New Site Design!

12 Mar

My Utensil Crock ImageGood morning! It has been a little quiet around here – that’s because I have been working with a web designer on a fresh new layout! It is still the same web address – http://www.myutensilcrock.com – but you may have to refresh your browser or reset your cookies if you are still seeing the pink and black site.

If you follow this blog – Thank You! – I really appreciate your interest and support. It seems that the followers did not transfer over, so unfortunately I think you will need to re-enroll on the new site. The subscription box is right at the top. If you were following through your WordPress dashboard, unfortunately I think that functionality is no longer, so please subscribe by email address. You can of course also subscribe on Facebook. The redesign will be coming to Facebook soon too, I am assured! There will likely not be more content posted on this site, so make sure to visit my redesigned site to keep the deliciousness coming.

I have lots of great recipes and ideas, coming soon. I hope you are looking forward to it – I know I am!

 

 

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Chicken Soup with Kale and Quinoa {Healthy + Easy}

16 Feb

Quinoa Kale Chicken Soup-3

All I ate yesterday was this soup, and cookies.

I mean, a lot of each of them, but very little variety throughout the day. I made both because I had cravings – and satisfy said cravings, I did. I hear this cold spell they call “winter” may be breaking soon, but until then, I am all comfort foods, all the time.

Quinoa Kale Chicken Soup

This soup is incredibly healthy and satisfying – homemade stock, organic chicken, quinoa, kale, and veggies. It also serves as a reminder that when you like all of the ingredients that go into a dish, chances are very high that you will like the end result … and return to the pot for more. Like 4 times.

Quinoa Kale Chicken Soup-2

Stay warm!

Ingredients:

– 3 carrots {wash all; leave one unpeeled and cut it into three pieces; peel two, and cut the tops and bottom off of them}
– 2 pieces of celery {wash all; cut into three pieces each}
– 1 yellow or white onion {wash it; prep it to get read to chop; cut off the top and bottom, and remove the outer peels}
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 t whole black peppercorns
– 1 t kosher salt
– 1 whole organic or hormone-free chicken, any size
– water {about 6-10 cups}
– 1 t dried thyme
– 3 cloves garlic, sliced
– 3/4 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and dried
– 1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and sliced in to thin ribbons, and then roughly chopped

How do I make it?

  • Place the unpeeled carrot, the celery, and the trimmings (the parts you cut off and wouldn’t eat) from the carrots, celery, and onion in a large soup pot. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Bring the pot over to the counter next to the sink.
  • Wash the chicken in the sink and remove the bag of giblets, if it’s inside the chicken. Pat dry with paper towels (just so it doesn’t drip).
  • Place the chicken on top of the vegetable trimmings. Cover with water until the chicken is submerged by an inch.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat; when it boils, reduce the heat so the liquid is just simmering – this is about medium heat for me because the pot is so full.
  • Cook for about an hour.
  • During this time, dice the onion, slice the garlic, and slice the two remaining carrots into coins less than 1/4″ thick.
  • After the hour, try to skim off any fat from the top, but don’t worry, you will have another chance to skim off fat.
  • Place a very large bowl (or another soup pot) in your sink, and place a colander inside. Have a second large bowl, and a fine mesh strainer available close by.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot with tongs, and place on a surface with a lip (like a curved plate). Let it cool for a bit.
  • Meanwhile, carefully pour the contents from the pot into the colander that is inside the bowl. Discard what lands in the colander – you only want to keep the chicken stock (and the chicken, which you have set aside).
  • Place the fine mesh strainer over the second bowl, and pour the chicken stock from the first bowl into the second.
  • Now, you could choose to cook right through to completion {if you do, skip down to the next curly brackets}. But because the quinoa and kale will soak up the stock, I would stop here to refrigerate the stock overnight, to let the fat rise to the top (then the quinoa and kale will be cooking in slightly healthier stock – I mean, not a TON healthier, but every bit counts, right?). To do so, let the stock cool enough that you can put it in a container that seals tight (like a thick plastic pitcher with a snap-on lid). Pull the chicken off the bone, and refrigerate separately. Refrigerate the carrots, onion, and garlic as well.
  • The next day, skim the fat off of the stock.
  • {If you decide to cook straight through, start again HERE:} Heat a large soup pot over medium-high. Add a bit of olive oil and cook the diced onion and carrots until they start to soften; add the garlic and thyme, and cook for a few minutes more.
  • Add the strained, skimmed stock back to the pot, and bring back to a boil.
  • Add the quinoa, and cook with the lid off for 10-12 minutes, or until the “tails” form on the quinoa.
  • Add the shredded kale, and cook for just a few minutes more. Add the chicken and heat through.

Quinoa Kale Chicken Soup-4

More info please?

This is another great lunch to bring to work – just keep a pitcher in the work fridge, and have a bowl on hand for heating.

The kale will hold up well to the boiling and being submerged in liquid for a few days.

Chicken Noodle Soup {Healthy + Easy}

8 Feb

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-5This is a LONG cold stretch, isn’t it? The winter has been unrelenting for so many parts of the country. Know what helps? Soup.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-7

Soup helps so many things. It is an ultimate comfort food for a reason – it warms from the inside out, and somehow always brings a smile. This winter, I have been thrilled every time I have seen a big bowl of chicken noodle soup staring back at me when I open the fridge. Score.

Making chicken soup from scratch is not difficult, and you know exactly what is going in to it: chicken, vegetables, garlic, herbs, water. Noodles if you want them, and salt to your taste. It is barely more work than boiling all of those things together, I promise. Healthy, easy, satisfying.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-3 copyIngredients:
– 3 carrots {wash all; leave one unpeeled and cut it into three pieces; peel two, and cut the tops and bottom off of them}
– 2 pieces of celery {wash all; cut into three pieces each}
– 1 yellow or white onion {wash it; prep it to get read to chop; cut off the top and bottom, and remove the outer peels}
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 t whole black peppercorns
– 1 t kosher salt
– 1 whole organic or hormone-free chicken, any size
– water {about 6-10 cups}
– 1 t dried thyme
– 3 cloves garlic, sliced
– 1 c wide egg noodles {optional}

How do I make it?

  • Place the unpeeled carrot, the celery, and the trimmings (the parts you cut off and wouldn’t eat) from the carrots, celery, and onion in a large soup pot. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Bring the pot over to the counter next to the sink.
  • Wash the chicken in the sink and remove the bag of giblets, if it’s inside the chicken. Pat dry with paper towels (just so it doesn’t drip).
  • Place the chicken on top of the vegetable trimmings. Cover with water until the chicken is submerged by an inch.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat; when it boils, reduce the heat so the liquid is just simmering – this is about medium heat for me because the pot is so full.
  • Cook for about an hour.
  • During this time, dice the onion, slice the garlic, and slice the two remaining carrots into coins less than 1/4″ thick.
  • After the hour, try to skim off any fat from the top, but don’t worry, you will have another chance to skim off fat.
  • Place a very large bowl (or another soup pot) in your sink, and place a colander inside. Have a second bowl, and a fine mesh strainer available close by.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot with tongs, and place on a surface with a lip (like a curved plate). Let it cool for a bit.
  • Meanwhile, carefully pour the contents from the pot into the colander that is inside the bowl. Discard what lands in the colander – you only want to keep the chicken stock (and the chicken, which you have set aside).
  • Place the fine mesh strainer over the second bowl, and pour the chicken stock from the first bowl into the second.
  • Take the empty pot and heat over medium-high. Add a bit of olive oil and cook the diced onion and carrots until they start to soften; add the garlic and thyme, and cook for a few minutes more.
  • Add the strained stock back to the pot, and bring back to a boil.
  • While you are waiting for it to boil, pull the chicken off of the bone. I usually just use the white meat in my soup. You can chop it or shred it.
  • Add the noodles {if using} and chicken, and cook until the noodles are cooked through.
  • You could eat the soup now, but you will probably find it to taste a bit greasy. So, if you can bear to wait, once it cools a bit, refrigerate it over night. I find that a thick plastic pitcher (or two) with a snap-on lid words great for refrigerating and serving purposes.
  • In the morning, you will find that the fat has risen to the top and solidified. Just scoop it off with a large spoon and throw it away. You may be scooping out a bit of thyme this way, but don’t worry, you already cooked the flavor out of it.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-8

More info please?

This is a great lunch to bring to work – just keep a pitcher in the work fridge, and have a bowl on hand for heating. It also freezes really well, I would recommend portioning into the round ziplock containers before freezing. You can change up the noodles you use, but the wide egg noodles just scream chicken noodle soup, don’t they? Want to make your own chicken stock for use in another recipe?  I would use this same method and just stop at the point where you strain the stock. Use the chicken for another purpose, like a chicken salad.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-6

Cheesy Breakfast Grits

28 Jan

Cheesy Grits-3I grew up in the Midwest, where all I knew about grits was “That’s something they eat in the South.” Really? How was this corn derivative not a staple in the Corn Belt?

I first became acquainted with grits when I attended law school in the South – Shrimp and Grits made a believer out of me. But it wasn’t until the last year or two that I have kept a package of it in my pantry and cooked with it on a regular basis.

Grits are just ground corn. Depending on the brand you buy, they may look exactly like cornmeal that you would use to make corn bread. I am currently working on a bag of Bob’s Red Mill, and the grains are a bit bigger than Quaker, which had been my previous standard. Both are great; Bob’s is a bit heartier, while Quaker is smoother. Just a matter of personal preference. In this video, Bob explains that his family has found a method of grinding corn that does not “degerminate” it – that is good news! It means that their particular variety qualifies as a whole grain – which is healthier than when the germ is removed.  Corn GritsGrits are cooked in liquid, either water or milk. Experiment as you will, but I find that 1/4 c of grits and 3/4 c skim milk, with a pinch or two of cheese, makes a perfect, filling, warm (fast!) breakfast. It will keep you full until lunch, for sure – and what a great way to sneak in another serving (or so) of milk and whole grains (if the brand you use has the germ intact). Just pop the bowl in the microwave, and it will be ready in the time you take your morning shower {if you keep your shower to less than 7 minutes}.

Cheesy Grits-6

Ingredients:
– 1/4 c grits
– 3/4 c skim milk
– 2 t shredded cheese {I used a cheddar-jack mix – you should experiment with any mild cheese you have on hand}
– 1/4 t grated parmesan

How do I make it?

  • In a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl (bigger than a cereal bowl – it will bubble up just a bit), place 1/4 c grits and 3/4 c skim milk less 2 T (so, use all of it except 2 T).
  • Microwave on medium power for 6 to 7 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining milk, and extra if you would like, until it has a creamy, thick consistency.
  • Stir in cheeses of your choice.
  • You may want to add a pinch of salt, because grits have no sodium, but your cheese may give it the flavor you need, so give it a taste first.

Cheesy Grits

Cheesy Grits-2

Cheesy Grits-4

More info please?
Polenta is also just ground corn, but from my understanding and research, polenta (Italian) and grits (Southern American) are traditionally made from different types of corn, and ground to a different consistency. This results in a slightly different taste and texture. But do you want to know what Bob’s Red Mill thinks about that?

Bob's Red Mill Grits PolentaI also enjoy a bowl of cheesy grits with a poached egg on top – the runny yolk stirred in to the grits is a treat.

Puppy Chow

18 Jan

Puppy Chow-2When I was growing up, I distinctly remember the mother of one of my classmates making “puppy chow” for slumber parties and other gatherings. And I distinctly remember loving it. If you have had “puppy chow” – which I have learned is called “muddy buddies” in some regions – you understand how wide my eyes opened on my first bite of the crunchy, sweet treat – and how quickly I reached my powder sugar-coated fingertips back in the bowl for more.

Puppy Chow-3I think I am glad, calorie-wise, that I did not realize puppy chow was so easy to make – it can be completed in under 5 minutes, with ingredients you can easily keep on hand. Because I had never seen a batch smaller than an enormous serving bowl, it just seemed like an ordeal. Well, it’s not, as long as you have a huge bowl to mix it in. But you also don’t have to make 9 cups of cereal at a time: I have broken the recipe down to a single serving – one cup – and this might be my new go-to treat when I am looking for something sweet and satisfying. And super-easy. The recipe can be scaled for any amount in between, too.

With every bite, you will get an even distribution of chocolate, peanut butter, a bit of sugar, and a bite of crunch. It’s addictive, so good luck with that.

Puppy Chow-15

The base for puppy chow is Chex cereal – rice chex is recommended, but probably any of them would work. A melted mixture of chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter is poured on top, and as you toss the creamy mixture all around the cereal, it will cling to the cereal pieces. A coating of powdered sugar helps to separate and hold each piece together. The resulting chunks, I suppose, look a little like kibble – but this treat, covered in chocolate, is decidedly not for dogs!

Puppy Chow-4Puppy chow is great to put out at casual parties for easy snacking – but make sure to have a stack of napkins on hand because powdered sugar’s reputation is well-earned.

Puppy Chow-5{Large batch} Ingredients:
– 9 c Rice Chex cereal
– 1 c chocolate chips
– 1/2 c peanut butter
– 1/4 c (= 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
– 1 t vanilla
– 1.5 c powdered sugar

{Small batch} Ingredients:
– 1 c Rice Chex cereal
– 2 T chocolate chips
– 1 T  peanut butter
– 1/2 T unsalted butter
– a few drops of vanilla
– 3 T powdered sugar

How do I make it?

  • Place the cereal in a large bowl.
  • In a smaller, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir until it’s smooth. If you can’t get all the lumps out, microwave for a few more seconds – but there is probably enough heat in the bowl to stir it all out gently. Once it’s smooth, stir in the vanilla.
  • Pour the mixture evenly over the cereal, and then use a large spoon to distribute it. Stir it well!
  • Once all of the cereal is covered in the mixture, dust it all with half of the powdered sugar. Stir to distribute, and continue to add a small amount of powdered sugar at a time, stirring until each piece is coated in powdered sugar. {Some people put the cereal and powdered sugar in a bag, seal, and then shake to distribute. I have never tried this option, the bowl is just fine for me, but that might be a fun task for little hands who want to help out in the kitchen!}

Puppy Chow-8

Puppy Chow-9

Puppy Chow-11

Puppy Chow-12

Original recipe: http://www.chex.com/Recipes/RecipeView.aspx?RecipeId=45860&CategoryId=342

New Year’s Resolutions

14 Jan

We are two weeks in to 2014, and I thought I would check in on how everyone is doing with their New Year’s Resolutions. How goes it?

I try more and more to not have to find a reason to make positive changes, but there is something about a crisp new page on the calendar that is conducive to new behaviors, attitudes, and … food! New ideas in the kitchen, new recipes, new ingredients, you name it: 2014 seems like a great opportunity.

I have a few food-related New Year’s Resolutions for myself and want to share them with you here, and then I will check those boxes, so to speak, in future posts. I even made a “New Year’s Resolution” tag, if you would like to follow along that way. We are more likely to stick to our goals when we share them with others, right? Well here we go!

  1. Take healthy lunches and snacks to work: It’s often a struggle for me, time-wise, to plan meals for the week, get to the grocery store, cook, pack lunches the night before, and remember to bring it the next day. I would love to get this down to a system! It seems like casseroles and other one-pot comfort foods might be a good option (one container – easy to transport; and filling – our work cafeteria closes at 2pm so healthy afternoon snacks can be challenging). For snacks, healthy, filling, and easy to transport are also key. On busy days, I maaaay be guilty of trolling the halls for unattended candy jars (sigh), and I would love to curb that habit.
  2. Eat filling and healthy breakfasts: Too often I find myself needing to hunker down and work hard between 10:30 and 11:30 on weekdays … not because of any particular deadline or project at work, but because 10:30 is about when my coffee buzz has waned, and 11:30 is when it’s socially acceptable to eat lunch. When I have a full breakfast, I can power through; when I skip breakfast, I feel it. I generally don’t have a ton of time to prepare breakfast in the morning, but oatmeal is one option; I would also like to get into a routine of make-ahead breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos, and other similar dishes that I can grab on the go or heat quickly right when I get to work.
  3. Eat less meat: I love meat. I do. But I would like to exercise more moderation. I can’t promise that I will have “Meatless Mondays,” but I don’t think that one or two days per week is unreasonable.
  4. Get to know a few herbs and spices better: How many spices are in your spice rack? I counted once, when a friend of mine was writing an article for a magazine on a related topic, and it was more than 60 – I have to guess I am over 70 or 75 now. Some I crank through, like oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes … others, like garam masala, tarragon, and even paprika I would like to find a few solid recipes for. And as fresh herbs become more bountiful in the warmer months, I am looking forward to picking up something pretty at the farmer’s market and exploring! Which herbs do you wish you knew more about or used more?
  5. Make my father proud: My dad wishes I had a Jewish food blog. I don’t. That niche is not really sustainable for me, but I like the idea of trying to make one traditional recipe per month. It will be worth it even if only to hear my dad do his impersonation of what he thinks it sounds like when I write blog posts. So cute.

If you have ideas for anything in this post, please leave them in the comments!

Mini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cream Cookies

12 Jan

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme FillingI was in a pretty intense baking streak in December, and in preparation for an afternoon of baking with AWP, I came across this recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies. I love a good oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and who doesn’t love a fluffy cream filling … just thinking about the sugar shell that forms on a great cream … give me a minute …

Sandwich Cookies-7

And I’m back.

I usually cook with whole ingredients, and opt for butter and oil over margarine or shortening. But from time to time a recipe looks really good and calls for something I don’t normally use. I had a partially-finished can of vegetable shortening in my pantry from a few recipes in the not-too-distant past, and it had just enough remaining in it for this recipe.

As I lifted the head of the stand mixer and AWP and I dipped our fingers in for a little taste, AWP immediately commented on how fluffy, light, and creamy the filling tasted. It looked like buttercream frosting, but tasted like a fluffier version of the inside of an Oreo. We nodded at each other and decided that shortening gave it that taste and texture. I still prefer to bake with butter, but a bit of shortening from time to time won’t hurt – still better than buying something packaged and pre-made, to me.

These cookies were delicious when fresh out of the oven – check out those melty chips! – but also lasted for several days in an airtight container. And by “several days,” I mean, “until I finished them.” Which did not take very long. These are a great treat to give as a gift in a cute box or tin, and would be fun for small hands to help assemble. I liked making these mini-sized, so I didn’t feel that guilty about eating two cookies at a time.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme Filling

Ingredients:
For the cookies:
– 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
– 1/3 c brown sugar
– 1/4 c sugar
– 1 egg
– 1 t vanilla
– 3/4 c flour
– 1/2 t baking soda
– 1 t cinnamon
– 1/4 t ground nutmeg
– 1/4 t kosher salt
– 1 3/4 c oats (quick or traditional)
– 1 c chocolate chips (any type)
For the cream filling:
1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
– 1/4 c vegetable shortening
– 2 1/4 c powdered sugar, sifted
– 1 T cream
– 1 t vanilla

How do I make it?

  • For the cookies: Place the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl, and mix until creamy (a few minutes).
  • With a silicone spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  • Stop the mixer, and add about half the flour, and all of the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Start the mixer on slow, and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined.
  • Scrape the batter off of the beaters or paddle attachment, and fold the oats and chocolate chips into the cookie dough until fully combined.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or overnight.
  • While the cookie dough chills, make the filling. Place the butter and shortening in the bowl of a mixer and mix until they are well combined.
  • Turn off the mixer and add a cup of powdered sugar to the butter mixture. Mix until incorporated, and scrape the sides of the bowl. Then add the rest of the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, 2 tablespoons at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  • Add the cream and vanilla and continue to beat until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using a small cookie scoop, scoop small amounts of the dough into your hand, and roll into a ball. I made the balls about 3/4″ in diameter. Line the balls of dough onto the lined cookie sheets.
  • Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes or until they start to brown. Let them cool for a bit on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack, or to a plate to continue to cool. They shouldn’t take that long to cool, but you want them to be pretty cool to the touch so they don’t melt the butter in the filling.
  • Try to pair each cookie up with another approximately the same size.
  • Spread some frosting – up to you how much! – on the flat side one cookie, and top with the flat side of its mate.

Sandwich Cookies-6

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme Filling

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme Filling

Original link: http://www.spoonforkbacon.com/2011/10/oatmeal-chocolate-chip-sandwich-cookies/

And a special thank-you to AWP for modeling this cookie with her pretty red nails!

After-Party Egg Scramble {Chicken and Dips}

4 Jan

Egg Scramble-2This year for New Year’s Eve, I wasn’t in the mood to battle crowds at bars, or have dinner out and then make a 10pm decision on where to ring in the new year – and I’m always in the mood to cook.  So I decided to have a few people over. I told my invitees that I didn’t need to know if they were joining until the last minute, and I was happy to be a back-up plan, or a place for them to start or end the evening of they had other plans.

That’s all fine and good, but it made planning a menu a bit difficult! Was I going to have 12 people over for 5 hours (heavier menu), or would 4 people swing by for an hour here and there, maybe on their way to eat (lighter menu)?

I decided to just make a menu that, if I had excessive leftovers, would translate into easy lunches for me for the rest of the week, and healthy snacks to have in my fridge for the weekend.

The “main event” on my NYE buffet, therefore, was a make-your-own mini sandwich station. I poached 3 chicken breasts and roasted a small filet mignon from Trader Joe’s (SUPER easy and delicious, pre-seasoned and ready to put in the oven!). I sliced a baguette, and then sliced the meats to fit, and set them out just on the cutting board with roasted peppers, pesto, and a caramelized onion dip made with greek yogurt and light cream cheese. There was also hummus available with a veggie platter, if people wanted to use the hummus with the sandwiches. It was a hit – my guests loved that it was substantial food that wasn’t too heavy.

The next morning, I was faced with the glorious leftovers. I looked at the chicken, peppers, and dips, and thought they might make an awesome breakfast – and I was right.

Egg Scramble-3

Pesto, when you think about it, is just spinach, herbs, oil, and cheese – all things that go well with eggs {sure, a bit of walnut, but it’s pulverized}. The onion dip was made of richly caramelized onions, and dairy product. If you have never scrambled eggs with a splash of milk, you are missing out; the dip was thicker than milk, but still a dairy product, and I figured I would just try it, to see if it went well with eggs. Win.

Serve with some French Fries or Roasted Potatoes, and call it your hostess gift to yourself.

Egg Scramble-5

Ingredients:
– 2 eggs (pictured here is 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites)
– 1 T skim milk
– 3/4 t pesto
– 3/4 t onion-flavored dip with dairy base {I will post the recipe a bit later!}
– handful of meat, to your taste, chopped small (chicken or beef)
– any other leftover veggies, like spinach from making pesto (optional)
roasted peppers, any amount

How do I make it?

  • Set a medium or large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • While the skillet is warming, whisk the eggs with milk until it’s uniform. Then whisk in the pesto and onion dip.
  • Spray the warm skillet with olive oil spray.
  • Once the spray has warmed, heat the meat until it browns a bit on the edges. Add the red peppers and mix, just to warm them.
  • Push the meat and veggies to one corner of the pan, and re-spray with oil.
  • Add the egg mixture, and begin to scramble. When they are about half-done, stir in the meat and veggies. Cook until it’s as firm as you like it. When it’s almost done, stir in spinach, to wilt it. Spinach won’t need more than a few seconds in the pan.

Egg Scramble

More info please?

You can really add any meat or veggie to this recipe. Potential party foods you may have on hand that would be delicious in an after-party scramble include broccoli, raw peppers, tomatoes, or marinated mushrooms. Cook any raw veggies at the same time you heat the meat, and add any cooked veggies to warm with the peppers.

You can also add any cheese left over from a cheese platter, when the eggs are almost done. I shredded some parmesan reggiano (that I “forgot” to put out at the party … and got to keep for myself…) on top once it was done.

Egg Scramble-4

How to: Make Kale Chips

30 Dec

How to Make Kale ChipsGuess what. You have ONE day until New Year’s resolutions begin. One more day to live it up before it’s back to salads and the overcrowded January gym for you. I hope you enjoy it!

I will start the January detox one day early for you, with Kale Chips. If you have not yet tried Kale Chips, SPOILER ALERT: they are not chips. They are kale. Kale that has been baked until crisp.

How to Make Kale Chips-12

Kale Chips are a super-healthy, super-crunchy dish that you can make with two ingredients: a bunch of kale and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. I recommend a pinch of salt as well, but that is up to you. And they are super-easy to make.

Step 1: Select the kale. I use lacinato kale for every kale recipe I have made. I prefer its texture to that of curly kale. If you “don’t like kale” but have only tried curly kale, why don’t you give lacinato (aka dinosaur aka tuscan) kale a try. It looks like a darker, thicker romaine lettuce (but you buy it in a bunch rather than in a head). If you don’t know if your local grocery store carries it, just call first. It is always at my local Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, and a few other stores I frequent – but it’s not everywhere all the time.

How to Make Kale Chips-5Step 2: Wash the kale. I have been washing my leafy greens in a large baking dish recently – they fit perfectly, and I just fill the dish with water and shake/scrub the greens in the water, drain, and repeat a few times. How to Make Kale ChipsOf course, you can also tear them first and use a colander (I just find the leaves are just a bit long to fit in the colander whole).

How to Make Kale Chips-2Step 3: Tear the kale into chip-sized pieces. The chips get VERY crisp and flaky, so I prefer to make them bite-sized so there aren’t kale shards all over the floor and couch. I recommend somewhere between the size of a peanut and a saltine {Note: saltine and peanut shown only for scale and size purposes!} It takes a little longer to make them small, but I think they crisp up better that way, and it’s worth it. Keep in mind that the chips will shrink when they bake. The smaller they are, the more they will shrink, because they will curl more. Oh, and don’t use any tough stems, just the leafy parts.

Satine comparison - Kale chips

Peanut comparison - Kale chips

Step 4: DRY the kale. Use as many paper towels if you need to, but the kale needs to be as dry as you can get it before you add the oil in the next step.

Step 5: Place the kale in a bowl and drizzle 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (per bunch of kale) over the torn leaves. Use your hands to massage it in and cover all of the pieces.

Step 6: Spread the kale on a baking sheet in a single layer, and sprinkle VERY lightly with salt, if using.

How to Make Kale Chips-4Step 7: Bake for 15 minutes at 350. I have read some recipes that say you have to use very low heat, in the 200’s; others say very high heat, in the 400’s! So I go in between, at 350, and if they are not crispy at 15 minutes, I stay close by the oven and give them a few more minutes to do their thing. I find about 15 minutes works, and I also don’t need to flip them.

When the Kale Chips are done, they should flake to the touch and crumble if pinched. Kale Chips will keep up to a week in an airtight container – that is, if they aren’t eaten before then. You can just keep the container on the kitchen counter, but I accidentally refrigerated a batch once, and they held up fine!

How to Make Kale Chips-11

Perfect Fudge Brownies {King Arthur Flour Recipe}

22 Dec

King Arthur Fudge BrowniesI have identified these brownies as the beginning of my downfall this holiday season. I usually have considerable willpower, but with the way I acted around these brownies, I was surprised not to find “kryptonite” in the ingredient list.

The photo shoot for these brownies started with sixteen … and ended with … less than sixteen.

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-6

Well, more than four, but less than sixteen.

In the fudgy vs. cakey brownie battle, I side with the fudgy crew. These brownies are thick and fudgy, with a dense texture that I believe is referred to in culinary terms as “perfect.”

I have been using King Arthur flour almost exclusively for a few years (I also love their catalog, full of specialty baking items, so fun to peruse). But I had not explored the recipes available on the King Arthur website until I clicked through an email I received from them. I will be visiting that site often – tons of good stuff there!

I learned something really important, in the brownie realm, from this recipe. You know how sometimes when you make brownies, they have a crackly flaky top layer, and sometimes they don’t? Turns out that layer results from heating the butter and sugar together before mixing them in to the remaining ingredients. I had never paid attention, but some recipes call for this step and some don’t. So there you have it!

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-3How much do people LOVE round “two bite brownies”? Rhetorical question. Make this recipe into nuggets of goodness by using a mini muffin pan instead of a square baking dish. Just make sure to spray and flour the pan first, and have a small implement (like the TINY spatula shown below) to loosen them from the pan after a few minutes of cooling. {Or save yourself some work and just cut the brownies smaller from the square pan.}

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-4

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-5

Ingredients:
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 c + 2 T high-quality cocoa
– 1/2 t kosher salt
– 1/2 t baking powder
– 1/2 t instant coffee granules or espresso powder (you won’t taste it – it just heightens the chocolate flavor!)
– 1.5 t vanilla
– 1 stick unsalted butter
– 1 c + 2 T sugar
– 3/4 c flour
– 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks {I had some Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate squares that I wanted to use up so I chopped them roughly}

How do I make it?

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ pan.
  • Crack the eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, coffee granules or espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot and JUST starts to bubble. Once it bubbles and the mixture looks shiny, turn off the heat.
  • Add the hot butter and sugar mixture to the egg mixture, and stir until smooth.
  • Add the flour, and stir until smooth.
  • Add the chocolate chips or chunks, and stir to distribute. If you want the chips to retain their shape and not melt in, let the batter cool in the bowl for a few minutes before stirring in the chips.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes (check around 27 minutes). When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, the brownies are done. The brownies will be more set around the edges, and the middle will still look moist (but still cooked through).
  • Cool on a rack before cutting; use a bench scraper to make sure you get straight lines. But if you don’t get straight lines, and need to keep “evening it off,” I won’t tell.

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-2Original link: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/fudge-brownies-recipe