Monday, August 31, 2015

Kale Chips

The kale in the greenhouse has gotten massive! I had Justin bring me some tonight to make kale chips.  The kale bakes up so light and flaky/crunchy.  I can eat ridiculous amounts of these.  Super easy.  Super healthy.  Super cheap.  Pretty much, they're super.


Which made me think of Goldfinger's "Superman".  -jen


KALE CHIPS
Time:  20 minutes
Difficulty:  Way Easy
Makes:  however much kale you want to use
  • one large bunch of kale
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • grated Parmesan, optional
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Remove kale leaves from stems and discard stems (or save in the freezer for soup stock!)  Tear larger leaves into big bite-size pieces.  Fill a Ziplock bag full of leaves.  Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil so that all the leaves are lightly coated (may need 3 tbsp if you really filled the bag).  Place in single layer on two baking sheets.  Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper over the top.  Bake for 17 minutes.

I like to sprinkle a little grated Parmesan or Asiago over the kale chips immediately after removing them from the oven. 


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Basil Hollandaise Sauce

Justin and I aren't really breakfast eaters, but sometimes one of us will crave it, and then we'll go out somewhere and over pay for eggs and toast and poor service.  This morning, I really wanted breakfast, and we almost went out for it, but in the end, I was like, "Screw that!  I'll make us some eggs Benedict!"  Topped 'em with Asiago cheese.

I've heard trained chefs scoff at hollandaise made in the blender... but we've done it the traditional way plenty of times, and we both agree that in the blender is just as tasty and super easy.  My Benedicts were definitely not traditional.  I used some pastrami that we had and decided that I wanted to use up the egg whites, so I scrambled them with a few whole eggs and basil (instead of the traditional poached eggs).  So I decided to go with some basil hollandaise too, and it was great!

No idea why I was singing this in the kitchen this morning while making these, but I had a broken record in my head with this lyric, "...it's already better than last time I ruined another girl's life..."  Lagwagon's "Dinner And A Movie".  -jen



BLENDER BASIL HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
Time: 3 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes: about 3/4 cup
  • 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons
  • 1 small garlic clove (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  • dash of Sriracha 
  • 3-4 large basil leaves 
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a microwave safe container that you can pour easily out of (I use my glass measuring cup because it has a pour spout), melt butter for 30 seconds, then 15 additional seconds at a time as needed, until entirely melted.

In a blender combine egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, garlic and Sriracha.  Roughly tear up basil leaves and add them.  Begin blending on lowest speed.  While blending, slowly drizzle in melted butter then blend for 5 seconds more.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  (If you use salted butter, you may not need to add additional salt.)

Tip:  Wondering what to do with those egg whites?  I add 2 whole eggs to them and scramble it up with some more torn up basil, which makes enough for 2-4 folks (depending on how much you can eat at breakfast, I guess!  It makes enough to top 4 English muffin halves.)

Pastrami and basil scrambled eggs with basil hollandaise sauce on English muffins topped with Asiago cheese.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Southern Style Biscuits

When I moved to Northern California ten years ago, I noticed the biscuits here were different than what I'd grown up with in the midwest (which were southern style biscuits).  Here in NorCal, they make what I think of as "lumberjack" biscuits - they're dense and heavy, a little crumbly like cake.  Biscuits and gravy used to be one of my favourite things to order for breakfast, but I had to quit ordering it out here because I just couldn't dig on the cakey biscuits. 

So... like everything else I'm dissatisfied with, I decided to make my own.  It took a couple of tries... but these are the perfect biscuit!  Better than most I've had in the midwest or south (someone's southern grandma is going to skin my hide for saying that).  Fluffy, flaky, buttery layers.  They're awesome.  Justin's been making them on a pretty regular basis... they're not difficult and they don't take much time at all.  The last couple of nights, we've been eating them as maple-sausage egg sandwiches, topped with our neighbour's homemade apple-jalepeƱo jelly.  (The neighbour guy gave us a bunch of canned jellies and jams when I took him and his dad some coconut-banana marshmallow squares!  Awesome neighbour bartering!)

I asked Justin what song we should use for this recipe... he said some Op Ivy sounded good to him.  I love "Unity", but I can't hear it without thinking of Dave Chappelle and the Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories with Rick James.... "UNITYYY!"  -jen


SOUTHERN STYLE BISCUITS
Time:  about 30 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes:  9 large biscuits
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional - we like them a little peppery)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cubed and cold + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and black pepper.  Cut butter into flour until pea-size (you can use a dough cutter or just work it in with your fingers, but you don't want to handle the butter too much so that it softens).  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add milk.  Stir or mix with your hands just until the dough comes together.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Dust the top of the dough.  Fold dough over onto itself 3-5 times - this is what creates flaky layers.  Press out into 3/4"-1" square.  Cut evenly into 9 pieces.  Place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush over the tops.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 12-17 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown and done in the center. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cheesy Cauliflower and Broccoli Casserole

I have another similar recipe on the blog, the Cheesy Cauliflower Bake.  In that one I steamed the cauliflower in large chunks on the stove.  Lately, I've been enjoying "riced" cauliflower with the food processor, then cooked in the microwave, so that's what I did this time.  And broccoli, of course.  Just a few little differences.  We both really liked this recipe though.  Had it tonight with pork medallions and I did up a pan gravy with the drippings.  Delicious!

Have had Hot Water Music's "Wayfarer" in my head.  -jen



CHEESY CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE
Special Equipment:  Food Processor
Prep Time:  25 minutes
Cook Time:  25-30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  6-8 servings
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 crown of broccoli (2-3 cups, roughly chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tbsp Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups cheddar or cojack, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, diced (about 3 medium)
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used my KFCseasoning, a little Mrs. Dash and some white pepper)
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, F.  Prepare a 2-quart 8"x8" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Add cauliflower and broccoli to food processor.  Pulse until vegetables are about the size of rice.  Place in a microwave safe glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for 10 minutes (bowl will be hot!!)  Let sit for 5 minutes with plastic wrap on.

Return cooked vegetables to the food processor and add butter, cream cheese, and yogurt/sour cream.  Process on high until smooth and creamy.  Return to glass bowl and stir in shredded cheese, green onions, Worcestershire, and Sriracha.  Now is the time to add your salt and pepper while you can still taste it and adjust.  Then stir in the egg.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish, making sure mixture is level.  Sprinkle Parmesan over the top and bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.  Top should be golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Cheesy Cauliflower and Broccoli Casserole with pork medallions and gravy

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cranberry Pecan Marshmallow Treats

Sometimes you just need something a little sweet.

I went with some of my favourite folk punk - Defiance, Ohio doing "Condition 11:11".  When I see the clock say that time, all I can sing in my head is, "At 11:11 every night I make wishes..."  And I see the clock say 11:11 a lot.  -jen


CRANBERRY PECAN MARSHMALLOW TREATS
Time:  10 minutes 
Difficulty:  Super Easy
Makes:  9-16, depending on how big you cut 'em
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus a little extra
  • 6 cups plain corn flakes*
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
Lightly butter a 2-quart (8"x8") baking dish with the extra butter.

In a large bowl, combine corn flakes, cranberries and pecans.  Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted and combined.

Pour over corn flake mix and mix well.  (Do this part quickly!)

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and using a spatula or your hand, press mixture firmly into pan.

Let cool.  Cut and serve.  You can place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to help speed up the cooling process.

For storage, I like to wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then put them all in a ziplock.  Keeps the from getting stale.

*I used a name brand that comes with little honey and oat granola clusters, the kind you love "bunches"... but being pre-sweetened, it made the squares a little on the uber sweet side.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Cheesy, Creamy Cauliflower Soup


When we go grocery shopping, we always go with a budget and a list which means we generally have the week's meals planned out.  Sometimes, things that weren't on the list sneak into the cart.  This time I grabbed a cauliflower with no ideas for it... if nothing else, I knew it'd get thrown into the roasted veggie mixes (we eat baked chicken and roasted veggies once or twice a week for dinner).

I don't know why, but I decided I wanted cream soup, and I've never actually made a cauliflower soup, so it seemed like the thing to do.  The cheese was a last minute idea since I remembered we had them in the fridge, and I'm glad I did!  This soup came out great... I really liked it.

I can't even tell you why, but I've had Billy Joel running through my brain... which then, instantly makes me think of the Gimmes.  So Me First and the Gimme Gimmes doing "Only The Good Die Young" (because they didn't eat their cauliflower).  -jen


CHEESY, CREAMY CAULIFLOWER SOUP 
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Makes:  11-12 cups
  • 6 tablespoons butter + 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, separated
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 poblano or green pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Cojack cheese
  • 2 teaspoons sherry
  • several dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few dashes of cayenne pepper or Sriracha sauce (optional)
In a large stockpot, saute onion, carrots, celery and pepper in 6 tablespoons of butter over a medium-high heat until vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in cauliflower, garlic, thyme, marjoram and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes.   Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, then simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.  (At this point, I like to use a stick blender or regular blender to blend about 2/3 of the soup, smoothing it out a little but I like to leave a few chunks.  You can leave everything whole, or blend the whole thing, whatever you prefer!)

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt remaining 1 stick of butter.  Stir in flour and cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, to make a roux.  Remove from heat.  When the cauliflower in the broth is tender (and blended, if you're blending any), add the roux and the heavy cream.  Bring back to a boil, then simmer, stirring frequently until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add the cheese, one handful at a time, stir until completely melted before adding next handful.  Add sherry, Worcestershire, salt and pepper to taste, and cayenne or Sriracha, if desired.

I garnished mine with some of the shredded cojack and some diced scallions I had in the fridge.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Cake with Sparkling Cider Glaze

Cake isn't made very often in our house, but I'd been craving cake the last few days.  It came to a head while we were both being lazy at home and I decided I only had the energy to make one recipe - it was either cake or focaccia.  Cake won out.

I didn't know what kind of cake I wanted to make though.  I was in pajamas and didn't feel like getting dressed to go to the store for any ingredients.  I knew we had the basics for cake, but wasn't sure what else we had to do something "different".  Browsing through our 11th Edition Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (the one cook book everyone should have), I found a recipe for an oatmeal cake.  Never heard of an oatmeal cake before!

I made a few personal preference adjustments to the recipe and it came out great!  I initially wasn't going to make a frosting or a glaze for the cake - Justin and I generally don't care for either.  But I decided this needed just a little something, looked in the fridge, had some Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider and thought that would work just fine with cinnamon, raisin and oatmeal.  Admittedly, I didn't use all of the glaze... but I think most people seem to like their sweets, sweet

Cake was real moist.  Tastes like oatmeal!  Reminds me a little of a coffee cake.  This recipe is definitely a keeper for us.

I got a little ska action for this recipe.  Reel Big Fish, "Everyone Else Is An Asshole".  -jen


 OATMEAL RAISIN CAKE
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Serves:  12
  • 1-1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup raisins
In a small bowl, pour boiling water over oats and let sit for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. 

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer or stand mixer on high for 30 seconds.  Add sugars and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.

Alternately add dry mixture and oatmeal, beating on low after each addition, just until combined.  Stir in raisins and pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Remove sides from pan and cool an additional hour.  Drizzle with Apple Cider Glaze (see recipe below) and serve.  (Glaze will harden as it cools.)

SPARKLING CIDER GLAZE
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sparkling apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
Whisk together all ingredients and drizzle over cooled cake.