27 June 2008

Calico Beans

These were the yum. And quick. And I almost burned the house down when I made them (note to self: turning the stovetop knob all the way to the left keeps the flame on, it does not turn off the burner). Good thing I caught the still-lit burner an hour later...

Calico Beans
(from Ali)

1/2 lb. bacon, cut into pieces
1/2 large onion, chopped and cooked
1 lb ground beef, browned
1/3 c. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mustard
2 Tbsp. molasses
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. liquid smoke
2 cans white beans
1 can butter beans (do not drain)

Cook onion and bacon in a skillet, then add all other ingredients together and mix in a large roaster. Bake for 40 minutes.

25 June 2008

Chocolate Mint Chunk Cookies

This one's for Miss Northstrom - my Smooth n' Melty partner in crime. She's my partner in many little dorked-out crimes. Did I ever tell you about the time we spent an entire evening (dragging Hubs around with us, even) looking for the elusive Smooth n' Melty treats? Took us hours to find them, no joke. Went everywhere in town. Anyhoo...

I bought some Guittard mint chips last time I was at World Market. They are JUST like Smooth n' Melties, no joke. Love them! And I wanted to incorporate them into a recipe somehow. What to do, though? Finally I decided on a recipe for Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Ina Garten. All I had to do was switch out the white chocolate for the mint chocolate chips, right?

Only: from what I hear, the "chunks" are key in this recipe. I didn't have mint chunks, though, so I had to melt down my precious Guittard chips, allow them to set, and chunk from there. A bit more work than I usually invest in a cookie recipe, but soooo worth it.

This cookie is just as promised: HUGE cookies, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Delish. Plus the mint is rather mild, like a (wait for it...) Smooth n' Melty. The whole thing together tastes like Andes Mints, if that helps. Sooooo good! Like a backwards scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Give it a shot, you won't be disappointed :)

Chocolate Mint Cookies
(Adapted from Ina Garten)


2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature (or 3 large eggs)
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 lb. mint-flavored chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Melt mint chips over a double boiler (or in the microwave), and pour into a large container. Place in refrigerator to set.

Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined.

Remove now-hardened mint block from refrigerator. Roughly chop into large pieces. Fold the mint chips into the dough.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone).

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

23 June 2008

Tilapia and Tomatillos

Another recipe from a fellow blogger! I saw this little gem, and had to give it a shot. For one, it seemed to come together sooo quickly. And seemed healthy, and sounded yummy. An all-around win, right? I gotta say, it was pretty good. I wasn't terribly fond of the beer taste in it, but then again Hubs loved it. Could be because I used Sapporo, too, not exactly mildly flavored…
I loved that the fish stayed super-moist, though, and I loved the tomatillos in it. Cilantro, too, always makes for a good dish in my eyes. Worth another shot I think, maybe with a lighter light beer next time…

Tilapia with Tomatillos

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb. tilapia (4 fillets)
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, halved
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 to 10 tomatillos, husks peeled and diced
1/2 bottle of pale beer
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish

Season fish with salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Heat an ovenproof serving plate in a warm oven. Saute fish 3 minutes on each side, or until opaque. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime over the fish and carefully slide the fillets onto warm platter.

Cover the fish to keep it warm. Return pan to heat and add remaining 1 Tbsp. of oil. Over medium high heat, quickly saute the red onion, jalapeno and the garlic. Saute a minute or so, then add the diced tomatillos with seeds and juices. Season mixture with coarse salt and saute the mixture for about 5 minutes.

Add the beer and the juice of 1/2 lime and cilantro to the pan. Simmer sauce 5 minutes longer, then spoon hot sauce down over the fish filets. Garnish platter with a few extra sprigs of the cilantro.

21 June 2008


I am not a huge quiche fan. Okay, there. I said it. However, every once in a great while I just get an itch to make one (or in this case, many little ones). We also were at a moment mid-move where I wasn't up for buying much in the way of groceries. No bread to speak of, 2 measly slices of bacon, a few odd bits of vegetables and eggs. Some cream left from a baking adventure. Make a quick dough, bake it all up, and you have some luscious quiche in no time.

This crust recipe makes a great elastic dough. The baked crust is flaky and buttery, two things I love. The quiche filling is nice, very creamy. All in all a great little recipe, although for the most part I expect no less from my beloved copy of Fannie Famer.

(From The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)

For the crust:
1 c. flour1 egg yolk
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pinch salt
1-2 Tbsp. cold water

Pulse the food processor with all the ingredients except the egg yolk and water until you have a fine mix. Add the yolk and enough water so that the dough sticks together but is not sticky.

Add one tablespoon of water and then open up the machine to see if it's too dry before adding the second one. You don't want to over-process the dough.

Form it into a nice ball with your hands and wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Refrigerate at least an hour.

To pre-bake the shell: Press dough into a tart shell. Bake at 425 F for 10 to 12 minutes, until set and golden.

4 eggs
2 c. heavy cream
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Fillings of choice (I used pan-fried onion, crispy bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and sharp cheddar)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Sprinkle filling over the bottom of the tart shell. I usually sprinkle the heartier things first, then top with cheese or herbs.

Combine the eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne in a bowl and beat to mix thoroughly. Ladle the custard over fillings in crust.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 F, then lower the heat to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes longer, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold.

19 June 2008

Cherry Torte

Just a word of warning: I am headed to the Home of the Jack Rabbits tomorrow, at sparrow's fart (translation: early. Too damn early in the morning. Thanks to my South African blogger friend for adding that to my vocabulary.).

Anyhoo: the blog, she has been quite neglected lately. So I have pre-written some posts, and they should go up while I'm away. Hopefully. Apologies now if they don't, and if not I will be back bright and early on June 27th.

On to the torte, eh? So. Cherry Torte. I really really really wanted to love this recipe. It comes from my home land, and it involves my most favoritest fruit ever, and it seems so cool and summery and refreshing. Only: it was 2 hours of hell in a hot kitchen that I totally regret.

Okay, okay. Not totally. It tasted great. But a few pearls of wisdom for the readers out there:

1. The custard needs to be on the double boiler for a LONG TIME. I boiled mine for ten minutes, then spilled a third of it all over the oven in a tipping accident. Hell. Absolute hell. Hot burning custard all over my new stove top, in the oven, in the broiler, in the fricking oven window. Permanently. Fabulous. But back to the story: I cleaned, then started the double boiler again. Went 20 more minutes, and it still didn't set as necessary. Lovely.

2. When the recipe says "until a pudding consistency" - they mean set and chilled pudding. Not pudding on the stove, still kinda soupy before you chill and set it. Because I was confused, cooked mine until it was a very thick soup. Um, nope. It was not set enough.

3. Your crust (with all its buttery goodness) will leak in the oven while you toast your meringue. Mine is now burned to carbon to the bottom of my oven. So be sure to put a pan underneath the baking torte, to catch the drips.

4. This does not keep well. By 24 hours, the custard center had separated and it wasn't pretty. I had to throw it away. So make it the same day you plan on serving it!

Yay! Whew. All that is in the past and done. Now we can get to the taste and all that good stuff. So: my torte, it ended up not being the prettiest one on the block. Whatever, that's fine. I still photographed it, and you still have to look at it. The taste, now, that was absolutely lovely. Through all the trials and tribulations, the torte was a sloppy mess but tasted like a dream. Tart cherries, sweet custard, sugary crispy crust, and sweet light meringue on top. YUM.

Give it a try with my pointers in mind, and post away on your own blog or send me pics! I am sure, when those things are worked out, there is a not only delicious but BEAUTIFUL torte out there, just ready for its debut on the Internet.

Good evening, darlings. See you soon. Enjoy the blog while I am away :)

Cherry Torte
(From R. J. Baumann's Foods That Made Wisconsin Famous)

For the crust:
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. graham cracker crumbs

For the filling:
3 c. milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 c.sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
14 oz. pitted, tart red cherries, drained (not pie filling!)

For the topping:
1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

For the crust:
Cream sugar and butter. Add graham cracker crumbs and combine thoroughly. Pat in the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. By lightly buttering the bottom of the pan before putting in the crumb mixture, slices will be easier to remove.

For the custard filling:
Combine milk, egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla in a double boiler and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and creamy and has a pudding-like consistency [Nemmie Note: dudes, seriously. He means chilled, set, like-you-buy-in-those-little-plastic-cups-Jello-pudding. For reals]. This part is important, otherwise custard may be too runny or too firm when filling should have a firm but creamy texture.

This cooking should take about 15 to 20 minutes [Nemmie Note: HE IS LYING. Do yourself a favor, give it 20-30 minutes]. Remove from heat, and allow custard to cool for 15 to 20 minutes more. Pour mixture over graham cracker crust in pan.

For the topping:
Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over top of custard. Beat egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Spread mixture on top and bake at 350 degrees until meringue is golden. Allow to cool about 30 minutes on the countertop, then chill for at least 2 hours.

Rrefrigerate until ready to serve. Serves eight or more.

17 June 2008

Macque Choux

I found this recipe at a fellow Cape Cod owner's renovation blog. Amy's blog appeals to me on a few different levels, not only the fact that we were both stuck with ugly wood cabinets and green walls in kitchen area (although we were), but because she also shares a love for the UW Badgers and has some pretty rocking recipes on her site. I was drooling (DROOLING) over this macque choux when I saw it, and worked it into my dinner menu for the following day. So glad I did.

If you aren't familiar, macque choux is a traditional side dish found in the South (namely the Louisiana area). It is said to have originally been introduced to French settlers by the area's Native Americans. It is usually not served over avocado, but it was a great twist on the original dish. I did really love this – a creamy and warm corn concoction spooned over buttery, rich avocado? Heaven! I'll be making this a lot this summer, methinks.

Macque Choux
(from Amy at Cape Cod Makeover)

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 ears fresh corn on the cob, husked
A sprinkle sugar
Dash cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
2 ripe avocado
1 lime, juiced

Warm a large skillet over moderate heat. Add olive oil, chopped onion, jalapeno, and red bell pepper. Saute 2 or 3 minutes.

Working on a plate to catch the milky juices, scrape corn off the cob. Break up the kernels and pour into the skillet. Combine corn with peppers and onions. Season with a sprinkle of sugar, a dash of cayenne pepper and salt. When mixture bubbles, reduce heat to simmer.

Cut butter into pieces and stir into corn mixture. Allow mixture to simmer and cook until creamy, 5 to 7 minutes.

Cut avocados in 1/2 lengthwise and remove pits. Squeeze lime juice over the avocados to keep them from browning and season them with a little coarse salt. Arrange on the serving plate.

To serve: fill the avocados with macque choux, allowing the corn to spill down and over the sides of the avocado onto the serving platter. The ripe avocado is spooned away from its skin with bites of creamy, warm corn and peppers.

15 June 2008

Golden Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives

This dish is Mahni-approved.

And Mahni only shakes her booty for the good stuff, folks.

I think what makes this dish is the olives (or "Sour Beans!", as our dear Mahni would refer to them). There are a bunch of them in this dish, and the salty flavor plays well off of the sweet tomatoes and tart wine. This recipe is super-easy, quick, and still awesome as leftovers. I make it quite a bit when I'm busy.

Golden Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives
(from Real Simple magazine, May 2007)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thirds
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 large yellow or white onion, thinly sliced
1 c. large pimiento-stuffed olives, quartered
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 c. dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
3/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Pasta or rice (whatever your preference, I like this with angel air pasta)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly soft, 5 minutes. Add the olives, garlic, and tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

Return the chicken to the skillet, add the wine, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the parsley.

Cook pasta (or rice) as directed. Plate your pasta/rice. Top with chicken: divide the chicken among individual plates and spoon the sauce over the top.

13 June 2008

Lime Pound Cake with Caribbean Lime Spread

Hi there! Thought I had died from paint-fume inhalation, didn't you? Not quite, although I have been in the midst of moving and also had no Internet access or cable service for awhile (a bit of a mix-up with our cable company, how lovely). At any rate: here is what I have made for you for now, a pitiful, burned up pound cake.

Hey, at least I tried! I have a shiny new gas oven to try all sorts of fun things, so the blog: she is back in action :) I missed you guys! And the Internet! And cable television!

Anyhoo, on with the show:

So, my parents: they love to can. This year, we were given two jars of their fantastically tart lime marmalade, and while the stuff is great on grilled chicken or pork (or even just smeared on bread), I wanted to make something fun with it. Besides: I'm not a huge jam/jelly/marmalade person, so it needed a recipe to use it to its full advantage in this house.

My cakes ended up a little on the… brown side of things, rather than golden. I decided to make them in a decorative mini-cake pan instead of a loaf pan, and left them in the oven a wee bit too long. Didn't hurt the flavors, though: the cake was very limey with a hint of ginger, a great combination. It has a fairly light texture, which surprised me. The butter spread is just the perfect blend of sweet, tart, and spice, and I highly recommend liberally slathering it on thick slices of this cake. This recipe is a nice way to welcome in the summer weather, methinks.

Lime Pound Cake with Caribbean Lime Spread
(from: http://cookingsecrets.org/cake/lime-pound-caribbean-spread.html)

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. light brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. lime marmalade, separated
Grated zest of 1/2 lime
4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, separated
2 tsp. ginger
2 Tbsp. dark rum
3/4 c. cold water

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. sifted confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp. dark rum
2 Tbsp. lime marmalade
1 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 375 F and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in 1/2 c. of lime marmalade, lime zest, 1 Tbsp. of lime juice, and ginger. Add the flour mixture and beat until the mixture is thoroughly blended.

Put it in the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 F and bake until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes longer.

During the last few minutes of cooking, combine the remaining 1/4 c. of marmalade with the remaining 3 Tbsp. of lime juice, rum, and water in a small pan. Bring to simmering point, stirring the ingredients.

Stick a skewer into several places in the loaf, then strain about 1/3 c. of the liquid over the surface. Let it sink in for a minute or two, then repeat this step two more times. Leave the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.

Remove and let it cool on a wire rack.

To make the lime spread, cream the butter with the confectioners sugar, then stir in the rum and marmalade. Mound in a small dish and serve with the cooled cake.

03 June 2008

Crockpot Falafels

Falafels, yay! Fun to say and fun to eat! This traditional Middle Eastern fast food is something I love. What I don’t love, however, is making my whole house smell like a grease pit and getting splotches of hot oil everywhere while frying them. Enter: the crockpot. Yes, the crockpot.

This recipe is compliments of Stephanie at A Year of Crockpotting, a blog devoted to…well, a year of crockpotting. She’s done some amazing things in the crockpot so far, so I recommend you take a peek at her blog! I added a pinch more salt and almost doubled the cayenne as Stephanie suggested, and they were just perfect.

I highly recommend this tzatziki recipe, by the way, as long as we’re enjoying falafels (I like to go all Greek on mine). My favorite way to eat them is to pile the falafels on a pita with lettuce, tzatziki, tomato, feta, and onion. Mmmmmmmm. Hubs and I feasted on these when they were made, and I’m not ashamed to say I’ll be making them again and again.

Crockpot Falafels

1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. dried parsley (or 2-3 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 egg
1 tsp.-ish kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 to 3/4 c. bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Drain garbanzo beans. Dump them into a mixing bowl and smash them with a fork. Set aside.

Get out your blender or food processor. Blend together all of the spices, the onion, the garlic, the egg, and the lemon juice.

Pour on top of your smashed garbanzo beans. Use your fork to mix together, and add the breadcrumbs slowly until the mixture is wet and sticky but can be formed into balls nicely (~3/4 c.).

Pour 2 Tbsp. of olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot stoneware insert.

Form squished golf-ball sized patties of falafel. Dip each side into the olive oil and then nestle into your crockpot. It's okay if they overlap or are on top of each other.

Cook on high for 2-5 hours. Ours cooked on high for 3.5 hours--you will know that the falafels are done when they turn brownish-golden. **Stephanie’s note: “You can flip them halfway through the cooking time if you feel like it, but they will brown on top even without flipping. (I know. I don't get it either.)”. Neither do I, Stephanie. It’s awesome yet unnerving.

And there you go, all done! Nosh as you usually do.