Iron Chef Mommy

The journey of a mother and wife in her very own kitchen stadium

Archive for the ‘Stove-top’ Category

Two years ago a princess was born

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 14, 2010

Well, my first order of business….

Happy Birthday Madeline!
Yup, my precious little girl is 2 today! I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m the mommy of a 2 year old – more so, I can’t believe I’m so lucky that she’s mine. She’s still (I think) too young to understand her birthday, but we had fun today none the less. It started at 3am when she ventured into our bed… so she did get a happy birthday from Brett before he left for work around 6. We got up and headed out this morning – we had a nice day together. We headed to get her 2 year pictures taken… much easier said than done. We did get some nice ones, but it was tiring! We did a bit of shopping, had some lunch, and I took her to Build A Bear where we built a dog for her birthday (against my better judgment because we have MORE than enough stuffed animals here), but she’s the birthday girl!

So what to make the birthday girl for dinner? Well, I had a request from a friend (Thanks Allison!) to please try to duplicate Panera’s $8 a bowl mac and cheese. I love it, so I thought that would be something great that I could try to make. I know that their mac and cheese is a mix of Vermont White Cheddar with a “hint of American” as noted on their menu, but that’s about all I knew. So I figured I had my work cut out for me. I tried to think of what went into my own mac and cheese, and here’s what I came up with:

First you need:

12oz pasta shells
4 tablespoons of butter
8 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk*
8-10 oz grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
2-3 oz grated American Cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Then you should:

Cook pasta about 2-3 minutes shorter than package directions and drain. They should still be a little harder than al dente.

In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over med low heat. Slowly whisk in the flour, then slowly add milk a little at a time, whisking all the way. Bring to a boil for a minute or so, then turn heat down and add grated cheese, whisking in as the cheese melts. Add salt and pepper.

Pour pasta and cheese into oven safe pot or 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

**Now, for my edits. This was a really good first attempt, at least in my book, for not having any recipe to go off of, other than what cheeses were in it. I used 1% milk, but I bet whole milk would be better. You might want to either add another 1/2 cup of milk, or maybe beat an egg into the mixture to make it a little creamier.

The taste of it was pretty much there, but it wasn’t as creamy as I’d hoped. This could be either because of too little milk/butter, or the fact that when I pulled it out of the oven, I kept it covered and on the table for roughly 15 minutes to cool a bit before I started scooping it out. I wonder if I had dug into it right away if that would have made a difference. Well, I tried! If anyone makes this, feel free to add any edits/suggestions, because I plan on making this again soon. It was yummy!

Then came dessert for my baby girl. I had cupcakes from yesterday, but thought I should make fresh ones. It turns out it didn’t really matter, because she was so tired, she blew out the candle on a funfetti cupcake from yesterday and ate the frosting, then decided she was ready for bed. But since I didn’t know that was going to happen, I decided it was time for me to tackle something I’ve been dying to try to make – Red Velvet Cupcakes.

A note to all of you out there – be sure to read the WHOLE recipe when deciding to tackle it. I had the dry ingredients sifted before reading that I needed buttermilk. Shit. Shit. Luckily, I remembered someone on the food network saying you could actually whisk your own if you really really had to.

So who’s recipe did I make? One of my favorite chef’s – and yours – Bobby Flay!

Bobby Flay’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

* 15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
* 13 ounces granulated sugar
* 1 1/4 cups buttermilk***
* 3 eggs
*2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
* 1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
* 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1/8 cup water

For the cream cheese frosting:

* 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
* 1 pound butter, room temperature
* 2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.

Line a 16-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
For the cream cheese frosting:

Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

The frosting can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator up to a week.

Frost cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.

***okay. So, a few things. I had no buttermilk. So I took 1 cup of milk and whisked about 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar into it. I think it worked well enough. I’ve also read that you could use milk and then substitute baking powder for baking soda. Good luck.
Also, you need a shitload of food coloring. I used all that I had and they weren’t quite dark red enough. But I have to say, they tasted awesome. And they look pretty good too, don’t you think?

Now that the birthday is over, kitchen is cleaned, I’m sitting down with yet another cupcake and watching Project Runway, while my poor husband, exhausted from a long day, is passed out on the couch. We’re having a family party for Madeline on Saturday so he’ll get that whole day with his baby girl.

Posted in Baking, Birthday, Cheese, Cooking, Cupcakes, Dessert, Dinner, Meal, Miscellaneous, Musings, Pasta, Savory, Stove-top | 1 Comment »

Mac and cheese…a la… me?

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 8, 2010

Mac and cheese… one of my favorite foods.  I grew up on Velveeta, from my mom, and yes, ate my way through my fair share of Easy Mac when I was just a broke student at the University of Scranton, but I’m way past that. I’ve tried a few different recipes for homemade macaroni and cheese, and none of them really spoke to me like a real comfort food can. After thinking of which parts made each dish yummy, I tried my hand at my own original recipe. It’s simple enough for even the most novice of cooks, but it can be doctored with different types of cheeses depending on your taste or preference. Also, I find that sometimes, recipes can be geared towards a larger amount (4, 6, or 8 people) and I either have a ton left over that doesn’t taste the same when it’s reheated, or it ends up getting lost in a Tupperware in the back of the fridge. This is the perfect amount for the 3 of us – there’s usually just enough left for Madeline for lunch the next day, with whatever vegetable we had with it the night before.

My own Macaroni and cheese

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (use 3/4 to 1 tsp if using unsalted butter)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 2/3 cups milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

Directions:

Elbow macaroni cooks in about 8 minutes to tender, 6 minutes to al dente. I usually cook it about 5 – otherwise once you bake it, it’s all a little mushy. Always undercook it a bit when you’re going to bake the pasta.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the salt and pepper, and whisk in one tablespoon of flour at a time until smooth. Continue to whisk as you slowly add the milk. Bring to a boil for about a minute or so, then slowly add the cheese – the shredded first, then the cubed, whisking the whole time.

Grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Pour in pasta, then add cheese sauce. Mix together. Melt the last tablespoon of butter, add the breadcrumbs to form a crumbly mixture and sprinkle over the top. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.

Posted in Baking, Cheese, Cooking, Dinner, Meal, Pasta, Stove-top | 1 Comment »

Shepherd’s Pie that sticks to you

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 6, 2010

As much as I love the warmer weather, I have to say there really is no bigger food comfort than a warm dish that makes you feel cozy on a freezing day. You know, those foods that feel like they stick to your insides and make you feel wonderful and satisfied and afterwards, all you want to do is curl up in front of a fire and not move…ever. Winter makes me think of yummy stews, chili, homemade mac and cheese, thick soups. One of Brett’s favorite winter foods happens to be Shepherd’s Pie. It’s an old British traditional dish, usually made with lamb mince.

In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.

The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until the 1870s, and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. There is now a popular tendency for “shepherd’s pie” to be used when the meat is mutton or lamb, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle, however this may be an example of folk etymology.

This a delicious, filling dish that is surprisingly healthy. There is butter (or course), but when eating it, the dish doesn’t feel heavy – I didn’t feel left with that “brick in my stomach” feeling.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
1 onion chopped
1-2 cups vegetables – chopped carrots, corn, peas
1 1/2 – 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Directions:
Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).

While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.

Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.


Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.

Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.

Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.

Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

Serves four.

This came out pretty good. I made some more mashed potatoes that didn’t go in the oven and we just added to our plates because I used 2 pounds of ground beef. I halved the beef broth and put a full tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce in and it was delicious.

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Dinner, Meal, Meat, Stove-top, Vegetables | 3 Comments »

A tribute to Mom for her birthday

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 2, 2010

Happy Birthday to my wonderful Mom today! I’m sorry I couldn’t be with her today, but I’ll be seeing her in a week or two so that will have to do. In the meantime, in honor of my mom (who’s a fantastic cook) please, the next time you make pasta, try out her sauce recipe. It’s been passed through our family and is my go-to recipe for whenever I need a big bowl of yummy pasta.

*Beware, this is a big batch of sauce. I freeze half of it and it usually takes 2 meals to use the other half)

Ingredients:

2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
3-4 cloves garlic (more or less depending on taste)
olive oil
fresh basil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
5-6 boneless pork spare ribs (optional, but yummy)
wine (red or white)

Brown the beef in a seperate pan, drain grease and set aside. Do the same with the pork (I don’t always add the pork, it just depends on when I decide to make the sauce and what’s in my fridge)
In the bottom of a large saucepan (5-6 quarts) cover the bottom with olive oil and add garlic. When the garlic just begins to sizzle, add the cans of crushed tomatoes and paste, stir well. Add fresh basil, and if you feel in the mood, some fresh rosemary if you have it.
Now comes the wine. First, pour yourself a glass. If you put white wine in the sauce it lightens it up and makes it slightly sweeter, a red will make the sauce taste more full-bodied. I tend to use red more than white, but it’s preference. I fill the cans of tomato paste a little more than halfway with the wine, swish, and toss in.

Add the meat, stirring occassionally. Leave uncovered and simmer for at least 60 minutes. Add (more) garlic, salt and pepper if necessary.

In the fridge, the sauce will keep about 4-5 days.

Enjoy! This sauce is great – I use it to make everything from a simple pasta dinner to the sauce in my lasagna or baked ziti if I want some meat in it.

and again, Happy Birthday Mom!!! Love you!

Posted in Birthday, Cooking, Meat, Pasta, Sauce, Stove-top | 1 Comment »