Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Brown Rice Squares

Sometimes thoughts of what my life will be like when all three of my kiddies have grown and no longer live in our home pop into my head.  I don't really like those thoughts.  They make me heart sad and I'm guaranteed a tear or two rolling down my cheek. 

Don't get me wrong, we have our moments when all five of us are driving each other nuts, moments when someone isn't as kind as they should be, and moments when I want to walk up to my room, close my door, and go to bed and it's only nine in the morning.  But, when my three kiddies grow up to be big humans and have lives and families of their own, I will remember and miss all the small things that made up our everyday lives. 

I will miss making breakfast for them in the morning.  I will miss being asked to "come cover me up."  I will miss kissing hands before school.  I will miss family dinners every night (however crazy they may be).  I will miss hearing "Mom" a hundred times a day.  I will miss "sleep loose" and "sweet dreams".  I will miss hearing about their day, their friends, what they did at recess, and I will miss our afterschool snacks.  (Stella told me after she moves out she'll still come over for a snack in the afternoon.)

I know when we get to that point in our lives, each of us will figure out a new normal, but until then, here's to many more afterschool snacks!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Brown Rice Squares

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened peanut butter
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
6 cups crispy brown rice cereal
1 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, divided

Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.  In a saucepan, combine the butter, honey, brown rice syrup, and peanut butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed and combined.

In a very large bowl, combine the sesame seeds, crispy rice cereal, peanuts, and salt.  Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and fold until the peanut butter mixture evenly coats the dry ingredients.  Let cool for a couple of minutes and add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the peanut butter/cereal mixture and stir to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and using the back of a spatula or a bench scraper, press to create a nice, even layer.  Sprinkle the remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips on top (I like to give my chocolate chips a rough chop before I sprinkle them on top) and press again down again with the back of spatula or a bench scraper.

Refrigerate of at least 1 hour before cutting into squares in the pan.  Cover and store at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.  (We like to keep ours in the freezer.)

Recipe slightly adapted from Whole Grain Mornings

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spicy Peanut Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

My mouth instantly started to water as this stew began to rumble on my stovetop.  Smells of garlic, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon filled my house and I could hardly wait for dinner (I made it early in the day and had to fight the urge not to eat it for lunch).  There is something about a big pot of stew that speaks to the comfort food girl inside of me.  (It also speaks to leftover girl inside me...I love good leftovers for lunch and this makes really, really great leftovers.)

Spicy Peanut Stew with Butternut Squash and Chickpeas

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
4 cups vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks (about 1 pound 4 ounces of cubed squash)
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup spicy peanuts, roughly chopped (recipe follows)

To Serve

Grain of choice
Finely chopped kale or roughly chopped baby spinach
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Spicy Peanuts

Add the oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat.  Heat oil until it just starts to sizzle then add the chopped onions and sauté until transparent; about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic, Serrano pepper, and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Next, add the cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon and stir until everything is combined and the spices are fragrant.

Add the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, peanut butter, and vegetable stock to the pot and stir to combine.  Stir in the squash, chickpeas, and chopped spicy peanuts.  Bring the stew to a low rumble and reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

Serve the stew in bowls and top with a scoop of your favorite grain, finely chopped kale (or spinach), sliced cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and spicy peanuts.

*I actually like to put my greens in the bowl first and pour the hot stew over the top.  This helps soften the greens especially if you’re using kale.

Spicy Peanuts

1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
A generous pinch of fine sea salt
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts

In a small bowl, stir together the oil and spices.  Add peanuts to the bowl and toss to evenly coat.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat; add peanuts and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the peanuts are hot and just barely toasted.  Remove from skillet and let cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from Oh, Ladycakes 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hot Chocolate and Cacao Nib Whipped Cream

The temperature outside is quickly dropping and winter is just around the corner.  Yesterday was cookie day and it was a balmy 34° while I was selling.  My fingers were near frozen, practically icicles.  It also snowed this past week and our grass held on to the first dusting of snow (at least for a few hours) which sent me in full hot chocolate mode.  Every year around this time I break out my white hot chocolate mug and enjoy a really hot (like almost burn your tongue hot) cup of hot chocolate after my kiddies are tucked in bed.  I love it so much (especially with the new addition).

So what's this new addition?  I'm so excited to tell you.  Yesterday while eating lunch I was listening to a podcast where the subject was cacao nibs.  Just a few weeks ago I purchased three packages of cacao nibs from Amazon (have I mentioned that I really love Amazon) and those nibs were calling out from my pantry to be used.  During the podcast they mentioned a cacao nib infused whipped cream and a cacao nib sable cookie and within moments I had cream and cacao nibs in a small saucepan heating on my stove and some butter, sugar and eggs mixing in my kitchen aid.  Sometimes I can't help myself and I get impatient and need to make something the moment I hear about it.  Well I'm very happy to say that this cacao nib infused whipped cream has made my cup of hot chocolate even more dreamy and delicious.  Often when reading (or in this case listening) about a recipe I become impatient and have to make the recipe right then.  My impatience paid off this time (being impatient doesn't usually fare so well).  I love that the cream is unsweetened and has bitter undertones, it really is the perfect partner for my cup of hot chocolate.

Cacao Nib Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup roasted cacao nibs

Place heavy cream and cacao nibs in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let steep for 30-40 minutes.  Set a strainer over a bowl and pour cream/cacao nib mixture through the strainer, pressing on the solids to extract the liquid.  Discard the cacao nibs.  Chill the cream for several hours or until very cold.  Just before serving, whip the cream to your desired consistency.  Serve on top of your favorite hot chocolate (this is mine) along with a sprinkle of cacao nibs.  Perfect!

Recipe adapted from SCHARFFEN BERGER

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Homemade Olive Oil Bread

As the bread baking in the oven fills my house with smells of deliciousness, my insides get all tight inside and my mouth begins to water as I wait not-so-patiently for the bread to finish baking.  Homemade bread is something special and maybe doesn't grace our dinner table as often as it should (or maybe as often as I'd like).

This recipe for homemade olive oil bread is changing that because it's really quite simple to make.  No mixer needed, just a big bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon.  It all comes together rather quickly, but does require some hang out time on the counter to rise, but with a little planning ahead, you can have a perfectly delicious loaf of warm bread ready by dinner time. 

So pull out a big bowl and a wooden spoon and go to work, you’ll be happy you did.

Homemade Olive Oil Bread

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, honey, and water.  Stir to combine and let rest for 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to foam.  Add the olive oil, flour, and salt and stir to combine into a shaggy ball.  Place shaggy dough ball on a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute until dough is smooth and a round ball forms.

Brush a little olive oil inside the empty mixing bowl and place dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, place dough on a lightly floured surface and press dough into a rectangle.  Fold in both sides like you are folding a business letter.  Press gently into a rectangle again and fold again as you would a business letter and then tuck sides under, forming dough into a ball.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and allow to rise again for 30 minutes, lightly draped with plastic wrap to cover.  Just before baking, sprinkle with flake salt.

Bake for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Remove bread from oven and brush loaf of bread with additional olive oil if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from Live.Love.Lux

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sauteed Chard, Apple, and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese

I really love a great grilled cheese sandwich and I love this one so much that I ate it for lunch and dinner on the same day.  I don't have much to say other than that there is just something about toasted bread sandwiching oozy melted cheese that shouts comfort foods from the roof tops and this one may be one of my very favorites!

Sautéed Chard, Apple, and White Cheddar Grilled Cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
4 leaves of Swiss chard, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh grated white cheddar
1/4 cup fresh grated mozzarella
1 heaping tablespoon finely minced red onion
4, 1/2" slices whole grain bread
1/2 apple (honey crisp, pink lady, braeburn), thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon good quality mayonnaise
1 tablespoon butter, softened
Kosher salt

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in sauté pan.  Once hot, add thinly sliced chard to pan along with a pinch of kosher salt.  Keep the chard moving to release pockets of steam to help let the moisture out so that the chard doesn't become soggy in the sandwich.  Cook chard until just wilted and tender.  Remove chard from pan and set aside.

While preparing the sandwiches, preheat your cast iron or grill pan over medium heat with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil.

Combine both cheeses and the finely minced red onion.

On one side of each slice of bread, spread a layer of both the mustard and mayonnaise and spread to edge of each slice.  Layer three to four slice of apple on top of two pieces of bread.  Divide the shredded cheese on top of the apple slices in an even layer.  Divide the sautéed chard on top of the cheese and top with remaining slices of bread.  Lastly, spread a thin layer of butter on the outside of both sides of each sandwich and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt.

Add sandwiches to cast iron or grill pan and cook until golden on both sides and cheese is melted through.

Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Roasted Chunky Applesauce

A couple of days ago I went to get some apples from Allred Orchard's and they happened to have a big box of Honey Crisp apples that were "seconds" for nine dollars (a total steal).  The apples were all different sizes, slightly lopsided, and had a few minor bumps and bruises, but were no less delicious than my eight dollar bag of pretty ones that I bought the week before.

So needless to say that with a fridge full of apples, I've got apples on the brain.  This morning I made a batch of roasted chunky applesauce that had me dancing around the kitchen and getting all tight inside.  My house smelled amazing!  I think Preston and Stella thought I was crazy, but with all these apples, their endless eating possibilities, and the feeling of fall in the air, I couldn't contain my excitement (or another spoonful of applesauce).

Roasted Chunky Applesauce

3 1/2 pounds crisp eating apples (I used Honey Crisp)
Pinch of kosher salt
1-2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel, core, and quarter the apples.  Put them in an ungreased 9x13 baking dish (it should be large enough to hold them in a crowded single layer).  Toss the apples with 1 teaspoon of sugar (or 2 teaspoons if the apples are very tart), and a good pinch of kosher salt. 

Dot the apples with butter and cover baking dish tightly with foil.  Bake until the apples start to soften, about 20-30 minutes. 

Remove the foil; raise the heat to 500° F.  Bake the apples for 10-15 minutes, or until the tips of the apples are golden and the fruit is tender.  Remove from the oven, and coarsely mash the apples with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.  Taste and season applesauce with additional salt and/or sugar if necessary.  A splash of apple cider vinegar could be used to brighten the flavor.

Recipe adapted from Orangette

Monday, October 5, 2015

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

I love the fall so much!  It really is my most favorite time of the year (it may have something to do with my birthday falling right in the middle of October and I really love my birthday). 

As the weather begins to cool, it's the pots of bubbling soups and curries, loaves of warm pumpkin bread with melty chocolate chips, the changing leaves, cozy sweaters, boxes of honey crisp apples from Allred's, and of course these doughnuts (and my birthday) that make me get all tight inside when this time of year rolls around. 

I made these for the first time last year after going to a pumpkin patch that boasted of their amazing apple cider doughnuts only to find out that they were sold out when we got there.  I was seriously so disappointed (for a few days) until Melissa from The Faux Martha posted a recipe for these delightful baked apple cider doughnuts just a week later making all my apple cider doughnut woes disappear.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Yield:  10 doughnuts

3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 large egg


3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400° F. 

In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Stir in cider and set aside to cool.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

To the cooled butter mixture, whisk in sugar, honey, and egg until evenly combined. 

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Take care not to over mix as that will create a tough doughnut.

Spray 2 doughnut pans.  Add batter to a piping bag (I used a gallon size Ziploc bag and cut about a 1/4-inch off one of the bottom corners) and pipe evenly into the pans. 

Bake for 7 minutes.  While the doughnuts are baking, melt butter for the topping and stir in cider.  In a flat-bottomed bowl, mix together cinnamon, sugar, and salt.

After removing doughnuts from the oven, allow to cool for 1 minute before removing doughnuts onto cooling rack.

Quickly dip each doughnut in the butter/cider mixture and lightly coat in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Place back on cooking rack.  Best served slightly warm.

Recipe barely adapted from The Faux Martha

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mediterranean Pizza

Preston is my 11 year old and he's a really great eater.  This past summer we were in Carlsbad, CA for our beach trip and we went to Jay's restaurant on our last night.  It's a tiny little Italian/seafood place right on the corner of Carlsbad Boulevard.  All of the kids (my three plus Isaac and Anna)usually share giant plates of fettuccine alfredo, but Preston wanted to try something that he hadn't had before.  He asked me to show him a few things on the menu that I would order.  He chose the salmon with a white wine garlic sauce and ended up loving it.  He ate all of it except for the few bites that I snuck off his plate (It was the best salmon that I've ever had).

I love that he's adventurous and willing to have an open mind to new tastes and flavors.  There are only a few things that come to my mind that I know he will absolutely not eat (sautéed or caramelized onions and any sort of cooked mushroom).  He has a couple others that he avoids eating like hamburgers and take-out pizza.  I think if you were to ask a classroom full of elementary age kids, most would say that their favorite foods are hamburgers and pizza?  I understand the onions and mushroom thing because it's a texture thing, and hamburgers I get because of a stomach bug he had that coincided with eating a hamburger, but pizza?  The one interesting thing (and very good thing) about the pizza is that he doesn't like take-out pizza, but will happily eat homemade pizza any day of the week.

This recipe is sort of one you alter to your own taste.  You can make some of the toppings from scratch or just use your favorite store bought ingredients.

Mediterranean Pizza

1 recipe for flatbread pizza (recipe found here) or 2 8-ounce balls of your favorite pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup pesto (I used this recipe because I had basil coming out of my ears)
1/4-1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
1/4 cup oil packed sundried tomatoes, sliced (I used Tara O' Brady's soused tomatoes)
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup roasted peppers, sliced (how to make your own found here)
1/4-1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted

Place you pizza stone on the center rack of your oven.  One hour before you bake your pizza, preheat the oven to the highest temperature.  If you don't have a pizza stone, you can bake you pizza on an upside down baking sheet, but don't preheat the baking sheet.

Place a piece of parchment paper on an upside down baking sheet.  Lightly flour your work surface and roll out dough until paper thin.  Aim for a circle, rectangle of whatever shape you manage to roll it out to be.  Move the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush the dough with olive oil.  Sprinkle garlic, a good pinch of kosher salt, and black pepper over the olive oil.  Evenly spread 2-3 tablespoons of pesto on the dough (use more or less as needed).  Distribute the mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, and feta on top.  Take care not to over load the pizza.

Take hold of one corner of the parchment paper and gently pull the parchment paper and pizza onto the pizza stone.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden brown.  When down, remove from oven and sprinkle with toasted pinenuts.  Serve. 

Repeat with the remaining dough.

*Pitted and sliced kalamata olives could be used in place or in addition to the artichoke hearts (I'm not an olive fan so I went with the artichoke hearts)

Recipe slightly adapted from Use Real Butter

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fried Avocado Tacos with a Chile Lime Cream

We ate these tacos twice this past week.  I had enough ingredients for two batches which ended up being a really good excuse to eat them twice because they were really good, like amazing good.  My mouth is watering as we speak.  Would three times be too many?

There were no complaints around the dinner table, except for Stella who has a dislike/hate for corn tortillas.  She chose to eat the fried avocado by itself, but other than that we had a bunch of happy mouths.

So go right ahead and make these soon because when you put together the fried avocado with the super crunchy outside and the creamy middle, the chile lime cream that adds heat and brightness, the slaw with its crunch, and the tang and creaminess from the feta, all wrapped up in a corn tortilla, it will be like an explosion of flavors and textures in your mouth that will not disappoint. 

Fried Avocados Tacos

Fried avocados
Corn tortillas, lightly fried or grilled
Chile lime cream
Cabbage slaw
Feta cheese, crumbled

Fried Avocados

Canola oil for frying

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 firm-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
Fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Fill a large heavy skillet (I used my 10-inch cast-iron pan) with 1 1/2 inches of oil.  Set on high heat and bring oil to 375° F on a deep-fry thermometer.

Mix together the flour with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a pie plate or shallow bowl.  Put the beaten eggs and panko bread crumbs in separate pie plates.

Sprinkle the avocado slices with remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Dredge each avocado slice in flour, shaking off excess.  Dip in egg follow by the panko bread crumbs.  Make sure to coat the entire avocado slice.  Place on a foil lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining avocado slices

Fry four or five slices of the coated avocado slices at a time until a deep golden brown all over, 30 to 60 seconds.  Transfer to a baking pan lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with a little fine grain sea salt.

Keep warm in oven while cooking the remaining avocados.

Chile Lime Cream

1 poblano chile
Small bunch of cilantro leaves
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup sour cream
Juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt

Char the poblano over a gas flame, under the broiler, or on the grill, turning regularly until blackened on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Once the pepper has cooled, about 20 minutes, stem, peel, seed, and chop the chile.  Add chile to a food processor with the cilantro, and feta cheese.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Scape down the sides and add the sour cream, lime juice, and a good pinch of kosher salt and blend again.  Taste and season with salt if necessary.  Cover and refrigerate.

Cabbage Slaw

1/2 red cabbage, finely sliced or shredded
Small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and minced
A drizzle of olive oil
Fresh lime juice
Kosher salt

To a medium bowl add cabbage, cilantro, and jalapeño.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and a few squeezes of lime juice (a couple tablespoons of each), really just enough to lightly coat the cabbage mixture and add some brightness and acid.  Season with a good pinch of kosher salt.  Toss together.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:

Grill or lightly fry corn tortillas.  Add a good smear of the chile lime cream down the center of the tortilla.  Top with fried avocado, slaw, crumbled feta, and a good squeeze of lime juice. Eat!

The Chile Lime Cream is adapted from Tara O' Brady's Seven Spoons cookbook

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jars and Roasted Pasilla Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce

I LOVE glass jars.  We drink and eat from them and they fill our refrigerator shelves.  

On any regular day you can find jars filled with yogurt, hot fudge, jams, toasted walnut sesame butter (because it's my very favorite smeared on toast with bananas, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of Maldon salt), caramel sauces (usually a couple different kinds), pickled jalapenos and peppers, mustard bbq sauce (because it's perfect on a hot dog), chocolate syrup (for chocolate milk with ice of course), and currently there are two jars (soon to be one) of the crazy delicious, I'm addicted to, sauce from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon cookbook. 

Her roasted pasilla and goat cheese sauce is lick the spoon amazing!  I first need to tell you that I struggle a bit when it comes to stronger cheeses and as much as I want to and try (I really, really try) to like them, I have a hard time getting my palate (and nose) to agree with them. 

I was a little hesitant to try this recipe because of the goat cheese, but I went for it and now there's no turning back.  It far exceeded my expectations and I should have known to trust Sara because her recipes never fail me and always leave my mouth and belly feeling very happy. So hip hip hooray for jars of roasted pasilla pepper and goat cheese sauce!
(The sauce is tucked under the avocado and makes these eggs over the top good!)
Roasted Pasilla Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce
1/2 small red onion, peeled
2 pasilla peppers (see note)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
4 ounce soft goat cheese
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Preheat the broiler.  Rub the peppers and onion with drizzle of olive oil.  Place them on a baking sheet and broil them for 12 to 15 minutes until charred and collapsed.  Let cool, then rub off the skin off the peppers and remove the stems and seeds.

In a food processor, combine the onion and pasillas, the remaining olive oil, the pepitas, goat cheese, honey, chili powder, cayenne, lemon juice, and vinegar and process until combined.  Add the water, cilantro, salt, and pepper, and pulse again.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Place sauce in a jar and store in the refrigerator. 

*Grocery stores often mark a poblano pepper as a pasilla pepper so technically I'm not sure which one I used.

*If you prefer a looser sauce, add 2 additional tablespoons of water.

*For my eggs, I scramble three eggs over medium heat with a little salt.  When the eggs are half way cooked, I add one torn up corn tortilla to the pan and scramble it with the eggs until the eggs are steaming and just set.  Slide the eggs on to a plate and top with sauce, sliced avocado, crumbled goat or queso fresco cheese, and cilantro.  Simple and perfect.

Recipe ever so barely adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Creme Brulee Frozen Custard

Yesterday was officially the last day of summer and as it comes to an end and the cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and pots of soup take the place of bare feet, warm summer nights, and ice cream, I couldn't help myself and had to post one last recipe for the ice cream we ate on our last Sunday of our 12 week run of "Smithson's Ice Cream Sundays".

We all had our favorites (although it was a bit hard to choose)....

Mine-Sour Cream Cherry
Todd's-Peanut Butter
Stella's-Peanut Butter

I decided that to end this sweet ride we needed to go out with a bang.  I decided to make a crème brulee frozen custard and when an ice cream recipe calls for 12 egg yolks in the custard base and then is finished with coarse sugar sprinkled on top of the frozen ice cream and then torched until crisp, crackly and borderline burnt, it's going to be really, really great and really, really creamy...and it was. (We kept trying to sprinkle more sugar on top to torch partly because using the torch was quite fun and partly because the crackly sugar topping was so dang good!)

Crème Brulee Frozen Custard
12 egg yolks
1 cup superfine sugar, divided (see note)
1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 cup cold whole milk
1/2 -3/4 cup turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
In a saucepan combine, cream, whole milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla seeds and pod.  Place over medium-low heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved.
In a mixing bowl whisk together egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.  Whisk until light and fluffy.
Once cream mixture is steaming (not boiling), add 1 cup to yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the egg mixture from scrambling.
Add tempered yolk mixture to saucepan and whisk together.  Cook over medium-low heat stirring constantly with a rubber spatula until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Stain custard through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl.  Allow mixture to sit until room temperature.  Cover custard and chill in the refrigerator overnight.  Freeze according to your manufacturer’s instructions.
Scoop custard into small wide mouth jars (I used these) and place in freezer until fully frozen, 3 to 5 hours.
Top custard with a full layer of raw sugar (about 1 to 2 tablespoons).  Carefully brulee the top of each custard with a kitchen torch and serve immediately.
*To make superfine sugar at home add 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons of sugar to the bowl of a food processor and process until sugar feels like fine sand (1 to 2 minutes).
*Next time I make this I will try Ashley Rodriguez's crème brulee topping method (found here) for an extra crunchy lid on the frozen custard. 
Recipe slightly adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dinner Time and a Mango Brown Rice Salad with Coconut-Ginger Dressing

Eating dinner together as a family has always been important to me.  I grew up in a family where eating dinner together most nights of the week was just something we did.  Dinner was at six and a moment of each day where we all gathered together to share a meal (albeit a crazy meal).  Believe me when I say it wasn't a picture perfect meal of a family gathered around a table laughing and enjoying each other's company.  And while we did enjoy each other (for the most part) and there was laughing (mixed with some occasional arguing and a possible tear or two), it was also loud (I'm the oldest of nine), hectic, and left a lot of dishes to be done.  But despite all its craziness, it instilled in me the importance of gathering those you love around the table.

There are few nights that my little family doesn't gather around our black round table to share a meal.  Preston sits to my left and Noah to Preston's left.  Todd sits to my right and Stella is sandwiched right between us.

Often the time together at our table is a little on the crazy side.  It seems I'm constantly up and down, up and down, getting something for someone.  Preston cannot seem to stay in his seat....ever.  Most of the time he's standing or hanging half way off his chair and it drives me crazy!  We've actually tired belting him to his seat to keep him sitting down....it didn't work.  Noah has a tendency to belch at some point during the meal (even though he's threatened with getting no treat after dinner if he does), and if we can get Stella to finish her meal in a timely manner it would be a miracle.  But, in between all of the craziness, the time we spend together at the end of the day gathered around our table is priceless to me.

As my kiddies grow I hope that each of them will remember the moments, memories, and craziness around our table and that someday they will gather their own little families around their kitchen tables to create memories of their own and to feed one another and be fed.

Mango and Brown Rice with Coconut-Ginger Dressing
2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
2 cups cooked black or red beans
1 ripe avocado thinly sliced
1 ripe mango, diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped + extra for garnish
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds, swirling the rice around with your fingers. Combine rice with 3 cups water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring water to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes or until the rice is tender.  Transfer rice to a fine mesh strainer and run cold water over it until cool.  Place strainer over bowl to drain at least 10 minutes.
In a medium bowl combine mango, red onion, and cilantro.  Toss lightly to combine.
In a small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Place rice in bowl and top with beans, toasted coconut flakes, mango, avocado, and extra cilantro.  Pour dressing over salad (you may not use all of it).  Serve.
*I cooked my rice in a pressure cooker because it seems to be the most consistent and quick way for me to cook brown rice.  For this recipe I combined 2 cups brown basmati rice with 2 cups water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Close lid securely; bring to high pressure over high heat.  Adjust heat to medium-low or level needed to maintain a consistent rocking of pressure knob.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let pressure release through steam vent.  Remove lid and fluff with fork.
*Instead of doing one big salad, I let each person in our family make their own individual bowl.

Recipe slightly adapted from Foodess


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Peach Tart

A few weeks ago I eyed the bowl of garden tomatoes sitting on my counter and invited my mom over to eat soup for lunch.  My mom is an incredible woman.  She exemplifies goodness, faith, devotion, love, and so much more.  Someday I hope to be even a small fraction of who she is.  As we sat around my kitchen tables sharing bowls of roasted tomato soup, ribbons of zucchini covered in almond pesto, and slices of peach tart with generous dollops of whipped cream, a quote from Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist filled my mind. "What's becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God's presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table.  It's about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another's faces, listen to one another's stories.  It happens when we enter the joy and sorrow of people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it's not strictly about food, it doesn't happen without it."

That afternoon my heart and soul was filled as I sat talking, listening, laughing, getting teary eyed, and eating slices of peach tart with my mom.  I was reminded once again of God's goodness and the incredible gift it is to have such an amazing mama. 

Peach Tart

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
3 to 5 ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch wide)

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk, and almond extract.  Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to moisten;  do not over work the dough.

Transfer the dough to an 9-inch tart pan and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan, pushing it up the sides to meet the edge.  Trim and discard excess dough.

In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the butter.  Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly or until it resembles granules and tiny pebbles.

Starting on the outside, arrange the peaches overlapping in a concentric circle over the pastry; fill in the center in whatever pattern makes sense.  The peaches should fit snugly.  Sprinkle the pebbly sugar/butter mixture over the top (it will seem like a lot).  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until shiny and thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is slightly brown.  Tent with foil if tart begins to brown too quickly.  Cool on rack.  Serve warm or room temperature with generous dollops of whipped cream.

Recipe from Food 52 Amanda Hesser

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coffee Ice Cream

When I think back to my childhood I have a few ice cream memories that stand out in my mind. 

Every summer my family (including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) would spend a few weeks scattered throughout the summer at Bear Lake.  It was here that we would spend countless hours in our swimming suits, eat sugar cereal like Fruit Loops and Cap’n Crunch for breakfast, water ski, play UNO, dominos (someone was always trying to cheat), and king of the dock.  It was here that we would eat raspberries and cream from red plastic bowls, scones dusted with sugar and smeared with raspberry jam or honey, and of course the best ever ice cream.  I remember hearing the loud churning of the wooden base ice cream machine that sat outside the sliding glass door on the wood deck.  I remember feeling the excitement and anticipation of waiting for that cold, creamy treat.  It always seemed to take soooo long before the churning began to slow and the ice cream was finally finished, but it was always worth the wait.

The next memory is of the night my family moved into our then new house when I was 11 years old.  It was the middle of the summer and I remember my Dad taking me to Ripples, a little burger and shake dive that has been around for years and is considered a Provo landmark.  We didn't go for the burgers, but for their shakes.  It was the kind of shake that you have to eat with a spoon because it's so thick.  I don't remember what I had, but I remember that my Dad had a caramel and marshmallow shake.  He loves caramel in or on his ice cream and still does.

Lastly, I can't drive past a Baskin Robbins without thinking of my Dad and his love for their jamoca shakes.  He's passed this love on to most of his children.  I'll have to admit that those shakes are hard to beat.  Thick, but not so thick you can't drink it with a straw.  My sister Stephanie and her little family moved to California at the beginning of June and before they left we had a family dinner and then we all gathered at Baskin Robbins for one last ice cream hurrah.  Almost everyone ordered a jamoca shake.

This ice cream recipe from Tara O' Brady's Seven Spoons cookbook is a tribute to ice cream memories, a dad's love for caramel, and jamoca shakes for everyone. 

Coffee Ice Cream

1 (14-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Generous pinch of sea salt

Espresso caramel and candied cacao nibs (recipe follows)

Combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt in a saucepan set over medium heat.  Heat, whisking often, until the mixture begins to steam.  Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.  Cover and chill for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.  Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions.  Once churned place the ice cream in the freezer to completely set up, at least 6 hours or overnight.  Serve with a drizzle of espresso caramel and candied cacao nibs

Candied Cacao Nibs

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat, warm the sugar for a minute, without stirring.  Scatter the cacao nibs over the sugar and leave the pan undisturbed until the sugar begins to melt.  With a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, quickly stir the cacao nibs into the liquid sugar, incorporating any unmelted sugar as you go.  Once most of the sugar has coated the nibs, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the butter.  Immediately spread the cacao nibs onto the prepared baking sheet.  Let cool.

Espresso Caramel
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan heat the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat until the butter has melted.  Pour in the cream and espresso powder.  Bring to a boil, whisking until the mixture is smooth and sugar dissolves.  Lower heat and simmer, undisturbed for 1 minute longer.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.  Cover and refrigerate until needed, then rewarm gently before using.

Recipe slightly adapted from Seven Spoons