Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Edamame Spread

Edamame is a good thing.  It's one of my favorite parts of going out for sushi.  And, it's one of the few things you can replicate in your own home with much success!

At some point on a grocery shopping trip, I made the mistake of purchasing already shelled edamame.  I vastly prefer it with the shell on, for preparing at home.   So, I have had this random bag of shelled edamame rolling around in my freezer for a long time.  I decided now is the time for figuring out what to do with this unwanted veggie.

This recipe is loosely based on a recipe from Ted Allen's book In My Kitchen.  I really like this cookbook.  It has a great balance of easy and fussy, and everything I've tried so far has come out beautifully.

Ted's recipe called for fresh ricotta, and I didn't have it.  So I opened up the icebox and started dragging things out that needed to be used up.  It's amazing the weird things you can find when you start looking in your icebox.  I found a sad little shallot and half a head of garlic and a lemon half that looked like it was well on it's way to mummification.  I also had a few tablespoonfuls of cream cheese left in a container.  After contemplating the recipe for a while, I put this together....

In a small saucepan, I dumped the bag of unshelled edamame.  I have no idea how much was in the bag.  This is why I would make a horrible recipe writer.  I would suggest using however much you need to make the amount you want.  How's that for vague??

I let the edamame boil for about 5 minutes.  I wanted it to be on the softer side.

In a small skillet, I sautéed the sad little shallot and a clove of garlic in some butter until they were both soft.  I didn't let it go too long because I didn't want the garlic to burn.

I drained the edamame, then put it back in the saucepan.  To the beans I added the shallot/garlic mixture, and the cream cheese, and I zested the pathetic lemon half and put in the juice.  I also salted and peppered it liberally.  The original recipe mixed the ingredients in a food processor, but I wanted something with more texture and rusticness (which I don't think is a word), so I used a potato masher on the whole mess.

I thought it turned out pretty darn delicious.  I put it on a Wasa cracker with some goat cheese.  Heck, I probably should have mixed the goat cheese into the spread.  I could have used it instead of the cream cheese.  And I think you could use whatever kind of bean you wanted.  I could see this with black beans, pintos, even small green peas- or you could go crazy and combine them!

Now I need to break out the book again and choose my next recipe!

A New Chili Recipe!

We love chili around here.  I crave it whenever the weather outside gets overcast and cold.

The recipe I normally use, I got from my friend Diane years ago.

I like it because it's simple.  I brown a pound of whatever ground meat I have around (my favorite is turkey or chicken) with a chopped onion.  When the meat is done, I dump in a can of hot chili beans and a can of either Rotel tomatoes, or just plain canned tomatoes.  I can make it feed more people by adjusting the number of cans of beans and tomatoes.  Then I just let it fester on the stove for however long I can stand to smell it and not dive in!

If I had one criticism of the recipe, it would be the thickness.  Sometimes I add a cornstarch slurry after it simmers for a while in order to tighten it up a bit.  I have also used equal parts flour and butter.  Both thickening methods work fine.

I was wandering around on Pinterest a few days ago, and I came across a blog entry on one of my favorite blogs, "Food Pusher" about making chili mix at home.  I know a lot of people buy the packets of chili seasoning mix at the store.  But I also know most mixes like that are full of preservatives, and mostly just salt.  I was very curious to see if the recipe for chile seasoning on Food Pusher would taste decent.  I was hoping it would.  I was thinking I could frankenstein the two recipes together to improve my own chili recipe.

It was a rousing success!  I followed the Food Pusher recipe with the following exceptions.....  I did not have dried basil (because I find it pointless), so I left it out.  I used a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, and I used a can of chili beans instead of regular beans.  I also used slightly less water because of the juice in the can of tomatoes.  As you can see in my crappy photo, I garnished mine with some guacamole.  Because I could.  You could also add chopped fresh cilantro, diced onions, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, or whatever you want.

While I doubt I will make up the chili mix in advance (it's just as easy to measure the spices directly into the chili), I think the flavor profile was spot-on!  I did add additional hot sauce to my bowl, so I might add either some chipotle powder or maybe even a diced chipotle pepper to the mix next time.

Do you have a favorite chili recipe you use all the time?  If so, share!  I'm always looking for ways to tinker with my repeated recipes to make them better!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bacon Cheddar Scallion Scones

It was a snowy day here in Colorado.  I'm fine with that, as long as I don't have to run around in it.  It was the kind of day that makes me want to bake.  And make chili.  So I did both.

These scallions are outrageously good.

I followed the recipe exactly, except I ended up having to add way more buttermilk to get the dough to come together.

I am planning on serving these babies with a big bowl of chili.  I found both of the recipes on Pinterest, so if the chili comes out edible, I'll post it here.  But for now, just feast your eyes on these beautiful scones.

I bet these would be good with any combination of ingredients... bleu cheese and proscuitto,  pancetta and feta... you name it.  Maybe even cheddar and chorizo.  This is making me really hungry.

I found this recipe on a blog called "Love to Cook."  This is the first recipe I've tried from this site.  But I'm really impressed with this first project.  After dinner, I'm planning to curl up on the couch with some herbal tea and crawl around on the site to find more recipes to try!  So, here's the recipe.

Knitting Project

So, my niece Taylor is having a baby soon.  I decided I would knit a blanket for the new baby.

When I was a kid, my father's mother was the fiber arts person in the family.  She crocheted afghans for all the kids, and cross stitched birth announcements, etc.  Nana past away several years ago.  I started thinking about the kids who will be born in the family in the future.  Who would make heirlooms for them?

I figured, even though I'm not nearly as talented as my grandmother (actually, both of my grandmothers crocheted), I can knit, so I should pick up the mantle and continue the tradition.

I started this project a while back.  I am shocked I actually finished it before the baby is born.  I kinda figured I'd give it to the baby when she graduated from high school. :)

It came out very nicely, but the yarn I used was awful.  It's called Baby's First by Lion Brand.  It is really thick, but the strands come apart and break easily.  I think I'll send this one to be there when the baby is born, but maybe I'll make another one that I have more confidence in.  I can just see this one completely unravelling after a few washes.

This project was fun, and it was a confidence booster.  I'm thinking of casting on a scarf project later this evening...

Baked Oatmeal

This stuff is amazing!  Most people who know me, know I really don't like oatmeal.  My preferred delivery platform for it is cookies.  Unfortunately for me, my husband loves it.  I make it for him every weekday morning.  Then I make something different for me.

When I saw this recipe, I got excited.  I was hopeful that this might be the magic recipe that makes oatmeal palatable to me.

I was right!  This is so good, and it is pretty flexible, as well.  You could add anything to it that you normally throw in your bowl of morning oatmeal.

The recipe is here.  It's from a blog called "Food Pusher."  I love this blog.  When I read it, I always come away hungry.  I've made several recipes from here, and they've all been very successful.

So, now all I have to do is figure out a way to replace the oil in this recipe with something slightly more healthy.  Coconut oil, perhaps?  When I figure something out that doesn't compromise the quality of the recipe, I'll post it.

In the meantime, I will finish the batch I made this morning.

Pear Jam with Chocolate

I have found I really enjoy small batch canning.  I don't have the room (or the budget) for large batches of things- plus I get tired of things before I finish a huge jar.

A while back a purchased a book entitled Preserving By the Pint by Marisa McClellan.  When it arrived, I immediately read through it and marked this recipe.

I bought pears at the store this week specifically to use in this recipe.

I was a bit disappointed with the finished product.  The chocolate flavor was not present enough, and the pears were still too structured for me.  When I was reflecting over the process of making it, I decided that I would give it another try, substituting real chocolate for the cocoa powder called for in the book, and adding cinnamon.  I also thought it would be better if I used an immersion blender to break the fruit up a little better.

Imagine my surprise, when I was looking to see if the recipe was published on the internet, (I always check, because if I got the recipe from a book, I don't want to publish it without the author's consent.  If I find it already out there, I feel comfortable doing it myself.) and I found another version of the recipe, published by Marisa, using the changes I had decided to use next time I make it.  So, I'm going to link you to her website, "Food in Jars," to find the recipe.

I can't wait to try this again, but I feel like I need to use up the two little jars I made this time around, before I make more.
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