Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Raspberry Cream Biscuits

I use to make month long menu plans.  I think I actually liked making them more than following them.  I would often carry a black bag of printed recipes with me when I knew I would be going somewhere where I'd have a little time to glance through them.  In no time my empty month calendar would begin to fill in with the dinners we would be eating that month.  I laugh because even now, there are times when I go to my mom's house to let my kiddies play and I will tote a bag of recipes along with me (not so much to plan, but to read over and let my mouth water a bit). 

Fast forward a few years to today and my current struggle of making even a weekly menu.  Now, planning a weeks’ worth of dinners gives me a bit of anxiety.  Without fail, during the week I will spy something(s) new I want to try or our nightly dinner schedule changes and then my menu plan gets thrown a bit and that bugs me.  I seem to fly by the seat of my pants a bit more these days (which also has its major drawbacks, one being that I make more trips to the grocery store than should ever be allowed in one week).

So while I often am on the hunt for new recipes to try, I also have the tried and true favorites in my back pocket that are both familiar and loved by my little family (like these biscuits).

I first found the recipe for these cream biscuits on the blog Orangette.  They come together quickly (bowl and wooden spoon) and are tender and delicious.  I can't count how many times I've made them and my food spattered biscuit recipe that hangs right inside my kitchen cabinet door along with a few other favorites (Ashley Rodriguez's chocolate chip cookies, flatbread pizza dough, and our favorite whole wheat waffle recipe...just to name a few) proves it.  The original recipe doesn't call for raspberries and most often I make them without, but this morning my raspberry studded, sugar crusted biscuit tasted just perfect and will sure to be repeated over and over again.

Raspberry Cream Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4-1 1/2 cups raspberries
Turbinado or other coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.  Whisk together and then add then add the raspberries and gently stir.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and seeds from the vanilla bean.  Slowly add 1 1/4 cup cream, stirring gently as you pour in the cream.  Add the additional 1/4 cup cream if the dough feels shaggy and pieces are dry.

Dump the dough onto a work surface and shape into a 1/2 inch thick square.  (If you don't mind the raspberries breaking up a bit or if you aren't using raspberries, you could knead the dough briefly if necessary.  You don't want to overwork the dough.)

Cut into 9 squares (or 12 if you want smaller biscuits).  Place each biscuit on prepared baking sheet and brush generously with melted butter so that all sides of the biscuit are coated.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Serve hot.

Recipe adapted from Orangette

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Loaded Mexican Parsnip Fries

On Thursday I downloaded Food52's new (Not) Recipe app.  This app is being offered as a place to capture and celebrated "the casual, off-the-cuff, cooking that most people do every day."  In the Food52 article that introduces this new app, Amanda and Merrill (Co-Founders of Food52) talk about how "the great majority of the world's cooking doesn't involve recipes:  It's putting together dishes you know, with your own signature touches.

To be honest, I am definitely one who leans toward the recipe side of cooking.  It feels a bit safer to me.  I feel I'm less likely to waste ingredients and time making something from a recipe that comes from a food someone I trust.  I know there's a loss of creativity by doing it this way, but when it comes to creativity it's not my strongest quality.  I often make something once and then add my own touches the next time around (although some recipes are just too good to mess with).

Over the past few years as I've become more comfortable and confident in the kitchen, I've definitely become a bit better at "casual, off-the-cuff cooking", but I still have a long way to go.  I know it will take time and I'm willing to put in the effort to keep learning and growing in the kitchen.

The night I downloaded the app, Preston and I ate dinner together, just the two of us.  I had bought some parsnips the day before and with the (Not) Recipe app in mind I turned those parsnips into loaded Mexican oven fries that we ate on very tiny baking sheets.

So with a little more bravery under my belt and with a greater resolve to be more courageous in the kitchen, today I'm sharing a picture and a simple how-to for loaded Mexican parsnip fries.  Enjoy!

Loaded Mexican Parsnip Fries
Peel and cut parsnips into thin sticks and drizzle with avocado oil.  Dust parsnip fries with kosher salt, cumin, cayenne, coriander, dried oregano, and chili powder.  Toss to combine.  Bake at 450 until cooked through, golden brown, and crispy.  Top fries with warmed pinto beans, salsa, sour cream, avocado, cheese, radishes, cilantro, and a good squeeze of lime juice.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Healthier No-Bake Cookies

My kiddies love no-bake cookies!  They are an afterschool snack favorite. This recipe is awesome because it leans a bit more on the healthy side being that the cookies aren't loaded with refined sugar.  The one trouble with these little bites of chocolatey oatey goodness is that I am capable of consuming far more than would ever be considered "healthy".

Healthier No-Bake Cookies

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
1 cup rolled oats
Crushed peanuts
Flaky salt

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, and cocoa powder until everything is incorporated.  Next, add the vanilla and peanut butter and whisk until smooth.

Remove the mixture from the heat and using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the oats and salt.  Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, drop the mixture by the heaping tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten a bit.  Top each cookie with crushed peanuts and a dusting of flaky salt.  Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and chill 15-30 minutes before eating.  Store cookies in the refrigerator or freezer.

Recipe slightly adapted from Oh Ladycakes

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fiesta Kale Salad

I remember the first time I made this salad; my kiddies and I were clinging to the last few weeks of summer break.  My mom, myself, a couple of my sisters and their kiddies decided to head up American Fork canyon to beat the heat and let the kidlets play in the frigid river water.  Part way up the canyon, we picked a picnic area close to the river, set up, and tried to make our peace with the bugs and bees that also seemed interested in what we were having for lunch (and by making our peace I mean that we tried and tried to get rid of them, but our efforts were in vain).  After getting settled, we pulled out jars of strawberry lemonade (it was actually a mix of citrus because I ran out of lemons) and wrapped up the fiesta kale salad in pieces of whole wheat naan smeared with sour cream.

I remember my sister had brought her then new boyfriend (and now husband) along to meet the small portion of our family that was there.  I'm the oldest of nine and I'm guessing she wanted to ease him into the craziness and introduce him to us in small doses.  It was probably a good idea! ;) After we started eating, he made the comment that he didn't know something so healthy could taste so good.  I felt happy inside even if he was just saying it to be nice.

This salad involves a bit of chopping, but besides that it comes together quickly.  The addition of black beans and avocado make it completely satisfying and it doesn't leave you wanting say, a bag of chips when you're finished. :)

Fiesta Kale Salad

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed, stemmed, and shredded
1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), small dice
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, small dice
1 small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large avocado
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Sweet and spicy sunflower seeds (recipe below)
Juice of two limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Kosher salt to taste

Place shredded kale in a large salad bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and massage the leaves with your hands until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant.

To the kale add, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, cucumber, cilantro, and black beans.  Add the juice of limes, olive oil, and hot sauce, and a sprinkle of kosher salt.  Toss to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Top salad with avocado, feta cheese and a scatter of sunflower seeds.

*The dressing is forgiving.  I never measure.  I just squeeze some lime juice on the kale; give it a quick glug of olive oil, and a few good shakes of hot sauce. 

Sweet and Spicy Sunflower Seeds
3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds or pepitas
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast sunflower seeds until just fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the salt, cayenne, and brown sugar and toss them around until the sugar is hot enough to stick to the seeds, 8-10 minutes.  Place sunflower seeds on a piece of parchment paper and spread out in a single layer to cool.

Recipe slightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cocoa Crispy Crunch

After seeing a picture for cocoa crunch on Alexandra Cooks instagram account, it took only a few minutes before I had a pan in the oven.  I've made chocolate granola before and I really love it, but I love the addition of crispy rice in this recipe and also that it calls for no nuts.  I love nuts, but these two changes make it a bit lighter and easier (on the jaw) to eat (which may or may not be a good thing). ;)

I have two favorite ways to eat this chocolatey crunchy goodness and it depends on the time of day which way I choose.  If it's time for breakfast then I will scoop two rather large spoonful’s of yogurt into a bowl and top it with a great big handful of berries (sometimes sweetened with a little maple syrup depending on how much help they need in the sweetness department), and a handful (or two, or three) of cocoa crunch.  It kind of feels like I'm eating a treat for breakfast.

My second favorite way usually happens between 9-10 at night when I'm starting to feel a little hungry and probably should just go to bed.  The thing is...my need for a little something sweet at night always wins, always.  So I will get a mason jar and fill it with cocoa crunch and ice cold milk.  Next, I do a little chopping with my spoon to break up any big chunks.  The chopping also helps make the milk really cold because I usually add an ice cube or two to the jar.  I know this sounds weird and most people aren't on board with the ice in milk thing, but it makes the milk super cold, just the way I like it.  (Oh and just so you know, I've successfully managed to pass on the ice in milk thing on to everyone in my little family.)  Once the cocoa crunch is gone, I add a little more and a little more until the all the milk is gone and then I go to bed.

Cocoa Crispy Crunch

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups crispy brown rice
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) dark chocolate
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 275°F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, rice cereal, coconut, cocoa, and salt and stir to combine.

Heat the coconut oil and dark chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat until chocolate has just melted.  (You could also do this step in the microwave using a microwave safe bowl.  This is what I do.)  Stir chocolate and coconut oil to blend and add maple syrup to mixture.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour out cocoa crispy mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.  Cook for 35 minutes without stirring.  Remove from oven and let cool (once again no stirring).  Break into chunks and eat by the handful or break into small pieces and eat in a pint size mason jar with ice cold milk.

Recipe from Alexandra Cooks

Monday, March 14, 2016

Croque Monsieur with a Poached Egg

It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love cooking and love being in the kitchen.  But just like everyone else, I go through the occasional (maybe more than occasional) slump of, it's 5:30 and I have no idea what to make for dinner.  I remember one time in particular this slump seemed to be lasting longer than normal and I just wasn't feeling all that excited about food.  Around this time I happened to find my way onto the blog Alexandra Cooks

I remember my mouth watering as I scrolled through recipe after recipe.  I could feel my food excitement building and I quickly made my way back to the place I love...the kitchen.  That night I made Ali's croque monsieur with poached eggs and with the very first (very delicious) bite I was reminded of a quote by Alice Waters that hangs in one of my favorite restaurants.

"When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is."

Ali's croque monsieur with a poached egg was a simple meal made from simple ingredients, but tasted truly extraordinary.  


Croque Monsieur with a Poached Egg
(2 open faced sandwiches)

Great bread, cut into thick slices
Béchamel (recipe below)
2-4 slices good quality ham
Grated gruyere cheese
Fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
1 bay leaf

Poached eggs

2 eggs (I will usually cook an extra just in case one breaks)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Prepare pot for eggs.  Fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet with two to three inches of water and bring to a simmer.

Prepare the béchamel.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are soft, but have not begun to color, about 5-7 minutes.  Turn the heat to low and add the flour.  Stir to combine with the onion and butter.  Cook over low heat until the flour is absorbed, stirring constantly so that it doesn't brown, about 2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk.  Add the bay leaf. 

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The mixture should be thick, but if it's too thick and becoming difficult to stir, whisk in a bit more milk, 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time.  Remove bay leaf and discard.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Preheat heat broiler.  Place the slices of bread on a rack on a sheet pan and broil each side for about a minute or until golden brown.  Watch closely!  The bread can go from golden brown to burnt in seconds.  Remove pan from oven.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of béchamel over each slice of bread.  Top with 1 to 2 slices of ham.  Top with grated cheese.  Set aside.

For the poached egg.  Bring the water to 190 degrees F. Add the vinegar. Gently crack each egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Lower each cup into the water until it touches bottom and gently pour in the egg. Cook for 4 1/2 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain the temperature. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, 1 at a time, to a tea towel lined plate.

When the eggs have cooked for about 3 1/2 minutes, place croque monsieur under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbling and starting to get brown in spots.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Top each sandwich with a poached egg.  Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Recipe barely adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Oatmeal Souffle

I'm finally seeing the light after fighting congestion, a cough, and fever for nearly two weeks.  I haven't felt quite like myself.  Often I fall asleep at night thinking about what I want for breakfast the next morning, but with this bout of sickness there hasn't been a lot of food thinking and breakfast has consisted mostly of Rice Chex.  Nothing has really sounded all that great and pouring a bowl of cereal takes very little energy which is good because I seemed to be lacking in that department.  This past Friday I was feeling a bit better and with a little more energy under my belt I made an oatmeal soufflé for breakfast (mostly I did it because the Rice Chex were gone).  It sounds fancier and more difficult than it really is.  It actually comes together pretty quick and was a perfectly delicious start to my morning.  I halved the recipe with the intention of eating half the soufflé.  I sat at my kitchen counter eating the first half and then while I was talking on the phone with my sister the second half managed to disappear as well.  The next morning I made full recipe and was surprised that all of my kiddies LOVED it!  So here's to feeling better, an oatmeal soufflé, and happy eaters!

Oatmeal Soufflé

1 cup thick cut rolled oats
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Seeds of one vanilla bean
3 large eggs, separated
Zest of one lemon
2 cups mixed berries
Pure maple syrup
Hemps seeds, toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish.

In a large saucepan, combine the oats, milk, salt, sugar, and seeds of the vanilla bean.  Over medium heat bring the oat mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the oats are softened and the mixture begins to thicken.  Remove the pot from heat and let cool slightly.

Separate the eggs.  Once the oats have cooled a bit, working quickly, whisk in the egg yolks completely.  With a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites and lemon zest into the oat mixture until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Gently dot the top of the unbaked soufflé with a handful of berries and lightly push each berry down into the mixture a bit.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and brush the top of the soufflé with pure maple syrup.  When serving, top each serving with fresh berries, hemp seeds and/or sesame seeds, a splash of cream, and light drizzle of maple syrup.  The souffle is best when eaten soon after it comes out of the oven.

*I bought some thick cut oats, but they didn't really look that much thicker than my regular rolled oats.  It only took about 10 minutes for my thick cut/regular oats to soften.

Recipe lightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen