Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Feeling hot hot hot!

It's been over 100 degrees here for the past week or so, and I'm getting acclimated.  I have a feeling this ice milk is going to be an essential summer treat!

It's probably a mistake to learn how easy it actually is to make ice cream.  I purposely don't buy it, because I will eat all of it, immediately. Moderation and ice cream don't exactly go together.  But this ice milk recipe is a little more diet friendly than a pint of Ben an Jerry's, at least that's what I'm telling myself.  It also doesn't require an ice cream maker, or really any special equipment other than some kind of blender.

What you'll need:

  • 4 cups of milk (this is 1 percent)
  • 1 cup of VERY strong coffee (like, espresso strong).  I used decaf because I'm an old lady and caffeine keeps me awake at night.
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or stevia, splenda, etc. if that floats your boat)

Dissolve the sugar in the coffee while it's hot, add the milk and vanilla and then pour into a 9x13 (freezer safe) pan, preferably one with a lid.  Leave for several hours and you'll find a giant milk-ice chunk in your freezer.  Using a fork, break it up into smaller, slushier pieces.

Scoop the ice milk into a cup that's safe to use with your immersion blender (or into a regular blender).

Then, you know, blend it. 

 The final consistency is not quite the same as a slow-churned ice cream, more like a Wendy's frosty.  But I'm okay with that.

Top with whatever your little heart desires.  Whipped cream, chocolate sauce, or in my case, sliced almonds!  Mmmmm, crunchy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Let them eat cakes! Specifically, fish cakes!

What's a girl to do with two discounted tilapia fillets?  Clearly, tilapia is one of the more boring kinds of fish.  There I said it.  But what's great about it, is that it's versatile and goes with a ton of different flavors!

What you'll need:

2 tilapia fillets
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free if you prefer)
1.2 cup frozen peas
1 T mustard
1 T chimichurri (optional) OR 1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 T olive oil (divided)
1 t Old Bay
1/2 t cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat 1 T of the olive oil to medium high and place the filets that have been seasoned with salt, pepper and Old Bay on both sides in the oil (I had to do mine one at a time). It doesn't take long for fish to cook, these only went for a couple of minutes on both sides.  Once the fish is firm and opaque, you can take it off the heat. 

Flake the fish with a fork in a large bowl. 

Add your peas, they will defrost in the warm fish (or you can microwave them for a minute if you prefer). 

Add your bread crumbs, yogurt, cayenne and mustard.  I also added a little more Old Bay, because I love it and simply cannot help myself.

Add your parsley or chimichurri and then mix everything together. 

Once the cakes are formed, you can chill them in the fridge or freezer to help them hold their shape.  I threw mine in the freezer while I cleaned up the dishes so far and heated 1 T of olive oil in my pan once again.

Once the oil is preheated, brown the patties on both sides (make sure that they get heated all the way through), then set them aside to drain on paper towels.  This recipe made about 8 patties.

I served the patties with a simple rice vinegar cole slaw.  Bon Appetit!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Here's to the graduates!

Graduation season is upon us, and I have a few people in my life ending chapters this year.  Here's to you graduates!  Congratulations on all you've accomplished, and best of luck on the challenges to come!

21 Greatest Graduation Speeches of the Last 50 Years

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Quick weeknight dinner: Kale, chicken andouille, and pinto bean soup!

Now that you have a freezer full of stock,you'll have it on hand for quick weeknight dinners.

Believe it or not, I often come home and really only have the energy to dump things into a pot or put together a quick salad.  When you come home to an empty house after a 12 hour work day, it's tempting to have cereal for dinner, but trust me, this is much better (and will hopefully last a couple of nights).

I used Tuscan kale, sometimes called Lacinato kale for this recipe, but you can use any old leafy green you'd like!
I also tried out this smoked andouille sausage for the first time.  It's delicious, but be warned, it packs a bit of a punch.

What you'll need:

A stock pot
1 onion diced
2 cups canned pinto beans (I used frozen leftover Chipotle Beans. Yep, still working through my stockpile)
2 links smoked andouille sausage sliced into rounds (Open Nature is gluten-free)
1 bunch kale (about 4 cups) chopped. 
4 cups homemade stock (or store bought or even water in a pinch)
Salt and Pepper to taste (the sausage really flavored the broth, I didn't need much)

Honestly, I defrosted the stock in the microwave for a few minutes and then just dumped everything into the pot and simmered it until the onions were cooked through and the kale wasn't too tough, about 30-45 minutes.  If you want to get fancy, you could saute the onion and sausage in a bit of oil first, get some of that browning action going on, but I really just couldn't be bothered.  Don't fret, it was still delicious!  It reminded me of extra delicious bean with bacon soup, which was my favorite when I was a kid!

Happy Eating!

Monday, May 12, 2014

A variation on a classic beef stew...a stew-viation?

Deb Perelman over at Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite food bloggers.  When she posted her recipe for Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew I knew it was right up my alley, but I also knew I didn't want to buy a bottle of cognac for one recipe (tip: you can always buy the little airplane-sized bottles for recipes like this, but I'm lazy).  I also knew that I prefer other kinds of mustard to Dijon, so I did a little substituting.  

Her recipe calls for the following:
  • 1/4 pound salt pork, pancetta or bacon, diced (I used bacon, then used the crumbles on a salad)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 shallots, chopped (I used a big onion and 1 clove of garlic, diced)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, as needed
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons flour (to make GLUTEN FREE, use corn starch as a substitute)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Cognac (I used bourbon, because, well, it's delicious)
  • 2 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1/2 cup smooth Dijon mustard (I used half regular mustard and half stone-ground for the total amount)
  • 4 tablespoons coarse Dijon or Pommery mustard
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into half-moon slices
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and quartered
  • 1/4 cup red wine (funnily enough, I actually had this)
To go with this utterly divine stew, I roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  It made an excellent (and relatively healthy) couple of meals!

I heard it's been snowing and raining in most of the country this week, so you'll want to get this in before the weather heats up again!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Prayer

Please grant me the abilities to never end up on this blog.

Adventure: Sonoran Desert Museum

Alright, confession time.  I haven't cooked much this last few days.  I had a friend in town and we were too busy having adventures to worry about cooking.  We had several great meals at Cornish Pasty Company, The Hub, and El Charro Cafe.  We saw a play, laid by the pool, watched movies, went stargazing, visited a Mission, celebrated Star Wars Day and took my first ever trip to the Sonoran Desert Museum, which has been recommended to me by basically everyone I know.  Here are some highlights:

This is called a Baja Fairy Duster, and I love it!
This Mountain Lion was doing the only logical thing, lying around in the shade.
I call this the disco fabulous hummingbird.  I'm pretty sure that's the real name.
Their little wings do go awfully fast!
Cactus flowers are weird. Weirdly awesome!
The big news in town is that this otter just got his own Twitter feed.  I'm not joking!
This is what saguaro cacti look like after they die (and a woodpecker).

These are eels, I just thought they were super neat!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sunday Brunch: Italian egg bake

I love brunch.  A lot.  Having time and energy and inclination to make a special breakfast is what Sundays are all about!  This dish is exactly what the doctor ordered, as long as he ordered something delicious.  If not, you should look for a new doctor.  And this time, you should look for a woman, women totally understand brunch. 

What you'll need:

  • A cast-iron or other oven safe pan (I used a 12 inch pan)
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 link spicy Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (or cheese of your choice)

I suggest practicing proper mis en place.  Chopping and dicing everything in advance of cooking is an excellent plan, one I only occasionally follow.  Dice your onion, slice your mushrooms, slice your asparagus into 1 inch pieces and pour your tomatoes into a mesh strainer to drain (this step is up to you, I wanted a dryer consistency.

Start by preheating your broiler on low and putting your pan on the stove over medium heat.  Add your oil and when it's hot, your onions.  Saute your onions until translucent, then remove your turkey sausage from its casing and add to the pan.  Once the sausage is browned, add your asparagus and mushrooms.  

Once the veggies are heated through, add your tomatoes and bring all the ingredients to a simmer.

Carefully crack your eggs into depressions you create in the mixture.

Cover briefly while the whites set (just barely around the edges).

Add the cheese I forgot to include in the picture up top.


Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, until your whites are set but your yolks are still runny.  It's difficult to tell, so err on the side of runny, because carry over cooking once you've removed the eggs from the oven will likely finish the job!  

Then, eat hearty!!