Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Salad with Orange Vinaigrette and Honey-Toasted Pecans

We are three weeks into this year's CSA, and so naturally, we are drowning in greens.

Spinach. Arugula. Mustard. Lettuces of every kind. Literally pounds of these greens have made their way into our fridge over the past few weeks. And though I have definitely gotten creative about adding greens into just about every meal and blanching spinach to freeze for later, with the hot weather we've been having (it's been in the nineties all week), we've been enjoying a bunch of salads, too.

Or maybe I should say, many servings of this one salad.

Because it's pretty much the only one I've been making.

But yes, it is that good.

You can sub any protein for the boiled eggs--grilled chicken or shrimp would be equally delightful, I'm sure, probably even better than the egg. But eggs don't need to be defrosted before you use them, so. You know.

A note on nuts: The DDH and I are not particularly big nut eaters. Neither of us go out of our way to put them on anything, we don't snack on them plain, and please for the love of all that is holy, keep them the heck away from our baked goods.

But the thing about CSAs is they make you try things you don't normally eat. In this case, our farmer's father has a bunch of pecan trees on his land, and so pecans regularly make their way into our CSA bags, especially early in the season when there isn't much else on offer. Except greens, obviously.

And it turns out that if you toast them in honey and butter, even a die-hard pecan-hater like the DDH will gobble them down. So while the dressing is all well and good for any salad, the pecans really make it special. And delicious.

Salad with Orange Vinaigrette and Honey-Toasted Pecans

Boil eggs, approximately 2 per person being served.

In a small bowl or convenient dressing shaker, combine:

1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk or shake until thoroughly combined. Set aside. 

In a different small bowl, put some pecans, shelled. Ours arrive cracked and blown, so I still have to pick out all the shells and I just do this until I get bored. But if you like measurements, aim for about a quarter cup.

Add enough honey to coat the pecans. It's about a 2:1 ratio, so for a 1/4 cup pecans I use about 1/8 cup (aka 2 Tablespoons) honey. But this is all sort of to taste, so feel free to use a little more or a little less.

Mix the honey and pecans until thoroughly coated.

In a small skillet, heat about 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat.

Once the butter is melted and foamy, add the pecans. Cook until browned and toasty.  There's a fine line between a browned pecan and a burnt pecan. Your best tool here is actually your nose; the pecans will just start to smell pecan-y and toasty. Stir them about; you'll notice the underside should be a little darker than the top. Give them another thirty seconds or so after your stir, then turn off the heat.

Separate your greens--spinach is especially good here, or the sort of thing called "premium greens mix" at the grocery store, but really just any sort of salad green will do--into each person's bowl. Top each serving with two sliced eggs and some pecans. Drizzle the dressing over the lot of it. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake

Am I the only person who goes crazy buying fresh cranberries when they're on sale at Christmas, only to have a freezer full of unused cranberries come February?

Please say I'm not.

Anyway, I had to make a coffee cake to bring to a church brunch the other day. I'm not really much of a cake person.

But I am a cranberry-orange person. And a streusel person.

I'm also a butter person; the 9x13 version of this recipe uses an entire pound of butter. Sorry, not sorry.

This is a fairly sweet coffee cake; you could probably cut the sugar in the cake by at least a half cup, since you still have the streusel. It's also very dense and heavy; surprisingly hefty and filling for a cake.

You can easily halve the recipe for an 8x8 cake if you want something a little more suitable for a family, but the 9x13 size works great if you're bringing it to a brunch, as I was.

Cranberry Orange Coffee Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. salt.

In a different, small bowl, combine 2 cups sugar and the zest of 2 large oranges (or 4 tangerines/clementines). Rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until fragrant; it will clump together a little bit as the sugar moistens from the zest.

Cream 2 sticks (1 cup) butter and the sugar mixture until fluffy, about three minutes.

Add in 4 large eggs, one at a time, beating each one into the mixture before adding the next. Beat until smooth.

Beat in 2 cups plain Greek yogurt and 2 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing until just combined.

Fold in 2 cups fresh cranberries.

For the streusel:

In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Whisk together.

Cut 2 sticks (1 cup) butter into small pieces. Add the butter pieces to the flour/brown sugar mixture. Cut butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or your fingertips. You're looking for an even mixture of large crumbs--you know what streusel looks like.

Pour half of the coffee cake batter into the pan and top with half of the streusel. Spoon the remaining batter over the streusel, using a spatula to spread it gently across the pan. Top with the remaining streusel.

Bake until golden brown and it passes the toothpick test, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cottage Pie

Or, if you prefer, shepherd's pie. But shepherd's pie is traditionally made with lamb or mutton (hence the shepherd). If it's beef, it's cottage pie. #themoreyouknow

I posted recently on a Facebook group I'm in, saying that I had a pound of beef defrosted in the fridge and asking what I should make with it. My default ground beef dish, honestly, is spaghetti with meat sauce, but as delicious as that is, I wasn't really feeling it.

The responses came back overwhelmingly in favor of shepherd's pie. By which I knew they meant cottage pie. But whatever.

What with one thing and another, I didn't get around to making it before the DDH came home, and I was going to give up and just make spaghetti anyway. However, the DDH vehemently vetoed that idea, so cottage pie it was.

Luckily, it's pretty easy, and only takes about an hour, start to finish.

Cottage Pie

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Set approx. 3 pounds potatoes, chopped to boil. Once the water boils, let them boil for about twenty minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, melt 4 Tbs. butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Add 1 onion, diced, 3 carrots, diced, and 3 cloves garlic, minced. Saute about five minutes or until the onions have softened and the carrots are beginning to get tender.

Add 1 pound ground beef. Cook another five minutes or until beef is browned.

Add 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. Worcestersire sauce, and 1/2 cup beef broth. Stir. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for about ten minutes. You can add up to additional 1/2 cup beef broth as necessary to keep the mixture moist.

(If you want to add additional vegetables like peas and corn, or if you're using a bag of frozen mixed veggies instead of the carrots, now would be the time to add them.)

By now the potatoes should be about done. Drain them, then mash them with 4 Tbs. butter and a sprinkling of salt to taste.

 Spread the beef mixture in the bottom of a 7x11 casserole dish (or any dish that holds about two quarts. If you use a 9x13, you'll have a much thinner casserole; if you want that size, I'd use more like 1.5 pounds beef and 4 pounds of potatoes. This recipe would probably more or less fit in a 9x9 square pan as well, but it would be thicker. Anyway. I know the 7x11 isn't the most common size, but I like it for meals for two adults/one toddler, and also because it fits in my toaster oven and I hate my real oven.)

Ok, so we spread the beef and veggies, right? Top with mashed potatoes. Spread them to cover up the beef mixture, but then rough up the surface so there are some good ridges. Those are the parts that will get all brown and crispy and delicious.

The DDH claims the whole thing should have been topped with cheese, and he liberally grated Colby-Jack all over his portions, but I like it as is.

Bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Try not to eat three servings the way I did.

Definitely don't leave your dog unattended so that he jumps up on the counters and eats all the leftovers. -_-

Thursday, September 5, 2013

KFC-Style Coleslaw

Coleslaw is impossible to make.

What I mean is, coleslaw recipes vary so widely. People use mustard or no mustard, add other vegetables, make it tangy or sweet or both or neither. It can be sloppy and wet or dry and barely dressed.

It's always a gamble ordering coleslaw at restaurants because you never know what you're going to get and if you'll like it. And the same principle applies to coleslaw recipes. I mean, if you know you like a mustardy slaw or a creamy one, you can look at recipes that look like they'll result in the kind you prefer. But it's hard to tell.

I do know I usually like KFC coleslaw. It's a bit too sweet and sometimes a little gloppy, but overall it has a list of things I like--finely chopped cabbage, a touch of carrot and onion, creamy and sweet but still with some tang.

So when I went to make my own coleslaw with some of the bounty of CSA cabbage in my refrigerator, I went hunting for the KFC recipe. And if you want to clone a restaurant's recipe, you go to the Top Secret Recipes website.

I made a couple changes, and the resulting slaw--is very KFC-like.

KFC-Style Coleslaw
Adapted from Top Secret Recipes.

Gluten Free
Grain Free

Use your food processor to finely shred two small or one medium heads of cabbage and two carrots or a generous handful of baby carrots.

Use the food processor to mince an onion (red preferred) and add 2 Tablespoons minced onion.

Mix the vegetables together in a large bowl.

In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup mayonnaise, between 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4  cup milk, 1/4 cup buttermilk (I used the lemon-juice-in-milk trick), 2 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice, scant 2 1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Combine. I like to put the ingredients in the tall cylinder that came with my immersion blender and then use the immersion blender to blend everything. This ensures that the mayonnaise gets thoroughly mixed without leaving big chunks of mayo in the dressing.

Pour dressing over the vegetables and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

The verdict? It really does taste like KFC coleslaw, only slightly tangier and a little less sweet. The only problem is that I used homemade mayo and my recipe has a bit of dried mustard in it, so the coleslaw ended up tasting mustardy, which is exactly what I didn't want. SIGH. I wasn't thinking about the tiny bit of mustard in the batch of mayo, but it comes through really strongly. So if you're using homemade mayonnaise, leave the mustard out of it! But if you're using storebought, I'm sure it will taste exactly right.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Miscellaneous Summer Food Projects

I've actually been getting better at blogging the meals we've been eating, but here's a little taste (sorry) of some of the other food projects I've been working on:

Sourdough Starter

I've been feeding a sourdough culture for a couple months now. I've used it to make delicious sourdough pancakes, amazing sourdough English muffins, and two giant bricks that were supposed to be bread.


Pickled jalapenos and pickles.
The DDH and I (well, mostly the DDH, honestly, while I ran baby-control) pickled a couple pounds of jalapenos and some cucumbers. He loves the results; I don't. I think it's the pickling spice he used.

Other Preservation

Blanched basil drying before being frozen.
I've turned tomatoes into sauce and tossed it in the freezer. I've been chopping and freezing jalapenos and strawberries, roasting, skinning, and freezing green chile, and blanching and freezing basil. This bit of work now will make the winter so much tastier!


Fried okra.

Delicious CSA watermelon.

We've been loving our CSA share from my friend Don at Bootstrap Farm. Most of the jalapenos and some of the green chiles have come from the CSA, as have all the cucumbers, basil, and most of the other produce I've mentioned (the strawberries, though, were just on sale at Aldi). It's great to pick up a giant bag of tasty, local, organic produce every week that I've already paid for. :-) It's forced me to get creative in the kitchen and try out some new recipes, from fried okra to eggplant parmesan and more.

Bone Broth

I made my monthly-ish chicken and bone broth batch this past week. This is seriously one of the best things I can advise anyone to do in the kitchen. Roast a chicken (I use the crockpot because it's easy, but I make the World's Best Roasted Chicken in the oven). The meat gets used for meals immediately and/or shredded and frozen for quick meals later. All the bones, organ meats, skin, etc. get dumped back in the crockpot and turned into delicious bone broth, which I also freeze. Whenever you see a recipe on here that calls for chicken broth or stock, this is what I use. It's practically free, delicious, and super good for you--stock from the store (or bouillon) is none of those things.

So that's what I've been up to in the kitchen this summer--how about you?


almonds (2) apples (1) Asian (2) asparagus (2) avocados (1) bacon (8) baked (11) beans (3) beef (9) berries (4) bok choy (1) bread (7) breakfast (11) broccoli (3) budget (43) butternut squash (3) cabbage (2) cake (1) caramel (2) carrot (10) cheap (46) cheating (11) cheese (12) chicken (11) Chinese food (3) chipotle (1) chocolate (6) cookies (1) cooking rules (18) corn (4) cranberries (1) cream (3) cream cheese (2) crockpot (2) cucumber (1) dairy free (4) dessert (10) dipping sauces (3) dried beans (2) eggs (11) experiments (2) fast (40) fish (1) from scratch (41) garden (15) garlic (22) gluten free (5) grain free (3) green beans (2) greens (5) grilling (4) grocery shopping (8) healthy (32) homegrown (7) honey (8) Indian food (2) jalepeno (6) lemon (8) lentils (1) lettuce (3) lime (3) make ahead (6) Mexican (5) milk (3) oats (2) onion (12) orange (4) paella (1) pasta (11) pasta sauces (10) peanuts (1) pecans (1) pork (4) potato (6) pumpkin (2) quick sides (7) quick version (7) reality bites (14) rice (6) rice noodles (1) roasted (1) sage (1) salad (5) sausage (4) shrimp (4) simple (54) snacks (6) soup (5) sourdough (1) spinach (1) spring (4) sriracha (2) summer (11) summer squash (7) sweet potatoes (6) teriyaki (1) the DDH cooks (13) tomatoes (16) tortillas (5) vegetarian (24) winter (11) winter squash (2) zucchini (7)