Monday, July 3, 2017

Granola, 2017 Style

Every few years, I switch up my granola recipe.  It felt like it was time this summer.  Lucky for me, I stumbled upon a cookbook at the library which had my latest and greatest granola recipe.

The Latest and Greatest Granola, circa 2017
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas

3 1/2 c rolled oats (not quick)
1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 c chopped hazelnuts (that have been toasted and skinned)
1/4 c sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds
1/4 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c canola or olive oil
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c dried fruit (possibly a combo of 1 c dried, diced apricots and 1/2 c dried cherries), optional

1 egg white, beaten until frothy

Combine everything but the egg white in a large bowl, tossing with a rubber scraper until everything is coated.  Pour the egg white over top and stir.

Spread granola evenly on a half sheet pan.  Bake in a preheated 300 degrees oven for 50 - 60 minutes, or until granola is deep golden brown.  Gently flip (stir) granola every 15 - 20 minutes, being careful not to break up large chunks.

Allow to cool completely on pan.  Stir in dried fruit if desired.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Brown Butter Blondies with Pecans

For the longest time, I didn't think I like blondies.  For one, there was no chocolate in them.  What was the point?  Secondly, they always seemed a little bland and tasteless or else so sickly sweet I couldn't stand to eat them.

As is so often the case, I've learned a killer recipe can turn that all around.  This one converted me.  The browned butter adds a nutty flavor in addition to the pecans. These are crazy sweet and crazy rich from all the butter, but make a decadent, occasional treat.

These make a 9x13" pan and keep wonderfully well on the counter.

Brown Butter Blondies with Pecans
from Bon Appetit

1/2 c unsalted butter
1 large egg
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 t kosher salt
1/3 c flour

1 1/2 c pecans, coarsely chopped
2 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
1 c butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract

Cook 1/2 c butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns.  If you listen closely, you can the moment when the butter is browning (the fast sizzling stops and the butter quiets down a bit).  Transfer butter to a medium bowl and let cool for a few minutes.  Add 1 egg, 3/4 c brown sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until mixture is light and falls back on itself in a slowly dissolving ribbon (in short, beat until the mixture "makes a ribbon").  This will take about 3 minutes depending on your mixer.  Fold in flour.  Set aside

Toast pecans in a preheated 350 degree for 8 - 10 minutes, until fragrant (above, you could tell when the butter was done by the sound, here you want to smell when the pecans are done.  After 8 minutes, open the oven door and sniff.  If the pecans are done a nice pecan smell will greet you.  If you wait until you can smell the pecans without opening the door, you will have burnt pecans).  Let cool.

Whisk together baking powder, salt and 2 1/4 c flour in a medium bowl.  In a large, beat together 1 c butter and 1 3/4 c brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes depending on your mixer.  Add eggs and beat until pale and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Mix in vanilla.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture.  Fold in half of pecans.

Scrape 2/3 thirds of the batter (not the browned butter mixture) into a buttered and floured (alternately, you can line the pan with parchment paper) 9 x 13" pan.  Smooth top and push batter to the edges.  Alternating, dollop browned butter mixture and remaining batter on top.  Smooth and sprinkle the remaining pecans over all of it.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes in a preheated 350 degrees oven.  The blondie should be golden brown and firm, a tester WILL NOT come out clean (if it does, you have seriously overbaked your blondies).  Let cool before slicing.

For the ultimate experience, serve with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Queso Fundido Burgers

Yum.  The youngest two found these a little spices, but they liked them enough to eat them anyways. It seems strange to cook the chorizo before adding it to the burger, but it helps get rid of some of the fat in the chorizo.

Serves 5 -6, depending on the size of your burger

Queso Fundido Burgers
adapted from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

2 fresh poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and cut into 1/4" strips (optional-I left these out so the burgers wouldn't be too spicy)

8- 12 oz Mexican chorizo, casing removed
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4" thick
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 canned chipotle in adobo, seeded and finely chopped

jalapeno jack cheese, if desired
hamburger buns
lettuce or mixed greens

Cook the chorizo in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain on paper towels.  Remove excess fat from the pan.  Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 T olive oil and add the onions.  Cook the onions over medium heat until they are nicely caramelized.  This took me about 20 minutes to get a nice, tender, browned onion.  If using the poblanos, stir them in with onions once the onions are caramelized. Sprinkle with salt to taste, remove from heat, and keep warm.

Combine the cooked chorizo, ground beef, and canned chipotle in adobo in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly (but don't overly mix and compact the mixture too much).  Divide into 5 or 6 burgers, depending on the number and size of burgers desired.

Grill the hamburger over a hot charcoal or gas grill.  If using cheese, add cheese once burger is cooked and cook until cheese has melted.  Heat buns on grill, if desired.

Assemble burgers as desired--I like them with cheese, caramelized onions (and poblanos), guacamole, and lettuce or mixed greens.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rice Cooker Beans and Rice

My library books are due back in two days and there are several recipes I need to save before then.

I haven't used my rice cooker for much besides rice, however, I've heard they are great for all sorts of other cooking as well.  This is my first attempt at something in addition to rice in my rice cooker.

We loved this.  Curtis and I especially loved the addition of plantains and bacon to give it a little extra oomph.

Serves 6

Rice Cooker Black Beans and Rice
adapted from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

1 1/2 c rice
1/4 c onion, chopped or 2 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/4"pieces
chicken broth or water
2 T olive oil
1 large black-ripe plantain, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 oz shredded meat from smoked pork shanks/hocks, or cubed ham, or bacon, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, drained
1/4 c cilantro leaves, chopped

Put rice and chopped onions in rice cooker.  Cover rice with usual amount of chicken broth (water) for the rice cooker.  Pour in two cans of drained black beans and turn on rice cooker.  Taste broth and season with salt as desired.  Turn on rice cooker to regular and cook.

While the rice cooks, heat the olive oil in a pan over med to med-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the chopped plantain and cook, until it is browned on all sides.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the bacon (if using) until crispy.  If using other meat, you don't need to do anything to it.

When the rice is done cooking, add the browned plantains and meat.  Fluff to combine and heat for 5-15 minutes.

When ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and top with salsa or queso fresco as desired.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Skirt Steak Salad

When we were in Chicago, I took something off my bucket list.  After years of watching Mexico! One plate at a Time on PBS for many years, I made it to Rick Bayless's restaurant.  Twice.  The first meal we ate in the city was at Frontera.  The last meal we ate was also at Frontera in the Chicago airport.  When we got home, I immediately bought a Rick Bayless cookbook.

A lot of the recipes in the book are "typical" Mexican dishes--enchiladas, tortas, tacos.  I enjoyed this one because it is a salad recipe.

Serves 4 - 6

Skirt Steak Salad
adapted from Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless

8 c spinach (young or small), long stems removed (or 8 oz frisbee or escarole, cut into 2-inch sections)
2 medium large (1 lb) tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 plus 2 T olive oil
1 lb skirt steak

2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c beef broth or water
1 canned chipotle en adobo, finely chopped
1/4 c lime juice

1/3 c queso anejo, grated (or another hard cheese like Romano or Parmesan)

Put the spinach in a large bowl. Strew the tomatoes and avocados over top.  Heat 2 T olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium high heat.  Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper.  Lay in the hot oil and cook until medium-rare (or you can cook longer if you don't like meat medium-rare), about 1 to 1 1/2 on each side.

Reduce the heat to low.  Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds, until very fragrant.  Pour the broth (or water--which is what I used) in to the pan and release any browned bits.  Remove from heat and stir in the chile, lime juice, and 1/4 c olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the steak into roughly 3-inch lengths, then cut each piece across the grain into 1/4-inch strips.  Add to the bowl with the spinach.  Pour warm dressing over the top and toss to coat.  The warm dressing will help the spinach wilt a little  Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Food Cart Curry Chicken

Another wonderful, family favorite from Ruth Reichl.  This jumped immediately into our rotation as a flavorful, fast easy weeknight meal.

Serves 6

Food Cart Curry Chicken
adapted from Ruth Riechl's My Kitchen Year

1 1 /2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, sliced into rings
1/4 c olive oil
2 T lemon juice
fat 1/4 t coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T curry powder
2 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1/2 t dried), leaves removed and coarsely chopped
fat 1/4 t paprika
3/4 t cumin
1 t salt

white rice
mango pickapeppa sauce

Using an immersion blender or small food processor, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, coriander seeds, garlic, curry powder, oregano, paprika, cumin and salt to make a paste.

Put the onions and chicken pieces into a large bowl or plastic bag.  Pour the curry paste over top and coat each piece of chicken thoroughly.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight (true confession time--sometimes, this only marinades for 15 minutes, it's still great).

When you are ready to eat, heat up a wok and add 2 T vegetable, grapeseed, canola, or sunflower oil.  Add the onions and garlic to the hot wok and stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over white rice with some spicy sauce if desired (my favorite is the Mango Pickapeppa Sauce--however, that is not Curtis's favorite).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Pork Tinga Tacos

Once upon a time, I made crockpot meals.  I'd put things in at noon, do kid driving/practices and end up with a tasty dinner when we all made it home.  These days, that is just a fairy tale-at least when I need make ahead meals most.  I've had challenges getting things in the crock pot before school (partly because I am too exhausted the night before) and 7 am to 4 pm is too long to leave most anything in the crockpot (at least my crockpot who's low temp works more like a high temp).

This summer though, I've made an amazing discovery.  Getting a meat dish in the crock pot in the mornings before we go to swim meets means when we return, our house is fragrant and I have supper ready.  I usually let the meal cool a bit, then put it in the fridge until supper time (reheating it right before eating).  Perfection.

It's been the summer of the taco.  We're eating tacos about once a week, mostly because they're easy, I found mixta (a mixture of corn and flour) tortillas we love, and everyone loves tacos.  It's a fix your own meal kinda meal so if I am wanting more veggies, I load more cabbage salad on mine.  The boys can skip the cabbage salad entirely and just have meat and cheese.  

This serves 6 - 8

Pork Tinga Tacos 
adapted from Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless

1 lb potatoes (red or yellow--not Russet baking potatoes), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 lbs boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 -2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and thinly sliced
1 T chipotle canning sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t died oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick

tortillas (corn, mixta, flour--your preference, but corn is best)
queso fresco, crumbled
avocados, flesh cut into 1/2-inch pieces (avoid pit and skin)
guacamole (unnecessary if you're using avocados)

Spread the potatoes over the bottom of the slow cooker.  Cover with pork.  In a large bowl (or if you're lazy, just dump everything straight into the slow cooker), combine tomatoes, chipotles and chipotle sauce, Worcestershire, oregano, garlic, onion and 1 1/2 t salt.  Pour the mixture evenly over the meat and potatoes.  Cover and slow-cook on low for 6 hours (Know they slow cooker!  The original recipe said cook on high, but I know high for 6 hours would ruin my meat).  Taste and add more salt if necessary.

To serve, put a spoonful of pork and potatoes in the center of a heated tortilla.  Top with queso fresco, avocado chunks, salsa, guacamole or whatever else you desire.