bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Easy Vegetable Soup

I have plenty of recipes 'on deck' but for some reason I just haven't been getting around to posting any of them. I have some pictures, so hopefully I will remember what I actually did with these recipes - because, of course, I can never just follow a recipe. I just really need to sit down one of these days and get them all written up, if only for my own sake.

I've been fighting a cold this week, so the only thing that really sounded good was soup. I pulled some turkey broth out of the freezer, and I was just going to heat that up and drink it. But then I kept thinking of vegetables that would be good, so I just kept adding. Of course, feel free to add more or less or even omit a vegetable if you don't have it on hand. This is just what I did. This time.

Easy Vegetable Soup

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sliced cabbage
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 cups turkey (or chicken) broth
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
  1. Heat olive oil in 2-quart saucepan. Chop onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, and cabbage, adding them to the pan as you go. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften; add garlic, salt, pepper, and turmeric, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Add broth and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until flavors are blended and vegetables are cooked. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Enjoy.

The Soup Aisle in PerspectiveOh, sure there are aisles full of canned soups in the grocery stores.  So many choices, and all you have to do is open the can and heat it up - but this isn't much harder than that, and it's much better because I know everything that went into it. It was exactly what I needed, and now that it's gone, I'm probably going to make another batch of it tomorrow.

Maybe I should add a jalapeno? That would certainly kick any last vestiges of this cold right outta there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Eggs Jeannette

Today I join Fantastical Food Fight, where every month a theme or ingredient is chosen, and we all choose a recipe - from a cookbook, blog, or our imaginations - and we all share.  Which recipe will come out on top?  It will be fun to find out!

This month's theme is Deviled Eggs.  Now, I've made a lot of deviled eggs in my life. We had chickens when I was growing up, so we always had plenty of eggs, and when we had a church potluck, I usually made some deviled eggs. Strangely enough, I never actually cared for deviled eggs all that much. I mean, they were OK, but nothing special. I wasn't even sure I was going to participate in this month's Fight, until I saw a segment on the Rachael Ray show where they made these eggs. I was definitely intrigued and knew I'd found the recipe.

Eggs Jeannette
Jacques Pepin’s Oeufs Jeannette as seen on the Rachael Ray Show

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 to 3 T milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • For the Dressing:
    * 2 to 3 T reserved egg stuffing (from above)
    * 4 T virgin olive oil
    * 1 T Dijon-style mustard
    * 2 to 3 T water
    * Dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil; turn off heat, cover pan, and let sit for 13 minutes. (Optional - add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to water before covering.) Drain off the water; fill saucepan with cold water, and let the eggs cool until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.  Replace cold water as needed.
  2. Shell the eggs and split them lengthwise. Remove the yolks carefully, and mash them in a bowl with the garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.  Add milk and mix until desired consistency. Spoon the mixture back into the hollows of the egg whites, reserving 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling to use in the dressing. 
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet and place the eggs stuffed-side down in the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until the eggs are beautifully browned on the stuffed side. Remove and arrange, stuffed-side up, on a platter or dish.
  4. For the dressing: Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk or a spoon until well-combined. Coat the warm eggs with the dressing, garnish with parsley if desired, and serve lukewarm

These aren't exactly potluck fare, but they were egg-cellent for lunch with a tossed salad.  I really enjoyed the simplicity of the filling - egg yolks, garlic, parsley, a little milk, and salt & pepper.  The flavor is really nice, and the creamy dressing adds just the right touch.

If they taste like this, I may just decide I like deviled eggs.  The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to use large eggs instead of jumbo, since that's what I had.  I just cooked a couple extra to have about the same amount of egg and yolk.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Easy Pepper Steak

The bell peppers in my garden did really well this year.  It's finally supposed to freeze tonight, so I pulled the rest of the peppers out of the garden this week.  So now I need to use peppers for everything!

So when I picked up some marked down steaks at the store - don't ask me what kind; I don't remember - I figured pepper steak would be just the thing.  Easy pepper steak is even better.

Easy Pepper Steak
adapted from Gimme Some Oven

  • Marinade:
    * 1/4 cup soy sauce
    * 1/3 cup water
    * 2 T  white wine vinegar
    * 1 T corn starch
    * 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    * 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced steak, cut diagonally across the grain into thin strips
  • olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  1. Mix all marinade ingredients in medium bowl. Add the sliced steak and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Heat large pan over medium high heat; add a little olive oil. Remove steak from the marinade with a slotted spoon (reserving the marinade) and saute about 2-3 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add onions, peppers, and garlic; saute until onions start to soften (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add reserved marinade and cook for a minute or two, until thickened.
  4. Serve immediately with rice.

This really is an easy recipe.  I changed it up a little and just cooked everything together.  Who has time for cooking the vegetables, removing them from the pan, and then cooking the meat - only to put everything back into the same pan in the end?  Not me!  OK, maybe it would make a difference, and maybe some day I'll try it just to see.  Maybe.

I will definitely be making this again.  Next time I think I'll add a few more veggies.  You can never have too many veggies!  I'd especially like to add a bit more color, but the peppers were what I had, and the peppers were all green.  Next time maybe some red.  And some carrots for the orange.  And... whatever veggies happen to be in the fridge.  Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Apple Chocolate Chip Cake

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  Sadly, this is also also the final SRC reveal for Group A. The Secret Recipe Club is coming to an end.  Started back in April 2011, SRC and has had a wonderful five and a half year run and connected hundreds of bloggers throughout the world with our love of food and support of our fellow bloggers. My first SRC post was in February 2013, and I've loved all the new bloggers I've met and recipes I've tried. I know we're all going to miss it.

My final secret blog assignment is Mother Would Know with the tag-line Home Cooking Beats Take-Out - which I whole-heartedly agree with.  Written by Laura, it's a great blog full of mouth-watering recipes and helpful kitchen tips.  While Laura has no 'real' cooking credentials, she began cooking in college, and she's got plenty of experience in the kitchen. She's always willing to offer help and advice - the kind of cooking questions you would love to ask your mother, but these answers come from a guaranteed 'no nagging zone' where you won't be asked about your love life or your job prospects.  So, like Laura says -'whether you already cook reasonably well, have a few simple meals you can prepare or just have the feeling that you had better learn how to cook before your take-out bill ruins your credit rating' - Mother Would Know is the place for you.  (for the record, my daughter uses my blog as her cookbook, and both my kids call me with their cooking questions, but not everyone can do that, so it's great that Laura offers such help)

I browsed through Laura's blog and find several recipes I definitely want to try. Sweet & Sour Brisket, Rhubarb, Apple, Pear Crisp, and Java Chip Ice Cream were just a few of them.

I wish more of the chocolate chips showed in this piece, but believe me,
they were there.  This cake has long since been devoured!
When I saw this apple cake recipe I knew I had to try it - just a touch of sweetness, studded with apple chunks and chocolate - why have I never thought to use chocolate chips in apple cake?  I also really want to try this Bundt Pan Apple Cake Laura mentions in the post, but first, the Apple Chocolate Chip Cake.

Apple Chocolate Chip Cake
from Mother Would Know

  • 4 cups peeled, chopped apples
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Cut the apples and mix them with the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl; let them stand for at least 15 minutes, giving the apple chunks time to absorb the sugar.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan and set it aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix (or whisk) together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. After the 15 minute 'rest' for the apple/sugar mixture, lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and add the oil and eggs to the apples. (I used the glass measuring cup I measured my apples in to beat the eggs - using the whisk I mixed my flour with - and to measure the oil)
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the apple, sugar, oil and egg mixture in 3 additions, mixing thoroughly after each addition. The batter will be very stiff. 
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips and then spoon the batter into the greased baking pan. Even it out with the spatula or the back of the spoon.
  7. Bake approximately 40-45 minutes, until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

The only thing I changed about this recipe was to cut down the sugar from 1-1/2 cups to 1 cup, and to mix the cinnamon in with the apples and sugar instead of whisking it with the flour.  That last part probably didn't make a huge difference, but I think cutting the sugar down worked out really well because this cake was still plenty sweet.

My husband and I just had to try it the same day I made it.  It smelled so good!  And it was really good that first evening, but this cake gets even better after sitting overnight.  It's dense and moist, and absolutely delicious.  I took it to church to share on Sabbath, and we barely made it home with another piece for each of us.  Everyone seemed to really like it.  I will definitely be making this one again.  And again.

Monday, October 31, 2016

This is Some Good Coleslaw

I made this coleslaw a while back, and we really liked it.  The original recipe comes from Chick-fil-A, and if I hadn't changed it, it would taste just like the kind you used to be able to get there.  Or so it says.  I never had it, so I can't say for sure.  I've never even been to a Chick-fil-A.  It was the dry mustard in the recipe that caught my eye.

Then things got really busy, and then we were away from home for a week and a half - and now that I sit down to type up this recipe so I don't forget (because I will be making this again), I'm hoping that I haven't already forgotten.  Mainly I'm questioning whether I cut the sugar down or not, since the original recipe says it's not too sweet - but since what I usually don't like about coleslaw is that it is too sweet, I'm pretty sure I cut the sugar in half, so I'm going with that.  If you like your coleslaw sweet, feel free to use 1/4 cup sugar; it just won't be as good - IMO.  I also shredded my own cabbage, added a carrot (or two), and some green onions. Oh, and black pepper because coleslaw always needs black pepper.

This is Some Good Coleslaw
adapted from shugary sweets

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 or 2 carrots, shredded
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayo, vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.
  2. Add in shredded cabbage, carrot, and green onions and stir together until until completely coated. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Spiced Squash Muffins

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month is Burnt Apple.  The name of the blog makes me think of this Cinnamon Apple Dutch Baby I made for a previous SRC post - slightly darker than it should have been but still yummy.  However, on this blog, the term refers to recipe fails, where it all started.  And who hasn't had a good recipe fail?  But since that first brick muffin that went through a wall, the busy cook behind Burnt Apple has come a long way - from someone who could not cook to save her life to "master recipe manipulator", adapting favorite recipes and the fun foods kids want to eat to make them more healthy - all using regular ingredients and even possible on a strict budget.

Traci works, goes to school, has three kids to keep up with, and still somehow finds time to make some yummy (and usually healthy) food and share her recipes.  Her blog focuses on healthy, budget friendly and delicious recipes, with just enough sweet treats thrown in for good measure. (She had a bit of a deprived childhood, so there's some making up to be done.) I especially love the Burnt Apple recipe index which clearly indicates the recipes that have been adapted and offer variations for different dietary needs.

Suddenly it's October, and the weather is beginning to cool down so of course it's time for recipes that say Fall.   There are plenty of apple recipes, lots of pumpkin recipes - she's kind of obsessed with pumpkin this time of year - and she's a big fan of anything with cranberries (me, too!), so if you're looking for recipes that scream Fall, be sure to check out Burnt Apple.

Of course, there are lots of amazing sounding recipes for all the other seasons, too.  Here's my short list of recipes to try:

Spiced Squash Muffins
from Burnt Apple

  • Topping:
    * 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    * 2 T oats
    * 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    * 2 T cold butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly grease muffin tin.  (12-15 muffins)
  2. In a small bowl mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the yogurt and sugar until smooth. Stir in the eggs and butternut squash and mix until smooth; add milk.
  4. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir into wet ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of topping over the top of each muffin.
  6. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to sit for five minutes in the muffin tins before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Measure flour and the rest of the dry ingredients on top of wet ingredients,
then lightly mix them together before stirring them in.
These are the perfect muffins for Fall! (They most definitely are not bricks.)  All those spices are so perfect, and that topping is to die for.  It was hard not just nibbling that off the top of all the muffins when they came out of the oven.  I kind of overfilled my muffin tins - the recipe said 12 muffins, so I made my batter all fit - so the muffins overflowed a bit and there were bits of topping to be picked off the muffin tins once I took the muffins out of them.  It's a tough job...

I would suggest greasing the cups for 12 muffins and having another smaller muffin tin standing by and just grease the cups you may need based on the amount of batter and how it fits.  These are just a bit too full...

Store any leftover muffins in the refrigerator because they are very moist, and then just heat them up in the toaster oven for about 5 minutes (or 15-30 seconds in the microwave if you use one) to enjoy.  And since they're healthy, it's OK to have more than one!  Right?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Onion Soup Mix

I like to use onion soup mix when I cook a roast, and I added it to my Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Beef for a bit of extra flavor.  When talking to a friend about that beef recipe, I mentioned that I had made my own onion soup mix, and she asked if I could share the recipe.  I had been meaning to post it so that I always have access to the recipe - I currently have it written on a piece of paper, but if the paper ever gets lost I might be in trouble.

So, it's time to share the recipe, for me and for any of my friends who might want to mix some up for themselves. 

Homemade Onion Soup Mix
from Heavenly Homemakers

  • 2/3 cup dried, minced onion
  • 3 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  1. Measure all ingredients into a jar; cover and shake until well mixed.  (for best results, shake the jar before each use)
  2. 4 Tablespoons Onion Soup Mix = 1 packet of  store bought onion soup mix. (adjust amount of mix to your own tastes)
  3. Store in a dry, cool place.

That's it.  It's really simple and uses ingredients you probably already have in your spice cabinet.  I did have to buy the minced onion because I was out, but that's a handy ingredient to have on hand so it was time to get some of that anyway.  The original recipe listed turmeric as an optional ingredient, but I've started putting that in pretty much everything, even my morning coffee, so I consider it a necessary part of the recipe.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lentil and Potato Salad

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month is The Wimpy Vegetarian.  Susan is a mostly vegetarian (hence the 'wimpy') married to a meat-loving man.  Sounds like quite a challenge, doesn't it?  Susan has met that challenge head on, finding healthy ways to pump up the flavors of her vegetarian dishes and making things tasty and interesting enough that her husband began eating more of her vegetarian 'horse food' - alongside his meat - and even going back for seconds.

Susan and her husband are again able to enjoy meals together, and for the rest of us, The Wimpy Vegetarian is a wonderful resource for anyone who is looking to eat more vegetarian and meat free meals, with great tips and ideas on how to adjust those meals so that even the meat eaters are happy.  There were so many recipes that caught my eye, as I'm sure you'll see when you check out Susan's blog for yourself!  Here are just a few:

When I saw the recipe for this salad, I just knew it was the one.  I had never thought to use lentils in a salad, though I love them in soup, so I was definitely intrigued.  I also had a potluck to prepare for and thought this would be good for that because it's a great make-ahead dish that gets better as the flavors have time to blend.

Lentil and Potato Salad
from the Wimpy Vegetarian

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 seeded jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 2 medium tomatoes,diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Cook lentils according to package directions, just until tender (15-20 minutes). Drain and cool.
  2. Cook potatoes until tender.  Cool and dice. 
  3. Mix lentils, potatoes, onions, jalapeno, celery, and parsley in large bowl.
  4. Whisk together the vinegar, oil and seasonings for the vinaigrette; toss together with salad.
  5. Add diced tomatoes and toss gently.  Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later.  Toss gently before serving as the vinaigrette tends to settle to the bottom.
Makes approximately 10 cups

Susan indicated that her recipe would serve 2 (I'm guessing as a vegetarian main dish), so I doubled everything, needing enough to take to the potluck and share.  It made a very nice sized salad, and I even had leftovers to bring home, so I was able to enjoy it with my lunch several days the rest of the week.  Yeah, it made a lot.

This salad turned out quite tasty; I really enjoyed the combination of potatoes and lentils. It is very good on its own or as an accompaniment.  Susan's recipe called for fresh parsley and rosemary, but I settled for dried since that's what I had.  I also used diced tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes, because I am getting tomatoes out of my garden now, and I wanted to use some of those.  Oh, and also used a jalapeno because I'm getting a bunch of those from the garden too.  As always, I think that's the best way to cook - use what you have on hand!

The only thing I think needed adjusted was the salt, so just taste and adjust seasonings according to your own taste.  Susan boiled her potatoes in well salted water (which I only just noticed when I sat down to post the recipe), and I baked mine in my crockpot, so I'm sure that made a bit of a difference.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Blueberry Nectarine Sour Cream Popsicles

I made these popsicles a couple weeks ago when my grandson Jason was visiting.  The original recipe used just blueberries, but I had a very ripe nectarine that needed used, and I thought it would go quite well with the blueberries.  So I added it, and I doubled the sour cream and almond milk since I had added extra fruit.

I'd say they turned out pretty good.  The first thing Jason said when he tasted one was, "it tastes like ice cream!"  And they really do taste a bit like ice cream - ice cream with blueberries and chunks of nectarine mixed in.

Blueberry Nectarine Sour Cream Popsicles
adapted from marlameridith

  • 1 (very ripe) nectarine, diced
  • 1 T sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/2 cups almond milk (I used Caramel, Almonds, and Cashews Nutchello)
  1. In large bowl, mix nectarine and sugar; mash slightly.  Let sit for a few minutes.  Add blueberries
  2. Whisk sour cream and milk together until smooth. Add to nectarine/blueberry mix.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds (I used my 2 oz. Tupperware molds) and freeze until solid.  Enjoy!

I didn't have enough popsicle molds to freeze all of the mixture at once, so I stored the mixture in the fridge and made up new popsicles whenever we ate some.  Then Jason decided he didn't really like the whole blueberries, so I added the rest of the mixture to my Ninja with a ripe banana and mixed that up really well - and we had some very purple popsicles to enjoy too.  The banana added a bit of sweetness, because I really didn't add much sugar to the original mix - just enough to draw a bit of juice from the nectarine - and let the sweetness of the Nutchello be enough.  Both options were really good.

I'm not sure why I never thought to use sour cream for popsicles before, but I am ready for some other versions now, like  maybe these Strawberry and Sour Cream Popsicles.  Mmmm, so many possibilities, and they're such a fun treat on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cilantro Lime Quinoa and Bean Salad

I made this Curried Chicken and Barley Salad last week and added some red quinoa along with the barley, just because it sounded good.  But, since I had cooked a cup of quinoa - and only used 1/4 of it - I had 3 cups of quinoa left and wanted to find something to make with it.  I started searching for a simple salad and found a lovely cilantro lime black bean and quinoa salad.  While there may be no better flavor combination than black beans with cilantro and lime, my quinoa was red (and I had other plans for my last can of black beans), so I decided to switch up the beans and use some Cannellini beans.  I think it turned out great.

Cilantro Lime Quinoa and Bean Salad
adapted from Simply Quinoa

  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  •  drizzle of olive oil
  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine.
  2. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

This salad is simple to make, definitely yummy, and can be made ahead so it's ready when you want it.  I'd say it's definitely a winner!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Margarita Sour Cream Muffins

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month is Karen's Kitchen Stories.  Karen likes to try recipes that are a bit of a challenge, and she's constantly learning new cooking techniques which she shares with her blog readers so we can all learn something new.  She's especially in love with all things bread and has been known as the Bread Queen by other members of the SRC, though she considers herself more of a Bread Geek.  Judging by the long list of bread recipes on her blog, I can't argue with either!  There were definitely some bread recipes that caught my eye.

Of course, there are plenty of recipes for other things on Karen's blog, too.  Here are some that I really want to try:
They all sound so good, but in the end I came back to the first recipe that caught my eye, these lovely Margarita Sour Cream Muffins.  It's OK to have tequila for breakfast with these!  Nobody disillusion me by telling me that the alcohol will bake off, all right?

Margarita Sour Cream Muffins
from Karen's Kitchen Stories

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon lime oil (optional)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.  Generously grease muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, sugar, sour cream, tequila, orange juice, lime juice, lime oil, and lime zest together.
  3. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt together and then stir it into the egg mixture. mixing until just combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin;  sprinkle the tops of each muffin with a pinch of sea salt.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned.  Cool 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
Makes 12 muffins

These were really fun to mix up.  When you stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, there's a great chemical reaction between the baking soda and the citrus juices.  Preheating the oven is very important because you will want to get these into the oven immediately.

The flavor of these muffins does remind me of margaritas.  They're really tasty, and I love the texture that the cornmeal adds.  While they were good on their own, I thought the muffins could use a little something extra, so I mixed together 2 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 tsp. brown sugar, and about 1/2 tsp. grated lime zest and used that as a spread.  Yum!  (It wasn't quite enough; I really should have mixed up twice as much)

Next time I think I'll use more lime and orange juice and cut down on the tequila - use just enough to get the flavor.  The tequila makes the muffins taste good - you really do get the flavor - but I'm back to thinking that all my alcohol is baking away, and I think I'd rather use my tequila for actual margaritas. I do love a good margarita.

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?

  • 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
  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

  • 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 
  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

  • 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
  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

  • 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
  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

  • 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
  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.

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