January 29, 2013

Butter-Baked Cod

We had a fantastic sudden snowstorm last night! From 60 degrees to 4-5 inches of snow! Colorado is so crazy. Joe and I took the beastie to our favorite dog park to play this morning. No friends, but plenty of snow! We had lots of fun, and now she's out like a light. Perfect dog for our family, it doesn't take tons to wear her out!! I'm hoping it won't all melt before Stephen gets home from school, he wants to build a snowman SO badly!! Fingers crossed!

Butter-Baked Cod (adapted from The English Kitchen)

4-6 Cod fillets
1 stick of butter, melted
salt (about 1 tsp)
paprika (about 1/2 tsp) (I love smoked paprika!)
pepper (about 1/2 tsp)
a few leaves of fresh sage, chopped fine
lemon wedges

Preheat your oven to 375. Place fillets in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika. (I didn't really measure, but I gave you some measurements if you need specifics!)
Drizzle most of the butter over the fish, save some for possible dipping, sprinkle sage over the butter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, basting a few times with the pan butter. Serve with lemon and leftover drizzling butter. 
YUM!! Marie said this is known as "poor man's lobster." I've only had lobster once, and it wasn't that great, BUT Stephen and I love king crab! This reminded us of king crab with lemon and butter.
This is actually a recipe I made months ago, before this new healthy-ness. There's no way I could get away with making it right now!! But it is oooh, so yummy!! I love cod. I love its light flavor, almost sweetness, and firm, flakey chunks. It may be my favorite fish!
Stephen dipped every bite in butter. Wow. He can do that, he's one of those people who never gains a pound! I on the other hand need to be a bit more careful. No butter dipping for me!! I think we all know I'm more of a lemon girl anyway :)
Besides, I honestly don't think it needed it :)

Shared at Tasty Tuesdays

PS- Taking a break till Monday. Trying to get back on top of life in general :) See you then!

January 28, 2013

Weekly Menu Jan. 28 & A Birthday!

This week we have:

Today is officially the 7th birthday of my oldest boy, Stephen Paul Phillips Jr. ! We celebrated his birthday with a blue cake, lots of balloons, a book from Grandma (which he has already finished!), a trip to Buckaroos (a place with TONS of activities), and the selection of his very first pet all to himself, a goldfish named Googleye!
Unlike my impatient little Joe, Stephen was more than comfy in that womb thing, and we had to drag him out a week after his due date. He's been the comfy one every since. The reader, snuggler, watcher, talker, and sleeper. I was so spoiled, he was the best baby ever!!
I called him my Happy Pill, and he still loves to make everyone happy. And make best friends with everyone he meets. He is an absolute bookworm, polishing off chapter books in a matter of hours, and always ready to move on to the next one! He loves learning, and wishes he could go to school on Saturdays. Even normal weekends are too long of a break for him! He is the boy of a zillion dimples, he has his heart set on being an astronaut, and if he's not reading, he's probably dancing. I love my almost-all-grown-up boy, and I can't believe he's this old already! He'll be a teenager before I know it!
I love you, my Stephen-boy! Happy birthday!

PS- You may have noticed I only have 1 recipe this week. I'm having a medical procedure Thursday, and preparing for it is rough. Not sure how long it will take to recover from (no worries, just a check-up thing!) so I'll see you back here next Monday!

January 27, 2013

Candied Orange Peel & Chocolate Orange Biscotti

My dear friends, I am so sorry I missed my Small and Wonderful Things yesterday! But I have a good excuse, as we were out celebrating the birthday of Stephen, my oldest small-and-wonderful-thing. His birthday is actually tomorrow, but we decided on the spur of the moment to celebrate it while The Geologist was home this weekend. There was much fun, many shenanigans, and a new addition to our family. More on all of that tomorrow! I'll do an abbreviated S&WT with this recipe. Hope you've had a wonderful weekend!

The way Joe always runs to put his hand out when it "rains on the vegetables"

Source: raspberrytart

Anniversary flowers!


Snails (and little mushrooms. And snails on little mushrooms!!)
Source: qalbiqalbi

Sunny Sundays with my famberly

Candied Orange Peel
Printable Recipe

3 large thick-skinned oranges (I've used navel, cara-cara, and valencias)
1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar

First, peel your oranges. I like to slice off the top and bottom, then score the sides, and peel them off. Cut each piece of peel into strips.

Place orange peel in a large pot and cover with a few inches of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower a bit, and let boil for 30 minutes. Drain the water, rinse the peels (I just put more cold water in the pot, swished it around, and drained again) and fill with a few more inches of water. Boil for 30 minutes again. If you like just a smidge of the bitter taste of orange (like me), stop here. If not, drain, rinse, refill, and boil for 30 minutes one more time.

In a medium pot/saucepan, stir together the sugar and water as you bring it to a boil. Let boil for 8-9 minutes. Add the drained orange peels and lower to medium-low (it should still be simmering and bubbling). Swirl the pot a bit to make sure the peels are coated. Let simmer for 35-40 minutes, checking often. The syrup should keep bubbling. NEVER stir this!!!! If you are concerned about the peels at the top, swirl the pot gently again, but do NOT stir! After 35-40 minutes, remove from heat, lift pieces of peel out of the syrup with a fork (or tongs) and lay each strip on a wire rack over some wax/parchment paper to set. After a few minutes of cooling, you can sprinkle/toss them with sugar to make them all pretty.

* I made this three different times so I could bring you a recipe that really works!! I was going to toss these in sugar but was exhausted and forget. They're still bright, and orange-y and chewy and sweet and delicious! If you want them softer, go with 30-35 minutes cooking time, 40 if you'd like them stiffer. Enjoy!

Chocolate Orange Biscotti
Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup roughly chopped candied orange peel (bought or homemade)
1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

In a large bowl/mixer beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients till you have a smooth, stiff dough. Mix in chocolate chips and orange peel.

Divide the dough in half, and on your lined baking sheet form and flatten each half into a long rectangle, about 9x3 inches. Bake for 25 minutes, or until slightly firm. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
With a large, sharp knife, cut each rectangle into slices. Turn each slice on its side. Bake for 15-18 more minutes, until stiff. Let cool.

If you really want to go crazy, melt some more chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 second bursts at a time, stirring well between each, and dip/smear each biscotti with more chocolate. If you want more orange flavor, add 1/2 tsp orange extract to this chocolate (about 1 cup of chips) It can set at room temperature, but would be faster in the fridge.
Some may consider the chocolate coating overkill, but The Geologist took his biscotti and dipped it back in the chocolate... so maybe not. He also says this is the best biscotti I've ever made. My favorite is still the Egg Nog Biscotti, but these are fabulous!!
I love how the tops look. You could drizzle them with chocolate instead, or some other kind of frosting... orange, perhaps?
Either way, they're delicious. Soft chocolate chips, chewy orange bits (which actually spread their fruity flavor into the rest of the dough!) and that wonderful crunchy texture. If you love the classic orange-chocolate combo, you will adore these biscotti!
Oh, and by the way, mine are HUGE because I only made one rectangle and for some reason this dough expands like crazy. I love biscotti. Which flavor combo should I try next? I'm thinking something with almonds...

January 25, 2013

Buttermilk Donut Muffins

I swear, winter has just plain given up this year. It's 60 degrees outside today! For crying out loud!! Oh well. It's hard to be angry when it's just so gorgeous out... I'm still holding out hope for one more snowstorm! Make it a big one! Shut down the schools!!

As I mentioned yesterday, I picked my recipes this week all just for fun. I was still craving the donuts from my local grocery store, but wasn't really prepared to go all-in and start frying up homemade donuts, so I looked for donut muffins! Could I make a muffin to satisfy my donut craving?? Turns out the answer, of course, is yes! Anyone surprised??

Buttermilk Donut Muffins (inspired by Cooking Classy)
Printable Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 2 Tb buttermilk
10 Tb butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tb milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and grease/line a 12 cup muffin tin.

Whisk flour, baking powder & soda, salt, and spices together in a medium bowl, and set it aside. In a small bowl (or glass measuring cup, which is easiest!) combine milk and buttermilk and set aside

Beat butter and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with half portions of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined after each. 

Spoon into prepared muffins tin, each cup should be almost, but not quite full. If not glazing, sprinkle tops generously with sugar. Bake for 13-18 minutes, until muffins are very lightly browned. Allow to cool before glazing. 

Make your glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together in a small bowl. Dip the top of each muffin in the glaze, let a bit of the extra glaze drizzle off, then set on a piece of wax/parchment paper to set. (You can also skip the glaze, and top with streusel, plain sugar, sprinkles, or dip the tops in melted butter and cinnamon sugar!)
Since my favorite donuts are the ones just sprinkled with sugar, I left half of mine just like that. And they are scrumptious!! 
But for prettiness sake, I glazed the other half! I actually ran out of powdered sugar yesterday, and the Geologist and I were making 4-5 dozen muffins for his office... luckily I remembered the packet of strawberry icing sugar my dear friend Marie sent me! You saved the day! According to Joe, these strawberry frosted ones are "even better than cupcakes!"
But back to the muffins themselves. Top them how you will, to me they are perfect. Not super sweet, loaded with nutmeg, moist and fluffy from the buttermilk! They're sooo good!
The outside even gets a bit crisp (if you don't bake them in liners) so you could almost imagine they really are donuts! Now, when we doubled this recipe, we ended up with an extra dozen, so it may make more than 1 dozen. Oh darn! :)

By the way, I took new photos of my Lemon Blueberry Muffins, the very first recipe I ever posted, and the one with the worst pictures, so I have now replaced them! Hopefully I'll be able to replace all those first few dozen recipes at some point. :)

January 24, 2013

Blackberry Jam Cake

Sometimes I really hate it when I'm right. You know those times when there's something you're supposed to do, and the more you think about it and the closer it gets, you keep trying to talk yourself out of it? Look for excuses and loopholes? Plan your escape? While all the time, that annoying, uppity, sensible little voice in your head (or sometimes your husband) tells you over and over, "You'll be glad you did!!" So you do it. Grumbling, slouching, determined to hate every second... and then blast it all, by the end, you really ARE glad you did!! Am I the only who who can't help just a smidge of resentment at that? Sometimes I think it would be so nice to do that "thing", family gathering, work party, exercise, church meeting, etc., then come home and say, "HA!! I wish I hadn't done that! It was SOOO not worth it!!" Sigh. This is how I was today with "working out." Still sore from Tuesday, up late and more stiff from choir last night, I did NOT want to work out today! But I did!! I wimped out faster than usual, but I made it to the end, and darn that little voice, I was glad I did. Now I want to take a nap. :)

When I was planning my menu for the week, I thought of things I wanted to make, and things I wanted to eat. This beautiful little cake has been on my Pinterest board for months, but I never had a reason to try it. So it made it on the list!! And I'm so glad it did. To start with, it smelled fabulous while baking!

Blackberry Jam Cake (adapted from Salt and Chocolate)
Printable Recipe

1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon
4 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups cake flour (you can use all-purpose flour too, it just won't be as light)
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1 cup of seedless blackberry preserves (not jelly!)

1/2 cup of blackberry preserves
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and spray/grease a 12 cup bundt pan. 

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Set this aside.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides after each. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Add a 1/3 of the flour,  followed by half of the yogurt, beating after each addition. Repeat: flour, yogurt, flour. Fold in the blackberry preserves (lumps are yummy). 

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Leaving the cake in and the door closed, increase the heat to 350 and bake for 40-50 minutes more, till nice and brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto rack to cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze heat the 1/2 cup of blackberry preserves in a small sauce pan (or the microwave) until it thins a bit, then whisk in the powdered sugar and lemon juice till thick and smooth. Pour over cake. (Make sure you have something under it to catch all that drippy glaze!)
Can you believe that color?! Just blackberry jam and sugar!! And a bit of lemon, of course. This cake needed some tang! :)
A homey, old-fashioned, spiced jam cake. So yummy! It's moist and flavorful, and you could probably do this with any jam you wanted to! Mix it into the glaze so it matches, of course, and you may want to tweak the spices to match. I've got the remnants of marmalade, peach, and apricot jams in my fridge at the moment... I may have to try this with all three together!
I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of a slice for you, we served it to guests that night, and they weren't aware of my penchant for slicing things up for my blog... so I left it whole. :) But it was truly scrumptious! It isn't super-duper sweet, you could probably get away with it for breakfast! We had it topped with some homemade whipped cream, and everyone was a fan! You can't get a better review than that!

Shared at Foodie Friday

January 23, 2013

Honey Oat Bread

Ah, today was a long day!! Doctor's appointments and after-school classes, lack of sleep and leftover soreness. Because of the anxiety and procrastination of his mother, my poor little Joe is just now starting his immunizations. And he has to get them ALL done before school starts this fall!! Poor guy got SEVEN shots today!! It was pretty rough, but he bounced back fast, and is now very proud of himself. We were both pretty worn out after the appointment, and coming home to a slice of this bread, warmed and slathered in honey and butter, was the perfect medicine.

Honey Oat Bread (from Bakingdom)
Printable Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour (you could use half or all whole wheat flour too!)
3/4 cups instant or old-fashioned oats
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 Tb unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey

a few Tb honey
a few Tb oats

Combine the flour, oats, yeast, and salt in a large bowl (or in mixer).

In a small glass bowl or measuring cup, warm the milk till it is hot enough to melt the butter, but not boiling. A minute and a half in the microwave did it for me. Add the butter and stir till melted. Stir in the water.
Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix with a dough hook or wooden spoon until it just comes together in a sticky dough. Knead by hand or in mixer for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. (It will be VERY sticky at first. Be patient, spray your hand with cooking spray if kneading by hand, and try not to add more than a pinch or two of flour. It should start coming together and getting more tack and less sticky after about 5 minutes (it will start clearing the sides of the bowl if you're using a mixer. If it is still too soft, add flour a Tb at a time. Wait a while between each.)

Put dough in lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled.

Once doubled, dump the dough out on a clean, dry work surface. Sprinkle a bit of flour if you need to. Flatten the dough into about a 9x12 inch rectangle with your hands. No need to use a rolling pin.
Starting from the short side, tightly roll the dough, tucking in the ends as needed, into a loaf. 
Place the rolled dough into a loaf pan, cover with a clean towel, let rise until doubled, another 1-2 hours. 
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty loaf pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bring 2 cups of water to a boil on the stovetop.

Brush the top of the bread with honey (it helps to warm it up a bit) and sprinkle with extra oats. 
Place the bread in the oven (middle rack) and pour the boiling water into the empty loaf pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the bread is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the crust.

Let cool slightly in the pan, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack. 
Isn't that golden-brown crust lovely? You could almost believe this bread is good for you! 
Well, it's certainly better for you than storebought bread full of preservatives! And it has oats in it, so that's saying something!
It slices up all light and soft and barely sweet. I have to be honest, this maybe my new favorite homemade bread. It is sooo good!
It just BEGS to be smeared with butter and drenched with honey... and hang the calories!!
I sliced the rest of it extra thin and can't wait to try it with sandwiches! Or toast! This bread is going to put a greater strain on my self control than every other treat I've made so far this week!

January 22, 2013

Chicken Casserole with Lemon, Garlic, and White Wine

We all know about impulse buys, right? You go grocery shopping while starving, and come home with half a dozen things you never would have bought. You see a major sale, and buy something you wouldn't have dreamed of buying normally! Or you see a meal, and on sight only, decide that is what I'm having for dinner tonight. I had a plan yesterday, and it was a good plan. Still trying something new, and healthy, and hopefully tasty. Then I read through my blog feed, and this recipe from my friend Mary of Inside a British Mum's Kitchen floored me. I had to make it. So, we are having a menu change, because I just couldn't wait till next week to share this one!

What do YOU think when you hear the word "casserole"? I picture cream of something soup, cheese, noodles or rice, and some meat. Maybe veggies. Maybe crushed crackers or breadcrumbs. Don't get me wrong, casseroles can be fabulous comfort food. But do you think "white wine"?? I sure didn't!! This isn't like any casserole I have ever had. It redefines casserole for me. My eyes have been opened!

It looked so amazing that I finally got up the guts to cook with real, no kidding wine for the first time in my life. I did some research so I wouldn't walk in there and pick the first bottle of white wine I saw. I read that chardonnay goes well with chicken, (I don't drink it, so I wouldn't know!) and I used a trick my mom taught me: if you are a cooker, but not a drinker, and aren't going to finish off the rest of that bottle soon, get one of the little 4-packs of mini wine bottles. Then they can sit safely in your pantry till you need more!

Chicken Casserole with Lemon, Garlic, and White Wine (adapted slightly from Inside a British Mum's Kitchen)
Printable Recipe

1 large or 2 small chickens, cut up into 8 pieces (or an assortment of your favorite pieces. We used thighs and breasts)
olive oil
2-3 lemons, quartered
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 medium (or one large) onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
2 cups white wine (if you don't want to use wine, you can substitute chicken broth)
fresh parsley, chopped coarse (I think I used about 1/8 of a cup)
salt and pepper (I like kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper)
1 Tb unsalted butter
1 Tb all purpose flour

Sprinkle your chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Stir the cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl, and rub over the chicken. (Refrigerate for a couple of hours if you can. Overnight would be good too!)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Place the chicken in a baking dish (or roasting pan, or Dutch oven), add chopped up onions, garlic cloves and lemon quarters, and generously drizzle olive oil over the whole thing. Sprinkle with some more salt and pepper, the fresh parsley, and pour wine over everything. 
Place into the oven (uncovered) and roast for about 50-60 minutes or until the chicken is nicely browned.
Remove from oven and take chicken pieces out of the sauce. Place them on a large platter (you want some room, or an edge, you'll be pouring sauce over the whole thing) and cover with foil to keep warm.
Stir butter and flour together in a small bowl. Add 1-2 Tb of chicken juices to this mixture and stir well. Add this mixture back to the chicken juices, bring to a simmer and stir until the sauce thickens. (If you can do this in the original baking dish/pan, that's best. If not, scrape all juices and chunks into a pot to thicken) Pour it all over the chicken. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired, and serve!
This was the perfect recipe to break in my new Dutch oven!! And it looks so pretty in there, doesn't it??
You cannot imagine how amazing this smelled while cooking. Mouthwatering!!  Those spices, the lemon and savories... a meal fit for a king!
This is our new favorite chicken dish. Hands-down. I've never had better. Who needs restaurants when you can cook like this at home?? And so easy!!
The chicken was moist, tender, and flavorful, the sauce is heaven itself! I thought the spices were an unusual mix, but it turned out to be a delicious combination.
I can't wait for leftovers!!

Shared at Tasty Tuesdays