Monday, March 19, 2012

Purple Potato Chips


I love discovering new things to play within the kitchen.  Discovering these purple potato's was so much fun!




I am encouraging you to try and find purple potatoes and surprise your friends or family with purple potato chips.  

ENJOY!



Recipe:  Purple Potato Chips

This is David Leite's recipe from Leite's Culinaria.  His site and the original recipe can be found here. My notes are in red.


Peanut or canola oil for frying I used canola.
2 large baking potatoes, peeled if desired I used purple potatoes


1. Pour enough oil to reach a depth of 2 3/4 inches in a deep fryer or a large, deep pot. Do not overfill the fryer or pot as the oil will bubble up when the potatoes are added. Heat the oil to 325°F (163°C). Line a baking sheet with a paper bag cut open or with a wire cooling rack and place it next to the stove.
Reaching this temperature takes longer than you think, this was my error in the past.  Using a thermometer made a huge difference for my chips.
2. Meanwhile, set up a turning vegetable slicer with the straight blade. Cut off both ends of a large baking potato and attach one end of the potato to the grip at the end of the handle; the other end of the potato should sit flush against the blade. Turn the handle, pushing toward the potato with gentle pressure. The potato will rotate through the blade, forming extremely long ribbons of potato.
I used my mandolin set on the smallest width and sliced them into a bowl of water.  With 5 small potatoes, I got about 3 cups of chips.
3. Place the potatoes on paper towels and pat dry; they should be very, incontrovertibly dry before they go into the hot oil, as any residual moisture will cause the oil to bubble up and spatter even more.
4. Carefully add some of the potato ribbons to the hot oil, working in batches. Add only enough potatoes to make a layer that is no more than 2 inches thick. Fry the potatoes until they are golden brown on the bottom. Using long tongs, gently turn the potatoes over. Continue to fry until the potatoes are evenly browned and crisp, about 6 minutes total, depending on the thickness of your ribbons.
I found with the purple potatoes, I knew they were done when they started to turn a slight brown color on the edges and middle…but not too much or you will burn them.
5. When the potatoes ruffles are done, use tongs to carefully lift them onto the paper bag or rack to drain. Serve the ruffles on a platter with a generous sprinkling of fleur de sel.
I found that the oriental round wire scoop that I bought to remove tempura veggies worked great to remove the chips.
 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms and Spinach



We have had the best weather this week…today we were over 70.  That is awesome in my book.  We actually never really had a winter in Maryland.  A few dustings of snow and cooler temperatures in the 30s at night but nothing like what we have experienced the last 24 years living in Colorado, Illinois, and UT.  

Wind, snow, blizzards, whiteouts and more snow! Not this year though…Yippee Skippee!

So why would I make soup on one of the nicest days we have had this 2012 year?  It's simple

We love soup.

My family is not picky about only eating soup when it's cold.  We like it all year long!  

Today I also made traditional Irish soda bread.  I used the recipe from Baking Sheet .  Click on the name and it will redirect you to their site.  It turned out really good and it was so simple to make.

I have fallen in love with the flavor and texture of Minnesota Wild Rice and try to use it often.  I already had the mushrooms and spinach that HAD to be used today and so this soup was created.  I think we all went back for seconds and thirds were out of the question because we ATE the WHOLE POT!

Soup and my Soda Bread.

Recipe:  Minnesota Wild Rice Soup with Mushrooms and Spinach

5 cups of Chicken Broth
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup of sliced green onion
1 tsp minced garlic
3 T. butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup of milk
1 cup of cream
1 1/2 cup of fresh spinach
2 cups of Minnesota Wild Rice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare your wild rice first.  It takes at least an hour for this type of rice to be ready to use.  Follow the directions on the box.  I only used 2 cups of the rice but you can certainly add the whole 3 cups if you like.

In a large pot warm chicken broth.

In a saucepan melt butter.  Add garlic, green onions and mushrooms.  Toss to coat with butter and cook for 5 minutes.


Add flour, salt, and pepper to mushrooms and stir.  Cook over heat for a few minutes.


 Add mushroom mixture to broth and stir.  Add milk and cream and stir.  Your soup will thicken as it gets hotter and hotter.  I did not boil mine and turned off the heat right before this stage.

 I added the fresh spinach and let the hot soup cook the spinach.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes and your spinach should be soft and wilted.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rueben Eggrolls


Sometimes our Rueben sandwiches are messy.  They drip juice and our fingers and hands are sticky. With these little logs of heaven, our hands stayed dry.  Happy dance!

Now don't get me wrong, these will never replace my beloved Rueben sandwich but they are a close second, awesome treat, easy to serve, great appetizer and so tasty good!

ENJOY!





Recipe:  Reuben Eggrolls

4-8 slices of Pastrami or Corned beef from the deli
8 slices of Swiss or Provolone Cheese
1 can Sauerkraut
12 eggroll wrappers, large
mayonnaise
ketchup
oil

In a large pot start heating your oil.  I put about 2 inches.  Bring to a temperature that you can deep fry the eggrolls.  I usually test the oil first with the tip of the eggroll, if it starts to bubble then it is ready.

Mix equal parts of mayonnaise and ketchup for the sauce.  Depending on how many eggrolls you are serving will decide how much to make.

While the oil is heating, prepare your mixture.

I used 4 pieces of pastrami, diced. If you want more meat, by all means, add more. I used 8 slices of provolone, diced.  I used 1/2 cup of sauerkraut.  Mix together in a bowl.

Spread out your eggroll wrapper and put about 3 T. of the mixture inside.  Fold over one corner, then the sides and roll towards the last corner.  Use water to seal the ends to the eggroll.



Fry the eggroll until golden brown.  Mine took about 5-6 minutes.  You may need to turn them halfway through so that both sides get browned.

Let cool on a wire rack.  Cut diagonally and serve with the mayonnaise/ketchup sauce.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicken Lettuce Wraps






Recipe:  Chicken Lettuce Wraps

2 chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1 T. Oyster Sauce
1 T. Hoisin Sauce
2 T. Soy Sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
2 tsp. corn starch

Veggies:

1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup of fresh mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of red onion,  diced small
2 small zucchini's, diced small

In a medium-size bowl add chicken pieces all of the ingredients listed under "chicken".  Set aside and let marinate for 15 minutes.  This gives you time to dice your veggies.

Dice and prepare your veggies according to the recipe.

You should have two bowls…one with chicken marinating and one with veggies.

In a pan, heat peanut oil and add veggies.  Saute for 4-5 minutes.  Remove and return to bowl.

In a pan, add more peanut oil and cook chicken with marinade.  The sauce will thicken a bit and should be watched and stirred so that it does not burn.

Once the chicken is cooked add the cooked veggies and stir.

Remove from your heat and serve with lettuce chunks.  I cut ahead in half and then in quarters.  I removed the very center parts and left the darker green parts of the lettuce.

Peanut Sauce makes a little over a half cup


3 T. peanut butter
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/4 tsp. minced ginger
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. soy sauce


I added all of the ingredients to a microwavable bowl, heated for 30 seconds, stirred and served.


It was tasty, easy and went well with the wraps.



Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola








As I was eating this latest version I felt like I was eating Chocolate Pebbles Cereal.  The little oatmeal flakes floated to the top of my bowl and my milk turned light brown.  I thought…could I make a Fruity Pebble flavor granola using different flavorings….my mind was on fire!   I will have to think long and hard to decide if I want to duplicate that very sweet cereal into granola.  It somehow doesn't seem right, but then again, it may be awesome too!

Recipe:  Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola

6 cups of oatmeal, uncooked
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of shaved coconut
1 cup of almond slivers

1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of maple syrup, the real syrup
2-4 T. peanut butter…the more you use the stronger the flavor.
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. EVOO
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips, I used Ghirardelli 60% chips.

Preheat oven to325.

In a large bowl mix the first 4 ingredients.  You can add other ingredients or substitute other things for what I have used.  Just try to keep measurements the same.

In a small pot, bring the honey, maple syrup, peanut butter, vanilla, and EVOO to a warm temperature…it does not have to boil.  Once the sauce is warm you can add the chocolate chips and stir to melt the chips.  Remove from heat and add to dry mix.

Stir well together to coat ALL of the oats and nuts.

Spread mix onto a large cookie sheet and start to bake.  The total bake time is about an hour.  You will need to stir the granola every 10 minutes.  If you do not stir, then you risk the possibility of burning a portion of the granola.

Let the granola cool and store in an airtight container.

Serve as cereal, on yogurt, ice cream or cobblers. ENJOY





Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jaffa Cake (cookie or cake is the question)



I have been hearing about Jaffa Cake from my kids for a few years.  They have been wanting me to make some for a while and I keep agreeing, then I forget to buy the marmalade or something else comes up.

Jaffa Cake is a store-bought treat that you can buy in England.  Some call it a cookie and others call it cake.  In my opinion, it's kind of both because it's the size of a cookie and the texture is like a very airy yellow cake.  Whatever you choose to call it…IT is good!  LOL


Yogscast is a gaming channel that is from England and this is where my kids have learned of this delicious treat.  Could I make it at home was my question?

I found very few recipes from scratch.  VERY FEW!  I basically had to take the few instructions and ingredients and mesh them together and HOPE that it all turned out okay.  Most sites encouraged you to buy sponge cake, cut them into your shapes and then add the marmalade and chocolate…BORING!

If you follow my directions you should have a successful batch.  The key to success is the first part in making the batter over a warm bowl.  Secondly, don't over bake them.  Know your oven.  Use good marmalade and chocolate.

Good luck with making the Jaffa Cookies and let me know how yours turn out!


Recipe:  Jaffa Cake

4 large eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of flour

Marmalade
Dark Chocolate, for melting and topping

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large pot, add hot water.  Find a bowl that fits inside of this pot large enough to hold about 4 cups of batter.

In the large bowl, add your eggs.  Let them sit for 5 minutes to warm up.  Add your sugar.

Using a hand mixer, mix the eggs and sugar for 3-4 minutes.  This is an important step because you are making the bubbles for the sponge cake.  Your eggs should be very frothy and lemon in color.

Sift your flour TWICE.  Remeasure your flour to equal a 1/2 cup and sprinkle all over your egg/sugar batter.  CAREFULLY mix in the flour.  You do not want to break down your bubbles.

I used three sizes of pans and they all worked.  A cupcake pan, a mini cupcake pan, and an 8in spring foam pan…you choose.

Whichever pan you use, lightly butter.  With a teaspoon, add the batter to the bottoms of your pan.  This does bake and rise, so you want to use just a little bit, enough to cover the bottom.  Remember it's kind of like a cookie.

The cook times are all different for the three size pans you use:

Cupcake or Muffin pan…bake for 12 minutes
mini muffin pan…………bake for 8 minutes
8in spring pan…………..bake for 20 minutes

When you remove the pans from the oven, have a rack ready to transfer the cakes too.  I used a sharp knife and gently went around each one to help them come out of the pan.  You will notice that they hold their shape really good and are springy.

Once they have cooled, add the marmalade to each top.  I used a knife and frosted the marmalade on.

Melt your chocolate.  I use the double pan method.  The mini muffin's I was able to hand dip and the rest it was easier to frost the chocolate with a knife.

Put the cookies/cakes in the fridge to set.  ENJOY your homemade Jaffa Cookies..or cakes..or..YEAH.

NOTE: If you let the cakes/cookies sit out over night they are even better and more authentic to what you get in the package.  The exposure to the air allows the spongy cake to dry on the outside a bit giving you this cookie-cake-biscuit texture that is absolutely to die for!

Pictures for each step and more are below!

















Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Almond Granola


I have been collecting granola recipes for a very long time.   I have also spent some good money on buying lots of granola to try.  Usually, when I buy granola I am disappointed in the flavor and texture.  In my mind granola should be crunchy.  I like to add it to my yogurt, fruit, pies, shakes, and cobblers.  I want the crunch to compliment the soft and squishy of what I am pairing it with.

I have found some amazing recipes throughout the years.  Last week as I was flipping through one of my favorite cooking magazines, Cooks Country, and found yet another granola recipe.  Oh it looked so tasty, good and easy.

Then I had several friends that had also posted delicious recipes for granola.  Chindeep shared her recipe for Maple Granola with Cranberries and Toasted Coconut.  A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock and Roll shared her recipe for Dark Chocolate Granola with Peanut Butter.   Click on their names and you will be directed to their posts.

This made me jump up from my computer, go to my cupboards, and, like a crazy woman…gather my ingredients.  I set my stove to preheat and dug right in.

I was so surprised when an hour and a half later I was enjoying a tasty, easy and crunchy bowl of almond granola that I had made with my own hands.  It was awesome!

NOTE:  This granola is not very sweet.  I prefer mine to be that way.  This allows me to add sugar, fruit or more honey to what I am eating to make it sweeter.

If you would like to sweeten your granola more, you can add brown sugar to the wet ingredients and warm until it is dissolved.


I store my granola in a sealed jar to protect the freshness.



Recipe:  Almond Granola


4.5 cups of oatmeal, uncooked.   I used Old Fashion Quaker Oats.
3 T. flax meal
1 cup of slivered almonds, I use the plain almonds from Whole Foods
1/2-1 cup of shaved coconut, I use the large shaved pieces from Whole Foods
1/2 cup of salted sunflower seeds

1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of real maple syrup
dash of cinnamon
1 tsp. of EVOO
1 tsp of Almond Extract


Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl mix your oats, coconut, and nuts.  You can add other ingredients to adjust the flavor to your taste buds.  Just take into account, the more you add to the dry, you may need to increase the wet.

In a small pan, warm the honey, syrup, cinnamon, EVOO and almond extract.

Mix together until evenly coated.  Spread out on a cookie sheet.  My mixture was about an inch thick.

This picture is from my phone camera.


Set your timer for 10 minutes.  Bake the granola and then with a spatula, stir the granola.  Bake and stir until the desired "toastiness" is achieved.  I baked mine for about 45 minutes, stirring the cookie sheet granola 4 times.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. My granola cooled in about 15 minutes and was immediately crunchy.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Turkey Cranberry Panini Sandwich


Tricks for a successful sandwich include:

1.  Preheat your meat.  Do this by warming it up in a saute pan or microwaving it for a few minutes.

2.  Use cheese on both sides of the sandwich.  This does two things: makes it yummy but also holds your sandwich together so the insides do not slip out.

3.  Use good bread.  We love all multi-grain pieces of bread, dark slices of bread and especially a homemade rustic loaf.

4.  Experiment.  Try new things.  It's fun to be the sandwich king once in a while.


Recipe:  Turkey Cranberry Panini

Layer your sandwich in this order:

bread
honey mustard
cheese
turkey
green onion
cranberry sauce
cheese
honey mustard
bread


Butter both sides and press it baby!

TA-DA…you're done.  Now go be the sandwich king and impress your family!

Meatball Sandwich




Recipe:  Meat-Veggieball Sandwich

(6-8 sandwiches, depending on how many meatballs are used per sandwich)

Preheat oven to 400

1 pound of ground beef/pork or a combination of both
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 finely chopped kale
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup of diced onion
2 eggs
1/2 tsp of oregano
1/4 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp of salt

3 cups of your favorite tomato-based sauce- store-bought or made from scratch
Kaiser Buns
Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese

1.  Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl.



2.   Using a cookie scoop or your hand, create your meatballs and put them onto a cookie sheet or casserole pan.  Use something with a lip to keep the juices from running all over your oven.


3.  Bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove meatballs from pan and put into a large saute pan.  Add your sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.  While meatballs are simmering in sauce, prepare your buns.  Turn you oven to broil, lay cheese on each opened Kaiser roll and broil until cheese is bubbly and melted.  Remove from oven.




 4.  Serve meatballs on sandwiches or have your guest build their own.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Asparagus Parmesan Soup




It's no secret that we love soup.  I have been making this easy and quick soup for a few years now.  I have tried substituting broccoli instead of asparagus and it does not work, in my opinion.  I keep thinking I want to try carrots, cauliflower or zucchini…one of these days I will give it a try.

A couple of things to note when making this recipe.  If you are going to use a blender, REMEMBER that you never close the lid on a hot liquid.  It will explode and this can be very dangerous.  I usually set my blender speed to low, fill the container about 1/3 full and put a towel over the top…just in case.  Once the liquid has become smooth and creamy, then I increase the speed to high for a few seconds.  This soup will need to be blended in batches. I don't want anyone burned.

This soup is wonderful when served with warm bread.






Recipe:  Asparagus Parmesan Soup

2 bundles of asparagus
2 cups of chicken broth
salt to taste
dash of pepper
1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
1/4 tsp. of onion powder
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese, grated

Steam your asparagus using whatever method you prefer: stovetop or microwave.  In a blender, add a small amount of soft asparagus and chicken broth.  Blend until smooth.  This may take 2 or 3 batches.

Add the blended soup to a medium-sized pot. Add your spices: salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Taste and add more spices depending on your taste buds.

Warm your soup to very hot,  but not boiling.  Add the grated parmesan cheese and stir until cheese is melted.  Add your cream and stir.  Again, bring soup to a temperature of hot (steaming) but not boiling.

Serve immediately.  Store leftovers in the fridge and rewarm to eat again…we don't usually have leftovers.

UPDATE:  3-5-2013--I made this today and did not have chicken broth so I used 2 cups of the water that I used to cook my asparagus.  Instead of steaming them I added them to a microwave-safe bowl with 2 cups of water and cooked for 8 minutes.  I slowly added the hot asparagus water to the blender.  It did require a bit more salt than the original, just taste and add as necessary.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Easy Rustic White Bread


2020 RECIPE UPDATE: I am remaking a lot of my recipes from many years ago, to ensure they are accurate and still work. This bread recipe is an easy recipe to add to your recipe box.  I have updated how I make the bread today using my Le Creuset pieces.

All I can say is this is the best, and I mean, THE BEST bread, that I have made in a little over an hour.  I found this recipe when a fellow blogger shared this with all of us.  All I can say is THANK YOU!

In the last few weeks, I have made this loaf about 7 times.  No lie, it turns out just like this picture …every…time!  AMAZING!

You can find the original recipe on Carol's site.

I have to admit that I love my stoneware.  I have a lot.  Not all of it is Pampered Chef.  I have picked up several pieces at local thrift stores that come from all over the US.  My loaf is round because I have a huge round stoneware bowl and a tart stoneware plate that works really well together.  I use it similar to how Carol has used her oval stoneware set.

I will tell you a secret…I also used this recipe in two loave pans and covered the top with my stoneware cookie sheet…worked, again, like a dream.

The key is keeping the dough surrounded by the stoneware.  It creates a lot of heat and gets the crust nice and crispy without being thick and the center is tender and perfect for fondues, sandwiches, dips and toasted slices for spreads.

You will find that I have not changed Carols' ingredients only the process of making the bread.  This is what worked for me and I like to make things simple.

I live at the beach in a very cold and wet environment. I use about 6 cups of flour for my recipe because the dough is wet. If you live in a dryer climate, use less flour to start and add as needed.

I split the dough between two baking dishes on occasion. This allows me to make a friendship loaf to share with neighbors and friends.



Recipe:  Easy Rustic White Bread

Ingredients:

5-6+ cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 or 2 cups)

2 tablespoons dry yeast (regular, NOT rapid rise, yeast)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups hot water (120° to 130°) Note: water temperature is critical to proper yeast activation (If your measuring cup is cold, rinse it out a few times with warm water.  This affects the temperature of your water if it uses all of its heat to warm the cup…your yeast may not proof right.)

Directions Using a Kitchenaid Mixer:

Grease the Deep Covered Baker/Le Creuset or any other cooking vessel you are using. I used the #22 and #18 Le Creuset pieces. See Picture.



Combine 4 cups of the flour and salt in your Kitchenaid bowl.  In a separate 2 cup measuring cup add the sugar and the yeast.  Let proof for 5 minutes.  Add to the flour and turn your KitchenAid to a slow speed, otherwise, the flour bounces out all over your counter.

Once the dough is formed, you can increase the speed to medium and continue kneading for 7 minutes.

Turn the Kitchenaid off and cover with a dishcloth for 15 minutes. 

Remove dough from bowl and stretch the dough and then ball up and place directly into your stoneware/Le Creuset.

Put the lid on and place in a COLD oven. Turn oven to 400° and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, gasp in amazement, remove loaf from baker to cool on a rack.


 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas



On New Year's Day, I made my family their first batch of Hoppin' Johns.  Black-eyed peas at their best.  I grew up eating black-eyed peas.  My grandfather was from the South and it was a staple, along with chicken fried steak and fried okra.  Two things that I still love to this day, but don't eat much of.

I followed a recipe the first time I made the dish.  My kids did not find the flavor too appetizing.  This was okay because it meant more for Cory and I.  We loved it!  It made such a simple snack and quick lunch.  It reheated like a dream in the microwave.  The best part about this dish is that I was able to make it in the crockpot…SCORE one for the easy team.

I found myself craving this again last week and decided to make our own from memory and from what I thought was missing the first time around.  It came together and we have enjoyed our second batch for this new year.  Does this mean we get double the luck?  LOL

I don't remember how our black-eyed peas were prepared as a kid, I just know I ate them.  I talked to my Mom, who HATES black-eyed peas.  I couldn't imagine someone feeling this way about a cute little bean. I then found out that the only way she had eaten them, and apparently me too, was straight from a can.  A CAN…with all of the slime, she said.  No wonder she did not like black-eyed peas.  She will be visiting me this summer and I will make her a batch of this to see if her opinion will change.  Don't settle for a can of black-eyed peas. They take no time to cook, similar to a split pea.

The fun part of this recipe is the sausage.  You can use any type of sausage that you like and it will enhance your peas to that flavor.  I like to buy my sausage at Whole Foods in the meat department.  They have a huge selection.  I just remove the sausage from the casing before I fry it up.

Enjoy this recipe, I know I will be again soon.

Recipe:  Hoppin' John Black Eyed Peas

3 large sausages, casing removed
4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
1/2 cup of red onion, chopped
2 tsp. of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of celery, diced
1/2 cup of bell pepper, diced
1 package of black-eyed peas or 2 cups
4-6 cubes of chicken bouillon
6 cups of water
3/4 tsp. cumin
salt to taste, its best to do this after it has cooked

Saute the onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper for 5 minutes.  Cook the sausage and bacon.  Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  Most of the juice will be gone, you may have a cup left.  Serve immediately.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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