Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Meal Planning

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Before there are groceries, there are meals.  There’s a plan.  Built on the weather, what’s fresh at the farmer’s market, what’s cheap at the supermarket, and whatever my/my husband’s work schedule looks like this week.  I always try to plan the more complicated meals earlier in the week, because I know I’ll have more energy.  Warm meals should coincide with cold nights.  Grilling with warm nights.  And these days, North Carolina is getting both in the same week.  Plan a salad for Tuesday instead of Thursday, and you might seriously regret it.

Completely unrelated, but I fell asleep while watching Scandal last night, which means I was watching what I had missed this morning, and I just spent the last 5 minutes with my hand covering my mouth, gasping repeatedly as things became more and more intense.  Why did I think this could be a chill watch-as-you-write-a-blog-post show this morning?

And that’s how we ended up with shepherd’s pie planned for this last Monday.  Monday was supposed to be cold.  I had come across a picture of shepherd’s pie on pinterest, and very much wanted to eat it.  Joel has been requesting shepherd’s pie basically since we got married.  I didn’t grow up with it, and thought the whole concept was gross.  But oh, that picture.  I wish I could find it again, but well… you know the internet.

I didn’t even realize Monday was St. Patrick’s Day until I got to school that morning and saw my colleague’s shamrock tie.  But even then, I didn’t put together that shepherd’s pie was a good St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  And if I’m being really honest, Monday was a rough day for me.  I got home and made a huge mistake.  I sat down.  As soon as I sit down in the evenings, I don’t get up.  Knowing this, I sat down anyway.  I browsed instagram.  And whoa… St. Patrick’s Day was happening in a serious way.  It was all soda bread and Guinness.

The coincidence was irresistible.  To the point that I actually got off my hindquarters and made it.

Shepherd's Pie

In the end, it was a whole lot easier than I expected.  Here’s how it went down:

Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Alton Brown

For the potato topping:

  • 1 1/2 pounds red skin potatoes, chopped with skin on
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 t. salt

For the filling:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 2 T. corn starch
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • 2 t. tomato paste
  • 1 t. gluten free Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 t. dried thyme
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas

Get the potatoes in boiling water.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large (preferably oven safe) skillet, cook the onion and carrot in olive oil over medium heat until the onion is just barely translucent.  Add in the ground beef.  Cook until browned.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir the cornstarch into the chicken broth until mixed completely.  Set aside.  Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and chicken broth mixture to the ground beef mixture.  Continue to cook until just barely thickened.  Add corn and peas.  If your skillet is oven safe, you can use that.  If not, transfer to a casserole dish.

When potatoes are cooked through, drain.  Add butter, milk, salt, and pepper.  Mash.  Spread over the filling, beginning at the edge and working your way to the middle.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until potato topping is just starting to brown.

Impressing Guests

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Last night, we had a guest over for dinner.  A single guy who typically purchases his dinner on his way home from work.  Which is only to say that I could have made almost anything and impressed him.  But the weather outside was delightful yesterday (and promises to be so again today), and I wanted to get that grill going.

Hamburgers.  Joel suggests these often, actually, and I always shot him down.  If I’m going to spend $6 on 4 servings of bread (that’s what Udi’s hamburger buns cost at my grocery store), I’m not going to waste them on hamburgers.  And I stand by that decision.  But we’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market with a booth dedicated strictly to gluten free bread.  Hello Imagine That Gluten Free!  So far, I’ve only tried their baguettes, but they’re divine.  And baguette slices can make a great partner for hamburger buns.  I buttered them up and threw them on the grill.  Flipped.  Topped with cheese.  Then threw a hamburger and various toppings on.  Then you scarf!

Burger Prep

The prepwork for this meal was easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy.  And then the actual cooking part was done outside with my husband (let’s be honest, he did the cooking), lemonade, and my favorite pup, Ramona.  But I wanted some sides for these burgers.  The sweet potato fries sitting in my freezer were an obvious choice.

I also had a Costco amount of sweet peppers in the fridge.  And that’s where our story really begins.  Cheese stuffed sweet peppers are a go to treat around here.  I keep people believing that they’re super hard to make, but really, they’re pretty easy, albeit a little time consuming.  You just have to core a bunch of sweet peppers.  Then I typically stuff with a cream cheese feta mixture.  This time, we had cheddar on hand, so I went with that.

Burger

They look kinda gross because of the blending of colors, which is why I didn’t take a ton of pictures.  But I’ll say this.  There were leftovers of everything but the peppers.

Cheese Stuffed Peppers

  • Sweet peppers (I made 10, but scale accordingly)
  • 4oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar (or feta or be creative and try your own thing)

Take out the cores and tops of the sweet peppers.  Cut a slit up one side of the peppers to create an opening.  Mix up the cheeses.  Now stuff the cheese mixture into the peppers.  I grilled them this time, but I’ve also roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees as well.  The cheese is going to ooze out to an extent.  Just go with it.

I don’t know

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

When I was little, I knew everything.  I argued with adults because I thought I knew better.  I thought people getting hired for a job because they had more experience was nonsense.  The few times I didn’t know better, I played like I did.  ”Oh, uh… yea… I was about to say that.”  I wasn’t.

Somewhere in college, I learned how to say “I don’t know”.  I didn’t use it very often because hey, I still knew most everything there was to know.  I felt like I deserved to have a multi-page resume because I was just so great.  Since then, every day seems to teach me only one thing: I know less than I thought I did.

I used to create recipes and think that I was the bee’s knees.  Look at this pasta I made.  Aren’t I fabulous and special?  No.  Cooking requires experience.  The more you do it, the better intuition you have.  The more recipes you see combining certain ingredients, the more willing you are to go off script to create a combination you’ve seen before.  I like cooking.  I think that what I cook is usually pretty tasty.  But it’s not nearly as original as I thought it was when I was in high school.

… so this morning when I wanted doughnuts that combined chocolate and peanut butter, that wasn’t exactly a fresh idea.  I already have a tried and true chocolate doughnut recipe (see this cookbook).

Doughnuts in Morning Light

And peanut butter frosting just made sense to me.  I was a little nervous about how to go about that, though, because I wasn’t about to go shopping for whatever ingredients I was missing in any of the recipes I found.  … and then I thought about peanut butter pie.  That glorious creamy peanut buttery combo topping ground Oreos.  And the recipe for that is pretty simple.  Peanut butter + cream cheese + cream + sugar = amazing.

… but let’s make this simpler given the ingredients I actually have on hand: Peanut butter + dairy + sugar = amazing.  And so it did.  I used Yoplait vanilla greek yogurt because I have a Costco sized amount of it that’s going to go bad next week.  But let’s not kid ourselves, this recipe is hardly rocket science.

Doughnuts by Window

My sister requested that she be awoken when breakfast was ready, so I served her bedside with doughnuts and hot cocoa.  She kind of loves me a lot.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1/4 c. peanut butter (I used creamy, but I think crunchy would be grand)
  • 1 5.3oz. container yoplait vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar

Mix ingredients until creamy.  Chill.  Frost doughnuts immediately before serving.

 

Fat Cottonwoods

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Southern New Mexico is a pretty familiar place for me.  My parents both grew up here.  Both sets of grandparents still live here.  Numerous aunts and uncles live nearby.  I’ve spent a lot of time here.  No amount of familiarity could ever make this view any less breathtaking.

White Sands

White Sands National Monument is a supremely under-appreciated experience.  There are views of the mountains surrounding you, and the white sand seems to go on forever.  The dunes are giant and absolutely amazing to sled down.

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I just love feeling the cool evening breeze.  And coming home to eat this peach cobbler afterwards?  It’s just too much!

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I cannot tell a lie.  I based this almost entirely off of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe.  I gluten-freed it with Cup-4-Cup.  I may have used more pecans than it called for.

This recipe was stolen from Smitten Kitchen, but inspired by 2-lbs-for-a-dollar peaches and the pecan tree in my grandmother’s back yard.  Please make it.  It’ll make you happy.  Promise.

Sideways Recipes

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

I’ve been reading Sideways Stories from Wayside School to my fifth graders.  On Thursday, we read my absolute favorite chapter: Maurecia.  It’s all about this little girl who hates everyone/thing except for ice cream, but eventually gets tired of all the different flavors.  Her amazing teacher Mrs. Jewls ends up making Maurecia-flavored ice cream which Maurecia can’t taste, but all the other children think is amazing.  The teacher realizes her mistake: Maurecia ice cream is the flavor that Maurecia tastes when Maurecia isn’t tasting anything.

Debbie-flavored ice cream

Debbie-flavored ice cream

I’m no Mrs. Jewls.  But this is Debbie-flavored ice cream.  At the very least, it’s inspired by her existence.  This blackberry white chocolate chip ice cream is positively amazing.  Sometimes, when you want to make birthday ice cream for somebody, you should really just wander around the grocery store and pick up ingredients.  You’re playing with cream and sugar.  What can go wrong?

Once I had already purchased the blackberries and white chocolate, I went online and started looking for a recipe.  This is backwards.  I’m pretty ok with that.

I came across this recipe, but it wasn’t working for me.  For one, I didn’t have half-and-half.  I also (whoops!) had only purchased one pint of blackberries.  … so I kind of made things up, basing my methods loosely on the Pioneer Woman’s and loosely on what I do every time I make ice cream.  What happened was amazing.  Check it.

Natural light is important!

Natural light is important!

…so I take pictures of my food on the railing of my front porch…  No bigs.

Blackberry White Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

loosely adapted from the Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1 Tablespoon lime/lemon juice (I used lime because I had it, but I doubt it matters)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Make the blackberry “syrup” by combining the first three ingredients in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes.  Press through a strainer to get as much juice as possible.  Set aside.

Pour white chocolate chips into a food processor.  Pulse a few times to create smaller chunks, but not so much it turns into a powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I’m a firm believer in 1% in ice cream, although all recipes call for whole)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups cream

Pour the cream into a bowl, place mesh strainer over top.  Whisk egg yolks together in separate bowl.  Combine milk and sugar in saucepan.  Cook over medium/low heat until hot and steamy.

Whisk a small portion of the milk mixture into the egg yolks.  After tempering the egg yolks, add to the milk mixture.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  Pour through mesh strainer into the cream.  Whisk to combine.  Mix in the blackberry syrup.  Chill thoroughly in an ice bath or in the refrigerator.

Right before freezing, mix in the white chocolate chips.  Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.