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Archive for February, 2011

Roasted carrots with maple-mustard glaze

I love love love carrots. Raw, dipped, shredded, sauteed, and roasted. I got so excited when I saw purple and orange baby carrots, so I looked for a slightly upgraded way to serve carrots with my dinner. This glaze is perfectly tangy and sweet. It gets a little messy on the pan but it’s totally worth it. It would be good on other fall vegetables like rutabaga, sweet potatoes or butternut squash.

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Maple-Mustard Glaze (Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy)


2 bunches (about 1-1 1/2 pounds) rainbow carrots (If you can’t find rainbow carrots, regular carrots work just as well.)
Olive oil
Kosher or sea salt to taste
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
Splash of sherry vinegar (I used balsamic)


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Wash and scrub carrots well and slice them in half lengthwise.  Lay them, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Roast carrots for 30-35 minutes, until soft and lightly browned.

While carrots are roasting, combine maple syrup and mustard in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat until the mixture just starts to simmer.  Remove and stir in a splash of sherry vinegar.  Set aside.

About 2 minutes before carrots have finished roasting, drizzle maple-mustard glaze on top of them.  Continue cooking until carrots are done.

Serves 4-6, depending on how much you like carrots.


Caramel filled brownies

What a great Valentine’s day treat. I cut these into heart shapes and served with ice cream. I put a little more batter on the bottom layer. I was a little worried the bottom layer would overcook and the top might be underdone, but everything turned out great. Chilling is a must, but don’t serve these cold. Let them sit out until they reach room temperature. I added some salt into the caramel layer and they tasted really delicious. I made 1/2 of the recipe, of course.

Caramel Filled Brownies (Cookie Madness)


1 cup whole pecans (more or less, RR uses 1 ½ cups)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz)
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14 oz) bag of caramels
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more if you like)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pecans on a cookie sheet and toast for 7-9 minutes or until aromatic. Let cool. When cool, chop.

Meanwhile, line a 13×9 inch pan with Release foil or parchment paper. You could also just line with foil and spray the foil. Make sure to spray the sides so the caramel won’t stick to the sides.

Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and repeat until smooth. Let cool for about 5 minutes. While chocolate cools, in a separate bowl beat sugar and eggs on high speed of an electric mixer for 3 entire minutes. Beat in vanilla. Stir chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Using a mixing spoon or wire whisk, stir in flour and salt. Pour about half of this batter into the lined pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes. While first layer cools, prepare filling.

Unwrap caramels and put them in a saucepan with the 1/3 cup of cream. Heat on medium low, stirring often, until caramels are melted. Stir about half of the chopped pecans into the caramel. Pour the caramel mixture over the brownie layer.

Spread the remaining brownie mix over the caramel filling. It is kind of tricky, so do your best, but don’t worry about covering all the caramel. Scatter chocolate chips and remaining pecans over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for another 20 minutes or until the top batter appears set but not dry. Allow brownies to cool completely (this should take a few hours). I like to cool them and then chill them because it makes slicing easier.

Lift brownies from pan and place on a big cutting board. Slice into whatever size you feel like.

Pulled pork and barbeque sauce

I really loved the spice rub so I made the entire recipe even though my pork roast was only 3.15 lbs. I used about a tbsp in my bbq sauce because the two recipes were really similar. I added celery seed to the bbq sauce because that wasn’t in the rub. I rubbed my pork two days ahead, and cooked it for 8.5 hrs on LOW. It was moist and delicious and my bbq sauce worked perfectly with it. It is a thin sauce, especially since I subbed tomato juice for tomato sauce. I added some tomato paste to compensate though. The sauce is really tangy, but it has a nice amount of sweetness. I let it simmer for an hour or so.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (spice rub from Cooks Illustrated)

Spice Rub:
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground white pepper

1 (6-8 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
2 cups barbecue sauce

1. Mix all spice rub ingredients in small bowl.

2. Massage spice rub into meat. Wrap tightly in double layer of plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (For stronger flavor, the roast can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

3. Unwrap roast and place it in slow cooker liner. Add liquid smoke, if using, and ¼ cup water. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, until meat is fork-tender.

4. Transfer roast to cutting board; discard liquid in liner. “Pull” by tearing meat into thin shreds with two forks or your fingers. Discard fat.

5. Place shredded meat back in slow cooker liner; toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce, and heat on low for 30-60 minutes, until hot. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

Big Al’s K.C. Bar-B-Que Sauce (All Recipes)

Original Recipe Yield 6 cups of sauce (I made 1/2 of the recipe)


  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 4 teaspoons hickory-flavored liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, wine vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke and butter. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for up to 20 minutes. For thicker sauce, simmer longer, and for thinner, less time is needed. Sauce can also be thinned using a bit of water if necessary. Brush sauce onto any kind of meat during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

French fries x 2

These were both awesome. The first recipe, from Serious Eats, was pretty complicated, but the steps are broken down easily and they go into the freezer overnight before the 2nd fry. So it’s not too much work either day, but it does take some planning. These fries were perfectly crispy and tasted great. These are my #1 fry, and they really reminded me of McDonald’s, when you get a batch straight from the fryer.

The 2nd batch was delicious as well. The prep was significantly easier, but I had to add more water to make the batter the right consistency. I increased the spices substantially. These were a little more high maintenance when frying, because you pretty much had to drop them in one by one. Not ideal for a huge batch. I really liked the crispy batter and the seasonings were great.

Perfect Thin and Crispy French Fries (Serious Eats)

Serves four


  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch fries (keep potatoes stored in a bowl of water)
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 quarts peanut oil


  1. Place potatoes and vinegar in saucepan and add 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Potatoes should be fully tender, but not falling apart. Drain and spread on paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Allow to dry for five minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in 5-quart Dutch oven or large wok over high heat to 400°F. Add 1/3 of fries to oil (oil temperature should drop to around 360°F). Cook for 50 seconds, agitating occasionally with wire mesh spider, then remove to second paper-towel lined rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining potatoes (working in two more batches), allowing oil to return to 400°F after each addition. Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Continue with step 3, or for best results, freeze potatoes at least over night, or up to 2 months.
  3. Return oil to 400°F over high heat. Fry half of potatoes until crisp and light golden brown, about 3 1/2 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain at around 360°F. Drain in a bowl lined with paper towels and season immediately with kosher salt. Cooked fries can be kept hot and crisp on a wire rack set on a sheet tray in a 200°F oven while second batch is cooked. Serve immediately.

Crispy Battered French Fries (Buns in My Oven)

Serves 4, i guess


  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and sliced into fries
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water, as needed
  • oil, for frying


Heat a pan full of oil over medium heat. Sift together the flour and seasonings in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Keep adding more water as needed until the batter is thin enough to drizzle off of your spoon. Add a handful of fries to the batter and toss to coat. Place the fries in the hot oil one at a time. (This sounds much more time consuming than it really is.) You can put in a spoonful of fries at once, but they are more likely to clump together this way. Fry until the outsides are crisp and browned and the insides are fluffy and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot.

Pulled pork hash

I recently had corned beef hash at a restaurant, and knew I’d be making it at home. However, I have no desire to make corned beef right now. I recently made an amazing bbq pulled pork, and figured it would make a nice substitution. I started with Joelen’s Hearty Breakfast Skillet because I wanted crispy home fries. Then I just kind of improvised and finished the dish on my own. The home fries were decent, but if a recipe says crispy, I want a crunch. And you just can’t get that with diced potatoes in a skillet. Maybe I’ll try hashbrowns next time.

Once my onions were browned and soft, I added the leftover pulled pork and stirred it around. I added some chicken stock to loosen everything up and keep it juicy. Then I popped it in a warm oven while frying up the potatoes. My other big change was the liberal use of the leftover bbq pork rub. However, I forgot to account for the sugar in the rub, so the overall dish was a teeny bit too sweet. If I hadn’t been lazy I would have added some more cayenne, but it was too far away.

Once the potatoes were done, I added the onions and pork back into the skillet and stirred in some bbq sauce. My tangy, sweet, perfect thickness bbq sauce. Then I fried up an egg and plopped it on top. I garnished with diced tomato.

Diner Style Home Fries (Cooks Illustrated)


2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, diced fine
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon paprika
ground black pepper


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer onion to small bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, place diced potatoes in large saucepan, cover with 1/2 inch water, add 1 teaspoon salt, and place over high heat. As soon as water begins to boil, about 6 minutes, drain potatoes thoroughly in colander.

Heat butter and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until butter foams. Add potatoes and shake skillet to evenly distribute potatoes in single layer; make sure that one side of each piece is touching surface of skillet. Cook without stirring until potatoes are golden brown on bottom, about 4 to 5 minutes, then carefully turn potatoes with a spatula. Spread potatoes in single layer in skillet again and repeat process until potatoes are tender and browned on most sides, turning three to four times, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add onions, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; stir to blend. Transfer to a baking sheet and place in warm oven until ready to serve with eggs.

Creamy mushroom soup

I have been on a big soup kick recently, and I’ve been making some pretty good ones! This one was no exception. I splurged and bought a 1/2 oz bag of dried porcini mushrooms, and I’m glad I did. They were so delicious, especially because they make a yummy broth too. While making this, I was kind of worried it wouldn’t taste that good. But the last minute additions – cream, wine, and soy sauce – really made the soup. I added extra soy sauce. I can think of a few minor improvements to maximize flavor, such as seasoning the onions and mushrooms as they cook. I usually do that, but I forgot this time. It turned out fine, but it needed a LOT of salt at the end. Also, I would like the soup to be a tiny bit thicker. It was very smooth, which was most important, but I might look into adding a tiny bit of flour to make a roux. I’m not looking for cream of mushroom soup, but a little more thickness would be nice. It’s not the prettiest soup, but it tasted great! There are a lot of other versions, but I think I picked the best one.

Creamy Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Thyme (Use Real Butter)

Serves 6


2 tbsps unsalted butter
2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium onion, medium dice (~ 1 1/2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pound fresh mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed, and thinly sliced (~ 4 1/2 cups) – I used portabella & alba mushrooms
1/2 ounce bag of dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1-2 cups boiling water (reserve the liquid, but leave any sandy dregs behind) – this is optional, but I did it
2 tbsps plus 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper to taste
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup half-and-half
3 tbsps dry sherry
1 tbsp soy sauce


In a large stockpot heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the onions until they are browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir about for a minute. Then add the mushrooms, 2 tablespoons of thyme, salt, pepper, and cook until the mushrooms begin to wilt (in a couple of minutes). Pour in the broth and the porcini liquid (aka liquid gold) making sure to scrape up any fond that has formed on the bottom of the pan (the good browned bits). Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 7 to 10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Remove the soup from the heat and let it cool slightly. Either using a food processor, a blender, or an immersion blender, purée about half of the soup. Return the purée to the pot and stir int he half-and-half, shery, and soy sauce. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Reheat as needed. Garnish with fresh thyme and extra mushrooms that have been browned in butter (that is some heady garnish, lemme tell ya!). Serves six.

Cheesy garlic bread swirls

I don’t make rolls as part of my dinner plans very often, because I only like one starchy thing in my meal. And dinner is sometimes the only time I can get in my veggies, so usually I go for healthy sides. But I wanted to make mushroom soup, and that’s healthy and has a lot of vegetables. Right? So I can justify making these rolls. I halved the recipe and made 6 rolls. I let them rise for about 45 minutes after putting them in the muffin tins, and they were huge! I was really surprised how much bigger mine were than the pictures on Our Best Bites. I made the garlic butter with 3 tbsp butter and 1/4 of the garlic bread seasoning. I didn’t use all of the mix on the rolls, and I thought the seasonings were almost a little too strong, haha. Nothing offensive though. Some of the cheese leaked out of the bottom of the rolls, so maybe I’ll manipulate and shape them a little better so that doesn’t happen. I’ll also try and roll them tighter to get a better swirl. But those changes are purely asthetic, the taste and texture was perfect.

The original recipe said to cover them after about 10 minutes, but I liked the brown tops on mine.

Cheesy Garlic Bread Swirls
Recipe by Our Best Bites

French Bread Dough:
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4-5 1/2 c. flour
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg yolk

Garlic Butter:
1/2 c. (1 stick) of real butter, no substitutions
1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic bread seasoning

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine yeast, water, and sugar in large mixing bowl and allow to stand 10 minutes or until bubbly. Add salt, vegetable oil, and egg yolk (set white aside for later) and combine. Add 3 c. flour and mix well until combined. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough that barely sticks to your finger. Knead, either by hand or in mixer (my personal and very lazy choice) for another 2-3 minutes. Cover and allow to rise 1 hour.

While dough is rising, combine butter and garlic bread seasoning. Set aside.

Now…here’s a little trick I’ve been using a lot lately. I really, really hate cleaning up flour on my work surface after I’ve been working with dough, but I obviously have to use SOMETHING to keep it from sticking. If you spray a little non-stick cooking spray on your work surface and your rolling pin, your dough won’t stick and clean-up is super easy!

Anyway, roll your rough into a rectangle that’s about 18-20 inches by 6 inches. Smear garlic butter over the entire surface of the dough and then sprinkle with cheese.

l up jelly-roll style and then use dental floss to cut into 12 equal slices. Of course, I kind of forgot to take pictures of this whole process, but if what I’m saying makes no sense, check out the orange roll recipe to see what I’m talking about. Place each slice in a muffin tin. Cover with a clean cloth. Preheat oven to 350 and allow rolls to rise while the oven is heating.

When the oven is ready, bake for 18-22 minutes. (I baked mine for 23 because they were huge!)