Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

These sliders are one of the easiest things you can make for dinner and involves less than 10 minutes of prep if you are working slowly.  They're also fun and yummy!  
For the rolls, this is the kind I mean.  You don't have to buy that specific brand, but the rectangle of stuck together rolls is what you're looking for.  I have a couple of Crow Canyon enamelware baking pans and they are the exact right dimensions for the giant beef patty to match up with the rolls, but a regular 9 by 13 pan will be fine as well.
Baked Cheeseburger Sliders
1.25 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
sliced cheese
rectangular pack of 12 dinner rolls
desired toppings like ketchup, mustard mayo, and sliced pickles
Preheat oven to 425.
Squish beef evenly into 9 by 13 baking dish.  Mix together seasonings in small cup and sprinkle evenly over top.  Bake 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Slice rolls in half to make a giant bun.  Lift giant burger patty onto giant bottom bun.  Pour out any accumulated grease from the baking pan and put the giant bottom bun and patty back into the pan.  Top with sliced cheese, then top bun.  Place plan in oven, turn off heat, and leave until buns are toasty and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Cut into individual sliders with a large knife.  Top individually with desired toppings and serve!
Yield: 4-6 main dish

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Rhubarb Crumble with Custard, aka My Favorite Dessert

This has become my all time favorite dessert.  Yes, of all the wonderful desserts that I love, rhubarb crumble is It for me.  The tart rhubarb, sweet and buttery crumble with a tiny hint of cinnamon, and custard poured on top all just come together to make something truly amazing.  It tastes like joy. comfort, love, and well being.  I urge you to try it if you have access to rhubarb and want a really special treat.  Lucky for us, we have a ridiculously huge and robust rhubarb patch!
This recipe is from the book Great British Cooking: A Well-Kept Secret by Jane Garmey.  She apparently got the recipe from a nun in cooking class while in school, very cute little story.  I altered it a bit by moving the cinnamon from the filling to the topping, increasing the filling amount by half, increasing the baking temperature, and baking it much longer than the original recipe states.  The book says to bake it for 20 minutes and you'd be crunching your way through raw rhubarb if you made it like that!
Rhubarb Crumble with Custard
1 1/2 lbs rhubarb, cut in 1 inch pieces
3/4 C sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
6 oz cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
warm vanilla custard (I used Bird's custard powder, but you could look up a recipe)
Preheat oven to 350.  You do not need to grease the baking dish.
Place filling ingredients in a 2 quart baking dish and toss with a spoon to coat.
Combine dry ingredients for crumble in bowl and mix well.  Add butter.  Rub mixture together with fingers until the ingredients are well combined and look like wet sand with pea sized clumps.  Sprinkle evenly over filling.
Bake until rhubarb is tender and bubbly throughout, about an hour to an hour and a half.  Cover with foil if the crumble gets too browned.  
Let the crumble sit for 10-20 minutes before digging in.  Serve crumble in a bowl with warm custard poured over top.
Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Chocolate Coconut Bars

My husband loves these chocolate coconut bars!  He requests them for special occasions.  They're essentially a no-bake cookie base topped with coconut buttercream and a thin layer of chocolate.  The first time I made them with Oreos, like the original recipe over at Taste of Home says, but they were so over the top sweet that I've made them with Nabisco Famous Wafers since.  They're still very sweet, but not as sweet as with Oreos.  Someday I would like to make them with chocolate graham crackers, but I can never find them at the store when I'm planning to make these.  My husband has a huge sweet tooth though and you probably won't mind all the sugar if you do, too!
The recipe below has a few changes from the original, other than the type of cookies used.  I basically added more coconut flavor.
Also, if you ever find yourself needing a coconut buttercream, you could use the coconut filling recipe and end up with a really delicious frosting!  Just double the recipe and only add powdered sugar until it reaches a normal frosting consistency.  As written, the filling recipe is quite stiff, which is needed for this bar recipe, but less powdered sugar will change that.
Note that the cream of coconut is not canned coconut milk, it's the sweetened goopy stuff used in mixed drinks.  The brand we purchase is called Coco Real.
Chocolate Coconut Bars
cookie base:
3 C Famous Wafers crumbs or chocolate graham cracker crumbs (this is about 1 1/2 packs of wafers)
2 C sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 C cream of coconut
2/3 C butter, melted
coconut filling:
1/3 C butter, softened
4 Tbsp cream of coconut, or more as needed
1/2 tsp coconut extract
3 C powdered sugar
chocolate layer:
1 1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
4 tsp canola oil
To make the base layer, just stir together all of the base ingredients until well combined.  Press it evenly and firmly into the bottom of an ungreased 9 by 13 dish.  Refrigerate for an hour so it can firm up, then make the coconut filling.
To make the coconut filling, beat together butter, cream of coconut, and coconut extract, then mix in the powdered sugar.  It will be quite thick, you want it to be thin enough to spread but still pretty thick so it doesn't squirt out the side of your bars when you slice them.  Add more cream of coconut if you need to thin it any more.
Spread the coconut filling evenly over the cookie base and set aside while you make the chocolate layer.
To make the chocolate layer, melt the chocolate and oil together however you'd like: over a double boiler, or on 50% power in the microwave for 1 minute to start with, then 20-30 second increments afterwards, stirring between stints in the microwave.  Don't let the chocolate get too hot or it will seize.
When chocolate is melted, pour it over the bars and spread with a spatula.
Refrigerate bars until the chocolate has firmed up.  After that, you can store the bars at room temperature.
Cut into pieces and enjoy!
Yield: about 12 servings

Friday, June 22, 2018

Bowtie Spinach Alfredo

Here's another great and healthier version of fettuccine alfredo!  It's also really quick and easy to make, you could have this on the table in 20 minutes.  My husband and I both really like it and think the spinach is the perfect addition.  We like the bowties, but you could use a different shape of pasta.  Also, if you prefer using fresh spinach, just leave out the frozen (obviously) and saute 6 C fresh baby spinach with the garlic while making the sauce.  You could toss in some shredded chicken at the end or saute some chopped chicken breast or shrimp before adding the garlic and spinach if you wanted, too.  Heck, even add a can of drained, chopped artichoke hearts if you want a spinach artichoke dip inspired pasta dish.  There are tons of options!
The inspiration for this recipe came from Budget Bytes, but it's basically a tweaked version of my Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo.  The cornstarch is necessary to thicken the sauce up a bit since it doesn't have pumpkin to help out. Like the Pumpkin Fettuccine Alfredo, it reheats very well, just microwave it and add a little milk if necessary to keep it from being dried out.
Bowtie Spinach Alfredo
1 lb bowtie pasta
12 oz bag frozen spinach
4 Tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 1/2 C milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tbsp milk with 2 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in it 
1 C freshly grated parmesan
Cook pasta in salted water until almost done, add spinach and cook another minute or two. Drain thoroughly and return to pot.  Stir in a small amount of butter if the sauce is not almost done so the pasta won't stick together.  Cover with lid and set aside
Make the sauce while the pasta cooks.  Melt butter in saucepan over medium-low heat.  Saute garlic until tender.  Add cream cheese and 1/2 C milk.  Whisk until as smooth as possible.  Add remaining milk, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a simmer.  Make a slurry with the milk and cornstarch, pour it into the simmering sauce, and stir for a minute or so until thickened. Stir in parmesan until melted
Pour sauce over pasta and spinach, toss to combine, and serve.
Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Grilled Ginger Ale Chicken

Ooh, this is good chicken!  I came up with the recipe on the fly based on ingredients I had on hand and was rather impressed with myself because it turned out so nicely.  The real key here is to a) not cook the chicken at too high a temperature so it cooks evenly and doesn't dry out, and b) use a really good, very gingery ginger ale.  I used Reed's Ginger Ale, it is very potent and delicious if you are fond of ginger.  Seagram's or Canada Dry will probably result in something tasty, but it also probably will not taste like ginger.  You are warned.
Grilled Ginger Ale Chicken
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts (probably 3)
6 oz good quality ginger ale
4 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
Clean chicken breasts and each cut in half horizontally to make thinner pieces.  You can cut bigger breasts into more than 2 pieces.  Consider how many people you are wanting to serve and adjust accordingly.
Place the chicken pieces a in doubled gallon Ziploc bag.  Add marinade ingredients, seal bag, and squish to coat.  Place bag in a bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  
When you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat your grill to medium low (or whatever temperature you know from experience will cook the chicken slowly enough so it can be cooked through and have grill marks without entering the Earth's atmosphere), do whatever pre-grilling tasks are required for your specific grill, and oil the grate.  Grill the chicken for 10 minutes without disturbing it, flip it over, and grill 10 minutes on the other side, or until cooked through.
Serve immediately.
Yield: However many pieces of chicken you end up with, probably 6.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Instant Pot Lime (or Not) Quinoa

And here is the quinoa recipe to go with the Cheesy Baked Lentils!  In the Instant Pot is actually the only way I've made quinoa, but why mess with perfection?
We've been eating a lot of quinoa cooked this way lately.  It basically goes well with anything that you'd serve with rice, and I think it both tastes better and more interesting than rice.  
You can leave out the lime juice and lime zest if you aren't going for a limey effect, but do toast the quinoa first to enhance the flavor, and use the salt and butter.  I haven't actually made it with the lime to go with the lentils, usually I add that if it's more of a stand alone side dish because citrus is awesome.
Instant Pot Lime (or Not) Quinoa
2 C quinoa
2 Tbsp butter
2 C water
3 Tbsp lime juice (optional)
3/4 tsp salt
zest of one lime (optional)
Place quinoa in pot of Instant Pot and set to saute.  Stir frequently until quinoa is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Add water, lime juice, and salt.  Stir.  Turn off Instant Pot, then set to Manual for 1 minute.  Seal.  Do a 15 minute natural pressure release, then unseal, fluff, and serve.
Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cheesy Baked Lentils

This is only the second lentil recipe I've posted on my blog in almost 8 years!  Lentils are just kind of hard to love.  They're dull with a sort of mealy texture.  I don't hate them, but my response to a recipe featuring them is not usually, "Lentils?  Ooh, baby, I'm there!"  Don't get me wrong, I've tried many lentil recipes over the years (and have given up on ever finding a lentil soup more than just passable), and this is a gem among, uh... less appealing rocks.
I know it may not look super fantastic from the ingredient list, and I have no explanation for why exactly it is so good, but really, it is.  I also have no explanation for why the cumin goes so well in it, but I stirred it in after baking the first time I ever made it (pre-cheese) and it added exactly the flavor boost that was needed.  Since that first time (it was one of the first meals I made for my now husband, then boyfriend in his college apartment kitchen back in 2006), I've made this several times and it's so incredibly easy, delicious, and healthy.  We like it best served over quinoa.  It also freezes well, just leave the cheese off whichever portion you want to freeze. 
If you're super pressed for time, you could chop up some baby carrots, use maybe 1/2 tsp each garlic and onion powder instead of the real ones, and an undrained 16 oz can of diced tomatoes instead of fresh ones.  You can also add an additional 8 oz can tomato sauce if you'd like, as written this recipe doesn't have much sauce, but my husband likes it that way so I leave it alone.  It has plenty of flavor regardless!
Oh, and this recipe originally comes from the More with Less cookbook.  It has been pretty heavily edited by me, though.
Cheesy Baked Lentils
1 can V8 or tomato juice, or alternatively one 8 oz can plain tomato sauce and 1/2 C water
2 1/4 C water
1 lb lentils, rinsed and looked over for stones and other weirdies
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
2 1/2 C grated cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 by 13 baking dish.  Add all ingredients to baking dish except cheese, and mix together.  Cover tightly with foil.  Carefully place it in the oven so it doesn't slosh.  Bake 50 minutes, remove foil, stir, and bake another half hour, or until lentils are cooked through and completely tender.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake until cheese is melted.
Serve over quinoa or rice if desired, or just have by itself with salad, fruit, or veggies on the side.
Yield: 8-10 main dish servings