October 30, 2009

Manila Clams in White Wine

Today was a day of random food purchases to jump-start my cooking bug. I didn't really cook dinners at all last week, which is pretty typical for me the first week the Husband is gone. So today I decided to have fun. The first thing I picked up was a spaghetti squash which I promptly named "Sam." I was planning on using Sam tonight until I went to New Sagaya and saw the tank full of manila clams. "HAH!" I said to myself, "the husband is GONE, so I can have all the clams I want!"

Now, I like clams, but I've never cooked with fresh clams before, only canned. So this was a new thing for me. Thanks to recipezaar.com for helping me out with my first ever fresh clam cooking experiment.

As a note, I'm trying to become more aware of dietary restrictions in my cooking. I'm sure that many of you are more knowledgeable than I on these topics, so if I mislabel a dish, please let me know!

That said, this dish is gluten free and dairy free.


manila clams (~1 dozen per person)
fresh basil, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
crushed red pepper
ham or prosciutto, thinly sliced
dry white wine
olive oil

If needed, scrub the clams to remove any exterior dirt. Soak in cool water until ready to use. In a pot at least twice as large as the amount of clams you have, saute the ham in olive oil until crispy. Remove ham and drain. Meanwhile, add the basil, garlic, and crushed red pepper to the pot and saute about one minute. Add wine to cover the bottom to 1/4 inch and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain the clams and add to the pot. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams. Spoon the remainder into bowls and top with the ham slices.

October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Gingerbread

I love pumpkin. But, for some reason, pumpkin just causes problems in this house. I had to throw away half a can after the Husband put it in the fridge... open. Then, after I'd mixed up this little treat tonight, I turned around to find my cat with his head stuffed into the can, slurping away merrily.

I guess loving pumpkin runs in the family.

This was the result of an urgent baking need that arose this evening. At first I thought about making molasses cookies, but I didn't have the time to let the batter chill. So I went to one of my favorite desserts, with a seasonal twist. I have to tell you, I can't stop eating this stuff. I've promised some to several people, but I don't know that it will last long enough for me to give it away!


2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 t ginger
1/2 t chai spice blend

1/2 c melted butter
1/2 c molasses
3/4 c pumpkin
1 egg
1/2 c sour milk (1 t lemon juice, enough milk to make 1/2 c)

In a small bowl, blend together the dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly beat the dry ingredients into wet. If the batter is too thick, loosen with a few tablespoons of hot water.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

October 24, 2009

The Great Bread Challenge, and some dinner rolls to boot!

I mentioned earlier about the upcoming Bread Challenge. Well, I have my book and I'm ready to begin! For an assortment of reasons, I will be tracking this challenge via my photography blog, Focus. Among other things, I want to keep this one recipe focused. Speaking of, here is a lovely, quick, and easy recipe for dinner rolls that I made the other night, courtesy of cooks.com. No pictures, because they were eaten so fast!


1 pkg. yeast
1 c warm water
1 egg
1/4 c sugar
1 t salt
1/4 c oil
3 c flour

Dissolve yeast in water. Add egg, sugar, salt and oil, mixing thoroughly. Add half the flour, and blend until smooth. Add rest of flour and beat again until smooth. Spoon into greased muffin tins until half full and let rise until doubled. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

October 19, 2009

Beer-roasted Pork Loin with Root Vegetables

Beer and pig. Two of the best things known to man, here combined in a sensation for the taste buds! Absolutely fabulous, the pork comes out juicy and tender and my husband even ate all of his vegetables! The basic pork recipe comes from the Food Network, but I've made several changes.

Note: I did not much like the sauce, so I did not include it in the recipe. I will keep experimenting to make a good beer sauce, but for now, try a gravy. I also did not include the ciabatta recipe. While the bread came out tasty, it did not come out as ciabatta. So I shall have to try again.


Pork loin
2 bottles amber beer
2 T butter
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t cumin
1/4 t allspice
1/4 c mustard (mix of honey and Dijon)
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of horseradish sauce
2 T oil
garlic and wine seasoning
1 T oil
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1/2 onion, sliced
1 orange pepper, sliced
8 small red potatoes, halved

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the diced onion and sautee until the onion begins to brown. Add the garlic, cumin, and allspice. Pour in the beer and bring to a boil. Mix in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and horseradish. Simmer another minute or two, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add pork to marinade and refrigerate. Marinate 12-24 hours, turning every few hours to ensure that the pork is evenly coated.

Preheat oven to 425 and slice the vegetables. Layer in the bottom of a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic and wine seasoning.

Heat the oil in a skillet. Remove pork from marinade and pat dry. Rub with salt and pepper and brown in the skillet. Lay on top of the vegetables and bake 1hr or until a meat thermometer reads 150 degrees.

October 18, 2009

French Bread

So, Stacey over at Magnifico! has issued me a bread challenge where we get a particular book and bake through it one recipe at a time. I, of course, am absolutely unable to ever turn down a challenge, so I agreed and headed out to the bookstore today.

They didn't have it.

Not a huge problem, as there is always Amazon, but darn it, I was so ready to bake some bread! So I went home and trolled the internet for some recipes to try. This french bread recipe comes from allrecipes.com. It has also received the stamp of Manproval! from my husband. The loaf pictured above is the garlic bread version.


2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 c warm water
2 c water
6 c bread flour
1 T salt
1 T sugar
2 T vegetable oil
3 T olive oil
2 T cornmeal
1 egg white, beaten

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add 2 c water, 3 c flour, salt, sugar and vegetable oil; stir well to combine. Mix in the remaining 3 c flour, 1/2 c at a time, beating well after each addition. Leave spoon in, let rest 10 minutes.

Stir the dough vigorously, let rest 10 minutes. Repeat four more times.

Divide dough half. Knead lightly (less than a minute) and roll each half into a large rectangle. If the dough is difficult to roll, let it rest for a few minutes. If you want to stuff the bread, spread your toppings on now. Roll up the dough, starting at long edge. Seal edges and place seam side down on a large baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.

Use a sharp knife to slash each loaf diagonally 3 times. Brush with beaten egg white. Cover and allow to rise 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.


- Brush with garlic-infused olive oil, oregano, and Italian herbs for a nice garlic bread.

- Layer mozzarella and pepperoni for pizza rolls

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips and Lingonberries

It's fall, which means pumpkin time! We stocked up yesterday at the grocery store and of course I had to use some right away. This recipe is easy and tasty - I especially like the addition of the lingonberries. Of course, they're from my own back yard, so I'm emotionally attached to them as well. The only downside is that I don't have any left anymore! Next fall I need to gather lots more. Thanks to Mom2Mom for the basic recipe.

After some questions, I realized I forgot to mention that you can easily substitute cranberries for the lingonberries.


3 1/2 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t ground cloves
1/2 t chai spice blend
3 c sugar
1 c oil
2/3 c water
4 eggs
2 c pumpkin
1 c lingonberries
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, blend the wet ingredients together. Slowly add the wet to the dry, blending well. Stir in the berries and chocolate chips.

Baking times:
muffins: 30 minutes
loaf pan: 1hr10
8x8 pan: 1hr