Friday, February 26, 2010

Steakhouse Steaks

Sometime last year I saw Ina Garten making what she called a "steakhouse meal" and it looked absolutely incredible.  She made onion rings, sauteed mushrooms and filets; everything about that entire episode had me drooling.  I always love a good steak, but when you go out to a restaurant sometimes you're left still craving that good steak you went there to get.  I had a feeling this meal wouldn't leave me wishing or wanting for anything, other than more, and boy was I right.  Spencer and I spent the evening in the kitchen cooking this meal together, we had so much fun, and the end product was amazing.  The steaks were cooked to perfection; they were tender and juicy and I have never had a better tasting steak.  To top the steak she made a Roquefort chive sauce, and that was pure heaven in my mouth.  The sauce added a lot of flavor to the steak, and in my opinion, it complimented it perfectly.  We enjoyed these steaks so much when we made them last year, we decided that they would also make the perfect Valentine's meal this year! 

I don't know why I waited so long to make them again but I was hoped that our expectations wouldn't leave us wanting more once we had this meal again.  These steaks turned out just as good, if not better, than they did the first time.  They were just as tender and juicy as we remembered and it was a perfect selection for our Valentine's meal.  It is a really simple recipe that really makes a great meal.  I love the minimal amount of seasoning that is used on the steak, it doesn't cover up the natural flavor of the steak but just accentuates it.  These steaks would be just as good without the sauce as they are with it; but I will always opt for the sauce just because it is so good!

Steakhouse Steaks


2 (10 oz) filet mignon

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp fleur de sel (I used Kosher salt)

1 Tbsp coarsely cracked black peppercorns

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, optional

Roquefort chive sauce, recipe below


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat, around 5 to 7 minutes. 

Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel, brush them lightly with the vegetable oil.  Combine the salt and pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture. 

Once the skillet is ready, sear steaks evenly on all sides, about two minutes on each side, for a total of 10 minutes.

Top each steak with butter, if using, and place the skillet in the oven.  Cooks steaks to desired wellness; 120 degrees for rare, 125 for medium-rare in an instant read thermometer.

Once steaks are done, remove to a serving platter and cover tightly with foil and allow them to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Serve hot with Roquefort chive sauce.

Roquefort Chive Sauce


1 1/2 Cups heavy cream

2 oz French Roquefort cheese, crumbled

1/2 Tsp Kosher salt

1/4 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives


In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a boil.  Cook at a low boil, occasionally stirring, until the mixture has become thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat, add the cheese, salt, pepper and chives and whisk rapidly until the cheese melts.

Recipe Source: Food Network ,Barefoot Contessa

Hot Buttered Rum Pancakes

 There were many different recipes that went through my mind when I was deciding what to make for our Valentine's Day breakfast; I thought about something hearty, then something sweet, then savory and the options were definitely endless but I finally decided on something sweet...since it was for Valentine's day!  These pancakes were absolutely incredible; they were light and fluffy and the perfect breakfast to start out such a wonderful day.  To top these wonderful pancakes I used whipped cream and a few chocolate chips, we usually wouldn't top them with the extras like we did but since it was a special occasion we splurged.  The pancakes themselves had a great flavor, the hint of cloves was awesome!  This recipe definitely didn't dissapoint and I'm sure we will be having them many more times!  These would be soemthing fun to make for a weekend breakfast, and with the cloves added to the batter it makes them feel like a special occasion meal!

Hot Buttered Rum Pancakes


1 1/3 Cups flour

2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/4 Tsp ground cloves

Salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)

2 Eggs

1 Cup milk

1/4 (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled

1 Tbsp dark rum, or 1 tsp rum extract

1 Tsp vanilla extract


In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cloves and salt.  Mix well and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then add milk, butter, rum and vanilla and whisk together.  Add to the flour mixture and mix until smooth. 

Ladle onto an oiled medium-hot griddle.  Cook until bubbles appear and being to pop.  Turn and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer or until golden brown. 

Serve with additional melted butter.  Also, 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips if desired and serve with whipped cream.

Recipe source: Beach Appetit by the Junior League of the Emerald Coast

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Country French Omelet

There are quite a few people on Food Network that I enjoy watching and one of them is Barefoot Contessa.  Anytime I see that her show is on I have to see what she's making, everything she makes looks incredible and so delicious.  She really just has a way of drawing people in and making them want to go in the kitchen and cook along with her, at least that is the affect she has on me!  She is so calm and seems so down to earth and that makes her so enjoyable to watch.  She has so much knowledge and so many experiences from her travels and she wants to share them with everyone, and she does that all through her cooking.   I always learn something from her, no matter what it is she is cooking, but when she started doing the "Back to Basics" series I was intrigued because she was cooking with ingredients that most everyone has in their home at all times.  To me it seems like she wants to people to have the passion and joy for cooking she does so she has dedicated this series to cooking with everyday ingredients but pairs them in a way to make exceptional meals that appeals to everyone. 

When Barefoot Contessa started her  "Back to Basics" series she also introduced a cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics", to go along with her show.  When I saw this cookbook I knew I wanted it, I had seen her cook too many good things from it to not have it in my collection and I had also read where it was full of tips and pointers to get the best out of every ingredient used.  For my birthday last year, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got this for me and I was so excited, but I was pregnant and still in the early stages of my pregnancy so cooking wasn't really that appealing to me.  Although I couldn't really stomach cooking at the time I got it, I read through it and found tons of recipes I couldn't wait to make. 

The Country French Omelet was the first recipe I made from this cookbook, and I have to say it was very good.  Spencer could have eaten the entire thing himself, so if you have a big eater in your house you may want to make them their own, or have something else to serve along with it.  I add a couple of things to this omelet but it would be just as delicious if it were made without my additions.  This was so good and now I can't wait to make my next recipe from this cookbook!


Country French Omelet


1 Tbsp good olive oil

3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 Cup unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

5 Extra large eggs

3 Tbsp milk

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 Tbsp fresh chopped chives

1/2 Small onion, diced

1/4 Cup cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof omelet pan over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook, once fat begins to appear translucent add onions.  Let cook until bacon becomes crisp and onions are tender.  Remove onions and bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Leave bacon grease in pan.

Place the potatoes in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, until very tender and browned, tossing occasionally to brown evenly.  Remove with a slotted spoon to the same plate with the bacon.

Meanwhile, in a medium bow, beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together with a fork.  AFter the potatoes are cooked remove from the pan.  Pour the fat out of the pan and discard.  Add the butter, lower the heat to low, and pour the eggs into the hot pan.  Sprinkle the bacon, potatoes and chives evenly over the eggs and put in oven  for about 8 minutes, just until eggs are set.  Sprinkle cheese over the top right when it's removed from the oven.  Slide onto a plate and cut in half, serve while hot.

Recipe Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics


Friday, February 19, 2010

Our Valentines Meal

We always get into the spirit of Valentine's Day and love to celebrate it but one thing that we really don't enjoy is dodging tons of people in an overcrowded and loud restaurant when we're trying to have a nice, romantic meal that most of the time ends up being just okay.  On top of dealing with the chaos of the crowded restaurant we usually end up saying we could have cooked a better meal at home for a lot less.   Last year we decided to stay away from the hectic restaurant scene; we spent the day doing different things we both enjoyed and then spent the evening together in the kitchen making an awesome meal!  We had so much fun that we decided to stay in again this year.  

 Our day started out with breakfast of hot buttered rum pancakes.  They were very good, and I was so pleased with them.  It wasn't a very complicated dish but it definitely hit the spot and it's one of those that is super easy to put together.  Since we had a late breakfast we didn't have lunch, so I focused on preparing our supper.  It was pretty easy deciding what we would have this year; a while back I made steaks and mushrooms using  a recipe by Ina Garten, they were amazing, and Spencer went on and on about them so I figured that would be the perfect meal to make.  It was a little bit harder deciding what we would have for dessert; the options are endless when it comes to desserts and I tend to get overwhelmed when I'm trying to choose.  I find tons of desserts that look incredible and I want to make them all so it's really hard to narrow them down and choose one.  I finally picked a few and then showed them to Spencer to get his input; it was hard on him at first but then he picked a chocolate cake with raspberry filling.  This cake was incredible and I'm so glad he chose this for our Valentine's dessert.

Here are the things we had on Valentine's Day.  I will be posting the recipes soon!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines!


Hot Buttered Rum Pancakes

These pancakes were so good.  Like I said, they were really easy to put together but they were still impressive.  They have so much flavor alone, but since it was a special occasion we splurged and topped them with whipped cream and milk chococlate good!


         Steakhouse Steaks and Mushrooms

These steaks and mushrooms are absolutely amazing; together they make such an impressive meal.  These steaks are probably the some of the best steaks we've ever had; the flavor is incredible and there's really not that much to them and then topping them with the Roquefort Chive sauce just puts them over the top.  The mushrooms are great too; they have a creamy, buttery flavor that  is just amazing!


Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Absolutely amazing...this cake was incredible.  The combination of the chocolate and raspberry is so good.  The raspberry isn't overpowering at all, there's just enough flavor of raspberry where it can be tasted but it doesn't overpower the rest of the flavors in the cake.  This was definitely the perfect dessert for Valentine's!   


Monday, February 15, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are one of my all time favorite cookies.  Although I've never had a type of cookie I don't like, it seems when I want to make cookies chocolate chip cookies are the first thing that come to mind.  They area classic and are a favorite of pretty much everybody.  It's amazing to me how many differnt takes there are on one type of cookie, but it seems like there are endless options as far as recipes go for this one particular type of cookie.  I have tried a few different recipes and haven't been disappointed yet, every time I come across another recipe for them I bookmark it because I just can't get enough of chocolate chip cookies.  This recipe was no exception, I liked this one just as much as the others I've tried.  These cookies were amazing and I loved the combination of the white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate, it just gave it another dimension of flavor.  These cookies didn't come out as fluffy or chewy as others I've tried but they still didn't disappoint.  I've made these a couple of times since the first time I've made them and they are always a hit and eaten up within a matter of a few days; although quite a few seem to quickly disappear right after they come out of the oven.  Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies


2 1/4 Cups flour

1 Tsp baking soda

3/4 Tsp salt

2 Sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 Cup light brown sugar

1/2 Cup sugar

2 eggs

1 Tsp vanilla

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

6 oz white chocolate chips

1 Cup pecans, chopped (I omitted)


Preheat oven to 375.

Sift flour, baking soad, and salt together into a large bowl. 

With paddle attachment cream butter and sugars together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  With mixer on low, beat in eggs, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla and then stir in flour mixture until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes gives you a soft and chewy consistency.  Rotate the baking sheet from top to bottom and front to back half way through.  Once removed from oven leave the cookies on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling. 

Recipe Source: The Baker's Bible


Monday, February 1, 2010

Sloppy Joes

I actually can't remember the last time I had a sloppy joe, and I very rarely crave them.  I kept seeing commercials for sloppy joes while I was pregnant and they really looked appealing to me, I never got a sloppy joe while I was pregnant and I've continued to crave them.  It seemed like as more time went by I kept seeing more and more things pertaining to sloppy joes; commercials and cooking shows, and they were calling out to me to make some.  I felt like a kid when I was eating this, it's just something about certain things that just bring out the kid in you.  This was so good, and it really didn't take that long to put together so it's great for a weeknight meal.  All of the flavors came together and it really tasted great, and another plus is that you really do get quite a bit of vegetables in this one dish.  We really enjoyed these and I'm sure this recipe will become quite a popular one in our rotation of meals. 


Sloppy Joes


2 Pounds ground beef

1/2 Small onion, chopped

2 Ribs celery with leaves, chopped

3 Tbsp shredded carrots

1 Can stewed tomatoes

1/4 Cup ketchup

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp steak sauce (I used A1)

1/2 Tsp garlic salt

1/4 Tsp spicey mustard

1/4 Tsp paprika

1 Tbsp hot sauce


Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and add beef, onion, celery and carrots.  Cook until meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender and then drain.

Return meat and vegetables to the skillet and then add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix together and then simmer for 30 minutes. 

Serve hot on a toasted bun.

Recipe Source: adapted from Taste of Home 

Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars


The January 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

I was pretty excited when I read this challenge for many reasons, but mainly because it called for a lot of products that I wasn't familiar with.  It is always interesting to learn about how other areas of the world cook and what they use to cook, one of the many things I like about the daring bakers is that it has members from all over the world.  It's easy to get in a routine cooking with ingredients that we're accustom to using and never challenge ourselves with using or working with new ingredients.  I really liked this challenge because it challenged me to find the ingredients that weren't a common staple in my kitchen and also because I had to make crackers, which I had never done before.  I really learned a lot in this challenge and really enjoyed working on the wafers and bars, it was fun but it was definitely a challenge!

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons Whole Milk
2 tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Additional Information:

These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.

If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.

For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs.
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