Monday, September 22, 2008

dinner tonight

was really dinner for us and the proutys cause poor joy is on bedrest with her pregnancy. everyone one send her some good relaxed vibes so she can lay still another month and give baby more time to grow!

i used my day off to cook two fabulous dinners for them and us while i was at it. tonights was chicken fra diavlo, spaghetti squash "mac and cheese" with truffle oil, and greens with bacon. it was super good. i am a spaghetti squash nut but this was the first time i had tried this at it was too die for!!!!!!! YOU HAVE TO TRY IT! the sweetness of the squash makes this so much better than real mac and cheese!

i only followed a recipe for the chicken which is below and you really have to try! so much better than grilled or roasted chicken. and i'll do my best to guess at the measurements of what i threw in the squash.

chicken fra diavlo (courtesy of cooks illustrated)
Chicken and Brine
2 medium heads garlic
3 bay leaves , crumbled
1/2 cup table salt
1 whole chicken , butterflied and pounded
Garlic-Pepper Oil
4 medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil

vegetable oil for grill grate
1 lemon cut into wedges, for serving

1. TO BRINE THE CHICKEN: Combine garlic heads, bay leaves, and salt in gallon-size zipper-lock bag; press out air and seal bag. Using rubber mallet or meat pounder, pound mixture until garlic cloves are crushed; transfer mixture to large container or stockpot and stir in 2 quarts cold water until salt is dissolved. Immerse chicken in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 2 hours.

2. FOR THE GARLIC-PEPPER OIL: While chicken is brining, heat garlic, black pepper, pepper flakes, and oil in small saucepan over medium heat until garlic is fragrant and sizzling and mixture registers about 200 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Measure 2 tablespoons garlic-pepper oil into 2 small bowls and set aside.

3. TO FLAVOR THE CHICKEN: Remove chicken from brine and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Apply 2 tablespoons infused oil beneath skin.

4. TO GRILL THE CHICKEN: Turn all burners on gas grill to high, close lid, and heat until grill is very hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape grill grate clean with wire brush; lightly dip small wad paper towels in vegetable oil and, holding wad in tongs, wipe grill grate. Turn all burners to medium-low, position chicken skin-side down on center of grill grate, cover.

5. Cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board; let rest 10 minutes. Carve, then drizzle carved chicken with remaining infused oil and serve with lemon wedges.

my spaghetti squash "mac and cheese"
makes one large pan

2 spaghetti squash
1/2 stick butter
12 oz. grated sharp cheddar
6 oz. jack
6 oz. provolone
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. ricotta
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
1-2 cups whole milk or half and half
more salt and pepper to taste
truffle oil

preheat oven to 375

cut spaghetti squashes in half and scoop out seeds. sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. roast in a large pan with about 1/2 inch of water so they steam slightly. depending on size this will take 30 min to 1 hour. when they are done pullling the flesh with the tines of a fork will result in noodle like strings. cool then using a fork pull all the "spaghetti" out and into a large bowl. mix in butter, milk, all cheese, mustard, salt and pepper and a good drizzle of truffle oil and mix well until combined.

put into a large casserole or baking dish and bake at 350 for 45min or 1 hour until hot bubbly and browned on top.

chocolate chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream

at chelsea's personal request, i made 30 of these for her shower. sadly i'm not a cupcake fan but everyone loved them. i do like this frosting though! i can eat it out of the bowl! and i ate all the frosting and some of a cupcake after my wedding saturday night!
these cupcakes are super easy but really good. as with everyone i always use the top shelf chocolate and cocoa like valhrona or scharfen berger. i scoop my frosting out with a ice cream scoop then just smooth tall with a nice. you have to have as much frosting as cupcake! as you don't have to deal with a pastry bag.

chocolate chocolate cupcakes

makes 12 big ones

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder (use the good stuff)
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 bag milk or dark chips
1/2 bag pnut butter chips

Mix all ingredients together until moist and well blended.Put in cupcake cups and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

peanut butter buttercream

Make 3 cups, enough for an ice cream scoop of frosting on 12 cupcakes (we like em big!)

16 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter (don't use old-fashioned or natural brand)
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4-1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder
Pinch table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoon heavy cream

In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter and peanut butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

happy bride to be

Thursday, September 18, 2008

only the best carrot cake for my birthday!

i can buy great chocolate cake but this carrot cake can't be beat and its my annual birthday treat. of course i make it for myself but i make my husband and son ice and decorate it :)

i posted the recipe a while ago. this cake is filled with so much stuff! and it stays so moist because it uses pureed carrots and crushed pineapple and oil instead of butter. butter is one of my favorite ingredients but this cake is awesome without it because of all the flavors from all the other ingredients i think.

here are some pics. i let fox go to town with a pastry bag filled with pink frosting. if this was for anyone else i'd cover the sides in crushed walnuts and pipe carrots on top :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

fox's chocolate ice cream

so after working all day yesterday and all day tomorrow as well, i took fox to lunch and asked him what he wanted to do with mom today. his answer was to make homemade ice cream - his recipe! shocked but happy i asked what his recipe was and he said, "your chocolate ice cream with what i want in it!"

of course! so we went to whole foods and got all the stuff and he decided on a chocolate base with a TON of crushed oreos and MILK chocolate chips. i think a great combo! the base is chilling so stay posted for reviews and pics.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

corn and potato salad

i cooked us up a fabulous labor day picnic that we took to the beach and sadly forgot to photograph! we had marinated and grilled chicken, basil and parmesan red cabbage slaw, great fruit salad and this corn and potato salad. we had the leftovers tonight with some simple seared halibut. the flavors were even better in the potato salad today then monday. i made this up in a hurry so i really don't have proportions but adlib as neccesary.

a bunch of fingerling potatoes roasted in garlic and olive till very cripsy and brown then cooled
6 ears of sweet corn grilled on the bbq till nicely charred in some spots and tender, then kernals taken off cobb

for the dressing i mixed mayonaise, a good bunch of chopped garlic and lemon, added some salt pepper and chili powder and that was it. the toasty sweet flavor the grilled corn and the richness of the fingerling potatoes really make this salad!