Friday, June 29, 2018

Buttered Balsamic Mushrooms

My 6-year old son really wanted mushrooms recently; he said they are one of his favorite foods.  I don't love mushrooms; in fact I've spent most of my life until recently saying that I don't like them, and they're one of the only foods I don't like.  But I decided to give them another shot about 2-3 years ago, and I find them ok now.  Until I tried this recipe- and I found them so delicious I ate all of my 6-year old's mushrooms because he was having a weird tantrum about something I forgot now, all during dinner.  Then he was even more sad when he came back to the table and found them all gone.  I felt a tiny bit bad, so I made them again a few days later.  And he enjoyed them tantrum-free. 
Buttered Balsamic Mushrooms
adapted from the Kitchn

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled and finely diced (I used part of a sweet onion)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound white or cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme leaves (can use 1 tsp. dry thyme)
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire or soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated

1.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat until shimmering, about 15 to 20 seconds. Add the shallots and cook until they begin to soften and brown at the edges, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

2.  Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir until melted. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, and rosemary or thyme and stir well. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the mushrooms have a rich brown color on the edges and some of the sides, and have just begin to release their juices, 3 to 4 minutes.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire or soy sauce, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and tender and the liquid reduces in volume considerably, thickens to the consistency of agave or maple syrup, and coats the mushrooms, 6 to 8 minutes.

4.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and stir constantly, allowing the butter to melt completely and coat the mushrooms, until they shine and the sauce is a bit lighter in color, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.
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Monday, June 25, 2018

Summer Minestrone

My husband and I loved this veggie-packed soup.  It felt so good and flavorful and healthy.  I loved all the ingredients and especially the fresh basil.  And what a good way to use some of the Parmesan rinds I had in the freezer.

Summer Minestrone
adapted from NY Times

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
1 medium turnip or potato, peeled and diced
¾ pound zucchini, diced
A bouquet garni consisting of 1 Parmesan rind, 1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs parsley and 3 sprigs thyme, tied together with kitchen string or tied into a piece of cheesecloth
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
6 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
½ cup soup pasta, such as elbow macaroni, little shells, ditalini, or broken spaghetti
¼ cup slivered fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

1.  Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 more minutes. Add the garlic, stir together for about a minute, and stir in the tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 quarts water, the turnip or potatoes, zucchini, and the bouquet garni, and bring to a simmer. Add 1-2 teaspoons salt (start with 1 and you can add more later), reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 35 minutes. Add the green beans, and cook about 10 minutes longer.  Stir in the canned beans. Taste and adjust salt. Remove the bouquet garni.

2.  Add the pasta to the soup and simmer another 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente.  Grind in some pepper and taste and adjust seasonings, including salt. It should be savory and rich-tasting.  Stir in the basil. Serve in wide soup bowls, with a sprinkling of Parmesan over the top.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

These brownies are really similar to some others I've made, but I decided to try them anyway because they seemed so easy and are supposed to be fudgy.  They are super good and fudgy and MOIST (lol). The addition of a little oil plus the use of brown sugar helps with all of that. I really love these.  I made them three times in a few weeks.  Once just for us, and twice to take to potlucks.  The first time I used peanut butter chips, and then I chopped up some Ritter Sport chocolate bars for the other batches.  Both ways were great.  These don't cut very cleanly because of how fudgy they are.  But they're delicious so who cares.
Fudge Cocoa Brownies
adapted from Closet Cooking

1 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons oil (vegetable or coconut)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7oz (200g) chocolate chunks or chips or pb chips (optional)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.  Line with parchment- optional. 
2.  Mix the butter, oil and sugars before beating in the eggs and vanilla extract. (I make these brownies right in the saucepan I melted the butter in.)

3.  Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until just combined before mixing in the chocolate chunks.
Pour the batter into baking pan and bake until the top looks just set but still jiggles a little, about 18-22 minutes, before pulling out of the oven and letting it cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Slice and enjoy!

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Mango Lassi

We finally made Mango Lassis at home!!  We tried them once, years ago, but our mangos weren't good and the whole drink was chalky.  These are so easy to make; I don't know if we'll order them in Indian restaurants anymore!  I got this recipe from a friend and really enjoy how tasty and easy it is.  We've made this a few times- at first we used milk, as the original recipe states.  But the last time we made it, we used 16 oz. pure mango puree instead of the milk, and it was so good this way.  It's hard to get mango puree sometimes (we got this online; it was 100% mango puree), so one can use milk.  I also like using a bag of frozen mango chunks in this.  I love the texture of the finished product, we don't have to add ice cubes, and it's way easier!
Mango Lassi
from my friend J.R.
makes a lot- enough for our fam of 6

1 16-oz. bag frozen mango chunks*
500 grams (about 2 cups) plain Greek or European yogurt (full-fat)
16 ounces mango puree OR 1 cup milk (may need more milk to fully blend)
dash of cardamom powder
2 teaspoons sugar, optional (we didn't need when using mango puree)

1.  Blend all ingredients together in blender until smooth.

*If using fresh mango, may need to add a few ice cubes to blender to improve texture.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Mexican Street Corn Soup

This is a soup inspired by Mexican Street Corn, kind of like this corn salad- Esquites.  I don't think this soup is a thing in Mexico; but it's still SO delicious.  I loved this so much.  There were some leftovers and those tasted even better.  Lime juice isn't included in the original recipe, but I served this with lime wedges and it really took it to the next level.  The bacon was tasty, although I'm pretty sure it's not part of actual Mexican street corn.  Lol.  I can't get the right kind of cheese here; cotija, so crumbled feta makes a great substitute.  

Mexican Street Corn Soup
adapted from The Stay at Home Chef

4 tablespoons butter
1 small white onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced (remove seeds/ribs for less heat)
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups chicken stock
6 cups frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt- or to taste
1½ cups heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk (I used a mix of cream and milk)
1 cup freshly chopped cilantro

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
1 jalapeno, sliced
avocado, slices
chopped cilantro
lime wedges

1.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add in the onions and minced jalapeno and sauté for about 5 minutes, then stir in garlic and cook an additional 1 minute.

2.  Stir in the flour, cumin, and chili powder and cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock until smooth and bring to a boil. Add in the corn, sugar, and salt. Once it returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.

3.  Stir in cream or milk and cilantro. Serve topped with any or all of the toppings. 
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Friday, June 1, 2018

Quick & Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

I had to make this recipe after enjoying sub-par frozen Chicken Ccordon Bleu from the grocery store when we were in France.  Lol.  This was almost as easy but tasted worlds better.  I've only made easy CCB recipes, never the "real" one.  Another one I love is this easy casserole version.   If you can buy chicken fillets (just sliced chicken breasts) at your grocery store, this recipe will be super easy.  Otherwise you're cutting them yourself or pounding them. 

Note: The sauce for this recipe tastes great, but congeals quickly off the heat.  I included a pic on the very bottom of this post of some sauce on the chicken; it had cooled too much by this point but still tasted good.  That's why it looks interesting.  However, the chicken is great without the sauce too.  Some of the kids opted out of sauce.

Quick & Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half length-wise (to form two thinner chicken breast cutlets)- or 6 chicken cutlets/fillets
Salt and pepper
12 slices deli ham
6-8 slices Swiss cheese (6 to 8 ounces)
1 cup bread crumbs (I prefer panko in this recipe)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (or 1 bouillon cube, crushed)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Lay the cut chicken breasts in a single layer in the 9X13-inch dish. Lightly sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

2.  Layer each chicken breast with two slices of ham and top with 2 slices of swiss cheese, shingling across the chicken breast to make sure the entire piece of chicken is covered with ham and cheese. Toss the bread crumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the chicken.
Bake the chicken for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through completely, the cheese is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden.

3.  For the sauce, while the chicken bakes, in a medium saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the flour, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking quickly to avoid lumps.  Stir in the chicken bouillon granules. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture begins to simmer and thicken, about 3-5 minutes.

4.  Once the sauce has bubbled and thickened, remove from heat and stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Keep the sauce warm until the chicken is finished baking. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve each chicken cordon bleu portion with warm sauce.
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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Brazilian Cheese Bread- Pao De Queijo

I had heard of these little guys for years (from food blogs), but I never made them until a few months ago. I had an older non-stick mini muffin pan back then, and these stuck badly to it, even though I greased it well.  I got a brand new one and tried it again, and they came out perfectly and also got really tall (above).  The pic below is of my old pan- they spread out and not up in that one, for some reason.  Both ways tasted good, though.

Brazilian Cheese Bread- Pao De Queijo 
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 large egg
1/4 cup sunflower, vegetable or olive oil
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour (fluff the flour before measuring), about 6.25 ounces/180 grams- no subs!!
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed shredded cheese, like Parmesan or an aged Asiago

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin (this makes about 16-24 little breads so if you don’t have a muffin tin large enough, you can just make separate batches after the first ones come out).

2.  In a blender, combine the egg, oil, milk, flour and salt. Process until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice. Add the cheese and process for just a short bit, 5-10 seconds or a few short pulses, until the cheese is in small bits all throughout the batter.
Give the batter a good stir to get any solids off the bottom and pour the mixture into the prepared muffin tin filling the cups nearly to the top.

3.  Bake the pao de queijo until very lightly golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Don’t let them get too brown on the bottom or they will be too crusty and not as chewy.

4.  Remove them from the oven and let them cool for just a minute or two. They are best eaten warm! Don’t worry if they fall a bit in the middle – that’s completely normal.
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