Thursday, December 31, 2015

Scallion Pancakes

I love scallion pancakes. It is an unhealthy relationship and NONE of the Chinese restaurants by me make them!! It is quite the tragedy. So, I decided that for New Years I wanted to make Wonton Soup and Scallion Pies! 

These are very few and simple ingredients, but I won't lie, these are a labor of love here and did take about an hour and a half to make, rest, and cook. But it was worth it!! 

Light, not greasy, scallion-y, and probably $2 to make eight good sized pancakes! One of these babies would run you at least $4.95 in the restaurant!! 

I was making breakfast pancakes in the oven and doing dishes while the dough was resting, so it was very productive!

A similar recipe are my Mexican tortillas!

Happy New Year!!!!!

Scallion Pancakes
Adapted from The Kitchn (check out the site for pictures for each step!)
makes 8 pancakes, serves 12 once you cut into wedges?

2 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup boiling water)
Oil such as vegetable, sesame, or shortening
Coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup, about 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped (scallions = green onions)
High smoke point oil for the pan, such as vegetable, canola, or peanut oil

Mix and knead the flour and water until it forms a smooth dough. This will take about 5 minutes by hand (or less by mixer). Coat this ball of dough lightly in sesame oil and put it back in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.

Split the dough into 4 equal parts. **Don't skip this step** Lightly oil your rolling surface (I used olive oil) and roll out one part of the dough. Roll until it is a thin rectangle at least 12 x 9 inches. (think thin enough to see the grain of your counter tops)

Lightly brush the top of the dough with more sesame oil (if you think its needed), then sprinkle it evenly with chopped scallions and kosher salt (about 1/2 to 1 tsp per rectangle).

Starting from the long end, roll the dough up tightly - jelly roll style, creating one long snake of rolled-up dough. Cut in half.

Take one of these halves and coil into a round dough bundle (like kindergarten arts and crafts pottery). Let it rest while you repeat this process with the rest of the dough.

Roll a coiled dough bundle into a flat, smooth, round pancake. Stack between layers of saran wrap.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and oil it with a drizzle of canola, vegetable, or peanut oil (I used olive oil since that is what I have in my house). When the pan is hot, add one pancake. It should sizzle, but not burn. Cook for 2 minutes on one side or until golden brown. Flip and cook another 2 minutes. Repeat for remaining dough coils.

Cut the pancake into wedges with a pair of kitchen scissors, and serve immediately with soy sauce or another dipping sauce.
Make-Ahead Tip: If you would like to make a few pancakes but save the rest for later, you can save the dough in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just make sure the dough is oiled and well-covered. You can also roll out individual pancakes and stack them between well-oiled layers of wax paper.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Stove Top Beef Stew

Brrrr it was cold today! I really was craving some beef stew! In our house the beef stew is very basic and heavy on the meat, potatoes, and carrots.

I had planned on making it in the slow cooker but errands (including the grocery store where I was getting dinner ingredients) took longer than expected. So I cobbled together several recipes to make some beef stew on the stove!

I wish I had grabbed some bread for this because then the meal would have been perfect!

Do I prefer my stove top beef stew or my slow cooker beef stew? The stove top beef stew was very rich because it had added butter and the potatoes/carrots were on the crunchier side - but that could have been because I was rushing to get dinner on the table! The easier version is easily the slow cooker but if you have the time then making it on the stove is a great option!

Stove Top Beef Stew
adapted from Food NetworkOnce Upon a Chef, and Delish
serves 6-8

Olive oil for searing
1/2 cup flour
2-3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 small onions, cut into sixths (or blitzed in the food processor)
3 tsp garlic powder
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups cold water
2 cups chicken or beef broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 lbs medium red potatoes, quartered
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 bag frozen peas
salt & pepper

Heat a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/4-inch deep. Spread flour out on a plate. Season half the beef generously with salt and pepper, then dredge in the flour. Shake off the excess flour, and add to the pan. Saute the meat, uncovered, stirring only occasionally, until well-browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted wooden spoon, transfer the beef to a plate. Repeat with the remaining beef.

In the same pot with the beef grease and such, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Return the beef to the pot and add the red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, water and broth, and bring to a boil. Cover and set to low. Stew the meat until tender, about 1 1/2 hours. I stirred mine about every 15 minutes to keep it from sticking but I also struggle with the temperature of my stove.

Add the potatoes and carrots and bring back to a simmer. Stew, uncovered, on top of the stove, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened and the beef and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among bowls and serve immediately.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Copy Cat Chex Mix

I love salty savory snacks and chex mix always hits the spot!! But... I don't want all the funky ingredients and lets be real, I pick around the stuff I want to eat. So here is a recipe that you can make with ONLY the tasty bits you want to eat! 

To sum it up, 16(ish) cups of stuff (cereals, pretzels, chips, cheerios, cheese its, bagel crisps, nuts, etc) and then coat it all in the seasoned butter mixture. Bake for 1 hour and stir every 15 minutes!

The only changes I'd make next time? I'd add a little more seasoning and make sure you mix it all up well so the things are coated nicely!! I've updated the amounts below! Enjoy!!

Copy Cat Chex Mix
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

5 cups corn chex
4 cups wheat chex
2 cups pretzels
1 cup honey-nut cheerios
2 cups cheese its
1 cup almonds
1 1/2 cups peanuts

¾ cup butter, melted
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, a little goes a long way!)

1. Preheat oven  275F
2. In a large roasting pan, stir together the cereals, pretzels and nuts.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Drizzle evenly over the cereal mixture and, using clean hands, toss to combine, making sure that the mixture is evenly moistened.
4. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Once cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, November 27, 2015

White Bean Dip

What an easy make ahead dip for parties and a nice change from the sour cream dips! The recipe is adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.

I adapted the recipe with beans seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and sage (Wegman's Tuscan Cannellini Beans). Because the beans were flavored I changed the recipe to only combine the beans (not rinsed, slightly drained), lemon juice, and 1/4 cup olive oil. I used a box of wheat crackers instead of making my pita chips as well.

This recipe can be easily adapted! Alternate flavors to use with the beans include roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, extra garlic, basil, thyme, and more!

White Bean Dip and Pita Chips
Serves: 6 servings (or more depending on how polite everyone is!)

Ingredients
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt & Black Pepper
Pita Chips/Crackers

Directions
Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pan Fried Noodles with Chicken (Gai See Chow Mein)


This is delish! My mom makes this with some sliced roast pork and those crunchy skinny yellow noodles... This is a rough adaptation because I have neither the roast pork or the right noodles. 

Don't let the long list of ingredients or steps deter you! This meal is worth it and can actually be prepared in 30 minutes with no additional prep time!! I have adjusted the steps below with the order that I 

Some changes....
I didn't use a wok - I used my largest pot. 
I used noodles from Wegman's (Assi Pasta, Oriental Style Noodle), but egg noodles or even spaghetti would work. 
I used petite baby bok choy but the Shanghai bok choy, American broccoli or Chinese broccoli (gai lan) would be tasty. Just go with whatever veg looks better at the store that day!
I didn't use the oyster sauce because I didn't have any. 
I didn't use the sugar because I didn't think my dinner needed sugar. 
I added carrots and bean sprouts because...why not!?

Now that I've made this meal a couple times I've tried to be more efficient with NOT using all the dishes, pots, and pans in the kitchen. Here are the tips...
Cut the veggies before the chicken (this reduces a cutting board AND a knife!)
Use the same large pot for everything (cooking the noodles, frying the noodles, cooking the chicken, and making the sauce)
Share the serving plate with someone you love and no extra plate dishes!
Measure all the dry things before the wet things (aka corn starch before sesame oil and soy sauce) 

Pan Fried Noodles with Chicken (Gai See Chow Mein)
Adapted from The Woks of Life
serves 2

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 bundles of dried Hong Kong style egg noodles or 10 oz. fresh HK Style noodles (OR any noodles)
1 small bunch of choy sum or baby bok choy (about 2-3 cups), washed and cut into strips
1-2 handfuls of baby carrots cut into match sticks
1 cup chicken stock 
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of sugar (optional)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground white pepper
2 cloves garlic powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water 
3 tablespoons oil 
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (any Chinese cooking wine)
1 - 2 handfuls Bean Sprouts
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you wait...
    • Wash and slice your veggies.
    • Slice your chicken into thin strips. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, oil, cornstarch with the sliced chicken. Set aside.
    • In a small pot on the stove, combine the oyster sauce, garlic powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt, white pepper, and chicken stock. Leave it alone while it comes to a simmer.
    • In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water into a slurry and set aside.
  • Once water is boiling, add the noodles. (For fresh noodles, boil for 30 seconds to a minute. For dried noodles, boil for 4-6 minutes). Do not overcook them! Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside. 
  • Heat your large pot over high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil, making sure to swirl it around to coat the sides. Spread out your noodles in an even layer and fry for about 3 minutes, or until golden and crisp. 
  • Flip the noodles over and fry the other side (you can add a bit more oil if necessary).
    • Theoretically the noodles should not stick, I have yet to have success and end up scraping it off the bottom. It is still crispy and good, just not as pretty! When the noodles are golden on both sides, transfer the noodles to a large round plate. 
  • In the same large pot, add another tablespoon of oil. Sear the chicken breast and carrot sticks.
  • Once browned, add the shaoxing wine to deglaze the pan. Pour in your sauce.
  • Let the liquid come to a boil and add your green vegetables. 
  • Stir and cook for about a minute. 
  • Stir up your slurry mixture again, since the cornstarch probably settled to the bottom of the bowl. 
  • Once the liquid is boiling, add about 2/3 of the cornstarch and stir the mixture to thicken. Add more slurry until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon. How thick you like your sauce it is also about personal preference. Allow to bubble up for another 30 seconds or so. 
  • Pour the entire mixture over the noodles and serve immediately. Serve with hot chili oil or Sriracha on the side if you like!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, Pennsylvania

Great Wolf Lodge, Poconos, Pennsylvania


What a trip!! We spent one night at Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos Mountains and it was an adventure! The kids had a half day from school so we grabbed them up and drove right to the park! When you book your night you can use the park starting at 1 pm your check in day, so we were sure to take advantage of that!

Everything was decorated for Halloween and they had some cute interactive programs (scavenger hunts, read out loud, etc) that were available for all the guests.

To save some money because this place is insanely expensive...we picked a slower time (Sept and Oct are less busy times and Mon-Thurs are cheapest), we brought snacks, breakfast, and lunch (fridge and microwave is in the room), and we decided against doing Magic Quest. Oh, and we purchased wolf stuffed animals on Amazon ahead of time rather than having the kids want one of the Wolf Lodge stuffed animals.

When we were discussing doing Magic Quest I had looked online and you can get the wands on eBay and local swap sites, that can save you some money too! I was really hesitant with Magic Quest because I didn't really want to do it and reviews said that the kids would need a lot of help.

If we went back we would try and go with friends and we would potentially do Magic Quest since the kids would be older. We would also bring walkie talkies so the kids can go off on their own.

The lines in the water park were ok. There were still lines but it was manageable. I'm not a fan of crowds so I felt it was busy but not overwhelming. It is nice that the only people allowed in the park are guests at the resort so that helps keep the lines shorter. Saturday was a lot busier than Friday afternoon. I had a blast on the water slides!!

If you stay for only one night you really don't need the Magic Quest or other packages, we spent all of our time in the water park! If we had stayed for 2 nights I think we would have wanted something else to do so the kids didn't get too exhausted swimming that much!

We did venture out for dinner Friday night at The Barley Creek Brewing Company. The lovely place is only 10 minutes from the resort but the food was great and the beers were amazing!! We highly recommend going here if you can make it! We ordered the Garlic Edamame, split a pizza, ordered a sandwich, and a burger. We were stuffed to the gills!!


Have you been before?? What did you think??

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pancakes

Pancakes are a weekend breakfast staple in our household. However, I really dislike that they take a long time to make and the chef doesn't get to eat with the rest of us. We also would prefer the kids to eat homemade pancakes with minimal ingredients vs Eggo Waffles - so I was looking for a way to mass produce pancakes in a quick efficient manner. 

We found this recipe because it is specific to almond milk and we normally don't have regular milk at home. The almond milk keeps the pancakes softer and the edges won't crisp up as much. 

I have a whoopie pie pan that I have never used and thought this would be the perfect excuse for it! When I make whoopie pies I use a small cookie scoop to ensure the sizes are the same. I purchased the pan when I was on a breakfast sandwich kick and thought this would be perfect to create sandwich sized egg patties. 

If you don't have one of these pans you can also use muffin tins and put enough batter in them to cover the bottom. I think they would poof up to become mini pancakes.

If the kids were willing to eat square pancakes then I would try making them in a 9x13 pan and cutting them. That would probably be the easiest way...but a girl can dream right?

I tripled the pancake batter below and created 40 silver dollar size pancakes in about 40 minutes (includes getting out the ingredients, making the batter, doing dishes, and cooling time). This did take a while but while the pancakes were baking I was able to do other things around the kitchen (like the dishes!). We stored some in the fridge and others go into the freezer. To warm we microwave them for 20-30 seconds (if not frozen) and about 45 seconds if frozen.

From a visual these are very pale pancakes but the kids liked them better that way, if you want them to be darker/more golden you can add a little butter in each hole before adding the batter. Also use the melted butter in the batter instead of the oil. 

These pancakes are pale, soft and fluffy and cakey! Enjoy!

Slightly lumpy pancake batter

2 tablespoons of batter for each hole

Let cool 3 minutes before removing from the pan

Pile of warm fluffy pancakes!

The perfect size for  mini sausage sandwiches!
Pancakes
Adapted from Silk Almond Milk
makes about 13 mini pancakes

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1-2 tablespoon sugar or honey
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Almond milk, any flavor but Chocolate (or regular milk)
2 tablespoon oil or melted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together Silk, oil and egg.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir just to moisten—a few lumps are fine.
Griddle: 
Cook pancakes on a griddle over medium heat. 
Pour 1/4 cup of batter on the pre-heated pan. 
When larger bubbles start to form and the edges are turning slightly cooked, flip the pancake. It takes about 1:30-2:00 per side.  
Serve immediately or let cool and store in airtight container in the fridge.

Whoopie Pie Pan:
Pour 2 tablespoons of batter into each hole. 
Bake at 375F for 9-12 minutes. If too pale you can toss under the broiler for a 30 seconds. 
Serve immediately or let cool and store in airtight container in the fridge.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hearty Slow Cooker Chili

I adapted this recipe from many different recipes available online and based off of the food in my kitchen. I really didn't want to have to go to the grocery store!

I used a combination of ground pork and ground turkey, roughly 2 -2.5 pounds and tomato sauce for tomato puree. I also added in some tomato sauce that was left over from dinner the other night. I actually keep a small container of the Chili Seasoning pre-mixed which is handy for assembling this meal!

I browned the meat and combined everything in the slow cooker the night before and stored it, covered, in the fridge. When I woke up I popped the insert into the cooker and set it on low. Volia! Dinner is served!

Serve with my Quick Rise Bread or with tortilla chips!

Hearty Slow Cooker Chili
serves 4-6

2 pounds ground beef (or pork or turkey or combination)
3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 (10.75 ounce) cans tomato puree (or sauce)
2 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1-2 tablespoons Chili Seasoning

  1. Place the meat in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain grease.
  2. In the slow cooker combine the meat, onion, celery, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato puree, and kidney beans.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of chili seasoning, stir, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. 
  4. After a while (when you get home from work?) taste it and see if you want it spicier, if so add more chili seasoning.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Simple Chili Seasoning

Keep this chili seasoning on hand to add some kick to a regular meal or to whip up a warm chili dinner! I triple the recipe below and store with my regular spices.

Check out some of my other Chili Recipes!



Simple Chili Seasoning
1 heaping tsp of chili powder, red pepper flakes, paprika, cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper

Combine above spices in a container with a top and then store in a cool dry place.

Use: Approx 1 tbsp per 1.5 pound of meat. Use more if you prefer it to be spicier. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

M&M Cookies

I ran out of M&M's so I used some chocolate chips too. These are so yummy! One of the kids told me, "These are the best things we have made!" 

If you double the recipe use 3 sticks of butter. If you half the recipe, continue to use the full egg.
When creaming the butter and sugar continue to cream until there are no visible butter chunks.
To ensure the cookies look similar and stay poofy - refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours or over night! It isn't necessary but does make them look better.

Red’s Ultimate M&M's Cookie
Adapted from So Tasty So Yummy
makes 4 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce package M&Ms, approx 2 cups

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; blend into butter and sugar mixture. Stir in M&Ms. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft. Cool 1 minute and place on wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thai Chicken Coconut Curry

I suffered an impulse buy a while back and purchased this spice bottle. Generally I don't buy the premixed spices because there is a lot of sodium!

However, the bottle wasn't super expensive and the ingredients would be a pain to gather separately. The ingredient list also did NOT include, "natural spices" or "natural flavor" - whatever that might mean. It also contains 88 mg of sodium per 1/4 tsp.

The ingredient list: salt, garlic, soy bean, coriander, chili, onion, lemon grass, celery seed, carrot, chives, turmeric, citric acid, black pepper, mustard powder, cumin, fenugreek, chickpea, ginger, cardamon.

Note: This is not spicy at all and we added some red pepper flakes.

Thai Chicken Coconut Curry
Adapted from The Gourmet Collection Thai Style Green Curry bottle
serves 3

Ingredients
1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp Thai green curry spice blend
1 pound chicken (2 large chicken breasts)
1 large cubed potato
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup sliced carrots

Stove Top Directions:

  • Saute onion and carrots in oil with Thai spice. 
  • Add diced chicken and saute until brown. 
  • Stir in potato and coconut milk. 
  • Bring to a boil and simmer until cooked. Stir occasionally.
  • Serve with rice

Slow Cooker Directions:
Add all ingredients into the slow cooker. Do not dice or cut up the chicken breast. Stir so everything is coated.
Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6. The chicken will have a pulled instead of chunky.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rotisserie Chicken Dry Rub

Instead of eating deli meat for lunch we have been making rotisserie chicken! I triple the spice amounts below and store the rub so it is on hand.

If you chill in the fridge it will create nicer slices.



Rotisserie Chicken Dry Rub
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp white pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Combine above spices in a container with a top and then store in a cool dry place.

Use: Coat chicken until covered, approx 1 - 2 tablespoons for each chicken breast. Drizzle olive oil  on the top and rub onto the chicken. Bake at 400F for 25-45 minutes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Very flavorful! I did not brown the chicken prior to putting into the slow cooker because I was worried that it would over cook. Would I make this again? Maybe. If I did - I would prepare it differently. I didn't think the slow cooker aspect was necessary. As the slow cooker only needs 4 hours (at a maximum), it is tough to start when you would normally be at work.

If I was trying to save time, next time, I would make the sauce the night before and clean and cut the chicken up. Then that evening I would fry/brown/crisp the chicken while the rice was cooking.

But the flavors were great and we did finish it off quickly!

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
Adapted from The Recipe Critic
Serves 4

3-4 boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces (approx 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¾ cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon garlic
pinch of pepper
Sesame seeds (optional)
Scallion, sliced (optional)
  1. In the crock pot bowl mix the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, marmalade, brown sugar, salt and pepper. 
  2. In a ziplock bag, add the cornstarch and chicken. Shake to coat. 
  3. Add chicken to the crock pot OR Pour vegetable oil in the skillet and brown the sides of the covered chicken. The chicken doesn't need to be fully cooked since it is going in the crockpot.
  4. Add chicken into crockpot with the sauce mixture. 
  5. Stir.
  6. Cook on low 4-5 hours or high 2-3 hours.
  7. To serve, sprinkle with sliced scallion and a handful of sesame seeds!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Star Anise Braised Beef

Yum! This was so good! I plan on making this again! I served it with noodles and  a little warmed beef broth. The beef turned out tender and resembled beef stew with the texture but the flavors are 100% Asian!

Next time I'll make this in a slow cooker the night before.This way it can chill during the day and the excess fat can solidify on the top which will be easy to remove.

Braised Beef with Star Anise
Adapted from Chinese Cooking the Food and the Lifestyle by Annabel Jackson
Serves 2 - 4 people

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
3 tbsp rice wine
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
2 tbsp white rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 lb - 4 lb stewing beef
1 tbsp veg oil
1 garlic clove
1 thin slice of ginger root
2 star anise

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and marinade the beef for at least 2 hours.
Heat oil in a large pot with a lid and stir fry the garlic, ginger, and star anise until fragrant.
Remove the beef from the marinade and sear on medium heat.
Pour marinade over the beef and cover. Let simmer for about 90 minutes, flipping every 30 minutes to keep the meat coated.
When cooked, rest the beef for 5-10 minutes. serve hot or cold.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast)

The husband travels to Germany on occasion and was craving some German Pot Roast also known as Sauerbraten! I looked at many different recipes and decide that Alton Brown wouldn't send me in the wrong direction.

I confess that I did make changes to the original recipe. I omitted the Juniper Berries as those were not available at Wegmans. I did not sear the meat prior to marinating. I also used the slow cooker on low for about 12 hours instead of cooking in the oven.

Many of the reviews said that there were too many gingersnaps and to use 1/2 the amount of sugar. I followed those tips however I think it needed the full amount of both (18 cookies instead of 10 and 1/3 cup of sugar instead of 1/4). The broth/liquid wasn't thick enough and it was very acidic/tangy. I did throw in 2 potatoes that were wilting on my counter tops as well.

I would also vent the slow cooker lid to reduce the liquid and help make it less soupy.

The slow cooker the meat became more pot-roast like instead of slice-able. Tender and yummy, just not what (I believe) it should have resembled.

This was served over fresh and homemade spaetzle!

Sauerbraten
Adapted from Alton Brown
Serves 2 1/2 very hungry adults

2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves (1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cloves)
12 juniper berries (optional)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) bottom round (I used Chuck Roast)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed
1/2 cup seedless raisins, optional

In a large saucepan over high heat combine the water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, and mustard seeds. Cover and bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pat the bottom round dry and rub with vegetable oil and salt on all sides.

When the marinade has cooled to a point where you can stick your finger in it and not be burned, place the meat in a non-reactive vessel and pour over the marinade. Place into the refrigerator for 3 days. If the meat is not completely submerged in the liquid, turn it over once a day.

After 3 days of marinating, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Add the sugar to the meat and marinade, cover and place on the middle rack of the oven and cook until tender, approximately 4 hours.

Remove the meat from the vessel and keep warm. Strain the liquid to remove the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Whisk in the gingersnaps and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Add the raisins if desired. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Spaetzle


While tasty I did NOT have the correct technique. These were a pain to make and made a mess of my kitchen!

The dough was very sticky and elastic-y. It was like a very thick pancake batter. This made it difficult to push through the metal colander. It was also problematic when the colander fell into the boiling water and all the dough cooked into each little draining hole.

Next time, I'll put it in a plastic bag and cut off the corner off it. Then I'll dribble the spaetzle dough into the hot water. When it floats it is ready to be fished out of the water!

I served this with our Sauerbraten pot roast!
sticky batter!


connected chopsticks with twist ties
to make a frame. This sort of worked...
balanced the colander over the
 boiling water. How could this end poorly?
















Spaetzle Dumpings

Adapted from All Recipes
Makes 2 servings (even though the recipe says this would serve 6)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk (almond milk worked)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Beat eggs well, and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
  • Press dough through spaetzle maker, or a large holed sieve or metal grater.
  • Drop a few at a time into simmering liquid. Cook 5 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  • Optional: Saute cooked spaetzle in butter or margarine. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top, and serve

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gingerbread Cookies

Super easy! I made the dough the night before and refrigerated the dough overnight. Leave the butter and egg on the counter for 1-2 hours so it is at room temperature. The butter will cream better if it is on the warmer side. 

When cutting out the cookies keep the other portion of dough in the fridge. Instead of re-rolling the scraps right away, use the chilled dough and put the scraps into the fridge. Alternate until the dough is all used up. 

We made cats, mice, and men! The icing recipe is the one I used with the sugar cookies. This takes food coloring very easily and hardens quickly. I used the recipe without the almond extract and did not add any coloring. Once the icing is dry the cookies are able to be stacked. 

We are looking forward to making these around the holidays!

Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Wegmans Recipes
Makes 3-4 dozen (depends on cookie cutter size)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 cups all-purpose flour
Icing from Sugar Cookie recipe

In a stand mixer add butter, brown sugar, and salt to mixer bowl. Cream on medium speed until combined and lightened, scraping bowl and paddle as needed.

Add egg; mix to combine. Add molasses; mix to combine. Turn off mixer.

Sift together baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves, and flour into separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture. Mix on low just until combined.

Separate dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

*****

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using rolling pin, roll out one disk of dough on lightly floured surface to a circle about 1/4-inch thick.

Cut out cookies. Transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing about 1/2-inch apart.

Bake one sheet at a time on center rack of oven 12-14 min, or until cookies are firm but not dry. Cool for 2 min and remove from baking sheet.
*****

Chef Tip from Wegmans:

To control the thickness of any rolled-out cookie dough, use rubber rolling pin rings or roll it between two thin strips of wood or Plexiglas (1/4-inch thick). They will help ensure even thickness of the final product.

Incorporate some of the "scrap" dough into the next piece of dough to be rolled out. This way, you won't be left with only scrap dough when finished.

Turn the sheet pan around halfway through the baking process to ensure even baking of the final product.

Set the timer for about half the time recommended, especially with new recipes. This lets you fine-tune the baking time without fear of over-baking the cookies.

For a crispier cookie, bake additional 2-4 minutes. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Turkey Meatloaf

I'm not crazy about meatloaf but my family loved this! I actually made it ahead of time and froze it wrapped up in tinfoil. I let it defrost in the fridge over night and then baked it for almost 2 hours.

When making the loaf shape lean towards flattening so that it will cook evenly. No pictures this round! We ate it too quickly :)

If you are freezing the meatloaf I'd suggest the ketchup topping after the loaf has defrosted.

Enjoy!

Turkey Meatloaf
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 8-10

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried) or oregano
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast (Optional: use a combination of turkey sausage and turkey breast)
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

Monday, September 7, 2015

BBQ Ribs


Ribs were on sale at the market so I figured - Why not?! For $15 bucks we had a great meal for two and we know it would have been a lot more if we had them at a restaurant!

The only tricky part was removing the membrane. If this is your first time making these I recommend watching some YouTube videos. I did marinate the ribs overnight in the fridge.

These were amazing! The meat fell so cleanly off the bones and the rub was a perfect mix of sweet and spicy.

BBQ Ribs
Adapted from Chowhound
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 full racks ribs (about 5 to 6 pounds)
Favorite BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)

  • Place all of the ingredients except the ribs and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
  • Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Remove the thin membrane attached to the underside of the ribs by doing the following: Flip the ribs over so they’re bone-side up.
  • Starting at the end of 1 rack, slide the tip of a paring knife between the membrane and the bone, then lift and cut through the membrane. Grasping the membrane with a paper towel, pull it toward the other end of the rack and completely remove it. Repeat with the second rack.
  • Place each rack on tin foil.
  • Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. Pull the foil up and over each set of ribs to create 2 completely enclosed packets.
  • Place the packets side by side on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with the remaining 2 pieces of foil. (At this point, you can roast the ribs immediately, but for the best flavor and texture, refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)
  • Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle. (If you rubbed the ribs in advance, remove them from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature while the oven is heating, at least 20 minutes.)
  • Place the ribs in the oven and roast until fork-tender, about 2 hours. Remove ribs from tin foil and place under the broiler until the sauce caramelizes about 5 minutes. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pizza Dough

This had rave reviews from the family! There was silence while we all ate and a few thumbs up signs were flashed. I was asked to make it again too! Hurrah!

I made the dough in the morning before work and let it sit on the counter covered with plastic wrap all day. The dough rolled easily and I baked on a silpat mat.

I used canned tomato sauce that I doctored up with garlic power and Italian seasoning. The grown up pizza had brisket, pepperoni, and red onion. I used a mix of Mexican and mozzarella cheese. The kids decided to turn theirs into calzones and used mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.

Pizza Dough
Adapted from Piecrust and Pasta
Makes 4 half sheet size pizzas 

4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (2 packets)
1 teaspoon honey
2 cups warm water, 110 to 115 degrees F
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
cornmeal

In the bowl of the mixer dissolve the yeast and honey in the water. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the flour, salt and olive oil. With the dough hook, mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. 
Place dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Let it rise for at least one hour - two hours and up to the whole day. 

[Note: For overnight, put it into an oiled zipper freezer bag to refrigerate or freeze. Before using, let come to room temperature on the counter. It will expand so if your bag is small, you may want to transfer to a bowl for the duration.]

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Pinch off a piece of dough the size of your fist. Liberally sprinkle your counter with cornmeal and roll the dough ball with a floured rolling pin to a thin circle about 1/8 thick. Add your favorite toppings and bake 15 minutes or until browned on the edges and the cheese bubbles.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Quick Rise Bread

I was making pasta and sauce for dinner and really wanted some fresh bread to go with it. Since it was getting late in the day I needed bread that would rise quickly and I didn't want something that would be too dense. 

This recipe was perfect! I halved the recipe and then split the dough into 6 blobs. These blobs were put into an oiled jumbo size muffin tin. The bread had a nice crispy crust and the inside was soft.

I'll be making these again!

Quick Rise Bread
Adapted from: Food.com
Makes 12 fist size rolls or 2 loaves of bread

5 cups white all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water (110 F - 115 F)
1⁄4 cup cooking oil

In stand mixer with a dough hook add 4 cups flour, sugar, salt, and oil.
In small bowl combine water and yeast. Let it sit for 5 minutes. 
On slow speed, add yeast mix into the flour mix.
Add the remaining flour in increments until dough is no longer sticky.
Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is elastic and smooth.
Place dough back into bowl and cover with a damp towel and let it rise until double its size- about 1/2 hour. (I put it in my oven on the Proof setting for 35 minutes).
Punch it down and divide dough into two pieces (or into the muffin tins).
Preheat oven to 400F.
Roll pieces long enough to fill two well oiled loaf pans and leave to rise until dough has reached the 
rim of the pan. (I put into the oven once it preheated and didn't wait for it to rise to the rim of the pan).
Bake loaves for 40 minutes. Rolls bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Potatoes are one thing that someday I'll be able to cook without fear! I haven't been able to time the correctly to be ready with the rest of the food. This means I start the potatoes very early so they will be done before I cook the rest of the meal. These are

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Potatoes (1/2 to 1 per person)
a healthy drizzle Olive Oil
2 tsp herbs (Oregano, Italian Seasoning, parsley)
Cracked black pepper
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400F.

Wash and scrub potatoes. Cut potatoes into a large dice.

In a large bowl combine olive oil, herbs, and seasoning. Stir in potatoes until all of it is coated. If you need to add more olive oil.

Put in a 9x13 baking dish. Add a splash of chicken broth and bake until fork tender. Depending on the size of the potato that could be between 30-60 minutes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Rice Pilaf

I grew up eating the boxed rice pilaf and I had a craving for it the other day. The boxed stuff has a lot of sodium so I was curious about making it at home from scratch. This was so easy and I don't know why people use the boxed mix.

I will give you a warning...red onion turns green so you should use the white onion.

Rice Pilaf
Adapted from All Recipes 
Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup diced white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups chicken broth or veg broth
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Melt the butter in a lidded pot over medium-low heat. Stir in almond and orzo pasta until golden brown. Add onion and cook until onion becomes translucent, then add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Mix in the rice and chicken broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Snickerdoodles

I'm not sure where my Snickerdoodle recipe came from but it is a handwritten card in my recipe binder. It is a quick and pretty little recipe!

I use my smallest cookie scoop and these are about the same size as a Nilla wafer.

Snickerdoodles
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Sugar coating: 2 tbsp sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F
In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar and then mix in eggs and vanilla
Add in dry ingredients and comibne until a sticky ball forms.
Shape into balls (I use my cookie scoops) and roll in the cinnamon sugar mix.
Bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies won't turn brown but the bottom edges will start to turn a light golden.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

WOW this is my 200th post!! I'm glad its a festive recipe!

I made these fun decorated sugar cookies for a bachelorette party!

The dough was easy to work with, the recipe is easy to double, and they were quite tasty!

The Sugar Cookie recipe was adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction. The icing recipe is adapted from All Recipes.

I doubled the cookie recipe and it made 60 cookies. The cookies were about 3 inches big. I used the Wilton 4 Piece Wedding Cookie Cutters. Unfortunately the bells did not frost easily and didn't look like bells so the evidence was consumed.


This is a recipe for softer sugar cookies but if you prefer a crispier cookie roll the dough thinner and cook for an extra minute.

You'll want the eggs and butter to be room temperature but you want the dough to be cold when you are ready to work with it.

While my dough was cooling in the fridge I made these cinnamon/sugar Snickerdoodle cookies!

I let the cookies cool for about 6 hours before adding the icing. After icing them I let them harden for 4 hours before stacking and bagging them.

It was about 2 hours of effort (making dough, cutting, putting in the oven) but a lot of other hours of waiting while chilling the dough and cooling the cookies and drying the icing.

Note: I also use this icing for my Gingerbread Cookies!


I made these for a fundraiser! How cute!!

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction
Yields: 18 medium size cookies or 30 smaller cookies

COOKIES
3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

In your stand mixer beat the butter until creamed and smooth.
Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combined.

In a different bowl mix the flour and baking powder.
With the mixer on low slowly add in the flour until just combined.

Chill dough in fridge for about an hour or up to a day. If more than an hour, cover the dough so it doesn't dry out.

Remove dough from fridge and divide the dough in half. Put on piece on floured surface and put other half in the fridge. Roll to about 1/4″ thickness and cut into desired shapes. Put on cookie sheet (with parchment paper or Silpat mat) and place back in the fridge for 10-20 minutes. This allows the dough to firm back up and prevents spreading.

Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. I alternated pieces in the fridge and pieces to work with so that the dough was a little cooler.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly colored on top and around the edges. My cookies took 10 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Make the icing and decorate the cooled cookies!

ICING
Adapted from All Recipes
Makes enough for 1 dozen cookies

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional, I would omit next time)
Food coloring (Wilton Gel Food Colors)
Sprinkles

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup or milk by the 1/4 tsp.

Divide into separate bowls, and add desired food coloring to each. The food colors I used were very strong and ONE drop was plenty.

Put frosting into bag and snip the corner to easily frost the cookies. An easy way to add the frosting into the bag is to use a drinking glass and that holds it open while you put the frosting in.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Balsamic Glazed Steak and Veggie Rolls

Was this fancy looking? Was it labor intensive? Was it yummy? Will I make this again? Yes for all!

I updated the instructions below to be a bit more efficient. It took me about an hour and I had some downtime while I was waiting for things to cook.

To make this faster you can prepare the veggies the night before or purchase the pre-cut veggies. It also could be made with leftover veggies or the random veggies wilting in your drawer.

Remember that the smaller you cut the veggies the quicker they will cook. My veggies were a bit bigger and I crowded the pan and it took about 10-15 minutes until tender.

veggies all sliced

Rolled meat and kept closed with a toothpick

Topped with the balsamic sauce

Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls
Adapted from Picture the Recipe
Yields 8 rolls and fed 2 hungry grownups

For the Steak
1 lb sliced skirt steak or top round cutlets
Salt & Pepper
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

For the Veggie filling
1 carrot
1 bell pepper, any color
1/2 a zucchini or summer squash
5-6 green onions
2 cloves of garlic or 1 heaping tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp Italian herb seasoning

For the Balsamic glaze sauce
2 tsp butter
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup beef broth or red wine or water

Steak
Cut the steak into 3 inch wide strips or separate the steak cutlets.
Season the steak pieces with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.
Marinate for 1/2+ hours.

Sauce
While the steak is marinading... Melt butter in a large saucepan on medium heat.
Add the shallot and saute it for a minute or 2 until they turn soft and translucent.
Add the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and beef stock and stir.
Bring sauce to a boil and then simmer until reduced by half, stirring occasionally. It will become thicker and syrupy. Turn the heat off and transfer the sauce to a bowl.

Veggies
While the steak is marinating and sauce is reducing...Cut carrot, bell pepper and zucchini into matchstick size pieces, little longer than the width of the steak strips.

After the sauce is put into a different bowl, add a little olive oil and the garlic to the same pan.
When hot add add veggies, Italian herbs, and salt. Stir fry until tender. The smaller the slices the faster it will cook. (aka true matchstick size will cook quickly, mine took about 10 minutes...oops!).
Transfer the veggies to a bowl.

To assemble the steak rolls...
Lay out the strips of steak and place the veggies on one end and roll! Secure it with toothpick. Repeat the same with the other rolls.
Add some oil to the pan and heat for a couple minutes
Put the beef rolls in the pan, seam side down and pan fry for a couple minutes. Then turn roll and cook it on all sides in the same way. Cook until you’re desired done-ness.

Remove the toothpick and serve with the balsamic glaze sauce spooned over the top of each roll.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vanilla Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust

After you go camping and you have leftover graham crackers...what to do?? So far I've made Martha Stewart's Key Lime Pies and now these yummy mini cheesecakes!

I've adapted this recipe from Tyler Florence's Ultimate Cheesecake recipe. Overall I halved the recipe. Instead of 1.5 eggs I used 2 eggs. Instead of 1 cup sour cream I used 1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt. I omitted the lemon zest and vanilla extract. I reduced the sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup after reading a bunch of other recipes.

I didn't have any blueberries or fresh fruit to turn into a sauce to drizzle over the top so I put a little Strawberry Jam on mine.

These came out very soft unlike traditional cheesecakes. They freeze well. They are also delish out of the freezer and defrosted for about 10 minutes!

Vanilla Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust
makes 8 mini (6 oz ramekin) servings

Crust:
2 cups finely ground graham crackers
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
1 (8oz) block, softened cream cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a food processor pulse the graham crackers, cinnamon, and melted butter.
Spoon into the glass bowls and use another bowl to press the crackers in. Put it to the side.
Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. 
Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined.
Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add vanilla yogurt, scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan. 
Put the ramekins on the cookie sheet and then place in the oven. 
Place a large pan of water in the bottom rack of the oven. 
Bake for 30 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling). 
Crack the oven door and let the cheesecake sit for another 30 minutes. 
Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Irish Soda Bread Recipes x3

I had some leftover buttermilk from the Broccoli Slaw and I was thinking of what else I could make... Irish Soda Bread! It is a little late past St. Patrick's Day but it is a recipe I've been waiting to try!

Since I don't do this in parts and I couldn't decide which recipe to make, I decided to make all 3!

I adjusted each recipe for 2 cups of flour and updated all the ingredient measurements. I did not use caraway seeds or the chocolate chips for a more even comparison.

I baked Recipe 1 and Recipe 2 as suggested. I baked Recipe 3 at 350 for 40 minutes. Recipe 1 follows an authentic Irish Soda Bread recipe. Recipe 2 was sweeter and moister. Recipe 3 was similar to a biscuit texture.

For a different variation use chocolate chips for the raisins.

If you give them a try let me know what you think!

Below are the original recipes:

Recipe 1
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp Caraway seeds (Optional) or 1/2 cup chocolate chips (Optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Put the dough on a well floured surface and knead until no longer super sticky. Place on a cookie sheet and slice the top lightly with an "X"

Bake 10 minutes at 375 and then 40 minutes at 350.

Recipe 2 followed Recipe 1 without the salt but the addition of sugar, eggs, and melted butter. I didn't use the caraway seeds. However, the recipe called for "T" and "t" which I didn't realize until after that "T" means Tablespoon and "t" means teaspoon. So the recipe wasn't followed as closely as planned, at least I can't remember. At any rate...

Recipe 2

3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups raisins
2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp melted butter
1 tbsp Caraway Seeds (Optional) or 1/2 cup chocolate chips (Optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Grease and flour the cake pan. Pour batter into the pan.

Bake 45 minutes at 350.

Recipe 3 follows closely to Recipe 2 but calls for the butter to be cold instead of melted and for 1 egg instead of 2 eggs and no baking powder. There is also a difference in the flour to buttermilk ratio. I didn't use the orange zest.

Recipe 3

4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk
4 tbsp sugar
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp grated orange zest (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Put the dough on a well floured surface and knead until no longer super sticky. Place on a cookie sheet and slice the top lightly with an "X"

Bake 45 minutes at 375.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chicken Fajitas

I was looking for ways to change up our regular grilled chicken and this is one of the new recipes that I tried!  This recipe is adapted from Simply Recipes.

It was nice that this whole meal could be prepared on the grill since it has been so hot outside! 

I made a couple substitutes based on what was available in the house. I used lemon juice instead of lime juice, garlic powder instead of garlic cloves, and red pepper flakes instead of jalapeno.

Yum!

Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4

1 pound of chicken breast
3 peppers, sliced into stripes
2 small onions, sliced into stripes

Marinade
2 tbsp lime juice or lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder or 1/4 tsp of cayenne powder and 1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Butterfly the chicken breast. Put into a pie plate.
Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over chicken.
Marinade for 1 hour at room temperature or in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

While grill is preheating, put the veggies on a large piece of tinfoil, fold the foil in half. Fold the edges in to form an envelope/packet. Put on the grill for 10 minutes while grill continues to heat.
Grill the chicken for 3-6 minutes per side. Once cooked remove from heat and onto a plate to rest. 
Continue to cook peppers and onions until charred.
Slice chicken and serve on a tortilla.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mild Taco Seasoning

This mild taco seasoning was adapted from The Daily Meal and was kid approved (at least this time!). It was determined to be not too spicy and not too bland. I did a heaping scoop for the cilantro and oregano but then to make it less green and more red I added a few more sprinkles of paprika until it looked like the packet stuff. 


Mild Taco Seasoning
for 1 pound of meat

1 tbsp chili powder (or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper + 1/2 tsp paprika)
1 pinch of ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.