Monthly Archives: December 2010

If Only I Was This Creative

Please look at this – I LOVE IT!

http://niemann.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/16/let-it-dough/
Thanks Richard, for thinking of me and sharing this!


Macaroni & Cheese please

Two of my favorite ingredients, cheese and pasta, combined together – I generally expect nothing less than tasty explosions in my mouth. Jamie Oliver has a recipe for “macaroni cheese” and although I used his recipe as a base for mine, you can really use anything. My heart is generally torn between cooking and baking, because really, they are two different things. When I bake, I find that when I take the liberties that I do with cooking, it doesn’t come out the same. Thankfully you can probably take any liberties you want with this. Here is my take on macaroni & cheese…

Cook pasta as directed (any shape, pick your favorite. We had farfalle, so that’s what I used)

In a separate pan, use, as Jamie says, a “knob of butter”. Now to me, a knob can mean a great deal of sizes. Answers.com says it’s two tablespoons, I used about 4. It’s not important. Melt some butter in a pan and add spices – I used herbs he provence. Add a little bit of milk (whole milk really works the best for that creamy taste. It’s days like this when I wish we had something more than 2% in our refrigerator). Once it’s melted and hot, add your grated cheese. For a really creamy dish, use at least two cups (per pound of pasta). I used a smoked gouda and aged white cheddar. Once it is melty, add the drained (and cooked) pasta to the cheese mixture.

Pour into a casserole dish and salt and pepper (I’m sure my mom is reading this. Yes, I added salt & pepper. But I assure you, this is the first time I have even touched salt since I’ve been out of the hospital – and I didn’t go overboard with it – just a dash 🙂 I also added about 1/2 an ounce of black truffle oil). Top with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. Pop under the broiler for another 3-5 minutes to get that crunchy, cheesy top.

Cheesy goodness, oh, how I love you!!!

 


Presents, Presents and more Presents

As always, Santa (and my friends and family) were good to me. Although Bella was THE BEST PRESENT EVER, I was especially spoiled in the cooking/kitchen department. Here are some of the awesome things I got:

Joseph Joseph Cook Plate – it acts as a serving platter or cutting board and a cool piece of art

Kuhn Rikon Switzerland Knife – totally yellow, totally sweet and cuts really well

Felicia Apron – so cute and totally my style. I didn’t ask for one, but secretly I really wanted one so it worked out perfectly! Great minds think alike! 🙂


Silicone Baking Cups in the shape of a teaset – will be TERRIFIC for my Alice in Wonderland themed party

Yo Ho Ho It’s a Pirate Party cupcake decorating set – yeah, it’s totally AWESOME!

Trattoria Grappolo cookbook

Babycakes cookbook

cakelove cookbook

In case you can’t tell, I am absolute in love with all of these gifts. And I think it’s fair to say that the cooking bug is back! I took a little hiatus but I’m back and so ready to try out things from my new cookbooks and share them with you!


Christmas Cookies

Certain cookies remind me of the holidays while growing up. Although I don’t like many of them, it’s still nice to see them around the holidays. This year I made peanut butter blossoms, Russian tea cakes and vanilla cookies. I also made some red velvet cupcakes for a Christmas party with friends.

Peanut Butter Blosoms

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter

3/4 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 cups clour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Hershey kisses

Beat the butter and then add the peanut butter and sugars. Then add the egg, vanilla and milk. Mix together all dry ingredients and then slowly add to the wet mixture. Refrigerate until rollable. When the dough is ready, roll into balls, bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes on parchment paper. Immediately after they are removed from the oven, place a hershey’s kiss in the center.

Russian Tea Cakes

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Roll into balls and cook at 350 for 12 minutes. Once cooled, roll in additional powdered sugar.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

1 pkg cream cheese

1 stick unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 cups powdered sugar

Mix. Spread. Enjoy!


Cookies With Friends, not to be confused with Words With Friends

Today is day 3 of non-stop rain, not something we are particularly familiar with here in Santa Barbara (or California). So you can imagine that I was a little stir-crazy. Luckily Nicole decided to come over and keep me company. After a few rounds of Just Dance 2, we decided to bake some cookies.

We used the Spice Cookies and Vanilla Cookies recipes from Williams-Sonoma and the Extra-Large Ergonomic Cookie Press.

I first learned of this wonderful invention from my friend Kristi who got one from her wedding registry. Both recipes are quick and easy and can be cooked at 375 for 13-15 minutes (see recipes below). If you need the full recipe, leave a comment or email me.

After they cooked and cooled, we were occupied for a good hour or two by the sound of Nicki Minaj and the call of sugary goodness (which later made us feel sick). Before you look at the cookies, please be cautioned, these are not your normal Christmas cookies. The gun and duck with blood on its head are a hunting theme as a nod to our friend Whitney; the panda bear was done by Nicole for me, the Army Strong is for our friend Kevin and of course there is a TCU one 🙂 Don’t worry, there are some red, white and green ones and they are all in the shapes of trees, wreaths and snowflakes. Yeah for the holidays!!

BTW, if you play words with friends, my username is ‘angelinaralston’ and I would love to play a game with you!


Gingerbread Houses

Last night I had the girls over for snacks, gingerbread houses and Just Dance 2. It was a really great time, except that Sheena refused to decorate her house or take it with her 🙂 Regardless, I would say it was a success. You can judge for yourselves:

Nicole’s Ho House


Sheena’s Minimalist House


Whitney’s Hot Mess House

 

Angelina’s Half(way) House

 

As you can see, my house was a half-hearted approach, kind of like Sheena’s. And if you are looking for Angie’s, she was the “helper” and mostly helped Sheena. I also couldn’t find my recipe for the Royal Icing we learned in class, and I am confident that had I used that, I would have had better luck putting together my house (and perhaps less of a mess with the others??). Oh well, we had fun anyway.

I would also like to thank Trader Joe’s for putting out an amazing spread, without which we probably wouldn’t not have eaten 🙂

Warm brie with cranberry-orange relish

Brie wheel

Mac and cheese bites

Snap pea crisps

Parmesan crisps

Spinach-artichoke dip

Crackers

Arancini rice balls with marinara

“Christmas Salad” – mozzarella, tomatoes and basil salad (the one thing I actually made and didn’t just heat up)

Candy cane joe joe’s

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! There is hopefully more baking in my future.


Mulled Spiced Cider

Today I was lucky enough to have a facial (early xmas present from Kevin, thanks Kevin!) by my friend Nicole at Skin Deep Salon (call and book a European Facial today, 20% of the proceeds go to The Transition House Today, or if you don’t need a facial, be like Kevin and give a gift certificate). While I was there she gave me some apple cider that was soooooo yummy. Later at the store I decided to buy some – just drinking out of the package, not my fav. But the back of the box did have this recipe that I am excited to try… maybe for girls night on Friday when we make our gingerbread houses 🙂

photo: http://appleciderbenefits.com/

 

Mulled Spiced Cider

4 puches of spiced cider mix

3 cups water

1/2 cup pineapple juice

3 whole cloves3-4 cinnamon sticks

orange slices

In a medium saucepan (or slow cooker), mix together and heat cider mix, water, pineapple juice and cloves. To serve, plance an orange slice and cinnamon stick in each mug and fill with hot cider. Makes 4 servings.