Monday, March 31, 2014

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'll be the first to admit that I have a sweet tooth. I have quite a few of my favorite "Baking Bloggers" on my "Feedly" reader that I visit on a regular basis. I indulge my love of baking food porn, this way. I look. I lust. I "pin". But, I tend to post more savory recipes than I do baking.  This is purely for my own self-preservation, I can assure you.

I have a feeling, my dear friends and readers, that many of you share my love of desserts.  My traffic stat reports show me that when I posted my "Incredible Cherry Pie", that my number of post readers quadrupled!  So, there you go. Omni and Paleo Dieters... my hat's off to you-- I would have a really hard time giving up white flour and sugar, forever, and I doubt that I am alone

Thank goodness that I have a young adult son who stands at 6'4" in his stocking feet.  His BMI numbers are really low-- essentially, he is very lean, and his doctor told him he needs to gain more weight. The flu and some health issues took a toll on his frame. Now that he's well, he is drinking protein shakes and emptying out the refrigerator faster than I can stock it! For a mom who loves to cook and bake, this is music to my ears.   That I have yet, another one week staycation, for Spring Break, means I can crank up the oven and plug in my stand mixer more often than usual.

Last night, I made a batch of "Rainbow Cookies". They are, pretty much, a very thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie that is made with melted butter-- and they are really good.  By this morning, they were all gone. They are a good cookie (of course, they are a Cook's Illustrated recipe).

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pasta with Cauliflower, Bacon and Breadcrumbs-- the "Almost Meatless" flavorful dish

Cauliflower. Love it or hate it? Husband and I love it. Son doesn't. Until I made this dish. True story.

I admit, that steamed-- or, heaven forbid-- boiled cauliflower can be a bit boring and ...well, mushy.  However, when cauliflower is drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper--then roasted-- this vegetable takes on a nutty flavor that is a game changer.

I doubt that any bacon lover can resist trying a bite of cauliflower, if it has bacon added to it. Am I right? Oh, yeah.

Whenever I buy bacon, in bulk, I freeze the strips in my handy dandy plastic wrap technique.  Slicing frozen bacon into thin strips (lardons) is convenient to do.

Once the bacon is cooked until crispy, panko crumbs are added and is seasoned with salt & pepper.

This mixture will become the crumbly topping for the pasta dish....

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Asian Style Boneless Beef Short Ribs - Pressure Cooker Style (or slow cooker)

These last few weeks, my pressure cooker has been quite the workhorse. I want to cook dinner, most every night, for my family. But, I want speed and simplicity, and I don't want to skimp on flavor.  That's not asking much, is it?

I did a little stocking up in the meat department at my local Whole Foods. These are grass-fed short ribs.  I love slow-braising them, and serving them over polenta. Delish! The only problem is, you need 2 hours-- or more-- to yield tender and flavor ribs.  This doesn't work, when you get home at 5pm.

I bookmarked a recipe for Asian-Style short ribs from Cook's Illustrated's "Pressure Cooker Perfection", and this seemed like a good time to make the recipe. It sure seemed simple enough.
The braising liquid/sauce has hoison sauce (yep, I keep a jar in my pantry), garlic, fresh ginger, soy sauce, dry sherry, scallions and cayenne pepper.  I took less than 15 minutes to make the braising sauce.

NOTE: For those of you who don't own a pressure cooker, or still can't overcome an unnecessary fear of them, you can adapt this recipe for your oven or a slow cooker.  The only difference is that the pressure cooking time is 35 minutes. In the oven, factor in two hours, or with a slow cooker, factor in 4-6 hours.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

 Happy Spring! It's so nice to see our roses blooming, and our garden has come back to life. 

Our wisteria was in its full glory, last weekend, making the bees very happy.   Our tomato plants are tiny little guys, and I am so looking forward to our homegrown tomatoes. (Thank you, my wonderful husband.) It'll be a few more months, but the wait will be worth it.

The extra hour of light, makes cooking dinner more enjoyable.  Right now, I'm going through a temporary health setback-- nothing serious. My thyroids are acting a bit wonky, so that leaves me feeling super fatigued by the time I get home from work.   My doctor and I are adjusting some meds, which might take a few more weeks to get my energy level back.  In the meantime, I relish any recipes that don't require a lot of work.   I try to make a meatless dinner at least once a week so I can limit my red meat intake.

As I was driving home, I was taking a mental inventory of what's in my fridge and pantry.  I shop at Trader Joe's on Fridays, so I had a fresh package of their flour tortillas in my grocery bag, and I had picked up a bag of their packaged three-cheese mix. I was planning on making quesadillas for dinner, since those are always so quick to do.

It's funny how I hoard recipes in my brain.  Suddenly, I remembered this recipe for Tortilla and Black Bean Pie, that I had bookmarked in one of my Martha Stewart Everyday Food cookbooks a very long time ago.   I always thought that it looked so pretty, as a layered tortilla pie.  Well, what do you know? I had all the ingredients! Quesadilla could wait for another time. It was time to make this recipe:

Onions, scallions, fresh garlic and jalapenos... check.  Chop, chop, chop.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Quick Thai-Style Beef and Peppers with Rice Noodles

Please raise your hand if you work full-time, but don't want to resort to drive-thru places for take-out food to feed your family?

That many? I love you.  Take a bow.  

Hi, my name is Debby, and I used to rely on frozen processed dinners, and drive-thru places to feed my young son. I was a frazzled, working mom of a little kid -- and I was supporting him on my single income. Of course, a little kid loves those Happy Meals and toys that comes with it.  But, little boys grow up, and they eat a LOT of food!  I'm thankful that it was a Food Network show "30-Minute Meals" that helped me reform my pantry staples so that I could put a homemade dinner on the table, very quickly, and I felt good about it. I felt like "Super Mom". 

I give some fast-food chains credit, for trying to add healthier selections. But have you checked out their prices lately?    Today,  I can cook dinners, that includes these beautiful fresh veggies and aromatics for about the same price-- or even less.  If I can get dinner on the table in 30 minutes, or less, I consider this to be a win-win for me, and for the family that I love.

My refrigerator crisper always includes bell peppers and fresh jalapenos. Fresh ginger, is often frozen so I have it when I need it.  Onions and garlic-- I try to never run out. They never go to waste. Lemons and limes are always on hand, either store bought or picked from our trees.  With these staples, I can usually make something fast and delicious.

Rice Stick pasta--it's not usually a pantry staple, but I happen to have a few bags of this in my pasta box.( I have a serious addiction to hoarding a wide variety of pastas.)

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Turkey Sausage, Sweet Potato & Sage Hand Pies (...and a nod to Cornish Pasties)

Jimmy Dean invited me to participate in a recipe challenge to promote their Fully-Cooked Sausage Crumbles. Me? Compete in a cooking contest?  That's really stepping out of my comfort zone, you see. I'd never survive being in a Pillsbury Bakeoff contest. I just don't have that kind of courage confidence!

The Jimmy Dean company must've caught me at a rare moment, because I decided I was game to try their product, and to develop my own recipe.   My men love sausage, almost as much as they love bacon. So, why not?


I was offered a grocery stipend and two coupons to buy what I needed for my recipe. I really must live in the 'burbs, because it took a few attempts to find this product at my local grocery store.  I picked up the pork sausage crumbles and the turkey sausage crumbles.

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