Thursday, August 17, 2017

Base Granola Recipe

This recipe comes from my friend and neighbor Theresa.  She's got this granola thing down to a science.

Base Granola Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 carton rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup water
Directions:

Combine oats, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Spread on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour, stirring at least once.

Mix in ideas: coconut, nuts, dried fruit

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chestnut Stuffing

This is an old family recipe that we've been making for years.  It's my favorite non-dessert holiday food.

Chestnut Stuffing
  • 2 cups butter, melted
  • 3/4 c whole milk or half and half
  • 1 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 Tb (or more) poultry seasoning
  • 2 Tb finely chopped parsley
  • 18 cups white bread in 1/2 inch cubes, without crusts, from about 33 ounces of bread
  • 3 cups chestnuts, chopped

Combine butter, milk, celery salt, poultry seasoning, and parsley.  Place two thirds of bread cubes and chestnuts in a large bowl.  Drizzle butter mixture over bread cubes while gently mixing with hands.  Add remaining bread cubes and continue to mix gently.  Taste and add additional spices as needed.

Place stuffing mixture in a 9x13 casserole dish.  Bake.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pepperoni Bites

My mom used to make these when we were kids.  I think she used frozen bread or pizza dough, but it's simple enough to make yourself using this no-knead recipe.

Pepperoni Bites

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water
  • blocks of mozzarella cheese
  • pepperoni slices

Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.  Add water and stir until dough is fairly uniform.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter for 18-24 hours.  At this point you can use the dough right away, or put it in the fridge to use later.

When you are ready to make the pepperoni bites, cut the mozzarella into cubes weighing roughly 1/2 ounce each (e.g. cut an 8 oz block into 15 or 16 pieces).

Flour the work surface and scrape the dough out, and flour the top as well as your hands.  Grab a small amount of dough, about the size of a golf ball, and flatten it.  Place a slice of pepperoni on top, and then a piece of cheese.  Fold the dough around the pepperoni and cheese and make sure all holes are sealed.  I prefer to use the minimum amount of dough needed to cover the pepperoni and cheese.

Place the dough balls on a foil lined and greased baking sheet.  They can be baked right away, or frozen for later.  To freeze, put the whole baking sheet into the freezer; when they are fully frozen, peel off the foil and put them in a freezer bag for storage.  They can be baked directly from frozen.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, long enough that the dough is fully cooked but the cheese hasn't totally leaked out.  Serve with marinara.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Basic Quiche Recipe

From Betty Crocker, adapted by Linda Bauman.

Basic Quiche
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 1 c shredded cheese
  • 1/3 c onion, diced small
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c milk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne


Put crust in 9" deep dish pie plate, and partially bake.  Fry up bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Layer bacon in partial baked crust with onion and cheese.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour into pie pan.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 300 and bake 30 minutes more.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Farmer's Breakfast Casserole

Recipe provided by Carol.  I don't know where she got it from.

Farmer's Breakfast Casserole

4 cups frozen shredded hash browns
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or jack)
1 1/2 cups cubed or deli ham (fully cooked)
9 eggs
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk, or 1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup chopped green onions
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Put frozen hash browns in 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
Cover with cheese and follow with ham.
Sprinkle with green onions.
Beat eggs and milk together and pour over other ingredients.
Season to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 55 to 60 minutes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Brie with Caramel, Fruit, and Nuts

Brie with Caramel, Fruit, and Nuts
(Courtesy of Trader Joes)
  • Wedge of softened triple cream brie
  • Fleur de sel caramel sauce, warmed
  • Chopped candied pecans
  • Triple blend dried berries
Mix caramel sauce, pecans, and dried fruit.  Pour over brie.  Serve with crackers.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cornbread Stuffing

From my Uncle Charles.

Cornbread Stuffing

1 quart chicken stock (bouillon is fine)
3 batches' worth of Jiffy cornbread, baked in a 9x13 pan
1 large loaf of stale white bread, broken into pieces about 3/4" cubed
2 medium onions
4 stalks celery, or about the same amount as the onions
2 T sage
1/4 c parsley
2 eggs

Chop onions and celery together in a food processor.  Saute well, but don't burn, in butter or margarine.

Dump bread, cornbread, onion/celery mix, sage, and parsley into a huge bowl.  Toss with a big spoon.  Salt and pepper (if you used bullion cubes, go easy on the salt).  Mix eggs in, and moisten with stock.

Use your hands to mix thoroughly.  Add stock until the whole mixture is moist and easily squeezes through your fingers.  It should be sticky and stick to your fingers when you remove them from the mix.  Taste.  If you can't taste the sage, add more.  Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Stuff tightly in both ends of turkey just before roasting.  Stuffing can be refrigerated for two days before roasting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Squash

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Squash

2 acorn squash
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb pork breakfast sausage
1 apple, chopped
1 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c parmesan cheese

Cut each squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out seeds and innards.  Trim a bit of skin off the opposite side to create a flat base.  Drizzle each half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast at 400 degrees for 40-50 min, or until tender.

In the meantime, cook onion, celery, salt, pepper, and rosemary in a frying pan or medium saucepan over medium heat, until onions begin to soften.  Add garlic and sausage, and cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is browned and broken up.  Add apple and cook until slightly softened.  Remove from heat, and stir in breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Once squash has finished roasting, remove from oven and fill each with prepared stuffing mixture. Return to oven for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wild Rice Salad with Chicken

Wild Rice Salad with Chicken

1.5 c uncooked wild rice

1/4 c raspberry vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T soy sauce
1 t grated orange peel (+ juice and fruit segments)
1/2 t pepper

2 c thawed white corn
1.5 c finely diced celery
1 c finely shredded carrots
3/4 c dried cherries, chopped
1/2 c finely chopped red onion
1 lb cooked, cubed chicken

2/3 c roasted salted sunflower kernels

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad (this recipe came from Patience's grandma)
3-4 cucumbers
salt
3/4 c. sour cream
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 t. vinegar
1/2 t. paprika
pepper to taste
peel and thinly slice the cucumbers. Salt them heavily. Stash in the fridge for an hour. rinse off the salt and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Mix together remaining ingredients and let sit for another hour before eating. Optional: you can also add thinly sliced onions with the sour cream.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki

1 cup flour
2/3 cup water
2-3 tsp soy sauce
2 eggs
4 cups cabbage
2-3 green onions, sliced
1/2 loop kielbasa, sliced

Whisk together flour, water, soy sauce, and eggs.  Stir in cabbage, onions, and kielbasa.  Fry on medium heat until more than halfway cooked; flip and cook until center is set.  Serve with mayo, tonkatsu sauce, and benito flakes.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3-4 medium potatoes, cut into 3/4" chunks
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c water

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Toss cauliflower, potatoes, cumin seeds, salt, and olive oil to coat in a medium bowl.  Spread evenly on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Saute onion in a little olive oil on medium high heat until lightly browned.  Add garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, and salt, and cook for a minute more.  Add water and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add cauliflower and potatoes and toss with onion mixture until water is mostly evaporated.  Add additional salt to taste.

Serve with basmati rice.

Ginger Chicken

Credit to Niccole Perrine for this recipe.


Ginger Chicken
serves 2

1/2 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c soy sauce
2 tsp ground ginger
crushed red pepper (optional)
1 c water
2-4 Tb cornstarch
peanuts (optional)

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add chicken.  Brown on all sides, turning occasionally.  Add sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper, and water, and bring to a simmer.  Mix cornstarch with a tablespoon or two of water and add to the pan.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened.  Serve over rice and top with peanuts.


Ginger Chicken with Bok Choi
serves 2-3

1/2 lb boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 head bok choi, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c soy sauce
2 tsp ground ginger
crushed red pepper (optional)
1 c water
2-4 Tb cornstarch
peanuts (optional)

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add chicken.  Brown on all sides, turning occasionally.  Remove chicken from pan.

Add bok choi to pan with another drizzle of olive oil.  Saute, turning frequently, until slightly wilted.  Add sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper, and water, and bring to a simmer.  Cook until stems are tender.

Return chicken to pan along with accumulated juices.  Mix cornstarch with a tablespoon or two of water and add to the pan.  Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened.  Serve over rice and top with peanuts.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Apple Sharlotka

Apple Sharlotka
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Note: This is the way I wish I'd made it.  The original recipe had you pile the apples in the pan, then spread the very thick batter over the top and hope it sank in.  This resulted in a layer of apples topped by a layer of cake.

2 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c flour
4 apples, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour the bottom and sides of an 8" springform pan.

Beat eggs and sugar until thick.  (If you beat too long, you'll have a meringue-like shell on the top of the cake.)  Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon.  Stir in apples.

Scrape batter into pan.  Bake 55 to 60 minutes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pumpkin Coconut Peanut Soup

Loosely adapted from these sources:
Pumpkin, Peanut, and Ginger Soup
Spicy Coconut and Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Coconut Peanut Soup
serves 2-3

1 small onion, diced
1 inch ginger, grated
1 14 oz can pumpkin
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1/4 c peanut butter
dash cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 c chopped cilantro

Saute onion in olive oil until soft and translucent.  Add ginger and saute for one minute more.  Stir in pumpkin, coconut milk, peanut butter, cayenne, and salt, and bring to a simmer.  Add water if soup seems too thick.  Blend if desired.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dijon Chicken

Dijon Chicken
Loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 lb chicken thighs, trimmed
olive oil
2 shallots or 1 small onion, finely diced
1 c white wine
1 c heavy cream
2-4 T dijon mustard

Heat olive oil in pan over medium high heat.  Add chicken in a single layer and fry until halfway cooked.  Flip and cook briefly on other side.  Remove chicken to a bowl.

Add shallots and more oil, if needed, and saute until soft and translucent.  Add wine and reduce.  Add heavy cream, mustard, and reserved chicken and juices, and simmer until reduced and slightly thickened.

Moussaka

This is a recipe from my lovely friend Kristen.

Moussaka

2 medium eggplants
olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey or lamb
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
15 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Cheese sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups cream
2 egg
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Peel and slice eggplants into 1/4 inch slices. Drizzle a cookie sheet with olive oil, place the eggplant slices on it, drizzle with more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put them under the broiler and broil till soft and brown.

In a large sauce pan over medium to medium high heat, add enough olive oil to coat pan. Add chopped onions, garlic and meat. Cook until meat is cooked through. Add canned tomatoes and crushed tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom. Spread about half the meat mixture on top of eggplant. Put another layer of eggplant on top of that. Spread the rest of meat mixture on top of that.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. To the melted butter, whisk in flour, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add eggs and cheese and mix completely. Pour cheese sauce on top of moussaka. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let it sit for 25 minutes after you take it out of the oven before cutting it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Apple Cake

This is an amalgamation of four different recipes:
Ozark Apple Pudding
Patricia's Awesome Apple Cake
Teddie's Apple Cake
Easy Apple Cake

Karin's Apple Cake

3/4 c sugar
1/2 c melted coconut oil
1/4 c applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c chopped apples

1/4 c brown sugar
2 T butter
1 T milk

Whisk together sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and egg.  Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir together wet and dry ingredients and then stir in apples.  Pour into greased 9x9 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until batter is set.

Poke holes in cooled cake.  Cook brown sugar, butter, and milk together on stove until mixture bubbles.  Pour over cake.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

Recently I realized that the link for one of my favorite sweet potato soup recipes no longer worked, and I hadn't written down the recipe anywhere so it's gone forever.  So I'm going to try to write up recipes as I try them (including notes on modifications) so this doesn't happen again.  Don't count on much in the way of commentary -- the quicker I can write up a recipe, the more likely it'll actually happen again!

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella
Adapted via Smitten Kitchen

1 large italian eggplant, or 3 skinny asian eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

6 ounces orzo, rinsed
1 teaspoon tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 small lemon's worth of zest
4 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups water

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Mustard Bread Crumbs

You know it's got to be a good recipe if it finally got me motivated to post again. :)

This is not a recipe that sounds particularly good on the surface. However, those eight cups of cabbage? Are delicious when wilted and surrounded by diced potatoes, heavy cream, bacon grease, and crispy bread crumbs.

That being said, this dish ends up being not terribly unhealthy due to the sheer quantity of cabbage. It's substantial enough to stand as a main dish, but I think it would also be good as a side with thickly sliced ham or pork.

I made a few changes to the recipe to reflect my preferences; those changes are reflected below.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Mustard Bread Crumbs
adapted from the NY Times, via The Wednesday Chef
serves 3-4 as a main dish

1/3 cup bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
3/4 cup yellow onion, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups all purpose potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups green cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the bread crumbs:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups fresh white bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons parsley (optional)
3/4 cup Comté or Gruyère cheese, grated

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cook bacon in a very large frying pan until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and place on paper towel lined plate, leaving grease in pan.
3. Add onion and sauté until softened. Add potatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add cabbage, stirring frequently, until cabbage wilts a bit.
4. Remove cabbage mixture to a 9x13 or similarly-sized baking dish. Add cream to frying pan and simmer over high heat, stirring constantly, until reduced by half. Mix cream into cabbage mixture. Cover casserole with foil. Bake 10 minutes.
5. Wipe out frying pan and melt butter over low heat. Add bread crumbs and toast until crisp and golden, stirring constantly. Stir in garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, mustard and parsley.
6. After 10 minutes in the oven, remove baking dish and sprinkle with bacon and cheese, if using. Top with bread crumbs. Return to oven uncovered and bake until bubbly, about 5 minutes.


Comments & Modifications:
  • I'm not entirely sure that the Gruyere is necessary; there's not much on there so the flavor is pretty faint. I might swap out another (cheaper) cheese or even leave it out entirely.
  • Eight cups of cabbage should be considered a minimum. I bet you could just put in way more that that without compromising flavor, and make it way healthier!

Verdict: I couldn't stop eating it. Next time I'll double it and have lots of leftovers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tomato Paella

I've been eyeing this recipe for a while, but now, knee-deep in tomato season, seemed like a perfect time to make it. It's not worth the trouble unless you have perfect juicy tomatoes to be the star.

I was not feeling the need to go out and buy a whole bunch of specialty paella ingredients, including a paella pan, so I made some substitutions. The modified recipe is what I've included here.

Tomato Paella
Adapted from Mark Bittman
Via Wednesday Chef

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, or about 6 large plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and cut into thick halves or wedges
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 links andouille or chorizo sausauge, cut into half-moons
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Large pinch saffron threads
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
Minced parsley and basil for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm water in a saucepan. Put tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat.

2. Put remaining oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, sausage, and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir in tomato paste, saffron, and paprika and cook for a minute more.

4. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is shiny, another minute or two.

5. Add wine and let simmer until it is mostly absorbed, then add the hot water and stir until just combined.

6. Put tomato wedges on top of rice and drizzle with juices that accumulated in bottom of bowl. Put pan in oven and roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.

7. Rice should be dry and just tender; if not, return pan to oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. If rice looks too dry but still is not quite done, add a small amount of water. When rice is ready, turn off oven and let pan sit for 5 to 15 minutes.

8. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley and basil. If you like, put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.


Comments & Modifications:
  • Lacking a suitable pan, I used my cast iron skillet, and prayed that the acidity of the tomatoes wouldn't ruin the (factory-made, but still valuable) patina. I think a small amount of the surface may have been removed, though it was hard to tell as I don't use that pan very often. For the future, I think I'll keep an eye out for an inexpensive oven-safe skillet that's not cast iron, just to be safe.
  • I used andouille sausage links that we'd normally put on the grill. They weren't originally in the recipe, but complemented the flavors of the paella very well.
  • If I ever find bomba or other Spanish rice for a decent price, I'd like to give it a try, but the arborio worked well and is so much cheaper and easier to find.

Verdict: Delicious. Both Dan and I went back for second helpings, and still had to restrain ourselves from eating more. The tomatoes were practically melting! Definitely a good way to use up some of that summer bounty.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Best Cocoa Brownies

For as long as I can remember I've used boxed brownie mixes to get my brownie fix. With a cup or so of chocolate chips as mix-ins, they always came out pretty decent, so why mess with a good thing? is what I asked.

I've been reading too many food blogs, however, and seeing recipe after recipe for good homemade brownies finally put me over the edge. In addition, this recipe is practically a one bowl recipe when you use the microwave to melt the butter and chocolate together. So I decided to give it a try.

Best Cocoa Brownies
Via Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Alice Mendrich’s Bittersweet

Ingredients:
  • 10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 c flour

Instructions:
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each interval, until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot to the touch. (It will still look gritty at this point.)
  3. Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate.
  5. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Per Smitten Kitchen I used a heaping 1/4 tsp of flaky sea salt, but felt that it could have used more. Next time I'll go for the full 1/2 tsp.
  • I used a blend of natural, dutch process, and black cocoa powder, because I couldn't decide which to try. I also discovered that I have 7 different types of cocoa powder, and possibly an addiction to purchasing high-quality baking ingredients.

Verdict: Do I even need to say it? They were delicious! Smooth and fudgy, with rich chocolate flavor offset by a good bit of saltiness -- and easy enough that I won't even bother keeping a box or two of mix around for emergencies.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

In my ongoing quest to feed my husband and my Sunday School class, here's another breakfast recipe . . .

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.
  4. Add sour cream and dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately in several additions.
  5. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then gently fold into batter.
  6. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.
  7. Pour half of the cake batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.
  8. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I had some cinnamon and sugar mixed up from making snickerdoodles, so I used that instead of mixing it up fresh. It was pretty cinnamon-y, maybe more than what was called for in this recipe. Fortunately, I like cinnamon.
  • I took mine out after 40 minutes and it may have been slightly underbaked, but was very moist. Definitely better to take it out a few minutes early than too late.
  • Next time I'd add some salt, either by using salted butter or by adding a pinch to the dry ingredients.
  • I wonder if it would work to use yogurt instead of sour cream? It would certainly be much healthier.

Verdict: This makes a LOT of coffee cake. This was not a bad thing. We all enjoyed it very much, and I'm sure it'll be made again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint

So when one has a large backlog of recipes to post about, does it make sense to start with the most recent (that I remember the best) or the oldest (that have been waiting for me long enough)? Please comment if you have an opinion!

Anyways, to get things rolling, this is a recipe I made just the other day. Since it's summer, I'm trying to take advantage of all the yummy fruits and vegetables that are in season right now. This recipe fits that criteria pretty well, and it has minimal unhealthy ingredients so I can pretty much eat my fill of it!

Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint
from Smitten Kitchen
  • 1 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned
  • 1/2 lb Napa cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red pepper, julienned
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 T fresh lime juice, about one lime
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T neutral tasting oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 T thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 c toasted cashews, coarsely chopped

Directions:
  1. Toss mangoes, cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk lime juice, vinegar, oil, and salt in a smaller bowl.
  3. Toss cabbage mixture with mint leaves, cashews, and dressing immediately before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • The original recipe called for crushed red pepper. I'm usually okay with spicy things, but couldn't quite see how it would fit in here, so I left it out.
  • Lacking the motivation to harvest fresh mint leaves from my plant, I used a couple of big pinches of dried crumbled mint. A different flavor, I'm sure, but it was still delicious.
  • If I could figure out how to get the flavor of the red onion without the lingering onion breath, I'd make this again right away.

Verdict: The mango was a bit of a pain, but this salad was worth it! I ate this for lunch two days in a row and found it pretty filling. Food like this makes me love summer so much.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

I guess enough people have nagged me about posting in my blog that it's time to get back to it. :)

Also, I needed to get this recipe recorded somewhere before I lost the photocopy! My lovely friend at work let me copy the recipe out of her magazine, after she made it and brought some in for me to try, and we both loved it. I did make a number of changes to simplify the steps even further; the recipe below includes my modifications.

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Ingredients:
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 1/2 c sliced green onions or diced onion
  • 1/4 c chopped celery
  • 1 lb summer squash or zucchini, about two medium, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb frozen corn kernels
  • 1 1/2 c to 2 1/4 c milk, divided
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 c sliced green onions for garnish, optional

Directions:
  1. Saute bacon in medium pot until crisp. Remove from pan, leaving some or all of the drippings.
  2. Add onions, celery, and squash to pot and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Place vegetables in bowl off heat and set aside.
  3. Put about 1 cup of corn in the bowl with the other vegetables; add remaining corn to pot along with the milk. Process corn and milk with immersion blender until smooth.
  4. Add thyme, salt, pepper, and reserved vegetables to pot. Add water if additional liquid is necessary. Cook over medium heat until heated through.
  5. Garnish with crumbled bacon and green onions.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Although I love green onions, I had two smallish yellow onions that were on the verge of nastiness so I used them instead.
  • Oops! Forgot to buy celery. It was fine without.
  • Oops again! I only had 1 1/2 cups of milk in the fridge, so I made up the rest with water. The pureed corn is so creamy, though, that I hardly noticed the difference.

Verdict: Dan said: "This is really good!" Pretty high praise for something so healthy and simple to put together! This soup tastes like summer to me; I suspect we'll see it again soon.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Simplest Apple Tart

The pictures of this recipe just called to me -- flaky crisp tart dough, tender baked apples, crunchy sugar -- so pretty and tasty looking! I ended up making it for a family gathering last fall so I wouldn't eat it all myself.

Simplest Apple Tart
from Alice Waters via Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

Dough:
  • 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 T chilled water

Filling:
  • 2 lbs baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (save peels and cores)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-4 T sugar

Glaze:
  • 1/2 c sugar

Directions:
  1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
  2. Dribble in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropey with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon of water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball.
  3. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
  4. Place dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to make a free-form galette. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)
  5. Overlap apples on dough in a ring two inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
  6. Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Bake in center of oven about 45 minutes, or until apples are soft with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown, making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.
  8. In the meantime, make the glaze. Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.
  9. Remove tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
  10. Brush glaze over tart, slice, and serve.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Lacking a tart pan, I went for the free-form galette.
  • I had some trouble with the dough, as usual. It was a bit sticky, but also seemed to crack in the oven, causing the apple juices to leak all over the pan in a big sticky mess. It took several washes to get it clean.
  • Since I was making this for the next day, I opted to skip the glaze. We also warmed it slightly in the oven before serving.
  • The picture makes it look like this serves a lot, but I say 6 to 8 servings.

Verdict: Even without the glaze I thought this was fantastic! Someday when I've had more practice with crusts I'll try this again.

Blueberry Buckle

Well, so much for that whole "post every day during November" thing. I look back at that last post and it's like I just gave up! Which I think is pretty much what happened; once I missed the first day, it was like, what's the point?

Anyways, to motivate myself to post I decided to start in the dessert section, otherwise known as the best and yummiest section.

I tried out this recipe late last summer, with a large container of very sour blueberries from Wegmans. Not wanting to eat them plain, I needed to find a tasty way to get rid of them, and settled on this recipe suggestion from my coworker.

Blueberry Buckle
from the Food Network

Ingredients:
  • 9 oz cake flour, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 1/4 oz sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 15 oz fresh whole blueberries, approximately 3 cups
  • 3 1/2 oz sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 1 1/2 oz cake flour, approximately 1/3 cup
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9x9 glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, approximately 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and milk in thirds, alternating, beating until just incorporated. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Can't say I remember any, which isn't too surprising given that I made this almost a year ago.

Verdict: This was substantial and tasty. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9x13 dish, and it made a TON of cake. We brought this to a college reunion with about 10 people, and there was still leftovers at the end of the weekend! While it's not particularly special, it is yummy and filling, and I'd definitely make it again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies

Really, look at those pictures. How could I not try this??

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies
from Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
  • 20 whole fresh jalapenos, 2-3 inches each
  • 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1 lb bacon, sliced into thirds

Directions:
  1. If you have them, slip on some latex gloves and possibly a face mask for the pepper prep. Cut jalapenos in half length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane. Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with a bacon piece (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. At this point, you can freeze them, uncooked, in a Ziploc bag for later use.
  2. Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don’t want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to the squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn’t look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of bite to it.
  3. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Of course, you can make as many or as few as you want. Please don't make all 40 if you're the only one eating them.
  • The toothpick is kind of finicky; I don't bother. If you wrap the bacon so that the ends are underneath the jalapeno it keeps everything in place perfectly.

Verdict: Of course, these are ridiculously good. Do I even need to say it? A word of warning, however: jalapenos vary greatly in hotness. I've eaten plenty that were perfectly mild, and one or two that I thought were going to kill me. To play it safe, now I nibble a tiny bit off the very end to check for fiery burningness, and if it's bad, I give it to Dan to "dispose" of.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tomato Bread Soup

I had been looking forward to trying out this recipe since I read it. It sounded so appealing: fresh in-season tomatoes, spicy sausage, silky bread. So when I picked up a bunch of lovely tomatoes at the farm stand it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Tomato Bread Soup
via Wednesday Chef

Ingredients:
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 4 oz chorizo (casings removed), cubed
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 lbs ripe tomatoes, peeled
  • generous pinch saffron threads
  • 2 c crustless country bread, finely diced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T minced flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Add garlic and cook over low heat till soft. Add chorizo, raise heat and cook until starting to brown. Stir in paprika. Remove from heat.
  2. Place a sieve over the pan, halve tomatoes horizontally and hold cut side down over sieve as you gently squeeze to remove seeds and allow juice to fall into pan. Remove sieve. Reserve tomato pulp. Heat juice in pan until warm, add saffron and set aside off heat 10 minutes.
  3. Finely chop tomato pulp by hand or in food processor. Add to pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in bread. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to stand, off heat, stirring from time to time, until room temperature, about 30 minutes. Fold in parsley and serve.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I discovered at the last minute that our leftover good bread was kind of bad, so we substituted regular white sandwich bread.
  • I hate parsley. We left it out.

Verdict: This was okay. I think the substitution of regular sandwich bread was a mistake, because it tasted more slimy than silky. Also, there was a strange plasticky flavor to the soup, which could have come from either the chorizo or the saffron; I suspect the saffron. Next time I use it I'll be more cautious about adding a "generous pinch".

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crockpot Cowboy Stew

Another soup that Dan picked out around bid season time. I try to keep him well fed.

Crockpot Cowboy Stew
via Year of Slowcooking

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb browned hamburger or turkey
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 2 cans whole baby potatoes, drained
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can Ranch Style beans
  • 1 cup water
  • sliced jalapeno peppers for garnish (optional)

Directions:
  1. Brown the hamburger with the chopped garlic cloves on the stove top. Drain the fat. Let sit in the pan for a bit to cool.
  2. Open all of the cans, and dump them into the crockpot. Drain the corn and the potatoes, but add the rest of the can liquid to the crockpot.
  3. After adding all of the can contents, add the browned meat and a cup of water. Stir with a spoon to mix a bit.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5. Soup and stew tastes better the longer you cook it, so opt for the longer cooking time if you can.
  5. Garnish with sliced jalapeno peppers, if desired.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I used regular fresh potatoes instead of canned, despite the warning in the original recipe that non-canned potatoes would disintegrate during cooking. I know from making beef stew that regular potatoes do just fine, so that's what I used.
  • I have no idea what ranch style beans are! I don't think grocery stores in my area carry them, if the blank looks from the employees are any indication. Since I was at the store and unable to research a reasonable substitute, I decided that we'd use pinto beans plus powdered ranch dressing mix.

Verdict: Again, I didn't get to try this but Dan said it was "okay". I'm skeptical; it smelled kind of boring, like it needed a ton more spices. Maybe it would have been better with the real ranch beans?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chickpea Tomato Soup

I made this back during bid season when I had to work long hours (April and May, proof of how long it's been since I posted here regularly), so I spent some time on the weekends making sure Dan had decent food to eat during the week. This is a recipe that Dan picked out to try, out of a list of things I thought he might like.

Chickpea Tomato Soup
via Orangette

Ingredients:
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 3-inch sprigs fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem and finely chopped
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, one 28-ounce and one 14.5-ounce
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

Directions:
  1. Drain the canned chickpeas in a colander, and rinse them well.
  2. Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat, and add the garlic and rosemary. Cook for a minute or two, and then add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, a few grinds of pepper, roughly half of the chickpeas, and the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the soup from the heat to purée. If using an immersion blender, purée the soup directly in the pot. Otherwise, wait a few minutes, until the soup cools; then purée it in batches in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot. Add the remaining chickpeas, and warm the soup over medium heat. Serve warm.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I didn't have fresh rosemary at the moment, so I substituted dried rosemary.

Verdict: I didn't get to try this, but Dan said it tasted pretty much like tomato sauce with chickpeas in it. He ate it, but didn't really enjoy it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Broccoli Soup with Lemon Chive Cream

More soup!

Broccoli Soup with Lemon Chive Cream
via Orangette

For the soup:
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb broccoli, both crowns and stems, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 5 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • rind (about 2 inches square) from a piece of Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, or less if your broth is well salted

For the lemon chive cream:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 scallions, white and pale green parts only, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 c finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pressed or minced garlic

Instructions:
  1. In a small stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute. Add the broccoli, stock, Parmesan rind, and salt, and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until the broccoli is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. While the soup cooks, prepare the cream. In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream, scallions, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, grated Parmesan, salt, and garlic, mixing until fully combined. Taste, and adjust as necessary.
  3. To finish the soup, remove the Parmesan rind. Purée it in the pot using an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pot, add a few dollops of the cream mixture, and stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. If needed, rewarm the soup gently over low heat.
  4. Serve the soup with a spoonful or two of the remaining cream on top.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I tried to use the parmesan rind, but it got really goopy so I took it out.
  • Next time I might just stir all of the cream into the soup. I think it would taste just as good, and then I wouldn't have to take two containers to work.
  • I bet plain yogurt would work just as well as sour cream since the tangy creaminess is really all that comes through.

Verdict: I really enjoyed this soup! Apparently broccoli, lemon, and chives go really well together. With yogurt instead of sour cream, it would be exceptionally healthy as well. I'll definitely make this again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Curry Cauliflower Soup with Honey

I love making soup when it's cold out (so, pretty much all of fall and winter), and am always looking for new and interesting combinations. Curry and cauliflower go well together, and pureed cauliflower is creamy and delicious but very healthy, so I decided to give this recipe a try.

Curry Cauliflower Soup with Honey

Ingredients:
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 onions, sliced thick
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Honey

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until florets are browned, about 25-30 minutes.
  2. In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they turn brown. Stir in curry powder and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock, water and cauliflower. Cover and bring to boil and then simmer until cauliflower is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup with a stand or immersion blender until smooth. Return to pot if using a stand blender, reheat if necessary. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowl with a drizzle of honey.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I cut back on the cayenne pepper because I'm really sensitive to it for some reason.

Verdict: This was good, but somehow it got a little tiresome on the palate after a decent-sized bowl. I'm slowly learning that cauliflower generally doesn't reheat well. Maybe some homemade croutons would help? I may try this again sometime with some modifications, if I can think of any.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Another notch in the search for the perfect lemon poppy seed muffins.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
via Recipezaar

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/3 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • 2 lemons worth of lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat just until smooth.
  4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold them into the muffin batter until blended.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely.

Comments & Modifications:
  • For muffins, these really were a lot of work. Not only did I have to get out the electric mixer, but I had to dirty three bowls, for the wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and egg whites. I'm more of a "stir gently" kind of muffin maker.
  • In addition to the lemon zest and juice, I added about half a teaspoon of lemon extract. They could have used more.

Verdict: With the help of the lemon extract, these muffins were tangy and a bit lemony, but still not as lemony as I would like. The texture was dense but tender, and they were kind of flat on top. Dan liked them well enough. Maybe I'll try them again sometime with more lemon extract.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

I love fall, and I love making food that tastes like fall. Pumpkin muffins are particularly fun to make, because the pumpkin helps them stay nice and moist. These were so good I decided to bring them to our Sunday school class where I immediately became very popular. :)

Pumpkin Muffins
via Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
  • 1 c canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or spice mixture with proportions equivalent to recipe from pumpkin pie recipe on back of can
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.
  2. Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, sugar, and oil until smooth, then whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.
  3. Divide batter among muffin cups, then sprinkle tops with cinnamon. Bake until puffed and golden brown, and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Comments & Modifications:
  • None.

Verdict: I hope Dan doesn't get tired of these, because I could see them coming around a lot.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Big Crumb Coffee Cake

In my never-ending quest to bake tasty breakfast goodies for Dan without getting bored by making the same thing too often, I decided to branch out into coffee cake. The one at Smitten Kitchen caught my attention because of the hefty proportion of crumb to cake; who wouldn't pick all the topping off the cake if they could? Rhubarb wasn't in season so I left it out, leaving a plain but tasty coffee cake.

Big Crumb Coffee Cake
via Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the rhubarb filling:
  • 1/2 lb rhubarb, trimmed to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
For the crumbs:
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 c cake flour or regular flour
For the cake:
  • 1/3 c sour cream
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c cake flour or regular flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 T butter, softened, cut into pieces

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. Toss rhubarb with sugar, cornstarch and ginger and set aside.
  2. To make crumbs, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.
  3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.
  4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.
  5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • As I mentioned above, I left out the rhubarb as it was out of season. However, a tart fruit such as blueberries or raspberries would have been lovely as a replacement, and they're more easily found frozen when out of season.

Verdict: This was good, but probably a bit too rich to make for Dan for breakfast very often. This would, however, be fantastic as a part of a fancy brunch.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Buttermilk Chocolate Bread

There are several improvements I'd like to make to this blog, for aesthetics and ease of use. One, I'd like to start posting the recipe itself in each blog post, instead of just the link. I will of course continue to include the link, to give credit to the source. I fear that someday one of my favorite recipes will be taken down from wherever I found it, leaving me with a potentially awesome review of something I can never make again. Eventually I hope to go back and do this for all previous posts as well.

The second improvement is a much bigger change, and something I'm kind of dreading: I'd like to include pictures of each dish I've made with the review. You see, I'm so terrible at photography and have pretty much no interest in learning how to improve. We have a little point and shoot camera that takes decent vacation pictures, but close ups of food when there's hardly any natural light? It's gonna be tough. Obviously I'm not going to go back and re-make crappy dishes just for the sake of taking pictures, so this change will be something that starts next time I try a new recipe.

Onward! It's only day 2, after all; better get crackin'.

Buttermilk Chocolate Bread
via Allrecipes

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c buttermilk

Directions:
  1. Cream butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  3. Pour into a greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Comments & Modifications:
  • The original recipe called for pecans in the batter and chocolate honey butter for spreading. I'm not into nuts in my bread, and I figured the chocolate honey butter was overkill, so I left it out.
  • I'm lazy, so I added the dry ingredients and buttermilk all at once. Someday I'd like to do a side-by-side test to see if this even makes a difference.

Verdict: Tasty, but more like chocolate cake than something you'd eat for breakfast. I don't think this bothered Dan though.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Makloubi

Well, it certainly has been a while since I last posted here. If anyone out there actually reads this, I'm sorry! I've been cooking like crazy, but once the backlog of recipes to post got out of control I lost all motivation to even bother. Sincerest apologies!

However! Now is the time for new beginnings. During the month of November, thousands of people around the world put pen to paper every day for National Novel Writing Month. Now, I have no interest in writing a novel. (Reading novels, on the other hand . . .) But many bloggers use this month as an exercise in regular blogging. And this is my intention: to post here every day during November, and therein to catch up on my recipe backlog.

To start, I will post a recipe out of a cookbook! And not just any recipe; the taste of allspice and fried almonds and tangy yogurt transports me back to Syria, where I first tried it this summer. I love Middle Eastern food of all kinds, but this stuff is just amazing. It sounds weird, but give it a try; you won't regret it.

Makloubi
adapted from A Gourmet's Delight, by Aida Karaoglan

Ingredients:
  • 1-2 pounds boneless lamb, beef, or chicken thighs, cubed
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground allspice, or 1-2 tsp purchased ground allspice
  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups medium grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • fried slivered almonds or pine nuts, for garnish
  • plain yogurt, for garnish

Directions:
  1. Brown meat and onions in large pot, then add salt and allspice.
  2. Add cauliflower, rice, and water, and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and simmer over low heat until rice and cauliflower is tender, about 30-45 minutes. If you wish to unmold the makloubi on a platter, do not stir; otherwise stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Serve with fried almonds or pine nuts on top and plain yogurt on the side.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I've already totally modified this from the original recipe, since it called for an absurd amount of cooking time and dirty pots.
  • However, for cheaper cuts of beef the longer cooking time may be useful. I'd simmer the beef alone for a while before adding the sauted onions, spices, and other ingredients to break down the connective tissues.
  • Apparently this is quite tasty with eggplant instead of cauliflower. However, the cauliflower was so good I may never get around to trying it with eggplant.

Verdict: Yum. Dan's opinion: "This is going into our regular rotation."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No-Knead Bread

So, my latest food-related project has been learning how to bake bread. I've discovered there's a lot to learn -- kneading, judging when dough is done rising, different baking techniques, all sorts of stuff. The first bready-thing I tried to make was pretzel rolls, which were partially successful. Then, feeling a little intimidated, I took a step back and attempted this incredibly easy crusty bread recipe, which I still managed to screw up the first time I tried it.

No Knead Bread

Comments & Modifications:
  • The recipe calls for a rise of 12-18 hours. The first time I made this was during the work week, and 12-18 hours didn't fit into my schedule, so I went for more like 22 hours. In a hot house in the summer. Not recommended. The second rise was pathetic and it baked up like a brick.
  • The second time making it, I let it rise for just barely 12 hours, and it was a huge success! The second rise was lovely, and it was nice and airy out of the oven. In the winter it might be able to handle a longer first rise, in the summer? I don't think so.
  • I don't have a dutch oven, so I used a medium sized round casserole dish with a glass lid. The dough just barely fit inside, but it still turned out okay.
  • I still haven't figured out whether the interior is supposed to be moist and chewy, or if I'm still messing something up.

Verdict: Awesome. The second time, at least. This has the crustiness of an artisanal bread, but for a fraction of the price and very little work. Dan and I ate this as a meal with some nice cheese and it was just perfect. I'll definitely be making this again.

Update: Forgot to mention last time that I do the first and second rises in the same bowl, with a wash in between. Working with floured towels just seemed like way too much trouble. Also, the bread is excellent with a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary mixed in before the first rise, and a bit of kosher salt sprinkled on top just before baking.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

Or, What To Do with Extra Buttermilk.

Seriously, there's like a hundred different ways to use up leftover buttermilk. And the baked goods are so delicious that it's totally acceptable to buy a quart of buttermilk and declare the whole thing leftovers. I declare it to be so.

Quick Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

Comments & Modifications:
  • I have issues figuring out how to pour half the batter into the loaf pan, especially if making two loaves. This time the "middle" layer ended up about an inch from the top layer . . . in a four inch loaf. Oops! Not sure how to fix this problem other than by recalibrating my eyeballs.
  • I left out the walnuts because I think baked goods are best in their pure form, unadulterated by nuts or other such things.

Verdict: Yummy! This was perfect for bringing into work and sharing, and my coworkers definitely approved. I'd be happy to make this again. Also, the batter is delicious.

Pistachio Salad

This technically isn't a recipe I found on the internet; it was actually introduced to me by my lovely mother-in-law at a family gathering. But, since I seem to be using this website as my personal recipe box, I might as well add it just for completeness and such.

Pistachio Salad

Comments & Modifications:
  • I have made this using fat free cool whip and sugar free pudding, and it still tastes pretty darn good. I'd probably use the real stuff though if I were bringing it to a gathering.

Verdict: Of course this is good, my mother-in-law doesn't know how to make things that aren't totally tasty! :)

Sweet Potato, Corn, and Jalapeno Bisque

Here's another recipe that was just perfect for my stick blender. I love that thing. It's magical.

Also, I did not make bisque in August. I made this back when hot rich soups actually sounded appealing.

Sweet Potato, Corn, and Jalapeno Bisque

Comments & Modifications:
  • I thought I was going to die from the amount of heat that cayenne packed. Now, I am quite sensitive to cayenne, so I should have known better than to just throw in 1/4 tsp all optimistically. Next time I will start with just the jalapeno, and add cayenne to taste. No worries, my coworker with the tongue of iron helped me eat it.

Verdict: This was soooo good. Too bad I couldn't eat it without gasping and chugging water.

Rich Buttermilk Waffles

Sometimes Dan and I like to whip up an old-school breakfast after church, like pancakes or cream of wheat or, in this case, waffles. I was in the mood to use a real recipe instead of bisquik so I hopped online and found this one.

Rich Buttermilk Waffles

Comments & Modifications:
  • I got nothin' to share here. Really, what could I have changed?

Verdict: I love Smitten Kitchen, and virtually all of her recipes that I've tried have come out well, but this one was a bit of a failure. The waffles were light and fluffy, I suppose, but it wasn't much different than if I had mixed in the egg yolks and whites at the same time, instead of beating the whites separately. Also, the texture was practically the opposite of crispy, and that was the part I was really hoping would work out. Guess next time I'll stick with regular old bisquik.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch

Time to start digging some recipes out from the archives of my brain . . .

This recipe is the first time I ever cooked with rhubarb. We were at the farmer's market and I really wanted to try something I'd never had, and being early spring, there wasn't much available. I was a little skeptical that rhubarb would even taste good, but figured that some variation on rhubarb pie would probably work out.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch

Comments & Modifications:
  • I think I followed this one pretty closely. Freaky.
  • However, if I make this again, I'll cut back significantly on both the sugar and the flour that gets stirred into the fruit. The flour caused it to feel a bit gluey, and the fruit itself was not tart enough to contrast with the extremely sweet topping.
  • I'd also probably make a half portion, if it's just for Dan and me, since the topping isn't nearly as good the next day.

Verdict: This was a relatively low-risk way to try out rhubarb, what with all the sugar and strawberries and stuff to mask the flavor, haha. It did taste good, but with the modifications above I bet it would be perfect.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sticky Buns

I must break my blog silence with this most nostalgic recipe: sticky buns. Growing up, practically every time I saw my grandma she had made these, and I would snarf down a few of them pretty quickly. Now she has passed away, so I got the recipe from my mom and gave it a try for myself.

Grandma's Sticky Buns

Ingredients:

Dough:
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 c warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c bread flour (my mom has used regular flour plus gluten)
Topping:
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 3 T light corn syrup
  • 1 c pecans (optional)
Filling:
  • butter (1/2 c?), softened
  • 1/2 c white or brown sugar
  • cinnamon (1/4 c?)
Directions:
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  2. Mix the yeasty water with the sugar, salt, 2T butter, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat together using a hand mixer.
  3. Gradually add the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, using the hand mixer until the dough becomes too thick. At that point, work the remaining flour into the dough by hand until it is easy to handle. Although no kneading is required, it may be helpful to knead gently to incorporate the flour.
  4. Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to four days, or set in a warm place to rise until doubled.
  5. Shortly before rolling out the dough, combine the 1/2 c butter, 3/4 c brown sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan on the stove and stir together until glossy. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle evenly with pecans.
  6. When you are ready to roll out the dough, turn it out of the bowl onto a well floured surface. Pat the dough out into a good-sized rectangle and spread with butter. Combine the 1/2 c white or brown sugar with cinnamon, then sprinkle onto dough over butter. Starting from a long end, roll up dough into a tight log, stretching the dough as you roll. Pinch the end to seal.
  7. Cut off the ends, then cut the log into 15 evenly-sized pieces (or cut into 16 and eat one) and place into prepared pan, three across and five down. Cover and refrigerate, or allow to rise 1 1/2 hours. If refrigerating overnight, allow to rise before baking.
  8. Bake at 370 degrees for 25 minutes. Dump out onto cooling racks immediately, and scrape out any topping remaining in the pan and put on rolls.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I mixed up the dough and rolled it out in the same day, then put in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I took them out of the fridge and left for church. About 1 1/2 hours later, the rolls hadn't risen much, but I baked them anyway and they came out fine, if a little small. But it would be best to plan for more rise time in the morning.

Verdict: How could these not be yummy?? They were everything I remembered. I ate three. Dan and I fought over the topping that dripped on the counter. It was good.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Middle East Inspiration

For the past three weeks my family and I have been on vacation in the Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel. It was amazing! One of the best parts was the food; apparently middle eastern food is something I haven't explored nearly enough! Here are some of the dishes that inspired me:

Lemonade or lemon ice with fresh or dried mint

Bananas, dates, honey, and cream blended together for tasty drink

Maklouvi, or spiced chicken and rice with fried almonds and pine nuts, topped with yogurt

Stuffed zucchini, filled with any of the following:
- rice
- ground beef
- bread crumbs
- cheese
- spices
- sausage

Roasted cauliflower salad with mayo and spices

Roasted eggplant salad with a tangy tomato based sauce

Salads in general, made up of the following:
- a grain, such as rice, bulgur, couscous, quinoa
- diced vegetables, raw or cooked, such as peppers, broccoli, onion, corn,
- a protein, such as shredded chicken or chickpeas
- an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar
- herbs and spices

I'm looking forward to trying some of these!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pepperjack Tomato Soup

I first ate this soup at Isaac's, a small chain restaurant in the Lancaster/suburban Philly area. I've always thought of them as the place with sandwiches named after birds. However, on this particular day, after a long cold morning of shopping (MCC sale!), I decided to try the pepperjack soup. Yummmmmmm.

Fortunately, it's not too hard to reproduce with simple pantry ingredients, so Dan and I ate this for dinner several times when I had nothing else planned.

Pepperjack Tomato Soup

Comments & Modifications:
  • Well, the pepperjack already was a modification based on the comments at the bottom of the recipe, which I can't seem to access now. Basically, in addition to the cream cheese, you just throw in a hunk (2-4 oz) of pepperjack cheese, and maybe a bit of Tabasco.
  • With the addition of the pepperjack, I don't think all the cream cheese is needed, maybe only half? Unless you need some more fat in your diet, which I certainly don't.
  • I've been making half the recipe as written, and it's sufficient for Dan and me for dinner with no other sides. Although, we might fight over the last couple of scoops.
  • I went with the higher amounts of dried basil, paprika, and garlic powder. Using dried basil is important; I think using fresh would change the results quite a bit.

Verdict: YUM. This is such a simple and tasty dinner during the cooler seasons. Not too great for you with the sodium from the canned soup and the fat from the cheeses, but it's worth it every now and then.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Apple Pie Muffins

I'm not really sure why these are called Apple Pie muffins. There's no crust, the apple-y innards don't really resemble apple pie, why not just call them apple muffins? I guess apple pie sounds tastier.

Apple Pie Muffins

Comments & Modifications:
  • I cut down on the toppings on these a lot, and just used streusel from fridge, again from last fall, oops.
  • The apples I used may have been "tart" but only because they had been sitting in the fridge for at least a few months. I wouldn't have eaten them plain, but they were fine for baking.
  • I subbed dark brown sugar, and I think it added a lot of flavor.
  • I may have added some cinnamon to the batter, to compensate for less in the topping. I have no idea, but I'm sure it would work out fine either way. I bet a bit of nutmeg would also be lovely.

Verdict: Dan really liked these. Hopefully I won't only make them when I have nasty old apples to use up.

Update: The nutmeg was indeed lovely. However, these muffins are just overwhelmingly sweet. I don't know how to fix that without changing the texture and flavor! Also, I'd increase the salt to at least half a teaspoon.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

I promise all these muffin recipes were tested at a rate of one per week, not all at once, like it must seem based on my posting habits.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Comments & Modifications:
  • Technically the recipe is for Lemon Blueberry Cake, but it says right there in the description that the cake could be modified any number of different ways. That's why I'm posting it here as Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.
  • I used lemon flavored Dannon yogurt instead of plain. It tasted okay, but next time it would be better to find a naturally-flavored and naturally-sweetened variety. I'm not sure what baking might do to that unnatural stuff.
  • I bet I could make my own lemon yogurt by mixing some lemon juice into plain . . . better try that next time.
  • Three large eggs were sufficient; no need to get into partial eggs to convert extra-large to large.
  • Of course, I left out the blueberries and added poppy seeds instead.
  • I tried doing the glaze, but had a hard time getting it to sink in, even with holes poked into the tops. It made a nice mess on my counter. Next time I would add more lemon flavor to the muffin (via juice or zest) and skip the glaze.

Verdict: After several failures with lemon poppy seed muffins, this one finally got it right. Good texture, strong lemon flavor, they were delicious.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

More muffins . . .

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Comments & Modifications:
  • This made more like 18 normal-sized muffins, not the 12 specified in the recipe. All my muffin tops grew together into one giant cake-thing.
  • We opted to skip the glaze, since it's a little inconvenient for traveling in a baggie.

Verdict: These were gross. They hardly tasted like lemon. The texture was okay, but nothing special. Move along, move along.