Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Black Bean Salsa

Black Bean Salsa

1 can black beans drained and rinsed
2 C frozen sweet white corn
1 sweet pepper diced (orange, yellow or green)
2 large tomatoes (4 small) diced
3 green onions sliced
1 avocado diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 Zesty Italian Seasonings dressing - made up with oil, vinegar and water according to directions

Mix in a bowl and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with warm corn tortilla chips.

**I've had a ton of different versions of this recipe, but I like this one best.  And if my avocados are ripe enough, I usually put 2 or 3 in. But for the picture, I was lucky one was ripe.
**And in my opinion, the smaller the dice and slice, the better.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tuxedo Cake

Tuxedo Cake

1 C unsalted butter
2 C water
1 C canola oil
4 C sugar
1 C high quality unsweetened cocoa powder
4 C flour
4 large eggs
1 C buttermilk
1 T baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 T vanilla

Whipped Cream Frosting
4 c chilled heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 C powdered sugar

Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate (broken into pieces)
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
1/4 C corn syrup (or Lyles Golden Syrup- which I have yet to find)
2 t vanilla

To make the cake: Place one baking rack one -third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker’s Joy).
Combine the butter, water, and canola oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, cocoa, and flour. Pour the butter mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk. Whisk in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla all at once. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.
Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set two layers on one rack and the third on the other.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each layer comes out clean. Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one maybe done at a different time.  Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on racks for about 15 minutes before inverting onto baking racks. Cool the cakes completely, at least 2 hours, before frosting.
To make the frosting: Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream in a large bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and whip until thoroughly combined.  (I try to get it as thick as possible.) Place 1 cake layer on a platter and spread some of the frosting over the top. Top with the remaining layer or layers, thickly coating the top and sides of each with frosting.  Refrigerate the cake until the whipped cream frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.
To make the glaze: Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is very hot and just beginning to steam. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until it has melted completely. Stir in the syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a medium pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes. Do not let the glaze sit longer because it will stiffen and become difficult to pour over the cake. Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that it covers the top and drizzles down the sides. Cover the top of the cake entirely, but make sure some of the cream frosting shows through the drizzles on the sides. (If the glaze doesn’t flow easily over the edge of the cake don’t be afraid to add an extra tablespoon or two of corn syrup.) I sometimes pour it over slowly using a small measuring cup.
Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Slice the cake with a long knife, dipping it in a tall glass of hot water between each slice. The refrigerated cake will keep for about 2 days.

*This recipe was passed on to me by Dayna Magleby, who loves a good party and a beautiful cake! This cake is so fun and festive, yet the flavors are simple and every one loves it!  However, I have yet to see people eat more than one slice, let alone the first one they are served.
*Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen
*Josie picked this for her 8th birthday!
See what I mean? 8 slices not rich! ;) But by the next day....not a slice to be had, cake plate cleaned!

Beef Braise

Traditional Beef Braise

3-4 lbs beef roast, large cubes (2 inch)
coarse salt
black pepper
2 T canola oil
1 onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, thick sliced
6 carrots, thick sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 fresh thyme sprigs
3/4 C balsamic vinegar
3/4 C red wine vinegar
6 C chicken stock or broth
1/4 C fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Season beef with salt and pepper.  Place oil in a large dutch oven or pot over med-high heat and brown pieces of meat in a single layer. Brown all sides, turning with tongs and doing it in batches. When done, transfer beef to side bowl and continue until all pieces are done.

Turn the heat down and add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up al the crusty bits int he pan. Cook for 6-8 mins, until they just start to get some color.  Pour in the vinegars.  Turn the heat up to high and reduce the liquid by half, about 10 mins.

Stir in the broth and parsley and bring to a boil.  Return the beef to the pot, along with accumulated juices.  The stock mixture should almost cover the beef.  Cover and reduce the heat to low.  Braise until the meat is very tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Remove the lid and pierce the beef with a paring knife, it will fall apart.  If you use a well marbled roast, the cooking time seems to be less that if you use a lower fat roast.  Both end up tender, you may just need to cook the lower fat beef longer.

We love to serve it over Roasted Potatoes.

*Recipe adapted from The Lemonade Cookbook
*Very similar flavor to Beef Bourguignon but a lot simpler.

Holly's Apple Fennel Salad

Holly's Apple Fennel Salad
Celery Root

Any combination of the above ingredients.  I use a mandolin and slice some and shred some, just depending on the day. You could slice it by hand, the only ingredient that I think is best really thin is the fennel.

Lemon Dressing
1/4 C champagne vinegar
2 lemons (zested and juiced)
1 T sugar
1 1/2 C oil (I use closer to 1 C)
salt and pepper to taste (I usually use 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper)

Whisk all ingredients together and toss with salad.  Salad can be tossed ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.   Stays crunchy and bright for a couple hours.

*Josie requested this for her 8th birthday dinner.
*My favorite is to use honeycrisp apples, but great with granny smiths too.
*This has been passed to me by my amazing sis in law Holly....the real chef in the family.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grilled Yam Salad

Grilled Yam Salad

3 yams
2 red bell peppers (or orange or yellow)
1 sweet onion
olive oil
1 avocado, diced
1 C cherry tomatoes (or more)
3 T cilantro, minced
1 lime juiced

Peel yams and slice length wise, place in large bowl. Slice pepper in 3 big pieces, remove seeds, place in bowl with yams.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss in the bowl with tongs until olive oil covers peppers and yams well.  Slice onion into 1/2 inch thick slices, leave slices together.   Preheat grill on high for a few minutes, then turn heat to low and place yams and peppers on the grill.  Oil onions and place on grill also.  Shut grill to help yams cook well. Watch carefully.  You want a little char, but not too much. When cooked through, remove from grill, dice into desired size pieces and put in a bowl. Add diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and toss to coat.  Salt to taste.

*I'm in love with this salad right now and have made it the last 3 weekends to accompany whatever we are grilling! I even switched up the flavors last weekend and did fresh basil and balsamic vinegar instead of cilantro and lime juice.  Hans liked that even more.  If I'm making a big batch, I store it in the fridge without the avocado and just add the avocado when I serve it.  I prefer it room temp or a little warm, when it's cold, the flavors aren't as lovely.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Southwestern Chicken...for days!

Southwestern Chicken...for days!

2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 t coriander
2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
6 lbs chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 large onions, finely chopped 
6 cloves minced garlic
1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
116 oz pkg frozen sweet corn

In a large bowl, combine the spices.  Add the chicken and toss as best you can to coat.  Layer the onion, garlic and peppers on the bottom of the crock pot and top with the chicken.  Add the tomatoes with their juice and the corn.  Cook on high until chicken is tender, 4 hours.  Shred chicken and add some of the liquid to keep the chicken moist, but reserve most of the liquid, because it is the base to an awesome soup recipe...see below!

**The best part of this recipe is we use it for 3 different meals!  The first night, we either eat the shredded chicken over rice or quinoa, or we make burritos (add rice, avocado, cheese and salsa).  The second day can be burritos or tacos, just mix up the flavor with different toppings (a chipotle salsa or a salsa verde totally change the flavor).  The 3rd day if there is any chicken left, we add it to the soup recipe below, but if the chicken is all gone, the soup is awesome without too!

 Black Bean and Corn Tortilla Soup

4-5 C of the sauce/liquid and vegetables from the southwestern chicken recipe
1 or 2, 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3 C low sodium chicken broth
8 corn tortillas, cut into small 1 inch squares
Any left over shredded chicken from the southwestern chicken recipe (it's ok if there isn't any)

Optional toppings: corn chips, cilantro, salsa and cheese

Combine the sauce-vegetable mixture, beans and broth in a soup pot.  Bring to a simmer.  Add corn tortilla pieces and chicken,   bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Corn tortillas begin to break down and thicken the soup.  If it gets thicker than you like, just add more broth.  Serve with any of the toppings you like.

*This picture does not do this soup justice!  I'll get a better one.  The flavor from the crockpot sauce is amazing, and adding the corn tortillas gives it that extra earthy, Mexican feel!  I love it!
* recipes adapted from Ellie Krieger
*These recipes helped us survive basketball season.  It's a lot of chicken, feel free to half it, but Gray eats a ton of it for left overs and 3 real meals during the school week is really all we get these days!