Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pizza Dough

homemade pizza dough recipe

Before N left for Toronto, we made some delicious homemade pizza.  N prepped the dough and then we shopped for toppings together, because we both typically like very different things on our pizzas.  The pizza in the picture was his - pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, etc.  Whereas I topped mine using this recipe for asparagus and cherry tomato pizza.  N did his research and discovered the best tip for making pizza dough - to give the dough time.  It is the secret ingredient if you will.  So N made the dough early in the day for us to use to make the pizzas in the evening.  And let me tell you, this dough was fantastic.  It made perfectly crispy, thin pizza crust.  Just remember to make the dough in advance, and you'll be on your way to a delicious homemade pizza!

Also for those interested in making their own homemade frozen pizza, Love & Olive Oil just did a great post on that with some tips on how to make your pizza come out of the oven like it was freshly made instead of frozen.  The dough recipe below could be used in that case as well.

Pizza Dough
From Fine Cooking 

1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active-dry yeast
1-1/2 cups very warm water (110°F)
18 ounces (4 cups) all-purpose flour; more for dusting
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Making the dough:  Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside (a 2-cup measure makes for easy pouring; be sure the cup isn't cold). Meanwhile, put the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade; process briefly to mix. With the machine running, add the water-yeast mixture in a steady stream. Turn the processor off and add the oil. Pulse a few times to mix in the oil.

Scrape the soft dough out of the processor and onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, quickly knead the dough into a mass, incorporating any bits of flour or dough from the processor bowl that weren't mixed in. Cut the dough into four equal pieces with a knife or a dough scraper. Roll each piece into a tight, smooth ball, kneading to push the air out.

If you want to bake the pizzas as soon as possible, put the dough balls on a lightly floured surface, cover them with a clean dishtowel, and let them rise until they almost double in size, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, turn your oven on, with the baking stone in it, to let the stone fully heat.

If you want to bake the pizzas tomorrow, line a baking sheet with a floured dishtowel, put the dough balls on it, and cover them with plastic wrap, giving them room to expand (they'll almost double in size), and let them rise in the refrigerator overnight.

To use dough that has been refrigerated overnight, simply pull it out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before shaping the dough into a pizza.

Shaping your pizza:  Put the proofed or thawed ball of dough on a lightly floured wooden board. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the ball. Using your fingertips, press the ball down into a flat cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Lift the dough and lay it over the back of the fist of one hand. Put your other fist under the dough, right next to your first fist. Now gently stretch the dough by moving your fists away from each other (see Video). Each time you do this stretch, rotate the dough. Continue stretching and rotating until the dough is thin, about 1/4 inch, and measures about 9 inches across. Unless your dough is still cold from the freezer, it will be so soft that its own weight will stretch it out. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough thinly on a floured board. If you like a very thin pizza, roll the dough out to a 10-inch round. Be careful not to make it too thin, and remember that the thinner the pizza, the less topping it can handle.

Rub a bit of flour onto a wooden pizza peel (or the back of a baking sheet). Gently lift the stretched dough onto the floured peel. Top the pizza, scattering the ingredients around to within 1/2 inch of the border.

Cooking the pizza:  Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Once you've stretched out your dough and placed it on a non-stick cookie sheet, top it any way you'd like.  Bake the pizza until the edges turn crispy and golden brown (sorry I don't have a time for you, I'd estimate it was about 10-12 minutes - if you use a pizza stone, it will go faster).  You can take the pizza off the cookie sheet and place it directly on the rack about half way through to ensure that the bottom is cooked thoroughly.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Beer Bread

This is K&K Test Kitchen's first month participating in the Secret Recipe Club.  The Secret Recipe Club is a huge community of food bloggers where each month every blogger is assigned a different food blog to explore and make a recipe from.  This month we were assigned Fabulously Fun Food.  Go on over and visit Melanie.  I'm excited to follow along as she works towards completing her "30 challenging / intimidating recipes for her 30th year."  For Secret Recipe Club, my challenge was to choose one recipe from her blog.  There were so many tasty recipes to choose from, but for some reason, I just kept going back to this recipe for Beer Bread.  And I am so glad that I made it!  This bread is addictive and sooooo easy to make.  Straight out of the oven it has this lovely crunchy crust, and if it lasts long enough, I highly suggest using it to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

Beer Bread
From Greg Norman ( via Fabulously Fun Food

3 cups flour, sifted (I used 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) can or bottle beer (I used a dark beer)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine dry ingredients, whisking to ensure proper mixing and aeration. Slowly add the beer, creating as little foam as possible (there will be foam, and that’s fine, just try to minimize it).

Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Pour melted butter over mixture.

Bake 1 hour, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

NOTES from Gerald Norman and Fabulously Fun Food:

This recipe makes a very hearty bread with a crunchy, buttery crust. If you prefer a softer crust (like a traditional bread) mix the butter into the batter instead of pouring it over the top.

Sifting flour for bread recipes is a must-do. Most people just scoop the 1 cup measure in the flour canister and level it off. That compacts the flour and will turn your bread into a "hard biscuit" as some have described. That's because they aren't sifting their flour! If you do not have a sifter, use a spoon to spoon the flour into the 1 cup measure. Try it once the "correct" way and you will see an amazing difference in the end product. If you do not sift the flour, use 2-1/2 cups instead of 3 cups.

If you use a non-alcoholic liquid, add a packet of dry active yeast or 2 teaspoons of bread (machine) yeast so that you get a proper rise.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmesan recipe
Listen up girls (or boys).  This dish is the one dish you need to have in your repertoire.  If I had to pick my favorite thing to eat, I would probably tell you that Chicken Parmigiana is my favorite.  My mom used to make it all the time when I was growing up, and because it is my favorite, it was naturally the first thing that I taught myself how to make.  And let me tell you, not only is this Chicken Parm amazing, but it is also a perfect date night meal - it is easy to put together and you and your date will both love it!

The reason that I am finally sharing my Chicken Parm with you is because I had to make it this week for N.  You see N loves my Chicken Parm and I wanted to make him something special for his last night in Ottawa.  That's right. His. Last. Night. In. Ottawa. Insert very sad face. N moved to the greener pastures of Toronto this week.  He is in the process of looking for a new job, and hopefully there will be better opportunities there!  Of course I am going to miss him, but I think the move will lead to great things for him.  And I'm so excited to have a reason to visit TO again (my parents used to live there and I miss it!).

So... you will have to bear with me as I readjust to cooking for just one person.  I'm hoping to bring you some single-person friendly recipes.  My mom, the other K, will also be picking up some of the slack.  And of course, I will be visiting Toronto often and cooking for 2 there too (just not every week).

But now for the main event!  Keys to the best Chicken Parmigiana you can make at your own home (and better than many restaurants too):
1) Pound the chicken!!
2) Use a good tomato sauce, either make it yourself or look for in the US: Lucini or Rao's, in Canada: I actually like President's Choice Marinara
3) Using Dijon mustard to batter the chicken saves a step (from the usual flour, milk, egg combo) and gives it a little bit of extra flavor
3) Brown the chicken in butter to make it crispy, and always cook it in the oven so that the chicken stays moist

Chicken Parmigiana
Serves 2

3 tablespoons butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup Marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Put three tablespoons of butter in a square glass baking dish and place the dish in the oven to melt the butter.

Place a chicken breast in a large freezer bag and pound it out until it becomes flatter and the thickness is a bit more even.  Repeat for the second chicken breast.

Pour the breadcrumbs on a plate.  In a separate bowl, coat the chicken in Dijon mustard.  Then dip each piece of chicken in the breadcrumbs, so that both sides are coated with crumbs.

Remove the baking dish with the melted butter from the oven and place the chicken in the dish.  Return the dish to the oven and cook the chicken for 15 minutes.  Flip the chicken over and cook for another 15 minutes.  Then pour the Marinara sauce onto the chicken (I like to let it run off of the sides a little bit).  And sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken.  Return to the oven and continue to cook until the cheese melts.  You can broil it a little bit if you would like.

Serve with spaghettini or angel hair pasta, extra sauce, and some vegetables.  (The picture above is roasted asparagus with olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper.)   Also note, I usually eat half of my chicken and save the other half for lunch.  And this recipe can very, very easily be adapted to feed more people - just add more chicken and bump up the quantities of everything else (you can really use as much or as little of everything anyways! More sauce? No problem. More cheese? Always!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

French Dip

French dip sandwich recipe

My grandma's French Dip is pretty much the best that is out there.  I have her recipe, because my mom put it in the recipe book that she made for me and my sister.  But, unfortunately I couldn't find au jus packets, which is apparently the secret to delicious French Dip!  So instead, I combined Grandma's cooking technique and a few other recipes that I found in order to create what turned out to be a scrumptious French Dip.  It was so good that N claimed that I was holding out on him by not making this recipe sooner.

French Dip
Serves 4
Cook time: 5 hours
Inspired by Grandma Betty and

2-1/2 pounds eye of round beef roast (or rump roast)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1-1/4 cups dark beer (like a Guinness)
1 packet French Onion Dip Mix
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
French baguette or French rolls

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Salt and pepper the beef roast, place it on a rack in a roasting pan and roast it in the oven for 1 hour.   After an hour, remove the beef from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before carving it into thin slices.

Stir together the beef broth, beer, French Onion Dip mix, and Worcestershire sauce in the slow cooker pot.  Place the carved beef, onion slices, and chunks of butter into the slow cooker.  Turn the slow cooker on high and leave it for 4 hours. (I did stir the pot a few times as it cooked, just to make sure that all of the meat was under the liquid.)

Serve the beef on pieces of a French baguette or on French rolls, with a side of the jus for dipping. You can also melt a little bit of provolone or mozzarella on the sandwiches.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thai Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

N made this awesome soup for us.  He looked in our cupboards to see what we had on hand to cook with, and then took things from there.  I picked up the sweet potato and ginger on my way home from barre class, but that was all we needed.  He said that he read that the best way to figure out what to have for dinner is to see what you have first and then pick the recipe, rather than pick a recipe first.  If this soup is what happens if you live by that rule, then I will make sure I always have lentils and coconut milk on hand.  The soup was delicious, creamy and slightly sweet.  N was pretty proud of his handy work and I thought it was cute that he sent the recipe around to all of his buddies, with notes on the substitutions he made.

Thai Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
Adapted heavily by N from Ottawa West Nutrition

1 tablespoon coconut oil (substitute: olive oil)
3 good sized shallots, diced
2 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 to 4 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (depending on your spice preference)
5 cups water
1 can brown lentils
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 cup diced carrots
Sea salt to taste
2/3 of a regular can of coconut milk
1/3 cup of finely chopped cilantro (we just used it for garnish)
Juice from half a lime
(Couple squirts of hot sauce, but maybe preferable to add to your own dish after it's served)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onions, ginger and garlic.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Stir in Thai red curry paste, and cook several minutes or until fragrant.  Add water, lentils, potatoes and carrots.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook about 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Add salt and stir in coconut milk.  Cook five more minutes. Squeeze in lime juice and a bit of hot sauce.

Friday, February 17, 2012

No-Knead Bread

I don't really know why, but we generally don't make our own bread.  Not having a bread maker isn't really an excuse, it is just that we don't usually think about making bread.  But, now things may change.  A few weeks ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Jacquelyn from Lark & Linen, posted an old Mark Bittman video on making bread that is so easy a 4-year old could make it.  Well, I'm usually up for a challenge, so thought that I should prove that yes, a 25-year old can also make bread.  Plus, the bread also looked so good that I had to try the recipe myself.  And, I can now report that this bread is seriously so easy to make.  I mixed it together in 2 minutes, then just left it overnight, and then folded it over a few times.  It was under 10 minutes of actual work.  The rest was just waiting long enough for the magic to happen.  The bread was perfectly chewy, with a nice thick, crunchy, rustic crust.  I can imagine that it would make the best grilled cheese sandwiches and toast.  All you need to do is mix the dough up 12 to 18 hours ahead of baking the bread! So easy, so delicious, so worth it!

No-Knead Bread
From the New York Times

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1-5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Teriyaki Burgers and Baked Truffle Fries

teriyaki burgers with truffle french fries recipe

Sometimes the boy and I just click... over what to make for dinner.  Our text messages to each other last Friday had us both suggest that we make burgers for dinner nearly simultaneously.  So we had burgers for dinner.  Delicious teriyaki burgers with pineapple!  These are a great combination of sweet and savoury.  N claims that these were some of the best burgers that he had ever eaten.  You can definitely judge for yourself though!  We also made some lovely baked truffle fries.

Teriyaki Burgers
Serves 4-6 (depending on how thick you like your burgers)

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (not extra lean, you want juicy burgers)
3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (I used Kikkoman's)
1 egg
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Pineapple slices
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Mozzerella Cheese
Red onions, sliced thinly
Romaine Lettuce
Tomatoes, sliced
More teriyaki sauce
Hamburger buns

Mix together the ground beef, teriyaki sauce, egg, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes to let the teriyaki flavor settle.  Form the meat into patties.

Turn the oven on to 450°F.  Put the pineapple slices on a cookie sheet.  Brush a little bit of brown sugar onto each pineapple slice.  Brown the slices in the oven for about 5 minutes.  Set the pineapple aside until the burgers are cooked.

Brush a little bit of olive oil on a large skillet.  Heat the skillet on medium-high.  Cook the burgers for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on how thick the burgers are.   You can also brush each side with teriyaki sauce as it cooks.  As the burgers finish cooking, place a piece of pineapple and some mozzerella cheese on top of each burger and continue to cook until the cheese melts.  You can place a lid over the skillet to help melt the cheese.  (You can also cook these on the BBQ, just use your regular burger cooking method and then finish by putting the pineapple and cheese on top.)

Toast the buns if you like your buns toasted.  Place the burger on the bun and top with lettuce, tomato, and red onion.  Some may like either mayo, more teriyaki sauce, or both on their burger as well.

Truffle Fries

3 baking potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Clean the potatoes. Slice the top and bottom off of the potatoes, then slice the potatoes into even slices. Dry all of the water off of the potatoes with a paper towel. Then sprinkle with olive oil, truffle oil, and salt and mix well. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then spread the potatoes in a single layer. Bake the potatoes for about 40 minutes. About halfway through the cooking time, flip the fries over.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

sugar cookies with royal icing recipe

Since Christmas we've been inundated with hearts, pink, red, and sweets in preparation for Valentine's Day.  I guess I couldn't help but get in on the V-Day spirit with some hot pink heart cookies.  I have to say the cookies were super easy, but I will always be so impressed by the bakers out there who ice their cookies so beautifully.  The sugar cookies by themselves are perfect, delicate and buttery.  They were a dream to work with, easy to roll out, cut out, and transfer to the cookie sheet.  It was my first time working with royal icing though, and I can't say that we are best friends.  My piping bag decided to explode and I was too frustrated to try using another one, so I just swirled the icing onto the cookies with a spoon.  They weren't quite as pretty as I was hoping for, but the hot pink color was pretty fun!!

Cut-out Sugar Cookies
From The Kitchn

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat until golden. Add the cream cheese and again beat until well incorporated. Add the flavorings and lemon zest.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl then add, bit by bit, to the butter/sugar mixture until fully incorporated.

Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.

Heat the oven to 350° F. Divide the dough into smaller balls and roll out 1/4 to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies.

Bake cookies for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. The small, thinner ones started browning after about 8 minutes, and I didn't want these brown at all. The larger ones had a slight golden bottom after 11 minutes, which was perfect for my purposes.

Let cool before icing or decorating, and store in a tightly covered container.

Royal Icing
From Sweetopia
(This recipe makes a ton of icing)

5 tablespoons meringue powder
3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1 kilogram of icing sugar
Food coloring

Whisk together water and meringue powder for 30 seconds.  Add the cream of tartar and whisk for another 30 seconds.

Add all of the icing sugar and the vanilla.  Blend together using a hand mixer, on low, for up to 10 minutes.  To test the consistency, take a butter knife and draw a straight line, about an inch deep, in the icing.  The line should take 10 seconds (or less) to disappear.  If it remains after 10 seconds, add a bit more warm water until it reaches the right consistency.  Mix in the food coloring.  I used Wilton Gel Food Coloring in Rose - it turned out hot pink!

sugar cookies with royal icing recipe

Friday, February 10, 2012

Spreading the Love with Pasta

orecchiette with Italian sausage, broccoli, and parmesan recipe

So I have been a procrastinator.  I have received not one, but three Liebster awards.  I'm so grateful for these awards.  And my slow response definitely does not at all reflect how flattered I was that K&K Test Kitchen received these awards.  So, from the bottom of my heart thank you so much!  And my dear readers, please go check out these amazing ladies!

Kayla at Small Town Life
Meg @ Sweet Twist
Anna from Scandinavian Cottage

About the Liebster: the Liebster Award is a chain letter among bloggers that’s intended to showcase talented up-and-coming blogs (typically, those with 200 or fewer followers). It is based on the recognition that a peer has noticed and appreciated your hard work.

The rules for accepting the Liebster Blog Award are:
  • Thank your Liebster Award presenter on your blog.
  • Link back to the blogger who presented you with the award.
  • Copy and paste the blog award to your own page.
  • Award the Liebster to five deserving blogs, like yours, that have 200 followers or less and that deserve recognition.
  • Leave a comment on each blog to notify the awardees and let them know the rules for bestowing the Liebster Award to other bloggers.
I'm supposed to pass it on, but if I could give the award back, I would, because all three of them have wonderful, award-worthy blogs.  But, luckily there are a lot of truly amazing bloggers out there!  I even branched out and picked two non-food blogs.  So here are my picks:

- Miss Delish - Miss Delish sent me some seriously delish Red Velvet Peppermint Whoopie Pies as part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  She's been posting some yummy things lately too and she is doing a super cool giveaway right now!

- Mis-Cakes Oven Adventures - Another new blog via the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  I love seeing what's going on in her kitchen via Instagram - always lots of chocolate and sweets!

- Life on Food - Emily is super sweet and shares a lot of delicious recipes!

Not Just Happenstance - I found her via Fabulous K, who asked a bunch of readers to share their blog urls in order to promote making new friends in the blogosphere.  She has great style and awesome Pinterest boards!

- Fancy Things - Another awesome blog found via Fabulous K, Kristin shares pretty, and yes fancy things on her blog.  And I seriously covet her nail polish collection.

Since we are getting close to Valentine's Day, let's imagine the Liebster is a virtual Valentine to some amazing bloggers.  And because I can't leave you guys hungry this weekend, here is a quick and delicious dinner idea (maybe surprise your Valentine with a home cooked meal?).  This pasta is perfection - little orecchiette, Italian sausage, and broccoli, with a hint of spiciness.  The recipe comes from a gift my Grandma got me for Christmas that I'm absolutely obsessed with - the textbook for the Culinary Institute of America, "The Professional Chef."

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage, Broccoli, and Parmesan
From "The Professional Chef"

2 heads of broccoli (use broccoli rabe if you can find it though!!)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lean Italian sausage, casing removed
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 cup Tomato Sauce
1 pound Orecchiette pasta
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons basil chiffonade
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon minced chives
Grated Parmesan

Clean the broccoli.  Steam the broccoli over boiling water, until about 90 percent cooked (about 4 minutes).  Remove and shock in ice water.  Drain well and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the sausage, and cook until nearly cooked through, crumbling the sausage.  Add the onions and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce.  Let the mixture cook about 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes depending on the pasta.  Remove from the water and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat with the remaining oil.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, stock (or water) and sausage / tomato mixture.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine.  Add the parsley, basil, oregano, chives, and broccoli.  Add the pasta and some Parmesan.

Garnish with more Parmesan and serve.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heavenly Halibut and Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

heavenly halibut recipe and green salad with cranberry vinaigrette

Since Kelsey was away playing in NYC last weekend, I told her that I would do the post for her. As we all know, she is the brains, photographer, and the person who pours the passion into our blog. I must admit that I am a daily follower and love that she has inspired me to get out of my rut with cooking. In the coming year, I will promise to add more posts and work on my photos so possibly I can post a recipe that generates some hits on the blog.

After the holidays, I decided it was time to throw some fish into the mix and try to lower the calorie intake. I had some halibut in the freezer and needed a recipe that cooked in the oven, as it is too cold to BBQ! This Heavenly Halibut recipe lived up to its name and there is nothing that I love better than a quick and easy meal. I paired it with a Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette dressing so I could use up some leftover cranberries. It truly was a delightful meal that was lower in calories to help my resolution to lose weight and shrink my waistline! Happy Cooking, Kim!

Heavenly Halibut
By: chellebelle (found on

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash hot pepper sauce
2 pounds skinless halibut fillets (any mild white fish would work)


Preheat the oven broiler. Grease a baking dish.

In a bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, salt, and hot pepper sauce.

Arrange the halibut fillets in the prepared baking dish.

Broil halibut fillets 8 minutes in the prepared oven, or until easily flaked with a fork. Spread with the Parmesan cheese mixture, and continue broiling 2 minutes, or until topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
By: Nancy W (found on
Original Recipe Yield 8 servings


3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons water
1 red apple, cored and slice
1/2 cup slice almonds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese (I do not use blue cheese so I used goat cheese instead)
1 pound mixed salad greens (I did not measure)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Arrange almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 5 minutes, or until nuts begin to brown.

In a blender or food processor, combine the vinegar, oil, cranberries, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and water. Process until smooth.

In a large bowl, toss the almonds, apples, onion, cheese, and greens with the vinaigrette mixture until evenly coated.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Quick Trip to New York

Sorry for the lack of a real post today my lovely blog readers,  just a few Instagram photos.  Last week was such a busy week and I didn't cook anything blog worthy (though I did make some of this delicious Peanut Butter Granola).  N was out of town all week, which meant I only made one lazy girl dinner and it basically fed me for the rest of the week (chicken, rice, and the sauce from the Huevos Rancheros).  Then I went to NYC for the weekend!!  I got to see some of my best friends and had a fantastic time.  We did a great girls dinner at 'Inoteca, with a pre-fixe family style menu and copious amounts of red wine.  The food was delicious and I don't think anyone left hungry - we had charcuterie, grilled calamari salad, beet salad, polpette, pasta with fresh tomatoes, chicken with sautéed escarole, baked cauliflower, affogato, semifreddo, and mini nutella toasts.  The next day, we had some rejuvenating juice from Liqueteria, did a little shopping (see my Glassybaby candle!), and decided to do a spontaneous brunch at Mesa Grill, where I had the most delicious Chile Rellenos.  Saturday evening we went to Sons of Essex which has decent cocktails.

Photos from top left:  New shoes from Zara ($30!), Sprinkles galore at New York Cake, Glassybaby in Kumquat, and Polka dots at Fish's Eddy

Friday, February 3, 2012

Birthdays!! Let's Eat Banana Cake

banana bundt cake with cream cheese frosting recipe

This is a big birthday weekend!  My boy is turning 30 this weekend.  He is off galavanting around New Orleans with his best buddies for a bachelor party now, and I'm sure that those boys are having a blast!

AND drumroll pleaseeeeeee....

The blog turns 2 years old on Saturday!!!! I can't believe that we've been doing this for 2 years - 2 incredibly fun years.  I've learned so much about cooking, blogging, and photography (well I need to work on that still).  My palate has expanded so that I eat *gasp* onions! And mushrooms! And lots of other interesting and delicious things.  Mommy K has been experimenting more in the kitchen too and has been a great pinch hitter (you'll see her delicious halibut recipe next week)!  We've slowly become more involved in the blogger community and have started to make some wonderful blogger friends.  And you all have kept us going every step of the way.  Seeing the support for K&K Test Kitchen grow over the past two years has been amazing and I'm so thankful for each and every one of you.  Seriously, our friends, family, and followers have really given us the motivation to stick with K&K Test Kitchen!! We love you all! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts <3

So, I made a cake to celebrate the birthdays in this K's household.  Well, I actually made 2 cakes.  One was a complete disaster.  It was meant to be a layer cake, modeled after my favorite bakery in the world, Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos, CA.  For every birthday or celebration, when we lived in California, we always had a banana cake from there.  But unfortunately, I didn't cook my version long enough, so the middle was a sticky banana mess.  The outer ring was delicious, but I wasn't satisfied.  So I settled on making a banana bundt cake.  And oh boy, it was soooo good!  I topped it was some deliciously tart cream cheese frosting.  It makes just the right amount of frosting for the cake and it is the perfect complement to the sweet cake.  Promise me you'll make this cake for your next special occasion.  It is easy and delicious!

Banana Bundt Cake
Adapted from The Canadian Baker 

1 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
1 package vanilla instant pudding (my extra secret ingredient!!)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a large Bundt pan.

Whisk the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. Finally, mix in half the dry ingredients (the mixture will curdle -- just keep mixing), all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the pan, rap the pan on the counter to de-bubble the batter and smooth the top.

Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes, if it is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding on the rack to cool to room temp.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoon whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Add the whipping cream and beat again until it is thoroughly mixed and spreadable. Add more cream if you want a thinner icing. Spread onto cooled cake.

banana bundt cake recipe

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken Pie

No, this isn't chicken pot pie.  This is just a delicious flaky pastry filled with chicken and goodness.  I saw this recipe over at Bake Me Blush, who had found the recipe in Donna Hay's Fast, Fresh, and Simple.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to make it.  This Chicken Pie is so easy to make and it is so good.  I'd say it is one of my favorite things that I've eaten lately and I will definitely be making it again soon.  For my version of the pie, I had to cook some chicken first as I didn't have any pre-cooked chicken on hand, so you may want to save this for when you have some leftover roasted chicken.  I also added a few handfuls of chopped spinach to get some greens into it.  Just throw the spinach in when you mix together the chicken and the sauce.  You can see the recipe over at Bake Me Blush.
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