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Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilled Herb Steak Tacos

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I was planning to put together a salad for dinner on Wednesday after a long day, but when I looked around I had all the ingredients for tacos and that inspired both dinner that night and tonight’s recipe exchange.

For my tacos that night, I used homemade fajita seasoning (recipe for seasoning and fajitas here) instead of packaged taco seasoning. The recipe makes a lot, so I always have some on hand.

On the taco front, not to be missed are JeffreyW’s awesome Fish Tacos (pictured above, recipe and photo directions here).

Earlier in the week, an excellent and creamy, sharp goat cheese was the center piece of my Stuffed Burgers (recipe here) for dinner. So easy to make and full of juicy flavor.

The Dinner Menu was a given, since Olathe Sweet Corn finally arrived in stores. This menu was also the first one I put together many years ago, because it was and still is, a summer staple. Menu, recipes and shopping lists here.

For the pet lovers, here’s Bixby awaiting our lunch guests and a bonus Greek Pasta Recipe.

With that I leave you to the comments. Tacos, burritos or fajitas, what’s your favorite? And what’s on your weekend menu as we move into the last month of summer?

Now for the featured recipe:

Grilled Herbed Steak for Tacos or Burritos

Notes: Serve with either corn or flour tortillas and stuff with fresh garden items, such as tomatoes, lettuce, diced zucchini, grilled corn, and top with Fresh Garden Salsa (recipe here). And if you don’t like cilantro, there are alternatives offered at the bottom of the recipe.

Herb Paste

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves*
  • 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 medium jalapeno, quartered – remove veins and seeds for milder, otherwise, use it all
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp fresh limejuice

Pulse in a food processor or blender, cilantro, garlic, scallions, jalapeño, and cumin until finely chopped. Add oil and process until mixture is smooth and resembles pesto. Transfer 2 tbsps of the herb paste to medium bowl; whisk in lime juice and set aside.

Steak

  • 2 lbs flank steak – cut lengthwise (with grain) into 4 equal pieces (cooks quicker this way)
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Using dinner fork or tenderizer, poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times on each side. Place in large baking dish; rub all sides of steak pieces with salt and then coat with remaining herb paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator 5-10 minutes before cooking.

To cook: Scrape excess herb paste off steak and sprinkle all sides of pieces evenly with sugar and pepper. Sear steak pieces on the grill for 3 minutes, then turn and grill the other side for 3 minutes. Continue to cook (don’t turn more than one more time) until internal temperature registers 125 to 130 degrees, usually an additional 2 to 7 minutes. Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

To Serve: Using a carving knife, slice steak pieces across grain into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with herb paste-limejuice mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with tortillas and choice of vegetables, shredded cheese and salsa, etc. Garnish with additional limejuice if desired.

*If you don’t like cilantro, you can substitute celery leaves or fresh basil, or try a mixture of both.

That’s if for this week, have a terrific weekend – TaMara

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Recipe Exchange: Best Served Cold

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With July heat in full swing and the dog days of August coming up, I thought cold recipes would be a good idea for tonight’s recipe exchange. It made working in the kitchen much more appealing this week and I managed to try out a couple of new recipes and do some actual blog posting.

To get things started, Monday was house hunting and one of my new summer favorites, Jicama Slaw, surprisingly sweet and creamy, click here.

Tuesday was notes on the kittehs and Key Lime Bars, which I made to satisfy an intense craving for a cold, tart, citrus dessert, read here.

Wednesday I played with making my first Granita, I chose watermelon, but there are many other flavor combinations for this easy, cold treat. Recipe here.

The dinner menu this week was Grilled Chicken Salad and Green Beans in Vinaigrette.  Complete menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

For the pet lovers, there’s a Bixby Diary update.

Well, that was my week, how was yours? When it’s too hot to cook, what’s your go-to for dinner?

For tonight’s featured recipe, I was looking for a fresh salad idea and a friend was travelling through Italy and posted photos of an unusual salad, complete with recipe (in Italian) on Facebook. It looked good, so I decided to try it. Here’s my version.

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad

I chose to use mint because it’s what I had handy, but I’ve seen it with basil or oregano and white wine vinegar instead of limejuice. For a spicier version, try limejuice and Pico de Gallo

  • 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (if using unwaxed, no need to peel)
  • 2 tbsp limejuice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Pecorino Romano, feta or other similar cheese, cut into small chunks or crumbled

serving bowl

Add watermelon and cucumber to a serving bowl, drizzle with limejuice and oil, add mint leaves, then toss to combine. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, sprinkle with cheese just before serving cold.

That’s it for this week, have a great weekend and try and stay cool – TaMara

 

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Monday Thoughts: House Hunting and Recipes

Jicama Slaw FinalI just put jicama on the grocery list and I plan on making Jicama Slaw (recipe here), perfect for late summer heat. And it makes 6 to 10 servings, so I’ll have it on hand for the week. I can’t complain too much about the heat, because as far as Colorado summers go, this one has been pleasantly mild. Late afternoon showers keep things from heating up too much.

Rainy Weekend

I wanted to talk a bit about house hunting. I know it must seem like I’ve been shopping forever (trust me, it feels that way to me, too). Timing is everything. I started my own business four years ago and two years ago it became my full-time gig. Once that happened, I clearly needed more room as I worked at my home “office” 3 to 4 days a week. I ventured out into the market right at the time things heated up to bubble status. Houses are selling at a ridiculous amount over list.

Luckily, I have great clients, two who are actually custom home builders and one who is a financial whiz. They’ve been very helpful and confirmed my own intuition. I’m taking their advice, waiting out the bubble and trying to find my patience, both for myself and the critters. We all need more room to stretch out and we will find it.

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NOT my actual kitchen LOL

But in the meantime…ugh my kitchen. It’s just unworkable, especially for blogging and photos. No light, cramped space, crappy stove. I’ve been living on salads and diet Coke all summer. I do have a backlog of recipes that I will just have to start posting, sans photos.

And when we do move, then not only can we celebrate, but there should be some fun as I document the inevitable upgrades.

Until then….TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Just a Little Salsa Flavor

Photo by JeffreyW

Photo by JeffreyW

I have lost my cooking mojo. I have a stash this <————> big of recipes I want to try and share with you, but every time I look at my kitchen I go,“meh”. So next week I’m going to begin blogging in a bit of a different way and hope it brings back enough creativity to overcome my kitchen ennui. I hope you’ll check in and see how it’s going. There will probably be plenty of notes on Bixby antics. He’s become quite the clown. Spoiler alert, he has a girlfriend.

Until I can rediscover my kitchen magic, here are some recipes from 2012 that take advantage of garden bounty:

I am not a fan of canning. When I am overrun by tomatoes, I lean more towards freezing bags of pureed cooked tomatoes to use in sauces and soups later on. I also love to make a batch of salsa each week when the produce is fresh. Since I was faced with an abundance of tomatoes this week, I felt it was time for some salsa.

I have a Vita-Mix, which means if I’m not paying attention, salsa quickly goes from chunky salsa to picante sauce in the blink of an eye. Tonight my first batch went to full juice before I realized what I was doing. I’ll pulse my next batch and pay closer attention. Not sure what I’m going to do with the juice – but it sure tastes good.

Tonight’s recipes are all about tomatoes and what to do with the bounty from the garden or farm stand. I bet everyone has a favorite salsa recipe, I like mine fresh and simple. JeffreyW has a good salsa recipe and a nice Salsa Verde in case you’re tired of tomatoes, recipe here. He also makes and cans batches of his Awesome Sauce™, recipe here.

I love tomato season – sliced on a plate, grilled with olive oil, pasta caprese salad (recipe here), or just going out to the garden and eating the grape tomatoes right off the vine.

Are tomatoes a summer favorite? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? Anyone (besides JeffreyW) canning? And I know you have some salsa recipes to share…

Featured tonight, salsa recipes:

TaMara Fresh Salsa

  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 green onions
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ to 1 bunch cilantro, remove stems
  • 2 to 4 jalapenos*, remove stems
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • dash of limejuice if desired

blender or food processor

In blender or food processor, add all ingredients and coarsely chop until blended well**.  If you can make a day ahead, it gets even better.  Seal in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.

**If you prefer a chunkier style salsa, you’d be better off chopping vegetables by hand.

JeffreyW’s  Salsa:

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(Oh, you wanted his recipe…)

Couple of the jalapenos, a smallish onion or two, those green peppers, and most of the tomatoes.  Added a couple of dried ancho peppers all snipped small, a dash of chili powder, a few garlic cloves, a good squirt of lime juice, a bit of salt and fresh ground black pepper

(I think this is why I write the recipes and he takes the photos – both of us working to our strengths)

That’s if for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilling Up Some Chicken

BBQ Thighs Final2A few years ago, I picked 5 gallons of crab apples and made up a large batch of apple butter. It made a LOT of butter. I gave it away, I tucked some away, I kept a jar open in the frig for toast. It lasted forever, so I was always looking for different things to do with it (btw, was a great addition to pumpkin pie).

I thought it might be good with chicken or pork and eventually decided that barbecue chicken thighs would be where I started.  A spicy, smoky mix of apple butter, chipolte peppers in adobo sauce and a touch of spices made the perfect sauce. Alas, all my apple butter is gone and I don’t anticipate making it again (ever, not even if you paid me). Canning is not my thing. But the Farmer’s Market to the rescue for tonight’s featured recipe, where I found someone who likes to can and I was happy to pay.

In that fruity vein, I have two more fruit inspired grilled chicken recipes:

Cranberry Grilled Chicken, click here for the recipe, mustard gives it a bit of bite, but you can add cayenne or red pepper flakes to kick it up a bit more.

Can’t go wrong with citrus and chicken, here’s a marinade that is a notch above traditional lemon chicken, Sunrise Chicken (click here).

JeffreyW puts his smoker to work on Smoked Chicken, pictured below and directions here.

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One of my favorite grilled sides (besides grilled corn) is Sweet Peppers and Potatoes, recipe here.

What’s cooking in your backyard this weekend? If you grill, what’s your preference – coals, wood pellets, or gas?

For the pet lovers, a quick Bixby update here.

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For tonight’s featured recipe, you can make it is as spicy or mild as you like by adjusting the number of peppers you add. Bone-in, skin on thighs would work best, but you can easily switch out leg quarters or bone-in, skin on breasts.

Chipolte-Apple Butter Barbecue Chicken

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic

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  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (to start, add more as desired)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Season thighs with 1 tsp crushed garlic,  salt and pepper. Let sit for 5-10 minutes while oven or grill preheats to 375 degrees. Bake or grill chicken for 15 minutes. Meanwhile in a blender or food processor, blend together remaining ingredients until smooth. Brush on chicken thighs thickly at the 15 minute mark and add more every 5 minutes until chicken reaches 165 degrees internal temperature (usually 10-15 minutes for a total cooking time of 25 to 30 minutes). Serve with lots of napkins.

That’s it for this week. I’m working on a couple of breakfast pizzas (inspired by a restaurant review I stumble upon) so those might make an appearance in the next week or so. Until then, have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Ice Cream Delights

Vanilla Nut Crunch

It’s that time again. Time to dig out the ice cream maker and try out some new recipes. I cannot express how much I love the ease of the frozen bowl style machine. No fuss, no mess.

Pictured above is this summer’s first batch, Vanilla Nut Crunch, recipe here (where there is also a bonus kitteh)

And here are four of my favorites from the past summers:

Key Lime Pie Gelato, click here for recipes and photos.

Strawberry Ice Cream, two recipes here.

Blueberry Sorbet, recipe and photos here.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato, really my very favorite of all the recipes, is here.

For the pet lovers, in case you missed it, Bixby needed to cool off in a cute video here. He now has his own kiddie pool in the yard because flooding the bathroom nightly was not an option.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Getting ready the big holiday? Any favorite frozen treat recipes?

Double Dutch Chocolate

Tonight’s featured recipe is one of the most chocolaty ice creams ever. It takes a full cup of dark dutch cocoa and just enough sugar so it’s not too sweet. The ice cream scoop in the photo was my very first Kickstarter contribution. It works great on the hardest frozen ice cream with little effort. But in all honesty, I contributed because the presentation was so funny and the inventor was a riot.  I <3 engineers.

Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream

  • 1 cup dark dutch cocoa, unsweetened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  •  1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract

mixing bowl, ice cream freezer

In the mixing bowl, combine cocoa, sugars and salt, until well blended, add milk and use a hand mixer on low speed to combine until sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and vanilla by hand.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s direction for your ice cream maker (for mine, I place the frozen bowl on the machine, add the paddle and the top, turn it on and then pour the ice cream mixture in while it’s turning. 30 minutes later I have ice cream).

After it has completed its freezing cycle, you usually have a soft serve consistency, you can freeze it until hard. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts.

That’s it for this week. There won’t be an exchange next week because of the holiday. I hope you have a great week and a terrific 4th! – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Tidbits

Buffalo Leg QuartersJeffreyW uses the Tidbits title when he puts together a lot of different items in one post, so I thought I would co-opt it for this eclectic post.

It’s been a busy week of cooking, surprisingly. When stressed, I retreat to the kitchen and even in its unwelcoming state, there was solace there this week. Bixby turned one on Tuesday, I baked up some more dog biscuits for him and his best play-buddies. You can see his birthday photos here.

Then I was at the store and found chicken leg quarters on sale and sitting right next to them, my favorite bottle of wing sauce, so I made some Buffalo Leg Quarters, pictured above and recipe here. They were really good and much easier than making wings.

JeffreyW was busy in the kitchen, too and his Shrimp Mornay with Broccoli from earlier in the week looked delicious. Photos and recipe here.

What’s been cooking in your kitchen this week? Is it time to give up on indoor cooking and move it all out to the backyard? What’s up for Father’s day? Cucumber Salsa I had tonight’s featured recipe tucked away for the day I could find decent tomatoes. That day was today. And if you want other cucumber salad ideas, click here for a bunch of them.

Crisp Cucumber Salsa

  • 1 large chopped cucumber – I used an English cucumber so I didn’t have to peel or seed it.
  • 2 small chopped tomatoes
  • 3 green onions, chopped, greens included
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, chopped (seeded if you want to lower the heat)
  • 4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • dash of cayenne pepper (opt)
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • Tortilla chips
  • Small tortillas, cut into eighths

small bowl, serving bowl

In a serving bowl, combine the top seven ingredients.  In small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour dressing over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat.

Let the flavors blend for about thirty minutes. Serve at room temperature or ice cold with chips and tortillas.

That’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a lovely Father’s Day. – TaMara

 

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Recipe Exchange: Helping Friends

A funnel cloud is seen north of Longmont on Thursday evening. (Jenn Fields / The Denver Post)

A funnel cloud is seen north of Longmont on Thursday evening. (Jenn Fields / The Denver Post)

Yes, that’s the tornado that touched down a couple miles from my neighborhood last night. It was a raucous night.

Today, for the second time in as many weeks, I braved my kitchen to cook for friends who lost a loved one. So I thought it would be good to talk about cooking to help friends.

Cooking for friends doesn’t have to be restricted to a death in the family. Birth of a baby, finals week, new to the neighborhood, moving away, these are all times when people can be too busy and too stressed to cook or eat properly.

What’s 4 Dinner Solutions was actually started because I used to deliver dinners to teachers during the last push of the school year. If you know any teachers, you know they start to look a little rough around the edges by the time school is finishing up. Seemed the least I could do for them.

What do bring. Don’t overwhelm them with sugary treats. Sugar, while great for mood and comfort, can add to fatigue. Last week I baked cookies because chocolate was requested. If you are doing a dessert, make sure it’s ready to serve. Don’t expect them to cut a cake or brownies into serving sizes. Cookies (find your favorite here) and cupcakes (some fun flavors here) are a great choice.

Know your audience. Skip the alcohol unless you’re really sure this is okay. I have one friend that a wine care package is my first thought, but that’s a rare exception. If they have food restrictions, go for a vegetable, fruit, cheese and dip platter. Lots of healthy finger foods that can accommodate the vegans, gluten-free and allergy prone. A tray is perfect for those that just don’t have the time or inclination to sit down for a meal. Grazing is often how people cope with stressful situations.

Please for all that is holy, don’t make a casserole. Make a complete dinner, or if that’s not possible, put together a deli platter. Or how about a picnic? Put a bunch of picnic foods in a nice basket, along with paper plates, napkins, utensils and cups.

If food is not an option, then offer to walk the dog, clean the litter box, watch the kids for the afternoon, or vacuum the house before guests arrive.

How about you, what do you do for friends in a time of need? And what’s on your  plate for the weekend? Anyone else dodging wild weather?  If you missed it, JeffreyW bought a new camera this week. Pictures are worth a look.

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Now for the recipes. For tonight I have put together a Pot Roast (photo above by JeffreyW) with all the trimmings (recipe here), hot and ready when they get home and for tomorrow, I’m putting together the featured recipe. They can then bake as needed. I’ll add a loaf of crusty bread and a bag of salad to complete that meal.

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, spicy or mix 1/2 spicy and 1/2 sweet
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1- 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 – 14 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Saucepan, skillet, 9×13 baking dish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil, uncovered, until the pasta is al dente, you want it very chewy as it will continue to cook while you bake it. Drain the pasta and DO NOT RINSE (you want the pasta starchy so it grabs the sauce).

In a skillet, brown the sausage. When it is mostly browned, add the onions and stir well to combine. Sauté everything until the onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, spices and stir to combine. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, then add tomato paste, stirring to coat all the meat. Add tomato sauce and bring to a low simmer for 5 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a lightly oiled 9×13-inch casserole pan. Add a layer of pasta, ladle more sauce, spoon 1/2 the ricotta cheese over sauce, in dollops (three across and 4 to 5 up works well, kind of like you’d do cookie dough). Spread a 1/4 of the mozzarella. Add more pasta, more sauce, remaining ricotta, 1/4 of the mozzarella, sauce, pasta and the rest of the sauce. Top with mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake at 350°F until the top is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting. I put a cookie sheet under the baking dish to catch any sauce bubbling over.

Serves at least 8

NOTES:

This can be put together ahead of time and refrigerated. Bake for 15 minutes, covered with foil, bake for additional 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown and center is hot.   As this serves 8, you can use two 8×8 baking dishes and freeze one for later.

That’s if for this week. No Bixby update, but he’s recovering nicely from his “procedure” and I’m recovering from being dragged across the grass and the black eye has healed considerably. Life with an overgrown puppy. Have a terrific weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Recipes for Pups

Bixby Treats1

Have I mentioned I HATE my kitchen? The house hunt goes on…and on. But this week I braved the ugly, cramped space because one of my clients was having a tough week and I thought Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies would help (recipe here). They worked wonders. And I’ll add that since they are very chewy and crispy they are great frozen – cold, chewy and sweet.

Chocolate Chip Cookies4

I’d done a bit of cooking over the week, but most was for Bixby. As timing would have it, a few things fell into place that meant I had ideas for dog treats. And that became the idea for this week’s recipe exchange.

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product.

Jack bravely volunteers to test the final product.

First up, Mrs. J cooks up cheesy dog biscuits (photo above and below by JeffreyW). Recipe and step by step photos here.

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Just a note, no Bixby update this week, but all his recipes include bonus photos of the Beast.

Then from my files, Dried Liver Treats, recipe and pup photo here.

Next, his absolute favorite treat right now, Yogurt Pupsicles, recipe and pic of that Tongue, here.

What about the cats, you ask? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I tried making food and treats for my cats (including fresh fish) and they looked at me like I was insane and stomped off. So if you have had better luck, please share because I’m open to trying again.

What’s in your dish tonight? Do you have any treat recipes? Any fun plans?

For tonight’s featured recipe, more biscuits. I enjoyed making them and I might do it again, it was pretty simple and quick.

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Brown rice flour gives the biscuits crunch, peanut butter and pumpkin give them irresistible flavor (for pups at least). These got two paws up from Bixby and the neighbor dogs.

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup, plus 1 tbsp whole wheat flour (if your dog has a sensitive tummy, use all rice flour)

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in dry milk, salt  and then add the flour gradually, combining with spatula or hands to form a stiff, dry dough. It’s very dry, so you may need to add a touch of water to get it to the consistency you need to roll it out.

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Turn out onto lightly floured surface  – and if dough is rough, briefly knead and press to combine.
Roll dough between 1/4 – 1/2″ and use biscuit or other shape cutter to make biscuits. Place shapes on cookie sheet.. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, then bake additional 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on rack.

Mine made 2 dozen very large biscuits. Next time I’ll try to find smaller cookie cutters, or just make discs. I think you could easily get 4 dozen smaller treats.

That’s it for this week. Have a great (and hopefully dry) weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Cast Iron and Baked Beans

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JeffreyW posted his photo of cast iron baked beans a while back and all I could think was, “great idea, why haven’t I tried that?” I debated between posting about cast iron recipes or baked beans. With Memorial Day coming up fast, it seemed like a good time to bring back a bunch of baked bean recipes.

There was no real cooking in my kitchen this week, I’m uninspired while I house hunt. Luckily, I keep a lot of frozen meals, marinated meats and sauces in my freezer. I double batch much of what I cook and freeze for later. Boil up some fresh pasta or rice and I’ve got a quick meal. But I did get to a Bixby update for the pet lovers, he’s relaxin’ and chillin’ for your amusement here.

On to the recipes:

I like linking to JeffreyW’s recipes (rather than embedding them in the post) because he writes a narrative of the process instead of simply listing the recipe and often includes a batch of photos to illustrate. His Cast Iron Baked Beans recipe (click here) is no exception. It would silly to abridge it here.

I had these baked beans at a cookout and absolutely needed the recipe. Turns out it is just a few ingredients that spices up a simple can of baked beans and adds a touch of sweet, too.  Nita’s Baked Beans, recipe here.

If baked beans aren’t your thing, how about Butter Beans and Greens (recipe here), since in many backyard gardens, the collards, mustard greens and spinach should be ready for spring harvest.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Do you have a dish that everyone asks for the recipe when you take it to gatherings? And do you give it out? Have any dishes you had to have the recipe after tasting it at a cookout or potluck?

The featured recipe tonight is savory, sweet. smoky and oven baked. Who knew molasses could be so good?

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Baked Beans Photo by JeffreyW

And if you want a true New England experience, add some Brown Bread, recipe here. Brown bread was a childhood treat that I didn’t realized until later was unique to New England (at least at that time). My mom would fry it up in a skillet, served with lots of butter, maple syrup and baked beans.

Boston Baked Beans

This serves 8, but you can easily double it for large gatherings. The slow cooking, white beans and molasses are what give these baked beans their signature flavor.

  • 1 pound (2 cups) dried white beans (Great Northern or navy beans)
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (or 2 tbsp tomato paste)
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups water, or more if necessary
  • 1/4 tsp salt (more may be needed, but start here)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

large dutch oven, bean pot or heavy duty oven proof pot

Soak the beans overnight, drain, and rinse them. (Here at high altitude, soaking doesn’t do much, so I pressure cook them for 20 minutes instead, then let them soak for an hour)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Put the beans in a large, ovenproof pot.. Add the onions, brown sugar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, and bacon. Add water, salt, and pepper. Return the beans to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

Cook the beans for 4 hours, checking them every hour to see if the pan seems dry. Add more water as needed, ½ cup at a time.

Add more salt and pepper, if you like, and let the beans sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Note: To reheat leftovers, add more water and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until hot.

Missing the full dinner menus and shopping lists? If you click here, it will take you to all the ones I have posted. That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend. – TaMara

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