September 26, 2008

Kids Cooking *Breakfast in Bed*

This is the first in a series of posts done completely by my 10 year old son. He's got a huge interest in cooking and is becoming quite the little food enthusiast. Everything you see in these posts have been conceptualized and created by him... the recipe, the text, and the photography. I've tried to be only minimally involved, allowing him to use my kitchen blog as the stage for his creativity. -KG

Hi! My name is Vaughn and I'm 10 years old. I've been asking my mom if I could do a post on her cooking blog for a while now. I was so excited when she told me that I could come up with an idea and post about it. This is what I made.



This is my "Breakfast in bed" meal. I am the oldest of the kids in our house and sometimes my mom lets me stay up really late with her on a weekend night. It's our time to do something special together when my sister and brother are in bed. Mom got a movie for us to watch and we ate dinner together in her big feather bed while we watched the movie. We watched "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." It was fantastic! We had breakfast in bed, for dinner. Mom and I shared this plate. It was enough to eat for two people.

We got a croissant and I cut it in half and toasted it in the toaster. Be careful if you do this because it can get burnt if you don't watch it. Take it out as soon as you can smell it toasting. It will be a little crunchy and that it good. I laid that out on a plate and then fried 3 eggs in a little butter on the stove in a skillet. I even flipped them myself and only one of them broke. The eggs go on top of the toasted croissant. The runny yellow part of the egg on the crunchy croissant is really good. I like a lot of pepper on eggs.

Mom had made some roasted potatoes for dinner the night before and I used the leftovers for breakfast in bed for dinner. I put them into a skillet with a little olive oil and reheated them and browned them a little more. A little salt and pepper on those and put them on the plate next to the eggs.



Lastly I made some microwave bacon. I know it's not as good at the real bacon but my mom was worried about me frying bacon with all the splattering grease. This was ok instead. Next time though I think I will get sausage links. Maybe she'd let me cook those.

It was great and I had a lot of fun making it. We had a wonderful night. Thanks for reading my blog post!

I took this picture.. I wanted one with him holding his creation :)- KG

September 20, 2008

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts


We love Brussels sprouts and this simple and easy way serve them is always a hit. As with any vegetable roasting, make sure you're using a good quality Olive Oil. I believe the quality of the oil makes all the difference in the taste. I've found that people who aren't really too fond of Brussels sprouts will often times like them prepared in this way. A couple of things you can add for a little zip- a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan right before serving... or even add a bit of Cayenne pepper to the mix when you coat the sprouts with the oil. Delicious.

Ingredients:
2 pounds Brussels sprouts
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Method:
Preheated oven 400* F.

Cut off the dry ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any damaged leaves. Rinse well in cold water. Dry the sprouts well. Cut in half lengthwise. In a bowl, gently mix the sprouts with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lay them out on a foil lined baking pan and roast for 30- 40 minutes, until crispy browned on the outside and tender inside. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

September 17, 2008

Navy Bean and Ham Soup



The weather here in Pennsylvania has slowly been getting cooler and everyday it feels a little more like Autumn. Football season has started, the leaves will soon begin changing. This time of year always makes me crave hearty belly warming foods... like soups and stews. The kinds of meals that simmer all day on the stove and fill your home with mouthwatering scents and the promises of the wonderful meal to come.

Ingredients:
1 pound of navy beans
3 quarts of vegetable stock or water (I *really* suggest using stock)
2 pounds of ham shanks
1 cup diced onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf

To Finish:
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish
Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)

Method:

Soak the beans in at least 3 quarts of cold water overnight. Drain the water and rinse the beans in clean water before using.

Put the ham shanks in a large pot and cover with stock. Simmer for about an hour. Add the chopped vegetables, beans, garlic, rosemary, marjoram, basil, bay leaf, and thyme. Simmer for 2 hours, or until the beans and vegetables are to your desired softness.

Remove the shanks from the soup, allow to cool and remove the meat from the bone. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces and return to the soup. Reheat the soup on a low flame, if needed.

Add a few drops of Tabasco to taste (this is optional). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with chopped fresh parsley.

Note: This soup is even better it made and served the next day after the flavors have a chance to mingle over night in the refrigerator.

Serves 8.



Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset

September 14, 2008

Fresh Fruit Salad with Vanilla Honey Dressing



Around here, our fruit eating is most often times simply out of hand. Wash it well, cut it up into bite sized pieces and eat. For my family that's really one of the most enjoyable ways. Fresh, good quality fruit doesn't need anything added to it to be fantastic. But there are those times when you crave something more. This simple fruit salad hit the spot for my family this past week. I bought whatever fruit looked good at the market and finished it with an easy vanilla yogurt and honey dressing.



There is really isn't any set "recipe" for this. Just put whatever strikes your fancy into your salad. For this one I used seedless red grapes, strawberries, blackberries, nectarines, and blueberries. The dressing isn't much of a set recipe either. Vanilla yogurt, honey to taste, a smidgen of cinnamon. That's it. Simple but delicious and decadent enough to satisfy the fiercest sweet tooth.

September 10, 2008

Oven Roasted Asparagus


If you've been following this blog for any length of time you've probably noticed that my family adores spinach and asparagus. We eat both veggies a couple times a week, at least. I tend to add either to whatever recipes I can but we also eat them as side dishes. I like to prepare them in simple ways that allow the vegetables to stand for themselves, anything added to them simply enhances their flavor and allows them to shine without detracting from their natural deliciousness. This is one of my family's all time favorite way to enjoy asparagus.

Ingredients
1# asparagus spears
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt
Black pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese

Method
~ Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare the asparagus by rinsing in cold water and cutting off the tough ends. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.

~ Lay the asparagus spears out in a single layer on a foil-covered roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over the spears, shake the asparagus until they are covered well in olive oil. Sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Again, make sure all of the asparagus is well covered in your seasoning.

~ Place the pan in the oven and cook for 8-12 minutes until slightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Check often, as how long you roast depends on the size of your spears. Just before service, drizzle lightly with balsamic and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.

Serves 4.

September 8, 2008

Croque Madame



I wish my pictures for this were better. I made this late one evening, after all the natural light was gone and it just didn't photograph well because of that and wanting to hurry up and get back to bed where my honey was waiting with a movie and wine for me :)

This is a Croque Madame. It's the French take on a toasted ham and cheese sandwich... only this version is seriously pornified :) Thinly sliced Black Forest ham, Gruyère cheese, and Dijon mustard between two slices of crusty Italian bread, toasted, and then smothered with a creamy béchamel sauce and topped with a fried egg. To me this is like sex on a plate. Sensual and sexy food porn. Just the kind of thing you might want to share in bed with your lover on a lazy Sunday morning *wink* Yum. I paired this with some roasted asparagus to round out a meal late one night last week. Asparagus goes so well with ham and velvety egg yolk and the béchamel. Perfection.

It's simple to make and comes together quite quickly. If you enjoy Eggs Benedict, you'll LOVE this. Also, you can leave off the fried egg and it becomes a Croque Monsieur... only, I don't know why on Earth anyone would want to skip the egg :)


Ingredients
2 Tablespoons butter, plus extra for toasting in the skillet.
2 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
6 ounces (1 1/2 cup) Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
8 slices of Italian loaf bread
12 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest ham
Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Dash nutmeg (optional)
4 large eggs

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Stir occasionally while preparing sandwiches to keep a skin from forming on top of sauce. Or, you could cover the sauce surface with plastic wrap.

Spread mustard on half the bread slices. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other bread slices. Grill in a buttered skillet on the stove top until golden brown. Transfer sandwiches to an oven proof tray. Spoon the béchamel sauce on the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

While the sandwiches are baking and broiling, fry 4 eggs until set but so that the yolk is still runny. Top each sandwich with a fried egg just before serving.

Serves 4

September 3, 2008

Maytag Encrusted Filet with Red Wine Sauce


These were so good! I've always been a filet purist... thinking that a well prepared filet needed nothing added to it. Let the beef shine on it's own, I've always said. But this was so delicious and simple! I will definitely be making these again. Tender, flavorful and slightly crisp with the panko. Just an amazing combination.

Ingredients:
For the red wine sauce:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine

For the filet topping:
1/2 cup crumbled Maytag blue cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup panko
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

4 1-inch-thick filet mignon steaks


Method
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallot, and thyme. Sauté until shallot is tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth and wine. Boil until sauce is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 12 minutes. Set sauce aside.

Blend cheese, panko, and parsley in small bowl to coat cheese evenly with panko.

Preheat broiler. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add steaks to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to rimmed baking sheet; reserve skillet. Press cheese mixture onto top of steaks, dividing equally. Broil until cheese browns, about 2 minutes. Transfer steaks to plates.

Pour sauce into reserved skillet. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil 2 minutes. Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce around steaks and serve.