Sunday, June 18, 2017

Roasted Broccoli

Delicious roasted broccoli

I needed a new way to prepare broccoli tonight, and Pinterest did not let me down. Everyone loved this, and now I'm wondering why we all tolerated simply steamed broccoli for so long.
The broccoli turned out mostly cooked, but still crunchy, and very flavorful. I may like broccoli again.

Roasted Broccoli
       Adapted from A Spicy Perspective

  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Wash, trim, and cut broccoli into bite-size pieces. Cut and peel stalk as well, if desired.
Pile broccoli onto the prepared baking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil over broccoli, and then sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper mix. Toss with hands and spread evenly over the surface of the pan.
Roast at 475 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until edges start to look a bit charred.
Makes about 3-4 servings

Meat Cubes (Meatballs Don't Have to Be Spherical)

Meatballs don't have to be round.

Why should meat balls be balls at all? I mean, they're time consuming to roll into the ball shape, and if you're frying them, they are hard to brown on all sides--because they have no sides. 
Meat cubes, on the other hand, make so much more sense to me. They consist of the same ingredients, they have the same amount of meat, they taste exactly the same, and they're so much less labor intensive. Plus they won't ever roll off the plate. These are also perfect for my homemade open faced meatball sandwiches (which, come to think of it, I've never blogged about).
To me, this is a happy medium between my crazy enthusiasm for homemade foods and my modern-day need for a little more convenience. I may never again roll meat into the shape of a ball, and I'm good with that.
Come join me in this rebellion against traditional arbitrary food shapes. Let's make our lives just a little bit easier while retaining all of the goodness and deliciousness of homemade cooking.

Meat Cubes

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten free breadcrumbs from gf French rolls)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground ground (90/10) 
  • canola oil 
  • Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, place the breadcrumbs and pour the milk over them. Allow to sit while you prepare the onions & garlic.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, stir, and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. 
  • To the breadcrumbs and milk, add the eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Mix in the onions and garlic a little at a time (so you don't cook the eggs). Add the ground beef. With your hands (I use plastic gloves for this), gently incorporate the beef into the other ingredients until the mixture is uniform. 
  • Place meat mixture in prepared 9 x 13 inch pan and spread out to evenly in the pan. Cover and freeze 30-60 minutes.
  • When meat is mostly frozen, lift out of the pan by grabbing the edges of the parchment paper and lifting. Place on a cutting surface, and using a large sharp knife, cut into about 48 cubes (6 x 8), or 1/5 inch squares.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon canola oil and tilt pan to distribute oil evenly. Place as many meat cubes in the pan that fit comfortably with a little space between. Cook until well browned on the first side, and then turn using a metal spatula. Cook until well browned on the second side. Remove cooked meat cubes to a clean baking sheet and continue frying meat cubes in batches until complete.
  • Use as many cubes as you want for now. Allow the rest to cool completely, place on a freezer paper lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Move frozen cooked meat cubes to a large zip top bag and place in the freezer. Use within about 2 months.
Makes about 4 dozen medium sized meat cubes

So they're not uniform in size or shape...they still taste great.


Once the sauce is added, you don't even care about the shape.

These are going into the freezer.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Simple Chuck Roast (in Tacos)

Simply delicious roast beef

Roast beef is, I think, a perfect meat. It's great the first night, and you can do so many things with leftovers. For instance, you can eat roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy one night, and the next you can have roast beef tacos or taquitos--or you can douse the leftovers in teriyaki sauce and serve it with fresh steamed white rice. Ah, so good. 
Since my sister-in-law turned up with a soy allergy, and my nephew has a severe wheat allergy, I had to come up with an easy, controllable alternative to the Lipton Onion Soup mix that I was accustomed to using on my pot roasts.
This turns out to be a perfect seasoning. Most people have the ingredients in their cupboard, and one batch of seasoning is good for about three or four roasts. The flavor is just a nice, savory taste that can morph with the addition of various spices and seasonings.
Tonight we enjoyed this roast inside tacos. The remainder will be put into taquitos that will be frozen for a quick lunch option while most of us are home for the summer.
So here you go, an easy and tasty way to season your roast.

Simple Chuck Roast (in Tacos)

  • 3 pound chuck roast
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons seasoning mix (recipe below)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • canola oil for frying
  • taco toppings
Seasoning Mix:
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder (NOT onion salt)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 scant tablespoon chili powder
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine all of the seasoning mix ingredients in a bowl or sealed storage container.
Place roast in a roasting pan and coat with 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of seasoning (use less for a smaller roast, and more for a larger roast). Cover roasting pan with foil to keep moisture in.
Place pan in oven and roast for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until meat is very tender and shreds easily with a fork.

While meat roasts for the last half hour to an hour, heat up about one inch of canola oil in a high-rimmed frying pan. When a little bit of corn tortilla placed in the oil sizzles immediately, the oil is ready.
Using a pair of metal tongs, carefully slide one corn tortilla into the hot oil. Immediately fold the tortilla in half using the tongs. Fry on each side for about 1-2 minutes, or until the edges are crisp. Don't let them get too crisp, though, because they'll break when you try to fill them with the meat.
Repeat with remaining tortillas, and you can fry 2 or 3 at once, depending on the size of your pan. Drain fried taco shells on a plate or cooling rack lined with paper towels.

Place about 1/4 cup of shredded roast beef in a taco shell, top as desired, and enjoy.

Makes 12 tacos, perhaps with some meat leftover for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Potatoes Lyonnaise

Potatoes Lyonnaise

Potatoes, caramelized onions, garlic, and butter layered and baked to tender savory perfection. Mmm. Even if it doesn't do my actual heart good, it sure comforts my soul today. 
This is just a satisfying potato and onion dish that compliments any meat, in my opinion. It's buttery, tender, intermittently crisp, with the sweet saltiness of perfectly caramelized onions. I'm literally sitting here after dinner eating the leftovers with my fingers, probably getting the keyboard all buttery.
Speaking of butter, the original recipe calls for a whole stick of butter, and I only used 6 tablespoons. I have to say, though, that the next time I make these I'll probably back it down to 5, or even 4 tablespoons. My remnants are nearly swimming in butter. Delicious, but really more than I should be consuming right now.

Potatoes Lyonnaise
    Adapted from

  • 2 pounds yellow-fleshed potatoes, sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
  • 4 smallish onions, halved and julienned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus a little more for brushing
  • more salt for boiling
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place sliced potatoes into a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to separate potato slices so they can cook evenly. Drain water completely and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Stir and allow to cook until starting to brown. Stir again and reduce heat to medium low. Stir and cook onions on low to medium until they start to caramelize, but don't turn to mush (about 12-15 minutes). Remove onions to a heat-proof bowl.
  • Return the pan to the burner and melt 6 tablespoons butter in the pan. Make a potato layer on the bottom of the pan with 1/3 of the potatoes. Evenly distribute half the onions on top of the layer of potatoes. Add another layer of 1/3 of the potatoes. Add another layer of onions. Top with the final 1/3 of the potatoes. Brush tops of potatoes with a little melted butter.
  • Place pan in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are browned.
  • Remove from oven and serve.
Potatoes: boiled and drained
Onions just starting to caramelize
The first couple of layers
Just a little butter on top before going into the oven
Comfort food--all hot and bubbly

Monday, May 29, 2017

Heidi's Bacon Green Beans

Mmm. Bacon Green Beans.

My sister-in-law Heidi can COOK. Every time I eat at her house I come away with a new recipe or five. This one has quickly become one of my favorites that is currently a weekly side dish at my house. I'm not sure if my family loves these as much as I do, but I don't care. Even as leftovers these green beans are heavenly. Must be the bacon.

The high heat on these beans makes them a little charred on the outside, and the salty bacon along with the fabulous savory flavor of the shallots make this a fabulous sensory experience. Even if you're not a fan of green beans in general, you might like these. And they're easy. So easy.

I use the meat counter slab bacon for these green beans. My brother pointed out to me that bacon is really cheaper that way, and it's a thicker cut, so it feels meatier AND it doesn't burn with the high heat in this application.

Heidi's Bacon Green Beans

  • 4-5 cups of washed and trimmed fresh green beans (I also like to cut them in half)
  • 4-5 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips (crosswise, not lengthwise)
  • about 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • Place a large cast iron skillet on the stove and turn the burner to medium high. Add bacon before the pan gets hot.
  • Stir bacon until is just starts to render some fat.
  • Add the green beans and continue to stir over medium high heat until green beans have some dark, almost burned spots. 
  • If bacon seems to be crisping up too soon, you can remove some of it, or turn the heat down a little.
  • Sprinkle with salt and shallots, cooking another minute or so after the beans seem done.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Makes about 6 servings

Gluten Free Garlic Flatbread

Gluten Free Garlic Flatbread

I've been craving bread lately because I am just one of those people who loves bread. I am also a person who's recently discovered that wheat causes parts of my body to hurt, so I've been avoiding it. I miss bread a LOT. Like a lot. More than a normal person probably. 

So I've had to get creative with making some gluten free options. The Gluten Free French Rolls that my gluten-limited son enjoys so much just don't do it for me. I really love the taste of wheat bread. I thought maybe a thinner, less bready product might work, so I baked up some gluten free pizza crusts, spread garlic butter sauce all over it, and ate. 

It was good. Too good probably. But I don't eat it every day, even though I'd like to. It's a little crisp in places where the dough has been rolled thinner; and it's chewy in places where the dough was a little thicker. The texture and the chew perfectly satisfy a bread craving. Then there's the garlic butter sauce, which I just love--salty, buttery, with a gentle but assertive garlic flavor. Mmm. So good.

If you find yourself having to live gluten free, and you love garlic bread, you have to try this. Really. 
Gluten Free Garlic Flatbread

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Either place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet, or if you have a baking stone or baking steel, place parchment sheet on what you use as a pizza peel (I use an unrimmed baking sheet).
    Combine the pizza mix and the water. Mix until it reaches the consistency of Play Doh.
  • Turn dough out onto work surface that's been dusted with GF flour. Dust the top of the dough and cut dough in half.
  • Shape each half into a rough log, about 2 x 5 inches, and then flatten each log (see photo below).
  • Working with one piece at at time, roll dough on a well-floured surface to about 3/8 inch thickness.
  • Carefully move to parchment lined baking sheet either with your hands or by folding in half, transferring and then unfolding on the pan. If the dough sheet breaks on you, just press it back together; it's pretty forgiving.
  • Repeat with other piece of dough and place next to the other flatbread dough sheet.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes. Using a sharp knife, dock the dough every inch or so (see photo below).
  • Place baking sheet in oven (or slide parchment sheet with the dough onto baking stone/steel) and bake at 500 degrees for about 5-8 minutes, or until edges and bubbles start to brown. If you let it go too long, it will turn out more cracker-like than bread-like--still edible, but not as awesome.
  • Once flatbread is out of the oven, immediately spread 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic butter sauce over the surface of each. 
  • Cut into strips with a pizza cutter and enjoy.
  • Garlic flatbread tastes best fresh. I do not recommend saving leftovers for the next day.

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix
      --Adapted from

  • 4 cups Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast
Mix flour with olive oil until incorporated, and then mix in the salt, sugar, and yeast. Store mix in a sealed zip-top bag in the refrigerator.

Garlic Butter Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Place butter and olive oil in a small saucepan or saute pan over low heat. While butter melts, mince the garlic. Add garlic to melted butter & olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook on low for one minute and then turn off the heat and allow to sit until cool. 
Serve with pizza (crust) or hot bread.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Use within about 10 days.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gluten Free Almond Flour Pie Crust (& Chocolate Cream Pie)

Gluten Free Almond Flour Pie Crust
Chocolate Cream Pie with Almond Flour Pie Crust

I don't know what the deal is with wheat and gluten these days, but now I, personally, have to jump on the gluten free bandwagon because I've discovered that when I eat the yummy breads and rolls that I love to bake, I get this odd and uncomfortable pain in my right forearm, elbow, and shoulder. I'm assuming it's some sort of inflammation, and I've tested my hypothesis enough to know that it feels better when I don't eat wheat. Boooooo.
Fortunately, I do have some good gluten free recipes and resources up my sleeve, so it's not like I'm really suffering (#firstworldproblem). I found this recipe via Pinterest, and it's from All Day I Dream About Food--a gluten free low carb recipe blog.
I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of this crust--it's a little crumbly, but that's okay, because I was almost expecting a chewy texture. My husband thought it was a bit salty, and I did notice the salt a little bit, but I thought it was a nice complement to the chocolate filling I put in it. I don't think it tasted like almonds at all, just a nice crisp, crumbly crust for the delicious chocolate cream pie. Gluten free or not--it's great.
Note: The Bob's Red Mill Almond Four is pretty pricey--between $9 to $13 a pound in a regular grocery store. I've found it at Sam's Club, though, for something like $15 for 3 pounds. So, if you or a friend have a Sam's Club membership, you should definitely check to see if your local club carries it.

Gluten Free Almond Flour Pie Crust
     --adapted from All Day I Dream About Food

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted, but not hot
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a medium size bowl, mix the almond flour, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture into a 9" glass pie pan and gently distribute evenly over the bottom of the pan. Go around the pan and press enough of the mixture up the sides of the pan to get within about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of the top. Crust thickness should be about 1/8 inch, maybe slightly thicker, but definitely less than 1/4 inch. Spread remaining mixture over the bottom of the pan and press, taking care not to press too hard or break what you've already pressed.
  • Prick crust all over with a fork and bake at 325 degrees for about 20-21 minutes, or until evenly golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.
Ingredients mixed
Pressed into pan
Baked and cooling
Filled with chocolate cream pie filling and topped with whipped cream

Chocolate Cream Pie
     --Adapted from Once Upon a Chef


For Crust
  • see recipe above
For Filling
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 28 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, unwrapped & chopped (or 8 oz. other kind of chopped dark chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Topping

1. In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk milk and egg yolks until combined.  Pour milk mixture into pan while whisking.  Whisk until smooth.  Place pan on burner set to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly (yes, constantly), making sure to scrape bottom and edges of the pan, until mixture starts to thicken, about 7-9 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately whisk in chocolate, butter, and vanilla.  Transfer hot filling to a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap so that the wrap rests in contact with the filling so a skin does not form.  Refrigerate filling until cool,1-2 hours.

2. Once filling and crust are cooled, spoon filling into crust and spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly against surface of filling, and chill for at least 6 hours or up to one day.

3. Before serving, pipe or spread stabilized whipped cream over the top.  Using the small holes on a grater or a microplane grader, grate final Dove Dark Chocolate Promise all over the top of the pie. Refrigerate until ready to serve and then refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes 1 whole pie

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mixed Nut Caramels

I'm back on a caramel making kick, and yesterday, I thought it would be fun to try using a mix of nuts rather than the usual straight almonds. Good call. You get a different flavor in each bite, and the caramel is dark, rich, and sweet as I like it to be. Mmm. 
I used unsalted almonds and pecans, but could only find salted macadamia nuts at Supertarget, so I reduced the salt in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon, and I think it worked. It's actually a nice contrast to bite into one of the macadamias, because you get a little burst of salt flavor with it. Very nice.
The caramel takes almost two hours to cook, but it's worth the time and effort. For me, it's a time to sit down and relax, stirring caramel and watching it go from cream colored to a deep golden brown. So satisfying to watch the transformation.
Give it a try.

Mixed Nut Caramels
     --Adapted from

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 cup butter, cut into one-inch chunks
  • 2 cups half and half (or 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup milk)
  • 2 heaping cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 1/2 cup (dry) roasted unsalted* macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup (dry) roasted unsalted* almonds
  • 1/2 cup (dry) roasted unsalted* pecans
*For each nut you use that is salted (as opposed to unsalted), reduce the amount of salt in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Line a  9x13 inch pan with parchment and place nuts in the pan. Mix nuts so they're evenly distributed. Place parchment in another small dish, like an 8x8 inch pan or a pie plate--this is where you will pour the caramel you scrape from the pan. Place on a heat proof surface, like stove burners set to "off" or on a cooling rack. Also make sure you've measured your vanilla and set it aside where you can grab it once the caramel reaches temperature. 
  • Gather things you need to entertain you for the next hour and a half to two hours and/or make sure someone is home to spell you in case you need to use the restroom or just take a little break. You've been told.
  • Into a large heavy-bottomed stock pot (like an eight-quart stock pot), put the sugars, butter, half and half, corn syrup and salt. Place the pot on a burner set to low/medium-low heat (once it simmers you want it to remain simmering at the lowest temperature possible). Stir with a silicone spatula taking care not to splash it around. When butter is melted clip a candy thermometer on the side and pull up a tall chair or stool.
  • Keep stirring gently for the next hour and a half to two hours until the caramel reaches exactly 246 degrees** Fahrenheit on the candy thermometer. Remove the thermometer, and then remove the pot from the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Carefully pour the screaming hot caramel over the nuts, which I need to tell you may shift at this time. Once most of the caramel has been poured from the pan, pour the last bit and scrape out the pan into the smaller parchment-lined pan you have ready.
  • Use your silicone spatula to make sure caramel gets to all corners of the pan. With oven-mitted hands, carefully lift and tap the pan of hot caramel to force air bubbles up and out. 
  • Allow caramel to cool completely, which will take anywhere from 3 hours to overnight. You could speed it up by cooling it for 30 minutes on the counter and then refrigerating it for two hours. You'll have to let it come back to room temperature before cutting if you go the refrigerator route. I think it's easier to let it sit at room temperature.
  • When caramel has completely set up and is firm, cut it up and wrap caramels individually in small pieces of wax paper.
  • I cut my caramels into 1 1/2 x 1/2 inch sticks, and that gave me 108 pieces.
 Makes about 9 dozen caramels

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