Melissa's Cuisine: May 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baked Crispy Potatoes

My favorite thing about cooked potatoes is the crispy outside.  Growing up, my dad would often fry crispy potatoes in a cast-iron skillet.  I always tried to pick out the potatoes with the most crisp edges.  Then I would add a generous amount of salt to my potatoes before devouring them.  I don't add salt to a lot of my foods, but crispy potatoes need their salt!

This version of crispy potatoes is a little healthier than my dad's because it's baked, not fried.  The result is a perfectly crisp exterior and a fluffy interior.  The potatoes are coated with salt before they're baked, giving them a wonderful crunch. 

Baked Crispy Potatoes

Serves 2

You will need:
2 large potatoes (I used russet)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon sea salt

1.  Wash and dry potatoes.  Slice into 1/4" thick slices. 

2.  In a Ziploc bag, combine olive oil, sea salt, and potato slices.

3.  Seal the bag and carefully shake it until the potatoes are covered in a starchy paste, about 2 minutes.

4.  Place potatoes, in a single layer, on a baking sheet. 

5.  Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, until the bottoms of the potatoes turn golden brown.  Then flip the potatoes, return to oven, and bake another 10 minutes.

6.  Remove potatoes from oven and sprinkle with additional salt, if desired.

What are some of your favorite childhood foods?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Grilling Recipes

Happy Memorial Day!  I hope that you take time today to remember the sacrifices made for our freedom here in America.  When Mike and I were in Hawaii, we had the chance to visit Pearl Harbor.  The memorials there rendered us speechless; it was surreal to think that we were standing in a place where so many men sacrificed their lives for us.
A Memorial honoring the 52 submarines and more than 3,500 submariners lost during WWII.

Grave sites at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Thank you to those who are currently serving our country, and who have served in the past!

If you are celebrating Memorial Day with your family, I hope you get to spend some time outside, and grilling!  Here are some of my favorite grilling recipes to get you inspired.

Grilled Flatbread

Grilled BLT Pizza

Grilled Marinated Chicken

Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Corn

Grilled Marinated Steak

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mike's Favorite Ice-cream Dessert

When I ask Mike what he would like for dessert, 9 times out of 10, he'll want ice-cream.  Or something made with ice-cream.  A couple weeks ago I asked him what he thought I should bring for dessert for Sunday noon.  We always go to my parent's house after church. They provide the dinner and I make dessert.  Mike decided that I should make an ice-cream dessert that is popular at his family's gatherings.  I didn't have the recipe, and he wouldn't let me make it how I thought it was made (something about it having to taste just like how he remembers!)  It took a little bit of tracking down, but I was able to get the recipe from Mike's aunt and make Mike's wish come true.

I had a little bit of trouble with the chocolate topping in the original recipe, I must have done something wrong because the chocolate stayed a runny mess.  I modified it by making a ganache-type topping and it turned out much better.  Mike said he liked the chocolate layer on top too...score 1 for me! :)

Ice-cream Dessert

Makes 1 9x13 pan

You will need:
1 package Oreo cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 gallon Vanilla or Cookies and Cream ice-cream, slightly softened (I let mine sit on the counter while I crushed the Oreos)
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3 squares semi-sweet baker's chocolate, chopped

1.  In a medium bowl, combine crushed Oreos and butter until moist.

2.  Press crust mixture firmly into the bottom of a metal 9x13 pan.  (This is going in the freezer, so use a freezer-safe pan).

3.  Scoop ice-cream over the crust and use a spatula to smooth it out.

4.  Pour evaporated milk into a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, until the milk just starts to bubble.

5.  Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the hot milk over it.  Stir gently until smooth.

6.  Pour ganache over the ice-cream.

7.  Cover dessert and place it in the freezer.  Freeze at least 2 hours before serving. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Asiago Beer Bread

I think beer bread is one of the most simple breads to make.  It doesn't require any yeast, and it can be made in just about an hour.  It's perfect for when you need a quick loaf of delicious bread.

I've made beer bread many times, and while I've made variations (like Vault bread), I'd never thought to add anything into the batter until recently.  For some reason I decided to add Asiago cheese to the batter.  I was making the bread for a work party and I wanted something different.  I love beer bread and I love Asiago cheese, and I thought the combination would be good.  I was right, the Asiago in the bread was stellar!  Some of my co-workers who were watching their diets even broke the diet to have a piece...or two!

Asiago Beer Bread

Makes 1 loaf

You will need:

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) can beer
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 cup Asiago cheese, shredded

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.

2. Add beer and mix until combined.

3.  Stir in 3/4 cup of the Asiago cheese until well distributed.

4. Place dough in a greased bread pan.

5. Pour melted margarine over dough.  Sprinkle with remaining Asiago cheese.

6. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes, until golden brown.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Almond Pound Cake

This month, I had the opportunity to browse through all the recipes on Cara's blog, The Boys Made Me Do It.  I enjoyed reading the stories about her boys and her adventures in the kitchen.  Cara's blog is full of recipes that I would love to make, and I had quite a challenge trying to pick the recipe to make.  I finally chose her recipe for Peggy's Pound Cake, and I'm so glad that I did.  I served this with fresh strawberries and a strawberry sauce for our Mother's Day celebration and it was a huge hit!
Secret Recipe Club

I have to admit, I could not stop eating this cake!  I was a little afraid of it baking over so I didn't completely fill the Bundt pan and I used some extra batter in a small pie dish.  The cake smelled so good when I took it out of the oven that I couldn't resist cutting in and trying a piece.  It was so good that I kept going back for more.  Over the next 21 hours, I managed to eat the entire (small) cake...oops!

Almond Pound Cake

Makes 1 Bundt cake 

2 sticks butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/4 cup milk
5 eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract

1.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, and shortening.

2.  Add half of the flour and the baking power and mix well.

3.  Add in half of the milk and continue to mix.

4.  Add in one egg at a time, mixing until well incorporated after each addition.

5.  Add in remaining flour, milk, and the almond and mix well.

6.  Pour into a greased Bundt pan. (I sprinkle sugar on top of the butter I greased the tin with and it prevents the cake from sticking and gives it a great sugary crunch!)

7.  Bake at 325 for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Source: The Boys Made Me Do It

Friday, May 18, 2012

"That One Dessert"

You may have noticed by now that I like to experiment and try new things.  Especially when it comes to food!  Put me in the middle of a specialty grocery store and I could spend hours browsing through the selection.  I could also spend lots of money there, so that's why I tend to avoid specialty stores.  One day, I was at my "favorite" grocery store when I saw these incredible waffle cone bowls.  I got super excited and I had to buy a box.  Now, I know they're not really new or different, but until recently I'd only seen them at ice-cream shops, never in the store!  I bought a box, brought it home, and there it sat.  Waiting for the perfect use.  (Because just using them for ice-cream was way too boring!)

This snack...or dessert...was created on a whim one night.  I wanted something fruit, but sweet.  Chocolaty, but not overpoweringly so.  And so, this creation was born.  I immediately knew it was a keeper.  A few nights later, Mike requested dessert and I asked if I could surprise him.  He agreed and so I put together my creation again.  I knew I'd hit the jackpot when Mike loved it, and requested it again a few nights later!  Since then, we've had this dessert many times.  I'll admit, I even enjoyed it for lunch one day :)

Feel free to experiment with other fruits, white chocolate chips, or even nuts.  Whatever suits your fancy--I'm sure it will be delicious!

As far as the title for this post "That One Dessert"...Mike and I could not come up with a name for this dessert.  When I make it, we typically refer to it as "that one dessert" "you know, the one with strawberries, bananas, chocolate chips, and marshmallows in the waffle bowl?"  But that makes for an awfully long recipe name!  So, if you come up with a fantastic name, I'd love to hear it!  And, if I choose your name, I'll post a link to your blog giving you the credit!
That One Dessert!

Serves 2

You will need:
2 waffle bowls
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1 banana, sliced
6 strawberries, sliced
20 mini marshmallows

1.  Sprinkle a few chocolate chips in the bottom of each waffle bowl.  Place bowls on a cookie sheet.

2.  Place waffle bowls under your broiler for about 30 seconds, just so the chocolate melts.  (You can skip this step, but I always do this so the bottom layer of chocolate is melted.)

3.  Place a few banana slices in the bottom of each bowl, followed by a few strawberry slices, and topped with a few chocolate chips.  Repeat layers.

4.  Sprinkle marshmallows on top of each fruit-filled bowl.

5.  Place under your broiler for 1-2 minutes, just until the marshmallows turn golden brown.

Eat as is, or topped with whipped topping, or ice-cream
The perfect bite!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strawberry Mango Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

Coming home from vacation is hard work!  After a week of being waited on, not having to cook or clean, and lots of fun and relaxation, it's hard to return to reality.  We got home Sunday morning, and went straight to bed.  Monday was spent doing laundry, getting groceries, and doing some yard work.  And then Tuesday, Mike and I both headed back to work.  It's a tough adjustment after doing nothing but relaxing and having fun on vacation!

We had a fantastic time in Hawaii.  We got to visit 4 of the major islands and we experienced a lot of new things.  One of my favorite things (of course) was all the food.  We both fell in love with apple bananas, and I'm really hoping we can find them around here.  (Any ideas where to look?)  I got to try a lot of new foods, but one of my favorite things was the abundance of fresh fruit.  Each morning I had a variety of fresh fruit with breakfast--Hawaiian pineapple and guava just can't be beat!

Both strawberries and mangoes rank at the top of my list of favorite fruits.  I didn't have any strawberries in Hawaii, but I did have some delicious mango.  This salsa combines my two favorites into one delicious appetizer.  The most time consuming part of this recipe is dicing up all the mangoes and strawberries.  Hopefully you  have a chopper that will make it easier than it was for me!  I made cinnamon sugar tortilla chips to use for dipping.  As you may guess, I did make this salsa a little while ago--I bought it to girl's night with my cousins and it was a huge hit!

Strawberry Mango Salsa

Serves 10-12

You will need:
2 medium mangoes, diced
1 quart of strawberries, hulled and diced
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
sprinkle of parsley

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Refrigerate before serving.

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

Serves 10-12

You will need:
12 flour tortillas (or however many comes in the package you purchase)
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
4 Tablespoons sugar (or equivalent amount of your choice of sweetener)
1-1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1.  Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

2.  Spread butter over each tortilla and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture.

3.  Using a pizza cutter, cut each tortilla into 8 wedges.

4.  Place wedges, sugar side up, in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  You will need more than one cookie sheet.

5.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, until tortillas are browned and cripsy.

Serve cinnamon sugar tortilla chips with strawberry mango salsa.

Slightly adapted from: Barbara Bakes

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese

Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese

Serves 1 (easily adapted to serve more)

2 slices of bread
margarine or butter
1-1/2 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Butter each piece of bread on one side.

2.  In a small bowl, combine Neufchatel cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.

3.  Spread the mixture on the unbuttered side of one piece of bread.  Top with the other piece of bread, butter side out. 

4.  Place sandwich on a hot griddle, butter side down.

5. When the bottom slice of bread is browned, carefully flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is browned.
6. Cut the sandwich in half before serving.

Source: Galley Kitchen Bake Up, Little Suzy

Friday, May 11, 2012

Strawberry & Nutella Grilled Cheese

I told you that Mike and I are on vacation and I'd leave you a hint in a post this week...did you get the hint from Wednesday's post?  Yes, we are in Hawaii!  We are on vacation with Mike's family and enjoying a great time away from the busyness of our lives.  Since I'm sure you guessed where we are, I'll reward you with a delicious dessert-type Grilled Cheese.  Who says you can't have dessert for dinner...or breakfast...?  Remember, life is short, eat dessert first!

Strawberry and Nutella Grilled Cheese

Serves 1 (easily adapted to serve more)

2 slices of bread
margarine or butter
2 Tablespoons Nutella
2 Tablespoons Neufchatel cheese, softened
6 strawberries, sliced flat

1.  Butter each piece of bread on one side.

2.  Spread Nutella on the unbuttered side of one slice of bread.

3.  Spread Neufchatel on the unbutter side of the other slice of bread.

4.  Place sliced strawberries on top of the Nutella and top with the other slice of bread, butter side out.

5.  Place sandwich, butter side down, on a hot griddle.

6. When the bottom slice of bread is browned, carefully flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is browned.

7. Cut the sandwich in half before serving.

Source: Chocolate, Chocolate and More

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

My absolute favorite pizza toppings are ham and pineapple.  Growing up, I was the only one who liked this combination, so it was very rare that I got to enjoy these toppings unless we were making homemade pizzas.  Now I'm lucky because Mike's dad also enjoys Hawaiian pizza, so when we order pizzas as a family, we always get a Hawaiian!

I have to admit though, I had never thought of making a Hawaiian Grilled cheese.  This immediately became my choice of our grilled cheese night!  I was thrilled with this combination and I thought it was delicious.  Like the Pizza Grilled Cheese I shared on Monday, this one also tasted great dipped in pizza sauce.
Hawaiian Grilled Cheese

Serves 1 (easily adapted to serve more)

2 slices of bread
margarine or butter
1 slice Swiss cheese
1 thick slice of ham
1 pineapple ring, or 1/4 cup diced pineapple

1. Butter each piece of bread on one side.

2. Place one piece of bread, butter side down, on a hot griddle and top with cheese, ham, and pineapple.

3. Place the other slice of bread, butter side up, on top of the filling.

4. When the bottom slice of bread is browned, carefully flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is browned.

5. Cut the sandwich in half before serving.

Adapted from: Galley Kitchen Bake Up, Little Suzy

Monday, May 07, 2012

Pizza Grilled Cheese

When I think of grilled cheese, I tend to think of the processed slices of American cheese slapped between two slices of white bread, and slathered with butter that most of us at as kids.  I haven't always been a fan, so I was a little disappointed to see that this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge was to find the ultimate grilled cheese recipe.  I didn't think there was anything special about this sandwich. 


Boy, was I wrong!  As I began my search, it became clear that grilled cheese had evolved to something much better than I was imagining.  In fact, I found so many delicious recipes that I couldn't narrow it down to just one.  Mike and I ended up having a grilled cheese night one Sunday.  I made a variety of different sandwiches and we sampled each to find our favorites.  We enjoyed all of the sandwiches and had a difficult time choosing which one to feature today.  Ultimately, I decided to feature Mike's favorite grilled cheese today, but I'll be sharing the other sandwiches later this week, so be sure to check back.

Who doesn't like pizza?  It's one of Mike (and my) favorite foods, so it's really no surprise to me that he really enjoyed this grilled cheese.  I found this recipe on Kristen's blog, Forkful of Comfort.  Her blog is full of comfort food recipes, and I really enjoyed browsing through it.  She has many delicious recipes that I can't wait to make, but today we're focusing on her Pizza Grilled Cheese.

Pizza Grilled Cheese

Serves 1 (easily adapted to serve more)

2 slices of bread
margarine or butter
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
18 slices of pepperoni
Italian seasoning
pizza sauce (for dipping)

1.  Butter each piece of bread on one side. 

2.  Place one piece of bread, butter side down, on a hot griddle and top with cheese, pepperonis, and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. 

3.  Place the other slice of bread, butter side up, on top of the filling.

4.  When the bottom slice of bread is browned, carefully flip the sandwich and cook until the other side is browned.

5.  Cut the sandwich in half before serving.

Serve with pizza sauce for dipping, if desired.

Source:  Forkful of Comfort

Don't forget that the Ultimate Grilled Cheese recipe is determined by the recipe that has the most "clicks".  Please click on my recipe to vote for me!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Pull Apart Cinnamon Bread

It's weeks like this week that make me very thankful that I have quite a few recipes waiting to be blogged about.  We are leaving for vacation on Friday, and have some something going nearly every night this week, leaving me with very little time to pack and even less time to bake!  I'll still be posting next week, but my posts will be pre-scheduled since I won't have access to a computer.  I have a fun series planned, plus a recipe that hints about where we're going on vacation.  Be sure to check back next week, and I'll be sure to have lots of pictures of our vacation when we get home.

Today's recipe is one that I've had on my to-make list for over a year, and on my to-blog list for over a month!  When I first saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it.  Honestly, I'm still not sure what took me so long to make it.  I'm glad I finally did, and I'm sure glad I have the chance to share it with you!
At first glance, this delicious bread might look super complicated.  While it does require slightly more work than a regular loaf of bread, it's totally worth it, and really not complicated!  The inside of this bread is so soft and gooey, it's like eating a cinnamon roll.  The top gets a nice crunchy crust, and a simple icing sweetens it up perfectly.  Mike and I devoured this bread the same day I made it--it's so easy to pull off just one more piece!
Pull Apart Cinnamon Bread
Makes 1 loaf

For the dough:
2-3/4 cups flour, plus more if needed
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs

For the filling:
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 Tablespoons milk (more if needed for your desired consistency)

1. In the bowl of your mixer, combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.

2.  In a small saucepan, combine the butter and milk and heat until the butter melts.  Set aside and cool until it reaches 115-120 degrees.

3.  Add the milk mixture, water, vanilla, and eggs to the flour mixture.  Mix on low speed with the dough hook until a dough forms.

4.   Add additional flour 1 Tablespoon at a time, as needed, until the dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl.  Continue kneading bread until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.

5.  Cover the dough and set it aside to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

6.  While the dough is rising, add butter to a small saucepan and melt until browned.  Set aside.

7.  Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Set aside.

8.  When dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface and gently deflate.

9.  Roll dough into a ball, cover with a clean towel, and let it rest for 5 minutes.

10.  Roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 12" by 20".

11.  Brush the dough with the melted butter.  Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar mixture, be sure to use all of it. 

12.  Cut the dough length-wise into 4 long strips. 

13.  Stack those strips on top of each other and cut into 6 equal slices. 

14.  Stack all the slices on top of each other and place in a greased bread pan.

15.  Cover with a clean towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.

16.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown. 

17.  Remove from oven and let the bread rest in the pan for 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the bread to loosen it from the pan and turn it onto a serving plate.

18.  While the bread is resting (step 17), combine powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl to make a thin icing.  Drizzle on top of bread after it has been turned onto the plate.

Source:  Annie's Eats  (Visit the original recipe for step-by-step instructions!)
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