Archive for August, 2008

Vodka Water

My cousin Esther just moved to the Pacific Northwest from the south.  We had dinner last night and she offered to make the drinks.  I’m not a fan of vodka at all.  I hate the “rubbing alcohol” taste, so I was a little weary when she had a half gallon of vodka in tow.  Honestly, this is the most refreshing drink I’ve ever had.  Not even a hint of vodka taste!  Try this out at your next gathering…but be careful…they go down easy.

1 double-old fashioned glass (8oz.)
2 shots vodka
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge

Fill the glass with ice. Put in two shots of vodka.  Squeeze the juice of the lemon and lime wedge over the vodka, and top with cold water. Stir to combine. If your lemons and limes are really tart, add 1/4-1/2 tsp of very fine sugar to sweeten slightly. Garnish with a twisted lime peel.


August 30, 2008 at 1:06 pm 1 comment

Ben’s Filet

My husband loves my cooking.  He’s always very complimentary…even when I screw things up.  In the past year he’s become quite the cook himself.  And in the past year, I’ve learned to stay OUT of the kitchen when he’s preparing a meal.  He yells at me like Gordon Ramsay.  He says “chop this!”  “move here!”  “don’t touch that!.”  Mind you this is in a shoebox of a kitchen.  So I’ve learned my lesson and let him have his glory moments.  And by glory moments I mean this:


4 beef filets or “Filet Mignon”
Olive Oil

10-12 crimini mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in olive oil
4 oz gorganzola cheese, crumbled

Start out by bringing the meat to room temp. This will take about 30-45 minutes. Once the meat is at temperature, season generously with salt and pepper.

On a very hot grill pan, coated with olive oil, sear the meat about 2-3 minutes on each side, until there are grill marks and a nice crust forming.
Transfer to a 400 degree oven (We preheated a cast iron pan and placed the steaks in that) and cook until desired doneness* (we did medium).
On a plate or cutting board place the steaks and top with mushrooms and cheese. Cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
*Ben strongly suggests using a instant read thermometer and to take into account the carry over cooking time (resting time)

Presentation is key for this very impressive meal. Place mashed potatoes on the bottom of the plate. Place asparagus (or veggie or your liking) on top of the potatoes and then the steak.

August 29, 2008 at 8:31 am Leave a comment

Surprise Cookies

Thanks to “A Tisket, A Tasket…”  I found this AMAZING cookie recipe.  Really, they are one of the best cookies I’ve ever made at home.  Click here to get the recipe…and don’t forget to print off the frosting recipe too!  So versatile and delicious!

August 28, 2008 at 7:20 am 1 comment

Homemade Pesto with a Touch of Cream

This summer we planted some teeny tiny basil starters we bought at a local plant sale.  They sure didn’t look like much of anything, but it seems the summer sun has been good to these plants.  We are up to our eyeball in basil!  I decided to make some pesto today, using things I had in the pantry and fridge.  It turned out very tasty.

15-20 basil leaves
20 almonds (could also use walnuts or pine nuts)
1 clove garlic
heavy pinch kosher salt
heavy pinch black pepper
olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Place the basil leaves, almonds, garlic, salt and pepper in your food processor. Once everything is finely chopped, you can start streaming in the olive oil. I would say it took me about 1/2-3/4 cup before it started coming together. Once the mixture has come together (it should be quite thick) add about 2-3 Tablespoons of heavy cream of half and half. This adds just a hint of richness.  This amount of pesto was enough for a box of fully cooked pasta.  It was just the two of us tonight so we have lunch for the next couple of days…yum!

In this recipe I used rigatoni and some sauteed mushrooms and peppers.  Be creative with additions!

August 26, 2008 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

Famous Mashed Potatoes

These mashed potatoes never fail.  The are always a delicious accompaniment to any meal…and trust me, if you start making these you’ll be on mashed potato duty every Thanksgiving.

Famous Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6
6 large Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tbs. butter
2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
fresh cracked black pepper
Optional addition: 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

Start by cleaning the potatoes and quartering them.  The great thing about Yukon gold potatoes is that you keep the skin on!  This makes for great texture.  Place in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Cold water is key here. You want the potatoes to cook evenly and cold water does the trick. Add some salt to the pot and boil away. Probably 20 minutes. When they are fork tender they’re done.

I use my kitchenaid for whipping these up, but a hand held mixer would would fine too. Drain potatoes and add to mixing bowl. Add sour cream, garlic powder and butter. Mix until potatoes are light and fluffy and the sour cream and butter are incorporated. If you’re going with the cheese, add now and mix. Taste and add salt until it has your desired amount. A little fresh pepper and you’re done!

August 25, 2008 at 10:06 am 2 comments

Gram’s Waffles

It’s a rainy night here in Seattle.  And it’s August 24th…go figure.  Tonight I was in the mood for something homey, warm, easy.  These waffles take me back to childhood, when my grandma would make us breakfast for dinner.  A kids dream…

Gram’s Waffles
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups milk
3 egg whites beaten until stiff
4 tsp. melted butter

Start by separating the eggs. Place egg whites in mixer and beat until stiff, or I guess if you’re strong and a do-it-yourself-er you can do it by hand.
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and milk together.
Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add melted butter and mix. Carefully fold in egg whites being careful not to deflate them too much.

Get your waffle iron hot and enjoy!

August 24, 2008 at 7:12 pm 1 comment

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

I consider myself a Chocolate Chip Cookie Connoisseur.  They’re my go to dessert.  My obsession.  I have tried cookies at all different local bakeries, sandwich shops and stores.  I even had my sister’s friend steal the secret CC cookie recipe from the coffee shop he worked at.  But I still haven’t been able to make the “perfect” cookie at home…until yesterday. 

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg (room temp.)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.
1. Affix the paddle attachment on your mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer a hand held one will work just as well. Beat both sugars and butter on medium speed until light colored and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
2. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Turn mixer on low speed and slowly add the dry mixture until just combined. You do not want to over-mix…this will result in a tough cookie.
3. Add sprinkling of flour to the chocolate chips. This will ensure that they will be evenly distributed throughout the dough. With a wooden spoon mix to thoroughly combine.
4. On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart. You could also use a smaller ice cream scoop to get the job done.
5. Ok this is the crucial step that makes these the “best”. Bake 8-10 minutes or until just slightly light brown.  They will look undone but TAKE THEM OUT!!!  They will continue to cook a little on the cookie sheet once removed from the oven.  Cool for about 2-3 minutes and then transfer to wire rack.
6. Pour yourself a big glass of milk and enjoy!

August 23, 2008 at 4:34 pm 2 comments

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