Monday, April 30, 2012

Grapefruit Curd

Two things happened around the same time:  my friend Lee told me how easy it was to make lemon curd and my mother in law brought me a bag of grapefruits.  The result was that I suddenly had to make grapefruit curd.  And give away some of it to prevent myself from eating it all.  It was pretty easy and so delicious.  I can't wait to make some kind of tart or pie or something with it. Or, I'll just have to learn to make clotted cream and scones.

Grapefruit Curd (makes about 2 cups)
Recipe from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, strained
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup  granulated sugar OR 1/4 cup honey2 large egg yolks, preferably room temp
2 large eggs , preferably room temp
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained

Simmer the grapefruit juice in a small saucepan, reducing to 1/2 cup / 120 ml. Let it cool a bit.

Cream the butter in a medium stainless steel bowl (note: you'll use this bowl as a makeshift double-boiler later). Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and light. Add the yolks, and then the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Stir in the salt, and then gradually add the grapefruit juice and lemon juice working the juice in as you go.

Rinse out the small saucepan you used earlier, and fill 1/3 of the way full with water. Bring to a simmer, and place your stainless steel bowl of curd on top of it. Stir constantly, and heat the curd slowly enough that the sugar has time to dissolve. This step usually takes me about ten minutes. Pull the curd from the heat when it is just thick enough to coat your spoon. Your curd will thick substantially as it cools.

It will keep refrigerated for a week, or up to a month in the freezer. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chai Banana Bread

Awhile back, I got sick of having to toss magazines in the recycling bin and decided to stop receiving magazines that I didn't read.  Pretty much the only one I kept was "Cooking Light."  I make recipes from almost every issue and it has the kinds of stuff we like to eat.  In the most recent issue, there was a recipe for Chai Banana Bread.  I had just received a delicious loaf of banana bread from a friend and it disappeared from our house quickly so I decided to make this version.  The icing with the chai spices is fantastic and the banana bread was moist and had a great crumb.  I used white whole wheat flour (I know, it sounds weird and it is unbleached) which worked well.  I also halved the recipe to make two small loaf pans.

Chai Banana Bread (makes a 9x5 loaf pan)
from Cooking Light, May '12

1.5 c. mashed ripe banana (about 3)
1/3 c. plain nonfat yogurt
5 T butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan (or coat with cooking spray).

Combine the banana, yogurt, melted butter and eggs in a bowl.  Beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended.  Add sugars; beat at medium until just blended.  Combine flour, soda, salt.  Add form mixture to banana mixture and beat until just blended.  Combine cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and allspice in a small bowl.  Measure 1.5 teaspoons of the spice mixture and add to the batter.  Add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla.  Pour batter into the loaf pan.

Bake for 65 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.  Remove from pan; cool.

Combine remaining spice mixture, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, powdered sugar and milk.  Drizzle over bread.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Greek Chicken Pasta

The other day, this clipping fell out of the cupboard in my kitchen that's stuffed with recipes and cookbooks.  It was JUST what I wanted to eat . . . divine dinner intervention.  I grabbed a rotisserie chicken and had everything else on hand.  It was a big hit.  The girls ate their stuff separately (Picture little plates each with a pile of chicken, pile of spaghetti, pile of kalamata olives, pile of pine nuts - you get the idea) and my husband loved pasta without red sauce.

Greek Chicken Pasta (4 servings)
from Sunset - not sure when

6 oz spaghetti
3 T olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 T minced garlic
8 oz baby spinach
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/2 tsp. red chile flakes
1 c. pitted kalamata olives, halved
1 c. toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper
2 c. shredded rotisserie chicken
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in spinach, wine, chile flakes, olives, pine nuts, and season with some salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and return to pot.  Add onion mixture and chicken.  Stir to coat and cook over medium heat until warmed, 3-5 minutes.  Transfer to plates and top with feta cheese.

Nut info:  530 cal/ 22g protein

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A trip to the farm

Last week we met one of my friends at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark.  I had been there for their pumpkin patch, but I didn't know that you could visit year round.  The kids loved riding in a wagon, seeing animals and going on the pony ride and train, but most of all, they loved picking vegetables.  Underwood Farms lets you pick produce that's in season and charges you by weight.  It seemed like the big hit that day was the strawberry patch but by the time we took off across the fields, it was a ways away and we just ended up picking vegetables.  

We picked golden beets, carrots, spinach, and parsley.  I also picked up a few things at their farm stand (lemons, garlic, bell peppers) and my bill was a whopping $5!  It was a really fun day and when I served chimichurri marinated flank steak the next night to our guests, I could say that the parsley was growing in the fields the day before.  I wish there was something like this in the I.E. closer to us!  Thanks for a great idea, Shayna!

Information about Underwood Family Farms

You can buy tickets for train rides, mining for gems, a petting zoo, pony rides, a bounce house or tractor rides. 

At the end of each row, it describes the vegetables growing there.  Signs also tell you if a row isn't ready to pick yet.
Italian flat leaf parsley

I took half of the chimichurri sauce below and used it to marinate flank steak overnight.  We then grilled it and sliced it thinly against the grain.  I served the rest of the sauce on the side at the table. Chimichurri also makes a great dipping sauce for slices of baguette.

Chimichurri (makes about 1 cup)

1.5 cups firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves
3 T fresh oregano leaves
3/4 c. olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1.5 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (more to taste)

Trim the parsley of any thick stems and then finely chop it.  Also finely chop the oregano and garlic (or you can put it in a food processor or mini chopper for a few pulses).  Put it in a small bowl and stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve immediately or refrigerate.  If you refrigerate it, bring it back to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

As promised . . .

My little girls in their Easter dresses!

Big looks so, well, big in her dress.
I bribed them to smile with candy - Little didn't waste any time in enjoying her piece

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Individual Quiches

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.  We didn't make the empty tomb cookies this year but we had a weekend full of good church and family time.  I promise that I will post some pictures of the girls in their Easter dresses soon!

My mom dyed Easter eggs with the girls and they had a great time.  I applaud her bravery and am amazed at how clean they & my house were when I got home :)  We just polished off a dozen hard-boiled eggs by eating lots of egg salad sandwiches.  My cooking idea today is about eggs, but fresh ones.

I love a good egg casserole or quiche.  They tend to come together quickly and it's usually a good way to either serve protein when you don't want to cook meat, or use up all the extra produce you have laying around.  I made these little individual quiches inspired by a recipe on Baked Bree for some girlfriends a couple of weeks ago and I'm going to make them again soon.  While many egg recipes are easily gluten-free, this one isn't (but I think you could easily leave the bread out).  I used bacon but for you vegetarians out there, you can just skip that part too.  Feel free to use a different cheese or vegetable to suit your taste.

A good thing about the individual quiches is that they bake a lot quicker than putting if you were making a big pan (or even pie pan) of quiche.  And, they're just so cute!  I made a dozen and 3 per person seemed like a good serving size for brunch.  They are light with only 4 eggs in the whole recipe (1/person).

Individual Spinach & Swiss Cheese Quiches (serves 4)

Cooking spray
6 slices of sandwich bread (I used whole wheat)
4 eggs
appx 1.5 cups half and half
2 cups baby spinach
1 small red onion (or 2 shallots), diced
4 oz. cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Saute the onion and mushrooms in a little olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add the spinach and stir until just wilted.  Set aside.

With a biscuit cutter, cut 2 rounds out of each piece of sandwich bread (you want them to fit in the bottom of your muffin tins).  Spray your muffin tin really well with cooking spray (I use olive oil spray). Put one bread round into the bottom of each muffin cup and press down.  Divide the spinach mixture evenly among the muffin tins.  Top with cheese and bacon.

Put your 4 eggs in a blender.  Add some more salt and pepper, any other spices (I used a bit of dried thyme), and add enough half and half to make 2 cups.  Blend well.  The custard will be foamy and light.

Evenly pour custard into each muffin cup over the spinach and cheese.  If you have time, I like to let these set for 15 minutes or so to let the bread soak up the custard, but you can bake them right away too.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.  They will fall a little when they cool.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Marmalade Muffins



I'm on a Pioneer Woman kick recently.  I've been a fan of her blog and I love the cookbok that a friend gave me.  I've noticed that the way her recipes are illustrated makes it easy for Big to help me in the kitchen.  She can follow along ("now we add the eggs") even though she can't read recipes yet. The only drawback to all this Pioneer Woman baking is that I have to make up for it with exercising . . . she's like Paula Deen - no restraint with the sticks of butter, heavy cream, and white flour.  At least the last recipe had some kale in it!

We made these marmalade mini muffins for brunch with friends and they were really delicious.  There's no actual marmalade in the recipe, but plenty of orange zest and an orange juice glaze.  I left a few plain without the sugary glaze and they were good that way too, but I think an orange vanilla icing might be really yummy.

Here's the link to her post with all the step by step photos.

Marmalade Muffins (makes 3 dozen mini muffins)
2 sticks Salted Butter, Softened
1 cup White Sugar
2 cups Flour
2 whole Eggs
1 cup Buttermilk
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 whole Oranges, Juiced And Zested
1 cup Brown Sugar (lightly Packed)

Cream together butter and white sugar in a mixing bowl. Add eggs, beat well, and mix in flour. Dissolve baking soda into buttermilk, then add to the rest of the batter along with the zest from both oranges. Mix well.
Grease and flour mini muffin pans (or spray with nonstick spray with flour). Fill cups 2/3 full. (This recipe yields 36 mini-muffins, or 3 tins.)
Bake at 375ºF for 12 to 17 minutes (or 20 to 25 minutes for regular-sized muffins), or until lightly browned.
In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar and juice from the freshly zested oranges. You should have about ½ cup. Mix well. Drizzle this glaze over the warm muffins. Remove muffins from the pan while still warm.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sausage & Kale Soup

I seriously LOVE this soup.  It's a great combination of flavors and I spice it up quite a bit with red pepper flakes.  I used Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe's but I'm interested in tryng it with a hot sausage next time.  There's no flour to thicken the base so it's gluten free!  Make sure you notice that this is supposed to serve 12 . . . easily halved for a smaller crowd.

The Pioneer Woman's Sausage and Kale Soup (serves 12)

2 bunches Kale, Picked Over, Cleaned, And Torn Into Bite Sized Pieces
12 whole Red Potatoes, Sliced Thin
1 whole Onion, Chopped
1-1/2 pound Italian Sausage
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (more to taste)
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 cups Whole Milk
4 cups Half-and-half
Splash Of Heavy Cream (optional)
Fresh Or Dried Oregano
Black Pepper To Taste

Prepare the kale and set it aside.  In a medium pot. boil sliced potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage with the chopped onion. Drain as much as the fat as you can. Stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, chicken broth, milk, and half-and-half. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the potatoes, a splash of heavy cream for richness (optional), then stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve.