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Wednesday
Apr132011

Pull-apart cheesy onion bread

This is Week #15 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I'm not gonna lie. This challenge has been, well, challenging at times. (What did I expect, right?) Not only have I have stretched myself in terms of what I am comfortable creating in the kitchen, but it has also been challenging because of the weekly deadlines. I committed to posting a new recipe from this cookbook every Wednesday and I will absolutely fulfill that committment. Some weeks, though, life makes it a little more difficult to get that task accomplished. Especially when I have three other things I just have to make. This past week was one of those weeks. I hit rock bottom emotionally (goodness, I hope that was rock bottom) while dealing (or not dealing) with my son's upcoming surgery. I have been a bit of a mess, to put it delicately. I have made some positive changes since that point and I hope that things only get better from here.

So, strangely, this bread has special meaning. I put it together while my lowest low point was brewing inside of me. I'd like to think that its comfort (the smell, the taste) helped me to turn things around. Don't underestimate the power of food!

This is the most unique and tasty bread I have ever made. When it was finished, I saw it as a delicious work of art!

Assuming you are going to want to get started right away, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a metal loaf pan (9x4ish).

In a large skillet, melt 1/2 stick of butter, while reserving 2 tablespoons for later.

Add to the skillet:

1 large onion, chopped

Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it is softened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in:

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Salt & pepper, to taste

Scrape the onion mixture onto a plate and refrigerate for 5 minutes, or until it is slightly cooled.

Place the mixture into a bowl and stir in:

3 oz. (1 cup) Gruyere cheese, coarsely shredded

Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the following ingredients until combined:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Add 1 stick of cubed butter to the combined mixture.

Pulse until the butter cubes are the size of small peas.

Add:

1 cup buttermilk

Pulse 5 or 6 times, or just until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Pat or roll the dough into a 2x24-inch rectangle. Spread the onion mixture on top of the bread.

Cut the dough crosswise into 10 equal pieces.

Stack 9 pieces onion side up and the tenth piece onion side down. This is where I started feeling like I was back in my college sculpture class, praying my creation would hold together.

Carefully, very very carefully, lay the stack in the prepared loaf pan and brush the top with the 2 tablespoons of reserved butter.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until it is golden and risen. Let the bread cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding and serving. 

Thank you, cheesy onion bread, for providing a bit of comfort to this sad and weary mama. Here's to a better week ahead.. 

Click here for a printable recipe!

Sunday
Apr102011

Cookbook winner giveaway announced!

Random.org chose comment number 17 as the winner of our giveaway, so congratulations, Megan! Please send me your mailing address and I will get a copy of Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living Magazine in the mail to you (use the Contact button on the top bar)!

Thank you so much to all who entered! Another cookbook giveaway coming soon!

Saturday
Apr092011

Beef mushroom avocado tacos

Excluding last year (due to my being on bedrest), my husband and I have thrown a Cinco de Mayo party at our house every spring. We plan to resume our tradition this year. Want to come over for a CdM fiesta?

Cinco de Mayo happens during the most perfect time of the year, in my opinion. Spring has officially sprung by then (most years) here in Minnesota, and everyone is in the mood for margaritas, Mexican food and mingling. Is there anything better than those three things put together? Add to it JUST SURVIVED TERRIBLE, HIDEOUS WINTER and it's a glorious scenario!

To get into the Mexican-springtime-celebrating spirit, I donned my sombrero and put together this delicious taco recipe that I adapted from a friend's recipe. It's a unique version of the standard taco and my husband and I found it to be delightful. Sadly, we did not simultaneously consume margaritas. What were we thinking?

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add:

1 pound ground beef (we used venison)

1/2 of an onion, chopped (reserve the other 1/2 for later)

3 jalapeno peppers, minced (deseed and/or use fewer peppers for a less spicy result)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook over medium heat until the meat is browned and the onion is softened, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, reserving the skillet.

In a separate bowl, combine:

Remaining 1/2 onion, chopped

2 avocados, cubed

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

Taste. Mmmmm.

In the reserved skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.

Add:

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Stir into the beef mixture and cover to keep warm.

Wipe out the skillet. Over medium heat, toast 8 tortillas, one at a time, for 1 minute on each side.

Stuff the tortillas with equal amounts of the beef-avocado-mushroom mixture. Serve immediately to hungry person(s)!

Or just come on over to our house on May 5th!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Apr062011

Creamy green chile and avocado sauce

This is Week #14 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

I need to make more sauces, I've decided. I've fallen madly in love with pesto over the past year, and I've prepared a few delicious sauces to accompany pork. I want to explore more, though. Sauces, like salsas, are incredibly versatile. I love being creative and combining two foods that don't sound like they would taste good together, but actually do.

My husband and I made this green chile-avocado sauce and served it with chicken a few nights ago. It was a great match! Very fresh, flavorful and pretty. When I make it again I'll add more spice, but that's my own issue. In my opinion, everything should have more spice.

Thread onto four skewers:

1 firm Hass avocado, quartered, pitted and skin left on for grilling; peel before processing

1 small onion, quartered

2 tomatillos, husked, cored and halved

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered (next time I'll use 2-3)

1 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded and quartered

Brush with olive oil and grill over high heat, turning occasionally, until the vegetables are charred in spots, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Remove ingredients from skewers and transfer to a food processor. Don't forget to remove the peels from the avocados!

Add:

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Process until smooth and season with salt.

Serve with grilled chicken. Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 2 days. Delish! Grilling season is finally here!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Monday
Apr042011

Shrimp tomato and basil pasta and a GIVEAWAY

I received the call last week that I had been waiting for, but dreading. It was the call that determined a date for something that I never want to happen. On June 10th, 2011, my 4-year-old son will have his third open heart surgery. I'm still dealing with the trauma and emotions from his second open heart surgery that took place three years ago. Will we all still be in one piece after experiencing this again?

It is such a very strange thing to have something of this nature on your calendar. Amidst birthdays and dentist appointments sits, "Elijah OHS #3," like it's the most normal thing in the world. I stared at the words on my calendar and knew I had to get out of my office. Crying at work = not fun times. I started driving, with no destination in mind, shedding a few tears into my lap. Then I had the thought that I sometimes have when I'm feeling sad about something. Do something nice for someone. This often helps to lift my spirits. A few minutes later I found myself at Barnes & Noble, purchasing a favorite cookbook. Not for myself, but for YOU. Well, one of you!

So. If you would like to win a copy of Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living Magazine, here's what you need to do!

Subscribe to this blog via RSS feed or friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Leave a comment stating which one you did. If you do all three, comment three separate times to be considered for three separate votes.

Check back on April 10th to see if a cookbook will be heading toward your mailbox! I will draw one winner randomly at 6:00 a.m. on the 10th, and I'll put the cookbook in the mail for that person on April 11th.

Good luck!

The recipes in this cookbook are great. They are simple and easy, and this suits my lifestyle so well. I got this particular linguine recipe out of the cookbook and oh my goodness, it is fantastic! It is a simple yet flavorful meal.

Start by seasoning 1 1/2 pounds of medium, peeled and deveined shrimp (tails removed) with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat 4 teaspoons of olive oil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until opaque throughout, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

To the same skillet, add:

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add:

A 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes (plus juice)

2 cups water

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and are saucy, about 15 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in:

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add the tomato sauce, shrimp and basil and season with salt and pepper. Toss. Serve immediately, and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

I brought this deliciousness with me to work for the following two days after making it and beginning at 9:30 each morning, I could not wait to eat lunch.

Heart surgery, however, I can most definitely wait for.

Click here for a printable recipe!