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Friday Recipe Exchange: Black “Forbidden” Rice

Pineapple riceI love rice. It’s a staple in my diet. I especially like brown rice and was very excited when brown jasmine and brown basmati were available at my local store. I make a big batch and refrigerate it for the week. It’s easy to warm it for a simple side. It also makes a quick lunch – heat it up, add some nuts, ponzu sauce, or butter, maybe leftover veggies and yum.

While rice is usually considered a side dish, I love it as a main course. That’s what most of tonight’s recipes are, including the featured recipe, which was inspired by a bag of black rice given to me by a friend. She wasn’t sure what to do with it and thought for sure I would. I didn’t, but had some fun experimenting.

To start off, pictured above is my Pineapple Rice Bowl, the complete dinner menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

Then there is Wash Day Beans and Rice, recipe here.

JeffreyW gives a great review on his Rice Cooker, click here and then uses it to make Fried Rice, recipe here.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? We have great weather right now, but snow is coming. Don’t forget to share your recipes, rice or otherwise, I’m always looking for something new.

Black rice 2a

Tonight’s featured recipe was inspired by a bag of black rice, also know as Emperor or Forbidden Rice, in my pantry. It’s a heritage grain and it has a complex flavor – it’s deep, nutty, savory, earthy. I had never even heard of it, much less tasted it. I cooked up a cup of it and it was love at first bite. But what to pair it with – it easily overwhelmed chicken and pork, and the flavors did not balance with beef. I did use it with some crumbled Spicy Italian sausage and that worked, the balance was right. What I thought it really needed was a citrus or vinegar pairing, some veggies, I wasn’t sure about nuts. Time to experiment.

Limes were on sale this week, so I settled on a citrus vinaigrette and fresh veggies paired with the rice (pictured above) for last night’s dinner and I think it worked out very well.  Walnuts worked well, cashews were overwhelmed by the rice. I served it warm, but it was good cold today.

Black “Forbidden”Rice with Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup black rice, rinsed
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • snow peas (or veggie of your choice)
  • tomatoes (grape tomatoes work well)
  • toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh limejuice
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • dash of orange juice
  • pinch of lime zest
  • dash of ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • honey to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

saucepan, serving bowl

In the saucepan, add rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer on low until all water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Cut snow peas into about four pieces each, half the grape tomatoes, and lightly chop the walnuts. (You’ll notice I had to settle for ripe on the vine tomatoes yesterday – no grapes to be found).

For the vinaigrette, whisk juices, vinegar, ginger and honey together. Drizzle in oil, whisking constantly. Give it a quick taste and add more ginger and honey as desired.

Toss rice and veggie mixture with vinaigrette and serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold.

That’s it for this week. Next week pull out your favorite Super Bowl snack recipes and we’ll focus on those for the recipe exchange. Have a good weekend – TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Pineapple Rice Bowls and Chocolate Torte

Pineapple rice2In an odd series of events, I was thinking about focusing on rice for this week’s recipe exchange and then pineapples were on sale  – less than a dollar a piece – which reminded me of this recipe which I haven’t make in quite a while. So tonight I made it for dinner for friends.

And just in time for National Chocolate Cake Day, the menu includes…CAKE!

Here is the original post from January 2011 (where does the time go?)

Tonight I’m putting together a menu from two different restaurant visits. Last Friday night Bad Horse and I were in Santa Monica looking for somewhere to have a late dinner. I wanted something light at a place that was neither trendy nor pretentious. Harder to find than you might think. We settled on a cute little Thai restaurant on Wilshire, near the beach. They had pineapple rice on the menu and that sounded like it would fit the bill. I was pleasantly surprised by the dish. First, they served it in a pineapple, which made me laugh and second it was hands-down better than the Ming Tsai recipe I posted a few months ago. I vowed to go home and recreate it. That is our main dish tonight. The dessert comes from a little Italian restaurant near my house where LFern and I had lunch, I believe for my birthday this summer. I ordered their always excellent carrot cake and she decided to try their chocolate torte. We both really liked the torte (ours is a friendship based on coffee and chocolate) and I said I’d try and recreate it for her. It’s 5 months later, but I finally got around to it.   Hopefully it will not disappoint her – I really liked it and had fun making it, twice.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pineapple Rice
  2. Snow Peas
  3. Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Pineapple Rice

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 4 cups cooked rice (about 2 cups uncooked) – I chose brown basmati
  • 4 strips of bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 boneless chicken breast, diced
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews (I like lots, your mileage may vary)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu

Wok or skillet

The reason I really like this recipe is how fresh it is. The last pineapple rice was heavy on spices and all the flavors blended together. It was good, but this one, with only pineapple juice and bit of ponzu added, really lets each flavor shine. Their version did not have bacon, but I love bacon and pineapple together, so I added it. You can omit the bacon and fry the chicken in a tablespoon of oil instead. Personally, my shrimp ends up on Bad Horse’s plate, so I consider them an optional ingredient.

Coring the pineapple can be tricky. A friend has a pineapple corer and I wished I had one while I was making this recipe. You don’t need to serve it in pineapple bowls, but if you do, coring out the pineapple can be difficult. I cut off the stem to make a flat bottom, cut the pineapple in half, took out the core, scored the pineapple and scooped it out. By the time I was done, the rice had finished cooking, so it was time consuming.

Next you’ll want to fry the bacon until crisp, add chicken and fry on medium heat until it is cooked through. Add shrimp and let cook for 3-5 minutes, add remaining ingredients (including rice), mixing well over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You want the pineapple and raisins to be warm, but not necessarily cooked. Serve in pineapple bowls with ponzu or soy sauce. Serves 4

Snow Peas

I served these raw because I liked the crisp contrast to the main course. You can lightly steam them if you desire, or even add them to the rice dish for a true one-dish meal.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform baking.

With this recipe, I made it two different times. The first time I separated the eggs, beat the whites until stiff and folded them in last. The second time I just beat the whole eggs until they were frothy. I actually liked the texture better the second way. You can do either. The directions below are for the latter cake.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the chocolate, milk and butter together over low heat until a smooth mixture forms. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool.

In a blender, beat eggs well. Add sugar, blending until the mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Add the Frangelino and gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture, blending slowly until combined. Add baking powder, vanilla and nuts and mix until just combined.

Bake for 45 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack until completely cooled. Serves 12 small portions

Shopping List:

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu
  • Snow peas
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Also: baking powder, vanilla, sugar, milk or cream,

Friday Recipe Exchange: A Little of This and a Little of That

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JeffreyW’s delicious blueberry bars

For tonight’s recipe exchange, I put together the recipes based on what’s been cooking in our kitchens this week.

Missing my fresh fruits, I make do with flash-frozen berries:

Love the full-on strawberry flavor in my Strawberry Bread (recipe here)

Blueberries, I could make stuff with blueberries everyday. Including JeffreyW’s Blueberry Bars (recipe and photos here) and his Lemon-Blueberry Bread (click here for photos and recipe)

My afternoon pick-me-up of late probably isn’t for everyone, but really works for me. Hit of energy and curbs my sweet cravings. I blend a pound of frozen strawberries, a pound of frozen blueberries and about a cup of frozen raspberries in my Vita-Mix, which creates a very smooth mixture (if you ignore the raspberry seeds) which unlike juicing, retains all the fiber. I add it and an equal amount of water to a big pitcher, mix well. I have a glass of this in the afternoon and a pitcher lasts a good two weeks in the refrigerator.  YMMV.

My pressure cooker has been getting a real work out lately.  A couple of meals to continue on the one-pot theme from last week:

In this Pressure Cooker Pot Roast (click here), I pushed the limits and began with a frozen roast, just to see what would happen. It turned out great and the booze made up for some of the flavors lost by not being able to brown the beef first.

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Seriously, don’t all JeffreyW’s meals look delicious? Above is his yummy pot roast and below is his Pork Mole

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Playing with his new Electric Pressure Cooker, JeffreyW tackles Pork Mole (click here) with much success.

I would have a Bixby update, but he’s been so crazy today, I haven’t had time to download the photos and video from our play date this week. Crazy-assed dog.

For tonight’s featured recipe, thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, these are a fun, elegant treat. I’m actually making them for a birthday get-together.

Pretty and tasty, they were inspired by a novel I was reading. If you want to read the full Food in Fiction post, click here.

Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcakes

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Moist Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup chopped raspberries

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dry cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour muffin tins. Cream together oil, butter and sugar. Mix in remaining moist ingredients, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift together dry ingredients. Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture and beat for 2 minutes at high-speed. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they bounce back when pressed lightly.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 6 oz heavy cream

Double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a saucepan with about an 1 inch of water)

Place chocolate and cream in top of boiler, bring water in bottom half to a boil, reduce heat to med-high and let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, remove from heat and stir until cream and chocolate are completely mixed. Let cool and dollop over cooled cupcakes

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

saucepan

Puree raspberries until smooth, add raspberries and sugar to saucepan and heat to a low boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until thickened, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Let cool and spoon over frosted cupcakes.

Note:  For a layer cake, take 1/2 of the ganache, let it cool, mix with 1 cup crushed raspberries and spread between layers.  Keep the other 1/2 of the ganache warm and pour over cake to make a beautiful and smooth coating.  Serve with warm raspberry sauce.

That’s it for this week. Have a fun and safe weekend and say a little prayer for tornado damaged area of Florida, as they are expecting more rain and stormy weather. If you didn’t see it, here is my brother’s house, or what’s left of it. – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Quick and Easy

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This is the time of year when I wander around the store looking for anything fresh. I am big on farm stands, shopping the outside aisles of the store (away from all the processed stuff) and cooking from scratch. This is the difficult time for creative cooking in my kitchen. I fight the urge that long cold nights provoke: heavy, carb-laden meals. But there is no getting around it, there is more pasta, more bread, more potatoes, more cookies (!!) and less fresh, raw veggies as the winter days wear on.

But I do have my go-to vegetable broth that is the base to almost all my soups. It is rich, creamy and satisfies that need for hearty comfort foods without all the guilt. Because I have a Vita-Mix, I just throw in celery, carrots, corn, green beans, spinach, tomatoes, green or red pepper, onion, dash of lemon juice , and water, blending until smooth. Spices vary depending on what type of soup I’m making, but a dash of lemon juice really brings out the flavors. It’s great on its own, or as a base for hearty vegetable soup, chicken tortilla soup, tomato-spinach soup and more.

Lately, besides soups, I’ve been making a lot of one-pot meals. I throw a few items into the pressure cooker and 20 minutes later, open it up and there’s a nice dinner. Not gourmet, but flavorful and good for a quick supper. Tonight’s feature recipe is one of those that can be cooked in a pressure cooker or saucepan. Put it together, cover and a bit later, dinner.

Let’s start with some other quick and easy recipes:

In the photo above, JeffreyW takes leftovers and makes a whole new awesome dinner. That’s why I always try to make extra sauce and freeze leftovers for quick meals.

Vegetable Pasta Toss (recipe here) is a friend of mine’s go-to meal on busy school nights. She varies the vegetables and spices to change it up.

Crispy Potato Chicken (recipe, full dinner menu and shopping list here) is easier than it sounds and a great way to shake up that typical chicken and potato dinner. Also you can easily substitute fish or pork chops for the chicken.

If you are like me and received pears for Christmas, here are two fresh and easy recipes with pears as the centerpiece:

Asian Pear, Cabbage and Grape Salad (click here)

Walnut Pear Salad (click here – there is also a dinner menu, Beef and Pepper Sub recipe and shopping list at that link)

I messed up the settings on my camera over the holidays (fixed now), so I’m a little short on photos this week. But here is a cell phone shot of my walk yesterday with the Bixster:

Bixby by the river 1 7 16

Tonight’s feature recipe is truly one-pot. I’ve made it in the pressure cooker successfully, but unless you’re confident with your pressure cooker, I’d stick with the saucepan. Unless you have an electric pressure cooker, like JeffreyW’s new one. I’ve paired it with an easy vegetable side.

Spicy Chicken & Rice

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs (breast if you prefer)
  • 1 green pepper (substitute yellow or orange if you prefer)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 tbsp pickled sliced jalapeños
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 oz sliced black olives (opt)

large saucepan or dutch oven

Heat ½ tbsp oil in pan, add chicken and cook until browned on both sides. Remove and set aside to cool enough to cut into large pieces.  Add remaining oil, onion, peppers & jalapenos to pan and sauté.  Stir in uncooked rice and stir for 1 minute.  Add water, chicken broth, tomatoes, & chicken to pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add olives and serve.

Peas w/Mushrooms & Onions

  • 8 oz pearl onions (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 16 oz frozen peas
  • salt & pepper to taste

saucepan with lid, bowl

In the saucepan over medium, heat oil and butter. Add onions, mushrooms and stir until onions are softened. Remove to a bowl. Add peas and a splash of water to the saucepan and cover. Let simmer until peas are heated through. Add more water as needed – but you want them to steam, not boil. Once they are heated through, add mushroom mixture back to the saucepan and toss, adding salt and pepper to taste.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll continue to try and highlight what’s fresh and easy to combat the winter blues – TaMara

spring training ball

Remember, only 42 days until spring training.  87 until opening day.



Bixby Update: Merry Christmas Eve

HO HO HO1

I’m a horrible pet person. I don’t remember my pets birthdays or when they arrived. I don’t buy them Christmas presents or dress them in cute outfits. Occasionally I throw embarrassing reindeer antlers on the dogs. As you can see Bixby is not amused.

Bixby Officemate1

This is where he spends his days – right next to my desk, snoozing. It’s hard to believe this is his second Christmas (even harder to believe it’s Zander’s third). I was looking at photos from last year and he was pretty big then, even though he was only  6 months old. But nothing like now. He’s almost 160 lbs, and 35″ at his shoulders. His head is pretty much as big as he was at 8 weeks when I picked him up.

He was standing next to me the other day and I reached my hand down to pet him and wondered why anyone would have a “regular” sized dog. I guess I’m just a Giant Breed kinda person.

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Between snow storms we had a nice play date at our friends’ property. It was bittersweet because they just lost their dog and Bixby would periodically go to the backdoor and look for him.

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Bixby is an awesome dog, but not an easy dog. He never eats cat food (even though it is easily accessible), never takes food off the counters, he’s been good about the chewing – other than a few pairs of flip-flops – and is pretty good  with boundaries. He LOVES people, he adores his cats and still cannot understand why they are indifferent to him (after all he is an AWESOME dog) and is pretty good with other dogs.

But Bixby is also a very alpha dog. Every day begins anew, I remind him he is the low rung on the ladder in the household and he gives me the “maybe” look. And many times during the day I must remind him that he is not in charge. I should have known within thirty minutes after I picked him up that he was going to be a challenge. He made it clear he was not one to be bossed, even then.

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It’s constant and sometimes exhausting, but I swear to you I would not have it any other way. He has such a big spirit, such joy. He makes me laugh, even when he’s turned his big body into granite so I can’t move him and he won’t listen to anything. He does test my patience when he decides to drag me down the street to see some new friend. But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Thanksgiving Files: Spatchcock Turkey

Spatchcock Turkey finishSometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

I tryout various new methods a few days before the big day, just to spice things up and make sure there are leftovers in my frig. This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was pretty foolproof and stress free. My brother is going to prep one of his two turkeys similarly, but smoke it instead.

I put it together today so I could get the recipe up in time for your holiday.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes or search by name or ingredient in the search box at the bottom of the blog.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  – TaMara

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Breakfast Treat: Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Photo from Martha Stewart

Photo from Martha Stewart

When I’m expecting company for the holidays, I usually indulge in baking sweet treats that can be enjoyed with coffee for breakfast, at people’s leisure. I love a good coffee cake. Add pecans and I’m sold.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Streusel:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsps cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ cup whole pecans

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsps orange juice

4 mixing bowls

Bundt pan, greased and floured

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Using a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom to make sure the mixture if fully combined.

For the streusel, crumble the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl (I use a fork or pastry cutter). Gently mix in pecans.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and place on a serving plate. Whisk the powdered sugar and orange juice together, adding a more OJ if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

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Dinner Menu: Spicy Potato Soup and Gooey Chocolate Treat

Spicy Potato Soup_Snap2Well, in parts of the Front Range there was 10 inches of snow. Here…rain. Bixby was disappointed but I was not. Still cold enough to keep the soups going.

I rifled through my files and decided on another soup for the dinner menu this week:

When the cold weather hits, it is great to hunker down with some hot soup, buttery biscuits and finish with some melt-in-your-mouth cake warm from the oven. This is my go-to potato soup, over the traditional cream of potato soup; I like the spiciness and the sautéed onions add a deep, rich flavor. The garlic biscuits are a nice complement to the soup. I was going to find a healthy dessert for tonight, but then thought to heck with it, it’s cold and we need chocolate.  Rich, gooey, chocolaty goodness.

JeffW's awesome biscuit photo. So beautiful I wouldn't even try to compete with my own.

JeffW’s awesome biscuit photo.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Potato Soup
  2. Garlic Biscuits
  3. Salad
  4. Mocha Cake

Spicy Potato Soup

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • ½ lb spicy ground sausage, browned and drained
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (opt)
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 6 potatoes, well scrubbed, unpeeled and cubed
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar or jack

saucepan

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and lightly golden, about five minutes. Add sausage, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, garlic, broth, & potatoes. Mix milk & flour, add. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until potatoes are soft. If it’s too thick, add water. With a potato masher, slightly mash a few of the potatoes. Serve with cheese to garnish.

Garlic Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp buttermilk powder*
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup milk*

bowl and baking sheet or cast iron skillet, greased

I prefer using butter over shortening because it gives the biscuits a buttery, garlic flavor that is irresistible.

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in butter, stir in garlic, add milk. Stir quickly with a fork until completely moistened, don’t over mix. Knead gently on floured surface for 10-12 strokes. Roll out to ½ inch thick, cut into biscuits. Place on baking sheet or cast iron skillet, and bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.

*or substitute 1 cup buttermilk,  then omitting buttermilk powder and milk.

Mocha Cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

====

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup very hot coffee**
  • 8×8 inch baking dish, lightly oiled

Preheat oven to 350°

This is a pudding style cake, so you don’t want to over bake it. You’ll serve it warm and directly from the pan. When you cut into it a thick, gooey chocolate center will be revealed.

From the top list: combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Combine milk, oil, & vanilla, mix well and add to flour mixture. Stir well. Pour batter into baking dish. From the bottom list: combine sugar & cocoa and sprinkle over batter. Pour hot coffee over batter – DO NOT stir. Bake for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched, do not over bake.

** for a stronger coffee flavor, double the ground coffee to water ratio, or use espresso.

Shopping list:

  • Salad fixin’s
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • ½ lb spicy ground sausage
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 6 potatoes (russets work best)
  • 5-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar or jack
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • Coffee or espresso to make 1 strong cup

Also: flour, sugar, crushed garlic, bay leaf, crushed red pepper, cayenne, salt, pepper, baking powder, oil, vanilla

Originally posted on February 2011

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Full Dinner Menu: Hearty Tomato Soup and a Couple of Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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Awesome Photo by JeffreyW

This is one of my favorite menus, perfect for a chilly week.

For a different take on grilled cheese, JeffreyW makes Inside Out Grilled Cheese here.

This not your mom’s canned soup or grilled cheese.  These are tasty, hearty and easy to whip up.  And the flax cookies are addictive (I can say this because it’s a friend’s recipe).  On the board tonight:

  1. Hearty Tomato Soup
  2. Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  3. Flax Cookies

Hearty Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions, including greens
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 quart saucepan

In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.

Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc.  to cover bread (about 3 slices)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
  • 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Butter
  • Spray Oil

Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better.  :-)

Flax Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Bowl & cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients together and then fold into egg mixture until well blended. Mix in almonds and drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, don’t let them brown.

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (4-6 large)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • 8 – 10 oz favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
  • 1- 2 Jalapenos or 2 oz pickled Jalapenos
  • 1 large tomato for slicing
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 sticks + butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground flax

Also: crushed garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, oil spray

Originally posted October 2009

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Brought To You By Butter

Mmm, Dinner FinalTonight friends are coming over for dinner, so this will be a modified recipe exchange featuring the recipes from tonight’s menu. When I was putting together the shopping list I realized butter was making an appearance in a big way. I usually go through about a pound of butter every two or more months. I cook mostly with olive oil and unless I’m baking sweets the butter languishes in the freezer. Tonight I anticipate going through almost three-quarters of a pound. No one said it was going to be a low-cal night.

Skillet Cookies

As promised, here is a photo of the cute little skillet cookies. I had to make a test batch for cooking times. Sometimes the trickiest part of a dinner party is timing everything out. They are going to be warm from the oven for cookie sundaes. It’s a good thing I tested – needed to double the amount of cookie dough per pan and additional baking time.

Cookie sundae

I think the sundaes will be a hit. I’m not gonna lie, the test sundae was yummy.

Pictured at the top of the post is fairly close to the rest of what I am planning tonight.  Here are the recipes:

Buttered Potato Pie – click here (and there is an entire menu, recipes and shopping list at that link)

Roasted Asparagus (still debating on adding the cheese or not) – click here.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookiesclick here

The appetizer is going to be fresh baked bread with a variety of dips, including roasted garlic, which is in the oven right now and making the house smell delicious, and there will be a side salad.

If you’ve been around a while, you’ll notice these are recipes I’ve made on several other occasions. I wanted tonight to be pretty casual, so items I’m very familiar with and can make without ever consulting the recipes, means I can spend more time with friends and less time stressing about presentation. Also, each recipe is a favorite of one person or another, so added bonus.

Ok, you’re on your own tonight. What’s on the menu? Are you prepared for the Halloween onslaught? I dread the leftover candy, how about you?

I almost forgot, there was a Bixby update this week for the pet lovers.

Finally, here is the main dish of the evening. It’s usually served over buttered noodles, but the potatoes are a favorite and worked well the last time I paired them with the chicken, so I didn’t hesitate to do it again. Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules.

Tonight’s feature recipe:

Chicken Piccata

  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced into very thin slices*
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh snipped parsley
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

bowl, skillet

Combine breadcrumbs, basil, zest, and pepper in bowl. Mix ½ tbsp oil and garlic together. Coat both sides of chicken with oil/garlic and dredge in breadcrumbs. Over medium-high heat 1 tbsp ea. of butter and oil in skillet, add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken – keep warm – add lemon slices to pan, sauté 30 seconds, add water, parsley and juice, boil for 1 minute, spoon over chicken.

*Scrub well before slicing.

Just for fun, JeffreyW has a bit more traditional take on this recipe here.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, stay safe and don’t let the goblins get you – TaMara

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