bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Easy Balsamic Salmon

I usually cook salmon the same way - seasoned with Rosemary Garlic Seasoning and baked in a hot cast iron skillet with a little olive oil.  It's really good that way, but when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I thought it would be nice to try something different.

Easy Balsamic Salmon
from Eating Bird Food

  • 1/2 T olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 2 wild caught salmon fillets (about 3-4 oz each)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 T honey
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper. Add salmon to skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  2. While the salmon is cooking, whisk together honey, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Add vinegar mixture to skillet and simmer until fish is fork-tender and liquid reduces and thickens, about 5 minutes. For a thicker, reduced sauce, simmer for 5 to 10 additional minutes. Just make sure you don't overcook the salmon.

This is really simple to make and a delicious change.  The flavors are really good, and I will definitely be making this again!  I may cut the red pepper flakes down a bit - I already cut them down from 1 tsp. to 1/2 because, even though I like spicy food, my husband really doesn't, and this still had a bit of a kick to it. I liked it, but it may have been a bit much for him.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Make Ahead Bread

I received a free digital copy of the new cookbook Make Ahead Bread: 100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day by Donna Currie through NetGalley.

I have been baking bread for as long as I can remember, but I never get tired of looking at and trying new recipes, which is why I was happy to take a look at this book.  Just flipping through it and looking at the gorgeous pictures makes me want to try every single one of the recipes.

The book begins with a chapter on the basics of bread-making, including ingredients and equipment.  Even though I've been baking bread for ages, I learned a thing or two.

I love the premise of the book - breaking up the process of baking bread  into multiple parts, meaning that the bulk of the actual work - the mixing, kneading and forming - can be done whenever the baker has time.  It means that, no matter how busy your schedule may be, you can still make and enjoy homemade bread.  Mixing, kneading, and the first rise are done on the first day - Prep Day.  Then the magical step in the process is refrigeration - the dough is kept in the refrigerator for anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, or longer - which improves both the flavor and the texture of the bread.  As well as allowing the baker to bake the bread on his or her own schedule.  Baking Day is usually pretty simple - remove the bread from the refrigerator and bake it.  And then enjoy, of course!

I bake sourdough most of the time anymore, which requires a longer rise time than breads made with active dry yeast, so I know that extra time does something special to the bread.  The author does include a few sourdough recipes and a very thorough explanation of starting your own sourdough starter.  There are also a few gluten free recipes included.

Once I started paging through the book, I could hardly make myself stop.  Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye:
  • Page 30 - Fresh Corn and Cheddar Loaf
  • Page 32 - Sauerkraut Rye
  • Page 38 - Stuffing Bread with Dried Cranberries - because cranberries are definitely my thing.
  • Page 80 - Cheesy Breadstick Twists
  • Page 94 - Sourdough English Muffins
  • Page 99 - Oatmeal and Orange Buns with Toasted Coconut
I'm sure I will be making some variation of several of these!

I also enjoyed all the pictures throughout this book.  While I can picture a lot of recipes just by reading through them, having gorgeous full-color pictures in a cookbook definitely take it to the next level.  I do wish there was a picture for every recipe and that the pictures were better labeled, (sometimes the picture is on the page before the recipe; sometimes on the page after) but it wasn't too hard to figure out which picture was for which recipe. 

It also would have been nice to see the book start with the most basic loaf - something for people who have never really baked bread to ease into it with - and for the recipes to be somehow labeled for difficulty, so those same people could easily pick some simpler recipes.  I don't think any of the recipes look terribly hard, and Currie does a good job of breaking them into manageable pieces and sharing handy information and tips for success, but I would hate for someone to be turned off of bread making because the recipe that was a bit harder than they were ready for.  For those of us who have been baking bread for a while or those who would bake bread if only they had the time, this book is an excellent resource.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Pink Grapefruit Margarita

I found this recipe on Pinterest - whatever did we do before Pinterest?  I have made it multiple times.  This may be my favorite drink of all time.  Or at least for now, or when I'm not drinking a Hot Toddy with Jack Daniels.  Those are pretty good, too.

Anyway, back to the Grapefruit Margarita. It's perfectly sour and delightfully tasty, and has to be good for me since it's mostly fresh juice, right?  (I just don't drink it at breakfast time)

Pink Grapefruit Margarita
from Cookin' Canuck

  • 1 Pink Grapefruit
  • 1 Lime
  • Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 2 oz. Tequila (I used Jose Gold)
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec
  • 1 T Simple Syrup
  • Ice
  1. Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit and half of the lime.
  2. Cut a wedge from the other lime half and rub the rim of a glass.  Put a small amount of Himalayan salt on a dish and dip the glass in it to coat the rim with salt.
  3. Place juice, tequila, triple sec, simple syrup, and ice in blender and blend until desired consistency.  Pour into prepared glass, garnish with lime wedge, and enjoy.
Makes 1 margarita

I like my margaritas frozen, but you could also just stir everything together or shake it in a cocktail shaker and serve over ice.  If you don't have Himalayan Salt, you can use regular sea salt or margarita salt.  I've also seen people put sugar on their grapefruit, so I bet a sugared rim would be good with this, too.  I'm kinda partial to the salt - it might be my favorite part of any margarita, or maybe it just goes so perfectly with the tequila - so if you do try this with the sugar, please let me know how it turned out.

Friday, December 5, 2014

ROLO Pretzel Delights

If you regularly buy ROLO Chewy Caramels in Milk Chocolate, you have probably seen this recipe.  I've only recently tried them, and they are really yummy - chocolate, caramel, what's not to love?  But, it was only after we'd finished the bag that I noticed the recipe on the back for these ROLO Pretzel Delights.  They sounded really yummy - chocolate, caramel, and crunchy, salty pretzels.  So I bought another bag just so I could try these.  Yep, they really are as good as they sound!  And so easy.

ROLO Pretzel Delights
from Hersheys.com

  • Small pretzels
  • ROLO candies
  • Pecan halves (or additional pretzels)
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place one pretzel for each treat desired on cookie sheet. Top each pretzel with one unwrapped ROLO.
  3. Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to soften, but not melt. Remove from oven; top with either a pecan half or an additional pretzel, pressing down slightly. Cool completely.

The recipe said to line the cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil, but I just placed my pretzels directly on my cookie sheet.  That seemed to work just fine.  I did half with pecan halves and half with additional pretzels, and I liked them both.  These are a really delicious and simple to make treat.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Spicy Chocolate Snickerdoodles

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Lisa's blog Sweet as Sugar Cookies.  As her blog title would suggest, Lisa is "all about the sweets" so there are plenty of yummy looking sweets to choose from.  There are, of course, lots of cookies and an entire list of recipes just for chocolate chip cookies.

I figured it was only right that I make some kind of cookies from Lisa's blog, and when I saw these Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles I knew they were the ones. I've always loved Snickerdoodles - though I haven't made them in ages - and the addition of chocolate with a kick of cayenne made them sound absolutely irresistible.

I did think about making these Strawberry Lemonade Muffins, but then I went right back to the cookies. I'll definitely be trying those muffins sometime, though!

These cookies bake up slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and cake-like on the inside.  I especially love that little bite from the cayenne, especially in the cinnamon sugar mix on the outside.  So good!  My husband doesn't like a lot of spice in his food, but even he enjoyed them, so they're not super-spicy - just have that little kick to make them fun.

Spicy Chocolate Snickerdoodles
adapted from Sweet as Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. unbleached flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
For rolling:
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper 
  1.  Cream butter and sugars together.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cayenne.  Mix in and stir until well combined.  Chill dough for about an hour.
  3. Roll dough into 1" balls and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes at 350°, until cracked on top.  Cool 2-3 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool.
Makes about 4 dozen

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Red Bean Turkey Chili

I love this cooler weather because it's the perfect weather for soup! And boots and sweatshirts, fires in the fireplace, and snuggling up under the covers at night.  I mean, I would be OK if it wasn't quite so cold already in November, but I'm just going to enjoy it.  And make soup.

I made this one last week, and it's very tasty and satisfying.  I love all the beans.  I can't believe there was a time I didn't like beans.  Now I adore them.  The original recipe called for 2 cans of beans.  I ended up using 4!  I was really only planning to put 3 in, but I accidentally opened a can I didn't mean to open.  The beans were on top of the diced tomatoes I meant to grab, but somehow I moved the beans to grab the tomatoes and then put the tomatoes back and kept the beans - and then I opened them without looking at the can.  Oh well - lots of beans in this soup!

Red Bean Turkey Chili
adapted from Hip Foodie Mom

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 T chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 4 cups turkey broth
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked turkey, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; optional
  1. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds then add and the bell pepper and season with the cumin, oregano, chili powder, and salt & pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beans, kale, corn, turkey broth, and tomatoes.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat down low and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until some of the liquid has reduced. Add the shredded turkey and red pepper flakes (if using) and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Enjoy!

Like most soups, this is a great make ahead meal. Make it one day, cool and refrigerate, then reheat the next. Soups just get better and better the more times you reheat them. I did end up adding a bit of water the second time I reheated this, because it thickened up a lot and there wasn't much broth left.

The flavors were really good in this.  The combination of seasonings was really good. (I did not use the red pepper flakes because I was afraid it would make it too spicy for my husband, though I think it would have been fine.) 

The original recipe used white beans, chicken stock and rotisserie chicken, Swiss chard, and added some diced zucchini, but I had just pulled some red beans and kidney beans out of my freezer - to make just a regular old pot of chili, except I then realized I had no tomato sauce so I needed another recipe for the beans - so I used the red beans.  I think any beans would work, whatever you like or have on hand.  I used turkey and turkey broth because I had those in my freezer too, and with Thanksgiving coming up and turkeys on sale, I will soon be cooking another turkey and replacing some of that cooked turkey and broth.  I'm cleaning out the old to make room for the new!

Anyway, that's a long way to say - the seasonings are really good in this, but you can mix, match, and substitute the ingredients you have and the ingredients you like, and you're still going to come out with a very good soup perfect for a cool weather meal.   Serve with a pan of cornbread fresh out of the oven, and you have perfection!  Or something very near.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quick and Easy Beef Burrito Skillet

I've made this a couple times for dinner. It really does go together quickly, and it tastes good too. The original recipe calls for 1 lb. of ground beef, but I like things better without so much meat, so I cut it in half.  I do that with most of my recipes.   If you're a big carnivore, feel free to use the whole pound.

Quick and Easy Beef Burrito Skillet
adapted from Kraft Recipes

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 T Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn (optional)
  • 1 cup Salsa
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Sour Cream
  • Chopped green onion
  1. Brown meat in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat; drain.
  2. Add seasoning mix, beans, corn, salsa and water; stir. Bring to boil; simmer on medium-low heat 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in tortilla strips; top with cheese. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 min. or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream and onions.

This recipe is very adaptable - add some chopped onion with the ground beef, use black beans or pinto beans, use flour tortillas or stir in some tortilla chips for some added crunch.  Feel free to add your favorite toppings or sides - shredded lettuce, tomato, avocado, rice, etc.  You can also serve the sour cream and green onion on the side and let everyone top their own servings the way they want.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cranberry Cream Cheese Muffins

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I love anything with cranberries (I previously made these amazing Lemon Cranberry Muffins from the same blog), and the addition of the cream cheese just sounded amazing.

I've made these twice this week.  The flavor is really amazing.  It reminds me of this Almond Tart a bit - probably because of the almond extract and the cranberries.  Those flavors just go together so well.  The soft, slightly sweetened cream cheese is just a bonus.

If you want, you can take a knife (or your finger) and spread that soft cream cheese all over your muffin. Yum!

Cranberry Cream Cheese Muffins
adapted from The Pajama Chef

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided 
  • 6 oz. fresh cranberries (or frozen)
  •  2 eggs
  •  1/4 cup brown sugar
  •  1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cup flour, part whole wheat (or use all white whole wheat)
  • 1 T ground flax seed (optional)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Line muffin tin with paper liners or grease well.
  2. Mix cream cheese with 2 T sugar; set aside
  3. In small saucepan, combine another 2 T sugar with the cranberries.  Heat on medium, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop.  Mash slightly with a wooden spoon and set aside.
  4. In mixing bowl, beat eggs then stir in the rest of the granulated sugar and the brown sugar.  Mix in oil, vanilla, and almond extract.
  5. Stir flour, flax seed (if using), baking powder, and salt together; mix into wet ingredients.  Then gently fold in cranberries, being careful not to over-mix or your batter will turn pink.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, filling muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Use a spoon to scoop cream cheese mixture into the center of each muffin, pressing down gently.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes in muffin tin then remove to wire rack to cool.
Makes 12 muffins

I like my muffins dense and not too sweet, so I used the white wheat flour and flax seed and cut the sugar down just a touch.  They were still plenty sweet, but if you like your muffins sweet and light, use 1 cup of sugar in the batter, with an additional 2 T sugar for both the cream cheese and the cranberries.  And use white flour instead of the whole wheat, though white wheat isn't as heavy as regular whole wheat would be.  I would also recommend using cupcake liners because, even with the wheat flour, these muffins wanted to stick to my muffin pan just a little.

The reason I made these twice in one week wasn't just because I love the flavor - which I do - it was because the recipe, as first posted, called for about 1/2 the flour it should have.  (Sarah weighed all her ingredients, so she got it right, but then she used an online conversion calculator when she wrote the recipe post)  I did not even bother to check, just followed the recipe - and they still turned out really good!  Just very delicate.  And hard to stop eating.  Very hard to stop eating.

I will definitely be making these again!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lamb and Barley Stew

This cool Fall weather has me thinking soup!  I made this a few weeks back, and we really liked it.  It makes a very satisfying meal served with a crusty bread, and the lamb gives it a distinctive flavor that really sets it apart.  Also, I love barley.  I only recently starting using it regularly - why did I wait so long? - and I adore it.

Lamb and Barley Stew
adapted from Nourished Kitchen

  • 1 cup barley, not quick
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup split peas
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 10-12 cups water, plus more for soaking the peas and barley
  • fresh spinach, washed and chopped (1 or 2 cups)
  1. Place barley in a small bowl and cover with about 1 cup warm water; stir in cider vinegar. In a separate bowl, cover the split peas with warm water. Leave both bowls in a warm room for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. After the soaking time has passed, heat a large pot over medium to medium-high heat. Add ground lamb.  As lamb begins to cook, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot, and cook until lamb is browned and vegetables soften, stirring often.  You may need to add a little butter or olive oil to keep things from over-browning or sticking to the pan, if your lamb is too lean.
  3. Season lamb and veggies with thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add your 10-12 cups water - depending on how thick you want your soup and/or if you want to serve it right away. 
  4. Drain barley and split peas and rinse well; add them to the pot.  Bring the soup to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until barley, peas, and vegetables are cooked.
  5. Add spinach to the pot; simmer for 7 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Time-saving tip:  Chop all the vegetables the day before or early in the day (when you start the barley and split peas soaking).  Store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator until you're ready to add them to the soup.

While you can serve this soup right away (with that crusty bread), it is better - like most soups are - if you make it one day and then reheat it the next.  If you want to serve it the same day you make it, try using the 10 cups of water instead of 12.  Your soup will be much thinner the first time you serve it, but it thickens up more each time it's reheated.  You know how soup is - it gets better and better every time you reheat it, until it's GONE.  (Time to make more!)

The original recipe called for a lamb shank instead of the ground lamb.  I inventoried my freezer yesterday and found that I have two lamb shanks - so I'm going to try it that way next time.  I also have a bunch of kale right now, for which I substituted spinach in my recipe.  I think I'm going to have to make this again.  Soon.  Just to see which way we like it best.  The beauty of soup - besides being a warm, comforting meal on a cool fall or winter day - is that you can substitute the ingredients you have and come up with something uniquely yours.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Spaghetti & Meatball Soup

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Kitchen Trial and Error, a blog written by Kate.  Along with her husband Jason - chief taste-tester and occasional guest poster - and two adorable sons, Kate lives in Rochester, NY.  She never planned to become a blogger, but has found it's a great way to keep track of her recipes and all those kitchen trials and errors. 

I just started on the first page of her blog and started scrolling, and found so many amazing recipes.  Then I decided to check out Kate's Recipe List, which she has organized by year starting with 2010.  These are just a few of the recipes I want to try, and I haven't even made it through 2011.  YET.
They all look amazing.  I can't stop!  I love that she's got them organized this way, because the older recipes will still get attention instead of getting lost in the archives.  However, I don't know if I'll ever make it up to the present day because there are so many I want to check out.

I finally settled on this Spaghetti & Meatball Soup (Spaghetti Stoup) because it just looked so good, and it would go perfectly with my fresh-baked Sourdough Bread. I'm pretty sure this is only the beginning, though.  I will be trying many of Kate's recipes!

Spaghetti & Meatball Soup
from Kitchen Trial and Error

  • 3/4 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti broken in half
  1. For meatballs: Use your hands to combine beef, egg, bread crumbs, and Parmesan.  Set aside.
  2. Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil and heat on medium.  Add the onion, carrots, garlic, and bay leaf and cook about 5 minutes, until vegetables start to soften.  Stir in basil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  Cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Roll meat mixture into small meatballs, about the size of a walnut.  Once all meatballs have been formed, drop them into the simmering soup and simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Add spaghetti and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until the pasta is done and the meatballs are cooked through. 
Serve with Parmesan cheese and crusty bread

Time saving tips:
  • Mix the meatballs up ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.  You can even form the meatballs and store them in a covered container.  Just put waxed paper between the layers if you have more than one.
  • Chop the onion, garlic, and carrots; store in covered container in refrigerator.
While it will still take the same amount of time, doing some of the prep early in the day or even the night before (whenever you have time) means, when it's time to make dinner, you just have to throw things in the pan - and you'll have a delicious soup in no time!

We really enjoyed this, and it was perfect with the sourdough bread.  I wasn't completely sure about just dropping the meatballs into the soup without baking or browning them first, but they were just perfect.  I will definitely make this again!

The soup was much thicker when we enjoyed the leftovers - as most soups are.  It was kind of like a really saucy pot of spaghetti, and just as tasty as the first time.  I have a hard time believing that some people refuse to eat leftovers.  Most things just get better and better each time they are heated up.

I think this would make a great dish to take for a potluck, just put it into a crock pot or slow cooker to warm it up.  My husband said that maybe I'd want to skip the carrots for that, but I really like the carrots in this.  Maybe grating them instead of chopping would let them be in there but disappear a bit more - so people like him wouldn't even know they were there.  But I would.

Friday, October 31, 2014

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I found this recipe on Pinterest a while back and finally got the chance to make them today.  They are as good as I thought they'd be.  I especially love the tartness of the cranberries against the sweetness of the rest of the cookies.

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from two twenty one

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 cups quick oats
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 1-1/4 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In mixing bowl, cream butter with sugars; mix in egg and vanilla.
  3. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together and stir in.
  4. Fold in oats, cranberries, white chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans.
  5. Roll into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup dipped in sugar.
  6. Bake 12-14 minutes or until cookies are set and starting to brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

I mixed these up by hand, but the original recipe called for using an electric mixer. Either way works.  Just be sure your butter is really soft if you're mixing by hand.  When it's time to add the cranberries and white chocolate chips, etc., you'll want to mix those in by hand.

I added the coconut and pecans to the recipe, because they just sounded good with all the other ingredients.  I also flattened the cookies slightly before baking them because I just rolled the first pan I baked, and they didn't really spread out.  Even flattened, they don't spread out much, but that's OK - they're good!  I'll definitely make these again.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Shish Tawook Chicken with Rice

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Sawsan's blog Chef in Disguise.  Sawsan lives in the Middle East, and her blog focuses on easy and authentic middle eastern, Levantine and Arabic recipes, as well as sharing exactly what it's like to be a woman in the Middle East.  This is one blog I am going to have to read thoroughly and visit often!

I love the description of middle eastern cuisine - "middle eastern cuisine is rich in healthy recipes that focus on fruits, vegetables, spices and making the best out of seasonal and fresh ingredients."  Sounds perfect to me!  Sawsan calls herself a 'food explorer' so her blog also contains recipes from around the world, many of them from her participation in SRC as well as a couple other recipe groups, but I really wanted to try one of her authentic middle eastern recipes.

Here are some that caught my eye:
In the end, I chose this recipe which Sawsan claims "is better than the shish tawook you get at the best middle eastern restaurant."  Never having it anywhere, I am going to have to take her word for it.  She must be right, because this chicken is amazing!!  Amazing.

We liked it so much I had to make it twice!  My husband says that this recipe needs to go into the regular rotation.  Not that I have an actual rotation, but there are certain recipes that I tend to make on a fairly regular basis.  And this will definitely be one of those.

Shish Tawook Chicken
from Chef in Disguise

  • 1 lb. skin-less boneless chicken cut into cubes or strips (I used thighs)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 1 T mustard
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T plain yogurt
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Mix the marinade and add chicken, making sure to coat all the pieces. Marinate at least a half hour, preferably longer.  Note: mix this up in the morning, let it marinate all day, and it's ready to cook for dinner.  It can also be marinated overnight.
  2. When you're ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through.  (You know it’s done by trying to divide a piece with a spoon..if you do it easily…it’s ready)
  3. Alternately, you can skewer the chicken and grill in the oven or on a grill.

Right before you're ready to cook the chicken, start the rice.  I used only half the onion, pepper, and tomato that the original recipe called for - because that's what I had.  You can use more if you like.

Mexican Rice

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion finely diced
  •  1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1 large Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  1. Saute chopped onion in olive oil. When onion starts to soften, add the pepper and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato and spices; cook and stir for 5 minutes.
  3. Add rice and water. Bring to a boil; lower the heat, cover, and cook till the rice soaks up all the liquid, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit while you cook the chicken.  Fluff before serving.

This rice is amazingly good all by itself.  It might even be good enough to eat cold. With your fingers.  Just saying.  Even better is when you pile some of this chicken on top and plop some Middle Eastern garlic sauce “Toum” on top.  Yes, I had to make some of that, too.  So good!

We had a few leftovers the second time I made this, so I heated the rice and chicken together, and then we had it wrapped up in tortillas.  Pita probably would have been more appropriate, but I didn't have any. The tortillas were pretty good, though!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Easy Peach Frozen Yogurt

I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and it looked super simple and good, so I just had to try it.  Frozen yogurt made from a just a few ingredients in a food processor.  Why not?

So I tried it, but the original recipe was more peach than yogurt.  While it was good, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting - so I tried again.  I think the result is pretty good.

Easy Peach Frozen Yogurt
adapted from Just a Taste

  • 1 16-oz. bag frozen peaches (or 4 cups fresh peaches, frozen)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3 T honey
  • 1-1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  1. Put all ingredients into food processor and process until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Serve immediately or transfer to airtight container and store in the freezer.

I also stirred mine every hour or so once I transferred it to the freezer, though I don't know how necessary that was.  In the end, it freezes pretty solid so you'll want to let it sit out for a few minutes before you serve it up.  If you want smooth, creamy frozen yogurt like you'd get at the Frozen Yogurt place, serve it up and let it sit a bit longer, and then stir it to get the creamy consistency you want.  (or start eating it - slowly - and enjoy it both ways)

You get a nice cool treat without a lot of sugar, only healthy ingredients you don't have to feel guilty about.  What could be better?

I'm thinking strawberries would make some good frozen yogurt, too.  What fruit would you use?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken

We had this for dinner recently. I don't really know where the recipe came from in the first place.  It's one I have typed up in my recipe book, and I've had it for a while. 

Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken
Serves 4

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced diagonally
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. Angel Hair pasta
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Begin heating pasta water.  Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add chicken.  Cook, stirring until chicken is almost cooked through.
  2. Add carrot to skillet and cook for a couple minutes, then add garlic and broccoli and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until vegetables are crisp tender and chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Add chicken broth, basil, and Parmesan to skillet.  Stir to combine, reduce heat, and simmer while pasta cooks.
  4. Before draining pasta, add a ladle of your pasta water to the skillet and set aside 2 or 3 ladles for later.  Drain pasta and add drained pasta to chicken and vegetable mixture in the skillet.  Stir to combine and heat for a few minutes on low.
  5. Serve with additional Parmesan and fresh ground black pepper.
-- add your reserved pasta water to any leftovers before refrigerating.

I really should make this more often.  It's quite simple to make and very good. There are only 2 of us, so we had leftovers, and we enjoyed those, too! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Root Beer Freeze

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Meghan's blog Cupcakes with Sprinkles.  With a blog name like that, you'd think there would be plenty of cupcake recipes, as well as other desserts - and you'd be right!  There are tons of dessert recipes to choose from.  Oh yes, Meghan has a huge sweet tooth! She's definitely a dessert before dinner kinda gal.  Besides cooking and baking, Meghan likes to quilt, sew, scrapbook, and decorate her house - and she's got three adorable children to keep up with!

One of the sweet recipes that caught my eye turned out to be my recipe from the time Meghan had my blog for SRC. I should probably make those again soon, but not today.

Here are just a few of Meghan's recipes I want to try:
See, not all sweets, but when I saw this recipe for Root Beer Freeze, I knew I had to try it. It seems Summer has finally decided to get hot, and this looked like the perfect cool treat

Root Beer Freeze
from Cupcakes with Sprinkles

  • 4 1/4 cups (1 liter) Root Beer
  • 1- 14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  1. Pour chilled root beer and sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl and stir until combined.
  2. To freeze:
    either pour it into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your ice cream maker,
    if you don't have an ice cream maker, pour it into a 9x13 pan and freeze for an hour. Break into pieces and blend until smooth. Return to the pan and freeze until firm.

Such a simple and delicious treat!  If you like root beer floats, you will love this.  It tastes just like a root beer float, and the entire thing is the best part - the icy bits!  My husband and I liked this so much I made it twice.  I mean, I did buy a 2-liter bottle of root beer.  What else was I gonna do with the other half?

For an adults only version: pour some Baileys Irish Cream over the top.  Oh, yum!  It's like a creamy, icy, frozen version of a Baileys Harbor, the drink our son introduced us to a few summers ago.  It's just root beer and Bailey's over ice, and it's really good.   But this is better!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chile Lime Salmon Tacos

I pinned this several week ago because these tacos just looked so good.  Seriously - yum!

Mine didn't turn out looking nearly as nice as the ones in the picture, but they were definitely yummy.  And easy.  Gotta love an easy recipe that is also delicious.  I will definitely make these again.

Chile Lime Salmon Tacos
from BumbleBee

  • 1 can (14.75 oz) Salmon, drained and flaked (remove skin & bones as desired)
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (or chile powder)
  • salt to taste
  • 8 soft corn tortillas or small flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced green onions
  • White Sauce
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 tablespoon hot sauce
  1. Sauté salmon with lime juice and taco seasoning to warm through, about 2 minutes.  Add salt to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, combine sour cream and hot sauce; stir well.
  3. Fill warm tortillas with salmon mixture; top with cabbage, cilantro and green onions. Serve with your favorite salsa and the white sauce.

The original recipe said that the white sauce was optional, but don't skip it.  It really adds to the texture and flavor of the tacos.  I suppose you could use plain sour cream, but the hot sauce just gives it a little kick.  You could also probably stir about half a teaspoon or so of your taco seasoning or chile powder - whichever you use - into the sour cream for the sauce.

I used taco seasoning for my tacos, but I'm going to try the chile powder next time, just to see which one we like best.  Did I mention that these are super easy?  And super yummy? 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blueberry Peach Buckle

It's time again for  Secret Recipe Club (Secret Recipe Club) reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Anna's blog Cheese with Noodles.  I always love meeting someone who shares my name!  I'm noticing more Annas recently, but when I was growing up, it felt like I was the only one.

Anna lives in Alaska with her husband and pets, and we share a love of reading, gardening, and of course cooking.  She's much more crafty than I am, though.  I am completely challenged when it comes to stuff like that.

As with all Secret Recipe Club assignments, I had a hard time picking a recipe.  There were so many to choose from, and they all looked good!  Here are just a few that caught my eye:

But, I had some blueberries in the fridge, and since I don't buy blueberries very often, I don't really know what to do with them.  So, I checked to see if Anna had any blueberry recipes on her blog and found this one.  Who can resist making something called a Buckle?  I don't know who names these things, but doesn't it sound fun?  (OK, so I looked it up -Buckle or Crumble - Is a type of cake made in a single layer with berries added to the batter. It is usually made with blueberries. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.)

While I was looking at the recipe, one of my facebook friends posted something about a blueberry peach crisp, and I decided to add some peaches to the recipe.  It sounded like a wonderful combination!

Blueberry Peach Buckle
from Cheese with Noodles

  • 1/4 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 C flour (I used 1/2 white whole wheat)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 C blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
  • 2 peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 C cold butter, cut into small pieces
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating well.  Stir in vanilla and milk.
  2. Mix dry ingredients and stir in.  Fold in blueberries and peaches.
  3. Spread batter into greased 9" x 9" pan. (will be very thick)
  4. To make topping, stir together sugar, flour and cinnamon and then cut in cold butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles course crumbs.  Spread evenly over batter. 
  5. Bake 40-45 minutes in 375° F oven or until topping is browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

This stuff is so good!  We ate it all weekend for breakfast.  It's fruit, right?  My husband and I both enjoyed it very much.  The cake is nice and moist with a really good flavor.  Besides adding the peaches, I cut the sugar down a little bit and added some vanilla to the cake.  The star of this cake is definitely the blueberries - lots and lots of blueberries!  The peaches really do complement them very well. 

This recipe is definitely a keeper.  From now on, when I buy blueberries, I'm making this!

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