Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of 2015 Bread (Wild Card)


It's the end of our countdown and the beginning of 2016. Happy 2016 everyone! Thanks so much to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing for hosting this countdown.

For my Wild Card day, I opted to showcase some great breads I made this year. I love bread and though I didn't make as much this year as I would like, I think some of these recipes are pretty great (especially the biscuits)

Flour Tortillas
Tartine Country Bread
Buttermilk Biscuits
Jalapeno Beer Cheese Bread
Pumpkin Beer Bread

Countdown to 2016: Best Desserts


I didn't do too many desserts this year. I had a few great ones, but I guess I need to start making more sweets for 2016 (that's actually a horrible new years resolution... lets actually not do that...)

Thanks to Sarah at Fantastical Sharing for organizing this. I wanted to add in my main dish recipes, but I was on vacation and dropped the ball on posting. Oh well...

Kinako Ice Cream
Popcorn Balls
Apple Crisp
Cucumber Lime Sorbet
Rocky Road Brownies
Kiwi Sorbet
Vanilla/Fufetti Cupcakes
Coffee Granita
Japanese Cheesecake
Cinnamon Apple cream Cheese Cake

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Best, of 2015 Breakfast

It's almost 2016 and we're doing a wonderful countdown of our best of 2015 recipes. Sarah over at "Fantastical Sharing of Recipes" in conjunction with The Secret Recipe Club is hosting our wonderful countdown every day this week. I'm super excited to see everyone's recap of the year.

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day. It's not very versatile (it's really eggs or starch or fruit in the United States) but I am always happy eating breakfast food It doesn't matter if it's eggs or pastries (though I do prefer savory dishes like eggs), this is the kind of food I could really eat every day.

Take a look at some of my great breakfast recipes from this year.

Shakshouka
Buttermilk Waffles
Sourdough Doughnuts
Ricotta Pancakes
Dutch Baby
Blueberry Yogurt Oatmeal Muffins
Cinnamon Rolls
Eggs Benedict with Welsh Rarebit Sauce
Kale Baked Eggs
Sourdough Beignets
Apple Cheese Blintzes
Bacon Cheddar Cornmeal Waffles

Friday, December 25, 2015

Best of 2015: Appetizers and Snacks


It's almost 2016 and we're doing a wonderful countdown of our best of 2015 recipes. Sarah over at "Fantastical Sharing of Recipes" in conjunction with The Secret Recipe Club is hosting our wonderful countdown every day this week. I'm super excited to see everyone's recap of the year.

This year, I did a lot more entertaining. I went to more parties, we had people over more often, we made things to share with friends... I think this is just what happens as you get older. More than that, we started getting busier. I got a new job and premade snacks/food in the freezer was a great option that we really needed. These were all great recipes (some not pictured in the collage) and I know you'll all enjoy them.

French Onion Soup Stuffed Mushrooms
Watermelon Jello Shots
Baked Beef Empanadas
Jerk Chicken Empanadas
Potato Perogies
Sourdough Flax Seed Crackers
Pimento Cheese Dip



Monday, December 14, 2015

Azores Sopas


When I was growing up, Sopas was one of my favorite foods from my mom's side of the family. It's eaten during the festival of the Holy Spirit on the 7th Sunday after Easter. It's a dish that was originally used to feed the poor since it is mostly bread soup with vegetables and a little meat. It is humble food but that is what makes it so wonderful. Humble food is always the best food.

I never knew how to make it. I never asked my grandmother when she was alive. That's such a tragedy now. I wish I had cared enough back then about my family and our heritage. I wish I knew how different things would be and how much I would miss these family recipes later in life. I found this recipe on a website of Portuguese Cooking. It might not be exactly like my Grandmother made, but it's still a delicious, hearty, beef and bread stew with bread and mint. My dad hated the mint, but that's what I love most about it.

Ingredients
  • 3 lb bone in chuck roast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 cup red wine
  • water
  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 loaf crusty bread
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
Directions
  1. Salt and pepper the beef and sear in a pan with olive oil until well browned on all sides. Remove meat and add onion, garlic, tomato and spices to the pan to scrape up the browned bits.
  2. Add meat back to pan and add water until it is 3/4 covered. Place in 400 degree oven for half and hour and reduce temperature to 350 for 2 more hours.
  3. Add wine and cabbage, cut into 8ths. Continue simmering until cabbage in tender.
  4. Slice meat and serve with cabbage, thick slices of Italian bread and plenty of pan juices. Garnish with fresh mint.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ricotta Pancakes with Peach topping


 
I don't know where you would find peaches now, as this recipe is leftover from the wonderful days of summer. I never got around to posting it, but ricotta pancakes are something you can all enjoy all year round. You can substitute the peaches for any fruit you might have on hand. Stewed apples would be really great at this time of year and blueberries would be equally wonderful in a couple months.

I only ever make these pancakes the weekend after I make lasagna or ravioli. I always have more ricotta cheese than I need and it goes bad so quickly. These pancakes are a great way to use up leftover ricotta cheese. I got my recipe from The Kitchn and it's pretty fantastic. You can serve these with maple syrup or jam, or do what I do and serve with macerated fruit and Greek yogurt.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, egg yolks, vanilla and ricotta cheese.
  3. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add liquid ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Fold in egg whites.
  5. Cook pancakes as you normally would and serve with desired toppings.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Bourbon Glazed Sweet Potatoes


I'm a little late with this Thanksgiving recipe. I decided to volunteer to make sweet potatoes for our Thanksgiving friends potluck this year. Last year, one of our Southern friends volunteered to make it. It was this horrible mashed sweet potato casserole thing topped with marshmallows. I don't understand how people eat sweet potatoes like that... I always grew up having chunky sweet potatoes, so this year I knew I wanted to volunteer to make potatoes the way I wanted to eat them.

This recipe is still a little too sweet for me, but it's good. It smells boozy but doesn't taste too much like whiskey.

Ingredients
  • 6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • salt and pepper
  • oil
  • pecans for garnish
  • I guess you could garnish with marshmallows if you want to...
Directions
  1. Cut potatoes and toss with salt, pepper and a little oil. Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked about halfway. Remove from oven.
  2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter with molasses and brown sugar until dissolved.
  3. Add bourbon and cook to burn off the alcohol. Simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  4. Pour potatoes into a baking dish and pour sauce over the top. Bake at 400 for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are nicely glazed.
  5. Top with toasted pecans and serve.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - Cinnamon Apple Cream Cheese Cake


It's the 5th Monday and it's time for Secret Recipe Club. I know that's a weird one, but they've started doing something new with months that have five Mondays. Now it's a special (optional) theme reveal week that matches you with anyone from the other groups. This month's theme was holiday treats since Christmas and Thanksgiving are coming up so quickly. I rarely make sweets for secret recipe club (in spite of my blog name that rarely applies anymore) so this was a great chance to try something new.

As many of you already know, Secret Recipe Club is a collection of bloggers who make another person's recipe and all post on the same day. It gives you a great chance to know some other bloggers, find some new recipes and rediscover some of your older recipes from long ago. I usually get embarrassed by how much better their photos are than my photos, but that's okay too.

This week, I had Heather's blog "Join Us Pull Up a Chair". That's cool. I've had this blog before and I made some super fabulous Salmon Cakes and Pumpkin Beer Bread. I remembered she had a ton of recipes for muffins and other sweets, so I couldn't wait to find something to fit this challenge. I knew I wanted to make something with apples because I still have so many of them from our CSA box. Seriously, so many apples. I opted to make her Cinnamon Apple Cake which sounded so interesting with the addition of cream cheese. And it called for 6 cup of apples. That was really the selling point for me.

Heather originally made this cake with 3 cups of apples and said she would increase it to 6 next time. I made it with six and though it was delicious, it never set properly with a nice crumb like a cake. It was still set, not runny, but closer to a British sticky toffee pudding or something of that nature. The extra apples just imparted too much moisture. It was still delicious, but not what I expected. My husband really liked it this way and it was absolutely perfect with a little vanilla ice cream on warm cake.

Thanks for this great recipe Heather. It might not be what we originally expected, but it was still something delicious.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar + 2 Tbsp
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 cups chopped peeled apples
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter, cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla until well mixed. Sift in flour, baking powder, salt and 1 tsp cinnamon and stir until just mixed.
  4. Fold in chopped applies into the batter and pour into prepared pan. Mix together remaining cinnamon and 2 Tbsp sugar and sprinkle on top of cake.
  5. Bake cake for 1 1/2 hours until set. A toothpick inserted will never be quite clean, but mostly done. Let cool completely before slicing.


Sourdough Surprises: Sourdough Doughnuts


 
A few years ago, I started participating in something called "Sourdough Surprises". It was a little group of bloggers who tried to do interesting things with their sourdough starter. It was a fun experiment, but there wasn't any commitment. You could participate when you wanted to in the month's that interested you. If it didn't work out in your schedule, that was ok too.

When I'm not held to strict rules, I'm not very good at following through with things. I only participated in a few projects and this month, I found out that Sourdough surprises is ending in December 2015. I knew I had to do these last two months, revive my starter and make something new.

This month, Sourdough surprises had the them of doughnuts. I love doughnuts (who doesn't?) I should clarify, I love doughnut from independent doughnut shops like I had in my neighborhood when I grew up. They were the kind of places that had the best apple fritters. My dad still goes to one where they know he comes on Thursdays and he doesn't like glazed filled doughnuts, so they'll make a half dozen lemon filled doughnuts with powdered sugar just for him. It wasn't any of this Krispy Kreme/Dunkin Doughnuts nonsense. It's real people making real food and that's how I love it.

I like apple fritters, but those were always my mother's favorite. My favorite were always the buttermilk cake doughnuts with maple glaze.  These aren't quite like that, but they combine the best aspects of cake doughnuts and yeasted doughnuts. I did some with powdered sugar and some with cinnamon sugar, but the cinnamon sugar ones were far superior. This recipe was from Under the High Chair and it is fantastic.

Note: the holes are star shaped because I don't have any small round cutters :-)

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mature sourdough starter\
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour (more if needed to make it workable)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
Directions
  1. Mix together all ingredients and knead the dough 3 times on a well floured surface. It should still be slightly sticky but hold together
  2. Roll dough to 1/2-3/4 inch thickness and cut with a dough cutter
  3. Fry in 360 degree oil until well browned. Break open one doughnut to check that it's done.
  4. Toss with cinnamon sugar or desired topping and eat while hot.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bacalhau a Gome de Sa



When I was growing up, we would spend every Saturday with my mother's side of the family. That was what we did. There was no debating or choosing to go elsewhere (at least, not until I got older). Every Saturday we would go over to my Grandparents where my cousins and my Mom's sisters would be. There wasn't anything special about it... I would pay in the front yard or pick berries in the back yard and we would later have a simple supper of kale/sausage/potatoes or braised beef or marinated pork with taro root. Anytime you wanted a snack, you had to open at least a half dozen containers of Country Crock to find out which on actually had butter in it (since all the others had some form of leftovers in them.)
 
We wouldn't have salt cod often since it's a little expensive and there were always a lot of us. They would make double the recipe I'm giving you today (and my recipe is easily enough for 6 people. At $12 per pound (or so) salt cod isn't cheap. You won't be able to find it in your regular grocery store, but you might find it at a specialty grocery store or a European food market, if you have one in your neighborhood.
 
I got my salt cod at a Special Spanish/Brazilian/Portuguese food mart. I even got some of my favorite soda when I was growing up. Sumol is a passionfruit soda and it is fantastic!
 
Note: This recipe traditionally uses olives as well. I hate olives so I omit, but you can use them if you wish.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lb salt cod
  • 6 baking or new potatoes, well scrubbed
  • 9 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • good quality olive oil.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions
  1. Soak salt cod in the refrigerator overnight, changing the water twice
  2. The next day, hard boil the eggs.
  3. In liberally salted water, boil the potatoes until almost tender. Add cod to the water and boil for 5 more minutes until fish can flake apart with your fingers
  4. Drain water. Flake part fish, peel and dice potatoes, and peel and slice eggs. Layer the ingredients in a baking dish, starting with half the potatoes, half the fish and half the eggs. Repeat.
  5. Sautee onion with cumin and paprika in a decent amount of good olive oil. Add parsley and salt if needed.
  6. Pour onion mixture over the casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pad Thai

 

I never used to like Pad Thai when I got it at Thai restaurant. It was always too oily and at the same time, not flavorful.

I tried making my own pad thai recently and it was like a different world. I would still rather have the spicy pad kee mao (drunken noodles) but these are great and easy for a quick weeknight meal. I also added julienned carrots to this during the garlic stage, just because.

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pack of rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup extra firm tofu, juilienned
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 1/2 cups scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces (Chinese chives are better, but scallions are fine)
  • 2 shallots, julienned
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp tamarind
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried red chilies (can use fresh birds eye chilies if you want something spicier)
  • cilantro and peanuts for garnish
  • 1 egg
  • oil
Directions
  1. Soak noodles in warm water until flexible.
  2. Add shallots, garlic, chili to a hot wok with oil. Fry slightly until fragrant with tofu and shrimp.
  3. Drain noodles and add fish sauce, tamarind and sugar. Stir to prevent sticking until noodles are soft and cooked through.
  4. Make a well in the center of the wok and add 1 egg. Scramble slightly and stir in bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Secret Recipe Club - Lemon Mint Chicken Noodle Soup


It's the third Monday of the month. That means it's time for Secret Recipe Club. As most of you already know, SRC is a group of bloggers who make another member's recipe (in secret) and reveal it on a given day. It allows you to discover some new bloggers, get some great recipes and rediscover some of your older recipes as well.

This month, I had the blog Rainstorms and Love Notes by an amazing blogger, Ashley.  She lives in North Carolina and she's married to a great man named TJ (at least, he sounds great based on their amazing love story chronicled on her blog).  Read it sometime, because it is way more adorable than how I met my husband.

I feel like I already know Ashley so well at this point. She has some great posts introducing readers to her life. She has a great post of 2013, written on her five year anniversary of living in North Carolina. I read it and smiled, thinking of my last 4 years and change living in Virginia and just how much my life has changed in that time. I moved in with my boyfriend at the time (reason for moving from California all the way to Virginia) we got a cat, we got married, I changed careers, I developed a love for college football, we made friends, I experienced seasons for the first time... It's funny how much can change in such a short amount of time.

Now it's November. The weather is getting cold and I must admit we haven't been eating the healthiest food over the last month. When it starts getting cold, pastas and heavy soups and roasts with gravy sound fantastic and comforting. At the same time, they also make you feel bloated and gross (when it gets dark at 5pm, I certainly doing want to go to the gym after work).

Ashley had a bunch of wonderful recipes and fantastic pictures to go with everything, but I knew I wanted something lighter. When I saw her Lemon Mint Chicken Noodle Soup, I knew it was something I absolutely wanted to make for dinner. It was light yet very flavorful. I didn't change too much, just added some extra vegetables. When I normally make chicken soup, it's an all day thing (I start with a whole chicken to cook and make the broth from that. This one has chicken breasts and was a delicious weeknight chicken noodle soup

Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe Ashley. So glad I got to explore your blog!

Lemon Mint Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 oz pasta (1 used tri colored bowtie)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth, depending on how soupy you desire
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped mint
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
  • bay leaf
Directions
  1. Place chicken both in a pot with the two chicken breasts. Turn heat to low and slowly poach the chicken, not even allowing the broth to simmer.
  2. When cooked, remove chicken from the broth and shred with your fingers. Pour broth through a cheesecloth (or coffee filter to strain out to protein impurities and clarify.)
  3. In a separate pot, boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving a little water so it doesn't stick, and set aside.
  4. In a large pot, lightly sautee the onion, celery and carrot in a little butter, just to preserve the color. Add broth, chicken and seasoning to the soup and simmer until veggies are lightly tender. Add pasta, lemon and mint. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve immediately.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Masala Chai Tea

 
Chai tea was one of these things I used to always order at restaurants because I thought it was too difficult to make at home. I actually made a half gallon of chai recently and it was absolutely fantastic. It's super easy to have it hot one day and drink it chilled the other days. Now that I've tried homemade chai, I know I can do it more often at home.
 
Ingredients
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1/4 inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 4 black tea bags
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • honey to taste
Directions
  1. Combine spices and water in a pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and steep for 10 minutes more
  2. Bring water back to boil and then off. Add tea bags and let steep for 5 minute minutes.
  3. Strain out spices and tea. Add milk and honey to taste.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

 
I never grew up eating the kind of food that interests me so much now. My nanny would make goulash from time to time, but Eastern European food was not something we ate regularly. As I've gotten older, I've developed an interest in so many different types of foods. Sometimes my cooking experiments work and sometimes they don't, but this was a delicious one. Plus, it's getting to be winter and this is a perfect cold weather food.
 
I tried to find a good recipe for stuffed cabbage and I think I found a pretty decent one. I based my recipe on this one which was the perfect balance of savory and sweet. It had the word "Grandma" in the post title. How can you really go wrong with something like that?
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head green or savory cabbage
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp toasted fennel seed
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain rice
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 15oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
Directions
  1. Core the whole head of cabbage and drop into a large pot of boiling, salted water for 3-4 minutes until leaves are pliable. Remove leaves from the cabbage and place in ice water. Continue boiling the cabbage head if necessary.
  2. Mix together beef, egg, 1/2 onion, garlic, salt, pepper, fennel, crushed red pepper and rice in a large bowl. This is your filling.
  3. Set aside the largest leaves (about a dozen or so) and remove the hard core with a knife. Place a small amount of filling in the center of the leaves and roll them up, placing them seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat until all filling is used. Chop 1 cup of remaining smaller leaves.
  4. In a separate pan, sautee 1 onion and 1 clove of garlic in olive oil. Add chopped cabbage, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and raisins, simmering for 5 minutes.
  5. Spoon sauce into the bottom of a glass baking dish. Place cabbage rolls on the sauce and top with remaining sauce. Cover the whole pan with foil and cook for 2 hours at 350 degrees. Serve with mashed potatoes.
 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Eggs Benedict with Welsh Rarebit Sauce

 
When I was growing up, there was a fabulous English pub downtown called Fox and Goose. I went there a couple times after I turned 21, but I mostly went for Sunday brunch in my youth. I remember they didn't take reservations, so you had to arrive quite early. However, their drinks were great and the food was fantastic. My mom always got pancakes (because she's kind of boring like that) but I would usually get the eggs benedict.
 
Now I know eggs benedict is usually a pretty boring brunch staple, but this place did it so well. You got to choose whether you wanted smoked salmon, slab bacon, spinach or grilled tomatoes (instead of Canadian bacon) and then it was topped with Welsh Rarebit sauce instead of Hollandaise. I do like hollandaise sauce but damn, Welsh Rarebit on eggs and slab bacon is absolutely brilliant.
 
Rarebit is a pretty easy sauce. Make a roux, add beer, add cheese and adjust with mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Simple, but so tasty.
 
Eggs Benedict with Welsh Rarebit Sauce
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 bottle of stout beer
  • large handful of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • dry mustard powder
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Eggs
  • Slab bacon
  • Toast
Directions
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and cook until raw flour taste is cooked out.
  2. Add beer, stirring constantly and cook until thickened slightly.
  3. Add cheese, stirring constantly until melted. Season to taste with salt, Worcestershire and mustard powder.
  4. Assemble eggs benedict with toast, cooked slab bacon, poached eggs and Welsh Rarebit sauce on top.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Puff Pastry Wrapped Pear Salad with Goat Cheese

 
The other day, I got a bunch of pears in my CSA box. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate pears. I usually have no idea what to do with them and they often go bad before I get a chance to use them. I might eat them when they're still new and under ripe, but not once they become ripe. Asian pears are different, but I really hate traditional Bosc or Anjou pears. I decided to try something new with this pears in my CSA box. I enjoy poached pears with goat cheese or as desserts. I like fancy entrée salads (this can also be a super fancy first course salad with less mixed greens, it's really up to you).
 
This combined the great crunch of puff pasty, the tang of goat cheese and the sweat/salty/spicy flavor profile of the honey spiced almonds. It was simple yet delicious. I highly recommend it for your next dinner party or, just the next time you have pears. I also recommend these almonds with just about anything.
 
Puff Pastry Wrapped Pear Salad
Ingredients
  • 2 Anjou or Bartlett pears, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, cut into 4 pieces
  • handful of honey spiced almonds (see below)
  • soft goat cheese
  • egg (for egg wash)
  • mixed greens
  • desired vinaigrette dressing (I used an apricot white balsamic, but a champagne vinegar would also be nice)
  • Dried cranberries, prunes or other desired fruit.
Directions
  1. Place pears, cut side down, on silpat mat and cover with puff pastry, stretching slightly so it covers pear completely. Trim away excess and use to make leaves or other fun shapes. Cut a couple slits to vent
  2. Brush the pastry with egg wash and bake at 425 until golden brown and puffed. The pears will steam inside the pastry and soften slightly. Remove from oven when done and allow to cool slightly
  3. Just before serving, toss mixed greens with dressing, dried fruit and nuts. Remove to individual plates and top with the warm pear. Fill the hole in the pear with soft goat cheese and add additional to the salad as desired.
 
Honey Spiced Almonds
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
Directions
  1. Toast almonds in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until golden and fragrant.
  2. Meanwhile, mix sugar, salt and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl.
  3. Dissolve water, honey and oil together in a nonstick skillet and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add hot toasted nuts to the pan and toss until nuts are coated evenly.
  5. Add nuts to the sugar mixture and toss until coated. Spread onto a baking sheet and cool completely.



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Cauliflower Mac and Cheese



It's Secret Recipe time of the month again. I always look forward to the third Monday of the month because I get to find a new blogger, write about their amazing recipes and even rediscover some of my old favorites.  It's one of my favorite times of the month and my husband loves it too.

This month, I was assigned Tea and Scones hosted by the Tea Lady (at least, that's what she calls herself in her comments/signoffs). She has so many recipes for savory foods, desserts and yes, scones. I wish I had more time to make more of her recipes (especially the scones) but this month was absolutely crazy at work and on the weekends. I made her delicious Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. It's a great recipe but different as it does not have a roux. It's great when it first comes out of the oven, but it doesn't hold over too well as leftovers. Still good, but try to eat it all the same day.

I made a half batch of this recipe and it was more than enough for 4 people (two of us, plus leftovers the next day). That's assuming you have giant portions too. If you want the whole recipe, check out her original recipe, but if half works for you, see below.

Ingredients
  • 125 grams pasta (I used penne, but macaroni or shells would work too)
  • 350 grams cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
Directions
  1. Boil pasta according to package directions. About 3 minutes before it's finished cooking, add in cauliflower and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Bring cream and milk to a bare simmer with mustard powder. Add in cheese and stir until smooth
  3. Add pasta to cheese sauce and mix until coated. Pour into baking dish. Mix breadcrumbs with garlic, butter and rosemary. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and eat immediately.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Oven Roasted Baby Back Ribs and Collard Greens

 
Ribs are such a fun, perfect summer food (or fall too). I used to make ribs in the crockpot regularly, but I never liked the way they turned out (too much falling off the bone). I always thought ribs in the oven wouldn't turn out as well or ribs on the grill would take too long, but this was so easy and delicious. I absolutely loved these oven roasted baby back ribs. You can finish them on the grill afterward to give them a nice char (we don't have a patio so I finish ours under the broiler. Still good, but not quite as good...
 
I served these with collard greens and homemade bread. I now try to make these anytime ribs are on sale. I make these using a homemade bbq sauce with ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar, but you can use whatever bbq sauce you prefer.
 
Oven Roasted Baby Back Ribs
Ingredients
  • 1 rack baby back ribs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • desired bbq sauce
Directions
  1. Mix together brown sugar, pepper, salt, paprika, onion, garlic and cayenne to form a dry rub.
  2. Place ribs onto foil and cover on both sides with dry rub. Wrap ribs in foil and place in the refrigerator for several hours.
  3. Remove ribs from the refrigerator and cook at 300 degrees for 2-2.5 hours until the ribs are tender.
  4. Remove ribs from foil and brush on both sides with sauce. Finish on the grill or under the broiler until ribs have a nice char.
Collard Greens
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs collard greens
  • 2 strips thick cut bacon
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • chicken stock
  • salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
Directions
  1. Dice your bacon and fry in a large pot until half crisp. Add onion and garlic and fry until fragrant.
  2. Add the chopped collard green leaves to the pot with apple cider vinegar and a little chicken stock. Stir greens until coated and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover pot and cook on low until greens are cooked and wilted (about 15 minutes, perhaps more). Season to taste with more vinegar or salt if desired.
 



Friday, October 9, 2015

Pimento Cheese Dip



Pimento cheese is one of those horrible things I've learned to love since moving to Virginia. I always loved it growing up because my nanny would have it at her house from time to time, but I didn't have it for almost 20 years. I moved out here and had it at a friend's house as part of a cheese tray and I was hooked all over again. It's so delicious even though I know it's just cheese and mayonnaise. I know it's so bad for you yet it's one of my favorite things with crackers or crusty bread.

You can alter it to fit your tastes, but I make it with a combination of cream cheese and cheddar. I like the texture the cream cheese gives. This is a guess since I never really make it the same way twice, but give it a shot for your next football party.

Ingredients
  • 2 oz cream cheese, whipped until soft
  • 1/2 cup diced pimento peppers
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or more if desired)
  • a couple spoonfulls of mayonnaise
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.
Directions
  1. Mix cream cheese until soft. Add pimento peppers and cheddar cheese and mix until just combined. Add in mayonnaise and adjust seasoning to taste.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bacon, Cheddard Cornmeal waffle with spinach salad and fried egg

 
Waffles are a great breakfast food, but they don't have to be sweet all the time. I've only ever eaten sweet waffles, but the beauty that is Chicken and Waffles has really left the waffle game wide open. I tried to experiment with something new and for a savory "breakfast for dinner option" and this did not disappoint.
 
I based this on Joy the Baker's recipe for savory cornmeal waffles. There are a couple additions and changes I made to ensure that my waffle was extra light and fluffy, but they were still delicious. I made these with a lightly dressed spinach salad (arugula salad would also work), a fried egg and hot sauce. You could also just take these bacon cheddar cornmeal waffles and dip them in maple syrup for a sweet/savory combination. In some ways, I feel like I liked that option better.
 
Give this a try the next time you want to use your waffle iron but try something different.
 
Ingredients (makes about  3 or 4 waffles)
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 3 strips crisp bacon, chopped (more if desired)
  • 1 handful shredded cheddar cheese.
Directions
  1. Mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Mix together butter, egg yolks and buttermilk in a separate bowl. Mix liquid ingredients into dry. Fold in bacon, cheese and chives.
  3. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter
  4. Cook waffles in preheated waffle iron according to manufacturers directions
  5. Serve with eggs and a spinach salad for a fully savory meal or serve with maple syrup for a sweet/savory combination.
 


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sourdough, flax, seeded crackers


I made these crackers over the summer and I'm only getting around to posting them now. We were going on a road trip with some friends and they have a nice car. They only allow food in their car if it is "clean food" that won't have crumbs or spill. As great as cookies or coffee cake would be for our road trip, I knew I had to make something else. I opted for browned butter rice crispy treats (you don't need a recipe for that) and these Sourdough flax seed crackers I found on the blog "The Gingered Whisk" These "Everything" crackers remind me of an everything bagel. There's just the right amount of savory onion flavor. You can eat these by themselves or they would be great with smoked salmon and cream cheese for a delicious appetizer (I didn't do that before, but that just gave me a fabulous idea).

Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sourdough starter (fed or unfed is fine)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
ingredient for toppings
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
Directions
  1. Mix together all ingredients for toppings and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, flax seed and salt. Add starter, water and olive oil and mix until you form a stiff dough. Knead a few rotations until you achieve a soft dough. Divide into two disks and wrap.
  3. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of topping on your work surface and roll one disk on top of seeds until thin. Lift dough, sprinkle another Tbsp and roll dough til 1/8 inch thick. Cut into squares with a pizza cutter and place on a baking pan with a silpat mat. Bake about 10 minutes at 400 for until lightly browned but not burnt. They should be firm when removed from the oven but they will crisp as they cool.
  4. Repeat with the other disk. Let cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Potato Pierogies

 
Pierogies are one of those foods that I never ate growing up but developed a wonderful appreciation for them after moving to the East Coast. They aren't the best dumpling (that award goes to Xiao long bao) and they're not even the best use of potatoes (that's samosas) but these are still pretty fantastic. They are cheesy bombs of starch that are so bad for you and so delicious. I feel a little guilty when I eat them, like eating knish or potato curry on top of rice. In general, eating starch on top of starch makes me feel guilty about my life choices.
 
These are cute for an appetizer or great for a vegetarian main dish with a salad. You can boil your pierogies and leave as is, or you can boil and then pan fry them in copious amounts of butter (obviously the more delicious way).
 
Ingredients for dough
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
 
Ingredients for filling
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and boiled.
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • cheddar cheese (about a handful)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced and sautéed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pinch of dry thyme.
 
Directions
  1. Cook potatoes for filling and mash. Mix in butter, salt, pepper, cheese, sautéed onion, garlic and thyme. Stir until well combined (can be a little gummy because this will keep everything together better in the pierogi. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Mix together eggs and sour cream for the filling. Add salt and baking powder then add flour (more may be needed). Add flour as needed to knead the dough into a smooth ball.
  3. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness (or a little thinner) and cut into circles with a 2 or three inch cutter (depending on the size you want). Fill dough with filling and press edges with a fork to seal. Freeze flat on a baking sheet before putting in a bag to save for later.
  4. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop pierogis in and let cook for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, sautee onions, celery and some sauerkraut in a mix of butter and bacon fat. Remove vegetables. Sautee boiled pierogies in the same pan, adding more butter or fat if necessary. Brown well on both sides
  5. Add vegetables back to the pan and toss quickly. Remove to plate and serve with extra sour cream and sauerkraut if desired.
 


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Japanese Style Cheesecake

 
I have never been a cheesecake fan. I know, that seems like blasphemy. So many people love cheesecake but I've always found it to be too heavy and rich. This is one the few cheesecakes I love because it has the flavors of cheesecake, but the lightness of a soufflé. I cannot recommend this enough.
 
Sometimes when I have extra cream cheese, I'll make half a recipe in a small 4 inch springform pan. I serve it with fresh fruit or a fruit syrup.
 
Japanese Cheesecake

 
Ingredients
  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 45 grams unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20 grams sugar
  • 11 grams cornstarch
  • 150 grams milk
  • 55 grams sugar
  • 3 egg whites

 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Melt butter over a double boiler with cream cheese until both ingredients are combined.
  3. Mix yolks, 20 grams sugar and starch separately.
  4. Heat milk and temper into the egg yolks. Mix those into the cream cheese
  5. Beat egg whites until peaks form. Add the 55 grams of sugar.
  6. Fold into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into prepared 8inch springform pan and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 325, bake 25 minutes, then turn oven off and leave cake for another 40 minutes

 
 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Salmon Cake and Pumpkin Beer Bread



It's the third Monday of the month again. That means it's time for Group C to reveal their Secret Recipe Club picks for this month. I'm sure you all know the drill by now. Secret Recipe Club is a group of bloggers that make another member's recipe (in secret) and reveal them on a particular day. Everyone gets to explore new recipes by new people. My favorite part is seeing what other people make from my recipe collection because they can sometimes unearth some very old recipes (with very terrible photos).

It might be September, but even as I write this it doesn't feel like autumn. It's still hot and humid outside and I still think it's too early to be serving pumpkin spice lattes (even though I made pumpkin bread...how ironic). Work is getting very busy (a good and bad thing) but the best thing about September is FOOTBALL. I never though I'd be so excited about football, but my husband has had quite an influence on me.

This month, I got to explore Heather's blog Join Us Pull Up a Chair. Heather started her blog for many of the same reasons I did: to give some order to the stacks of magazine clippings and printed recipes and dog-eared pages of cookbooks. Now I have some semblance of order for my recipe collection. Heather is a mother and business owner. I don't know how so many of these women do it: finding time to blog and work and raise children. I'll probably find time to do it eventually, but I'm not there yet.

This month I found so many interesting recipes on Heather's blog. I was set to make these salmon cakes, but then one of my coworkers who loves pumpkin spice everything was having a really bad week, so I knew I had to make a loaf of her pumpkin bread (even though it's still way to early for that stuff).

Thanks for the awesome recipes Heather. Glad I got the chance to explore your awesome blog.


Salmon Cakes for 2 (adapted from Join Us, Pull Up a Chair)

Ingredients
  • 6-8 oz salmon filets, cooked.
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3 Tbsp mayo (or to taste)
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
  • 2 Tbsp panko for the cakes, plus extra for the outside
  • eggs
Directions
  1. Cook salmon and chill completely. Flake apart with a fork.
  2. Mix salmon with other ingredients the same way you would make tuna salad. Form mix into two patties (you can do 3 patties, but these were larger, more burger sized ones)
  3. Dredge the patties in extra panko, egg and panko again. Pan fry in a little olive oil until a good crust forms on both sides.
  4. Serve with a salad if desired. I served mine on a ciabatta roll with wilted spinach, pickled onions and dill sauce.




Pumpkin Beer Bread (makes 2 loaves). If you only want to make one loaf and have extra for another day, take a look at Heather's original recipe.

Ingredients
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle pumpkin beer
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups flour (I used a white/wheat blend just because I like the flavor)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and spray two 9x5 loaf pans
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugars, beer, oil, eggs and spices
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add those slowly to the liquid ingredients.
  4. Pour into loaf pans and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove pans from oven. Let bread cool in pans completely before slicing.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bengal style Dal

 
Dal is one of my favorite Indian food side dishes. My husband hates it because he just hates lentils, and I occasionally hate it because there are so many ways of making dal. You can have the more watery, soupy kind or the more dry kind. You can do so many things with it, yet I only like it a select few ways.
 
I got this dal recipe a long time ago from a random 1970s book on curries found on a friend's bookshelf. I made a copy and have made this recipe so many times, however, I no longer remember the original book. I've made some edits to make this recipe less sweet and closer to my tastes, but it's really wonderful as a side for Indian food. This dal is not as soupy (but could be more so). If you desire a sweeter dal, add some golden raisins while they are cooking.
 
 
Bengal style Dal
 
Ingredients
  • 9 oz chana dal
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • cilantro and raisins (or prunes) for garnish
  • oil, salt, water
Directions
  1. Soak dal water for 20 minutes. drain.
  2. Cook dal for 20 minutes in 2 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt. In a separate pan, sautee garlic, ginger, chili and bay leaf.  After 2 minutes, add spices and stir. Then add tomato and cook 4 minutes.
  3. Add mixture to dal and boil until grains are very soft but still separate. Add more water as necessary and adjust to taste with salt and sugar.



Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jerk Chicken Summer Rolls


 
I can't believe it's already September. It's almost the end of summer and that fact makes me a little sad. We've gone on a few small trips and work is finally starting to pick back up again (much to my relief and chagrin). I'm looking forward to a little cooler weather (no more 93 degree humid days) but I'm not looking forward to the winter and the snow. I guess you can't have everything.

Earlier this summer, I tried this out as a "fusion" theme dish. These summer rolls are a great appetizer for a hot summer day. They're light and refreshing, mingling sweet, sour and spicy together. The jerk chicken and mango add another level of complexity to the dish that's offset perfectly by the pickled carrots and daikon. Give it a try next time you need a fun party appetizer.

Note: you can use whatever jerk chicken recipe you want, and if you want to make regular summer rolls, just omit the mango and make regular grilled chicken breasts instead. For my jerk chicken, I just use Walkerswood brand seasoning.  You can also serve this with nuoc cham (fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and thai chilis) or peanut sauce, depending on your preference)

Ingredients for rolls
  • 1 pack spring roll wrappers
  • 21-25 shrimp, steamed, chilled, and cut in half down the center (you will need 1 or 1 1/2 shrimp per roll, depending on the size of your wrapper)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • jerk chicken breast, cooled and cut thinly
  • fresh mint
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh mango, julienned
  • rice vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and chilled
  • butter lettuce or red leaf
  • pickled carrots and daikon
Ingredients for simple peanut sauce
  • 2 spoonfulls of peanut butter
  • 1 spoon of hoisin sauce
  • sriracha
  • hot water
Directions
  1. To make the peanut sauce, mix everything together and add hot water until you reach the correct consistency. Adjust seasoning to taste
  2. For the rolls, cut all ingredients for your mis en place. Get a bowl (or large plate with an edge) of warm water. Move the spring roll wrapper in the water until pliable. Transfer to a work surface
  3. Start with 2 or three pieces of shrimp an top with your whole basil leaves (to create a green background for the shrimp) Top with your chicken, vermicelli, mango and other herbs. The amount that goes in the roll will take practice
  4. Wrap and set aside covered with a damp towel to keep moist until you finish the others.
  5. Serve with lettuce, herbs, pickled vegetables and your desired sauces.
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