Friday, October 9, 2015

Homemade Applesauce #2 in the Slow Cooker: Recipe Revised

Each year we mark the beginning of fall with a trip to the apple orchards.  It is fun to drive through the trees as we make our way to the fruit stand displaying bins of apples.  There are so many varieties from which to choose that it renders me unable to choose. So, we usually bring home a box of mixed varieties such as Braeburn, Jonagold, Fuji, Red Delicious, McIntosh, etc.  Sadly, we were not able to make the trip this year but I still found a variety of apples at the Farmer's Market.

I usually start the season by making homemade applesauce in the slow cooker.  I didn't want to break the tradition but I did want to try a new recipe.  It was time to set Mom's recipe to the side.  I was inspired by Ina's recipe that I found on Food Network.  I didn't follow her method, as she baked the apples.  It is still warm here so I used the slow cooker.

Homemade Applesauce #2 in the Slow Cooker

1 large navel orange, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced 
14 apples, (about 6 pounds) mixed variety, such as McIntosh, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, etc., peeled, cored, diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 Tbsp Boiled Cider from King Arthur Flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Place the orange juice and the lemon juice in a large bowl.  Add the apple dice and toss them in the juice.  Pour the mixture into the slow cooker.  

Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top along with the cinnamon and allspice.  Add the tablespoon of Boiled Cider and stir the mixture.

Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours.  When finished, use a potato masher to get the sauce to the desired consistency.

Serve warm or cold.  Store in a air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Note: The recipe is easily adjusted.  As it cooks down, it produces more liquid.  But after a few hours if you notice that sauce needs more liquid, add just a little additional orange juice or water.  


We loved the addition of the citrus and the fact that this was not overly sweet.  The Boiled Cider enhanced the sauce's flavor. It was perfect.  Now, if I could just put my spoon away!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lentil and Spinach Dal Over Brown Rice in the Instant Pot and Chef Sabine

Earlier this summer I visited my daughter in Seattle.  The visit just happened to coincide with Sabine's third birthday.  It wasn't planned that way, it just nice for me!

Isn't she adorable?  What a character!  She sure does keep us on our toes.  She loves to cook and spends a great deal of time on her stool at the counter or the stove....helping.  It is so much fun.  It just so happened that she got her chef's hat and apron along with some more cooking utensils for her birthday.  She was in heaven!

Sabine wasn't the only one with new play things.  My daughter had gotten an Instant Pot and wanted to show me how quick and easy it was to prepare a meal.  I had no idea about the Instant Pot.  She told me it was a combination appliance a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker....the list goes on....and that dinner could be made quickly.  Sounds like a must have for the working mom!

I must admit that I was impressed.  I have always been intimidated by my pressure cooker.  I think had I not been told over and over again about explosions and being careful, I might have felt differently.  Needless to say, I rarely use my pressure cooker.  Sorry, Debby Foodie Wife...I just cannot do it!  But, your recipes look so delicious that you have me thinking...Maybe a working mom isn't the only one who should have an Instant Pot!

On this day, my daughter served a tasty Lentil and Spinach Dal.  Each bite was wonderful!  She served it over brown rice with a garnish of fresh yogurt and chopped cilantro along with some warm naan.  Not only was dinner made in a was delicious!  The recipe directions below are for using the Instant Pot but one could easily adapt the cooking time to use the slow cooker.

Lentil and Spinach Dal over Brown Rice
adapted from Flavorrd

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 cup red lentils
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 large tomato, cut into 6-8 wedges
4 cups fresh spinach leaves, about several big handfuls
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp unsalted butter

To serve
Brown rice, prepared separately
Plain yogurt
Fresh chopped cilantro leaves

Add the olive oil to the Instant Pot to cook over medium heat (press the "Saute" button to begin cooking at medium saute heat.)  When the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and cook until they are soft and translucent.  Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Turn off the heat. (Push the "cancel" button.)  Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and cayenne.  Mix well to combine.

Add the lentils, tomato wedges, salt and water to the onion and garlic mixture.  Cover the Instant Pot with the lid.  Be certain that the valve is in the sealed position.  Press the "Manual" button and set the cooking time to 10 minutes.  After the program has finished, press "Cancel" to turn off the warming mode, and wait 10 minutes before opening the valve to release the pressure.

Remove and discard the tomato skins.  Whisk together the lentils to emulsify.  Smash the tomatoes against the side of the pot if necessary.  Add the spinach, cilantro and butter to the mixture.  Stir to combine.  The residual heat will wilt the spinach.

Serve over brown rice with a dollop of plain yogurt, a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, and naan on the side.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Savory Scones

Ever since Mom fell and fractured a hip, things have been a bit bumpy at my house.  I have found myself exploring our healthcare system, skilled nursing and assisted living situations in depth.  All I can say is that nothing is ever simple but there is always an answer to address the need.  Of course, it may not be quite as expected, but there are options.  That said, I believe that I have mom placed in a retirement complex that offers her the independence that she desires as well as the assistance that she must have to be safe.  I so appreciate my friends who have traveled this road and shared their many experiences and made recommendations.  Bless you, friends.

There hasn't been too much cooking going on but it just so happens that I did make some savory breakfast scones and that is what I want to share with you today.  These were just the right combination of herbs, cheese, and ham...perfect for breakfast on the run!  Sitting down would have been nice too!  Anyway, the recipe is one that comes together quickly, just be sure to have the prepping done ahead. The recipe came from my daughter who go it from a friend who got it from a friend...I have no idea who should be credited!  But, I do believe it is a keeper!

Savory Scones

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup ham, diced
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 to 2 Tbsp chives, chopped
2 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven:  425° F.

Position the oven rack in the center.  Line a baking sheet with parchment, if desired.

In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Cut in the butter with 2 knives or a pastry cutter, tossing the pieces with the flour mixture to coat and separate them as you work, until the largest pieces are the size of peas and the rest resemble breadcrumbs.  Do not allow the butter to melt or form a paste with the flour.

Stir in the ham, cheddar, chives and sage.  Set the mixture aside while you whisk together the egg and the heavy cream, in a separate bowl.  Once whisked, add it to the dry mixture.  Mix together until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides and bottom of the bowl 5 to 10 times, turning and pressing any loose pieces into the dough each time until they adhere and the bowl is fairly clean.  Do not overwork the dough or let the dough get warm.

Drop dough in even sized lumps onto the baking sheet.  Bake until the tops are golden brown and spring back when pressed, 12 to 15 minutes.  (The time will need to be adjusted based on the size of the scone.)


A quick breakfast for an on-the-go family!  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pork Tinga with Red Potatoes, Avocado and Queso Fresco - SRC

Slow cooker Pork Tinga is what's for dinner!  Oh my goodness the flavor...yum!  When I saw the list of ingredients in the recipe and noticed that the original recipe came from my favorite chef, Rick Bayless, I was indeed ready to break out the slow cooker.

I did have a question first, "What in the world is a tinga?"  Good question, isn't it?  I imagine if I am going to make something I should have a good idea of exactly what it is.  Well, a tinga is quite simply a Mexican meat dish that originated in Puebla, Mexico.  It can be made with chicken or pork and sausage, in this case, chorizo, and slow cooked in a spicy red sauce.  It is stew-like and after being in the slow cooker for six hours, the meats breakdown and are easy to shred.  Traditionally, it is served as a taco filling.  

We elected to serve it in a shallow bowl with the tortillas on side allowing each person to use it as a taco filling or eat it as a stew.  Our medium-size potatoes didn't lend themselves to the inside of a tortilla without being broken apart.  (And as I prepare this post, I notice that I was supposed to quarter the potatoes....that would have made the everything before doing anything comes to mind.)  So, there isn't really a right or wrong way to eat this delicious dish: break down the meat and potatoes and fill up your tortilla with this delicious tinga or just dig in with a spoon!

And where did I find this gem of a recipe?  I was perusing Ashley's blog, Cheese Curd in Paradise, for this month's Secret Recipe Club.  Ashley's blog is a compilation of recipes (and there are numerous) and a family journal sharing weekly adventures with her family...she has two very busy young sons!  What an energetic lady!

I knew at first glance that the Pork Tinga was going to be my SRC selection but I did bookmark two other recipes that I know I must prepare:  Ina's Seafood Stew and Julia's Potatoes Dauphinois.  Both are certain to be hits at our house.  Thank you, Ashley.

Pork Tinga 
with Red Potatoes, Avocado and Queso Fresco
adapted from Rick Bayless 

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound lean, boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
4 ounces chorizo sausage, removed from casing
4-5 medium red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1 large white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick, and slices quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
1 28-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
2-3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped
3-4 tsp adobo sauce 
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano, Mexican if available
Salt, to taste

1 avocado, pitted, flesh scooped out and diced
1/2 cup crumbled Queso Fresco
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
Warm tortillas, corn (We had flour tortillas on hand and they worked out fine.)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. (If your slow cooker has an insert that can be used on the stovetop, use it instead of the skillet.)  Add the pork and chorizo in a single layer and cook, stirring until the meat has browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Turn off the heat and transfer the meat mixture to your slow cooker. (If you are using your insert, place it into the slow cooker.)

Add the quartered potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes with their liquid, chipotles, chipotle sauce, Worcestershire, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Stir the mixture thoroughly.  Cook the mixture on high for six hours.

After six hours, gently stir the tinga.  If the sauce is too thick, add a small amount of water.  Taste and season with salt, if needed.  Scoop the mixture into a large bowl.  Sprinkle, with queso fresco, diced avocado and cilantro.  Serve with warm tortillas

Note:  Chipotle chiles and adobo sauce are spicy hot.  You may want to adjust the amounts to match your palate.  I usually start with the smaller amounts and increase as desired.

Thanks so Ashley, it looks as though I have another recipe to add to the rotation!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sweet Potato Apple Soup with Chipotle - Blogger CLUE

Don't you just love it when apple season comes around?  I do.  I love walking through the apple orchard and then picking a variety of sweet and fragrant apples to take home.  The apples are ripening in the area and the Apple Festival is scheduled for early October...I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, I am celebrating the Blogger CLUE Society theme this month:  apples....pears....and fall fruit in general.  The Blogger CLUE Society is a group of food bloggers. Each month members are paired with another food blogger, given a theme, and each blogger sets off to explore the assigned blog. The objective is to track down a recipe that matches the month's theme and that we are excited about making.  Of course I was focused on the apple!  

Even more exciting was that I was paired with Lea Ann!  Lea Ann is the friendly, helpful, lovely lady and wonderful cook at Cooking on the Ranch.  She enjoys preparing Western, Southwestern and Mexican food.  She says she enjoys cooking and wine and talking about cooking and wine.  I know that I fell in love with her blog when I first discovered it a number of years ago and have followed along ever sense, enjoying cooking and wine!  Lea Ann is not limited to Western regional cooking....she also prepares some wonderful German dishes and has also organized a trip to Germany to participate in a cooking school!  I longed to participate in that adventure!

Perusing Cooking on the Ranch was a delight.  While I was focused on the apple, I found myself repeatedly returning to Lea Ann's Roasted Pear with Blue Cheese Salad.  It will be coming up soon as I won't be just "tempted", it will be for dinner!!  The pumpkin is always a fall favorite at our house so, naturally, I have bookmarked a few pumpkin dishes to help me step into fall:  Pumpkin Pie Ravioli and Stuffed Pumpkin, all topped off with a Pumpkin Pie Martini!

Last January I had bookmarked a recipe that Lea Ann shared:  Sweet Potato Apple Soup with Chiptole!  Just the title had my mouth watering.  I was so happy to be able to prepare this soup for dinner this weekend.  It was super!  It is easy to make and delicious!  The sweet potato and apple are great paired together and the addition of chipotle makes this soup extra special!  I must warn you that it is quite spicy so if you are not a fan of spicy, I suggest cutting the amount of chipotle in half and then increase and taste as you go.....  Whatever you do, I promise it will be delicious!

Sweet Potato Apple Soup with Chipotle
adapted from Lea Ann at Cooking on the Ranch

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 ribs celery, cut into this slices
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1-inch dice
1 large clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 Tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles with adobo, adjust according to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1-inch dice
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

2 Tablespoons toasted pumpkin seed
Cilantro leaves, chopped, and Greek Yogurt or sour cream

Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  When hot, add the oil and butter.  Heat until the butter melts.  Add the onion and celery and cook until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add the apples, garlic, ginger and chipotle sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, water and sweet potatoes to the pot.  Increase the heat to high.  When the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Add the lime juice and taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.  

Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds, yogurt or sour cream and some chopped cilantro leaves.


You may enjoy the fall fruit recipes that the other Blogger CLUE members prepared, take a look!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad - Fatoush!

What could be better when the tomatoes and cucumbers are overflowing in the garden, than a vegetable salad....unless it is a Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad?!  I loved the creamy garbanzo beans, the pieces of feta and all of the wonderful herbs mixed with a nice olive oil and lemon dressing.  It was the perfect summer salad.  This particular salad is also known as Fatoush.  Toasted pita triangles provide a great crunchy "crouton" to accompany the dish or they can be mixed in....chef's choice!

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

5-7 scallions
4-5 tomatoes, seeded, cored and diced
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/3 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp (3 cloves) minced garlic
Salt and Pepper
8 oz feta cheese, diced

Toasted pita bread triangles for serving.

Mix the tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, garbanzo beans, parsley, mint and basil in a large bowl. Toss the vegetables to combine.

In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of salt, pepper and garlic.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat.  Add the feta being careful not to break up the small dice.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve the salad with toasted pita triangles.

This was a quick, fresh and refreshing salad!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Figs Poached in Red Wine and Fruit Jelly

The last of the figs were poached in red wine and red currant jelly.  This took less than an hour and made a great light dessert for the evening.  I was headed to my sweet neighbor's home.  She knew that Terry was camping and invited me for dinner...  Thank you, Nancy, we are fortunate to have such wonderful neighbors!

The original recipe is from Ripe:  A Cook in the Orchard by Nigel Slater.  I enjoy reading cookbooks and Slater's prose is enjoyable.  As I read about figs, I felt as though he was sitting across the table from me as I learned about the fig and the fig tree in his garden.  Ripe serves as a great resource in my kitchen library.

Figs Poached in Red Wine and Fruit Jelly
adapted from Ripe:  A Cook in the Orchard by Nigel Slater

12 figs, small and plump
1 cup red wine
1 Tbsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract or vanilla bean)
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp (heaping) red currant jelly

Rinse the figs and slice in half.  Place the figs in a stainless steel saucepan.  Pour the wine plus 1/2 cup water over the figs.  Drizzle the vanilla paste, honey and red currant jelly over the figs. Simmer gently until the figs are tender.

Lift the figs in to a serving dish.  Bring the juices to a boil and reduce to about one half.  You want the juices to thicken into a dark red and glossy syrup.  This will thicken additionally as it cools to the consistency of honey.

Strain the syrup.  Pour the syrup over the figs and set aside to cool.  The figs are best served at room temperature.