Sunday, November 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

I make this once a week... it makes two loaves and is adapted from my dear friend and best bread maker I know, Jenny B.

1/4 C warm water
1 T yeast

2 1/2 C hot water
1/3 C canola oil
1/3 C honey
1/2 T salt

1 1/2 C white flour
5+ C wheat flour

Put warm water in bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top, then swirl the water in the bowl to combime the yeast and water (this is my own method, people ask me specifically how i make this, so there you go). Give it 10+ minutes to get foamy on the top. Meanwhile, combine hot water, oil, honey, and salt and let it dissolve while yeast is proofing. Pour the hot water mixture into the yeast mixture and turn on hook to stir together. Add one cup of flour at a time until dough is all combined and sticking to the hook (like a cacoon, as Char would say). Knead for 2 minutes. Put in a greased bowl I( just spray with cooking spray) and cover with a light towl. Let rise for about an hour or until doubled... then split dough in half and place in a greased bread pan... let rise for a half hour and then cook at 350 for 35 minutes!

Root Veggie Saute

See if this makes to it the Thanksgiving feast!

2 T olive oil
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes
2 C beets, (4 C if you LOVE them, like me) cut any way you like :)
1/2 C diced yellow onion
2 tsp minced garlic
4 1/2 C chopped fresh kale
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 T craisins
4 T chopped pecans/walnuts
4 T crumbled goat cheese (I LOVE goat cheese)

In a large skillet, heat oil over med-high heat. Add squash, beets, onion, garlic, and cook until squash is lightly browned and slightly tender, about 7 minutes. Add kale, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and cook until kale is wilted and squash is tender, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add craisins and nuts, toss to combine, and sprinkle with heavenly goat cheese. YUM!

Israeli Couscous with Chickpeas, Brussels Sprouts, & Asparagus

So this has been an easy, go to meal for us lately... and it's meatless, which we try to do a few times a week!

3 C Brussels sprouts
2 T olive oil
2T balsamic vinegar
1 medium bunch asparagus
1 15 oz can chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 C uncooked Israeli couscous
2.5 tbsp lemon juice
2 T minced garlic
1/2 C grated parmesam cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Cut brussels sprouts in half, toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook for 20-22 min, tossing at the half way point.
Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package directions and chop up asparagus and stem.
Once brussel sprouts, couscous, and asparagus are done, combine them all in a large bowl along with chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, parm cheese and salt and pepper. Stir everything together and eat up!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Smoky Bacon Scalloped Potatoes

Wow, it's been a while! In my defense, we HAVE moved to the other side of the world, so I haven't just been sitting around doing nothing :) But my friend Chaoyi reminded me that at one point I DID post recipes on this blog, so I'm trying to do a little better! And what better excuse do I need than the fact that Thanksgiving is coming up?!?

A couple years ago, I wrote a post and listed (with links) our basic Thanksgiving menu. I thought I'd post the link again in case you are looking for some ideas this year:

The big difference this year is that Jeremy is smoking our Thanksgiving turkey! For graduation from residency, he got a Big Green Egg and I've been fighting for his attention on the weekends ever since ;) Just kidding... kind of. Last weekend he "practiced" for Thanksgiving with a 12-pound bird, and this is what we had for dinner:

It really was amazing. It only took 90 minutes to cook, and it tasted UN.BE.LIEVABLE. Usually I can go without the turkey on Thanksgiving--I look forward to the side dishes more... But no longer! And now I feel like this crown jewel needs something new to go along with it! Something less "traditional" on the menu than what we're used to... And something with a smoky flavor to complement the turkey. So I looked at for some fresh ideas. Of course they didn't disappoint.

And so I give you... Smoky Bacon Scalloped Potatoes! It's a variation on a recipe from the Neelys at Food Network; click HERE for the link to the original recipe. But I modified it quite a bit, so I'll just write it out with my changes below. You're welcome in advance :)

Smoky Bacon Scalloped Potatoes
3 TB butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 C half-and-half
2-3 tsp smoked paprika (I used Penzey's Hungarian Smoked)
8 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8 slices cooked bacon, chopped
2 C smoked Gouda cheese, grated
1/2 C Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 dish with 1 TB butter; melt the remaining 2 TB in a large saucepan (trust me, you want it to be big--you'll be putting all the potato slices in it). Once the butter foams, add the shallots and garlic and sauté till softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 2 minutes (but watch it, you don't want it to burn). Season with salt and pepper; then add the half-and-half, smoked paprika, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes; again, watch this--I know from experience what an unbelievable pain it is to scrub the burnt stuff off the bottom of the pan...

Pour half of the potato mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Shake the pan to arrange the potatoes in an even layer. Sprinkle half of each of the cheeses and half the bacon on top of the bottom potato layer. Add the remaining potatoes, even the layer out again, and sprinkle on the rest of the cheeses and bacon. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes or until bubbly. Remove the foil and cook for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is golden and browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Baby Blue Salad

At last... my (Anne's) first contribution to the blog! :) Here's the delicious salad from the beach. It may seem like a lot of work, but really only the first time... plus it's worth it! We grill chicken and put it on the top as well. Enjoy!

Baby Blue Salad
3/4 lb mixed greens (I like 1/2 spinach and 1/2 frilly stuff)
Balsamic vinaigrette (see below)
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 pint strawberries (quartered) and/or other good berries (I like blackberries, but I grow them...)
Sweet and spicy pecans (see below)
Toss greens with Balsamic vinaigrette and crumbled blue cheese. Top with Sweet and Spicy Pecans.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans
1/4 c sugar
1 c pecan halves
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 c warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
Stir together 1/4 c sugar and 1 cup warm water until sugar dissolves. Add pecan halves; soak 10 minutes. Drain, discarding sugar mixture. Combine 2 Tbsp sugar, chili powder, bear meat, and red pepper. Add pecans, tossing to coat. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes, stirring once.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
2 small shallots, minced
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 c olive oil
Whisk together everything but olive oil until blended, then gradually whisk in the oil.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crock pot BBQ Ribs

So, ever since Jeremy went to Houston for 4 months last year, he has been obsessed with barbeque. Not your typical "hamburger on the grill" type BBQ, oh no... He means the kind where you get up at an unearthly hour of the morning, go outside in the freezing cold, stick a huge blob of meat on a rack that's being warmed with applewood or hickory chips ONLY (he's a little snobby about this), and get it smokin'. Yes, we have had many jokes in the house lately about "smoking something"--I wish all of them were funny. Anyway, then one has to stay at home all day in order to babysit said piece of meat... Betcha can guess who stayed home, huh?

Honestly though, it's been kind of fun to see Jeremy take on this challenge. A good-quality smoker typically costs upwards of $600-700, hence there was no chance that we were going to buy one. So instead, he decided to make one on his own! His best friend in the whole wide world, Alton Brown, taught him how. I will not give you the link to this video, because then your husband will get addicted too... You're welcome for doing you a favor. It's taken a few trips to the local garden nursery for different size pots, new BBQ racks coming in the mail (surprise!), melted hot plates, a couple discoveries that the fridge/freezer weren't on because the smoker had shorted out the kitchen appliance circuit, and usually the meat ends up in the crock pot for a few hours, but I am happy to announce that it has all been worth it! The meat that comes off this baby is unbelievable, as a few of our Maryland friends can attest. We've only invited people over who we know will still be friends with us no matter how the food tastes, because we're still in the testing phase. But I don't think anyone's been disappointed yet :)

Now for those of you who know us well, you know that Jeremy and I each have our roles in the kitchen. I am the cook/chef/whatever you want to call it--I make the meals. I prefer salty to sweet, so I've never been much of a baker. Frankly, that was probably a good thing. And then I married Jeremy! I've never had a dessert he's made that I haven't loved. That one kind of tipped the scales a bit, but he's worth it :) However, since he started doing this smoking thing (see what I mean about the jokes?), I am feeling showed up!!! He's taking over my territory!!! So what do I do??? I stage a comeback.

And this is where the recipe comes in, my friends... But haven't you enjoyed my little story? Can you tell I'm in rare form today? It's called being stuck in the house with a sick child for over a week. I needed a creative outlet :) Anyway, I found a recipe for crock pot ribs a while back, which sounded like an easy cop-out effort to make Jeremy happy. "What's for dinner, honey?" Oh, I just made some.. RIBS!" What husband would not love to hear that when they walked through the door one night? Don't have to tell him that you made them in the crock pot! That always seems to put a damper on things... Anyway, I tried them, they were a cinch, and they were really good. I've been tweaking the recipe for a while now, and I finally think I've got it down perfect. Start looking for a good deal on a rack of ribs, ladies... I found some at the commissary up here for $5!!! That was right around Superbowl weekend. Oh whoops, guess I should have posted this earlier for y'all. That would have been timely. Sorry!

Anyway, I made my ribs alongside Jeremy's smoked pulled pork last weekend for a little get-together we had... Needless to say, I think the ribs were a hit. Jeremy was jealous :o) Mission accomplished!!! Just kidding--a win for me is a win for him, too :) Right? RIGHT??? Truly, though--we had a blast. I love that we both love to cook; it's something we didn't realize we both enjoyed before we got married. It's been a fun adventure together!

Crock pot BBQ Ribs
Adapted from
1 full rack of pork ribs, cut in half
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp paprika (Penzey's Smoked Hungarian is awesome!)
1 tsp chili powder (or less if you don't want a little kick)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sugar

(I have a large crock pot, so I can actually double this recipe, cut the racks in half, and fit them on their sides in my crock pot. The more the merrier, IMO). Combine dry ingredients  until well incorporated; apply rub over entire area of ribs. Place ribs in crock pot meat-side up, and cook for 6-8 hours. I can usually get away with a little less time, but make sure you leave enough time just in case you need to cook it longer...

You can put BBQ sauce on these babies if you want to, but we found we didn't need it. YUM!