Wednesday, June 24, 2009

guy food part IV

*another non-atrocious recipe from HF! (except don't listen to him when he says to use tapatio or KETCHUP of all things!) I prefer just the beans, the entire package of cream cheese, the monterey jack cheese, and the salsa. That's it.

Okay world, this recipe turns out some freaking awesome bean dip.

WARNING: make sure you have a friend or family member eat this with you, otherwise you won't be able to stop yourself from eating the entire thing. As good as this is going to taste, you don't want to eat the entire thing.

Here's what you need:
1 can of refried beans
Monterrey Jack Cheese
Fresh Salsa
Tapatio hot sauce
1/2 a package of cream cheese
For best results you're going to have to do some prep before you start cooking anything.
First shred the cheese. You want to shred a man sized fist amount of cheese. What's a man sized fist you ask? It's the size of your fist partially open as if it's holding a baseball. That's just one example of how we measure ingredients in the Cro-Magnon's kitchen y'all.
Next, remove the cream cheese from the box but keep it in its foil wrapper and cut it in half. Put the half you're not going to use back in the box and put it in the fridge.
Now you're ready to start cooking stuff. Empty the can of refried beans and it's accompanying juices into a pot.

Add about a finger tip's length of water to the pot. Don't ask me why, just do it.

Now turn up the heat on the stove (medium high) and start mashing the beans up with whatever heat resistant cooking utensil you can find. It's important to keep stirring the beans throughout the entire cooking operation. If you don't, they'll burn and stick to the bottom of the pot and you'll get in trouble with your wife.

Once you get the beans mashed up pretty good, go ahead and dump in that half block of cream cheese (make sure you take it out of the foil first), and mix it in. You may have to mash up the cream cheese as you mix it depending on how soft the cream cheese was when you added it to the beans. Don't worry though, it will start melting pretty fast once you put it in. REMEMBER TO KEEP STIRRING!!!

Once you have the cream cheese melted pretty good and mixed throughout the beans, add the cheese into the mix. KEEP STIRRING.

After the cheese is melted, add 3 heaping spoonfuls of fresh salsa. KEEP STIRRING.

Now that you've got the salsa mixed in good, it's time to add the secret awesome ingredient: Tapatio hot sauce.

Put in as much as you like. If you don't want it hot then don't put in a lot. KEEP STIRRING. Mix it all in until all you see is the creamy light brown of the beans.

When everything is mixed in nice, remove from heat, pour in a bowl, and enjoy!

My bean dip can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Now it's important to note that there are some alternative ingredients for those of you who don't like hot, spicy, picante, etc. bean dip. Instead of fresh salsa you can opt for a mild canned salsa like Pace Picante sauce or whatever generic brand is available. If even that's too spicy for you, go with good old Ketchup. It may sound gross using ketchup but you need that tomato flavoring in there for the end result. I've had it both ways and it's great either way. Lose the Tapatio too if you can't take the heat.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New York cheesecake with lemon curd

HF's very favorite dessert in the whole wide world is cheesecake. It doesn't really matter what kind of cheesecake as long as it is cheesecake. For the last few years we've been lucky to have a friend that makes cheesecakes for a living. She sells them to local restaurants/delis/bakeries and makes pretty good money from it. She knew of HF's love for the cheesecake so whenever she created a new recipe, she would bring us over the entire cheesecake for taste testing. She knew that not only would we happily consume and give her feedback, but we would share our abundance with other friends. I commisioned her for HF's 29th birthday to make a lemon cheesecake and it was spectacular. This is what that one looked like. You can see Luke's 18 month old finger marks on top.

Of course, her recipes are top secret so I will never know what she did to make it so amazing. She's moved now, so we don't have her cheesecakes anymore, but now I'm trying to become a good cheesecake maker. Some of the flavors she made us were dark chocolate, pumpkin with candied praline topping, lemon, "regular", that's all I can think of right now. WOW they were good. Better than The Cheesecake Factory, and better than the NY cheesecakes I tried when I visited NYC.

Now on to HF's 31st birthday cheesecake. I took these pictures in a hurry so we could get to eatin' it. I used this recipe from except I used 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and then 1 cube of unsalted butter. I mixed to crumbs with the cinnamon and then poured in the melted butter. I used a 9-inch springform pan and I only packed the crust on the bottom, not along the sides. I like a thick graham cracker crust.

I wanted to make a lemon cheesecake, but wasn't sure on a good recipe or how to alter one, so I decided to use a lemon topping.

Lemon Curd Topping
2 eggs, beaten 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup butter at room temperature 1 teaspoon lemon rind 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook and stir with a whish over medium heat until the sauce becomes thick and just starts to bubble. Remove from heat. If you dip in a spoon and pull it out, you should be able to make a clear track mark down the middle with your finger without the sides running to fill your finger mark. If that makes any sense. Cool, cover, and chill.

After the cheesecake was done and refrigerated over night, I took the chilled lemon curd and poured it in the middle of the cheesecake. It spread very easily. I refrigerated it until we were ready to eat it. I added fresh strawberries and HF said that it tasted like a strawberry-lemonade topping. It was SO GOOD. I think that the lemon curd made it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

avocado egg rolls

I love these lil babies. I thought about them all week and couldn't wait to make them on Sunday, my "Free" day. I just completed week 2 of Body For Life. Sunday's are my free day. I was not disappointed. A couple of years ago we ate at the California Pizza Kitchen, and we ordered their Avocado Club egg rolls and I loved them. Then I thought, " I could totally make these". So I did. And it's more or less the same I think. And you get a bunch of them instead of like 2 for $10. So ridiculous! After making my version of them, I did some more googling, and found the actual recipe supposedly. It says that it's from the California Pizza Kitchen Family Cookbook, so it must be, right? This is what I did different.

To grill the chicken:
I put a couple Tablespoons of olive oil in an iron skillet on medium heat. Once it was heated, I placed 2 chicken breasts in skillet. I added the juice of 2 limes, 3 garlic cloves minced, and a handful of chopped cilantro. I then added a cup or so of water. This keeps the chicken tender and from burning. When the chicken was almost done, I sliced it into strips and let it blacken in the skillet. It was done when all the water evaporated. Make sure it is no longer pink anywhere in the chicken.

I added the following ingredients to the original recipe from the CPKF cookbook: I doubled the recipe because I made them for dinner- not as an appetizer, and wanted to use all the eggroll wrappers that came in the package. I didn't count, but I think it made around 16-20.

diced purple onion
1-3 more avocados (I like it heavy on the avocado)

I added cilantro in my previous experiment, but didn't need to this time because I grilled the chicken with it. I think next time I'll leave it off the chicken and add it separately. I also just mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl and then placed 2-3 tablespoons in each eggroll. I didn't follow the instructions in the recipe for placement and it wasn't soggy at all. I am not sure how much of a difference it actually would make.

This is just my opinion. The recipe would be fine without my additions, but I would definitely recommend grilling the chicken with lime and garlic or some other complimentary marinade. The ranchito sauce is very, very good and really made the egg roll sublime. We used Tabasco's smoked chipotle sauce.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ice Cream Pie

This is a recipe from a magazine I got a few years ago. I don't remember which one, but I had cut it out. It might be Cook's Illustrated. We just made it for the first time this last weekend. We used to make ice cream pies pretty regularly, but we used Oreo or graham cracker pie crusts. This ice cream pie does not contain your usual graham cracker crust. It is crushed sugar cones. Chopped Oreo cookies were added to the mint chip ice cream. You can customize it by trying a variety of ice cream flavors and chopped cookies to use in this recipe.

For the crust:
12 sugar ice cream cones
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (it must be unsalted. you can really taste the salt!)
2 Tablespoons sugar

For the filling:
2 pints ice cream, softened
2 cups coarsely chopped cookies
2 cups plain or chocolate whipped cream
  1. Make the crumbs: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grind sugar cones in food processor to fine crumbs. (You should have 1 1/3 cups.)
  2. Make Crust: Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar in medium bowl until crumbs are moistened. Press crumb mxture evenly against bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate, compacting it with your fingertips. Bake crust until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely before filling. (Crust can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month.)
  3. Fill pie shell: Place ice cream and cookies in bowl and mash mixture with back of spoon until well combined. Turn ice cream mixture into prepared crust and smooth top with spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until filling is completely frozen, at least 3 hours and up to 1 week.
  4. Cut and garnish: Cut pie into wedges and dollop each piece with whipped cream . Serves 6 to 8.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Man D'oeuvres

*Here's another "atrocity" from HF. Except it's not an atrocity! It's incredibly delicious. I have a recipe for a homemade version here if you don't have a good brand of pepper jelly in your area. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I got it. HF does a variety of things like this with cream cheese and different spreads. Sometimes they are good, sometimes not good. This one is his absolute favorite. It was actually his idea to do this with the cream cheese. I didn't have the recipe at the time so I'm doubly impressed with him. He didn't know that this was something people did.

I bring you: Man D'oeuvres. This is one of those snacks that if you're not careful you'll end up eating the entire entree yourself and then you'll feel like a loser. So make sure you have at least one other person around to share this with. This is incredibly easy to make. Here's what you need:

Crackers: I used Ritz this go around but I also use Triscuits and Wheat thins.

Cream Cheese: Any brand will do

Rose City Pepperheads Jelly: Any flavor will do. I used Apricot with Attitude

  1. Set a block of cream cheese out on a plate and let it get a little soft. Or if you're in a hurry, you can stick it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it.
  2. Next you spoon your favorite flavor of Rose City Pepperheads Jelly on top of the cream cheese.
Now you're done and can start dipping crackers into the spread.

The jelly is what really makes this great. My sister in law introduced me to the Rose City Pepperhead Jelly company a few years ago and I've been hooked ever since. Whenever she visits from Oregon she brings me a few jars and I love her for it. We've even had a box shipped before. It is only sold in Oregon as far as we know. The peppers give this a sweet and picante bite that is immediately cooled a bit by the cream cheese. So those of you who are inexperienced in the way of the pepper won't suffer.

This snack can pull double duty for you. It's great for watching the game and it's equally good for impressing your wife when she's preparing a more formal dinner party. Enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

back to menu planning

I'm starting menu plan monday again. It was working well for me in planning and budgeting and then I stopped. I've been thinking how I want to do our weekly meals and I am basically doing it with the kids in mind. You know, making it fun and/or more interesting. HF and I basically follow the Body for Life program and most of it is kid friendly. Instead of giving them protein bars and shakes though, we give them the snacks from the Eating for Life cookbook. Like string cheese and apples. Sunday is our free day. A day I plan on eating sugar. Lots of it. Supposedly when you are in tip top shape you don't crave it anymore. I'm not so sure about that.

Monday: muffin tin monday (idea here. Love the idea of using a storybook theme. Princess and the Pea and The Hungry Hungry Catepillar)

Tuesday: Pasta

Wednesday: miniature tuesday (normal food just made miniature; hamburgers, sandwiches, meatloaves, quiches, etc.-everything tiny-kind of like muffin tin Monday I guess)

Thursday: Brinner (breakfast for dinner)

Friday: Pizza and movie night

Saturday: Leftovers or crockpot

Sunday: Try a new recipe

Also on Sundays, I prep the entire week's food so that during the week dinner takes moments to prepare instead of hours. This works well for us. MEAL PLANNING IS THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE!