Friday, March 29, 2013

Vegan Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie



Ready for an easy smoothie that is great for clean eating, detoxification, vegan, and just every day variety of good? It's the goodness of strawberry lemonade in smoothie form.


Ingredients

Frozen Strawberries
Almond Milk
Lemon Juice
Stevia


Instructions

1. Take a couple handfuls of frozen strawberries and put them in a blender. I fill my blender about halfway full of strawberries and make smoothies for 2. 

2. Pour almond milk into the blender until it almost reaches the top of the strawberries. 

3. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. 

4. Add in 1/2 tsp of stevia. 

5. Blend. Taste and adjust the amount of stevia to personal preference. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spicy Seared Ahi and Avocado Sushi (formed in an ice cube tray!)



Sometimes I do weird things like make sushi in an ice cube tray. I came across a delicious sashimi grade ahi tuna steak again and couldn't resist. I brought it home and then had to figure out what to do. I had a couple avocados so I knew I could work something out. I boiled up some rice and shoved a spoonful into each hole in an empty ice cube tray and put it in the freezer to cool. You have to press it down so it molds well to the tray. I cut up an avocado into small cubes and squeezed some lemon juice over it and put it in the tray for the next layer. I used a butter knife to pop out the rice/avocado cubes and set a slice of seared ahi on top. Seriously, it was awesome. Some of the rice displaced a little (shown in the picture, see I'm willing to photograph the mistakes!), but each one came out in a nice, serve-able cube. I served it with a spicy sauce and boy was it heavenly!


Ingredients

Rice Layer
1/2 cup rice
1 cup water


Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp sriracha sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 lemon, juiced


Avocado Layer
1 avocado, small dice
1/2 lemon, juiced

Spicy Seared Ahi
1 sashimi grade ahi tuna steak, cut into 1 inch-wide, long strips (2, maybe 3 strips in total)
seasame seeds
red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil


Instructions

1. Make the rice by placing 1/2 cup rice and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until water is completely absorbed.

2. Place a small spoonful of rice in the bottom of each hole in an empty ice cube tray. Press it down so it molds well to the tray. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to cool.

3. While the rice is cooling make the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. 

4. Squeeze 12 a lemon over diced avocado and place a layer on each of the cooled rice cubes. Refrigerate until ready to use.

5. In a small bowl, combine the sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Take the other 1/2 lemon and squeeze over the ahi steak. Place the ahi into the bowl to coat with the seeds/flakes.

6. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear each of the 4 sides of the ahi strips, about 30 seconds each side. Remove from heat and slice.

7. Remove rice/avocado cubes from the tray with a butter knife. Serve with a slice of ahi on top with the dipping sauce.



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Risotto Tuscana


Sometimes I like to just browse through menus of restaurants. I go back and forth between options before finally deciding what I'm going to order. That's all fine and dandy, except for the fact that I'm not at the restaurant and probably won't actually be there any time soon. While weird, it does give me great ideas for things to make at home. While perusing the menu of a local Italian place that gets great reviews on Yelp, I came across Risotto Tuscana: Arborio rice, Italian sausage, bell pepper, peas, mushroom, fresh parmigian, and garlic - $15. Despite the fact that my eyes rolled at the use of "parmigian" instead of just saying it has parmesan cheese, my tummy did start craving it. I went to the grocery store later that day and ended up buying Italian sausage just so I could make it. It was delicious and totally felt like I was eating at a restaurant on a weeknight. 


Ingredients

6 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup peas, frozen
salt
pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 Italian Sausages (about 2/3 lb), cooked and sliced

Instructions

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer. 

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Saute the bell pepper for a couple of minutes. Add in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set them aside for now.

3. In the same skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the onion for a minute or two and then add in the rice. Sprinkle on a little salt for seasoning. Toast the rice in the olive oil for about 3 minutes.

4. Pour in 1/2 cup of the simmering chicken broth at a time to the rice skillet. It should pop and sizzle and the rice will absorb the liquid. Stir, stir, stir. Stirring consistently will help the rice cook evenly. Turn the heat down to medium and keeping adding liquid 1/2 cup at a time. Once the liquid gets absorbed, add more. It should take about 30 minutes to add the entire 6 cups of chicken broth. Add in the peas when you add in the last of the broth to give the peas a chance to thaw and heat through.

5. Once all the liquid has been used, remove from the heat and stir in the bell pepper, mushrooms, the butter, and the parmesan. Taste, and adjust the seasonings (salt and pepper) as desired. Top with slices of cooked Italian Sausage. 





Making risotto seems intimidating. If you watch any reality food shows you know that people are always getting sent home for risotto. Risotto would be super difficult to make for large numbers of people or in a timed situation. Making it at home though? Not that difficult. The key steps are #1 toasting the rice, #2 slowly adding in liquid (we are talking turtle slow with 1/2 cup at a time until it is absorbed) and stir, stir, stir, #3 letting it "rest" by removing it from the heat and stirring in butter and cheese. A splash of heavy cream makes for extra decadence. Try making it once and you'll quickly get the hang of it.

You'll notice I do not add any wine to my risotto recipes. I prefer not to use alcohol in my cooking. Most risotto recipes will call for the first liquid to be added to the rice as 1/2 cup of wine. I simply use all stock.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Triple Malt Chocolate Cake







I only make cakes for birthdays. It was the husband's turn for a cake so I tried to come up with one that I knew he'd love. He loves malt flavors....malted shakes, malt balls, etc...so I decided to create a malt cake. I altered my usual chocolate cake recipe slightly, adding malted milk powder. Then I altered my usual frosting recipe for a malted flavor. I crushed up some chocolate malt balls to create a crust along the sides. Finally, I topped the cake with a chocolate ganache. I'm not much of a cake decorator, so the malt crust and ganache combination made for an easy way to make a delicious look. 

Chocolate Malt Cake


Ingredients

A little unsalted butter and flour for buttering and dusting the cake pans 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (the better quality chocolate you use the better it will taste)
1 cup malted milk powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Butter three 9-inch cake rounds. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. (see cooking lesson at the bottom of the page here)

3. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, malt powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.

4. Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until smooth. This should take just a couple of minutes.

5. Divide batter among the three pans. I found that it took just over 3 cups of the batter to divide it evenly.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake meets the toothpick test (stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean).

7. Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely.

8. Assemble the cake by frosting in between the 3 layers and the sides of the cake. Place 1 cup crushed malt balls  on the outside edges of the cake. Just take a handful and gently smoosh it into the frosting. Pour chocolate ganache on the top.


Malted Frosting

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups malted milk powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar (approximate)


Instructions

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer (or you can use a stand mixer).

2. Add in the malted milk powder and vanilla and mix until combined.

3. Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until desired consistency achieved. It should take approximately 6 cups, maybe more, maybe less, depending on the conditions of the day. It should be spreadable, but not runny. It needs to be able to hold to the cake.




Chocolate Ganache


Ingredients

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips


Instructions

1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil, stirring constantly.

2. Once it boils, remove from heat and add in the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Pour over the cake before it hardens. 











Monday, March 25, 2013

BLT Deviled Eggs



I brought these babies to a little Easter party with friends. I wasn't sure how people would respond to deviled eggs. I wasn't prepared for the response. They were gobbled up and everyone was raving about them. Whoddathunkit? They were great. My original plan was for a southwestern deviled egg, but I didn't have the ingredients. I decided to go with a BLT instead. Candied bacon, tomato, and basil in lieu of lettuce. One friend even said they were the best deviled eggs she'd ever had. I know what I'm doing with my Easter eggs!


Ingredients

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey mustard
4 strips candied bacon, diced small
2 handfuls small cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 handful basil leaves, chopped
Chili powder to dust


Instructions

1. Slice each egg in half lengthwise and remove the yolk. Put all the yolks in a small mixing bowl and all the whites on a platter.

2. Add mayo and honey mustard to the yolks and mix until well combined and sort of fluffy.

3. Fold in the diced bacon, tomatoes, and basil (reserving a little of the basil for a garnish)

4. Spoon filling into the centers of the whites. Garnish with basil and dust with chili powder.



How to make the perfect hard-boiled egg:

1. Use "old" eggs that have been in your refrigerator for a week. They will be easier to peel.

2. Place eggs in a pan and fill with cold water. The water should cover the eggs by about an inch.

3. Place on the stove over high heat and bring the water to a boil.

4. Once the water is boiling, cover it with a lid, turn off the heat and set a timer for 12 minutes.

5. After 12 minutes, carefully drain the hot water from the pan and put it in the sink to fill with cold water. Toss in some ice as well if the pan is still warming up the water. 

6. Let cool for 15 minutes and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chocolate Pancakes with Caramel Syrup


It was a breakfast-for-dinner night. I started to make pancakes, and then things just sort of took a turn when I saw the cocoa powder sitting in the pantry. Yes, I fed my children chocolate pancakes for dinner. I'm either a really awesome mom, or I'm just setting up my children for childhood diabetes. And then the caramel syrup? Don't report me to CPS! I promise. I'll feed my kids more things like sweet potato burritos to make up for it. But for that one night...oh that one blessed night...we had dessert for dinner and it was heavenly. Chocolate pancakes with caramel syrup. It seems too good to be true. 



Chocolate Pancakes



Ingredients

1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/4 butter, melted
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips


Instructions

1. Combine buttermilk, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, and cocoa powder in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk until combined. 

2. Add in the flour and chocolate chips and stir until well combined.

3. Heat a non-stick griddle to medium-high heat. Cook your pancakes on the griddle by scooping 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle. Flip the pancake over when bubbles appear. The pancakes are done when they are lightly browned on both sides and cooked through. See the cooking lesson on THIS post for tips to make a great pancake. 



Caramel Syrup


From Our Best Bites

Ingredients

3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla


Instructions

1. Combine the buttermilk, sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a large soup pot. 

2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. 

3. Reduce heat to low Stir constantly and simmer for about 8 minutes, until it turns a nice caramel color. 

4. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. It'll foam like crazy which is why you are using such a large pot.

5. Serve or store. I store mine in a mason jar.




The caramel syrup recipe is very much like making candy. The added liquids of the buttermilk, butter, and corn syrup help keep it in a liquid form. People always ask me why you add the baking soda to the caramel syrup. While I'm no chemist, the baking soda causes the syrup to foam and expand, releasing carbon dioxide. It seems to prevent the syrup from hardening or becoming chewy, which is great for a syrup or making caramel corn. Even when the syrup cools off, it is still a liquid. It doesn't solidify like a caramel candy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta



My grocery store makes these delicious Italian sausages in-house. They have been taunting me from the shelves. "Eat me! Eat me!" they've cried. I'm not a huge meat eater so it was a bit shocking to my husband that we'd get to have such deliciousness for dinner. Oh my, I'm so glad those sausages cried out my name because it made for an absolutely tasty dinner. It's a quick week-night meal that anyone can bust out for a flavorful meal right at home.


Ingredients

1 lb thick spaghetti noodles
2 large Italian Sausages (about 2/3 lb)
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
1 can fire roasted tomatoes



Instructions

1. Cook the spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Toss in the olive oil and the sausages in. Cook for about 4 minutes, then flip over and cook another 4 minutes. 

3. Keep the sausages in the pan and toss in the onion and bell peppers, season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onion and peppers soften. 

4. Add in the minced garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes and saute for another minute.

5. Add in the fire roasted tomatoes and heat until bubbly. Remove from heat.

6. Remove the sausages and slice them. Return the sliced sausage to the onion/pepper mixture. Serve over pasta.



Italian sausages are those huge sausages (think bigger than a hot dog) they sell in the meat section or at the meat counter of your grocery store. There's a wide variety out there. My grocery store sells chicken, turkey, and pork sausages with all sorts of different added flavorings. The plane jane version will be labeled as a Sweet Italian Pork Sausage. I stick with the pork because it is more flavorful and less likely to dry out. Sometimes I'll get the Spicy Pork for that extra heat. 




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Leeks



Sometimes we just eat a bunch of side dishes for dinner. It's kind of weird, but it can lead to a really delicious meal. We were due to have one of those nights so I was looking through my fridge for what we needed to use. I found a small bunch of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, a large leek, and a lemon. What can you do with that? Roast it of course! And know what? It was totally delicious. I highly recommend it. The vegetables were bright and flavorful, just like the colors. It was a clean dish, and totally healthy. 


Ingredients

1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 leek, halved and sliced
1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup shredded parmesan


Instructions

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Place the broccoli an cauliflower florets in the prepared baking dish along with the leeks. Squeeze the lemon juice over the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp.

4. Remove from oven and sprinkle parmesan over the top. 






Monday, March 18, 2013

Mexican-Spiced Chicken Thighs


I bought chicken thighs at Costco, which means I'm drowning in chicken thighs. I wondered what in the world I was going to do with all that meat. And then I made these. And I can't stop thinking about them. It was a beautiful 70 degree Sunday afternoon. I decided we should have a little picnic in the backyard. I threw together these chicken thighs and made some fresh tortillas (admittedly I use the cook and serve variety when I'm feeling lazy). I kicked back in my lounge chair with an IBC cream soda and a plate of this chicken and a couple tortillas. After that is all a blur of gluttony. The meat was moist and flavorful, the skin...oh the skin!....it was crisp and packed a punch of flavor. How could 5 minutes of prep work lead to such heavenly food? I found myself using that tortilla to soak up any last ounce of flavor. Oh my, you must try this! If you've ever been afraid to cook with bone-in skin-on chicken, now is the time to get over it and enjoy that moist meat and crispy skin. Please, join me in my Sunday backyard picnic heaven.


Ingredients

8 chicken thighs
2 limes, to juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons butter


Instructions

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Lay out the chicken thighs in the prepared pan, skin-side up. Squeeze the lime juice all over the meat. 

3. Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over the meat. 

4. Divide the butter up into 8  little clumps. Place 1 clump on top of each chicken thigh.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes.





Chicken thighs might seem like an intimidating cut to work with because they have both bones and skin. No worries! They have a good amount of meat on them, and a good crispy chicken skin is to die for. The trick to getting a crispy skin is that it can't sit in any moisture and it needs a heat source to crispen it up. With a chicken thigh, the dark meat will stay juicy while the skin crisps up, so it would take a lot for your meat to dry out. The bone-in helps bring out the chicken flavors while keeping it moist. Don't be scared of bones and skin, it's where all the flavor is! And as for my kids....I just pull it off the bone for them and they gobble it right up. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Shepherd's Pie From Scratch (Cottage Pie)


It's the time of year where Irish foods tend to grace tables across the United States. Corned Beef and cabbage are great, but a dish you see throughout the year is ye ol' Shepherd's Pie. It's a comfort food staple. I prefer to make mine from scratch. I keep it simple, and love to use shredded beef in lieu of ground beef. It is warm, inviting, and delicious. A grand salute to the Irish!


Ingredients

Meat Filling: 
1 lb shredded beef, cooked

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced 
1/4 cup flour 
2 cups beef broth 
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 
Salt and Pepper to taste 

Vegetable Layer: 
2 lbs Fresh Green Beans, trimmed and snapped in half
1 cup frozen Corn Kernels 
1/4 tsp oregano 

Mashed Potatoes: 
4 Potatoes, peeled and cubed 
1/4 cup butter 
1/4 cup cream cheese 
1/4 tsp salt 

Shredded Cheddar Cheese to top.


Instructions

1. Boil the potatoes until soft, 15-20 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, steam the green beans until soft, 10-15 minutes. Add in the corn kernals during the last few minutes of cooking. 

3. Also meanwhile (this is a multi-tasking dish), saute your onion  in 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add in the flour and stir until mixed enough that you can't see the flour (this will allow the sauce to thicken without the flour clumping). Pour in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens. 

4. By this point the potatoes should be done. Mash them up and mix in the butter, cream cheese, and salt until everything is melted and fluffy. Use a hand mixer to easily whip it until it is fluffy. 

5. Mix the green beans and corn with the oregano.


6. In 9 x 13 pan put your Pie together. Bottom: meat, Middle: vegetables, Top: Potatoes. Top with cheese. 

7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes., until cheese is warm and bubbly. 






Oh the terminology of Shepherd's Pie vs. Cottage Pie. There are some strong opinions out there. Let's check out what wikipedia has to say on it.



"The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor ("cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).
In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.
The term "shepherd's pie" did not appear until 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with "cottage pie", regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or muttonMore recently, the term "shepherd's pie" has been used when the meat is lamb, the theory being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle."

I don't subscribe to these recent frivolous definitions of Shepherd's vs. Cottage. I go by what my family has historically referred to it. Whether I make it with lamb, beef, pork, or chicken I'd still call it a Shepherd's Pie. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Corned Beef and Cabbage Grilled Cheese on Rye


I've got a pinch of Irish blood in me and St. Patrick's Day is as good an excuse as any for eating corned beef and cabbage. I tried turning the classic dish into a grilled cheese, because I'm a grilled cheese lover. I have a grilled cheese board on Pinterest. I once made grilled cheese sandwiches for an entire month. You can turn almost anything into a grilled cheese. We lovingly refer to them as melties in our house. 

Use your leftover corned beef and cabbage, put some cheddar on there, and slap it between two slices of rye, or follow my instructions below for preparing corned beef and cabbage. I'm not even writing it as a traditional recipe because it is so stinkin' easy. Any intimidation you might have had about preparing corned beef and cabbage should evaporate right here and now. 


Corned Beef
I go the simple route with my corned beef. I buy a corned beef brisket and toss it in the slow cooker. Add 2 cups beef broth (we don't do beer here), and 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce. Make sure you include the spice packet that came with your brisket. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Cabbage
I saute my cabbage with onion. I dice a white onion (large dice), and slice the cabbage. I melt 1/4 cup butter in a skillet over medium high heat and add in the cabbage and onion. Season with salt and pepper, and saute until the cabbage and onion are tender about 8-10 minutes. Boom, simple but totally delicious.



Have A Safe and Happy St. Patty's Day! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mediterranean Sandwich with Roasted Eggplant



You'd be surprised how often people ask me what they should do with eggplant. They get one from a neighbor's garden, in a CSA box, or somehow end up buying one from the store and then have no idea what they should do with it. I love eggplant, despite the fact the fact that they kind of end up ugly. Look at the picture...the ugly green-tinted slab is eggplant. But don't be fooled, it is delicious! When prepared properly, eggplant is creamy, mild, and delicious. This particular sandwich is a great intro to eggplant. The sandwich is full of flavor, hearty, and it gets all over the place so it definitely belongs in your face (thank you Carl's Jr. commercials). 


Ingredients

1 loaf focaccia bread, cut into individual portions and split open sandwich style
1 eggplant, peeled sliced and prepared (see cooking lesson below)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2 inch wide strips
1 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
1/2 onion, sliced
8 mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
1 tomato sliced
sliced olives

Garlic Aioli
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced


Instructions

1. Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray at baking sheet with nonstick spray. Lay out the prepared eggplant slices and bell pepper strips onto the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until eggplant just starts to brown and bell pepper skins begin to fall off. Set aside.

2. Saute the onion and mushroom slices in 1 tsp olive oil over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Should take about 7 minutes. Set aside.

3. Make the garlic aioli by mixing the mayo, crushed garlic, and lemon juice together until well combined.

4. Assemble sandwiches by layering all components (eggplant, bell pepper, onion/mushrooms, tomato and olive slices) between the bread slices which should be lathered with aioli. 


If you don't prepare eggplant it can end up tasting bitter and having a tough texture. To draw out the bitter taste, you'll want to follow these easy steps.

How to prepare eggplant:

1. Cut the eggplant however the recipe states. For the above recipe, you'll want to peel and slice the eggplant.

2. Lay the eggplant pieces out on a tray. Season generously with salt to coat. Like a disgusting amount of salt. Don't worry, it won't be salty.

3. Let it sit for about an hour. You'll notice a bunch of liquid will come to the top. 

4. Rinse the pieces off and pat dry. 

5. Proceed to use in any recipe.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Flaky Country Biscuits


Everyone needs a good biscuit recipe. They are super easy and quick to make and will have you wondering why you've ever bought the ones in a can. These biscuits are pretty fail-proof because they utilize shortening which has a higher melting point. As they bake the flour and shortening are forced apart until the shortening melts. By this point the biscuit will be set, creating that sought after flaky texture. It's pretty amazing. If you wanted to go truly old school you'd use lard. Don't be grossed out, that is exactly what our ancestors used! It's all natural baby!


Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening, cold
1 cup milk


Instructions

1. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.

2. Cut in the cold shortening using a pastry knife or 2-knife method (see cooking lesson below).

3. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring until the dough comes together.

4.  Turn the dough out on a floured surface and work it just until everything is well combined.

5. Roll the dough out about 1-inch thick. Use a circle cutter or a drinking glass dipped in flour to cut out your biscuits. Combine leftover scraps and continue re-rolling and cutting until all dough is used. 

6. Place cut biscuits on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. 





Monday, March 11, 2013

The 10 Best Recipes from Pinterest - Been There, Made That

Pinterest is all the rage these days. There are tons of pictures of food on there to make your mouth water. But, are the recipes any good? Today I'm sharing my 10 favorite recipes I've found on Pinterest. 




1. It may not be the prettiest picture, but this really is the best broccoli of my life. My husband doesn't particularly care for broccoli and even he was hooked. I even wrote a post myself about it with a consolidated recipe




2. How about soup? I absolutely love this Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup from Closet Cooking. It is super easy to make, and oh so delicious. 





3. Jessica over at How Sweet It Is did it again when she came up with this delicious take on grilled cheese. Blackberry Basil Smash with Fontina? Oh baby! I loved it!

                                   


4. I've tried quite a few raw recipes. Often they just aren't quite right, especially for those of us who aren't strictly living the vegan raw lifestyle. This pasta, however, blew me away. It was simple, delicious, and didn't call for any weird ingredients. I omit the asparagus, just because raw asparagus is too crunchy for my liking, but seriously, this Spring Pasta is great for the raw eaters and regular eaters alike!



5. I'm willing to give the more daring recipes a try. You know, the ones that sound weird. I tell you what, this one may sound a little different, but it tastes amazing!  Caramelized Pineapple Quesadillas with Strawberry Salsa





6. Karly over at Buns In My Oven changed my life when I found this Brownie Recipe. They are unbelievable. I will never, ever use another brownie recipe. This one is IT. Even if I want to make some crazy concoction with caramel or something, I will always use this recipe for my base. 





7. I'll disclose that I have a personal relationship with this particular blogger, but she's my sister and there's no one who is harder on her recipes than I am (with great love, of course!) She has put together the Perfect Chocolate Cookie. I've had several chocolate cookie recipes fail myself, but I tell you what, I will vouch for this one 100%. You need this recipe. 





8. Making your own syrup is always delicious, but this Buttermilk Caramel Syrup is really something special. I created my own recipe and added a teaspoon or two of cinnamon to it and it tastes like liquid cinnamon rolls. Oh baby, I count this stuff as dessert.




9. If you haven't had this Cookie Dough Dip yet you are truly missing out. This is the third recipe from How Sweet It Is to make the list. I don't know how she does it, but she's definitely one of my favorite bloggers. 






10. We'll round out the list with one of my own since it came about from a Pinterest post. Many thanks to The Vegan Stoner for an easy dessert. It is like eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Yum, yum, chocolate peanut butter bars. And it is only 3 ingredients. 







That about rounds out the list. What has been your favorite Pinterest recipe?



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