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Monday, February 17, 2020

Sheet Pan Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

This is one of those recipes that hits all of the dietary needs in our family: low carb options, deconstructable for picky eaters, a healthy meat, and delicious on top of it all. If you shred the sprouts in a food processor, it's not bad on time, either.



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Sheet Pan Salmon and Brussels Sprouts

1 pd (or more) brussels sprouts, trimmed
3-4 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced (about 1/2 c), optional
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (about 1/4 c), optional or to taste
2 T toasted sesame or extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
4 (6-oz) skin-on salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon, lime or tangerine juice
2 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce
Honey, to taste, optional

Prepare your sprouts. You can either slice them thinly (which is about 4 1/2 c) or you can shred them in the food processor. Though I prefer the slices for eating, I'm going to use the processor in the future for time's sake.

Heat oven to 400F. On a large sheet pan, mix the sprouts, scallions, jalapeno, and oil, then spread over entire pan.

Pat the salmon dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place them on the sheet pan amongst the brussels sprouts. Roast until the salmon measures at least 120F on an instant read thermometer, about 12-15 minutes.

While the fish and brussels sprouts are roasting, mix together the juice, vinegar, and soy sauce, along with 2 T water.

Drizzle the sauce on your own serving of fish and brussels sprouts, according to preferences. Serve with a side of basmati rice and enjoy. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Chili

This is simply a basic meat and bean chili and the recipe served me well for many years.


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Chili                                 



Adapted from an old recipe shared decades ago by a friend named Joyce from our first Air Force assignment
Yields a Dutch oven full of chili.

For the beans:

2 cups pinto beans, sorted and brined overnight in 2 quarts of water and 1 1/2 T salt
1/2 onion
1 carrot cut into 2 inch chunks
1 stick of celery cut into 2 inch chunks
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
Water

Before cooking, drain the beans from the brine and rinse in a colander. In a large saucepan (I used a 4 quart pot) place the beans and the vegetable aromatics (onion half, carrot and celery chunks, garlic) and bay leaf. Cover generously with water (an inch or two above the level of the beans) and bring to a boil, watching so you avoid a boil-over. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for several hours until beans are done (the amount of time this will take depends on the age of the beans but mine took about three hours).

The rest of the ingredients:

1/2-1 pound of ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 teas salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teas pepper
2 T chili powder
1 can tomato paste
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes)
1 (4-oz) can of diced green chiles or 1/2 c frozen chopped chiles, or to taste
1 cup water.

In a Dutch oven cook the ground beef, onions, and salt together until browned. Add the garlic and cook for half a minute or so until fragrant. Move the mixture to the edges of the pan and place the spices in the center of the pan and toast for a minute. Stir the spices into the meat and add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until the paste has darkened. Pour in the liquid from the whole tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in the blender or food processor and place in the skillet. Stir in the green chiles and water. Bring to to strong simmer and then lower the heat and simmer for a couple hours stirring occasionally. If it gets too thick add some more water or some of the bean broth.

Note: To streamline this process you can worry less about building flavor. Add the garlic, spices, and tomato paste together. Then stir in a can of crushed tomatoes and the green chile. Continue with the recipe.

When the beans are done and are beginning to break apart remove some of the bean broth (hold a generous amount in reserve) and all the spent aromatics. Drain most of the remaining liquid, if needed. Pour the beans into the meat mixture in the Dutch oven. Stir well. Add some of the reserved bean broth until the chili is the consistency you prefer. Stir again and cook together for an hour at a low simmer. Check the consistency again and add more bean broth if needed. Taste for seasonings and add salt. If you like spicier chili add more chiles or stir in a bit of powdered cayenne. Serve with warm cornbread.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Maple Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

I made these unique, delicious cookies back at the beginning of November. The flavors definitely fit fall season baking (and since I didn't manage anything pumpkin, this will have to be my one seasonal nod), but they also seem right at home for Christmastime baking.


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Maple Molasses Oatmeal Cookies


Source: Dough Eyed
Yields about 4 dozen cookies

This is a high altitude recipe; it will work at 4,000-6,000 feet above sea level.

1 1/2 c softened butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c molasses
3 teas maple extract (I used imitation)
4 c flour (2 c whole wheat flour is nice)
2 c oats
2 teas cinnamon
2 teas baking soda
1 teas salt
1/2 c or more additional sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, molasses, and maple extract and stir until combined. Then add the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat until a dough forms, and every ingredient is incorporated.

Use your hands to create dough balls about 2 T in size. Then, roll each ball in the additional sugar until fully coated. Bake on the prepared sheets with about 2 inches between the dough balls; 14 minutes was about right in my oven. The cookies should be cracked and set. Let them cool completely.


Holiday Rum (or Root Beer) Balls

Rum Balls are a holiday treat found in multiple cultures around the world. For the home cook they are an easy to make "candy" and come in a number of varieties. Here are three--two with rum and one for kids and those who avoid alcohol.



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Chocolate Rum Balls


Yield: between 36 and 48 depending on size

When this recipe was first being tested Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies came in 12 oz. packs but by the time the recipe was printed they were in 11 oz. packs. Cook's Country said using an 11 oz. package was all right for the recipe. However, sneaky Nabisco has further reduced the amount of wafers in the package to 9 oz. and that will adversely affect the recipe. We'll have to buy 2 packs and have left over wafers. 

1/2 c-3/4 granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) chocolate wafer cookies
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted (for this amount I recommend using the oven at 300 degrees)
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
6 T dark rum
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Place the sugar into a shallow bowl in which you'll roll the balls after forming them. I find that half a cup is sufficient but I have to work a bit harder to get them coated. So use 3/4 a cup for greater ease.

Place the cookie wafers and the pecans in a food processor and run it until they are finely ground. Pour into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.

The mixture may look too crumbly, but it will come together in your hands. Using either a half tablespoon or full tablespoon measure scoop out dough and roll between your hands. Place the rolled balls in the shallow bowl of sugar and swish and shake the bowl until the balls are completely covered by a thin layer of sugar crystals. Place on a tray or plate.

Refrigerate the balls for at least one hour. These can be held in the refrigerator for a week.

Notes:

Chocolate graham crackers can work in this recipe, too. Or a combination of wafers and graham crackers.

I haven't done this but I think you could substitute vanilla for the rum, but only use 1 tablespoon. You might have to add some water to make up for loss of liquid.




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Root Beer Balls


1/2 c granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) vanilla wafers
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted (for this amount I recommend using the oven at 300 degrees)
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
1/4 c root beer
1 T vanilla, alcohol free imitation, if you prefer
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Follow the instructions above, substituting the root beer for the rum.







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Ginger Rum Balls

1/2 c granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) vanilla wafer cookies
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted
6 T chopped crystallized ginger
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
6 T dark rum
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Follow the instructions above, but include the ginger with the wafers and pecans in the food processor.

Note:

I haven't tried this yet but believe you could substitute rum flavoring if you want to avoid most of the alcohol, although the rum flavoring, like vanilla, is often alcohol based.


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

These chewy cookies are adapted from a recipe titled "Best Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies" found on Food52.com. The author used coconut sugar which keeps your blood sugar from spiking (hence the "healthy" moniker). I prefer the flavor of granulated sugar so mine aren't quite as healthy. You choose.






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Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies


Adapted from food52.com
Yields about 32 cookies

adjustments for altitudes of 3500-5500 feet

add 1 1/2 T almond flour
subtract 1 1/2 T sugar
subtract 1/2 teas baking soda
eggs at room temperature

3 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 c creamy unsalted almond butter (well stirred and at room temperature)
3/4 c almond flour
3/4 teas fine-grain salt
1 1/2 c sugar (granulated or coconut sugar)
1 1/2 teas baking soda
3/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 c rolled oats
3/4 c dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
a bit of flaky sea salt, to sprinkle on top if you desire

Place a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on 2 or 3 baking sheets. Bring your oven to 375F.

Beat the eggs, vanilla, and almond butter in a large bowl until combined. Add the almond flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda, stirring until smooth. Add the nuts, oats, and chocolate chips and stir. This will take a bit of work because the dough will seem crumbly and rather dry, which is okay. (Unless you use a liquidy almond butter, see note below.)

Use a tablespoon or a tablespoon scoop to pick dough up and place in your hands. Roll the dough to compress into mounds and place on the baking sheet. If you used the runnier almond butter, flatten the cookies a little in the center so they look like hockey pucks. If you used a drier brand your dough may not look much like dough, kind of dry and crumbly. I found I could press this type of dough together with my hands and the cookies turned out fine.

If using, sprinkle with the salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (for my oven it is 11 minutes). I like them to look just slightly undercooked but you may like them once they are golden brown around the edges. 

Take them from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Note:

The original author used coconut sugar and indicated that the quality of these cookies goes down markedly after the first day. So she divides the recipe and cooks only a third. I find that granulated sugar keeps these cookies quite moist for several days.

I've made these 4 times now and each time they've been different (but always tasty). This recipe may be more sensitive to brand characteristics than some baked items. I've used 3 different types of almond butter and have begun to believe my favorite comes from Trader Joe's, but I'll try Costco's Kirtland brand again because it is affordable. If you try these cookies and aren't as happy with the outcome, try again using a different brand of almond flour. 


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad

Grab a pomegranate while you can. They are versatile, tasting great in everything from salads, soups, main dishes, to desserts. Here's a quick salad that can be a side or a light main dish.





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Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad


Serves 4-6

for the dressing (you can make this ahead by a couple of days and keep in the fridge):

2-3 T pomegranate molasses, increasingly easy to find in supermarkets, Middle Eastern markets, and online
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on clove size and your preference)
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together in a small glass jar and cover tightly with the lid. Shake vigorously until emulsified. 

for the salad:

1 c plain, instant couscous
1 c boiling water
salt to taste and generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper
1 14-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 c pomegranate seeds (arils from a whole fruit are preferred)
1/2 c chopped fresh mint
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

In a large bowl, mix the couscous, boiling water, and 1/4 teas salt and at least that much pepper. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Remove the cover and fluff the couscous with a fork or a chopstick.

Just before serving, place the chickpeas and pomegranate arils in the bowl and stir. Stir the salad dressing in, tossing until mixed. Taste for seasoning and stir in more salt and pepper if needed. 

Top the salad with the herbs just before serving. 

Note:

If you can't find pomegranate molasses you can make your own by reducing pomegranate juice over heat until it is syrupy. Let it cool before making the dressing. If this seems too nerdy, just sub an extra tablespoon of lemon juice for the molasses.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt

My Thanksgiving was abbreviated; even so, later this weekend I felt the need for a meal that seemed healthier. Beans and greens seemed just the thing.


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Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt


Serves 4

 for the Garlicky Yogurt

1 c full fat or 2 % Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

for the Chickpeas and Lamb 

1-2 bunches Swiss chard, mustard greens, or kale
6 T olive oil, divided
12 oz (3/4 pd) ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teas cumin seed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teas crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
fresh tomatoes, quartered or roasted tomatoes for a garnish

Make the yogurt (it can be made ahead up to 5 days and kept in the fridge--the garlic will get stronger). 

Rinse the greens and separate the stems from the greens. Slice the stems (except for kale) and tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat place 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the lamb, garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper (you can test it later and add more if needed). Cook, browning the lamb and breaking it as it cooks until it is crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb into a bowl. Leave the drippings in the skillet.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and heat for a few minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Shaking the skillet from time to time, cook until the chickpeas are very well browned and starting to get crisp. Return the lamb to the skillet and stir well. Then place this mixture in a large bowl. Leave a little oil in the skillet.

Stir the sliced stems into the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook a couple of minutes (they should be a bit crunchy in the final dish)  and add the leaves and stir until coated with the oil. Cook just until wilted. 

Place the yogurt into the bottom of four bowls and top with the chickpea and lamb mixture and the greens. Top all with some of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired and eat immediately.

Note:

I'm sure another bean could be substituted for the chickpeas.