Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apple Cider Honey Vinaigrette

I make salad dressings from scratch. Super easy and not full of chemicals!

I make the dressing right in an old glass salad dressing bottle. I do a rough double or triple of the recipe to fill the salad dressing bottle to get a couple weeks worth of salad dressing. 

Apple Cider Honey Vinaigrette
makes 4 1/2 ounces (approx 3, 1.5 oz servings)

1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon style mustard
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp oregano, dried
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the following ingredients and serve! 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lemongrass Slow Cooked Pork and Spicy Pickled Napa Cabbage Slaw

This recipe was adapted from the Skillet Cookbook by Josh Henderson. I was skimming through the book and this recipe jumped out at me. I like pulled pork. I like Asian food. Seems obvious to combine the two, no?

The pork was more salty/sweet and not spicy at all. The cabbage had some kick to it. We served the pork and cabbage over rice.

Since I don't make food in small quantities, the 1lb recipe was escalated to 7lbs. The list on the left is original recipe, the part to the right is what I put into it. As you can see this was some very rough math. :)

Lemongrass Slow Cooked Pork
1 stalk lemongrass,trim edges and slice into 2 inch pieces --> 4 stalks
1 3 inch piece fresh ginger root, cut into chunks --> 4 3 inch pieces of ginger root
1 lb pork butt --> 7 lb pork shoulder (bone in)
3 tbsp red curry paste --> 8 tbsp (the whole 4oz container)
5 tsp loosely packed brown sugar --> 4 tbsp brown sugar
5 tsp salt --> 5 tsp salt
3 tbsp lime juice --> juice from 4 limes, about 1/4 cup?
1/2 cup water or chicken stock --> 2 cups (1 can) chicken broth
salt and pepper --> omitted

Trim the lemongrass and ginger root. Put some into the bottom of the cooker. Rinse pork and put into the slow cooker. Combine the curry paste, brown sugar, and salt into a bowl and rub over the pork. Pour in the lime juice and chicken broth. Put in the rest of the lemongrass and ginger root. Put the slow cooker on low and let it cook for 10-13 hours.

Spicy Pickled Cabbage Slaw
1 head of napa cabbage cut into strips
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp sriracha
2 inches of ginger root, chunks
1/2 tsp sesame oil

In a small saucepan bring all ingredients (except cilantro and cabbage) to a boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and take out the ginger pieces.

Combine cabbage and cilantro into a bowl. Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage and cilantro.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Slow Cooked Pork #3

Yet another yummy pulled pork recipe! This one combines the previous two recipes I have posted. This has some kick to it!

If you use pork shoulder put in the slow cooker fat side up. This will help keep it moist and tender.

Slow Cooked Pork
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp paprika 
1 tbsp black pepper
12 oz coca-cola 
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup ketchup
4 ½ lbs roast pork, pork shoulder/pork butt, boneless pork tenderloin

Combine all ingredients, marinate over night, slow cooker for 8-10 hours, or until meat pulls apart when you poke it with a fork.

After you the pork is tender, remove meat from the slow cooker and shred it. Put back into the pot with all the juices liquid. Serve warm. 

Note: If there was a lot of fat and the pork seems greasy, put the fridge and let it chill. The fat will turn into a thick layer on the top and you can scrape it off. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fresh Dinner Rolls

These are fresh and soft rolls with a slightly crunchy outside. This comes from All Recipes.

I used 2 1/2 cups wheat flour and 2 cups white flour. These split perfectly for burgers,pulled pork, or as dinner rolls. To reheat I microwaved the roll for 30 seconds.

Makes 12

1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg

In a small saucepan, heat milk, water, and sugar until 115 degrees. Add yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. Chop butter into small pieces and add to the mixture.

In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Mix milk mixture into flour mixture, and then mix in egg. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into smooth balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Cover, and let rise for 30 to 35 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

For Hot Dog Buns: Shape each piece into a 6x4 inch rectangle. Starting with the longer side, roll up tightly, and pinch edges and ends to seal. Let rise about 20 to 25 minutes. Bake as above.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thai Sweet Potato Veggie Burger

I like veggie burgers. I know most people won't agree with me, but I just like the texture and taste so much better. This is a Thai Sweet Potato Veggie  Burger adapted from Oh She Glows. I also made these Sweet Potato Bean Burgers!

The burgers can be frozen (after baking and cooling). To reheat bake for 20 minutes at 400F. Just keep an eye on the burger so they don't get too dried out. To reheat an unfrozen patty I microwaved for 30 seconds. 

I served on these fresh rolls

I topped with sriracha and some soy sauce. 

Thai Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers
8 patties 4-5 inches in diameter.

1 large sweet potato
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts, chopped
3/4 cup rolled oats, processed into a coarse flour
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon sesame seed oil
½ fresh lime juice
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Salt/pepper to taste

Cook sweet potato: Slice off ends of potatoes, stab with a fork a few times. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Once soft take the peel off and slice into chunks. Puree it up in the food processor. 

To the sweet potato in the food processor...add in chick peas, garlic, ginger, peanuts. For a few pulses. Pour into a bowl. Stir in cilantro and basil.

Back in a food processor, add the oats and process until it looks like coarse flour. Add to the bowl. Add in egg. Stir in the sesame oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper all to taste. I found it easier to stir this mix in the kitchen aid with the paddle attachment, but a spoon also works.

Shape the mixture into 8 patties, packing each patty tightly between your hands so it holds together well. Place each patty onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then gently flip the patties and bake for another 15-17 minutes until golden on both sides.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Bean Burger

Burger with red onion, cheese, and
salsa on a homemade bun!
Sweet potato bean burger, this was so yummy and very filling! This recipe was adapted from Peas and Crayons. Also check out these Thai Sweet Potato Burgers!

The burgers can be frozen (after baking and cooling). To reheat bake for 20 minutes at 400F. Just keep an eye on the burger so they don't get too dried out. 

I served on these fresh rolls

Sweet Potato Bean Burger
makes 8 patties

1 large sweet potato, cooked
1 [15oz] can of chickpeas or equivalent
1  [15oz] can of cannellini beans or kidney beans
1/2-1 cup of diced bell pepper
1 medium-large jalapeno, diced
1 cup red onion, diced
1 cup white onion, finely diced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 ½ -2 cups of rolled oats
2 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp each oregano and basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt and pepper

Cook sweet potato: Slice off ends of potatoes, stab with a fork a few times. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Once soft take the peel off and slice into chunks. Puree it up in the food processor. Add in kidney beans and chickpeas and pulse a few times (I like it a little chunky). Put into a big bowl.

While the sweet potato is baking, saute the onions, bell pepper, and jalapenos in approx 2-4 tablespoons of oil with black pepper and a sprinkle or two of red pepper. After about 7 minutes or so, add garlic and continue to saute until the veggies are translucent and tender. 

Once your veggies are ready, transfer to a large bowl with the beans, sweet potato, and raw oats, and then add your herbs/spices to season.  Adjust spices as needed. I found it easier to stir this mix in the kitchen aid with the paddle attachment, but a spoon also works.

Shape the mixture into 8 patties, packing each patty tightly between your hands so it holds together well. Place each patty onto the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then gently flip the patties and bake for another 15-17 minutes until golden on both sides.

Monday, January 13, 2014

No Bake Nutty Date Bars

I made these after trying a Larabar. These don't take like Larabars but are a sweet nutty snack. Also check out the No Bake Granola Bites!

No Bake Nutty Date Bars
8 oz  pitted dates
2 cups of mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, etc)

Put 1 3/4 cups of nuts in the food processor and pulse until crumbly and small. Pour into another bowl.
Put dates into the food processor and pulse until lumpy and chopped up. Add in a tbsp or 2 of water to thin the mix out.
Add chopped nuts back in and pulse until combined.
Once mix is done add in the remaining nuts and pulse to add some texture.

Scoop the mix into the muffin tins until you have your desired serving size. The muffin tins need to be lined with saran wrap or muffin papers because this is very sticky. Because I make these often I purchased the silicone muffin liners which also work as the "packaging."

This makes 6 - 9 muffin sized portions.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

Chicken on the left, Zucchini on the right
Here was some tender and savory baked zucchini fries. The recipe comes from The Lean Green Bean and Chocolate Covered Katie.

I used the same process and dredge for chicken strips too. I did the chicken after the zucchini to prevent any contamination of the ingredients too.

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries
2-3 small zucchini, sliced into fry shapes
¼ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp paprika
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450F.
In one bowl combine flour, salt, garlic powder, and paprika. In another bowl scramble an egg in a separate bowl. In a third bowl pour breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Dip each zucchini stick in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs.
Place on a cooling rack or silpat mat on a cookie sheet. Bake 18-19 minutes. Check at 10 minutes to see if you need to flip them.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

2014 In Review: Philadelphia, PA

Long awaited post on my birthday trip to Philly! It was a series of unfortunate events, starting with a big snow storm which caused all the museums to close. Then that night there was an emergency and the hotel was evacuated and we were stuck not sleeping in different hotel lobbies. But we still managed to have a good time and see some new sights!  

Hampton Inn by the Airport - Standard hotel. Philly is pricey and by going a little out of the city dropped the hotel costs.

Places of Interest
Philadelphia Mint - Self guided tours that go around the coin minting operations! If you aren't in the area you can see the process here. We were there for about 30 minutes to an hour. This would be fine for kids, but it isn't very interactive. More information here from Wikipedia.

The Franklin Institute - We spent the whole day here! The original reason for visiting was so I could see the Pompeii Exhibit at the Franklin Institute. I had wanted to see it in Boston, MA a few years ago but wasn't able to make it. This exhibit was great and the museum had plenty to do for everyone. The science museum has exhibits on different inventions, aeronautics, IMAX, planetarium, electricity, health, etc. Unfortunately, this is a very expensive place to visit and the add-ons will raise the cost quickly. If you are going with kids be sure to bring snacks and drinks to help keep costs down. 

Eastern State Penitentiary - We spent a couple of hours here. There was a lot of exhibits and rooms to look at as well as interesting stories of those kept at the jail. The Eastern State Penitentiary was founded in 1829 and was abandoned in 1971. The wagon wheel design of the prison was the model for hundreds of jails and the concept solitary confinement to practice penitence rather than the leaving someone in the stocks was the beginning of our current jail systems. Check out their timeline for more details. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art - This is the home of the famous Rocky steps! We spent many hours in here. If you go the first Sunday of the month you can choose your own admission price. The exhibits included modern art, European artwork from many different eras, Asian artwork, etc. They boast of an almost 300,000 piece collection so you should be able to find one thing there you find interesting! The highlight for me? There was a beautiful Vermeer painting (Young Woman Seated at a Virginal) on display! Bring a snack as the food is overpriced and you can easily spend an entire day there.

Fork - 306 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 1910; Great local, seasonal food options on a small menu. We went for lunch where you can pick 2 items for your meal for $25. I choose the Crispy Chicken Nuggets and Duck Confit Salad. Anthony picked Salad and the Gnudi. Delish!

Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant - This was my birthday dinner! Thai is a go to meal for eating out. We picked this place for the high reviews and ratings on Google and on Yelp. The food was served quickly, staff was helpful, food was hot. I'd go back but I'd also be ok with trying another food place.

My post for other PA activities

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Homemade Nilla Wafers

Homemade Nilla wafers?? These don't have the dry crumbly texture of the Nilla wafers, but these are great buttery bite sized cookies that I used in banana pudding! These were eaten too fast to take a picture.

The outside is a crispy cookie/carmel/buttery cookie and the inside is sweet and soft.

The recipe is from Serious Eats.

Vanilla Wafers
makes about 100 1 inch cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 large egg white
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/3 cups AP flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Cream butter, salt, sugar and vanilla. Beat in egg and milk until well incorporated.
Whisk together flour and baking powder and add to butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
Use a cookie scoop to create the same sized cookies. This made 3 cookie sheets of cookies, they spread a little but not too much so you can put many cookies (I did 5 x 6 cookies per sheet).

Bake at 350°F for about 15-20 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned. Cool completely before storing. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Homemade Peanut Butter

Make your own peanut butter! It is easy and as simple as a push of a button! While this is good in sandwiches, it is also very good in ice cream!

The process is pretty straight forward, and 1 cup of nuts yields just under 1 cup of nut butter. You can use walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts.. or any combination of them! You can also toss in chocolate chips if you want too.

Pour in the desired amount of nuts into the food processor. Turn the food processor on and let it go until the nuts are pureed! At first it will look a bit gritty, but if you let it go for a little while longer, the peanut oils will start to come out and the texture will get a lot creamier.

Store in a tightly sealed jar (I use the old pb jars!) in the fridge.