Tuesday, September 30, 2014

habanero hot sauce

I had decided several years ago that I was going to grow habanero chiles, one day. This year, I did it. Nothing fancy, just the orange ones, but man, did I enjoy seeing that gorgeous plant with all the hanging ornaments, waiting to make my eyes water. Truly beautiful.

Not knowing what to do with so much abundance, I started out with habanero pepper jelly. It is SO GOOD. That's for a later post. :)

I wanted to make habanero hot sauce. Not what a lot of people around here call hot sauce, the kind that is a bit chunky and you eat with tortilla chips - but instead, something like Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce, that you sprinkle on your food. That's the texture I was after.

After frying my brain with all the variations of recipes I found, I decided on Rick Bayless's version. Pretty much the way he did it, I didn't change a thing (surprise! lol).

Habanero Hot Sauce
Rick Bayless

5 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup peeled, chopped carrot (1 medium or about 6 decent sized baby carrots)
1/2 cup chopped white onion
12 medium habanero chiles, destemmed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Roast the garlic in a skillet over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until soft. Cool and peel.

In a saucepan, combine carrot, onion, and chiles with vinegar and water. Partially cover and simmer until the carrots are completely tender, about 10 minutes. Pour into a blender jar, add the peeled roasted garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend until smooth. This with a little more water if you think it is too thick, and season with additional salt if you think it needs it.  Pour into bottles or jars and cover with a cork or lid. Store in the fridge. 

I love this so much, it's going to be a yearly thing from now on. 

moroccan chicken tagine

WOW, are there a lot of variations of this dish! Now there's a new one, I had to tweak it a bit since I didn't have enough olives. ;)  LOVED this. The recipe I followed (a bit loosely, admittedly) came from Simply Recipes, and you can find it here.

I don't have a tagine, so I started out using one of my pride and joy pieces, my oval Le Creuset Dutch oven. All the chicken wouldn't fit, though, so I also used my Staub 4 quart Dutch oven (love that one).  I just split all the ingredients accordingly between the 2 pots.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (2 drumsticks, thighs, wings; back separated from breast and cut in 2 pieces; and 2 breasts, each cut in half to make 4 pieces)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (heaping)

Combine the spices in a bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then put in the bowl with the spices and toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand 1 hour.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven(s) on medium high heat. Lightly sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt. (I omitted the salt in this step and just salted to taste on the plate). Place the chicken pieces in the hot oil, skin side down, and cook for 5 minutes. Top the chicken with the onion and garlic, cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 15 minutes.

the rind from 1 preserved lemon (wash in cold water, remove pulp and discard, and cut the rind into thin strips)
1 cup green olives, pitted (I used 1/2 cup green olives with pimiento, halved, and then chopped about 1/4 cup of pickled okra)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup water

After the 15 minute cooking, turn chicken pieces over, top with preserved lemon, olives (and okra), raisins, and water. Bring to a simmer, cover again, reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes.

Top with 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, and serve over rice. (I did not have the herbs but it was fantastic anyway).

This recipe takes a bit of time, but it is well worth it. The preserved lemon rind and the olives add such a salty tang to the dish, the raisins are a sweet surprise that does not take over, and the sauce over the rice is wonderful.

banana mango smoothie

I didn't care much for smoothies a few years ago. Somehow, they always collected in the back of my throat and got really hard to swallow, after a few sips.

Something changed, though. Maybe it was the addition of ice, which was not the usual way back when. I absolutely adore smoothies now.

Here is our current favorite. Adding a big handful of spinach will add lots of good stuff for your body, not taste much different, and turn the smoothie a lovely shade of green. :)

Banana Mango Smoothie

In a blender pitcher, add 1 cup milk, 1 cup greek yogurt, 1 1/2 cups ice cubes, 1 banana (broken into pieces), 1 mango (peeled and chunked), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon honey. Blend until smooth and thick.

This whips up into about 6 cups of smoothie, so I guess 6 servings at the breakfast table with some other breakfast items. We tend to split it between 3 - Dillon and I take ours and head to work/school, and Stevie, who doesn't have to be out and about as early, can have hers at a bit more leisurely pace.


This is how most of my recipes start - scribbled on a pad from somewhere on the web. If they pass the test, they find a home in my recipe box on a cute little recipe card. lol

roasted chickpea ratatouille

I've been pretty absent/pretty busy/pretty neglectful lately about posting but I have been collecting photos and recipes!  Here on the last day of September 2014, I'll do a run on posting and share some of what I've been cooking.

For quite a while now, I've been roasting veggies instead of most other preparations, because the flavors intensify and I adore that crispy crunchy goodness. So this recipe didn't surprise me - well, except for the chickpeas part. Roasted chickpeas? Had to give it a try.

I'm not sure this really qualifies as a ratatouille, but here is the original recipe on Love and Lemons, where she used a few different vegetables than I did, as well as different vinegar, but the basics were almost the same. This blogger also cooked hers a bit longer than I did; I think I like a little more crunch to my goodness than she perhaps does.

I did not use eggplant nor did I serve mine on rice. Dillon has texted me earlier in the day, asking for alfredo, so I combined that request with this experiment and served these veggies over whole-wheat egg noodle alfredo. It. Was. Amazingly. Good.  I also roasted cabbage and, on a whim, fennel. It was the first time I'd roasted fennel, and I can tell you that it was my favorite part of the meal. I will be doing that again. Stevie adored the chickpeas, which I thought were a little too hard, so when we made this again a couple days later, I decreased the cooking time by 5 minutes after adding the vinegar.  I liked the chickpeas much better then.

Roasted Chickpea Ratatouille

1 fennel, cored and diced
2 roma tomatoes or 8 large cherry tomatoes, cut into wedges (roma) or halved (cherry)
2 or 3 medium yellow squash or zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then cut into 1.5 inch wedges
1/4 of a head of cabbage, chopped into large pieces
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dried chili flakes (optional)
couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place all the vegetables and the chickpeas on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili flakes (if using), then toss gently to coat. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss gently with spatula, then bake for 5 more minutes. Serve hot over rice, noodles, or just eat as a side without a starch.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

caprese salad

My favorite vegetable? Tomato. My favorite herb? Basil (with a close runner up of parsley). My favorite cheese? Any. (lol)  But fresh mozzerella is very close to the top of the list.

My heirloom tomatoes are starting to ripen at a steady, eat-one-or-two-a-day rate. Yesterday, I made a caprese salad with room temp mozzerella and heirloom tomatoes, and some beautiful basil from my mom. I am currently out of olive oil, so I just left that part off this time.  Also, I noticed the Pioneer Woman makes a balsamic reduction and drizzles that, so I will be giving that a go as well.

Caprese Salad

fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced thick
fresh mozzerella, brought to room temperature or warmed in a bowl of warm salt water, and sliced
fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Layer the first 4 ingredients on a plate as so: tomato, cheese, basil leaf, salt and pepper. As a final touch, drizzle good olive oil over the salad. Enjoy!

So, so, so good. I could eat this every day.

(heirloom tomatoes pictured:  the dark one, Black Krim; the red one, Homestead; and the yellow one, Mr. Stripey)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

preserved lemons

I've been wanting to try this for a while now. It's a little time consuming, but simple to do.  They will hang out for 4-6 weeks and then I'll be giving them a taste test, and hopefully making this chicken dish, which I've been eyeing for a while now.

Preserved Lemons

Prepare a clean, heat-proof glass jar by filling it with boiling water; soak the lid covered in boiling water also (do not use metal).  Prepare the lemons.

7-8 large Meyer lemons
extra lemons for juicing (probably 4-5)
Sea salt

Cut the ends off the lemons. Stand a lemon on the end, slice through vertically until you reach about 1/2 inch from the bottom - do not cut completely through. Make another slice crosswise to the first. Your lemon will be quartered, but still connected at the bottom. Prepare all the lemons this way.

Empty the jar and pour 2 tablespoons of sea salt onto the bottom.

Open the quartered lemon and pour in 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Squish it around so the salt starts working on the lemon juices (do this over a cutting board with a trough, so you can collect any juice and salt that is released), and then smash it down into the bottom of the jar. Repeat with the remaining lemons, smashing them down to release the juices. When all the quartered lemons are in the jar, juice enough of the remaining lemons to cover the jarred lemons completely in juice.  Be sure to add the collected juice/salt that is on the cutting board.

My lemons floated a bit, so I cut a circle from a plastic container lid (such as a ricotta container) and put it over the top of the lemons to keep them submerged.

Set the jar in a cool place out of direct light and leave to preserve for at least 4 weeks. To use, rinse the excess salt off the lemon first, and use both pulp and peel as your recipe dictates.

 I'll surely be letting you know how this works out. :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

roasted banana bread

Roasted bananas are genius. We all know the best banana bread comes from way over-ripe bananas, but when you only have firm, ripe, still-eatable bananas, roasting them is a way to concentrate and intensify the flavors to something that's even better than over-ripe.

I used mostly white whole wheat flour in this, so it's a bit more dense and chewy and nutty than using all-purpose alone. You can use the all purpose exclusively if you like. Also, it's not overly sweet - but I don't think quick breads necessarily should be super sweet. I found this one to be perfect.  If you choose to add all sugar rather than sugar+Stevia, use 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  You can also replace the Greek yogurt with sour cream if you like.  Feel free to add toasted pecans or walnuts as desired.

Roasted Banana Bread

4 large firm, ripe (but not over-ripe) bananas
2 sticks butter (I used salted for this recipe)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons white Stevia powder
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt

Place butter, eggs, and yogurt on the counter to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes to an hour before making bread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees to roast bananas. Grease and flour a Bundt pan, or 2 loaf pans.

Place bananas on a baking sheet, still in the peels. Roast for 15 minutes; flip them to the other side and roast 15 minutes more. Let cool to handle, peel, and place 3 bananas and the juice from the baking sheet in a bowl. Mash thoroughly. Slice the other banana in half (for loaf pans) or in thirds (Bundt pan).

Cream softened butter with the sugar and Stevia. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well with each addition.  Add mashed bananas and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Alternate adding dry ingredients with yogurt to the banana mixture, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Do not overmix.

Pour into Bundt pan, or halve between the 2 loaf pans. Place remaining sliced banana on top of batter. Bake for 1 hour, 5 minutes to 1 hour, 10 minutes. Start watching and testing at 1 hour.  Turn out bread onto a wire rack to cool a few minutes before slicing and serving warm.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

almond joy popsicles

Seriously? Seriously. SERIOUSLY!

My original intent was Mounds popsicles, since that is my favorite candy. But no dark chocolate in the house, and I just couldn't wait.

I toasted some almonds and chopped them fine for most of these, sprinkling them lightly over the coconut layer. But just in case we didn't like that, I left the almonds out of some also.

This layering involves a lot of time, because you have to freeze each layer at least partially so that you can pour on the next. I was a bit impatient, so the lines between are kind of muddled. My mom suggested that maybe mixing the chocolate and coconut mixtures together would give the same flavor but much quicker. I will be trying that, and am thinking that maybe partially coating the frozen popsicles in a light dusting of fine-chopped almonds would be a great way to incorporate that ingredient, and would look cool too. We'll try that next time, because there WILL be a next time!  I really like these.  They taste just like an Almond Joy candy bar.

Almond Joy Popsicles

Chocolate Layer
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 cups milk

In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour, and cocoa. Stir in milk slowly, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Cool.

Coconut Layer
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 14 ounce cans coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut flakes

In a saucepan, combine sugar and flour. Whisk in coconut milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in coconut flakes, and cool completely.

Additional ingredient for popsicles: toasted almonds, chopped fine.

Using a funnel, pour a couple of tablespoons of chocolate mixture into popsicle molds; freeze for 30 minutes. Using a separate funnel, pour a couple tablespoons of coconut mixture over the chocolate layer; freeze for 15 minutes, then sprinkle chopped almonds over this layer. Freezer for 15 more minutes. Repeat layers until popsicle molds are 1/2 inch from top. NOTE! When first 2 layers are set, after pouring 3rd layer (2nd chocolate layer), top with mold lid and insert popsicle sticks. You will have to carefully remove the lid after this layer freezes.  Continue adding layers around the popsicle sticks, being careful not to move them.

When layers are complete, freeze overnight. To remove, fill a large bowl or your sink with hot water, and immerse the popsicle molds in the water up to the top edge, being careful not to let water go over the top and get in with the popsicles.  Place on a tray and immediately freeze again for an hour. Remove from tray and place in freezer bags for storage.


diggin' taters

I have never lived very far from my parents but until I came back home and put a house right next door, it was too far.  Proven once again by the phone call from my dad: "We're digging the potatoes, wear some old jeans."

I truly love my life.  The place, the generosity of my family, getting dirty.  Thanking God for all these things and more.

I love how you can see the shape of my dad's hat in the shadow.

Ready for the next row of whatever Dad decides to plant.

Supervision is hard work!