Sunday, February 20, 2011

Candied Orange Peel

    Candied orange peel. I had never tried candied citrus peel of any kind before, so of course I had to make this when I came across the recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Closet Cooking. I took some to work to share with some co-workers before I had dunked them in chocolate, and they were met with great approval. The next day after they received their chocolate bath, my brother was visiting and he could barely stop eating them. So be warned, these could be habit forming....

     The whole process is quite lengthy and kind of a lot of work, but I think overall it's worth the work.
First you peel the oranges, then cut the peel into thin slices. Then boil them in plain water for 15 minutes. I chose to boil them twice to take out some more of the bitterness of the peel. Just change the water and boil for another 15 minutes. Then bring sugar water to a boil, and simmer the peels in that for 40 to 45 minutes, just until the peels are nice and tender. Drain the peels well (save the leftover syrup, it's great in tea and whatnot) and then toss the peels in sugar. Then let them sit on cooling racks for 2 days. Then you can either eat them plain or go extra addictive-ridiculous and melt some dark sweet baking chocolate (I used 2 1/2 dark chocolate baking bars) and dip the peels halfway in the chocolate and then let that dry on wax paper. Then try not to eat them all at once, which might prove to be difficult.

Also bonus to these things: you can build mini-forts with them. They are like food lincoln logs!

Candied Orange Peel (from Closet Cooking)
3 oranges
2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sugar

1. Cut the top and bottom from the orange.
2. Cut the peel each orange into 4 vertical pieces and remove from orange in one piece.
3. Cut the peel into thin strips.
4. Cook the peels in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and rinse.
5. Bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat in a sauce pan.
6. Add the peel, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peels are tender, about 45 minutes.
7. Drain and toss the peels in the sugar. Note: You want to drain the orange peels well. If you just throw them straight from the syrup into the sugar, the sugar will clump up. (Tip: Save the syrup and use it in ice tea.)
8. Place the peels on a cooling rack and let them sit until the coating is dry, anywhere from 24-48 hours.
If you want to dip them in chocolate, just melt 2 chocolate bars of your choice in a double boiler or the microwave, dunk the peels, and let them dry on wax paper.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Borscht. Quick, easy and healthy. What's not to like? I love beets and cabbage, and this is the perfect combination of those two foods. I got this recipe from "The Year in Food" blog. I cut the recipe in half, though, since I'm just cooking for two people.

Making is pretty much as simple as chop, simmer, eat. A word of caution, though. Beets have the ability to stain like you wouldn't believe. But don't worry, if you end up with pink hands after dicing the beets, you can use a raw potato to get the color off your skin. Raw potato also works well to get the stain out of a cutting board. The more you know....

Sorry about the awful picture. I'm getting quite sick of my deplorable camera, however I haven't been able to talk myself into spending $300+ for nice SLR camera. And I probably never will... I'm too much of a 'make do with what you have' sort of person!

And be sure to come back for my next post, cause I'm going to share another dessert recipe with you! This one is going to be slightly healthier than those brownies....


(I cut this recipe in half to make about 3 servings)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
4 medium red beets, peeled and diced
1 large potato, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced, plus extra for garnish (I substituted in between 1/2 and 1 Tbs. dried dill)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
salt + pepper to taste
yogurt or sour cream for garnish (sour cream is my favorite)

In a large pot, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the broth, water, beets, potato, carrots and bay leaf and cover. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked. Add the cabbage and the fresh dill and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Turn off heat and add the vinegar. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Remove the bay leaf, ladle into bowls and finish with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and a sprinkling of dill.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Maple Bacon Nutella Brownies

 No, my friends, you have not died and transcended to the plane of heavenly immortality. You have instead found a recipe for the brownies to end all brownies, the one and only Maple Bacon Nutella Brownies!

Now, I saw an entry on for these brownies, but after following the link, discovered that it wasn't actually a link to a recipe, but rather an entry about this food truck that drives around some city, and they sell these brownies. I was rather disheartened, but not one to have such an idea as bacon nutella brownies slip from my grasp so easily, I decided to come up with my own version. So I pulled out my ever trustworthy Fannie Farmer cookbook and chose the 'Best Ever Brownie' recipe.

I whipped up a batch of these death by chocolate and butter brownies, let them cool just ever so slightly, spread an entire jar of Nutella over top as frosting, then fried up 7 slices of maple bacon, crumbled them, and sprinkled the bacon bits all over the top. I don't think there are any words that can truly describe what these brownies are. Magic is the only word I can think of that comes even close. These brownies will transport you to a world where there is no pain, no illness, hunger or hate, a utopia of chocolate delight. Screw milk and honey, just give me nutella and bacon!

*I am not liable for any dying and going to heaven that may result in the consumption of these brownies. Not recommended for children within 5 hours of their bedtime.

Maple Bacon Nutella Brownies

6 oz unsweetened bakers chocolate
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
4 eggs
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 jar Nutella
6-7 slices maple flavored bacon

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Let cool. Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar for about 8 minutes. Gently stir in the chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the flour. Butter and flour a 9x13 pan (if using a glass pan, place the pan on a cookie sheet during baking). Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
Let cool for about 15 minutes, then spread the jar of Nutella over the brownies like frosting.
In a large skillet or on a griddle, fry 6-7 slices of bacon until crispy. Let cool, the crumble and sprinkle the  bits over the brownies.

Now, offer up a prayer to the gods of bacon, chocolate and butter for what you are about to consume, and take a humble bite. Oh, and try not to cry.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Shared Favorite: Spinach Cheese Cannelloni

    I have a wonderful pen pal in Germany who I have been writing back and forth with for well over a year now, and she has a love for food and cooking just like me, so sometimes we share favorite recipes back and forth. In her last letter she sent me the recipe for her favorite food to make, Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni.
   When I first scanned the recipe I noticed there were some ingredients that one does not normally find in a cannelloni or manicotti recipe. Mint leaves, pine nuts and feta cheese are all in this recipe, as well as a homemade tomato sauce.
   The quantities in this recipe are metric, but I shall convert them as best I can. If you have a kitchen scale that measures in both metric and American system like I do, then no conversion is necessary. Which is awesome, of course.
   I ended up only using 1/2 as much spinach as was called for, and a little extra ricotta....simply because I love ricotta just a little too much. Using half spinach was not what I originally intended to do, I just didn't get enough at the store, and was too lazy to go get more.
   This recipe does require some time and effort, but oh my goodness gracious was it ever worth it. Let's just say my friend certainly knows how to pick a favorite food! Personally I think the mint really makes this dish, combined with the homemade sauce. Erich thought the pine nuts were the best thing about it. The other unexpected ingredient, feta cheese, really added a nice tangy zing to the filling, a nice contrast to mild ricotta.
   So, to my dear pen-pal: Your recipe was a great and delicious success, thank you for sharing it with me!!

Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1.2 kg (about 2-2.5 lbs) tomatoes, diced (I only used about 1 3/4 lbs, and it made just enough sauce)
2 fresh rosemary twigs
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper

500 g. (1 lb) spinach
150 g. (about 6 oz) crumbled feta cheese
150 g. ricotta cheese (I used about 10-12 ounces)
50 g. (3 1/2 Tbs) grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. mint leaves, chopped (I used about 1 1/2 tsp. dried chopped leaves)
2 eggs
2 Tbs. pine nuts
16 cannelloni or manicotti shells (I only managed to fit 12 manicotti shells in my Pyrex 9x13 pan)
200 g. (7 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded or chunk

For the sauce, heat olive oil, and saute onion and garlic. Then add the tomatoes, herbs and tomato paste. Bring it to a boil, and reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 25 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste and remove the rosemary twigs and bay leaves.
Boil and drain the noodles. Blanch the spinach, squeezing out the excess water, and roughly chop. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the chopped spinach with the feta and ricotta cheese, mint, eggs, pine nuts and salt and pepper. Fill the shells with the mixture. Put some of the prepared sauce in a large casserole dish and place the noodles into it, and then pour the remaining sauce over the top. Slice the mozzarella cheese (if using chunk) into thin slices and layer over the top of noodles; or top with shredded cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.