100th post, Salute to Snacks

Well, it’s been 2 years and 11 months (exactly) but we’ve finally arrived, you guys.

It’s my 100th post.

I celebrated sandwiches for my 50th post and I plan to continue the tradition by saluting my next favorite thing for this milestone, snacks!

If you’re telling me that a snack is quick and easy I expect three things:

  1.  The snack can be made with five ingredients or less.
  2.  Assembly of said snack can be completed without any advanced cooking tools or methods (so… it’s easy).
  3.  I can be sitting down and enjoying the snack within ten minutes of initial conception.

If the snack isn’t all three of those things, it’s not quick and easy.  The good news is that I’ve got three quick and easy snacks to share. More good news is that additionally, I’ve got two easy (but not quick) snacks to share. The last bit of good news is that I’ve got a final snack recipe that isn’t quick or easy at all, but it is very yummy… and I was wrong about that previous information being the last bit of good news, because the actual last bit of good news is: there is no bad news. Onto the snacks!

Quick and Easy Snacks

ants on a logAnts on a Log
A classic go-to. Three ingredients: celery, peanut butter, raisins (check).  Rinse and dry celery, smear on peanut butter, drop on raisins, cut and serve (boom, check #2). If you’re fast you’re enjoying this delightful no-so-bad-for-you snack in five minutes flat (triple check).

Confirmed: Ants on a Log = The Definition of Quick and Easy.

 

apple granola bitesApple Granola Bites.
A play on Ants on a Log; an apple, peanut butter (or greek yogurt is a delicious substitute!) and granola are all you need ( √ …(not an actual check mark, but will have to do)). Wash, core and slice apple, spread on peanut butter, sprinkle on granola and serve( √√ ). Another snack you can sit down and enjoy within minutes ( √√√ ). Quick and Easy.

 

bite size tuna bitesTuna Bites
Ingredients include cucumber, carrot (optional), tuna and mayonnaise (or dijon mustard or some plain yogurt, or whatever you want to make your tuna salad out of, and also, √). Wash cucumber and carrot, slice cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon, eat (or discard, you wasteful jerk), use a peeler to peel one or two long slices of carrot, divide into smaller pieces.  Open and drain tuna, mix with your mix, I usually use a bit of mayo and a small bit of dijon. Scoop the tuna mix onto the little cucumber boats you made, divide into bite size pieces, top with carrot, serve (√√). It took me ten minutes the first time I did it. (√√√). Quick and Easy.

 

Easy (but not quick) Snacks

deviled eggsOh, Deviled Eggs, how I love thee, let me count the ways… you need egg(s), mayonnaise, dijon, salt, pepper and olives (optional). Let me tell you something about the olive, it’s changed my deviled eggs forever. It’s the poor man’s caviar. The saltiness of the green olive is the perfect topping to the cholesterol ball you’re about to consume. Hard-boil the egg(s), this is what drops this snack out of the quick part of the quick and easy snack. I let the eggs boil for about 90 seconds before removing it from the heat and letting it sit for 12-15 minutes, transfer the eggs to an ice bath to cool them before peeling. Cut the peeled egg in half, remove the yolk and combine with mayonnaise and mustard (everyone is different, I use equal parts of both), add pepper if you like. Slice some green olives, I use one per egg slice. Fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture, top with olive and sprinkled salt and eat all of them in one sitting enjoy!

 

fruit and yougrt popFruit and Yogurt Pops
You need fresh fruit and yogurt (I used vanilla flavored greek yogurt). You also need a mold to make your pops in, and material to use as a popsicle stick. You can make whatever you want! I used fresh peaches, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. In some pops I mixed several fruits, others I made with only one type of fruit. These things will last a few months and are a fantastic, healthy go-to snack. I’m actually going to have one right now.

That was good.

 

Not Quick or Easy Snack

Behold, the soft pretzel. I am a huge sucker for these. I’ve always loved them, always will. This was my first time trying to make pretzels, I think they came out pretty good. The recipe I used was found by Googling “bread machine soft pretzel dough”, because I am lazy and the recipe book that came with my bread machine didn’t have soft pretzels (sadface).

 

Soft Pretzel Dough

1⅛   cup warm water (70-80 degrees)
3¼ cup flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
1½ tsp yeast

Load the dough ingredients into your bread machine based on the bread machine’s instructions.

Additionally, in a saucepan you’ll need:
8 cups water
½ cup baking soda

Finally, and optionally, you can add to taste and coat the baked pretzels in:
melted butter
salt


When the bread machine is done doing all of the hard work for you, knead the dough on a floured surface. Also, now is the time to bring the 8 cups of water and baking soda to a boil AND preheat the oven to 425°.


I rolled the dough into a ball, rolled over that with a rolling pin and divided the dough into 6 roughly-equal pieces.


I then rolled the dough in between my hands to make long, round strips.


If you want pretzel bites (like I made, along with a few miniature pretzels), snip the strips into bite-size pieces. If you want to make large, soft pretzels twist the dough and dab some water to ‘glue’ the pieces in place.


In small batches, boil the bites for 10 seconds before transferring to a colander or paper towel, let them dry for a moment before transferring to a greased baking sheet.


The pretzels held their form, no problems.


Bake for 8-10 minutes or until dark brown. I only cooked them to golden brown because I knew I would be reheating them the next day to serve at a party and wanted to
really brown them then. I know they look burnt, but that’s the color you ultimately want to strive for. That dark outer layer is the crispy part of the pretzel while the inside remains nice and soft. Toss or brush them in melted butter and salt. Eat them as they are or make a dipping sauce! Some people like cheesy dips, others like mustard.


Me? I’m happy with just a little extra salt sprinkled ontop.

If you’re going to reheat them (to serve at a gathering, for example), set the rack to the top position and broil them on high for a few minutes, keep an eye on them and turn them over once, take them out once you get that nice, crispy dark brown pretzel shell!

For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, thanks for sticking around for 100 whole posts! For those of you who have found me along the way, thanks for sticking around, haha. For those of you who are reading something of mine for the first time… what can I say? Feel free to stick around! I can only hope for everyone that the next 100 are more interesting, inspiring and insightful than the last!

lizzeh

 

 

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Dinner and Dessert

It’s a two-fer!

In a desperate attempt to make-up for my absence, here’s a dinner and dessert two-fer!

So, here we have an asparagus and goat cheese stuffed pork tenderloin. Behold, dinner:

Followed by dessert, a chocolate torte topped with a fresh raspberry, yum.

No need to bore you with the stories behind these dishes, let’s skip the foreplay and jump right into the good stuff, shall we?

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 tenderloin
1 bundle of asparagus*
½ cup goat cheese
½ teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt**

For the rub:
2 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt**
¼ teaspoon of the following:
onion powder
chili powder
cayenne pepper

* Depending on their thickness you could fit 4-12 stalks inside the pork, might as well just make them all and serve the extra on the side.
** I know, I know. I’m not one to typically use fancy salts and spices, but this one is awesome. I got it for Christmas and have used it A LOT. It’s basically salt mixed with Italian Seasoning, so do ¼ of each of those as a substitution.

Blanch the asparagus (drop it in boiling water for a few minutes and then shock it to stop the cooking by placing it in an ice bath).  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, and for the few minutes (2-4) that the asparagus is cooking, you can mince or press the garlic and mix everything else together to make the rub, and set it aside.

Butterfly your tenderloin (omg you guys, did you notice I’m using proper cooking terms??) I pounded it out a bit to even out the thickness (obviously after this picture was taken), sprinkle the salt over the meat.

Arrange the asparagus (blanched and pat dry) and goat cheese in the middle of the tenderloin.

Wrap it and rub it!

Heat up some oil in a pan, you’re going to brown this baby before roasting it in a 375° oven (preheat it now!).


Sear the tenderloin on all sides before putting it in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until it’s 160° inside. I did it on a roasting pan with a rack, rather than having it lie flat in a baking dish, although that is a suitable option if you don’t have a rack.


Awwwww, yiss. Serve it along side some potatoes, extra asparagus or another vegetable for a delicious, savory meal.

Alrighty, onto dessert! I found this recipe through Pintrest (shocker), and it was too good not to share. It’s from Baker Bettie over at bakerbettie.com, here is the original recipe and following was my step-by-step attempt.


Mini Chocolate Tortes

4 eggs
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
fresh raspberries

For the Chocolate Ganache:
¾ cups bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ cup milk
pinch of salt
Let’s start with the cakes themselves, preheat oven to 325° and grease a mini muffin pan.
Double boil the semi-sweet chocolate and butter, stirring frequently. Once everything is melted and it’s smooth, set it aside.

Crack and beat the eggs until pale yellow and frothy about 3-4 minutes. Set these aside.

Add salt and cornstarch into the melted chocolate and mix until well combined. Although not mentioned in the original recipe, I mixed the salt and cornstarch together and sifted them once before sifting them again into the chocolate. My cornstarch had some small clumps and I didn’t want to have those sitting in the tortes.
Pour ⅓ of the egg mixture into the chocolate and stir gently until combined. It’s important to do it a little bit at a time, above is what it looked like when I did the first third and only stirred for a bit. I was about to freak out but after a bit more stirring, it smoothed out.Continue until all of the egg is combined and chocolate mixture is smooth. Fill the muffin tins half full with the chocolate mixture and bake for 7-10 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In the meantime, prepare your raspberries. I like to let them air dry on a paper towel after rinsing. I find if I let them sit on top of each other after rinsing that they tend to get mushy. Mind you, I don’t always line them up perfectly to dry, either.

Double boil the bittersweet chocolate, when it’s mostly melted add the milk and the salt.
I like to add a little bit at a time, especially after I see how the milk makes it look.
When it smooths out (it always does) set it aside to cool, slightly.
Top the tortes with the ganache, I think I did about a heaping teaspoon on each.
Add a raspberry to each. Try not to eat them all in one sitting, believe me, it’s hard.  I stored them in the fridge, to let the ganache harden and the raspberries keep. 

So, it’s still early in the day… what are you eating tonight?
lizzeh

 

They See Me Rollin’

They eatin’, budgin’ lines tryin’ get a second helpin’.
(Weird Al, if you’re reading-  yes, I am available to work for you.)

These rolls are so good, (how good are they?), they’re so good that you won’t want a second helping, you’ll want a fifth! (Weird Al, please disregard that last one and instead, focus on the opener.)

This is not my recipe, I searched for ‘bread machine dinner rolls’ a little over a year ago, stumbled across Betty Crocker‘s recipe and haven’t looked back. Here’s the original, I haven’t changed anything, I find no need to.  They take a considerable amount of time to make (about 2½ hours), but they don’t take nearly as much work. It’s just a lot of waiting, waiting for the bread machine to finish doing the only real work required, and then waiting for them to rise, twice.

Let’s get rollin’!

Betty Crocker’s Dinner Rolls
yields: 15 rolls (says Betty. I make 16, so take that!)

1 cup water
2 tbsp. butter (softened) or margarine
1 egg (I beat it first, don’t know if that’s necessary)
3 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. yeast (I use bread machine yeast)

Load the ingredients into your bread machine as recommended by your bread machine instructions, I listed the ingredients in the order that I load them into mine. Typically you need to put the liquids in first, then dry ingredients, keeping the salt and sugar away from the yeast (if you’ve done it before you know the drill, if this is your first time using a bread machine to make dough, just make sure you read up and know how to load it).

And this is where I would put a picture of the ingredients,


IF I HAD ONE. (I forgot.)

Wait impatiently while your machine does all of the hard work. When it’s finished remove the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface.

Sometimes the dough is stickier than other times, in that case I used a little more flour and knead it in a bit. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 10 minutes. I cover it with a slightly damp (obviously clean) towel, some people use plastic wrap for easier clean-up. In the meantime, lightly grease a cookie sheet (Betty says to use shortening, I use a spray can).

If you want your rolls to all be exactly the same size, you might want to head over to Betty’s site. We have different methods at this point. I take my large ball of dough and half it, half each of those, half all of those I just halved, and half them again. That’s easy enough to understand, right? In layman’s terms, it’s pretty much the mitosis of dough. That explains it, no? How about a crummy gif made out of blurry, reject pictures I took?

Don’t watch it for too long, I don’t want anyone to have an epileptic episode brought on by roll mitosis. Maybe this wasn’t the best time to document by roll mitosis considering those two large rolls on the right that felt as though they didn’t want to divide. That’s because this particular batch (the dozen on the left) was given to a friend and the two on the right were used as hamburger buns that very evening. Another great thing about these rolls is their versatility. We’ve had them on the side with stew, had pulled pork and sloppy joe sliders (or make them bigger and have normal sized sandwiches), hamburger buns, I’ve used them with breakfast sandwiches (SO GOOD) and they were such a huge hit at Thanksgiving I had to make two batches the following day so people could have them with their leftovers.

I suppose you need to make them before you can enjoy them though, eh? So let’s get back to the recipe. Divide the dough as you wish and place them on the prepared sheet. Leave some space in between the rolls, because you’re going to cover them and allow them to rise again for another 30-40 minutes. They should double in size. You can rearrange them just before you put them in the oven if you’d like, make pull-apart rolls by placing them closer together, or individual rolls by leaving some space in between them.

Preheat the oven to 375° and pop those bad boys in for 12-15 minutes. Check around 10 though, depending on their size you may need more or less time. You’ll know when they’re done, they turn a delicious golden brown.

They may look like they’re going to be hard or tough, but they are the softest most scrumptious things. As a final option, you can brush some softened butter or margarine on the top when they come out of the oven (these have gone without. I actually haven’t done it in a while, just because it’s a bit messier, but oh man, is it good!).

I wish I could tell you how long they keep in the pantry for, but to be honest they’ve always disappeared after a few days. I do know, however, that they freeze and defrost well, just don’t overdo it with the defrosting or heating up, they will get really hard and stale if you do.  I don’t think I blasted them for longer then 45 seconds from frozen, but every microwave is different, you might have to sacrifice one during a trial period. Of course, they are best fresh.

Roll out!
lizzeh

Cheddar Corn Chowder

katieskitchen

Mmmmm, corn chowder.  A bowlful of hearty, crisp deliciousness. I’ve always loved corn chowder, my mom made it a lot for us kids, and as an adult I’ve searched for the perfect recipe for years. I recently came across a great recipe from one of my favorite magazines, Cook’s Country. I love their problem-solving approach to creating the perfect recipe, explaining all their decisions along the way. I only had one problem with their finished product, no cheese! I absolutely love extra sharp cheddar, and I can’t imagine corn chowder without it. So I slightly changed their recipe to add red bell peppers, cheddar cheese, and topped my soup with chopped bacon and green onions instead of mixing it in. Enjoy!

6 ears corn
2 (15-ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 scallions, sliced thin

Cut the kernels from the ears of corn, like this…

and set both cobs and kernels aside separately. Puree canned corn and 2 cups chicken broth in a blender or food processor until smooth. Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven (large cooking pot with a lid) until crispy, set aside, and chop once cooled.

Now it’s time to add the chopped veggies…

Cook onion, pepper, corn kernels, salt and pepper in bacon fat until veggies are softened and golden brown, 6-8 minutes.

Add potatoes…

(I had white potatoes, so that’s what I used, the red skinned potatoes make it look nicer though), corn puree, remaining broth, and reserved corn cobs to Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Discard cobs and stir in the cream and shredded cheese until cheese is melted and soup is heated through.

Serve and top with chopped bacon and scallions.

Yummmmmmmy!!! Coming up next, Creamsicle Cupcakes!

k80

Salute to Sandwiches

You, my friends, are in for a wonderful treat.

This is my fiftieth post and I’d like to celebrate by combing  this week’s photo challenge (the theme is Happy) whilst at the same time honoring one of my favorite things to eat, yes, sandwiches. Although I feel like I’m cheating because my picture last week was of a sandwich, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me happy too. This post is a long time coming, I’ve been documenting different sandwiches for the past few months so I’m happy I get to do them justice with such a commemorative post. If I had to pick one food that I had to eat for the rest of my life it’d be sandwiches. Some of you may say that’s cheating because sandwiches offer endless possibilities, but that’s exactly why I’d pick them. If you told me I had to only pick one kind of sandwich to eat for the rest of my life I’d say, “This game is stupid!” and I’d run away.

 

Sandwiches can be fresh, toasted, grilled or pressed. They can be made in-between bread, rolls, bagels or even pancakes. Sandwiches can hold meat, vegetables, fruits and fish. Don’t even get me started on condiments and spreads, if you’re only using mayonnaise or yellow mustard on your sandwiches you are limiting yourself! There are endless possibilities to sandwiches and I think that’s what makes them so wonderful… that and the fact that I get my daily craving for chips and a pickle fulfilled when they accompany the sandwich as sides.

This post is going to explore six different, simple sandwich recipes good for any time of day. The sandwiches I’ve chosen have many similarities yet obvious differences that let each one stand out in it’s own way, I bet you never thought you’d learn so much about sandwiches did you? After the sandwiches I will share a wonderful bread recipe and two top notch sides that you can enjoy with every sandwich. Homemade chips and pickles are the perfect way to accent your masterpiece, and they’re not challenging to make.

Without further delay, let’s get to the goods.

Fried Egg Supreme Sandwich

This glorious creation is one you’re either going to love or hate for a few reasons, the first one being fried egg. Some people aren’t egg people, just like some people are not bologna people. Bologna is the second reason you’ll love or hate it. I wouldn’t eat raw bologna to save my life, but fried bologna is a deliciously red-neck way to make my day. Listen to me people, especially those of you who are like, “Omg ew, that’s like totally disgusting!“, don’t knock it until you try it. If you honestly can’t bring yourself to buy or fry bologna then get ham.

When your frying your egg, get the bologna (or ham, you wuss!) in the pan as well. Pop your bread in the toaster while you cut your tomato and prepare the lettuce and cheese. When everything is done (the bologna is done when it’s browned and curled) stack this deliciousness on top of itself and get ready to enjoy every last freaking bite. I like to put the cheese in-between the hot egg and hot bologna to melt it a bit. You could butter your toast or what I’d do is put some Dijon mustard on there. This is a wonderful sandwich for breakfast, brunch or lunch.

Grilled Ham, Cheese, Apple and Spinach

This treasure is truly one to behold. Grilled Cheese is fantastic to begin with, so any little extras you throw in there can only make it better. I used cheddar cheese, because that is the kind we always have in the house. I’ve also made this with provolone and swiss cheese, both are excellent choices and of course taste differently than the cheddar. Make sure your spinach is washed before adding it, as well as your apple. I used Granny Smith, but any kind will really do. Before assembling the sandwich I spread dijon mustard on the inside of the bread and sprinkled a little bit of dried thyme on it as well, the outside of the sandwich was buttered, just like you would with a normal grilled cheese.

A note about grilling sandwiches: The biggest mistake you can make is overheating the pan before putting the sandwich on. I like to assemble my sandwich inside of the pan before turning it on, by doing this I’m making sure the sandwich will slowly heat up and brown while also melting the cheese inside. If you put the sandwich on a pan that’s too hot the outside of the bread will burn without allowing enough time for the cheese inside to melt- which is the whole point, right?

Zucchini Pancake and Egg

Yeah, I did it, made an egg sandwich with zucchini pancakes as the bread. Quite similar to the Egg Supreme this sandwich lacks meat and lettuce. Instead I put some spinach on the bottom to accompany the tomato and cheddar.

Although this is almost identical to the first sandwich it proves an important point- that bread and condiments make a difference. This one tastes completely different than the first because of the zucchini pancakes, I used leftovers from the day before and simply heated them up in the toaster. I take advantage of when I use pancakes (or waffles) as bread by switching up the condiments and spreading butter and pure maple syrup on the inside of the sandwich. This makes it a bit sticky during the eating process so make sure you’ve got napkins!

Panini Crepe

The panini crepe requires a bit more work than the other sandwiches, and yes, technically it is a wrap rather than a sandwich, but I said a few posts ago that I would share this as well. You’ll need to make a crepe first. I halved the recipe I have already shared, it was the perfect amount to make one large crepe for this wrap. After the crepe is done cooking set it to the side while you scramble some eggs and shred some cheese. I also had some left-over bacon that I threw in, although that got lost within the wrap and you can’t see it in the picture.

I wrapped everything up in the crepe, like you would do to a burrito, and then I pressed it in my panini press. If you don’t have a press, you could probably fry it for a bit on each side in a pan. I would be harder to have to flip it, but it’s definitely doable. I enjoy smothering it in maple syrup or dipping it in hollandaise sauce… aka heaven.

Roast Beef and Chicken

Does this little gem look familiar? The best part of this one was the homemade roast beef. We cooked it a few days earlier for dinner and then after one night of left-overs sliced the rest nice and thin to enjoy on sandwiches. The chicken was average cold-cut chicken, but still quite tasty. Another little twist to this sandwich was the spread, instead of mustard or mayonnaise I decided to spread some hummus on the toast instead. It was an outstanding choice.

A note about hummus: I didn’t really have a “thing” for hummus until this year, but oh boy do I love it now. I used to think it was too bland and didn’t have any taste. That, and maybe because everyone was pushing it as a healthy snack it just turned me off of it in general. I do prefer seasoned hummus though, with something like garlic or roasted red peppers. Anyway, it’s excellent to use as a spread and definitely healthier then mayonnaise!

Thanksgiving: To-Go

I saved the best for last, of course. Half of the reason why I think it’s the best is because it’s in-between two pieces of homemade rosemary bread. Everything about this bread is amazing, and if you have a bread maker it is the easiest thing to make. To make this beaut you’ve got to start by toasting the bread, if you don’t toast it you’re gonna have a bad time. It’ll turn this incredible experience into a soggy mess, nobody wants that, I certainly don’t want you to go through it.

Ingredients for this bad boy depend on two things: if you’ve celebrated Thanksgiving recently, and what left-overs you have… left…over. I can’t believe I don’t have mashed potatoes left because they would certainly be on there, they almost act as a paste to hold everything together, you can see my peas and stuffing are trying to jump out.. What I had to work with was turkey, stuffing, peas, gravy and cranberry sauce. I added cheese as well of course, I believe cheese is a fundamental ingredient when it comes to sandwiches. Use the cranberry sauce as spread and you will not be disappointed. Out of all of my leftovers cranberry sauce is actually the thing I have the most of (homemade with real cranberries- duh) so I will definitely be using it on my turkey sandwiches until it’s gone. This sandwich is best served warm so be sure to heat up the turkey, stuffing, potatoes (if you’ve got ’em) and gravy before assembling.

Rosemary Bread

I make this bread in a bread machine, I’ve never attempted bread by hand so I don’t know how much the recipe would differ to do it by hand (if it would at all). So I’m sorry I can’t be much help in that department. To make this bread follow the instructions that come with your bread machine (most times you’ll need to add the liquids first and the sugar and salt separately from the yeast).

You’ll need the following:
1 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil
2 ½ cups flour (all purpose)
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp fresh rosemary (optional)
¼ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp dry yeast

The original recipe calls for just one tablespoon of dried rosemary. I’ve made this bread several times now and decided recently to add more rosemary. You can definitely taste it (and smell it… mmmmm) with just the one tablespoon, but I like rosemary and had some fresh on hand so I decided to add more and it was a great choice. I still don’t think it’s overpowering by any means, but it can be your call and to your taste. Set it to the “normal” or “white” bread cycle, I usually set the crust as “dark”, but light or medium are also good.

Homemade Chips

These puppies are super simple and simply scrumptious! They are time consuming though, that doesn’t mean they’re hard to make, they just take a while to cook.

You’ll need:
A saucepan filled at least halfway with canola or vegetable oil.
2-4 potatoes washed and sliced
salt and/or pepper, to taste

Heat your saucepan up while you slice the potatoes, this amount is for one to two people, so if you’d like to make more you’ll need more potatoes. You’ll know when the oil is ready when you flick some water in and it sizzles. Drop your sliced potatoes in the pan and let the oil do the work. Unfortunately I didn’t time this last time I did it, I’d say it takes from 10-20 minutes for the potatoes to brown like this. When they’re done I like to lay them on a paper towel for a moment to get most of the oil off. I then toss them in a big bowl with salt (and pepper, or other herbs and seasoning of your liking if you choose, I’m a straight-up salt girl, myself.).

I’ve seen online, and tried myself doing this in the microwave. The cons I’ve found with that method is that you can’t make as much at one time and they burn easily and leave a nasty smell in the microwave/house. If you’d like to attempt this you can use a cooking spray (like PAM), spray a plate, lay the potato slices in one layer on the plate and then spray the slices. Put them in the microwave and nuke them for five minutes. Keep an eye on them. They may need more or less time depending on the power your microwave gives off, but once they start to burn they go fast, so keep that in mind.

Hot, Garlic Pickles

These pickles add a whole new meaning to the word “addiction”, and “pickle” for that matter. The longest I’ve gone this past year without one of these pickles is two weeks. Other than that I’ve been enjoying them on a daily lunchtime basis… for an entire year. They’ve gotten rave reviews across the board, and I’ve even been told that their juice is excellent for caesars. They are unlike most pickles because they are ready to eat the next day, while most take several weeks or months to actually pickle.

You will need:
6 mini cucumbers
6 garlic cloves
2 jalapeno peppers
2 hot peppers **
3 cups water
1 ½ cups white wine vinegar
2 tbsp salt
4 tsp pickling spice
This recipe will make two 28 oz jars (we use old applesauce jars).

Bring the water, vinegar, salt and picking spice to a boil in a saucepan. While that’s heating up slice the cucumbers lengthwise (we cut them into eighths, one time we cut them into fourths and noticed they didn’t get as spicy), thinly slice the peppers and garlic as well. If you want peppers that aren’t as hot, try not to add as many of the pepper seeds. Divide the recipe up evenly so that 3 cucumbers go in each jar, 3 garlic cloves in each jar and one pepper of each kind in each jar. Put some garlic and peppers in before you put the cucumber slices in, and then stuff the rest of the garlic and peppers all around the cukes. It’ll be a tight squeeze. When the water mixture is boiled fill each jar to the top and tightly seal the lid. Put them in the refrigerator overnight and they’ll be ready by lunchtime the next day. The longer they sit in that jar the hotter they’ll get!

** We’ve used several different kinds of hot peppers for this. It differs depending on the season and what stores have in stock. We’ve used habanero (if you use this only get one pepper and put half in each jar- they are super hot), red and green chilies as well. The original recipe calls for yellow chili peppers.

Well that’s that. If you made it all the way to the end of this post, I commend you, it was a long one. Hopefully you learned a few new things and are excited to try a new recipe. I know I’m ready to eat.

And lunch was never the same again…

Holy Crêpe!

Good, and good for you!


…well kind of.  Maybe a bit healthier without the bacon and chocolate in it, that and the holy load of syrup and sugar I dumped on there. If I were you though, I’d just go with it.. I mean look at that picture. Look at it. Simple, delicious and all rolled up into one yummy package, this treat can be eaten for breakfast or dessert! We had them for breakfast the other morning which is how the bacon got thrown into the mix.

By the way: bacon and chocolate. Have you seen this popping up a lot? Like all over the freakin’ place? Bacon and Chocolate is a great mix, don’t get me wrong- my palate and I are huge fans of the salty/sweet combination. But, is chocolate covered bacon it the best thing I’ve ever had in my entire life? No, it’s a piece of bacon, covered in melted chocolate chips that cost me (haha okay, it cost Tyler) $6 at the freakin’ fair. With that being said, they still work great together and you can save yourself (or your man) the $6 and put bacon and chocolate together in a crêpe you make yourself!

If you’ve never had a crêpe before I’m sorry to tell you that you’re missing out friends. Crêpes look a lot like tortillas but are basically extremely large and thin pancakes.
Best. Explanation. Ever.

The in-crêpe-ible (see what I did there?) thing about crêpes is that you can put whatever the heck you want in them. Sweet crêpes, like the one pictured above, are best for breakfasts or desserts. You can also make savory crêpes, filled with meats, vegetables and cheeses for lunch or dinner.

Out of the blue side note: I just had a remarkable realization when I remembered that my favorite meal at an awesome, not-so-little breakfast joint in Canada (Cora’s) is the panini crêpe. Panini. Crêpe. The crêpe is filled with eggs, cheese and ham or bacon, it’s then wrapped up and pressed, panini style. Typically, the thought of this would make me sad, because there are no Cora’s around here and we’ve never had a panini press… until now (thanks A,C&K!!). How and why I didn’t think of this the other day when we were actually making the crêpes is beyond me, but it pleases me so to think that now I can make my own and I will. And I will share (the recipe, not my actual food- we’ve been over this, I’m not that nice).

Back to the crêpes at hand, because these were just as delish, a different type of delish (sweet vs. the savory of the panini crêpe….mmmmm panini crêpe…. focus Liz, focus.) but just as delish. Crêpes are quite simple to make. Traditionally, they are made with wheat or buckwheat flour, I went with a very basic recipe and just used regular old white flour.

Simple Crêpes

yields: 4 large crêpes
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup flour
½ cup milk
½ cup water
¼ tsp. salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl while you heat your skillet/frying pan. You’ll want a large pan to work with, the smaller you make the crêpes the less filling you can put in and it becomes difficult to close it up.  Lightly grease the skillet- LIGHTLY. I learned that one the hard way- greased it up too much and the first crêpe was… not up to par. Make sure the skillet is very hot before you pour your batter in, the batter should pretty much harden on contact. I used about a half of a cup of batter for each crepe. When you pour the batter in, immediately start swirling the batter around the pan so it moves out towards the edges and forms a very large, very thin pancake. I think the easiest way to spread it around is to just pick up the pan and tip it at different angles so the batter evenly coats the bottom of the pan.. Let it cook for about two minutes before flipping it and cooking for another two minutes.

Now you have your crêpes, but what will you fill them with?

Ahh, beautiful farm fresh summer berries. Doesn’t get much better than that (okay, maybe it does if you add chocolate and bacon to the mix). Don’t have berries? No worries, you can put pretty much anything in these bad boys. Nutella is a popular choice if you have it on hand, and bananas would be a fantastic fruit to throw in there as well. If we had cream cheese I would’ve put that on rather than the chocolate I think. Cream cheese, or any type of cream with berries is heavenly.

Prefer to make a more filling, savory breakfast? Scramble up some eggs with veggies and cheese of your choice, wrap in up in the crêpe almost like a breakfast burrito. Don’t you just love how I always give you so many options? I guess it’s pretty clear that I’m big on versatile foods.

A tip: If you are putting something that you want to melt on your crêpe, like chocolate or cheese, you may want to add these things to the crêpe during it’s last minute on the skillet. The cheese or chocolate will easily melt from the heat and you can add the rest of your filling, roll it up and eat it right away.

I had a ham, cheese and asparagus crêpe for dinner year and years ago- it was delightful. So what would you put in your crêpe? Are you in a sweet or savory kind of mood? Healthy or maybe not-so-healthy-I-just-want-delicious-food-in-my-mouth-now kind of mood?

The choice is yours friends, choose wisely.

Seriously though, you can’t lose on this one. They’re fantastic either way. Enjoy.

Heaven Help the Po’Taters

One pa-tayda, two pa-tayda, three pa-tayda, four.

Those of you that know me (or those of you who have read my about me’ section) know that I have a serious addiction to potato chips. I took a brief break from chips when I was hoping to lose weight for the wedding. Right after the wedding, however, I fell off the wagon… hard. Seriously, I have bruises in between my newly-enhanced love handles. We decided to “try to eat a bit healthier”. It’s hard in the summer when you just want to hang out with friends, graze on food and drink all day. We’ve had a busy past few weeks, a lot of get togethers and visitors. I think it was after the fourth weekend in a row of making taco dip that we realized there may be some healthier alternatives that we should be choosing.

It’s been years since I’ve had a chip. Okay, it feels like it’s been years since I’ve had a chip. In reality it’s been like three days.  I feel as though there is a void in my life, a salty, potato-like void that needs to be filled. A salty, potato-like void that can only be filled by eating cheesier, greasier, baconier things. Things like this:

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. These bad boys aren’t too challenging either. Boil a pot of water while you wash and slice the potatoes. For two people, I used four taters. but two of the four were tiny- teeny tiny.

I got the wavy design from a wonderful little knife I received as a gift (thanks C&A!). Throw the potatoes in the boiling water and boil for 5-7 minutes or so, until they soften a bit.

Yes, I have glass pots. I was excited about them when we first got them, and I am still excited every time I use them. “Is the water boiling yet?” Oh, I don’t know, let me just not get up from where I’m sitting and look through the pot to see! Ahh, my laziness at it’s peak, but you have to admit, this pot is pretty sweet. When the taters are have boiled for a few minutes take them out, strain and let them dry for a minute or two. Put in a bowl and add a tablespoon (or more, or less- to your liking) of butter (or margarine or olive oil- again to your liking), a tablespoon of Italian Seasoning, teaspoon of garlic salt and then salt and pepper to taste. If you’re into it- throw a few red pepper flakes in there and toss that delicious goodness up!

Now spread those bad boys out on a greased cookie sheet. Bake them for about 12-15 minutes before switching over to the broiler. Broil for 5 minutes, take them out and do the best to flip them all over. Add the cheese and bacon bits at this point and stick it under the broiler for another 5 minutes. I used cheddar and mozzarella cheese, because that’s what we had around, you can use what you want. I only had two slices of bacon (left-over bacon from a previous morning… is ‘left-over bacon’ an oxymoron?) that I chopped up and sprinkled. If you don’t have any left over bacon in your fridge (or: you’re normal) you’ll need to make the bacon beforehand. Surprisingly, two pieces was enough for what I made.

Serve these loaded taters as an appetizer or a side dish, they are sure to please some tummies out there.

Five pa-tayda, six pa-tayda, seven pa-tayda… okay seriously I’m stuffed.

Summer Staple

Summa, Summa, Summa-time.

I like food. I love food. One of the beautifully magnificent things about food is how it changes with the season. Fall is fantastic for delicious apples, plump pumpkins and cranberries. Winter is a wonderful time for winter squashes (duh), clementines, broccoli and cauliflower. Spring supplies fiddle heads, rhubarb,  scallions and peas. And spectacular summer provides a smorgasbord of phenomenal fruits and veggies including watermelon, sweet corn, tomatoes, every type of berry you can think of, and the reason for this post today; zucchini.

As a kid I wasn’t too big on vegetables. I didn’t go to the extremes like some members in my family by claiming “carrots make me choke” just to get out of eating them, or saying I have a thing against mayonnaise because I stepped in it with my bare feet one time (you both know who you are). My methods were a bit sneakier, I’d chew my food for a bit before “wiping my mouth”  with my napkin, which was inexplicably heavier and soggier when I pulled it away.  Or I’d simply just slip under the table and crawl away, completely unnoticed (don’t even ask me how I did that, I’m so clumsy now I can’t tiptoe through a room without making a ruckus).  One thing I would never, ever avoid however, is zucchini pancakes.

Maybe it was the excitement of having breakfast for dinner, maybe it was the absurd amount of maple syrup I’d smother them with. Whatever it was, I ate those pancakes, zucchini and all. But I wouldn’t (still don’t) have one or two, oh no. I’ll eat as many of those savory suckers as possible until my stomach starts bursting and it becomes necessary to change into pants with an elastic waistband.

I can’t think of one summer that’s gone by that hasn’t included zucchini pancakes. Even when I spent a summer in New York City I called up my mom, got the famous family recipe and my roommates and I cooked those bad boys up, and gobbled them all down. Not only is zucchini low in calories, but they also contain useful amounts of folate, potassium and vitamin A (Dr. Oz would be so proud). They are also a pretty watery vegetable which is lovely when making muffins or bread as it keeps them perfectly moist.

The true beauty of this recipe is that you can use regular old pancake mix to save you some time. It’s funny, as much of an advocate as I am for making everything from scratch, pancakes is something I’ve never attempted (my sister just had a heart attack reading that- I’m sorry!). I’d advise using the pancake mix that asks you to use milk and eggs rather than the just add water type. The amount of extra ingredients also depends on how many pancakes you plan on making, but we’ll get to that…

Zucchini Pancakes

1¼ cups pancake mix (I used Aunt Jemima, and followed the recipe to make 10-11 pancakes)
1 egg
½ cup milk (the box calls for 1 cup but due to the wateriness of the zucchini I cut it in half)

1 medium zucchini, shredded (don’t peel it- the skin holds all the good stuff)
¼ onion, shredded
1 tsp garlic salt
⅓ cup parmesan cheese

If you have a Cuisinart that would be the best thing to use to “blend” the zucchini and onion together. I don’t have one so I grated it, and then used my immersion blender to do the rest. If you’re making more pancakes, you’ll need to use more zucchini/onion mixture. It should be a 1:1 ratio with equal parts pancake mix and zucchini/onion mix. Once you mix the mixes (got that?)  let the batter rest for a few minutes so it’ll thicken. While it’s resting heat up a skillet with a little bit of butter and a little bit of oil (Paula Deen would be so proud), I don’t know why you need both (Mom? Any insight?) but DO IT. Maybe it’s because when you put the pancakes in there to fry it gives them a nice little crispy crispness around the edges, which I just adore. Let them brown, flip ’em and brown the other side. Voila!

Even my main man who “hates zucchini” enjoyed them, but honestly even if he hadn’t liked them it would not have deterred me from making them every summer, for the rest of our lives. A summer staple in my family growing up and another new tradition to carry on in my new family. So go out there and get those zucchs before the summer ends! These are great for breakfast or dinner and go great with bacon (mmmm… bacon), sausage, fresh tomato or as my mom would say, fresh sweet corn. Enjoy!

Zucch, zucch riot- riot!

Fantastic Fiddleheads for Friday!

Today’s Friday by the way… did you know?

Two posts in one week, this is pretty unbelievable. Don’t get used to it because I’ll going on hiatus again very, very soon. However,  I believe I promised some time ago to share a new recipe and that time has finally arrived. Not only that but it’s fiddlehead season!

Fiddleheads, which are only around in the spring, are edible shoots of a fern. I’ve never had them, Tyler “claims” he’s never had them (although I specifically remember him saying a few years ago that he loved them…) and ’tis the season, so why not? We bought them, went home and made lasagna, completely forgetting about the fiddleheads until two days later…whoops.

There are a few things about fiddleheads that are important to know before you prepare them. I did my research this time (unlike the horrifically amateur plantain incident) and made sure not to under cook them because of their “potential foodborne illness“.  Basically- don’t eat them raw, cut off all that gross brown crap, clean them well and cook them until they are done.

They look a bit nicer after they’re tended to.

I read that if you like asparagus then you would like fiddleheads, so I wasn’t worried about their taste. I was pretty unsure how this dish would turn out though, considering I was kind of just making it up and using what I already had. I was very pleasantly surprised when I absolutely loved it. I don’t know if it was the creaminess the cheese gave it or the saltiness that the bacon gave it, but it was so yummy I was delighted when we had leftovers.

 

Bacon and Fiddleheads on Rice

Make Rice:
1 ½ – 2 cups rice (I made 2 cups, but I think it was almost too much)
1 ½ – 2 cups water/broth (water amount depends on what kind of rice you’re making, follow your rice’s instructions. I always make rice in broth by the way, I used vegetable this time)

For the rest of the dish, you will need:
Fiddleheads, properly cleaned and cut
6-8 slices of bacon (depending on how much you like bacon)
1 cup broth (I used vegetable again, I think chicken would’ve been good too)
½ cup white wine
¾ cup- 1 cup grated Romano cheese (I used closer to a cup I think, but we love cheese)
2 cloves garlic
splash of oil for the pan
pepper to taste (you don’t need to add salt, believe me)

While the rice cooks, cook the bacon and the fiddleheads (I chose to steam them over a pot of water, bay leaves and garlic cloves, you can also boil them).  I prefer to bake bacon (at 350°F) rather than frying it. You still need to watch it and flip it once, but you can make so much more of it in the same amount of time without hot oil splattering in your face, that my friends, is a bonus.

When the bacon is done (don’t let it cook too much, you’ll be throwing it in a pan soon) and cooled, chop it up into decent sized chunks, maybe the size of a quarter or half dollar.

When the fiddleheads are done, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the garlic for a few minutes. Add the bacon, fiddleheads, ¼ cup of wine, ¼ cup of cheese and ½ cup of the broth.  Mix it up and let simmer for a few minutes,  stirring occasionally. Add the rice, and the remaining broth, wine and cheese.  Add pepper to taste and mix it up so the cheese melts and any excess liquid boils off.

If the rice had cooled before adding it to the pan, keep it on heat long enough to warm up again. Otherwise this dish is ready to serve and at! I served a mixed green, raspberry and walnut salad on the side- yum!


Needless to say this recipe didn’t require much work, which also gives it a few bonus point in my book. It can easily be modified with different veggies and meats, and you can choose to not add the rice to the pan and just serve the meat and veggies with the sauce over the rice. Don’t cha just love variety??

Happy Weekend Y’all.