Monday, August 29, 2011

Farmer's Market #2

Last Monday I posted a recipe from my first batch of Farmer's Market goods. My husband and daughter have been going every weekend and picking up secret ingredients and let me work my magic in the kitchen using the fruits and vegetables they buy.

On their 2nd trip to the market, they bought me zucchini squash, pattypan squash, neon eggplant, garlic, pears, and celery. What on earth? I had some really thick pork chops in the fridge marinating in an asian marinade so I had to think of how I could use those ingredients with those chops.

A-ha! Inspiration struck and I came up with my plan of action. I decided to make a slaw using the celery and pears, and using the squashes and eggplant to make hot and sour veggies underneath.

Pear Slaw

2 celery ribs - removed of strings and thinly sliced
1/2 lime, squeezed
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp gingerroot, grated
2 pears, cut into 1/4" matchsticks
2 green onion, thinly sliced on the angle
a dash of crushed red pepper

Mix all these ingredients together in a bowl and let the flavors marry.

Grill your chops on a BBQ grill. I let my husband grill these babies up and they were absolute perfection. Remember you don't have to overcook these. Overcooked pork chops = dry dry dry.

For the hot and sour vegetables.

Peel and dice the eggplant and put in a strainer with salt. The salt will pull out the moisture in the eggplant. Leave it with the salt for 30 minutes. At that time, rinse well, and put on paper towels and wring dry.

Dice 1 zucchini
Cut up the pattypan squash into wedges
Quarter an onion and slice
mince 1 clove garlic
1 green chile, chopped (I used jalapeno)

In a bowl, mix together:

3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp chili oil (I didn't use nearly this much because I have kids)
1 tsp salt

Put 2 Tbsp oil in a stir fry pan and heat over medium high heat. Saute the garlic and onion for 30 seconds, then add the remaining ingredients. Saute until the veggies are fork tender. When they're tender, add the bowl of liquid and stir. This will start thickening quickly. Coat all the veggies well with the sauce.

To plate, put a spoonful of veggies on your plate, top with your beautifully grilled pork chop and then using a slotted spoon, put a spoon of slaw on top.

You will find the acidic, bright flavor of the slaw a wonderful companion to the pork and the sweetness and slight spiciness of the veggies underneath is just perfect.

So the next time you're at the farmer's market, think about the vegetables you might necessarily know how to use. In my case, it was the pattypans and eggplant and I was able to find the perfect dish. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

.fresh squeezed lemonade.

We love lemonade in our house. Nothing says Summer more than sitting outside on the back patio with a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade in your hand. It's a quick, easy, refreshing drink to make.

Step 1: In a saucepan, put 1 1/2 cups sugar and 3/4 cup water. Zest a lemon and add the zest. Put the saucepan on to medium low heat and let the sugar dissolve. Nothing worse than gritty juice. Creating a simple syrup is the best solution! When the sugar is completely dissolved, set aside and cool completely.

I will often make this syrup up a head of time and keep it in the fridge in a jar, that way I don't have to wait for it to cool down.

Step 2: Squeeze 8-10 lemons and pour the lemon juice into a 2 quart pitcher, making sure you don't get any seeds in there. I always buy an extra lemon and slice it so it looks pretty.

Step 3: Pour in your cooled simple syrup and then fill the pitcher to the top with cold water. Stir well.

At this point, it's ready for pouring and drinking. If you're looking to change things up, add smashed raspberries, strawberries or blueberries to the pitcher and stir well.

Now that you've got the work out of the way... kick back and enjoy the rewards of your labor! :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Farmer's Market #1

We just finished watching another season of Master Chef in our house. I am a big fan because I love to cook and being a stay at home mom, a part of me wishes I could be on that show. (But what would I do with my kids while I'm gone!?!?!)

So my husband and oldest daughter decided to go to the local Farmer's Market and pick up some surprise ingredients for me to work my magic on. A fun idea, right? I thought it might be fun to do a Farmer's Market dinner every week and I'll post it on my blog! That's right! Every Monday, come to my blog to find out what I've made with my secret goodies.

On their first trip to the market, they bought me the following:

Peaches, Red Bell Peppers, Cilantro, Carrots, Green Beans and Fennel.

I was able to use items from my pantry (whew!) and I was able to pick out my own protein. Tonight, I used chicken thighs and wings.

The peaches were the stumper but I quickly found something to make with just about everything!

I'm calling my creation Roasted Pepper and Peach Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables and Roasted Green Beans.

Here's how I made it:

  1. Peel the peaches, remove pit, and dice. Set aside.

  2. Sit the red bell peppers on a burner over high heat and basically burn the skins. You can do this over the BBQ grill, too, which I would have done had it not been raining. When the skin is black all over, remove from the burner and place in a ziploc with a little olive oil. Squish it all around so the pepper is covered entirely with oil. Let sit for 5 minutes, then begin removing the skin under cold tap water.

  3. Dice up the roasted red pepper and set aside.

  4. Dice 1/2 onion and set aside.

  5. Mince 1 clove garlic.

  6. Chop a small handful of cilantro.

  7. Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan.

  8. Saute the garlic and onion with a bay leaf for 30 seconds. Don't let the garlic burn.

  9. Add the peaches and red pepper.

  10. Chop up some of the fennel frong (the whispy part at the top) and put that and the cilantro in the saucepan.

  11. Sprinkle in some red pepper flakes and some celery seed.

  12. Add 3 Tbsp brown sugar

  13. Add 3 Tbsp cider vinegar

  14. Add salt and pepper

Let this cook down for awhile. This shouldn't be runny. It should be the consistency of jam. Taste and see if it needs more salt. If it's too sweet, add a little more vinegar. If it's too vinegar-y, add a little more brown sugar. You really can't mess this up unless you burn it.

Remove the bay leaf. Dump the chutney into a blender and blitz for a quick minute. You don't want this too smooth, but you don't want big chunks either.

Turn your BBQ on low heat and put the chicken on. You want to cook your chicken on low, especially if it's bone in to ensure it's cooked all the way through. Don't put your sauce on until the very end. When you know the chicken is cooked kick up the heat on your BBQ and start slathering your pieces with the chutney.

We want to caramelize that chutney to the outside of the chicken. When it's all good and covered and caramelized, remove from the grill. Serve with the sauteed vegetables and roasted green beans.

Sauteed Vegetable

  1. Cut the end off the fennel and slice in half and then slice the entire thing. Don't make these slices too thick or too thin.

  2. Slice an onion (or half of what was remaining from the chutney).

  3. Peel and slice carrots. Because the carrots will take the longest to cook, I par-boiled them. Bring some water to a boil. Drop in the carrot slices and let cook for a couple minutes. Drain and quickly dump into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

  4. Slice one red bell pepper.

  5. Mince 1 clove garlic

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a saute pan and saute the garlic in a skillet for 30 seconds. Add all the remaining ingredients and toss so everything's coated with the butter.

Season with salt and pepper and then squeeze half a lemon on top. Continue to saute until all vegetables are fork tender. Serve warm.

Roasted Green Beans

  1. Trim ends and coat beans with a little extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  2. Zest a lemon and toss on the beans.

  3. Place in a baking dish in the oven and bake at 350* until the beans are fork tender.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

.chocolate cream pie.

We were in Ohio visiting my husband's family last month and while we were away, my friend came over to our house every day to check on our cat and feed her for us. To thank her, I made her favorite pie: Chocolate Cream Pie!

Not only does my BFF love it, but so does my oldest daughter. In fact, for Christmas last year, the only thing on her list was her very own chocolate cream pie. That was an easy bill for Santa to fill!

The filling is just homemade pudding. Have you ever made homemade pudding? I wonder how many people in the world make it from scratch or do they take the easy way out and use a box of Jell-o Brand Pudding? I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark that 99.99% of people in the world go with that 2nd option.

Anyway... on to the recipe. I didn't cut into the pie because.. duh.. it was going to a friend. It would have been very poor manners for me to cut into her pie. But know that underneath that cloud of fluffy whipped cream and grated chocolate is a pool of decadent chocolate yumminess.

For the crust:

Crush 1 package chocolate graham crackers in a large zip loc. Add 2 Tbsp brown sugar and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted. Mix it all together in the bag then dump into a pie plate and press into the bottom and on the sides. Set aside.

For the filling:

3 cups milk or half and half (depends on how bad you want to be)

5 egg yolks (you can save the whites for omelets or angel food cake)

1 3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 Tbsp butter

2 tsp vanilla

dash sea salt

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

1 cup milk chocolate

Put 2 1/2 cups milk, the sugar, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium to large saucepan and bring to scald over medium high heat. Do not let this boil!

In a bowl, put the remaining 1/2 cup milk with the cornstarch and egg yolks. Whisk well.

When the milk is steaming and scalded, but not boiling, carefully pour a little bit of the hot milk into the cornstarch/yolk mixture while you continue to whisk. This is going to temper your yolks. If you poured the hot liquid in without stirring, your yolks would begin to cook and you'll have really lumpy pudding. Yuck. Don't let that happen!

Put the pot back on the burner and then pour in the tempered yolks. **NOTE: When I pour the tempered yolks back into the pot with the remaining liquid, I pour it through a fine mesh sieve to keep egg particles or any lumps out of the pot. Lumps=bad!

Kick the heat up on the burner to high and keep stirring that filling as it comes to a boil. This will thicken as it heats up and when it's nice and thick, remove from the burner. Be careful as you whisk because this will bubble and pop up at you like molten lava and it hurts REALLY bad if it touches your skin. Constant stirring is essential at this end phase because it will burn on you if you aren't careful.

Once you've removed the pot from the stove, add the butter, vanilla, and the semi & milk chocolates. You can use whatever brand you want, but note that the better chocolate you use, the better your pie will be. For my friend's pie, I actually used some dark and milk Dove chocolate. YUM!

Stir well using a rubber spatula until the chocolate bits and butter are melted. Carefully pour the filling into your chocolate graham cracker crust. Cover the top completely with Saran and pop in the fridge. You want to let this chill for at least 6 hours (overnight is best) before putting the whipped cream on. This needs to set up otherwise when you put on the whipped cream, filling will ooze out from underneath. Not what we want.

Whipped cream

2 cups heavy or whipping cream

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

In a chilled bowl, add the cold cream. Using a chilled bowl and whisk/beaters will give you the best results for cream. Whip on medium speed until the cream is frothy and you can see ribbons of cream as it whips. Slowly (SLOWLY!) sprinkle in the sugar as you continue to whip. Whip on high until you have firm peaks. Mix in the vanilla.

Spoon onto the top of your set pie and spread out using your spatula or an offset frosting spatula. Take a piece of chocolate bar (in my case, I used a piece of Dove dark chocolate) and grate using a zester or the fine side of a cheese grater.

Keep this pie refrigerated until it's time to eat.

Monday, August 15, 2011

.navajo tacos.

You know those chalupa things you can get at Taco Bell? I love those. My ultimate favorite was the Santa Fe chalupa, but they stopped making and selling them. What gives? That was my #1 craving when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.

I remember as a little girl having Navajo tacos, which are really just a chalupa. Indian fry bread with some chili, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, onion and avocado. Mm hmm. It really can't get any better than this!

Making fry bread is very simple. Mix together:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered milk
1 tsp baking powder

Add in 1 cup of warm water and mix it all together using your hands. When it comes together, form into a ball and cover with saran. Let this sit for about 10 minutes to relax the gluten in the flour. Make sure you don't knead this dough like you would bread dough. That will work the gluten too much and you'll have a tougher, denser fry bread.

This recipe makes 4 shells so if you want more than this, double or triple (or quadruple!) the recipe.

Divide the ball into four separate balls. Cover again and let rest 5 minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface and roll each ball of dough until it's almost paper thin. No worries, it will puff up a LOT in the fryer.

While you were letting the dough rest, I hope you put a pot of oil on to heat. You need it at 350*. When the oil is warm and your dough has been rolled out, carefully lower one piece into the oil and fry until both sides are lightly golden. Remove and let drain on a paper towel or newspaper. Repeat until all the dough has been fried.

I used my basic chili recipe for these and all that's left to do is top with your favorite toppings!

**A special tip I like when we have Navajo tacos is to make extra fry bread dough. Fry some up for your tacos, then fry up more and slather with butter and honey, or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. My fav! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

.teriyaki wings.

One of my daughter's most requested meals - or snack - is my teriyaki wings. She loves loves LOVES them. (Did I mention she loves them?)

These are very simple to make and are an awesome change to your standard hot wings.

First, start by making the teriyaki sauce:

In a saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp oil. When the oil is hot, saute 1 tsp minced gingerroot and 2 Tbsp minced garlic for about 30 seconds to a minute. You don't want the garlic to burn so really you just want to saute long enough to release the flavor.

Add 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup water and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Whisk well.
*Note: If you want these wings a little kicked up, add more gingerroot and some red chili flakes.

At this point, I pour about 1/3 of this on the thawed party wings. You can find plain unflavored chicken wings in your freezer department. Thaw them in the fridge. You don't want to give yourself food poisoning. That would be no bueno. I put the wings in a large ziploc and pour the sauce into the bag. Seal it up nice and tight removing as much of the air as you can. This will marinate the wings giving the flesh that sweet and salty flavor that makes these wings very desireable. I recommend marinating the wings overnight so remember when you go to make these, to give yourself an entire day.

Reduce the rest of the sauce down until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool completely and put in the fridge.

To Make: Completely drain all of the teriyaki marinade off the wings. Put the wings on paper towels and pat dry. You don't want sauce lingering on the wings because when they hit the oil, you'll get a lot of splattering and you might get burned.

Heat oil in a pot or fry daddy to 350*. Carefully add the wings and fry for 4 minutes, using tongs to move them around for even cooking. When they're done, remove from the oil, and place on paper towels to catch as much of the oil. Put the wings in a large bowl and drizzle in that thickened teriyaki sauce. I like to garnish with some fresh sliced green onion. It not only gives a little onion'y flavor, but it looks pretty on the plate. Using a spoon or your hands, mix all of that together in the bowl and then dump into a pie plate or some other kind of baking dish. Pop in a 350* oven for 10 minutes. This will ensure the wings are cooked through, and it will also heat up that teriyaki sauce.

When I make these for a party, I dump the wings into aluminum pie plates and then just sit the pans on a plate for added stability. This makes for very easy clean up! Something every hostess can appreciate.

So the next time you're looking for a delicious snack or dinner option, think wings. Think teriyaki wings! Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

.roasted corn and avocado soup w/ crab salad.

Have you ever had one of those days...

Scratch that..

Have you ever had one of those months? We've had one of those months. We were in Ohio visiting the inlaws and when I got back home I've been working hard on Pioneer Trek stuff. Apparently, someone at church thinks my cooking is stellar enough to put me in charge of all the food for this year's youth pioneer trek. Fun times. I'm actually very excited to be part of this activity. Fingers crossed the food turns out perfect!

When we got back from Ohio, it was hot. HOT HOT HOT. It was hot in Ohio and well, that heat dun followed us back to New York. So I decided to try an experiment I've been wanting to do for awhile. Make a chilled soup.

This soup is actually two separate ones. The base is a sweet roasted corn soup, then ladled in the center is a roasted avocado soup (YES ROASTED!) and it's topped with a delicious crab salad. Love me some crab!

We'll begin with the soups:


5 ears sweet corn, husked, grilled, and cut from cob
1-2 jalapeno, seeded, grilled, and chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp cumin
1 cup cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
salt and pepper

In a small stockpot, heat a little oil. When hot, saute the onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp cumin until the fragrance is released. Add all of the corn, minus the kernels from one cob (We'll save that corn for the crab salad) and the roasted jalapeno. Heat for a few minutes and then pour into a blender. Blitz until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little more water. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the corn soup into a bowl, cover with saran and pop in the fridge.

Now for the avocado soup.


4 Hass avocados, grilled (or roasted)
1-2 jalapenos, seeded, grilled, and chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
salt and pepper

Following the same steps above, heat oil in a pan. Saute the garlic, onion, and 1/4 tsp chili powder. Scoop the flesh from the avocados and put it in a blender along with the jalapenos, sauteed garlic/onion, cream, chicken stock, and water. Blitz until smooth. Add more liquid if it's too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran and chill.

3 crab leg clusters
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
1 avocado, diced
1 ear roasted sweet corn, cut from cob
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 lime, squeezed
salt and pepper

Cook the crab in a pot of boiling water. Cool in an ice bath and crack the crab, removing all meat. Put in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix together.

A delicious soup perfect for a hot Summer night! Enjoy!