Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Japanese Croquettes

Last time my friend and I made Macarons together, she showed me how to make these delicious Japanese Croquettes.  They are simple, but so delicious, it's hard to get enough.  You combine mashed potatoes, onion, and cooked ground beef into a ball, then dip it in flour, then into beaten egg, and then into Panko break crumbs, and then fry it in oil.  You can make a lot of these at one time and then just fry as needed; make sure you bring them to room temp before frying.  
Japanese Croquettes
From my friend H.S.

1 pound ground beef
1/2- 1 onion, to taste
3-4 medium potatoes
black pepper
seasoning to taste; garlic powder, seasoned salt, whatever you like
flour- 1/2 to 1 cup
2-3 eggs, beaten
Panko bread crumbs, 1-2 cups
Oil, for frying
Ketchup, for serving

1.  Cook and crumble the ground beef, drain fat and set aside.  Chop onion and set aside.  Peel and boil potatoes until tender; mash.  Combine mashed potatoes, cooked ground beef, and onion.  Season with black pepper and any other additional seasonings you desire.  

2.  Take potato mixture and form into balls with your hands.  You can make them big or small, but not too huge.  I think our biggest were probably about 1/4-1/3 cup of mixture, and the smaller ones were half that.

3.  Into 3 separate bowls, put flour, beaten eggs, and Panko bread crumbs.  (So one bowl for each item.)  Dip the balls into flour first, then eggs, then Panko, making sure to coat all sides.  Set aside.  (Can make these ahead to this point- cover and refrigerate.  When ready to fry, let come to room temp. for 30 minutes or so first.)

4.  Heat about an inch (or more, if you want- should be enough to come up to half-way point of largest ball) of oil in a skillet until hot.  Fry Croquettes until lightly browned on one side, and then flip and cook the other side.  Don't have the oil too hot or will brown too quickly and not warm the inside.  

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup (Add Ham!)

Have leftover ham from Easter?  Chop some up and add it to this soup before serving- it would be delicious!!  I have a favorite, very similar slow cooker potato soup recipe I've been making for years, but decided to try this one.  They taste very similar, but the method to each is different, so pick whatever one you're feeling like.  Some of the ingredients are different too.
Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup
adapted from Cooking Classy

6-7 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
3 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz)
6 slices bacon, cooked and diced or crumbled
4 green onions, diced, OR chopped chives

1.  To a 6 or 7-quart slow cooker, add potatoes, onion, and chicken broth, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH heat for 4 hours or LOW heat for 8 hours (poke potatoes with a fork to check make sure they're soft).

2.  Ladle out 2 cups liquid from soup mixture in crock pot into a liquid measuring cup, set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly pour 2 cups liquid in measuring cup into butter mixture (it will thicken quickly). Pour butter mixture into slow cooker and stir to blend. Add evaporated milk at this point.  If desired, mash potatoes with a potato masher to break down into smaller pieces or use an emulsion blender to puree. (I didn't do this.) Cover and cook on HIGH heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Turn heat off (or to warm), stir in sour cream. Serve warm topped with cheddar, bacon and green onions or chives.  
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Carrot Patch Cupcakes

Happy Easter!  I wanted to make these cute cupcakes as a cute Easter/Spring dessert.  The logical choice would be to use carrot cake cupcakes, but I just used my fave vanilla Greek yogurt recipe.  (Scroll down for recipe.)

Carrot Patch Cupcakes
idea from Our Best Bites

Favorite cupcakes- any flavor (vanilla, chocolate, carrot cake, etc)
Chocolate Frosting
Crushed Oreos (crush in a food processor)
Orange Starbursts (1/2 piece for each carrot)
Green licorice

1.  Place crushed Oreos in a deep bowl.  Frost cupcakes.  Immediately after frosting each cupcake, dip into bowl of crushed Oreo "dirt" and press crumbs into frosting, making sure to get the sides.  Set on a serving platter until all of the cupcakes are frosted and covered in crumbs.

2.  Unwrap orange Starbursts, cut in half, and microwave for 5-10 seconds, until slightly softened.  Rolling in your hands, form into a carrot shape, with a tapered end.  Take a small paring knife and press "notches" into the sides of carrots.  Using a wooden skewer, press a hole into the non-tapered end.  Cut licorice into two or more pieces and stick into the holes in the carrot.  Top cupcakes with candy carrots. Serve.
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs

I've always wanted to make these for Easter, and finally did today!  I was super tired for some reason but did it anyway.  My 7-year old helped me shape the peanut butter mixture into eggs and I dipped them later, which was very messy and the hardest part, by far.  After the first one, I didn't bother dipping the bottoms at all.  They're too big and awkward to move around.  You can see my chocolate is hardly smooth and perfect. They are delicious though; taste like Reese's PB Eggs, and makes a lot more, which is both and good and a bad thing.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs (Homemade Reese's Eggs)
adapted from Food

4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
2 -3 tablespoons milk
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoon shortening (I used organic- coconut oil would probably work too)

1. Mix together powdered sugar, peanut butter and butter.  Add milk, one tablespoon at a time until it becomes a nice workable dough.  It will be like play dough and easy to work with.  If it is crumbly at all, add more milk; just drops at a time until it comes together, and is smooth with no crumbling when pressed into a ball.  Form dough into egg shapes and place in freezer for 1 hour.

2.  Place chocolate chips in and shortening in a glass measuring cup.  Microwave 1 minute at a time, stirring in between, until melted.  (Can use a double broiler if you prefer; this is what I did.)  Dip each egg in the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper until set.  Trim any excess chocolate off that may pool with a paring knife.  If you wish to decorate with sprinkles, add them immediately, when the chocolate is still wet.  
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BBQ Pulled Pork and Coleslaw

This is a delicious pulled pork using homemade BBQ sauce, made in the slow cooker.  I love the BBQ sauce- I don't like any store-bought varieties very much, so haven't used it much at all lately.  This homemade one is really good.  You can top these pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw, which makes it even more delicious.  Note:  The recipe calls for lemon juice in the slaw, but I think I'll replace with apple cider or honey vinegar next time, to add a bit more sweetness.
BBQ Pulled Pork 
adapted from Closet Cooking

1 (3 pound) pork butt
1 cup BBQ Sauce, recipe follows
4-6 buns
coleslaw, recipe follows

1. Put the pork in the slow cooker, pour 1/2 cup of the bbq sauce over it and cook on low heat for 8 hours.

2. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and let cool.  Meanwhile, skim the fat from the juices, place the juices in a sauce pan and simmer to reduce.  Mix as much of the juices as you want into the remaining bbq sauce.

3. When the pork is cool enough to work with, shred it with a pair of forks.  Mix the pulled pork bbq sauce.  Assemble sandwiches and enjoy, topping with extra BBQ sauce and coleslaw, optional.

Closet Cooking's BBQ Sauce

1 small onion (grated)
2 cloves garlic (grated)
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked hot or sweet paprika
pepper to taste
smoked sea salt to taste, optional but awesome

1. Mix everything.

Closet Cooking's Coleslaw

2 cups cabbage (shredded)
1 carrot (shredded)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1 lemon (juice) or 2 TBS apple cider or honey vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful parsley (chopped)

1. Mix the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.  Add the mayo, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in another bowl and combine, and then mix everything together.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

No-Bake Cookies, Two Ways (Biscoff & Nutella)

Recently, I tried two different variations on the old no-bake and loved both of them!!  I loved the Biscoff version the best, which is why I'll post it first.  No-bakes are super sweet, but reducing the sugar with these might affect turnout, since these cookies are kind of like making fudge.  Deviate from the recipe too much, and they might turn out too soft or too hard.
In the past, I've had trouble with any no-bake cookie recipe turning out, and I started boiling the mixture a little longer, which seems to help.  I boiled both of these batches for 1 minute and 20 seconds, which seems to be the perfect number for me here, with my humidity, etc.  I'll do that from now on.  Also, have all the ingredients measured out to add after boiling; Nutella, pb or Biscoff, vanilla, oats.  
Biscoff No-Bake Cookies
adapted from Cooking Classy

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced into 4 pieces
1/2 cup milk (preferably 2% or whole)
1/2 cup Biscoff Cookie Spread* (I only had Crunchy on hand; it worked)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups quick oats

1.  In a medium saucepan combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, butter and milk and heat mixture over slightly over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture begins to boil. Allow mixture to come to a roiling boil, and boil for 1 minute and 20 seconds without stirring, then remove from heat and immediately stir in Biscoff and vanilla, whisking until well blended, then mix in quick oats.

2.  Drop mixture by the spoonful (using 2 spoons - one to scoop and the other to push the mixture off opposite spoon) onto wax paper and allow to cool until set.  (Note: You may need to only boil for one minute if you live in a drier climate; but I'm not sure.)
*Biscoff Cookie Spread can be found near the peanut butter in many grocery stores.

Nutella No-Bake Cookies
adapted from Shugary Sweets

1 3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup Nutella
3 cup quick oats

1.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook sugar, cocoa, milk and butter. Boil one minute and 20 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, salt, peanut butter, Nutella and oats. Stir until combined. Drop by teaspoon on wax paper and cool until set. (Note: You may need to only boil for one minute if you live in a drier climate; but I'm not sure.)
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Orzo
I loved this Greek Pasta Salad.  It contains so many delicious ingredients and flavors.  I made a similar dish years ago, but wanted to try this recipe from Joy the Baker.  Although it says to serve immediately, leftovers are so good, too.  This would be great for a potluck. I want to make this again soon.
Greek Orzo
Greek Pasta Salad
adapted from Joy the Baker

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

For the Pasta Salad:
4-5 cups cooked orzo pasta*
2 cups de-seeded and coarsely chopped English Cucumbers
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 heaping cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced purple onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1.  In a medium mason jar (or other sealed container), combine olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, mustard, honey, and a pinch of salt a fresh cracked black pepper. Secure the lid tightly and shake vigorously until emulsified. Taste and season with more lemon, honey, salt, or pepper as necessary. Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl toss together orzo pasta, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese, onion, and fresh basil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Just before serving, drizzle in the dressing. Taste and season accordingly. Serve immediately.  (Leftovers are great, too.)
*I cooked about 2 cups of dried orzo & ended up not using all of it for this.  Be careful when draining; if left too long in a strainer, it will stick to it.
Greek Orzo
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