Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I made this tonight, loosely based on a couple of recipes I read online. I didn't measure anything, but if you try to make it, it should be pretty forgiving. It was delicious!

1/2 onion, sliced
4 tbs butter
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
a tiny knob of shredded gouda cheese
1/2 of a 16oz (I think) bag of frozen broccoli
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
Beef bouillon cube + up to 1/2 cup water
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Put butter in pot, melt & add sliced onions. Cook until onion is translucent and just starts to brown. Add flour and cook, stirring, until it begins to turn a lovely light brown color. Pour in milk and stir. Toss in the beef bouillon cube and a little bit of water. Turn heat to low. 

In second pot, add broccoli and just cover the bottom of the pan with water. Put a lid on and cook for five minutes or until steamed. Drain any water from pot and leave in pan to cool for a few minutes.

Add cheese to the first pot and stir. If the soup seems thick, add more milk or cream. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, put the lid on and let simmer.

I put my broccoli into a food processor and pulsed it until it was mostly mush. I saved a few pieces of broccoli and chopped those with a knife so there would be some pieces in the soup. Add this to the rest of the soup and stir.

Add a little more milk if you want a thinner consistency. I love the way the swiss tastes with the broccoli! Yum!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Roasting coffee at home


My sweetheart recently discovered that you can roast coffee at home easily with.. a popcorn maker! We were both pretty excited about the idea, because from everything we've read, fresh roasted coffee blows all other coffee you've ever drank out of the water. We already only buy whole bean coffee and grind it when we want to use it, so this seems like the natural next step for us.

We've both been reading as much as we can about the process online, went to Kmart and bought a recommended popcorn popper for under $25 (the West Bend Air Crazy, it seems to also be available at Target), and finally ordered some raw, green coffee beans online. We ordered our coffee from www.thecaptainscoffee.com, the beans came very quickly, when Barry had a question they responded to him very promptly, and they even sent us a free sample of a different kind of bean! Here is the coffee that I picked to try: Mexico Altura Chiapas El Triunfo, Organic, Fair Trade.

I'm not going to go into the whole process of how to roast the beans, though it's pretty simple. You can find several places online that will tell you how to do it, most of the information seems to match up with what everyone else is saying, with a few minor variations in technique. Basically you have to figure out what sort of coffee roast you like. I found Wikipedia's "Degree of roast pictorial" to be very helpful, and I tried to aim for a light Vienna roast. We then pretty much followed the instructions at CoffeeGeek. I'm not sure if the timing matched up with what they said it would. We wondered how easy it would be to tell when we reached first crack & second crack, and if we would have a hard time heard it happen, but it was very easy to hear. We roasted my beans first, since I wanted a darker roast, so we could try to get an idea of how long it would take in our popcorn popper. After they were done, we let the machine cool down for a good bit before we roasted Barry's batch, using Bali Blue Moon organic rainforest alliance certified beans. He went with a city roast.


Both roasts turned out beautifully, it went smoothly and was as easy as we had hoped it would be! You're supposed to let the beans sit for 2-5 days before you grind and drink them, to let the flavor develop. I will come back and update after we've had our first cup!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Faux Crab Cakes (zucchini!)

I was really pleased with how well these turned out. My fiance said that he would have figured it out after a couple of bites, but I think if I hadn't told him, he would have went with thinking they were crab cakes. Either way, they are yummy! I squeezed a little lemon juice onto them before I served them.


Faux Crab Cakes (Zucchini Cakes)

Ingredients:
  • 1 large zucchini
  • cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp finely diced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning OR (I used) 1 ground clove, 1 ground cardamon pod, 1 tsp granulated garlic, a shake of smoked paprika, & salt & pepper
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • Oil for frying, 1/4" in pan
Directions:
  1. Grate zucchini using a box grater. I cut the seeds out of mine, and used the large and small side of the grater. Squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as you can. Mine was still pretty moist, but try to get most of the liquid out.
  2. Combine grated zucchini, breadcrumbs, onion, egg and seasoning in a large bowl. 
  3. Form the zucchini mixture into patties and dredge in flour.
  4. Heat oil and fry patties in oil on each side until golden and crispy.
Yum!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tomato Cobbler with Cheddar Herb Biscuits


I saw a tomato cobbler on a blog yesterday and knew immediately that I needed to make it. I started with the recipe as I found it online, modified it as I went, and as best I can type it out, this is how I did it. Feel free to make changes as you see fit, I'm sure it will turn out just as delicious! This recipe was really simple to make, and a great way to use an excess of tomatoes. 
To make the biscuits, I (mostly) followed the recipe on the Bisquick box. You can do the same, or find another biscuit recipe to use instead. I added a little more milk than was called for, grated in some cheddar cheese, mixed in some granulated garlic, and stuck the bowl in the fridge while I made the cobbler.
Cobbler ingredients:
  • 1 and 1/2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pounds cherry tomatoes (or any small tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoons of Italian seasoning (parsley, basil, oregano, any of these will work) 
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and coarsely ground black pepper
The Magic:
Add olive oil and butter to a saute pan over medium heat.  Add sliced onions.  Cook and brown onions, stirring as needed, until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Season with salt and pepper Remove pan from heat, add balsamic vinegar and set aside.
Wash tomatoes and slice in half. In a large bowl, mix flour, Italian herbs, and red pepper flakes. Add onions and toss together until everything is lightly and evenly coated in flour. Pour into square or rectangle casserole dish.
Bake on middle oven rack at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge. Form by hand or cut six biscuits, 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Remove the tomato mixture from the oven and top with the biscuits. Return to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and the tomato mixture is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. YUM!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blueberry Cobbler

We wanted something sweet after dinner tonight so I pulled some frozen blueberries out of the freezer and made a quick blueberry cobbler. Yum!


Easy Blueberry Cobbler



Step One:
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cups frozen blueberries
Step Two:
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter
Step Three:
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter

Preparation:

  1. Put frozen blueberries in a saucepan, add sugar and cornstarch, stir in water. Bring to a boil; stirring constantly, boil for 1 minute. 
  2. Pour blueberry mixture into a buttered 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with 1 teaspoon melted butter.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour milk and 3 tablespoons melted butter into a measuring cup; add to flour mixture all at once. Stir just until mixture is moistened and forms a ball. Drop spoonfuls onto the blueberries. Bake at 425° for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

I found this recipe for homemade Worcestershire sauce and knew I had to try it. I love Worcestershire sauce, so what could be better than being able to make my own? I wasn't sure that I would be able to find any tamarind concentrate, so I thought that I might use lemon juice as a substitute, but I ended up finding some at my local spice store. What I bought was a liquid, but you may find it in paste form. I think that you could also use cayenne in place of the chiles de árbol, but I bought some dried chiles de árbol and chopped them up to use. The point where I thought the recipe was about to go wrong was when I cooked the sugar and added it to the vinegar mixture, it clumped up for just a minute and I thought I had cooked it too long, but as I stirred it, it broke up and mixed into the liquid beautifully!

Here is my slightly modified version of the original recipe. I will come back and update this post once the sauce has sat long enough to use and let you know how it turned out!

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup molasses
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup liquid tamarind concentrate
3 tbsp. yellow mustard seeds
3 tbsp. pink sea salt
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. whole cloves
1⁄2 tsp. curry powder
5 cardamom pods, smashed
4 dried chiles de árbol, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1  1" stick cinnamon
1 tsp anchovy paste
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1  1⁄2" piece ginger, peeled and crushed
1⁄2 cup sugar
1. Combine all ingredients except the sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan; boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook sugar in a skillet over medium-high heat until it becomes dark amber and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Add caramelized sugar to vinegar mixture and whisk to combine; cook sauce for 5 minutes; transfer sauce to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
3. Refrigerate, covered, for 3 weeks; strain to remove solids; return to jar. Refrigerate for up to 8 months.

Update!
This stuff is awesome! I finally got around to straining the herbs and spices out of it yesterday (so it was actually steeping for 6 weeks), and it's perfect. Instead of just throwing away the garlic and onions, we munched on a few (yum!) and then I threw a couple of large spoonfuls of the mixture into a bowl of chicken to marinate for dinner. I will definitely make this again after it runs out!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

He asked!

and I said yes!
<3