Monday, October 27, 2014

Hot Spiced Drink





















I wish I could send smells through the computer. I would.  It's cooking off here in Boise which means one thing...hot spiced drink.  Mom made this growing up using a percolator.  Not many people have one (ahhem like me) so I use my aunt's Le Cruset!  Any pot will do.  One thing is for certain, your house will smell wonderful and it is EASY EASY!

Ingredients:
2 cups cranberry juice*
2 cups apple juice* (or cider if it is fall...the only difference is the filtering and preservatives)
6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, sliced (discarding the ends)

*You can honestly use any amount of juice.  Use equal parts.  I typically just throw in cloves and a couple cinnamon sticks.  It's not a measured science.  It is hard to mess up!

Steps:
Combine all ingredients over low heat and let simmer at least 20 minutes.  The longer the better.  Many people online in similar recipes recommend taking the peels off if you are going to simmer for long periods of time or store.  It causes it to bitter.  I keep what I dont drink in a pitcher and reheat in the microwave!

Today I used these juices!  I try to get natural juices...no sugar added. 
Cloves fascinate me.
Isn't it beautiful?

Finished product in my favorite mug from my bff.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Best-of-Both-Worlds Cookie Recipe (the brownie cookie)

  

This weekend I visit my sissy.  She is a Halloween baby so I thought I might as well surprise her with cookies for her birthday - and ones that travel well.  She has already tried these cookies, which are still my favorite chocolate chip cookies to date.  SO I googled for recipes that include two ingredients I had purchased at the local farmer's market.  Hunter has been wanting to use them as bad as I have!  


I hit the jackpot with this recipe.   Lately I started to blog only recipes I've done a few times to make sure they are tested.  But these are too good not to share.  They are sure to satisfy a chocolate craving with a rich, chocolately taste.  I am a cookie and brownie girl, so naturally, these are the "best of both worlds."  

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutched cocoa flour (not your typical Hersheys!)
3/4 tsp baking soda (always use this with dutch process)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup packed DARK brown sugar (keeps moisture)
1/2 cup honey
7 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I use trader joes pieces)
1/4 c granulated sugar

Steps:

Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl.  

It turns out the coolest color!
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes).

Then add honey and beat again.

I was fascinated so of course I took e  picture.
Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture until well combined.

Then add chocolate pieces.  The batter is a beautiful, rich color.  This cell phone night picture doesn't do it justice.


Now, like many good recipes, you refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 325 and use this time to clean the kitchen!

........fast forward 30 minutes.

I used two large cookie sheets (both insulated and non and I don't have a preference).  Shape into tablespoon-sized balls.  

Sprinkle the top with course sugar (of course this is optional but does make them look special).  

Place a couple inches apart.  They do flatten out while baking. 

Now, like a brownie, you do no want to over bake.  I made mine large and 9 minutes was plenty.  You want to get them just as they begin to set and the tops start to crack.

Let cook on a wire rack.

I will leave you with one more picture....ENJOY!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Broccoli Beef Stir Fry


Broccoli Beef Stir Fry

It's taken me awhile to post this recipe even though we've been enjoying it for quite some time.  It takes quite a few steps but the flavors pay off.  Once the prep is over, the actual cooking part is quick!  Also, I might add that I have just discovered Jasmine Rice.  If you haven't tried it, now is the time.  It takes longer than '5 minute rice' but just set it on the stove to cook while you assemble the stir fry (or microwave it) and you won't be sorry!  It has great flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb flank or sirloin, sliced thinly and evenly across the grain
  • 1 lb broccoli florets
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoon water

Marinade
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese rice wine (dry sherry or sake)
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Sauce
  • 4 T oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp Chinese rice wine (dry sherry or sake)
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Some of these ingredients may sound foreign but you can buy them at most grocery stores (Publix and Albertsons).  I have cooking sherry I will use in a pinch but was having trouble finding Chinese rice wine the other day.  The wine sommelier at Albertsons suggested Sake.  She uses it as a substitute and really is a version of rice wine (also made with rice). Oyster sauce is labeled "flavored" many times.  It has other ingredients like fish sauce in the ingredients.  I thought that was interesting. 

Sake and oyster sauce examples...some oyster sauces pour out of the bottle better than others.  This is my favorite.

Steps:

Cook rice according to instructions.  (Again, jasmine is my favorite.)

Prepare the marinade and let meat sit in a medium sized mixing bowl while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Blanch the broccoli (cook in boiling water for about 2 minutes until bright green and then pour out the water).

Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.  You will need this located by the stove along with the broccoli for "go" time.

Now, for "go" time.  I suggest you use the largest skillet you have.  I'm never able to cook all the meat at one time so you may want a plate near as you finish rounds of the meat.  My Cuisinart nonstick is HUGE, too!


I found high heat will borderline cause a grease fire on my stove so I usually cook on heat around 7/8 on my electric stove.  Make sure the skillet is heated before you add the sesame oil and meat!

Add the meat in layers to the pan, making sure they do not touch.  Cook on each side about 2 minutes.  This is why you want your meat even and thin.  It helps you cook evenly and quickly.

Add your garlic when finishing the meat...for about 30 seconds.

Add broccoli and sauce and bring to a boil.

Pour in dissolved cornstarch and cook until thickened.  The more it sits, the thicker the sauce will become.

Enjoy.  I hope you like it as much as we do!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Asian Cole Slaw


Asian Cole Slaw

My coworker brought this slaw to a potluck (several times) and it was always a hit.  (Karla is quite the cook among her many talents.)  Don't like slaw?  I didn't either...until I had this!I made it tonight as a side and Hunter enjoyed it as well.  

The recipe I have from Karla is double what I've typed below.  The original recipe probably feeds 10!  I don't mind it leftover but I should probably note it can get soggy if it sits too long because of the ramen noodles.  You certainly can assemble ahead of time (like Karla would do).  Just prepare and save the last step (pouring the dressing) until you are ready to serve!

Ingredients:
5 oz plain cole slaw (bags from Dole come in 10 oz)
1 pkg ramen noodles (asian or chicken)
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. sliced almonds

1/4 c. sugar
1/6 c. apple cider vinegar
1/6 c. olive oil

-Break up the ramen noodles into the slaw.  Keep the seasoning packet aside for the dressing.  

-Add the sunflower seeds and almonds to the slaw mix.  

-In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and ramen noodle seasoning.

-When you are ready to serve, add the dressing to the slaw mix and toss!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lemon Orzo Pasta with Tomatoes and Asparagus


This is one of my absolute favorite recipes from Pinterest.  I've been making it for years and just today realized I had some pictures but never made the post!

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes
Ingredients:
12 oz. orzo
1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions:
Bring 2 large pots of water to boil. 
In one pot, add asparagus to boiling water and blanch, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus. 
Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them pretty green.


In the second pot,  cook the orzo per package instructions.  When tender, drain and place in a large bowl. 

Add blanched asparagus and tomato halves.

Mix olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. 


Stir into orzo and vegetables.  Stir in grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve warm, room temperature or cold (my fav).



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Pumpkin Chip Cookies



Every year, about this time, I get a craving for these pumpkin chip cookies.  Let's be honest...I crave them year round. But this time of year I find an excuse to make them more often.  Some places only carry pumpkin seasonally (ahhem Trader Joes) and some all year.  So if you cannot find it, don't give up.  In Albertsons it is by the pie fillings and not by candied yams and sweet potatoes like one would think.  This was one of the first recipes I discovered on pinterest circa 2011.  I have made it my own.

The cookies can be described by having a hint of pumpkin. Even those that do not like pumpkin like this recipe.  They are very cake-like and fluffy (so leave room on your cookie sheet for them to spread). Think of them as muffin tops.  If you don't care for butterscotch you substitute 2 cups of chocolate chips (I prefer half and half).

Pumpkin Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil
i cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Steps:

Preheat your oven to 325.

In a separate bowl, mix the first section of dry ingredients.

In your mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment), beat eggs and sugar until light yellow (almost 2 minutes).   Turn to slow speed and mix in oil, vanilla and pumpkin.

Add your dry ingredients until just combined (about a minute).

Fold in chocolate/butterscotch chips.

*I used two baking sheets, one insulated and one not, to see which I preferred.  I would NOT use insulated.  They cook more thoroughly and stay together better.  I even think they rise better using a traditional cookie sheet.*



Using your 1/4 measuring cup, make about 10 cookies per baking sheet. Don't fill up the cup entirely.  I did 8 per sheet (2 sheets) and they were entirely too large (even for me).  If you did 10 a sheet, the recipe will yield about 20 cookies.  They pour out quite nicely.

Bake in the oven for about 16 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.


The picture above shows the cake and muffin-like consistency.

ENJOY!  



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Shrimp and Grits Casserole


This shrimp and grits recipe is courtesy of Nancy's mother, using grits that Catherine and David sent us when we moved to Boise, and with photography help from Claire while visiting.  My friends are the best.



This Shrimp and Grits recipe can be prepared ahead of time because it is a casserole and makes for good leftovers (another plus for the Hodges' house).  When Nancy lived with me her mom would send her back to Birmingham with frozen containers of these shrimp and grits.  That began my obsession.  There is a bit of food prep but you mix everything together and are set!  Ironically my coworker uses the same recipe - it was also published in Southern Living.  You see, it is a good one!

First, can I just tell you how amazing these grits are? I've made this recipe probably 50 times but these grits make it extra special.  The casserole holds together better with these grits (before I would use a bowl which was ok).  I don't think I can eat any other grits ever again (think rich, creamy and chunky).  So keep this in mind for the recipe.  Old fashioned stone ground corn grits are WAY better than Quaker instant (no offense). 


Here is a close up picture!


You recognize this bag.  I use this shrimp often from Fred Meyer. I am weird and have to find wild shrimp.  The small shrimp work well because you get a good amount throughout the casserole.


This is one of our favorite finds at the Boise farmer's market and I kick myself for not having a picture.  There is an older couple with a booth dedicated to garlic - every kind you can imagine.  Hunter and I like to pick different ones each time we go.  Asian tempest was described as sweet.  Chesnok red was full-bodied - that is the one I used for this recipe!


Ingredients:

4 c. chicken broth
1 c. regular grits
1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (~ .25 lb)
1 c pepperjack cheese (~ .25 lb)
1 T butter
6 green onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (or 2 small)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and cooked
1 10 oz can Rotel
1/4 tsp pepper

*For this recipe I used my food processor both for the cheese and for the peppers and onions.  The peppers and onions definitely make for a better presentation hand chopped but it tastes just the same.  AND it saves some time.

Bring chicken broth to a boil and add grits.  Stir and cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  

Stir in both cheeses into the grits.  Set aside. 

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute bell pepper, onions and garlic for about 5 minutes. 

Stir together grits, green onion mixture, shrimp, pepper and rotel. 

To give you an idea, this is what it will look like:


And this is the fabulous dish my sister gave me as a gift one year.  Food never sticks.  I use it often!  It works great for this recipe.  


After about 35 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven, I present you with the colorful finished product...