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

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

  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

  • 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

  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

  • 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)

  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

  • 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

  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

  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

  • 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

  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

  • 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

  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

  • 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

  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


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

  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

  • 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

  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


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.

adapted from A Gourmet's Delight, by Aida Karaoglan

  • 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

  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."