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Cooking Inspiration for the Month

8 Jan

During this reset season, the competition between the abstinence commitments made in December and the lingering desire for comforting food, especially when faced with frigid temperatures across the country, can be fierce. Maybe it’s best to ride somewhere in the middle so here are a few ideas.

Please share in the comments section below what you’ve tried and how it turned out.

Happy New Year!

BREAKFAST

The Perfect Make-Ahead Waffles from Marion Cunningham

We all have our idea of what makes the perfect waffle. In our family, these are it. Lighter than pancakes, they are slightly crispy on the outside but fluffy within. As a bonus, they’re quick to prep the night before and finish up in the morning. Try them served with butter and berries, either fresh or heated from the freezer.

Marion Cunningham Waffles

NOTE:

  • If you’re wanting to up the nutrition factor, you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour for white.
  • A teaspoon of vanilla adds a nice flavor boost but is not necessary.
  • Don’t be surprised by the thin batter.
  • Any extras will freeze well for a toaster oven snack.

APPETIZER

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs from Cheeky Kitchen

Just in time for the Golden Globes this weekend or for the Superbowl on February 1st, these are a simple, sure hit. Ground turkey also works well.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

MAIN DISHES

Weeknight Porchetta from Bon Appétit 

To simplify this recipe, skip nestling the heads of garlic around the tenderloin.

Weeknight Porchetta

Spaghetti and Drop Meatballs with Tomato Sauce from Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman does it again with meatballs and sauce made easy in one pot.

24TIME4-articleLarge_opt-3

VEGETABLES

Roasted Carrots with Honey, Sage and Garlic from Cannelle Et Vanille

Something healthy and light to go with that pork. Good with or without the yogurt.

Carrots

SNACK or SIDE

Corn Muffins from Food 52

Great to serve alongside the Porchetta above or Butternut Squash Soup below and perfect with chili, these are a fun alternative to corn bread. I prefer the buttery flavor to the bacon fat called for in the recipe.
Corn Muffins

LUNCH

Butternut Squash Soup from Half Baked Harvest

If you haven’t discovered the blog Half Baked Harvest, it’s worth checking out. Tieghan took over cooking for her big family of nine in her mid-teens and hasn’t missed a beat since. Her creative, delicious recipes, excellent photography and youthful flare have brought her well-deserved success.

Below is a recipe inspired by her Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup. Next time, I’ll try her version, but for today, I lacked a few ingredients. Regardless, it was full of flavor.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Leeks

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 small to medium)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Leek, white portion only, or 1 small Onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried Thyme, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 Garlic clove, skin removed and crushed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 4 ounces Goat Cheese, softened

Optional Toppings: Plain Greek Yogurt or Goat Cheese and/or roughly chopped Cilantro and Pistachios

PREPARATION

  1. To make peeling easier, cut off the bottom of the squash and put on a plate in the microwave for 3 minutes. Peel, remove seeds and cut into approximately 1-inch cubes.
  2. Add the coconut oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat.
  3. Once hot, add the leek or onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the cubed butternut squash, curry powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the garlic clove and stir for 10 seconds or so to meld the flavor but avoid scorching.
  7. Pour in the coconut milk and broth.
  8. Bring to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender.
  9. Once the squash is tender, add the goat cheese (optional).
  10. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the soup back to the stove and heat through.
  11. To serve, ladle the soup into bowl, topping with Greek yogurt or crumbled goat cheese and garnishing with chopped cilantro and/or pistachios.

Thanksgiving Leftover Sauté with Poached Eggs

30 Nov

Hopefully you haven’t polish off all of the stuffed Tupperware containers yet. Brighten up that last long weekend morning with poached eggs on leftover sauté. This particular blend combines stuffing, sweet potatoes and creamed spinach with a bit of crumbed, cooked bacon sprinkled on top. But almost any leftover combo will work. Place an egg on top for an irresistible breakfast. Or lunch.

You can find general recipe directions at the bottom of this post although I recommend sautéing your ingredients in melted butter in a frying pan. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Leftover Eggs

 

Thanksgiving Feasting Favorites

24 Nov

Although tradition dominates the Thanksgiving feast, leaving little room for variation much less something entirely new, here are a few favorites and tips to stir up inspiration prior to the big week ahead.

COOKING THE BIRD

For a turkey deep in flavor and a moist, yet firm consistency, try following the award-winning Judy Bird technique inspired by the roast chicken made famous by the late Judy Rodgers at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. (See my post here about the chef, her philosophy and restaurant and her recipe for Salmon with White Beans, Bacon and Red Wine.)

NOTE: I do not follow Step 7 and start the bird in the oven breast side down.

Sage and Bay Salt Dry Brine
Sage and Bay Salt Dry Brine

The turkey is dry brined for three days although I have done it for much less with equally good results. Here is a tasty dry brine recipe.

APPETIZERS

Ellen's Nuts
Ellen’s Nuts
Rustic Bakery Meyer Lemon and Chickpea Spread
Meyer Lemon and Chickpea Spread, recipe from Rustic Bakery
Baked Rosemary Beet Chips
Baked Rosemary Beet Chips, by Minimalist Baker
Crab Cake Bites
Crab Cake Bites, from Savory Simple
Artichokes
from The Real Deal Marin

 ACCOMPANIMENTS

Tyler Florence Mashed Potatoes
Tyler Florence Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Creamed Pearl Onions
Thomas Keller’s Creamed Pearl Onion, via Smitten Kitchen
Ina Garten Spinach Gratin
Ina Garten Spinach Gratin via The Food Network

STOCK and GRAVY

How to Make Stock, A video tutorial with simple instructions from Mario Batali on Food 52.

How to Make Gravy, from The New York Times Cooking

DESSERT

Although no dessert would be shunned, Apple Pie is a must. If you have any doubt, read this, and you may get lured into making it a regular closer to your feast too, if it isn’t already.

    Butter Pie Crust, from Epicurious

    Crust Tipsfrom Joy the Baker

    THE Apple Pie, inspired by Kierin Baldwin

    Ala Mode, a basic vanilla ice cream recipe

    Best Apples for Piefrom Baking Bites

LEFTOVERS

Thanks Benedict on Stuffing Cakes with Sage Hollandaise, by Giada De Laurentiis
Thanks Benedict on Stuffing Cakes with Sage Hollandaise, by Giada De Laurentiis
Turkey Tetrazzini
Turkey Tetrazzini, from The Real Deal Marin 
Loaded Turkey Panini
Loaded Turkey Panini, from Pinch of Yum

 (This is a good framework that you can alter based on what you have leftover.)

If you try one of these recipe, please let me know what you think in the comments section below. Or take a photo and post it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #realdealmarin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Great Pancake Debate and The Quest for the Best

7 Nov

PancakesThere’s no question that making pancakes from scratch is well worth the limited effort. But a recipe debate has risen lately as a new contender has entered the fray. On the one side are the original Fluffy Homemade Pancakes, the most visited recipe on this site. And on the other, Fluffy Homemade Pancakes Version Two (recipe below) which has gained a position on the top of the rotation.

PancakesSo if you find yourself in the mood for pancakes in the coming couple of weeks, I pose a request that you give this new one a try and compare it to the original. Maybe you’ll find no discernible difference. Or perhaps regardless of the results, you’ll align with the kids’ Nana and prioritize the lower sodium content of the first.

Pancakes

Whatever the case, if you seek a no-frills, go-to homemade pancake mix for the every day, you can feel you’ve done your due diligence and have what you deem to be the best basic recipe ready for the wanting.

You can cast your vote here and please share comments below. I will post the results before the holidays draw more morning time in the kitchen. Thanks for your input!

Tips for Quicker Pancakes

Here are a couple of strategies to streamline the pancake preparation process, particularly helpful on a weekday morning:

1) Keep a storage container filled with the dry ingredients in your pantry. Whisk 2 cups of the dry mix (which has previously been sifted as per the recipe) and then add the butter, milk, egg and vanilla.

2) Make extra pancakes and, when cool, refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. (If freezing, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. After two or so hours, transfer to a ziplock bag.) To reheat, lightly toast or heat in the microwave. Great for a quick breakfast or snack.

Fluffy Homemade Pancakes - Version Two

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a griddle or frying pan over low to medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Lightly grease with canola or vegetable oil.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together or whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  3. Melt the butter in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter.
  5. Crack the egg and vanilla into the measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork. Add to the bowl.
  6. Measure the milk in the cup and add to the bowl.
  7. Mix with a spoon until smooth with a few remaining lumps. Don’t over mix.
  8. Spoon the batter onto the griddle or pan. When bubbles begin to form on the surface, turn the pancakes and cook for another minute until golden brown.

Summertime

23 May

Click the image for recipes.

SUMMER STRAWBERRY MUFFINS

Strawberry Muffins

 JUICY SLIDERS

Juicy Sliders

Grilled or Baked Herb Chicken with Green Aioli

Herb Chicken with Aiolias a Main Dish

Herb Chicken with Aioli Appetizeror an Appetizer

The Best of the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie

 Creamy Homemade Ice CreamCreamy Homemade Ice Cream

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes: A Side Dish or Pillow for Poached Eggs

1 Mar

Sweet Potatoes

When it comes to side dishes, I gravitate to the quick prep/undisturbed cooking options because pre-dinner, a multitude of other interferences insist attention. Weeknights don’t tend to be the time for fuss. The default is to gather a variety of potatoes and/or veggies, toss them onto a baking sheet, glug on some olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and a seasoning salt before setting in the oven. Although the results hit the high mark sometimes more than others, you’ll get a tasty and reliable side staple regardless.

But something about this sweet potato recipe has me hooked. I made it three times last week. Like the stand-by, preparation is simple and there is no need to monitor, but it has a winning flavor and perfect bite every time.

Sweet Potatoes

Reheated leftovers are just as worthy. Or try with poached eggs! (see recipe below)

Nutritional Information

As an added benefit, this tuber vegetable side dish will up the nutrition quotient of your meal:

Low

  • Calories
  • Sodium
  • Saturated Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Glycemic Index

High

  • Dietary Fiber
  • Calcium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Beta-Carotine
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Magnesium and Vitamin C

Sweet Potato or Yam?

Surprisingly, both of the above are sweet potatoes. Those yams we think we’re eating at Thanksgiving are more commonly harvested in West Africa are very rarely found in our supermarkets. These two have a slight consistency and taste difference but both work well in this recipe.

Conventional or Organic?

Sweet potatoes are on Environmental Working Groups Clean 15 List so are considered less likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Their strong outer layer would seem to provide a sufficient boundary, but this  video-gone-viral of a little girls’ science experiment could give you pause next time you purchase them. She attempts to grow roots in jars using non-organic, conventional organic and local organic sweet potatoes. I think I’ll be adding a plus one to EWG’s Dirty Dozen List.

For more information on the experiment and Bud Nip, click here.

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Servings: 6-8View or Print Recipe Only

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into uniform sized pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup water

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place sweet potatoes in a baking dish or on a sheet pan. Lining with foil will minimize clean up.
  3. Melt butter either in a microwave safe measuring cup or in a small saucepan.
  4. Add rosemary, garlic, 
salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat potatoes and spread 
into a single layer.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and top with parmesan cheese.
  6. Add water to baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pricked with a fork.

Adapted from It’s a Keeper

Poached Eggs and Bacon/Spinach Over Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet PotatoesINGREDIENTS

  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Leftover)
  • Eggs
  • Bacon (optional)
  • Spinach (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Begin heating a few inches of water in a frying pan.
  2. While waiting, start bacon and/or spinach. See instructions here for cooking bacon in the microwave or oven or on the stovetop. See instructions here for sautéing spinach.
  3. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar to the water which helps to keep the eggs intact.
  4. Break the first egg into a small bowl.
  5. Just as the water is starting to lightly simmer but before it comes to a full boil, turn down the flame to keep it minimally bubbling.
  6. Begin swirling the water with a spoon and gently slide the bowl into the water letting the egg slip out. Add the remaining eggs to the bowl one at a time and repeat the process. (If the white seems to be spreading significantly, you can gently push toward the yolk with a spoon or spatula.)
  7. When done placing the eggs to the water, set the timer for 3 minutes and line a plate with a paper towel.
  8. After 3 minutes, check the eggs. Remove when the whites have set, up to 1 minute more.
  9. Gently remove from the water with a slotted spoon onto the paper towel. If not serving immediately, remove the eggs at 3 minutes when they’re slightly underdone (whites aren’t floating and are close to set.) Place in a bowl of cold water, cover and put in the refrigerator. Reheat for a minute in lightly simmering water.
  10. Heat the potatoes in a microwave or oven. Place on a plate, top with bacon and/or or spinach, slip poached eggs on top.
  11. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Amazingly Nutritious, Perfectly Delicious Cottage Cheese Pancakes

14 Feb

This recipe is a must try. I felt it necessary to make the post title a bit promotional given that cottage cheese happens to be the key ingredient. This cheese curd product is not something that has ever found its way into my shopping cart until this impression-breaking recipe came along. Continue reading

Food for Thought and Recipes for the Week

18 Jan

Below is a weekly food roundup, locally and beyond, of ideas for what to cook, where to eat, things to consider and actions to inspire. If you have something to add to a future Friday Food list, please share it in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend!

Continue reading

Friday Food: Links to Recipes, Restaurants, Gadgets, News and More

1 Nov

Wordle

Below is a weekly food roundup, locally and beyond, of ideas for what to cook, where to eat, things to consider and actions to inspire. If you have something to add to a future Friday Food list, please share it in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend!

EAT

Gluten Free Flours                    

As alternative flours surface more and more, from coconut and corn to millet and amaranth, here is a helpful guide from Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic with information on those that are easy to locate or make. You’ll also find a recipe for her Gluten and Grain Free Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Continue reading

Pumpkin Pancakes

28 Sep

This recipe was shared by a friend who takes the lead on elevating breakfast well beyond the mundane. She is a master of taking even good recipes and making them that much better indicated by the multiple markings within her cookbooks. Continue reading