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.