Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Butternut Squash be mine!

Aren't these darling?!

Butternut Squash Ravioli Hearts

-Wonton wrappers (or you can be the ultimate overachiever and make your own dough)
-Heart shaped cookie cutters (I actually used heart shaped measuring cups and just pressed down firmly)
(If you don't want to make hearts then you can make your own cute little raviolis by folding them in half)
-1 cup roasted butternut squash puree**
-1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
-1 pinch cayenne pepper
-1 egg yolk
 -1/3 cup Parmesan cheese plus extra for garnish
-1/3 cup brown sugar (optional, I like mine very sweet!)
-cornstarch (optional, to help wontons stick)
-sage & butter (optional, for sauce)
-dash of salt
-dash of pepper 

-Combine butternut squash puree, mascarpone cheese, cayenne pepper, egg york, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and optional brown sugar and mix until thoroughly combined
-Taste the mixture, add anything that your heart desires <3
-combine lukewarm water and optional corn starch (just a pinch of corn starch) in a bowl.
-Prepare the wonton wrappers, if making hearts, I like to take two wrappers at a time (stuck to each other), and place the cookie cutter firmly on the wrappers.  Gently separate the wrapper hearts afterwards.
-Once you have two cut out hearts, place them next to each other and coat the outside of each heart with the water/cornstarch mixture.
-Place a small spoon full of butternut squash mixture in the middle of one of the wonton hearts.
-Place the other wonton heart on top, and press firmly on the edges to match up the wontons and ensure that they stick together.  You don't want the mixture to ooze out!
-Continue this with the rest of the wontons/ butternut squash mixture.  The butternut squash mixture can be frozen and the ravioli can also be pre made and then frozen.
-bring water to a boil in a sauce pan that is big enough to hold all of the ravioli
-place the ravioli in the boiling water and stir LIGHTLY.  You don't want the ravioli to stick to the bottom, but you also don't want to break it.
-when ravioli floats, it is done! Remove with a slotted spoon (I bought mine from dollar tree!)
-serve with melted butter combined with sage or eat it plain!

**To roast the butternut squash: Get the pre-cut kind (it's just easier),
-Preheat then oven to 400 degrees F
-Line a baking pan with foil, and put a few small chunks of butter on the foil (1-2 tbsp)
-Put the pan with foil and butter in the oven until the butter has melted
-After the butter has melted, spread it around so that it evenly covers the foil
-Toss the butternut squash chunks around on the pan so that they are evenly coated
-Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, tossing the butternut squash twice throughout.
-Puree the butternut squash with with a mixer, another fancy appliance, or just with two forks like I did.
-It should turn into a smooth mixture with minimal chunks.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip

The most addicting dip that I've ever tasted... after many recipes and tweaks, this is the best!

Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Dip

And yes, I know that my camera phone does not do it justice! Onto the recipe:

-A deep baking dish that is oven safe
-2 cooked pieces of chicken (More or less depending on how much you like chicken).  Many say boneless skinless chicken breasts are the best.  However, I like to cook two chicken drumsticks with the skin on.  I peel the skin off once the chicken has finished cooking.  This way, the chicken will stay juicy from being on the bone, and have nice flavor from the skin.
-12 oz cream cheese (this is a base, once again you can use more or less, but this is what worked for me).
-1/4 cup blue cheese salad dressing (more or less depending on how much you like blue cheese, but this is a good amount to start out with... Remember, you can put more blue cheese in, but it is much harder to take it out!)
-1/4 cup ranch salad dressing (depending on how much you like ranch dressing, you can also substitute this for the blue cheese dressing, and vice versa).
-1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles (cheddar cheese works too.. and I put in much more than 1/4 cup because I love blue cheese)
-Franks Red Hot Buffalo Wing sauce, as much as you want! Just pour and taste like a true chef ;P
-Fritos and celery for dipping.

-Grated cheddar cheese and panko bread crumbs to make a nice and crispy topping for the dip.

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
-Soften the cream cheese
-Shred the chicken
-mix everything together in a deep, oven safe baking dish
-Sprinkle optional cheddar cheese and bread crumbs over the mixture
-Taste and make any adjustments, I added more hot sauce and blue cheese!
-Bake for 20-30 minutes (every oven is different)!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Obsessed with cooking (ice cream sandwiches, scotch eggs, and fried oreos)

I've decided to stop going out to eat in favor of learning how to cook all of the foods that I love, and and I am broke and hopefully I will save some money.. so onto the recipes!

All of these dishes are actually inspired by items that I ate off of menus at different restaurants... A few weeks ago I went with some friends to a place called Piper's Pub in South Side.  I never thought that I would be a fan of Scottish cuisine but everything was delicious! For dessert we had a shortbread ice cream sandwich.  I automatically tried to make something similar the next day... The result is below: 

Ooey Gooey Ice Cream Sandwiches

These are actually NOTHING  like the ice cream sandwiches that we had at Piper's Pub.. I got a little bit carried away and basically created my own.. but they are still delicious in their own way:

-Keebler Fudge Stripes Original Cookies
-Any kind of ice cream that you want (I used cookies and cream)
-Hot fudge sauce
-Natural salted peanut butter

1) Place two cookies fudge stripe side down on a plate
2) Put the hot fudge sauce (while room temperature or cold), on the up side of the cookie, and the natural peanut butter on the other side of the other cookie.
3)Put ice cream on one of the cookies
4)Pick the other cookie up and put it ice cream side down on top of the peanut butter/hot fudge.
5) Squish them together (but not too hard)!
6)Put them in the freezer to chill or eat them right away!

I can't believe I just gave six step instructions on how to make an ice cream sandwich... this is why I decided not to be a teacher!

The first (and BEST) thing that we had to eat at Piper's Pub was their SCOTCH EGGS.  I had never even heard of these before.  But after eating them, I kept craving them for days on end.  I finally decided to venture out of my cooking comfort zone and work with eggs, which opened the door to a whole new world of cooking options!  Hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs, poached eggs, over easy, over hard... so many possibilities.  Anyway, onto the actual recipe!

Scotch Eggs!

-Six hard boiled eggs
-1 lb pork sausage meat (I think I used Jimmy Deans sausage with sage)
-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
-1/8 teaspoon salt (or more)
-1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (depending on how much you like pepper)
-1 egg, beaten
-2/3 cup dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
-Various other seasonings for the bread crumbs (I used garlic powder, paprika, Parmesan cheese, and some parsley) season to taste.
-Canola/vegetable oil for deep frying.
-Hot sauce, mustard, or any other condiments to eat with the scotch eggs (hot sauce is my favorite).

1) Hard boil the eggs... after much effort, on my third try I was able to cook the eggs perfectly without those ugly greenish/brown rims around the yolk (however, even if you DO see rims, the eggs are still edible and still taste good, they are just overcooked):
-cover eggs in cold (or room temperature) water in a sauce pan that is just big enough to hold all of them without touching.
-Turn the burner up to high heat
-start a whirl pool with your spoon and make the eggs spin.  This will help the yolks to set.
-After the water has been at a rolling boil for 1 minute, turn off the burner and remove the sauce pan (with the eggs and water still inside) to a burner that has not been heated up.
-cover the pan with the water and eggs still inside and let sit for 12 minutes.
-when the 12 minutes are up, drain the eggs and crack them slightly, then immediately put them in cold water and into the freezer (some people put them into an ice bath, but it works just fine if you put them in the freezer).  Slightly cracking the eggs beforehand keeps them from cooking any longer because the cold water gets underneath the shell (no yucky green color!)
-Check on the eggs after 5 minutes, if they have completely cooled down, then you can drain them again and put them in the refrigerator.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
-The eggs will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks IF you leave the peels on.
-Run eggs under water to make the peeling process easier.

Prepare to assemble the eggs:
-Prepare the breadcrumb mixture in a bowl by mixing the breadcrumbs with whatever spices you enjoy.  I used garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and parsley. 
-In a separate bowl, combine the sausage meat and Worcestershire sauce
-In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper
-Mix the flour mixture into the sausage mixture.  I also added some garlic powder and more sage.
-Prepare one additional bowl with a beaten egg
-Peel the hard boiled eggs if you haven't already (run under warm water to make peeling easier).

 Finally, the fun part!
-Roll the peeled eggs in the flour.  This will help the sausage mixture stick.
-Begin to roll the sausage around the eggs.  You can use a little bit or a lot! Just make sure that the eggs are completed coated.
- Next, dip the sausage coated eggs into the beaten egg mixture.  Shake off any additional egg mixture.
- Roll the eggs in the breadcrumb mixture until fully coated.
- Put Canola or vegetable oil into a skillet/frying pan/sauce pan, and turn on the burner to medium/ high heat (or 375 degrees)
-Test the heat by throwing a breadcrumb in.  If it browns after a minute, you're in business.
-Put the eggs in and turn after 2 1/2-3 minutes.
-Check on one egg to see if it is cooked by cutting through the egg.
-If it isn't, you can finish it off in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 400 degrees.  My eggs were perfectly fried so I did not have to bake them.

I am very proud of myself for making perfectly hard boiled eggs and learning how to fly without a deep fryer!

And lastly... Fried Oreos!

These are super easy to make! I don't have a deep fryer and just made them using vegetable oil in a skillet...

-1/2 cup Bisquick
-1/2 cup milk
-9 oreos, or 18 mini oreos
-Canola or vegetable oil for frying

1) Put vegetable oil in the skillet and turn it up to high
2)Whisk together Bisquick and  milk
3) Coat Oreos with the mixture
4)When the oil begins to bubble lighty, drop the oreos in
5) Check on the oreos periodically, and turn once, after the bottoms are the color of funnel cake

Yummy! Just make sure to eat them while they are still hot! They are not very good at room temperature...

Well that's all for now... I have all kinds of food plans for this weekend!