October 20, 2017

Pulled Pork Hash






Ingredients:

1 large Russet potato (about 1 lb), cubed
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 oz fresh spinach
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup leftover pulled pork (any will do, I used my Honeycrisp Apple Pulled Pork)
2 fried eggs (like crispy, lacy eggs myself)

Directions:
In a large skillet, saute the onions, and pepper in some oil until the potato is nearly fork-tender. Stir in the spinach. Saute until the spinach is about half wilted. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the pork. Cover for 1-2 minutes. Remove the cover and saute until the pulled pork is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. Divide onto two plates, top with fried egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.






Serves: 2 (can be doubled)

My thoughts:
Whenever I make pulled pork, I always end up with a lot of leftovers. I normally freeze it or just eat it as a sandwich the next day but sometimes I get vaguely creative. I've made pulled pork grilled cheese, Matt just had a sort of donburi/loco moco inspired dish and had it over sticky rice and with an egg, and I made this hash. It is so easy yet flavored-packed thanks to using the great pulled pork I made the other day. It does take a bit of time because you are sauteing raw potatoes so keep that in mind (if you have parboiled or pre-cooked potatoes you can use those and speed the process up) but is is dead simple. 


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October 18, 2017

Honeycrisp Apple Pulled Pork




Ingredients:
1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
1 1/2 lb honeycrisp apples, sliced
2 1/2 lb boneless pork butt
12 oz bottle chili sauce (like Heinz)
1 teaspoon ground mustard (powder)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the onions and apples in the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Place the pork roast on top of the onion. Add the remaining ingredients over the pork. Cover and cook on high 4 hours then on low for 4 hours. OR cook 9-10 hours on low. Remove the roast and shred with forks or "meat claws".  Discard any unwanted chunks of fat.

Mash the onions and apple mixture in the slow cooker until nearly completely smooth.


Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and toss with sauce. Serve on rolls or bread.


My thoughts:
It's apple season again! I am not a huge fan of fall as you may remember from nearly every post this time of year from 2004 to today. I like somethings about fall--when it is still hammock weather, apples, generally less humidity, baking again after avoiding the oven in my non-centrally air-conditioned home, deciding if I am brave enough to wear a poncho--but I don't like knowing that my least favorite season is coming, it getting dark early, no fresh tomatoes worth eating, no nectarines, colder temperatures. Blah! But I do love apples and my fruit consumption goes way up in fall because they are so easy and neat to eat.

My all-time favorite apple is the Stayman-Winesap but for a sweet apple, you can't beat the Honeycrisp. It is in fact, crisp and sweet like honey. They also can be huge! I literally only used one apple for this recipe! It was that big! This recipe is super simple, you don't have to do a lot of prep and it basically makes its own apple-y barbecue sauce as the meat cooks. The end result is melt in your mouth tender pork that is redolent of spices and apples. The perfect fall weeknight dinner.

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October 16, 2017

Stove-top Pimento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese



Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup dried elbow macaroni
4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
8 oz brick extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
 Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in the pan. Add the flour and spices. Whisk until it forms a paste, about 1 minute. Pour in the milk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheddar, pimentos and Worcestershire sauce and whisk until thickened 3-5 minutes. Stir in drained noodles. Serve.
My thoughts:
I've never made stove top mac and cheese before! I'm normally a heavy seasoned, baked mac person (crispy, cheesy bits!) but since I am back into the cooking around my husband's work and school schedule time of the year again, I thought I'd try a quicker version.

I love pimento cheese and it really is a shame it is not more popular here in Baltimore. One of my favorite things about the South besides barbecue and meat and threes is the amount of what we call "ladies who lunch" restaurants; places where a salad plate means a scoop of chicken salad, pimento cheese and a scoop of tuna salad. Or if you are in Kentucky, benedictine.  The pimento cheese is always on point at those places. I've made a fair amount of pimento cheese over the years but never pimento mac and cheese before which seems like a major oversight.

I'm so glad I finally made it. There are no chewy bits in this macaroni and cheese but it is very creamy and very, very cheesy! It is also full of flavor thanks to the spices and pimentos. No bland box mac and cheese here! I went old school and served it with ham but anything would be good. Just be forewarned, it does cook up very quickly! We ended up eating way earlier than expected as it went from milk to thick cheese sauce in just minutes. I'm used to having to make it and bake it for nearly an hour in a casserole so having homemade mac and cheese in like 20 minutes was a bit of a foreign concept.

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October 13, 2017

Hangtown Fry-ttata



Ingredients:
1 pint shucked oysters, preferably "select" size
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped scallions
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup milk
10 eggs
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil



Directions:


Preheat oven to 350. Heat 1-inch canola oil in a heavy skillet.

In a small, shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge each oyster in the cornmeal mixture and fry, turning once until golden. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until fluffy.  Stir in the scallion and bacon. Oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.  Arrange the oysters in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.

Pour the egg mixture into the dish and bake for 40 minutes or until fully set in the middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice into 9 squares and serve.



My thoughts:
It is prime oyster season here and I've been scoring pints of local oysters for under $10. The Hangtown fry is one of those weird dishes that had to have been invented by an American. Who else would think of adding fried oysters to scrambled eggs? There are a lot of variations and stories about the Hangtown fry but basically, it was an expensive breakfast that originated with minors during the California Gold Rush. Think: oysters were plentiful but not up in the mountains. It is only relatively recently that oysters can be safely purchased year round so think about having to keep them cool and alive in the 1880s and hauling them up a mountain! Only a successful prospector would think of such a meal! Other expensive ingredients would have been bacon and eggs so why not throw them all together in a sort of loose omelette?

 It is a little labor intensive to make a Hangtown fry and it is tricky to make it for a crowd and have it ready for everyone to eat at once so I thought turning it into a frittata was a clever move. It really only took about 20 minutes of prep time--I fried the bacon and the oysters at the same time and since it is a one-step breading process, I just dredged and dropped them in the hot oil one after another. Oysters only take about 5 minutes to fry, even if they are big "select" size oysters. I was worried about the texture but the oysters held up perfectly and the breading was still pretty crisp and provided that "fried" taste that is really needed to make this a Hangtown Fry-ttata vs a generic oyster frittata. It helps to use good bacon too, I like True Story bacon for dishes like this because it is thick and has a good porky, smoky flavor and isn't too salty but any thick cut bacon would work.

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October 11, 2017

Goo Goo Cookies






Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup salted dry roasted peanuts
10 soft caramels, cut into 1/4 inch pieces*
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips, marshmallow, peanuts and caramels. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 14 minutes. Slide them out ON the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 2-5 minutes (or until the caramel isn't quite so molten) on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies




*I used Werther's soft caramels and halved them. (they are super cheap at Aldi BTW)




My thoughts:
One of my favorite candy bars in the Goo Goo Cluster. Unfortunately, it isn't sold here in Baltimore so I have to stock up in airports and on trips further south. (You can order them online but I have had bad luck ordering chocolate outside the absolute dead of winter) For the uninitiated, the basic Goo Goo Cluster is a chocolate-covered mix of peanuts and caramel with a marshmallow cream center.

Since I don't have access to Goo Goo Clusters, I had an idea that makes me either a mad genius or just plain mad. Why not take all of the ingredients that make Goo Goo Clusters so awesome and turn them into a cookie? Why not, indeed. It worked surprisingly well! A few had some caramel ooze but that is to be expected. Any extra caramel was easily broken off the cookies after they cooled and the marshmallow basically melts into the batter and gives it a soft, chewy texture. The cookies were oddly not super duper sweet (thanks to the peanuts and dark chocolate, I think) but they are very satisfying to eat. The cookies really do taste like a Goo Goo Cluster and a chocolate chip cookie had a baby. So if slightly sticky, chewy, caramel-y, chocolate-y, peanut-y desserts are your thing, make these cookies today!

The dough is very chunky and a little sticky so if you have a cookie scoop, this a good excuse to put it to use.

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October 09, 2017

Roasted Oyster Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts with Shiso and Shichimi Togarashi


Ingredients:
1 lb Brussels sprouts, quarted
1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, stems removed and mushrooms separated into pieces
1-2 tablespoons shichimi togarashi*
1-2 tablespoons shiso fumi furikake* (rice seasoning)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the onions in a single layer, top with mushrooms and potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi and furikake . Bake for 18 minutes.

*I buy shichimi togarashi by the bag on Amazon and we bought this mixed case of furikake but any store with a well-stocked Japanese section should have it.

My thoughts:
Shiso, also known as perilla, has sort of a minty flavor that I really enjoy. The shiso furikake is basically just dried, shredded shiso so I thought it would be interesting to try in on something other than rice (or popcorn, my other favorite use for furikake). I'm glad I took the risk, it added a herby note to the dish and complemented the spices in the shichimi togarashi quite well. I love side dishes like this that are super easy but very tasty and satisfying.

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October 05, 2017

Crab Imperial



Ingredients:

for the imperial
16 oz lump blue crab meat
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground mustard (I like Colman's)
2 tablespoons Old Bay
1 egg, beaten
juice of 1/2 lemon


topping:
1/2-3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used cheese bread from the bakery)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, stir together imperial ingredients until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Spread evenly in a 1 1/4 quart baking dish. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve with crackers, bread or just a fork.
My thoughts:
Crab imperial is one of those dishes you don't see on menus too often, even here in crab-loving Baltimore. You see it more often as part of a larger dish (like shrimp stuffed with crab imperial--my fave) but not always by itself, either as a main dish or an appetizer. I don't know why not! If you like crab cakes you will love crab imperial because it is very, very similar but in some ways even better---there is literally no filler of any kind in crab imperial. So if you are a crab cake fanatic who searches for the crab cake with the least amount of bread cubes, crackers or bread crumbs, crab imperial is going to be your new favorite dish.

I personally had never made it at home before but crab season is still going strong so Maryland crab meat has been on sale and I've picked it up a few times. Last time I made crab cakes, which I love but are a little time consuming and hands-on so I thought I'd try something different. This was so easy! You just stir everything together, top with some crumbs for some crunch and there you go! Perfect for a meal or appetizer. I served it with bread slices and crackers but you can also serve it in spoons or individual ramekins. It is so flavorful and impressive. 

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
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October 04, 2017

Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)





Ingredients:

for the buns:
1/4 oz active dry yeast (1 packet)
5 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons freshly ground green cardamom*
1 egg
pinch salt

for the filling
1/4 cup butter, softened
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

for the topping:
1/3 cup Swedish pearl sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons water

extras:
wide muffin liners**


Directions:



In the bowl of a standmixer or a large bowl, pour in the yeast. Add 1/4 cup of the milk. Stir.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the butter.Whisk in the milk.

Pour the flour,  sugar, and cardamom into the bowl and whisk. Add the melted butter/milk mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, until a cohesive dough forms, about 10 minutes. Cover and allow to sit 30 minutes.

Arrange 24 liners on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 425.

On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into 1/8 inch thick,  approximately 12 inches long, 8-inch wide rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll into a tight 12-inch long log. Slice into 24 even slices. Place each slice, spiral side up, in a muffin liner. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Beat together the egg and water. Spread over the top of each risen bun. Sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool on wire racks.






*Green cardamom is the secret in making authentic tasting Swedish baked goods. It is the whole pod of the cardamom and is very fragrant. I buy mine in Indian grocery stores or online. If unable to locate, use ground regular cardamom.

**I buy mine at Ikea, they are shorter than regular cupcake/muffin liners and about 3 inches wide. They come in a pack with other liners that work well with Swedish goodies like tiny ones to make Knäck (Swedish Toffee). If you can't find liners, place the buns 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Ikea often has Swedish pearl sugar for sale as well.


My thoughts:
Over the years we've gone to a quite a few Swedish celebrations. A lot if you consider that neither of us is Swedish! We've been to St Lucia and Midsummer celebrations at the Swedish museum in Philadelphia and several Swedish bazaars during the winter months around Washington DC.

What can I say? We like Swedish food! And  Swedes love baked goods. Go to any event, any time of the year and you will find kanelbullar, the Swedish version of cinnamon rolls. They are insanely popular in Sweden and are often found at fika, the coffee break they take every day. So it is only natural they have a day devoted to the cinnamon rolls, Kanelbullar Dag! Started in 1999, October 4th is celebrated by eating (and making) kanelbullar. The purpose is to celebrate the bun driving sales of dairy, yeast, and sugar. October was chosen because it was far from many of the other Swedish food holidays which celebrate everything from cheesecake , kräftskiva (the crayfish party celebrating the end of summer), to Kåldolmens dag (stuffed cabbage day)   Vårfrudagen (celebrating Swedish waffles). Not to mention all of the very specific traditional foods they have for Christmas (Janssons FrestelseJulköttbullar) , Shrove Tuesday, Midsummer (dill new potatoes), St Lucia and other major and minor holidays and the tradition of having pea soup on Thursdays.

Kanelbullar is a great first Swedish baked good because it is really easy. It takes a while because of the rise time but it is an easy dough to work with and comes together quite quickly. Unlike American-style cinnamon rolls, kanelbullar are made of cardamom flavored dough and topped with pearl sugar vs being drizzled in sticky icing. The result is a less sweet, less messy, slightly more cookie-like cinnamon bun that is great with coffee or tea. Plus they are pretty and impressive looking!

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October 02, 2017

Classic Red Beans and Rice




Ingredients:
16 oz dried small red beans*
4 cups chicken or ham stock
3 stalks celery (with leaves), diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 cubanelle peppers, diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
salt
1 lb andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch coins then halved


to serve:
a few cups of cooked, white rice
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)



Directions:
THE DAY BEFORE YOU WANT TO SERVE THIS:
In a large pot with a lid, soak the beans overnight. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil for at least 10 minutes**.

Drain the beans and add them to a 4 quart slow cooker. Add the stock, celery, onion, garlic, peppers, thyme and bay leaf. Stir. Cook on low 8-10 hours.

About 30-45 minutes before you would like to eat,  use a potato masher to mash some of the beans in in the slow cook. Stir.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage on both sides in a nonstick skillet. Stir into the beans. Continue to cook the remaining 30-45 minutes. Stir before serving over hot rice.

*You can use kidney beans but I find that smaller red beans (aka frijoles rojos pequeños) yields a creamier final product.

**Red beans must be cooked before serving in order to avoid kidney bean poisoning. Do not skip the boiling step.




My thoughts:
I had inexplicable craving for red beans and rice the other day. I mean, I always enjoy it when I have it but beans and rice isn't normally something I crave. I put it out of my head but then I saw some Texas-made andouille sausage on sale so it seemed destined that I make it.

This week I was laid up with an awful cold but I was still able to pull it together long enough to chop some vegetables in the morning and pop everything in the slow cooker. Then it cooked forever, I browned some sausage and there it was: creamy, comforting red beans and rice. I was happy without how well it turned out: well seasoned but not crazy spicy and the beans were super creamy the way I like them.

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September 27, 2017

Tacopaj (Swedish Taco Pie)






Ingredients:

for the pie crust:

1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon paprika

for the filling:

1 1/4 lb 93% lean ground beef
1 teaspoon Chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried onion
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small onion, sliced into 1/8 inch thick rings



for the topping:
1 2/3 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream thinned with a bit of milk)
5 oz shredded quesadilla cheese or cheddar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, flour, and paprika until the butter just tiny chunks and the mixture looks shaggy, like rocky sand. Slowly stream in the water and mix until a thick dough forms. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Place in a standard pie plate. Prick with the tines of a fork and bake 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet, saute the ground beef and spices. Saute, breaking up any chunks of meat with a spoon, until nearly fully cooked. Add the water and simmer until the water has evaporated.

Pour the meat into the prepared pie shell. Top with onion rings and tomato halves. Spread the Crème fraîche on top of the pie. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve with tortilla chips to scoop loose filling.


Note: Feel free to use my homemade taco seasoning mix in this recipe.


My thoughts:
I've been looking for an excuse to make tacopaj ever since I first came across a picture of it on instagram. A product of a push of Tex-Mex spice mixes in Sweden, it is another American Tex-Mex international crossover. After the success of Takoraisu, I felt bold enough to make it myself. It was pretty easy to make if slightly time consuming thanks to having to make a pie crust. It was a bit tricky creating the recipe, the majority are in Swedish and while my food Swedish is actually pretty good, I looked at dozens of recipes to create the most authentic tacopaj I could using American measurements. I saw a few variations: some had corn, some had sliced whole tomatoes, some had tomatoes in the meat but this one seems closest to what I saw on menus and in Swedish food magazines. The only thing is that they all called for "shredded cheese" but no recipe said what kind of cheese. I used quesadilla cheese because I had it but cheddar would be a good option too. The end result is surprisingly good, it is sort of like a cross between quiche (without eggs) and taco dip I guess? According to my research, one serves it with tortilla chips which is an excellent idea because while it was somehow sliceable without any sort of binding agent, it is a bit crumbly once you start eating so you can use the chips to scoop up errant meat.


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September 25, 2017

Takoraisu (Okinawan Taco Rice)







Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried onion
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup water



to serve:
freshly cooked, hot Japanese rice (may be labeled sushi rice)
shredded iceberg lettuce
shredded quesadilla or cheddar cheese
salsa
1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:
In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic in a small amount of oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the ground beef, soy sauce and spices. Saute, breaking up any chunks of meat with a spoon, until nearly fully cooked. Add the water and simmer until the water has evaporated.

Serve over rice, topped with salsa, lettuce, tomato, and cheese.

Note: Feel free to use my homemade taco seasoning mix in this recipe.
My thoughts:
I came across Japanese taco rice in something I was reading recently and was intrigued. I love unexpected fusion foods like this so I knew I had to make it. The US military has a strong presence in Okinawa thanks to our military base there for decades. With that comes a lot of military personnel who want a taste of home in Japan. A number of restaurants popped up catering to this, even a taco restaurant back in the 1950s but it wasn't until the 1980s a chef thought to put it on rice. It is basically a Tex-Mex donburi and is super satisfying. Think of the American style tacos of your childhood mixed with Japanese-style comfort food. It is the perfect dish for a rainy day.

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September 23, 2017

Homemade Taco Seasoning





Ingredients:

2 tablespoons hot Mexican-style chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground chipotle
1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1/2 tablespoon dehydrated onion
1/2 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch salt

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an air-tight container.

Use 2 tablespoons mix to equal one packet prepared mix.

Yield: about 2/3 cup


My thoughts:
I've been making a few Tex-Mex taco type things lately (recipes to come!) and came up with this mix so I don't have to measure out a bunch of spices each day. It is on the spicy side but you can make it milder by using mild chili powder and slightly less of the other ground chiles if you'd prefer.

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September 22, 2017

Sambal Eggplant with Oyster Mushrooms and Spinach






Ingredients:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
5 baby eggplants, cut into 1 1/2-inch planks
1 1/2 lbs oyster mushrooms, stem removed and separated into small pieces
1 lb baby spinach
1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek


Directions:

Saute the garlic, onion, and eggplant in a small amount of oil in a large skillet until the onion softens. Add the remaining ingredients. Saute 2-4 minutes. Cover for 5 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt. Uncover and saute until everything is fully cooked. Serve immediately.




My thoughts:
We bought 3 lbs of oyster mushrooms at the mushroom festival this year. This was the first year we've seen them offered in such a large quantity so we couldn't resist. They spoil a bit more quickly than the portobellos we normally buy at the festival so we had a couple of days that were very mushroom filled. I love oyster mushrooms because they are meaty and flavorful and add a lot of body and texture to the dish. We picked up some lovely eggplant at a farm store on our way back from Pennsylvania so I made this quick side dish. It was so good! I can't wait to make it again.  If you want a meatless meal (vegan even!) serve this over rice rather than as a side dish, it is totally hardy enough to be an entree.

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September 20, 2017

Honeycrisp Apple Honey Blondies





Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup honey*
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Honeycrisp apple
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour an 8x8 inch pan. Set aside.

In a small pan, melt together the honey and apple.

Meanwhile, grate the apple. Squeeze out excess juice. Measure to equal 1/2 cup grated apple. Place the apple, sugar, egg, flour, vanilla and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer or medium mixing bowl. Mix using the stand mixer using a hand mixer until the mixture is smooth. Slowly stream in the melted butter and honey. Mix until a batter forms. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out with just one or two moist crumbs. Cool on wire rack. Slice and serve.







* I used raw Manuka honey but any flavorful, full-bodied honey should work.


My thoughts:
It has been ages since I've made a special dish for Rosh Hashanah! We normally eat apples dipped in honey (while on the phone with Matt's mom) for a sweet New Year but not being religious in the least, that is the extent of what we do. This year we are invited to a dinner for Rosh Hashanah and while I am not bringing these (they keep kosher) the holiday was on my mind. Matt loves honey and when I saw the first Honeycrisps of the season at the store, I thought it would be fun to make a little treat. These are really good, lots of honey flavor and oddly not as sweet as you would think. It tastes sort of like a bar cookie crossed with a honey caramel apple. Matt thinks they would be even better with some honey drizzled on top so if you are a honey fiend, try that!


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September 18, 2017

Mochiko Chicken





Ingredients:
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup mochiko flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon mixed black and white sesame seeds
2 egg, beaten
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trimmed of excess fat if desired)

Directions:
WARNING: This must be done the day before you want to make the chicken.

Place all ingredients in a resealable bag. Seal and squish around until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the chicken is well coated. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, preferably 16-24.

Heat about 1-inch canola oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Fry, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown. Drain on paper towel-lined plates. Serve with rice and mac salad.


My thoughts:
Another Hawaiian favorite! Mochiko flour, a variety of sweet rice flour, is made from super starchy sticky rice (glutenous rice) and is great for thickening so it is the perfect coating for chicken. Sweet rice flour is also used to make mochi. For this chicken it creates the perfect batter, light, crisp and it really sticks to the chicken. The rest of the marinade is a familiar mix of soy sauce, ginger, sugar and garlic to give that sweet-salty flavor that is in so many Hawaiian dishes. It is so good! I am normally not a sweets for main dish type of person but this is really tasty, not too sweet--sort of like a light teriyaki type flavor but much fresher. I like adding sesame seeds for a bit of flavor and crunch but they can be left off, I know sesame seeds can be expensive and if you don't have them it isn't worth buying some just for this. 

When I've made it before I  cut into bite-sized chunks before marinating. That is how I've seen it served most frequently but this time I left the pieces whole so it was easier to divide the chicken among people for dinner and to pack for the next day's lunches. It cooked just as fast, too!

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September 14, 2017

Squash Succotash




Ingredients:


2 ears' worth of corn kernels
1-pint fresh lima beans, shucked
2 yellow squash, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cubanelle pepper, chopped
1 1/2-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon thyme

salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:
Heat some butter  in a large pan. Add the squash, onion, and pepper and saute until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and apple cider vinegar. Add in the corn and lima beans and cook until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir, serve. Garnish with parsley if desired.


My thoughts:
The end of summer is upon us. As it seems like we do every year, we stopped at one of our favorite farm stands on the way back from the mushroom festival and picked up some fresh lima beans and corn, two of my favorite late summer vegetables. Corn and lima beans are the key ingredients in succotash so what to make to serve with tonight's haddock seemed clear. I already had some yellow squash so I thought it would make a nice, if slightly non-traditional, addition to the succotash. I'm glad I did, it made it much more filling, hardy side dish. I broke out my fancy apple cider vinegar for this one that I bought ages ago at some shop and hoard as I haven't seen it again. I hide it behind my other vinegar so I am not tempted to use it often but when I do, it adds quite a bright yet not sour or overly tart flavor to everything. Regular, unfiltered apple cider vinegar would work well too.

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September 12, 2017

Iced Chocolate Malted Brownies


Ingredients:

For the brownies:
5.3 oz bar (70%) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

To decorate:
1 16-oz Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bag (Cream Cheese)



Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 8x8 inch baking pan. Set aside

In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa, and chocolate together over low heat. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, malted milk powder and baking powder. Set aside

In a separate bowl, beat together the brown sugar, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with one or two crumbs. Cool completely in pan, on a wire rack. Make "star" shapes with the Pastry Bag holding the bag vertically with the tip about 1/4 inch above the brownies. Squeeze the bag to form stars.




Pull tip straight up. Repeat in rows until brownies are covered in stars.



Slice into squares and serve. Store leftovers up to 3 days in an air-tight container.



My thoughts:


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pillsbury™. The opinions and text are all mine.

I was excited when Pillsbury™ approached me to develop a homemade treat to showcase their new Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bag. Despite taking a cake decorating class some years back and blogging here since 2004, I am pretty hopeless when it comes to using a pastry bag and piping anything! I'd had an idea to make some iced chocolate malted brownies, but I wanted them to look cute so I kept putting it off. When this opportunity came up, I thought it was the perfect time to finally make these brownies! I found Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bag right at my local Giant near the icing and cake decorating supplies.


The pastry bag was super easy to use with the built-in star tip (even my husband tried it out and he has zero cake decorating experience) and the results were great. It’s so fun to use with the whole family and it was a great way to jazz up a homemade brownie! Bonus, there was no mess trying to fill a pastry bag with sticky frosting myself, something I’ve always had trouble doing.


The brownies themselves are moist and delicious. They really taste like a chocolate malted milkshake! The creamy, cream cheese frosting really adds to the effect, sort of like the whipped cream on top of a milkshake. The pastry bags also come in flavors like vanilla and chocolate fudge! The slight tang from the cream cheese frosting kept the brownie from being overly sweet. I also used chocolate with a high cocoa content for an extra rich, chocolate flavor.


I like a big square of brownie so I sliced this 8x8 inch pan into nine brownies but feel free to make them smaller if you are serving a crowd or are dainty eaters! You can also double the recipe to make a 9x13 inch pan of brownies. There is enough frosting in the pastry bag to pipe on the icing on a larger batch. I iced my brownies in the pan because I served them directly from pan but if you are slicing and arranging them on a platter for an event, you can also ice each individual brownie for cleaner lines and no frosting smears. It is up to you!


Right now, if you shop at Giant, Stop & Shop, or Martins you can get a coupon for Pillsbury Filled Pastry Bags! Check it out here!



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September 08, 2017

Cauliflower + Beef Chili


Ingredients:
1  1/4 lb cubed sirloin or stew meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, diced
2-4 jalapenos, diced
15 oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
10 oz  (1 can) diced tomatoes with chopped chiles, drained
30 oz (2 cans) dark red kidney beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Quickly saute the meat until the meat is just barely cooked on all sides. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. In a small bowl, stir together the canned tomatoes, beans, vegetables, and spices. Pour over the meat mixture. Stir to evenly combine. Cook on low 7-8 hrs. Stir prior to serving.

Note: if the chili looks watery after 7-8 hours of cooking then turn the slow cooker up to high and leave the lid ajar for 30 minutes or until thickened.



My thoughts:
I do love a slow cooker chili! Lately, I've been trying to use less meat and bulk the chili up with vegetables. I do like vegetarian chili (this acorn squash chili is a favorite) but the meat makes it a bit more filling and it adds a richer flavor. I had a big cauliflower in the fridge so I thought I'd give it a shot. To my surprise, it really held its shape in the chili! It also sucked up a lot of flavor from the chili so it wasn't like you were just biting into a bland piece of cauliflower. I used 4 whole jalapenos in my chili because they were not very spicy. They did add a lot of flavor though. Be careful if your chiles are spicier, you might only want to use two. 


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September 06, 2017

Chocolate Malted Spritz Cookies







Ingredients:
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons malted milk powder
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa
pinch salt

powdered sugar for decorating

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. With the mixer running slow beat the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.


Using the OXO cookie press fitted with a disk of your choice (I used buttercup), press dough 1 inch apart onto ungreased, unlined nonstick baking sheets. Bake 8-12 minutes or until set. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. 


Yield: 1 1/2-2  dozen cookies (this recipe can be easily doubled)


My thoughts:
My chocolate malt obsession continues with these cookies. They are super chocolate-y, crisp and have a light malted milk flavor. 

I had never used a cookie press before but it was so easy, I am a total convert! I think some families are spritz cookie people (aka cookie press cookies) and some families are cut-out cookie families. We always made sugar cookies (check out that circa 2004 recipe!) at the holidays so I was totally unfamiliar with spritz cookies. I can see why they are so popular, they are simple to make and pretty tiny but you can make a ton really quickly. Including baking and mixing. I made these cookies in about 30 minutes. 

A couple things I learned. Most spritz cookies don't use leavening in the recipe like baking soda or baking powder. Also, hold the cookie press flat on the ungreased, unlined, nonstick baking sheet to make the cookie so they don't come out too big and mishappen. 

It will be perfect for all those events that Matt helps run that always seem to require some sort of food donation for a potluck. I used the buttercup design that came with the cookie press but I also have the fall holiday pack which has shapes like leaves, pumpkins, and turkeys which will take me straight through to Thanksgiving! I wonder if they have any Hanukkah disks? 


A note from OXO, who sent me the cookie press in exchange for mentioning this worthy cause: 
Join the  Cookies for Kids' Cancer 4th Annual 50 State Challenge in support of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September. The goal is simple: inspire Cookies for Kids' Cancer events to take place in all 50 states to promote childhood cancer awareness and raise funds to help develop new, and less toxic pediatric cancer treatments.

Host a bake sale in your neighborhood, run a race, or throw a fundraiser at your school. You can join in the challenge by registering your event online today; if you mark that you were inspired by OXO when you register, we'll match proceeds from your bake sale up to our annual commitment.




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September 01, 2017

Malted Chocolate Sauce




Ingredients:
5 oz bar semisweet (60%) chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar

To Serve:
whipped cream
extra confetti

Directions:

Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed small saucepan until it starts to bubble around the edges. Reduce heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Continue to whisk until all of the ingredients are incorporated into the warm milk. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Drizzle over the cake. Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 3 days.





My thoughts:

Since I have been on a huge ice cream, milkshake and ice cream cake kick this summer, partnering with I Love Ice Cream Cakes for this recipe was a no-brainer!

I checked out their website to see which cakes were available and when I saw that they made a Carvel® Ice Cream Cake that was decorated simply with confetti, I went straight to the product locator. Here I found that the Safeway less than a mile from my house in Baltimore City sold a ton of ice cream cakes, including the confetti cake. I picked it up and carefully brought it home with me sitting next to me in the front seat of the car. I was a little worried it would crash onto the floor when someone cut me off (Maryland drivers!) but it arrived unscathed.


I love a malted milkshake and thought it would be fun to make a warm and rich Malted Chocolate Sauce to drizzle over the cake. It turned out great and was super easy to make. Just make sure you don't drizzle the sauce until everyone is ready to eat because it is warm and will cause the cake to melt! It went really well with the chocolate and vanilla ice cream in the cake. 



To learn more about I Love Ice Cream Cakes’ many frozen treats and see what’s available in your area, visit ILoveIceCreamCakes.com. If you join their Crunchie Club, you’ll get coupons, party tips, birthday surprises and more. Be sure to grab this $3 off coupon for select cakes for your next celebration!







This post is sponsored by I Love Ice Cream Cakes, but all ideas and content are my own.

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August 29, 2017

Yellow Squash "Home Fries"



Ingredients:

4 strips of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch wide pieces
2 medium-large yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch thick half moons
1 medium onion, sliced into 1/8 inch thick half moons
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Saute the bacon in a large skillet. When nearly fully cooked, drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat out of the pan and add the onions and squash. Saute until the onion is translucent and the squash is just fork tender. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
Good home fries (not hash browns and not what some places try to call home fries but are really just dried up, sad potatoes of dubious origin) are one of my all time favorite foods. My Grandpop always made them for us, often with a side of fried chicken which seems like an iffy choice health-wise but he did live well into his nineties and was very spry so who am I to judge? I make my home fries the same way and they are always very good. Anyway, I was craving some home fries but was already making a dish that had potatoes in it so I thought I'd be creative and give the home fries treatment to some yellow squash I had hanging around. The results were very good. The trick is not to overcook the squash and leave it with some bite to it and to cook it in bacon grease. Not quite as good as it would have been with potatoes but perhaps a bit healthier and very tasty in its own right.


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August 25, 2017

Tortilla de Patatas con Pimientos (Spanish Omelette with Potatoes and Peppers)



Ingredients:

1 7-oz jar roasted red peppers in water (or roast and peel one 1 red bell pepper)
2 cups olive oil
1 1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into 1/8 thick half moons
1 small onion, sliced into 1/8 thick half moons
2 cups olive oil
salt
8 eggs, beaten


Directions:
Drain and chop the pepper. Set aside.

Place the potatoes and onion slices in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Add the oil until they are fully covered. Over medium-low heat, simmer the potatoes and onions until the potatoes are just barely fork-tender. Using a slotted spoon or if possible a handheld strainer like this one, remove the potatoes and onions to a bowl without breaking up the potatoes. Add the peppers. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

Carefully pour the hot oil into a heat-safe bowl (I used a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup). Allow to cool, then discard.

Pour the beaten eggs over the potato mixture,  and shake the bowl to distribute the egg. Pour the mixture into the (still well greased) pan. Smooth out the top of the omelette if needed. Cook, for about 15-20 minutes until just set. Flip the omelette on to a plate as if you were inverting a cake on to a baking rack or platter* then slide the raw part of the omelette back into the pan to brown 1-3 minutes. Remove to a platter. Allow to cool 2 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.



*I found this visual example of flipping the tortilla here.

My thoughts:
Tortilla de Patatas is one of my favorite things to order when we get tapas. We had a particularly good one in London of all places and it has been in the back of my mind ever since to make one myself. Flipping it is somewhat harrowing but it does give a great browned crust on both sides. If you don't feel up to browning it, use an oven-safe skillet and finish it off in the oven as you would it's Italian cousin the frittata.

Apparently, even the use of onions in Tortilla de Patatas is a bit of a debate among cooks so I'm sure peppers might be met with some skepticism as well but they are both so great in this I don't care. It not only was very tasty but it is a fairly quick dish to make when you don't have much in the house beyond the basics.

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