Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Day Burger (California Burger)

Every year for Memorial Day my mama does an awesome breakfast of waffles, French toast, bacon, sausage, and strawberries (this year from the garden).  This year the weather was warm and sunny and we stayed for most of the day.  Sometimes for dinner, we will have a family barbecue, but this year with my boys still in school, I wanted/needed them in bed at a reasonable time and Stella was tired and not so happy.  We came home and I put on a movie for Stella and Preston (something to keep Stella content for a moment), Noah worked on his dribbling outside with Todd (he wasn't too happy either because he was feeling like his basketball skills might not be good enough for the NBA :)) and I made these big giant burgers with Monterey jack cheese, peppery watercress, and a chunky avocado relish.  Happiness!

Memorial Day Burger (California Burger)

Avocado Relish

2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno chile, finely diced
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80 percent lean)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
4 hamburger buns, split; toasted, if desired
1 small bunch watercress
4 slices ripe tomatoes

To make the avocado relish, combine the avocados, onions, jalapeno, lime juice, and cilantro in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.  The relish can be made up to 1 hour in advance and kept at room temperature.

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each).  Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.  Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.  Cook the burgers on the grill.  In the last minute of cooking top each burger with a slice of Monterey Jack cheese and close the grill to allow the cheese to melt.

Place burgers on the bun bottoms and top each one with a few sprigs of watercress, a slice of tomato, and a dollop of avocado relish.  Cover with bun tops and serve immediately.

Recipe from Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries, and Shakes  

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Very Favorite Pizza Dough Recipe

My sister Stephanie introduced me to this recipe for pizza dough and I will love her forever for it.  This is by far the best pizza dough recipe that I have ever tried for a traditional pizza.  This pizza dough really is the best ever!

Pizza Dough

4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour, chilled
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

Combine all the ingredients.  Mix by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Knead for 5-7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough.  The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom of the bowl.  If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour until it clears the sides.  If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.  The finished dough with be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky. 

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and mist it with cooking spray.  Divide the dough into four to six equal parts.  Using a little flour if the dough is very sticky, gently shape each piece into a ball and place on the baking sheet.  Mist the dough with oil or cooking spray and then cover with plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge for at least one day or up to three days.

Remove the dough 2 hours before you plan on baking.  Before letting the dough rest at room temperature, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil.  Place the dough ball on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour.  Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick.  Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap.  Now let rest for two hours.

At least 45 minutes before baking the pizza, place a baking stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven as hot as possible (500-550 degrees in most ovens).  If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

With your hand or a rolling pin, shape one of the portioned dough pieces to the desired size and thickness.  Place on a cornmeal dusted pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet.  Top with desired toppings (less is more) and slide the pizza onto the baking stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door.  Bake until crust is lightly golden and cheese is melted and bubbly.

*After my dough has rested at room temperature, it is too soft to shape with my hands.  To shape my pizza dough, I carefully (or as careful as I can be) move a piece of dough to the back of a flour/cornmeal dusted baking sheet and stretch and shape the dough with my fingers while it is on the baking sheet.  I do use a baking stone and I very quickly slide my pizza from my make shift pizza peel (an upside down baking sheet) to the pizza stone. 

Slightly shortened from 101 Cookbooks

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yeasted Buckwheat Waffles

So the story begins last night when I decided that I wanted to make these waffles for our Saturday morning breakfast.  This recipe is a spin on my all-time favorite waffle recipe and I happened to have buckwheat flour in my freezer that was ready to be used.  Todd was watching The Big Break (a golf reality show) and so I got busy making my waffle batter.  Everything was going fine and dandy until I got the buckwheat flour out of my freezer and added it to the wet ingredients.  As I was mixing it up, it didn't look right or smell right.  Oh great, errrrrr!  I added vital wheat gluten not buckwheat flour, gross!  I was so mad!  I really hate wasted ingredients, but was so glad I realized it then and not in the morning when I was hungry and ready to eat waffles.  I'm pretty sure they would have been not so delicious tasting.  Round two of waffle batter making when smooth and this morning for breakfast my family ate crisp, light yeast waffles with buckwheat flour not wheat gluten (thank goodness)!


Yeasted Buckwheat Waffles
This recipe works best with a standard waffle maker (not Belgian)

1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 c. butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl.  (The batter will rise to double its volume, so keep that in mind when you choose the bowl.)  Sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flours, and beat until well blended and smooth.  (Electric beaters work well.)  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it stand overnight at room temperature. 

Before cooking the waffles, preheat waffle maker.

Just before cooking the waffles, add the eggs and baking soda, and stir to mix well.  The batter will be very thin.  Pour the batter into hot waffle maker and cook until golden and crisp.  Serve with maple syrup.  Delicious!

Recipe from Orangette

Friday, May 25, 2012

Baked Chicken Taquitos

This past January my little Stells had surgery on her left foot.  The night before her surgery, I made a meal that I knew she would eat and like.  We had baked chicken taquitos, black beans, and Brazilian lemonade and everyone had happy mouths.  

Baked Chicken Taquitos

1/3 cup (3 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup green salsa
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons sliced green onions

2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese

Small flour tortillas (I like fajita size)
Kosher salt
Cooking spray

Heat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Combine cream cheese, green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic.  Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions.  Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

You can prepare up to this step ahead of time.  Just keep the mixture in the fridge.

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. 

Place 2-3 tablespoons of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edge.  Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet.  Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other.  Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.  Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.  Yum!

*I didn't have pepper jack cheese and so I added 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper to the cream cheese mixture and used Colby jack cheese.

Recipe from Our Best Bites

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos

These tacos have become a fast favorite for dinner (I've made them twice in the last week)!

Blackened Tilapia Baja Tacos

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 corn tortillas
Avocado, thinly sliced
4 lime wedges

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeno in a food processor; process until smooth.  Taste and season with salt if needed.

Combine diced onion and cilantro in a small bowl.

Combine paprika and next 6 ingredients (through ground red pepper); sprinkle evenly over fish.  Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Warm tortillas.  Divide fish, sliced avocado, cilantro-lime cream, and onion mixture evenly among tortilla.  Serve with lime wedges.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Swiss Chard Pesto

I had never used swiss chard before so I was a little hesitant to try this recipe.  I do love sweet potatoes and black beans and so I gave it a try.  To be safe, I made them on a night Noah wasn't going to be home for dinner.  The brightness of the pesto and the creaminess of the beans and spiced sweet potatoes worked really well together and there was no complaining from the little ones.  (I did hide their swiss chard pesto under their beans.)

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Swiss Chard Pesto

Swiss Chard Pesto

1 bunch swiss chard, coarsely chopped
1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pepitas, toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place swiss chard, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, pepitas, and lime juice in the bowl of a food processor.  Start pulsing.  With the food processor running, pour the oil into the processor in a thin stream until you have pesto.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into medium dice
1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans
1 tablespoon cumin, divided
1 tablespoon chili powder, divided
2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Corn tortillas, warmed
1 avocado, diced
1/3 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Cilantro and lime to garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss the sweet potatoes in the oil, 2 teaspoons cumin and 2 teaspoons chili powder.  Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 30-40 minutes.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon chili powder and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the beans and cook until warm. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Layer 2 tortillas, black beans, sweet potatoes and a spoonful of swiss chard pesto.  Top with diced avocado, queso fresco, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.

*I forgot to put avocados on the taco before I took the picture, but not before I ate the taco :).

*Adapted from Bev Cooks and Closet Cooking

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dinner at 8

Life has been very busy!  Tonight when my little family sat down for dinner is was almost 8 o'clock.  My intentions of taking a picture of our meal were quickly thrown out the window, we were all starving!  So tonight, instead of sharing a recipe, I am sharing a picture of our dinner table after we have filled our bellies with the meal that brought us together, even if it was almost 8.

Starting clockwise:

Noah's plate:  Besides Stella, Noah eats the smallest amount of dinner and is the pickiest of my 3 little ones.  By the side of his orange cup there are orange peels that he has made into a face.

In between Noah and Todd's plate is a gallon of milk.  We go through roughly a gallon a day.  Crazy!

Todd's plate:  Todd's plate is pretty well cleaned off except for some traces of our dinner and you can see his napkin is to the right of his plate and barely touched.

Stella's plate:  Stella did a good job eating tonight except for the minor choking on a chip incident because she doesn't chew very well before trying to swallow.  You can also see a pickled jalapeno to the right of her plate, she wanted one and then after a little taste, decided that she couldn't eat it, let alone leave it on her plate.

In between my plate and Stella's plate is Stella's orange cup that is too close to the edge waiting to be spilled.  The closer to the edge the better!

My plate:  You can see that I finished my dinner (I'm good at that) and what you can't see (except the one sticking out of the side of my plate) is that I use A LOT of napkins while I am eating.  My excessive use of napkins is one of the reasons that I seriously cannot understand how Todd's napkin looks hardly used.

Preston's plate:  Preston is a great eater, but not a great stay-in-your seat eater.  In this picture you can see all of our chairs except Preston's and Stella's.  You can't see Stella's because I am standing on it.  You can't see Preston's because it's pushed away from the table because he gets in and out of his seat so many times during dinner, I can't even count!

I love dinner time (it can be a bit chaotic and crazy) and I love a yummy meal, but what I love the most is that a meal can bring my little family together when the rest of day is pulling each of us in all different directions.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This sandwich is mouthwatering deliciousness (really, the smell of the coleslaw makes my mouth start to water)!  My sister Stephanie made this sandwich for me for the first time (thanks Steph!) and I've made it a dozen times since. 

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

4-7 pound Pork shoulder
Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the pork shoulder.  Place pork in a roasting pan or Dutch oven.  Cover tightly with foil or a lid and roast pork at 300 degrees F for several hours, turning once every hour (I totally didn't do this).  When it is fork tender (I let mine go about 7 hours to make sure it was fork tender).  Remove pork from pot and shred with two forks. 

Brioche burger buns spilt; buttered and toasted (this is a must!)
Dead Simple Slaw (recipe follows)
Big Al's K.C. Bar-B-Q sauce (recipe follows)

Dead Simple Slaw

2 1/2 pounds green cabbage, cored and cut into 3-inch chunks, then finely chopped or shredded (I use the 16-ounce bag of pre-shredded cabbage)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar

Toss all vegetables in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar, then toss with the slaw.  Chill, covered, stirring occasionally, at least 1 hour (for vegetables to wilt and flavors to blend).

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Big Al's K.C. Bar-B-Q Sauce

2 cups ketchup
2 cups tomato sauce
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
4 teaspoons hickory-flavored liquid smoke (I use mesquite)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I use 1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke and butter.  Season with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to low, and simmer for up to 20 minutes.  For thicker sauce, simmer longer and for thinner, less time is needed. 

*This is my favorite barbeque sauce

Recipe is from Allrecipes

Assemble sandwich:  Take buttered, toasted bun and place shredded pork on bottom half.  Top with barbeque sauce and lots of yummy coleslaw.  Top with top half of bun and eat (it will be deliciously messy).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't usually make a cookie or any dessert for that matter that calls for whole wheat flour.  If I'm going to eat a cookie it may as well be filled with sugar, butter and white flour, but I took a chance on these cookies and they were a hit.  They taste especially delicious warm out of the oven when the chocolate chips are melty, chocolatey goodness!  They made the perfect afterschool snack (or treat, but hey they're made with whole wheat flour, healthy right??)!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (original recipe calls for regular whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the sugars and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream together on the lowest speed for 2 minutes or until well combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla and blend together.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, beating until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer, pour in the chocolate chips and stir together with a spatula.

Drop large dollops of dough (about 3 tablespoons) onto a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake cookies 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans half way through.  Allow to cool slightly.

*I LOVE dark chocolate and will always choose it in a cookie, but for some reason I really like milk chocolate chips with these cookies.

Recipe adapted slightly from Orangette

I don't usually make a cookie or any dessert for that matter that calls for whole wheat flour.  If I'm going to eat a cookie it may as well be filled with sugar, butter and white flour, but I took a chance on these cookies and they were a hit.  They taste especially delicious warm out of the oven when the chocolate chips are little bits of chocolatey goodness!  They made the perfect afterschool snack (or treat, but hey they're made with whole wheat flour, healthy right??)!