bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I've  been wanting to try making my own taco seasoning for ages, but I still had some I wanted to use up, so I just hadn't gotten around to it.  Then, last month when I started planning meals for Camp Outreach, I realized that there is wheat in the taco seasoning I had.  Now, ordinarily I might not think a thing of it, but we had some people with gluten sensitivities who were going to be there, and I thought it best to avoid the wheat altogether in the taco meat.  So, I finally got around to making some taco seasoning.

I started looking on Pinterest and came across this recipe.  It's called the 'best taco seasoning recipe ever' so I figured it ought to be good.  Apparently she tried a lot of taco seasoning recipes from around the internet, and this is the one

Taco Seasoning
from what's that Smell?

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Directions:
  1. Measure all ingredients into glass jar; cover and shake to mix well.
  2. Use 2 T per 1 lb. of hamburger for tacos. (or adjust to your taste)  

Seriously, it's that easy - mix together spices you probably already have on hand (I had everything except usable onion powder.  Why is it that onion powder always, always, always turns hard as a rock?) and you get a taco seasoning mix that is really good.  I think it has a better flavor than the store bought kind - and no weird ingredients in there, either. 

I will definitely be making and using this taco seasoning from now on. I may not even finish that little bit of the store-bought seasoning I have left...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cherry Clafoutis

...or something like that.

Cherries were 98¢ per pound this week so I bought several pounds.  Jeffrey loves eating them, and I figured for that price I could also try out a cherry dessert I'd seen on Facebook a while back.  Of course, I couldn't find the exact recipe I was thinking of, so I turned to Pinterest.  This is what I found.


Cherry Clafoutis
from Kitchme

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 1 lb. fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest of one lemon
  • powdered sugar 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.  Generously butter and flour a square baking dish.
  2. Spread cherries evenly in the bottom of prepared baking dish.
  3. In food processor, pulse almonds, flour, sugar, and salt until almonds are coarsely chopped.
  4. In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest.  Add in the melted butter and flour mixture and mix well.  Pour over cherries.
  5. Bake in preheated oven 40-60 minutes, or until center is set and the top is golden brown.
  6. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.

I am definitely going to have to make this again.  We really liked it.  BUT, it didn't turn out exactly the way I was expecting.  It turned out very custardy and not at all cake-like, which I was expecting from the picture.  Of course, another recipe I found looked entirely custardy - and somehow the cherries all ended up on top of the custard.  How did they do that?  I do want to try dusting the buttered baking dish with granulated sugar as suggested in that recipe, instead of flour.  Like I said, I am going to have to make this again.


Mine took quite a bit longer to bake than the original recipe, and it seemed like there was just too much butter.  Some people may think there is no such thing, but... Looking back over the recipe now, I see that I did have too much butter.  The recipe called for 1/2 a stick of butter, and I read that as 1/2 cup - so I used a whole stick.  That's twice as much butter as I was supposed to use!  So, Next time I'll do it right and see how that works out.

Other than that, the only difference in my recipe was that I used whole almonds instead of sliced ones because that was what I had, and I figured they were going to get chopped up anyway.  Oh, the smell of toasted almonds!  I would suggest toasting your almonds before starting on pitting your cherries, otherwise it can be quite a mess.  Those cherries themselves can be quite a mess.  I wore plastic gloves to avoid staining my hands with the cherry juice - but trying to slip one glove off to go check and shake the almonds while they toasted was quite a feat, and I ended up splattering some cherry juice on my face and in my hair trying to get the glove back on - without getting cherry juice inside one of the gloves.  But, my hands did stay fairly clean, except for the thumb I was using to pop the pits out.  Of course my thumbnail would pop a hole in the glove!


Also, what size baking dish is 7x5"?  Yes, I know - 7 inches by 5 inches, but what kind of dish would that be?  I didn't know so just went with my square cake pan.  It looks like it fit just about perfectly.

The flavor of this was really good, even if I did mess it up a bit.  I'm already thinking of other fruit I could use.  Maybe peaches?  The peaches in the store have been really good this year.  Anybody else notice that?  Sometimes they're just really disappointing; either they don't ripen up, or they get all mealy and yucky.  But this year they're nice and sweet.  Anyway, back to the dessert - clafoutis - I'm not even sure how to pronounce it or why it's called that, but we are enjoying it, so that's all that matters.  Have you made one or have a recipe I should use?  Please share!


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month is Thyme for Cooking Blog which is all about the food, and life in France.  I wish, wish, wish I had more time to spend poring through this lovely blog.  I want to know about restoring a French farmhouse, and I want to know how Katie, who started in Minnesota and Wisconsin, managed to end up in France - with a few other interesting stops along the way.  We lived in Wisconsin for 15 years, but I do not think there's any chance we'll be ending up in France.  I will most definitely be reading through Katie's posts more thoroughly whenever I find the time!  I love how all her posts include not only the recipe but also an interesting story about what is going on in her life.


For now, I'm glad she loves healthy food, healthy ingredients, and most of all Simple Recipes.  Of course, simple (but tasty) recipes are a big favorite of mine, but this month I really needed something simple.  I spent a week cooking dinners for approximately 90 people at Camp Outreach, and the weeks prior to that were spent planning, shopping, and cooking chicken and taco meat in advance.  If only I could have used a recipe from Thyme for Cooking Blog for camp...   That would have been awesome!  So, Katie, when you read this, feel free to point me to any of your recipes that may have been great camp fare.  There's always next year.  Maybe.


This Italian Beef and Cabbage might have been good.  I am definitely going to try that soon.  Chicken with Red Beets and Cabbage is on my 'to make' list too, along with Beef, Cabbage, and Feta on Barley.  I seem to see a cabbage theme here.


In the end I picked this Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, because chocolate.  And not only chocolate, but double chocolate.  And also zucchini, and it's one of those simple recipes which I thought would be perfect to share, because, with the slightly longer 4th of July weekend, we decided to go visit my parents, and I always try to take something so Mom doesn't have to fix all the food.  This Apple Bread was also a possibility, but the chocolate won out.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
from Thyme for Cooking Blog

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 6-8 oz. chocolate, chopped (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Butter 2 large loaf pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Combine butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla in a large bowl and mix well.  Stir in zucchini.
  4. Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together; stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir gently to combine.
  5. Add chocolate chunks and walnuts and stir just until combined. 
  6. Divide batter between prepared loaf pans.
  7. Bake 55-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 5 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before slicing.

This recipe is a definite keeper.  Deep, dark chocolatey, chunky and super moist.  The first words that came to mind when I bit into my first piece were, "Oh, Baby."  It is so good.  I stored it in the refrigerator because of the moistness, and I think that made it even better.  The two loaves did not last long when I put them out to be shared.  It really was hard to resist grabbing just one more piece.  And it didn't look like anyone was actually trying to resist.


Thanks for the recipe, Katie.  I will be making this again.  And again.  I see why you make it often.





Friday, June 10, 2016

Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Beef

I'm in the middle of planning dinner menus and shopping lists - and trying to figure out how it's all going to get done - for a week-long camp that is coming up very very soon.  Thankfully I do have help, and it will get done - and we are going to feed a lot of hungry people!

Somewhere in the search, I came across this recipe.  The person who mentioned it said these sandwiches were fantastic and 'could not be easier' and they sounded like exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.  But, of course, I needed to try them first, right?  Right.  So we had these sandwiches for dinner tonight, and they really are fantastic.  Of course, I didn't exactly follow the recipe because what would be the fun in that? (I'm guessing that the original recipe is really good; I just thought I'd add a couple things)


Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Beef
adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 lb. Chuck roast
  • 1 T onion soup mix
  • 1 cup pepperoncini juice
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 10-12 pepperoncini peppers 
  • sliced Provolone cheese
  • crusty bread, rolls or buns
Directions:
  1. Place roast in the bottom of crock pot
  2. Sprinkle with onion soup mix; pour pepperoncini juice and broth into crock pot and add pepperoncinis.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Shred beef with two forks and stir.  Serve on bread, rolls, or buns with a slice of cheese.

The original recipe called for just pouring a 16-oz. jar of pepperoncini over the roast - that's it, just a roast and a jar of pepperoncini.  So I complicated it a bit by adding the onion soup mix and beef broth, but this recipe is still super simple.  Also, I'm not sure how many peppers and how much juice is in a 16-oz. jar, because I buy them by the gallon ($6.99 at GFS!).  So I just guessed.

This ended up quite juicy, but that's OK because you want some of that oh-so-tasty broth along with your beef because it soaks into the bread and comes pretty close to absolute perfection.  Messy perfection, but perfection nonetheless.  Just be sure to have some napkins handy, and hold over your plate.


For those worried that this might be a bit spicy, it really isn't.  There's a nice tang to it, but it's really not spicy.  Of course those who like a little spice will want one (or two) of the warm pepperoncinis on their sandwiches.  (it doesn't really add much heat, but the flavor is great)  I would recommend removing the peppers before shredding the beef - which I did not do.  Otherwise you will end up shredding some of the peppers too, and then it's really hard to serve up a sandwich without some pieces of pepperoncini in it.  Also, you'll end up with random stems floating around that nobody wants to eat.

We had a nice garden salad to go along with our sandwiches.  Did I mention that I'm getting lettuce, lettuce, and more lettuce out of my garden?  My husband skipped the salad and just had another sandwich.  I had more salad - but then I couldn't help snitching a few pieces of this beef as I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner.  So good!  I'd definitely recommend this recipe.  So much flavor with so little work - I think we have a winner. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Southwest Zucchini Patties

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month is pizza rossa, a lovely blog written by Rachael.  Rachel has lived in Switzerland since 2001, and she and her husband have been vegetarians for many years.  She loves sharing delicious and healthy recipes, along with some decadent sweet treats, and encouraging people to try something new.

Looking through Rachael's blog, I found several recipes I really want to try. Tuscan Style Roasted Vegetables, Spinach & Zucchini Pie, and Potato and Spinach Waffles are just a few that caught my eye.


But I eventually decided on these zucchini patties.  They just sounded so good. (Mine got a little extra browned, so the picture does not do it justice, but trust me, these are good.)

Southwest Zucchini Patties
adapted from pizza rossa

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. zucchini, 1 medium or 2-3 small
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 can (15 oz) can kidney beans
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying
Directions:
  1. Grate the zucchini on a box grater and spread over a couple of sheets of paper towels; top with more paper towels and put a heavy cutting board on top. 
  2. Rinse and drain the corn and kidney beans in separate strainers.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.  Add kidney beans and roughly mash with the back of a fork or a potato masher. Mix in corn, zucchini, minced onions, and cilantro.  Add cumin, cayenne, salt & pepper.
  4. Stir in enough breadcrumbs so the mixture becomes quite stiff.  Use damp hands to shape the mixture into patties.
  5. Heat about two tablespoons of oil in a skillet and cook the patties until well browned on both sides, 4 – 5 minutes per side.
Makes about a dozen large patties or 20 small ones

These smelled so good as soon as I mixed the ingredients together.  And then, when they were cooking - even better.  I added the cilantro and cut the cayenne down because my husband does not like things too spicy.  Other than that, I pretty much stuck with Rachael's recipe - except I just wrote 'bread crumbs' when I copied the recipe instead of dry bread crumbs, so I ended up using more bread crumbs than the recipe called for, and the mixture never did get very stiff.  So next time I'll be sure to make sure my bread crumbs are nice and dry and see if that makes any difference.  It still formed nice enough patties that cooked up really well.  I cooked them for 5 minutes on the first side without disturbing them, just to be sure they held together, which is why mine ended up a bit over-browned. 


Rachael served hers with some gorgeous pico de gallo, which would have been great, but we just topped them with salsa and sour cream  So good!  I wasn't sure how my husband would respond to having these for dinner and no meat (Gasp!), so I made some Spicy Avocado Chicken too, as an alternative option.  He ate some of both, and then went back for two more of these patties.  I'd say that's a win.


The leftovers heat up really nicely, and I have eaten a few of them cold too.  They're pretty much good however you eat them, and I'll definitely be making these again.



Monday, May 23, 2016

Crockpot Tapioca Pudding

I've always liked tapioca pudding, but for some reason I haven't been able to make a tapioca pudding that I've been happy with.  I've tried the recipes on the packages (a couple times), and I tried making it in the crockpot one other time.  It just didn't turn out the way I thought it should. So, obviously, I haven't tried all that many times...

This time, I was going to make my husband his favorite chocolate pudding - there are only the two of us, and we don't go through a gallon of milk quite as quickly as we used to when the kids were living at home, so there was milk that needed to be used - but I really did not have time to stand over the stove and stir that pudding.   That's when I remembered the tapioca pudding my friend Brian made last month, and his turned out quite good, so I thought it was worth another try.  I definitely had time to throw the ingredients in the crockpot and stir it once in a while, in between all the other things I was trying to get done.

It turned out great!  This is the recipe - good flavor, good consistency, and so easy.

Crockpot Tapioca Pudding
adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup small pearl tapioca
Directions:
  1. In 5-6 quart crockpot, beat eggs.  Add sugar, salt, and vanilla and mix well.  Mix in milk and tapioca.
  2. Cover and cook on High for 3 hours (or Low for 6 hours), stirring occasionally.  (Every 1/2 hour for the first 1-1/2 hours and then every 15 minutes for the last)

I'm not sure what recipe I used the last time; this is just one I found when I searched online for one.  I took the recipe and incorporated some of the suggestions from the reviews - adding a bit of salt and some vanilla.  And that was it.  Super simple.  Oh, and the recipe is basically 1-1/2 times the original because I needed to use the milk, and it was a better amount for the size of my crockpot.

For me, I think the key to a good tapioca pudding is stirring it enough that the tapioca doesn't clump up in big clumps, while not stirring it so much that the tapioca breaks down completely.  So, start out stirring every half hour, but as soon as you notice the tapioca starting to clump, make sure you stir it more often - and even get a bit aggressive with it to break those clumps up.  Not too much because you still want those fun little clear balls that make tapioca pudding special.  Did that make sense?  I used a silicone scraper which seemed to work really well.


Also, this got quite thick.  I may cook it a little less next time to see if I can get it to be just a bit creamier.  I don't know that will work, but I think one of the reviewers on the original recipe mentioned it.  Stirring a bit more often toward the end will help with keeping an eye on it and knowing when it's at the right consistency.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring Greens

It's a good thing we like salad, because there is a whole lot of lettuce out in the garden.  Last year's lettuce went to seed, and so we have a lot of new lettuce this spring.  I also followed some advice I read from an old friend and scattered some seeds in the garden sometime in early March on the chance that some of them would survive the freezing and thawing and come up.  You guessed it - more lettuce.  And some radishes.

I've also got a couple chard plants that somehow survived the winter and are growing like crazy.  So, I have chard and radish greens to use, too. The other night I sauteed some of the greens with garlic and olive oil, added a bit of balsamic vinegar, and then fried a couple eggs to go on top - over easy so the yolks could run down into the greens.  It was incredible easy but oh so tasty.  (and I didn't think to take a picture until after I'd savored every last bite)


 The next night I added a bit of rice to the greens and served them with grilled chicken.  (Yes, I had this two nights in a row.)  Both were really yummy and a great way to use all those happy spring greens. I'm throwing radish greens in my salads, too - so good!

Sauteed Spring Greens

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Chopped greens - Chard, radish, spinach, whatever you have
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cooked rice (optional)
Directions:
  1. Heat olive oil in medium skillet;  add garlic and saute for a minute or two.
  2. Add greens and cook until softened and tender, stirring often.  You may need to add a bit of water as the greens cook.
  3. When greens are cooked, add salt & pepper and drizzle with a bit of Balsamic vinegar.  If using rice, stir it in and cook until heated through, stirring.
  4. Serve topped with fried eggs or grilled chicken. 

Seriously, super simple.  And I didn't really use any measurements, just tossed things in the skillet.  Just remember that greens cook down a lot, so you'll want quite a bit of greens to start with.  And they're good for you, so you can eat as many as you want.


I pushed the greens to the side of the skillet and fried the eggs right beside the greens, and I suppose you could actually cook your chicken in the same skillet, too.  But I seasoned mine and grilled it on the George Foreman grill.  I used a boneless thigh, but if you prefer breasts that would work just as well.  And, I'm sure there are plenty of other things that would be good on a nice bed of greens.  Any ideas?

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