Thursday, April 24, 2014

Broccoli Cheddar Grilled Cheese






I've been inactively watching nature shows on PBS for the past hour or three while putzing around on the Internet and editing these here photos. Not a lot has been learned, but I have noticed that the music has a very ominous almost spooky thing going on. The scientists and narrator's voices also have a similar vibe happening. Why is this? Has anyone else noticed this?

Maybe it is time for me to change the channel. They must be going for that feel. After all, science can have a sort of awesome and ominous quality to it. Right? Enough of my ramblings about the production qualities of PBS nature shows and more about grilled cheese.


April is grilled cheese month and quite possibly the best month EVER. I don't care if it rains a lot. It is named after me and involves warm cheese between delicious carbs. Enough said.

Broccoli cheddar soup is up there on my favorite soups list. Roasted broccoli is also like vegetable candy for me. It gets all crunchy and roasty on the outside. You can sometimes find me on a wild Friday night drinking wine, watching trashy TV and shoveling a whole head or two of roasted broccoli in my face. You should try it sometime. I live a wild life. No big deal.


I roast extra broccoli and grate extra cheese in anticipation of snacking while I make my sammie. You should do the same. Snacking is inevitable. The addition of the Havarti adds a good melty and creamy quality to the sandwich, mimicking the creaminess of soup.  While the cheddar is obviously necessary to the sandwich and adds a good sharpness.

I have made this sandwich using both sourdough and whole wheat bread, they are equally as good. Go ahead and make your life a bit easier and use whatever bread you have on hand. Celebrate the end of the best month ever and grilled cheese month with this sammie; you won't regret it.

April
 
Ingredients:
Roasted broccoli:
1 head of broccoli
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper

Sandwich:
1/4 roasted broccoli, chopped
2 slices sourdough or french bread
1/3 cup extra sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 cup Havarti, grated
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Instructions:
Broccoli:
Preheat the oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit. Cut the broccoli florets into bite sized pieces. Toss the broccoli with the olive oil, generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread the florets evenly onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown slightly.

Sandwich assembly:
Spread 1/2 tablespoon of butter on both pieces of bread. Flip the slices over (the buttered sides are the ones that are going to hit the pan) and place half the grated cheddar on one piece of the bread. Add the chopped broccoli on top of the cheddar. Sprinkle a pinch of onion powder, garlic and pepper on top of the broccoli. Then add the Havarti, remainder of cheddar and final piece of bread.

Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over low heat. Carefully transfer the sandwich to the skillet and cook until the bread is toasty and golden on both sides and the cheese is gooey and melty. About 7 to 10 minutes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dijon Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are more of a fall and winter vegetable, but you can get them all year round and they are green. Green is a very spring like color, right? I think so and that is what I am going for. This here little recipe came about around new years time. Its been a long time since I've updated the blog regularly, but I had not forgotten about it! I'm always thinking and creating.


My New Year's Eve plans were pretty disorganized and last minute. Most of my friends were doing dinner or something that didn't involve me with their boyfriends. Silly couples. I decided to hell with them and planned to make myself a steak and brussels sprouts.

Just when I had come to terms with spending the start of my new year with a steak and bottle of wine, my married friends got down with the steak dinner plan to start the night. This is how these dijon sprouts came to be.


We were crunched for time. It was "late". There were places to go and people to see. My friends brought mushrooms, bread, brie and steaks. For the sake of time we decided to combine the only two veggies we had into one dish. Dinner came together in 30 to 40 minutes, snacking on cheese and drinking wine can be distracting.

Shredding the sprouts is the most time consuming part, but I've made this three or four times, using several different methods. I've used my mandolin, food processor slicing blade and pre-shredded brussels sprouts from Trader Joe's. You could also slice them carefully with a knife. Up to you. I prefer the mandolin or food processor. The texture is more delicate and frilly. Using a food processor is probably the quickest. Just trim off the stems and toss 'em in there.


Slice up some shrooms. Use any kind you want. As many as you want. I've used pre-sliced variety packs of mushrooms, little bellas and shitakes. Don't like mushrooms? Don't use 'em. Try adding a extra cup of brussels sprouts.

Cooking time is maybe 7 to 10 minutes. No time at all. More than enough time to throw some meat in a hot pan to go along with your brussel sprouts. I would recommend starting the meat before the brussel sprouts though. Just a thought.


This is so easy and flexible that it is really up to you. It was my go to dinner side for a few months. I went through a phase of eating steak and these for dinner anytime I had company. It got rave reviews every single time.

April


Ingredients:
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups shaved brussels sprouts (about 6 ounces)
1 3/4 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Instructions:

In a medium skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the mushrooms and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the brussels sprouts, Dijon mustard and a generous pinch of freshly ground pepper; toss the mixture together and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Salt to taste (my Dijon mustard was fairly salty so I added only a pinch). Transfer to a plate or bowl and enjoy.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Apple Cheddar Pupcakes


It's the Berner Bear's first birthday and we couldn't celebrate without some homemade, puppy-friendly treats. I have to be honest, I was searching for the perfect treat to make Bear for his birthday months ago! I love when I have a reason to spoil my not-so-little puppy! I have made him peanut butter treats and pumpkin cookies before but I wanted something different. Something with a new flavor for him. Which made me think of cheese. Bear loves when we slip him some cheese. Must be his native Wisconsin roots. So, I landed on this recipe. Super easy and healthy, I couldn't resist trying to make these pupcakes.


Why so easy? It's a recipe where you add, mix and bake. That simple! Also, it contains many ingredients that may be in your kitchen already, like apples, flour, rolled oats and cheese. For this recipe, I used whole wheat flour and all purpose flour but it can easily be altered to contain all of either kind of flour. Your puppy will love these pupcakes either way! Bear, my taste-tester and birthday boy, absolutely loved these. He was lifting his paw to shake before I even muttered the command. And as a bonus, these pupcakes made the house smell (surprisingly) oh-so-good!

Happy First Birthday, Bear!


3mo. 14lbs

1yr, 105lbs

Apple Cheddar Pupcakes

adapted from brown eyed baker

Ingredients
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/8 c. rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. applesauce 
1/4 c. water
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. honey
1 egg
1/2 apple, peeled and minced
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line 6 cups of a cupcake pan.
2. Combine and mix flours, oats, baking powder and baking soda.
3. In a separate bowl, mix water, oil, applesauce, honey and egg.Then add the apple and cheese.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until just combined.
5. Fill the cupcake liners almost all the way full.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
7. Cool on a baking rack.
8. Feed to the lucky pooch!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring is in the air!

Happy first of the month friends! I feel like once April arrives, spring is really really here. Here in Madison the first farmers market starts in just a few weeks! We thought this would make a good time to share some of our best spring recipes from this here little blog.


Carrots scream spring, after all the Easter bunny seems to be a pretty big fan. There are also a really easy and simple way to jazz up your standard vegetable side.


Morel mushrooms were among some of the first things I got last spring at the first farmers market of the year!


Lemons are wonderful this time of year for their zesty flavor and color, especially for us in Wisconsin where winter is still lingering. Brittany's Poppy Seed Lemon Cake with Lemon Buttercream, would make a wonderful addition to your Easter table or any table at that. 


Rhubarb will be coming out of our ears before we know it and Kelsey's Starwberry Rhubarb Pie is a perfect way to use some of it up.


If you want something a bit lighter and simple, try this rhubarb tart. It is delicious and pretty. The best of both worlds.

We hope you can find something delicious to make with springs bounty and we will be coming at you with some new spring recipes very soon!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Caramel Chocolate Tartlets


The other weekend, my fiancĂ© and I met up with our wedding photographers to thank them for doing such a good job on our engagement photos. Seriously, I couldn't ask for better pictures. If you are on the look-out for talented and personable photographers, check them out here! We treated them to a little Madison secret, the Chocolaterian cafe. If you love all things chocolate, you need to stop into this wonderful cafe. I ordered the caramel chocolate tart. Oh my goodness. It was oh-so-good! Naturally, I decided this had to be my next culinary adventure. 



After researching recipes, I realized it shouldn't be too difficult to make. What's the hard part about making tarts? It's finding a store that carries the pans! After a few disappointing trips, I landed at Williams-Sonoma. That store ceases to fail me! Finally, I was all set to recreate the caramel chocolate tart that I fell in love with at Chocolaterian.
This dessert has every element to satisfy any dessert craving. It's sweet, rich and topped off with a hint of salt. It's delectable flavor is perfectly enjoyed in it's tiny tartlet size.  

Caramel Chocolate Tartlets

adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

Tart Shell
10 tbsp butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt

Caramel Filling
1/8 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/8 c. heavy cream
pinch of salt

Chocolate Ganache
1/8 c. heavy cream
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate

coarse sea salt to garnish

Instructions

Tart Shell
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  
2. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs.
3. Add flour and salt until combined.
4. Ball the dough and wrap up. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight.
5. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch. Cut the dough to size and press into 6 tartlet pans. Chill 20 minutes.
6. If desired, cover dough with parchment paper and add pie weights. Bake 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment paper. Bake another 5 minutes or until golden edges appear. Let cool.

Caramel Filling
1. Combine water, corn syrup and sugar in a sauce pan on medium to high heat. 
2. Stir sugar mixture often. It will become bubbly. 
3. Turn to low heat once mixture is an amber-yellow color. Add in butter, heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Be careful, the mixture will fizzle up. 
4. Once all combined, transfer to a glass measuring cup and distribute evenly between tartlets. 
5. Let caramel set for at least 45 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache 
1. Heat heavy cream in sauce pan until a light boil.
2. Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate that is in a glass measuring cup.
3. Once chocolate is soft and melting, stir until a smooth consistency.
4. Pour evenly over tartlets.
5. Let tartlets reach room temperature, which takes about 2 hours.

Sprinkle coarse salt over each tartlet and enjoy!

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