Saturday, December 20, 2014

Swiss-Almond Cheese Spread with Caramelized Onions

Clearly, I've been on a cheese spread kick.  Not only did I do the Cheddar Cheese Spread recipe, and Justin did Ina Garten's smoked salmon spread, but I also made a cream cheese, green olive and pecan spread that I remembered my mom stuffing celery sticks with for holidays when I was a kid.  After talking to my grandmother the other day,  come to find out, my great-great grandmother used to make the pecan-olive spread stuffed in celery.  100 year old family recipe!  Pretty cool to me!  One of my older brothers and I both had the urge to make it this year (without having talked about it) - must be feeling reminiscent.  I hope at least one of my nieces or nephews end up liking it too to carry on the tradition.

Anyway, this all actually started with me having the desire to do a Swiss-almond cheese spread.  I just hadn't gotten to it yet.  I was trying to think of something to do to it so it wasn't just Swiss-almond spread and I thought caramelized onions would be great with it... and they were.  I think this might be our favourite dip/spread yet.  The Swiss cheese is so mellow and mild... but the almonds give it a good crunch and the onions with it almost remind me of French-onion soup.  Really delicious!

I blame the holidays for my cream cheese extravaganza.  And I've definitely been in a holiday mood - I am guilty of being one of those dreaded people who loves Christmas music.  Justin suggested a song from Bad Religion's Christmas Songs, but I couldn't decide on one.  And Christmas only comes one a year, so I thought I'd share a link to the whole album.  -jen

Time:  25-30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, 1/4" slices (on the thin side)
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8oz finely shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika 
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped almonds
In a large skillet over a low heat, melt butter and add olive oil.  Add sliced onions and let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Onions will be soft, dark and sweet.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a food processor (or with a fork), combine cream cheese, shredded Swiss, mayonnaise, paprika, a pinch of salt and a few cranks of fresh ground pepper; blend until creamy and smooth.  Add caramelized onions and pulse (or fork) until combined.  Fold in chopped almonds by hand.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Serve chilled or slightly softened to room temp.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cheddar Cheese Spread

I haven't had as much time this year to make anything amazing or grand for the holidays like I'd hoped.  But I made this for no reason at all this morning (okay, I made it because I've been in a cream cheese mood) and I thought, "This would be so fantastic for any holiday party and so easy!"  So in a way, this recipe is perfect for the holidays which makes it both amazing and grand!

I'm a huge fan of crackers and cheese spread.  Grew up with the store-bought kind, you know the ones... port wine, cheddar & bacon, Swiss almond.  I actually don't see a lot of them in the stores anymore.  Maybe it's a passé appetizer... or maybe we just live behind the Redwood Curtain and don't get a lot of selection at our stores.  I try not to eat a lot of crackers anymore, but we have some crackers left over from a company Christmas party (where Justin made his own take on Ina Garten's Smoked Salmon dip, which was excellent, made with some fresh-caught, home-smoked salmon a friend gave us!) and we also have a ton of cheese in our house because my dad always sends a box of cheese and sausage from Wisconsin for Christmas - we look forward to it every year!  So I was itching for a cheese spread and decided to make one.  I don't think I will ever buy another store-bought cheese spread again!  This was just so easy to make and the different ideas for what I could put in them seems endless!  Beer, wine, garlic, onion, horseradish, bacon, herbs, roasted peppers.... you could put anything you liked into it!  Whatever cheese you want to use (I'd really like to make a Swiss-almond one!)  Like I said, I just used what I had at home and it came out fantastic!

I just heard this song for the first time the other day and I think it might be one of my new favourite Christmas songs.  I've always loved Cyndi Lauper.  Here she is with The Hives doing A Christmas Duel.  -jen

Time:  10 minutes
Difficulty:  So ridiculously easy
Makes:  about 2 cups
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8oz medium or sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (optional, but helps it spread better)
  • 2 teaspoons dried chives (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
In a food processor (or with a fork), combine all ingredients and mix until well blended.  Serve immediately or chill for later.  Really, you can choose whatever cheese you want and put whatever seasonings you like in it, that's just what I chose.  Be creative!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

(Not my pic.)
We both grew up with cranberry sauce out of a can... and when we discovered how easy it is to make your own and customize it,  I don't think we could ever go back to the canned version.  Earlier in the year I discovered Pomanders, which are oranges studded with whole cloves and used as a room freshener.  We hung several of them up in our house, in closets, in the hallway, and they really made our house smell amazing... we both fell in love with the smell of oranges and cloves combined. So when I decided to make a cranberry sauce today, I decided to go heavy on the orange and also use cloves.  Sweet, tart, slightly spicy... it pretty much smells like the holidays.

Fresh rinsed ranberries
(Here's a how-to for making your own pomander.)

I've really been trying to cut back the sugar in recipes and I did so in this one as well.  Most cranberry sauce recipes you find will use up to a cup of sugar or honey.  With this one, I figured I've got the orange juice, the cranberry juice, the apple, the Triple Sec... plenty of sweet but a lot of tart.  If you're not big into tart, you might want to use 1 cup of sugar in the recipe.

And in the holiday spirit, I chose Jim Carroll singing "People Who Died".  (I apologize for the video showing Leo and Marky Mark.)  -jen

Difficulty:  Easy
Time:  20 minutes
Makes: 2 and 1/4 cups
Orange & Lemon Zest
  • juice and zest of one orange (about 1/3 cup juice)
  • juice and zest of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons juice)
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup Triple Sec liqueur 
  • 1 apple (your choice), diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring orange juice, lemon juice, cranberry juice and sugar to a boil.  Add rinsed cranberries and bring back to a boil (about 5 minutes).  Lower heat to a simmer and add citrus zests, Triple Sec, diced apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes (but not more than 15 minutes or it won't set).  Remove from heat and let set.  Serve at room temp or chilled - it's up to you. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Custard Crumble

I dove into this recipe with good, healthy intentions.  "Oh... I could do a crust-less pumpkin pie... low sugar, low fat, low carbs..."  Totally had the intention of leaving flour out of the topping and going light on the sugar.  Then... then it turned into something evil and decadent and delicious.  Still went lighter on the sugar than most pumpkin pie recipes would call for but... I crunched the numbers (because I have a sick love of spreadsheets) and they weren't pretty.  Per slice:  230 calories; 8 grams of fat; 31 net carbs; 6g of protein.  Still, healthier for you than a Snickers bar, and better tasting!  Not exactly diet-dessert, but probably a little better for you than most.  I got a ton of sugar pumpkins from a friend, so I made my own puree.  Can't speak for the outcome if you use canned... but I'm sure it'd be fine.

Since Halloween is in less than a week, I've really been getting into the spirit.  We hit up the pumpkin patch today because I love carving jack-o-lanterns.  And I did a last practice run on my Dia de los Muertos calavera (sugar skull) makeup!  So I felt like a song in the graveyard spirit might be in order.  Koffin Kats doing "Graveyard Tree".  -jen

Prep:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  55-60 minutes
Preparing to roast sugar pie pumpkins.
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  12 servings

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc)

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground ginger 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3 cups fresh pumpkin puree (or 24oz canned puree)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously coat a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a food processor, combine all of the topping ingredients and pulse.  If you don't have a food processor, cut the butter into the flour, then add the remaining ingredients.  Set aside.

In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, clove, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, beat together pumpkin, brown sugar and eggs.  Add evaporated milk until blended.  Add dry ingredients just until combined. 

Pour batter into prepared baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.  Carefully remove from oven and use a spoon to sprinkle the topping over the top to your desired thickness.  (You can use the back of the spoon to gently pat it into the filling if it looks like it's just resting on a skin.)  Bake an additional 20-25 minutes.  Crust should be golden-brown and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean.  Let cool on a wire cooling rack for an hour.  Refrigerate for storage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Herb and Cheese Focaccia

I'm not really into making bread... but I don't mind making focaccia at all.  It only takes 20 minutes to rise.  You don't have to do much kneading.  And the stand mixer makes it even easier (though it's not necessary.)  We've been making this recipe since I first moved out to California about 9 years ago and we like changing it up.  Pepperoni... grilled onions... green olives... jalapeños... different cheeses.  It's a pretty versatile recipe.  Sometimes we use the dough for pizza crust!  Sometimes we use it to make pepperoni twists or bread sticks.  I've sliced a loaf in half, made a pesto mayo, and then made a giant sandwich with pepperoni, salami, Mortadella, provolone... sliced it up into little finger sandwiches with toothpicks stuck through 'em and took it to a work party.  It's pretty great.  I made a quick and easy marinara dipping sauce to go with the pepperoni version I made today.

I was actually in a soul mood (as I often am)... usually I go with some 60s soul; Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, James Carr.  But today, I felt like some doo-wop soul and was listening to The Drifters, The Temptations, some old James Brown.  I couldn't really think of any punk covers of soul music... which is a shame, because those are probably my two favourite styles of music.  (Anyone think of any?)  But The Dirtbombs from Detroit came to mind... a little punk influence, some definite soul influence.  They seemed the way to go!  So here they are, doing "Your Love Belongs Under A Rock".  -jen

Time:  50-55 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  1 loaf
  • 1 packet (1/4oz) quick rise yeast (or 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or any combination of dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, etc)
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (separated)
  • pepperoni
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated Paremesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, sugar and water.  Stir until dissolved.  Let sit for about 5 minutes until bubbles form on top.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and black pepper.  When yeast mixture has proofed for five minutes, mix in flour mixture and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  If using a stand mixer, use the kneading attachment and knead dough for 10 minutes.  If mixing by hand, stir until combined.  Then on a lightly floured surface, knead dough by hand for 10 minutes until dough is  and elastic. 

Form dough into a ball.  Using 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil, lightly coat a large bowl and place dough into bowl, rolling around to coat with the oil.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 20 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.  (I like to preheat the oven to 450 at this point and let the dough rise on the top of the stove towards the back near the heat.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Beat down dough and place onto parchment paper, patting flat and forming into a 1/2"-3/4" loaf.  Using the remainder of the olive oil, lightly brush the top of the loaf.  Place desired amount of pepperoni over the top, then sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella over it.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Cool and serve.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Asian Cabbage Rolls & Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Justin's made an Eastern-European style cabbage rolls a few times and we have a recipe for them here.  But ever since he did, I was thinking of other things we could stuff cabbage rolls with... and I instantly craved an egg roll-type pork filling.  Today I finally remembered to make it, along with a chopped vegetable Asian style salad.

Wow.  I first posted this using a song we already used.  That was smooth.  Let's go with something different.... and angry.  Paint It Black doing "Labor Day".  Because sometimes... it feels like a nine to five death march.  -jen

Prep Time:  15-20 minutes
Rest Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  35 minutes
Difficulty:  Medium
Makes:  About 12 rolls
  • 1 pound ground pork
  •  whole Napa cabbage leaves
  • 1.5 cup Napa cabbage, chopped fine
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped fine (2-3 medium onions)
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal (Asian chili paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
On a large cutting board or your counter, use a rolling pin to flatten the whole cabbage leaves, one
leaf at a time.  This will help with the rolling process.  Make sure to break down the ribs.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.  Drain off any excess juice.  Lay two cabbage leaves out, slightly overlapping with the stems nearest you.  Measure 1/4-1/3 cup of the meat mixture and place in the center of the leaves.  Starting with the stems, carefully roll-up over meat, tucking sides in as you go.

Place rolls seam-side down in a 9x13 baking dish.  (Line with foil for easier clean up!)  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until pork is cooked thoroughly (160 degrees).

Serve with Asian Dipping Sauce (recipe below).

(It's like pot sticker sauce!)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons green onion (1 medium onion)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sambal (Asian chili paste)
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Time:   15 minutes
Difficulty:  Easty
Makes:  about 4 cups
  • 1 to 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (about 16)
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped (3 medium onions)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Split cumbers in half length-wise.  Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard.  Dice cucumbers.  Add remaining ingredients and toss.  If you can make this ahead of time, the taste improves after it rests a while. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Spicy Mexican Pepper Soup

This soup came out a little like a cross between tortilla soup and a Mexican minestrone... way tasty!  I was pleased with it.  Just enough heat to hit, but not enough that you break a sweat because your tongue is on fire.  I made mine tonight with the beef broth leftover from our Slow Cooker Chile Colorado.  But if you don't want to do two nights of awesomeness, well... I guess you can just add some store-bought beef broth.    I did, however, also use the leftover chile sauce from that recipe... so really, why not just make the Chile Colorado first, freeze your broth, and make this soup when you run out of Colorado!?

I chose a little ska in Spanish for my recipe with Sublime singing "Chica Mi Tipo".  -jen

Prep Time:  10-15 minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 2.5 quarts

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large Anaheim pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large poblano pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded and diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 can corn (14oz)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14oz)
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) beef stock
  • 1 can black beans (14oz)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • juice of 1 lime (about 1-2 tbsp)
  • 2 tablespoons chile sauce (either CTDF's chile sauce or look for Herdez' Guajillo or Pasilla sauces)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup masa harina (*optional)
  • 3 cups hot water
 *If you're trying to watch carbs, you can totally eliminate the masa harina and the soup will just less like a tortilla soup and more like a minestrone.

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high.  Add diced onion, Anaheim, poblano, jalapeño, carrots, mushrooms and garlic.  Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and onions are translucent.  Add corn and tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes.  Add the beef stock, beans, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, lime juice, chile sauce and cilantro.  Bring to a boil.

While soup is heating to boil, mix masa herina and hot water in a medium-sized mixing bowl with a wire whisk until masa harina is fully incorporated.  With the wire whisk, whisk into soup and bring back to a boil.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mixed Berry Syrup

Over the last few years I've weened myself off of soda all together - can't drink it anymore.  But I still get the craving for something bubbly.  I usually end up making myself a Martinelli's spritzer, using 1 part Martinelli's sparkling cider to about 3 parts sparkling lemon water, and then a wedge of lemon.  I'd been wondering about making my own fruit syrups and then making Italian soda with them.  So today, I took some frozen mixed berries we had and went to town.  Really like the way it tastes!  And this syrup would be awesome on french toast, waffles, cream cheese and bagels, English muffins....

I chose The Briggs' "This Is L.A." for no particular reason other than... I like it and we haven't used The Briggs yet.  -jen

Time:  20 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  3/4 cup
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over a medium-high heat, bring to a boil.  Lower heat and keep at a slow simmer, stirring intermittently, for 15-20 minutes, until sauce has thickened and berries have fallen apart.  Strain syrup thoroughly.  Use to flavour drinks or serve on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, etc.

1-2 tbsp mixed berry syrup topped with sparkling lemon water

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bloody Mary Dill Pickles and Sour Herb Dill Pickles

We've posted a couple of pickle recipes on here already: Refrigerated Dill Pickles and  Refrigerated Rye Pickles.  When we were at the farmer's market, we grabbed a bunch of pickling cucumbers and I decided to take our base recipe and twist it into a Bloody Mary pickle recipe.  Man... these pickles... awesome!  A little spicy, but not super hot.  Lots of flavour.  We had so many cucumbers that Justin decided to do his own twist on our base recipe and his sour pickles came out delicious.  He added nasturtium leaves because he did some research and found that nasturtium leaves can help keep the pickles crispy longer.  We have a big plant right off our front porch. 

So here are two more refrigerated dill pickle recipes that are quick and easy.  I don't know who this band is, but I stumbled on them because I saw their name pop up on some search and I had to check it out.  Like... Tom Waits' rockabilly brother.  The Hillbilly Moon Explosion doing "My Love Forevermore".  -jen

Time:  less than 10 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes: 1 quart
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole celery seeds
  •  3-6 pickling cucumbers (depending on size) or 1 large English cucumber
  • 1/4 teaspoon horseradish
  • 3 teaspoons Demitri's Bloody Mary Seasoning (or your favourite)
  • 1 shot (3oz) vodka
  • 3/4 cup V-8 (or tomato juice)
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
In a quart-sized jar,  combine garlic and all of the dry ingredients and shake jar to mix well.  Arrange cucumbers in jar.  (For pickling cucumbers, put in whole, halved or quartered.  For English cucumber, cut into long spears.)  Add horseradish and remaining liquid ingredients.  Fill to the top with water.  Refrigerate for 3-5 days. 

Time:  Less than 10 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes: 1 quart
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh nasturtium leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickling spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf, whole
  • 3-6 pickling cucumbers (depending on size) or 1 large English cucumber 
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
In a quart-sized jar,  combine basil, garlic and all of the dry ingredients and shake jar to mix well.  Arrange cucumbers in jar.  (For pickling cucumbers, put in whole, halved or quartered.  For English cucumber, cut into long spears.)  Add vinegars.  Fill to the top with water.  Refrigerate for 3-5 days.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Slow Cooker Chile Colorado with Pico de Gallo

Mmm... even as I type this, it's been a few hours since we ate and I still have the awesome, awesome flavour of the chile sauce in my mouth.  I was tired of chicken and ground beef in my tacos and enchiladas, we'd been eating a lot of pork lately and I didn't want that, so I thought I'd do something with a little more pop.  Came out so good!

I woke up today with Nerf Herder's "Pantera Fans In Love" stuck in my head... no idea why!  So it's what I'm using for the recipe tunes.  -jen

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time:  6-8 hours
Difficulty:  Medium
Serves:  6-8
  • beef chuck roast, 3.5-4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large Anaheim chile, julienned
  • 1 large poblano chile, julienned
  • 1 jalapeño chile, julienned
  • 1/2 large onion, julienned 
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • 12 oz beer of choice (I used PBR because that's what we had)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups red chile sauce (see recipe below)
Trim excess fat from chuck roast.  In a small dish, mix together salt, pepper, oregano and cumin.  Sprinkle evenly over entire roast (bottom too!)  Place roast in slow cooker and cover the top with the minced garlic.  Add chiles and onion, making sure to cover the top of the roast with them.   Pour lime juice over veggie-covered roast and then add the beer, pouring it on the side of the roast (not over it!)

Cook on high for 6-8 hours, until you can shred the roast easily using two forks.  While roast is cooking, make your chile sauce and pico de gallo (see recipe below).

When roast is done and shredded, drain over a bowl and set broth aside.  Put the beef back into the crock pot and add 1 and 1/2 cups red chile sauce, as well as 1/2 cup of the reserved broth.  (You can refrigerate or freeze the broth to use later in a delicious soup, like Spicy Mexican Pepper Soup!)  Turn slow cooker to low and cook another half hour.

Serve in tacos, tamales, burritos, enchiladas, over rice, on nachos, whatever!

Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easty
Makes:  3 cups
  • 1/4 pound dried guajillo chiles (if you like it hot, use 1/8# dried guajillo & 1/8# dried chipotle)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 9-10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño (optional, for spiciness!)
  • juice of 1-2 limes 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Caldo de Pollo (or 1 chicken bouillon cube)
  • 2 cups hot water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  If you want a hotter chile, tear off stems but leave seeds in dried chiles.  If you want a mild one, tear off stems and empty out seeds.  (I recommend at least keeping half the seeds.)  Place seed pods on baking sheet and roast for 3-4 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Let chiles cool to touch before packing them into a large blender.  Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, cumin, oregano, Caldo and carefully pour the hot water over everything.  Blend until completely pureed. 

Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 2 cups
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until desired consistency (I like mine like a relish).  If you don't have a food processor, just dice everything small.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

I had no idea how simple and delicious macaroons were.  New favourite quick dessert!  Anyone could make these!  And they look pretty impressive when you're through. Like a homemade Mounds bar.  (I was actually thinking of putting some chopped almond in the next batch so it was like an Almond Joy!)

Can't believe we haven't used any Pennywise on the blog yet.  Justin picked the song because I couldn't decide - "Society".  -jen

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Makes: 22-24
Need: parchment paper, egg beaters or stand mixer
  • 4 egg whites, room temp
  • 1 package (14 ounces) sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bitter sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a kitchen stand mixer or with egg beaters, whisk the four egg whites until stiff peaks form.

In a separate large bowl, combine coconut, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla.  Gently fold in egg whites.

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons (I actually used two scoops of a melon baller), drop about 3 tablespoons of the mixture 1" apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown.  Cool on a wire baking rack.

When macaroons are cooled, place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for 2 minutes at 50% power.  Stir.  Continue for 30 second intervals, stirring, until melted smooth.  Dip bottoms of macaroons into chocolate and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (If you want to go a little light on the chocolate, just drizzle over the tops with a spoon.)  Refrigerate until cool.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Roasted Beets with Skordalia

Skordalia: A garlic lover's wet dream.  I first had skordalia with my mother in a Greek restaurant when I lived in Chicago.  The garlic in this dish hit us like a roundhouse kick to the face!  It's a puree of potato, a massive amount of raw garlic and a bit of vinegar.  At the restaurant, they served it with cold beets (probably boiled).  The first time I made it, to introduce it to Justin, I opted for roasting the beets and that's how we've made it ever since. 

It's got a mean garlic bite and is not for the garlic-whimps.  This is the stuff of nightmares for all city transit commuters!  And it's awesome.

The serving options are pretty limitless - it's a dip, a spread, a puree, a sauce.  We put it on roasted veggies, we dip fresh veggies in it, we use it as a spread in sandwiches.  We've eaten it with beef, pork, chicken.  Traditionally it's served with fish.  Tonight I toasted some baguette, spread the skordalia on it, sliced some tomato and fresh mozzarella real thin and laid it on top of the skordalia, then drizzled a basil-lemon vinaigrette over it all.  'Bout the best thing I've ever had! 

I had The Queers' "Fuck This World" in my head the other day.  And we haven't thrown any Queers up on the blog yet.  -jen


Time:  40-45 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Serves:  3-4 servings
  • 4 cups beets (about 4 medium-sized beets),  peeled and diced into 1/2"-3/4" cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss diced beets with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (I always line mine with foil to save on clean-up).  Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes until edges start to brown, tossing halfway through baking time. 

Time:  20 minutes
I used some purple hard-neck garlic we got at the Farmers Market!
Difficulty:  Easy 
Makes:  2.5-3 cups
*requires a food processor - or try a blender or beaters at your own risk, I've only used the food processor!
  • 4 large baking potatoes (1.5-2 pounds), diced into 1" cubes
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
Place diced potatoes into a large stock pot.  Put enough cold water in the pan to just cover the potatoes.  Generously salt the water.  Over a medium-high heat, bring the water and potatoes to a boil - once the boil is reached, cook for 6-7 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain. 

Combine potatoes, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse together several times.  Then turn onto a medium speed and drizzle in 1/3 of the olive oil, then 1/2 of the vinegar.  Repeat and end with the last of the olive oil until combined.  Serve hot or cold. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Banana Cream Pie Bars

Was just sitting around on this 4th of July, watching bad tv, pondering what we had in the kitchen.  Came across the four bananas that were getting close to being too ripe.  Thought about just doing some banana bread or banana muffins, but that seemed more "bready" than I felt like.  Last week, I'd found some pumpkin in the freezer from last fall when we'd roasted and pureed a few pumpkins.  I made a great, hearty crust with oats and nuts, so I figured... why not make some banana cream pie bars using the same crust?  I've never made banana cream pie before, though strangely, that's kind of how I met Justin - it was a topic of conversation.  Then when I was grabbing the vanilla extract, I caught the chocolate chips out of the corner of my eye and decided they'd go into it, too.

Been listening to music all day today.  Lots of Lagwagon, Strung Out, Swingin' Utters.  It was kind of hard to choose a song.  But one album I pulled out today was NOFX's "Punk In Drublic".  Total flashback to my angst filled freshman year in high school.  I remember specifically playing this cassette tape over and over on my boombox while playing Super Nintendo with my little brother.  So I chose "Leave It Alone."   -jen

Time:  30 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy/Medium (it seemed easy to me)
Makes:  12 bars

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons butter (3/4 of a stick), softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, etc) 
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup water, room temp
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-5 large, ripe bananas, sliced thin
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and butter.  Beat until butter is cut into flour and crumbly.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.  Prepare a 13"x 9" (2 qt) baking dish by buttering or coating it with non-stick cooking spray.  Press mixture into the baking dish evenly, coming slightly up the sides (make sure to even out the corners so they're not real thick).  Bake crust at 375 degrees F for 17-20 minutes (until crust is golden brown).  Remove and set on a cooling rack.

While crust is baking, prepare custard by combining sugar, corn starch and salt in a medium sauce pan.  Whisk in cream and water.  Then whisk in egg yolks.  Cook over medium-high heat, continuing to whisk until sauce thickens and boils (about 6 minutes).  Remove from heat and then whisk in butter and vanilla.

Cover the cooled crust with a layer (2 to 2.5) of sliced bananas.  Scoop half of the custard evenly over the layered bananas, and carefully spread across them as evenly as possible.  Repeat a second layer of sliced bananas and custard.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Enchilada Casserole

Enchiladas are one of our favourite dishes to make and it took us a few years of trial and error
with technique and ingredients before we got it right where we want it.  We really didn't think we could make it better...until a few weeks ago.  We had left over shredded pork that we'd made in the slow cooker, and I decided to go the "lazy" route and try an enchilada casserole.  I'd never had one, never made one, only heard of 'em.

Shockingly... we liked it better than our enchiladas.  Justin nailed it when he said it's like a lasagna.  The ratios were great.  We loved the way all the flavours came together.   And it took a lot less time to make than enchiladas because there wasn't the frying process or the rolling process.  Just layer up the dish and go.

For this round, we decided to try ground beef instead of the shredded pork.  I think we liked the shredded pork better, but the ground beef was still great (and we figured we'd go with it for the recipe because it seemed more accessible and quicker).  Shredded chicken would probably be bomb, too!  I think the corn and beans really make the dish - corn adds a nice crunch, beans add a great creaminess.  We made our salsa verde extra spicy, so we didn't add jalapeños to it, but they would also be great amongst the layers.  And since it heats up so well as a leftover, we made the recipe huge so we could have lunches to take to work for the next few days. 

We were thinking we hadn't pulled out much old punk in a while.  So Justin suggested some Suicidal Tendencies, and one he said he liked.  "Memories of Tomorrow".  -jen

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  45 minutes
Poblano chiles
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  10-12 large portions

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano chile, diced
  • 2 packets taco seasoning
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 cups salsa verde (make your own quick and easy with CTDF's recipe here)
  • about 15 corn tortillas
  • 1 can (14oz) black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (14oz) corn, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 4 cups shredded cheese of your choice (go for 6 cups if you like it cheesy!)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add diced onion, diced chile and ground beef to pan.  Cook until vegetables are soft and meat is thoroughly cooked, stirring intermittently.  Drain grease from pan, add about 2 tablespoons of water and taco seasoning.  Cook until water has cooked off.  Set aside.

Coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with non-stick spray.  Spread a thin layer of salsa verde on the bottom of the dish.  Lay out two layers of corn tortillas over the salsa verde.  (I found I could get two whole tortillas in, and then broke up a 3rd one to fill in the holes for a single layer.)  Sprinkle half of the seasoned meat over the tortillas.  Add half of the beans and corn.  Spoon another thin layer of salsa verde on top.  Add half of the cilantro and one third of the shredded cheese.  Repeat another double layer of tortillas, followed by a repeat of meat, beans, corn, salsa verde, cilantro and cheese.   Finish with a single layer of tortillas.  Top tortillas with a thin layer of salsa verde and then add the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, uncovered.  Remove and let rest 5-10 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Banana Nut Granola

I had this craving for banana granola the other day and wasn't even sure if such a thing existed!  Well it does now!  Came out real tasty, not super sweet (we don't dig super sweet granola).  So much cheaper to make your own than to buy it, even when you can get it in the bulk bins, it's not this cheap.  I got all the oats, nuts, seeds and pumpkin chips out of the bulk bins at my local store and spent about $5 for the whole thing - it filled 3.5 quart-sized Mason jars.  Bueno!

The thing I like about making your own granola is that you can put whatever you want in it, really.  Whatever nuts you like.  Whatever seeds you like.  It's a good way to experiment with stuff you haven't tried before.  Coconut, puffed rice, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

We've used the Bouncing Souls a few times with our recipes, but I've been listening to a lot of their later albums the last few days and it's just what's in my head.  So I'm using them again.  "Gasoline".  -jen

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time:  30-40 minutes
Difficulty:  Easy
Makes:  about 10 cups
  • 6 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup banana chips
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or canola oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • parchment paper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place banana chips in a quart size Ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to smack the bag and break them up a little.

In a large bowl, combine oats, broken banana chips, coconut, almonds, cashews, pecans, pepitas, flax seed, salt and cinnamon.  Stir to combine.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine bananas, brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and sesame oil. Using a stick blender, puree mixture.  (If you don't have a stick blender, you can use a food processor, a stand mixer or a hand mixer.)

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until completely coated.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Spread half of the oat mix onto each pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring the granola every 10 minutes.  Granola should be golden brown.  Keep an eye on it, it can start burning quickly towards the end.

Let granola cool and store in an airtight container.

Uses:  mix with yogurt, eat with milk or almond milk like cereal, put in cookies, stir into your waffle or pancake batter, sprinkle on ice cream.