Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Fall is really here, ready or not, the weather has hit us hard in the past couple weeks. I'm feeling bad for the East Coast and Hurricane Sandy today as I watch the news cast on TV.

A weekend, or two, ago we spent the day checking out a local island, Vashon.

Funny, even though both my husband and I are from Seattle, we had both never gone to Vashon Island, that we can remember.  This is where my Mom tells me when I went there as a baby, or sumthing.
A simple 20 minute ferry ride from West Seattle, and you feel like you are a long way away from the big city.  Except for those Metro buses on the island, since it's still part of King County.... ah well, we really did feel like we had a big getaway.

We checked out the local farmers market... in the rain. We enjoyed all the veggies, but also the locally raised meats and sausages and even local wine tasting.  I bought two beautiful bunches of beets with the tops, both red and golden beets.  I admired them as they were so colorful and fresh, but kept walking.  I got to the end of the veggie row, then turned around and went back for them. I figured anything that nice looking would also taste great; I was right.

Many of you know that I am not the biggest beet fan, but I am trying.  I've bought beets more this year than ever before in my life.  I've been doing mostly soups with my Hot Pink Soup and my Spicy Sausage Borscht, but this dish appealed to me because it has one of my favorite cheeses ever- goat cheese!  This is a warming side dish for a cold Fall night, or even Thanksgiving.  I also think it would be great over arugula as a salad.  Use any nuts that you like (pecans, almonds, pistachios) for this dish.

I guess I should have taken a photo of the stall where I bought the beets, huh?  Just take my word for it, it was beautiful!

Serves 2-4 


7-8 beets, golden and red, cut into 1" chunks
1 onions, cut into into chunks
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper
3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
2-3 green onions, sliced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Toast the walnuts, or other nuts that you have decided on, for about 5 minutes.  Let cool, then coarsely chop.  Set aside.

Peel the beets... that's the hardest part of the recipe, and messiest too.
Cut the beets into the 1" chunks and layer on a large sheet pan, or cookie sheet.  Add the onions and drizzle all with the olive oil.  Toss the veggies to coat with the oli and make sure they are evenly dispersed on your pan.  Add some salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.  You will want the beets to be tender, and the onions starting to get brown and caramelize.  Add to a serving dish, sprinkle with goat cheese, nuts and finally, topping with some green onions.  Serve at once, but these are also great at room temperature too.

Need some other easy ideas for a blustery cold day?  

These are some of my favorites:
Bacon Corn Chowder
Polenta with Truffle oil & Arugula

Chicken White Bean Chili
Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hot n' Sour Soup

It's hard not to say that this is my favorite soup, because it really IS in my top fave's.
Soup is my favorite food for sure, how can I choose?

My Mom's been making this for a long time.
Even back in the 1970's, ... kinda unusual back then, if I don't mind saying so.
I'd never made this before this year, though I remember hand carrying my Mom's handwritten index card recipe with me to make as an exchange student in Scotland. Funny, I never did make it.  While Chinese food was big ethnic food in the Northwest, I was introduced to East Indian food in Scotland in the 1980's.  Wow.... but that is another blog posting altogether.  Even though I couldn't find that index card (its here somewhere...) I did remember the book my Mom always used; "Madame Wu's Chinese Cooking".

This is more, or less, Madame Wu's recipe, but you can make it your own.  I like my soup a bit more sour (more vinegar) and spicier (more chili garlic sauce) so I did it accordingly, just like my Mom's version. 

My picture doesn't do it justice, it a more pretty soup than it appears. 

Hot n' Sour soup is a simple dish to make, and most of the ingredients are easy to find.  The hardest ingredient to find is "preserved vegetable". I remembered the can my Mom used to buy, red and yellow... strangely enough, I was able to find it immediately in my Asian grocery. Woo hoo, I was happy.
Weird stuff...
Fermented, pickled vegetable root in hot pepper sauce.
Ugly, stinky but completely 100% necessary for the yummiest of Chinese food I know. I bought this can at the local H-Mart, but when I went back to get more, they had rearranged the shelves and it was no where to be seen. The manager said they didn't have it anymore, even when I showed him the picture I had taken with my phone.My husband, who loves a challenge, found me four cans of pre-shredded canned "vegetable" at an Asian grocery near his work.  I love a man with a mission... that is, a mission to eat and make his wife happy!

Serves 4-6 (main dish or side dish)

8 cups broth, vegetable or chicken
1/2 oz. dried shitake, or black fungus mushrooms OR 8 oz. fresh mushroom, cut into strips
1 stalk celery, cut into 2" long very thin strips
1 large carrot, cut into 2" long very thin strips
1/2  white onion, cut into thin strips
1 cup preserved vegetable "pickle" cut into 2" long very thin strips
1 cup firm tofu, cut into strips
1 can bamboo shoots, in strips
2 eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp corn starch
3 Tbsp vinegar, rice or white
1 tsp sesame oil
1-2 Tbsp garlic red pepper paste (sambal)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
8oz chicken breast or pork tenderloin, cook and cut into thin strips

Green onions, thinly sliced, for a garnish (if desired)

Start by slicing all your veggies (carrots, celery, fresh mushrooms, bamboo shoots, onions, "pickle") into 2" thin matchsticks and tofu and meat (if using) into thin strips. Set aside and have ready to go.

***If you are using dried mushrooms, soak in hot water for 5 minutes, then cut into strips.

Assemble the rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce and corn starch.  Mix together into a "slurry", stirring until smooth.  Set aside to add to the soup later.  Beat the eggs in a small bowl and set aside also.

Finally, in a large soup pot, heat up the broth until simmering, add the veggies and the meat.  Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. The meat is cut thinly enough that it cooks quickly and you want the veggies to stay crisp.  Add the tofu and stir gently.  Turn the heat up to medium high, and while at a low boil, add the corn starch "slurry" and stir well. This mixture thickens the soup.  As the mixture boils gently, add the beaten eggs, stirring well.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning... you might need more vinegar, hot pepper sauce or soy sauce depending on your tastes and moods.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread

You've heard of one bowl brownies, right?  
What about one bowl Cinnamon Sugar Bread?
Here's proof:

I've had a rough week, a really rough week... 12 hour days of stress every day so far.  
Really though...  cry me a river, everyone else is stressed too.
How to feel better?
I know!
Why not bring the others you work with a little fattening home-baked treat that let's them know that you care?  

I saw this on another blog while surfing on Pinterest.... it's the best way I know to do double duty folks!  Check out Whisk and a Prayer blog for her rendition.  I changed it up a bit,  like I am prone to do.  

Makes one 9x5 loaf

1/4- 1/3 cup brown sugar(or white sugar)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. I lined mine with parchment too.

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together, Set aside.

In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar. Add egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture.
Stir until just moistened.
Pour half of the batter into pan.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
Cover with almost all of the remaining batter.
Top with more cinnamon/sugar.
Run a knife gently through the mixture to give it a marbled effect.

 Top with what's left of the batter, and and sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon sugar, if desired. I just added a little line of cinnamon sugar down the middle.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

I haven't tried it, but I think this would make great muffins too!  It might take a while to layer up 12 little muffin cups but would be a fantastic way to go for individual servings.  
Bake at the same temperature in paper liner cups for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quick Chicken Tikka Masala

I get my inspiration from a lot of different places.
Indian food always inspires me.
I read the Seattle Times online... but I admit that I like the "Living" section the best.  Who needs all that BAD, sensationalized news stories?  Not me...

I love to read the recipes; it keeps me on top of what other people are doing and I love to see what other people like to cook.  It makes me feel, well.. more normal.

This one spoke to me... One Skillet Tikka Masala.
I love fast and easy INDIAN food.
Yum!  Here's the original recipe from the Seattle Times
I really didn't change it much.  
The important part is that you can actually throw this dinner together in about 20 minutes.
Hey, make it your own- - -throw in some veggies; cauliflower, zucchini- whatever you like!

Makes 4 servings,

4 teaspoons garam masala (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ lb pound chicken breasts, cut into chunks, or use chicken tenderloins
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet onion, diced
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 cans (14-ounce) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Stir together garam masala, salt and turmeric in a small dish. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mixture and dredge in the flour. (Reserve the remaining spice mix and 1 tablespoon of the remaining flour.)

....OK, I'm so lazy that I actually sprinkled the flour, the salt and the turmeric on the top and then browned it.  I would suggest you mix, (as above...) and the toss it together.  Try a ziploc bag or something and shake it up...

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the reserved spice mix and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon flour and stir until coated. Add tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and the onion is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in cream. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 5-6 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Note: Garam masala, a blend of spices used in Indian cooking, usually includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, fennel, cumin and coriander. It is available in the spice section of most supermarkets. I've mixed my own with using my own ratios of the above spices.  I like cumin so I use the most of that.... otherwise, I add it in the ratio I like.  I added cayenne  too... y'know why?  Of course you do... because I like SPICY.

So... you like Indian too?  You might want to try these other recipes...
Indian Spiced Salmon
Chicken Frankie's- Indian Burrito (could be my favorite thing ever...)
Turkey Keema Curry (OK... this is awesome and quick too)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Honey and Lemon Jelly

My niece made some of this earlier this year and brought it to a family gathering.  Everyone loved it on fresh hot biscuits, but I can also imagine it on toast, cornbread, plain yogurt or with some fresh goat cheese. It's clean and refreshing, a delicious, classic combination. This recipe is all over on the Internet, but I found mine on Food.com. It's funny, you never really think of jelly made with anything but sugar, so just using honey is cool.

I had a bit of a mishap making this, so here's my advice; do not turn your back on the honey mixture when it's on the stove.  I turned my back to send a friend a text and my pot started to boil over.  Yikes, honey is more bubbly than you think and it makes a bit fat mess all over your stove.  If you pay more attention than I did, you will be fine.

This makes a great holiday gift, or something fun to bring as a hostess gift.

I bought the super big jug of honey at Costco, so I will probably make more jelly with this with some other variations:
  • Add some fresh thyme to the honey and lemon mixture
  • Use fresh grapefruit juice and rind (or tangerine or lime...)
  • Use a combination of lemons and limes
  • Add grated ginger and apple juice or ginger simple syrup

Makes 4 - 1 cup jars

5 -6 lemons (3/4 cup)
4 tsp lemon zest
2 1/2 cups honey
1 (3 ounce) package liquid pectin


Grate rind from enough lemon zest to measure 4 teaspoons, set aside.
Squeeze juice from enough lemons to measure 3/4 cup, pour lemon through a wire mesh strainer, discarding seeds and pulp.

Combine rind, juice, and honey in a 6 quart saucepan, stirring well.
Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in pectin. Return mixture to a rolling boil and boil constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Pour jelly into hot and sterilized jars, filling to 1/4 inch from top and wipe jar rims well. Cover with metal lids and screw on bands. Process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
Makes 4 half pints.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spicy Borscht with Sausage

I never liked beets as a kid, but I loved a spicy borscht that my Mom would make.
It's the sweetness of beets that I objected to, weird from a normal candy munching kid. So this soup was what I liked (even as a kid); spicy, meaty and colorful too.

My Mom was having a hard time remembering the exact recipe for the soup I liked, but mentioned that she got the recipe from an Russian lady.  This is my rendition of what I remember about the soup; it did the trick to return me down memory lane.

I've labeled this recipe as a 'crock pot' recipe too, but in full disclosure, I haven't tried it.  I just know it will work.  Brown the pork and the onions together, add to the crock pot with everything else and cook for 5-6 hours on high, or 7-8 hours on low.  It could probably stand to be stirred every once in a while, but I think it would be OK if you didn't.  I promise to try this again using this method, as soon as I get to the bottom of the vat of soup I just made.

I did freeze half this soup for another day.

Makes 8- 16 servings, about 1-2 cups each

1 lb pork sausage (or 2-3 cups leftover cooked beef or pork, shredded or finely chopped)
1 large onion, chopped small
3 large beets, about 5 cups shredded
1/2 head red cabbage, about 4 cups shredded
3 medium carrots, chopped small
3-4 stalks of celery (inner stalks & leaves are perfect), chopped small
8 cups chicken or beef stock
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin, or coriander
1 tsp garlic powder, or 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 Tbsp beef base, or 3-4 beef bouillon cubes
3-4 cups water, as needed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sour cream, for serving (optional)

In the bottom of a large soup pot, brown your sausage.  Drain most of the fat away.  Saute the onions, then adding the carrots and celery.  I used my food processor, because it was so easy!

I did kind of a rough mince.

Add the shredded cabbage, again I used the slicer on my food processor to make this quick.

Using the grating attachment on my food processor, I grated the beets.  This made all that chopping very fast work with a quick cleanup. It was from this to...

... to this, in about 2 minutes.  Yeah!

Add the stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to medium low and simmer for 40-45 minutes, until the veggies are nice and soft, but still holding their shape.  If it seems too thick add a bit of water.  Add the seasonings and the appropriate amount of salt and pepper. 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream on top, and maybe a sprinkling of green onions, or fresh dill.  A filling and satisfying dinner, or lunch.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mamacita's Chicken and Masa dumplings

I had to use the term "Mamacita" for this recipe.
You know why?
It's because I over-use Mexican... but, it's only because I just can't get enough of the Mexican flavors.

This started out as regular ole' Chicken and dumplings....
Well... wait a sec.... no it really didn't. I never intended to do regular ole' anything.
I am well aware that I can't follow a basic recipe, I just must do something different.

I thought cornmeal dumplings sounded better than basic dumplings.
But then I was out of corn meal... dang it.
Hey, I have a whole bag of masa flour.
I guess I have delusions of homemade tamales in the future.
Stay tuned, I'll see if my Mom will give me her recipe.
Nope, she isn't even Hispanic but she has made some kick ass tamales my whole life. Mamacita?  Why yes, she is, and hey, I guess I am too now.

But once I had decided on Masa dumplings, the rest of the meal was really off and running.  I had a butternut squash sitting on my counter staring at me accusingly, just wanting to be needed.  Well, if I had squash, it seems like you ought to go with it.... so, next came, corn.  You already know how much I like corn.
P.S. Don't turn your nose up at the squash, it was mild and sweet and not squashy at all in this recipe.

Here it is, we loved this dish very much and it was pretty dang easy too. We had a great dinner, with plenty of leftovers for about 5 lunches.  I will be happy to see a rerun of this during my work day. I've got some people in my life who are going Gluten Free and this is the perfect thing to share with them, and no one will feel deprived or that they are eating something they don't like

Note:  I used water, not chicken broth, for this recipe, and it was marvelous.
Do what you wanna do.

Serves about 6-8

6 (about 3 lbs) Chicken, either breasts or thighs, boneless & skinless, cubed
         (I used 1/2 and 1/2)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, cubed into 1" pcs
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 fresno red chilies (optional) minced
2 cups chicken broth, or water
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
salt & pepper

Brown the chicken , if you like, before adding it to the crockpot with all the other above ingredients.  I browned half the chicken, and purposely left the rest raw to see if there was any difference in the finished product- - nope, really, I don't think there was.  The browned chicken might have looked better though with a little browness.

Cook on high for 5 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.  30-40 minutes before serving, prepare the dumplings (below).

For Masa Dumplings:

1 cup masa harina (instant corn masa flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (lard or margarine), cut into small pieces
3/4 cup chicken broth, or water

For Masa Dumplings, mix masa harina, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Using a food processor, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add chicken broth, or water; stir just until moistened.

Adjust seasoning, with more salt and pepper, as needed.  You need to make sure the stew tastes good now, before you add the dumplings.
Stir in a scoop of the masa dough and thoroughly mix it into the chicken stew. This will add some creaminess and some thickness.  With the rest of the dough, drop 8 to 10 heaping tablespoons of dough (I used a big cookie scoop), about 2 inches apart, onto simmering chicken. Don't stir them at all. Cover. Simmer 35-40 minutes or until tops of dumplings are done.  They won't be super hard, but they will be like a soft tamale or polenta.  Perfect with the chicken stew.

This is what they looked like before they cooked another 35-40 minutes.

More from Lazy Girl Crock Pot recipes:
40 Clove Garlic Chicken
Black Bean Chili
Tuscan Pot Roast
All Veggie (Vegan) Chili
Chicken with Coconut, Lime & Peanut Sauce
Greek Pork and Garbanzo Stew
Hot Links, Red Beans and Rice
Salsa Chicken
Sesame Chicken