Thursday, December 30, 2010

Scoop and Bake Dinner Rolls

Prep Time: 15 minutes 
Rise Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 14-18 minutes 
Grade: A-
Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Cook's Country (October 2007)

This was the easiest yeast bread I've ever made, however, these things are a little odd, because they ended up looking like muffins. They did taste like buttery dinner rolls, though. I didn't think the leftovers were as good.

To make you whisk the ingredients in a bowl, let rise in a warm oven for 30 minutes then scoop into a muffin tin, followed by another short rise. That's it.

Since they are so incredibly easy to make, I might even try a half-batch in the future.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Simple Turkey (or Beef) Chili

 Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Grade: A
Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2008) 
Recipe Source: Best Light Recipes

CI originally did this recipe with beef several years ago (or more than several.) The turkey recipe was developed for the Best Light cookbook after that and was the same, but used turkey and less oil basically.

I can't believe I haven't added this recipe to the blog yet, because I make it at least a few times every year.  It is so simple and exactly the kind of chili I like. It reminds me of the chili I had a kid and it hits the spot on cool days.

With the turkey version they suggest adding the 2nd pound of ground turkey for the last hour of cooking so it stays more clumpy. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I don't. It seems fine when I don't, but the texture it a little smoother I guess.

This is a go to recipe for when I don't have time to cook, but I am at home and can have this cook a while.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chicken Pesto Salad

 Total Time: 53 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Light & Healthy 2010

The pesto in this recipe was very nice.  It was made lighter by skipping the pine nuts and using just a tiny bit of olive oil, and replacing some of that with a light mayo.  It works really well. I actually didn't have half the ingredients I needed on hand (mostly veggies), so my actual salad was very different than intended.  But it was still tasty and I enjoyed the leftovers the next day.

The biggest problem I had was the time it took to make. I like my salads to be quicker. I probably will use the pesto recipe again though. I didn't miss the pine nuts at all, which surprised me. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Steak Salad

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: minutes
Grade: A-
Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010

I actually made this recipe over a month ago, and forgot to write my post until now. I did like this, it was simple and good.  However, I would have been happier if it took a little bit less time to make. I may make again though.  

I'm not sure if I kept it light and healthy, because I don't know my beef cuts very well, and picked a higher fat steak at Trader Joe's accidently. It had tip in the name, so I thought it was what I wanted, but I was wrong.

The dressing was mustard-y and tangy. I liked it and it paired well with the potatoes and meat.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lighter Spaghetti and Meatballs

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cool Time: 1 hour 
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010

These meatballs were some of the best Turkey meatballs I've ever made.  What I didn't love was the sauce.  It wasn't the recipe's fault.  I have come to realize (finally!) that I don't really like chunky sauces, and I should just stick with a more smooth and thick sauce.   From now on I'm going to sub my own favorite tomato sauce when I try out these recipes.

Anyway, the recipe is not terribly different from CI's regular meatball recipe, but uses 93% turkey.  I will definitely make these again with my own sauce, and probably make a double batch to freeze some for later.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Cool Time: 5 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again:Maybe

Recipe Source: Light & Healthy 2010

I believe this is makeover of a recipe that originally appeared in Cook's Country and is in the Best of 2010 book.  I wanted to try the recipe from the Best of book, but I see no reason to use that recipe when this one is lighter and plenty good.

This is good, but more work than I really want for a side dish. I think I might use the recipe for just a cheesy rice and then serving steamed broccoli on the side, which people can mix in if they want.

The recipe uses low fat evaporated milk (I only found non-fat) and lower fat cheese (I used regular, but less).   The recipe was very flavorful, but probably not super low calorie, when you remember that it is a side dish.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen Light & Healthy 2010

I have no idea if this recipe originated somewhere else.  I didn't find it from searching on the various Cook's Illustrated web sites.

These are good.  I subbed roasted peppers for the fresh and also scallions for the shallot.  It all worked well.  The one problem with the recipe was that it said that the breadcrumbs should cook for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.  That would be way too long for me.  They started to burn within 7 minutes.  I prepped other ingredients while they toasted, so this was a pretty quick recipe.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cool Time: 10 minutes
Assemble Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minute

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2003)  
Recipe Source: Cover & Bake 

I first made these years ago and I really liked the recipe.  I've made them several times since then, but have never added my thoughts here.  I do prefer a red sauce over a green sauce, so I love this recipe much more than my last enchilada attempt. 

I lightened the recipe by using half the cheese and boneless breasts instead of thighs.  I also used less sauce because I made it too spicy this time. 

The one tip I took from the green sauce recipe, which is somewhat similar in many ways, was to cook breast whole, then tear the cooked then cooled chicken in larger pieces first, then chop more with a knife.  I liked that method.

These are really good and I will continue to use this recipe.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dream Bars

Crust Prep Time: 8 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Topping Prep Time: 8 minutes
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
Cool Time: 2 hours

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010

I'm not sure where this recipe first appeared.  The author was from Cook's Country but I don't find this on that website. It may be from this Baking book.

I found a copy of the recipe here: Dream Bars

Anyway, these were absolutely delicious.  You must like coconut to enjoy these.  They are rich and delicious.  I have to admit to skipping the pecans in the topping.  I did add them to the crust.  I don't love pecans and I actually burned them during toasting, since I left the kitchen and forgot!  They were fine without, but the nuts probably added a little structure. 

The recipe is super simple.  It takes a bit of time to go through the steps, but only 16 minutes of work.  (Although probably actually more if want to toast the pecans and not burn them.)

I'm not sure how well these freeze yet, but if that works, this might go to an A+ recipe.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Chicken Francese

Total Time: 50 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (September 2005)

This is really good, but breading chicken cutlets always is messy.  Otherwise I would make these more often.  The sauce takes up a good portion of the cooking time here (may 1/3), and it is pretty lemony.  I might even skip the sauce in the future, and try for something simpler.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 22-25 minutes
Cool Time: 20 minutes plus more out of pan

Grade: A-

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (June 2007)

I just made blueberry muffins recently, but I'm still trying to use up frozen blueberries that I have from last summer.  I never even bought any this year.

If I were grading on taste alone, these would get an A+.  They are delicious.  However, there was way too much streusel and  I ended up using only about 2/3 of because I knew it was going to fall off the muffins and be wasted anyway.  I love streusel, but hate the mess when it falls off.  And also it just adds calories that aren't necessarily appreciated.  I think enough to cover in one layer is enough to give the textures and flavor, but more isn't worth it.

Here is only part of the mess.  There is more on the counter and floor. It just seems like a waste to me when it all falls off.

I have another recipe for a coffee cake with blueberries that I will stick to because it ends up being less messy, and probably easier to make, even though this one was very, very good.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mexican Rice

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (September 2004)

This is a yummy simple recipe.  It calls for 2 fresh tomatoes, but I make this sometimes with canned tomatoes, which works fine.

The easy part of the recipe is that you put the tomatoes and onion into the food processor to puree instead of needing to dice.  I actually add the jalapeno in there too, and it works fine.  (I leave some out for adding in later as the recipe instructs.)

The only time consuming part is "frying" the dried rice for 6-8 minutes before adding any liquids.  The recipe calls for 1/3 c. of oil.  I used 1.5 T. instead, and that was just fine.

This is definitely a good recipe to use when making any Mexican food.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Enchiladas Verdes

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cool Time: 20 minutes
Assemble Time: 10 minutes
Cook: Time: 20 minutes

Grade: C- (only because I don't like Tomatillos)

Make Again: No

Recipe: Amercia's Test Kitchen TV Show (Season 9)
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (July 2008)

I've always made or ordered a red sauce when I've had enchiladas, so I wasn't sure if I would like this one.  Well, I didn't like it. 

The recipe itself is good.  Although somewhat time consuming, the work was fairly easy (other than peeling the roasted poblanos.)  I was cleaning my kitchen all along, and I enjoyed making these.  But I just don't like the green sauce.  I used the canned tomatillos, and maybe fresh would have been better, but I will stick to the red sauce version in the future.  

The chick part of the recipe was very delicious though, and I used the leftover broth to make Mexican rice which I will report on next.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spaghetti with Egg and Breadcrumbs

Total Time: 30 minutes (half recipe)

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Best International Recipe

Recipe Source: The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2008

I overcooked my egg, but this was still delicious.  I wimp out sometimes when it comes to runny eggs, and I should have taken this egg off the burner sooner.

The recipe called for 10T of oil for 4 servings.  I cut that down to 4T (or 2T for a half recipe) and it was plenty.  I also only used 1 clove of garlic for my half recipe (instead of the 2) and that was also plenty for me.  The end result was still very garlic-y but not too much.

I used wheat bread for the crumbs, and they were delicious. The salty bread crumbs with the garlic pasta was a great combo.  Even without the egg the dish would be very good.  But I like the idea of that added protein on the pasta, so I'm going to make this again and hope to do better with the eggs.  Especially because this is a fairly simple dish to make. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ultimate Banana Bread

Prep Time: 27 minutes (when using frozen bananas)
Bake Time: 60-75 minutes
Cool Time: 1 hour+

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (July 2010)

Sometimes I moan when I see Cook's Illustrated redo a recipe when I already liked the first recipe. I liked the previous CI version of Banana Bread but I like this one better.

This recipe is really different from the first.  It uses 6 bananas, which is a lot more than most.  You have to heat them up to release liquid, drain it, then reduce the liquid.  This is why the prep time is pretty long for a "quick" bread.  However, much of that time is not involved, so you can do other things.  It is still a simple recipe. 

The 6th banana goes on top, and it makes a very pretty loaf.  Slice the bananas thin or the cooked slices won't be that appealing.  You also sprinkle some sugar on top, which makes it nice and crunchy.  I used a Turbinado sugar which is very large, and works great. 

I have to say, the bread doesn't taste any more banana-y than other banana breads.  I'm fine with that, but I was surprised.  I do like the flavor and texture of this bread. I also like that I don't need to have plain yogurt on hand (which isn't normally in my fridge).   And since I often have frozen bananas waiting to make banana bread, the 6 bananas isn't a problem (the 6th one should be fresh though.)  So I will definitely use this recipe again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pizza Bianca

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Rise Time: 2.5 hours
Bake Time: 20-30 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (September 2008)
Recipe: America's Test Kitchen TV (Season 9) 

The prep time includes 20 minutes of rest time, and 10 minutes of kneading time with mixer at the end.  It was very simple with very little hands on work. 

I didn't make this perfectly, even though I weighed my flour and water.  My dough was too wet.  It is supposed to be wet, but mine was really, really wet.  I really don't know why.  It still worked though.  The dough rose, and then I poured it into the pan. 

I ended up baking a little too long and the bread was more crispy than it probably should have been, but it was still really good.

I definitely want to try this again and see if I can get it closet to what it is supposed to be.

Friday, September 10, 2010

7 Up Pound Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 70-90 minutes (half recipe took 60 minutes)
Cool Time: 2 hours
Glaze Time: 10 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (June 2009)

This was very good.  A nice pound cake with a little citrus flavor.  I used Ginger Ale which they said was fine to sub for the 7Up.   I also only made a half recipe and used my 6 cup bundt pan instead of a tube pan.

The main reason I wouldn't make this again is just because it uses the soda, and it isn't something I often have on hand.   (Diet Coke, probably wouldn't work here.)  Also, I have two other very good recipes I like if I wanted a lemon pound cake.  The Cook's Illustrated recipe, which I have never blogged on, and the one from Baking with Julia.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Slow Cooker Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 4-5 hours

Grade: C+

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (August 2009)

The meatballs were good, but I didn't love the sauce.  I didn't dislike it, but I felt like there should have been more flavor, with all the ingredients that are in this.  The wine slightly overpowered the rest, even though I was careful to cook it down before putting in slow cooker.  

This made a huge amounts of sauce.  More than I think you need for 1.5 pounds of pasta.   I am saving the meatballs with some sauce, in individual containers to freeze, and then I saved almost a quart without any meatballs for use another time. 

I have a medium size slow cooker and it was filled to the brim almost.  The recipe was probably developed in a larger cooker.

I think I have other meatball recipes I would use before making this one again, because it still was a decent amount of effort - especially for a slow-cooker meal.

NOTE: I didn't actually test the Cook's Country recipe.  I used the one from the Best of 2010 book, which contains the recipe from Best Slow and Easy Recipes.  (Did you follow that?)   The recipes are similar, but there are a few differences - the one I used had milk and bread instead of the  mozzarella cheese, less tomato paste and no cream.  Everything else looks the same. 

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Skillet Ramen with Beef and Spinach

Total Time: 19 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: The Best Skillet Recipes

I don't have The Best Skillet Recipes, and those recipes are not online.  But I do have the Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010, and this is one of the featured recipes.

I loved it.  So simple and fast.  It just happens that I found a small piece of flank steak in my freezer (single serving size) and I had one package of ramen noodles, so I cut the recipe in 1/4. It worked out perfectly (although it did involve more math than I wanted while cooking.)

I skipped the Shiitake mushrooms, since I don't like them, and that was fine.  The broth made from garlic, ginger, chicken broth, sherry and soy sauce was very flavorful. (You throw away the seasoning packet.)  I wasn't sure about having baby spinach wilted in the broth (I don't love it wilted) but it tasted good.

I will definitely have to purchase some more ramen noodles and cut up some flank steak into smaller pieces and freeze so I can make this quick dinner when I am eating along and short on time.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 50-60 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (December 2008)

Recipe: Cook's Country TV (Season 2)

I assume the Cook's Country TV show is just like America's Test Kitchen and they won't keep those recipes up there for ever (wanting to people to go to paid site instead.)  So, print it out if you are interested. :-)  You need to register with an email but don't need to pay. 

These are very, very good.  I have made popovers lots of times before, and I love them when they are eggy and moist on the inside but crispy on the outside.  These fit the bill, and they are more flavorful than the others I've tried

The main differences are as far as I can tell are using more eggs and butter, but a lower fat milk.  It also uses Bread flour for more structure.

I think going forward, this will be the recipe I use, when I make popovers. (Which isn't that often, but it is a good way to use up milk.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pan Fried Pork Chops

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (February 2009)

I found some 2 year old pork chops in my freezer last week when I was cleaning it out.  They weren't even wrapped well, just frozen in the thin plastic they were wrapped in at the grocery.  I've only cooked pork chops once or twice before, and I forgot about them.  I didn't have much hope for them, but they seemed ok after they were defrosted and I didn't notice much freezer burn, so I decided to try this simple recipe.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was super easy and fast.  The biggest time suck was waiting for the bacon to cook.  But you have to wait 10 minutes in between flour dredging the chops the two times, so it works out well.  I used less oil and it worked fine.  The chops are seasoned first before they go in the flour with garlic powder, paprika, and salt and pepper (and a little cayenne.) 

I was starting to not want to try them though because of their age.  When they were resting some blood started to seep through the flour from the bones and as an ex-vegetarian this grossed me out!  Then I really didn't want to try them. 

But I did anyways, and they tasted really good.  The crust was perfect on them and they were still moist.  I may have to try them once more with fresher meat.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Baked Ziti

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Cool Time: 20 minutes


Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (March 2009)
Recipe: America's Test Kitchen TV Show (Season 10)

This was  nothing special in my opinion.  I do have to admit, however, that I used an inferior cheese which definitely affected the taste.  I chose the store brand (Safeway) cheese because it was cheaper, and then, even worse, accidentally purchased the low-fat version.  It was too salty and not creamy at all.  Now I have 8 oz left of this crappy cheese, which I won't use, just to save $1.  Oh well.

However, even without that issue, I still don't think this recipe would have been all that better than the very simple baked pasta dishes I've used before.  It uses cottage cheese, which I like, but I usually don't include ricotta in my baked ziti anyways, so it didn't solve any problems for me.  It just seems like more effort than I want for a simple pasta dish, so I probably won't make again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Savory Bread Pudding with Spinach and Feta

Prep Time: 17 minutes
Rest Time: 20 - 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Best of 2010

This was in The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010 book, and appears to originally come from The Best Slow and Easy Recipes cookbook.

This is definitely an easy recipe with very little effort.  I'm not exactly sure what the difference is between a strata and a bread pudding.  I guess bread puddings are a little richer.  You only use yolks, and the recipe called for 3c. heavy cream and 2c. whole milk.  I usually make my stratas with low-fat milk.  There was no way I was making this with all that cream - too heavy for me.  I ended up using whole milk and about 1/3 c. cream (for a half recipe) instead.  It still was plenty rich.

I did really like this, but guess I will probably just stick to making stratas which I do quite often.  They are lighter and I can basically make them from memory with whatever leftovers I have on hand.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Prep Time: 25 minutes (10 of it waiting for butter to cool)
Cool Time: 90 minutes 
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Cool/Icing Time: 30 minutes 

Grade: B

Make Again: probably not

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (October 2008)

I have two complaints about how this recipe was written.  1) It starts off saying to preheat the oven to 350 in step 1.  Then by step 4 (or something like that) it tells you to wrap dough and stick in refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours!  That is a long preheat.  2)  They tell you to put dough in 10" logs, but don't tell you how wide or how tall the dough should be.  One measurement is not enough.  I need two.  I had to guess.  I made my bars about 1/2" high which seems fine.

These are good, but a little more effort than many other spice cookies that I love.  I hate raisins so I tried them with chopped dates, which I do like.  That worked out well.  I love the ginger in them also.  Again, these are just fine, but if I was craving a spicy cookie, I think I would choose this or this.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cornmeal Biscuits

Prep Time: 23 minutes
Bake Time: 13-15 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (February 2009)

This taste great, although most biscuits do.  I've never had cornmeal biscuits before, but I love cornmeal, so I knew I would like these.  However, even though you soak the cornmeal, I still found the biscuits to be a tad gritty.

Also, I feel like 12 T of butter is a lot, even for biscuits.  Most biscuits use 8 T per 2 c. flour, and still taste quite buttery. 

I did struggle with the dough a bit - it was too sticky for me to knead.  I'm guessing that is the reason these didn't rise as much as they should have. 

I may make these again, but since they take a little longer than my other biscuit recipes, I'm not sure if it will happen or not.  Maybe if there is something that I think would really go well with the cornmeal flavor.  They would probably be great with Chili, of course, so maybe then.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chicken Spiedies

Prep Time: 16 minutes
Marinade: 30 minutes - 3 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Country (June 2009)

This is a nice simple recipe and it tasted good.  The sauce (which looks a little like cheese in the picture) was a nice addition.  It is basically just a grilled chicken kebab. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Best Blueberry Muffin

Prep Time: 32 minutes
Bake Time: 16-18 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2009)
Recipe: America's Test Kitchen TV Show  (Season 10)

I have to say once more that I really like the ATK TV show website. (It's free but you must register first.)  It is really nice to go watch the video before I start the recipe.  The videos are usually around 8-10 minutes, and well worth the time since it will answer many questions you might have while following the recipe.  Not that CI's recipes aren't complete - they are. But they can be long with small print, and I sometimes miss things!

Anyway, the video helped me know how the sugar and eggs should look, how the jam should look, and how to really get the jam into the muffin.

Yes, these take a little longer than many muffin recipes, because you have to make a little blueberry jam, and then swirl it in.  However, I feel that these are worth the effort.  I love the lemon sugar topping.

I do think they could handle a few more blueberries in the regular batter.  Not a lot more, but maybe 1/4 c. more total.

I froze these and took some out for a road trip last week.  The crunchy sugary topping (made from sugar and lemon zest) wasn't all sparkly like it was when they were fresh, but it was still crunchy and very good.  

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Swedish Meatballs

Total Time: 45 minutes
Grade: C+
Make Again: No
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2009)

NOTE:  I didn't make the cucumbers, and I my times reflect that fact, and the fact that I doubled the meatball recipe. 

I never had Swedish meatballs until I tried a bag of meatballs from Ikea this summer.  I liked them quite a bit, even without the sauce.  Since it was a large bag, it provided quite a few quick dinners. 

Since I've been using the Best of 2010 cookbook recently, I saw the recipe for Cook's Illustrated Swedish meatballs.  I wanted to try to see if they compared, and if it would be cheaper. 

I ended up doing something I never do the first time with a recipe, and I doubled the recipe.  Since it called for 8oz of both pork and beef, it seemed like a good idea to just double and not refreeze the leftover meat.

I also made one major change - instead of pan frying the meatballs, I decided to bake them.  That was not a problem.  I turned them midway through the baking.  (About 15 minutes at 450).  They still browned, and there was plenty of fat. 

The taste ended up being similar to the Ikea meatballs, however they were way too salty.  The recipe calls for 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.  I didn't actually double that amount, because it seemed like it would be too much.  I used 2 teaspoons instead - maybe a little more. Besides the saltiness, these were good and tasted similar.

I am going to freeze the leftovers (without sauce) and I am sure they will be fine, because usually leftovers need a little more seasoning. 

But would I make these again or buy the Ikea meatballs.  I'll get them at Ikea.  They are $8 for a 2.5 pound bag.  I spent just about that amount for the ingredients, and didn't like them quite as much so there is no benefit to making them myself.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Prep Time: 13 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Roll Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10-11 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source:
Cook's Illustrated (January 2009)
Recipe: America's Test Kitchen TV Show (Season 10)

This recipe is available during 2010 at the America's Test Kitchen TV show website (along with video). Print it out now if interested, because it will probably be gone by 2011.

These are very good, with an intense chocolate flavor. My nephew enjoyed licking the bowl, but he didn't really like the final cookie because it tasted too rich for him. That wasn't a problem for me.

They are simple, but since you need to roll them, take a little longer than regular drop cookies. I would definitely make again, but who knows if I will, since I have lots of good chocolate cookie recipes.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Hummus Bread

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Rise Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Grade: C+ (B, when you eat it really fresh)
Make Again: Maybe
Recipe Source: Whole Grain Baking
Recipe: Hummus Bread

The link to the recipe above is not exactly the same as in their Whole Grain Baking book.  The ratio of Whole Grain to regular flour is flipped.  There is no bread improver called for in the book, and it uses olive oil instead of garlic.  The amounts are slightly different on some of the ingredients, but otherwise the ingredient list looks pretty similar.

This one didn't start out too well.  I weighed the flours and hummus but my dough was super soft and sticky.  I have been having this problem on the last few doughs, so I'm wondering if I am not doing a good job of measuring the liquids - I should probably weigh those also.

Sometimes this book gives good instructions, but usually not as thorough as Cook's Illustrated.  This one wasn't too explicit and didn't say how long I should need or if it was okay for the dough to be so sticky.  It said a soft dough.  Well, the dough never got very "soft" in my mind because it was using a whole grain flour (with a little all-purpose included.)

I ended up adding another 1/4 c of flour.  The dough still wasn't anything that I could shape really well into a loaf, so after the first rise I poured/pulled it into the pan.  I couldn't tell if it had doubled and I wasn't sure if it would rise 1.5" above the pan so I used 8x4 instead of 8.5x4.5 to be safe.  I didn't want a shorty loaf.  It ended up tall enough.  It smelled really good while baking.

This recipe uses 1 cup of hummus.  It also calls for toasted sesame seeds which I skipped.  Mine was really garlicky and I would probably try to avoid that next time although I still liked how the bread tasted.  There was a more crusty version of the recipe in the book and I can see why.  The crust on this bread is delicious.

The bread has a unique taste and I did like it. I wanted to eat more when it first came out of the oven.  However, it has more of a quick bread feel to me, and I don't feel like it was quite special enough that I will long for this in the future.  Since I made it right around the time I made the Rustic Rolls, which I loved, it does not live up to those high expectations.  I may make again if/when I have leftover hummus.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Taco Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Grade: B
Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Best 30-Minute Recipes 

This was a simple (and not terribly exciting) recipe.  You make a taco filling and add the extras.  It was good and I'd make it again when I had the ingredients on hand.  I baked up tortilla chips instead of using fried chips.  I also made a lighter dressing with salsa.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Housekeeping - America's Test Kitchen TV Show

I have been doing some housekeeping.  I'd love to redesign this blog, but don't have the time right now.  Hopefully someday.

But what I did do, was add the label "atktv" for the America's Test Kitchen TV show.  They have updated their website in the last year or so, and it is fantastic now.  For the current season (10) they have the recipe available.  Also, if the show has aired, they have the entire video of the recipe from the show.  This is such a nice feature, and is so helpful when you are trying a new recipe. 

The previous season (currently season 9) also has the recipes available.  Previous seasons just list recipes, but send you to one of their paid site.

This new label "atktv" is added to every recipe that I've tried featured in Season 9 or 10.  I also added the link to the recipe at the bottom of the score care before my notes.  Once season 11 starts, I assume the season 9 recipes won't be available anymore.  Print those recipes now, if interested.  (Since I don't reprint the recipes here.)

Click on the atktv label below (or here) to see a list of all these reviews. 

You do need to register at the TV show website to see recipes and videos, but it is free.  If you try to access recipes from season 8 or earlier they also try to get you to register.  This part is not free. 

Currently there are only 14 or so recipes, but there are more coming.  I'm not updating anything that was featured in a previous season, because there is no recipe link.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rustic Dinner Rolls

Prep Time: 7 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Knead Time: 5-7 minutes
Rise Time(s): 1 hour + 30 min + 30 min + 30 (folding and shaping in between)
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Cool Time:1 hour
Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (Nov 2008)
RecipeAmerica's Test Kitchen Show (Season 10)

The recipe is being featured on the TV show website right now. They do not remain up there forever, so if you have any interest in the recipe, grab it now.  If not, you can get it with a paid subscription to Cook's Illustrated.  The nice thing about the CI website is it includes mini-videos.  So you can see a 3 minute video of the recipe, which is extremely helpful - you see things you won't pick up from reading the recipe - especially helpful when working with dough.  Actually, in my recipe link above, they are also including a longer 9 min video from the TV show on this recipe, which is even more helpful.  I assume that is temporary though.

Unfortunately, I watched the video after I started the recipe and realized that I was supposed to wait to add the salt until after the 30 minute rest.  I'm not sure how that effects things, but I have to assume there was a reason.

Another problem I had was that I missed the part in the recipe about how to place the rolls with cut side up.  I didn't do the best job of putting these in the pan, or cutting them, so they are all different sizes and shapes, which you may notice from the picture.

I could not wait for the oven to get to 500 degrees and put them in around 475.  It is too hot out and I needed the oven to make dinner, so I went for it.  The high heat makes the rolls higher, and mine are not too high.  Oh well.  They are still delicious.

Despite the long time these take to make, this recipe is super simple.  Lots of rest periods, and occasional turning, so you need to be home for a while to make these, but it isn't hard.

I came up with what I think is a good idea for avoiding a messy counter.  I took my 18x13 jelly roll nonstick pan and sprinkled flour in it.  I poured the dough in there, and did my cutting and shaping without having to worry about the counter.  It contained the flour and since you are supposed to make two 16" long logs with the dough, it was easy to make almost as long as the pan.

These rolls are delicious.  If you like crusty bread, you will probably like this recipe.  It always amazes me when just flour, water and yeast (with a tiny, tiny bit of honey and a tiny bit of whole wheat) can make something so flavorful.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hoisin Chicken Salad

Total Time: 35 minutes
Grade: C+
Make Again: No

I know I took a picture of this, but I can't find it. So much for my new photo organization.

This salad was fine, and simple, but not quite worth the effort. I think there are other chicken salads I would go for first before this one. I did adjust the dressing to use less oil and that probably made it less tasty. It was a little too vinegar-y.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Texas Chili in a Slow Cooker

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Make Again:
Recipe Source: Cover & Bake

I made this several months ago, but forgot to add it here, so some of my details might be off a little. I remember I tried to cut back the spices, but it was still really spicy. I added some frozen corn from last summer, and the sweetness it added was really nice.

Chicken with Rice, Broccoli and Cheddar

Total Time: 40 minutes
Grade: A-
Make Again:
Recipe Source: Best 30-Minute Recipes

I got The Best 30-Minute recipes from the library in hopes that I would start cooking more again since I have a little bit more free time this summer.

All the recipes I've tried previously have been pretty good, and so far the two I tried this week are good options also.

This took longer than it should have because I was just being slow. But it still would probably take a little more than 30 minutes. I used fresh broccoli instead of frozen.

It was really good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beef Teriyaki

Total Time: 30 minutes
Grade: A
Make Again:
Recipe Source: Best 30-Minute Recipes

I steamed some broccoli and white rice at the same time as this dish and it all was done within 30 minutes. This was very good and super easy to make. All you need to do is cut the meat in thin slices, and stir the sauce ingredients together. Then cook. To only make the Beef could probably be done in under 20 minutes.

The only ingredient you may need to buy for this is Mirin, which is at most grocery stores in the Asian cooking section. (It is cheaper though if you can get it at an Asian grocery store.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lighter Pulled Pork

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes

Grade: B

Make Again: Maybe

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (March 2009)

This was not bad, but the sauce was pretty bland for me. I would make again but try to spice up a bit more. (I didn't make the slaw from the recipe, just the sandwich.) It is definitely a leaner pork sandwich, so that is nice, but maybe not the best use for pork tenderloin. I had some I had to use up, though, and no time, so this recipe is a good one for that situation.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Cacio e Pepe (sort of)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2007)

I guess there is some debate as to whether CI should have called this recipe "Cacio e Pepe", since it is really not authentic. Actually, they named it: Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper (Cacio e Pepe). I have no clue about that - I'd never heard of this dish before. I guess the cream makes it not really true, or something.

Anyway, this is very, very simple. And it tastes delicious. The nice thing is that it actually isn't a heavy sauce, which is surprising since I just mentioned cream, and then there is the cheese. However, there is only one ounce of cheese per serving, and only 2T of cream for the entire dish, so this is much lighter than a creamy sauce you might think of. The ingredients are mixed with pasta water, so the sauce is actually not heavy at all.

The only problem I had was that my cheese did get clumpy, which their technique is supposed to prevent. It may be that I didn't grate properly - I used my rasp-type grater (seen above), instead of the bumpy side of a box grater.

I think I will worry less about that next time, and just throw all the ingredients on the pasta next time, and not worry if I get a perfect sauce.

It is funny that shortly after trying this, I saw this at Smitten Kitchen: Cacio e Pepe/ This recipe is similar but uses more oil, so probably a little richer. I might combine the two techniques next time.

I'll definitely make again for a very quick and tasty pasta dish -- as an alternative to tomato based sauces.

Oh I should mention the 2nd time I made it, I used wheat-blend pasta and it was very goood.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chewy Brownies

Prep Time: 18 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Grade: C

Make Again: No

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (March 2010)

This is a first - I have never not liked a brownie recipe before. The problem for me is that I could actually taste the oil used in the brownie. I guess it is the combination of the oil and butter that makes them chewy - and they were chewy.

These aren't horrible, and they did taste better then 2nd day. However, the taste was not as good as I've had, and I found the recipe a bit fussy since you had to add both butter and oil. I can use any other brownie recipe from America's Test Kitchen, King Arthur Flour or Everyday food, so these will definitely not be made again.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Whole Wheat Pasta with Fennel and Sausage

Total Time: 35 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (March 2010)

It seems like Cook's Illustrated is trying to do some easier recipes recently. That is fine with me. This one is really easy, fast and good. It would have cooked faster if it wasn't for my slow stove top (electric.) If I had a nice gas cook top, I'm sure it would be faster (as would a lot of my cooking.)

I only used 2 tablespoons of oil, and I still felt like this was a little greasy actually. I will do it with 1 T. next time and use some pasta water to stretch the "sauce". I also felt like the 6 T. of garlic was a little bit much, and would probably use half of that next time. Turkey sausage will work here too to make a little lighter.

I didn't have any lemon with me, or fresh basil and it was still good. I think the basil would be nice, but I don't think it needed the lemon. It is definitely a good recipe for whole wheat, and I'll use again. I don't care for raw fennel, but love it when it is cooked, so this is a good recipe for that also.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Broccoli Soup

Total Time: 35 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (November 1996)

There are still a lot of recipes from the January 2010 Cook's Illustrated magazine that I want to try (and March was just put online!), but I am very, very busy at the moment. I'm also trying to clean out my freezer, pantry and fridge before buying any new ingredients as much as possible.

So, I had a huge bag of broccoli florets that needed to be used up. I remembered a pureed broccoli soup that I used to make from a Jane Brody cook book that I no longer own. The Cook's Illustrated recipe looked similar (as far as I can remember) so I tried it. It is very simple to make and I thought it tasted very good. The only minor flaw was that I didn't probably puree long enough, and the little pieces of florets created a texture that wasn't always the most pleasing (when they clumped up.) But it wasn't too much of a problem.

It was still very good 2 days later. It is a great way to use up broccoli before it goes bad. I sprinkled with a little cheddar cheese when serving which you may see in the picture.

In my cooking time, I also made some home made croutons from two pieces of almost getting stale wheat bread. They were a delicious addition to the soup. I'll do that again since it was so easy.

I can't post the recipe, but here are the ingredients. You basically just saute the onions, add the wine or sherry (I used Vermouth) and then cook the broth and broccoli until very tender (but not army green.) Then puree in a blender with the milk. I used less salt than called for and it was plenty.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or olive oil (you could get by with less)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine (I used Vermouth which I always have on hand)
5 cups broccoli florets cut small
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon table salt (I used half)
ground white pepper (I forgot this)
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)

The original recipe calls from fresh basil which I am sure is great, but I skipped.

For the croutons, I did a 1/2" dice with a serrated knife on two slices of wheat bread. I sprayed with Olive Oil spray and tossed in a bowl with a few shakes of salt. I was pretty generous with the spray and sprayed more than once after tossing, so I wouldn't say it was 2 calories. :-) However, it is a lot lighter this way than tossing with oil. The spray is nice because you can add evenly without needing so much.

Then I baked for abou 10 minutes at 350, tossing once halfway through. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

America's Test Kitchen

Just a note about the recipes I'm rating here. Many of them come from the various Cook's Illustrated magazine and the various spin-off books. I subscribe to the online version of the magazine, which includes all info from the printed version and includes short videos of the recipes. It is well-worth the price! But I can't post the recipes here.

However, many of those recipes are also featured in their TV show America's Test Kitchen. I believe all recipes on the show have a free on-line version, so you can find the recipes there.

I will be going through my old posts and adding links where I can, but in the meantime, you might look there if you are looking for a recipe.

Update: Actually, I was just exploring their web-site and it looks like they only have the recipes for the current season and previous season. (Probably whatever is airing on TV.) So, if you find a recipe there you want to try, print it out, because it may eventually not be available again.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Southwestern Skillet Pie

Prep Time: 15 - 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (November 2004)

I love this easy recipe. It is very flexible, fast, and usually can be made with ingredients you likely have on hand.

It came from Everyday Food, but I have changed it a little. Really, this is so flexible, you can substitute in a lot of ways.

The original recipe called for a red pepper chopped up. Although I love red peppers, I never felt like it added much with all the salsa, so I skip. It also called for mixing 1/2 c of the cheese in the biscuits. I feel the cheese doesn't add to the biscuits, so I skip that too. It doesn't even really need any cheese at all, but I use if I have some on hand.

Southwestern Skillet Pie

1 lb ground meat (preferably a lean beef or turkey)
4 cloves garlic minced
16 oz (2 cups) your favorite Salsa
1 15oz can beans (black, pinto, kidney), drained and rinsed
1/2 - 1 t. salt (to taste)
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. water
1 c. (or less) shredded cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, etc.)

1 c. unbleached flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 c. milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425.

NOTE: Use a pan that can be put in a hot oven while the biscuits cook.

1) Brown meat over medium heat in ovenproof skillet. Drain if too much fat.
2) Add garlic, salt and pepper and saute for 30 sec
3) Add salsa, beans and water, stir and heat to a simmer
4) In a medium bowl, mix the dry biscuit ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or knives until butter is mixed in fairly well (but not completely)
5) Stir in milk with a fork.
6) Sprinkle cheese over meat and bean mixture
7) Drop 8 evenly sized (as well as you can!) spoonfuls of the biscuit dough on top. The dough will spread so leave some space.
8) Bake 20-25 minutes until the biscuits are cooked and starting to brown.
9) Remove from oven and serve.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Bean Burritos

Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 0 - 30 minutes

Grade: B+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Everyday Food (November 2005)

This isn't a very exciting recipe or meal, but I tried it because I wanted something that I could freeze for meals in the future. I scaled up the ingredients a bit to make 10 burritos since that is how many tortillas came in the bag. If it was only one meal for me, the results probably wouldn't be worth the hour of effort, but since it was a lot of meals, I feel the effort is OK.

I reheated one today in the oven for about 20 minutes then microwaved for 30 sec to get the middle. It worked out fine. You probably could just microwave.

I definitely would make these again when I want to have some premade meals in the freezer.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Chocolate Cream Pie

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Filling: 30 minutes
Chill: 3 hours
Topping: 15 minutes (or less if you cheat!)

Grade: A+

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 2001)

The first time I used this recipe was the first time I ever made a cream or pudding from scratch. I thought it was so fun to see the ingredients thicken up and was happy with how easy it was. I made this one several times after that, but it has been at least 4 years since the last one. Not because it isn't great - but because I have too many good dessert recipes and not enough time for dessert!

This is really rich and delicious, but not too rich. It does use Oreos for the crust, so I guess it is not 100% home-made, but the crust is quite good. I think I could have made the filling even quicker, if my electric stove heated up faster. It just took a while for the half-and-half to come to simmer, so I was waiting around a bit.

It is really fairly easy to make. I added the extra step of straining the filling, on top of the removing the chalazae on the eggs, because I wanted to make sure there were no lumps at all.

I did cheat with the cream, and used a Cabot canned version of whipped cream. I didn't want to have to mess around with whipping up the cream with a crowded kitchen and lots of kids underfoot.

I didn't even take the photo the day I served this. I froze the leftovers and added some new cream to the top (which is why you might notice the melted cream under the new cream.) The chocolate doesn't look creamy either because it was still frozen when I shot this, but it is very creamy when thawed. (The leftovers still tasted great.)