Tag Archives: recipes

An addendum to the best iced coffee

If you’re anything like me, the thought of drinking hot coffee when the forecast is anything above 85, sounds miserable. My head feels hot and sweaty just thinking about it.

So last summer, when just about everyone I know jumped on Pioneer Woman’s cold brew iced coffee bandwagon, I did too. It seriously is the best iced coffee ever. Ever.

This past winter when hot coffee returned to my life, I discovered caramel sauce in coffee and once again my coffee world got rocked by goodness. Once you start, you won’t go back.

Except for one problem, caramel plus cold doesn’t exactly go together. You wind up with a big lump of caramel in your coffee and it refuses to dissolve.

Hence this addendum.

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Follow the instructions by clicking through the link above to the perfect iced coffee.

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Then take a jar of this…

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…and put it in a small saucepan like this. Fill the saucepan the rest of the way with some of your cold brew.

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Turn the heat up to medium.

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Start whisking it together until the caramel sauce is all dissolved and smooth in the coffee. Turn the heat off.

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Return your mixture to the pitcher with the rest of your coffee.

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Put ice in your drinking cup, pour the mixture in and add half and half or milk to taste.

Return the pitcher with the remaining coffee to the fridge for further coffee drinking later in the day or tomorrow. Stephen, who only very recently became a coffee drinker, said, “How’d you do that? You made it taste just like a [copyrighted major coffee chain’s blended coffee drink]!” I don’t think it is quite that sweet, but it is definitely good.

Edit:

Some specifics…
-When I make the coffee, I grind up 4 cups of Trader Joe’s Smooth and Mellow Blend whole beans (as in there are 4 cups of beans prior to grinding) and place it in my largest bowl with cold water within 1/2″ of the top. I let it sit on my counter over night.
-I strain it into a 1 gallon pitcher and it usually comes within 2″ of the top of that, so not quite a gallon.
-The saucepan I use is a 1.5 qt and after filling it with the caramel, I fill it the rest if the way with coffee, within an inch of the top.

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Rigatoni with butternut squash, bacon and caramelized onions

During a recent nap time, I went through all my cookbooks, found all my favorite recipes and those I had not yet tried that sounded good based on their ingredients or the picture. And what did I do with all these recipes? I made a giant, five page alphabetical Word document index. It’s organized like this:

Recipe title (main ingredients), Publication Title page number.

Yes, I am that crazy, anal retentive, type A, overly organized, and all the other adjectives I am sure you can have fun coming up with for me.

I am so happy I did this because I found lots of new recipes and having the main ingredient list next to each recipe allows me to find them based on what is in season.

So this recipe is based on one I found in a book I have had for years that went largely ignored.

Rigatoni with butternut squash, bacon and caramelized onions
Adapted from “Rigatoni with Squash and Caramelized Onions” in Food & Wine Best of the Best Vol. 9 which is a compilation of recipe books and this one is originally from Recipes by Susan Spungen, the founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients
-1/2 lb rigatoni
-1 butternut squash
-2 garlic cloves, pressed
-1 tbsp butter
-1 onion, halved and sliced
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
-dash or two pumpkin pie spice
-2 thick slices bacon, chopped
-1 cup stock (I used vegetable)
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta in salted water two minutes less than recommended time on package (it will continue to cook in the oven).

While the pasta is cooking, peel, chop and remove the seeds from your butternut squash.

Brown the bacon. Remove from pan and drain. Set aside. Add the garlic, onions and butter to the pan and brown. Add 1/4 cup water and cook 5 more minutes.

Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Add the oil, squash, half the rosemary, salt, and pepper and sauté until tender when pierced with a knife. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer around 8-10 minutes. Add cream, bring to a boil and simmer one minute more. Remove from heat.

Combine with bacon, pasta and all remaining ingredients thoroughly, reserving 1/2 cup cheese. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake 30-35 min until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.

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Serve with a salad of mixed greens, apple, pomegranate, green onions and sunflower seeds dressed with olive oil, salt and vinegar. You may also want a bit of warm bread at the end to sop up the sauce.

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Banana Bread French Toast

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Last time we were in Bakersfield, we were at our favorite breakfast place and I was trying to figure out what to order the kids that they would eat. They were hopped up on treats from Grandma and being extra picky. I saw Banana Bread French Toast on the menu and decided that would probably work.

The kids ate every bite. This was of course because it wasn’t really French Toast. Big cubes of warm banana bread drizzled with syrup and dusted with powdered sugar would probably get any kid to eat. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.

But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the concept since.

So last night I made the banana bread and this morning I turned it into bona fide egg-dipped French toast. And the kids still ate this version too.

For the Banana Bread
•3 mashed bananas
•3/4 cup sugar
•1 1/2 cup flour
•2 tsp baking powder
•1/4 tsp salt
•4oz cream cheese, softened
•1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
•1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine ingredients. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 55-60 min.

Let cool, slice.

For the French Toast
•3 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
•Banana Bread slices
•butter for frying
•sliced almonds and powdered sugar to garnish, optional

Dip the slices in the egg mixture quickly and transfer to hot pan or griddle prepared with butter. Fry on each side until golden. Remove from pan, garnish with almonds and/or powdered sugar and serve.

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Banana Nut Oatmeal

When I was growing up, as a quick breakfast for us girls, my parents often bought the instant oatmeal flavor variety pack. Cinnamon raisin and brown sugar were usually the first flavors gone followed by plain which we would doctor up with a ton of additions and then the banana nut/banana bread (depending on which company you bought it from), would sit and sit and sit. Nobody liked that flavor. I don’t know about my sisters, but for me it was the fake banana taste. I still hate that taste. I used to think I hated bananas because I hated banana flavor.

Anyway, the last few times I’ve had some overripe bananas I’ve made this much more natural (and way better tasting) version of those instant oatmeal flavor packs.

Ingredients:
-1 over-ripe banana
-1 cup rolled oats
-2 cups water
-1 or two handfuls chopped nuts (I used almonds and hazelnuts)
-1 handful of raisins or dried fruit (optional, I like the golden raisin and berry blend from TJs)
-couple large spoonfuls of yogurt
-couple dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
-1 tsp brown sugar
-squirt of honey

Place oats, nuts, honey, cinnamon, sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium low, stirring occasionally until water is absorbed into oats.

Meanwhile mash your banana in a medium bowl. Add in the yogurt and dried fruit. When the oatmeal mixture is ready stir that in too.

Top with fresh fruit, if desired.

Enjoy.

If you really want to splurge and make it sinful, add in a spoonful of Nutella. Just do it when the kids aren’t looking.

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Orzo Mac N’ Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

This is somewhat adapted from a Gourmet magazine recipe that I did years ago as part of a giant family Thanksgiving that I hosted and cooked for. I worked from memory and didn’t look up the recipe. I believe the recipe may have even been called “Grown-Up Mac ‘N Cheese,” or made reference to it being such.

It made enough to fill up two casserole dishes that will feed 4-5 depending on appetites. Which is perfect because I am trying to stock my freezer right now to be ready for baby #3.

Orzo Mac ‘N Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

Ingredients
• 1 package orzo pasta
• 1 large zucchini
• 1 boneless ham steak
• handful of shredded Mozzarella
• handful of shredded Monterey Jack
• handful of shredded cheddar
• dollop of sour cream based ranch dip (I make my own using sour cream and the herbs and spices I actually recognize from the back of a ranch packet/bottle/etc. It’s the only way I can be sure we aren’t eating some weird corn derivative or another random chemical I don’t recognize. Even the “natural” brands of ranch at Whole Foods have this. Grrr!)
• 1 tablespoon of butter
• 4-5 green onions

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook orzo according to package directions. You want al dente because it is going to cook more in the oven.

While pasta is cooking, dice your zucchini, ham, and green onions.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in all ingredients until well incorporated, reserving a little of the cheese.

Transfer to casserole dish(es) and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake 30 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges.

Remove and serve.

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Notes:

* If you want to go veggie, the ham is certainly optional. You may need to add a little salt in place of the salty ham.
* You could probably also add in other diced veg. I am thinking a red bell pepper would have been nice (and a good way to use up one of the three giant ones I got in our CSA box today) or peas or corn. The original recipe only had ham and green onions and three different fancy cheeses. So I wasn’t being terribly creative by just adding in the zucchini.
* You could also just use one kind of cheese, I happened to have those three in my fridge so that’s what I used.
*This is great with a salad.
*I am sure with the sour cream based ranch, butter and cheese this is full of tons of calories. I don’t worry about those things. If you do, you might want to consider substitutes. Or not eat food like this every night of the week.

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Red Enchilada Sauce

So I bought some pre-Mexican-marinated chicken that I grilled up last night for tacos. We had a lot leftover, like we always do when I buy or cook anything. At the risk of Mexican food overload, I decided that tonight I wanted to make enchiladas with it using some of our CSA veg.

I also decided that I wanted to make enchilada sauce from scratch because a) the kind I usually buy from TJs has several ingredients I don’t recognize, b) I had a can of organic tomato sauce that I wanted to use up, c) I figured it probably couldn’t be THAT hard to make, and d) homemade always tastes better.

So a few friends sent me some ideas and I finally found a few recipes online (after getting the search terms right, most enchilada recipes that initially come up just call for canned sauce) that I looked at too. And then I decided to wing it like I always do.

Red Enchilada Sauce
-1 can organic tomato sauce
-2 cans broth (I buy mine in one of those 1 qt tetra box things or I make my own, so you can use the tomato sauce can to measure it out and as a bonus it will rinse out all the extra tomato sauce)
-1 onion, diced
-2 jalepenos, diced (got these from our garden, yay!)
-a few shakes of salt
-couple dashes paprika
-couple dashes cumin
-couple dashes chili powder
-few dashes oregano
-some oil

Heat oil in pan over medium heat then add onion and jalepeno. Sauté until onion is slightly translucent. Add spices, sauce and broth.

Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a good bit. I did not do this because I was impatient. Big mistake. If the sauce is too hot, it will explode out of your blender. Let it cool!

After it cools down some, put it in your blender and blend until smooth. This will also help thicken it slightly.

Use as you normally would in your favorite enchilada recipe.

You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the spices and the jalepenos.

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Lisa’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix

When it comes to gluten-free baking everyone has an opinion about the right combination of flours because no one other grain seems to be able to mimic the elasticity, texture, flavor, etc. of wheat. The Internet is a really great resource for those with Celiac’s, wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. There are tons and tons of websites, blogs, gluten-free stores, cookbooks, and recipes to be found. And behind all of them is an opinion on this subject.

One baker will tell you that millet is a gluten-free bread baker’s dream. Another will say sorghum flour has a great texture. A lot of people are not fans of rice flour because of the grainy texture, which is funny because so many pre-made mixes are mostly made with rice flour (you’d think the makers of these mixes would listen, but I suspect it probably has more to do with the fact that rice is cheap). Certified gluten-free oat flour, I’ve heard numerous times, is the closest thing to wheat. Almond meal is perfect to bake with and produces the fluffiest baked goods. Some prefer to add things like flax seed meal or garbanzo bean flour to their mixes for extra protein and fiber (though just like eating regular garbanzo beans you might want to grab some Beano before enjoying a baked good that contains this flour). These are all things I’ve read on numerous websites and books dedicated to making the gluten-free life a little easier.

It has been nice having all these resources to go to since several family members have discovered varying levels of allergy and intolerance to wheat. Most recently my husband has gone gluten-free and about 6 weeks in now he is definitely noticing some benefits including the loss of 7lbs and a little pooch he’s never been able to get rid of (what some people refer to as “wheat belly”) no matter how hard he worked out or watched what he ate. I still have a stash of a few things I am holding onto and when we eat out I indulge, but for the most part our house is gluten-free now.

So the creative wheels have been turning. I needed a good mix of flours because one of the biggest obstacles, at least for me, to gluten-free baking is having to pull out several different bags of flours and pull a little from each bag. It takes up a lot of space on your counter and in your cupboards and it’s just annoying having to measure out that many ingredients.

The best stuff on the market that most people I know with wheat allergies use is probably Pamela’s mix. Unfortunately, it contains cultured buttermilk so Bean and Sprout can’t have anything that is made with it. I have had some seriously yummy treats baked with that stuff and so it is really a bummer that it won’t work for our family.

I decided today that I would take the opinions that I’ve read plus my own experience with gluten-free baking and try to come up with my very own all purpose mix that could be used as a cup for cup substitute in any recipe calling for flour that I tried. I am finally pretty happy with the result. No grainy textures, no bitter aftertaste, something that is somewhere between whole wheat and white in texture and taste, and a great elasticity in doughs and batter. So here it is, I am throwing my hat in the ring of gluten-free flour combo opinions:

Lisa’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix
-1 cup arrowroot starch/flour
-1 cup sorghum flour
-1 cup millet flour
-1 cup almond meal (I do like the blanched Bob’s Red Mill stuff better than the “Just Almond Meal” from TJ’s)
-1 cup oat flour
-1 cup potato starch
-1 cup sweet rice flour
-3 tbsp xanthan gum

Sift ingredients together (the almond meal and the oat flour had quite a few chunks, so this is important for a smooth end product) into a large bowl then use a wire whisk to combine thoroughly.

This made enough flour for a batch of muffins and a loaf of bread with some leftover. I made a second batch just before I put things away to keep in my big flour jar and have on hand for the next time I feel like baking. That way I can just take out the jar and measure out the amount of flour I need without a big production.


Gluten-free bread dough rising.


The finished loaf. I just found a simple bread recipe that used regular flour and substituted my flour mix.


Strawberry banana muffins using strawberries we got at the farmer’s market yesterday. Again, I just found a strawberry muffin recipe online and used my mix for the flour, a combo of hemp and coconut milk for the milk, and a banana instead of the egg it called for.

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