Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Homemade Blackberry Pie {with the Best Homemade Pie Crust}

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Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust

I usually have a queue of about 7-10 days worth of food waiting to post on this blog, so even though I made this yesterday I had to post this recipe today in case anyone needs a perfect, fail proof homemade pie crust for Thanksgiving tomorrow! I used a combination of 2 pie crust recipes and it created such a thick, flaky , easy to roll and use crust, I have to share it. I think shortening is the best substance for a flaky crust but alone it doesn’t taste that great so you need a little butter to give it a better flavor. You can see below there is also a suggestion to use butter flavored shortening, if you have that on hand. I followed Paula Deen’s blackberry pie filling recipe for the insides. And you know, I think I created mine and my husband’s new favorite pie! He was raving about it all night.

Every time we visit my family in Seattle we head to my parents’ place on Whidbey Island and eat at the best little cafe called Whidbey Pies. These pies are the kind you dream about. They have every berry pie imaginable and they’re just perfect. Fresh farm berries and homemade crusts. Mitch and I love berry pies so for our pie night with friends I had to make one. Substitute any berries you’d like! The lemon zest is the key to bringing a great aroma and really making the flavor of the fruit.

The Perfect Pie Crust (adapted from A Bountiful Kitchen’s pie crust and Jenny Evans’ pie crust) – my notes or changes in italics:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. butter (chilled, chopped into cubes)
  • 3/4 c. shortening (chilled. chopped into cubes)
  • 1/2 c. cold cold ice water
  • (egg wash for cooking (1 egg + 1 tbsp. water))
  • Mix flour and salt. Cut in butter and shortening with pastry blender or knives. Add water. Stir with fork until flour is absorbed and ball forms. (*Here I formed it into a ball, put it in saran wrap and chilled it in the freezer for about 10 minutes (or you can chill it longer in the fridge if you want to make it a couple hours or a day beforehand.) Dough is much easier to roll and handle when chilled).

    Flour surface and rolling pin well. Flatten dough with hand to make round pancake shape. Roll out from center to about 1/8” thickness (I made mine a bit thicker—I love a thick pie crust). Fold in half, lift onto pie plate. Open and shape to pan. Crimp edges. Cut off excess dough. If baking for single crust pie needing baked shell, bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes, lined with parchment paper and filled with dry beans so the crust retains its shape.

    The more you handle the dough the less flaky it will be. Great tips below from A Bountiful Kitchen-she always has the best recipes!
    **Hints**
    -Dough will be easier to handle if chilled for an hour or so.
    -You can cut a circle shape in the dough to make it easier to fit into the pie plate.
    -Try rolling the dough around the rolling pin and then unrolling right onto the plate.
    -Add as little flour as possible to get light crust (while rolling out)
    -Try ½ regular and ½ butter flavor Crisco.
    -Some people like to “cut” the flour in with their fingers.
    -Don’t cut the flour and shortening too much, the pieces of shortening are what make the crust flaky.
    -When making a single crust pie, place dry beans or macaroni into the bottom of the crust to weight the crust and keep it from puffing up.
    -If your pie is getting too brown on the edges, take a piece of foil, fold in half to make a square then cut a half circle out of the middle. Unfold and put over your pie.
    -Brush beaten egg white over your pie dough before filling with pumpkin to avoid soggy crust.Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust

Blackberry Pie Filling (adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe here):

  • 6 7 cups blackberries (I added 1 extra cup of blackberries—I wanted the berries to be really full in the pie, and it was the perfect amount)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 batches homemade pie crust (above) or 2 disks of store-bought pie crust (the store-bought ones have a great consistency but they’re so thin. Try to make it if you can—it’s really easy!)
  • (As noted above—egg wash for top: 1 large egg + 1 tbsp. water)
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with a baking sheet on the middle rack. In a large bowl, toss the blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and lemon zest. Let stand, mixing and coarsely mashing occasionally, 20 minutes.
    Fit one round of dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Refrigerate while you continue. Cut the remaining piece of dough into approximately eleven 11/4-inch-wide strips.
    Spoon the blackberry mixture into the pie shell. Arrange the dough strips in a lattice pattern on top of the filling and trim the strips close to the edge of the pan; roll up and crimp the edge. Lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush on the top and edge of the pie.
    Place the pie on the hot baking sheet in the oven and bake until the filling is bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour (Mine took about 1/5 hrs. to get the bottom all the way cooked. I have a clear glass pie pan so I would look under to check if the bottom was cooked—after 1 hr of cooking loosely place a piece of aluminum foil on top of the pie so it doesn’t get too brown. Then the rest will keep cooking so the bottom is done). Let the pie cool before serving.

    I think pies are best about 4-5 hours after cooking. This one only had about 2-3 hours after cooking and it was still a little warm and gooey. This morning the texture was much thicker. Try to make it early if you can!Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust   Just before going in the oven:
    Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust

    In the oven, about to put the foil over the top:Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust  Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust

Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie CrustHomemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust

Homemade Blackberry Pie with the Best Homemade Pie Crust

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Salted Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

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Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats There are no words for these. Since a friend told me about the Smitten Kitchen recipe, I’ve made them about 7 times in the past 2 weeks. Just make them. Your family (and you) will eat the entire pan. Or bring them to friends and save 1 for yourself. Just get ready for double the butter of normal rice krispie treats.

The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen here, shown below with a couple of my notes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box) *Just a note… I’ve tried this with Kellog’s brand Rice Krispie cereal and generic brand and the Kellogg’s brand really is better. I hate to say it because I almost always buy generic, but trust me. The Krispies are thicker and don’t get as overpowered from all the butter ;)
  • Cooking spray for pan

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute. (A light brown color with some darker brown bits on the bottom.)

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper (*I just saved the wrapper from the stick of butter, sprayed it with cooking spray and used that to press it firmly into the pan. Pressed firmly they taste better!), that I’ve sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners, though a silicon spatula works almost as well.Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie TreatsSalted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chicken Chow Mein

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Chicken Chow MeinI love a good Asian stir fry. When I saw this recipe floating around for easy chow mein I had to try it. We had it last week and devoured it. Even the small amount of leftovers was gone the next day. Such a great dinner and so good leftover too. The secret is chow mein noodles which you can find at almost any grocery store in their Asian foods section. They are so thick and eggy. The recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbl oil
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 bunch sliced green onions
  • 1 lb fresh steamed thin chow mein noodles*
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup lo mein sauce (I substituted with Hoisin sauce)
  • *I also added 1 lb. of cooked chicken breast

In a large colander, run (scalding) hot water through the steamed chow mein for about 30 seconds, (I did it about a minute until they were really soft) separating the noodles and removing the excess flour. Set aside. In large wok or pan, heat oil and add green onions, cabbage and carrots. Stir fry for about 2-4 minutes, or until the cabbage is wilted. Add the chow mein noodles and 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Cook stirring and tossing constantly for about 30 seconds and then add the remaining chicken broth. Cook for another minute or so or until all the liquid is dissolved.

Add the remaining ingredients, soy sauce, sesame oil and lo mein sauce, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Chicken Chow Mein Chicken Chow Mein

Thursday, November 21, 2013

3 Ingredient Coconut Milk Ice Cream (Dairy Free, Egg Free)

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Coconut Milk Ice CreamThis homemade ice cream is so easy you’ll almost wonder why you’ve ever made it another way! And honestly it is the thickest, creamiest, best consistency of any homemade ice cream. Most homemade ice creams freeze too fast so they can end up icy, but the coconut milk is so thick and creamy the texture holds up to freezing really well. Even after days in the freezer it’s creamy and delicious. And this is healthy too! No dairy, no eggs.
I made it recently for a friend who can’t have dairy while nursing. She hadn’t had ice cream in ages! This is the best replacement. Here’s how to make it:
Ingredients:
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar (can substitute agave nectar too)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Shake up coconut milk cans, then open and pour into large bowl. Whisk in vanilla and sugar. Whisk until smooth and then pour into ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes.
Easy. Delicious. Healthy. What more could you ask for in a dessert?Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Roasted Orange Rosemary Turkey

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Orange Rosemary TurkeyIn preparation for Thanksgiving I thought I’d post my favorite roasted turkey recipe—orange rosemary roasted turkey. I’ve made it 4 years now for Thanksgiving and it always turns out delicious! I have the gobs of butter rubbed on the skin to thank for that… oh and it smells amazing! The onions and oranges along with the rosemary roasting all day are heavenly. Also this is EASY. Honestly I think making turkey is the easiest part of Thanksgiving… just get it in and let it cook all day. You just need to get your hands a little dirty first ;)

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole turkey (or a chicken works too) – any weight (cooking time will depend on weight)
  • 1 stick of butter, very soft
  • 4 tbsp. rosemary, chopped to release aroma
  • 2 c. olive oil
  • 2 whole onions
  • 3 large oranges (also zest of these oranges)
  • salt and pepper
  • water
  • tools: roasting pan, lots of paper towels, basting tube, meat thermometer, string for tying legs (I use dental floss!)

I start by chopping and measuring everything, before I’ve even touched the turkey—this helps keep your kitchen and hands as clean as possible.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get out your roasting pan.
  2. First zest the skin on all of the oranges. I like lots of orange zest but do as much as you’d like and toss it into a medium sized bowl. Rough chop the onions and oranges (leave skin on oranges) into chunks. Dump into the bowl and add olive oil, rosemary, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper (you pretty much cannot have too much salt on the turkey skin!). Mix oranges and onions to completely coat with oil and zest and rosemary. Set aside.
  3. Now it’s time to prep the turkey. Get out three plastic grocery bags. One will go over your hand to pull out the turkey innards, and the other two layer together and set next to the sink. This is where you’ll put all the trash.
  4. Next to your sink place the extra plastic sack, paper towels, roasting pan, string, bowl with oranges and onions, and butter.
  5. Clean out both sides of your sink. Put the trash bag sacks on one side of the sink. The turkey will go in the other. Get your turkey out of the refrigerator and cut off the packaging and stick the packaging in the trash bag in the sink. Put the extra plastic bag over your hand, stick your hand into the turkey and pull out the innards—sometimes they are in a bag and sometimes they are loose. Pull your hand out, pull the bag over them and toss them into the trash sack. Now turn on cold water and rinse off the turkey. You’ll need to fill the inside with water too and turn it upside down to get all the blood off.
  6. Next look to see if there is a neck still attached at the top of the turkey. If so you need to snap it off and throw it in the trash sack. Give it a good rinsing and then pat it dry with paper towels and set it in the roasting pan.
  7. Take the oranges and onions and stuff as many as you can into the cavity of the bird. Reserve the seasoned oil in the bowl. You’ll need this for coating the turkey later. Any extra oranges and onions set in the bottom of the roasting pan. These make delicious gravy drippings.
  8. Next grab a knife and just above the cavity opening where you stuffed it, pull the skin up and cut it slightly so you can slide your hand under the skin, onto the chicken breast. Grab a chunk of the softened butter with your hands and rub it all over the chicken breast (under the skin). Rub butter underneath all the skin on top and then rub butter on the outside of the skin too.
  9. Grab the remaining olive oil from the orange bowl and rub the olive oil/rosemary mixture all over the turkey. Rub in on the top, bottom, and sides too.
  10. Grab your string and tie the legs together as tightly as you can to hold the shape of the turkey and keep it together.
  11. Place roasting pan in the oven and use the chart below to determine cook time based on weight of turkey. Once golden brown, baste occasionally to keep juicy.

(From AllRecipes.com): These times are based on placing the whole turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven.

Cook the turkey until the skin is a light golden color, and then cover loosely with a foil tent. During the last 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil tent to brown the skin. Basting is not necessary, but will promote even browning. The only true test for doneness is the temperature of the meat, not the color of the skin.

  • The turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of165 degrees F. To get an accurate reading, be sure that your thermometer is not touching the bone.
  • If your turkey has been stuffed, it is important to check the temperature of the dressing; it should be 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
  • When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, and makes for easier carving.

image    IMG_0328 IMG_0330

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Healthy Fudge Brownies (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Vegan)

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Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free Brownies
A friend of mine is on "The Virgin Diet” (gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, no sugar) and recently was telling me how she was dreaming of just eating a brownie. I got to thinking that I’m sure a great fudgy brownie could be made with a couple substitutions. I’ve been trying to lose baby weight (cough my baby is 7 months old) still, so I thought it’d be great to find a dessert recipe that was somewhat healthy for me. These were delicious and RICH. Even me a lover of chocolate could only eat half of one in a sitting because they are so rich. But they were the perfect way to satisfy a craving for chocolate in a healthy way. My friend loved them too! (Even though they do have maple syrup and agave which I don't know if those are technically okay on the diet, but it was a tiny splurge ;)
I started off with a recipe from Grain Free Foodie, found here. I altered it slightly to make it dairy and egg free, and have noted my alterations below. Then I added my favorite healthy chocolate frosting made with coconut oil. I love frosted brownies. My husband loves them unfrosted. We have been known to frost half the pan and divide the treats.
Brownie Ingredients:
  • 2/3 c. honey  (I used 1/3 c. maple syrup, 1/3 c. agave nectar—but I’m sure honey tastes great too, just didn’t have any) 
  • 1/2 c. melted butter  melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs 1 c. applesauce
  • 1 c. almond flour brown rice flour (almond flour is pretty expensive (like $10 for a 4 cups) so I opted for gluten free brown rice flour)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk honey, melted coconut oil, vanilla and applesauce until smooth. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and optional salt. Stir to blend. Pour into greased 8x8x2 inch pan. Bake for approximately 25 15-20 minutes, until center no longer jiggles and top feels cakey. Cool on a wire rack at least until sides pull away from the edge of the pan before cutting. (Cutting with a plastic knife keeps it from getting crumb-y.)
Raw Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 2/3 c. agave nectar
Whisk cocoa with melted coconut oil until smooth, slowly add agave whipping with whisk. Let sit at room temperature or in fridge to set for 10-15 minutes before frosting, to bring the coconut oil back to a thicker state. Frost brownies when they’re cool.
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free BrowniesGluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free BrowniesGluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free Brownies


Monday, November 18, 2013

Crock Pot Green Chile Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

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Green Chile Cream Cheese White Chicken Chili

I love a good white chicken chili but if it’s runny or too bland it can definitely be one of my least favorite foods!! I recently experimented to get a staple white chicken chili recipe put together. I’ve tried a lot over the years but this one is my favorite. The consistency is chunky like chili should be, it has lots of chicken compared to beans, it has tons of flavor which comes easily from the roasted green chile salsa, and the cream cheese gives it that creamy base. It’s a perfect cold day crock-pot meal for the winter!

Shredded Pork

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp. butter or oil
  • 1/2 rotisserie chicken, meat shredded into bite-sized chunks (if you only use breast meat it’s about half of the chicken’s meat)
  • 2 cans chopped green chiles (the small cans)
  • 1 can white/great northern beans
  • 1 package of cream cheese
  • 1 jar of roasted green chile salsa (any salsa verde will work but I’ve found the ones with roasted green chiles taste much better)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 c. shredded white cheese (monterey jack is my favorite white cheese)
  • chicken broth, to taste
  • cumin, to taste
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • cilantro for garnish
  • avocado for topping

In a saucepan heat 2 tbsp. oil or butter; sauté diced onions and bell pepper until soft. Transfer to crock pot. Add shredded rotisserie chicken, canned green chiles, cream cheese, green salsa, sugar, and white beans. Heat on high until ingredients are warm (approximately 1 hr.). Stir ingredients together and add chicken broth to achieve desired consistency (I prefer mine thicker but add more broth if you’d like it thinner) and cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Cook on high for 2 more hours or low for 4-5 hours.Right before serving add in white cheese and stir. Tastes great topped with cilantro and especially avocado!

Green Chile Cream Cheese White Chicken ChiliGreen Salsa with Roasted Chiles Green Chile Cream Cheese White Chicken Chili

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Walnut, Pear, & Bacon Spinach Salad

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Walnut Pear Bacon Spinach Salad

This is my favorite salad. Every time I make it I remember how much I love the flavors of the salty bacon, the fresh crisp pears, the sweet walnuts, and the creamy cheese mixed together. I first tasted a salad like this at a little cafe in Bountiful, Utah called Plates & Palates (side note this cafe has the BEST salads!). My old company used to order this salad and others for lunches all the time. Once we moved I was craving it and needed to recreate it—they used pecans but I always seem to have walnut on hand for baking so I use those instead. Once candied it’s hard to taste a difference. Here’s how I make it:

  • 1 bag spinach, washed
  • 1 1/2 c. candied walnuts (see how I make them here, or you can buy them pre-sweetened)
  • Gorgonzola or feta cheese
  • 1-2 pears (depending on how big they are)
  • 5-6 strips of bacon (I cook mine in the oven, see here)
  • Poppyseed dressing
  • Start off by cooking the bacon. While it’s in the oven, candy the walnuts on the stovetop. Once these are both ready, set aside to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, assemble salad. Throw cleaned spinach into a large bowl. Crumble or cut bacon and sprinkle into salad. Chop candied walnuts and sprinkle over salad. Dice pears and sprinkle over salad, and top with crumbled feta or gorgonzola.

    Dress with poppyseed dressing right before serving! Enjoy!! The flavors are so yummy together.

    Walnut Pear Bacon Spinach Salad Walnut Pear Bacon Spinach Salad

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Sweet Pork and Green Chile Enchiladas

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    Sweet Pork and Green Chile Enchiladas We cannot get enough of the Cafe Rio sweet pork… it is just too good. Once you make it you have pork for days and we find ourselves eating pork nachos, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, you name it. After making a huge crock pot full of sweet pork when we had friends over, I used the leftovers to make some simple enchiladas. Once the pork is already made these enchiladas are so simple to throw together: tortilla + green chile salsa + cheese.

    We like our enchiladas simple—not to much in them and nothing too creamy. The bite of the green salsa with the sweetness of the pork and the creaminess of the cheese oozing out of the tortilla is almost too much to handle! These may have blown my post-baby food and workout plans for days…Sweet Pork and Green Chile Enchiladas

    When I make full “copycat” Cafe Rio salads I try to make everything exactly by the recipe but when we’re just making pork for nachos or enchiladas I’ll modify it a little to make it simpler. Honestly it pretty much tastes exactly the same but doesn’t have as much sauce as the Cafe Rio pork. Here is the full recipe I use for Cafe Rio copycat salads, from Favorite Family Recipes—sidenote, her recipe is amazing and spot-on. But below are my adapted recipes for a simpler pork and cilatnro lime ranch.

    Shredded Pork

    • 3 lb. (any size smaller or larger will work too) pork shoulder roast
    • garlic salt
    • cumin
    • chili powder
    • brown sugar
    • 1 can red enchilada sauce

    Additional for enchiladas:

  • Flour tortillas 
  • Green chile salsa verde
  • Shredded cheese
  • To make pork: Place pork shoulder in crock pot and trim off any excess fat. Pour water over the pork so it rises 2 inches in the bottom of the crock pot. Cover pork in chili powder (just sprinkle a lot in there, can’t have too much because most of it runs down into the water), garlic salt, and cumin. Cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4-6). Once crock pot is done, pork should fall apart and shred easily. Once cooked, remove pork from crock pot, dump out water and rinse/clean it out. Place pork back in and shred it up. Add red enchilada sauce and approximately 1 cup of brown sugar. Mix well. Then cover the pork with more chili powder, and a bit of garlic salt to taste. Make it as spicy as you like it. We like it spicy with a kick of sweet in the back! Once you get it seasoned to your taste, place crock pot on “Warm” or “Low” setting and pork will be ready and warm when you are ready to eat.

    Assemble enchiladas by lining a tortilla with pork, cheese, and green chile sauce. Roll and put in baking dish. Top with cheese (and if you like it somothered more green chile sauce—we like it simple though), and bake and 350 for 15-20 minutes.

    And if you’re a true glutton like me you might as well slather the enchilada in cilantro-lime ranch… Sweet Pork and Green Chile Enchiladas

    Simple Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1 bottle ranch dressing
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 – 1 bunch cilantro leaves
  • Place all ingredients in blender or food processer and blend until creamy. I like to make this the day before and chill it, so it’s one less step that day. Also it tastes great chilled.  Sweet Pork and Green Chile EnchiladasSweet Pork and Green Chile EnchiladasSweet Pork and Green Chile Enchiladas

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    The Secret to Making Golden Pancakes

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    How to Make Golden Pancakes My kids requested pancakes for dinner one night when Mitch was out of town last week so I obliged to keep them happy for the night and secretly I was happy to make such an easy dinner… I used a homemade dry mix that we keep in a canister in our cupboard. The recipe for the dry mix is from Martha Stewart and can be found here. I love it! The only change I make is adding 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon. We love cinnamon in our pancakes.

    I love pancakes that are golden brown across the top, not only because they look nice but they hold the syrup much better. The syrup kind of rests on the golden brown top rather than soaking in and making the pancakes soggy.

    A couple years ago I discovered the easy secret to getting that restaurant style golden-brown pancake—don’t use any cooking spray or oil or butter on the pan. Just use a nonstick pan and drop that batter right onto it. At first it does feel a little weird to be putting the batter onto an un-oiled surface but trust me with a nonstick pan you don’t need it! No more splotchy pancakes.

    And to get the pancakes fluffy don’t flip them a lot. Pour the batter on, wait until it is nice and bubbly then flip once. Voila—perfect pancakes every time! We served with butter and maple syrup this time but if we have strawberries and whipped cream on hand that’s always delicious too.

    How to Make Golden Pancakes  How to Make Golden Pancakes

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Food Storage Pumpkin Spice Muffins

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    Food Storage Pumpkin Spice Muffins

    This is a great “recipe” to keep on hand! One box of spice cake mix, one can of pumpkin, and the amount of water called for on the cake box. If you’re stocking up on food storage pantry items, include this!

    Spice cake mix + can of pumpkin + water + bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

    My family loved these and they were a great quick and easy breakfast!Food Storage Pumpkin Spice Muffins // Spice Cake Mix + Can of Pumpkin Food Storage Pumpkin Spice Muffins // Spice Cake Mix + Can of Pumpkin

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    Easy Homemade Chicken Stock

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    Chicken Stock

    The holidays are coming up and it’s a perfect time to know what to do with all that leftover turkey or chicken meat stuck to the bone… just make a simple simple stock. It’s so easy you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before. And if you have--well then you know! Above in the photo is the remains of a rotisserie chicken—meat, bones, all of it. Just throw it into a large pot, about half full with water and then toss in whatever spices, seasonings and/or veggies you have on hand. Here’s how I make mine, but you can really alter this and put whatever you have into it!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 chicken/turkey with most of the meat used and/or picked off
    • water
    • 1-2 onions, rough chopped
    • oregano
    • thyme
    • any other savory herbs/spices you have on hand (italian seasoning, parsley, rosemary, etc.)

    Place chicken or turkey carcass into pot and fill until water covers about 1/3-1/2 of the pot. Throw in the onion(s) and add several teaspoons of each herb depending on how large your pot chicken is. Cover and turn up heat to high until simmering. Once simmering, turn heat down to low and let simmer for 2-3 hours.

    Once it’s done I put a large colander into another large pot and pour the contents out—that way the additional large pot under the colander catches all the stock. From there you can also pull off all the remaining meat from your chicken/turkey. There is always a lot more than you think could be left, and boiling it takes all that meat right off.

    For the stock if there are any large pieces of herbs or it doesn’t look strained enough to you, you can also run it through a sieve. Store in an airtight container in your fridge. It will last for about 3 days in your fridge so if you don’t plan to use it soon, wait for it to chill then pour into a freezer Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 6 months! It tastes so much better than store-bought stock… I of course still use store-bought stock all the time but when I have a chicken or turkey I love using this recipe to make great stock.

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

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    Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

    This is a great snack or side that is low carb and low in calories - and really satisfying and delicious. Sometimes you just need to eat something that tastes fried even when you’re trying to eat healthy. My kids even liked them!

    Ingredients:

    • 2-3 zucchinis, diced into matchsticks (make them as thin or thick as you like… thinner strips will get more breading but thicker ones are a bit easier to eat)
    • 3/4 c. bread crumbs (plain or italian – if you use plain add a couple pinches of italian seasoning to it)
    • 3/4 c. dry parmesan cheese
    • 3 eggs
    • marinara sauce (for dipping)

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking she et with cooking spray and set aside. Crack eggs into a bowl and whip slightly. Combine bread crumbs and parmesan in another low, wide dish. Drudge zucchini in egg and then crumb mixture, pressing to coat. Place onto baking sheet. Bake at 400 for about 17-20 minutes. Remove once edges start to turn golden brown. Serve with marinara sauce or any other dipping sauces you like!

    *To speed up the process I tossed all the zucchini in a bowl with the eggs, and then pulled one out at a time to drudge in the crumb mixture.Baked Parmesan Zucchini FriesBaked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

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    Boilermaker Tailgate Chili // 5 stars with over 3000 reviews on All Recipes

    A couple weeks ago a good friend brought this over when she came for dinner. I didn’t think much of her bringing chili until I remembered she’d won two chili cook-offs with this chili and it had 5 stars with over 3,000 ratings on AllRecipes.com. I was seriously excited to try it… and let me tell you, the second I took a bite I was really just incredulous that it was so delicious. I’ve always liked chili but never loved it… but when I tried this I couldn’t stop raving about it. It’s delicious. There are tons of fresh veggies, peppers, seasonings, and LOTS of meat in it. The meat to bean ratio is really great (I did leave out a can of beans) and leaves it feeling really hearty but fresh at the same time. Just try it, please. It’s delicious.

    And as a note, you must heed the recipe author’s advice to serve it on the 2nd day. I tried it the first and then second day and it tastes much better after the flavors have had time to settle together. And on that note it tastes great as leftovers on day 3, 4, 5, etc. I made it last weekend and for several days we had great leftovers, but it did go quickly. Plan to make it the day before you need it.

    A couple other notes: 1) the ingredient list is really long so it looks intimidating, but it is so easy to make… just a lot to buy, 2) it is pretty spicy made as-is (which we love) but if you’re serving to kids or don’t love tons of spice you can halve the hot sauce and/or the cayenne pepper, 3) I haven’t tried it with celery yet so I can’t speak to how it it tastes with that. And finally, here is the recipe link. Other modifications are noted below.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
    • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
    • 3 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, drained (I used 2)
    • 1 (15 ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce
    • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
    • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
    • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
    • 3 stalks celery, chopped
    • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 2 green chile peppers, seeded and chopped (I used anaheim chiles)
    • 1 tablespoon bacon bits (better with fresh bacon, cooked and crumbled in)
    • 4 cubes beef bouillon
    • 1/2 cup beer
    • 1/4 cup chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 teaspoon white sugar

    Directions:

    1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.

    2. (I then placed the meat in the crock pot) Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chile peppers, bacon bits, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. (I heated in the crock pot on high for 4 hours)

    3. After cooked, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and refrigerate, and warm then serve the next day. (If you make it in the crock pot, you can remove the stone bowl from the crock pot, with the chili still inside, chill it, and then put it right back on the crock pot to heat again the next day.)

    Top with fritos, shredded cheese and/or avocado.

    Look how meaty it is! Boilermaker Tailgate Chili // 5 stars with over 3000 reviews on All Recipes

    Boilermaker Tailgate Chili // 5 stars with over 3000 reviews on All Recipes