Monday, December 27, 2010

Easy Mini-Apple Pie

Santa was very good to me this year.  One of his hits was a coveted set of Le Creuset Mini Round Cocottes.  I put them to good use immediately to create a yummy Christmas dessert.  These can be made in any small bakeware.

Easy Mini-Apple Pies
(makes 2)

1 sheet defrosted puff pastry
1 large red apple, chopped
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs butter, cut into chunks
1 tbs butter, melted
2 tbs maple syrup 
Fresh whipped cream (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 F.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine the apple, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir well.  Divide into baking dishes.  Top with cold butter.
3.  Cut the puff pastry large enough to hang over sides of baking dish.  Place on top off dishes and crimp dough along the edges of the dish.
4.  Baste the pastry tops with melted butter.  Sprinkle with allspice.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
5.  Remove from oven.  Crack shell in the middle and pour one tablespoon maple syrup into each pie.  Top with whipped cream and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sausage and Peppers, Two Ways

I had just about given up on the return of my willingness to blog when, low and behold, it showed back up.    Maybe it's because I have a delicious way to use leftovers to post.  Maybe it's because I received a comment that wasn't in Chinese and didn't translate into porn websites.  Whatever the reason, it's back.  I do have a feeling that it may just be kind of testing the waters.

I admit that I came up with this dinner after I watched an episode of the Jersey Shore.  Don't judge me.  I can do what I want.

Sausage Peppers

First Way:  Oven-baked
We make this for two adults, a sausage a person, doubled so that there are leftovers.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 hot Italian sausages
3 large bell peppers, sliced
8 oz of assorted mushrooms (we like brown and white buttons), sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tsp oregano (dried)
2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 400.  
2.  In a 5 quart stovetop and oven safe pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame.
3.  Brown the sausages in the oil, roughly 30 seconds each side.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add the bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, white wine, fennel, oregano, and salt into the pan on top of the sausages.
5.  Cover and cook 45 to 60 minutes (until the sausages are done).  Serve hot with a side salad.

Second Way:  Grilled Pepperonata Sandwiches
The leftover sausages and peppers gets turned into this for a quick meal the following day.

In addition to leftovers from the above meal, you need:
2 hoagie rolls
several thin slices of mozzarella 

1.  Preheat your barbecue to medium.  
2.  Barbecue leftover sausages until hot.
3.  In the meantime, on a grill top or in a large skillet on medium high heat, warm the vegetables.  When the sausages are almost warm, place the cheese on top of the vegetables and push them around a bit so it gets the vegetables all melty.
4.  Lightly grill the buns.  Prepare with mayo, mustard, or whatever else you'd like.  Add the sausages and top with the cheesy vegetables.  


Monday, February 15, 2010

Hello Bangkok!

When not in Bangkok, we dream about this bowl of soup. The vendor that dishes this up is out of this world! We often wonder if the memory of this soup is better than the real thing. It isn't. My mind can't dream up anything more wonderful than this.

I did it. I tried some of David's bugs. I ate one and threw up a little in the back of my throat. As I have a firm two taste rule, I had to try another one. It was no better the second time around. David is wrong...They don't taste like the world's best potato chips. They taste like cricket. He thinks that the large grasshoppers are better than the crickets, but there was no way in hell I was going to let that squish and crunch through my teeth.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kahlua Butter Cream Frosting

This past weekend, my dad celebrated his 62nd birthday. We held a surprise party Friday night and a family dinner Saturday night, complete with ten pounds of clams, a shrimp salad with a homemade blue cheese dressing, and parmesan garlic toast. My mom really dusted off her cooking skills for the family dinner. I wanted to lighten her load and make dessert. Seeing as how there was a birthday and all, I made a devil's food cake, my father's favorite.

Butter cream frosting was the natural compliment, seeing as how my father loves butter creams. Apparently, so does my husband. Once the mixture was set aside to cool, I couldn't keep him out of the butter cream mixture. He must have ate two cups of the final product. I married a sugar fiend. The kahlua adds a wonderful coffee flavor to the frosting, but you can use orange extract, almond extract, bourbon, coconut extract, and so on.

Kahlua Butter Cream Frosting

8 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
4 tbs kahlua
3 sticks butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1. In a double boiler over boiling water, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and kahlua. Whisk until the mixture becomes thick and has a pale, even color (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.
2. In a mixer bowl, combine the butter and vanilla. Mix with the electric mixer until the butter is very fluffy.
3. Slowly incorporate the kahlua mixture into the butter. Mix until well blended. The frosting is now ready to use.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Great Computer Crash of '09

Here's the tasty things that I had lined up that you will not be seeing:

Guatemalan black beans
White bean and tofu chili
Spicy white bean chicken soup
Halibut fish sticks

Thank you, Toshiba laptop, for dying a hard death only seven months after your purchase. I treated you well, kept you updated for viruses, never abused you with water or a fall. I really couldn't be more elated that you have chosen to die now that I have to pay the cost of a new Macbook to replace you. What did you do for me in those seven months? Nothing that is worth the $100 per month breakdown of your cost. You wooed me with your cheap price, $900 under the Macbook. Now I know your true cost because, somewhere in that Great Crashed Laptops home in the sky, you have all my photography and my iTunes library. Well-played, Toshiba, well-played.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All Purpose Caramel Sauce

My kitchen seems to be constantly sticky as I make batch after batch of this stuff for gifts. I've drizzled it over sliced apples and topped those with warm, toasted almonds to create easy caramel apples for a work shin-dig. I've slathered a gift cheesecake with the stuff. On top of brownies, over a banana split...Caramel sauce makes everything better.

Caramel Sauce
makes three 6 ounce jars
3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup water
12 ounces heavy cream
3 tsp lemon juice
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
3 tbs butter

1. Place a two quart pot over medium heat. When warm, add the sugar and water. Stir until well combined.
2. Let the combination simmer but not boil, for 30 minutes or until the sugar looks like a dark, golden amber. Do not stir! Every five minutes, gently swirl the pot around.
3. When the sauce has turned color, turn the heat very low. Add the cream. It will bubble like crazy. Stir very well but do not try to stir in the stuff that has hardened around the sides. This stuff is basically rock candy and will only make your sauce chunky.
4. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Keep stirring until well combined.
5. Remove from heat. Over a bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, strain the sauce using a fine-mesh sieve. Stir the butter into the bowl until melted.
If you are giving these away as gifts, you can put the sauce into the small glass canning jars and a) run them through a hot water bath to make the lid pop down for presentation purposes or b) just put the lid on because it has to go into the fridge either way.
For home use, I just stick it in a squeeze bottle and try to keep myself away from the apples.
This sauce will keep for about a month well-refrigerated.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hiatus Shmiatus

After our world was shook up in late July, the CrazyMonkeyHouse crew is back and ready to blog! I'm feeling 75% better and am eating again. The hiatus has ended.
Thank you to everyone that reached out to us to show support over the past few months. I'm very grateful to everyone that has CrazyMonkeyHouseEats on their reader list despite the lack of posts for a few months.
CrazyMonkeyHouseEats will resume its tasty posts by next week!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smoked Almonds

This recipe isn't for everyone as it requires a smoker. There's none of that namby-pamby "smoke flavoring" here. If you do have one and are an almond lover, rejoice! Not only can you greatly reduce cost by smoking your own almonds, you'll probably enjoy the taste a lot more. Keep an eye out for sales on unroasted, unsalted almonds and buy them in bulk.

While it is a multi-day task, it's highly rewarding. I like to soak the nuts Friday night, dry them on Saturday, and smoke them on Sunday. The process isn't very labor-intensive until smoking day.
Make sure to keep your nuts away from the hottest part of the smoker. Otherwise, the back-breaking work of sorting the good nuts from the burned ones will make you thankful that you're not a professional almond sorter. It will also make you appreciate the next can of perfectly roasted nuts you purchase. Somewhere, in some third world country, some child sorted nuts for 12 hours a day to help fill that can.

Smoked Almonds

2 lbs unroasted, unsalted almonds
2 cups kosher salt
1 quart water
Hickory or Maple wood

1. In a large pot, combine the water and salt. Stir to dissolve.
2. Add the almonds. Set aside to soak for 24 hours.
3. Drain nuts. Set out to dry on paper towels.
4. Heat smoker, keeping heat between 180 and 200 F for the entire process.
5. Line smoker racks with cheesecloth and lay out nuts in one to two layers per rack.
6. Smoke for 3 - 4 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. Two hours in, alternate the rack positions.

After three hours, start checking your nuts for flavor. When the smoke taste permeates the entire nut, they are done.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shellfish in White Wine, Butter, and Garlic

I didn't mean to go so long without posting a recipe. Really. Hopefully, this recipe will make up for it. It's super quick, can be adjusted to feed many or few, and is impressive when served at dinner parties.

Shellfish in White Wine, Butter, and Garlic

24 mussels

24 clams

1 cup 80/110 scallops

8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into one tbs pieces

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 1/2 cups Viognier

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup chopped basil

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the wine, onion, garlic, and salt. Simmer until the onions are slightly translucent.
2. Add the clams and mussels. Cover, raise the heat to high, and cook until they are done (5 - 7 minutes).
3. Stir in the scallops.
4. Stir in the butter until melted.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs.
Serve with a crusty bread for dipping!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Food Posting Will Resume Shortly

I apologize for the lack of updates on this site. Of course, anyone that knows what life has been like around here for the past month will understand. I'm not staying up long enough to make dinner most nights nor do I have energy to cook on the weekends. I've been surviving off of food that smiles, which has limited me to a diet of whole grain Goldfish crackers.

I did get a big craving for some drunken noodles today, so I think my cooking bone is ready to be flexed once again.

Soon...I promise.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mango Papaya Goodness

My mom stopped by recently and said, "You're looking slim!" Those words were enough to make me fall down and kiss her feet. Not really, but they did confirm what I already knew...Smoothies are waaaaaay better for you than ice cream.

Since I've been on my "smoothie a day" kick, I've noticed a marked improvement in my digestion and energy level. I've also determined that almost anything can be blended into something wonderful-tasting.
Tropical Fruit Smoothie

1/2 papaya, deseeded and scooped out
2 mangoes, skin and pit removed
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice

1. Put everything into the blender and blend until mostly combined.
2. Add ice to the top. Blend until smooth.
3. Enjoy the taste of the tropics. Try not think about how far the fruit travelled.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Caramel Corn

I had a terrible sweet tooth last night. Caramel corn seemed like the only answer which was quite surprising as I haven't made caramel corn in almost a decade. This recipe doesn't'll have bowl of concrete if you let it sit overnight. I suggest that you pop in a good movie, gather the family around the popcorn bowl, and eat every last bite.

Caramel Corn

3/4 cup corn kernels, popped (I like to filter out kernels that don't pop)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 stick butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla (I like Madagascar Bourbon vanilla)

1. Put the popped corn into a large, paper grocery bag. Set aside.
2. In a 2 quart microwave safe bowl, plop in the brown sugar, honey, and butter. Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir. Repeat twice. Sugar should be dissolved.
3. Remove from microwave and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.
4. Pour the topping over the popcorn. Wrap the top tight and shake well for a minute or two.
5. Microwave the entire bag on high for two more minutes. Remove and pour into a bowl.

I like to eat the corn after it has sat around for about 30 minutes and has had a chance to cool down.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ginger Chicken Soup

During and after college, I often made chicken packets. Chicken was cheap and it just took a few inexpensive ingredients to create a tasty meal. By the time my mid/late twenties hit, I chickened out. No more chicken! Interestingly enough, I found comfort in my arch nemesis, the turkey.

Recently, I've been craving chicken (no mom, I am not pregnant). I remembered how much I used to enjoy chicken packets and decided to create a more grown-up version.

My husband was so excited that chicken was allowed back into the house. He went on and on about he used to watch his mom chop the head off of chickens and pluck the feathers from their goose-fleshy body. Amazingly enough, I still wanted to eat chicken!

I apologize about the formating of the recipe. Blogger is having issues, apparently.

Ginger Chicken Soup

2 chicken breast halves, bone in and skin on

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

6 green onions, thinly sliced.

2 bird's eye chili, thinly sliced

1 cup snow peas, sliced

Juice of half a lemon

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

Cilantro, for garnish

Rice noodles, cooked according to instructions

1. Fill a large pot with 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the water and let cool. Remove the skin from the meat and the breast from the bone. Add the skin and bones to the pot of water and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from heat. After 10 minutes, skim off the fat.

2. Set the chicken breast on a large piece of heavy-duty foil. Slice the breasts into four or five pieces.

3. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Spread the ginger and half the green onion and chili slices between the chicken pieces. Pour the sauce on top.

4. Gather the sides together and fold over to form a tightly wrapped packet. BBQ over indirect heat (325 F) for 20 minutes, gently flipping every five minutes.

5. While the chicken cooks, prepare the rice noodles. When still a bit al dente, remove from water, drain, and run cold water over them to prevent sticking.

6. Heat the stock and add the nam pla, snow peas, and the remaining green onion and chili slices. Simmer for three minutes.

7. Divide the noodles into two bowls and add the broth. Unwrap the chicken and divide the meat and juices between the bowls and serve. Garnish with cilantro.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pho Gah! - Another Installment of "What Not to Cook"

When my husband and I first met six years ago, he was eating pho up to five times a week. Our third date was to his favorite pho restaurant. While I avoided the the tendon and tripe version, I didn't shy away from much else. I loved it!

Once we had been dating for awhile, he let me in on a secret. It hadn't been a date...It was a test. If I didn't appreciate his favorite food, I was wrong for him. A willingness to eat pho, he said, showed a sense of adventure and a general acceptance of things that are "different".

A willingness to make pho, on the other had, shows that you've got a case of the crazies.

Not adventurous enough to boil ox tail and beef marrow, I took a short cut and used a pho base. It's basically large tea bag thingies that contain all of the broth flavoring: animal parts, cardamom, clove, sugar, etc.

I figured that taking this shortcut still required a lot of other work, so I set forth charring onion and ginger to add to the simmering base. With no directions on the back other than a picture of the tea bag going into a pot of water, I decided to let it simmer for 40 minutes. When it was done, we tossed in some leftover shredded chicken. The smell was to die for. I felt like I was at my favorite pho joint, minus the Buddha shrine and the little old man serving the statue coffee, tea, and cigarettes.

I soaked some rice noodles in cold water before putting them in the bottom of two bowls. Broth was spooned over it. Soon, we were drooling as we loaded our bowls up with the usual: mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, that long thing related to cilantro, jalapenos, Siracha, Hoisen sauce, red chili sauce, and a smoky chili paste.

With success on my mind, I dug in. The first bite? Disgusting. The second? Worse. It had barely passed my lips before being spit into the garbage can. This pho seriously tested my "two taste minimum" policy.

I'm pretty sure that this would have come out better had I done it the long way, but still don't think I'd have a hit. Frankly, for $4.99 a bowl at the corner pho shop, trying to make it at home is not worth my time or money.

Support your local pho restaurant!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Berry Good Smoothie

The CMH has hereby declared ice cream out and smoothies in. This has everything nothing to do with my fear of turning Thailand into "Thighland". For the next month, I am forgoing my beloved Haagen Dazs. Goodbye Banana Split, Fleur de Sel Caramel, Hawaiian Lehua Honey & Sweet Cream. With the heaviest heart, I say goodbye to you, dear Wildberry fro yo.

And hellooooooooo berry smoothies!

Ice cream, I may just be able to quit you after all.

Blueberry Smoothie
makes two servings

2 cups fresh blueberries
3 baby bananas (or one large banana)
3 tbs raspberry juice concentrate
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water

1. Fill a blender 3/4 of the way with ice. Add the water. Pulse a few times to get the ice moving.
2. Add the fruits and blend.
3. Through the feed tube, slowly add the milk. Blend until smooth and serve.