Haiku thanku

Mixed Baked Butter Potatoes - a Laura Original
8 medium potatoes - a mix of sweet and regular potatoes
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut up potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes and mix in all other ingredients.  Spread in baking dish and cook at 375 degrees until potatoes are soft (30-45 minutes).
I've decided that we need a short post since the last few have been so long.  So, here is all that I have to say, in haiku form:
Add some more sour cream
Your tummy and friends will smile
Thanks Laura; you rock!


parsley salt a shallot and THYME

Herbed Roast Beef (from Cook's Country December/January 2010 edition)
Serves 6-8
1/3 c. finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 (4-lb) top sirloin roast, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
Combine parsley, thyme, and shallot in bowl.  Transfer 2 tablespoons herb mixture to another bowl and stir in mustard and 1 tablespoon oil until combined.  Add butter to remaining herb mixture and mash with fork until combined.
Butterfly roast (see description below) and rub inside and out with salt and pepper.  Spread herb-mustard mixture over interior of meat and tie securely with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees.  Pat roast dry with paper towels.  Heat remaining oil in large skillet over medium0high heat until just smoking.  Brown roast all over, 8 to 12 minutes, then arrange on V-rack set inside roasting pan.  Transfer to oven and roast until meat registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Transfer roast to carving board, spread with herb-butter mixture, tent with foil, and let rest 20 minutes.  Remove kitchen twine.  Slice roast crosswise against grain into 1-4 inch thick slices.  Serve.
To butterfly roast: slice horizontally through the middle of the meat.  Leave about 1/2 inch of meat intact, then open it like a book.  After seasoning the meat with salt and pepper, spread the herb-mustard mixture over the interior of the meat.  Fold the meat back to its original position, then tie securely at 1-inch intervals with kitchen twine.
Some bits of advice when working on this roast:
1.  It's totally worth it, but give yourself lots of time.
2.  I couldn't find a 4-lb "top sirloin" roast so I purchased a 3-lb and a 2-lb sirloin tip roast - after the research I had done about desirable cuts of meat, I found that this was the closest I could get to top sirloin.  Bonus: it was on sale for $1.99/lb instead of $4.99/lb.  Score.
3.  Unless you just have kitchen twine already, go ask for some at the butcher counter at your local grocery store.  The butcher asked how much I needed and then just gave it to me.  This was great, since I don't use twine often ... I had just enough for the roasts AND didn't have to pay for it.
4.  Use fresh herbs - makes a big difference.  The parsley and thyme give the roasts a delicate flavor - absolutely amazing.  
5.  So you know how I just said that I did two smaller roasts instead of one bigger one?  I forgot to adjust the cooking time, so instead of coming out with medium-rare roast beef, it was a bit overcooked to medium.  I mean, that's fine with me (I like all the moo out of my meat), but my husband gently suggested we lower the cooking time next time.  
6.  I don't have a V-rack for a roasting pan - what I do have is a roasting pan with little ridges all over the bottom.  I was afraid that wouldn't give the roasts enough loft, so I twisted 1-ft. lengths of foil into crescent shapes and put 6 or 7 of those on the bottom of the pan.  The roasts went on top of those after they were browned, and stayed up while they were cooking.  I collected the juices that came from baking and will probably use them to flavor some soup or something after Thanksgiving.
I'd love to know if you make this!  Let me know what you find works for you.  I like the idea of buttering the roast AFTER it comes out of the oven and may try that technique with other recipes.  YUM!


twice desserted

World's Best Ever Plain Pound Cake: this - be aware that it makes a rather large cake and it needs the ENTIRE time to bake, maybe even a bit more.  Don't be fooled by a brown top - check the cake with a toothpick or knife to see if the middle is completely done before removing.  If you have any leftovers, they're great toasted for breakfast with a bit of jam on top.
World's Easiest Chocolate Sauce For Pound Cake: Heat 1/4 c. butter, 1/2 c. chocolate chips (though I'm pretty sure the original recipe called for baking chocolate), 1/4 c. milk and 1 c. sugar over low heat.  Bring to boiling; stir constantly and boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and cool before serving, if desired.
We had this cake at the bloggiversary potluck - I forced my friend Rebecca into an evening of slave labor in my kitchen in exchange for dinner, so she did this one start to finish for me.  She got rave reviews.  I'm not surprised.  She's quite the kitchen diva.
A few noteworthy things have been happening this week:
-I'm officially into my second year of blogging
-My father-in-law supervised my mozzarella-making adventure that will result in tomorrow's tomato-mozzarella-basil salad
-I viewed a chicken deboning a la Julia Child and it was everything she said it would be: "By the time you have completed ... this, [it] will appear to be an unrecognizable mass of confusion and you will wonder how in the world any sense can be made of it all."  The formerly mentioned FIL worked a bit of magic with the smoker and some mushrooms, with such a spectacularly tasty result that Julia called and asked to feature him in her new edition.


eat! this! first!

We had four desserts at the potluck: dark chocolate brownies,  no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, chocolate cupcakes with espresso buttercream frosting, and pound cake with chocolate sauce.  My friends must know about my thing for chocolate.

Here is the recipe for the cupcakes.

Easiest Chocolate Cake makes 32 cupcakes

Recipe found in Sarah Magid’s Organic and Chic cookbook and here 

2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour 2 cups organic cane sugar 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon vanilla extract 2/3 cup organic canola oil 2 teaspoons organic white distilled vinegar2 cups cold water


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners, set aside

2. In a large bowl, place sifter on top and add dry ingredients. (Or you can sift each ingredient and mix together in the large bowl).

3. In a medium bowl, mix all wet ingredients together.

4. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry, using a whisk to incorporate.

5. Using a ladle or spoon, pour batter into cupcake liners, filling batter 2/3 up in each liner.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool before frosting.


Espresso Whipped Buttercream

Makes 3 1/2 cups


2 sticks unsalted organic butter 1 cup organic cane sugar 1 cup organic whole milk 1/4 cup sifted organic all purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons strong espresso (either from a shot or from powdered espresso)


1. In small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of the milk and flour, whisk until there are no lumps, then slowly add remaining 3/4 cup milk. Over medium-high heat, whisk frequently until mixture is thick and bubbling, remove from heat. Keep stirring and let cool to room temperature. (You can cheat by flash chilling in the freezer).

2. In standing mixer, add softened butter and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Then add sugar and beat for 3 more minutes until mixture is light and thick.

3. Add cooled milk/flour mixture, and beat for 4-5 minutes until it is thickened and creamy.

4. With mixer on low speed, add espresso, and whip at high speed for 1 minute.

5. Frost cupcakes, or cover with plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator up to 3 days. If refrigerated, make sure it comes to almost room temperature then re-beat for fluffy texture.


Good news!  This recipe can be adapted to those of us who don't have organic cane sugar laying around - just use regular flour, sugar, and oil.  Either way, the cupcakes and espresso frosting taste like heaven.  This is the second time in a month that I have had the extreme pleasure of eating these delights from Mary's kitchen, and I'm afraid that I will never allow her to bring any other dessert to a potluck.  I won't judge you if you make a batch for me, just to see how they compare to Mary's.  I may have to eat six or seven of yours just so I can give a well-informed statement about the quality of your cupcakes and buttercream frosting.  And then take a few home to see what Mr. rhymeswithsmile thinks of them too.  I'm just saying.  I want to be fair to you.


A few of my favorite things ...

Wow, I love friends, and potlucks.  I love the friends more, but the potlucks are a nice accompaniment to friends.  We had some great eats ... my plateful of food looked something like this:
Go ahead.  I give you permission to drool a little ... 
We had:
Herbed roast beef
Goat cheese salad with vinegrette dressing
Homemade macaroni and cheese
White & Sweet potato bake
Colombian bean dip
Mostaccioli salad
Pound cake with chocolate sauce
Easiest chocolate cupcakes with espresso whipped buttercream
Dark chocolate brownies
Don't you wish you could have come?  
You're invited next time.


Peter Peter

My pumpkin eaters: the dear sister-in-law Ashley and my first teaching-friend Anna - both of them dear, sweet women who I am SO excited to send pumpkin chocolate chip bread to! I'd like to thank everyone who participated in the first ever rhymeswithsmile blog giveaway, and I'd also like to thank www.random.org for allowing me the opportunity to pick two winners randomly. If it had been up to me, I would've picked each one of you ... So stay tuned for the next giveaway. Can't promise when it will be but I'll be sure to let you know. Thanks everybody!


Giveaway countdown

Well, my goal was to post at 12:00 PM and remind you all that you have exactly 24 hours before the giveaway ends, but I missed it ... whoops. This will have to do instead: you have approximately 23 hours and 42 minutes to enter rhymeswithsmile's first ever food giveaway, in honor of one year of blogging! See this post for details and how to enter.



Here it is: the plan for rhymeswithsmile's first birthday.  Ready? 
I took a little survey of friends and the overwhelming feedback was either to have a great meal for everybody or send them food.  So, I've decided to have TWO parts to the first bloggiversary event.   Read on.
Part 1: This coming Friday (November 20, 2009) rhymeswithsmile and Mr. rhymeswithsmile will be hosting a Potluck for all of our friends that can come.  We (ok, I) want it to be a nice meal from scratch ... you know, the meat and sides and done-up desserts that you only pull out for special occasions - your grandmother's roast, Aunt Jane's asparagus and bacon appetizers, the neighbor's cornbread - you get the picture.  And bring the recipe!  The collection of recipes will be featured on rhymeswithsmile in the coming week, on the actual bloggiversary.  
Logistically speaking, we will provide the main dish and a dessert.  You can bring whatever you want!  Let us know that you're coming, though, so that I know how much main dish to prepare.
Part 2: For those that won't be able to make it to the potluck (that's right - potluck attendees are ineligible, sorry!), you are invited to the first ever rhymeswithsmile giveaway going on RIGHT NOW!  I will draw TWO lucky people to receive either a loaf of pumpkin-chocolate-chip bread or a batch of cookies (probably chocolate-chocolate chip, unless you object).  All you have to do is put your name, an email address (so I can get in touch with you about winning!), and which prize you'd prefer in the comments section.  Feel free to tell your friends about it.
Contest closes on Friday November 20, 2009 at noon, at which time I will draw the two winners!  
I'm so excited I could just bust.  This is so much fun.


feliz cumpleanos ... almost ...

I love birthdays. You have no idea. Mine is only 42 days away, but that's beside the point. rhymeswithsmile has a birthday coming up soon - the big 1! - and I want to do something to commemorate it. I'm looking for your ideas. Should I give something away? Should I do a special feature? Should I get my two faithful readers to do something with me? Just looking for suggestions.


the granola lady

Granola Makes 12 cups Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine: 6 c. oats (I prefer old-fashioned but quick-cooking oats are fine too) 3 c. cheerios (or any other cereal) 3 c. corn flakes (again, any other cereal works) Optional: slivered almonds, shredded coconut, other tasty things like toasted wheat germ or Golden Grahams cereal In a saucepan, heat until boiling: 1/2 c. water 1/2 c. oil 1/2 c. honey (substitute same amount of white or brown sugar or molasses if that's what you've got) Pour the liquid mixture into the oat mixture and stir until everything is moistened. If you feel like it's not moistened enough, make more liquid mixture by heating equal parts water, oil, and honey and stirring that in. Put the mixture into two 9"x13" cake pans (or one large roasting pan if you've got it) and spread evenly. Some people say use cookie sheets - I find that I tend to accidentally throw stuff out of the pan if the sides aren't high enough, and I find that cake pans or a roasting pan work better for me. However, if you're more precise and can handle well-manicured stirring, by all means use the cookie sheet. Put pans in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Add raisins or other dried fruit if desired. Store in airtight bag (or back in the oats container). By now you've probably figured out that all of my recipes are more "madness" than "method." I don't even measure for this one anymore, except for the wet ingredients (and even then, the only reason I measure is to make sure I have equal parts of everything). I have used all oats before, thrown in some cinnamon and cloves, and crumbled up stale cookies in with the oats (no waste, right? Makes for an amazing batch though ...). Granola is AWESOME for that reason - just moisten everything, bake it at a low temperature for an hour or more, and stir periodically, and the result is a tasty breakfast, snack, or ice-cream topping, depending on when and how you decide to consume it. And the best part? People who stay overnight ask for granola for breakfast. Yes. It's happened twice now. I guess of all the things cooks get known for - corn casserole, biscuits, or pot roast - granola is fitting for me. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions, but I'll take it.