March 12 to 18

This was not the best of week since the weather has been so up and down, my head has been pounding for the whole week pretty much. I still managed to complete the week, just sorry that this blog is a week late. I have tried to post it sooner, just been very busy. I believe the big wins this week were the Tomato Basil Pasta, the Mini Apple Pies, and the Baked Mac and Cheese. I decided this week to try and make my own Vanilla Extract and I am excited to see if it works.

 

March 12 - Citrus Segments

I wanted to try something different since I don’t really eat Grapefruits I thought this would be a good starting point. I was wrong. I’m not a fan at all of the grapefruit. Next time I would just make this with the oranges since that really tasted delicious. Other than that I don’t know if I would really make this again.

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 large navel oranges
  • 2 large grapefruits
  1. In a small saucepan, stir together 1 1/3 cups water and the sugar, then add the vanilla bean. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Transfer the syrup to a bowl; discard the vanilla bean.
  2. To section the oranges, working with 1 fruit at a time, and using a small, sharp knife, cut off a thin slice from both the stem and the blossom end to reveal the flesh. Then stand the fruit upright and, slice off the peel, pith, and membrane in thick strips. Holding the fruit over the bowl of syrup in order to catch the juice, cut along the membrane on either side of each fruit segment, letting the segments drop into the bowl with the syrup.
  3. To section the grapefruits, follow the instructions for the oranges, then remove any seeds from the segments. Cut each segment in half to approximate size of the orange segments.
  4. Gently toss the segments in the syrup until well coated. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. Serve in small bowls.

 

March 13 - Tomato Basil Pasta

I love being able to make pasta with a homemade sauce from scratch. This sauce was actually quiet easy in the long run since it was tomatoes and basil with a little garlic. I really love that you can taste the basil, I didn’t have any fresh at the house so I used dried and it was still just as good as it would have been with the fresh. I think I would try a different ind of tomato next time just to see if it brings a different flavour to the sauce. I have already been told that I have to make this again in the future.

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. roma tomatoes, chopped
  • salt
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, torn to small pieces
  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and 3-4 tbsp water, cover the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. 
  2. Add the tomatoes, cover partially, and cover over low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. If the sauce begins to dry out before it becomes creamy, add a few tbsp of water to the pan.
  3. Season with salt, add the basil, and stir well. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for a few minutes to allow the basil to realize its aroma.

 

March 14 - Mini Apple Pies

It’s pie day, so obviously I had to make some kind of pie. I decided to make Mini Apple Pies since I didn’t want to make a big pie that would only get half eaten. They tasted amazing, I would fry the apples and spices together in a fry pan first next time so that they were a little softer. They were a little crunchy which was not terrible, but I think it would have been better if they would have been a little softer. Amazing little pies though. Yummy!

Dough:

  • 2 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup very cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup ice cold water

Filling:

  • 5-6 apples
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp walnuts
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Amarettini cookies, crumbled (I didn't use this since I couldn't find them)
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into little pieces
  • 2 tbsp cranberries, chopped

Additionally:

  • flour
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp milk

Vanilla Ice Cream

  1. For the dough, mix the flour and the salt. Then incorporate the butter quickly, until the dough is crumbly. Slowly add the ice water, and mix until a dough forms. Then place the dough onto the floured countertop and form a ball using your hands. This should happen quickly so that the dough is not too warm.
  2. Split the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and leave in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Afterwards, let the dough return to room temperature, so that it can be rolled out. In the meantime, peel the apples and core using a corer. Rub with a little bit of lemon juice.
  3. Prepare the filling by combining the chopped nuts, sugar, Amarettini, butter and cranberries.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough thinly and distribute the apples across it evenly. Stuff the apples with the filling then cut large circles around them and bring the edges of the dough up to the top of the apples. Seal the dough up well so it does not open during cooking. Seal up the top further with a little of a beaten egg. 
  5. Brush the apple pies with the remaining eggs. From the remaining pastry sheets cut out small leaves, brush them with egg as well, and decorate the mini pies. Place them in the oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 25 minutes. Then while still warm, cut into slices and serve with vanilla ice cream, enjoy.

 

March 15 - Stromboli

This was an interesting Stromboli since I used pizza dough I would make sure that I roll it out thinner next time since it was a little heavy on the dough side. I would use less cheese and more meat as well. Overall it was very good and everyone liked it. With the few adjustments I believe it would be even better than it was. 

  • 1 pound prepared pizza dough
  • all-purpose flour
  • 16 thin-cut slices Genoa salami
  • 8 thick-cut slices capicola ham (I used traditional ham)
  • 16 slices provolone
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp drained capers
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. 
  2. Roll out the dough: Lay a 16-inch sheet of parchment paper on the counter and dust it with flour. Roll the dough on the floured parchment paper to a 14-by-11-inch rectangle.
  3. Add the filling: Layer the salami on the dough to within 1/2-inch of the edges, and overlap the slices so that no dough shows beneath the salami. Add provolone, followed by the ham, mozzarella, and then the peppadews. Finally, sprinkle with capers.
  4. Roll up the dough: Brush the edges of the dough with egg. Using the parchment to help you, lift up one long end and start rolling. Continue rolling until the seam on the log is on the bottom. Pinch the ends so they don't open and tuck the dough under the roll.
  5. Using the parchment paper as a sling, transfer the log on the paper to the baking sheet. Brush all over with egg and sprinkle with Parmesan. Use a paring knife to cut diagonal slits at 1-inch intervals all along the top.
  6. Bake the stromboli for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375°F and continue baking for 25 minutes, or until the log is golden and the cheese is oozing at the slits.
  7. Cool on the pan for about 10 minutes. Cut into slices along the slits. Serve immediately while hot; stromboli is also delicious at room temperature.

 

March 16 - White Russian

Friday Night, thought I would make some kind of alcoholic beverage. I have never had a White Russian and when I went into the pantry and looked at our liquor I realized I had everything I needed to make one. So off I went. I soon realized it is exactly like a parlayed less the pop. So I thought I would enjoy it. So wrong! I don’t know how people can drink these, it was so gross. All you could taste was the vodka. I know some people like that. Next alcohol drink will me something way more exciting and something that I will actually be able to drink.

  • Ice
  • 2 shots vodka
  • 1 shot kalhua
  1. . Fill a glass half with ice.
  2. Pour the Kalhua shot into the glass.
  3. Pour the two shots of vodka.
  4. Stir and Enjoy.

 

March 17 - Vanilla Extract

Since Vanilla Extract is so expensive I thought it would amazing to make my own. All it is, is vodka and vanilla beans. Shake it two times a day and leave it for 6-8 weeks. It is relatively easy, since after you mix it all, you shake and wait. If this works I plan on trying to make other extracts as well like orange, lemon, and any other that I think I would use. Save some serious money. 

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 1 cup of vodka
  • glass container
  1. Slice the vanilla bean in half, place in the glass container. 
  2. Fill with vodka.
  3. Shake twice a day for six to eight weeks.

 

March 18 - Baked Mac and Cheese

Everyone loves Baked Mac and Cheese so I was told to find a recipe and make it. I feel like I should have added more flavour to everything since I think it was lacking a little. That makes me sad a little. Next time I would just adjust the flavours and add more to everything. I will have to make it again and make it better than I did this first go around. 

Macaroni:

  • 8 oz macaroni (elbow pasta)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (or 2 tsp oil)

Topping:

  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs (Note 1)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup plain flour (all purpose flour)
  • 3 cups milk, warmed
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (my favourite is gruyere, next is cheddar)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, or more other cheese of choice
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Seasonings (optional): (I seasoned with all these, but I would put more like 1/2 tbsp of each)

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp mustard powder

Instructions

Pasta:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add macaroni and cook per packet directions MINUS 1 minute.
  2. Drain, return pasta to pot, add butter and toss until melted. Set aside to cool while making the Sauce (Optional - Note 3).

Topping:

  1. Mix together Topping. Set aside.

Sauce:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. In a large saucepan or in an ovenproof skillet (I use my 26cm/9" Lodge cast iron skillet), melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  3. Add about 1 cup of the milk and mix to dissolve the paste into the milk. Then add remaining milk and mix until lump free (use whisk if required).
  4. Mix in salt and Seasonings if using.
  5. Cook, stirring/whisking regularly, for 5 - 8 minutes until thickened to a cream consistency. When the Sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon, you should be able to draw a path with your finger.
  6. Remove from stove, add cheese and stir - cheese doesn't need to melt.
  7. Adjust salt to taste.

Assembling:

  1. Pour Sauce into pot with Macaroni. Stir quickly, then pour back into the skillet (I did this) or a baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumb topping.
  2. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is light golden. Don't bake too long otherwise you'll bake away the Sauce!
  3. Serve immediately! I sprinkled mine with a bit of fresh parsley.