Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Roasted Green Beans

One of my favorite, quick side dishes are roasted green beans. They make a nice side for anything from pasta to a grilled cheese. The best part about this chameleon side dish is that it is super easy to make.

Ready to go in the oven!
Here's how:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Wash and cut ends off of fresh green beans
3. Toss green beans in 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil
4. Sprinkled with salt and pepper (also experiment with things like garlic powder, adobo, or parmesan)
5. Spread the beans out on a cookie sheet and bake for ~15 min, turning them over half-way through cooking
6. Try not to scarf them all down too fast

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cake Golf Balls

Bucket O' Balls
Recently, while making dessert for my brother-in-laws birthday party, I decided to give cake balls a go. I wanted to make something golf themed as he is a big golfer and had seen some cake pops shaped like golf balls. I figured I could do something similar and just make the balls. I did some looking around on the internet, but did not want to order golf ball chocolate molds because I did not have enough time for them to ship. I ended up remembering that there is a local baking supply place and voila! they had the exact things I needed for my foray into cake balls. If you are looking for baking supplies online (or in the Albany area) check out The Confectionary House, it is really great and has TONS of selection. So once I had my golf ball chocolate mold and some white chocolate disks for melting, I was ready to go. 

If you have not been introduced to cake balls (Do you live under a rock? Just kidding, kinda.) they are made by combining cake and frosting and then are generally dipped/covered in a variety of chocolate and decorations. You bake a cake in a pan and then cut off the edges so that you don't have any of the crumbly part. From there you can have some fun and crumble the cake in a large bowl. You can either make or buy frosting (for the record I do not believe in canned frosting) and combine the two to create a soft dough. I recommend using almost equal parts cake and frosting so that they really stick together. Roll the dough into a ball of about one inch diameter and you are ready to dip in chocolate. Cake balls can be made with any combination of cake and frosting. I personally enjoy making them with cream cheese frosting because white chocolate can make the cake balls extremely sweet. Cream cheese frosting and a less sweet cake can help to balance that out. For the golf balls I used a cinnamon cake with cream cheese frosting.

How to make the golf balls:
1. Prep the cake balls as described above. Place on non-stick cookie sheet, or parchment paper. Make sure to refrigerate the cake balls well so that they are solid.
2. Melt small amounts of white chocolate at a time and fill each half golf ball about 1/2 full with melted chocolate. Place cake ball in the chocolate and press down until the chocolate fills the half-ball mold to the top. You may have to wipe off some excess around the edges.
3. Allow these to harden well in the fridge. 
4. Pop the cooled halves out and refill the molds 1/2 way. Complete the golf ball by dipping the hardened half into the melted chocolate. This takes a little practice to get the right amount of chocolate in the molds to fill appropriately. 
5. Allow the finished golf balls to cool. Use a sharp paring knife to trim any extra chocolate around the seam, in order to create a smooth appearance around the middle.
6. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve/display.
7. Enjoy!

Homemade Pizza

Disclaimer:  I am well aware that making pizza is not exactly reinventing the wheel...but read this post anyway (please).

Last Saturday my sister had asked me if I was cool with making a pizza for dinner. I don't make pizza at home that often so I was pretty game. One of the major benefits of making your own pizza is that you have control of all the ingredients and therefore can make a much healthier version of the popular junk food. Now, I have been known to enjoy a good greasy slice (many times in the wee hours of the morning), but in general I like to maintain a pretty healthy diet.

In preparation for our pizza we hit The Fresh Market and picked up some nicer pizza sauce. After that we went to our regular grocery store to grab fresh veggies, settling on green pepper and broccoli. While we were looking for pre-made pizza dough, my sis saw some pesto and really wanted it, so we decided to throw it in the mix. We also grabbed a cheese mix made from part skim mozzarella and cheddar, with a lower fat content than some of its buddies.

We got home and decided to put sauce and green peppers on half, and broccoli with pesto on the other half. I always add a little bit of salt to my pizza as I think it brings out the flavors more. My sister also puts cheese over the veggies, which I thought worked out well. Our super simple dinner turned out phenomenal and was incredibly tasty. The half with nice pesto and broccoli was excellent and I highly recommend trying it. All in all, an easy to prepare meal perfect for a glass of chardonnay.