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Sunday
Apr192015

Romesco Sauce

Romesco

With the warm weather finally arriving, I’ve been thinking a lot about sprucing up my backyard and garden. I started my vegetables from seed again this year, but learned from my mistake last year of overcrowding things in a tiny little space, and therefore planted much fewer. Hopefully this year, we will actually be able to grow our own produce. Just thinking about it is making me crave light and healthy meals, made up of mostly vegetables. However, you can only add so many spices to vegetables as you roast (or grill) them before they start to become boring. So, I’m always on the hunt for ways to bring more flavor to my roasted vegetables. Enter this sauce. This recipe was very easy to make and absolutely delicious. It reminded me of a pesto, except red. If my garden has any success this year, I could potentially end up with a lot of red peppers, so it’s always nice to have a recipe to make that will use some of them up. We tossed this sauce with roasted vegetables and served over some fresh ravioli, but it would be just as delicious as a topping for chicken or fish, or even just for topping crostini. 

2 Roasted Red Bell Peppers (either roast them yourself or use the jarred peppers)
3 Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 cup Slivered Almonds, toasted
1/2 cup Tomato Puree
1/4 cup Parsley
2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Powder
1/2-3/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients except for the oil into the bowl of a food processor. Process until blended, then slowly add the oil through the top until the sauce has reached the desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serving suggestions: toss with pasta, vegetables, poultry, seafood, or crostini. 

SOURCE: The Vintage Mixer

 

Tuesday
Apr072015

Raspberry Swirl Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon raspberry cheekecake bars

This year, we once again hosted Easter dinner for our families, but we switched things up and went with a non-traditional menu. Instead of the traditional ham, sausage, and pierogi, this year we decided to go with a taco bar. Perfect for the crowd…all 14 of them! As for dessert, I opted for something light and fruity. I know that Easter generally conjures up memories of chocolate filled baskets, but as I have gotten older, it also has me craving lighter flavors. Flavors such as lemon. Lemon is just so fresh and clean after a long winter laden with heavy foods. Since the thought of making a regular cheesecake still intimidates me, I went with the simpler cheesecake bar. It still has all of the flavor of a cheesecake with the bite-size convenience of a bar. These were a hit, even with the little kids! Perhaps now it is time to start tackling the real deal...

For the Crust
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
4 tablespoons Butter, melted

Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper overlapping in a crisscrossing pattern, leaving some overhang for easy lifting. In a bowl, mix the melted butter with the crumbs until moist. Pour the crumbs into the prepared dish and press until evenly distributed throughout the bottom of the dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes while preparing the filling. 

For the Raspberry Puree
4 ounces Raspberries (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons Sugar

In a food processor, puree the raspberries until smooth. Press the pureed berries through a fine mesh sieve, pressing out as much juice as possible. Discard the solids/seeds. Add the sugar to the puree and stir to combine. Set aside.  

For the Filling
16 ounces Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
Zest of a lemon
4 tablespoons Milk
2 Eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice, zest, milk, eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Pour the mixture over crust and spread with a spatula to even it out. Spoon the raspberry mixture over the top of the mixture and swirl using the tip of a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set around the edges and jiggles slightly in the center. Cool completely then refrigerate until ready to serve. 

SOURCE: The Baker Chick

Monday
Mar232015

French Style Rolls

French style rolls

It’s the first Secret Recipe Club reveal day of spring! This month, I was assigned to Bewitching Kitchen, written by Sally. Sally is a biochemist who was born and raised in Brazil, and has lived in Paris and California before settling in Kansas. She describes a little bit about her research in bacteria on her Science page. It sounds so interesting. I love to get a glimpse into what other people do for a living!  Because of Sally's background, she has a whole section of Brazilian recipes, which all looked so delicious! She also has a section all about sous vide cooking, which is super cool! We do not have a sous vide, but after experiencing food cooked that way at a restaurant we both love, Joel has been wanting to get one pretty badly. I will most definitely revisit that section of Sally’s blog when we finally do get one. We started out the month trying to challenge ourselves with Meatless March. Because of that, I was limited by what I could choose. Don’t get me wrong, Sally has plenty of non-meat based recipes to choose from so it was not difficult by any means, but there were so many amazing looking recipes that included meat that I could not make. Long story short, the challenge fizzled and meat was quickly back in some of the foods we ate this month. But, by that time, I had already settled on making these French-style rolls, so I didn’t stray from my plan, and I’m glad I didn’t. These rolls were amazing. While Joel is typically the bread-baker in our house, I’ve made a few recipes before that have either been too dense or too chewy, but this one had the perfect consistency; a nice crunchy crust with a fluffy interior that was great for both sopping up sauce and for making sandwiches! Thanks for letting me into your kitchen this month, Sally. I can’t wait to stop back and try some more of your recipes! 

1/2 cup Warm Water
2 1/4 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (this is the same as the amount in 1 envelope)
1 cup Cold Water
4 cups Bread Flour
2 teaspoons Salt

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and set aside. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (or alternately, in a food processor), add the flour and salt, mixing to combine. Add the cold water to the yeast mixture, then pour it into the bowl with the flour. Mix until the dough starts to form a ball. Adjust with additional flour if the consistency is too sticky or water if the consistency is to dry. Knead the dough (either with the dough hook or by hand) then place it into a bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover and place the bowl in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1-3 hours depending not he temperature in your kitchen. When the dough has risen, shape it into either 12 rolls or 2 loaves and place them on a baking sheet to rise again until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Make a deep cross cut on the top of the rolls using kitchen scissors, or slash the top of the loaves with the blade of a sharp knife. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes if you are making rolls or for 40 minutes if you are making loaves. 

SOURCE: Bewitching Kitchen

Monday
Mar092015

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

Cauliflower cheddar soup

We’ve been in a funk lately. Neither cooking, nor eating, has given us any joy. Perhaps it’s the winter we’ve been experiencing. Now that March is here, things aren’t much better. It is my least favorite month. It just seems so long, especially when temperatures are still frigid, snow is piled high, and spring is nowhere to be found. To spice things up a bit, and perhaps to bring some happiness back to our meals, I’ve decided to challenge myself to go meatless for the whole month. We’ve done it before, but we’ve taken break over the past few years, so why not bring it back? I sat down at my computer and planned out meals for the entire month of March so as to go into the challenge prepared. I have to say, the whole first week was a success. It has been a while since I have liked every single thing that has come out of my kitchen, but this week surprised me in the best way possible. This soup was one of the recipes we made this week. Besides the fact that it was incredibly easy to prepare, I had seconds and Joel had thirds(!) which is basically unheard of around here! To say we enjoyed it is an understatement! Here’s hoping that the next few weeks come with just as much success in the kitchen, and in the challenge, as this one. 

2 tablespoons Butter
1 Onion, diced
1 head Cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
4 cups Vegetable Broth
1 cup Water
6 ounces White Cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Pepper, or to taste 
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, or to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and water, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches in the blender).Add the cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

SOURCE: Prevention RD 

Monday
Feb232015

Chorizo Gravy

Chorizo gravy

Welcome to the February edition of the Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! This month, I was assigned to Sew You Think You Can Cook, written by Lauren. Lauren is an aerospace engineer who lives in Ohio with her husband and her baby boy. She has a ton of awesome recipes, and as her blog title suggests, she also posts a bunch of her amazing quilts, along with tutorials. She is so talented, you really need to check out her quilt blocks! They are all beautiful, but my favorite is the half-square triangles. Maybe some day I’ll be brave enough to tackle it, but for now, I’ll just stick to getting comfortable with basic sewing. As for the recipe, this month I chose something a little outside the box for us. While Joel and I are both from NY, born and raised, we decided to try a southern classic. While even Lauren says that this isn’t a “traditional” biscuits and gravy recipe, she has southern roots, so I knew this had to be good. Plus, with an ingredient list so short, it was really hard not to give it a try. Let me tell you, this was by far the best decision I could have made! We absolutely loved this dish. I made this for breakfast before a day of skiing, and it was the perfect stick-to-your-ribs type of meal that kept us full until lunch. Thanks for the delicious peek into southern cuisine, Lauren! 

3 links Chorizo Sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons Flour
2 cups Milk
*(I used skim and ended up needing to thicken with cornstarch, so I recommend using 2% or whole milk) 

In a large skillet, brown the chorizo, breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon. Once cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove the chorizo and let it drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Without draining the skillet of the fat, whisk in the flour to make a rue. Add the milk and whisk continuously over medium heat until the mixture thickens to a gravy consistency, about 5 minutes. This was the point where I realized it was not thickening to my desired consistency because I used skim milk, so I put a teaspoon of cornstarch into a small bowl and added a little bit of the milk from the skillet, stirring into a slurry, then added the mixture back into the skillet and whisked until thickened. When the gravy has thickened, add the chorizo back to the skillet and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture over biscuits (I used these)

SOURCE: Sew You Think You Can Cook