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

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

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.

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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Char Siu Pork Ribs (Chinese Barbecue Pork)

I was completely stoked with how the marinade came out for these pork ribs.  These are great as is, just served with a side dish or two.  But I was specifically making them so I could chop them up in the food processor and use them in spring rolls!  I'd happily use this recipe on chicken as well. 

Been listening to old AFI recently, when they were a little faster and a little grittier, so went with "Lower Your Head And Take It In The Body".  -jen

Prep Time: 6-8 hours for marinating
Cook Time: about 30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup hoisen sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons red powdered food colouring
  • 3/4 teaspoons orange powdered food colouring
  • 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
  • 4-6 large boneless pork ribs (country-style ribs), about 3 pounds
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the pork ribs.  Microwave for 1 minute and whisk again.  Place pork ribs in a gallon sized Ziplock bag and add 2/3 of the char siu sauce to the bag.  Marinate in refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

Add 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil to the remaining char siu sauce, cover, and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

After marinating, place ribs on a large baking sheet (I recommend lining with foil to make clean up easy because the sugars will burn!)  Roast until rib temperature reaches 120 degrees F (about 20 minutes), turning and basting ribs with remaining sauce every 10 minutes.  When ribs reach 120 degrees internally, turn up heat to 425 degrees F and cook until ribs reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees F (about 10 minutes).  The higher heat at the end helps the charring, but if you're looking for even more of a candied char on the outside, stick 'em under your broiler until they're to your liking.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fried Cheese Fritters

In Eastern Wisconsin, just over the Illinois border, is a town called Bristol, which has held a large Renaissance Faire since 1972.  Living outside of Chicago, we went to the faire many summers growing up.  And then later, my aunt owned a permanent booth at the faire for years where she sold her very cool handmade dolls.  It's like a small village.  And in their food court, they have always sold these cheese fritters which are A-MAZ-ING!  During a visit back to the Chicagoland area a few years ago, I took Justin to visit the faire for his first time and he agreed - we needed the recipe for those fritters.  We were never successful in getting it. 

The other night, Justin was mentioning these evil, addictive fritters again and I started Googling, on a mission to find a similar recipe.  I ended up taking some ideas from a few different recipes and then added a few twists of my own to it.  They came out awesome!  We were so stoked!  They were also super quick and very easy.  Score!

I think I have the Nekromantix in my head because Halloween was just here... and I dig a little gothabilly/psychobilly sometimes.   I'm a sucker for big pompadours and stand-up bass.  Nekromantix's "Horny In A Hearse".  -jen

Time:  20-30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 12 fritters, depending on size
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (I used just the green tops)
Preheat peanut or vegetable oil in deep fryer (or use 3 cups of oil in a large pan) to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  Set aside.

In a smaller mixing bowl, add egg and milk.  Whisk.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix, just until dry ingredients are combined.  Don't over-mix.  Fold in shredded cheese and green onion.

Carefully drop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into the oil.  Most fryers or pots will hold about 4-5 fritters at a time.  Do not overcrowd.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning fritters half-way through the cooking time.  They should be a deep golden colour.

I made a quick spicy dipping sauce with 3 parts plain Greek yogurt, 1 part mayo, enough Sriracha to give it a spicy kick, and then a dash of Worcestershire, some seasoning salt, chili powder, cumin and tarragon.  You could use ranch, mustard or barbecue sauce.  Whatever you want.  Or no dipping sauce.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gyros with Apple Tzatziki

I had this great plan to make gyros and tzatziki this weekend... and for a minute, it looked like it was a disaster.  But as history has proven, necessity is the mother of invention and what I thought was a problem turned into awesomeness. 

I grew up in the Chicago area where gyro stands are everywhere and I love them.  Where we live now, in Humboldt, there's only one gyro place and it's a 15 minute drive each way.  They don't load them up as much as they do in Chicago and so while they're decent, I always feel a little gypped.  So I decided to make some gyros here at home.  I hastily made the grocery list while I was at work; I couldn't check to see what we had on hand at home.  When I went to make everything today, I realized the cucumbers I'd been counting on to use in the tzatziki had gone bad, so I had no cucs.  We always have at least one onion on hand, but it seems this time was an exception.  And I thought we had some leftover basil, but turns out we didn't.  So a lot of my main ingredients were missing and Justin is gone for the weekend with our only car, so I had no way to get to the store. 

Instead, I decided to try shredded apple in the tzatziki sauce and I was pretty much counting on not liking it as much as the classic cucumber.  I was wrong.  It came out awesome!  Good crunch and just a slight sweetness at the end.  Lacking fresh onion for my gyro loaf, I used some dried shallot, dried chive, and onion powder.  And though I had no basil (fresh or dried), I did have fresh mint and decided to load the loaf up with a ton of herbs and spices!  Sooooo good! I know there's like 25 ingredients in the gyros; we use what we have on hand.  But I recognize most people don't have the spice and herb collection we do, so I made sure to add an alternative.  Don't let it intimidate you!

While I typed this whole post out, I listened to the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" a few times on repeat.  I love this song so much.  So rad.  And the retro 70s detective theme isn't so bad either.  -jen

Prep Time:  1.5 hours
Cook Time:  about 1.5 hours
Difficulty:  Easy
Serves:  4-6
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
  • 3 tablespoons dried shallots
  • 2 teaspoons dried chives (or half an onion chopped fine in food processor in place of shallots and chives)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • *1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • *1 teaspoon ground dried lemon grass
  • *1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • *1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • *1 teaspoon ground dried rosemary
  • *1 teaspoon tarragon
  • *1 teaspoon ground dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*If you don't have all of these herbs, you could replace the 7 teaspoons of herbs with 3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning.  Or 7 teaspoons of whatever combination you may have on hand.
In a large food processor, pulse old fashioned oats until they're about half their size.  Add the remaining ingredients into the food processor and process about one minute until meat mixture feels tacky. 

Place meat into a large bowl and cover meat with plastic wrap (not top of bowl, but place the plastic
wrap on the meat itself) and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Pack meat mixture into a  7"x4" loaf pan, pressing it down well to eliminate any air bubbles.  Place a damp kitchen towel in the bottom of a large roasting pan.  Place the loaf pan on top of the damp towel and carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes 1/2 way up the sides of the loaf pan. 

Bake until inner temperature reaches 160 degrees F, about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Remove loaf pan from roasting pan and carefully pour off accumulated fat.  Cool slightly before slicing thinly.  Brown slices either in a non-stick skillet on medium-high or place in oven or toaster oven broiler until browned.  Serve on a pita with lettuce or cabbage, onion, tomato and Apple Tzatziki sauce.

Prep Time:  40 minutes minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  almost 3 cups
  • 1 small red apple, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 and 3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Shred apple.  Place shredded apple in a fine colander over an empty bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.  Once coated with lemon juice, toss again with teaspoon of the salt.  Allow to drain for 30-60 minutes.

Place shredded apple in  some cheese cloth or a clean tea towel and squeeze out remaining juice.  In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the shredded apple with the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and all the remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Can be served immediately but the flavours merry better if you refrigerate for an hour or more.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Refrigerated Rye Pickles

A while ago, we posted a recipe for Refrigerated Dill Pickles, which came out great.  But a few weeks ago, we saw something on TV where a deli made it's own rye pickles.  They sounded awesome, so I set out to make some and decided to go with caraway seeds (which are often used in rye bread).

I'm a dill pickle junkie and tonight makes 48 hours of pickling for my rye pickles.  I took a bite to give 'em a try and clapped a few times like a dork in my kitchen.  These might be the best pickles I've ever had.  These suckers are potent with just a little spicy kick to 'em.  It took me about 10 minutes to prepare the pickle juice and cut up the cucumber.  Might cost you a little to get the initial ingredients unless you have a massive horde like us.  But once you've got 'em, you can make a lot of jars of pickles for not much money at all.  Beats paying $4 for a jar of Claussen!

This recipe was serious and heavy.  And I truly felt, in my heart of hearts, it needed some serious and heavy music.  So... you know... Me First And The Gimme Gimmes doing the best Ghost Rider In The Sky since John Belushi.  Actually... this is a really great live video.  So check it out.  -jen

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Refrigerate Time:  2 days
Makes:  1 quart
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    Caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Accent (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried shallots
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 fresh sprigs of dill
  • 1/4 cup malt vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into spears (seedless is better, but regular works too)
In a 1-quart jar, add salt, Accent, caraway seeds, peppercorn, pickling spice, mustard seed, pepper flakes, dried shallots and garlic.  Twist the dill sprigs into a wreath shape and lay atop the spices.  Add both vinegars.  Pack the jar with the cucumber spears and add water until cucumber is covered.  Place the lid on and shake it all up.  Refrigerate for at least 2 days.  (I like to rotate the jar a few times, flipping it onto it's top for a while.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mushroom & Onion Smothered Chicken

This was the dish we made to go along with our Parmesan & Basil Zucchini.  Normally we just throw the seasoned chicken in the oven, but I felt like something extra to go with it the night I made this.  I was originally just going to saute the mushrooms and onion, but then decided to make 'em saucy.  Pretty quick and easy!  We don't do carbs a whole lot with our dinner, but with this sauce, I wished I'd made some rice or barley or even mashed potatoes to go along with it.

I'm gonna whip out a little old school punk here - Justin will be pleasantly surprised, as this is more to his liking.  I can't even tell you why this song just popped into my head as I was wondering what to post.  All I know is... whenever I think of FEAR, I think of Lee Ving (lead singer) in the movie Clue, as Mr. Boddy.  I love that movie.  Sad side note, Eileen Brennan, who played Mrs. Peacock, just died a few days ago.  So maybe this song is apropos after all.  Here's FEAR, "Living in the City".  -jen

Time:  40 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Serves:  4-6
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on/bone in
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8oz whole mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil (for easy clean up) and drizzle a little olive oil over the foil or use some non-stick cooking spray on it.

Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.  Pull the skin back and with your choice of seasoning (seasoning salt, Mrs. Dash type seasonings, or just make your own "house" seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder), season the meat under the skin.  Lay the skin back over the thigh evenly and season the top of the skin, as well as the bottom of the thigh.  Place on prepared baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until juices run clear.  (Adjust time for smaller or larger thighs.)  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.  Note:  Baking at this high of a heat crisps up the chicken skin nicely!

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, combine butter and olive oil over a medium-high heat until hot.  Add chopped mushrooms and onions.  Saute 5-7 minutes or until onions are just turning translucent.  Add garlic, sage and tarragon, cooking an additional 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stirring to coat, and cook 3 more minutes.  Whisk in chicken broth, Worcestershire and heavy cream (which is optional, it just lends a little more creaminess to it).  Continue whisking over medium-high heat until sauce thickens.  Turn to a low heat and whisk in sherry.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  (If you use a cooking sherry, it's salted and you may not require much more salt in the sauce.)  Remove from heat and serve over baked chicken.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Parmesan & Basil Zucchini

Served with Mushroom & Onion Smothered Chicken
People always tell us that they don't have time, money, patience or know-how to cook a good, healthy dinner at night.  We call bullshit on that!  We're broke people who stick to a weekly budget and we cook simple, healthy meals several times a week after both of us working a full day (usually with enough leftover to eat a healthy lunch the next day, saving even more money).  A lot of the recipes we post on here are our "splurges" away from our regular, simple roasted protein/veggie dinners.  I was about to make one of those simple dinners tonight, but then I thought I'd "get crazy" by doing a sauce and cheesing up the veggies.  I wasn't really considering posting the recipes, they seemed too simple.  Justin asked, "Why not?  People like fast, easy and cheap recipes and it was really good!"  So it's coming at you... basic stuff!

This tune's been going through my head the last few weeks as I've seen a lot of The Transplants' recent tour pics.  Elvis Cortez, lead singer of Left Alone, was touring with them.  So I've found myself listening to some Left Alone in the last few days, and this is them doing "My Whole Life".  -jen

Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Serves: 2-4
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced about 1/4" thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • salt and pepper
 In a large bowl or plastic zip bag, combine zucchini and olive oil to coat.  Turn oven to broil.  Arrange zucchini in an even layer on a large baking sheet (I always line it with foil for ease of clean up!)  Sprinkle basil and Parmesan evenly over zucchini.  Broil for 3-5, until cheese browns.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rancid Recipes #4: Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Chops

It's been a little while since I've posted a Rancid Recipe (such a delicious sounding title, to be sure).  Today's music selection was inspired by a dream I recently had that Tim Armstrong and I were taking a class on identifying Hollywood celebrities.  We both failed miserably, told the instructor that it was a bullshit class, and left to watch the movie "High Fidelity" with my brother.  I don't know what the dream means, but it put me into a Tim Armstrong music kick: Op Ivy, Transplants, Tim Timebomb & Friends, his solo stuff, and of course, Rancid.  Apparently, they knew from the very first show what it was all about.

The idea for this recipe popped into my head about a month ago, transformed a lot during late
nights of intoxication, Food Network, and conversation, and finally came into existence splendidly last night.  Do you have any idea how tickled I am when a recipe from scratch turns out perfectly with no need for alterations?!  Of course you don't, because you're not dining in my house (but perhaps you SHOULD be, Rancid members?)  The stranger in my head does a little dance when this happens and there was dancing last night, by glob!  It's a little time consuming (the recipe, not the dancing in my head), but well worth the time!  The combination of mushrooms, onions and apples was killer!

I think some of the ingredients in this recipe need a little explanation, though.  It does contain wild rice, as the title states, and I learned something - there is no correct way to cook wild rice.  I got mine out of the bulk bin at my local co-op and followed the instructions on the dispenser: 2 cups liquid to 1 cup wild rice.  I did exactly that, and the rice came out a little crunchy.  I loved it.  Justin didn't care for the consistency at all.  So researching wild rice, I found that different suppliers process it differently and you can't always cook two different brands the same way.  Basically, it's preference.  Do you like it crunchy or do you want to cook it until the rice bursts open and is softer.  Your call.  You have to just follow the instructions on the one you purchase and adjust according to your preference.

The lion's mane mushrooms are my next ingredient to discuss.  These obviously are not sold in your local supermarket (as Food Network often likes to tell its watchers about exotic foods).  We can sometimes find them in our co-op or local organic stores, but we mostly buy them in the summer at our local farmers markets.  And while you could use regular button mushrooms, crimini or portabello mushrooms for this recipe, there's no way you're going to get the same flavour out of them.  Lion's mane was first described to us as having a lobster flavour.  If you look them up on Wiki, it says when cooked, they have the consistency of seafood.  Well, I sort of agree and disagree with both.  Once that's in your head, that's what you think of (and now I put it in your head), but really, I'd just say they have a very rich, earthy flavour.  They're awesome.  If you like mushrooms and have never tried these, seek them out.  It'll be worth it.

And so we move on to the musical stylings of my favourite band, Rancid, bringing us their song, "Last One To Die".  As they wrap up their tour (which we very sadly don't get to see, again, because we're poor and live behind the Redwood Curtain) and prepare for a new album to come out, I think to myself - maybe they will be the last ones to die.  -jen

Time:  1.5 - 2 hours
Difficulty:  Medium
Serves:  6

Wild Rice:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons chicken base 
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • black pepper to taste (about 1/2 a teaspoon)
Chops & Stuffing:
  • 6 thick pork loin chops (we like ours brined, recipe and how-to here)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups diced lion's mane mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup oyster mushrooms (you can use all lion's mane if you like)
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 of a large onion)
  • 2 cups apple, peeled and diced (about 2 medium apples of your preference - sour or sweet, either would be tasty)
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper to taste
Rinse wild rice to remove loose hulls and strain the water out.  In a medium sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat.  Add rice and brown, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes.  Add water and stir in chicken base, sage, tarragon, celery salt and black pepper.  Bring just to a boil, then put a lid on the pan and lower the heat to a simmer.  Cook without removing the lid or stirring for 50 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.  (If you don't like crunchy wild rice, you may want to use 1 more cup of water, 1 more teaspoon chicken base, and a little more of each herb) and cook until the rice grains burst, about 60 minutes, then drain any remaining water from rice.)

While rice cooks, in a large saute pan or skillet, heat 3 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil over a medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms, onion, and apples.  Saute for about 7 minutes, or until the onion becomes slightly translucent.  Add sage, tarragon and salt and pepper (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 a teaspoon black pepper), and cook for a few more minutes.  Remove from heat and add mixture to wild rice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, F.  Carefully cut a pocket into the pork chops with a sharp knife,
making sure not to open the ends or the back side.  Place each chop into a gallon-sized Ziplock bag and pound flat.

Season the outside of the pork chop (both sides) with salt and pepper.  Drizzle a little olive oil on a sheet pan (we always cover ours with foil for easy clean up.)  Stuff each pork chop with as much of the wild rice stuffing as it will hold and carefully lay the stuffed chop on the baking sheet.  Place in the oven and cook at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chop.  Best to use a meat thermometer and cook until pork reaches 140 degrees F, then let rest.  The carry-over will bring it to a safe 145 degrees.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Apricot Poppy Seed Bread

About four days ago, I stopped at a local fruit stand that's set up in Fernbridge, California.  The apricots looked stunning, so I got a basket of them.  However, even eating two and three at a time, the two of us didn't get through them fast enough and they were getting pretty ripe.  So I made a bread out of their puree today.  It came out pretty great!  I was stoked!  Firm, but moist.  ( time for that now!)  It smelled a lot like pumpkin bread when it baked.  I actually doubled the poppy seeds that I listed in the recipe and we both liked twice as many... but I sort of figured for the general public, halving them would be better.  Tasty bread!  It'd be yummy with a whipped apricot and cinnamon cream cheese!  Didn't have any cream cheese though.

Man, this is some newer Anti-Flag and I'm not real familiar with their later stuff.  I listened to a lot of their earlier music.  But this song... it just keeps getting stuck in my head.  It's catchy... despite or because of the hi-hat?  I can't decide.  Anti-Flag's "If You Wanna Steal".  -jen

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Yields:  1 loaf
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds fresh apricots, peeled, pitted and pureed until smooth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricot
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine the apricot puree, eggs, butter, vanilla, almond and mix well.  Add the dry mixture and mix just until combined.  Fold in poppy seeds, pecans and apricot.

Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes.  Test by sticking a knife or tooth pick in the middle to make sure it comes out clean.  Cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Chicken In Gravy Over Barley

A few weeks ago, the idea for this meal came to mind... I don't even remember why.  But it's one of those delicious southern comfort foods.  I originally was going to put it over white rice... but the fact is, we really prefer barley over rice.  I think I've mentioned that before.  And it went real well with this chicken in gravy.  It was actually quite fast to make tonight because we'd baked 8 chicken thighs the night before.  So I just used the leftover chicken for this.  It'd actually double just fine for a potpie filling, too!  Or over biscuits if you wanted to get real southern!

Man, I put this song on a comp a few weeks ago for our work commutes... and the song just won't get out of my head!  I was a fan of the original... but this version is so, so much better.  Down By Law covering "500 Miles". -jen aka zigzag, heheh

Time:  40 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Servings:  4-6
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups barley
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 a teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add barley and stir to coat.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring until the barley smells toasty.  Add water, soy sauce, sage, thyme, coriander and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and turn heat to low.  Simmer for 35 minutes.  (Do not lift lid or stir!)  Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  You can make the chicken gravy in about the same amount of time it takes the barley to cook.

Time:  25 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy-Medium
Servings:  4-6
  • 3 tablespoons chicken fat (if your chicken didn't render this much, use butter for remainder)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth (or 3 cups of water with chicken bouillon cubes or chicken base)
  • 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or dried chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste (some chicken broths are saltier than others)
  • meat of 4 baked chicken thighs, shredded (see below for baking instructions)
In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat chicken fat and butter.  Add carrots, celery and onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.  Carrots should be fork-tender, meaning a fork slides easily into them.  Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir until absorbed, cook for 2-3 minutes.  Whisk (using an actual whisk!) in chicken broth, sage, thyme, chives, the three peppers and salt, if needed.  Continue whisking until gravy has thickened to desired consistency, turn heat to low, add the shredded chicken and cook for a few minutes until chicken is warmed.  Serve over herbed barley.  (Or use for the inside of a potpie!)

Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
  • 4 medium chicken thighs, skin on
  • choice of seasoning (salt & pepper if nothing else)
  • olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (simply for ease of clean-up) and drizzle foil lightly with olive oil.

Season the bottoms of the chicken thighs, the place face-up on pan.  Lift skin from meat and season both under the skin and over the skin.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Chicken should be at 165 degrees, and juices should run clear.  If cooking the gravy recipe above, then reserve the chicken fat!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Jerk Chicken with Plantain Chips & Salad

I've done a couple different variations of this recipe at home now and still haven't gotten it perfected but it's still awesome and a really quick and easy way to get some Caribbean flavors in your belly.  This version isn't too hot even though it has two habaneros because de-seeding them takes out most of the heat.  So if you like a hotter meal, only de-seed one of the peppers or if you like nuclear heat, don't de-seed at all.

I served this with a simple fresh salad and some fried plantain chips on the side to try and stick to the Caribbean theme but when I went to make my mango salad I discovered that my mango was no good and so I substituted an apple and a fresh tomato that I had making it decidedly less Caribbean but still pretty tasty.

To go with this recipe I went for some Lagwagon, Falling Apart, since they are one of our favorites in this house and we have yet to feature them in a post.  Shocking!  Not sure how they slipped under our radar but no longer will they escape this blog!


Jerk Chicken
Time: Marinade - 15 minutes, Chicken - 25 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 8+
  • 2 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium yellow onion, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger 
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
Now, the marinade part is simple.  Throw all of the above in a blender or food processor and let her rip till at all blends into a smooth homogenous mixture, a couple of minutes ought to do.  When everything is all chopped, blended, liquified, and incorporated, simply toss your chicken in a container with the mix and let it marinade for at least overnight, but the longer you let it go, the better it gets.  I usually let it sit for 24 hours.  Anything over 48 hrs is not going to do much for you.

Note: If you are only making enough to serve 2-3 people, halve the marinade recipe as this easily makes enough to cover 8+ pieces of chicken.

When you are ready to do up the chicken you have a couple of options.  Tradition dictates that the chicken be cooked in a halved oil drum over hard wood charcoal but any grill would do as I know no one who grills in a halved oil drum outside of the Caribbean.  However, we simply baked ours off in the oven, since it wasn't grilling weather and I wanted jerk chicken.  450 for 30 minutes will do if you are doing legs and thighs and if you want some of that charred grilled quality to it, toss under the broiler for a few minutes after baking.

Fresh Salad
  • 1 fresh tomato
  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt & pepper to taste
The salad is everything listed above, just tossed together and served on the side.  It's a light, refreshing accompaniment to the spicy, savory chicken and the starchy, salty plantain chips.

Plantain chips are also easy if you'd like to try those.  Get a hold of a couple of plantains at the market and slice the skins off since they don't peel very easily.  I follow the edges of the peel, they have 3, with the tip of a paring knife and then take off the ends.  After that treatment they peel fairly easily.  Slice them into 2 inch thick rounds and fry them in oil for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the oil and drain them.  Smash the rounds flat using the bottom of a coffee mug or something equally wide and hard.  Fry them again in the oil for another 2 minutes, remove and drain.  Salt liberally and serve.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bacon Taco BLT with Herb Aioli & Bloody Marys

So, I was inspired to try this dish after seeing some pictures of people forming bacon into crazy shapes after it had been cooked but before it had crisped up.  I though it would be cool to make them into taco shells and stuff them full of lettuce and tomato to counter all the salty, greasy, bacon goodness, like a BLT minus the bread.  Then Jen decided to mix up and awesome green aioli to put on top and all that was left was something to wash it all down.  The obvious answer, of course, was a bloody mary.  A super baconny BLT should have a super tomatoey drink as a companion.

Note: My first attempt at this bacon taco shell was successful but very time consuming and so I would not repeat it again, ever.  It took almost 40 minutes for the bacon to crisp when I had woven it into a lattice and tried to bake it in a taco shell shape (pictured at right).  Instead I will present a far simpler and less time consuming process (pictured below) that I saw here.

To accompany the dish, there was no group, or song, better than the Supersuckers covering Willie Nelson's "Bloody Mary Morning".  Can't get much better than that! - justin

Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Serves: 2
  • 1 lb bacon 
  • 6 large lettuce leaves
  • 1 medium vine ripened tomato
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp chopped green onion
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
Place 4-5 strips of bacon on a paper towel on a microwave safe plate.  Make sure the edges all overlap so that the bacon "fuses" when it's cooking.  Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, checking on it every minute or so to make sure it isn't burning.  When it's done, pull it out and fold the bacon pancake in half with something inside to make it form into a shell.  Some tinfoil should work.  After a minute or two it should have set up and become crispy.  Slice your tomato and lay some in your shell.  Stuff the rest of the space with 3 of the large leaves of lettuce.  Top with the aioli (recipe below) and you're good to go!  Make as many more as you have guests or as you think yourself capable of consuming.

The aioli can actually be made ahead of time.  It lasts for a long time in the fridge and goes well on everything; sandwiches, salad, wraps, slaw, etc.

Combine the mayo, sour cream , lemon juice, parsley, cilantro, green onions, and garlic and mix thoroughly.  Voilà!

Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Serves: 3-4
  • 2 oz Demitri's Bloody Mary seasoning (this stuff is awesome but use what you like or can find)
  • 1 qt V8 or tomato juice, whichever you prefer
  • 4 shots vodka
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Tabasco or hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • olives or celery or some other garnish 
Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large pitcher and place in the fridge for an hour.  Serve in a large glass over ice.  Garnish with olives, celery or whatever you stick in your Bloody Mary.  I prefer whole green olives!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Whiskey Marinated Stuffed Chicken Breast; Whiskey & Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce

Here's the thing about this recipe - you can go all out and do the whole thing: marinated chicken, whiskey caramelized onions and mushrooms, whiskey cheese sauce, and it'll take a few hours, but be well worth it!  Or... you can only go half ass and make it quick!  You could just marinate the chicken and bake it, easy enough.  You could make the onions and mushrooms to stuff in the chicken breast, and pass on the cheese sauce.  Or throw the whiskey onions and mushrooms on a burger.  You could just make the cheese sauce to go on some veggies, or nachos, or pasta or whatever you want to put cheese sauce on.  I'm trying to say it's versatile!  And only as complicated as you want to make it.  But it was smokey and rich... delicious.

I could see this being good with a variety of whiskeys.  I used Jameson, because that's what we like to drink.  Jack would be good.  Use whatever you like to drink... and I highly suggest shots while cooking. 

So tunes to go with it... some SoCal punk we were just introduced to and really enjoying - The Sparring.  Check out their Facebook page for tour dates, news and new music!  But first... enjoy their video for "Straitjacket".  -jen

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Marinade Time:  2-3 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Yields:  3/4 cup, enough for 4-6 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1 lemon's worth)
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic, depending on taste (we love garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • a few good cranks of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 4-6 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups Whiskey Caramelized Onions And Mushrooms (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups shredded Smoked Gouda cheese
Whisk all ingredients together.  Butterfly chicken breasts and place one at a time in a Ziploc bag and using a mallet or bottom of a sauce pan, pound the chicken out to 1/4" thick.  Then place all the butterflied breasts into the Ziploc and add the marinade.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (for quick clean up) and coat foil with non-stick cooking spray.   Lay the butterflied chicken breasts open on the foil and on one half of the breast, sprinkle a layer of smoked Gouda.  Top with a big mound (about 1/2 a cup) of the caramelized onions and mushrooms, then sprinkle another layer of Gouda on top.  Fold the breast the other half over the stuffing like a taco.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken has reached 265 degrees.  Cooking time is going to vary depending on size of chicken breasts.  (We use a leave-in thermometer, they're awesome.)

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Yields:  about 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, julienned
  • 16oz of sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 3 shots of whiskey
Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add onions and mushrooms, Worcestershire, brown sugar and pepper flakes.  Toss to coat, then let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.  When onions start browning, turn heat to low and add garlic, ginger and whiskey.  Let cook an additional 20 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated and onions have caramelized, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. 

(If you're going to make the cheese sauce below, you can remove the caramelized onions and mushrooms and just use the same skillet - no need to even rinse it out.  That's flavour!)

Time:  15 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Yields:  about 2 cups
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 and 1/2 shots whiskey (divided)
  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms (optional)
  • dash of cayenne pepper, depending on taste
  • 1.5 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • salt and pepper
In a skillet or sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add flour and whisk for 3-5 minutes.  Whisk in 1/2 a shot of whiskey and heavy cream.  Add Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms (if you choose to) and cayenne.  Continue stirring until sauce begins to thicken.  Once thickened, turn off heat and stir in shredded cheese, one handful at a time, until melted.  Stir in 1 shot of whiskey.  Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Asian Salad Dressing & Marinade

Asian Dressing with Chinese Chicken Salad
For years now, when we've wanted an Asian dressing, we've just thrown some crap together.  Some have been good, some have been not-so-good, but we never wrote down what we did.  So a little while ago, I decided I was going to get myself a solid recipe that I could make that would be consistently awesome every time.  Bam!  Here it is!  I love this dressing!  We use it for all kinds of things: green leaf salads with some cucumber, shredded carrot, green onions and cashews; marinade for chicken or pork (but only marinate it for a few hours or the vinegar and lime juice will "cook" the meat and make it kind of mealy); sometimes we'll toss some veggies like broccoli, onions, bell peppers and zucchini with it and then roast them; made a Thai-style 4-bean salad with it.  Very diverse.  Very yummy.

I was in an Elvis mood the other day (because I love Elvis)... but then I remembered U.S. Bombs' "Rocks in Memphis" and had to listen to it again.  You think Lisa Marie has even heard this song?  -jen

Time:  all of like... 5 minutes, maybe, if you measure slowly
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  1.5 cups
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisen
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon hot mustard (or any mustard)
  • dash of sriracha (or more, if you want it spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 cup canola (or vegetable) oil
Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend for a few seconds!  You can store this in your refrigerator for a few weeks at least.  It should emulsify pretty well, so there shouldn't be much separation.  Just give it a quick shake before use!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stuffed Breakfast Chiles

Awww yeah!  I just made these bad boys a few minutes ago!  They're like reverse chile rellenos - the eggs are on the inside instead of the outside.  My fingers are still burning from the pasillas (which were spicier than expected, maybe I didn't de-vain them well enough!) - I never wear gloves when I handle chiles and then I regret it.  Wear gloves!!!  But really, these are only a little spicy, not really "hot".

I was thinking these stuffed chiles are pretty versatile.  I used green onion and bacon.  You could use jalapeños, cilantro (wish I'd had some!), sausage, chorizo, salsa.  Someone gave a shout for more vegetarian recipes - well here's one you can make vegetarian any way you want.  I love recipes like this where you can change it over and over and over again and just keep coming up with different combinations.  And... low-carb, if you're watching that kind of thing.

What goes with breakfast?  Well, naturally, I went straight to crack and dope... so Choking Victim was my only option, singing "500 Channels".  Get your skank on.  -jen

Homemade taco seasoning and Tabasco
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Bake Time:  10-12 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Yields:  4 stuffed chiles
  • 4 large pasilla chiles
  • 1/4 pound of bacon
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper*
  • dash of milk (like 1/4-1/2 teaspoon)
  • few dashes of green Tabasco sauce
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • toothpicks
Wash and dry chiles.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray (I like to line the pan with foil for easy clean-up).  Place chiles on baking sheet and broil on one side for 4-5 minutes until charred, then flip and broil on the other side 4-5 minutes until charred. 

Immediately place charred chiles in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or place in a large plastic zip bag and seal.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes so that the chiles sweat.  Then remove and peel off the charred skins.  Cut stem ends off chiles and slice down one side to open them up so that they lay flat.  Remove all seeds and ribs from inside of chile.  Re-spray the same baking sheet with more non-stick spray and lay chiles flayed open on baking sheet.  

While chiles are roasting, you can dice up your bacon and cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp and crumbled, 10-15 minutes.  Line a plate with paper towels and place the bacon onto the paper towel to absorb the grease.  In the same skillet, saute the diced green onion for 1-2 minutes, just until tender.  Mix in with the crumbled bacon on the paper towel plate.

When chiles are done roasting, turn oven down to 350 degrees F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper, Tabasco, and dash of milk.  (We always have some homemade "taco seasoning", and I used some of that to season my eggs, too!)  Using the same skillet again (I left a little bit of the bacon grease in it, or you can drain the grease out and use non-stick spray) over medium heat, scramble the eggs.  After 2-3 minutes of cooking, add the crumbled bacon and onion into the eggs and cook until just barely wet still.  Turn off heat.

On the open-faced chiles, add a layer of shredded cheese, then 1/4 of the egg mixture, then another layer of cheddar cheese.  Carefully fold the chile together and use a toothpick to secure it, leaving it seam-side up.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Remove toothpicks and serve immediately.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cheddar Dill Scones

So this is an old recipe from several years back that I make every so often and realized that we hadn't yet shared.  I know scones aren't on everybody's list of "Stuff To Eat Whenever Possible" but these scones will be!  I have had some scones in my day that were awfully bland and much more akin to the offspring that would be produced by a hockey puck mating with a biscuit.  This is not okay.  Scones should be light, flaky, buttery, and generally awesome.  So I set out to make a good one and after tweaking a couple recipes to get the desired result, I have come up with this.

I like dill and cheddar but you could substitute any cheese and herb combo that you may desire.  Fennel and Havarti or Gruyere and basil or whatever you like.  Or leave out the cheese and herbs and toss in some fruit like blueberries or raspberries.

Since scones make me think of stuffy old British folk taking tea and how awfully boring that must be, I decided to rock out with someone Brits who may take their scones with some whiskey and a side of mayhem and blasted some Siouxsie & The Banshees.  I definitely like their earlier stuff so I went with a classic of theirs from 1977 "Bad Shape".  - justin

Time: 35 min
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: As large or small as you want to make them but about 15
  • 4 cups + 1/4 cup (to flour a rolling surface) of flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb cold, unsalted butter, diced into cubes (the butter must be refrigerated until final mixing or the scones will be small and dense)
  • 4 extra large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1/2 lb extra sharp yellow cheddar, grated
  • 1 cup fresh dill, minced fine
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water or milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice butter into cubes and put back in fridge for later use.  Add the 4 cups flour, the baking powder, and the salt to a large bowl and mix.  Take the butter cubes out of the fridge and add them to the flour mixture all at once and incorporate them with either a stand mixer or hand mixer/egg beaters until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.  Add the grated cheese and chopped dill and incorporate quickly.  Combine the eggs and heavy cream in a small bowl and mix them into the butter and flour mixture until it just holds together.  Do not over mix!  The scones will turn out like a hockey puck mated with a biscuit!  Again: Do not over mix!  Less is better!  If you aren't sure if you are over mixing, you are probably over mixing! 

Pour the dough out onto a surface dusted with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and roll out into a rectangle 1 inch thick.  Cut into 4 inch squares and then in half diagonally to form triangles.  Mix the 1 egg and water/milk to make an egg wash and brush it on top of the scones.  Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick spray for 20 to 25 minutes or until the outside is a nice crusty brown and the inside is fully cooked.  Guess you'll just have to try one to see if they are!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

I guarantee you that you could serve this to 10 people who claim they don't like cauliflower, not tell them what it is, and at least 9 of them are going to love it.  If you're into watching your carbs, this is the PERFECT substitution for mashed potatoes.  A little high in fat, maybe, because of all the cheese.  But it's great.  We made it last night to eat with Fish Piccata and I'm eating the leftovers for breakfast as I type this up.  Good way to fool kids into eating their veggies too, if you happen to have that problem.

So how about a little smooth and creamy singing by Iggy Pop with "The Passenger".  (I dug all the clips from classic movies on this video.)  -jen

Prep Time:  25 minutes
Bake Time:  30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Yields:  about 8 cups
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste (and any other seasoning)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped (about 3 onions)
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously coat a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. 

Cut cauliflower into medium-sized florets.  Steam until tender.  Times will vary, depending on the size of your florets, 5-15 minutes.  You should be able to slide a fork into it easily - "fork-tender".  Remove from heat.

Place cauliflower into food processor bowl (if you don't have a food processor, egg-beaters/hand mixer would probably work).  Add butter, milk, garlic and cayenne.  I added just a pinch of salt, a few cranks of fresh black pepper, and a pinch of Caldo de Pollo (seasoned Mexican chicken bouillon).  You can use whatever seasoning you want - thyme, rosemary, dill, seasoning salt.  Blend in the food processor until smooth and creamy.  At this point taste it to see if it's seasoned to where you want it, add more seasoning if necessary.  Then add the eggs and blend those in.

Stir in the green onion and cheeses with a spoon, leaving a little bit of cheese to sprinkle on top; don't use the food processor.  Pour into your greased pan.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.