Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Cheese BLT Macaroni

I was recently invited to come in to Noodles & Company to try out their Mac and Cheese dishes that they had brought back to their menu. I almost said no. I have hated Macaroni and Cheese for as long as I can remember.  Even when people try to make it fancy, there's just something about it that I don't like. But I figured the kids would probably like it so I told them we'd give it a go.

I was honestly pleasantly surprised at how good it was. It was a fun easy dinner and the kids loved it all. I have to say though, what made it memorable was the local manager, Kari. She treated us like royalty and brought us enough food and cookies to last a week. She wasn't just doing it for us either. I watched her the whole time we were there and she was visiting tables almost the whole time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gingerbread Truffles

Looking for a great homemade gift to wrap up and give to friends and family? Or do you need something fun and different to bring to your work Christmas party? These truffles are amazing and the flavor is perfect for this time of year. The inside of the truffle has chewy candied ginger in them and the cream has been steeped with ginger, allspice and fresh cloves so it has the perfect holiday spice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roasted Venison

Last week some friends of ours gave us a venison roast. I've never cooked with venison before so I wanted to make sure I did it right but wasn't sure what "right" was. The only venison I had before this was some venison jerky and it was kind of gross. I  had heard that the taste of the meat is really determined by the way that the meat is handled and processed and I'm assuming the venison I had before was probably not from the best source. I knew that our friend had the meat processed properly and the roast looked pretty amazing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hot Cocoa and Homemade Marshmallows

It's December and it's time to start hunkering down for the winter. It's been unseasonably nice here in Minnesota this year which we have thoroughly enjoyed but it's only a matter of time until the snow comes in all its vengeance.

Since we don't drink coffee, we tend to be pretty particular about our hot chocolate. My wife keeps the good stuff up on the higher shelves and lets the kids drink the cheap stuff. We were out of eveything a few weeks ago so I took it upon myself to create some of our own. It's become a favorite now and although it's more expensive because it uses milk instead of water, it's well worth it. Rich and creamy, it has deep flavor and is perfect for sipping on those cold winter days.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Taquitos

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday! I can't wait to tell you about my Willie Bird Turkey that I won from Williams-Sonoma but you'll have to wait just a bit longer for that post.

It's been a few days since the holiday, do you have some turkey around still? Tried to get rid of it and there's still some sitting in the fridge? I've got a fun dish for you that's just different enough that you won't even know it's leftovers. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce and Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise

Well this is going to be my final post in my Thanksgiving prep series and you are in for a treat! I am now working with a great group of food bloggers called "Virtual Potluck". We came together after working together on the Emeril Lagasse book review and we've got some great things in store. Today we are throwing a Thanksgiving Potluck and you're all invited!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wild Rice Stuffed Peppers

I'll be the first to admit that I don't make the healthiest choices when I'm eating or cooking. I've always simply eaten what I've wanted and never had to deal with any really adverse effects. I love to eat good food and the thought of any kind of diet makes me cringe. Unfortunately though,  if I want to keep my good health I need to start making better choices. I recently had my cholesterol tested and although I knew it was high from tests in years past, it's gotten worse. My doctor has given me some time to see if I can lower it naturally before having to go on medication. So, while I still don't think I can follow any kind of strict diet, I'm going to start consciously trying to make better decisions in the food I eat. And now that I've said it here, you can help keep me accountable.

Spiced Cider Donuts

I'm going to throw these doughnuts in the middle of my Thanksgiving series, well because they're pretty amazing and I wanted to post them before I forgot about them. As most people know, I usually only make yeast based donuts and I make a lot of them. There's just not much that can compare with the light, airy goodness of a yeast donut. These Spiced Cider Donuts will be a close second though.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jalapeno, Sage and Orange Roasted Turkey

Are you ready for the main course? I'm not done with my Thanksgiving series quite yet but I know that people are starting to research how they want to cook their bird this year so I thought I better get this out there.

Last year, I researched a lot about cooking turkey and I ended up merging three different recipes and methods from some of my favorite people; Alton Brown, Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay. I'm sure if they ever got in a room together they would have come up with this on their own, but I went ahead and did it for them anyway. The end result is a turkey that's brined and then cooked with an herb rub that not only flavors the meat but makes some of the best gravy I have ever had. I've made it three times now and each time it's juicy and flavorful and just different enough to be fun and give people something different to try.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Butternut Squash Galette

This is the third in my series leading up to Thanksgiving, providing some fun and different recipes to make your holiday even more special. We've got our soup and dessert down, so how about an appetizer?

Appetizer's are key if you're throwing a big dinner. If you're cooking all day, you may be grabbing bites here and there but you need to make sure the family has some snacks to keep them from starving before the big meal. Throw out some bowls with nuts and then you can create a few hand held bites that you can put out on plates throughout the day.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

This is the second in my Thanksgiving prep series, providing you some fun new recipes for the upcoming holidays. Today, we're going straight from soup course all the way to dessert. Hey, I never said I was going to go in order.

Pumpkin Pi
I love pumpkin pie, although it usually is best with equal amounts of fresh whipped cream. Most traditional pumpkin pie recipes are made with a mixture of spices and evaporated milk. In this version, sugar and water are cooked together until it becomes a deep amber color and is then mixed with cream to make a smooth creamy caramel. The caramel is then mixed with spices and pumpkin puree and cooked together in the crust of your choice. It's not dramatically different from your traditional pie, but I absolutely love the hints of caramel throughout the pie.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Soup with Red Pepper Mousse

For the next couple weeks I'm going to start putting some recipes out here to help you prepare for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. I love traditional holiday foods with a bit of a twist so I'll try and find some fun things for you to include in your upcoming menu's.

Last week I picked up a few pumpkins at the farmer's market and Ive been trying to find some new ways to use it. I did make a pumpkin pie using fresh purée but it was made with a homemade caramel mixed into the pumpkin before cooking it which was pretty cool. I don't think I've ever made a pumpkin soup, so this was my excuse to research and find a good one to try out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coca-Cola Cupcakes

Although I like cupcakes, I never really jumped on the whole cupcake craze bandwagon. To be honest, I can't even remember the last time I even made some. The thing is, they are so easy to make and they make a pretty fun dessert, so I'm not sure why I don't make them more often.

I'm not sure how I originally saw this recipe but it looked pretty good and after looking at a few others I decided to give it a go. I was intrigued to see what effect both in flavor and texture that the coke would have on the cupcakes. The flavor was definitely present but not overly so. There's only a small amount of chocolate in these and I think if I made them again I would increase it even more, although that might make mask the coke flavor a little more. They were super moist and I think with a little more chocolate they would be just about perfect.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples

Imagine taking ground pork, wrapping a pork loin around it and then wrapping more pork around that.  If you've seen the October cover of Bon Appetit, you've already seen this trifecta of pork and if you're willing to put in a few hours of work, you can experience the amazing dinner that we just finished up for yourself.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Peach Pie Two Ways~ Vanilla Cardamom and Caramel

Well, my Emeril streak is over and it's time to move on to my regular schedule, which is certainly not three posts a week. It was a lot of fun but cooking, photographing and posting that much is just a little too much for me to keep up with.

I made these pies a few weeks ago, so I wanted to get this post out before it was impossible to get fresh peaches anymore this season. Although, truthfully I really actually prefer canned peaches when I make pies most of the time. Is that sacrilegious? They just hold up better when cooked and I just love fresh peaches, well, fresh.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Seared Scallops

I've got an interesting past with scallops. I love almost any type of seafood but for years I thought that scallops were the exception. I had scallops once ( I can't even remember where now) and they were the most disgusting, rubbery thing I had ever tried. For years I avoided them, blindly assuming that all scallops were the same. Then I was brave and at a nicer restaurant I gave them one more chance. They were divine. Perfectly seared, almost creamy in the middle, and I was in love. I've had them many times since but they are one meal I've never attempted at home. Until now.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Leek and Bacon Quiche in a Potato Crust

This Emeril Blogger Party is winding down but it's not over yet! After this post I'll have one more dish to share. I'm making it tomorrow and it's something that I've never tried cooking before! Stay tuned.

One of my favorite things to make is quiche. There are so many variations and they pretty much always turn out delicious. I've never quite made it like Emeril though. Instead of the pastry crust that I typically use, this recipe has you grate potato's, mix them together with some egg and spices and then press it into the bottom of a spring form pan. It's partially baked before the rest of the filling is added.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Chicken Pot Pie with A Biscuit Top

I got to talk to Emeril! Yeah, Emeril Lagasse himself. He was doing a radio show on XM to promote his Sizzling Skillets Cookbook and I called in and got to tell him about some of the dishes I've been making the past two weeks. It was pretty cool. So of course I had to come home and make something new from Sizzling Skillets!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Cheese Enchiladas with a Smoky Red Chile Sauce

This is the 7th post now in this Blogger Party celebrating the release of Emeril Lagasse's new cookbook Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, which is available TODAY! You can get your copy today or keep reading below to find out how to win your own copy.

I've had the book in my hands now for just over two weeks, but if I showed it to you today, you'd think it's a copy I've had for years. Pages are bent down, stained pages abound and the spine is well worn. I can honestly say I haven't been disappointed yet and we've eaten quite well over the last two weeks. The variety of dishes will keep you going and you'll be surprised every time that you're cooking out of the same book.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Tempura Fish and Chips

It's Saturday and I need to post my third installment for the Emeril blogging Party but it was going to be a busy day. Soccer for the kids, birthday parties and then volunteering at a cooking class that night. That meant little time to get a dish made and get a post up about it. So I went for a dish that could fit quickly into our schedule and would still be a hit for the whole family.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Pulled Pork Sandwich and Vinegar Coleslaw

I'm a sucker for good pig. Ever since I had some amazing pork a few weeks ago at a Food Blogger event, I have been wanting to make some more for myself. Then I saw some pork shoulder on sale and it was a go. We got two extremely large Pork Butt roasts so I've now made pulled pork twice in the last three weeks. Pulled Pork is a great way to make a ton of food for a lot of people for not a lot of money. It takes a fairly cheap cut of meat, slow roasts it and turns it into a juicy, succulent meat perfect for piling up on a bun, topping with coleslaw and enjoying with friends and family.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Baked Eggs with Corned Beef Hash

We are definitely a breakfast for dinner kind of family. Of course, we have our Pancake Wednesday tradition but there are often multiple nights a week that we'll have scrambled eggs or other breakfast related dishes for our family dinner. For my next Emeril dish I actually let a friend flip through the book and choose a recipe that he thought I should make. He ended up choosing the Baked Eggs and Corned Beef Hash, and I have to admit I was a little disappointed at first. It just seemed too simple. Could it really be that good?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Blogger Party: Banh Xeo - Vietnamese Crepe

One of the things we picked up from our time living in New Orleans was a love for Thai and Vietnamese food. Never would have expected to find it there, but they've got quite a large community and it shows in the quality of food that you can get in the general area. Another place I wouldn't have expected to find a good Vietnamese recipe would be in a cookbook from Emeril Lagasse. But it was there, and it was a pretty big hit. Banh Xeo is a dish I've never tried in a restaurant so I can't vouch for its authenticity but it's certainly one I'll be making again and I would definitely order it off any menu.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Emeril's One Pot Blogger Party - BLT Risotto

This Blogger party is starting to rock! If you want to follow along with some of the other bloggers participating in the review of Emeril Lagasse's new cookbook "Sizzling Skillets and other One-Pot Wonders", check them out here. The Lasagna I made on Sunday has made for some great lunches the last couple of days but alas the party must go on and the second dish I chose to make was a "BLT" Risotto.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Emeril's One Pot Blogger Party - Butternut Squash Lasagna

Starting today, I am participating with 19 other bloggers around the country in reviewing Emeril Lagasse's new cook book Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders. For the next three weeks we'll be cooking through his new book working up to its release on September 27th. We'll be cooking through at least nine recipes, talking technique and  playing with some pretty fun ingredients. And I'll even be giving away a copy of the book! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

I'm really not on a mission to come up with obscure ice cream flavors, really, I promise. They are just presented to me and I have an obligation to make sure they are known to the world. This year we took the family to the Minnesota State Fair. On a Saturday. The first Saturday of the Fair. Not the best idea. I don't usually mind big crowds of people, and it wasn't so much a people issue, it was just that there were SO many people. Throw in a double wide stroller and it took us almost 45 minutes to meet up with some friends just down the main street. We honestly didn't get anything done in the 4.5 hours that we were there except the farmhands activity for the kids, grabbed some food and watched a few minutes of a dog show. For someone who likes to spend his time efficiently, I left somewhat frustrated. The only saving grace was the ice cream. One bowl shared between the family. It was Sweet Corn Ice Cream and I've been dreaming of it since we left.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kitchen In The Market

Located in the corner of the always bustling Midtown Global Market is the amazing, multifunctional Kitchen in the Market. I would best describe it as a cross between a cooking school and a commercial kitchen, where chefs and students intermingle creating a unique culinary experience for all involved. I've only been to the market a few times and wasn't very familiar with KITM but I knew Molly, one of the owners, from a few of the MN Food Blogger events. So when they sent a message a few weeks ago requesting some volunteers for their upcoming cooking courses, I jumped at the chance to get to know them better. And of course, I signed my wife up too. She's always jealous when I go to fun food events and I thought this would be something fun we could to together.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blackberry and Raspberry Pie Bars

A few weeks ago I attended another Minnesota Food Bloggers event where we had a bake off featuring bar recipes from many of the bloggers that attended. I was busy that evening so mine was more of a drop off entry, and I didn't even get to taste the other bars that were there! They all looked amazing though, and although mine didn't win, I thought they were pretty darn good.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Potato Gratin with Bacon and Thyme

I'm not a big casserole fan in general but every once in awhile there's one that looks really good to me. I think my dislike stems from one too many concoctions at church events that include just a little too much cream of mushroom and a lack of just about anything resembling flavor. The sad thing is that it's not very hard to make a good gratin with simple ingredients that tastes amazing and makes a great simple meal.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lime and Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie

One of the things I miss most about Seattle summers is being able to walk into our backyard or along any street and pick bucketfuls of the most beautiful blackberries you have ever seen. My memories of the scratches received while digging through the branches have faded somewhat but I can vividly remember the cobblers, pies and jams that we made each year. Now I have to hope Costco gets a good batch of decent berries and then pay an arm and a leg for a little container of them. For that reason I really don't use them much for anything.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mushroom Foraging

Last week, I brought another group of friends to visit Adam Vickerman at Cafe Levain. He had sent me a message earlier in the week saying he had received some fresh chanterelle mushrooms and I was excited to see what he was going to do with them. He used them in a few of the seven courses that he served to us and I was in love. Chanterelles are typically a beautiful orange or yellow color, have a slightly fruity smell and have a fairly rich flavor. Chanterelles of this quality can retail for as much as $50/lb.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Zucchini Cornbread

Since my last post utilized the beautiful squash blossoms, I knew the zucchini wasn't far behind. See, right now it's the time of year that people are still excited about zucchini. Soon people will be trying to get rid of the stuff and using all kinds of recipes to try and use it all up.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Squash Blossoms

A month or so ago, a family friend came back from a trip to Rome and sent me an email about some of the amazing food she had experienced while there. One dish she described was a squash blossom that was stuffed with cheese and then fried. It sounded pretty good and I made a note to look into it some more. Then last week I was out in our garden and when I saw these beauties below, I was reminded of her message and knew I had to try it out.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cafe Levain with California Olive Ranch

Where does your Olive Oil come from? Well, on July 6th at Cafe Levain, our Olive Oil came directly from California. Chef Adam Vickerman and the California Olive Ranch partnered to prepare a fantastic meal that highlighted the skillful talent of Adam and the fresh, refined taste of olive oil from California Olive Ranch.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bacon Ice Cream

We just had one of the most beautiful 4th of July weekends that I can ever remember. Having grown up in Seattle, there weren't many years that the holiday wasn't spent in the rain. While we usually still enjoyed the holiday, there's just nothing like spending the weekend at the beach, grilling and enjoying the beautiful outdoors. That also means that our ice cream maker is making up for its long winter in the cupboard. I love experimenting with flavors but I was never expecting the challenge I received from my mom. A month or so ago I received an email from my Mom daring me to make an attached Bacon Ice Cream recipe. I'm never one to pass up a good challenge, and so my love affair with Bacon Ice Cream was born.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tour de Farm Minneapolis

Last year when I visited my parents in Connecticut, one of the restaurants we ate at was participating in a Farm to Table event where they went to area farms and put on a dinner featuring the local produce and helping increase awareness of local farms. I was intrigued by it and was disappointed that the event was happening after I left. Then a month or so ago, The Corner Table, one of the restaurants I had visited with the Minnesota Food Bloggers sent out a request for volunteers to help with their Tour de Farm events. I knew I wanted to help out and arranged to take a day off work to go and participate.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dinner In The Garden ~ A Summer Dinner Party

In true Minnesota summer fashion, it drizzled almost all day long. It was the day of our Dinner party and normally it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but this dinner party was planned to be outside, to celebrate summer, or what was supposed to be our summer. Then it broke. No more rain, a warm evening with just a light breeze. No bugs in sight and then the sun even broke out of the clouds and poured over our beautiful garden, providing the perfect evening to sit on the patio, surrounded by lush greenery and celebrate the fresh foods of the season.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blog Anniversary, Ribs and a Tribute to Dad


I can't believe I've been doing this for a year now. A year ago today I began my food blogging journey and here I am today; 73 posts later, countless recipes, exciting food events and many new friends along the way. Above all, a little clearer vision and a hope that I'll still be enjoying this for many years to come.

In my first post last year I paid tribute to two of my culinary inspirations, my Mom and my Grandma. Today, coming off a great Father's Day weekend, I think it's appropriate to pay tribute to another inspiration, in the kitchen as well as life; My Dad.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Butternut Squash, Rosemary and Parmesan Risotto

Risotto is my ultimate comfort food. I love the process of cooking it and then it is simply an amazing dish to eat. Risotto is typically made with Arborio rice, which as it cooks becomes rich and creamy but still keeps a nice bite to it. I love cooking risotto because it takes some time to cook it but it's not overly complicated and just gives me some time to enjoy the process and watch the dish come together.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

I never had Red Velvet cake until after I was married which basically means I lost 22 years of eating the best cake in the world. This cake shows up for pretty much every birthday in my wife's family so I got my fair share in pretty short time. I'm typically not a huge cake fan, so if I'm I'm going to eat cake, it had better be good. This Red Velvet is about the only cake I truly look forward to eating. It's light, fluffy and moist with a light chocolate flavor and the frosting is what really sets it apart. It's roux based, meaning it's made from a flour and milk mixture that is cooked first and then whipped into the rest of the frosting. The result is a velvety smooth creme with a flavor that is unlike anything I've ever had before.

Friday, June 3, 2011

DOLE Banana Night at Caribe Bistro and Pique Recipe

Are there more to banana's than breakfast and lunch? DOLE is on a nationwide tour to prove that there is. On May 26th I was invited to participate in a dinner put on by DOLE, Caribe Bistro and Food Blogger Shaina from Food For My Family.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Northwest Cherry Dutch Oven Stew

Each year our church does a Father and Sons camp out where we get to spend some time with just the boys. We typically cook our own dinner but it kind of ends up being a potluck where everyone shares whatever they brought. Of course there are the usual hotdogs and such but the last few years we've tried to do a few different things with our dutch oven. Last year my Father in Law was in town from Seattle and they suggested this Northwest Cherry Stew recipe that they had done a few times. We tried it out and and it was a huge hit with everyone.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Strawberry and Pastry Cream Tart

Last week we had a get together with some of our friends that like to cook where we each brought some of our "specialties" and spent an evening together with some pretty amazing food. Kids were involved too so we tried to get them fed and then banished to destroy the basement play room before we sat down and enjoyed some amazing appetizers and grilled meats. There was enough food for at least twice as many people so there was no excuse for anyone to go hungry. I was assigned the dessert but honestly I'm getting a little desserted out. I'm sure that's a real word right? And as soon as I wrote that, I almost deleted it. It's not that I don't want to eat dessert, just not make it again for awhile. At least for a day or two.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

We moved to Mandeville, Louisiana (just outside of New Orleans) just a day before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. We were there for just a year but the experiences we had in helping to rebuild, the friendships we made and of course the food, will always be a part of us. So this month when the Daring Cooks announced the challenge was Gumbo, I was pretty excited. I had some great gumbo while we were in New Orleans but I've never tried to make it myself.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fruit Pizza

For Mother's Day, my wife requested fresh fruit. Lot's of it. So we had crepes filled with strawberries and blueberries for breakfast and flank steak with grilled pineapple for dinner. Then for dessert we had the beauty pictured above; Fruit Pizza.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Deep-Fried Poached Eggs with Creamed Spinach and Crispy Prosciutto

Somehow I've made it through all these years of cooking with never making a poached egg. Not sure exactly how it happened. I've only begun to like runny eggs in the last few years so that's probably part of it. I've always love fried eggs but when I made them myself I would cook them all the way through and in a restaurant I'd also ensure that they knew I wanted no runny yoke. Now I love to have that yoke running over a piece of toast, and yet still never a poached egg. Until tonight that is. And now I'm in love.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oatmeal Lace Cookie Bowls with Maple Mousse

This is my second month participating in the Daring Bakers, a monthly baking challenge and I guess I'm not in the swing of things quite yet. I knew about the challenge, thought a lot about it and was planning on completing it this weekend because I thought it was due next week. Then I go check out the website tonight and realize that it's due: TODAY! and it's already after 8:00pm. Do I give up? No. So here is my response to the challenge to create a Maple Mousse and an edible container.