflé was here, but I promise you it was very fluffy… until I cut into it with a spoon...

The dish I used was slightly too large so you can’t tell how puffy the soufflé was here, but I promise you it was very fluffy… until I cut into it with a spoon…

I may have made one (minor?) mistake with this recipe.  Instead of whipping the sugar with the egg whites, I may have melted it with the chocolate… (I also may have had a few drinks before making this).  As a result, I think the texture was very slightly grainy, which I don’t think it would have been if I had done it right.  Oh well.  The sugar coating the dish made a nice crust on the outside of the soufflé so it was really easy to pull out 4 servings and not losing a ton of chocolatey goodness to the dish.

Mmm… fluffy chocolate.

Mmm… fluffy chocolate.

Looking back, I might recommend eating this with a side of ice cream just for the warm/cold contrast.  The outcome is basically like eating super rich, deeply chocolate fluff.  All you tastes is chocolate.  In a good way.  It’s not exactly creamy, but its not exactly caky either.  It’s enjoyable.  And its really, really, really chocolatey.  It’s a holiday win!

My next venture into whipping egg whites was the Orange Cream Pavlova.  I managed to make this one while completely sober, so I added the sugar at the appropriate time.

This was so thick I had a really hard time molding it into a circle.

This was so thick I had a really hard time molding it into a circle.

This lazy girl didn’t bother drawing the circle on the parchment and I think I managed a pretty decent circle on my own.  If I had been entertaining with it (which I totally should have been) I might have made the effort, but I really don’t think it would make a huge difference.  Word of warning, baking meringues is a little bit tricky.  The magazine didn’t mention that having higher humidity would prevent your meringue from drying.  So I baked for 2 hours as instructed and left in the oven (without opening it) for 5 hours.  When I went to check it, it was still quite smooshy.  So I turned the oven on for another hour.  Smooshy.  Another hour, smooshy.  At that point it was getting too late in the evening to let it go much longer so I cranked the oven to nearly 500 for maybe 10 minutes, turned it off, went to bed and kept my fingers crossed I would have a crisp meringue in the morning.

Thank goodness I did.  I may have just given up on the whole dessert if I hadn’t.  Once the meringue was secured, I worked on the curd.  It was my first curd making experience so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It was really quick.  You definitely need to keep your eye on it, because before I knew it, it was nearly boiling.  I almost went really lazy again and wasn’t planning to strain the finished curd, but at the last minute I did.  And I’m glad.  There was a ton of zest that came out and some little eggs chunks as well.  I’m pretty certain that wouldn’t have made any major impact on the dessert but at this point I’d been working on it for a full 24 hours so I wanted it to be good (and pretty).

Orange curd might be even more delicious than lemon curd.  And look at that color!

Orange curd might be even more delicious than lemon curd. And look at that color!

So the final step was whipping some cream.  I’ll spare you the details.  And then layering the meringue, then curd, then cream.  Ta da!!

The dessert that nearly killed me.  Isn't it beautiful?!

The dessert that nearly killed me. Isn’t it beautiful?!

Oh, what’s that?  You want to know how it tasted?  It tasted good.  It tasted citrusy and light and New Yearsy.  Did it taste so glorious that I didn’t mind all the effort and struggle of the meringue?  No.  Honestly, I didn’t love how hard it was to chew the meringue.  It hurt my tongue a little bit.  However, the combination of the orange curd and the whipped cream was a win.  Next time I would skip the meringue and go straight to a store bought angel food cake.  Now that would be heavenly.

And finally, the Tangerine Cake.  This was a fairly easy recipe to follow.  It did, however, make me realize I need to upgrade to a Microplane.  My rasp happens to be one that Everyday Food sent as a gift with subscription many many moons ago. For the most part it works just fine.  Or it used to.  It might be getting a little dull.  Also, the skin on a tangerine is pretty thin and the combination of dull rasp and thin skin led to more pith in my cake than I hoped for.  It did not effect the taste.

The magazine would lead you to believe that the glaze is thicker than it actually is...

The magazine would lead you to believe that the glaze is thicker than it actually is…

Most of my glaze slid right off the cake and onto the plate.  As a result, when serving the cake I scooped “extra” glaze onto each piece.  So, the flavor.  It was really orangey and good.  It had a really nice texture.  It was moist yet pleasingly dense at the same time.  I sent the majority of the cake to work with the bear.  It was a hit.  I really need to make up some sort of business card that he can set next to the samples next time.  After two different people asked him for the recipe, I asked him if he gave them the blog address… And he said not only “no”, but “no, I don’t know what your blog is called.”  Sigh.

If I was one to make cakes on a whim, I would keep this one in mind.  As it stands, this blog keeps me busy enough with other sweets that I probably won’t return to this again soon.  I hope you give it a try.

Sauerkraut with Chicken Leg Quarters and Sausage

Sauerkraut with Chicken Leg Quarters and Sausage

IMG_0947I have just a few things to say about this dish.

1) I love sauerkraut. I love its vinegar-y bite.  I was pretty excited about this because it mixed wine with sauerkraut.  Unfortunately, the rinsing and the wining ended up taking away the sourness of the sauerkraut. It was alright, but it wasn’t as glorious as I expected.

2) It has pretty much no carbs.  Which generally speaking can be ok, but the bear tends to get hangry without carbs.  I sort of wish there were some potatoes in this mix.  We served the leftovers with pierogies so that kind of took care of that problem.

This dish wasn’t a total flop, I would just have to work on the carb situation and the lack of sourness if I make it again.

 

Fancy Occasions Call for Fancy Cuts of Meat

Bone-In Pork Roast with Apples and Gremolata

Fun fact: I've always wanted to cook a pork roast with the bones frenched…

Fun fact: I’ve always wanted to cook a pork roast with the bones frenched…

The bear and I were celebrating an anniversary and sadly, neither of us were feeling that well.  I had a cold and he was just exhausted from a conference he had recently returned from.  So, we decided to stay in.  We still wanted it to be special so I decided I would make this beautiful pork roast.  To make it even more special we went to the local version of whole foods and bought a truly impressive (and expensive) locally grown organic happy pork roast.  They frenched the bones (i.e., scraped all the meat off creating the Flintstones-esque presentation) and trussed it for me so it would come out perfectly shaped when I cooked it.

After all the work they put into it, the rest of the meal was truly easy.  I cut a few apples in half to roast the pork on.  I popped it into the oven and let it cook for a little over an hour and in the meantime I prepared the gremolata.  The pork came out, and while I let it rest I roasted some brussels sprouts (if you have never tried roast brussels sprouts you really should) and some acorn squash.

Check out the feast.

Check out the feast.  And good news I got some real napkins for Christmas courtesy of M.

How did it all turn out you ask?  Awesome.  By far, the best pork roast I’ve ever had.  That was one truly happy pig.  And gremolata should be served far more often.  The herbs and the lemon from the gremolata made everything so bright and fresh tasting (which is a hard thing to do this time of year).  And the apples mixed with the little bit of white wine and pork juices were delicious.

It was a very special dinner with very little work.  Next time you have a special occasion keep this pork roast in mind.

Bacon-Wrapped Ginger Shrimp

Bacon-Wrapped Ginger Shrimp

Bacon, shrimp and ginger… what's not to like?

Bacon, shrimp and ginger… what’s not to like?

The bear can’t eat shrimp, so I had to wait for an opportunity without him to make this.  I went to my friend J’s house to enjoy this treat.

The unfortunate truth is that we couldn’t find any fresh ginger at the super market the night I made this.  I had to use the jarred grated kind.  As a result, I do think the dish suffered a bit.  The ginger flavor was really subtle, (I was the only one who was able to discern it, the other two people eating just tasted shrimp, bacon and soy sauce – which also wasn’t bad).  I like my ginger to have a nice sharp kick so I was a bit sad at how that turned out.

I also want to point out that the bacon strips should really be quartered.  I did a few pieces with the full half strip and the bacon was too thick to actually crisp up in the oven.  I did the rest with the quarter strip and the outcome was much more satisfying.

Another addition that I think would be awesome would be grilling these instead of baking them.  They were laying in a rather big puddle of bacon grease when they came out of the oven so I think either baking them on a rack or grilling them so the grease can drip off would be a bit tastier.

With all that being said, it really was yummy!  I served it with salad greens to make it into more of a meal.  Make these!  But make them with fresh ginger as suggested!!!

Shallot-Mushroom Quiche (Or my pie plate is slightly too small)

Shallot-Mushroom Quiche

It's hard to tell from this photo, but my filling overflowed my crust very slightly...

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but my filling overflowed my crust very slightly…

First of all, I’d like to take the opportunity to say that fontina is a truly tasty cheese.  I don’t know that I’ve ever really bought it before, so while I was grating it I decided to do a quick taste test.  And then another.  And another.  It took a lot longer to grate the necessary amount because I pretty much ate half of what I was grating. It’s good people.  Get some.

Secondly, this quiche is packed with goodness.  It was pretty much impossible to get any bite of just egg without some mushroom or shallot.  It was really satisfying.  It was also pretty rich.  You use 3/4 cup heavy cream so that’s a lot of decadence to a meatless dish.

I really enjoyed it.  Although I wish I had made it when I had company.  Because it was so dense with mushrooms and shallots it was really filling.  I could only eat one piece in a sitting and the same for the bear.  So that was 4 meals of quiche… which is a little much.

I served it with a small side salad of leafy greens and a lemon vinaigrette to cut the richness slightly.

Make this, but make it for guests.

Chocolate-Peppermint Thumbprints

Chocolate-Peppermint Thumbprints

This photo would have been wildly appropriate if I had managed to write this post even reasonably close to when I baked these cookies...

This photo would have been wildly appropriate if I had managed to write this post even reasonably close to when I baked these cookies…

So these cookies were pretty easy to make.  The most tedious part was actually rolling the dozens of little balls that become the cookies.  I also found it curious how under baked they looked when they came out.  (The directions said it was ok and even desired so I ran with it).

All in all, the cookies were pretty tasty.  The chocolate cookie part itself is very slightly salty but it goes along well with the peppermint and the cookies stay nice and soft and super poppable (as in pop them right in your mouth!)

I’ve made chocolate peppermint EF cookies before (they were basically thin mints, yum!) so I had very high standards for these thumbprints.  These didn’t quite live up to my expectations (trust me, those thin mints were probably the best cookie I’ve ever made – I had them at a party and people were stuffing them in their coat pockets so they could take some home before they were all eaten). 

Something about the peppermint amount wasn’t quite perfect in my apparently very elitist opinion.  (Maybe I just need to upgrade my peppermint extract.)They were however, very good.  The bear ate loads of them.  So if you are in the mood for some post-season Christmas cookies, give these a try!

Vegetable-Bean Soup

Finally some soup that supplies leftovers!

Vegetable-Bean Soup

And the obligatory grilled cheese!

And the obligatory grilled cheese!

I made this soup when we had our first truly cold (meaning below zero) snap of the winter.  It was nice and hearty and full of vegetables when I started to overload a bit on holiday sweets.  The best thing about it (or maybe the worst?) was that it tasted better a few days later.  Unfortunately, by that point there was only one bowl left.  I only made one substitution and that was to use chicken stock instead of vegetable.  I’m sure it would be quite tasty with vegetable, but I tend to enjoy the richness of chicken broth in most things.

Since we are coming into the New Year, I think you should all make this as a healthy start!  You’ll feel good about yourself and your waistline and you’ll also feel good because it is so tasty.

Beth Tries Beef… Again…

Tangerine Beef Stir-Fry

I learned that when a package says "thinly sliced" from the supermarket, it may not meet my standards of thinly sliced.  This was pretty chunky, even though I attempted to slice it a little thinner.

I learned that when a package says “thinly sliced” from the supermarket, it may not meet my standards of thinly sliced. This was pretty chunky, even though I attempted to slice it a little thinner.

In this recipe, I went ahead and added frozen green beans.  I like to have lots of veggies in my stir fry and just scallions doesn’t cut it.  As far as stir-fries go, this was pretty easy though not as awesome and tasty as some I’ve made from Everyday Food. (Has anyone else noticed how I always end up with the asian inspired food and G always ends up with the Mexican?)

It was beefy.  The tangerine cut the beefiness very slightly, so I did prefer this beef recipe to the last one I made.  The bear enjoyed it a lot, and I didn’t hate it.  I was willing to eat seconds even (mostly out of hunger).

Though I am not loving the taste at this point, I am enjoying my attempts at cooking beef.  One of these days maybe I will find a recipe I love.