Thursday, May 5, 2016

Barbacoa Beef Tamales

Happy Cinco de Mayo all. Lets try to celebrate with something a little more authentic than queso and chips, but just as tasty. These tamales are absolutely fantastic. Tamales are always a lot of work, so it's best to make them 30 or 40 at a time. They freeze really well and reheat in 2 minutes in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel.

The filling of these tamales can be any juicy braised meat. I used a barbacoa braised beef in the style of everyone's favorite e coli inducing restaurant chain. It's great to make this beef one night, have it for tacos or burritos and then make the leftovers into tamales. I'm normally not a fan of Mexican style tamales because they tend to be dry (I enjoy El Salvadorian style tamales much more...I will post a recipe for that at a later time). I used the Rick Bayless recipe for tamal dough and it is wonderful.

Crockpot Barbacoa Beef Recipe
  • 4 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into large pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped small.
  • 1 Tbsp of the adobo sauce
  1. Sear the meat on all sides in a large pan with a little oil and set aide.
  2. Transfer all ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred with forks, mix with sauce and serve. 
  • 3 1/2 cups masa flour
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups meat filling
  • corn husks (at least 30 that are 6 inches wide. double up if they are smaller)
Directions for Tamal Dough
  1. Soak corn husks in hot water for at least half an hour until soft and pliable.
  2. Reconstitute masa flour with water. In a large bowl, mix shortening with salt and slowly add the reconstituted masa while mixing. 
  3. Add one cup of broth while mixing and continue to mix until it's light and fluffy. If you drop a dollop of dough in water it should float.
  4. Add more broth as necessary until mixture is the texture of light cake batter (but not runny). Refrigerate for one hour and re-beat again until same light texture is reached
  5. Lay out a corn husk and spread a few tablespoons of dough on the husk in a 4 inch square. Spread a little meat in the middle and bring the long sides of the wrapper together to encase the meat in the dough. Fold up the bottom of the husk and tie with a string to keep everything together. 
  6. Steam upright in a closed pot for about an hour to an hour and a half until the husk pulls away from the dough. Serve with slaw and salsa and hotsauce and all sorts of delicious things. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Roasted Fennel and Pea Risotto

This is yet another simple, delicious risotto recipe. It's perfect with fish or pork for any time of year. Make it, enjoy it, savor it.

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped and roasted until tender.
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a saucepan, simmer chicken stock in low heat with saffron
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a different saucepan. Add onion and sautee until softened
  3. Add lemon zest and cook until fragrant. Add rice and stir until each grain in coated with oil and semi translucent
  4. Add white wine and stir until fully absorbed.
  5. Add stock a ladle-full a at a time, stirring frequently. Add the next ladle after most has been absorbed but the rice is never fully dry.
  6. When the rice is tender but firm and looks creamy, quickly stir in a reserved 1/4 cup stock and the tablespoon of butter. Gently fold in fennel and peas. Season to taste, garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Healthier Cocoa Swirl Banana Bread

I always love a good banana bread on the weekends for breakfast. Any breakfast bread is an unhealthy treat, so I wanted to find something that was a little more healthy that would have the same moisture, earthiness and great flavor of one of my more cake-like banana breads.

This bread was very tasty on a lazy Saturday morning. It has a lot of bananas, more than most usual recipes. It does have butter instead of apple sauce like so many healthy banana bread recipes have, but the treatment of the fat and sugar as you would treat a regular cake makes this bread very fluffy. It's wonderful for breakfast with a nice cup of coffee.


  • 5 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • cocoa powder
  1. Mix together mashed bananas and greek yogurt in a bowl
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well blended.
  4. Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly and add all of the liquid ingredients. Then finish with the other half of the dry ingredients
  5. Remove 1/3 of your batter into a separate bowl and mix in desired amount of cocoa powder (2 or 3 Tbsp? I didn't really measure). Fold in nuts to the remaining batter
  6. Spoon the batters in alternating patterns into a greased loaf ban. Run a knife through it if you want to create a swirled patter. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until done.
One Year Ago: Pozole Rojo
Three Years Ago: Tomatillo Salsa
Four Years Ago: Pomme de Terre Macaire

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Beef and Bacon Pie

Ya'll know what Sunday is, right?

It's the start of the new season of Game of Thrones.

I could not be more excited. I love that show. I love those books. I know the books are not well written and I don't care. It was like reading a soap opera and it was wonderful.

In honor of the new season, I made a recipe from the Game of Thrones Cookbook, which my wonderful amazing husband bought me last year for Christmas. They give two recipes for Beef and Bacon Pie, one a more Medieval recipe and one a modern recipe. I chose to do a combination of the two. This pie was savory with just a touch of sweetness. Perfect for a feast in Winterfell (or for Game of Thrones). The man was also amazing because he went to Total Wine on the way home and bought a few 750mL bottles of the new Ommegang Game of Thrones Beer. Every year Ommegang releases a new beer inspired by the show and this marriage of Belgian and American style ales is very tasty.

I recommend both things, and I especially recommend them together.

Ingredients for Medieval Pastry Crust (makes 1 double crust pie)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of saffron
  1. Dissolve saffron in warm water and allow to cool to room temperature
  2. Cut/rub butter into the flour with your hands until it is sandy. Add beaten egg yolk and saffron water and stir until incorporated and everything sticks together. Divide into two pieces and chill
Ingredients for Filling/Pie
  • 1 batch medieval pie crust
  • 5 strips streaky bacon, cut small
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small turnip, diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 Tbsp AP flour
  • 3/4 cup mixed dried fruit (I used prunes, raisins and apricots, though dates would likely be good as well)
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • milk 
Directions for Pie
  1. Sautee bacon until fat renders and it crisps slightly. Drai.n off some of the fat and add onion, celery, carrot and turnip. Cook until onion is soft and slightly golden. Move vegetables to edges of the pan
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper and toss in flour. Add to the beef to the pan and brown on all sides. Since this was just going in a pie, I didn't care about crowding as much as I normally would. 
  3. Add fruit, vinegar, stock and herbs and simmer until a gravy has formed. Adjust seasoning to taste and let mixture cool.
  4. Roll out pie dough in a 9 inch pan and fill with meat filling. Top with another round of pie dough and cut slits in the top to vent. Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until well browned and bubbling. Let cool slightly before slicing. 

Three Years Ago: Tomatillo Salsa

Monday, April 18, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast

It's Secret Recipe time of the month again (really, my favorite week of the month). For those of you who don't know, Secret Recipe Club is a great group of bloggers who make another member's recipe (secretly, of course) and reveal on a given day. It's a wonderful way to meet some new folks and remember some old recipes you may have forgotten long ago. The 3rd Wednesday of the month belongs to group C: my group.

This month, I had Mangia Blog by Chelsy. Her blog is very health focused with plenty of paleo and gluten free recipes to serve those of you with those diets. (I try, it's difficult. I like bread and cheese far too much). But she has a sister with celiacs in a giant Italian family. I guess that would inspire me to learn gluten free cooking/baking too. The only thing wrong with her blog: too many options! The recipe index is actually rather daunting, especially with all of the gluten free, paleo, vegan, etc acronyms after the links. I was very interested in her chicken almond curry or maple coconut mini cakes but I ended up making her  Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast instead.  I've tried GF baking before- it wasn't pretty. The husband is also skeptical of gluten free baking, though I've gotten him to accept vegan main dishes from time to time.

 I also loved her post that went with her spinach feta chicken breasts, which was all about simplicity. That's what really sold me on the recipe. It was a day when we just needed something simple and delicious. We weren't disappointed. The chicken doesn't have the beautiful brown crust of skin-on chicken breast and the Maillard reaction, but that's ok. We're talking simple, and these make perfect dinner or lunches the following day (we made wraps with this sliced chicken, hummus and lettuce for lunch the next day...delicious!)

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied (mine were quite thick so I did thirds)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4-1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2-3 Tbsp greek yogurt
  • fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil as needed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butterfly the chicken breast. Salt and pepper both sides
  2. Mix feta cheese with garlic and yogurt, adjusting to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Spoon some feta mixture on the chicken breast. Place spinach leaves on top and roll the chicken into a parcel. Place seam side down (fasten with toothpick if necessary) on prepared baking pans
  4. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and  bake for 25 minutes or until cook. Serve with salad or potatoes or pasta or whatever suites you. 

Thank you for this great piece We thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it to anyone else. I guess there's nothing left to say except...


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers on Oat Hamburger Buns

Over the weekend, I really really felt like a hamburger. I'm not sure why, but we had ground beef in the freezer and I just really felt like it. As many of you know, I'm pretty lazy but lazy in the opposite direction of most people. I'm too lazy to go to the store to buy tortillas, so I make them instead. This time, I was too lazy to go to the store, so I made hamburger buns. It shouldn't make sense, I did it anyway.

I'm so happy I made these buns. They were delicious and extremely easy. They were soft like you want a hamburger bun to be, but heartier tasting due to the whole wheat and the oats. These would be perfect to make for you next bbq (but if you're hosting a party, you probably have enough on your mind that you don't want to think about making hamburger buns). There was only one problem... this recipe makes 10 hamburger buns. This isn't an issue when you have a family of 4, but it is an issue for just to people.  

The rest of the buns are in the freezer now. I made hamburgers the first day and he second day we made sweet potato black bean burgers. I wasn't sure how the man would feel about these vegetarian burgers, but they were a hit for both of us. These patties were vegan and gluten free too. I mean, they're not gluten free on a bun and they're not vegan when you use chipotle mayonnaise as your topping of choice, but oh well. If you care, these would be just as good with avocado, lettuce and field greens in a simple salad.

Ingredients for Buns
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • mixed sesame, fennel and caraway seeds
  1. Heat water, milk, salt, sugar and butter on the stove until just warm and dissolved.
  2. Mix flours, oats, egg and yeast in a mixing bowl. Slowly add liquid mixture and mix until incorporated. Knead 5 minutes until soft and springy
  3. Let rise in a warm place for an hour until doubled in size. Divide into 10 sections and roll into balls,
  4. Flatten dough slightly until they are 4 inch diameter circles. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk, sprinkle with seeds and let rise another 45 minutes or until almost doubled again.
  5. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes or until done. Serve with your desired burger fixing.

Ingredients for sweet potato black bean burger (makes 4 patties)
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/4-1/2 cup corn (optional)
  • about 3/4 cup brown rice (I used a brown rice quinoa blend)
  • 3-4 Tbsp almond flour
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste (sugar as well, if desired)
  1. Mix all ingredients together and let rest for 10 minutes for the moisture to absorb. Adjust moisture as necessary, adding more rice or almond flour if needed to hold its shape.
  2. Form into patties and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, flipping burgers over halfway through
  3. Serve with avocado, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo. They're not vegan this way...but whoops.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Falafel with pickled turnips and tzatziki

I love falafel. It's one of my favorite things to get from street foot carts or Mediterranean restaurants or, really, anywhere. They are crisp and delicious and fried and served with delicious sauces.  I've had my fair share of evenings that ended at a kabob shop with falafel and pickled vegetables in a lavash wrap. (because really, why would you choose pizza when you can have something far more delicious).

I never knew how easy it was to make my own falafel, but it's so wonderful. I don't deep fry often at home because it is a hassle and makes the house smell, but when I do I always start with doughnuts in the morning and the next evening something like falafel or fried chicken to kill the oil. There are very few foods that are worth the hassle of deep frying, but this is one of them.

I found this amazing recipe and made both salads and pita sandwiches with my falafel. I even made he pickled turnips, which really added something special to both the salad and the sandwich. Make this at home soon. Serve this with homemade pita bread and tzatziki sauce and I promise you won't be disappointed.

 Ingredients for falafel
  • 1 1/2 cup dry garbanzo beans, soaked overnight in salted water (you should have about 3 cups of beans the next morning
  • 1 cup minced cilantro with stems
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp coriander 
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1 small chili pepper, minced (or to taste)
Directions for falafel
  1. Pulse garbanzo beans and some kosher salt in a food processor until it is the texture of sand. Add other ingredients and mix until it forms a granular paste that holds together. If necessary, you can add a little flour to make it hold it's shape
  2. Roll into balls and flatten slightly. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the mix time to firm up (overnight is ok too)
  3. Fry in 350 degree oil until deep brown on all sides and cooked through (about 4 minutes or so. Drain and hold in the oven until ready to serve.
Ingredients for pickled turnips
  • 2 medium sized turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium beet, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp caraway
Directions for pickled turnips
  1. Put turnips, beets and onions in a bowl
  2. In a saucepan, combine all other ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Pour over the vegetables and leave overnight to pickle.
Ingredients for Tzatziki

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 english cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mixed minced herbs (dill and parsley)
  • Juice of one lemon or to taste
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions for Tzatziki
  1. Mix al ingredients together and let chill fully before using.