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Tuesday, August 29, 2017: Dinner No. 91: Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice!
Aug 30th, 2017 by Katekoster

Tonight I (Alex) wanted to try make something new so I made cauliflower rice with a shrimp topping, based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine by Adam Hickman (Thanks Adam).  It’s really fun and simple to make: first you clean and chop fresh cauliflower, then you whiz it in the food processor until it’s finely ground.  The texture is more like couscous than rice, but everyone calls it rice.

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For the shrimp/egg topping: First you saute shrimp in some sesame oil for about 3 minutes and then take the shrimp out of the pan.  Second you beat 4 eggs together and cook them in a little more sesame oil for about 2 minutes — letting them set in a thin layer.  You remove the egg and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (essentially thin scrambled eggs).  Third, you add chopped green onions and the cauliflower rice to the pan with more sesame oil and cook till light brown.   Finally you mix the shrimp & eggs back into the onion-cauliflower rice and plate it with a few more chopped green onions (I saved the green tops for the garnish) on top and it is ready!!!!!!!  The final dish looked delicious but we all agreed it needed more flavor.  Next time we might add actual toasted sesame seeds or some sort of nut? or more salt (maybe because it was from Cooking Light it was healthier than we usually eat:). Mom suggested added bean sprouts but Max and I aren’t convinced about that. 

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Thursday, August 17, 2017: Grasshopper Pie!
Aug 21st, 2017 by Katekoster

Today for a late celebratory birthday dinner for dad (his birthday was July 27), mom and I made braised lamb shank and I made grasshopper pie for dessert. Right about now you are probably wondering what in the world grasshopper pie is… Well don’t worry we didn’t eat real grasshoppers (although I hear they’re quite delicious).  Instead we ate an oreo crusted, marshmellow fluff and whippped cream stuffed pie.  It’s called grasshopper pie because it’s green (like a grasshopper).  And the green color comes from Creme de Menthe…unless you decide to change the recipe a little in which case the green color comes from food coloring. 🙂

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These are all the ingredents thst you need for grasshopper pie

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The first step is to grind oreos in a cuisinart mixed with a little melted butter.   Then your press the oreo-butter mix into a pie tin.

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The next step is to melt the marshmellow fluff in a saucepan with a cup of half &half. You can let it cool on a rack but to speed up the process, it’s best to put it into a ice bath. (See picture)

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The third step is to add Creme de Menthe and Creme de Cacao.  However, we did not add the Creme de Menthe because it tasted like toothpaste!!!  The Creme de Cacao tasted pretty good, however, so we did add that.  (If you really love the taste of mint, or the taste of toothpaste, go ahead and add Creme de Menthe, but if you don’t add some green dye for color.  The next step is to whip a cup of heavy cream (without adding sugar)  and fold it into the green marshmellow fluff mixture. Then you pour it into the oreo-crusted pie pan and sprinkle a few crushed oreos on top.   Stick it in the freezer for a few hours and voila! It is good to go (we even stuck a canddle in it for dad’s birthday.)

Sunday, August 14, 2017: Maine Vacation Feasts
Aug 14th, 2017 by Katekoster

Hi, we just spent a week in Maine hiking and biking, and enjoyed some delicious food at a bunch of different restaurants.  Also, since we stayed in a great hotel with a full kitchen, we had time to cook a little.  We are each going to describe our favorite meal out and also what we made to eat ourselves over the week.

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Max:

My favorite meal was our first one we had in Bar Harbor, ME at the Side Street Cafe. I had quesadillas, filled with beans, cheese, avocado and chicken with salsa on the side. The dish was amazing. Everything came together to produce wonderful flavors, and Dad and Mom couldn’t stop themselves from having some!  Dad had a lobster roll which looked pretty good as well.

quesadilla   quesadilla1

My favorite meal that I made in Maine was Mac and Cheese. Missing New York food, I decided to make my own, recreating Max Brenner’s tasty mac and cheese dish.

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Here are the directions:

  • First,  preheat the oven to 400 degrees and heat water for pasta (macaroni noodles).
  • Cut a cup of cherry tomatoes into quarters and sautee 6 pieces of bacon. Then cut the bacon into small bits. Set aside.
  • Add pasta when water is boiling and remove at an al dente (don’t forget to salt the water).
  • Meanwhile, with the heat on low, melt 1/4 cup butter hot and then stir in 1/4 cup flour, careful to avoid clumping.
  • After the butter and flour are mixed, add 2 cups of warm milk, and stir until the mixture is thickened.
  • Then gradually add 8 oz of combined grated cheddar and parmesean cheese while stirring constantly to avoid clumping. When combined, add another 8 0z of parmesan and cheddar and stir in. You have just made a cheesy béchamel sauce
  • Combine your béchamel sauce and al dente pasta in a baking dish.  Add the tomato and the chopped bacon and stir until sufficiently distributed.
  • Finally sprinkle bread crumbs and more shredded cheese on top of the dish and place in oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees (till golden brown).

Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

cheesesauce   macncheesefinaldish

Alex:

My favorite two meals (that we ate at restaurants) were the burger that I had at Black Cap Grille in North Conway, New Hampshire, and the popovers that we had at Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park, Maine.  What was also nice about both of these restaurants was that we could bring our dog Koko (so we could hike with her and then share a meal with her).

The Burgers at  Black Cap Grille:

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Not only was the burger perfectly cooked, the fries were as well. I had to fend off Dad and Mom who tried to eat them.

The Popovers at Jordon Pond House:

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The Jordan Pond House popovers were huge and delicious. They were crispy on the outside but light and  airy on the inside.  We ate them with butter and strawberry jam (just watch out for the bees–they like the jam too).

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My favorite meal that I made in Maine was pasta with bolgnese with an arugula salad and brownies (for dessert).

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Bolgnese is a pretty simple dish that is supper yummy, all you really need to do is:

  • Chop onions and saute them till transulucent
  • Get ground meat (veal, lamb, pork) and put it in a sauce pan with olive oil and soft onions. Brown.
  • Once the meat is all brown (not the least bit pink), add diced tomatoes that can be from a can or fresh.
  • Mix and let simmer for 15ish minutes; be sure to add salt and pepper
  • Pour the sauce on cooked pasta, mix a bit, grate some parmesan cheese and voila it is ready to be served!

For the salad, I made a simple arugula, tomato and parmesan cheese salad but then added some chopped almonds for some texture.  Dressing was just olive oil and fresh lemon juice. The brownies are our family recipe that I have already shared so I won’t tell again.

 

 

Friday, July 14, 2017: Rainy Day Baking
Jul 21st, 2017 by Katekoster

Today was the last day both of us were in New York before we leave for sleepaway camp AND it was raining so we decided that we were going to bake a lot of stuff.  On the baking menu: Lemon Bars, Short Cakes, and Blueberry Crisp.  I (Max) decided to make the lemon bars because I love lemon curd pie but I wanted something a little easier to eat.  I (Alex) decided to make short cakes because we love Joe’s Short Cakes (available at Thompson Finch Farm) with strawberries and I wanted to try to replicate them.  We both decided to make blueberry crisp because blueberries were on sale for $1 a pint and mom bought 5 pints…so we had to do something with them. Plus we love it!

Lemon Bars

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For the lemon bars, first you make a sweet crust base, which includes sugar, butter, flour and baking powder.  You press that into a pan and bake until golden brown.

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Meanwhile you make the lemon filling: shredded lemon peel, lemon juice, eggs and a little bit of flour and baking powder.  Once the crust is baked, you pour the lemon mix directly on top and cook for about 15 minutes more. Delicious: both sweet and tart.

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Shortcakes

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We can’t tell you the recipe (THANKS JOE) but we can tell you that there is flour, butter, sugar, eggs and some other ingredients in it.  And while these shortcakes are great just by themselves, they are even better with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Blueberry Crisp

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Sorry we didn’t take photos of the process, but we were getting tired by the time we got to this.  The key to a good crisp (besides great fruit, of course), is a good crisp and we love this one.  First you combine butter and sugar (cream it together like you are making cookies), then you add baking powder, rolled oats and flour and squeeze it all together till it forms clumps.  If you want to be gluten free, use finely chopped walnuts instead.

For the fruit: you need 6 cups of blueberries, sugar, a little lemon juice and a tablespoon of either flour or cornstarch.  We also added some chopped apples.  So then you put the berry mix in a 8 inch square baking dish, cover with the crisp topping and cook till crisp is grown and berries are bubbling.  You can use the same crisp topping for peach crisp or apple crisp, you may just want to adjust how much sugar you use depending on the sweetness of the peaches or apples.

 

 

Monday, July 10, 2017: Dinner No. 90: Lamb Chops & Chocolate Mousse Cake. Yum!
Jul 13th, 2017 by Katekoster

For this meal I (Alex) wanted to cook something I knew the whole family would love so I grilled lamb chops, made a big kale salad and for dessert made a chocolate mousse cake.

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These lamb chops are one of our favorite meals and takes us back to the late night walks along the beach in Greece two summers ago. With just a little bit of effort (and some salt & pepper) slabs of meat can become a wonderful meal. The kale salad was kale and every vegetable in the fridge (and leftover vegetableI could find–like corn-on-the cob) with a little grated mozarella.  Last but definitely not least, the chocolate mousse cake is anther big favorite in the Koster family. It’s simple, but delicious and it only  contains FOUR basic ingredents that you can find at any food store: eggs, butter, semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla. Raspberries and powdered sugar are optional.

 

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The few steps to make this spendid cake are:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • butter an 8 inch cake pan and cut out a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan
  • gently melt 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate with 8 oz butter (1 stick), let cool slightly
  • beat 4 extra large eggs together for 5-7 minutes till rich & foamy
  • combine eggs and chocolate mixture (which should be cool enough so it doesn’t scramble the eggs)
  • bake for 18-20 minutes (top should be soft but just set); let cool
  • flip cake over using a plate, peel off parchment paper, and garnish with raspberries and powdered sugar if you want.

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Sunday, July 1, 2017: Dinner No. 89: Kuka Paka (Chicken with Coconut)
Jul 3rd, 2017 by Katekoster

Today we wanted to make something we had never made before and we were inspired by an article we saw in The New York Times on June 21, 2017 about a Kenya dish called Kuku Paka (Chicken with Coconut).   It’s a traditional Kenyan dish that apparently “invites tinkering” according to the NYT so it sounded perfect for us. Here is the before and after:

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First we trimmed the fat of chicken thighs, wings and legs. Then we cut scores into the chicken pieces so the marinade we were about to make could sink in better.

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Then we made a marinade.  We chopped up onions, ginger, tomatoes, garlic and added cumin, salt and coriander.  The recipe called for serrano chiles but we forgot to buy those so we added some chili powder.  Then we blended it in a blender and spread 1 cup of it over the chicken. We let that marinade for about 5 hours and saved the rest of the marinade.

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After about 5 hours, we started making the sauce.  We combined the rest of the marinade with coconut oil and coconut milk and let simmer for about 20 minutes.  It turned a really cool orange.

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Meanwhile we grilled the chicken.  When the chicken was cooked through, we added it to the sauce and let simmer some more.

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It smelled so good! Finally we served it over couscous along with an arugula/tomato/burrata salad.  Some of the “tinkering” we did included garnishing the dish with basil instead of parsley (which was what the recipe called for.) We also added corn to the dish.  It was delicious–creamy and very sweet. The coconut added sweetness to the sauce and kept me constantly returning to the kitchen for more.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie! June 26, 2017
Jun 26th, 2017 by Katekoster

Summer Update from KidsCookDinner: Get out and go berry picking! And what do you do when you pick 20 pounds of beautiful organic strawberries? (from the wonderful Thompson Finch Farm in Ancram, NY).  Well of course you eat a bunch, then you make strawberry pie!!! And if for some reason you don’t have time to bake anything, pick up some Joe’s ShortCakes.  They are available at Thompson Finch Farm and are some of the best short cakes we have every had…somewhere between a scone and a biscuit.  Flakier and lighter than a scone but sweeter than a biscuit.

Berries  20170626_125811   JoesShortcake

Strawberry Pie: The first step to make the pie is to cut all off the green leaves and stems of about 6 cups of strawberries. The second step is to put half of the berries in a pre-baked pie crust. We love our pie with a ton of strawberries so we tried to fit as much as we could in the small pie crust.

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Third, you create a sauce: you mash the other half of the strawberries and sugar to form a kind of chunky paste, then put the strawberries in a pot and heat on the stove. When the mixture starts to boil, add your thickener (water and corn starch) to the mashed strawberries.  You then stir constantly for ten minutes until thick.

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Forth, you pour the strawberry glaze pour over the strawberries in the pie crust.  We put a plate under the pie crust in case some of the glaze spills over.

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Finally the hardest step: you have to wait 3 hours until the pie is set.  So hard to do!  Luckily there was some extra strawberry glaze that we snacked on.  To find out why we started this blog and to read more yummy recipes. Read on!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017: Dinner No. 89 Beef Wellington Delight
Jun 16th, 2017 by Katekoster

For this meal, I (Max) wanted to make something big. Something special. Unique. Something that my family would remember for weeks to come. I found the perfect meal – Beef Wellington. I decided to make one, huge Beef Wellington, because it was less complicated than making four individual ones.  Here is the before and after:

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I started off the meal by cutting off the ends of the a large filet  we had and then cutting that in half. Then, I cut of the any fat I saw and took of as much of the thin membrane as I could. I tied up the meat, dividing it into five parts.

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Then I salted and peppered one side of the meat and placed it on medium heat in a pan with olive oil. As it was cooking, I roughly cut up an assortment of mushrooms (cremini, shitake and white button mushrooms), along with a shallot and a clove of garlic. Then we placed them in our cuisinart blender and let the magic work.

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After that, we switched the sides of the meat, and let a saucepan heat up with butter and olive oil. When warm, we put the chopped mushrooms in and cooked them until there was no more moisture. We let the meat cool after giving both sides a good sear.

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Then, we let both the meat and the mushrooms cool off for ten minutes. After that, we spooned the mushrooms on the top, along with the sides of our log-like structure of meat. I almost forgot to cut the strings before I put the mushrooms on top but remembered at the last minute. Then we wrapped it up in clear wrap and put in the fridge to cool. (The wrap and cool off time is so the meat remains in the same shape while it cooks.)  The recipe also calls for wrapping the meat in proscuitto, but we tried that when we made individual wellingtons a while back and did not like it. Weird taste combo (ham/mushroom/fillet).

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We rolled out our puff pastry, removed the clear wrap and gently placed the meat on the pastry and folded up the pastry over it. To keep the pastry around the meat and most of the juices in the pastry, we used eggwash from one egg and sealed it with our pastry brush.

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Coating it with eggwash will also make the pastry appear brown. Then, we made three slits diagonal on top of the meat to allow steam to escape the meat. Then we placed it in the oven. We baked for 45 minutes, until the pastry was golden brown and the heat had an internal temperature of 125 degrees. (The slits make it easy to put a meat thermometer in without breaking the pastry) After taking it out of the oven, we let it rest for 15 minutes.

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For sides I made a fresh green salad with aspargus (slightly steamed), raw (shelled) peas, spinach, argula and avocado.  I also had extra aspargus so I serve that with grated cheese.

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June 13, 2017: Dinner No. 88: Quick Weekday Dinner
Jun 15th, 2017 by Katekoster

I (Alex) was in charge of dinner tonight but I also had soccer practice so I wanted to make something pretty quick.  I decided to make spice-marinated skirt steak, kale salad and corn-on-the-cob.  As soon as I got home from school, I mixed up our favorite Texas spice rub, which includes onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and a few other secret ingredients, and rubbed it into two pounds of skirt steak.  I covered it with plastic and let it marinate in the fridge.  I also washed and rough chopped the kale and prepped the corn for when I got back.

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When I got back from soccer, I started the water boiling for corn and combined the kale with shredded brussel sprouts (note we bought them already shredded which made things a lot faster), chopped almonds and pecorino cheese.  When the water was boiling, I added the corn and started cooking the steak: searing it at high heat and then finishing in the oven (I had so much steak I had to do it in batches).  Mom helped by making a mustard viniagrette and mixing up the salad.  To serve, you slice the steak against the grain. All in all it was pretty fast, which was good considering I had soccer and homework!

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Sunday, June 18, 2017: Homemade Black & White Cookies for Dad
Jun 15th, 2017 by Katekoster

One of dad’s favorite desserts is black and white cookies so for Father’s Day, we decided to make home made black and white cookies for him.  The batter is a mix between a cookie and a cake batter.  You use cake flour along with regular flour and four eggs so the “cookies” are much lighter than your normal cookie: they even puff up a little.  Frosting is super easy: just powdered sugar and boiling water.  Then for the chocolate half, you melt unsweetened chocolate into half the vanilla mix.  Frosting them is a little messy but the clean up is delicious.

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The batter starts like any other batter: cream butter and sugar but then there are more eggs and cake flour than in regular cookies.

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Frosting is super simple: powdered sugar and boiling water.  If it gets too thick, you add a little more water. If too thin, add some more powdered sugar. And to make the chocolate frosting, split the vanilla frosting in half and put half in a double boiler over hot water. Add unsweetened chocolate and voila: chocolate frosting!

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