Monday, July 28, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

I had no idea how simple and delicious macaroons were.  New favourite quick dessert!  Anyone could make these!  And they look pretty impressive when you're through. Like a homemade Mounds bar.  (I was actually thinking of putting some chopped almond in the next batch so it was like an Almond Joy!)

Can't believe we haven't used any Pennywise on the blog yet.  Justin picked the song because I couldn't decide - "Society".  -jen


CHOCOLATE DIPPED MACAROONS
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Makes: 22-24
Need: parchment paper, egg beaters or stand mixer
  • 4 egg whites, room temp
  • 1 package (14 ounces) sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bitter sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a kitchen stand mixer or with egg beaters, whisk the four egg whites until stiff peaks form.

In a separate large bowl, combine coconut, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla.  Gently fold in egg whites.

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons (I actually used two scoops of a melon baller), drop about 3 tablespoons of the mixture 1" apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown.  Cool on a wire baking rack.

When macaroons are cooled, place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for 2 minutes at 50% power.  Stir.  Continue for 30 second intervals, stirring, until melted smooth.  Dip bottoms of macaroons into chocolate and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (If you want to go a little light on the chocolate, just drizzle over the tops with a spoon.)  Refrigerate until cool.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Roasted Beets with Skordalia



Skordalia: A garlic lover's wet dream.  I first had skordalia with my mother in a Greek restaurant when I lived in Chicago.  The garlic in this dish hit us like a roundhouse kick to the face!  It's a puree of potato, a massive amount of raw garlic and a bit of vinegar.  At the restaurant, they served it with cold beets (probably boiled).  The first time I made it, to introduce it to Justin, I opted for roasting the beets and that's how we've made it ever since. 

It's got a mean garlic bite and is not for the garlic-whimps.  This is the stuff of nightmares for all city transit commuters!  And it's awesome.

The serving options are pretty limitless - it's a dip, a spread, a puree, a sauce.  We put it on roasted veggies, we dip fresh veggies in it, we use it as a spread in sandwiches.  We've eaten it with beef, pork, chicken.  Traditionally it's served with fish.  Tonight I toasted some baguette, spread the skordalia on it, sliced some tomato and fresh mozzarella real thin and laid it on top of the skordalia, then drizzled a basil-lemon vinaigrette over it all.  'Bout the best thing I've ever had! 

I had The Queers' "Fuck This World" in my head the other day.  And we haven't thrown any Queers up on the blog yet.  -jen

 

ROASTED BEETS
Time:  40-45 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Serves:  3-4 servings
  • 4 cups beets (about 4 medium-sized beets),  peeled and diced into 1/2"-3/4" cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss diced beets with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (I always line mine with foil to save on clean-up).  Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes until edges start to brown, tossing halfway through baking time. 

SKORDALIA
Time:  20 minutes
I used some purple hard-neck garlic we got at the Farmers Market!
Difficulty:  Easy 
Makes:  2.5-3 cups
*requires a food processor - or try a blender or beaters at your own risk, I've only used the food processor!
  • 4 large baking potatoes (1.5-2 pounds), diced into 1" cubes
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
Place diced potatoes into a large stock pot.  Put enough cold water in the pan to just cover the potatoes.  Generously salt the water.  Over a medium-high heat, bring the water and potatoes to a boil - once the boil is reached, cook for 6-7 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain. 

Combine potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse together several times.  Then turn onto a medium speed and drizzle in 1/3 of the olive oil, then 1/2 of the vinegar.  Repeat and end with the last of the olive oil until combined.  Serve hot or cold. 


Friday, July 4, 2014

Banana Cream Pie Bars

Was just sitting around on this 4th of July, watching bad tv, pondering what we had in the kitchen.  Came across the four bananas that were getting close to being too ripe.  Thought about just doing some banana bread or banana muffins, but that seemed more "bready" than I felt like.  Last week, I'd found some pumpkin in the freezer from last fall when we'd roasted and pureed a few pumpkins.  I made a great, hearty crust with oats and nuts, so I figured... why not make some banana cream pie bars using the same crust?  I've never made banana cream pie before, though strangely, that's kind of how I met Justin - it was a topic of conversation.  Then when I was grabbing the vanilla extract, I caught the chocolate chips out of the corner of my eye and decided they'd go into it, too.

Been listening to music all day today.  Lots of Lagwagon, Strung Out, Swingin' Utters.  It was kind of hard to choose a song.  But one album I pulled out today was NOFX's "Punk In Drublic".  Total flashback to my angst filled freshman year in high school.  I remember specifically playing this cassette tape over and over on my boombox while playing Super Nintendo with my little brother.  So I chose "Leave It Alone."   -jen


BANANA CREAM PIE BARS
Time:  30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy/Medium (it seemed easy to me)
Makes:  12 bars

Crust
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons butter (3/4 of a stick), softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, etc) 
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Custard
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup water, room temp
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 large, ripe bananas, sliced thin
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and butter.  Beat until butter is cut into flour and crumbly.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.  Prepare a 13"x 9" (2 qt) baking dish by buttering or coating it with non-stick cooking spray.  Press mixture into the baking dish evenly, coming slightly up the sides (make sure to even out the corners so they're not real thick).  Bake crust at 375 degrees F for 17-20 minutes (until crust is golden brown).  Remove and set on a cooling rack.

While crust is baking, prepare custard by combining sugar, corn starch and salt in a medium sauce pan.  Whisk in cream and water.  Then whisk in egg yolks.  Cook over medium-high heat, continuing to whisk until sauce thickens and boils (about 6 minutes).  Remove from heat and then whisk in butter and vanilla.

Cover the cooled crust with a layer (2 to 2.5) of sliced bananas.  Scoop half of the custard evenly over the layered bananas, and carefully spread across them as evenly as possible.  Repeat a second layer of sliced bananas and custard.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour before serving.




Sunday, February 2, 2014

Enchilada Casserole

Enchiladas are one of our favourite dishes to make and it took us a few years of trial and error
with technique and ingredients before we got it right where we want it.  We really didn't think we could make it better...until a few weeks ago.  We had left over shredded pork that we'd made in the slow cooker, and I decided to go the "lazy" route and try an enchilada casserole.  I'd never had one, never made one, only heard of 'em.

Shockingly... we liked it better than our enchiladas.  Justin nailed it when he said it's like a lasagna.  The ratios were great.  We loved the way all the flavours came together.   And it took a lot less time to make than enchiladas because there wasn't the frying process or the rolling process.  Just layer up the dish and go.

For this round, we decided to try ground beef instead of the shredded pork.  I think we liked the shredded pork better, but the ground beef was still great (and we figured we'd go with it for the recipe because it seemed more accessible and quicker).  Shredded chicken would probably be bomb, too!  I think the corn and beans really make the dish - corn adds a nice crunch, beans add a great creaminess.  We made our salsa verde extra spicy, so we didn't add jalapeños to it, but they would also be great amongst the layers.  And since it heats up so well as a leftover, we made the recipe huge so we could have lunches to take to work for the next few days. 

We were thinking we hadn't pulled out much old punk in a while.  So Justin suggested some Suicidal Tendencies, and one he said he liked.  "Memories of Tomorrow".  -jen



ENCHILADA CASSEROLE
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  45 minutes
Poblano chiles
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  10-12 large portions

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano chile, diced
  • 2 packets taco seasoning
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 cups salsa verde (make your own quick and easy with CTDF's recipe here)
  • about 15 corn tortillas
  • 1 can (14oz) black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (14oz) corn, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 4 cups shredded cheese of your choice (go for 6 cups if you like it cheesy!)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add diced onion, diced chile and ground beef to pan.  Cook until vegetables are soft and meat is thoroughly cooked, stirring intermittently.  Drain grease from pan, add about 2 tablespoons of water and taco seasoning.  Cook until water has cooked off.  Set aside.

Coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with non-stick spray.  Spread a thin layer of salsa verde on the bottom of the dish.  Lay out two layers of corn tortillas over the salsa verde.  (I found I could get two whole tortillas in, and then broke up a 3rd one to fill in the holes for a single layer.)  Sprinkle half of the seasoned meat over the tortillas.  Add half of the beans and corn.  Spoon another thin layer of salsa verde on top.  Add half of the cilantro and one third of the shredded cheese.  Repeat another double layer of tortillas, followed by a repeat of meat, beans, corn, salsa verde, cilantro and cheese.   Finish with a single layer of tortillas.  Top tortillas with a thin layer of salsa verde and then add the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, uncovered.  Remove and let rest 5-10 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Banana Nut Granola

I had this craving for banana granola the other day and wasn't even sure if such a thing existed!  Well it does now!  Came out real tasty, not super sweet (we don't dig super sweet granola).  So much cheaper to make your own than to buy it, even when you can get it in the bulk bins, it's not this cheap.  I got all the oats, nuts, seeds and pumpkin chips out of the bulk bins at my local store and spent about $5 for the whole thing - it filled 3.5 quart-sized Mason jars.  Bueno!

The thing I like about making your own granola is that you can put whatever you want in it, really.  Whatever nuts you like.  Whatever seeds you like.  It's a good way to experiment with stuff you haven't tried before.  Coconut, puffed rice, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

We've used the Bouncing Souls a few times with our recipes, but I've been listening to a lot of their later albums the last few days and it's just what's in my head.  So I'm using them again.  "Gasoline".  -jen


BANANA NUT GRANOLA
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 10 cups
  • 6 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup banana chips 
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup flax seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • parchment paper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, banana chips, almonds, cashews, pecans, pepitas, flax seed, salt amd cinnamon.  Stir to combine. 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine bananas, brown sugar, maple syrup, vegetable oil and sesame oil.  Using a stick blender, puree mixture.  (If you don't have a stick blender, you can use a food processor, a stand mixer or a hand mixer.)

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until completely coated.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spread half of the oat mix onto each pan and bake for 30 minutes, stirring the granola every 10 minutes.  Granola should be golden brown.  Keep an eye on it, it can start burning quickly towards the end. 

Let granola cool and store in an airtight container.

Uses:  mix with yogurt, eat with milk or almond milk like cereal, put in cookies, stir into your waffle or pancake batter, sprinkle on ice cream.   


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mexican Four Bean Salad

We'd gotten all the ingredients for Mexican dinner tonight - taco and/or enchilada stuff, ingredients for fresh guacamole, fryin' up some corn tortillas for fresh chips.  But lunch time rolled around, we'd skipped breakfast, and I decided to make 3-bean salad for lunch.  Looking in the fridge, I was staring at all the tasty Mexican ingredients and decided to do a spin on my salad.  It rocked!  I think we're going to use some of it in our tacos or enchiladas tonight!  Way better than refried beans!

Just learned about this band and kind of digging their sound - think I'll check out more.  Latterman singing "We Work the Night Shift".  -jen


MEXICAN FOUR BEAN SALAD
Time:  15-20 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Serves:  4-6
  • 1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans
  • 1 can (15oz) white beans
  • 1 can (15oz) green beans
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon (4 dashes) green Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (about 4 medium sized) 
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1/2 a pepper)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives (or black if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño (fresh or canned)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
Combine all four cans of beans in a colander.  Rinse, then set aside to drain.

In a large mixing bowl, combine lime juice, vinegar, and mustard.  While whisking, slowly drizzle the olive oil in until combined.  Whisk in oregano, cumin, celery seed, Tabasco, salt and pepper.  Add the drained beans to the dressing.  Add green onions, bell pepper, olives, cilantro, jalapeño and garlic.  Toss to coat.  Serve at room temp.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Chai Oatmeal Cookies

My friend Jonathan was talking about how he'd been sprinkling some cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla into his coffee grounds.  It made me want to make up a chai spice for my own coffee.  When I made it, it smelled so amazing, I knew I wanted to make cookies with it (and if you haven't noticed, I'm not big into baking.)  Leaning towards a chai-spiced sugar cookie initially, I changed my mind when I saw my canister of oats.  These cookies came out so chewy and awesome.  Though there are 2 teaspoons of chai spice in it, the finished product is not overwhelmed by the spice.  In fact, if you really wanted a spiced cookie, I'd go with 3 teaspoons instead of the 2 in the recipe!

I have no specific reason for choosing this video except that I love the Street Dogs.  And this is their video for "Punk Rock & Roll".  -jen


CHAI OATMEAL COOKIES
Prep Time:  10 minutes plus 30 minutes to refrigerate
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 18 cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
  • 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons Chai Masala (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, egg and almond extract with an electric or stand mixer.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, Chai Masala, and salt.  Add dry mix into wet mix until combined.  Fold in oats, raisins and pecans.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scoop dough into rough balls about 1-1/2" diameter.  Lay 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 11-13 minutes.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

CHAI MASALA
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1/3 cup (15 teaspoons)

  • 4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground all spice
Whisk all ingredients together.  Store in air-tight container.  I'm still discovering the uses for it, but it smells amazing!  I've put it in my coffee grounds pre-brewing.  The oatmeal cookies were great!  I've sprinkled some in a milkshake.  We have a ton of apples and I'm thinking about using it to make a spicy chai apple crumble.