Sunday, August 14, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Mint Rosemary Leg of Lamb



It's finally Secret Recipe Club time of the month again and I am FINALLY settled enough to really begin cooking again.

As you may know, my husband and I moved to Los Angeles about 1 month ago. It has been several hectic weeks of starting jobs, starting school, getting settled, catching up with old friends and making our new apartment really feel like home. We're still not quite there yet. We're still looking for a dining table and have been eating most of our emails on the couch/coffee table while we find one, but it feels like home now.

I must admit, I waited until the last minute for this recipe. I knew I wanted to make this lamb recipe, but with so many other groceries to by and so much pantry to restock, I knew this might need to wait. But after an extremely long week of school and work and so many other things happening, I thought we both deserved a treat. The best part: This lamb can be cooked in the crockpot. I threw it in Friday morning and all I had to do when I got home was roast some potatoes and brussel sprouts.

This month, I was assigned "My Whole Food Family" by Susan, an Aussie mom of 3 kids. Her blog features a bunch of not fussy recipes with real ingredients that even kids will eat. As you know, I opted to make her Slow cooked Leg of Lamb, which she had previously made for Australia day. It was so juicy and flavorful. I've made slow cooked lamb before that was dry, but this was wonderful. It looks and tastes impressive without being any effort and it's enough to feed a crowd with leftovers for days.

Thank you Susan. I will absolutely include this recipe in our regular rotation of special occasion meals.

Ingredients;

  • 1 leg of lamb, bone in (about 5 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 heaping tsp dry oregano
  • 2 heaping tsp dry basil
  • 1 heaping tsp dry rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh mint leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
Directions
  1. In a food processor, combine water, garlic, serrano pepper, paprika, oregano, basil, rosemary, mint, lemon and kosher salt. Pulse until well combined
  2. Rub mixture over all sides of the lamb and place in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight
  3. The next morning, place lamb in the slow cooker with 1/2 cup chicken broth. Slice 1 onion thinly and add to the crockpot on top of the lamb.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours. Slice lamb and serve with the onion and a little extra chiffonade of fresh mint


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo


Hello again. Long time no see.

I love how busy life has been since moving to LA. Every week, we have an event going on. Every day I'm at work (love it, busy and hell and not stressed). Every day I have lots of chores to do while my husband is in school. I have lots of food to make now that I no longer work in hospitality and no longer have a chef to make me delicious food. I don't cook as much as I would like anymore because I'm so busy, but I'm more challenged and happier than I've been in a while. I wish I saw my husband more, but it's okay. Life is good.

One of the things I miss most about Virginia is the chef at my old work. He made the most excellent cajun and creole food. I loved the gumbo and jambalaya and shrimp etouffe that I can get here, but not as easily (no as cheaply). I made this at home and it was honestly one of the best things I've ever made. I highly recommend it. Best of all, all my coworkers were jealous of my lunch all week long.;

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb andouille or smoked hot sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 clubs beef stock
  • Worcestershire sauce (8 dashes or so)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups okra, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup chopped curly parsley
Directions
  1. Place oil in a large dutch oven. Season chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the oil until well browned. Remove.
  2. Add butter and flour to the oil and cook, stirring consistently, until a very dark roux forms.
  3. Add celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic to the roux and cook a few minutes until tender. Add cajun seasoning, rosemary, bay leaves, stock and worcestershire, stirring until well combined. Cover and cook for 1 hour
  4. Add tomatoes, parsley and okra. Cover halfway and cook another 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice and extra fresh parsley.
One year ago: Chicken Pho
Four years ago: Rye Hot Dog Buns
Five years ago: Smoked Salmon Baked Eggs

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Morning Glory Muffin


Moving has been going well. The house is mostly unpacked at this point and my new job is going well. Our kitchen is still a little lacking (I don't remember what we were missing until I go to start making something and it's not there). Grocery shopping takes more time than I would like (not yet knowing the lay of he land) coming home from work takes more time than I thought (with the traffic) and we are much much busier than we thought.

It's still growing on me. I now work different hours than before and breakfast/dinner are both more complicated than they were before. Steve will also be at school a lot in the future, so it's going to take us a while to get back in the swing of cooking. I'm still not even there yet, and I enjoy cooking.

Now that I don't have lunch provided for me at work daily, I'm going to need to start packing my lunch on a regular basis. I also need to start making breakfast too. Really, it's just getting into my new routine.

Below is a recipe for Morning Glory Muffins that are great when frozen. They are a perfect breakfast on the go.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups peeled grated carrots
  • 1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in bourbon and hot water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
Directions
  1. Soak raisins in bourbon and hot water until plump. Discard excess water. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt. Add carrots, apple, coconut and nuts
  3. In a separate bowl, mixed together mashed banana, oil, vanilla egg and juice. Add to flour mixture and mix until just evenly moistened. Fold in raisins
  4. Pour into prepared muffin pan and bake about 25 minutes or until done. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

We live here now

It's been a month since I was able to make a post to this blog. We moved cross country a week and a half ago and life has been absolutely crazed. With finding jobs, buying furniture, moving, getting settled in our new apartment and (thankfully) getting the rest of our stuff in 3 days, life has been insane. Things are finally getting a sense of normalcy now. I finally made dinner in our house for the first time since arriving. It wasn't anything impressive...just pork chops with asparagus and brown rice. It was the best I could do with one pan, one knife, a cutting board and a rice cooker. No baking dishes, no pots... just the bare bones until the rest of our stuff.

Life in LA is....different. I'm from California but LA is its own beast. Traffic sucks, the weather is beautiful, the people are no more beautiful than normal people and "preventative botox" is a thing (botox before you get wrinkles). I think I hate it and then there are things that I love about it. It makes me wonder how the next two years are going to go, but I know we'll be able to come out okay in the end.

I mean, I get to play here...



And here....




Most importantly, I get to eat here...




And this was all just week 1. Wish me luck on the rest of my exploration!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Secret Recipe Club - Cocoa Spiced Almonds


It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again. This month has been absolutely insane for me. In just two weeks (after this post) I'll be moving from Virginia to California. As I write this, we've already packed 14 boxes of books and other things. Our dressers are gone and hopefully some random craigslist folks will get our bookshelves and table soon. I won't be posting much in July (and I'm taking a break from SRC for that month also). It's an exciting wonderful adventure and I'm looking forward to posting some new recipes from Los Angeles. I'm glad to be moving back to California (not so glad that it's to LA, but I'm sure things will get better). It's scary and wonderful and I know things are going to be a great adventure. The only part that sucks is that my husband is going back to school, so we will be poor....very very poor...

This month, my blog was The Heritage Cook by Jane. I decided to make her Spicy Cocoa Pecans which I opted to substitute for almonds instead (you know, moving and using your non-perishable goods and all). I knew I wanted to make one of her "Chocolate Mondays" recipes (it is Monday after all) and these sounded not too sweet. These almonds really were wonderful. They were the perfect combination of salty and sweet. They satisfy every craving and are a great snack. 

I made a 1/3 recipe because I only had 2 pounds of almonds, but 6 lbs wouldn't be too many, especially for a family. These are that addictive.

Jane, thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I will surely make it again and again

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs almonds
  • 10 oz sugar
  • 1/4 oz cocoa powder
  • .75 oz salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 oz egg white
  • .5 oz water


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix almonds with all other ingredients and pour onto a silpat mat
  2. Cook almonds for about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or as needed until sugar has hardened. Let cool completely before separating and packing in airtight container.


One year ago: Almond Biscotti
Two years ago: Tofu Chocolate Pudding
Three years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four years ago: Mushroom Risotto


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cuban Sandwiches


Life has been utterly insane these past few weeks. I apologize for my lack of posts on this blog. My husband and I are moving to California in the very near future and all of our free time has been spent seeing friends, packing boxes, eating the food in our freezer and worrying about where we will live and what job I will have.

It will be a wonderful, scary experience. My last day of work is coming up in one week (I can't believe it) and then it's time to go into panic mode.

At least this recipe used up a pork shoulder and the rest of a jar of pickles. Slow and steady!

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dry oregano
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 arbol chilies 
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • Cuban or Vietnamese sandwich rolls
  • ham
  • Swiss cheese
  • dill pickles
  • yellow mustard
  • butter for toasting
Directions
  1. Season pork well with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in a large, heavy bottomed pot. 
  2. Place pork in crockpot with cumin, oregano, garlic, chilies, onion, chicken stock, orange uice, lime juice and bay leaves. Cook on low for 8 hours or until pork can be pulled apart
  3. Slice open your sandwich bread and spread both sides with yellow mustard. Add thin sliced deli ham, swiss cheese, thinly sliced dill pickles and your roast pork to the sandwich.
  4. Butter your panini press and grill sandwich until crunchy on the outside. Slice on a bias and serve.
Three years ago Japanese Potato Salad
Four years ago Sourdough Danishes

Monday, June 6, 2016

Strawberry Red Bean Mochi


These are some sweets that I remember from my childhood. My aunt used to make these great strawberry and red bean mochi (or sometimes peanut butter mochi) for special occasions. There was also a bakery near my house that would make excellent versions of these sweets too.

These are easy to make a very impressive looking. They're not for everyone, but if you like mochi you will surely like these. 

Ingredients
  • 8 oz sweet rice flour (like Mochiko)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • red bean paste
  • small strawberries
  • kinako flour or cornstarch
Directions
  1. Mix sugar, rice flour and water together in a heatproof glass bowl that will fit in your steamer. This should be liquid.
  2. Place bowl in steamer and steam until entire mixture is translucent and sticky. Stir every 5 minutes or so until done.
  3. Remove bowl from steamer and pour mixture out onto a cutting board or butcher paper dusted with cornstarch. Let cool a few minutes
  4. While mochi is cooling (or before), flatten some sweet read bean paste and wrap around strawberries.
  5. Cut small pieces of the mochi, flatten sightly with well dusted hands and wrap around strawberry and red bean paste. Let cool completely before eating.



One year ago: Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Two years ago: Pita Bread
Three years ago: Japanese Potato Salad
Four years ago: Sourdough Danishes
Five years ago: Almond Rochers