Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall was here!

Greetings and salutations!
Fall arrived and then left just as quickly. Last week was cool enough to sleep with the windows open but today we're back up to 92 degrees! The good news is that even though the weather is gone, the fall food has arrived! It's squash season, yum! Last night we had salmon cakes with a dipping sauce over leafy greens and a savory squash soup on the side. Delish! Also, coming soon to a blog near you: homemade granola bars, easy white bread and roasted squash seeds.

Simple Salmon Cakes
1 can Alaskan salmon
1/2 cup crushed savory crackers (any kind will do)
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp dill
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for pan frying

Drain salmon very, very well. Combine all ingredients, add more crushed crackers if salmon is too juicy. Shape into patties and place in hot oiled skillet. Cook on medium heat for approximately five minutes on each side. The outside will be nice and browned when they're done. This recipe makes three medium patties or four smallish patties. One medium salmon cake is definitely a serving.

Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup light mayo
1 tbs Dijon mustard
The juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Dash of salt

Combine all ingredients, add more or less lime/chili/sesame depending on your tastes!

Savory Squash Soup
1 medium sweet dumpling squash (Acorn or Butternut would also be tasty)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp marjoram
Approx. 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
Salt and white pepper to taste

Cup squash in half vertically, remove and save seeds (for roasted squash seeds, of course!), place squash cut side down on a baking dish and add water to cover 1 inch. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until a fork easily penetrates the squash. Allow to cool enough to be handled. Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic and herbs lightly in butter. Scoop out the meat of the squash and add to onion herb mixture. Allow squash and onion mixture to get aquatinted. Add enough stock to cover the mixture, approximately 1.5 cups. Remove from heat and pour mixture into blender/food processor. Blend until smooth. Return to pot and add milk, salt and pepper to taste. If soup is too thick add additional stock. Top with croutons or nothing at all!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dinner Bonanza Day 3!

Welcome to dinner bonanza day 3! Today we're eating Japanese food, yummo! Here's miso soup and marinated tofu served with white rice and pickled daikon radish. The daikon radish can be found in your local Asian supermarket in the refrigerator section. They may be an acquired taste, but they're a staple of Japanese food and are usually served with white rice. Delish!

Quick Miso Soup (Serves 3-4
6 cups dashi soup stock*
7 tbs white miso paste (or red if you prefer)
1/4 block firm tofu, cubbed
2 green onions, chopped
1 sheet of wakame or nori seaweed, shredded

Bring dashi to a low simmer, add remaining ingredients and cook for five or so minutes. Yum!
* I use instant dashi stock. It's a fine powder (almost like instant coffee) that you can find in most Asian markets.

Marinated Tofu (Serves 2-3)
3/4 block firm tofu, in 1/2 in slices
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tbs fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, honey, garlic and onion. Marinate tofu in mixture for at least two hours, basting occasionally. After marinating, pour off and reserve marinade. Dredge tofu in four and lightly pan fry. Top with marinade and serve.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dinner Bonanza Day 2!

There's a theme for tonight's dinner! Egg drop soup, Chinese chicken salad and sweet bean paste manju.  The soup is so easy and delicious, not nearly as heavy as the egg drop soup you get at a takeout restaurant.  The salad is my favorite salad of all time, and the manju was an experiment but came out well ! 

Egg Drop Soup (Serves 2-3)
4 cups chicken broth 
4 green onions chopped 
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2.5 tsp corn starch 
Dash soy sauce
2 eggs
Pepper to taste

Bring broth, ginger, green onions and soy sauce to boil.  Take 1/2 cup of the hot broth and mix with corn starch.  Reduce heat to low.  Lightly beat eggs in a bowl.  Straining through a fork, pour the eggs into the soup while gently stirring in a circle.  Season with pepper and serve.  

Mom's Chinese Chicken Salad (Serves 6)
1.5ish cups cooked, chopped, cooled chicken (use yesterday's leftovers if you're following the weekly menu)
Lettuce, I use romaine but any is fine
6 water chestnuts, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1 package ramen noodles
1 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Crumble ramen noodles and brown with almonds and sesame seeds in a small amount of sesame oil.  Combing all remaining ingredients and toss with dressing. So good!   

4 tbs apple cider vinegar
4 tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp accent 
1 tsp pepper 
1/2 c. vegetable oil
Combine all ingredients, except oil, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, allow to cool and combine with oil.  

2 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 can sweet azuki bean paste (anko if you're trying to locate it at the Asian grocery store)
Sift dry ingredients together.  Add water and knead into smooth dough.  Separate into twelve pieces, rolling into ball.  Cut 12 squares of parchment paper.  Take each dough ball and flatten, place approximately 1 tsp of bean paste in the center, fold the edges around the bean paste, reforming a ball.  Place on parchment square and into bamboo steamer.  Steam on high 12 minutes.  

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dinner Bonanza Day 1!

Here's dinner! Hang on to the leftover chicken because it's going into tomorrow's dinner! 
Hope you enjoy! 

Whole baked chicken 
1 medium roasting chicken 
Poultry seasoning
1 cup white wine 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat chicken in poultry seasoning.  Bake for thirty minutes then pour white wine over chicken.  Bake an additional 30 minutes or until juices run clear.  Baste in wine juices occasionally.  

Mashed sweet potatoes 
3 medium sweet potatoes 
1/2 cup milk
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs butter
1 tsp apple pie seasoning 

Bake/microwave sweet potatoes until tender.  Chop sweet potatoes and mash with remaining ingredients.  I keep the skin on to hang on to some of the nutrients, but you could also peel before mashing if you prefer a smoother dish. 

Creamy cucumber salad
1 large cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dill 
Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients and allow to hang out 15 minutes before serving.  Season with salt and pepper.

Balsamic strawberries
Got this one from Runner's World Magazine and boy is it yummy!
1 pint strawberries
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Slice strawberries and combine with sugar and vinegar.  Allow to marinate 15 minutes before serving. Delish! 

This week's menu!

This week I'll be trying something a little different.  I'm posting my weekly menu and updating daily with recipes.  Here's this week's menu, tonight's dinner should be posted later this evening.  Hope you enjoy!  

Monday-Whole baked chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, cucumber salad and balsamic strawberries

Tuesday-Chinese chicken salad, egg drop soup and sweet bean paste manju

Wednesday-Marinated tofu, white rice, miso soup, and Japanese pickled daikon

Thursday-Quick chicken pot pie and cakey cookies

Friday-Soba noodles, miso soup and salad 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blue-tailed skinks and yummy stews!

Hello there! Having finished my internship/grad school I now have lots of time to make yummy dinners! First up is an easy recipe for Chicken and Dumplings, followed by a (not quite as easy) recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon.  Finally, I leave you with a picture of a Blue-tailed skink that was hanging out on the back porch.  Ever since moving a bird feeder to the back porch we've had nature galore! Lots of squirrels, some skinks, lots of cardinals, Carolina wrens and even a few hummingbirds.  The cats fantasize about eating them.  

Chicken and Dumplings (serves 2-3)
For the soup:
1 large chicken breast, chopped into small pieces 
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup peas
1 can cream of celery soup
1.5 cup water
1 block chicken bouillon

For the dumplings:
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2ish cup cold water

Combine chicken, onion, carrot, celery, 1.5 cups water and chicken bouillon cube in a pot.  Simmer on medium-low heat until chicken is cooked and veggies are tender. Meanwhile, combine flour and salt in a bowl.  Slowly pour cold water into mixture while kneading.  Once dough is well mixed (should be firm), roll into a thin "snake" and let it relax for a few minutes.  Then slice into 1 inch pieces.  Add cream of celery soup and peas to the soup and simmer over medium heat.  Add dumplings while stirring slowly.  Allow dumplings to cook for approximately 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper.  A few notes, for a thicker soup add less water and for an easy variation add the mixture (minus dumplings) to an over safe casserole dish and top with pre-made biscuits.  Bake at 350 for 30ish minutes or until biscuits are fully cooked.

Boeuf Bourguignon
5 slices or regular (not low fat) bacon
2 lbs stew beef, cut into 2 inch pieces 
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup beef broth 
5 carrots, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbs tomato paste
3 cups dry red wine 
1 cup pearl onions
2 cups white mushrooms
1 tbs dried thyme 
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Chop bacon into one inch pieces and fry in a medium sauce pan.  While the bacon cooks, season meat with salt and pepper and dredge in flour.  Once cooked, remove and save bacon.   Brown meat in the bacon fat in batches, brown meat on all sides cooking for approximately 5 minutes each batch.  Transfer each batch to a waiting bowl.  Once all meat is cooked add 1/2 cup beef broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil and stir to get all the delicious meat/bacon bits on the bottom of the pot.  Once broth has cooked down slightly, add onions and garlic.  Cook until translucent over medium heat.  Add tomato paste and cook for an additional minute.  Add carrots, wine, 1/2 tbs dried thyme, meat and bacon.  Bring to a boil while stirring, then reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer on low for 3ish hours, until meat is tender.  30 minutes before stew is ready prepare mushrooms.  Wash and quarter mushrooms.  Combine mushrooms and pearl onions in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.  Bake at 350 degrees for 2oish minutes, stir occasionally.  Once roasted, combine the mushrooms/onions with the stew and serve with a tasty loaf of French bread.

Finally, for your viewing pleasure, a Blue-tailed skink

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cranberry Jalapeno Jelly

Dear world, 
As you may have noticed, we have an abundance of jalapeno peppers at the Davenport ranch.  So for the last few weeks I've been trying my darndest to put them in everything I make! Tonight I tried a new jelly: Cranberry Jalapeno Jelly! I'm pleased to say, success! 

Cranberry Jalapeno Jelly
Makes 2.5 pints/5 half pints
6 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and quartered (wear gloves!)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1.5 cups cranberry juice cocktail (I'd stay away from anything low sugar or diet though) 
5 cups sugar
2 packets Ball liquid pectin (6 oz. total)

Bring jalapenos, vinegar and juice to a boil.  Reduce and let simmer 10ish minutes.  Remove pepper bits by straining.  Combine pepper juice liquid with sugar and bring to a hard boil, stir continuously.  Add pectin, keep at hard boil and cook for one minute.  Remove from heat.  Skim the foam and ladle into sterilized jars.  Place in water bath for five minutes.  Once cooled make sure the dent in your lids is depressed, otherwise just keep them in your fridge.  

Jelly jelly, yum yums! 

Note the pickled green tomatoes in the background.  I'm waiting to eat them in a few weeks to determine if they're delicious enough to share with you! Stay tuned! 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A great many things

Hello there! Today's post is brought to you by summery goodness! There are some new garden pictures, more pickles and jalapeno jelly! 

First off, my adorable baby watermelons! Not only are they very cute, they're also yellow inside! Or at least they're supposed to be, they're still a few weeks away from harvest.

Here's a picture of the garden taken two or so weeks ago: yellow squash, tomatoes, lots of jalapenos, banana peppers, okra, and watermelon.

Sweet (but not too sweet) Refrigerator Pickles
6ish cups of cucumbers (speared, sliced, however you like them!)
1 cup vinegar
1.5 cups sugar
.5 cup water
1 cup sliced onions
1 cup sliced bell pepper
1 tbs salt
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dill
Combine vinegar, sugar, water and spices in a pan and bring to a boil.  Boil long enough for sugar to dissolve.  Pour mixture over cucumbers, onions and bell peppers in sterilized canning jars. Keep in the fridge and enjoy! Note- some recipes use much more sugar than this, if you like your pickles extra sugary you may want to adjust the sugar content.  

Jalapeno Jelly (from the Ball Blue Book of Canning)
12 oz jalapenos (about 12 jalapenos, depending on size)
6 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar 
1 box Ball liquid pectin (two packets come in each box, you need both)
Green food coloring (if desired) 

Stem and seed the jalapenos, wearing gloves (trust me, you want to use gloves).  Process until finely chopped in food processor.  Add 1 cup vinegar to help blend.  At this point you can strain the mixture with cheese cloth for a clear jelly, or not.  I did not strain mine.  Bring the remaining vinegar and sugar to a boil, add pepper vinegar mixture and food coloring (if desired).  Stir frequently.  Boil approximately 10 minutes.  Sugar should be fully dissolved.  Add two pouches liquid pectin.  STIR STIR STIR.  Keep at a hard boil for one minute .  Note, I boiled mine for slightly longer about two minutes because it hadn't quite jelled enough.  Ladle the mixture into sterilized jars and seal in a hot water bath.  See my earlier posts on pickled peppers if you want more info on how to properly seal your jars.  The jelly is especially good on crackers with cream cheese, yum!    

Note- For something a little different try adding 1.5 tsp raspberry extract. Raspberry Jalapeno Jelly in no time! 

Sunday, May 31, 2009

It must be summer!

Summer has arrived with it's gardeny goodness! We picked tons of blackberries this year, which Joe requested be converted into a cobbler. Here's a quick and easy cobbler recipe you can use with any type of berry. I've also included a recipe for pickled peppers. If you don't want to bother with a hot water bath, just store the jars in your refrigerator and treat them like regular pickles. They should be good and tasty after two weeks.

Blackberry Cobbler Yum!
2 1/2 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter

Combine berries and sugar and let them hang out for 15 or so minutes. Meanwhile, heat over to 375 and combine remaining ingredients. Try not to over-sir the batter. Pour batter into greased 8x8 inch pan and spoon berry mixture over. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.

Pickled Pepper Mix (makes 1 pint)
2 cups vinegar
1 cup water
1/8 tsp alum (per 1/2 pint jar)
1/2 tsp salt (per 1/2 pint jar)
pinch of dill and mustard seed
Sliced peppers or whole jalapeno or banana peppers*

Sterilize your jars and lids. Bring vinegar and water to a boil, meanwhile fill jars with peppers, salt, alum and seasoning. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over peppers to 1/4 inch from the mouth. Seal jars in a boiling water bath for 7-10 minutes. Make sure lids are properly sealed. If a lid doesn't seal, simply keep the jar in the fridge.
*Note- If using whole peppers, be sure to slit them in several places

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Curry Rice Yum Yums!

Hi there,
Wow, long time no post! Here is tonight's dinner: curry rice and ginger lime cabbage salad. We used to eat this curry at least weekly in Japan. And, now, thanks to the new Asian grocery store that has opened by our house, we can have it all the time!

Japanese-style curry

1 pound beef/pork/chicken/shrimp
2 baked potatoes, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 portion curry roux (this time we used "Golden Curry" brand)
6 cups water

Stir fry veggies and meat, season with salt and pepper. Once mostly tender add the roux and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until nice and thick. Serve over short grain rice and garnish with Japanese style pickles if you like.

Start with this....

And end with this!

Stay tuned next week for Dewberry Cobbler and pics of the new summer garden.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Down home dinner

Hi there!
Here's what we had for dinner tonight: breaded tilapia, black eyed pea salad, collards and herb bread. Here are the recipes so you too can have this for dinner!

For starters I thought I'd share a quick cost saving tip: make your own breadcrumbs. Bake bread that's getting a little old at 400 degrees for just a few minutes. Grind the toast in your food processor with whatever herbs you like. This time I made Italian breadcrumbs by including parsley, basil and oregano. Saves you from having to buy breadcrumbs and saves you from throwing away old bread!

Now with your handy breadcrumbs you can make this recipe for crunchy baked tilapia!

Crunchy Baked Tilapia
Baste the fillets with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge the fish in your tasty homemade breadcrumbs and bake in a greased pan at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until firm and flaky.

Black Eyed Pea Salad
Combine 1 tsp sugar and 1/4 cup rice vinegar (alter to taste, more sugar if you don't like it too tart). Finely chop one tomato and 1/2 onion and combine with one drained can of black eyed peas. Combine with vinegar dressing and season with salt/pepper, 1 tsp cilantro, 1 tsp parsley. Let marinate for at least an hour.

Herb Bread
3ish cups flour
1 packet dry active yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tbs shortening
herbs of your choice
Combine 1 packet dry active yeast with 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 2 tsp salt in a large bowl. In a small saucepan warm: 1 cup milk, 2 tbs sugar and 2 tbs shortening. Heat until just warm (115ish degrees). Pour the heated mixture into the large bowl. Add 1 egg. Add 2 tsp celery seed, 2 tsp basil, 2 tsp sage (or the herbs of your choice). Beat on medium for three minutes. Add additional 1 1/2 to 2 cups flour, just enough to make a moderately soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth, about five minutes. Place in greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough and place in greased loaf pan or large pie pan. Recover and let rise until about double in size. Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.

See my previous entry if you want instructions on collards. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Unpublished Year in Review

Hi there!
In honor of the passage of 2008 I'm posting an assortment of things that never quite made it on to this blog last year. Also, I'm resolving to get back on the posting wagon, so check back frequently for updates. Here ya go!

Chickpea Dip with Crostini
1 can chickpeas
2 TBS roasted garlic (add more or less, depending on how much you love garlic)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Olive oil
1 loaf french bread
Salt and peppers

Combine the first four ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley. For the crostini, simply slice the bread, coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake a 350 degrees until crunchy.

Quick Collard Greens
Collards (or any type of green)
Sliced smokey bacon
Chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper

Fry your bacon in a pan large enough to accommodate your collards. Add the onion while the bacon is crisping. Make sure your greens are washed and sliced. Once the onions are tender, add the greens and enough chicken broth to nearly cover them. Put on a lid and let them simmer until tender.

Campfire Chili
1 (or 2) can chili beans
1 can red beans
1 can corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
Ground beef/turkey/or nothing at all
Cayenne pepper
Chili pepper
Onion powder
Salt and pepper

Brown meat and onions, add rest of ingredients. Season to taste. Let it hang out over hot coals, not open flame. Yum!

Cabbage, chopped finely
Onion, chopped
Toppings (Shrimp, bacon, fried eggs, green onions, just about anything)
Okonomiyaki sauce (I know this isn't authentic but I use a mixture of: Worcestershire sauce, mayo, ketchup, and a dash of soy sauce)

First of all, let me apologize for the lack of measurements, I made these many months ago and I always wing the batter. Just think of it like making pancakes, the batter should be nearly the same consistency. Anywho, make your batter (eggs, milk, flour) and combine it with the cabbage and onion. Throw your toppings onto a hot, greased griddle and allow to cook briefly. Next, ladle your cabbage/dough mixture onto your toppings. Let it cook on medium for a few minutes, flip and cook some more. Serve the oknomiyaki sauce or mayonnaise or both, and a sprinkling of chives. A Joe favorite, he likes his with a fried egg on top.

And last, I leave you with a current look at the garden. We've got savoy cabbage, broccoli, carrots, celery, collard greens and snow peas. The broccoli is coming in nicely and the cabbage is getting close. Yum!

Happy New Year, folks!