Monday, January 27, 2014

Orange Snowmen

Ah, Orange Snowmen.  I first came upon this recipe on AllRecipes a couple of years ago and immediately wanted to make it because of my lifelong love of snowmen.  Orange Snowmen are kind of hard to describe.  They're intensely orange-y and refreshing, but creamy and slushy and vanilla-y as well.  Look elsewhere if you're trying to make an Orange Julius, though, because this is not the same (I actually had a perfect Orange Julius recipe posted but it disappeared, I will re-post it in a couple of weeks).  These are definitely their own thing and very good if you love orange juice as much as I do! 

This is actually a slightly odd time of year for me to be posting the recipe for Orange Snowmen, because they've become a Christmas morning tradition!  Just because we drink them on Christmas doesn't mean they wouldn't be great any other time of year, though.  They'd also make a good afternoon snack or dessert, too- not just for breakfast.

Quick Note:  This recipe halves very well.  I've never made the full batch since it's just the two of us.

Orange Snowmen

14 ice cubes
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C milk
1/2 C water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ginger and Spice Apple Pie

There's something really cozy and special about apple pie, isn't there?  Well, about a week ago I was all set to make an apple pie with a filling that included a generous amount of pineapple juice that was thickened with cornstarch.  Had my apples ready to go and arranged in the pie crust, just waiting for the pineapple juice mixture, when I realized I was out of cornstarch!  What the heck?  How does someone run out of cornstarch and not even realize it?  My plans of course had to change, so I just kind of tossed some ingredients together -measuring all the way- and shoved my pie creation into the oven. 

Happily, it turned out great!  Not runny like many pies, and the spices are wonderful, but don't overwhelm the flavor of the apples.  I used a variety of apples and you could taste the difference between them, quite nice.  My husband liked the pie enough that he ate over half of it within in an hour of its emergence from the oven.  He loves pie!  I put the leftovers in the fridge and my husband reported that the remaining slices heated up great in the microwave.

Ginger and Spice Apple Pie

pastry for a double crust, deep dish pie (can do homemade or frozen, whatever floats your boat)
1/2 C white sugar
4 Tblsp flour
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 good sized apples (I used 2 Granny Smith, 1 Braeburn, 1 Pacific Rose, and 1 Golden Delicious, but use whatever you want)
a little bit of milk and sugar for the top of the crust

Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with foil.  Line a deep dish pie plate with the bottom pie pastry.  In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, and spices.  Peel, core, and chop apples into chunks about the size of playing dice.  Put the chopped apples in the bowl with the sugar mixture, and toss thoroughly until apples are completely coated.  Spoon apples into prepared pie plate, mounding them in the center.  Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture on top (there shouldn't be much left over).

Top with remaining pie crust, cut off the excess pastry, and seal the edges with a fork.  Use a knife to cut 4 vents in the top crust.  Brush the top lightly with milk, then sprinkle with a little sugar.  Use long, narrow strips of aluminum foil to cover the crust of the pie so it doesn't burn in the oven.  Place the pie on the prepared baking sheet (this is so there won't be a mess if it overflows).

Bake until a fork can be easily inserted into pieces of apple near the center of the pie (you can poke the fork through the vents in the top crust).  You can cover the top crust with foil if it gets too brown for your liking.  The pie took about an hour and 15 minutes in my oven, but all ovens are different and I'd check the apples for doneness for the first time at about the 45 minute mark.  Remove pie from oven and let cool at least half an hour before serving.  Keep leftover pie in the refrigerator.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

We really enjoy Buffalo Chicken, so when I came upon the recipe for Buffalo Chicken Burgers on the blog "Will Cook for Smiles", it didn't take me long to make them.  I made a few small changes, but nothing too drastic, unless you consider swapping the chicken for ground turkey to be drastic!  The result was quite good.  Spicy from the hot sauce, and very flavorful from the mix of seasonings in the turkey.  We ate our burgers without the buns and had raw veggies on the side with ranch to dip the veggies and burgers in, but I'm sure they'd be even better with the buns!  My husband said this was the best thing I've made with ground turkey.  I make a lot of things with ground turkey and turkey burgers are known for not being as good as ones made from beef, so that's quite the compliment!

Quick note:  I used Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  This is by far my favorite hot sauce and to me it's not Buffalo Chicken (or Turkey in this case) if it's made with a different one.

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

1.25 lb extra lean ground turkey
1/4 C dry bread crumbs (optional, I did not use them)
1 egg
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tblsp minced dried onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 C water
Frank's Red Hot Sauce to taste (I used about 1/2 C)
4 slices cheese or crumbled blue cheese (I used cheddar)
4 toasted buns

ranch or blue cheese dressing
veggies like sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumber, and lettuce

Mix together ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, onion, and seasonings.  Form into 4 burgers and poke a hole in the middle of each one to help keep them from turning into a turkey meatball when they're cooked.  Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium and brown burgers on both sides.  If they haven't cooked through completely by the time they're as browned as you want, you can add 1/2 C water to the pan.

When the burgers are done, remove them to a paper towel lined plate, and dump out the skillet if you added water (dry off the tops of the burgers as well if you added water).  Place the skillet back on the burner and add the Frank's.  Add burgers back to skillet, cook about a minute, then flip, move them around so they get coated in hot sauce, and place cheese on each burger.  Cover with the lid and cook about another minute, then remove the skillet from the burner and leave covered until the cheese has melted.  Serve burgers with whatever toppings you want (the dressing is a great addition).

Yield: 4 burgers

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Black & White Turkey Chili

White chili has always been something I've really loved, even when I was a super picky kid I often asked my mom to make it and was fascinated by the dried beans she used!  White chili (with dried beans) is one of my favorite things to make in the slow cooker, not sure why I haven't shared a recipe on here yet. 

There are some recipes that I'm very loyal to and particular about, but white chili is not one of them.  I've basically never met one that I've not thoroughly enjoyed, and this recipe is no exception!  It's been pretty cold here lately (-40 yesterday) and I spend a good amount of time outside, so I decided to make white chili and remembered an awesome looking one I saw recently on a blog called Kitchen Meets Girl.  Ashley adapted it from a recipe she found, and I slightly adapted her version of it by reducing the amount of chicken broth and using ground turkey instead of cooked chicken.  I was intrigued by the use of a jar of salsa verde and black beans.  Sure enough, the salsa verde made it quite zingy, and the toppings (we did sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and lime) made it even tastier.  It's not spicy, just very flavorful.  My husband is definitely not as fond of white chili as I am, but he liked this recipe so much that his exact words were "Holy smokes, this is amazing!" and then asked to take part of the leftovers to work for lunch instead of putting it in the freezer.  Sounds like a sign of endorsement to me!

Quick Note:  The brand of salsa you use really matters.  I picked Herdez Salsa Verde because I knew we really like the flavor.

Black & White Turkey Chili

1 tsp oil
1.25 lb ground turkey
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
15 oz can black beans, drained
15 oz can white beans (like Great Northern beans), drained
16 oz can salsa verde (I used Herdez)
2 C chicken broth

sour cream
grated cheese
diced avocado
thinly sliced green onion
lime wedges

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high and add ground turkey.  Break it up with a spatula and cook until meat is cooked through.  Add spices and stir around for another minute.  Add beans, salsa verde, and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer while you prepare your toppings.  Divide chili among bowls and let people add whatever toppings they want to their bowls.

Yield: About 6 servings

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Soup

This recipe requires a bit of an explanation.  I've been having a medical issue that's resulted in me cutting way down on starches/grains and sugar.  The sugar I can mostly do without, but avoiding pasta, potatoes, bread, and the like is harder.  Lucky for me, I've had quite a bit of success with finding recipes that are already okay for me to cook, and adapting other recipes.  The standards by which I judge a recipe haven't changed and I will only post recipes here that I think are really good, even for people (like my husband!) who can eat whatever they want.  As evidenced by all the dessert posts last month, I'll still be posting recipes for sweets and pasta and that type of thing, just not as frequently.
This is one of the adapted recipes.  When I came upon the Cauliflower Soup recipe on the Pioneer Woman blog, it occurred to me that cauliflower soup with baked potato toppings on it would probably be pretty good.  I adapted the recipe so it would work in the crock pot, and left out the butter, flour, and milk (the milk just because I thought the texture was perfect without it).  It turned out exactly how I hoped!  My husband really dislikes cauliflower, but really enjoyed the soup anyway.  It's pretty good on its own, but the toppings really enhance it, especially the sour cream.  The sour cream also helps thicken it a bit since it's a pretty thin soup. 

If you want the soup thicker and don't mind adding flour to it, you could make a roux by melting 4 tablespoons butter in a small pan on the stove, then whisk in half a cup of flour and let it cook for a minute, then slowly whisk in the half and half and a cup of milk.  Let it simmer for a couple of minutes while stirring, then stir it into the soup.  I haven't tried it this way because I thought the consistency was fine, but the Pioneer Woman does basically the same thing to thicken her version and I'm sure it works perfectly.
Slow Cooker Cauliflower Soup
36 oz frozen cauliflower florets
1 carrot, diced
1 1/2 cup diced onion
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt (plus more later)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 quarts chicken broth
1 C half and half
1 C sour cream
cooked, crumbled bacon
grated cheddar
thinly sliced chives or green onion

In the crock of a large slow cooker, combine all ingredients except half and half and toppings.  Cook until carrots and cauliflower are soft, about 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low (times will vary according to your slow cooker).  Use a potato masher to break up the cauliflower.  If you want it smoother, you can use an immersion blender next, but we think it's best with a bit of texture to it.  Stir in the half and half, then taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.  I ended up using 2 teaspoons total. 
To serve the soup, ladle it into individual bowls and then top with sour cream, bacon, cheese, and green onion.

Yield: About 8 servings