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Category: Recipes

  1. Wednesday, February 27, 2019

    Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Wings and Drumsticks

    Before I knew I had a wheat allergy, my friend Natalee, who eats gluten free, made homemade gluten-free buffalo chicken wings for a football game our families were watching together. Natalee had also purchased regular wings at the store to serve alongside the gluten-free wings. Interestingly there was no comparison between the “real” wings and Natalee’s gluten-free buffalo chicken wings – Natalee’s wings were a million percent better.

    Gluten-free buffalo chicken drumsticks with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing

    Once I found out about my wheat allergy, I was at Natalee’s feet begging for her recipe. She simply said, “Go to this link and use gluten-free flour.” Well, that was easy!

    Top view of gluten-free buffalo chicken drumsticks with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing

    Or so I thought. It took me a few tries to get this chicken really tasty. Really it was all about perfecting the technique for baking them in the oven, but we finally go there. Every last person in our family loves these gluten-free buffalo chicken wings and Nate and could probably drink the sauce it’s so good. Also, we’ve started using drumsticks instead of wings. We just like them better and this recipe makes for a really great dinner option. We no longer reserve buffalo chicken just for watching football!  

    Backlit side view of gluten-free buffalo chicken drumsticks with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing

    Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Wings and Drumsticks
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • About 20 chicken wing pieces or 12 chicken drumsticks
    • ¾ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I like Namaste's Perfect Flour Blend)
    • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¾ cup melted butter
    • ¾ cup Frank's RedHot pepper sauce
    Instructions
    1. Place a metal cooling or roasting rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet. I use my metal baking cooling racks and my half-sheet rimmed baking pan. I also like to cover the pan with aluminum foil to make for easier cleanup, and then place the rack on the pan on top of the foil. Cooking the chicken raised up off the pan surface is KEY to success here. The chicken comes out significantly better when it's raised up out of the pan while cooking.
    2. Whisk together the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl. Toss each chicken piece in the flour mixture then place them on the prepared pan.
    3. Refrigerate chicken for at least 1 hour.
    4. Preheat oven to 400º F.
    5. Whisk together the melted butter with the hot sauce. Dip each piece of chicken into the sauce and place back on the prepared pan. Sometimes the cold chicken will make the sauce thicken. If this happens, simply zap the sauce in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to get it runnier again.
    6. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside and/or reaches a temperature of 160º-165º F at the deepest part of the meat. Be sure to flip the chicken half way through the cooking time, about 20-25 minutes in.
    7. Serve hot! Also, we love the sauce so much, so I often make more sauce to serve with the chicken. Just mix equal parts butter with Frank's RedHot sauce, usually 2 tablespoons each is a good amount.

     


  2. Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    Gluten-Free Chicken Gumbo with Tasso and Andouille Sausage

    Last month I visited my Aunt Sue. Sue had to change to a gluten-free diet many years ago due to some health issues. She is an excellent cook with an even more excellent attitude and has navigated cooking without gluten in the most delicious way. Also, she is my own personal treasure trove of tips, product recommendations and recipes now that I can’t eat wheat.  While visiting her I stole several of her recipes (okay, she gave me the recipes, no stealing happened, stealing just sounds more exciting). One recipe was for her gluten-free chicken gumbo, which she served while we were visiting. I ate a lot of that gumbo. For dinner. Then breakfast. Then dinner again. Then I came home and have made it twice in the last month.

    Bowl of Chicken, Tasso and Andouille Sausage Gumbo with hot sauce on top

    Sue lived in New Orleans and knows her Louisiana cuisine. She originally found this gumbo recipe on the back of a package of Chef Paul Prudhomme smoked meat. The recipe she shared with me is straight from the package and she’s been cooking it for years. Since going gluten-free she started using her favorite gluten-free flour (Namaste Perfect Flour Blend) and it works like a charm. It works so well you would never be able to tell the difference. You can, of course, use regular all-purpose wheat flour if you do not need to cut wheat or gluten.

    Top view of a bowl of gluten-free chicken gumbo with hot sauce

    I have added my own notes as well as Sue’s input in the directions below. This gluten-free chicken gumbo has andouille sausage and tasso, but there are several suggestions for meat substitutions if you can’t find either of those.

    Side view of gluten-free chicken gumbo in a bowl with hot sauce

    Gluten-Free Chicken Gumbo with Tasso and Andouille Sausage
     
    Recipe originally from a Chef Paul Prudhomme package. Modified for gluten free and with our own notes included.
    Author:
    Serves: 6-8
    Ingredients
    • MEAT:
    • 1 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (shrimp, pork or okra can be substituted)
    • ½ pound tasso ham (or smoked ham like Cure 81; Jane note - I used smoked ham hocks from the butcher)
    • ½ pound Andouille smoked sausage (or smoked Kielbasa; Sue note - it's worth finding Andouille sausage and should be pretty readily available everywhere, the original recipe listed smoked kielbasa as an alternative, but Sue says no way, stick with Andouille!)
    • 1 cup finely chopped onions (Jane note: I used ½ cup)
    • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
    • 1 cup finely chopped celery
    • 1 cup finely chopped carrots (this is a Jane addition because I had carrots AND tons of cajun recipes start with mire poix (onion/celery/carrot), so I felt good about the modification)
    • ROUX:
    • ¾ cup gluten-free one-for-one flour (like Namaste Perfect Blend or King Arthur GF AP Flour) OR ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    • ¾ cup oil, preferably sunflower, peanut or other high temperature cooking oil (Sue uses avocado oil; Jane note - I used BUTTER! woohoo!)
    • SEASONINGS:
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 tablespoons dried parsley, lightly crushed in palm of hand
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
    • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne and depending on desired heat level)
    • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    • ¼ teaspoon dried sweet basil
    • STOCK:
    • 6-7 cups canned low sodium chicken stock
    Instructions
    1. Cut chicken, tasso and andouille into bite-sized pieces and set aside in separate bowls.
    2. Combine finely chopped onions, green bell pepper, celery and carrots (if using) in a single bowl. (Jane note: I just chop them and keep them on the cutting board to save on washing an extra bowl.)
    3. Heat chicken stock in separate sauce pan until nearly boiling.
    4. In large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Using a long-handled whisk, slowly add flour one tablespoon at a time until completely combined. Cook, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to dark brown in color, about 10-15 minutes. Be careful not to scorch or burn the roux – watch it carefully and whisk, whisk, whisk! (Jane note: I do this step in a big soup pot, again to save on washing dishes.)
    5. Once the roux reaches desired color, remove from skillet and transfer to large stock pot at a slightly lower heat. (If you just cook the roux in the soup pot to begin with like I did, simply reduce the heat to low.) Immediately add the tasso and andouille to the roux, cooking for several minutes until seasoning from meat transfers to sauce.
    6. Add cut chicken, cooking for an additional 2-4 minutes.
    7. Add chopped vegetables, sauté and let cook for a few minutes. Add chicken stock and seasonings, stirring constantly and scraping the pan bottom well.
    8. Slowly add hot chicken stock, one to two cups at a time until incorporated, reduce heat to medium/medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring often toward the end of the cooking time.
    9. Serve hot over cooked rice and topped with Crystal Hot Sauce.

     


  3. Sunday, January 27, 2019

    Week 609 Weekly Menu

    Time for the weekly menu! And I’m sharing a gluten-free Super Bowl menu with you for Sunday! (Yep, I’m officially allergic to wheat. Fun times!)

    Week 609 Weekly Dinner Menu

    MONDAY:
    – Pot roast leftovers

    TUESDAY:
    Chili

    WEDNESDAY:
    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Zesty Slaw

    THURSDAY:
    – Baked Potatoes with toppings

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY: Gluten-Free Super Bowl Menu
    Southwestern Layered Bean Dip with Tortilla Chips
    Gluten-Free Baked Buffalo Wings (use the recipe I linked to but use your favorite 1-for-1 GF flour)
    – Classic onion dip (sour cream + Lipton onion soup mix) with Potato Chips
    – Tossed Salad
    Football-themed Casheweroos

    Side landscape view of football cashew rice Chex treats

    One, two, three, Go! Share your own menus in the comments! And have a great week! And GO PATRIOTS!


  4. Casheweroos: Cashew Rice Chex Treats with Sea Salt (Gluten-Free)

    A few weeks ago, the team from Big G Cereals at General Mills sent a cute football-themed package, complete with Rice Chex and ingredients to make treats for Super Bowl Sunday. I recently learned I have a wheat allergy, which means I can no longer partake of all the delicious baked goods I normally make. As a result, I’m now on the lookout for great wheat-free desserts to try to soothe my wheat-free sorrows. When Nate saw the Chex package, he was like “You should make those scotcheroo bar things.” And I was like, “Remember, I’m allergic to peanuts, too?” UGH. Can I eat nothing??? But then I had a thought: cashew butter. And thus Casheweroos were born! And, while casheweroo is fun to say, it’s super hard to spell, so you can also just call these babies cashew rice Chex treats with sea salt, which is kind of a mouthful, too, actually. I’m apparently really good at naming things.

    Side view of a serving platter with Cashew Rice Chex Treats

    Cashew rice Chex treats are a lot like scotcheroos, except you use cashew butter instead of peanut butter and you sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt to make them extra tasty. Cashew butter is a bit more expensive than peanut butter, but it’s worth it. These treats taste awesome, similar to scotcheroos but without an overpowering peanut flavor, which some people don’t love. This recipe is perfect for people with peanut and/or wheat allergies, too!

    One serving of a cashew rice chex treat

    For the topping I used one bag of chocolate chips. If you want a thicker chocolate layer on top, feel free to double that amount or do a combo of one bag of semisweet chocolate chips with one bag of butterscotch chocolate chips (which will taste more like scotcheroos). No matter how you decide to do the topping on these cashew rice Chex treats, I promise it will taste delicious!

    Top view of cashew rice chex treats topped with coarse sea salt

    Also, if you are making these for Super Bowl Sunday, you can turn the treats into little footballs with a bit of white frosting. Just buy the frosting in a tube to keep it super simple and fast and draw lines on top of each treat like so. Thanks for the great idea, General Mills!

    Top view of Football Cashew Rice Chex Treats, decorated with white frostingSide view of super cute football cashew Rice Chex treatsSide landscape view of football cashew rice Chex treats

    Without further ado I give you Casheweroos!

    Casheweroos: Cashew Rice Chex Treats (Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free)
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    These casheweroos are inspired by scotcheroos, that classic treat recipe that uses peanut butter. With no wheat or peanuts to be seen, this recipe is great for people with those allergies.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 18
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup corn syrup (light or dark, doesn't matter)
    • 1 cup salted cashew butter
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (if your cashew butter is unsalted, use ½ teaspoon salt instead)
    • 8 cups Rice Chex
    • 1 12-ounce package good quality semisweet chocolate chips (like Ghirardelli or Guittard)*
    • Coarse sea salt
    Instructions
    1. Butter a 9" x 13" baking pan and set aside.
    2. Add Rice Chex to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
    3. Mix the sugar and corn syrup together in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until sugars are melted together. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
    4. Add the cashew butter and ¼ teaspoon salt to the pot and stir until well mixed.
    5. Pour sugar-cashew butter mixture over the cereal in the mixing bowl and stir until well and evenly coated.
    6. Pour cereal mixture into the baking pan and press firmly and evenly into the pan. Getting your hands wet with water helps with the process so the treats don't stick to your fingers as you press.
    7. Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook chocolate chips on high for 30 seconds at a time, stirring at each 30-second interval, cooking until chips are fully melted.
    8. Pour chocolate over the top of the Chex bars, spreading evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle coarse sea salt evenly over the top.
    9. Place in fridge until chocolate hardens, about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and store at room temperature, covered.
    10. It is much easier to cut the bars if you remove them from the pan and place on a cutting board. Using a knife, cut all around the edge of the pan then carefully lift the treats out of the pan onto the cutting board. Cut into 6 rows by 3 rows.
    Notes
    Optional: If you want a thicker chocolate topping, use two bags of chocolate chips. If you want the topping to taste more like the original scotcheroo treat that inspired this recipe, use one bag of chocolate chips and one bag of butterscotch chips.

     


  5. Saturday, December 29, 2018

    Kardemummabullar | Swedish Cardamom Buns

    “I want bulle.” 

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, viewed from the side on a plate

     

    Those words have come out of my 7-year-old’s mouth no less than 1,000 times over the last week. Bulle is our family’s word for Swedish cardamom bread, whether in bun or braided loaf form. Bulle technically means “bun” in Swedish, so the cardamom version is actually called kardemummabullar (bullar is sort of like the plural version of the word for bulle…my dad explained it to me and it was weird Swedish grammar stuff that I cannot re-explain, so we’ll just leave it at that). I’ve had the recipe for vetebröd (braided Swedish sweet bread, in our case flavored with cardamom) on my site for years. I even shared a bun version of that recipe, the way my grandmother always made it. When Nate and I went to Sweden with my family this summer we had kardemummabullar like we’ve never made it here at home. Obviously the first thing we did when we were all together post-trip was try to replicate that Swedish goodness. My sister-in-law Cora and I took a first crack, then she and my mom have since perfected the recipe and technique. Cora graciously wrote a post and recipe for us, which I am sharing below. These cardamom buns are magic.

    One beautiful Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom bun, on a plate

    Kardemummabullar

    By Cora Wallin

    You’re welcome.

    Sorry, wait. That’s supposed to come at the end, isn’t it? But seriously… you’re going to be so grateful to me. I accept flowers, love notes or life-sized Chris Hemsworth cardboard cutouts. Jane has my details.

    Let me start off by saying I am not Swedish.

    *gasp*

    I have the height and love of all things butter and cardamon but not the stoicism or obsession with rotten seafood. I leave those to my father-in-law, Hansy-Poo. (He’s really going to hate that I called him that. But he won’t show it because, well… stoicism, remember?)

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, just out of the oven and on the panWhen Christian (Jane’s brother) and I first started dating, I knew my husband’s family was Swedish but mostly only on the holidays. Christian told me fabled tales of Christmastime and, in particular, the Christmas Eve feast: breaded Swedish ham, savory meatballs, pickled herring and sugary bullar. Turns out he was mostly right about the deliciousness, just exclude the fish.

    His mother is basically Mrs. Claus. Her home becomes utterly transformed at Christmas. Her presents are decorated so beautifully she uses them for decorations on high shelves and in her windows. The candles, the non-creepy Santa collection, the music and the tree with 15 strands of lights make it all feel like Christmas might actually be hugging you. Then she starts to cook.

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, cooling on a rack(All photos in this post are by Jane, except this one from, which is from Cora and Christian)

    Lawd, the food. I eat, roll over for a nap, eat some more and only then do I leave the table. It’s goooood, people. After everyone’s rib cages are finally able to expand again, she gives one final gift. She makes bullar. And this is now my gift to you fine folk.

    We went to Sweden last summer and ate bullar at every stop, from gas station to coffee shop. I kid you not. Then Jane and I came home and started tweaking the old family recipe. We did a damn fine job, if I do say so myself. Of all the authentic sampled kardemummabullar, I can think of only one small shop in the-middle-of-nowhere-Sweden whose bullar outdoes what we made. So it may seem like a lot of steps but stay with me. It’s worth it.

    Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom buns, viewed from above on a platePlease do try to wait until they’ve cooled some before eating three (or more) right off the cookie sheet. Taste buds grow back but it does take time.

    Side view of Kardemummabullar, Swedish cardamom bread, platedPresenting…Phyllis, Jane, Cora and Some Old Swedish Broad’s Cardamom Buns!

    Swedish Cardamom Buns | Kardemummabullar
     
    Note: Fresh, home-ground cardamom is worth the effort. I’ll attach the link for where we got ours. https://www.thespicehouse.com/cardamom-whole-seeds
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • BREAD
    • 2½ cups scalded milk
    • 2 packages or 4½ teaspoons dry active yeast
    • 7½ - 8 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup butter, melted then cooled
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2½ teaspoons coarsely ground fresh cardamom (or 3 teaspoons store-bough ground cardamom)
    • EGG WASH
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • FILLING (There is debate about the amount of filling. Cora and Phyllis do the amounts listed below, Jane uses half amounts listed below. Cora says it's because Jane is more American but she crazy (luckily for Jane she got final editing rights to this))
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground fresh cardamom (here is where you really do want to use freshly-ground cardamom, it makes a difference!)
    • SIMPLE SYRUP
    • ¾ cup water
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • TOPPING
    • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground fresh cardamom (again, fresh is best!)
    • 1½ tablespoon coarse sugar
    Instructions
    1. Scald milk and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast to mixing bowl then soak with ½ cup of the luke-warm milk and gently stir. Let yeast dissolve and bloom, 5-10 minutes. Add remaining milk and ¼ cup sugar. Beat in 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until double in bulik 45 minutes - 1 hour. (We use a KitchenAid stand mixer to make this bread.)
    2. Add remaining ½ cup sugar, cooled butter and salt. Add cardamom as listed under the bread ingredients as well as 4½ more cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead in ½ cup more flour. Knead until elastic and smooth. (We use the dough hook in our stand mixer to do the kneading. Jane usually adds that final ½ cup flour at this point; Cora and Phyllis just let the mixer knead without adding the ½ cup flour.) Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until double, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Jane usually just leaves the dough right there in the mixer bowl and covers it, works just fine. One less bowl to wash.)
    3. Turn dough unto to lightly floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle. Spread evenly with filling and fold dough in half. Cut 1-1½ inch strips of dough with pizza cutter.
    4. FORMING THE KNOTTED BUNS: Now it's time to form the beautiful, awesome-looking buns. This part is tricky. There are lots of ways to do this. Jane does it differently than Phyllis and I remain as neutral as Sweden conforming to whatever method takes my fancy. There are links below this recipe so you can watch videos of people shaping the rolls. Definitely go watch those videos! You will essentially twist the strips and tie a knot. They’re supposed to be rustic, so don’t stress if they don’t all look the same. They will all still be beautiful.
    5. One strip at a time, gently hold one end of dough with one hand while the other twists the dough until it stops, making a spiral. Be careful not to break the dough. Now wrap dough around two fingers once or twice depending on the length of the strip and tuck ends into the center of dough. Phyllis tucks one end in the top and one end in the bottom. Jane holds the bottom end while wrapping around her fingers and uses the other end to go over the center of the top before tucking into the center of the bottom. See, confusing! Watch the videos they’ll help.
    6. Place rolls on un-greased, parchment-lined or Silpat-lined cookie sheets. Let rise until double, 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 400º F.
    7. While buns rise a final time, make simple syrup. In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and allow to cool.
    8. When buns are double in size, gently brush with the egg wash. Bake in oven 14–16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
    9. When buns are done the tops and bottoms should be a dark brown. The bottoms are your key to doneness, so be sure to lift one before you take them out and make sure it's dark brown. Immediately brush hot buns with simple syrup and sprinkle with sugar cardamom topping or pearl sugar.

     

    This is the way Jane forms the kardemummabullar knot:

    This is the way Phyllis forms the kardemummabullar knot:

     

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:


  6. Friday, November 16, 2018

    Rose’s Creamed Onions

    Today I was going through my favorite Thanksgiving recipes to share them on Facebook and discovered something – I have never published Rose’s creamed onions recipe here on my blog. This is not right and I must rectify the situation immediately.

    Great Grandma Rose's Creamed Onions on a plate

    When Nate and I met and married, his great-grandmother Rose was still alive. She was in her 90s and still lived in the beautiful Colonial home where she raised her children. It wasn’t until she was 99 years old that she finally moved into an assisted living facility, where she requested a cane simply because everyone else had one. She also always wore a dress, even in exercise classes. She passed away just one month shy of her 104th birthday and I am so grateful to have had the chance to know her.

    Cate with her great-great-grandma Rose, who always made creamed onions for the holidays

    Rose was able to meet her first two great-great-grandchildren, both of whom carry her name. My daughter, Cate Rose met Great-Great-Grandma Rose a few times — meetings that of course involved many laughs, hugs, and camera flashes.

    Until she moved into assisted living, Rose made creamed onions for every holiday. Her creamed onions could always be counted on for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. After she died, Nate’s grandmother and his mom both carried on the tradition. Rose’s creamed onions are beloved and elicit wonderful memories and feelings of love.

    Final Picture of Great-Grandma Rose's Creamed Onions Recipe from the food blog This Week for Dinner

    The first time I tried making Rose’s creamed onions was with Nate’s sister Jess at Thanksgiving. We inadvertently used pickled onions for the recipe and it was horrible, but also really funny. While the laughs were good, we were a wee bit disappointed at our failure. Thankfully I have since made creamed onions successfully with my girls, keeping the tradition alive.

    The more modern version of the recipe uses jarred onions, but Rose always used fresh pearl or boiler onions. The first time I made these after that initial failure, Cate and I could only find fresh onions at the store. Cate insisted that we stop looking and make the recipe the way Rose always did. She literally gripped the fresh onions to her chest, rejecting even the possibility of jarred onions. It was very sweet.

    My daughters making their great-great-grandma Rose's Creamed Onions recipesCate and Anna three years ago, making the creamed onions recipe together

    Whether you use fresh or jarred onions, the result is the same — delicious! The fresh onions take longer to cook, but if you cook them a long while, as Rose did, it works great. Either way you end up with layers of flat, soft onion petals that complement many different types of meals nicely. I will admit that my kids don’t love eating these onions nearly as much as they love making them, but I’m sure they will appreciate the taste as they get older. As my daughter Anna pointed out, even if you don’t like the onions that much, the cream around them is awesome! As for the adults in the family, we all love Rose’s onions. There are even several onion-averse members of the family who eagerly look forward to this dish each year. It’s just so good served alongside holiday food — as necessary for some family members as cranberry sauce.

    Top view of Great-Grandma Rose's Creamed Onion Recipe

    Rose's Creamed Onions
     
    Recipe for creamed onions from my husband's great-grandmother, Rose McCarthy. Perfect for all kinds of holiday meals.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 16-ounce jar onions (NOT pickled) or 1 pound pearl/boiler onions, fresh or frozen (about 20-25 total)
    • ¼ cup butter
    • ¼ cup flour
    • 2 cups half and half
    • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
    • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • Pinch nutmeg
    • ¼ teaspoon paprika
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
    2. If you are using fresh onions, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add onions and cook for 1½ minutes. Drain onions and add to an ice bath to stop cooking. Cut off the root end of the onions and then peel the outer layer off each onion. Set onions aside.
    3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add flour all at once. Whisking constantly, cook until butter has liquefied. The butter and flour will start out pasty, then boil for about 3-4 minutes, then it will foam a bit and become liquefied, about 5 minutes total. When it reaches this point, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 3 more minutes.
    4. Slowly add cold half and half, whisking constantly while adding.
    5. Raise the heat back up to medium and cook until the sauce thickens, between 5-10 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
    7. Add onions to the sauce, stir well, then pour into a 1½-quart baking dish. Sprinkle top with paprika.
    8. Jarred Onions: Bake uncovered for 10-30 minutes, until mixture is hot and bubbly. Cook longer if you want the top more browned.
    9. Fresh Onions: Bake uncovered for 60-90 minutes, until onions are very soft and top is very brown. If you want to cook the onions longer to make them even softer, cover with foil once the top is as brown as you want it.
    10. Frozen Onions: Boil frozen onions for 2 minutes then prepare as you would for the fresh onions.
    11. Creamed onions can be made a day ahead. Follow all directions until the baking step. Place unbaked creamed onions in the fridge, covered. The next day, remove baking dish from fridge, uncover, and let sit at room temperature while oven preheats. You will probably need to add 10-20 minutes of baking time.
    Notes
    Makes appx. 12 servings; Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 10-20 minutes when using jarred onions, 60-90 minutes when using fresh pearl/boiler onions

     


  7. Wednesday, July 11, 2018

    How to Cook Fresh Masa Tortillas

    Side view of homemade fresh masa corn tortillas

    Several years ago I had the chance to do a walking tour of the Mission District in San Francisco with Rick Bayless. It is one of the coolest things I’ve done and I learned a ton about Mexican cuisine. (Seriously, the Rick Bayless is like a college professor.) One of the topics he covered was tortillas. He took us to a tortilleria where they make their tortillas from fresh masa. These tortillas were like nothing I had every tasted before. Rick explained the difference between maseca and fresh masa and talked probably for 15-20 minutes just about tortillas. I’ve been meaning to act on what I learned since that day but only recently tracked down a fresh masa source in my neighborhood. Man, I wish I had done it sooner because these tortillas. And now that I have cooked them many times I am going to share the magic with you! Today you will learn how to cook fresh masa tortillas and as well as why they are so magical.

    A Wee Bit of Masa History

    I’ve done a lot of reading about masa, corn and tortillas over the last couple of months. The short story is that in ancient Mesoamerica, people processed corn using nixtamilization, where corn is soaked in an alkaline solution and then washed and hulled. This process makes corn a complete nutrient. Interestingly, when Europeans brought corn home they neglected to learn nixtamilization, which in turn made European diets less nutritious. Crazy, huh? Meanwhile in the Americas masa and corn tortillas were a nutritious staple in many people’s diets.

    Side view of a bowl of fresh corn masa

    Fast forward to the 1980s. Masa-based tortillas were still the norm in Mexico until a company called Maseca came along. Maseca created masa flour, basically a flour made from masa. It’s more efficient and shelf stable but does not taste nearly as good as fresh masa. In the beginning Maseca did not do well in Mexico because the taste just couldn’t compare, but in 1988 the new president of Mexico helped the company in significant ways and transformed the Mexican tortilla industry. Today it is more common for tortillas to be made from maseca, which is a crying shame. (Click here to read more about this culinary and economic transformation, it’s fascinating.)

    Top view of a bowl of fresh masaPhoto of homemade fresh masa corn tortillas

    Why Fresh Masa Is So Much Better for Tortillas

    Okay, so back to Rick Bayless. The tortilleria we visited in San Francisco used masa and you could tasted the difference. I have a hard time describing fresh masa tortillas I will try. The difference comes through both in texture and taste. Fresh masa tortillas are more like a flatbread. But as soon as I say that I regret it because they are still like tortillas, but the texture is just so much better. And the flavor is unreal. The kids and I can eat them straight up with a bit of butter (and honey!) and be happy. But of course the tortillas want to be tacos and so we make them tacos! Rick explained that one of the reasons he opened Frontera Grill in Chicago was because there were tortilla makers in that city using fresh masa and he needed a ready source of masa-based tortillas for his restaurant. The tortillas were that important to him when starting his restaurant.

    Homemade fresh masa tortilla with butter and honeyTop view of fresh masa tortillas, one with butter and honey

    How to Cook Fresh Masa Tortillas

    Rick converted me to fresh masa tortillas, but how in the world would I make them at home? You can make your own fresh masa from dried corn – the blog Mexican Please blog has a great recipe and tutorial. However this is a time-consuming process, one which I am not apt to go through on a regular basis. If you are lucky like me and live in range of many Mexican restaurants and tortillerias, chances are one of them makes and sells fresh masa. I searched the map then called places to find out if they sold fresh masa. My source here in North County San Diego is El Nopalito. They sell fresh masa for tortillas for about $1 a pound.

    Side view of tacos using homemade tortillas made from fresh masa

    If you want to make fresh masa tortillas, start digging around to see if you, too, can find a masa source. It is worth the effort to find masa! If you come up empty and feel like a fun food project, maybe give making masa from scratch a shot. But keep in mind I have never done that myself and can’t vouch for the results (although I’m sure it would be delicious)!

    top view of tacos using fresh masa tortillas

    Okay, so you have fresh masa in hand. Now what? In the recipe below I describe in detail the process for how to cook fresh masa tortillas. I’ve made them many times and finally have it down. I will write the instructions as detailed as I can but keep in mind there’s a bit of a learning curve and you just have to dive in and do it to get the hang of it. You’ll get the feel for how to form and cook the tortillas as you cook more of them. If you have questions, just drop them in the comments below! Happy tortilla cooking!

    Process for forming tortillas from fresh masaFresh masa corn tortillas cooking in the pan

    How to Cook Fresh Masa Tortillas
     
    Author:
    Serves: 12-16
    Ingredients
    • 1 pound fresh masa
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (if masa is unsalted)
    Instructions
    1. When working with the fresh masa, make sure it is kept covered or in a plastic bag the whole time so that it doesn't dry out while you are cooking.
    2. Form balls about 2 tablespoons in size, pressing the ball together well and rolling it between your hands to smooth the outside of the ball. I use my medium Pampered Chef scoop to measure out the balls. I also make the dough balls as I cook them, but if you want to form all the balls at once, just make sure you are storing them covered until they are ready to cook.
    3. Cut a quart-sized ziploc bag down the two side seams to form a long, rectangular piece of plastic. I use freezer bags because the thicker plastic holds up longer. I also wash the bag after each use and store it with my tortilla press.
    4. Place half of the plastic on the press, then place a masa dough ball in the center, then fold over the plastic to cover the dough. Gently but firmly press the ball into a tortilla shape. You want to get the tortilla as thin as you can but if you go too thin it will be hard to get off the plastic. It may take a few times to get the feel for it but don't fret, if you mess up just re-roll the ball and start over! If you do have a tortilla stick to the plastic, you may need to wipe the plastic down before trying again. My friend Mindy found it helpful to use a little spray oil on the plastic to prevent sticking, which could be helpful as you start working with the dough.
    5. If you don't have a tortilla press, you can use a glass casserole dish - just put the dough ball in the plastic then firmly press down on the dough. Glass is nice because you can see how thin the tortilla is getting as you press. Just be sure to press evenly down so the tortilla is the same thickness throughout.
    6. Preheat a large frying pan (I use non-stick, but a well-seasoned cast iron skillet should work, too) over medium-high heat. Let it preheat for a good five minutes before you start cooking the tortillas. On my stove medium-high works, but your stove may be a little different. You want the pan quite hot and you'll get a feel for it after you try it the first few times.
    7. Once the pan is hot, place your formed tortilla in the pan and let it cook for about 30 seconds then flip it over. If it is sticking to the pan that means it needs to cook a little longer. I like to do this first flip as early as possible so that the top uncooked side doesn't get too dried out before it finally gets a chance to start cooking on the griddle. After the first flip, let the tortilla cook for a minute or two, flip it back to the original side and cook for another minute or two. The tortilla will looked "cooked" when it's done - non-gummy, dry and potentially browned in spots. It's okay if the tortilla puffs up with air! I use a pancake flipper to flip the tortillas.
    8. Serve immediately. If you can't serve immediately, store in a tortilla warmer. As they sit they will get less crispy and a bit gummy, the best way to reheat is right on the pan. I generally make the tortillas as everyone is eating, but my family is also fine with tortillas that have been sitting in the tortilla warmer for a few minutes. I can cook 3 tortillas at a time on my 12-inch pan, so the cooking goes quickly.

     

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  8. Thursday, June 7, 2018

    Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls

    These kitchen sink orzo bowls are delicious and a new favorite go-to dinner option in our house, super flexible and you can use whatever ingredients you have lying about…you know, everything but the kitchen sink!

    Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls, a comforting, nutritious and delicious go-to dinner recipe

    Last week when I went to the farmer’s market I had no idea what I was going to be making for dinner that night (despite having a meal plan ready…yeah, sometimes I don’t follow it, I’m only human). I decided to see what vegetables I could find at the market and go from there. Then I came home, rummaged through the cabinets and fridge and discovered a package of whole wheat orzo. The result of all this searching and finding is today’s recipe, kitchen sink orzo bowls.

    Easy and tasty kitchen sink orzo bowl recipe

    This is a very flexible recipe. Pretty much the only ingredient you have to have is orzo! Olive oil, onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper are also pretty necessary, too, but beyond that you can throw all kinds of yummy veggies and even chicken or fish with success. As a result of all this flexibility, I don’t have any measurements for you on this recipe. I’ll describe the technique and the approximate amounts of ingredients I used and then I encourage you to take this recipe and make it your own. And your own version will probably even change depending on the season or what is in your fridge on a particular day.

    Recipe for Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls - use whatever you have in the kitchen to make this delicious go-to dinner

    The final result is a very homey, tasty dish, reminiscent of a classic casserole but much healthier. If you’re craving risotto but don’t feel like cooking risotto, this is a great alternative, providing a similar texture and flavor without the long cooking process. Enjoy!

    Kitchen Sink Orzo Bowls
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Whole wheat orzo pasta (Definitely go whole wheat here! It's more nutritious and tastes the same! My favorite brand is Delallo Organic.)
    • Olive oil, a few tablespoons
    • Onion, about ¼-1/2 of an onion chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
    • Cherry Tomatoes, halved, above one pint (you could also chop appx. 2 whole tomatoes)
    • Fresh vegetables, whatever you have lying around (I used 2 fresh summer squash)
    • Cooked chicken, chopped or shredded depending on your preference (About 1-2 chicken breasts' or a few thighs' worth of meat, I like the chicken to be grilled)
    • Dry white wine, ¼-1/2 cup or so (optional)
    • White balsamic vinegar, a few tablespoons (optional)
    • Pasta water, reserve 2-3 cups
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Spices and herbs if you like: parsley, oregano, basil are all good options (optional)
    Instructions
    1. Prepare orzo pasta as directed on the package. Drain, reserving 2-3 cups of the pasta water, and then set aside both the water and the orzo. I used about ¾ of a package of Delallo Whole Wheat Orzo to feed our family of 5 with some leftovers.
    2. In a deep, 12-inch skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook a few minutes until translucent.
    3. Add fresh garlic and cook, stirring, about 30-60 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium low and let mixture cook for 5-10 minutes to really get the tomatoes to cook down.
    4. If using wine, add it now and cook about 5 minutes. Add vegetables and cook a few minutes until the veggies are al dente. (If you are using vegetables like carrots that take longer to cook, steam them ahead of time and just heat through at this point in the recipe.) If you aren't using wine and need a little more fluid in the pan, just add another swig or two of olive oil.
    5. Add the orzo to the pan. Add the white balsamic vinegar and then start adding pasta water about ½ cup at a time until you get a nice, creamy consistency. Salt and pepper to taste, adding herbs and spices if you choose. I simply used salt and pepper and it tasted great!

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  9. Friday, May 18, 2018

    Friday Show and Tell: Joy’s Red Beans and Rice + the Chompers Podcast

    Happy Friday! I have two quick things to share today. These two things are awesome. Ready?

    Joy the Baker's Red Beans and Rice Recipe

    Joy’s New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice

    When I went to New Orleans about 347 years ago I bought a bag of Camellia Red Kidney Beans, a New Orleans classic. And then I came home and put the beans in the pantry. And then I didn’t do anything with them in forever and the beans were sad. But now they’re happy because they finally made it into a pot. One of my blogging friends Joy the Baker moved to New Orleans a few years ago and has a recipe for Red Beans and Rice on her site. I trust Joy, so I decided to give her recipe a try.

    Oh goodness I really loved this dinner. Joy’s Red Beans & Rice are delicious. And I didn’t change the recipe at all, which means I’m just gonna go ahead and send you on over to her site! (Okay, I did double the amount of pancetta and sausage, a decision I firmly stand by. We also served it over brown rice, which worked great.)

    Also, people from New Orleans say you have to use Camellia’s Red Kidney Beans. And you can buy them online so there really is no reason not to.

    Also, I bought a canister of Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning for this recipe and have since used it three times on other foodstuffs, too. So, that is also a worthy investment.

    Chompers, the kids' tooth brushing podcast that rocks

    Chompers Podcast

    If you have any kids in your life that you have any kind of influence over then you need to keep reading. CHOMPERS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. What is Chompers, you ask? It is a twice-daily podcast show for kids that teaches them how to brush their teeth and gets them to brush for a full 2 minutes. They tell jokes, share facts, do quizzes…the list goes on. It’s the best. Owen, our 6 year old, especially loves it and has listened to the Chompers podcast twice a day every day since we discovered it. And he totally brushes the whole 2 minutes every time.

    Seriously, go subscribe STAT. (I hear even some adults listen to the podcast to make sure they get their full 2 minutes of brushing in, too!) Click here to visit the Chompers website or simply subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


  10. Thursday, May 10, 2018

    Pressure Cooker Pot Roast

    So. I’ve been making pot roast in a slow cooker for ages. The recipe is simple, reliable and delicious. I didn’t think anything could ever replace that recipe. And then, this week, I tried making pot roast in my Instant Pot, using the pressure cooker settings. Whoah, boy, pressure cooker pot roast just replaced slow cooker pot roast. Quite frankly I’m stunned by this upset. But I’m happy about it just the same.

    How to make pot roast in a pressure cooker

    I bought an Instant Pot I think three years ago and, until last month, had used it only once. I tried cooking basic chicken using the pressure cooker function and it worked, well, fine. It didn’t blow me out of the water, and so the Instant Pot got pushed to the back of the cabinet. And then my friend Christine mentioned a few weeks ago how she loves making brown rice in the pressure cooker. So I dug it out and started experimenting.

    Recipe for pressure cooker pot roast

    As of today I am so-so on brown rice (I just haven’t perfected that process yet) and in love with making beans in the pressure cooker (I’ll share that recipe another day, it took some tweaking but I finally have it where I like it). And then I decided to try pot roast. HUGE SUCCESS. It tasted the same as my slow cooker pot roast and, top to bottom, took about 2 hours instead of the usual 8-9 hours.

    I will say this – I can totally see instances where cooking the pot roast for 8 hours will be more convenient based on my schedule for a particular day. But what is so glorious is now I have two options, 2 hours or 8 hours, with equally delicious results. Hooray for pressure cooker pot roast!

    Pressure cooker pot roast, my new favorite way to make pot roast!

    I took my inspiration for this pot roast from my friend Barbara from Pressure Cooking Today. She is my pressure cooker guru. You need to bookmark her site pronto if you have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. You’re welcome. (Click here for Barbara’s pot roast recipe, which has a few more ingredients than my version below.)

    Pressure Cooker Pot Roast
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Simple, easy and delicious! Instructions below are based on using an Instant Pot.
    Author:
    Serves: 6-8
    Ingredients
    • 1 chuck, chuck-eye, or round roast (around 4 pounds)
    • 1-2 tablespoons canola, vegetable or olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    • ½ of an onion, chopped
    • 2 cups beef broth or stock
    Instructions
    1. Sprinkle roast evenly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    2. Select the "Browning" setting on the Instant Pot. Add oil to Instant Pot and let heat up. Once hot, brown the roast on both sides, a few minutes per side until you start to get beautiful browned spots. Set roast aside.
    3. Add onions to the Instant Pot and cook until softened and translucent. Stir regularly.
    4. Add broth to Instant Pot, scraping the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Let onions simmer in the broth about 3 minutes or so.
    5. Add roast and change Instant Pot setting to High pressure. Make sure the pressure release handle is on "Sealing." Set the timer for 90 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to build pressure and for the 90-minute countdown to begin.
    6. When the 90 minutes is over, turn off the pressure cooker and let it sit for 15 minutes, letting pressure release naturally. At the 15-minute mark, using a hot pad and being careful not to touch the steam, turn the pressure release handle to "Venting" to release the rest of the pressure. Once it stops steaming, remove the lid.
    7. Let roast rest for 10-15 minutes. Use juices for gravy, straining the juice first to remove the "stuff" left behind in the juices. Make gravy using white roux (click here for recipe and instructions). You can also use a slurry made from ½ cup flour whisked with 1 cup cold water to thicken the gravy if you forgot to make the roux.

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