Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year's Surf and Turf, Steak and Lobster

Surf and TurfHappy New Year! I am re-posting my "special" New Year's Eve dinner for two.  Now that the kids are grown and time marches on, we celebrate at home and I make this special dinner. 

I'm also serving twice baked potatoes which I have on hand because I made a big batch this past month and vacuumed sealed them in the freezer.

The first time I recall eating lobster was after I was out of college, married, and celebrating a special occasion at a restaurant.


Oh my it was delightful!  I of course have ordered it since over the years, on special occasions, or ordered "surf and turf," as I do love beef.

In the last few years, my local grocery store has held "specials" on 4 - 5 oz. lobster tails for around $5 a piece. They've offered this around Valentine's Day or near Christmas, so I stock up, vacuum seal and freeze them.


Then every month or so, I make an extra special dinner for the two of us, like I did this past New Year's Eve.  Knowing what restaurants charge for such a meal, justifies a food splurge for one meal at home, as it feels economical, but not a real budget buster.  It's the fanciest meal I make with the "wow factor" for presentation!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppAt first I had no idea how to cook a lobster tail, but looked up info and settled on this method.

Surf and Turf, Lobster and Beef
4 oz. or larger lobster tail(s)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
lemon and lemon juice
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
4 - 5 oz. steak, of choice: New York, Sirloin, 3/4 inch thick
steak rub seasoning
steamer pan

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWith kitchen scissors, cut lobster shells up middle of the back to near the end of tail, and with fingers gently spread shell, nudging meat from the inside, and lifting it out and up, leaving end attached, then letting meat rest on top of shell.

Fill sauce pan with 1-2 inches of water, add 2 Tabs. lemon juice, minced garlic, and Old Bay.  Set steamer pan on top, place lobsters in and cover.

Bring water to a boil, turn down and steam for 7 minutes.  Shells will turn bright red, and meat will no longer look translucent. Don't over cook, or lobster meat will become tough. Serve with melted butter mixed with lemon juice for dipping, and a lemon wedge.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppUploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppMeanwhile for the beef, preheat oven to 350. Oil and season steak with salt and pepper or a steak rub, and fry 2 minutes on each side in smoking hot skillet, to sear.  Then put skillet in oven for 6 minutes for medium rare.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

I also serve with a Twice Baked Potato and a salad.

Estimated cost with potato and salad: $8 per person.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cheesy Potato Fans

Fan PotatoesSaw these fancy baked potatoes on Pinterest and had to try them. They look so pretty for presentation on a plate next to a serving of meat and a vegetable.  And what's more economical than potatoes served with a few tablespoons of your choice of toppings.

Years ago I saw Martha Stewart do something similar, brushing butter and spices in between the potato slices.

When wanting"fancy" baked type potatoes for a meal, I make these or twice baked potatoes. 


Cheesy Potato Fans
  • 4  medium potatoes, scrubbed
    2 Tabs. olive oil
    salt and pepper
    Optional Toppings: 
    a mixture of bread crumbs, butter, and cheese 
    or a seasoned cheese or spice mixture 
    Fan Potatoes
  • Preheat oven to 450.
    Cut 1/4 inch off bottom and ends of potatoes, so potato lays flat, then slice potatoes crosswise at 1/4-inch intervals, leaving 1/4 inch of potato intact.  

    To avoid slicing all the way though the potato and evenly cut down, lay a ruler, chop stick, or thin pencil behind the potato to stop the knife as you slice down. 

    Rinse potatoes under running water, drain, and put sliced-side down, onto a microwave safe plate. Microwave until slightly soft to the touch, 6 to 12 minutes. Flip potatoes halfway through cooking.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange potatoes, sliced-side up. Brush potatoes all over and in between slices with oil and also season with salt and pepper. 

    Bake until skin is crisp and potatoes begin to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and heat broiler.
  • Using a teaspoon, top potatoes with mixture of choice, pressing gently in between sections and on top to adhere. Broil until topping is golden brown and melted, about 3 minutes. Serves 4.

    Estimated cost:  under $1.00 for 4 servings; .25 cents or less per serving.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Canape Bread Molds

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppIf you enjoy baking bread, these canape molds are a fun way to make unique appetizers or finger sandwiches for any occasion.  I mix the dough in my bread machine using the dough cycle, then divide in three pieces.

I found the molds several years ago at a thrift store, and HAD to have a new kitchen gadget to try!  The recipe was on the box. You can find molds at kitchenware shops or Amazon.com for around $15.

After spraying the interior with non-stick cooking spray, dough is put into the tube and allowed to rise. The lid is then added and the tubes baked in the oven.

Canape BreadCommercial frozen dough can be used. Molds can also be used for cake mixes, or quick breads by putting foil on bottom then capping, so batter does not leak, then filling 2/3 full with no top cap and baking upright. 

Be creative and adapt your own bread or cake recipes for parties or appetizer trays.  Wouldn't any "foodie" cook love receiving a set of these as a gift? Or bake a loaf for a gift basket or hostess gift!

Honey Canape Bread
2 Tabs. warm water
2 tsp. active yeast
1 -1/8 cups warm milk
1/3 cup honey
1/3 tsp. salt
3 cups flour

If using bread machine on dough cycle, add ingredients according to manual.  Otherwise, start by adding yeast to 2 tablespoons of warm water (105-115 degrees) stir and let set 5 minutes until foamy.

Canape BreadThen in a bowl mix warm milk, honey, and salt.  Add yeast mixture then flour, one cup at a time mixing until smooth.  Knead dough 10 minutes and form a ball. Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to grease all sides; cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double in size (about an hour to an hour and a half.)

Canape BreadPunch down and divide into 3 parts.  Shape each into a roll almost the length of the mold (one or two inches shorter) and place into sprayed mold.  Dough should fill less than half the mold.  Let rise in a warm place until uncapped molds are filled or near filled, about 40-60 minutes.  Put on caps and bake on sides placing on middle rack of oven of 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 375 and bake 25 more minutes.

Remove from oven and let set about 5-10 minutes, remove caps and shake or tap out loaves.  Allow to cool completely or partially freeze before cutting into desired thickness for making canapes.

Estimated cost of  3 canape loaves: $1.00 or less; molds new cost about $15 or less for a set of three.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Eggnog Pound Cake & Variations

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppPound cake is one of the first items I learned to bake when marrying.  I use my grandmother's tried and true recipe as a base for different flavors of pound cake.  

Her original recipe uses milk, but I substituted with commercial eggnog and added nutmeg.

I suggested other variations (see below) of this recipe, as it's easy to alter flavors.

Pound cake freezes well, so is handy to have on hand for a family or guest dessert, serving a slice with with berries, ice cream, glazed toppings or syrups. 

When strawberries are in season, I use her original recipe as a base for strawberry shortcake.

For the just the two of us, I especially like making mini-loaves and freezing. For the holidays, they're great for gift bags or baskets.

Eggnog Pound Cake
Eggnog Pound Cake, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App1/2 pound butter, 2 cubes at room temperature
2  cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 cups flour
3/4 cup commercial eggnog
1 large loaf pan, or 4 mini loaf pans
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

With a mixer, cream butter and sugar. Cut butter into small pieces or soften. With mixer running, add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down sides while adding each egg to completely blend. 
Add flour and mix, one cup cup at a time, then add baking powder and nutmeg, mixing until combined.  Add eggnog and mix until batter is smooth.

Pour or scoop into a sprayed loaf pan or evenly divide into 4 mini loaf pans. Bake until golden and done: 60 to 70 minutes for large loaf or 40 to 50 minutes for mini loafs. Insert a toothpick into center to test if done, it should come out clean.

Let rest 8-10 minutes before removing from pan.  Makes 16 servings.

Variations:
Use 3/4 cup of milk or sour cream instead off eggnog.
Lemon Pound Cake: add a teaspoon of lemon extract and/or lemon zest; or 3 Tabs. of lemon juice
Chocolate Pound Cake: add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
Vanilla Pound Cake: add a teaspoon vanilla extract
Or add poppy seeds. chocolate chips, cinnamon -- or your own creative ideas!

Estimated Cost: $4.00 or less; $1.00 a loaf, .25 cents a serving or less.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crunchy White Chocolate Peppermint

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Many of my older recipes date back to the days before microwaves when you had to use a double boiler and/or candy thermometer to make Christmas candies of all kinds.  

But over the years, with food processors and microwaves, they're so much easier and faster to make.

This recipe can be made with white or dark chocolate, but I especially like white chocolate, and red peppermint from crushed candy canes which is so festive looking.  

Green candy canes would work, too, or a combination of both. A small bag of these are always a welcomed treat and make a nice addition to a gift box or basket.  


It's an easy kitchen project to have kids or grand kids help make.

Crunchy White Chocolate Peppermint
2 Tabs. butter
1 pound white chocolate, chopped, or bag of chips
1 Tab. vegetable or canola oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup crushed peppermint candies or candy canes

In a food processor or plastic bag, crush candy until they're 1/8 inch or smaller.
White Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Line a baking sheet with foil or waxed paper, grease with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate and remaining tablespoon of butter, stirring until smooth. Stir in oil and candy pieces until combined and smooth. (May also be melted in a double boiler.)

Pour onto baking sheet, spreading to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Refrigerate 40 minutes or until firm. Break into pieces, like peanut brittle. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 1-1/2 pounds.
Estimated cost: $5.00 or less.