Yum Peaceful Cooking: March 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Focaccia and Open Faced Italian Sammies on Olive Spelt Bread

I have to say....the texture, the aroma, the flavor of this bread is wonderful!

And the possibilities for the dough are endless.....sandwich, rolls, flatbread, pizza, focaccia, etc. etc. etc.

In case you're wondering....or guessing.....

Yep...this is yet another fabulous HBin5 recipe.

If you'd like to find out more, you can check out Michelle's blog over at Big Black Dogs and you'll also find links to the other members and discover the wonderful ways they prepared this dough

Oooooh how I enjoyed this one!

The texture...the crumb....the flavor. (said in a soprano voice)...Wooooonderfuuuull!

The only thing I must caution you about is the wetness of this dough and its tendency to spread (kinda like my....eerrrr.....never mind)

The star ingredients for this particular dough were olives and yogurt

I am really weird about olives. I love black olives and green olives.....from a can. Not a jar. A can! There's something about the brine? I dunno.....I need to talk to an olive expert to find out what it is exactly that I have an issue with.

With that said....I used canned green olives for my dough. And the yogurt? Great addition...talk about a moist crumb! And the crust? Firm yet not chewy. Does that make sense in the world of bread talk?

Oh....I couldn't resist adding a teaspoon or so of powdered garlic. It just seemed to beg for it. (or was that in my head?)

And look what I made!!!

(did you notice that you're only seeing half the loaf? Well...that's because the other end is rather unsightly. It decided to stick to the pizza peel on it's way into the oven and got kinda, I dunno.....tweaked? Not to mention that for some unknown reason I sliced the dough too deeply prior to cooking and ended up with gouges!)

But looks aren't everything... all is good

Now, what will I do with those little lovelies (besides devour them one bite at a time)?

hmmm....I'm thinking Creamy Tomato Soup with little Open Faced Italian Sammies.

For the sammies, I just brushed the slices with a little olive oil and lightly toasted them. Slapped on a few slices of salami and prosciutto, topped with some chopped basil, sliced red onions, tomatoes, arugula and topped with some provolone cheese....pop 'em into a hot oven until the cheese melts and serve.

Easy Peasy

Now the Creamy Tomato Soup is a little more involved

This recipe was inspired by two recipes....one from Michael Chiarello and the other from Bobby Flay

And here's what I came up with

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup

12 plum tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
12 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 cups fresh basil
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cream

Preheat the oven to 500'F

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Spread out onto a cookie sheet and roast for about 35 - 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan heat up the remaining oil, onions, carrots and some salt. Saute until tender...about 10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and continue sauteing for another minute

Now you get to add all those yummy tomatoes to the mix, along with the vegetable stock and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Add the cream and remove from heat. If you have a handy dandy immersion blender....get that sucker ready for work. Otherwise....use your blender and puree these incredible flavors until smooth and creamy. It is recommended that you start off on a lower setting and gradually increase the speed.

Return to the saucepan and heat through, adding salt and pepper as necessary. If the soup is too thick..add a bit more vegetable stock.

Garnish with some croutons (I made mine from my Pesto Net Bread) and savor the flavor

This soup was rich and flavorful. Something about those roasted tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar....and then you add in the basil? WOW!

Ok....so that was done....and then 3 days later I still had some dough leftover and I was planning on making a spaghetti for dinner.

Light bulb moment!!!

Can you say focaccia?

I love....I mean LOVE making focaccia! It's so simple and versatile and molds to your mood. I grabbed the remaining dough.....worked and rolled it out into a rectangle....poked it with my fingers to make "dimples" and then proceeded to add thinly sliced garlic, a small amount of olive oil, salt, pepper and mozzarella cheese on top....and

Ya...I'm in love.

It was perfect with my spaghetti and chicken dinner. Or by itself.

Printable Version: Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Have you ever experienced sweet and spicy or am I the only one who's been in the dark about this scrumptious combo? Well wait a minute...now that I think of it, gingersnaps might fall under that category and I LOVE gingersnaps.

Now mind you....I'm not talking about spicy "hot"....I'm talking about spicy "flavor".

.oO(I wonder if Martha thinks these cookies are "hot" since thats what they're called....)

Ya....this is a Martha Stewart recipe. I recently re-subscribed to Everyday Food (happens to be one of my favorite food magazines) and I was thumbing through it the other day when I saw a picture of chocolate cookies. After a brief once over I thought "Why not? I have all the ingredients." When you're in the mood to bake something new....the best recipes are the ones where you have all the ingredients in the pantry....right?

And thus began my Sunday morning.

What a way to start the day.....making cooooooooookies! (there are other good ways to start the day...but this day was made for cookies)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (I never seem to have this on hand so I used salted butter. And even though the picture only shows 1 stick....I did realize my error and grabbed another stick from the fridge)
1 3/3 cups sugar (divided)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Preheat your oven to 400' F placing your racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. (bwaaaahahaha I said racks!!!) Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper

In a medium mixing bowl, sift (and for this recipe, I think sifting rather than "whisking" is very important....cocoa powder and other ingredients like to remain lumpy.....and sifting will really break those up) where was I? Oh...sift (i almost typed fist....wtf?) together the flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a larger mixing bowl, beat together the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until fluffy....this should take about 2 minutes on medium speed.

Add the eggs and beat until combined.

Turn the mixer speed down to low and gradually (and I mean g r a d u a l l y, I'm still finding cocoa flour mixture in places other than the bowl)  add the flour mixture...beating until combined. Now you will have a bowl of rich, dark cookie dough.

In a little bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and chili powder.

Get out a tablespoon and scoop out some dough, roll it up into a ball and drop it into the chili mixture

You're suppose to place the balls about 3" apart from each other. I did my best

But I needed to fit them all on 2 cookie sheets...which I did. It actually made the exact number of cookies that the recipe said it would.....amazing!!!!

Bake for a total of 10 minutes.....halfway through the baking time....rotate the cookie sheets.

Well...as you can see, they ran into each other and got kinda crowded. So I ended up with some triangular shapes....square shapes, rectangular....and a few round ones. I think there's a math lesson in here somewhere for some hungry elementary student.

Let the cookies cool on the sheets, on a wire rack for about 5 minutes or so before attempting to remove them. Theeeeeeeeeen, allow to cool completely on a wire wrack.

Then grab a cookie (any shape will do)....close your eyes, put the cookie up to your lips (don't taste yet)...inhale the aroma.... and then take a bite. Now experience the burst of flavors that assault your taste buds.

First the chocolate.....then the cinnamon makes it's appearance and last but not least...a hint of the chili powder, leaving you wanting more...just to make sure you actually experienced all that within a few seconds.

They aren't too sweet....they aren't too chocolately (not that there's any such thing...I'm just saying) and they aren't too spicy. They're just....enjoyable.

Printable Version: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rosemary-Orange Chicken, a Cookbook and a Discovery

This is all Foodieblogroll's fault! 

This whole post.....blame it on them.

If they hadn't sent me that email.....

If I hadn't opened it and read it......

If I hadn't entered their contest......

And if they hadn't announced that I had won....

Well, then

I would never have read The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by Erin Chase

This book is full of savings tips and strategies for grocery shopping and meal planning. The recipes are simple. I do have to remind myself of the focus of this book when looking through the recipes. The focus is to save a lot of money while providing healthy meals for your family. Which it does a fantastic job of. I wouldn't hold her to the $5 part necessarily. With inflation these days, well...lets just say that it's a bit of a challenge. I failed miserably in this area. I mean....the bone-in split chicken breasts that she listed as $1.79 (total) were $2.99 a pound. which came out to be close to $5.00 on their own. If I had waited until they were on sale, like Erin instructs, then I'm sure I would've been a lot closer to the $5.00 goal. The sweet potatoes alone cost just over $2.00....which bummed me out. I guess when they're on sale they may have cost me under a dollar. 

Anyways....the recipes aren't complicated by any means. I don't want to say they lack in flavor.....but sometimes the flavors are very basic. If you're in the mood for something more complex...and like to stretch your creative wings....well, you certainly could start with any of these recipes. 

Oh, and this cookbook is loaded with a fun little "Frugal Fact" under most of the recipes. The Frugal Fact for this meal? "The breast meat portion on a bone-in, split chicken breast is often larger than the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Buy bone-in split breasts for more meat, for less money."

Now for the meal:

Rosemary-Orange Chicken (a Slow Cooker Meal)

2 bone-in split chicken breasts
1/2 cup water
Juice from 2 oranges
1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary (dried or fresh)
salt and pepper
2 large sweet potatoes
2 cups frozen peas (I used mixed veggies)

Remove the skin from the chicken breast and place the chicken into the close cooker along with 1/2 cup water. Pour the orange juice over the chicken and then sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Arrange the orange slices over the chicken. 

Cover and cook on low setting for 8 hours.

During the last hour or so of the cooking time, preheat your oven to 350'. Cut slits into your sweet potatoes and place in a baking dish with 1/4 water. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.

Let the potatoes cool until they can be handled without burning your hands, yet are still nice and warm.....about 10 minutes. Peal the skin off and mash the potatoes. 

When the chicken is done, pull the meat off the bone (actually, it'll just fall off) and serve.

Cook the veggies according to instructions on the bag.

Hmmm....I'm not known for being a sweet potato fan. And I knew that mash sweet potatoes that plain...wouldn't do it.  

Then I figured that I'm soooo far off the $5 budget mark that I might as well just screw it and keep going. I added some plain yogurt, butter and salt and pepper....oh, and a little brown sugar to the sweet potatoes. 

You know what I discovered? 

YUM! I like mashed sweet potatoes. 

Who would've thunk it?

They were good! The tanginess of the yogurt really tastes great with the sweetness of the potato. And along with the Rosemary-Orange Chicken? They really did compliment each other very nicely!

I totally enjoyed this dinner. Hassle free, simple.....no fuss, no muss....who could complain? Sir Sportsalot even liked it (I kept catching him picking at the chicken).

Printable Version: Rosemary-Orange Chicken

The Foodie Blog Roll Contests: Winner!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Berry Mimosa Sorbet and a Winner!

Since I started this giveaway with Pomegranate Sorbet...I thought I'd end it with another sorbet.

This is more of a celebratory sorbet to go along with the theme of celebrating who won the Le Creuset Baking Dish

Btw...the winner gets to pick their color of choice (you don't have to have a red one).

Woo Hooo

So, what makes this sorbet more celebratory than the others?


Yep, this luscious dessert is for adults only. 

I'm thinking....Easter dessert here

(I'll let you know who won in a minute.....just hold your horses)

Berry Mimosa Sorbet
1 cup of your favorite juice. I happened to use V8 Splash, Berry Blend (not a bad start...kinda on the healthy side, right?)
1 cup sugar (ya...blew that healthy streak right out of the water)
1 cup Champagne (I used a White Zinfandel variety cuz...well...it was pretty)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a sauce, over medium heat, combine the juice and the sugar. Stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice and set in the fridge for about an hour, to chill completely.

Make sure your champagne is chilling as well.

Once chilled, mix it all together and pour into a metal dish. I used a cake pan. Worked great!. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer over night. 

Remove from the freezer and "shred" with a fork to "fluff up"

Pat it down a little, cover with plastic wrap and freeze again for several hours or several days

And that's it. I did find that this sorbet didn't have as firm of a set but that's because of the alcohol. As far as I'm concerned though....it was firm enough. You could almost taste the bubbles! I'm seriously thinking of an Easter version....maybe one with lemonade and white champagne or something. 

Ok...sooo, on to the winner. 

I want to thank you all for participating in my first ever giveaway. It has been a lot of fun! Hopefully I get to do another one in the near future.

I don't have any of those fancy number spinning thingies...so I wrote all the names down on little pieces of paper.

Word of advice.....

Probably not such a good idea to use post-its

(duh!!! we'll blame it on the alcohol in the dessert)

Once again....I wrote all the names on little pieces of non-sticky paper and filled up my handy dandy margarita glass

Called my assistant over to pick a name

Look at her dig through those names! 

ooooooooh.....we have a winner....drum roll please 

BOB!!! From Cooking Stuff 

Come on down....you've won yourself a beautiful Le Creuset 12 x 9.5" rectangular baking dish

Contact me at peacefulcooking at gmail dot com, with your email address so that we can get your baking dish sent out to you!!!

Woooo Hoooo!! Congrats Bob!!!

Printable Version: Berry Mimosa Sorbet

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Bread

What is it about the combination of lemon and blueberry? They blend so well together that its not even a matter of two flavors.....they become one.

And the lemon said to the blueberry (said in her beshht Shid voishe from Ice Age) "You complete me"

This baffles me because lemons are sour and blueberries are tart.....and some how when these combine, they defy logic and become sweet.

I wonder what the tastebud scientists have to say about that.....

I've started reading a book about sweets and tastebuds and how different people taste things differently. I still haven't figured out if I'm a taster or a super taster. The next chapter should be interesting though. It's about the "Myth of a Refined Palate". (this should make me feel soooo much better about myself. I mean, it's not my fault that my tastebuds don't work the same way as those pretentious so-and-so's who live off the fact they can define each and every spice and herb in a dish, no matter how well hidden.) Oh but hey....if you can do that....(as long as you aren't pretentious about it) I have nothing against you! Seriously, we're cool. Don't take me too seriously and get all butt hurt about that statement. Chill

Maybe I should shut up now? (I'm probably just super jealous and would rather not admit that)

I was planning on making some blueberry banana bread that I saw but when I got home, I had discovered that my daughter had cleaned the kitchen (yeah!!!!) and tossed the extra ripe bananas (boo!!!!). And here I had these blueberries who were begging to be appreciated. Thats when I decided to thumb through a free cookbook I was handed some time ago, at Costco. In the dessert section I came across a recipe for Lemon Bread. Then I remembered a Lemon Blueberry Buckle I had made a year ago and knew instantly that this Lemon Bread needed an attitude adjustment.

Toss out the poppy seeds.
Toss out the walnuts

Bring in blueberries!

Lemon Blueberry Bread
1 1/2 cups a.p. flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
6 oz blueberries
Zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350'F

Grease and flour a 9x5" loaf pan. I had once read somewhere that you could use powdered sugar instead of flour in this step, for desserts. I tried it. I don't recommend it. It didn't really work. The bottom of my little loaf was a mess.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, eggs and granulated sugar until nice and fluffy. Add half of the milk and mix, then add half of the flour mixture and mix....then add the remaining milk, mix. And finally add the remaining flour mixture, and mix.

Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest

Pour your luscious batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes, or until you get the clean toothpick test.

Let the bread cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.

Now....take a toothpick and poke the loaf all over the place

Mix together the lemon juice and the powdered sugar to make a glaze and pour the glaze all over the warm bread....

Look at that glistening loaf

If you have another lemon handy, make some decorative zest for a nice little garnish

Let me tell you.....this is one crumbly, moist, zesty, tangy and sticky loaf of bread! 

I can't wait to have some tomorrow with my morning coffee.

And one last thing....less then 24 hours left to enter in my Le Creuset Giveaway! If you haven't entered, you can check out this post: Pomegranate Sorbet and Le Creuset There's still time :)

Printable Version: Lemon Blueberry Bread

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken Something

Imagine if you will....a typical night in my head....

'Ooooh....another drive home....40 minutes of looking at car butts. Hmmm....nothing good on the radio...typical. Whats up with that? Even the songs from my generation are the sucky ones. My Sharona was only cool once...the very first time I heard it. Lets dig through the cds. Oh wait, those all belong to the girls. ooook.....speed dial mom and dads phone (damn, why is everyone going 10 mph below the speed limit?!! Gaaaawwwd, I missed the light aaaaagain! Lets move it ^%#$@). Well, mom and dad must be asleep, no ones answering. At what age does 8pm become your bedtime.... again? Speed dial baby sister.....hopefully her kids are already in bed (because we know it's bedtime for little kids and old people. When did my parents get old?) so she can keep me company while I drive home..."hellooooooooo" 

(fast forward....40 minutes later I'm pulling up to the house)

'What am I going to do with chicken....again! I'm running out of ideas. I don't have the time or energy for the old standbys. And seriously, how many times in a lifetime can someone make Chicken A La King?! Ok...lets dig through the fridge and the freezer....hmmmm....pancetta. Ya, lets do something with that. Yes yes...always onions. Hmm, parmesan cheese, check. Pine nuts...check....pasta, white wine, cream...check, check, check. Aaaah...and a lemon. And garlic. Lets see how this works.'

And thats about how it went the night I threw this one together. Yes, it had been a long day at work...a long ride home and I had no idea what I was going to do with my defrosted chicken. Hey, at least I remembered to defrost it, right?

2 cups cooked bow-tie pasta, water reserved
5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
4 oz diced pancetta
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup pasta water served from cooked pasta
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Zest from one lemon
Parsley to garnish

Season the chicken in olive oil with some salt and pepper, until cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside, keeping warm.

Saute the pancetta and sliced onions until onions are beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic and saute for another minute

Deglaze the pan with the wine.

Add the pasta water and allow to reduce slightly.

Stir in the parmesan cheese and cream, stirring until the cheese has melted

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add your chicken, pine nuts and lemon zest and heat through

Serve over pasta and garnish with a little parsley

And there you have a meal that probably took 30 minutes or less (I didn't even consider timing it)...and wasn't too bad. I think the pine nuts weren't necessary. Maybe some mushrooms or asparagus added in would've been good too. I should've had a salad on the side. I wish I could say I did and make you think I'm all "health conscious" and stuff....but I'm not. And I probably didn't even consider a salad. Or even frozen veggies.

But hey, you can't expect perfection when I just walk in the door after being gone for 10 1/2 hours.

Printable Version: Chicken Something


I'm still having the Le Creuset Giveaway. It's going on until Monday, March 22nd. For details go here: Pomegranate Sorbet and Le Creuset Giveaway