Sunday, October 23, 2011

DC2..."I almost just throwed up a little, this is a really good dinner!"

Earlier this month we had our second dinner club of the year. This was our first time having a really nice dinner with company in our new house and we knew that after last month we had a tough act to follow with dinner. Since we only do dinner club once a month and it is supposed to be something special we set our table with our finest china ($75 dollars at a consignment shop in North Dakota), Kirstina made place cards for everyone, we had all the girls eat at a "girls only" table, and had everyone else eat at our normal table. {The set up made me feel like I was in a fancy restaurant, seriously fancy. Well done, Charity!!}

Because it's fall, we started out with a Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. The key to this soup is two things. Cream and fresh tomatoes. I originally had this soup at a fancy fundraiser for the elementary school and the ladies serving were gracious enough to give it to me. The original recipe calls for wine. I omitted that...really.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • 4 tomatoes chunked (or a few more, depending on how chunky you like your soup)
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 14 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream ( added a little more than this...)
  • 1/2 cup butter ( I added a little less than this)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients, simmer on stove....

Along with our soup, we had a Strawberry spinach salad with a vinaigrette dressing (or if you were under 12 no salad, just strawberries) and Rosemary Bread, with oil and vinegar, that I didn't make but Patience probably would have, I just got it from Costco. {Plain old Costco bread was Mateo's favorite part of the meal. I think he ate almost half a loaf single-handedly.}

We decided on a family favorite, at least with Nick and I, for our main course, Baja Halibut Wraps with Chipotle Lime Slaw. I wasn't sure how these would go over with all the kiddos, and at $18 a pound for Halibut (yes, we live in, Nick and I can't seem to catch any fish) I didn't want to "waste" our yummy Halibut so Nick also made some BBQ chicken...just in case. The best part of this recipe is the cinnamon and cayenne pepper in the rub and the chipotle chile in adobo in the slaw. We made this a little spicy for kids...and for some of us grown-ups too, so be careful of your chile! This recipe comes from the Weber Way To Grill cookbook, with Halibut as our fish of choice.

Baja Halibut Wraps with Chipotle Lime Slaw
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix ingredients, brush halibut fillets with olive oil the apply rub evenly. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to grill.
  • 3 cups very thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup mayo (not miracle whip)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I used bottled and it was fine)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss to coat. Set aside.

Coat grill with olive oil. Grill Halibuts over direct high heat with the lid closed as much as possible until you can lift them with a spatula off the cooking grate without sticking (about 4 minutes). Turn fillets over and cook them until they are opaque in the center, (2-3 more minutes), Transfer to a cooking platter and break fillets into large chunks.

Warm tortillas and arrange fillets and slaw onto one half, fold in sides, roll and enjoy! You can serve these warm or cold. I prefer mine warm, Nick likes his cold. I think this recipe was a hit! Everyone (except Kirstina) really liked it. {My family LOVED this!} I was surprised, but like I said before I wouldn't have made this quite so spicy. {I was surprised too because of it's "little" zing, but it was really, really yummy.}

I took a gamble with our starch and decided to do Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa). {The pronunciation is for my benefit, you know. Charity kept telling me we were having "keenwa" and finally I said, oh, you mean Que-noah!! She really did mean "keenwa". (I also have the tendency to say, "que-sa-dilla" too, but only when I'm being facetious and bugging Ethan.)} You have to follow the preparation directions on the Quinoa package or it can be really bitter, but if you do it right, it tastes awesome and is chock full of protein. You prepare this like rice only you rinse your quinoa before you put it in your pan...rinse rinse again...seriously. I like to cook mine in chicken broth instead of just plain water because it gives it more flavor, but if you want a vegetarian meal, you can simply use water. I adapted this recipe from the Our Best Bites cookbook, and did half Quinoa and half Couscous for this dish. I do have to say that this dish was not a big hit with kiddos. I think the only kiddo that really liked it was KayLee. Right Patience? {I think my bigger girls ate it fine, but didn't come back for seconds like they did with the halibut. I liked it.}

Greek Couscous Salad (or Quinoa)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dry rosemary
  • 1 (10 oz) box dry couscous (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • garlic clove, pressed or finely minces
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place chicken broth, oregano, basil and rosemary in small pot on stove. Bring to a boil. Add couscous, cover the post with a lid and remove from heat. Let sit for at least 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.

For Quinoa, place chicken broth, oregano, basil and rosemary in small pot on stove. Bring to a boil. Rinse 1 cup Quinoa. Rinse again. Add Quinoa, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed (like rice). Cool to room temperature.

Combine cooled Quinoa with tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and feta. Set aside.

In small jar combine vinaigrette ingredients and shake until combined. Pour over salad. stir and then refrigerate 2 hours before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

I did the same think with the couscous only I omitted the olives, and feta cheese and for the vinaigrette dressing, I used lime juice instead of lemon.

This recipe makes quite a bit. Nick took the leftovers to work and fed his entire office. I think it was a good experiment, but not a hit with kids. I'd make it again, but only if I made rice or something different for the kiddos eating with us.

Dessert was molten chocolate brownies with a surprise inside! Served with ice-cream and decadent hot fudge sauce. {Not to burst any bubbles or anything, but all I used was a brownie mix. I cooked them in a muffin pan and pushed a peppermint patty into the center before baking. The fudge sauce was Ben and Jerry's Hot Fudge that I posted earlier.}

The best part of the night was having Mateo sit with us at the table. A few weeks before dinner club we had dinner at our parent's house and Mateo didn't eat his dinner, so as a result, he didn't get dessert. He was painfully aware of this rule when he came over for dinner club and kept telling Patience what a good job he was doing with eating his dinner. At one point during dinner, he asked Patience how many more bites he had to have of his soup, which he had been doing a good job of eating. Dipping his bread in and eating. Patience told him he had to eat 10 more bites. He started counting while shoveling bites in. He got to bite 9 when all of the sudden, he stopped, covered his mouth, gagged (I thought he was going to throw up right then) and announced, "I almost just throwed up a little. This is a really good dinner." He then proceeded to eat bite 10, asked Patience if he had earned dessert and got down from the table. Needless to say, we were dying laughing and thought it appropriate to dub Dinner Club 2, "I almost just throwed up a little, this is a really good dinner."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream and Fudge Sauce

Today is my sister, Linda's birthday! Happy Birthday!! In honor of her special day, I thought I'd post the very best homemade ice cream recipe in my world.

I call this...drum roll, please...

"The Very Best Homemade Raspberry Ice cream I've Ever Made".
(I modified a couple of recipes that I found somewhere online to come up with creamy frozen sensation.)

Here you go:

The vanilla base:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • In a heavy saucepan, mix together the first five ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon and reaches at least 160 degrees F. (I actually used a candy thermometer for the first little bit, and then got bored and took it out so I'm not really sure how hot mine got.) Remove from the heat; cool quickly by setting pan in ice and stirring the mixture. (I think this is an important step because it stops the eggs from cooking more, thus preventing an eggy taste.) Cover and refrigerate overnight.

  • Raspberry stuff:
  • 4 cups raspberries
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C water

  • Simmer raspberries, etc. on the stove until the juices release and it starts to boil a little. Strain the seeds using a sieve or something better, if you've got it. (This takes FOREVER, but it is definitely worth the time when you aren't eating seeds.)

  • When ready to freeze, pour custard, vanilla, and raspberry stuff into the cylinder of an ice cream freezer. Freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. It took us two batches because of the size of our ice cream maker. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight (I recommend holding out a night. It will be hard. But it's worth it).

Then, top with homemade hot fudge. Oh, you don't have a really yummy hot fudge recipe?
That's okay. I've got one:

Ben and Jerry's Hot Fudge (from my mother-in-law's Ben and Jerry cookbook)

4oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 C butter
3/4 C cocoa powder
2 C sugar
1/2 C milk
1/2 C heavy cream

Melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently, in the top of a double broiler over simmering water. Add cocoa and whisk until dissolved. Gradually stir in sugar. (The mixture should look like wet sand.) Cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. **Don't let your water simmer completely won't smell very nice if you do. Gradually stir in milk and cream and keep stirring until completely blended. Continue cooking, stirring, and checking the water for 1 hour. The fudge is ready when it is completely smooth and all of the sugar has dissolved.

Comments: Adding a tablespoon or so of corn syrup will keep this fudge from getting grainy when you reheat it. Add the corn syrup towards the end of the hour of cooking. Also, if you don't have unsweetened chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate will work just fine. Just subtract 1 T of sugar per ounce from the recipe. Then, when you do heat this yummy stuff up, just take what you want from your (refrigerated) jar and heat at 1/2 power. This is also good by the spoonful whenever.

Monday, September 12, 2011

DC1 Naan Bread

Naan Bread (from India)

1 T yeast
1 C warm water
1/4 C sugar (heaping)
3 T milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 C bread flour
2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
melted butter

Dissolve yeast in water. (Let stand about 10 minutes in your mixer.) Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. I normally add all except a cup of what is called for and then see if it needs more after mixing for a little bit. Knead for about 6-8 minutes (in mixer with dough hook or on floured surface if you have big muscles). Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled...about an hour.

Punch dough down and knead in garlic if you want it (I didn't do this). Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a wiffle ball. Roll into balls, place on a tray, cover again and let rise again (about 30 min.).

During 2nd rising, preheat grill to high AFTER spraying it with pam (Ethan says it doesn't create much of a fireball...just a little one, if you spray it when it's hot). Then when your dough balls have risen, at the grill side, roll one ball of dough into a thin circle. Pretend it's pizza and hand toss it if you want. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 min, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter and cook anther 2 to 4 minutes.

Gobble up. Good also with honey or chocolate jam (Nutella) although this may be desecrating the original intention of the bread. Is best right off the grill. The next day they turn into hard tack. (But, my kids will eat cardboard as long as it has Nutella or honey to go along with it!)

DC1 Chicken Tikka Marsala

The spread of DC1. (DC stands for Dinner Club.)

Chicken Tikka Marsala (Recipe adapted from Patience's Moorpark 1st ward cookbook)

For Marinade:

1 C yogurt
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon (heaping)
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp pepper
1 T minced fresh ginger (or a tsp of ground ginger)
1 tsp salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

Marinate chicken for no less than 1 hour...up to overnight. Then grill outside in a basket or on skewers or on the stovetop (excess marinade should be discarded) until juices run clear. Set aside for the moment.

1 T butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 C heavy cream

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic for 1 min. Season with cumin, paprika, and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low until sauce thickens, about 20 min. Add grilled chicken and simmer for another 10 min. Serve over rice or with naan bread

**Comments: I always double the sauce because we get 15oz cans of tomato sauce. If you do this, don't double the salt, but do add a lot more chicken. This is very spicy--at least to my innocent tongue so easy on the cayenne and pepper.

The beginnings

A few weeks ago, I was trying to come up with dinner ideas. As I wrote down a bunch of recipes with impossible foreign names that I imagined sounding yummy, I remembered that my kids don't usually like to eat foods outside of their comfort zone. I knew I had three options: 1) never tell my family what they were eating, 2) lie to them and tell them that I was just making a recipe that was given to me by the grease monkeys at McDonald's, 3) make dinner so much fun for the kids that they wouldn't care what they are eating. Option 3 seemed to be the best for obvious reasons. I buzzed Charity and asked her if she wanted to be in a dinner club with me. Once every month we would alternate who cooked dinner (the other would bring dessert). The cousins could play, the "adults" could talk, and hopefully we could get some good eats in the process. Well, yesterday was our first official dinner club meeting. Ethan and I were in charge of dinner. Charity set an impossibly high bar with her dessert. The food was so good and everyone, even the kids, ate way too much. But after all was said and done, Charity and I wanted to come up with a way to have our dinner club recipes handy. So, here it is. Hopefully, this can become a dumping ground for all of our club recipes and other tried and true favorites of those that want to contribute.

If you want to join in the fun, email me and I'll send you a contributors invite. The only rules are that you must have personally made the dish and preferably liked it, and you need to stick with our labels. We'll try to organize it logically with the dishes labeled in basic groups: entrees, bread, side, dessert, beverage. Happy eatings.