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Fall Fritters

Remember when I first looked through Cook It In Cast Iron? Lots of recipes caught my attention, and it’s been an almost-permanent fixture on my kitchen counter ever since I got my own copy. (Seriously. The chocolate chip cookie is my easy dessert go-to.) 

I showed Andy the apple fritter recipe, and he was on board immediately. Apple fritters are his doughnut kryptonite. I’d never made fried doughnuts of any kind, so I was eager to try them as well. Of course, this was back in April (of 2016! I’m a terrible blogger), and since the recipe calls for apple cider, I put it on the “things to make in the fall” list. I told Bethany about my plans, and we decided that it would be the perfect Saturday morning activity.

So, while our Andys were out volunteering one morning, we made it happen.

Since I knew we’d have eager helpers, I prepped as much as I could before Bethany, Judah and Sadie arrived. I used Empires from our over-zealous apple picking, which worked well. I had everything measured out and ready to go when they arrived, so the kids could easily help add things to the bowl and mix the batter.

I’d never fried anything before this, and I was pleased to discover that it’s not nearly as intimidating as I thought it’d be. I think the biggest trick is to have everything ready to go before you start frying so you’re not scrambling to find a cookie sheet for the finished fritters when they’re ready. Having an accurate thermometer for the oil really helps too. We used Bethany’s for this project, and it made a believer out of me. (So much so that I took advantage of Thermoworks Black Friday deals last fall and purchased a ThermoPop for myself.) Once the kid-friendly activities were done, Judah lost interest in the process (until we were ready to ice the fritters), but Sadie pulled a chair up to the counter and watched us fry every fritter!

The guys came home just in time to help us eat the fritters (which I served with bacon because a Saturday breakfast without bacon is not one I want to attend), and everyone loved them. The cider in the fritters added a lot of flavor, and there were apple pieces in almost every bite. They’re not going to be an every-weekend thing, but I think we’ll make it a point to enjoy them at least once each fall.

applefritters

Apple Fritters

2 apples (6 1/2 ounces each), Granny Smith, Cortland or Empire, peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/4″ pieces
10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/3 ounces (1/3 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, divided
1 cup apple cider, divided
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 ounces (2 cups) powdered sugar
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Preheat the oven to 200° and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and lay the apples in a single layer on the sheet. Pat the apples with a paper towel until they are nice and dry.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, one teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg together. In a separate, bowl, combine the melted butter, 3/4 cup of cider and the eggs. Whisk them until smooth.

Add the dried apple pieces to the flour mixture and toss to combine. Stir the cider mixture into the flour mixture, and mix until the wet ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels. Set aside. Pour the oil into a 12″ cast iron skillet (you want the oil to be 1/2″ deep) and heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 325°.

When the oil is hot, grease a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup and use it to scoop five heaping mounds of batter into the oil. Use the back of a spoon to flatten the batter in the oil. Fry the fritters until they are a deep golden brown, about six to eight minutes. Flip the fritters halfway through the frying process. Be sure to maintain the oil temperature, adjusting the burner’s heat if necessary.

Transfer the finished fritters to the wire rack on the prepared sheet and move them to the oven to keep them warm while you finish the rest of the fritters. (Before adding the next batch of batter to the pan, make sure the oil is still 325°. If the oil has cooled, wait until it comes back to temperature before adding the batter.) Repeat the process with the rest of the fritters, placing them in the warm oven when they are done.

Next, prepare the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and the remaining 1/4 cup of cider together in a large measuring cup. (You could use a bowl, but a measuring cup with a pour spout will make it easier to drizzle the icing over the fritters.) Drizzle a generous tablespoon of icing over each fritter. Allow the icing to set for 10 minutes before serving, which should give you enough time to scramble some eggs or fry some bacon to serve alongside your fritters.

From Cook it in Cast Iron

Click here for a printable version.

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I’m Back… with Burritos!

Editor’s Note: This might be the longest drought in my blog-writing history. Between vacation and giant projects at work, I barely know what happened to August, September and most of October. Which meant, of course, that things here took a backseat to everything else in life, unfortunately. I did keep taking pictures, so hopefully I’ll get through them and share things with the world sooner rather than later. Until then… enjoy some burritos! 

I had the privilege of borrowing The Best Mexican Recipes for a few weeks earlier this summer, and it was fun. I didn’t love everything I tried, but there were definitely some home runs (and I had to return it to the library before I tried everything that I wanted).

This is one of those hits. We liked it so much that I made it twice in three weeks, which is saying something, especially when I had the book for a limited time. (We really liked the Swiss chard and pinto bean burritos from the book as well, in case you’re looking for a meatless Monday burrito option.)  

I was a little worried that these would be too spicy for Andy, since they use chipotle chili powder instead of regular chili powder, but, Andy, in true Goldilocks fashion, declared that they were just right. He thinks they’d be better without the sour cream, but I completely disagree.

This recipe also introduced me to my new, go-to Mexican rice. Unless it’s a risotto, I struggle with rice. It always seems kind of blah to me. America’s Test Kitchen called for chicken broth in the rice, instead of water, and that makes a world of difference! It was good enough where I caught myself snacking on the rice while I finished making the rest of the burrito components, and that never happens in my kitchen.

I did discover that these are MUCH easier to roll / fill when you buy 10″ tortillas. The first time I made these, I just grabbed the next size up of the tortillas that I normally buy. They had a large “10” on the package, so I figured they were what I was looking for. (This is what you get when you shop in a hurry after work.) Turns out the “10” was the quantity, not the size. Whoops.

Beef&BeanBurrito

Burritos aren’t the easiest thing to photograph, especially when you just want to eat them. Trust me, they taste so much better than they look.

Beef and Bean Burritos

1 3/4 cups chicken broth, divided
3/4 cup long grain white rice, rinsed
6 garlic cloves, minced, divided
salt
1/4 cup minced cilantro, plus extra for garnish if desired
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
12 ounces 90% lean ground beef
1 15-ounce can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
6 10″ flour tortillas
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 1/2 cups), divided
6 tablespoons sour cream

First, make the rice. Combine 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth, rice, three minced garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small-medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until all of the broth has absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, for about 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and adding the chopped cilantro. Set rice aside, keeping it covered to stay warm.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of the filling. Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. (ATK recommends a non-stick skillet; I used my 12″ Lodge.) Add the onion to the pan and cook until it softens, about five minutes. Stir the tomato paste, the rest of the garlic, cumin, oregano and chili powder. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon, and cook until no longer pink, about 10 minutes.

Place half of the pinto beans in a small bowl with the remaining broth. Use a potato masher to coarsely mash them into a chunky paste. Stir the mashed beans into the skillet with the cooked beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid evaporates from the skillet. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining beans, lime juice and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Place oven rack 6″ below the broiler and heat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Microwave tortillas until warm and pliable, about 30 seconds to one minute. Lay tortillas out on the counter. Divide rice evenly among the six tortillas, placing it toward the bottom edge of the tortillas. Divide the beef and bean mixture evenly among the tortillas, then divide 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese between the six tortillas, topping each one with about 1/4 cup of cheese. Put a tablespoon of sour cream on the top of the filling in each tortilla.

Next, roll up each tortilla. Fold the sides over the filling, and then fold the bottom up over the filling. Pull the edge tight, then tightly roll the tortilla into a burrito. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Place the burritos seam side down on the prepared cookie sheet and top with the remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden brown, about three to five minutes. Serve warm.

From The Best Mexican Recipes

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Beef, Main Dishes

 

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What We’re Eating: 7/10 – 7/14

I have really fallen off the meal planning wagon (AGAIN), and the holiday travel certainly didn’t help matters. However, we’re home for a few weeks, and our fridge and garden are full of produce, so I’m trying to get back on track.

Monday 7/10 – Pizza night with friends! Our friends from Florida are in town visiting, so several of us are getting together for dinner. We’re having pizza, and I will most likely bring a salad too.
Tuesday 7/11 – Drunken beans, with rice and mango salsa. I’ve had my eye on this recipe ever since I checked the Best Mexican Recipes cookbook out of the library, and I finally remembered to pick up poblano peppers. I’m pretty pumped about this.
Wednesday 7/12 – Salmon, bread and a TBD CSA vegetable (or salad)
Thursday 7/13 – The “Best Chicken Parmesan,” according to Cook’s Illustrated and a CSA vegetable of some kind
Friday 7/14 – Pasta with vegetables (current front runners are these two recipes, but I reserve the right to change my mind). We have a busy day on Saturday, so I’d like an easy dinner the night before!

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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CSA 2017: Week 2 & Week 3

Happy July! I hope everyone had a great Independence Day. We had a four-day weekend, so we spent part of it camping and then spent Tuesday doing stuff around home. We did responsible things (like laundry and taking care of the weed problem in the cracks in the driveway) and fun things (like a bike ride for ice cream and dinner with some of our favorite people). All in all, it was a great long weekend, and Andy and I are both counting down the days left until our next vacation. (Only two work weeks left! Wooo!!!) 

CSA2017_Wk2

Week two was had some great things.

  • 12 ounces of sugar snap peas
  • 1 jar of dilly sugar snap peas from Hippie Wayne
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard
  • Garlic scapes
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1 head of green leaf lettuce
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 bunch of “mini broccoli”

And since July is getting away from me faster than I’d like to admit, I’m going to go ahead and share week three’s goodness with you as well.

CSA2017_Wk3

Week three had a little less than the first two weeks, and I’m sure we can thank the weird weather for that. We received:

  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 bag of popcorn
  • Garlic scapes
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1 head of leaf lettuce
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 bag of shelling peas
  • 1 bunch of kale

I’m sure you’re wondering what two people did with all of those vegetables, right? The sugar snap peas and some of the lettuce went on a road trip to Otsego Lake State Park last weekend. The dilly sugar snap peas went to a picnic on the 4th of July, and the rest of the lettuce is destined for many, many salads. Salads are becoming my default dish for all potlucks this summer.

Half of the Swiss chard, a handful of garlic scapes, the broccoli, the summer squash and the kale from week 1 wound up in this pasta bake on Thursday evening.

We still haven’t learned to love kohlrabi, but we are big fans of dill pickles, so I’m probably going to try this method. I’ll let you know what we think!

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the shelling peas yet. I love fresh peas, so I want to find a recipe that’s worthy of their early-season goodness. I’m pretty sure that I used them in this pasta dish last year. I really liked it, but Andy thought it was so-so (probably because he’s not the biggest fan of dollops of ricotta).  I could go with this one instead.

Our garden is thriving, especially the lettuce and the Swiss chard. We’ll keep eating salads, and I’m going to start sauteing the chard with some bacon grease and garlic scapes. I also need to make another batch of garlic scape pesto before the season is over!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I hope it’s as nice there as it is here!

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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CSA 2017: Week 1

Finally! Summer produce is here again! Last Tuesday (the 20th) was our first pick up for our CSA from Olden Organics. It was one of the highlights of my day, for sure. (Especially since we had to say goodbye to the tree in our yard last week. I was overly emotional about the whole thing, so it was nice to have some fresh veggies to cheer me up.) 

I wasn’t sure what to expect from our first week, since the weather has been all over the place this spring. (It was dry, then crazy hot, then really rainy – complete with hail – and now it’s much cooler than normal for late June, and it’s still raining almost every day.) Welcome to Wisconsin, where you can have all the seasons in one day.

CSA2017_Wk1

In spite of the crazy weather, things are off to a good start, at least in my opinion. We received:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 head of green romaine lettuce
  • 1 head of red romaine lettuce
  • 1 quart of strawberries
  • 1 bunch of garlic scapes
  • 1 bunch of kale tops
  • 1 celeriac
  • 1 pound of asparagus
  • 1 Thai basil plant

We didn’t have a lot of dinner leftovers last week, so both heads of lettuce wound up in our lunches. The lettuce in our garden is going strong too, so we will probably continue to take salads for lunch for the foreseeable future. It’s an easy way to get our greens in.

I made one batch of garlic scape pesto over the weekend, and I still have enough scapes in the fridge to make another batch. I used some of the pesto and half of the kale in a pasta dish for dinner Saturday night.

I’d like to tell you that I did something new and creative with the asparagus, but it’s so good roasted with some garlic that I couldn’t bring myself to make it any other way.

Some of the strawberries made their way into a pie, and some of them wound up on this pizza.

The basil is living happily in our garden (right next to the cucumber plants). I can’t wait to use it!

I’m on the fence about the zucchini. We love fritters, so it seems like that would be the perfect way to use the first zucchini of the season. However, I still have the Best Mexican Recipes cookbook, and there’s a soup recipe in there that calls for a zucchini. And with our unseasonably chilly weather, soup sounds pretty good right now!

I also don’t know what to do with the celeriac. Last fall, Smitten Kitchen came to my rescue with a gratin that uses both celeriac AND fennel, and, much to my surprise, we ended up loving it. The question is, do I love it enough to go buy fennel and sweet potatoes so I can make it? Good thing celeriac keeps well in the fridge so I can ponder that a little more.

I can’t wait to see what week 2 has in store for us!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Stepping Out of My Element

I’m pretty selective when it comes to recipe sources. I have my top tier sources (primarily Smitten Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen / Cook’s Illustrated / Cook’s Country), and my line of solid back-ups (headlined by Elly Says Opa!, The Brewer and the Baker, Annie’s Eats and Farm Fresh Feasts), but, aside from a few other blogs and magazines, I generally don’t stray too far.

After all, a pretty Pinterest picture doesn’t mean the recipe will actually be successful. (Yes, I’m the only woman in the western hemisphere who hasn’t fallen down the Pinterest recipe rabbit hole, and I’m OK with that.) And even though I love spending time in the kitchen, I don’t want to waste my time there. If I’m cooking something, I want it to be worth the time and ingredients.

That’s why this recipe surprised me. Someone (my Grandma, maybe?) shared a link to it on Facebook, and since I was knee-deep in rhubarb at the time, I thought it was worth investigating.

These make a very soft, cakey cookie. They’re best in the first day or so, as the moisture causes the cookies to stick together in the container. The flavor is great, and they mixed up in no time – chopping the rhubarb took the most time! I found a science experiment growing in the sour cream tub when I opened it, so I subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream with no ill effects.

I realized afterwards, though, that my cookie scoop is about twice the size of the scoop called for in the recipe. Which explains why I got about two dozen cookies when the recipe yield said 40. I liked the size of the cookies from my 2-tablespoon scoop, so I’ll probably keep making them that way. No one ever complained about a bigger cookie, right?

I’m not sure if the recipe would work with frozen rhubarb, unless it was really, really well-drained. So, I might just save these for spring baking. It never hurts to have another seasonal dessert. And maybe I’ll try recipes from new places more often!

RhubarbCookies

Rhubarb Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups finely diced rhubarb

Preheat the oven to 350°  and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the first four dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set them aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well-combined. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until well-combined.

Add about one-half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Stir in the rhubarb and mix until the rhubarb is evenly distributed throughout the batter and no pockets of flour remain.

Use a cookie scoop to drop tablespoon-ish sized scoops of the batter on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2″ apart.

Bake until the cookies start to brown along the edges and just a little on the top, about 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on pan for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

From the Today Show

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2017 in Cookies, Dessert

 

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S’mores Without The Campfire

Last month, we were supposed to kick off the summer with a camping trip with some friends. The weather, however, had other plans, and a weekend of cool, rainy weather put the kibosh on things. So much for lounging in the hammock and making pizzas and s’mores over the fire.

The canceled trip meant that all of our s’more supplies went back into the pantry, destined to wait for a sunny weekend. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about s’mores. Toasty, caramelized marshmallow. Sweet, melty chocolate. Crunchy graham crackers. I needed s’mores in my life! (Yes, I suppose we could have had a bonfire in the backyard. But that seemed too easy. Plus, it was raining, remember?) 

And that’s when it hit me: S’more ice cream sandwiches. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier? Graham crackers would be the perfect vehicle to get toasted marshmallow ice cream to my mouth. But what about the chocolate? In a s’more, the chocolate melts through the marshmallow, and ideally, every bite contains some of each ingredient. That ruled out chocolate chips (no way to guarantee that you’ll get some in each bite) and Hershey bars (too crunchy). Milk chocolate ganache would be the perfect option. I could swirl it through the ice cream after churning it, so each bite would have the perfect amount of chocolate and marshmallow. Brilliant!

I turned to the internet for a marshmallow ice cream recipe, and after reading through a few, decided to use this one from Completely Delicious. I liked the fact that it was a custard-based ice cream, so it would hold up well between the graham crackers and not melt instantly. I used a 9″ x 13″ pan for the ice cream, which gave me 15 fairly thick sandwiches, so I think you could use a jelly roll pan if you wanted thinner sandwiches or a greater yield.

I ended up with a lot of extra ganache, so I’m halving the amount in the directions below. You could double it if you want lots of chocolate sauce (or if you want to eat extra ganache on extra graham crackers).

The ice cream is really rich. So rich, in fact, that I was a little concerned that the sandwiches would be over the top. And then I was afraid that I’d added too much ganache and overpowered the marshmallow flavor.

Thankfully, everything mellowed in the freezer, and the final result was just right. The sandwiches taste just like a s’more, and you don’t have to worry about campfire smoke getting in your eyes while you eat them. I guess I should be glad that we canceled that camping trip after all. 😉

SmoresIceCreamSandwich

S’mores Ice Cream Sandwiches

For the ice cream:
5 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk (I used half and half, since that’s what’s in my fridge.) 
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 ounces of marshmallows (I used a combination of large and mini marshmallows. The original recipe says 9 jumbo “campfire” marshmallows.) 

For the ganache:
3 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 ounces heavy whipping cream

For assembly: 
Graham crackers, broken into squares (I used 15 large crackers.) 

To make the ice cream, combine the sugar, salt and whole milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the milk mixture begins to steam and is heated through, but do not boil it.

While the milk is heating, beat the egg yolks together in a glass measuring cup. Gradually pour the heated milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. When you’ve added about half to two-thirds of the warm milk to the egg yolks, pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking constantly.

Cook the mixture over medium heat until it thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon, stirring often. Pour the cooked custard through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Stir in the cream and vanilla.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Place the marshmallows on the prepared sheet. Put the sheet under the broiler and broil for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn. When the marshmallows are brown on top, remove the pan from the oven and stir the marshmallows around so the untoasted insides are exposed. Put the pan back under the broiler until the tops of the marshmallows are browned. Remove from the oven, stir one more time and place them under the broiler again.

When the top of the marshmallows are toasted, scrape them into the bowl with the ice cream mixture. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until it is smooth, and then chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is completely cold.

Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the ice cream is churning, prepare the ganache. Place the chocolate chips in a small, heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let it sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. (Ganache will thicken as it cools.) 

When the ice cream has finished churning, line a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper.  Spread the about half of the churned ice cream in the pan, and then drizzle the ganache on the ice cream. Spread the rest of the ice cream over the ganache and use a butter knife to swirl the ganache through the ice cream. Place the pan in the freezer and freeze until solid, at least two hours.

When the ice cream has frozen completely, remove the pan from the freezer. Using your graham crackers as a template, cut the ice cream into squares that are slightly smaller than the crackers. Use a metal spatula to scoop the ice cream squares out of the pan and sandwich each square between two graham crackers. Place the sandwiches in the freezer and freeze until firm.

Ice cream from Completely Delicious; Ganache proportions from I am Baker

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Ice Cream

 

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