Friday, August 30, 2013

Brown Butter Banana Waffles

Most of you know I have an infatuation with brown butter.  It's delicious, adds so much flavor to any recipe it's added to and can be used in sweet and savory dishes.  The stuff is amazing.  In a food category all of it's own.  My little man is slightly obsessed with bananas.  I sometimes wonder if he's going to turn into a monkey with the amount of bananas he consumes.  One day I'll probably walk in and see him swinging from the ceiling fan, at that point in time I'll know he's had one banana too many!  I guess if you're going to have a habit or obsession that's a good one to have, at least it's healthy!
Since I'm obsessed with brown butter and can never seem to put it in enough recipes, and with Tucker's addiction to bananas it's guaranteed we always have butter and bananas on hand.  So when I came across these waffles on Two Peas and Their Pod there was no question about it, I had to make them.  This recipe fuses my love of brown butter and Tucker's love of bananas to make one delicious and satisfying waffle.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DB: Mawa Cake, Bolinhas de Coco, and Masala Biscuits/Cookies

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

This month for Daring Bakers' challenge we were encouraged to make not 1 but 2 desserts.  Desserts that were amped up with various spices.  It was manditory for us to make the Mawa cake, but the second dessert was baker's choice between Bolinhas de Coco or Masala Biscuits/cookies.  I chose the Masala Biscuits. 

This challenge was incredibly fun and educational, as well.  Our host this month is from India so these recipes are fluenced by their cultures and flavors.  I always enjoy learning about and making from food different cultures and regions.  It gives me a glimpse inside their norm.

Mawa Cake
A milk cake flavored with cardamom. 
 
Mawa Cakes are a specialty cake that is the hallmark of Irani cafés in India. The Iranis are Zoroastrians who left Persia/ Iran in the 19th and early 20th centuries to escape persecution of non-Muslims, and settled down and thrived here mostly in the cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. They’re most famous in India for their friendly informal cafés/ restaurants that serve the most awesome food. The brun pav or maska pav(kinds of bread) with Irani chai (thick, strong, sweet and milky cardamom flavoured tea), their Shrewsbury biscuits and Mawa cakes are just a few of them. Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Peda, to mention just two. Mawa is pronounced as Maa-vaa; Khoya is pronounced as KhOh-yaa.
In this cake, Mawa lends a rich and a caramelized milky taste to this cake which is slightly dense and reminiscent of a pound cake. Cardamom and cashewnuts are typical of a Mawa Cake, though blanched almonds are also used. Mawa Cakes are also bakes as cupcakes.
The cake is very easy to make and the Mawa is not too difficult. It just requires some time, patience and a lot of stirring!
Source: Aparna

Ingredients:

For the mawa-
4 Cups whole milk

For the cake-
1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 Cup packed crumbled mawa
1 1/4 Cups sugar
3 Large eggs
5-6 Cardamom pods, ground (about 1 1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
2 Cups cake flour
1 Tsp baking powder
1/4 Tsp salt
1/2 Cup milk
1 Tsp vanilla extracct
Blanched almonds, to garnish

Directions:

For the mawa-
Pour the milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, ensuring it doesn't stick to the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the milk has reduced to about a quarter of its original volume.  This typically takes about an hour to an hour and a half.

Once the milk has reduced to 1/4 of the original quantity, reduce heat to low and continue cooking.  Being sure to stir regularly until the milk takes on a lumpy appearance. 

Once there is no evidence of liquid in the pan remove from heat and transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.  Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  When ready to use, remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.

For the cake-
Preheat oven to 350.  Sprah an 8 inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan.

Place butter, crumbled mawa and sugar in a large boowl and mix on high until combined and light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.  Add the vanilla and milk and and mix.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.  Carefully add to the butter mixture and blend until incorporated. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and lightly smooth.  Place the almonds on top of the cake, but do not press into the batter.  Place in a preheated oven and allow to bake until golden brown and set, about 55-60 minutes. 

*If the cake is browning to quickly, cover with aluminum foil about halfway through the baking process.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  Remove the sides of the tin, remove the cake from the base of the tin and allow to cool completely.

Masala Biscuits
Spicy and savory Indian cookies

The word “Masala” means “spice mix” and so Masala Biscuits/ cookies are a savoury and spicy Indian snack that is quite popular in some of the Southern Indian states.
From Aparna

Ingredients:

1 3/4 Cup all purpose flou
2 Tbsp white or brown rice flour
1 Tsp baking powder
1/4 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 Cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3 Green chillies, seeds removed and chopped
3/4 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 Tsp whole peppercorns, coarsly crushed
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped curry leaves
1 Tbsp finely chopped coriander or cilantro
3-4 Tbsp cold yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
Oil to brush the biscuits

Directions:

Place both flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor along with the cubed butter.  Place the lid on the food processor and pulse several times until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the chopped green chillies, grated ginger, peppercorns, cumin, sugar, chopped curry leaves and coriander and pulse a few times to incorporate. 

Add two tablespoons of yogurt and pulse again.  Add one more tablespoon of yogurt and pulse again, add one more, if needed.  The dough should come together, be moist but not wet. 

Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to chill for at least an hour, or overnight. 

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.  Line baking trays with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Dust a clean surface with flour and roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the dough and lightly press into the dough with the rolling pin.

Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut the dough and place on prepared baking sheets.  Brush a very thin coat of oil over the tops of the cookies.  Place in a preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely. 



Monday, August 26, 2013

SRC: Chocolate Chip Muffins

For this month's Secret Recipe Club I was assigned Chocolate and Chillies.  With a blog name like chocolate and chillies I knew this blog had to be full of both savory and sweet recipes that were sure to please.  Asiya is a Canadian native who is a full-time stay at home mom raising two precious little boys.  She's a girl after my own heart; one whose passion and love is baking.  Knowing that her family couldn't shouldn't live on sweets alone, she started cooking meals for her family and has now found herself adventurous and trying new recipes not only baking, but cooking too.  Asiya's blog is packed full of a variety of recipes, a lot with Indian influence, and they all look and sound amazing.  I looked through one page after another, after another trying to determine exactly what I was going to make for this month's challenge.  Should I choose savory? Sweet? Breakfast? Lunch or Supper? Or dessert?  Decisions, decisions. 
I finally decided to make breakfast.  I am always looking for different options to make for Tucker during the weekday mornings.  I like to give him a variety so he doesn't get burned out on the same ol' thing day after day.  So with this in mind I looked through the recipe archive one more time and that's when I saw it.  Chocolate chip muffins.  Tucker loves muffins and he loves chocolate.  This muffin was made for him.  Plus it accomplishes my need for something quick to make for him before we head out the door in the mornings.  Heat up one of these muffins, slice up a banana and a tall glass of milk and you've got a quick and easy breakfast. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

5 Slow Cooker Meals that are Sure to Please


I have long been a fan of the good ol' slow cooker.  There's nothing better than walking in from a long day and having your food just waiting on you.  Throw a few simple sides together and you're set.  With school back in session, easy is definitely the name of the game.  The less you have to do when you walk through the door the better.

You don't have to wait until fall and winter to drag your slow cooker out, I use mine year around.  From soups and stews to roasts, and even shredded chicken for tacos or burritos; your slow cooker can be utilized for so many different meals. 

Crock pot sausage, pepper and onions
Serve this flavorful mixture of meat and veggies over rice, pasta, with crusty bread or on a hoagie with melted cheese.

This is a meal in and of itself.  Loaded with sausage, tons of peppers and plenty of onions; it's hearty and filling.  The sausage can be browned the night before, making it easier to assemble the following morning.  Just add all the ingredients to the crock pot, turn on and head out the door.  When you come home from work or your errands you'll have a delicious and flavorful meal waiting on you.  This is perfect over rice, served with crunchy bread, or on a hoagie roll with some melted cheese.  However you decide to serve this, your family will definitely be satisfied!

Cream cheese chicken
Wrap this creamy, shredded chicken up in a flour tortilla with a little cheese, make a quesadilla or even serve over rice.

Who knew 5 ingredients could be bursting with so much flavor?  This is probably one of the easiest meals I think I've ever made.  You can even start this meal with frozen chicken.  The epitome of easy.  Simply place the chicken (thawed or frozen) in the crock pot then add your beans, corn, salsa and cream cheese.  That's it, let the crock pot do the rest.  Once you get home, stir and the chicken with instantly start breaking apart.  Serve as tacos, quesadillas or even over some rice.  Add some black beans and/or rice and you're set.

French dip brisket
The most tender and perfect meat just waiting to be piled high on crusty bread with a does of gooey cheese all waiting ot be dipped in a delicious au jus.

The meat is pan seared to lock in all the juices then placed in the slow cooker.  Add a few other seasonings, spices and herbs, turn the crock pot on and let it go.  When you get home simply slice your bread, piled on the meat and cheese and sprinkle with some fresh parsley and that's it.  This sandwich can be served open faced and drizzled with the au jus or traditional style with a bowl of au jus on the side.  Serve this sandwich with a green salad and sweet potato fries and you've got a a meal that will make anyone happy.

Pork roast
This isn't your average roast.  This is pan seared to form a nice crust then placed in the crock pot with various seasonings and now here's where the difference comes in, instead of beef broth add red wine and allow to cook.

This roast is bursting with flavor.  The red wine flavor is penetrated throughout the meat, while it's not overpowering you can definitely detect the flavor.  Roast is a favorite in our house and this variation is definitely a go to.  We love this roasted served with mashed potatoes, butter beans and yeast rolls.  A well-rounded meal that is great for weeknight suppers but perfect for Sunday lunch as well.

Loaded baked potato soup
Just like a jumbo baked potato piled high with bacon, cheese, sour cream and onions...but in soup form.  This screams comfort food.

I love baked potatoes; they are easy, versatile and can be piled high with a variety of toppings.  While I love playing around with different toppings, nothing beats a traditional loaded baked potato.  This soup takes that traditional loaded baked potato and puts all that goodness into a sopu.  Creamy soup full of tender potatoes, gooey melted cheese, salty and crunchy bacon and it's all topped with sour cream.  Serve this in a bread bowl topped with more cheese and green onions and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Mayonnaise

I am a sucker for Mexican food.  We have Mexican food, of some sort, at least once a week.  Tacos seem to be my "go to" when we enjoy Mexican food at our house.  They are easy, full of meat, cheese and veggies and can be made in about 20 minutes.  While I do love traditional style tacos that include marinated steak that is grill perfectly and is so tender, I do enjoy seafood style tacos too.  We've enjoyed our fareshare of fish and seafood tacos.  There are just so many options out there; not only of types of fish and seafood but seasonings, marinades, sauces and cheeses.  The options are endless.
I love fish; it's delicious and cooks up so quickly, making it a perfect option for those busy weeknights.  This tilapia cooks in about 5-6 minutes.  That's it.  5-6 minutes until you're ready to put your meal on the table.  The rest is a matter of layering and building the tacos. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Berry Basil Hard Lemonade

I love finding new drinks and concoctions to try.  Cocktails are so much fun and a great way to take advantage of seasonal ingredients.  Everyone enjoys the summer months for the back yard parties, bbq's and grilling.  During those events a fun cocktail is definitely a must.  I mean, is there anything better than sitting on the back porch, enjoyed a refreshing and fun summer cocktail while enjoying the weather? 
Summers here in Arkansas are definitely all over the charts as far as the temperatures go.  We vary anywhere from mid 80's to upper 100's and that's not even counting the heat index.  So when we have those mild days that are mid 80's lower 90's we definitely try to take full advantage of them. 
When I think of summertime, lemonade always comes to mind.  There's just something so refreshing about fresh squeezed lemonade, completely tart yet immediately cut but the sweet sugar.  So, to me, lemonade and summer go hand in hand.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hello Dolly Bars

Magic bars. 7-Layer bars. Hello Dollies.  There are many names for this classic dessert.  I think the name varies depending on the region.  No matter what region your from, I think everyone can agree on one thing; these bars are oh. so. good.  These chewy bars are the epitome of vintage desserts and they are still pleasing crowds today.
Hello Dollys have been making a regular in appearance in my life since I can remember.  My MaMaw loved them and her love for these trickled down to my Uncle.  He often tweaked recipes, enjoyed making his own sauces and would adjust seasonings on various other items.  Hello Dollys, however, were one recipe that he left just as it was and enjoyed every single morsel.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Blue Cheese Souffle

Dont' forget to enter the winner's choice giveaway going on right now!  You have until Friday to enter!
I love being introduced to new foods.  Appetizers, main courses, sides or desserts; I love them all.  I find I sometimes get in a rut; maybe not making the same exact recipes week in and week out but recipes that are similar.  In order to avoid falling into a pattern of recipes or a routine I always try to keep my eyes open to various recipes, whether it's reading a restaurants menu and making mental notes, reading through cookbooks or going to someones house and being introduced to a new dish that way. 

Such was the case with this recipe.  We went over to my brother and sister-in-law's for supper one evening, if the meal won't be ready soon after our arrival my sister-in-law always has some delicious appetizer to snack on while we visit and wait.  One night she had this little souffle dish with this dip in there that was amazing.  Warm, rich, cheesy, and so creamy; it sent my taste buds in orbit.  It was love at first bite!  I seriously could have done a face plant in this stuff, it's that good.  Anyway, after having my fare share of this dip, I immediately asked my sister-in-law for the recipe. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Classic Cinnamon Rolls

A few months ago Food Network Magazine did it again.  They had my taste buds roaring as soon as I pulled the magazine out of my mailbox.  As soon as I opened the mailbox I saw that brightly colored magazine with a picture of the ultimate cinnamon roll on the cover.  This cinnamon roll was huge, flecks of nutmeg throughout the roll and the right amount of cinnamon sugar was seeping through the swirls at the top of the roll, this perfection of a roll was topped with just the right amount of frosting and it was calling my name.  I skimmed over the cover as I was walking back to the house just to see what was included in the issue and then I saw the magical words "12 pages", 12 pages dedicated to the goodness that is cinnamon rolls.  12 pages dedicated to not only the classic cinnamon roll but a variety of other breakfast treats that utilize this perfected sweet roll dough recipe.
Now came the hard part; which recipe to make.  Not only did they provide an amazing, drool-worthy cinnamon roll recipe, but they also provided a mocha loaf, lemon knots and a few other recipes.  All of which were equally enticing.  I honestly wanted to make them all at once, but then at the expense of not wanting to grease the doorway to exit my house and to spare my waistline I decided to make just one recipe...at a time.  You didn't think I was going to make just one and then move on, did you?  After going back and forth between all of the amazing recipes, I finally decided to start with the classic; the cinnamon roll. 
Boy was I happy with my decision.  This cinnamon roll blew my socks off.  I mean I've tried various cinnamon roll recipes, and while some have come close to perfection none have been quite perfect.  I ate them thinking, well that was good but next time I want to try ______, or ______.  Well, let me rephrase, none of them were perfect until now.  Yes, I've finally come across the perfect cinnamon roll.  I know perfect is a strong word to use and shouldn't be used lightly, but this cinnamon roll is just that, perfect. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tabouleh

I love summer.  The sun, fun in the pool, lake time, and the infamous summer vacations.  Probably one of my favorite things about summer is the garden.  It's like having a produce department in my own back yard.  I love being able to walk out my back door and go grab a tomato, cucumber, pepper, or whatever else I need, walk back in and rinse it off and use it.  Talk about fresh from the garden! 
Since I have so many fresh veggies and herbs outside my door I love to take advantage of them and utilize them as much as I can.  I enjoy finding recipes that will allow their natural flavors to really shine through.  Tabouleh salad is a great way to utilize various vegges and herbs and allow their natural flavors to really shine. 
I honestly can't remember the first time I had tabouleh but I do remember falling in love with it instantly.  It's light, refreshing and packed full of flavor.  This is the type of recipe that is perfect for these hot summer days; it's filling without weighing you down.  Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, a good amount of fresh parsley as well as some cilantro, and it's all topped off with a hefty dose of lemon juice.  This is one of those recipes that makes quite a bit and gets better the longer it sits.  It's perfect for those summer gatherings since it goes with practically anything and can serve a lot of people.  It's also great for picnics or trips to the lake, make it the day before then put it in a sealed container and pop it in the ice chest and you're set!   I could make a meal out of this alone, but it would be the perfect side to some grilled chicken or kabobs.  If you're looking for a light and refresing recipe that screams summer, well here ya go!  


Tabouleh
Ingredients:

1 Cup fine bulgar wheat
1/2 Tsp salt
3 Cups cold water
Juice of one lemon, divided
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 English cucumber (or 2 cucumbers, seeds removed) cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 Medium tomatoes, seeds and finely chopped
2/3 Cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 Cup Cilantro, chopped
2 Scallions, sliced (whites and greens)

Directions:

Combine cold water, juice of half a lemon, and bulgar in a large bowl and allow to set for 2 hours.

Drain the bulgar and squeeze to remove any excess liquid.

Place bulgar in a large bowl and combine with the remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 2 hours.  Taste, adjust seasonings if needed.

Recipe source: adapted from Bon Appetit

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan

 
Menu for August 4-10, 2013
 
 
Out to eat- Mooyah
Mongolian beef, rice and egg rolls
Pork chops with mustard cream sauce, sauteed brussel sprouts, and corn on the cob
Brie and brisket quesadillas, refried beans, and mexican rice
Leftovers
Girl's night out-place to be determined
Pickled fig sandwiches with ricotta and proscuitto, green salad

Friday, August 2, 2013

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

Back to school season is here.  While some schools have already started, other's are just weeks away.  That means back to school shopping.  New clothes, new shoes, new binders, backpacks, lunch boxes, pens and pencils.  I remember those shopping days all too well.  I was actually excited for those back to school shopping trips.  Call me a dork, but I looked forward to getting a super cool binder, the pretty note pads, and the pens.  Oh, the pens.  I was, and still am, a pen fanatic.  Don't ask me what it is, but I love pens.  Even walking down the pen isle, I just get excited.  I have to fight the urge to buy pens.  I do.  It's a sickness I guess.  Yes, I know, dork.
After the shopping is done and the supplies are bought, it's then time to start school.  More times than not, I was a "brown bag" girl...in my cool new lunch box, of course, and not really a brown bag!  The days of sandwiches, hot pockets, soups in a nifty thermos, and snack cakes.  Brings feelings of nastoligia just thinking about it.
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