Family Night Dinners #1
Melanie apparently used to have “Family Dinner” nights on Sunday where she’d cook food and they’d all eat together. This tradition was broken last year because everyone would “no thank you” her and go to their rooms to eat their already-made food. I found this somewhat disheartening, so here’s a conversation from Saturday!
H: Hey, how was your day?
F: Not bad. I’m trying to decide what to make. I’ve gotten as far as BBQ chicken, as you can tell. (gestures to BBQ sauce and chicken sitting on cutting board with knife)
H: That’s better than me. I got as far as the rice.
F: If we’re ever mutually free, do you want to make food together? :O
H: How about tomorrow?
F: I like your enthusiasm! Lemme dig up some recipes! !
And thus, family dinner nights were/will be reborn! We used yesterday to gauge just how ambitious/enthusiastic we can be every week. We will likely be defaulting to Sunday because Melanie and Laura (y’know, the two with cars) are often gone over the weekend, but are both usually back by Sunday night. We’re also using what we made to persuade them to join us in our culinary endeavors, but it shouldn’t be too difficult, considering that both of them wanted to go to culinary school before they decided to become dietitians. :O
On the Menu:
-Garlic Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
-Apple Pie Cheesecake
-Vanilla Custard Dip
Garlic Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
-½ lb fresh garlic pasta
-8 oz mushrooms
-3 big handfuls of spinach
-3 cloves garlic
-1/3 cup half & half
-salt, to taste
-pepper, to taste
1) Saute sliced mushrooms in olive oil. After mushrooms have cooked for a few minutes, add minced garlic and spinach.
2) Cook until spinach has wilted, then add half & half and Parmesan cheese. Cook everything for a few more minutes, then mix well with pasta.
Note: If the sauce is too watery, add a little cornstarch.
We ended up only needing to use 2 Granny Smith apples (the original recipe called for 4), and opted to sacrifice the crust-shape tops so we could instead make two pies. Since we didn’t have a crust-shape top, we just topped them with caramelized pecans instead of using what was listed in the recipe and bam! A masterpiece was born! It really sucked having to wait til today to eat it, but we finished it at 7 p.m. and figured we shouldn’t stay up til 1 a.m. just so we could eat it. :[
Apple Pie Cheesecake
-1 box of 2 refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
-2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
-½ cup sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 large apples, peeled, thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
-1 lemon, squeezed for juice
-2 tbsp packed brown sugar
-4 tsp cornstarch
-1½ tsp ground cinnamon
-1 egg white
-1 tablespoon water
-1 teaspoon sugar
-½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1) After all the apples are peeled and sliced, pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
2) Leave cream cheese out to soften at room temperature before mixing the cheesecake batter. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth. (Use high speed on electric mixer if you have one. If not, work out those forearms.) Then beat in eggs.
3) Pour cream cheese mixture into the crust-lined plate. In another large bowl, toss apples and lemon juice to coat; stir in brown sugar, cornstarch and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Spoon apple mixture over cream cheese mixture. If you want to get fancy, make apple-shaped (or whatever shapes you want) crust shapes to place on top of pie.
4) In small bowl, beat egg white and water until blended. Brush mixture over crust shapes. In another small bowl, mix 1 tsp granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle over crust shapes.
5) Place pie on a cookie sheet in oven. Cover pie with sheet of foil; bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cool pie on a wire rack; refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve cold and enjoy!
Hamidah also mentioned that there was a pretty awesome fruit dip recipe that she had happened upon a while ago, but that she’d lost it.
F: (face wilts)
H: I’m sorry.
F: (brightens) It’s okay! Do you remember anything about it? Was it made with yogurt?
H: I’m not sure. I think it was a Martha Stewart recipe.
F: (Googles “Martha Stewart fruit dip recipe”) Score!
We accidentally left it slightly unattended while it was on medium-low heat (I was washing dishes and Hamidah was checking on our pies), so some of the egg cooked a little. We didn’t have a sieve, but neither of us cared very much because it still tastes super awesome. Here’s where we got it from.
Vanilla Custard Dip
I admit, not the best picture in the world, but it’ll do.
-4 large egg yolks
-3 tbsp granulated sugar
-pinch of coarse salt
-1 1/2 cups milk
-1 piece (1 inch long) vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or substitute with 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1) Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt until well combined.
3) Pour milk into a heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan. If using the vanilla bean, scrape seeds from pod halves into the milk using the tip of a knife. Add pod halves. Place over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.
4) Remove from heat and slowly pour milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, until slightly thickened and coats the back of the spatula, about 5 minutes. Pour into a medium bowl and set bowl in ice water bath. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla extract, if using.
5) Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl, cover, and refrigerate until serving.