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Another Sourdough Win!

I’m now two months into this sourdough adventure, and life with Fester is going fairly smoothly. I haven’t forgotten to feed him (yet), although I do have him down to just one meal every week. Three cheers for low-maintenance “pets.” (And this why we don’t have a dog. Or houseplants.) 

So far, I haven’t had to actually “discard” any of the starter when it’s time to feed Fester. Most of it has wound up in cinnamon raisin bread and pizza dough. Last weekend, however, I didn’t have time to make anything with the discard. I couldn’t bring myself to toss out the half cup or so of starter though, so I put it in a container and stuffed it back in the refrigerator. I figured I’d find something to do with it after the weekend, even if that meant eating pizza again. (Not that anyone here complains about pizza.) 

I remembered that Karen had sent me a link for sourdough biscuits with cheese and chives in them, so I went looking for that recipe. While I didn’t find her original link, I stumbled on a recipe for caramelized onion sourdough biscuits from King Arthur Flour. I didn’t have chives on hand, but I figured a scallion would be an acceptable substitute.

The biscuits were pretty easy to put together. I started caramelizing the onions as soon as I got home from work, and while those were hanging out on the stove, I chopped the scallion and mixed up the rest of the ingredients. The recipe said to let the caramelized onions chill for three hours, but that meant we’d be eating biscuits at 9 p.m. So, I did what any short-on-time cook would do: I put them in the freezer for 15 minutes instead.

When I added the starter to the dry ingredients, it didn’t seem to have enough moisture to hold the dough together. So, I added a splash (probably less than a tablespoon) of half-and-half to the dough to bring everything together. If my sourdough starter was thinner, I probably wouldn’t have needed it, but my starter seems to be on the thicker side.

These smelled incredible while they were baking, and they were easily our favorite part of dinner. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have more uses for discarded starter than for “fed” starter!

SourdoughOnionBiscuits

Caramelized Onion Sourdough Biscuits

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 1/4 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1 scallion, finely chopped
9 ounces (1 cup) unfed sourdough starter
half-and-half, optional

Heat a large skillet (I love my cast iron for this!) over medium-low heat. Place the onion, brown sugar and one tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and caramelized, which should take about 30 minutes. Remove the onions from the skillet and place them in a small bowl. Allow the bowl to cool in the refrigerator or freezer until the onions are thoroughly chilled. (This took about 15 minutes in my freezer.) 

Preheat the oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.

While the onions are cooking / chilling, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly. Stir the chopped scallions into the mixture, and then add the chilled onions.

Stir the sourdough starter into the bowl and use a rubber spatula to gently work the starter into the flour-butter-onion mixture. (If the mixture is too dry after the starter is fully incorporated, add a tiny splash of half-and-half to help things come together.) Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and gently pat into a 1″ thick disc.

Use a 2-1/2″ or 3″ biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Pat any leftover scraps together to cut out additional biscuits. Place the rounds about 2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Yield: I got nine 3″ biscuits out of the recipe; King Arthur Flour says eight. No one’s complaining about an extra biscuit here.

Note: I haven’t tried this, but I think these would freeze well before baking. I’d make the dough and cut out the biscuits, and then put them in the freezer on baking sheet lined with waxed paper. When they’re frozen solid, transfer them to a Ziploc bag. Then you should be able to just bake them straight from the freezer whenever you need biscuits.  

From King Arthur Flour

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Breads, Muffins & Rolls

 

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Balancing Out the Cookies

Raise your hand if your calendar is often crammed with activities. I don’t know about you, but our social calendar seems to revolve around food. In December, for example, I had three separate events centered around cookies. From cookie exchanges to cookie Fridays at the office, I was slightly overloaded on the sugar. Earlier this month, we hosted the dessert portion of a progressive dinner, and then, I decided to bake some cupcakes for our small group just because it had been a while since I’d made some.

I firmly believe that life (as far as food goes, anyway) is all about balance, so when our social life became all about dessert, I started looking for something to offset all the sweetness.

I wanted something that would be easy to put together. Bonus points if I can make it with whatever was in my pantry / fridge. I remembered Annie’s white bean dip, and I thought it’d be perfect for the occasion. Plus, it’s healthy, and it takes all of 5 minutes to make. Cutting the veggies for serving takes longer than making the dip!

And, even better, it’s a dip that Andy truly enjoyed, which is saying something.

garlicwhitebeandip

Garlic Rosemary White Bean Dip

2 15 oz. cans of great northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Place the garlic and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely minced. Add the beans, salt and water to the bowl and process until the mixture is coarsely pureed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the food processor running, pour the olive oil into the bean mixture and process until it is fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then process another 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Taste the dip and season with pepper and salt if needed.

Serve with sliced vegetables and crackers. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

From Annie’s Eats, originally from A Couple Cooks

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Appetizer

 

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Upgraded Hamburger Helper

I did not grow up eating Hamburger Helper, or Tuna Helper, or any of those “add a pound of meat and enjoy” type meals. It just wasn’t something my mom bought. My dad did make his own version though, adding ground beef, onions and peas to mac and cheese. While I haven’t had that in a really long time, it was always a hit in our house growing up, and it’s easy to see why: cheese, pasta and meat, all in one pan.

Now that I’m responsible for making dinner every night, I can totally appreciate the convenience of a one-pot meal. Especially one that’s full of pasta and cheese. If I’m really on the ball with things, I can have all of the prep dishes (which are just a couple measuring cups / spoons, a cutting board, cheese grater and a knife) washed before dinner’s ready.

When I first saw this recipe, I thought it had a lot of potential. I mean, we love pasta, beef, cheese and Tex-Mex flavors. The sour cream and cream cheese worried Andy at first, but he was hooked after one bite, and now it’s one of our favorite comfort food dinners. Sometimes I take a page from my dad’s playbook and throw in frozen peas for a true, one-dish dinner. It’s also great with a side salad if peas in your Tex-Mex sounds weird to you. 😉

creamytacomac
Creamy Taco Mac

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green (or red or yellow) pepper, diced
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
4 tablespoons taco seasoning (I always make my own.)
8 ounces small / short pasta
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro

Brown the ground beef in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the meat is close to being browned, add the onion and chopped pepper. Cook until the onion had turned translucent. Drain any extra fat off of the pan, if necessary.

Add the diced tomatoes, taco seasoning and beef broth to the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then stir in the pasta. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender (about 7-10 minutes).

Add the cream cheese to the pot and stir until it has melted into the broth. Add the peas, if using. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream. Stir until the sour cream is well-incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with cheese and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Barely adapted from Elly Says Opa, who adapted it from Delish

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Beef, Main Dishes

 

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Mid-Week Winner

A few weeks ago, I was looking for some inspiration. I was in the mood for fall food, and I needed some fast, easy meals. I pulled several issues of Everyday Food off the shelf and started leafing through the pages. Nothing seemed to catch my attention until I hit page 44 of the September 2012 issue. (And this is why I hang on to my cooking magazines. If I’d recycled that one, we’d have missed dinner!) At a glance, it looked like something that I could make without going to the grocery store. The recipe also promised one-dish ease, something I am always down with. 🙂

I swapped the sweet potatoes for carrots, since that’s what we had from our CSA. One orange vegetable is as good as another, right? I decided that no roast is complete without onions, and some fresh thyme seemed like the perfect complement to the fall flavors. And while the recipe called for a roasting pan, I saw no reason not to use my favorite skillet.

I was amazed at how incredibly easy this was to throw together. I made it the evening before we left for our most recent adventure (a backpacking trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore), and I had enough time to make dinner, make cookies for the trip AND pack my backpack. Win-win.

ci-pork-roast

Cast Iron Pork Roast with Apples, Onions and Carrots

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 2-1/2 lb. pork roast
3 Gala apples, quartered and cored
3 medium-large carrots, cut into 2-3″ chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475°. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with two teaspoons of olive oil. Place the pork roast in the center of the pan, fat side up, and generously season it with salt and pepper.

Roast until the top of the pork is golden, about 15-20 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, toss the apples, carrots and onion together in a large bowl with the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the pork from the oven and place the vegetables in the pan around the pork. Sprinkle the thyme on top of the vegetables and pork. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and the pork registers 140°, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Let the pork rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board, and scoop the vegetables into a bowl. Place the pan on a burner over medium heat. Whisk 1 tablespoon of flour into the drippings and cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk the chicken stock into the roux and cook, whisking constantly, until the pan sauce has thickened.

Slice the pork roast, then return the meat and vegetables to the pan, coating them with the pan sauce. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, September 2012

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Posted by on October 14, 2016 in Main Dishes

 

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Neighborly Love

As soon as Andy and I bought our house, we knew we’d won the neighbor lottery. We closed on the house on a June afternoon, and, like any newly-minted homeowners, went right over to see our new place. Duane and Joyce came over to introduce themselves and gave us a quart of fresh-picked strawberries from their garden. Welcome to the neighborhood, indeed.

Since then, they’ve shared lots of fresh produce with us – everything from tomatoes and zucchini to butternut squash and the world’s largest cabbage. They spend lots of time cultivating their garden, and it shows. The veggies are in neat rows, without a weed in sight. The tomato plants are twice the size of ours. The lettuce plants don’t even have dirt on their leaves! (They put a ground cover over the dirt next to the lettuce, so the rain doesn’t splash mud on the plants. So smart.) It’s as close to perfect as a garden can get. Maybe someday ours will look half as good.

One day early on, Joyce asked us if we liked rhubarb. I told her that I thought we did, and she gave us a plate of rhubarb squares to try. If we liked them, she said we could have some rhubarb from their flourishing rhubarb plant. We ate the squares in record time, so I made sure to get the recipe along with some rhubarb from Joyce.

We now have our own rhubarb plants (which have started to take over the entire garden), and this is the first rhubarb dish I make each spring. You use the same mixture for both the crumb topping and the bottom crust, which saves time AND dishes. It’s a flexible recipe too, letting you swap rhubarb for strawberries or apples (or a combination if you choose), but, nine times out of 10, I’ll make the rhubarb version. And every time we eat it, I’m so glad we live where we do. 🙂

rhubarb squares

Rhubarb Squares

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal and brown sugar. Pour the melted butter over the top of the flour mixture and mix until combined. (It will be crumblier and looser than a batter – more like a pie dough.)  Reserve one cup of the mixture for the topping.

Press the remaining mixture in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

Whisk the sugar, water and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and becomes clear. Stir in vanilla and then add chopped rhubarb. Pour filling over the crust in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the top of the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing.

From my neighbor, Joyce

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Dessert

 

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Frozen Treats, Upgraded

When I was a kid, popsicles were pretty much just sugar and food coloring in a plastic sleeve. You know, the kind where you cut off the top of the wrapper and suck the ice out of the wrapper, turning your tongue a crazy shade of purple or green? My mom would make us eat them outside because, inevitably, someone (my brother, I’m sure) would drop part of the popsicle all over the ground. Ahh, memories…

While our ice cream maker gets a workout regardless of the weather, I seem to forget about popsicles until summer rolls around. Which is a shame, especially when you consider how easy they are to make and how fast they’re ready to eat. Let’s be honest, patience has never been my greatest asset.

I’ve also discovered that popsicles can be so much more than frozen juice. You can use them as a vehicle for frozen versions of other desserts. I mean, key lime pie popsicles that mix up in minutes and are ready in just a few hours? That’s the perfect summer food, if you ask me.

I almost never have key limes on hand, so I used regular limes for the juice and zest, and things turned out just fine. I also didn’t measure the graham crackers, as three cups of crumbs sounded like a lot for 10 popsicles. Instead, I simply crushed a few crackers at a time, rolled the popsicles in the crumbs and crushed more as needed.

The final result was cool and refreshing, with the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Of course, they didn’t last long at our house, which probably means we’re due for another batch. 🙂

keylimepopsicles

Key Lime Pie Popsicles

3/4 cup of fresh lime juice, plus two teaspoons lime zest (I find that one lime yields enough zest, but it usually takes 4-5 limes for the juice, depending on how juicy they are.)
1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of half-and-half
pinch of salt
crushed graham crackers for rolling (I used about 4 large crackers.)

In a large bowl (or a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup for easy pouring later), combine the lime juice and zest. Pour in the half-and-half and sweetened condensed milk. Add a pinch of salt and then whisk together until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

Evenly divide the mixture among your popsicle molds.* Insert sticks into the mixture and freeze until frozen solid. Place the graham cracker crumbs in a shallow dish.

To remove the popsicles, dip the mold in lukewarm water for a few seconds and then gently pull from the mold.

After removing from the popsicles from the mold, lay each one in the graham cracker crumbs, pressing each side down into the crumbs to make sure they stick to the popsicle. Place popsicles on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and return them to the freezer. When the popsicles are completely solid again, place them in a zip-top bag for storage.

As seen on Smitten Kitchen,  originally from Paletas by Fanny Gerson

*I own this popsicle mold, and this particular recipe fills the entire thing, yielding 10 popsicles.

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2016 in Dessert, Uncategorized

 

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Cheese Pie? Yes Please.

Andy is pretty easy-going about 99% of things in life, so when he does have an opinion, I try to pay attention. It usually works out well too. That’s how we ended up with one of our favorite chicken dishes and our go-to Meatless Monday meal. So when he commented on a delicious-looking “impossible” ham and cheese pie from Cook’s Country, I figured I’d should probably check it out. I saved the recipe before it became “subscriber only,” but that’s as far as it went. For months.

It’s not that I meant to ignore it, but other things kept popping up (such as EVERYTHING in this book). Plus, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that much Gruyère. Swiss isn’t my favorite cheese, so I tend to be apprehensive about Gruyère. But I kept remembering how excited he seemed about it, and really, could something full of cheese and ham be bad? And the whole “impossible” pie concept intrigued me. Instead of lining the plate with a standard crust (which never goes well for me), you coat it with Parmesan cheese and wait for some scientific magic to create a crust while the pie bakes.Fun, right?

Of course, I took so long to  make it that Andy had completely forgotten about it by the time I served it for dinner. Whoops.

I’m glad I did make it though, because oh my goodness, it was so good. Looking back, that probably shouldn’t surprise me, since it’s basically a pie full of cheese, but seriously. We could not stop raving about it. Or eating it. Andy declared it a five after one bite. I wanted to keep the leftovers all to myself. In fact, giving Andy the last piece for lunch may be the most selfless thing I’ve done in our entire marriage. Kidding. Mostly. 😉

I used a smoked Gruyère, since that sounded better to me than regular Gruyère, but that was the only change I made. It was really good with the ham, but I don’t think you could go wrong with bacon either. It took a little time in the oven, but it was easy to put together, so this is definitely going on the favorites list. And next time, I won’t wait almost a year to try something.

ImpossibleHam&CheesePie

Notice the giant salad in the background? That’s my attempt at balance. A giant plate of greens means I can eat cheese for dinner, right?

Impossible Ham & Cheese Pie 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus another tablespoon softened for the pan
3 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded smoked Gruyère cheese
4 ounces of ham, cubed
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the oven rack in its lowest position, and preheat the oven to 350°.

Butter a 9″ pie plate with the tablespoon of softened butter. Evenly coat the pie pan with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Combine the shredded Gruyère, ham and scallions in a large mixing bowl. Mix together and then evenly spread in the prepared pie pan.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together in the now-empty mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs, half-and-half, melted butter, mustard and nutmeg into the flour mixture. When the batter is smooth, pour it over the cheese-ham-scallion mixture in the pie pan.

Bake until the pie is lightly golden brown and the filling is set, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve warm.

From Cook’s Country

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Main Dishes

 

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