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Monday, June 22, 2015

Pound Cake






Pound Cake
slightly adapted from allrecipes

Ingredients

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan (see notes).

In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar gradually (by about a quarter cup at a time) and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, each time mixing gently until the yolk just disappears. Add the flour all at once and mix gently until just incorporated. Add vanilla and lemon juice and stir to combine.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Start checking for doneness at 1 hour. A skewer inserted into center of cake will come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out on the rack and let cool completely. Store the cake on the rack covered with a thin towel for up to 3 days.

NOTES

This was my first pound cake and it turned out spectacularly. I feel like this is one of those "ignorance is bliss" kind of things that happen to me with cooking and baking sometimes - i.e., I don't know that pound cake is supposed to be touchy or difficult; I used a base recipe, read a few tips (like having everything at room temperature is a MUST) and that was that. Perfection.

And this was seeeeeriously delicious. It will now stand in my archives as a go-to for special occasions. It's easy, only uses one bowl (my FAVORITE kind of baking recipe), and versatile. I served this first one with homemade whipped cream, strawberry compote, and blueberry compote, which were all perfect toppings, but I also want to try ones with a lemon glaze and maybe a berry or chocolate swirl throughout (with the chocolate, I would eliminate the lemon juice from the recipe).

As for the pan size: a 10-inch tube pan is ideal, but other pans can be substituted as long as the capacity is similar. I only had this bundt pan at my disposal and luckily it was very close (a 10-inch tube pan is about 16 cups; my bundt pan holds 15 cups).

Monday, June 8, 2015

Cottage Pie



Cottage Pie

Ingredients

For the mashed potatoes:

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, quartered
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pie:

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound lean ground beef (or venison, or turkey)
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup stock (or water)
2/3 cup frozen peas
2/3 cup frozen corn

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the mashed potatoes:

Fill a large saucepan with cold water and a tablespoon of salt. Add potatoes and garlic cloves to the water and bring to a boil. Let potatoes cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and garlic and place them back into the saucepan for mashing. Add butter and half and half and mash potatoes and garlic (make sure you get the garlic well mashed!) into a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

For the pie:

Add butter and oil to large skillet on medium heat. Saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Once the vegetables have softened and start to brown a little add the tomato paste and mix evenly. Add the ground beef, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stock (or water). Simmer for another 5 minutes or until liquid is almost evaporated. Add peas and corn and stir to heat through.

Transfer mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and spread evenly. Place potatoes on top of ground beef mixture and spread out evenly. Before baking, rake through potatoes with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. Place the dish into the preheated oven and cook until browned, about 20 minutes (if you want more browning, you can also put under the broiler for a few minutes). Serve.


NOTES

Before trying my hand at this at home, I had never even tasted cottage pie (or shepherd's pie). Can you believe it? It just never really appealed to me much. CRAZY. I ended up loving it so much I had to get it down in a post immediately. I even used some of our cherished venison from this year for this one. Absolutely fantastic. 10/10, will make again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Chicken and Vegetable Cashew Korma




Chicken and Vegetable Cashew Korma

Ingredients

1/2 cup cashews
1 can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1-1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large sweet onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, sliced into coins
2 teaspoons each coriander, cumin
1 teaspoon each cardamom, curry powder, turmeric, paprika
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water
6-oz. container plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup frozen peas

Method

Put cashews and coconut milk in a blender and blend until very smooth. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add chicken and saute until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add onions and saute 3 minutes, until soft. Add ginger and garlic and saute 2 minutes more.

Add potatoes, carrots, spices, salt, and sugar and stir to combine. Stir in tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil on medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender (test one with a fork).

Stir in yogurt and cashew/coconut milk mixture. Turn heat to medium and cook uncovered another 10 minutes, until sauce thickens. Stir in peas and cook for another minute, until heated through.

Sprinkle in cilantro and serve with basmati rice or naan.

NOTES

This was the biggest hit at my birthday dinner party this year and it's my favorite kind of meal: easy to cook, stunningly delicious, and large but healthy portion. You could easily make this vegetarian, too, substituting the chicken with more potatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas, etc.

I am so pleased to be adding to my Indian repertoire!

Tandoori Chicken


Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients

2 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 small red onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon hot paprika
1/2 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Optional for serving: cooked rice, cilantro, crushed chiles

Method

Pulse the lemon juice, yogurt, oil, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, cayenne, and salt in a food processor to make a paste. Make shallow cuts in the chicken thighs with a sharp knife and place in a large bowl. Pour the mixture over the chicken, toss to coat, and let marinate at least 1 hour (preferably overnight).

Preheat the broiler. Place the chicken on a foil-lined broiler pan and cook, turning once, until slightly charred and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 165 degrees F, about 8 minutes per side.

Serve over rice and top with cilantro and crushed chiles, if desired.

NOTES

This was the first of many recipes I am attempting to add to my Indian repertoire and it was a huge success first time out. It was so delicious I ended up making it three weeks in a row. And yes, I know this isn't traditional tandoori (I don't have a tandoor, so hey, obviously), but it is a damn tasty recreation!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kung Pao Chicken



Kung Pao Chicken
slightly adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients

For the Chicken:
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fine ground black pepper
1 teaspoon black soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (can substitute dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

For the Stir-Fry:
1 tablespoon black soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable, peanut, or canola oil, divided
2 large bell peppers, any color, cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 stalks celery, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 cup (4 ounces) roasted peanuts
3 cloves minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 scallion, finely sliced
8 small dried red Chinese or Arbol chiles (you can also add crushed chiles, see note below)

Method

For chicken: Combine chicken, salt, pepper, black soy sauce, wine, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes.

For stir fry: Combine black soy sauce, wine, vinegar, water, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a wok or large deep skillet over high heat until smoking. Add chicken, spread into a single layer, and cook without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Continue cooking, tossing and stirring frequently, until the exterior is opaque but chicken is still slightly raw in the center, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over high heat until smoking. Add bell peppers and celery and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until brightly colored and browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Add peanuts and toss to combine. Push vegetables up side of wok to clear a space in the center. Add garlic, ginger, scallions, and dried chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return chicken to wok and toss to combine. Stir sauce and add to wok. Cook, tossing, until sauce thickens and coats ingredients and chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Serve immediately.

NOTES

Oh you guys. I've had kung pao chicken on my "to make" list for so long and now I am kicking myself for not getting to it sooner. This is absolutely delicious. This is more like American takeout style kung pao chicken - no szechuan peppercorns here - but unlike American-style takeout, it is huge in flavor, light in grease.

One note: I've never actually ordered kung pao in a restaurant (I KNOW), but I think I always assumed the chiles made the dish spicy. Um, not really. I even tried cutting the heads off the second time I made it, to let some of the flavor and seeds cook into the dish. Still nothing (unless you count actually eating the chiles with the dish, which I know you're not "supposed" to do, but I do anyway). If you want heat cooked in, I suggest adding some crushed chiles (the Asian market kind, not the Italian food kind) during that last cooking step when you add the chiles. Or you can always spice it up at the table.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Chicken Chorizo Patty Melts


Chicken Chorizo Patty Melts
adapted from Sunny Anderson

Ingredients

Patties:
1 pound ground chicken
8 ounces fresh chorizo (I use my homemade version)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Onions:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 large sweet onions, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sandwich:
4 oblong/rectangular flat breads
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Ketchup, for serving

Method

In a large bowl, gently but thoroughly combine the chicken, chorizo, garlic, oregano and salt. Form into four equal patties, roughly the shape and size of the bread you will be using. Cover the patties with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium saute pan on medium heat melt the butter with the oil. Add the onion and season with a pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper, to taste. Saute until the onions are caramelized, about 35 minutes, and set aside.

Preheat a large skillet (or grill pan) over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until crispy on the edges and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Add shredded cheese to each patty in the last minute of cooking, to melt. Remove to a plate.

Assemble the sandwiches: place one of the patties on half the flat bread, top with onions. Fold the other half of the bread over and serve.


NOTES

These are seriously awesome sandwiches. I've started making the patties as a freezer staple (warp in plastic wrap, store two per quart-size bag) so that we have them available for a quick weekend lunch.

The original recipe has you grilling the flatbreads, but I skip that step. I also switched the cheese from Swiss to cheddar. I think it goes better with the chorizo.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Venison Tortelloni Bake


Venison Tortelloni Bake
inspired by Nevada Foodies

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground venison (or lean beef or turkey)
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz fresh spinach, chopped
1 14.5-oz can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces refrigerated cheese tortelloni (see notes)
4 oz shredded mozzarella (see notes)
1 oz finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add venison and saute for 4-5 minutes, breaking into small chunks with a spoon, until nearly cooked through. Add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about a minute. Add chopped spinach and cook until wilted.

Stir in tomato sauce, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt. Simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors come together, then add tortelloni and gently mix.

Pour mixture into large baking dish (or, if you prefer, leave in skillet if it is oven-safe). Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, top with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese, then return the pan to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted. Serve.

NOTES

This has a similar flavor profile to my pasta bake (which I often make with ragu bolognese, so even closer in texture) AND my sausage and spinach tortelloni... AND YET.

This was different. PHENOMENAL. Everything I dreamed it would be the whole time I was fantasizing about having the venison to try the recipe. I will make this with more of the venison I currently have and then make it with my wild game ragu or wild game Italian sausage. So, so great.

Note on pasta: I buy a 3-pound bag of tortelloni at Costco and split it into 1-pound portions, but I know tortelloni is not always easy to find. Tortellini ("ini" are smaller) will work fine, as will small ravioli.

Note on mozzarella: by all means, add more, up to 8 oz. We like slightly less cheese than most folks, so feel free to adjust to your or your family's taste.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Southwestern Chicken Stew


Southwestern Chicken Stew
adapted from Lemons for Lulu

Ingredients

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded, diced
3 large cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon oregano (I use Mexican)
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon chile powder (I use New Mexican)
1-1/3 cup frozen corn
1 15-oz can black beans, drained, rinsed
1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained, rinsed
7 oz can diced green chiles, undrained
1 quart chicken broth (or water)
1/2 cup half and half
Optional for garnish: cilantro, scallions, hot sauce

Method

Heat a large soup pot over medium high. Add chicken and saute for 6 or 7 minutes, until cooked through. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Cook for 4 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Season with cumin, oregano, salt, and chile powder. Add corn, black beans, tomatoes and green chiles. Stir in broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Pour half and half into the pot and stir to heat through. Garnish as desired.

NOTES

Flavor profile similar to many a southwestern soup (similar to my chicken tortilla soup, in fact), but with an added creamy twist. This turned out so fabulous I've made it three times in the last few weeks. Thick, spicy, hearty, DELICIOUS.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Easy Chicken, Chorizo and Shrimp Paella



Easy Chicken, Chorizo and Shrimp Paella
slightly adapted and with thanks to Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients

2-1/2 cups chicken broth
Pinch of Spanish saffron (SEE NOTES)
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped
8 oz Mexican chorizo (I use my homemade version)
1 large shallot or 1/2 red onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup long grain white rice
6-8 oz frozen shrimp (small or extra small is fine)
1 cup frozen peas

Method

Bring chicken broth and saffron to a boil in a small saucepan then turn heat to low and place a lid on top to keep hot.

Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat then add chicken, chorizo, and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and then saute until chorizo and chicken are cooked through, 5 minutes, breaking chorizo up as it cooks. Add garlic then saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices, paprika, and cayenne pepper if using then saute until tomatoes are softened, 3 minutes.

Add rice and hot broth to skillet then stir to combine and bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then lower heat and simmer until rice has nearly absorbed all the broth and is just slightly al dente, 13-15 minutes. Stir in shrimp and peas then place lid back on top and let skillet sit off the heat for 5 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper to taste then serve.

NOTES

Fantastic. Spicy and savory and unlike any other dinner in my recipe archive. Bonus: I am always looking for more uses for my homemade Mexican-style chorizo. This recipe is a great addition to that (so far very short) list.

Note about the saffron: I am frugal in my kitchen and haven't been able to bring myself to buy the saffron for this recipe. I simply add the 2-1/2 cups of very hot stock (or even just water!) to the pan with the rice. Yes, I know that technically saffron is what makes it paella. Yes, I know it's not authentic. It's still a fabulous dish. So if you don't want to spend the money on the saffron, by all means, don't! You can still make this delicious dinner without it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Balela


Balela

Ingredients

2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh parsley
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or 4 roma tomatoes, chopped)

Dressing:
1 large jalapeno, minced
2 large cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a large salad bowl, lightly mix together the chickpeas, black beans, mint, parsley, onion, and tomatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the jalapeno pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to serve.

NOTES

I am always on the lookout for new, easy, delicious ways to satisfy the afternoon hungries. First, there was tabbouleh. Then, there was cumin-lime chickpea salad. Now, there is balela. My goodness is this ever fantastic. Tangy, spicy, zingy, but also creamy from the combination of the two types of beans. This is definitely my new obsession.

Portion size note: The recipe as is would probably serve 8 people as a lunch or dinner side dish. For afternoon snacks, I cut this recipe right in half and split it into five portions and thought it was perfect.