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Showing posts from October, 2014

Toasted Pepitas

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are such a nice addition to salads and as toppings on soup.  What really brings out their flavor is toasting them. They are also really cool because when you toast them, they puff up and try to pop out of the pan.

I usually use my little cast iron pan and put in enough to cover the bottom - no fat required.  Once they start to try to escape from the pan, puff, and are lightly toasted remove from heat. I usually let them cool right in the frying pan.  If you let them get a little too dark, don't let them cool in the pan. They will continue to cook in the hot pan a little.

Homemade Creme Fraiche

This is so easy that I wouldn't even call it a recipe. I saw it in this book that I've talked about making it before and decided I needed to give it a whirl. She says that it's so easy a 4 year old could do it and I do have to agree.

All you do is mix 1 c of heavy cream with 1 T of cultured buttermilk, cover it, and let it sit out in a warm area for 24 hours. You can stir it once or twice. Simple huh?

It thickens up quite nicely. The only problem is you have to think a little bit ahead of time to make it. You need to use cultured buttermilk; you can't use the buttermilk left from making butter. Creme Fraiche is a dangerous thing to have in the house.  It goes so nicely with fresh strawberries (with a dash of brown sugar or reduced balsamic vinegar) or with soup (bisque, puree), on top of pie (pumpkin, apple) I could go on but you get the idea. It basically goes with everything.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is a whole new way of making mashed potatoes - well at least it was for me. I saw it on America's Test Kitchen and thought it was ingenious. I have since shared it with many other people and they really like this version too. You don't have to mess around with all that boiling hot water. The potatoes steam in the milk and suck in all the flavor from the garlic and optional herbs.

I've adapted it down to the point that you really don't even need a strict recipe.

Mashed Potatoes Without a Net (Adapted from ATK)

Equal part Skim Milk and Heavy Cream (or whole milk and half & half)
herbs (optional)

Peel and cube potatoes. Rinse and set aside.  In a dutch oven add butter, garlic and herbs (I used fresh thyme). Saute until fragrant.

Add potatoes and equal parts of milk and heavy cream until potatoes are partially covered. Add salt to taste.

Cover partially with the lid and cook until fork-tender. Mash and serve with additional salt…

Sauerkraut Do Over

Who is this new ghost in town?
 OLD GHOST                                                                                   NEW GHOST Well I'm trying the sauerkraut again. This time with a few modifications. Let's look under the hood:

I added a brine to the cabbage and placed a piece of cheesecloth to contain the stragglers.  Then I placed the plastic lid on top and next up was the weight (bottle of water). Lastly the hood (towel) with a rubberband as extra insurance that nothing bad is getting in there. I also did not put in the caraway seeds.

So fingers crossed that I get sauerkraut this time around and not mold. I'll report back.

Vacuum Sealer

Another thing that my mother's moving friend gave me was a vacuum sealer. I have thought about purchasing one of these before but just never got around to investigating them. So now I have one.

I had gotten some fresh corn on the cob but was not going to get a chance to cook them. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to give it a go. I removed the corn from the cobs and placed it in one of the sealing bags
Put it in the device and let it go...
I don't think it got rid of all of the air. The light was supposed to turn green and it didn't.  I don't know if I didn't wait long enough?? It did seem like it was a while and it seemed like a lot of air came out. I still think it is better than if I just put them in a container.
So I just stuck a label on it and tossed it in the freezer for another day.

Bannana Chocolate Cake

Well I told you I had a lot of cream cheese. There was no other choice but to make another cake. I had already made the baked pierogies. That only used 1/3 c but they were delicious. I must plan better next time when I made homemade cream cheese. Well I had some bananas that were getting a little past their prime...

Banana Chocolate Cake (adapted from JoyofBaking)
(with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from my brain)

2 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1 c mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c canola oil
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t chocolate extract (optional)

1 1/2 c cream cheese
1 1/2 c chocolate chips (bittersweet or semi)
1 t vanilla
1 t chocolate extract

Grease a 9x13 pan. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. In another bowl mash the bananas. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and extracts. Whisk together.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined. Pour in…

Lemonade Cake

So I made cream cheese again. Boy does that make a lot of cream cheese. I needed to figure out a way to use some of it up. Well this was one way. I have to say the homemade cream cheese is a little thinner than the store-bought stuff. Probably because they have stabilizers in theirs. I found that I used less sugar than the 2 1/2 cups for the frosting. I don't know if that was because the homemade has a very good flavor and it didn't need the additional sugar.

The directions for this cake were not that clear or I just didn't read carefully enough (probably the latter). But I mixed all the liquid ingredients sugar and butter then tried to mix them. What a mess. I thought it was a rather strange direction. In order to save the recipe, I ended up straining out the liquid and trying to beat the butter until smooth. UGH - like I said a total mess. I ended up with some pretty large tunnels in the cake and I'm assuming this was the result of the error of my ways. Hopefully I&…

Boo-hoo Sauerkraut

Well I was very disappointed today when I again went to check my sauerkraut and saw mold growing at the top of the jar. That was not cool. So I had to dump the sauerkraut. I do have to say the bottom portion did smell quite good and seemed to be sauerkrauting. I had done some more reading up on sauerkraut and it does seem like you need to have the sauerkraut either covered in its own liquid or add additional brining liquid to cover it. So I guess it's back to the beginning again.  I'll have to get some more cabbage and start over.

Sauerkraut Check in

Well I'm not feeling too confident with this sauerkraut thing. It does not look that appetizing. See....
This is 1 week out. The recipe said that it should take 5 days and you should be tasting it everyday. Well I've done a little more research (on the web of knowledge) and it looks like it should take several weeks. I have not been brave enough to taste it yet. It smells a little like cabbage but it doesn't smell rotten. So I guess we'll take the wait and see attitude.


Sometimes when I have a bunch of vegetables around, I make vegetarian chili (I know sacrilegious). Some would not consider this chili - well whatever you would like to call it, it tastes pretty darn good. I know some people are very strict about what they consider chili and recipes can be quite elaborate but this one is not. Most of the ingredients are things that you would have on hand except maybe the mushrooms. I also make a wicked vegetarian taco but alas that is for a different day.

Vegetarian Chili

1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, small dice
1 T olive oil
8oz mushrooms (cremini or portabello)
1 T cocoa powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t ancho
1/2 t chili powder (I'm a wimp I know)
1lb 28oz can of whole tomatoes
1lb kidney beans (or cannellini)
cheese for serving (cheddar, Monterey jack)

Saute onion and carrot with olive oil in a dutch oven. Add a little salt to help it along. Saute until onions start to brown. Meanwhile cut mushrooms into medium size chunks. Increase heat and …

Chocolate Meringue Coffeecake

This is what happens when you buy....

1lb of yeast. You start to look for recipes. This one intrigued me because it has meringue in the center??!! It was in one of the cookbooks that my mother's friend gave me (which reminds me I got some more loot from her - the cake pan that I used for this recipe, a nice sheet pan, a food sealer, 8" square metal pan, and a mandolin - sorry no pics).

Chocolate Meringue Coffeecake  (adapted from Favorite Recipes from All Saint's Church - Margaret Green)
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks) 1/2 c milk 3 T sugar (separated) 2 pkgs yeast (4 1/2 t) 1/4 c warm water 2 1/2 c flour 1/2 t salt 3 eggs, separated 2 t cinnamon 1/2 c raisins 1/2 c chocolate chips 1/4 t cream of tartar (opt) 1 c sugar
The night before: Melt the butter either in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add the milk. Set aside to cool for a bit.  Dissolve 1 T of sugar in the water (remember the water should be warm ahhh not warm OW) in a measuring cup. Stir in the yeast and set aside. Mix f…

What is this??

Some early Halloween decoration - no it's just some sauerkraut masquerading as a ghost. I've wanted to try making sauerkraut for a very long time. It is really quite simple but the creativity scale requirements are quite high.

First you need to find a jar that is large enough - CHECK.
Then you need to get the ingredients - CHECK.
Prepare the ingredients - CHECK.
Then the creativity comes in - CHECK.

Most recipes suggest inserting a plate over the cabbage to weigh it down. I could not find a plate that would fit in the mouth of my jar (even the espresso plates didn't work). So then I came upon the idea of using a plastic lid - as it would hold the cabbage down and would be bendable to get it into the jar in the first place.

Now for something to weigh it down....hmm water is heavy

Now to contain the overflow if my cup runneth over and a towel to "keep the flies" out as the recipe said and to let the cabbage breathe. Hence, the ghostlike appearance.
Now patience - …

Farro & Tomatoes

I like farro - who knew? In one of the recent cooking classes I took at Carol's Cafe, one of my classmates recommended this recipe. It came out pretty nice. I think it needed some more tomatoes. I did not have the suggested grape tomatoes (and you know I am totally unopposed to substituting things) so I used just regular tomatoes from the garden. I used about 3 medium size. Next time I would definitely up the tomato amount.

There is a lot of detail regarding the farro in the notes for the recipe. I'm quite undecided about which type of farro I had. I do think it might have been pearlized but the whole "ready in 10 minutes pre-cooked" thing sort of threw me.
This is not a blurry photo this is actually steam coming off the farro.

Cider Glazed Chicken

I guess fall is really here now - the apple cider is around. I wanted a real quick and easy dinner and that is what I got.

Cider Glazed Chicken

1 lb chicken breasts (pounded thin)
canola oil
2 clove garlic, minced
3/4 c apple cider
1 t dijon mustard
1 T butter

Heat skillet; then add enough oil to coat the pan. Salt and pepper chicken to taste. Add the chicken breasts but do not crowd the pan. (I did it in 2 batches). Remove chicken from pan and toss in garlic. Cook until fragrant. Pour in apple cider to deglaze pan. Add in dijon. Stir and scrape the fond from the bottom of the pan.  Cook on high heat until sauce begins to reduce. Add butter and dissolve. Put chicken and any juices that leaked out back into the pan. Turn over to coat with sauce.

I know you are probably getting tired of looking at chicken in the skillet. I think it does look the same as some other posts (maybe I used the same picture from another time?? did I??). I think there is nothing better than a perfec…

Smokey Mac n Cheese

This is definitely a recipe for grown-ups - no kids allowed. This is not a recipe that a typical kid would like. This is a totally souped-upped version or bacon-upped depending on your perspective.

Smokey Mac n Cheese

1lb pasta (I used Campanelle)
4 oz thick cut bacon (preferably homemade*)
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 c flour
1/2 c white wine
2 c skim milk
1/2 c heavy cream
1 t dry mustard
1 t ancho
1 t smokey paprika
4 oz Grueyre
4 oz cheddar cheese
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
3 tomatoes, cored and seeded
1/2 c panko
1T butter (perhaps additional depending on how fatty the bacon is and additional for greasing pan)

Cook pasta in salted water for about 5 minutes. Pasta should be still pretty tough.

Meanwhile cut bacon into small cubes. Saute in a saucepan until cooked - DO NOT drain fat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Add flour and stir to form a roux. This should be fairly loose but you want it to cook until it turns a nice tan color. You may have to add additional butte…

Tomato Risotto

Want to build up those arm muscles.  There is no better way than to do up a good risotto. You will get tired of stirring but it is oh so worth it.

Tomato Risotto

1 onion, chopped
olive oil
2 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 c Aborio Rice
1/2 c white wine
4 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled
about 1 cup warm vegetable stock (may need additional)
1 t fresh oregano
1 T fresh torn basil
2 T fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

In a dutch oven, saute chopped onion in olive oil.  Add a little salt to help the onions along. 

Meanwhile prep the tomatoes. Squeeze tomatoes gently just to rid them of the seeds. You do not need to get rid of all the liquid. Chop the tomatoes into large cubes.

Cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add rice and saute for a few minutes until the rice smells toasted. Gradually add white wine and stir until almost all of the wine is absorbed. Add tomatoes to the rice. Add the oregano and basil. Stirring constantly until all the liquid from t…