Monthly Archives: May 2012

Mom’s Broccoli Salad

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Growing up,we pretty much had the same meals every week. Both of my parents worked full days, and most of the time I can remember my cousins staying with us, giving our parents that many more mouths to feed. While my mom was no super chef, but what she did make every week, she made extremely well. One of those dishes, which I constantly make today, is always a hit anywhere I go. That dish is my mother’s Broccoli Salad.

This salad has such simple ingredients, and, as much as I try to add or subtract from the list, it is always the best just the way she makes it, with one exception, the dressing. My mother uses a simple bottled Cole Slaw Dressing, where I’ve spiced things up a tad bit by using a mixture of Cole Slaw and Honey Mustard Dressings. I think it adds just a bit of a kick and takes it up to that next level.

This salad is good for pretty much anything. It’s makes a great vegetarian option for lunch, goes great with burgers and chicken, and is especially complimentary to BBQ. I also wouldn’t count it out with a nice hearty piece of breaded talapia or some fish sticks for the kids. Without further adieu, here’s my spin on my Mommy’s Broccoli Salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 C Broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 3/4 C (about 1/2) Red Onion, small dice
  • 3/4 C Cheddar Cheese, shredded or small dice (Pepper Jack makes a lovely substitute as well)
  • 1/2 C Bacon, crumbled or chopped (About 4 slices) **Leave out for vegetarian option**
  • 3/4 C (about 2 stalks) Celery, halved and diced
  • 1/2 C Cole Slaw Dressing
  • 1 TBSP Lt. Honey Mustard Dijon Dressing (or make your own, combining, 2 to 1, Dijon Mustard to Honey)

1. Begin by slicing strips of bacon into “lardons”, or small strips. Cook them in a pan until brown and crispy. You can also cook full strips and chop them after. Either way is fine.

2. Chop your broccoli into florets. The stalk is completely edible and tastes pretty good. You want to chop your large head into smaller heads. Slice the stalk until you reach the head, Then, begin slicing it into small florets.

3. Chop your red onion in half and remove the paper on the outside. **Here’s a tip: to help you hold the onion as you chop it, pull the paper, or inedible outer skin, of the onion to the end, but not off. As you get to the end of the onion, this will give you more to hold onto. Slice the onion horizontally about 3 times, then vertically. Now, chop into a small dice.

4. Chop your cheese any way you like. I found this handy dandy cheese slicer on sale while I was in Germany, but they are definitely sold all over the world. It utilizes a handle with a small wire that slices through any cheese like butter. If you cut a lot of cheese, and I LOVE cheese, this is an awesome little gadget to have, and you can find them on sale all the time. This one is marble, and keeps the cheese nice and cold, but they come in other materials, like wood and plastic, as well.

5. Slice celery stalks in half. Feel free to use the leaves as well, and dice.

6. Dump everything into a bowl and toss it lightly. Mix the dressings and pour over the salad. Toss until everything is coated. All Done!

You can make this salad the night before or earlier in the day. If you plan on making this early, my suggestion is to wait until at least 2 hours before serving to add the cheese. I find the cheese tends to get mushy if left in the dressing all day or overnight. I don’t like that much dressing on mine, so I usually don’t have to worry too much about it going mushy if I make it the night before, or eat it a day or 2 later. Make this salad! You will not be sorry. ENJOY!

Crispy Chicken Wrap

How many times have you wanted a quick, but satisfying lunch without sitting in a line full of cars or using the same lunch meat as always? I work at home, and I find it so easy to either forget to eat, or to get very frustrated by eating the same old thing. Recently, I had a chicken wrap from a fast food restaurant. It was so good. I thought to myself, “I can do this at home.” So I did!

Ingredients per wrap:

  • 1 piece of cooked chicken, crispy or grilled and cut into strips
  • 1/2 Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 slices of Baby Swiss Cheese
  • Handful of Arugula, or Baby Spinach (really any green leaf will work here)
  • Honey Mustard Dressing (1 TBSP Mustard, 1 tsp Honey, Salt & Pepper)
  • 1 Flour Tortilla
  1. Drizzle dressing on tortilla.
  2. Layer with your ingredients, leaving about 2 inches at the bottom for folding.
  3. Fold tortilla by bringing the bottom 2 inches toward the top. Fold the left over the middle, repeat with the right.
  4. EAT and Enjoy! How hard was that? Not at all.

I know this is so simple, but when I want something fresh and easy, but certainly different than my usual lunch meat sandwich, this is where I turn. It’s packed with fresh veg and protein. I always keep precooked chicken strips on hand, so all I have to do is pop them in the oven or microwave for a few. I slice and prep everything else, and by the time I’m finished with that, the chicken is ready, and I’m eating. It’s quick enough that I can stop working and pick right back up where I left off, and easy enough that I don’t have to worry about tons of steps. Hope you enjoy this quick lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Fries

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Every once in a while you want something simple, fast, and categorized as utter food porn. A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip to Knotts Berry Farm. Tiny park, but some I the most awesome roller coasters I’ve ever ridden. For lunch, we stopped in Fiesta Village at this place called Papa Loca. They sell nothing but fries. FRIES, FRIES, FRIES! This place has combinations that would blow your mind. My husband is a fry fan like no one I’ve ever met. So, after walking the park numerous times, I finally agreed to eat here. His eyes lit up like a kid at a carnival, and he started going back and forth about which one to get. Finally, he reasoned that I should get one and he would get this one, because clearly they were the two best.

Neither of us have been able to get those fries out of our minds. Well, my husband has been working extra hard at work this week, so I decided to surprise him for dinner.

These fries are open to so many possibilities. It starts by using any fries you like and adding any topping you want, but, since one of our favorites that day were the chili cheese fries with steak, that’s what I went for. My other goal with these fries was to make them easy. I’ve been battling a cold since last weekend, and, though the fever broke, I’m still pretty tired, and most of my energy has been spent catching up on housework and our very energetic dogs. However you make your fries, make it simple. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

1 LB Chuck Steak, or ground beef
Marinade: 2 TBSP Steak Seasoning, 1/4 C Worcestershire Sauce, 1 TBSP Liquid Smoke, 2 Bay Leaves, 1/2 TBSP Garlic Powder, 1/2 Yellow Onion (thinly sliced).
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Black Beans
1 pk Chili Seasoning
1 Can Nacho Cheese
1-2 C Arugula
1 Tomato, med dice
2 TBSP Onion, small dice
1 Green Onion, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 LB French Fries, cooked and seasoned

1. Make the marinade in a sealable plastic bag and add the steak. Seal the bag and rub the marinade into the steak. Pop it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Pull it out and allow it to come to room temp before cooking, about 20-30 minutes. (This will allow the meat to relax, and it will be much more tender when you cook it.)
2. Heat a pan on med heat and add a few TBSP of oil. Once the pan is hot, remove the steak from the bag and lay it in the pan. Cook it to your desired temp. Try to get a nice browning on both sides. Don’t worry if the onions get in the way. You can discard them once you’ve cooked the meat. When finished, remove the steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest while you prepare everything else. Slice it into thin strips to layer it.

Fits perfectly in my dutch oven, and the high sides keep oil from splattering everywhere.

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Thinly sliced so it’s easy to eat with everything else. Medium or well, however you or your guests like it.

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3. Begin working on your other toppings. In a pot, empty your cans of beans and tomatoes, with the liquid. Bring to a boil, then, add the chili seasoning and reduce to a simmer. Cook at least 10 minutes, but don’t worry if it goes longer. It’ll be fine, just turn it to low when you’re finished and stir occasionally.

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4. Meanwhile, you can empty your can of cheese into a small pot or microwaveable bowl and heat it any way you want. If you’re heating it on the stove top, keep the heat on low and stir it often. If microwaving, keep the timer to 30 seconds to begin with, stirring completely after every rotation. Lower the timer as it begins to heat through, like melting chocolate.
5. Prep your ingredients in an assembly line and let everyone make their own or stack it the way you think best. I stacked mine by starting with the fries first, then the arugula, chili, steak, yellow onions, cheese, tomatoes and green onions.

I know the arugula sounds weird, but it definitely adds a great texture in the layers and a pepperiness. The fresh onions and tomatoes just add a lightness and brightness to the dish and it doesn’t seem as heavy with the chili and processed cheese. I added a bit of cracked black pepper to the fries along with some kosher salt as they came out of the oven, but you can also add seasoning salt or Cajun seasoning, or a little chili pepper, or whatever else you like.

The best thing about these fries is that they’re totally customizable. You can make your special chili or homemade cheese sauce, you can use avocado and steak to lighten it instead of chili and cheese. You can use hamburger instead of steak. You can make it meatless for that vegetarian option. Add bacon, chicken, or shrimp or use my homemade tortilla chip recipe.

This is perfect for game day get togethers or tailgating parties. It’s even something different for potlucks, and has everything kids and men love! However, you make these… MAKE THESE, and Enjoy!

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Dessert Nachos… Say What?!

Did I just say Dessert Nachos? Indeed! There’s this awesome little restaurant my friends and I used to go to all the time called Tres Pesos. I know the name doesn’t sound German, but that’s where it was, I promise. It’s this awesome Mexican restaurant on a corner of Niederwerrner Strasse. They have some amazing food, but what my friends and I loved the most, was making a quick lunch stop on a hot summer day for their dessert nachos. This place made their own tortilla chips which were super large, dusted in cinnamon and sugar, topped with ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. It was A-mazing!

So, with the weather warming, I thought to myself, why not relive a little of that experience and bring some of my favorite German Mexican restaurant home to California. If that makes any sense. Hahaha. Here’s how I did it.

Start with my recipe for Sweet or Salty Tortilla Chips. Here’s a quick refresher:

  • Cut corn tortillas in quarters.
  • Fry in oil heated to 360˚ F.
  • Remove and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. You may want to use more cinnamon than sugar to bring out the sweetness for this dessert.

**Note** I don’t recommend making these chips days ahead of time. I’ve made these a couple days before and put them in an airtight container and they were slightly stale. Not horribly, though, so you may be able to get away with a day ahead of time. You will definitely be okay making them earlier in the day and storing them in a plastic bag.

So, that took all of, maybe, 10 minutes. When you’re ready to serve, layer your dessert just like nachos!

Use whatever ice cream and toppings you like. Here, I used some Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet I’d been experimenting with.

Lay your chips on the bottom, as many as you like, depending on how many you’re serving. Top with your ice cream. It looks wonderful when it’s filled up with a variety of ice creams, but there are only two of us. You can make it a sundae by crumbling brownies over the chips, then topping with ice cream, or using fruit pieces like sliced bananas, kiwi, strawberries, mango, pineapple, etc, to top your ice cream. Then, you don’t feel so bad about eating it.

In this case, simple was the best, especially right after a big dinner.

I chose to keep it simple by drizzling some of my homemade caramel sauce around and over the top. There’s nothing better than these sweet and crunchy tortilla chips covered in caramel sauce. Oddly enough, I would feel horrible just eating these chips with caramel. Somehow the ice cream makes it all seem better.

I love making these chips alone as a snack, but I love them even more as a simple, but elegant dessert when I have company. Who doesn’t love ice cream, and this is a great way to present it, and offer your guests something a little special. Enjoy!

 

 

If you like this and other recipes from my blog, be sure to vote for me in the zuuzs Grand Spring Recipe Challenge!

 

 

Don’t forget to also use these tasty treats to dress up your desserts! A simple Vanilla Dream Ice Cream, with or without my Edible Coffee Chocolate Bowl, drizzled with a sauce of your choosing will turn your regular dessert from ordinary to OMG THIS IS FABULOUS!

Do-It-Yourself Sweet or Salty Tortilla Chips

I love these chips because, like most of the foods I try to publish, they are super simple. I have seen so many people make variations of these, and I finally decided, I have to try them. I did, and they were wonderful! Make them any shape you like, dust them with any spice that suits you, but MAKE THEM. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

  • 6″ Corn Tortillas (Each tortilla makes 4 triangles)
  • Oil for frying (I use peanut oil)
  1. Heat Oil to 360˚F. You can use a deep fryer, but I use a small pot with about 4 inches of oil.
  2. Slice tortillas vertically and horizontally, like slicing a pizza.
  3. Once the oil is hot, drop in the tortillas, 4 at a time. If using a pot, you may have to flip them. Watch for browning along the edges. It takes about 30 seconds per side. Remove them to a paper towel.
  4. While they are still hot, sprinkle them with your spice mixture. For nachos, or regular tortilla chips, I like to simply use kosher salt. For dessert nachos, I like using a salt and sugar mixture. You can sprinkle them by hand if using spices, or you can put your spice mix in a small paper sandwich bag. Drop in your chips and shake in the bag to coat.
  5. Remove them and set to the side. Repeat with each batch.
  6. Serve however you like. These are great with salsas, dips, spreads, you name it. They make great thick chips. Try them with cinnamon and sugar to make some awesome Dessert Nachos.

With sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmmmmm.

BBQ Chicken Nachos

These nachos are super easy and super quick, especially with my shortcut. What is this shortcut? Precooked chicken. I like to make these with the chicken I use for my chicken stock. You can also use a rotisserie chicken. Here’s how I do it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Chicken, precooked
  • Tortilla Chips (Try my recipe)
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Shredded or Nacho Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Green Onions
  • **You can use any nacho ingredients you want. They’re your nachos!
  1. Prep the chicken. It’s messy, but simple. Just peel off the skin and pull the meat off the bone. Shred it with your hands or two forks. Mix the chicken with your favorite BBQ Sauce. My favorite sauce is Sweet Baby Rays. I like to use the original and spice it up according to what I’m having, but you can go with the Hickory and Brown Sugar or Sweet Vadalia Onion flavors and you don’t have to add a thing.
  2. Layer your nachos. Start with the chips, top with the chicken, then layer the rest as you see fit. Now Enjoy! Was that easy or what?!

Do-IT-Yourself Chicken Stock

Making your own stock or base always sounds like a daunting task. Since the first time I ever made my own chicken stock, I’ve worked in my circle of friends and family to promote making chicken stock at home. It’s so simple, why wouldn’t you? Now, to set the record straight, I still buy boxed stock. I have my favorite, and I usually use it when I run out and need it in an emergency, or to mix with my own when I’m using it in multiple recipes.

What’s the benefit to making your own? Well, pretty much the same as anything else you could make from scratch. First and foremost you can determine exactly what goes into it. You feel good about using it and not worrying about the sodium or fat content, because you’re controlling it. You can add as much or as little flavor as you want to! Not that any of your stock would lack in flavor, but say you’re an onion fan, a garlic fan, a mushroom fan… whatever the case may be you can give your stock that flavor. You can make it for specific recipes, too. Probably one of my favorite things about homemade stock is that it cleans out your veggie drawer. Hahaha. Oh, the possibilities. The next question, how do I make this Oh So Simple, Oh So Satisfying chicken stock? Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

  • 1- 3-4 LB Chicken, innards removed
  • 6 to 8 C Water
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Celery stalks, with leaves
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 White or Yellow Onion
  • 5 Button Mushrooms
  • 1 TBSP Peppercorns
  • ** You can add as much or as little of any of these as you like. For this particular batch, I also added a couple parsnips. Mostly because I had a bag of them that needed used.

Now, I know it seems like a lot of water, but I prefer to begin with a ton of water for 2 reasons. 1, it’ll cook down and you can cook it longer to get the most out of all the flavors you’re using. 2, It’ll cook the chicken, and when you’re finished, you’ll have a fully cooked chicken when all is said and done.

  1. Rinse chicken, remove any innards (heart, neck, liver, etc). Place in a deep stock pot and add water. I like to add enough water that it almost covers the chicken, but not quite. Once you add the veggies, the water will rise.
  2. Add veggies. You don’t have to peel anything as long as it’s clean. I still peel my onions, carrots and parsnips if they’re really dirty. otherwise, a rinse is fine. Just cut them in halves or quarters and toss them in the pot with the chicken.
  3. Boil for about 2 hours. Once it’s finished, you will notice it is the color of regular chicken broth. Taste it. It should have a rich chicken flavor.
  4. Strain the chicken and veggies into a bowl.

    Now, you can use the veggies in another recipe, like a soup, and the chicken for anything you like.

  5. A lot of people let the stock cool. Then, they scrape off the fat layer from the top. I just put the whole thing in the fridge in a container. The next day, the fat will have risen to the top and hardened. It’s easier to remove this way in my opinion. You can now put it in the freezer for up to a month, or back into the fridge for up to a week.
  6. Discard the veggies or use them in a soup. They’re full of flavor and perfect for blending. As for the chicken, it will fall right off the bone. Use it in a soup, sandwich, or try my shredded BBQ Chicken Nachos recipe.

ENJOY!!!

French Vanilla Dream Ice Cream with an Edible Chocolate Coffee Bowl

I entered this recipe in the zuuzs Grand Spring Recipe Challenge. Vote for me and see what other wonderful recipes were entered.

Most people associate ice cream with summer, but I actually associate it with spring. I’m from Ohio, and the first warm days of late April or early May would be spent hunting for an open ice cream spot. I am such a HUGE ice cream fan. I like all different flavors and all different types. From classic vanilla ice cream to sherbets and sorbets to the amazing richness of gelato, I love them all!!! For my birthday this year, my husband bought me an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Unfortunately, for us both, I have not stopped making ice cream. It’s been excessive and ridiculous. I have experimented with everything from White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Ice Cream, Peppermint Fudge Avalanche Ice Cream, and Chocolate and Caramel Swirl Ice Cream to Strawberry Sherbet. For my latest venture, I wanted to do something classic, but special, so, I started with my first memories and worked my way out to where my foodie experiences all over the world have led me.
When I think ice cream, I immediately think of Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH. For ice cream, there’s no place like it. They raise their cows on site, and have been making ice cream since the 1960’s. Piece by piece, they’ve added a bakery, a dining room, and, even a putt-putt course. My favorite ice cream here is the Cotton Candy. I always get it in shake form whenever I visit the restaurant. There is not an elementary school in our county that didn’t have an end-of-the-year field trip to Young’s. My family didn’t have much money when I was growing up, so we didn’t get many treats. Going to McDonald’s for us was a big deal. During the summer, though, trips to Young’s were a regular occurrence. We could have a full family experience, see people from our community, and enjoy the best homemade ice cream in the mid-west, and for a great price.
Moving on to the rest of my days, I have enjoyed ice creams with candy, herbs and liquors. I have had some amazing gelatos in Italy, some dreamy concoctions in France, and some of the freshest ice cream in Germany. The one I remember most, though, was in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. I went with a good friend of mine, Amy, and her mother. It was the day before Christmas Eve. We walked all around the beautiful little city, and had the best European-made pizza I had in my three years overseas. Our first night there, though, we had some amazing food in this tiny restaurant on the on the bridge over the water. We had this incredibly rude waitress who was bum-fuddled when we said yes to dessert. Incredibly annoyed, she walked back to the kitchen and returned with the dessert special, vanilla ice cream with warm fudge sauce. So good. What I remember is how that vanilla held its own with the fudge syrup. It was a base, as vanilla often is, but it wasn’t the plate. It was an edible vessel that added to the sauce.
All that being said, that is what I finally decided to make. I wanted to make a classic vanilla ice cream that was creamy, the way i remember it in my youth, and one that can stand up to a delicious sauce. I also wanted to create that edible vessel to dress it up and add a little extra something. Well, to keep with my Europe theme, I went with the, also classic, crepe. But, I couldn’t just do a crepe. I had to dress it up a little. So I thought, why not a chocolate coffee crepe. The perfect combination for the end of the meal. Really want to spice things up? Make it a triple threat. Try this vanilla ice cream recipe with the chocolate coffee crepe bowl, and top it with dulce de leche or caramel sauce. With that said, here’s how I made it.
French Vanilla Dream Ice Cream

I couldn’t wait for it to freeze. I had to have a bowl straight out of the ice cream maker. That, to me, is when it’s the best.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 C Half & Half
1 1/3 C Heavy Cream
1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeded
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 C Sugar
Pinch Salt
Your favorite ice cream toppings
1. Combine the half & half, heavy cream, and vanilla bean with its seeds in a medium pot. Turn heat to medium and cook until little bubbles form around the edges. Do not let it boil. Once it reaches the bubble stage turn of the heat, remove the split vanilla bean and leave it.

Once these little bubbles start to form around the edges, turn it off and remove the vanilla pod. It’s perfect!

2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar until they are a light yellow and well combined.
3. Temper the egg mixture, whisking while slowly adding 1/3 of the cream. Once incorporated, pour the egg mixture back into the cream and return to a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook about 5-7 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
4. Remove from heat and strain into a freezer proof bowl. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and freeze for 2-3 hours.
5. When time is up, pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow the directions.
6. While ice cream is churning, make mixture for crepes.
Edible Chocolate Crepe Bowl

All they need is a filling!

Ingredients:
3 TBSP Butter, softened
2 TBSP Sugar
2 Eggs
1 C Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 C Flour
1/4 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Instant Coffee
1-2 TBSP oil (for brushing on pan)
7. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla.
8. Sift flour, cocoa powder and coffee. Add to wet ingredients. Mix until combined. Mixture should be thin, almost like milk.
9. Heat a nonstick pan. When hot, brush lightly with oil. Take a ladle full of batter, about 3-4 TBSP, and pour into the middle of the pan. Rotate the pan to spread the batter evenly around the pan. Once you see little bubbles forming on the top of the batter, and it’s no longer wet looking, it’s time to flip. Use a spatula to gently flip the crepe. Let it cook for about 5 seconds and slide onto a plate.

Once the top bubbles up and begins to lose its wet sheen, it’s time to flip.

10. Pour the next crepe. While its cooking, lay your finished crepe over the cup of a muffin tin. Gently press in the middle and allow the crepe to form to the cup. It will fold on one or more sides. Allow it to fold and hold the shape.

It looks intricate, but it’s simple. Just let it fold the way it wants to in order to fit perfectly in the cup.

11. Finish shaping the crepes to the muffin tin cups and pop it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The edges should’ve crisp and the crepe should hold its shape. The inside may be spongy or slightly crisp, depending on your pan. Either is fine.
Assembly
12. Serve your ice cream straight out of the machine, soft serve style, or freeze it for 2-3 hours until sufficiently frozen. Place a scoop, or two, into the chocolate coffee cup. Top with your favorite homemade or store bought drizzle and garnish.
*I like to topped mine with homemade dulce de leche and a homemade dessert corn chip. Enjoy!!!