Friday, August 19, 2016

Warm Chorizo and Cabbage Salad

I was at the laundromat with Justin when I came up with this idea.  I'm not sure where it came from... I knew we had a pound of chorizo in the freezer and I think I was just trying to come up with some sort of "different" salad idea.

It came out really tasty!  I'd describe it as a Mexican-style mushu... or a warm slaw?  One of Justin's coworkers had gifted us with a huge zucchini, so I just scooped that out (I actually sauteed the scooped zucchini filling with my onion and poblano), rubbed some olive oil on the inside and outside, seasoned with salt and pepper and baked in a preheated 425 oven for about 17 minutes, until tender.  Then stuffed it with the chorizo and cabbage salad.  Very good!  But the next day, I just ate it in a bowl by itself like a salad.

I don't think we've used any Good Riddance with our recipes yet - "There's No 'I' In Team".  -jen


WARM CHORIZO AND CABBAGE SALAD
Time:  about 30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:   about 8 cups
  • 1/2 pound chorizo sausage (the meaty kind, not the melty kind)
  • 3/4 cup onion, julienned
  • 1/2 cup poblano pepper, julienned
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cup Restaurant Style Salsa
  • 3 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 8oz (half a 14oz can) corn, drained
  • 8oz (half a 14oz can) garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, brown chorizo until cooked through.  Remove with a slotted spoon, place in a large bowl and set aside.  Using 2 tablespoons of the sausage grease, saute onion, poblano and oregano until softened and onion is translucent.  Remove with slotted spoon and set aside in same bowl as sausage.
Delicious brown bits!

While pan is still hot, add white wine and salsa, scraping up the browned bits from the pan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-7 minutes, until reduced to half.  Add cabbage, carrots, corn and beans, stirring to coat with sauce.  Cook for just a few minutes so that cabbage is still crunchy and not cooked all the way through.  Toss with cilantro and green onion.  Add a little salt and pepper if necessary.

Can be served as just a salad.  Can be put into zucchini boats (I halved my large zucchini, scooped it out, salt, pepper and olive oil on inside and baked for 15-20 minutes at 425 on a greased cookie sheet until tender), then stuffed with cabbage salad.  Could be rolled into a burrito, served as a taco, rolled in an egg roll wrapper and fried.  Served with rice or pasta.  Whatever!


Friday, August 5, 2016

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Zucchini Cake

We didn't have a garden this year, but Justin was gifted a bunch of zucchini from a coworker.  It just so happens that we'd seen Lidia Bastianich's show "Lidia's Kitchen" a few days before this where she'd made a chocolate zucchini cake.  I was just going to follow her recipe, but when I went looking for it online, it was nowhere to be found.  I assume it was because it was a recent episode and they want you to buy the cookbook.  I found a few other recipes online but they called for ingredients I didn't have so... I decided to come up with my own recipe.

I used to like to say I'm not much of a baker, but I guess our blog would actually prove me wrong.  I've been doing more and more baking and have become fairly adept at it.  Still, it's not like cooking where you can just add random ingredients here and there.  My problem is that I still try to do that with my baking and so it doesn't always come out stellar and I don't always have a recipe to post.  This recipe, however, came out great!  Woohoo!  It's moist, but light.  Somewhere in between cake and brownies.  

Let's listen to The Interrupters "On A Turntable"  -jen


CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER ZUCCHINI CAKE
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  50 minutes

Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  18-24
  • 2 + 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 + 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temp
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 1 large or 2 medium)
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan. 

In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In another large mixing bowl, using a stand mixer or electric beater, beat sugar, butter and oil until smooth.  Add eggs 1 at a time and vanilla and beat until combined.  Alternately add 1 cup of dry ingredients with half of the almond milk, and repeat until mixed, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix in grated zucchini and fold in chocolate chips.  Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish.

In a small dish, microwave peanut butter for about 30 seconds, until smooth and melted.  Spread about 5 thin rows of peanut butter across the top of the batter running them short-wise.  Using a butter knife, drag 4 rows lightly through the peanut butter going long-wise, first in one direction, then the next, to create a pretty design.  (Or just swirl, it doesn't matter!)

Bake at 325 F for about 50 minutes.  Test the center by inserting a clean knife.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.  Cool on a wire rack.  Slice into 18 large slices or 24 small slices.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Zuppa Bianca (Itlian White Soup)

From what I've read, traditionally a zuppa bianca is creamy from the white beans in it, often part of them being blended to thicken the soup.  I didn't want to use that many beans in mine, so I thought I'd try my own spin on the soup and it came out fantastic!
I started with homemade stock that Justin had made the day before.

I'll remind you again - SAVE ALL YOUR VEGGIE ENDS AND BONES!  Every time we cut off broccoli stems, carrot ends, onion ends, herb stems, and leftover bones we throw them into a Ziplock bag and stick 'em in the freezer.  Sooner or later you've got a full bag and you can put it all in a stock pot, add water, and make your own stock!  It's so easy, you're using every bit of the vegetable, and it's worth it to make homemade stock!

I also wanted to add anchovy, pepper, fennel and mushrooms to my zuppa bianca... also not traditional as far as I can tell, but man, they were a killer, tasty addition!  Served it up with some crusty bread and that was all you needed!  It might have been good with a little fresh Parmesan grated onto it, but we didn't have any.

This recipe makes a huge batch... you could probably half the recipe and it'd be fine, but being that I made it in a huge batch, that's the quantities I'm throwing at you.  I say make a huge batch and you can freeze the leftovers to pull out later when you don't feel like cooking.  That's what we do.

I love punk rock.  But there's a lot of old music that I really love too - I think I can sing more songs from the 60s than most people who lived through the 60s... though drugs might have something to do with that for a lot of folks.  So when punk bands cover songs from the 60s, it's no surprise that I usually love them.  (I never even stood a chance with the Gimmes.)  So let's listen to the Adolescents covering Eric Burdon and The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun"... the only song I was ever able to play on the organ, but probably can't now.  Plus... how many punk songs can you name with a harmonica solo?  -jen


ZUPPA BIANCA
Time:  about 1 hour
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes: 
  • 1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 anchovies packed in oil
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 2 large stalks)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium
  • 1 cup diced fennel bulb (about 1 medium), reserve 1/4 cup of the fronds, chopped
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper (about 1 large)
  • 2.5 cups diced onions (about 1 large)
  • 3 cups diced crimini mushrooms
  • 1.5 tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 medium cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus extra
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 cups 1/2" cubed potatoes (about 1 large potato), skin on
  • 1 can (14oz) white beans, reserve liquid
  • 3 cups chopped kale (remember to remove stems)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • lemon wedges
In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, brown the Italian sausage.  Remove sausage and set aside.  Leave 2 tablespoons of the sausage fat in the pot, discard the rest.  (That was all I actually got out of my sausage, but some sausage is fattier than others.)  Add olive oil and the anchovies to the sausage fat in the pot and cook 1 minute.  Add celery, carrots, fennel bulb, bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, white pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring intermittently, until vegetables begin to soften and onions are just turning translucent.  Add white wine and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken stock, potatoes and the liquid from the beans (don't add the beans yet).  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-12 minutes (fish one out and test it).  Once potatoes are tender, add cooked sausage, beans, kale, heavy cream, basil, parley and the reserved chopped fennel fronds.  Taste the soup and add salt or pepper if necessary.  Serve each bowl with a wedge of lemon to squeeze onto the soup.



Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bruschetta


I had a craving for bruschetta, so we grabbed the ingredients to make it today.  Really... basil, garlic and tomatoes are one of my most favourite flavour combos!  They're so perfect together.  I didn't realize we didn't have a recipe for bruschetta posted!  You don't really need a recipe for bruschetta, you can make it any way you please.  But if you need a base recipe, this is a great one.  It's how I make it!

Fast and easy and a great way to use up tomatoes if you're one of those lucky people with a garden!  Or if you've been gifted with a bagful from a friend that's lucky enough to have a garden.

I don't think we've had any Ten Foot Pole with our recipes.  You might have known them in their previous incarnation of Scared Straight.  We're getting our rock on with their "Final Hours".  -jen


BRUSCHETTA
Time:  15 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 12
  • 1.5 pounds of tomatoes (about 4)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (about 1/4 onion)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 1/4 cup julienned basil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 cranks of fresh ground blacked pepper
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • fresh mozzarella sliced thinly
  • 1 baguette loaf
Julienned basil
Cut tomatoes into quarters and using your thumb, scoop out the seeds and juice.  (You can save this for a different recipe later or discard.)  Small dice remaining tomato meat.  In a mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Toss and set aside.

Turn your oven onto broil.  Slice baguette on the bias to make large ovals.  Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Toast one side under the broiler until golden brown, watching closely (it only takes 1-2 minutes to brown).  Flip and toast the second side until browned and remove.  Top toast with a slice of mozzarella and the tomato salad and serve.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cranberry Cheese Squares

I've had a huge bag of cranberries in my freezer since Christmas (and it's April), so I decided it was about time I used them in something.  I'd considered doing cranberry cheesecake, but decided to cross cheesecake with bars instead.  (I like bars!)  They came out so good, that I made another batch with the remaining cranberries to send with Justin to work so he could share (and double-checking my recipe writing!)

The topping and crust is a little salty, the cream cheese filling is lemony and the cranberry sauce is tart with a cinnamon and vanilla warmth.  All three layers just seem to compliment each other so nicely, I was way pleased with this recipe!  It's a little time consuming but I've made them twice now and they're really not that hard - you just have to dedicate some time to them.

Justin was feeling like something early from The Offspring.  "Jennifer Lost The War" from their 1989 self titled album.  This was actually the first time I've heard this song, I think.  -jen



CRANBERRY CHEESE SQUARES
Prep Time:  45 minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes
Cooling Time:  minimum 2 hours
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes:  20 bars

Cranberry Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
 Crust:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats (also known as old fashioned oats)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
 Cheese Filling:
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

Make the cranberry sauce first by bringing water, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt to a boil in a large sauce pan.  Add cranberries and bring back to a boil, then lower to a steady simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring intermittently - cranberries will pop and begin to break down.  (Careful not to let it boil over!)  Remove from heat and refrigerate to cool while you continue with the other steps.  

Grease a 13"x 9" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, butter or coconut oil.  Set aside.

For the crust, combine the flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.  Stir in melted butter and coconut oil until combined and all flour is absorbed.  Mixture should be slightly clumpy but break up easily.  Set aside 1.5 cups for topping but spread the remaining mixture into your prepared baking dish, pressing it evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.  Set aside.

While crust is baking and sauce is cooling, make the cheese filling.  Using a hand mixer or the whipping attachment on your stand mixer, whip the softened cream cheese on high for 2-3 minutes until very smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly on high until smooth (remember to scrape the bottom).

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over your baked crust.  Stir in corn starch to cooled cranberry sauce, then gently dollop  over the top of the filling and gently spread it evenly with the back of a spoon, trying not to mix it into the cheese filling.  Sprinkle the remaining flour and oat mixture evenly over the top.  Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.  Let cool completely before serving.  I like to refrigerate them overnight.



Friday, April 8, 2016

Buttermilk Corn Bread Waffles

I'd been thinking about corn bread several times over the last few weeks, but hadn't really had anything lined up in the menu that sounded good with corn bread.  But when Justin took all of the Southern Style Buttermilk Biscuits to work with him this morning, it didn't leave us with anything to eat with our leftover chicken pot pie filling.   My first instinct was to just bake some corn bread, but as I was whipping up a batter, I decided some crispy waffles sounded way better.

VERY COOL NOTE:  I actually learned something cool and healthy as I was making these - you can use ground up flax seeds mixed with water to substitute eggs!  My recipe requires 2 eggs and of course, midway through making the recipe with all my dry ingredients mixed, I realized I only had 1 egg in the fridge.  I figured I could use a little extra butter to kind of substitute it, and after Googling, that is an option, but another option I found sounded way cooler.  1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water substitutes 1 egg... thank you very much, vegans!  It's probably not a good substitute for most people because I imagine most people don't keep flax seeds on hand.  We, however, often have some in our freezer for making granola.
(This site I found has a list of 5 Egg Substitutes - great resource!)

I also recognize that most people don't keep buttermilk in their fridge like we do.  You could make this recipe with whole milk, but you have to do a little more adjusting than just that.  Do not use baking soda, but instead add 2 additional teaspoons of baking powder for a total of 3 teaspoons.  Buttermilk has a higher acid content and needs the baking soda in baking applications.  It's science... you heard?

I'm listening to Lagwagon's "Razor Burn" as I am typing this sentence, so that's the rock I'm going with.  -jen



BUTTERMILK CORN BREAD WAFFLES
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  25-30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  5-6 waffles
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (2 tbsp if you like your corn bread less sweet)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (or 2 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 6 tbsp water)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (or melted coconut oil)
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda and salt.

In a small mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs and melted butter.  Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients all at once.  Mix just until all dry ingredients are combined.  Spoon into waffle maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.  (Mine cooked in 5 minutes.)

Note:  If you wanted to just bake corn bread using this recipe, just grease a square (9"x9") baking dish, pour in batter and bake in an oven preheated to 400 F for 15-20 minutes.

Served with chicken pot pie filling

Restaurant Style Salsa

I've been making this salsa over and over and over again the last few weeks.  We've just been plowing through it. 
Ridiculously fast to make if you need something for guests or a party or late night munchies, which is generally our case.  I'm having a hard time deciding if I like this salsa more?  Or pico de gallo more?  I think I must like them equally for different reasons.

I'm not sure why I didn't take better pictures of any of the batches I made.  All I did was take a quick pick in a plastic storage container.  We fancy.  Next batch (which won't be long) I'll try for some better pics.

Here's a band from my home state, Illinois - Blue Meanies with "The Infidelity Song".  -jen

 

RESTAURANT STYLE SALSA
Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  4 cups
Need:  Food processor or blender
  • 2 cans (14oz each) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 onion, rough chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, rough chopped*
  • 5 medium-sized garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime (about 1-1.5 tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
*For a medium spicy salsa, leave seeds in.  For a mild salsa, remove seeds.  For a hot salsa, add a second jalapeño.

No Cook Version:  Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until desired consistency.

Cooked Version:  I prefer to actually cook the canned tomatoes in a sauce pan over a medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes, then let them cool about 10 minutes before placing in a food processor or blender with all the other ingredients and pulsing until desired consistency.  Cooking them takes away some of the "tinny" taste from the can.  I've made it both ways and they're both good!  This is just my preference.