Monthly Archives: April 2017

Fried Brussel Sprouts & Piperade sauce

I wanted to give you all an update on my quest to like brussel sprouts! OK so that might not be the most exciting statement of the year, week or even day but I did come across another way that my husband will eat them.  My daughter and I actually do like them and would probably add them to my grocery shopping list a little more often if the faces and comments I get from my husband were a little less ummmm painful to see/hear.
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The other day my husband was at the grocery store with me; I’m not a fan of him going to the store with me; don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t end up spending me more money than I was thinking of spending. He’s like a little kid ooohh that looks yummy; and puts it in the cart. So I was grabbing the things that were on my list and yes there were brussel sprouts on it; he made a comment and a face and said several times that we really didn’t need them; such a child!
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My daughter had tried some fried brussel sprouts with a some red pepper sauce that she absolutely loved. Trying to recreate something we’ve had at a restaurant is kind of our thing. Sometimes it works and sometimes not so much. After making the sauce my first comment was; “where has this been all my life?” We all know the true test would be my husband. All I can say is my daughter and I both witnessed him finishing his plate AND reaching into the sprout bowl and grabbing a large one with his fingers and eating it.  YUP I win!!!!
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Piperade Sauce – definition below

Ingredients
3 plum tomatoes or use whatever you have on hand
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 red or green bell peppers (we used red because that is how Abbi had it)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot Paprika or Espelette

Brussel Sprouts
Oil for frying
Balsamic vinegar
salt

Directions
using a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat, add the oil until hot but before it starts to smoke. add onions, peppers and the salt. saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and pepper start to lighten in spots; about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.
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Add the tomatoes and the paprika, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook till the tomatoes are starting to breakdown and the peppers are soft; about 15  minutes.
removing the cover and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, you want to let it thicken a bit. It should be the consistency of a slightly runny relish.  Adjust the salt and enjoy!
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Brussel Sprouts
prepare your sprouts by trimming off the outer, dry leaves, cut the bottom off and slice lengthwise. Fry them in batches in about and inch or so of oil. Drain, salt and place them in a bowl with the piperade sauce, drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar, stir and serve.
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Not my favorite picture to share but it tasted delicious!

wikipedia definition of Piperade
Piperade
(Gascon and French) or Piperrada (Basque and Spanish), from piper (pepper in Gascon and in Basque) is a typical Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes sautéd and flavoured with red Espelette pepper.

 

 

Cannoli Dip

I have been sitting here for the last 2 hours trying to come up with an appetizer that I can bring to a party that we are attending tonight. Some of you might think since I have a weekly food blog that this wouldn’t be such a hard thing to figure out. It probably wouldn’t be had I not put so many; I guess I will call them restrictions; well that might be kind of a harsh word for it. It’s more like guidelines or parameters. Firstly because I do blog about food there is this expectation that what I bring is going to be simply delicious and it better not be store bought. I was also hoping that maybe it would be something worth blogging about.

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Here were my parameters.  I am not bringing a crockpot, It has to be able to be served at room temperature. It has to be pick up and go, It cannot be “messy” as in I wanted it to be self-contained; meaning no tail to throw away as in shrimp cocktail. No bones plate for wings you get the drift. I also wanted it to be on a plate or tray that I can leave and not care about if I never see it again; I have plenty of these from my parties. Oh and I also mentioned to my daughter, that just came down, that I am fairly certain that there will be plenty of chips, dips and salsas to go around so you can see my dilema!

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In talking it out with my daughter I confirmed that it would be “legal” to bring something sweet instead of a savory app. When I think of apps I think don’t usually think of sweets. The invites were through FB and the only thing I saw posted as what to bring was to bring an app. I figured if the 50+/- people all saw the same thing and think along the same lines as I do; most will be savory and only a small few might be sweet.

Well I have decided to make the biscotti I blogged about last week. I wanted to make it again anyway and I feel everyone needs to try it; it is amazing and what better way to share it than to bring it to a potluck party filled with mostly people I know and care about. Since I already blogged/bragged about them I needed to come up with a recipe to share with all of you so I am bringing back a simple but yummy and a crowd pleaser.  

Cannoli Dip

1 brick cream cheese softened
2 cups ricotta
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup + (some for sprinkling on top) mini chocolate chips

Cannoli chips I found mine at my local grocery store – you can substitute waffle cones or sugar cones

Beat together the ricotta and cream cheese till smooth; add the vanilla and sugar and mix well.  Add the cup of chips and sprinkle a little on top.

Let it set up in the fridge for an hour or so.  You can leave out the chips and add them as you want them,  The chips will get softer the longer it takes you to eat the dip. That’s if you and your guests don’t finish it off. 

Biscotti – Cranberry, White Chocolate, Pistachio

Happy Easter!
You might have been able to tell I have been on a baking kick these last few weeks. I am fairly certain it has a lot to do with my daughter and I binge watching the BBC’s The Great British Baking Show. What a great show with the too cute for words Mary Berry and the most handsome silver fox Paul Hollywood just their names make them stars and those accents. I am obsessed with British accents and how they speak so eloquently even when they are mad or make a mistake. I’m pretty sure if someone with a British accent were to tell me off for doing something I did wrong I would be totally OK with it. One of the most memorable phrases for me was in National Treasure 2 “Sir, please dismount the banister” it makes me smile every time. I’m smiling now while writing it.
IMG_5067Not sure if any of you see someone making something on TV or Online and think; I can do that! I can’t even tell you how many times I have done that, and I am proud to say that is one good thing I passed on to my kids. One of the challenges we watched they were to make biscotti. They could flavor them anyway they wanted; just that was pretty revolutionary for me; I’ve only ever had the almond flavored ones. I will admit that I’m not a big fan of almond extract so I never really ate them very much; I believe a little goes a long way and less is better for me.
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Abbi and I decided we were going to try making Biscotti! We had everything on hand; except the almond extract; which I am sure we could have left it out but we wanted it to be a little familiar. Within the last week my daughter has made them twice; she brought some into work and the chef du cuisine paid her to make him a batch. Yeah they are that good! And since I wanted to blog about them I made them again last night so I could share it with all of you.  If you are a baker you have to make these; they are DELICIOUS and way easier than I thought they were going to be.
Ingredients
¾ cup sugar
½ canola oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract – you can use a little more if you want
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt – we omitted this because the pistachios were salted
¾ cup white baking chips
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup pistachios

Directions
Preheat oven to 325’F
In a small bowl mixing bowl beat the sugar and oil till well blended, Add the eggs and extracts beat till blended. Combine the flour and powder and salt if you are using it. Gradually add to the sugar mixture.  Stir in the last 3 ingredients.
IMG_5062Divide the dough in half. On either parchment or your Silpat, with lightly floured hands; shape each half into a rectangle. Roughly 10” x 1½”  Bake for 30-35 minute or until lightly browned.
IMG_5063IMG_5064Place pan on a wire rack and when they are cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board; cut into ½ inch pieces. Place each piece back on the pan cut side down.
IMG_5065Bake for 6-7 minutes on each side until golden brown. Place them on the wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. You can also freeze them if you don’t end up eating them all.
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Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Healthy Yummy Oatmeal Muffins

A couple of weeks ago we were staying with some friends up North. The guys went skiing and us girls stayed back at the house. We got some things done, went shopping and then for a very nice walk. The inspiration for this weeks recipe came from my girlfriend making a healthy muffin as something to grab on the way out the door in the morning when in a rush. I can appreciate that; most mornings are pretty hectic around here.  We have also been eating a lot more healthy oatmeal for breakfast.
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My daughter purchased a really cool rice cooker that we try to put steel cut oats in the night before and set the timer for them to be ready when we wake up. It also keeps them warm until we shut it off; which is cool since my daughter wakes up several hours after us; bonus is they taste great and pretty healthy for us.


Back to the healthy muffin. I looked around online for a recipe that I might want to try. I will admit I wasn’t sure how well they would be perceived. I have tried to “health” up things before and haven’t been too successful; or at least well enough to make them a regular thing.
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The first thought about the recipe I found when I read No Flour No Sugar No Oil – I thought NO WAY!
IMG_5047I was very hesitant since I didn’t have any eggs or milk on hand that the recipe asked for and I didn’t have enough bananas so I also grated an apple and made them anyway. I ended up using egg beaters and some Kefir that I bought that no one liked drinking straight; but in a recipe how terrible could it be.  
IMG_5048They smelled good, looked good and believe it or not my husband LOVED them; seriously he immediately ate 2 of them and has done nothing but praise them since . Luckily my daughter and I both really liked them and I was totally amazed that even with my changes they were a hit so much so I have made 4 batches in total; mostly because I wanted to use up the Kefir before it went bad I plan on packaging them up and putting them in the freezer.
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Ingredients
2 ½ cups old fashioned oats (1 ½ cup ground, 1 cup whole) (keep some aside  and press on top of muffins before baking – optional)
2-3 large overripe bananas – I used banana & grated apple – applesauce would work too
2 large eggs – egg beaters also work
⅓ cup honey
¾ cup milk – I used kefir
2 teaspoon real vanilla
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅓ cup currants – optional
⅓ cup chopped nuts – optional – I used pecans

Directions
Preheat oven to 325’F. Place oats on a baking sheet and make for 10-15 minutes to brown; stir once. Once cooled; in a food processor place 1 ⅕ cups of oats and blend, you are going for a flour like consistency. Turn oven to 350’F
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Mash the bananas and grate the apple add to the rest of the wet ingredients; eggs, honey, milk and vanilla.
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Add dry ingredients; including all the oats to the wet ingredients and mix till incorporated. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the oats to soak.  Add fruit and nuts if using

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Approximately 163 calories each

Line 12 cup muffin tin with wrappers; scoop batter into cup filling to the top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Recipe adapted by cookingatclarktowers: Brendid.com

Orange and Currant Scones

My daughter mentioned the other day how our food staples have changed over the years. When she was little we had simpler; is that even a word? Meals such as chicken broccoli alfredo; burritos, Kielbasa and beans that were a big part of the meal rotation. Today we have a fish tacos, pulled pork with coleslaw, One-pot pastas and skillet chicken dishes. She credited it to having a larger kitchen; I am not so sure that is what it is.
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I think it had a lot to do with the food programs on TV. My DVR is filled with Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, Barefoot Contessa,

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Grate the butter and place back in the fridge while you get everything else together

and The Chew episodes.  No they are not all mine; both of my kids watch cooking shows too. I think that the cast of The Chew have one of the best jobs on TV. I would LOVE to hang out with my friends and test and taste new recipes and cocktails. I think my friends and I could totally pull off a show like that; at least I think we are pretty funny and we have sure eaten some very good food over the years.
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I think by watching cooking shows, I get inspired to make what they are making. I will also admit that every time I see the Disney movie Ratatouille I make a pot of soup. The other day I was watching The Chew and Carla was making a Orange and Currant Scone. I have never had a currant, honestly didn’t even really know what it is. In case you also don’t know; it is a dried seedless grape. I am not a fan of raisins so I was a little hesitant to buy currants but I really wanted to try the scones.
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I HAVE to share with you two unsolicited quotes/praises from my husband and daughter.  My husband said after trying the scone “I would have never ordered a currant scone before; now I will” and my daughter said “Mom here is another thing you make better than any bakery” I am pretty sure there are no higher praises than those. I will be making them again soon, as I have more currants to use.
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ORANGE AND CURRANT SCONES

3 1/2 cups flour (plus additional for dusting)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 sticks butter (chilled, grated)
2/3 cup currants
2 eggs (plus 1 egg yolk, divided)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 orange (zested)
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and clove together. Set aside.

Add the butter, toss in the flour and work, using your hands, into the flour mixture. Add the currants.

In a large bowl add the eggs, heavy cream and orange zest. Gently mix the cream mixture into the flour mixture using a fork until just combined. Do not overmix.
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Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into wedges and transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 1 to 2 inches between each scone.
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In a small bowl combine the egg yolk and milk. Brush over the scones and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
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