Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lumpia with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce


For years Mr. T. has been wanting me to try Lumpia.  So when the opportunity came to make this appetizer it was easy to say, "Yes!"  But, what is Lumpia?  Simply put, it is a Filipino Eggroll.

I was a little nervous about wrapping them as I had a few coaches who kept telling me that it was difficult....but I didn't find that to be the case.  I did a little research and it was suggested that the filling be cool to cold before wrapping.  I think that was the trick.  It was easy to mold the filling and wrap it tightly in the Lumpia Wrappers.

We were please with the way that they turned out and Mr. T. loved the Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce.

Lumpia with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 Tbsp soy sauce
30 Lumpia Wrappers
1 egg, beaten

Heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet.  Add the ground pork.  Cook, stirring frequently until the pork is done.  Use a fork to break the pork up as fine as possible.

Remove the pork from the pan, draining off all but a tablespoon of the fat.  Let the pork cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In the same pan, cook the onion and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the carrots and cabbage.  Stir for about a minute.

Add the green onions, soy sauce and cooked ground pork.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mixture is cool enough to handle.  (I allowed the mixture to become cold before wrapping.)

Lightly mix an egg in a small bowl to use as a wash which will seal the rolled lumpia.

Lay one lumpia wrapper in front of you in a diamond shape, (with a point toward you.)  Take two tablespoons of the mixture and place it across the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper. (I formed the 2 tablespoons of mixture into a cylinder.)



Fold the bottom of the wrapper up and over the mixture.  Roll it once away from you.  Fold each side in to make an envelope shape.  Roll it up, keeping it as tight as possible.

Brush a small amount of the egg wash on the edge of the wrapper and seal the lumpia closed.  Place your lumpia rolls on a plate covered with a very lightly dampened towel until all of the lumpia are rolled.

Put two cups of vegetable oil in a heavy duty skillet.  It should be 1/2" deep.  Heat to approximately 375° F.  This will take about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Place 3-4 lumpia in the pan and cook them about 1-3 minutes or until golden brown.  If too many lumpia are in the pan at the same time, they will not fry properly.  Turn the lumpia to assure that they brown evenly.

Dipping Sauce

1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp ketchup

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring regularly until softened.  Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and ketchup and cook, whisking regularly, until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved and the mixture is well-blended.  Bring to a boil.  While whisking continuously, add the cornstarch mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens.

Tips:  If you are unable to find Lumpia Wrappers get the thinnest Spring Roll Wrapper you can find. Lumpia Wrappers are very thin.  The regular Spring Roll Wrappers with not work well.

Lumpia freeze well so it is very easy to make a batch and have some tucked away in the freezer for company!

A Vinegar-Garlic Dipping Sauce is nice, also.  It is made with 2 cloves garlic, finely minced, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed together.  This may be kept in the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before serving.  (I think this sauce is my preferred sauce....Mr. T. liked the sweet and sour....)

PRINTABLE RECIPE


I wish I had more pictures of wrapping the lumpia but when I noticed the time, I had to move along or we would be late....and the person bringing the appetizer cannot be late!!

I intend to make another batch and freeze some for unexpected company....or for those evenings when we are having an appetizer dinner!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Maple-Roasted Carrots


I love carrots.   I have loved them since I was a little girl and my uncle promised me that my eyes would turn blue if I ate my carrots.  I have been waiting a good long time to have blue eyes.  It has yet to happen....but my love of carrots grew.  That said, it only seemed logical that I share my love with you.

I was searching for an easy side dish and saw a picture of the cutest little baby carrots....I loved the adorable little guys with the bit of top attached....they had been glazed and roasted...I was sold...  Sadly, there were no baby carrots to be found...but I did find some red, purple, yellow, orange and white carrots that would work just fine.

These sweet, tender carrots were glazed with maple syrup, olive oil and a bit of bourbon (which is optional) and sprinkled with cayenne and sea salt....they were so tasty that I know I could have made a whole meal of them.  This will definitely be a recipe that I will continue to make....the problem I had was that I didn't anticipate how popular they would be and should have roasted more!

Maple-Roasted Carrots
adapted from Fine Cooking, Issue 119

3 lbs. baby carrots, with green tops, peeled and trimmed or a variety of carrots cut into two-inch logs, split in half
1/3  cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. good quality bourbon, I used Maker's Mark (optional)
1/8 tsp cayenne
Sea salt
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven:  425° F. Position the rack in the upper third of the oven.

Spread the carrots in a single  layer of a baking sheet.  Combine the maple syrup, oil, and bourbon (if desired) in a measuring cup.

Drizzle the syrup mixture over the carrots and sprinkle with the cayenne and 2 tsp salt.  Toss the carrots to coat them evenly.

Roast the carrots, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.  Toss and continue to roast until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a platter and serve.  (Times will vary dependent upon the diameter of the carrots.)

The carrots can be made an hour ahead and kept at room temperature on the baking sheet.  Reheat them in the oven or serve at room temperature.

Serve the carrots sprinkled with chopped parsley.

PRINTABLE RECIPE



I am not certain if a person can eat too many carrots....I do believe I am getting close..
I know you won't be able to eat just one helping...and if you don't already have blue eyes...keep looking in the mirror to see what happens.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies - Cookie Carnival!

Baking and cold weather seem to go together.  As a child remember that we always baked cookies on a rainy day....I loved doing that...the warmth from the oven, the wonderful smells from the kitchen wafting through the house, and, most importantly to me, the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the roof and splashing against the windows.  It made cookie baking a warm and cozy activity.

Today, if I wait for rain, we would never eat cookies.  Rain is always promised but a few drops here and there aren't quite what I grew up enjoying!  That is why I thought participating in a Secret Recipe Club Cookie Carnival for the holidays would be fun, regardless of the weather, we would have cookies!


Aren't they pretty?  I just love the sparkle of the sanding sugar.  Rolling the cookies in sanding sugar was actually an afterthought on my part and I must say it was a good thought!  What could be better than triple chocolate, peppermint kisses and sparkles!!?

These Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies were inspired by a recipe posted by Wendy at The Weekend Gourmet.  Wendy is a Texas girl who loves to cook and travel....not only does she post recipes, but she has numerous product spotlights featured, as well as regional restaurant features and travelogues.  

I was tempted to make her Chocolate Vanilla Bean Meringue Cookies  but decided that chocolate was in the pantry, and so.....while, Wendy went for the peppermint bang in her chocolate cookie recipe...after thinking about it, I decided to go for the chocolate with a hint of peppermint.  Thank you for the inspiration, Wendy.  And, I must fess up....I made a few adjustments along the way, one being that I omitted the Crisco that Wendy used....(it isn't something that I have on-hand).

Mr. T and the neighbors have attested to how tasty these cookies are...I will definitely make them again...do I have to wait until next year?

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
inspired by The Weekend Gourmet and Hershey's

48 Hershey's Kisses Brand Candy Cane Mint Candies
1 stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup white sanding sugar

Yield:  About 48 cookies

Preheat oven:  350° F.

Prepare the baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

Remove the wrappers from the Candy Cane Mint Candies.  Place the candies in a bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the mixing bowl and beat well.  Add the eggs and milk and beat well.

Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the flour mixture gradually to the butter mixture.  Beat until well blended.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in the sanding sugar.  Place the balls on the parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake the sheet for 10 to 11 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and gently press the candy cane mint kiss in the center of each cookie.  Remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.  



We really enjoyed these cookies.  They had a soft and chewy texture....and it was really difficult to just eat one....

Hope you enjoy the Cookie Carnival!



Monday, December 8, 2014

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread...This is the absolute best!!


As I mentioned in the last post, this is the year for gingerbread.  I have been on a quest for the gingerbread (of my dreams) recipe!  I love a dark, moist, sticky, spicy, chewy gingerbread....and this is just what I dreamed of...

While the previous Gingerbread was good, the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread from Chef Claudia Fleming, is the one...just what I envisioned a "real" gingerbread should taste like.  Even better is that the flavor improves as it ages.  It can be kept for up to three days covered at room temperature.

Once again, I wanted individual servings so I baked the gingerbread in my mini bundt pan.  The only issue that I came across was that during baking the gingerbread sunk.  I had thought it was due to too much air in the batter as I did not whisk as the recipe said...I used the mixer. But, it could be related to the baking powder...it didn't matter, as I a bundt cake is turned over and it doesn't show.  "smile"

I intend to make the recipe again in two weeks to serve as a birthday cake.   I can hardly wait.

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread
Chef Claudia Fleming

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup oil
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Generously butter/flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan, knocking out excess flour.

In a large saucepan, bring Stout and molasses to a boil and remove from heat.  Whisk in the baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and spices.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars.  Whisk in the oil until blended, then mix in the molasses mixture.  Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Rap the pan sharply on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake the cake in the middle of the oven until the tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 45-50 minutes.  Cool the cake on a rack for 5 minutes; then turn it out on the rack to cool completely. Serve the cake dusted with confectioner's sugar or with whipped cream.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


This is the gingerbread of my dreams...so delicious.  I think the the stout adds a very nice dimension and depth of flavor to the cake....

I am sharing this week at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gingerbread Trees and Men


December brings out the baker in me.  There isn't any other time of year that beckons one to spend so much time in the kitchen preparing wonderful confections.  The abundance of sweet treats this time of year can be overwhelming....candies, cookies, cakes, pies, puddings, tarts....you name it and it appears.

This year I am focused on making a good gingerbread.  Being curious about the origin of gingerbread, I did a little research and learned that there is a lot of information about gingerbread and its medicinal uses, its use in affairs of the heart and as a treat!    It wasn't until the 15th century that Gingerbread, as we know it, began to appear....breads, cookies, or houses flavored with ginger, honey, molasses and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and anise.  Gingerbread was also a favorite treat at festivals and fairs in Medieval Europe. It is even said that Elizabeth I had gingerbread cookies baked in the likeness of visiting dignitaries!  Can you imagine....?

Each year, I seem to add another gingerbread recipe to the file but I never seemed to make it....until now.  This is the year!  I was swayed to do it when I saw some adorable Gingerbread Trees while visiting Marsha's blog, The Harried Cook.  Swayed?  I should say, sold!  Of course, this meant that I had to buy a new pan...one cannot make adorable little Gingerbread Trees without the right pan....and, the pan I found had both trees and men therefore, I made Gingerbread Trees and Men! Fun times in the kitchen!!

As you have guessed, it is time for The Secret Recipe Club post.  Being assigned Marsha's blog has been fun...  Marsha had been scribbling recipes on pieces of paper, napkins, notebooks, textbooks, mobile phone memos and attests to losing most of them which is why she began blogging. The blog assures that there is a recipe legacy for her daughters.  As is evidenced by her blog, Marsha does love to bake and December is the month for baking...so, needless to say, I found a variety of recipes from which to choose.   I had debated about baking her Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Frosting (and I may still make them....) but gingerbread was beckoning today.


Gingerbread Trees and Men
adapted from The Harried Cook and Martha Stewart, Cakes

Yield:  8 molded cakes or 1 loaf cake
Grease the mold or pan with butter.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Sprinkles for decoration

Preheat oven:  350° F.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.  Set aside.

In the mixer bowl, cream the softened butter with the sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg before adding the next.  Add the vanilla and mix into the mixture.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.  Do not over-mix the batter.

Pour into the prepared pan or mold. Smooth the top using an offset spatula.

Bake until the tester comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes for the loaf or if using the molds, bake for about 18-20 minutes.  Allow the pan to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn the cakes out onto a plate.  Allow to cool completely before dusting with confectioner's sugar.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


These cute little guys were a treat that I served at a recent meeting...they were a hit!!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Creamy Ham and Potato Cheese Soup

Hustle and bustle, cold, brisk breezes, parades, shopping and getting home too late to think about cooking? For me it was recovering from the flu so I decided to take the easy route for dinner....soup!

I smiled as I realized I had everything on hand to make this creamy, cheesy soup...and I love Gruyère cheese so dinner was easily decided.


Ham and Potato Cheese Soup
adapted from Pacific Fresh

Yield:  about 6 cups

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup cubed baked ham
1/2-3/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
3 large potatoes, sliced
3 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the ham, then add in the thyme, potatoes, and broth.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.  Potatoes should be broken up and slightly mushy.

Add the cheese and milk and stir until the cheese melts and the soup is heated to serving temperature.  Season with salt and pepper.  Keep warm over low heat.  Ladle into bowls, garnish with parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


We loved this soup...how long does one have to wait to make it again?  Mmmmm....

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Barbecued Garlic Shrimp

I am so happy that Mr. T cooks!  I have been sick for the last week and it was so nice to not have to worry about dinnertime....and be able to sit down to a nicely prepared and tasty meal.  Thank you, Babe!  It was delicious!


Barbecued Garlic Shrimp
adapted from Great Meals on the Grill

Yield:  2 - 3 Servings

1 pound shrimp, shelled and cleaned
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
A twist or two of fresh ground pepper
Lemon wedges

In a medium-size bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, tomato paste, oregano, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.  Add the shrimp to the bowl and stir gently to coat with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for about two hours, stirring gently every 1/2 hour.  (We prefer to put everything in a ziplock bag.)

Prepare the grill.  Reserving the marinade, thread the shrimp onto bamboo skewers.  Grill the shrimp 4 to 5 inches from the hear for 3 minutes, then baste with some of the reserved marinade.  Grill for another 3 minutes or until cooked through but still moist.  The shrimp will be lightly colored and firm to the touch.  Be careful not to overcook.

Serve the barbecued shrimp on a preheated platter with lemon wedges.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Thanks again for a great dinner....I will make you breakfast for dinner tonight, dear....  "smile"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Slow-Roasted Hot Tri Tip....Sandwiches!

One of my very favorite meals when I was growing up was a hot roast beef sandwich with gravy and mashed potatoes. That's not to say that I didn't like the Sunday roast that usually preceded the leftover roast beef sandwich but there was something about knowing that there was a hot roast beef sandwich waiting for me that always had me looking forward to the next day's dinner!  Maybe it is the very best in comfort food for kids....hmmm, not just kids....whatever the appeal, I knew I needed one!

To get to leftovers meant that I had to make a darn good roast that was falling apart and just right for sandwiches.  For the last three or four years I have been making a roast that Mr. T. kept telling me to post....and I would have if it had lasted long enough to get a good picture.  The difference in the preparation of this roast from others was Beef Consomme.  It is so rich and flavorful...

So, when it turns cold and Mr. T. doesn't really want to stand outside and barbecue and that is usually what we do with a tri tip....my mind travels to Slow-Roasted Tri Tip Sandwiches aka Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches!


Hot Slow-Roasted Tri Tip Sandwiches
Kate's Slow Roasted Tri Tip

Preheat oven to 300° F.

1 tri tip roast, cut into large chunks, about 2-2.5 pounds
Salt and pepper
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 cans of Beef Consomme (10.5 oz. cans)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1-2 cups of water

Gravy
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
3 Tablespoons flour
Additional water for gravy....(I add some of the water that the potatoes cooked in...)

In a large dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season the tri tip generously with salt and pepper. Brown the meat, remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, if needed.  Brown the onions for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Return the tri tip chunks to the pan.

Pour in the beef consomme, 1 cup water, bay leaves and thyme. Stir and cover.  Place the pan in the preheated oven.  Check on the meat occasionally to make certain that there is liquid.  Add the additional cup of water if needed.  The meat is done when it is fork tender and pulls apart easily, usually about 2-3 hours. Remove from the oven.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pot.  I like to also remove the onions and garlic as I don't want chunks in the gravy...it is a matter of choice!

Place the pan on the stove and bring the liquid to a simmer.  If you need additional water, add some of the potato water.  Mix the butter and flour into a paste and pour into the liquid and whisk to blend. If the gravy is too thick add a little more water.  If the gravy is too thin, mix an additional tablespoon of flour with another tablespoon of soft butter and whisk in.

Serve the meat on a platter or return the meat to the gravy and serve.  Mashed potatoes are a must!!

Leftover Slow-Roasted Hot Tri Tip Sandwiches

We like our sandwiches to be open-faced.   Just pull apart some of the beef, put it on whatever bread is handy and add gravy.  Simple as that...  That's not to say that some artisan sourdough bread wouldn't be dandy but sometimes, with leftovers, we just go with whatever is available in the bread drawer.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


The very best in comfort food....

I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Asiago Vegetable Risotto

I remember the first time that I tried to make risotto.  The method used was a bit flawed.  I stirred and waited and stirred and waited and it never really got to the correct consistency.  I tried again, here, using the method described by the Barefoot Contessa.  It was a great success!  So, when I saw the recipe for Asiago Vegetable Risotto at Chef Becca's blog, It's Yummi!, and the method was one I had success with, well, it was a given that we were having it with our dinner!

I was not disappointed, it was delicious!  I did make a change or two as the recipe used spring vegetables which I changed out for what was in the refrigerator!  This is so creamy and the flavor is lovely...using saffron and asiago cheese made this side dish impressive!


Asiago Vegetable Risotto
adapted from It's Yummi!

2/3 cup unsalted butter, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided (chicken broth my be used)
2 pinches of saffron threads
1 medium zucchini, sliced and cut into 1/4-inch half rounds
1 cup broccoli flowers
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
2 green onions, diced
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 slices of bacon, (Applewood-smoked, if available) chopped, cooked until crisp, drain

Chop and cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain and set aside.

Toast the pine nuts and set aside.  To toast pine nuts, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 375° F., stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Watch the nuts closely so that they do not burn.  Alternatively, the nuts may be toasted in a skillet over medium high heat, stir frequently until brown spots form, about 3 minutes.  (Be certain to keep an eye on them....they burn quickly!)

In a 3-4 quart pan, heat 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add rice and stir continuously until the grains are translucent; about 4-5 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup chicken stock and stir until absorbed; about 3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and add another 1/2 cup stock, saffron, zucchini, broccoli, red pepper, onions and pepper.  Cook until all liquid is absorbed; stirring frequently.

Continue to add the remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, cooking each time until the liquid is absorbed.

When all of the liquid has been added and absorbed, stir in the lemon juice, Asiago and the remaining butter.  The mixture should be creamy and the rice should be al dente.

Before serving, stir in the basil, pine nuts and bacon.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Not only was this a delicious side dish, it was quite tasty for lunch the next day!  


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake

When I was a little girl, on occasion my mom would make a Streusel Coffee Cake come Saturday morning.  Oh how I loved it!  It was crumbly, warm and had a great cinnamon flavor, my all time favorite spice as a child.  I savored every bite. That is where my thoughts went when I saw a recipe for Apple Cinnamon Crumb Cake at It's Yummi! 

I learned about It's Yummi! at Secret Recipe Club.  I made a recipe from the blog the very day I got my assignment!  It was that easy to find something...no, many somethings to prepare.  Chef Becca Heflin is a trained culinary professional who loves to prepare healthy food using a common sense approach while being cognizant of the budget.  Her blog is fun to peruse!  I found so many recipes that I felt confident about....I wanted to make them!  Most times, you know when you read the recipe, whether it is going to work.  I considered Asiago Vegetable Risotto....I didn't just consider....I made it.  It was so delicious and easy to make...I will post it later this week. In queue are Chef's recipes for Easy Pumpkin Yogurt Parfait and Bountiful Harvest Sausage and Cranberry Dressing.  I can hardly wait...

Today, I want to share Chef Becca's recipe for Apple Crumb Cake!  Can you imagine a warm, crumbly cake layered around apple slices with a crunchy streusel topping?  Mmmmm....


Apple Crumb Cake
adapted from ItsYummi

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400° F.
(I used a convection oven but will reduce the temperature to 375° F. next time.)
Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan, set aside

Cake
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and thinly sliced

Filling
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon

Streusel Topping
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup light brown sugar

In a large bowl, combine the sifted flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, butter and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients.  Mix just until combined.

In a small bowl, combine the filling ingredients.  In another small bowl combine the streusel ingredients.  Use your fingers to combine the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse meal...the pieces will be about the size of peas.

Pour half of the cake batter into the pan.  Sprinkle the filling evenly over the surface.  Place the sliced apples evenly over the filling.  Pour the remaining batter gently over the apples.  Sprinkle the cinnamon streudel topping over the batter.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note:  I did not have a 9-inch pan.  I had to use a dish that was equal in volume.   Since the dish was rectangular, I did not remove it from the pan.  I also thought that the oven was too hot.   I would reduce the temperature the next time I make this and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


We loved the addition of apple to the crumb cake.  It is perfect for a brunch, breakfast, snack or to just sneak a piece!  Thank you Chef Becca for sharing your great recipe and your fun blog.





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Like me, you probably have bags of blueberries stashed away in the freezer.  I cannot let the summer go by without making certain that there will be blueberries available all winter long!  ....and yes, I know that summer has only been gone for about four weeks and here I am thinking about blueberries.

There isn't much to say, really, just that they have been a favorite of mine for years.  I don't recall Mom ever having fresh blueberries in the house but she always had blueberry syrup on hand for pancakes.  That always brought a smile....  Times change. Today, I would rather make a blueberry sauce with lots of whole blueberries instead of having a syrup. But, this isn't about pancakes....

Blueberry Crumb Bars are what is up today.  These were a special treat that my oldest prepared on our visit to Seattle.....mmmm...good.  They are not real sweet so if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you will want to add more sugar.



Blueberry Crumb Bars

Crumb Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten

Blueberries
5 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven:  375° F.
Lightly grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest.  Fold in the blueberries. Coat evenly with the sugar mixture and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter.  Next blend in the egg.  The dough will be crumbly.  Press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Spread the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust, include all of the juices.  Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the blueberry layer.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the topping is a golden brown.  Cool completely on a rack before cutting into squares.

Leftover bars can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap.


NOTE:  Baking science dictates a bit more salt than the recipe calls for.  The usual ratio of salt and flour is 1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of flour.  The recipe appears to be a bit light so you may wish to make a slight adjustment.  I will try increasing, just a bit, to 3/4 teaspoon next time.   Salt is a flavor enhancer and we all have a different palette when it comes to salt.  I always go light and ease into it!

PRINTABLE RECIPE


This is a light bar that is great for breakfast, tea or dessert.  It is not overly sweet but it is packed with flavor.

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage as well as Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Weekend Bites hosted by Simple Living and Eating.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grilled Tomatillo Guacamole

Olé!  I found a really tasty guacamole!


I don't usually mess with new guacamole recipes.  Mr. T makes a great one that just doesn't get changed...why mess with greatness? Some things should remain the same....until.....I saw this recipe...

I really enjoy a good green sauce and tomatillos are the key to that....so, when I saw that tomatillos were included in this guacamole, I just had to try it.  It wasn't just the tomatillos....there was grilled white corn included in the recipe.....such sweetness.

Delicious....double delicious.  That is all I have to say.

 Tomatillo Guacamole
adapted from Rick Bayless

2 ears fresh white corn, shucked
1 poblano chile
4 large tomatillos, husk removed
3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp finely chopped red onion, rinsed
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt

Grill the corn, chile and tomatillos until charred on all sides.  Place the chile and the tomatillos in a bowl and cover will plastic wrap.   Set the bowl aside for 5-10 minutes.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob and place in a medium bowl. Set aside.  Remove the skins from the chile and the tomatillos.  Cut the chile in half.  Seed it and dice. Dice the tomatillos being certain to capture the juices.   Add the diced chile and tomatillo, with juices, to the bowl.  Add the chopped red onion, cilantro, and salt to the bowl.

Slightly mash the avocados and add to the mixture.  Mix until combined.  Serve with tortilla chips.

¡Muy delicioso!

It would go great with these Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos or this Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado-Peach Salsa.

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado-Peach Salsa

I sometimes think that I do not show enough love for "the other white meat" and it is one of my favorites so I should pay homage to it more often, right?  Glad you agree.  That said, I am led to the reason that I am focusing on pork tenderloin....well, it is because it is time for The Secret Recipe Club.

And, when I perused the blog that I was assigned, I noticed that we are both in love with the same men.  What?  Men, you ask?  Yep.  Men....I mean no, not really.  What we share is a love for the recipes of two men who are chefs and cookbook authors.  There, that sounds better.

Now why would I think that?  It is because Julie, at White Lights on Wednesday and I both share a love for recipes by Alton Brown and Rick Bayless!  Okay, all silliness aside...let's get serious and do some cooking!

I was so excited when I first perused Julie's blog...oh my goodness, I couldn't focus.  Either I was really hungry and wanted to eat everything I saw, or there are some darn good recipes on her blog. I considered a Wine SmoothieCheddar Shrimp Nachos, Potato Pancakes, or Gingerbread Waffles....need I go on?  I finally got it narrowed down to three items and guess what? I made all three...I couldn't resist.  Julie claims to be a carboholic and a Guinness and bacon loving cook!  She loves to cook but she says she hates doing dishes and therefore is the queen of sink Jenga!  Ha.  I do know that we loved the Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado-Peach Salsa, Rick Bayless recipe, that she shared.

So today, I am singing praises Julie's blog, White Lights on Wednesday, Rick Bayless and pork tenderloin!


It was a great dinner...the pork was nicely flavored, tender and the salsa was delicious.  The only trouble I had was finding peaches....there aren't any this time of year.  Thank goodness I had some stashed in the freezer!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin 
with Avocado-Peach Salsa

1 pork tenderloin (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 16 oz. jar Arriba! Fire Roasted Mexican Red Salsa
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 red onion cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp lemon zest
1 firm-ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
Salt to taste

Prepare the tenderloin by removing the silver skin and excess fat. Cut the tenderloin into 3 equal pieces.

Mix together all but 1/4 cup of the salsa, the Worcestershire sauce and the balsamic vinegar.  Place the tenderloin pieces into a large ziplock bag.  Add the marinade mixture.  Turn the pork to coat it with the marinade.  Squeeze out any excess air and seal the bag.  Lay the bag in a pie tin and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Grill the onions and pork over medium heat.  Turn the onions and pork and baste generously with the marinade.  Cook until the onions are browned.  The pork is done when a meat thermometer registers 150° F.  Remove the pork and place on a cutting board, tent with foil.

Chop the onions and place in a bowl.  (I did not use the entire onion.  I only chopped up one of the slices.)  Add the reserved salsa, peaches, parsley, lemon zest and avocado. Toss gently to combine. Season with salt, to taste.  Cut the pork into thin slices and serve with the salsa.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


We enjoyed Julie's recipe.  I love different salsa combinations and this was light and fresh.  Next time I might use cilantro instead of parsley just to compare.   Thank you Julie for sharing your wonderful blog with me!




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

There is pumpkin still left in the can...oh, Martha what should I do?

What to do?  What to do?  There is pumpkin left in the can.  It is late in the evening and there is still pumpkin left in the can.  What I really want to do is pour a glass of wine and put my feet up...but there is still pumpkin left in the can....

I don't know that I have ever baked at night.  There is a reason...I am a morning person and baking at night sounds like a mistake waiting to happen.  I am more of a "get it done first thing in the morning" type of person but that can of pumpkin is going to bug me....even if I put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow, it is going to bug me.  I am one who needs a plan....and I just happened to have a great idea.  

The idea:  Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing!  Now that sounds too tasty to resist.  Thank you, Martha. 

This looked like an easy recipe...something I could attack at night and be ahead in the morning!!  But oh, Martha what kind of recipe is this?  Yes, the dough was soft and you did say to pipe it onto the cookie sheet leaving at least an inch of space between each cookie and, I did use a scoop....but this soft?  


What in the world happened?  Of course, it is the self fulfilling prophecy!  I knew better than to bake at night....  Well, it had to be me because folks have great things to say about these cookies. Rereading the recipe sounded like a good place to start.  As I glanced at the recipe I just happened to notice a bowl of flour sitting on the counter right next to the mixer...yep, that would be it.....flour works best if it is in the mixing bowl and not sitting beside it.


Well, I do have perseverance....and it is a good thing....

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing


Yield:  about 4 dozen
Preheat oven:  375° F.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Icing
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp evaporated milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs.  Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla; mix until blended, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Using a cookie scoop (1 1/2-inches in diameter) scoop balls of batter and place on parchment lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2-inch apart.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until the tops spring back, 11-13 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer them to racks to cool completely.

Icing
Put the confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook swirling the pan occasionally, until it turns a golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Immediately add the butter, along with any browned bits, to the confectioners' sugar.  Add the evaporated milk and vanilla stirring until smooth.  Spread about a teaspoon of icing onto each cookie.  More evaporated milk may be added if the icing becomes stiff.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


These were the very best little morsels...they were soft and cakey (is that a word?)...and the frosting, oh my goodness, what a wonderful combination.  I used a bit more than a teaspoonful of icing for each cookie....it was just too good....I sampled it multiple times to make certain!

You will want to make these cookies...they are a good thing!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and at Weekend Bites at Simple Living and Eating.










Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumpkin Molasses Tea Bread

Oh how I wish it would get cool and stay cool.  I want to make soup....I want to bake...I enjoy curling up in the evening with my book and a glass of wine or just to watch something on TV.  Alas, we are being teased.   It cools down for a few days.  I gear up and the temperature jumps back to three digits. There isn't supposed to be three-digit weather in October.  It is supposed to be cool and crisp outside. I should be able to wear long sleeves.  It is hard to enjoy the season when you don't have one!

Mr. T and I tried to think "fall", we took a trip last week to the apple farms.  We came home with apples and I had visions of pie and applesauce and sauerkraut....I know, that is a weird combination....but apples go in each.  I bought pumpkins for the courtyard, too...guess I was thinking that if I have pumpkins, I will have cool weather...I am still waiting.

Pumpkins made me think of baking and so, that is what I am doing...hot or not...I am baking...bring on the air conditioning....

I recently came across a compilation of recipes from 2002...it had a section for fall which I read through a number of times.  The recipe for Pumpkin Molasses Tea Bread stood out as interesting if not odd.  I kept looking at it trying to envision molasses and pumpkin together.  Finally, I decided to give it a try.


I am not going to say that it is my favorite pumpkin bread recipe because it is not.  And, just as I thought, the molasses dominates.  It isn't a bad thing unless you really wanted to taste pumpkin.  It is a moist bread and one you can enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.  The nuts and the cranberries in the recipe are very nice....  I think you will have to be the judge....

Pumpkin Molasses Tea Bread
adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes, 2002

Yield:  1 nine-inch loaf pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature and slightly beaten
1 cup canned Pumpkin Purée. (not pie mix)
2 Tbsp apple juice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven:  350° F.
Butter and flour a 5 X 9 inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer bowl, using a paddle attachment, beat the molasses, sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and apple juice.  Set the mixer to slow and add the flour mixture, mix until combined.  Fold in the walnuts and the cranberries.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan,  The bread is done when the tester comes our clean, about one hour. Remove from the oven.  Let the bread rest for 10 minutes.  Turn the bread out on a wire rack to cool completely.

In the mixer, prepare the frosting by combining the cream cheese, powdered sugar and honey.  Beat until smooth and well combined.  Spread the frosting on the bread when it is completely cool.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Fall is my very favorite time of year.  I love the colors, the crisp air, and the relief I feel when the heat is gone...I love the foods that ripen in the fall...football games with sweaters and the chill in the air.  I have loved this season since I was a child. Maybe it is because my birthday is in the fall and I was always filled with the anticipation of being another year older.  That isn't the case right now....
I think I will stick with loving it for the other reasons!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cranberry Orange Yogurt Bread


You are right....I skipped over pumpkin and went directly to cranberries!  Not that I don't love pumpkin, but because I was trying to create space in the freezer and because I had been wanting to make an orange cranberry bread.  For me it is nostalgic.  I was sorting through the recipe box....yes, I still have one of those....and I came across a recipe in my aunt's handwriting.  Upon a second look, I saw that it was her Cranberry Nut Bread.  What memories...  I had considered using her recipe but I had also just gotten some Boyajian Pure Citrus Oils, as recommended by Susan Bradley at The Luna Cafe, and I wanted to try out the Orange Oil and her recipe.  I also had some yogurt in the frig that needed to become something....SO......an early dose of cranberries it is, along with Susan's recipe that I had been saving.

You might want to try the citrus oils....I used the Orange Oil in the bread.  It is much more intense than orange extract, a lot is not needed. But, talk about a flavor booster, this is it!!  The bread was delicious....moist with a great orange flavor...just what I was hoping for.

Along the way I learned to pay strict attention to the dimensions of the loaf pan.  I actually have three different sizes lurking in the cupboard and the one I selected was a little larger than the recommended.  I realized along the way that I would need to adjust the baking time...thank goodness I was paying attention.

Cranberry Orange Yogurt Bread
adapted from The Luna Cafe

Yield:  1 loaf
Preheat oven:  350° F., place rack in the middle

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt (fine)
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp Boyajian Pure Orange Oil (or 1 tsp orange extract)
2-3 Tbsp orange zest (about 1 large orange, finely grated)
1 cup fresh cranberries (cut each in half)
1 cup lightly toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

Grease a loaf pan (8½ x 4½ x 2½-inch  -  6-cup capacity) with butter and sprinkle a light layer of flour, tap out any excess flour.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the yogurt and orange in a small bowl and set aside.

Fit a paddle attachment to your mixer.  Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, 3-5 minutes.

Add the eggs, beating until incorporated.  Add the orange zest and orange oil.  Mix to incorporate.

Using the slowest speed, add the flour mixture alternating with the yogurt and orange juice mixture. (The last addition should be the flour mixture.)  Do not over mix.  Finish incorporating by folding in the ingredients by hand with a large spatula.

Gently fold in the cranberries and pecans until well combined.  (Over mixing will cause the bread to not be tender.)

Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan.  It should be no more than ¾ full.  Level the top of the bread with a spatula.  Bake for 55-65 minutes.  (Bread baked in a smaller pan will require less time.)  Susan recommends using a thin instant-read thermometer to check for doneness 180° F. as the usual wooden skewer will come out sticky at this temperature.

I used both methods.  As I mentioned my pan was a little larger so I was worrying it....my thermometer never reached 180° and the wooden skewer came out clean....so maybe worrying it is the key!  Maybe my thermometer has gotten "old"!

Allow the bread to rest for ten minutes once removed from the oven.  After ten minutes turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


We enjoyed a slice of bread with our coffee in the morning...it was really tasty.  I think it will find its way to Thanksgiving breakfast, too.

You will definitely want to visit Susan's blog.  Not only does she post some amazing recipes, she also posts great information.  For the fall you can find an apple primer as well as an apple cider primer. Whatever the season, The Luna Cafe is a great read!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Weekend Bites at Simple Living and Eating.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfaits


My daughter recently had a girls night get together and I was lucky enough to be invited!  She made these beautiful layered parfaits....just a bite...and just right!!  I mean, who doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate layered so sweetly in cordial glasses?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfait

Yields: 12-15 mini cordial parfaits

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers or chocolate wafers
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Homemade whipped cream or 1 small container whipped topping
Chocolate shavings, sprinkles or peanuts for garnish

Combine melted butter, honey and crushed wafers or graham crackers in a mixing bowl.  Fill each glass with one heaping  teaspoon of the mixture, tap down slightly, about 1/2" high.

Add a few chocolate chips and some peanuts on top of the crumb mixture.  Drizzle with chocolate syrup.

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth.  Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.  Mix until well blended.  Gently fold in the whipped cream or whipped topping.  Carefully pipe or spoon the mixture into the glasses.

Garnish with chocolate shavings, sprinkles or peanuts for garnish.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours to set.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Thank you Miss Lindsey! It was a fun evening with lots of tasty food.....I loved the sweets that you shared.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats




Having an abundance of zucchini is a good thing.   It is such a versatile vegetable that we never seem to tire of it....it readily becomes soup, a fritter, a muffin or a cake....but, today, it became a serving dish for a version of chicken enchiladas!

These little guys were really tasty...the spice mixture was perfect...dinner was filling!

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Yield:  8 boats 
Serve 1 to 2 boats per person

Preheat oven:  400° F.

Enchilada Sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2/3 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Zucchini Boats
4 medium zucchini
1-2 Tbsp oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 can chopped green chiles, drained
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 lb chicken breast, cooked, shredded (Or, use shredded rotisserie chicken)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Topping
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or a mixture of Mexican cheeses

Garnish
1 avocado peeled and sliced
Sour cream
Chopped cilantro

For the Sauce
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Set aside until ready to use.

Zucchini Boats
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While waiting, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh leaving a 1/4-inch thick edge.  Chop the zucchini flesh into small pieces and set aside.  Drop the zucchini boats into the boiling water and cook 1 minute.  Remove from the water.  Drain on paper towels.

In a sauté pan, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic and the chiles.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender.  Add the chopped zucchini flesh and cilantro, season with salt and pepper.  Add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, water and tomato paste.  Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add in the chicken and mix.  

Place 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of the baking dish and place in the zucchini halves cut side up.  Fill each hollowed boat with 1/3 cup chicken mixture,  Top each with about 2 tablespoons of sauce and 1-2 tablespoons of cheese.

Bake 35 minutes.

Garnish:  Sliced avocado and dollop of sour cream, sprinkle with chopped cilantro.



These are worthy of a repeat performance!  Great flavors!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm, as well as Weekend Bits at Simple Living and Eating.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Curried Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad is easily a popular spring and summer delight.  It is filling and doesn't take long to prepare...especially since I discovered the packages of rotisserie chicken chunks at Costco.  Being too hot for me to stand over the stove or to heat up the house by turning on the oven, this was a great find....speaking of finds, it is time to find a recipe for The Secret Recipe Club reveal day.

In preparing for this post I had to focus on something that did not involve an oven...that was not the easiest challenge.  Emily, at It Bakes Me Happy says she has a major sweet tooth.  She is a baker and lover of sweets...lots and lots of sweets.  I must say that Emily is one busy baker!  There were many sweet choices in her recipe archives...but alas, I have been trying hard to boycott sweets....so, I talked myself out of the Apple Crisp, the Apple Dutch Baby and the Buttermilk Biscuits!  No sweets!  No oven!

Instead, I focused on salads.  I spied a recipe for Curried Chicken Salad that looked perfect.  I thought that I might have everything in the pantry which meant no trip to the store...and that made it even better.  As the story goes I had to do some improvising as my pantry did not have golden raisins or pecans.  I had Craisins and slivered almonds.  I was also making more than Emily's recipe would make and serving it at dinner so I increased some ingredients and added a couple more ingredients such as pasta, celery and green onion.  It was quite tasty...and, as you know, I am a lover of curry, so curry always makes me happy.  Thank you, Emily, for allowing me to springboard from your recipe!


Curried Chicken Pasta Salad

Yield:  4-6 servings

2 cups cooked and diced chicken breast
2 ribs celery, diced
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Craisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 thin green onions, chopped, both white and green portions
6 oz dried pasta, cooked and drained

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp honey
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper, 3-4 twists

Garnish:  Additional chopped green onion or chopped cilantro.

Boil the pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside.  Allow to cool as you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a medium size bowl combine the diced chicken, celery, hard boiled egg, Craisins, slivered almonds, and green onions.  Add the pasta.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, honey, curry powder and salt.  Fold into the chicken mixture, stirring until evenly moistened.

Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed.

Serve as a sandwich, as a side dish or main course on a bed of lettuce, if desired.

Garnish:  Sprinkle with additional chopped green onion or chopped cilantro.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


This was not an over-powering salad as curry can sometimes be. The addition of the honey was a great idea. It smoothed the edge that curry can have and created a very pleasant salad.  We really enjoyed it!



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Baklava Cookies


Just reading the name of these cookies had me conjuring up visions of flaky layers interspersed with walnuts and honey...what could be more satisfying...and how could that become a cookie? I wasn't certain but the vision I had conjured up must certainly have a happy ending....

And, it did have a happy ending.  These cookies were easier to mix up than laying out layer after layer...and, we were not disappointed in the taste.   The cookies were soft and chewy....the drizzle of honey...mmmm....I had a bit of chopped walnuts left and sprinkled just a bit on top.  They were just right.

Baklava Cookies
adapted from The Good Stuff Cookbook

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Optional:  Finely ground walnuts to sprinkle on top.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, walnuts, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a the bowl of your mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Slowly mix in the flour and nut mixture.

Using your hands or a cookie scoop, form small, round balls of dough and place them on the parchment lined baking sheets.  Gently press down on the balls, to flatten each cookie slightly.

To make the glaze, heat the honey, butter, vanilla, lemon juice and cinnamon in a saucepan over low heat until the mixture is syrupy.  Set aside until ready to use.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Remove the cookies from the oven and drizzle the glaze over the cookies.   (Lightly sprinkle with finely ground walnuts if desired.)  Let the cookies stand on the sheets until cooled completely.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


While I have been boycotting sweets, I couldn't resist making these little guys....nor could I resist eating a few....

I am sharing today to Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Foodie Friday at Simple Living and Eating.