Monthly Archives: January 2014

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Cabinet Raid Chili

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We had another snow day. An the WiFi was out. Look at all that snow.  Our southern infrastructure just wasn’t prepared.

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So that meant no hunting on the internet for a chili recipe.

I had beans and ground meat so the cabinet was raided for the rest.

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I have made dozens of variations of chili, and this one turned out to be my favorite. It may be because I sneaked in an extra can of veggies (zucchini), or because I simply used many of my favorite spices including cocoa powder (shush, my husband doesn’t know yet) and kept tasting until perfection.

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I served it with shredded cheese, sour cream, and bread made with greek yogurt. It was nice and spicy, but the sour cream cooled it down.  The hubby gave his seal of approval. IMG_1769

And Kindo wistfully sniffed the air.

IMG_1522 That pup is just so gosh darn precious, I can’t stand it.

Cabinet Raid Chili
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Copious amount of hearty spicy chili, freeze left overs in single serve containers for easy lunches or quick dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 onion
  • 8 oz cooked zucchini (1 can)
  • 16 oz diced tomatoes (2 cans)
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 2 tbls tomato paste
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (spicy)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp powdered sage
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • shredded cheese (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Dice onion and brown with meat until meat no longer pink and onions translucent
  2. Add spices cocoa powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, basil, sage, chili powder, and pepper then brown for 5 more minutes
  3. Add zucchini (this is the only can you should drain the liquid off), tomatoes, Rotel, tomato paste, black beans, pinto beans, and spiced browned meat to crock pot
  4. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours
  5. Serve with shredded chesse, sour cream, and warm bread.
Notes
You can also cook this in a soup pot on low covered, stir occasionally-every half hour or so for 4 plus hours.

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Chai Tea Oatmeal

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On a cold morning, there is nothing better than sipping hot tea and having a warm hearty meal of oat meal.

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Follow it up with snuggles with a warm little animal and that equals a morning of quiet contentment.

 

 

 

This oat meal combines a mellow Chai tea and honey flavor with the savory taste of butter toasted pecans.

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With that flavor combo, my morning felt epic and a tad sophisticated. Today is going to be great.

After the successfully delicious creation of those Matcha green tea cookies, I was dreaming about creating this chai tea oatmeal as I fell asleep last night. This tea flavored oatmeal was seriously good, and now I am seriously hooked on tea flavored food. Now what to make next???  What other tea flavored foods do you think would be good?

Chai Tea Oatmeal
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup milk (I used orignial almond milk)
  • ⅔ cup oats
  • 1 Chai tea bag
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 8 pecans
  • 2 tsp butter (I used smart balance butter)
  • cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Heat milk in microwave for 1 minute, then steep tea in warm milk
  2. While steeping, chop and toast pecans in a pan on medium heat in butter and a sprinkle of salt. Remove from heat.
  3. Take tea bag out of milk and mix in honey
  4. In bowl, mix oats and milk then microwave for 1 minute. For creamier oat meal, add extra tablespoon milk.
  5. Stir then lightly sprinkle top with cinnamon and add toasted pecans on top.
Notes
The original almond milk I used is slightly sweetened so you may want to add more honey if you use an unsweetened milk.

 

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Green Tea Shortbread Cookies

Green Tea Shortbread Cookies with Maple Vanilla Glaze

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Today, the South froze, even all the way out here on the South Carolina coast…which never happens.  I mean, a couple days ago, I was wearing shorts when taking my pup for a walk outside! Snow is a reason to celebrate and cancel everything since everyone knows there is chaos on the roads when southerners are forced to drive in snow. Unfortunately for many of my friends, snow days don’t apply to nurses, but as for me, I was not scheduled to work the following night and was able to celebrate the slushy ‘Snow day’ with trying out a new recipe and snuggles with the family.

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Snuggling was necessary since 1–It was really cold and yucky outside and 2– I had worked the night before, 7pm-7am. Whew.

 Once I had a few hours of sleep under my belt, I went to work on the recipe I’d been scheming up for the past week.  You see, Scott and I are obsessed with tea. Several types of green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong, pu erh tea, blooming tea.  The list  goes on. Everyday we drink tea…..so why not bring some of those delicious flavors to food?! I once ate a green tea macaroon, and it was pretty good, so I thought I would bring the green tea flavor to another cookie.  This tea experiment turned out ridiculously yummy so you can bet many more tea recipes are in store for this blog. This time, I specifically choose a short bread cookie so the green tea flavor could shine without being overpowered by sugar.  Then, with a little maple syrup glaze and green tea powder on top, a really complex yet delicately flavored cookie was created. Oh yum. I think I ate a dozen. Maybe more.

IMG_1678If you love tea, or even if you kinda like tea, these cookies are for you.

Looking at a recipe I made a decade ago combined with quick google search of shortbread recipes, made me immediately think, ‘WOAH, that is way too much butter,’ so this recipe cut back on the butter and the sugar, and I made up for the losses with a little almond milk and a little vanilla to make the dough workable.  So a little healthier, right? :)

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This dough turned out a lightly colored green, but the green tea flavor is unmistakeable.  To flavor the dough I used a green tea called Matcha, a powdered green tea, and simply mixed it in. The dough turned out to be very easy to work with, no flour mess needed to roll it out, and no need to grease the cookie sheet before baking.

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Green Tea Shortbread Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A green tea flavored shortbread cookie with a maple vanilla glaze. Makes 6 dozen 1x1 inch square cookies.
Ingredients
  • For the Dough:
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp Matcha (powdered green tea)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 tbls milk (I used original almond milk)
  • ¾ cup butter (I used smart balance butter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • For the Glaze:
  • 2 tbls maple syrup
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream butter with sugar.
  3. Mix in milk, vanilla, salt, and Matcha
  4. Add flour and knead until consistent.
  5. Roll out dough on cutting board until about 1 cm thick and cut into 1x1 inch squares
  6. Transfer squares to ungreased cookie sheet. The cookies don't spread out much so 1cm minimum between each cookie,
  7. Bake each batch for 15 minutes
  8. While cookies cool, mix maple syrup, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract for the glaze.
  9. Spread a little glaze on the center of each cookie and let it set a couple minutes before stacking.
Notes
Since smart balance is a little less solid than regular butter, you may have to add a tadd more milk to make the dough less stiff if you use regular butter.

For an extra kick of green tea flavor, try sprinkling a tiny bit of matcha powder on the glaze before sets. Try this on one cookie and taste it before doing this on them all. The powder in raw form is an intense flavor.

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Saffron Risotto

IMG_1607Risotto is an Italian rice like no other. It is cooked in broth and the starches of the rice blend with the liquid making the rice taste like it is in a rich creamy sauce. Using risotto, sometimes called Arborio rice, as a side dish instead of the usual pasta or rice with dinner is a great way to take your dinner from boring to BAM: a BA  Meal. I like to serve this with chicken, mushrooms, or a variety of roasted vegetables.

I have made risotto often, but in this recipe, it is the first time I’ve used saffron. I received the spice as a Christmas gift and was super excited to try it out in my risotto.  I’m not sure if the saffron gives it a different taste or if I am just imagining it tasted a little different; perhaps the saffron was just overpowered by the chicken broth I used.  Nevertheless, the spice did give this dish a nice rich yellow color. In conclusion, the spice is completely optional, so if you don’t have any fancy-smancy saffron lying around, omit it, no biggie.  Also, feel free to experiment with adding other spices such as basil or oregano.

IMG_1580 Making risotto does take a bit more attention than making rice or boiling pasta but is totally worth it. You just have to brown an onion in olive oil first, than toast the grains for a few minutes. Then just add wine and broth 1/2 cup at a time until it tastes good enough to eat!

Saffron Risotto
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Italian
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 3-4½ cups broth
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp saffron (optional)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Dice onion, mince garlic, and saute on medium high heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add rice and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Microwave wine and saffron 1 minute then add to rice. Turn heat to medium low heat and stir slowly until all liquid is absorbed.
  4. Add ½ cup of broth at a time, letting it absorb fully before adding more. Continue to stir slowly.
  5. After 3 cups of broth have been added, taste Risotto. It should be aldente. You may want to add more broth, or water depending on how done you want it to taste.
  6. Mix in cheese, saving some to sprinkle on top.
  7. Serve immediately when done, or it will loose creaminess.

 

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Baba Ghanoush

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The first time I heard someone say Baba Ghanoush, I was all Baba-whobie-whatie?

The first time I tried it was when I bought a plate of Greek food from a festival and ate the dip with some pita bread. It blew my mind with deliciousness and I was all, what is this, I must make this now.  Upon hearing it was actually Baba Ghanoush, I was all, that’s it, no more judging a food by its name.

I read up about the dish on Wikipedia, and found that it is popular all over the middle east and can be made a variety of ways with all kinds of different spices. I’ve tested several variations of this recipe and have come up with something more addictive than humus, in my opinion that is.  This recipe can serve 6-8 as an appetizer, but I can consume it all by myself in a couple of days. I eat it with pita chips, spread it on sandwiches, dip veggies in it .  The possibilities are endless.  It’s just so yummy, and healthy too.

It is also simple to make, just a few ingredients and time to let the eggplants roast and the onions caramelize.

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On a side note…

IMG_1517Q: What do you do when you have 2 large onions to dice and a husband who is a scientist?

A: Break out his safety goggles of course!

They have saved me many tears. If you don’t have any safety goggles lying around, it would be a good investment for you to make, unless you only buy wimpy onions, have eyes of steel, or enjoy chemically induced tears.  Seriously, with safety goggles, you will be thankful for them every time you dice an onion.

Now back to Baba Ghanoush.

IMG_1535Slice eggplants in half and arrange face-down on aluminum foil coated in olive oil. Roasted eggplant is finished when a fork can pierce it and the inside easily squishes all the way down to the tin foil.

 

IMG_1534 IMG_1536While the eggplants roast,  caramelize onions. Mix in spices, then blend everything together.  Done!

If you don’t have a blender, try mashing the eggplant.  Let me know if that works for you.  It is good served warm or room temperature.  My favorite way to eat it is using  Stacey’s Garden Style Pita Chips to dip in the warm mixture topped with a little shredded cheese .

Baba Ghanoush
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium sized eggplants
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for spiciness)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan or Gouda cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cover Cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with 1 tbsp olive oil. Cut off eggplant stems then slice eggplant down middle, length-wise.
  3. Arrange halves on aluminum foil and bake 1 hour, until skin pierced with fork and insides soft.
  4. While eggplants bake, dice onion and mince garlic then sautee in 2 tbsp olive oil on medium/low heat until caramelized, about 50 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat to pan. Add lemon juice, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix well then add to blender.
  6. When eggplant done, remove skins and add to blender.
  7. Blend for no more than 10 seconds. The baked eggplant need to be broken up, but when mixture is too pureed, there is not enough texture.
  8. Top warm mixture with grated cheese and serve with pita bread or chips.

 

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Yellow Squash Fritters

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These are so good. And so simple. It is really one of my favorite summer time sides when the squash crop starts coming in. Sometimes though, the craving hits me in the middle of the winter and I have to run to the grocery store for squash, like today.  Really all it needs is flour, shredded squash or zucchini, an egg, and a frying pan with some olive oil in it.

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It can be made even more delicious with a little spice such as parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and/or pepper.

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It is also a great way to get kids to eat veggies when served with Ketchup or Ranch.  I’m partial to ketchup. Its like healthy fries…kinda.

Better really.

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Just plop a scoop of the mixture in the pan, flatten, and let it sizzle till nice and crispy. Place finished fritters on paper towels to absorb a little oil, and serve immediately to maintain crispness.

Oh yum.

Yellow Squash Fritters
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Yields 10 patties
Ingredients
  • 2 cups shredded squash (about 2 medium size squash)
  • ¼ cup self rising flour
  • ⅓ cup all purpose flour or cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tbsp parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Mix shredded squash, flour/cornmeal, egg, parsley, and pepper.
  2. Put 1 tbsp olive oil in pan on medium heat
  3. When fully heated, place large spoonful of mixture in pan and pat down until ¼ inch thick or less.
  4. Flip when batter starts to bubble (like a pancake) and underside is dark brown.
  5. Put finished patties on plate with paper towel. Repeat process, adding 1 tbsp olive oil to pan before cooking each pan full of patties.
  6. Salt and serve immediately with ketchup or ranch dressing.

 

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Gnocchi: Italian Potato Dumplings

Gnocchi: Italian Potato Dumplings
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Potato Dumplings
Ingredients
  • 1lb. potatoes ( about 3 small/medium or 2 large potatoes)
  • egg white
  • 1 tsp. salt (optional)
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Cut potatoes in halves and boil until soft when poked with fork, about 20-30 minutes. Be careful not to over boil as to make the potatoes full of water. This will make the dough very sticky later and trying to compensate with more flour will just make them too dense. Set potatoes aside in bowl to cool. Keep the pot of boiling water on the stove for later use. Take skins off and mash thoroughly.
  2. get that pot of potato water boiling again. Then put mashed potatoes in mound and pour egg on it. Mix in with hands and then knead in salt and flour, adding a little bit at a time, knead thoroughly. Dough should feel slightly sticky.
  3. Separate dough into 5 handfuls and roll each into long ropes, about 1 inch diameter. You may need up to ¼ cup more flour, to dust your hands and the dough, while rolling out.
  4. Cut the dough ropes into ½ inch pieces. To prevent the dough from sticking to the knife, coat knife with a little olive oil. Optionally, you many press a fork coated in oil in the side to make indentations to help it hold sauce
  5. Drop about 20 of the dumplings into the boiling water, crowding will make them stick. When it floats to the top, about 1 minute, it is done! Remove from water with slotted spoon into empty bowl. Repeat until all dumplings are boiled, then pour off any remaining water from bowl of dumplings.

 

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IMG_1141These little lumps have a really nice texture and are versatile. They go great with all kinds of sauces: cheese sauce, tomato, basil, and so on. I put them to use in a casserole.

 

 

Taco Soup

IMG_1352My dad brought this recipe home from work one day. I honestly don’t know where it orignially came from, but it has been a family favorite for at least a decade now.  It has a HUGE number of pros and very few cons. In fact, it is like green eggs and ham, there are no cons. Once you try it, you will love it.  It can be made stove top or in a crock pot. It can be served with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips or it can be eaten plain and still delicious. It is very easy to make, is filling, has protein and vegetables, serves a lot of people or can be frozen, and is most important, is ridiculously delicious.  My sister-in-law, who does not like ground beef, even liked this. Whew.  The flavor is so good. Okay, that’s enough of that, now go make this soup 😀

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Taco Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground meat
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pack Taco Seasoning
  • 1 pack Ranch Seasoning (dry mix)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans or chili beans
  • 1 can yellow whole kernel corn
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (all cans are standard size)
  • optional- shredded cheese, sour cream, & tortilla chips
Instructions
  1. In non stick pan, brown diced onion until caramelized and then add meat and brown until no pink is left in the meat.
  2. Add taco and ranch seasoning to pan, brown 5 more minutes.
  3. Add cans including all juices , 2 cups of water, and browned meat/onion/seasoning mixture to crock pot or soup pot. Simmer 4-6 hours. *
  4. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
Notes
*Note: Technically, you don't have to wait 4-6 hours for the soup to cook. Since the meat is cooked, as soon as everything is warmed up in the pot, you can eat it. However, I think it tastes better after simmering half a day and the spices have had a chance to saturate everything with flavor.

 

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Chocolate Gravy

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Gravy…that is chocolate? Ew.

That is the response that I got from my hubby and siblings-in-laws.  I told them, if it made them feel better they could call it chocolate sauce. It did.  Upon tasting it, I got the seal of approval; not that I needed it for this recipe though.  It has been in my family for generations.  My great grandmother, a legendary cook who lived on a farm and could turn road kill into a feast, made this for my daddy in his childhood.  He brought the recipe to our Christmas morning breakfast feast and I look forward to this tradition every year.  I also make it on other special occasions such the annual ski trip with the in-laws! Last week-end was the first. I had a great kitchen in a big log cabin to bake in! That called for some cozy comfort food.  And this can be made in a jiffy.

Chocolate Gravy
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 6
 
Also known as chocolate sauce
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ tbsp cocoa powder (not to be confused with the sweetened kind)
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Mix sugar, cocoa, and flour in small pot until consistent. Leave no flour lumps.
  2. Add milk and stir constantly over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. It becomes thicker but is still pretty runny. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.
  3. Serve over warm biscuits.

 

 

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Best served over warm buttermilk biscuits.  Mmmm.


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Buttermilk Biscuits

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The first time I made biscuits, I was probably in middle school, maybe even elementary. In my limited knowledge of baking, I thought all I needed was self rising flour and milk.  It looked like some good biscuit dough before it went in the oven, but it came out tasting like stale cardboard. Yuck!  I gave up on biscuits until I was sitting in Cracker Barrel with my hubby, then boyfriend, 3 years ago. He said, “oh my….if you could make biscuits like this….”

That was all he had to say.  I set out to make biscuits like them, but a quick google search revealed they use lard. LARD! I am not sure if the internet sources I looked at were reliable sources, but no way, I was not cooking with that, much less even knew where to buy lard.   Nevertheless, I did not give up (this time) on making Cracker Barrel status biscuits.  Using my grandmother’s base recipe that uses buttermilk (aka pure baking gold),  I have been tweaking it over the last couple years until perfection has been achieved.  Here is an exert from her recipe, “Lump of Crisco size of egg.” I love it.

They turned out not tasting like Cracker Barrel biscuits, but according to my husband, they are even better. I have no way of knowing if his words are biased, so let me know what you think in the comments 😉    Also, feel free to share any biscuit making tips you have.

I made the pictured biscuits in a hurry for a crowd so I didn’t worry about shape too much, I just dropped big balls of dough on the pan. It works!  If you want them shaped like perfect little cylinders, here is what I do:  have a little bowl of buttermilk to coat hands with before scoping up each biscuit from the dough so it does not stick to hands.  Shape biscuits with hands then put on greased pan 2 inches apart. This biscuit dough is not stiff enough to use biscuit cutters. Press the top/middle of the biscuit down with two fingers to make a dent about an inch in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. This will cause the top to rise evenly with the sides.

Buttermilk Bisucts
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups self rising flour (I am partial to the WhiteLily brand)
  • ⅓ cup shortening
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix flour, shortening, and butter using fingers, pinch until mixture is crumbly.
  3. Stir in buttermilk. You may add another ¼ cup of buttermilk to make the biscuits fluffier.
  4. Drop biscuit sized lumps on a greased cookie sheet 1-2 inches apart or in cast iron and bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown.
Notes
Makes 8 large biscuits

 

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