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.