Sunday, March 19, 2017

Corn and Jalapeño Muffins




Somebody at church made the most tasty cheese and jalapeño biscuits.  I wanted to sit down and eat the entire plate of them.  They were cheesy but not too much and they had a bit of a bite but not so much that it puckered my lips.  Sadly, I couldn't eat all that were on the platter but I sure wanted to do it.  That is what sent me on a quest to find a recipe for a cheesy jalapeño muffin!  It sounded like a good idea, right?

There are times when something sounds really good but it just doesn't come together.  I was disappointed.  This recipe sounded really good and they were but just not close to what I had tasted at church.  Basically, I selected a jalapeño that had absolutely no kick!  I had cheesy, I had the corn, they did pass....but there was no kick....I wanted the kick....

Since I was taking them to a friend's I had wanted them be a little more impressive!  As it goes, her son snatched up a couple as he was going out the door. The next day he sent a picture of the breakfast casserole he had made using the muffins.  Now that, sounded really good!

Corn and Jalapeño Muffins
adapted from New York Times Cooking

Yield: about 12 large muffins or 36 mini muffins

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 ounces grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven:  400° F.

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the corn kernels and the jalapeño and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Place 4 Tablespoons of butter in a glass bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave, about 30-45 seconds.  Watch it closely.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.  Beat in the eggs and buttermilk to make a thick batter.  Fold in the corn kernels, the jalapeño and melted butter.  Stir in the shredded cheese.

For large muffins, fill muffin papers 3/4 full with batter.  Bake about 12 minutes.  Test the muffins with a toothpick before removing from the oven.  (If you prefer, muffins may be baked in a well buttered muffin tin.)

For mini muffins, place about 1 1/2 Tablespoons batter in each section.  Bake about 10 minutes, until golden. Check for doneness using a toothpick.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


They may not have been the jalapeño muffin of my dreams, but,
they sure didn't last long!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Turkey Tortilla Soup - #soupswappers

Turkey Tortilla Soup...what a tasty and healthy soup!   This soup was so delicious, that there was no question about whether or not leftovers should be served.  Actually, seeing the bottom of the pan was disappointing!

Living in California, Mexican cuisine is just a regular part of our rotation.  I love the flavors, the spices, the spiciness...just about everything.  Now, can I make really authentic dishes?  Well, sometimes, it all depends.  Is this soup authentic?  Probably not. For authenticity I do refer to Rick Bayless, my favorite source for Mexican cooking.  Did I refer to Rick for this recipe, no.  But, I did use his technique for preparing the tortilla strips.

Today is Soup Swapper Saturday and our theme is Mexican Soups!  I am really looking forward to each participant's post today...I so love Mexican cuisine.  Our hostess today is Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories.  Thank you, Karen, for selecting such a great theme!!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm.  The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members.  If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!


Turkey Tortilla Soup
adapted from Food and Wine

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, small dice
1 jalapeño, seeded, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used the smaller amount and adjusted for our tastes.)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound ground turkey
1 28-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Toppings
Six 4-inch corn tortillas, cut into narrow strips
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 avocado diced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Sour Cream (optional)
Shredded Monterey jack cheese or crumbled queso fresco

Preheat oven:  375° (for the tortilla strips)

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add the onion and peppers.  Cook, over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and translucent, about 7 minutes.  Add the jalapeño and garlic. Cook 1 minute.  Add the spices:  chili powder, cumin, cocoa, oregano, paprika, cayenne, red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few twists of black pepper.  Stir.  Add the turkey and cook, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon, until it is browned and cooked through.  About 8-9 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and the chicken broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Prepare the tortilla stips while the soup is simmering.

Cut the tortillas into strips. Place the strips on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Mist both sides lightly with vegetable oil. Bake, stirring them around once or twice, until they are crisp and lightly golden, 10-15 minutes.

When the soup is finished simmering, stir in the beans and the corn.  Allow the mixture to simmer until it reaches serving temperature.

Ladle into bowls and serve with the tortilla strips, a squeeze of lime and additional toppings as desired.

Note:  The soup keeps well and may be prepared the day before.  Add all of the garnishes just before serving.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


I'll be making this soup again soon.  It was hearty, healthy and flavorful!




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potatoes aka Always Have a Back-Up Plan

Always have a back-up plan.  

I was really excited about the recipe that I found for this month's Improv Cooking Challenge.  The theme was potatoes and chives and it was March!  What could be more perfect?  I think it was the recipe that I was going to make....it didn't happen.

Things started out smoothly but quickly changed when my mom came down with a bit of pneumonia. That meant long days at the doctor, the lab, the radiologist and the pharmacy...repeated each week for three weeks.  I am happy to say that the CAT scan on Friday was clear.  That said.  I haven't gotten groceries not have I cooked much.

I did however, have a back-up plan that wasn't really I hadn't thought of as a back-up plan.  I just happened to have everything that I needed and was trying to use up some buttermilk.  Thus, we have today's post:  Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potatoes.  Not the most difficult side dish and rather obvious for the ingredients, but I am so happy that I made them and photographed them for future!!

They were wonderful!  I remember my mom using buttermilk in mashed potatoes on occasion and how good they were.  These hit the mark especially with butter melting on them!  When I make mashed potatoes, I don't measure.  I use liquid sparingly and aim for consistency of the mashed potatoes.  We prefer potatoes that are on the thick side.  That said, below is the recipe that I used as a guide for ingredients.


Buttermilk-Chive Mashed Potatoes
adapted from The Irish Spirit by Margaret Johnson


Yield:  4-6 servings

3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled ad cut into small chunks
1/2 cup unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain.  Return the potatoes to the pot.  Mash over low heat until they are almost smooth or to your desired consistency.  Stir in the butter. Add the buttermilk and half and half in parts mixing after each part. Stop when they are at your desired consistency.  Mix in the thyme and chives.  Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Note:  Everybody has a preference when it comes to the consistency of their mashed potatoes.  I did not use all of the liquid in the recipe.  I added it in parts until I was happy with the consistency.  



Simple but delicious!



The Improv Cooking Challenge Facebook Group is a monthly challenge supported by Nicole Little at Cookaholic Wife.  Each month two ingredients are listed and the challenge is to create or find a recipe that you would like to prepare and share.  Everything you need to know can be found on Nicole's blog.  Join us!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Cheddar Walnut Bread

I love March.  I love the wind, the rain, the warm sunshine, the wildflowers, it stays daylight longer and there is a hint that spring is around the corner.  In March my cooking changes.  I don't prepare as much comfort food.  Our comfort comes from the warm sunshine and being able to use the barbecue more frequently.

In March I spend time perusing Irish cookbooks.  My daughter surprised me with my first Irish cookbook, The Irish Spirit by Margaret Johnson.  In that particular book, the recipes were inspired by the drinks of Ireland.  This led me to The Irish Pub Cookbook featuring recipes from various pubs in Ireland.  And, that is how I came across this delicious Cheddar Walnut Bread!  One can only make so many loaves of soda bread trying to find the "right" recipe before deciding to try something else!


Cheddar Walnut Bread
adapted from The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret Johnson

Yield:  1 loaf

1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups Kerrygold Vintage Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Prepare a 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pan by lightly buttering.

In a food processor combine the flours, dry mustard, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. Pulse to blend.  Add the butter pieces and process for 10-15 seconds, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside 1 Tablespoon cheese and 1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts for the topping. Add the remaining to the processor.  Pulse 8 to 10 times to blend.

Add the eggs and buttermilk to the mixture and process 10-20 seconds, or until a soft dough forms. Spoon the dough into the prepared loaf pan.  Smooth the top with a rubber spatula that has bee dipped in buttermilk.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese and walnuts over the top.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Should you be searching for a great soda bread recipe, you might be interested in this Not Just Any Irish Soda Bread recipe...it is super!!

I am participating at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Cream of Cauliflower Soup



We recently decided to take a break from our weekly veggie box subscription.  We found that we were getting many things that we just don't eat in volume!  For example we received two types of kale, chard, greens, dandelion greens, lettuce, rutabaga, cauliflower, butternut squash, apples, and tangerines.  Yes, I know it's winter so naturally we received winter vegetables but that is too much leafy stuff week after week.

The head of cauliflower we received was beautiful and I just happened to be paging through an Irish cookbook and it just happened to be March....so when I turned the page and saw Cauliflower Soup, well, it just had to be!  Margaret mentions that you can find some version of Cauliflower Soup in most Irish pubs.

It was velvety and had a lovely flavor.  I served it with a Cheddar Walnut Bread and the two together were just right!

Cream of Cauliflower Soup
adapted from The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret Johnson

Yield:  4-6 servings

2 Tablespoons unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and sliced into half moons
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of curry powder
Minced fresh chives for garnish

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the leeks, onions, celery, and thyme.  Cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.  Add the cauliflower and cook until slightly soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low.  Simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Allow the mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.

In batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Return the soup to the pot and stir in the half and half.  Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and curry.  Simmer the soup until heated.

Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with chives.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


This was an easy soup to prepare and would be a great opener for a dinner.  On this night, we were eating light....just soup and delicious Cheddar Walnut Bread.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad

When I first saw it, there was something about this recipe that called my name.  I am not certain if it is because I am a lover of carrots or that they were maple-roasted and in a salad.  Or maybe it was because, when I was little, my uncle told me if I ate my carrots my eyes would turn blue.  I have eaten an awful lot of carrots since then and I am still waiting for the color of my eyes to change... Whatever the attraction, this Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad worked.  I served it at a dinner with friends and everybody gave it a thumbs up.

I first saw the recipe on the Barefoot Contessa blog.  It came from Ina's new cookbook, Cooking for Jeffery:  A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  And yes, I had to add another cookbook to my collection! In the last month, I have made three or four of the recipes and found each one to be a keeper.  This cookbook would be a super addition to any cookbook library.


Maple-Roasted Carrot Salad

Yield:  4 luncheon servings, 6 dinner servings

2 pounds carrots, with leafy tops 
Good extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt 
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup pure Maple syrup
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice, about 2 large oranges
3 Tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces Montrachet goat cheese, diced 
2 cups, roasted and salted Marcona almonds 

Preheat oven 425° F.

Prepare the carrots by trimming and scrubbing.  Large carrots, those over 1 inch in diameter, should be cut in half lengthwise.  On the diagonal, cut carrots into 2-inch chunks.  Place the carrots into a large bowl.  Toss the carrots to coat with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.   Spread the carrots between two baking sheets (Using two sheets avoids crowding and enables the carrots to roast as opposed to steam.)  Roast the carrots for 20 minutes toss/stir the carrots once during the roasting.  When the carrots are tender, transfer them all to one baking sheet.  Pour the maple syrup over the carrots and toss to coat.  Continue roasting until the edges of the carrots caramelize, about another 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they do not burn.  Remove from the oven, toss and set the carrots aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries and orange juice.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and set aside for 10 minutes.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the sherry wine vinegar, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Add 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and whisk to mix.

In a large salad bowl, place the arugula, carrots, the cranberries and liquid, goat cheese, almonds, and the vinaigrette.  Toss together.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve the salad at room temperature.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Everything about this salad works!
I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Spaghetti and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I used to think that I had a great meatball recipe, but I don't think that any longer.  After making these meatballs, I can honestly say that I won't be making any others.  These were so easy and flavorful. they held their form in the sauce and that also met the "kid" test.  My granddaughter has asked her mom to make spaghetti and meatballs like grandma's.  So now, when she and I are together we make spaghetti and meatballs.  She isn't too keen on forming the meatballs, though.  She likes the dump ingredients and stir part!  

This is another New York Times recipe.  I tell you, their collection of recipes rocks.  


Spaghetti and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Yield:  4 Servings

Salt
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces ground beef
6 ounces Parmesan, about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped, reserve 2 Tablespoons for garnish
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
Fresh ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
6 cups canned crushed tomatoes (a little less than two 28-oz cans)
3 bay leaves

1 pound spaghetti

Brings a stockpot of water to a boil and salt it.  Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat.


Put the ground beef in a medium bowl.  Grate the cheese, put 1 cup over the meat.  Reserve the rest of the cheese, about 1/2 cup.  Chop 1/2 cup of parsley and add all but 2 Tablespoons to the meat mixture.  Save the rest of the parsley for another use.  Add the bread crumbs and the egg to the mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Gently mix until everything is just combined.

Raise the meat to medium high.  Using a scoop or 2 teaspoons, drop rounds of the meatball mixture into the skillet without touching one another.  Adjust the heat so the meatballs sizzle but do not burn. Cook the meatballs undisturbed until they are lightly browned on the bottom, 5-6 minutes.

While the meatballs are browning, trim, peel and chop the onion.  Scatter the diced onion around the meatballs.  Peel and mince or crush the garlic.  Put it on top of the onions.

When the meatballs are browned on the bottom and the aromatics begin to soften, add the tomatoes and bay leaves to the skillet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Adjust the heat to medium low so that the mixture bubbles gently but steadily.  Cover the skillet and cook until the meat cooks through, about 8 minutes.  Remove the lid and let the sauce bubble vigorously to thicken, about another 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir carefully, but only as needed.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir.  After five minutes check the pasta.  When it is tender, not mushy, drain it.  Reserve some of the cooking water.  Return the pasta to the pot.

Move the meatballs to one side of the skillet and stir the sauce.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Discard the bay leaves and spoon about half the sauce into the pasta pot.  Toss the pasta over low heat.  Add a splash of cooking water to the pasta to make it saucier, if you like.

To serve, divide the pasta among 4 plates or bowls; top with meatballs and additional sauce.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and parsley over the top.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


This went on the rotation after the first time I made it.  I love, love the meatballs!!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.