Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Week 19: Black and White - Stripes and Pinwheel Cookies

Vanilla and chocolate sugar cookies fit the bill for this challenge.  I found a picture of these cute stripped cookies and decided to give it a go. 

I made a large batch of sugar cookies.

Next I separated the dough in half and mixed in cocoa powder with half to make it chocolate flavored.  

I rolled out the dough of each flavor.

Then I used a rectangular tupperware to cut out each type so I could stack them.

One recipe I read called for the use of an egg white wash to get the layers to stick together so I applied the egg whites to the choclate and started to peel the vanilla layer in order to apply it on top.  As you can see, there was a major tare when I tried to remove it cause I made the mistake of not flouring my surface enough when I rolled it out.  

I then sliced into columns and stacked them up (egg wash between each layer as I put them together)!

I sliced and baked them! The first batch wasn't totally pretty, but the subsequent batches turned out gorgeous. 

With the scraps of dough that were left, I rerolled it all out and followed the same egg wash proceedure to layer the dough.  Then, instead of the stacking I rolled it all up to make pinwheels.

They turned out so pretty!!! And very tasty too.

Week 19: Less than 5 Ingredients: Kale Chips

Ok, so it isn't a full meal, but this is a snack I've been meaning to make this for a while so this challenge was the perfect opportunity.  Andrew bought a huge bag of kale at Costco so it was time.

I filled a bowl with fresh kale after rinsing and dying the leaves.

I mixed olive oil and salt and pepper (we're up to 4 ingredients now, fyi).

I drizzled the olive oil mixture over the kale and tossed it to coat all the leaves.

I spread the leaves out on a baking sheet and put them in an over heated to 295F.  

After about 20 minutes I stirred up the kale sorta flipping it as much as I could. 

Another 20 minutes or so and they were ready!  They were quite tasty except I kinda over did it on the salt.  Well, lesson learned for next time! 

Week 18: Drink to Dessert - Margarita Cake

My fabulous friend Tyson's birthday is May 4th. His sister's is May 6th.  Every year (almost) they have an epic combined birthday party they call Cuatro Cinco Seis.  Sadly, we missed the party due to our trip to Alabama, but I thought how better to try and make up for our absence except with a margarita cake!

This is a pretty straight forward recipe and it was pretty easy to make.  It has real booze in it and I assume that means it was delicious.  I guess I should confess before I continue that I didn't actually get to eat any of it. I'll explain further as I continue.  I threw all the ingredients in a bowl and mixed it up!

I used a mixture of fresh and bottled lime juice.  I read a really fantastic article in Cooks Illustrated about how when baking fresh lime juice isn't better than the bottled stuff.  Makes me feel way better about not hand squeezing a bunch of limes!

Poured it in a bunt pant and cooked it up! 

While the booze in the cake mix inevitable cooks off, the glaze has plenty tequila and Grand Marnier so it musta been boozy tasting. The reviews of this recipe (all over the internet) are fantastic and every says the cake is a huge hit.  

With the cake still warm I drizzled the glaze all over it and it soaked in nicely.  If I'd had more time or patience I might have decorated it with candied limes or lime zest.  I made this the night before we left for Alabama and I took it straight over to Tyson's house without having the time or energy to invest in decorating it too much.  Plus I was hoping people would eat it when they were three sheets to the wind and they wouldn't care.

I was right.  It was all gone pretty darn quick and the reviews are very positive.  I look forward to having a chance to make this again and actually taste it next time!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Week 18: Salad - Amber's Alabama Salad

I've been away for a bit.  Andrew and I went on a vacation and have since been catching up on all our duties (school, work, house cleaning, laundry... you know the routine). While on our vacation down to Alabama my dear friend Amber showed me how to make one of her favorite salads.  It is a southwest style cupboard emptier.  One of those delicious "what the heck do we have around that needs to be eaten and would be tasty together" type dinners. 

According to Amber the key is really the dressing, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  First we warmed up black beans on the stove. 

We toasted some tortillas in the toaster oven so we could make some crunchy tortilla chips to sprinkle on top. 

We used romaine lettuce and started building our salad from there. Amber loves olives so we couldn't pass up adding those! 

We cut up two chicken breasts we'd grilled the night before  and here you can also see the burnt tortillas.  We cut off the burnt parts and crunched up the rest for sprinkling on top. 

Yellow bell peppers went on top next.

Lots of cilantro, shredded carrots, and the chicken are shown below. 

Now the dressing part.  This is a mixture of about 4 parts Newman's Own Lite Lime and 1 part Ranch.  It really was tasty.  The chicken had a fajita seasoning on it and with the lime dressing and other ingredients it was so flavorful!

We added tomatoes as well. 

Couldn't forget the corn!

Finally, the still warm black beans.

Toss it all and pour on your dressing to taste.

It was a fantastic salad to eat in the warm southern evening.  Of course, it was coupled with a nice cold beer and some of the best company east of the missisip.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Week 17: Layered - P.O.S. Pie

We are trying to lay off the sweets so I made a potato, onion, spinach (POS) pie for the layered challenge. 

I started with garlic to mix with the spinach. 

What I should have started first is the caramelized onions.  I've never made them before and they are easy and delicious, but they do take at least 30 minutes to make.  I also should have made about 3x as much.  They really cook down. 

Once the garlic had browned, I cooked a ton of spinach.  Again, I could have cooked twice as much since it cooks down so much. 

I sliced and boiled potatoes and they were the first layer in my pie.

A few clumps of goat cheese and salt and pepper went down next. 

I over shot on how much potatoes so I added another layer next.

While the onions cooked the spinach cooled.  I added the spinach next...

then more goat cheese.

Here are the onions almost fully caramelized.

I added those on top and got ready to top it all off. 

I used puff pastry rather than pie dough and it cooked up fluffy and wonderful.

I put a heart on top since I love to cook and I love my life!

The layers were visible and it was quite tasty.  I should have added more flavorful ingredients.  It was a little bland overall.  More caramelized onions, more seasoning on the potatoes, and perhaps some more complexity with an additional cheese (Parmesan?) would have done the trick.