Archive for May, 2014

May 25, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Here is my story about Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, in pictures:

The End.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
adapted from my backyard

Note: I made two of these at once and just doubled everything. It’s that good.

Ingredients

Filling:
1-1.5 lbs of fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 pieces**
1 lb fresh strawberries, cut into quarters
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (more or less depending on your preference for tartness)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

**Make sure to cut the leaves off 1/2 inch down the rhubarb stalk and wash the stalks (and your hands) well. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous.

Crumble
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
dash of salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and set out a pie dish or 9×9 glass baking dish.

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, and sugar in a big bowl and let sit and macerate (i.e. get juicy) for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the cornstarch into the lemon juice (it may seem a bit stiff, don’t worry) and vanilla. Add the mixture into the fruit and stir well.

In a separate bowl, cut the butter into all the rest of the crumble ingredients, using a pastry cutter or your good old fashioned finger tips. This makes for a very buttery crumble, you could reduce by a few tablespoons if you are afraid. I am not afraid of butter.

Spoon the fruit into the bottom of the pie dish and top with crumble. The crumble should be thick and lumpy – but may not cover every inch of fruit.

Bake for about 1 hour or until the crumble is set and golden and the juices are bubbling. I recommend placing a rimmed baking sheet under your pie dish in the oven to avoid copious smoke in the case of spillage.

Note: This crumble is very juicy and quite tart. I prefer not to go overboard on the cornstarch/flour in the filling because it clouds the beautifulness of the fruit. Just jive with it, okay? It’s a crumble, not pie rocket science. If tart isn’t your thing, add more sugar or less lemon juice to the filling.

 

 

 

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May 22, 2014

Blueberry Breakfast Treat

Sometimes it is important to say an extra thank you to the people you love.

Sometimes it is fun to surprise someone in the middle of a regular old work week.

Sometimes it is good to leave a warm blueberry treat on the counter before you slip out of the house to go to work.

It will make you smile all day.

Blueberry Breakfast Surprise

Serves 1-2 people

Filling:
Large handful of blueberries (enough to fill 2 ramekins almost to the top)
1 T flour
spoonful of sugar ( to taste)
squeeze of lemon

Topping:
1 T brown sugar
2 T butter, cut into chunks
2 T flour
sprinkle of salt
dash of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter 2 oven-proof ramekins. Stir together filling ingredients.

Use your fingers to combine the topping ingredients until crumbly. Divide between the two ramekins.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until juices bubble and top is golden. Surprise someone you love.

May 18, 2014

Make-It-Work Monday: Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Bake

What’s for dinner this week?

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Bake.

This is like a grown up version of something they serve at daycare preschool. Its cheesy and warm and has those little bite size chicken bits in it. It’s only grown up because it has TWO vegetables in it.

Confession: this recipe was inspired by something I stumbled across on the Country Crock website a while ago. Yes. Me. A site for “buttery spread.”

Listen. Don’t judge until you have made this (but please use real butter. Please.) The Mr. loved this so instantly that it went straight on a recipe card and became a regular favorite.

This is a good recipe to make ahead or make parts ahead. You can also substitute in other vegetables as you see fit, or use other leftover cooked chicken that you might have around.

It is the perfect Monday comfort food and makes great leftovers!!

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Bake

Ingredients

2 cooked chicken breasts (or about 2 cups cut up chicken)**
4 cups chopped veggies (I use red pepper and broccoli, cut up small)
3 Tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Garlic powder, onion powder, salt an pepper to taste

**I like to poach my chicken by boiling some chicken or vegetable stock in a sauce pan and dropping the chicken in. Cooking time will depend on thickness of meat and if it was completely thawed, so check a piece every 5 min until the inside is no longer pink. Discard stock.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sauté the vegetables in butter and/or oil until they are crisp-tender (now raw but still have a snap when you bite in). Place in au gratin dish (or other casserole dish) along with chicken.

In the same pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, whisking constantly to avoid forming clumps. Add milk slowly and cook until mixture thickens slightly and loses the floury taste. Add in cheese gradually, whisking until smooth. Pour cheese mixture over vegetables and chicken and give a little stir to make sure it gets distributed.

Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes or until golden. Or stop before baking, let cheese cool, cover with Saran Wrap and keep in fridge for up to 2 days before baking.

May 15, 2014

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been feeling pretty stuck lately. It has been one long school year, and I just know the finish line can’t be too far away, but I can’t quite see it yet.

You know how they say it’s “not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” Referring to whatever grueling long-term goal one is trying to achieve.

I am at the part of the marathon where I would really really like to stop running and have some red Gatorade and a free hot dog.

I made these cookies to get myself unstuck.

Okay so I guess normally marathoners don’t eat spoonfuls of cookie dough as they jog along but I can only take these metaphors so far.

Don’t you feel better just seeing pictures of these little joy-filled treats between each of my sentences? I’m not trying to bring you down here. I’m lifting you up in the end. I promise.

I have posted about my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies before. Yup, it’s still the Nestle Tollhouse version. Yep, I still think it’s awesome and delicious.

Until I tried adding browned butter. Suddenly, I felt myself get a little unstuck. A little less exhausted.

The only thing better than a regular chocolate chip cookie is the kid of chocolate chip cookie that is just enough flat with crispy edges and a warm toffee crunchy taste with a gooey inside. That is this cookie.

Yes, it’s an extra bowl. Yes, it takes a few extra minutes longer to brown and then cool the butter. But come on folks, we are running a marathon here! It’s worth it.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Nestle Tollhouse

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or whatever odd assortment you have in your cupboard – mine had mini chips, milk chips, and semi-sweet)

Melt the butter in a pan, swirling it as it melts. Have a heat-proof bowl at the ready. You want to continue cooking the butter as it begins to crackle and foam. Don’t leave its side. Stick with it. Continue to swirl the pan often, keeping it close to the heat. The butter is browned as soon as it begins to smell nutty and you start to see little golden brown bits forming at the bottom of the pan. Let this continue for all of 5-10 seconds and then pour all the butter into the bowl, scraping all those delicious browned bits in with the melted butter. If you leave it in the pan or let it cook too long, it will burn. You will know if it burns. It will smell burned. Put the butter into the fridge for a while until it is pretty cool/lukewarm to the touch.

Meanwhile, mix/sift together the flour, salt, baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream the two types of sugar with the eggs. You want to use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) and beat these together a good long while until they become light and fluffy  – you want that sugar to get dissolved for that smooth toffee taste. Mix in the vanilla, and then slowly add the cooled brown butter, scraping in all the good browned bits at the bottom. If it is still a little warm, just pour a very small bit of the butter in to even out the temperatures, and then add the rest. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough onto trays  and pop in the freezer or fridge while the oven preheats to 350 degrees F. This helps the cookies hold their texture/shape in the oven. If you want, you can even store some of the cookie balls in a tupperware in the freezer to be baked off later.

Bake cookies in 350 degree oven for about 11 minutes for larger cookies (1 1/2 T size scoops) or 7 minutes for smaller cookies (1 1/2 t size scoops). They are done when the outsides are set and the tops are soft, but not raw and jiggly. Let cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes, and then cool on wire rack.

May 12, 2014

Make-it-work Monday: Homemade Tacos

 

I used to have this little code that I would text to my housemate/co-chef Vinny. I would say something like “taco tuesday?!?” but I would really mean something like “I am exhausted and starving and have been working for 12 hours and have no plans of what to make for dinner can you pretty please with extra cheese make tacos tonight?”

Lo and behold I would walk in the door to the spicy smells of cumin and ground beef, finished to perfection and waiting for us to devour while watching Friday Night Lights/Dexter/So You Think You Can Dance. So two points here: tacos are a great comfort after a busy day and Vinny is basically the best friend ever.

Now I am the chief taco maker, although the Mr. is pretty handy on taco night too. The reason they are a great Make-it-work Monday choice is that they are quick, pretty cheap, and adaptable.

1. Meat: They are great with ground beef or ground turkey (healthier choice). Either of these meats can go straight from the freezer into the skillet in a pinch, although it’s obviously better to thaw first. I used to use El Paso taco seasoning packets, but recently have started making my own seasoning (see below). This is a) more delicious b) lower in sodium and weird ingredients and c) cheaper.

2. Toppings: I usually chop up some tomatoes and lettuce (ice berg, romaine, whatever I have on hand) and then grab some cheese and sour cream and taco sauce/hot sauce for the Mr. For cheese, I really do like to buy the “taco” pre-shredded cheese… so sue me. I buy a big bag and then freeze it in little ziplocs – ready to pull out on any taco night and it will melt right away. Or you can grate some cheddar – whatever floats your boat. Feel free to add any other toppings that come to mind – like a little avocado or beans or whatever.

3. Vehicle: I usually use 6-8 inch flour tortillas. Right before serving, I heat up a dry skillet and flip flop the tortillas on the pan until they are warm. You can also microwave them, although that makes them a bit more limp. I have also been known to use taco leftovers in taco salad. Just flip flop the whole idea and fill a bowl with romaine and then dump all the above mentioned items on top. Serve with chips if you have some handy.

It may not be glamorous, but its dinner! MAKE IT WORK!

Taco Night with Homemade Taco Seasoning 

makes about 6T (enough for 3lbs of meat)

2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons corn starch

Mix all ingredients together and store in glass jar in your pantry!

To use, brown ground beef or turkey in a skillet. Drain off excess fat. Add 1/4 cup water and 2 Tablespoons of seasoning mix and stir. Cook a few more minutes until mixture thickens.

Heat tortillas and assemble tacos with meat and whatever toppings you fancy, like cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Enjoy with a Corona and a best friend.