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.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pork Pot Stickers (Chinese Dumplings) & Dipping Sauce

I've been having a serious craving for good Chinese food and unfortunately, there's no Chinese food
restaurants in our little town that we like.  We had our wedding catered in '08 by a friend who owned the best Chinese restaurant in town, but the building burned down a few years later and she never reopened it.  We've been without good Chinese food in town and the solution to that - make it ourselves.

While these are mildly time consuming, they're actually fairly easy to make.  If two people can get together and make them, it makes it much faster.  One person can be chopping vegetables while the other is adding them to the pork with the wet ingredients.  Then during assembly time, one person can be scooping the mix onto the wraps while the other pinches and seals the dumplings.  Team work!

We always have a ton of vegetables in our house, so we actually had a lot of the ingredients already and it didn't cost us much at all.  If you have to buy all the vegetables and end up with leftovers, just chop it all up for a salad - we eat cabbage and vegetable salads all the time.  Or soup would be another good option for the leftover cabbage, pepper, onion, carrot... man, you could make a killer soup!  

I went old school for tunes with this recipe and pulled out X's "Nausea".  I got to see them a few times in Chicago.  I always think of John Doe (bass player) in the movie "Great Balls of Fire" as Winona Ryder's dad.  I love that movie.  It's so terrible and cheesy and awesome. -jen


PORK POT STICKERS (CHINESE DUMPLINGS)
Prep Time:  about 45 minutes
Rest Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  6 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes:  about 80
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup cabbage (Napa or green), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
    We've been buying poblano peppers instead of bell peppers because
    they're significantly cheaper and similar in flavour!

  • 1/2 cup green onions, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sambal (Asian chili paste)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese mustard (or Dijon mustard)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (plus extra for dusting)
  • about 80 round pot sticker/wonton wrappers
  • oil for frying (vegetable, canola, peanut, etc)
  • water for sealing and steaming
Pork and vegetable mix
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients (except the wonton wrappers, oil and water) until well mixed.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (but you can refrigerate longer).

Sprinkle a baking sheet lightly with corn starch and set aside.  Have a small bowl of water for your assembly.  I worked with 9 at a time on a cutting board, keeping the unused ones covered with plastic wrap so they don't dry out.  Place 1 teaspoon of filling into center of wrapper.  Wet edge of wrapper and fold over, crimping/pinching edges together to seal.  Place pot sticker on the corn starched baking sheet.

 (If you don't want to cook all 80 pot stickers, you can freeze them uncooked on the baking sheet for about an hour, then put in a freezer bag and freeze for later.)

In a large skillet (that has a fitted lid), heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over a medium high heat.  Add pot stickers to pan, one at a time, in a single layer. (In our 11" skillet, we could fit 18-20 at once.) Do not over-crowd.  Fry for 2 minutes until light golden-brown.  Add 1/3 cup of water, cover and steam for 2 minutes.  Remove lid and continue to fry for another 2 minutes.  If you do a second batch, just add more oil to the pan and let it get hot before adding your second batch and repeat.

Serve hot with dipping sauce (see recipe below).


I like to put the veggies in,
then pour the wet ingredients over them
POT STICKER DIPPING SAUCE
  • 1 tablespoon green onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
In a small bowl, add all ingredients.  You can use immediately, but if you make it before you start assembling your pot stickers and stick it in the fridge to let the flavours marry, it tastes way better!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Cocadas (Latin American Coconut Confections)

Last year, I made Macaroons for the first time, and they were delicious.  However, after making Cocadas, which are very similar, I decided I prefer the Cocadas.  I love a one-bowl baking recipe!  These are so fast to whip up, and they're cheap to make!

Cocadas are a traditional Latin American coconut confection.  It does seem that every area has it's own version and they can come in all different flavours and styles.  I didn't get too crazy, but I made some plain ones, some with pecans, some with cocoa powder in them to make a chocolate version, and some drizzled with dark chocolate.  Next batch we make, Justin wants to put some diced up dried apricot in them - you can really get creative with whatever flavours you like.

Music - some O Pioneers!!! doing "Loose Lips Are The Key To A Good Foundation".  -jen


COCADAS
Chocolate on the left, Pecan on the right
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Difficulty:  Super Easy
Makes:  About 22
  • 3.5 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 13oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional Ingredients:
  • 2/3 pecans, chopped small (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional for chocolate flavoured Cocadas)
  • 4oz dark chocolate chips, melted (optional for drizzling over the tops of Cocadas)
Pecan Cocadas
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, egg, almond extract and salt (if using pecans and/or cocoa, add now) until well mixed.  Using two spoons, drop 1.5 tablespoons of coconut mix onto parchment paper.  You can leave in a rounded heap for a softer cookie, or smash the heap into a 1/2" thick disc for a crispier cookie.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 24-26 minutes.  Cocadas will be slightly golden brown on top.  (Careful not to burn the bottoms!)  With a spatula, carefully remove from parchment and cool on a wire cooling rack for 5-10 minutes.  Cookies will crisp up as they cool.  (If drizzling with melted dark chocolate, drizzle over cooled cookies and allow 30-60 minutes for chocolate to cool and harden.)

Drizzled with dark chocolate


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pasta Puttanesca

We don't eat a lot of pasta, but lately I've been craving a lighter pasta dish.  Generally, I love marinara and bolognese sauces, but don't really dig putting them on pasta - I'd rather put them over some spaghetti squash.  This time, I felt like pasta, but didn't want one of those heavy sauces, so I did my own version of Puttanesca.  It's mostly traditional, but a little of my own preferences thrown in there.  Came out really delicious.  When I minced together the garlic, anchovies, sun dried tomatoes and olives, it looked like a tapenade of the Gods!  I just wanted to spread it on some garlic toast!  Admittedly, I was spooning some of it onto the tomato halves, sprinkling some basil on top, and munching them that way as I was cutting them in half, heheh.  The dish was really quick and easy to make!

I was reminded the other day that I hadn't used anything from Rancid's new album with one of our recipes.  So here is another Rancid Recipe - the title track, "Honor Is All We Know".  -jen


PASTA PUTTANESCA
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 mimuntes
Difficulty:  Very easy
Serves:  4-6, depending on serving size
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 6 anchovy filets (I'm inclined to use the whole 2oz can)
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (or green, or black, or D-all of the above)
  • 12oz dried pasta (your choice: spaghetti, bow tie, rotini)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 large scallions, diced (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped or julienned
  • 4oz Romano cheese, crumbled
Bring large stock pot of salted water to a boil while preparing the following steps.

Mince together garlic, anchovies, and sun dried tomatoes.  Roughtly chop the kalamata olives right into the minced mix.  Set aside.

Add pasta to boiling water, bring back to a boil, and then turn down to a low boil, cooking 6-8 minutes until al dente (still slightly under-cooked.  Pasta will cook more in skillet.)  Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet.  Saute scallions and red pepper flakes for 1 minute.  Add white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until wine has cooked down by half.  Add grape tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the minced garlic, anchovies, sun dried tomatoes, olives and the rinsed capers.  Cook for 2 more minutes or until sauce is reduced and thickened. 

Add pasta to skillet mixture with 1/4 cup pasta water.  Cook another 1-2 minutes (sauce will mostly absorb into pasta).  Remove from heat and toss with lemon juice and zest, basil, (a dash more of wine, if you like,) and crumbled Romano.  Add salt and pepper to taste (careful with the salt since the olives, capers and cheese will add a lot of salt).  Serve immediately while hot, however, it is quite tasty left over cold, straight out of the fridge.