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You'll find over 465 of my favorite recipes here, including ideas for Quick meals, Cooking for 2, Feasting on Leftovers, and cooking with 5 Ingredients or Less. I'm adding new posts regularly; you can subscribe by email or RSS feed if you'd like to receive the latest recipes. Bon appétit!

Happy New Year!

January 4, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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As In the Kitchen with Kath enters its 9th year, I decided to take a look back at the most popular recipes of 2017.

As Laura wrote in our Christmas letter, “In the Kitchen with Kath basically became a love letter to the Instant Pot.” It took me a bit of time to get acquainted with the electric marvel, but 4 out of the last 5 recipes have involved my 6-quart Instant Pot. And 3 out of the 8 most popular (most viewed) recipes for the whole year are Instant Pot recipes. It has earned a permanent place in my kitchen and I expect I’ll be using it even more this year.

So here are the 8 most popular recipes on my blog in 2017. Just click on the name of each recipe to see its blog post.

 

#8 Kung Pao Chicken is great Chinese take-out at home. The chicken marinates for just 10 minutes and then you’re a quick stir-fry away from a tasty dish!

kung-pao-chicken

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#7 Roasted Shrimp Cocktail I made this more than once last year. It’s a super easy appetizer. The cocktail sauce is old-school classic. We also enjoyed it with homemade remoulade sauce. (That’s on my to-do list to share sometime soon.)

Roated Shrimp Cocktail up close - Copy

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#6 Instant Pot Chicken Soup We really love this low-carb chicken soup! If you have an Instant Pot, you know that “instant” does not mean it’s ready instantly. With a Natural Pressure Release, this takes a little over 2 hours, but the hands-on time is short. The Instant Pot makes such a flavorful broth; we don’t miss noodles or rice in this one.

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

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#5 Easy Butter Chicken Made 3 Ways (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or Stovetop) I made this in my Instant Pot and also in my Slow Cooker. It uses canned coconut cream instead of dairy cream making it perfect for those with dairy sensitivities.

butter-chicken

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#4 Keto Ground Lamb Casserole When I first saw this recipe I thought, “That looks like it’s probably pretty good.” Then I made it. Wow! I loved it and have made it several times. I find I crave the leftovers to pack in a lunch when I’m subbing. It heats up well in a microwave.

Keto Ground Lamb Casserole

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#3 Chiang Mai Chicken takes more time than a lot of my recipes but it is very easy. It serves 8 and is perfect when you are looking for an impressive recipe for entertaining. It truly is one of the best chicken recipes I have ever made!

Chiang Mai Chicken with Cauliflower rice

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#2 Quick Curtido (Salvadoran Cabbage Slaw) is the perfect side dish with rich main dishes like Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork or barbecued meat. If you have a food processor this can be made very quickly. It keeps well for several days.

quick-curtido-mexican-cabbage-slaw-copy

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#1 – The most popular recipe on the blog in 2017 was the Instant Pot Refried Beans. It is a good one! You can start with a pound of dried, unsoaked, pinto beans and end up with fantastic homemade refried beans in about 2 hours. I love it!

instant-pot-refried-beans

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Happy New Year!! 

Instant Pot Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas

January 1, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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Yes! You can make Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas in the Instant Pot! I used a couple of things that I learned from J. Kenji López Alt’s Instant Pot split pea soup recipe and successfully made the black-eyed peas.

I cut the broth by 25% because, as Kenji says, there is no evaporation when you pressure cook.

I sautéed the first eight ingredients in 3 tablespoons of butter. The butter adds great flavor, and the fat helps to inhibit foaming when you’re pressure cooking legumes or grains.

From start to finish, it took about 1½ hours to make the Instant Pot Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas. The original recipe takes about 2 hours, start to finish, so the Instant Pot saves a little time. Without having a side-by-side taste test, I do think the Instant Pot version is better. The black-eyed peas were perfectly cooked with a velvety texture.

If you have a 6- or 8-quart Instant Pot I highly recommend that you try this Instant Pot Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas recipe. And may you have only good luck in 2018!

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Instant Pot Smoked Sausage and Black Eyed Peas - Cropped

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Instant Pot Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Peas

(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4 – 5

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Important notes:

  • Do not double the recipe. Split peas (and other legumes and grains) can foam and clog the valves if the pot is too full.
  • Do not reduce the butter. Adding fat to the pot can help to keep the foaming down. If you want to use oil instead of butter, use 3 tablespoons.
  • If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, monitor it closely, never setting the heat higher than medium-high.

 

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3 tablespoons butter

12 – 16 ounces smoked sausage, sliced

1 cup chopped yellow onion

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

whole cloves garlic, peeled

5 sprigs of fresh thyme

bay leaves

3 teaspoons finely chopped Italian parsley

6 cups chicken stock

1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Minced green onions, to garnish (optional)

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Black-eyed peas

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Ingredients: Everything to saute is in the bowl, 4 cups of stock in the carton plus 2 more cups in the measuring cup. Minced garlic to add with the stock and black-eyed peas.

Ingredients

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  1. Press the Sauté button and then use the Adjust button to set the heat to “Normal” (medium). Wait for the display to say “Hot”. This takes about 3 minutes.

Hot

 

2. When the pot is hot, put the butter in. When it has melted, add the sausage, onion, salt, cayenne pepper, whole cloves of garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and Italian parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Butter melted

Sauteeing

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3. Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to stop the sauté function. Add the chicken stock, black-eyed peas and minced garlic.

Stock, peas and garlic added

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4. Put the lid on, setting the Pressure Releaseto Sealing. Press the Manual button and set the time to 23 minutes. (If using a stovetop pressure cooker, cook it under pressure for 20 minutes.) With the Instant Pot, it takes about 15 minutes to get to pressure and start the 23-minute countdown.

23 minutes

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5. When the 23 minutes are done, press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn the pot off and let the pressure release naturally. It will take up to 30 minutes for the pressure to release.

6. When the float valve has dropped back down, the pressure has been released. Open the pot, give it a stir, and serve. Garnish with green onions, if desired.

Instant Pot Smoked Sausage and Black Eyed Peas - Cropped - Copy

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Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup

December 30, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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If you have an Instant Pot and leftover holiday ham, you really should try J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe for Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup. Bob proclaimed twice last night that it is the BEST Split Pea Soup he has ever had! Ever!! Even better than Julia Child’s, and it’s much easier and faster than her version.

I have always used an immersion blender to blend split pea soup a bit when it’s done, but that step is unnecessary when you use a pressure cooker. Kenji uses a quick release when the soup is done and says that when you open the pot the soup will be boiling furiously, essentially puréeing itself. My soup was beautifully puréed without using the quick release.

If I had the 8-quart Instant Pot I might have tried the quick release method because the pot would not be as full. With my 6-quart pot, however, I was nervous about sputtering soup if I used a quick release. I used a natural release. I’m not sure how long that took because I was busy socializing with Bob and our friends in the living room and not watching the pot. After the pressure was released, the Instant Pot went into “Keep Warm” mode.

When we were ready to eat, I removed the lid, gave the soup a quick stir, and it was PERFECT! As Kenji points out, Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup may not be the most beautiful dish, but it sure is tasty! If you have an Instant Pot but don’t have leftover ham, go out and get a good quality ham steak and make this soup!

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Not very photogenic, but Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup is a winner!

(Southern Corn Bread was great with the soup.)

Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup

 

Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup

(Adapted from J. Kenji López-Alt’s 30-Minute Pressure Cooker Split Pea and Ham Soup recipe)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 5 – 6

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Important notes:

  • I would not double the recipe in a 6-quart Instant Pot. Split peas (and other legumes and grains) can foam and clog the valves if the pot is too full. That said, a friend told me that she did double it in her 8-quart Instant Pot and it worked fine.
  • Do not reduce the butter. Adding fat to the pot can help to keep the foaming down. If you want to use oil instead of butter, use 3 tablespoons.
  • If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, pressure cook it for 20 minutes. Monitor it closely, never setting the heat higher than medium-high.

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Kenji calls this a “30-minute” soup. He uses a stovetop pressure cooker which cooks a bit faster than an Instant Pot. He also uses the quick pressure release as soon as the time is up.                                                                                                                                                         Using an Instant Pot and a natural release, as I did, the recipe takes longer than 30 minutes. After you seal the pot it takes some time (15 minutes?) for it to get up to pressure before the 23-minute cooking time starts. The Natural Release Method adds another 30 minutes or so. Allow about an hour and 15 minutes, but most of that is unattended time.

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3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), diced

1 large rib celery (about 4 ounces), diced

6 – 8 ounces ham, diced (I used 8 oz.)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed and drained

6 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock (I pulled 2 cups of homemade stock from the freezer and used 4 cups of Swanson’s Chicken Stock.)

2 bay leaves

Scant ½ teaspoon Salt (Optional. Omit if your chicken stock and ham are particularly salty.)

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  1. Press the Sauté button on the Instant Pot and use the Adjust button to set it at Normal (medium heat).
  2. Let the pot heat up. In a few minutes it will indicate “HOT” when it’s ready. Add the butter to the pot. When it has melted add the onion, celery, and ham. Cook, stirring often, for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened a bit but have not yet browned.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  4. Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to stop the sauté function. Add the peas, broth, and the bay leaves. Stir in the salt, if you’re using it.
  5. Put the cover on the pot, setting the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Manual button and set the time to 23 minutes. (If using a stovetop pressure cooker, cook it under pressure for 20 minutes.)
  6. When the 23 minutes are up, the pot will “beep”. Just leave it alone and let the pressure release naturally. That will take about 30 minutes.
  7. When the float valve has dropped back down, open the pot, and give the soup a stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!

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Instant Pot

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Instant Pot Split Pea and Ham Soup  - Copy.jpg

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Instant Pot Chicken Soup

December 4, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Instant Pot Chicken Soup is so easy. We love it and I’ve made it at least three times.

The recipe is from Coco Morante on Elise Bauer’sSimply Recipes blog. This is chicken soup with no noodles or rice, and we don’t miss them! Coco suggests you could cook some noodles separately to add to the soup, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Instant Pot Chicken Soup is a low carb soup and it’s delicious the way it is!

I have a 6-quart Instant Pot and this recipe fills it up quite a bit, but not to the Max line. The Max line is really the maximum for doing non-pressure cooking functions, like slow cooking. Guidelines for pressure cooking in any type of pressure cooker say the pot should only be half full for things that expand and might possibly foam, like dried beans or grains. It should only be 2/3 full for everything else, including pressure cooked soup. With the 6-quart Instant Pot, ½ full is just under the 3 Liter mark and 2/3 full is just under the 4 Liter mark.

The first two times I made it, I used a natural release. In other words, I just turned the pot off when it was done and waited until the float valve dropped before opening the pot. It took maybe 30 or 40 minutes to drop. That worked great and I didn’t have to worry about the broth “spitting” out of the valve.

When I made it last week, I decided to try Coco’s suggestion to let it release naturally for 15 minutes and then do a quick release. I learned that my pot was too full to do a quick release. When I released the pressure, there was quite a bit of soup that spit out of the pressure valve making a bit of a mess on the counter. The soup was still as delicious as ever, but if I do the full recipe in my 6-quart pot I’ll use a natural release.

This makes a lot of soup. Coco says it is 4 – 6 servings, but I found that it makes at least 6 servings. I may try cutting the recipe in half for just the two of us. We’ll have plenty of soup for dinner and leftovers and I won’t have the sputtering issue if I use the quick release after a 15-minute rest.

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Instant Pot Chicken Soup

Instant Pot Chicken Soup

(Adapted from Coco Morante’s recipe on Simply Recipes)

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(print the recipe)

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Prep time: 20 minutes

Time for the Instant Pot to get up to pressure: 30 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Natural release time: 30 – 40 minutes

Time for cutting up the cooked chicken: 15 minutes

Total time, start to finish: A little over 2 hours, mostly unattended

(If your pot isn’t over 2/3 full and you do a quick release after a 15-minute natural release, the total time will be about an hour and 45 minutes.

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I used a 6-quart Instant Pot. This will work equally well in an 8-quart Instant Pot. Just follow the same timing and cooking procedure. With the same quantity of soup, the 8-quart pot will not be too full and you should be able to do a quick release after a 15-minute natural release.

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Generously serves 6

 

1 (3-4 pound) chicken, or an equivalent mix of bone in chicken pieces(I used 3.5 pounds of bone-in skin-on chicken thighs.)

4 ribs celery, sliced

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

½ large yellow onion, peeled and diced

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

A few sprigs fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley

3 sprigs fresh thyme

4 teaspoons salt

2 quarts water

  1. Put the chicken in the pot skin side up.

Chicken thighs

.22. Put all of the other ingredients in the pot.

vegetables added

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My pot is pretty full. It’s just shy of the 4 Liters mark which is the maximum (2/3 full) for pressure cooking in the 6-quart pot.  (The Max mark on the pot is for slow cooking, NOT for pressure cooking.) With the pot this full, I should have used the longer natural release to avoid having some soup sputter out of the release valve. You can read this to learn more about the maximum fill lines.

water added

3. Put the lid on the pot, and turn the pressure regulator to Sealing. You can use the “Manual” program or the “Soup” program. Select 25 minutes of cooking time.

soup setting.jpg

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4. When the time is up, turn the pot off and let the pressure release naturally.

5. When the float valve has dropped down, open the pot. Remove the chicken pieces to a cutting board. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and return it to the pot.

6. Serve.

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If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can make it on the stovetop.

Chicken Soup cooked in a pot on the stove

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bring to a boil: 15 minutes

Simmer: 1 hour

Time for cutting up the cooked chicken: 15 minutes

Total time from start to finish: A little under 2 hours

 

Put all of the ingredients in a large Dutch oven (or similar pot). Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the pot. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and chop the meat into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken to the soup and serve.

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Instant Pot Chicken Soup - Copy

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Perfect Instant Pot Hard-Cooked Eggs

November 12, 2017

By Kath Dedon

 

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After several attempts at making hard-cooked eggs in my Instant Pot, I finally made Perfect Instant Pot Hard-Cooked Eggs!

There is nothing wrong with J.Kenji Lopez-Alt’s method for steaming eggs; I have made many Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs using his method. If I didn’t have an Instant Pot I would definitely continue to steam them.

However, I do have an Instant Pot! So future hard-cooked eggs at Chez Dedon will probably be produced in my Instant Pot now that I’ve figured it out.

If you search the Internet, you’ll find a surprising number of ways to make hard-cooked eggs in an Instant Pot. I tried some of them. 5 minutes of high pressure with 5 minutes of natural release before doing a quick release did not work for me. The yolks were not fully cooked. 8 minutes of high pressure with 5 minutes of natural release worked a bit better, but the yolks still had a small spot that was not quite done.

I found Amy and Jacky’s blog post about cooking eggs in the Instant Pot. They used low pressure and cooked the eggs for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 minutes. They posted photos of all of the eggs to show how they turned out. For hard-cooked eggs, the 12-, 13-, and 14-minute eggs looked like they would suit me the best.

Since 13 minutes is the timing I use for steaming eggs, I decided to try that with the Instant Pot. It worked beautifully! I feel like I’m all ready to make deviled eggs for holiday get-togethers!

Update 11/15/17:  

Yesterday I opened a new carton of large eggs and cooked them in the Instant Pot with Low Pressure for 13 minutes. They had a green ring around the yolk indicating that they were overcooked. (See photo at the end of this blog post.)

Today I cooked some more eggs from the same carton with Low Pressure for 12 minutes and they were perfect. Blogger Ron of Lost in a Pot reported in a comment to this post that he cooked perfect eggs using Low Pressure for 12 minutes as well. From now on I will set the timer for 12 minutes. 😉

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Update 1/7/19:

I have a 6-quart Instant Pot; this recipe has worked well for me. Carrie has an 8-quart Instant Pot. She followed this method to make hard-cooked eggs and they were over-cooked with the dreaded green ring. I did a little research and found that the 8-quart pot takes longer to get to pressure; the cooking time will be longer, resulting in over-cooked eggs. If you have an 8-quart Instant Pot you could try this blogger’s method: https://kristineskitchenblog.com/instant-pot-hard-boiled-eggs/

 

Perfect hard-cooked egg

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Perfect Instant Pot Hard-Cooked Eggs

(Adapted from Amy and Jacky’s recipe on their blog, Pressure Cook Recipes)

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(print the recipe)

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This method calls for using cold tap water and cold large eggs. Using warm water, room-temperature eggs, or eggs that are a different size could affect your results.

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2 – 8 large eggs, cold from the refrigerator

1 cup cold tap water

  1. Put the steamer rack that came with the Instant Pot in the pot. Put the eggs on the rack and pour in the water. Put the lid on and set the steam release handle to Seal.

Eggs in the IP

 

2. Press the Manual button and then press the Pressure button. Use the “-“ button to select Low Pressure. Set the time for 13 minutes 12 minutes.

3. While the eggs are cooking, prepare a bowl of ice water so it’s ready to cool the eggs.

4. When the 12 minutes under pressure are up and the Instant Pot beeps, press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn off the IP. Move the steam release handle to Vent for a quick pressure release.

5. Remove the lid. Put the eggs in the ice water to chill for 5 minutes.

Chilling in ice water.jpg

 

5. Refrigerate for future use.

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Perfect hard-cooked egg - Copy

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Photo for the 11/15/17 Update:

The egg on the left was cooked for 13 minutes. The perfect egg on the right was cooked for 12 minutes.

eggs

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Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

October 19, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Sometimes you just need a treat. Deb Perelman’s recipe for Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats in Smitten Kitchen certainly fills the bill!

According to Wikipedia, Rice Krispies Treats have been around since 1939. The original recipe has just three ingredients: 3 tablespoons of butter, 10 ounces of marshmallows, and 6 cups of Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal. The recipe is delicious and has endured to the present day.

Deb made just a couple of minor changes that made big changes with her Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats. She uses a lot more butter (8 ounces, or one stick), she browns the butter, and she adds course sea salt. Believe me; those little changes make all the difference!

I have long enjoyed Deb’s Smitten Kitchen blog; I highly recommend it if you’re not familiar with it. Her Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is an enjoyable read that inspires me to get in the kitchen to try something new. I’m very much looking forward to getting my hands on her new cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. As you can see, I’m a Deb Perelman “groupie”. If she’s new to you, I recommend checking her out.

We’re headed into “sugar season” when special treats are needed for the various holiday activities and get-togethers. This recipe for Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats is easy to make and a real crowd-pleaser. Give it a try and see if you don’t agree!

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Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats.jpg

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Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

(Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe in Smitten Kitchen)

Kellogg’s no longer makes gluten-free Rice Krispies. If you can find a certified gluten-free brand of rice crispies, you can make these treats gluten-free. 

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(print the recipe)

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Makes 16 (2-inch) squares or 24 (2 x 1.3-inch) squares(I like to cut desserts smaller when serving at a party with other desserts. People are more likely to take a smaller taste.)

*I found that I did not have unsalted butter when it was time to make the treats. I used Kerrygold salted butter and then cut the added sea salt in half. It worked fine.

 

4 ounces (113 grams, or one stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan* (See note above about the butter.)

1 10-ounce bag marshmallows(I used miniature.)

Heaping ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt(Use heaping 1/8 teaspoon if you use salted butter.)

6 cups (160 grams) crispy rice cereal(about half a 12-ounce box)

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1 stick Kerrygold butter

160 grams

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  1. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter or oil
  2. In a large pot (I used my 8-quart Dutch oven) melt the butter over medium-low heat. It melts, foams, turns clear, and then starts to brown. Stir frequently scraping up the brown bits. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.

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Cut the butter into smaller pieces so it melts more quickly

Melting butter

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3. When the butter is browned, turn off the heat and stir in the marshmallows. Stir until the marshmallows are totally melted and blended into the butter. (Turn the heat on low if the marshmallows aren’t melting. I didn’t need to do that with miniature marshmallows.)

4. Add the crispy rice and salt and stir until it’s all blended. Put the mixture in the prepared pan and press down. It’s easiest to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper sprayed with oil to press on the cereal.

Use waxed paper

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Done

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5. After the treats have cooled, but them into the desired size. (I cut them into 12 squares and then cut each one in half to make 24 treats.)

6. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

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Rice Crispy Treats

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Rice Crispy Treats 2

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Rice Crispy Treats - Copy

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Warm Spinach and Beet Salad with Bacon Dressing

October 13, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Warm Spinach and Beet Salad with Bacon Dressing is a winner! I was looking for something different to do with the beautiful yellow beets I bought and found Jasper White’s recipe in Jasper White’s Cooking from New England.

The recipe says it serves 4 – 6. I halved it, and it made 2 generous servings. We also had chorizo sausage, but, honestly, the best part of the meal was this salad. I will definitely make again.

Without further ado, here is my take on Warm Spinach and Beet Salad with Bacon Dressing!

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Warm Spinach and Beet Salad with Bacon Dressing (and sausage)

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Warm Spinach and Beet Salad with Bacon Dressing

(Adapted from a recipe in Jasper White’s Cooking from New England)

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(print the recipe))

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My 3 medium yellow beets weighed about 9 ounces, total, with the greens and roots trimmed.

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Serves 2

2 – 3 medium beets (6 – 9 ounces total)

8 ounces baby spinach

2 slices thick bacon, cut in half lengthwise and then into small pieces

1½ teaspoons oil

½ medium onion, cut into medium (½ inch) dice

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Serve with Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season to taste

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  1. Peel the beets and cut them into ½-inch sticks. Bring a pot of water to a boil. When it’s boiling, add a spoonful of salt and the beets. Boil until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet until it’s starting to get crisp.

IMG_1469

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3. Add the oil and the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, just until the onion is starting to get tender.

Onions added

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4. Add the vinegar and the beets and cook, stirring, for just a minute or so.

beets added

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5. Add the spinach and toss it with the other ingredients until it just starts to wilt. (Mr. White says, “Move very fast or you will have a cooked vegetable, not a salad.”)

Spinach added

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6. Serve with salt and black pepper to season to taste.

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Two sausages for Bob 

Warm Spinach and Beet Salad with Bacon Dressing

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Tall Warm Spinach and Beet Salad

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Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

September 13, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Laura emailed me this recipe the other day saying that she and Byron had enjoyed it at least a couple of times. It looked terrific, so I wasted no time before giving it a try.

Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce is an epicurious recipe developed by Kristin Donnelly. It’s really easy to make!

I made it exactly as written except I substituted Swerve sweetener for the sugar. Swerve measures the same as sugar so it’s an easy substitution. Bob and I both declared that this recipe is a winner. I can attest that leftover patties are delicious reheated in a microwave oven, even without the dipping sauce.

Laura said they had made it as is, but they subbed Truvia for the sugar. They also made it into a salad one night. They tore up the lettuce, cut the patties into smaller pieces, and used the dipping sauce for the dressing. I love that idea!

Get the amazing flavors of Vietnamese cuisine in your own kitchen with these Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce! Delicious!

 

Wrap a pork patty in a lettuce leaf and dip in the sauce!

Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

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Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from an epicurious.com recipe by Kristin Donnelly)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 3 – 4 (3 patties were enough for me; Bob was happy with 4)

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To me the patties were just a wee bit salty. If you are salt-sensitive, you might want to reduce the kosher salt a bit, but use all of the fish sauce. It’s an important ingredient in Vietnamese cooking and it adds “umami” to the dish. You can substitute Swerve or Truvia for the sugar.

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For the patties

1 pound ground pork

3 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons0

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions (3-4 onions)

1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, lower 6 inches of tender bulb finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1½ teaspoons fish sauce

1½ teaspoons sugar (or Swerve or Truvia)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon kosher salt (don’t use ¾ tsp table salt; substitute ½ tsp.)

 

For serving

12 lettuce leaves, like Boston or iceberg

Herb sprigs, such as mint, cilantro and Thai basil (optional, I didn’t use)

 

 

  1. Put everything for the patties, except the pork, in a bowl and stir.

Ready to mix with pork.jpg

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2. Add the ground pork and mix until well combined. Form the pork into 12 patties (about ¾-inch thick) and put them on a plate or, as I did, on a small foil-lined baking sheet.

3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm.

Ready to grill

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4. Preheat a grill for 10 minutes. (You know your grill; grease the grill grate if you usually need to do that. I don’t find it necessary with my grill.)

5. Grill the patties for 3-4 minutes on one side. Turn and grill for 4 minutes longer.

6. Serve with lettuce leaves to wrap around the patties and the dipping sauce.

 

Dipping Sauce

1½ tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar (or Swerve or Truvia)

¼ cup water

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fish sauce

Pinch of crushed red pepper

 

  1. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour into 4 small bowls for serving.

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Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce - Copy

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Pork Chops à la Julia with Montreal Steak Seasoning

September 6, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Pork Chops à la Julia has been my go-to pork chops recipe for years. It’s from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. I recently tried one small change that took the pork chops to a whole new delicious level.

What did I do? I simply used McCormick Grill Mates 25% Less Sodium Montreal Steak Seasoning instead of salt and pepper. My, oh, my! What a difference! The pork chops were so flavorful and Bob and I both loved them. I prefer to use the reduced sodium version since I give the meat a generous sprinkling of the seasoning.

I highly recommend that you give this a try. Pork Chops à la Julia with Montreal Steak Seasoning is a super entrée for a quick meal.

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Pork Chops served with homegrown green beans

Pork Chops à la Julia with Montreal Steak Seasoning

(Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe in The Way to Cook)

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(print the recipe)

 

Serves 2 (easily doubles to serve 4)

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pork chops, ¾ – 1 inch thick (either bone-in or boneless)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

McCormick Grill Mates 25% Less Sodium Montreal Steak Seasoning

1/3 cup Vermouth or chicken broth (I used Vermouth.)

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1. If there is a lot of excess fat, trim it off. (My pork chops were already well-trimmed.)

2. Let the pork chops sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. When ready to cook, pat them dry with paper towels.

3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet that is just large enough to hold the chops.

4. Generously sprinkle the Montreal Steak Seasoning on both sides of the pork chops. Put the chops in the hot skillet

5.  Cook for 4 minutes.  Turn the pork chops over.

6. Cook for 3 more minutes.

7. Remove the pork chops to a warm plate and cover with foil.

8. Add the vermouth or chicken broth to the pan. Turn the heat up and cook, stirring, until the sauce reduces and thickens a bit.

9. Serve the pork chops with some of the pan sauce.

Easy Gluten-Free Peach Crisp

August 22, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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This Easy Gluten-Free Peach Crisp is an adaptation of Elana Amsterdam’s Paleo Peach Crisp on her Elana’s Pantry blog. She bakes her crisp in an 8 x 8 inch baking dish.

I cut the recipe in half and baked it in my cute little 6-inch pie dish. It was a perfect little dessert to make for two people. For us, it actually makes 3 – 4 servings so we enjoyed dessert one night and had a bit left over for the next day. (Peach Crisp for breakfast, anyone?)

Elana uses maple syrup, which is an approved sweetener for Paleo desserts, but I wanted to try sweetening it with Swerve. Swerve is an erythritol- and oligosaccharides- based sweetener.  I have only tried it for a couple of things, but I have been pleased with the results. It measures the same as sugar, cup for cup, so it’s easy to substitute it in recipes.

Bob and I both loved this Easy Gluten-Free Peach Crisp! Give it a try while great summer peaches are still in season.

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Peach Crisp cooling

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Easy Gluten-Free Peach Crisp

(Adapted from Elana Amsterdam’s recipe on her Elana’s Pantry blog)

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(print the recipe)

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I used Swerve to sweeten the crisp topping. Swerve measures the same as sugar. Substitute an equal amount of maple syrup if you wish. Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour is available at my Costco.

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Serves 3 – 4    (Can be doubled to serve 6 – 8. See instructions following this recipe.)

1 pound peaches (about 3 medium peaches), peeled and sliced*

½ cup + 2 tablespoons blanched almond flour (not almond meal)

A couple of dashes of salt (if doubling the recipe, use 1/8 teaspoon)

1 tablespoon butter

1½ teaspoons Swerve (or maple syrup)

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Put a rimmed baking sheet on a rack in the middle position. (The baking sheet will catch any drips from the peach crisp.)
  2. Arrange the peach slices in a 6-inch pie plate, or another baking dish that has a capacity of about 3 cups.

 

Beautiful peaches from Metropolitan Market’s “Peachorama”

Peaches

Peaches 2 - Copy

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3. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor (My mini food processor worked great.)

4. Add the butter, Swerve, and vanilla and pulse so it’s all blended.

5. Sprinkle the crisp topping over the peaches.

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Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

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6. Bake for 30 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool.

Paleo Peach Crisp

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*Peeling the peaches:

I have a serrated peeler that works great on peaches (and tomatoes). Before I got one, I used this method to easily peel peaches:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the peaches and boil for 1 minute. Remove them from the water immediately. Remove the skin from the peaches, and slice.

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Double the recipe to serve 6 – 8

Bake it in an 8 x 8 inch square dish (or any baking dish that holds about 6 cups) for about 35 – 40 minutes.

Use the same method with these ingredients:

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2 pounds peaches (about 6 medium), peeled and sliced

1¼ cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon Swerve (or maple syrup)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

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Peach Crisp cooling - Copy

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Julia Child’s Salade Composée

August 7, 2017

By  Kath Dedon

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Too hot to cook. That was last week in Seattle. Too hot and smoky for a lot of outdoor activities. We were, and still are, covered in smoke that is being blown south from the 100+ wildfires burning in British Columbia. We were under a burn ban last week that included a ban on charcoal fires.

The air quality improved a bit over the weekend so the burn ban was lifted. We still can’t see the mountains because of the haze, but it did cool off last night.

Last week we had easy hot weather meals like Dilled Shrimp Salad, one of my favorites. I also tried a new recipe – Julia Child’s Salade Composée (Main-course Combination Salad). It was a great meal for a hot summer night! If you already have hard-boiled eggs on hand, which we did, there is absolutely nothing to cook.

I found the recipe in Julia’s cookbook based on her first public television series, The French Chef. The French Chef Cookbook has all of her recipes from that series. She describes the salad as “a handsomely arranged combination salad” for a “spur-of-the-moment meal”.

Julia writes the recipe in one simple paragraph, giving directions on how to put it together. She doesn’t give amounts for the ingredients; you can adjust it depending on how many people you are serving. She arranges it all on one large serving dish to be brought to the table.

Since I was cooking for two, I decided to arrange the salad on two dinner plates. Bob and I each got our own Salade Composée.

When I made this last week it was too hot to turn on my bright lights and get out my camera to take photos. I just snapped a few photos with my iPhone because I thought I might want to share it.

Last week it was TOO HOT to edit photos and write a blog post. This morning it has cooled off enough that I am eager to share this recipe. Salade Composée is definitely a keeper and I’ll be pinning it to my Hot Summer Nights board on Pinterest. 😉

I hope you’ll enjoy this Salade Composée as much as Bob and I did. I love the combination of all of the great flavors. It’s a perfect one to remember when it’s too hot to cook!

P.S. Please join me in thinking good thoughts for our neighbors in BC – for those whose lives are being impacted by the fires (many have had to be evacuated from their homes) and for the brave firefighters (some from as far away as Mexico) who are working so hard to contain the fires.

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Julia Child's Salade Composee

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Salade Composée (Main-Course Combination Salad)

Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe in The French Chef Cookbook

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2

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This recipe is easily adaptable to suit your needs. Increase the ingredients to serve more people. Substitute another kind of fish or chicken for the tuna.

Vinaigrette (the recipe follows the salad recipe)

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans (I used 50% less sodium.)

1 cup raw zucchini, sliced

¾ cup raw mushrooms, sliced

Mixed salad greens (about 3 cups)

1 hard-cooked egg, quartered

10 grape (or cherry) tomatoes, cut in half

12 black olives (I used seedless Kalamata)

4 – 6 anchovy fillets

1 can of good-quality tuna

Chopped parsley (Optional garnish)

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  1. If you don’t have a hard-cooked egg, get that going first. I highly recommend this method.
  2. Make the Vinaigrette (recipe below)
  3. Drain and rinse the beans, put them in a bowl and stir 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette into them.
  4. Put the mushrooms in another bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
  5. Put the zucchini in a third bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
  6. Allow the beans, mushrooms, and zucchini to marinate for 20 – 30 minutes.

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Vegetables marinating

marinating in vinaigrette

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7. Toss the greens with about 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.

8. Divide the salad greens between two dinner plates.

9. Divide about 1 cup of the marinated beans between the two plates (1/2 cup each). You will have left-over beans for the next day.

10. Arrange the rest of the salad ingredients around the beans. Pour a bit more vinaigrette over the salad (especially the ingredients that had not been marinated) and sprinkle with parsley if desired.

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Julia Child’s Vinaigrette

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2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons best-quality olive oil

A few grinds of pepper

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Put all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously to combine.

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dinner

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Julia Child's Salade Composee - Copy

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This is our view of the Olympic Mountains on a clear January day (1-4-17)

View of the Olympic Mountains 1-4-2017

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The same view last week. There were no clouds. It was all smoke.

8-2-2017

Smoke 8-2-17

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8-5-2017

Smoke 8-5-2017

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8-6-2017

Smoke 8-6-2017 - Copy

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Forecast last Thursday (8-3-2017): SMOKE

(The little suns imply that the forecast was for sunny skies. It’s true that there were no clouds, but it wasn’t clear and sunny. It was smoky. 😦 )

Forecast Smoke 8-3-17

Bob’s Big 7-0 Birthday Bash

July 20, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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There’s no recipe today. I decided that I wanted to write about Bob’s Big 7-0 Birthday Bash, mostly so we can remember all of the details later and relive the fun day. I also wanted to give a shout-out to Café Turko so Seattle area people will know about this great Turkish restaurant and what a fine job they do with catering. My next post will feature a new recipe!

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Clockwise, starting on the left: Byron, Bob, Kath, Rhett, Carrie, and Laura (Thanks to my sister, Joan, for taking this picture. And a big thanks to Laura for taking almost all of the rest of the photos. I took the one of Byron and his ribs, and the final photo of the festive room two days later.)

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A few months ago Laura and Carrie were at our house and they said, “Dad, you have a big birthday coming up. You need a party and we’ll do everything!” And they did!

Bob came up with the guest list and gave it to Laura. She designed and sent out the evites. She kept track of the RSVPs. Laura also secretly made a fabulous poster board of photos of Bob, “70 Years of Bob”. He was totally surprised and loved it.

Carrie contacted the caterer who had done such a fabulous job at the party she and Rhett hosted for their out-of-state wedding guests last year. So we had Café Turko cater Bob’s party, too.

On July 10 we had a beer tasting at The Beer Junction in West Seattle and decided to order a half barrel of Fremont Brewing Company’s Lush IPA and a quarter barrel of Georgetown Brewing Company’s Manny’s Pale Ale. Everyone seemed to enjoy the beer selections.

The owners of Café Turko are the nicest people! Gencer and Süreyya Gökeri obviously take great joy in sharing their Turkish food and culture with the people of Seattle. Süreyya is the accomplished chef behind the homemade food. She started catering even before they opened the Café and she has taught Turkish cooking classes. I know that they both work hard delivering the catered food. Süreyya brought the food to our house for Carrie and Rhett’s party, and Gencer delivered the food for Bob’s party last Saturday. (He mentioned that they were catering 4 events that day!)

The food at Café Turko is exquisite! Here’s what Carrie and Süreyya chose for Bob’s party:

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Muhammara (A red pepper and walnut spread)

Watermelon Salad with Cherries

Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Rainbow Hummus (3 kinds: chickpea, yam, and beet)

Snowballs (a delicious cauliflower and Brussels sprouts salad)

Ali Nazik with Chicken (Grilled spiced chicken served with yogurt and grilled eggplant sauce and Antep seasonings. Ali Nazik means “made with gentle hands”.)

Wholesome Aegean Musakka (Eggplant, onions, green peppers, garlic, tomatoes, Turkish red pepper paste, parsley and olive oil and spices.)

Pita bread

 

On the day of the party (July 15) Carrie and Rhett stopped at Costco for wine and bottled water. Rhett and Byron picked up and set up the kegs. Rhett was a helpful bartender, pouring glasses of wine and beer.

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It didn’t really feel like 91 people. People came and went at different times and they spread out in the yard and upstairs and downstairs.

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Gencer and one of his sons delivered the food right on time. We had so many people comment on how much they liked the food!

Some of the food. Gencer hadn’t brought all of it in yet.

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Byron had his own surprise for Bob’s birthday dinner. He smoked 20 pounds of pork ribs  – 6 racks of St. Louis-style spare ribs! (Byron has become an incredible grill master and smoker. His home-cured home-smoked bacon is the best!) I believe he used a dry rub on all of the ribs, and then he made a BBQ sauce that he brushed on half of them. Both versions were fantastic!

Byron cutting up his ribs

 

For dessert, Laura ordered a full sheet cake from Safeway. She chose Safeway mainly because they could use a photo of Bob from his 60th birthday and turn it into an edible photo on the cake. Very festive, but I didn’t really expect people to eat much cake. But it was actually very good and most of it got eaten. We were glad we decided to order a full sheet cake (serves 80 – 100) instead of a half sheet.

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72

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After dinner Byron set up the trebuchet. Because it’s not a summer event at Chez Dedon without seeing how far you can toss potatoes with the trebuchet. (A few years ago Byron ordered the plans to build a 3-foot trebuchet, but he and Bob decided that it had to be 6-feet tall so they scaled it up. Bob built it and they still have fun with it.)

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92

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And after the party, Laura, Byron, Carrie, and Rhett did the clean-up. Rhett did all of the hand washing. Byron returned the kegs a couple of days later. 🙂

We ended up having a total of 91 people at Bob’s Big 7-0 Birthday Bash! We were touched and humbled to have so many people come, including friends and family from California and Oregon. Bob’s a “people person” and we are blessed with so many great friends. There were friends at the party that he has known since junior high! We had an absolute blast and everyone else seemed to have a good time, too.

Thank you to all who joined us, and a huge thank you to our remarkable “kids” who made it happen!

And a tip to all who live in the Seattle area or plan a visit, do try Café Turko in Fremont! Their food is amazing! And definitely consider them for your catering needs. They’re very professional, easy to work with, and are very reasonably priced.

Happy 70th Birthday, Bob!

 

Still festive two days later!

Still festive.jpg

 

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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

July 12, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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This Roasted Shrimp Cocktail from Ina Garten is super easy for entertaining! I roasted 5.25 pounds last weekend to take to a gathering of 30 people. It was very well received. I had purchased frozen shrimp, let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight, and then peeled and deveined them. Peeling and deveining them was the most difficult part of the recipe. And it actually wasn’t difficult, it just took some time with 5.25 pounds.

Yesterday I bought 1½ pounds of fresh peeled and deveined shrimp to make it again. The shrimp were large (21 – 25 shrimp per pound). I tossed them on a baking sheet with the oil, salt and pepper and popped them into the preheated oven. I can almost hear Ina say, “How easy is that!”

I got a lot of complements last weekend for the shrimp and the cocktail sauce. Roasting the shrimp does make a difference; it enhances the sweetness and flavor of the shrimp.

The cocktail sauce is the classic sauce that has been popular forever. This version is simply doctored-up ketchup and chili sauce, but just a tiny bit of effort makes it much tastier than bottled cocktail sauce. You can control how spicy you want it with the horseradish and Tabasco. I used Ina’s amounts and thought it was just right, but you could adjust it to suit your taste.

The peeled and deveined shrimp made the recipe amazingly easy! And, it can be made the day before for stress-free entertaining. I made them yesterday to enjoy with my family tonight before going to Crawfish House to celebrate Bob’s birthday!

Happy Birthday to Bob!

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Roated Shrimp Cocktail up close

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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

(Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe on Food Network)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 6 – 8

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1½ – 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt (use a bit less if you use table salt)

A few grinds of black pepper

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  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.

 

  1. Put the shrimp on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold them in a single layer.

raw shrimp.jpg

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  1. Pour the oil over the shrimp. Sprinkle the salt over them. Grind some pepper over them. Toss gently with your hands until the oil, salt and pepper are well distributed. Spread the shrimp out on the baking sheet.

IMG_4134

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  1. Roast for about 8 minutes, or until just done. Set aside to cool. Refrigerate if not serving right away.

Done

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  1. Serve with Cocktail Sauce

IMG_4138

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Cocktail Sauce

 

ingredients for cocktail sauce

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½ cup ketchup

½ cup chili sauce (I used Heinz, which Ina Garten recommends.)

3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon Tabasco

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  1. Stir all ingredients together. Refrigerate if not serving right away.

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Roated Shrimp Cocktail up close - Copy

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Vermouth Mussels

July 4, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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We had Vermouth Mussels last night and I just don’t know why I don’t buy mussels more often! They were so good, and they’re really simple to prepare.

I chose Deb Perelman’s recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Her recipe is “Vermouth Mussels with Tarragon Oven Fries”. Her method of making the oven fries sounds like perfection. (And her photos of the fries are mouth-watering.) As much as I love potatoes, I decided to skip them last night and just make the mussels to serve with a salad.

The secret to great mussels is to get them fresh from a reliable seafood vendor and to clean them just before cooking. If you search the Internet, you’ll find a lot of different ways to clean the mussels. I went with Deb’s method.  It was simple and worked fine. It involved a 10 – 15 minute soak in cold water. Then I scrubbed them and pulled the beards off. Ready to go!

As Deb says, two pounds of mussels will serve 2 – 4 people. If served with the oven fries or some other hearty side dish, two pounds would serve 4. Served alone, with just a salad, it was a wonderful dinner for 2! Bread would have been good to dip in the flavorful broth. (Truth be told, we may have used mussel shells to sip some of the broth.)

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Vermouth Mussels on the deck

Mussels, salad and chardonnay on the deck

 

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Vermouth Mussels

(Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2 – 4

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2 pounds mussels

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup minced shallots or minced white onion (I used shallots.)

½ cup dry white vermouth

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

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  1. Clean the mussels. Put them in a large pot and cover with cold water. Let them sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Scrub each one under running water with a brush and remove any “beards”. Pull the beard towards the hinge to remove. (Deb says pulling in the other direction could prematurely kill the mussel. So pull toward the hinge.) Put the mussels in a large bowl or colander as you clean them.
  2. Quickly wash out the large pot and put it on the stove. Add the butter, shallots, and vermouth. Bring to a boil.

Butter, shallots, Vermouth

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3. Put the mussels in the pot. Cover and boil for about 3 minutes. Shake the pan a few times during this boil.

4. Open the pot and use tongs to remove the mussels that are open. Put them in bowls. Continue to boil the mussels, removing them as they open. (All but 4 of my mussels opened. Toss those that do not open.)

Remove mussels as they open

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5. Bring the broth to a full boil and boil for about 1 minute. Ladle the broth over the mussels, garnish with the tarragon and serve. (Ladle it instead of pouring just in case there is any sand on the bottom.)

Mussels

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Empty shells

Mussels shells

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Mussels - Copy

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

June 23, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas was a hit at Chez Dedon last night! Bob declared that it was perfectly seasoned, and I had to agree.

I had saved Toni’s recipe from her Boulder Locavore blog to Pinterest. I ran across it again yesterday and decided to make it. Click on the link for her blog if you want to see the video she posted about the recipe. She used a gallon bag to marinate the ingredients, but I thought a bowl might be easier, so that’s what I used. You can refrigerate the ingredients to marinate for up to 24 hours or you can just let them marinate for the time that it takes your oven to preheat. We found the flavor was great even after a short marinating time.

Fajitas are traditionally served with hot flour tortillas. Toni uses corn tortillas to make it gluten free. She recommends wrapping tortillas in foil and putting them in the oven with the sheet pan for the last ten minutes .

I skipped the tortillas and served the Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas over a bed of just-harvested lettuce from our yard. It made a great low-carb, main-dish salad for a warm night.

However you choose to serve them, I highly recommend Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas! I topped ours with sliced avocado and a bit of sour cream for me. Other toppings that could be used might be guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, or shredded cheese.

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sheet pan chicken fajitas - Copy

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

(Adapted from a recipe on boulderlocavore.com)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4

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¼ cup oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large red bell pepper, cut vertically into ½-inch slices

1 large orange bell pepper, cut vertically into ½-inch slices

1 large yellow bell pepper, cut vertically into ½-inch slices

1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced vertically into ½-inch wedges

1 – 1.33  pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 1.33 lbs.), sliced across the breast in ½-inch slices

Lettuce for serving

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1 package tortillas (optional)

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Suggested toppings: avocado slices or guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, pico de gallo

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  1. Whisk the oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic together in a large bowl.

Ingredients before whisking

marinade ingredients

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2. Put the peppers and onion in the marinade and stir well.

stir vegetables

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3. Put chicken in the bowl and stir the chicken and vegetables together well so the marinade is evenly distributed. At this point you can cover the bowl and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. It will be good, though, with just 20 minutes time while the oven is heating.

stir chicken in

 

4. Preheat the oven to 400°.

5. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

6. Spread the ingredients out on the baking sheet.

ready for oven

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7. Roast for 10 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven to stir.

9. Put the sheet pan back in the oven. (Also put foil wrapped tortillas in the oven, if you’re using them.) Roast for 10 more minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and serve over a bed of lettuce or with the tortillas. Top with your toppings of choice.

Done

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sheet pan chicken fajitas - 2

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Keto Ground Lamb Casserole

May 22, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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This spring has been full of a lot of feasting opportunities with the trips to Florida and New York and the celebration of several family birthdays. Between the feasts Bob and I have been eating simpler meals and watching the carbs. This Ground Lamb Casserole from Maria Emmerich’s Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking is a recipe I have made twice in the past few weeks.

You could substitute ground beef for the lamb, but I love the rich flavor of the lamb in this casserole. You’ll never mistake the cabbage for pasta, but it does cook down and blends in well with the rest of the ingredients.

Ground Lamb Casserole is quick, easy, and so flavorful. Leftovers reheat beautifully, making it a great option to pack in a lunch. I actually purposely made it the last time because I had some subbing days coming up and I wanted to take leftovers for my lunch!

If you like lamb, do give this Ground Lamb Casserole a try!

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Ground Lamb Casserole served with perfect Washington asparagus (Yay, spring!)

Keto Ground Lamb Casserole

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Ground Lamb Casserole

(Adapted, barely, from Maria Emmerich’s recipe in Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking)

 

(print the recipe)

 

Serves 4

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See that bacon? It was home-cured and home-smoked by Byron!

ingredients

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4 slices bacon, diced

1 pound ground lamb

¼ cup diced green bell pepper

¼ cup diced onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (2 – 3 cloves)

4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (about ½ head)

2 cups tomato sauce (I used one 15-ounce can of tomato sauce)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

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  1. Put the bacon in a cold large skillet and heat to medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the bacon is starting to get crispy, about 5 minutes.

Byron's bacon

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2. Add the ground lamb, pepper, onion, and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is done, about 7 minutes.

Ground lamb, onion, pepper, and garlic added

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3. Add the cabbage and tomato sauce to the pan. Stir. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is cooked and softened.

Tomato sauce and cabbage added

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4. Season to taste with the salt and serve.

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Keto Ground Lamb Casserole - Copy

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

May 14, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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I found this recipe for Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower on Sandy’s Reluctant Entertainer blog. Sandy found the recipe in Gina Homolka’s book, The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor. (Gina also has a blog that’s a great source for lightened-up recipes.)

I’ve now made this a couple of times. The first time I made it I didn’t take pictures because I didn’t expect it to be special enough for the blog. Boy, I was wrong!

The spice combination for the cauliflower is just right. It’s a bit spicy, but not overly so. Just reduce the amount of crushed red pepper flakes if you’re nervous about it, but ¼ teaspoon for the whole recipe is not that hot.

I had a whole head of cauliflower that had been in the crisper drawer for about a week. It was time to do something with it and I made Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower again. It was a perfect side dish with roast chicken thighs. They both roast at 450°. I put the chicken thighs on a rack on the lower third of the preheated oven. After the chicken had roasted for about 15 minutes, I put the cauliflower on a rack in the upper third of the oven. I continued to roast them both for another 25 minutes. Easy-peasy dinner!

The thing I love about this Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower is that it is so easy and yet flavorful enough to taste like a more complicated recipe. If you like cauliflower, give this one a try. I know I’m happy to add it to my repertoire.

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower served with Roast Chicken Thighs

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

(Adapted from a recipe posted by Sandy of reluctantentertainer.com who credited the recipe to Gina Homolka’s The Skinnytaste Cookbook)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4

 

The recipe calls for a bit of cilantro to garnish the cooked cauliflower. It’s a nice touch but can be omitted if you don’t have any on hand. I didn’t use it the first time I made it.

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6 heaping cups of cauliflower florets (from a 1½ – pound cauliflower), cut into 1-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves

¼ cup olive oil

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Put the cauliflower in a large bowl.

Cauliflower and garlic

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3. Lay a large chef’s knife flat on the garlic with the blade facing away from you. Press (or smack) the blade with your fist to smash the garlic cloves. Put the garlic in the bowl with the cauliflower.

crushed garlic

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4. Pour the olive oil over the cauliflower and toss so it is well distributed.

5. Sprinkle the cauliflower with salt.

6. Stir the turmeric, cumin, and pepper flakes together.

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Turmeric, ground cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes

Turmeric, cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes

Stir spices together

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7. Sprinkle the spices over the cauliflower and stir well. Spread the cauliflower out on a large rimmed baking sheet, covered with parchment if desired.

8. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once when it’s about half done.

9. Garnish with cilantro, if desired, and serve.

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Cauliflower and chicken thighs sharing the oven

sharing the oven

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower - Copy

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A Quick Trip to New Jersey and New York City

May 12, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Sunday, May 7, was our 34th wedding anniversary and we spent most of the day flying from Seattle to Newark, New Jersey. Bob goes twice a year for business and this time I tagged along.

That night we stayed with Foy and Ken. They manage the self-storage facility that Bob developed, and over the years they have become good friends. We got to their house at about 5:30, just in time to enjoy martinis and the smoked salmon that we had brought from Pure Food Fish in the Pike Place Market (the BEST!) Foy and Ken treated us to a great Italian dinner at Gregorio’s in Chatham. Bob and I split a Caesar salad and I had their gluten-free pasta with sausage, sundried tomatoes, and a tomato-cream sauce. Delizioso!

The next morning, after a quick breakfast at Angie’s Family Restaurant in Chatham, we went to a meeting at the management company. This year it was particularly enjoyable because everything is going so well.

After the meeting we headed out to the storage facility in New Brunswick. We grabbed a quick hot pastrami sandwich (good!) nearby and then met with the people working at the store. They’re so enthusiastic and are doing a great job keeping the place rented up.

With the business done, we turned in the rental car at the Newark airport and took the NJ Transit train to Penn Station in New York City!

Foy and Ken generously let us stay in their beautiful one bedroom apartment that they own near the United Nations. It is so perfect! It’s in a relatively quiet area of New York and walking distance to many good restaurants. It’s centrally located so it’s a quick taxi ride to other areas of the city.

We were pretty exhausted after staying up way too late the night before talking with Foy. Bob took a nap. We then walked around the corner to get some wine and snacks to enjoy in the apartment before dinner.

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Salami, chips, and wine before dinner

Wine and snacks in NYC apt

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There are so many wonderful restaurants in New York, but instead of trying something new, we had to go back to a favorite from a past trip. Matisse is a cute little French bistro that has a great atmosphere and wonderful food. As a bonus, the prices are very reasonable for New York. Bob had a martini and I enjoyed a Manhattan. We shared the Vegetarian Salad (chopped mixed vegetables with lemon vinaigrette). Then Bob had the Coq au Vin, which he said he’d never had before, and I had fabulous Calf’s Liver. The mashed potatoes served with both entrees were perfection. We enjoyed the dinner so much; I’m sure we will choose to go back again if we’re in New York. (And note to self: Find a good recipe for Coq au Vin!)

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Martini and Manhattan at Matisse

Calves liver and Coq au Vin at Matisse

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We started Tuesday with breakfast at Sarge’s Deli. It’s an institution that has been there for 53 years. They are never closed. And they have a huge menu that includes “The Monster”, “New York’s largest sandwich”. It is served on thick sliced rye bread, with corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, fresh turkey, salami, sliced tomato, lettuce, coleslaw and Russian dressing. It will set you back $41.95 but will probably feed you all week!

We ordered from their breakfast specials menu. I had The Leo (eggs scrambled with Nova Scotia smoked salmon and onions, served with home fries) and rye toast. Bob had a toasted sesame bagel with the smoked salmon and cream cheese. It was all very tasty, but a lot of food. We definitely left some behind.

Sarge's - the Leo breakfast

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Sarge's bagel, smoked salmon and cream cheese

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After breakfast we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carrie had suggested we go to the Whitney Museum of American Art, but Bob vetoed that idea. We had been to the Met before, but it is ginormous and always has something new. And it has things that Bob likes, like the Arms and Armor Gallery. It is truly the “something for everyone” museum.

We started with the Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties, an exhibit that will be there through July 16. It’s an amazing collection of pieces gathered from 32 museums and archaeological institutions in China. Most of the pieces have never been seen before in the West. The Qin Dynasty was short, from 221 – 206 B.C. The Han Dynasty lasted from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. I’ll share some of my favorite pieces.

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A half-life-size bronze chariot from the Qin Dynasty

 Half-size sculpture of covered carriage Qin Dynasty

 

There were several life-size terracotta warriors. They were from a life-size army of 7,000 terracotta warriors were discovered in 1974 in the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor, Qin Shi Huang. He died in 210 B.C.

 Terracotta warrior

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This earthenware Strongman is from the Qin Dynasty.

 Strongman, Qin Earthenware

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There were many objects made to be buried with the nobility. I especially liked the Elephant and Groom and the bronze Goose.

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Gilt and Silvered bronze Elephant and Groom, Western Han. Found in 2010 in the tomb of Liu Fei, prince of Jiangdu who died in 129 B.C.

Elephant and Groom

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Life-size bronze goose

Goose

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After the Chinese exhibit, we made a quick pass through the Rei Kawakubo exhibit. It was beautifully exhibited and I probably would have chosen to spend more time looking at everything, but Bob wanted to move on.

Kawakubo, from the Blood and Roses collection, 2015

Kawakubo - from Blood and Roses collection 2015

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We both enjoyed Seurat’s Circus Sideshow. It gathers works from Seurat and other nineteenth century artist that illustrate scenes from the popular fairs and circuses of the time.

We barely made a dent in all that there is to see at the Met, but we had had our fill so went off to find lunch.

I have heard high praise for Shake Shack for so long that I was dying to try it. The Upper East Side location was walking distance from the Met. They have indoor seating and also outdoor seating that is open to the public. You don’t need to purchase Shake Shack food to eat there, but it seemed most people had.

I had the ShackBurger, a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce. Bob tried the SmokeShack, a cheeseburger with bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce. We shared an order of fries. The burgers were very fresh, made with top quality ingredients. All burgers are cooked medium unless requested otherwise. My cheeseburger was very tasty, indeed, and I’m glad we tried it. I must say, though, that our neighborhood Zippy’s burgers are better. They are SO good!

Shake Shack

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After lunch we walked back along E. 86th Street to Central Park. We walked along a path in the park that paralleled 5th Avenue and we saw parts of the park that we hadn’t seen before.

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There’s an area where there are several baseball fields. All were busy with teams practicing after school.

Baseball practice in Central Park

 

We stumbled upon Cleopatra’s Needle. It was commissioned by Pharaoh Thutmose III in about 1425 B.C.

Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park

 History of Cleopatra's Needle

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We kept walking and came upon the Sailboat Pond. You can rent remote control sailboats to sail on the small pond. We had seen that before, but this time we stopped at Le Pain Quotidien Conservatory Water for iced tea. We enjoyed sitting on a bench and watching people go by.

Sailboat Pond Central Park

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After the break, we continued walking until we ended up at the end of the park at E 59th Street. That’s the location of The Plaza hotel where we had lunch with Laura and Carrie in 1998.

The Plaza NYC

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We did a bit of window shopping along 5th Avenue before getting a cab back to the apartment.

Dinner Tuesday night was at Spice Symphony and we both loved it! They serve Indian and “Indian Chinese” food. The service was warm and friendly. We started with Tandoori Achari Mushrooms –  mushrooms marinated in yogurt and pickle spice mix, and roasted in the tandoor. Delicious! I asked about the Lamb Vindaloo and our server said it was very spicy. So I chose the Lamb Rogan Josh and Bob had the Lamb Vindaloo. Both were served with rice and we also had the Kachumber Salad – diced cucumber, onions and tomato topped with a lime cilantro dressing. It was excellent with the spicy entrees.

Lamb Rogan Josh

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Wednesday Bob got some baklava from the Tudor Gourmet Deli downstairs. It is fantastic and made a satisfying breakfast in the apartment.

Baklava from Tudor Gourmet Deli

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We then walked down the stairs from about E. 43rd Street to the UN building and walked along the East River for a while. We cut over and walked south along 1st Avenue. It was interesting to see another part of the city.

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East River with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge in the background

East River, NYC, Brooklyn in the background

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By the time we got to about E. 24th Street we were hungry for lunch. I used yelp to find Grill 21 in the Gramercy area of Manhattan. It had great reviews and was just a short walk away.

Grill 21 serves Filipino food, a cuisine with which we are not too familiar. I ordered the Chicken Curry. Bob tried, at my suggestion, the Pork Binagoogan. (Pork Binagoogan is pork chunks sautéed in shrimp paste with eggplant.) It took a little while for them to make the food, but I just figured it was being made with fresh ingredients. I enjoyed my curry, but Bob was not so fond of the pork. He thought it tasted “off”. I tasted it and it seemed good to me. Maybe he just doesn’t like Pork Binagoogan.

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Chicken Curry with garlic rice and Pork Binagoogan with steamed rice

Chicken Curry and Pork Binagoogan

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After lunch we kept walking a bit further through the East River neighborhood. There were so many little shops and restaurants! It seemed like an interesting and diverse neighborhood. When we got to St. Mark’s Place we headed west to 3rd Ave where we got a cab back to the apartment. We had walked about 2 miles.

It was time to head to the airport. We packed up and caught a cab at about 1:15 to take us to Penn Station. Traffic was horrible. It took a while, but we had allowed plenty of time. Then the train was slightly delayed. It left about 20 minutes late. All in all, it took us about two hours to get from the apartment to the gate for Alaska Airlines, but we were there in plenty of time for our 5:15 flight.

We had a fabulous mini-vacation in the Big Apple and would love to visit again. Now that we have two favorite dinner restaurants, we might have to stay for more than two nights so we can try other places!

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The view of the United Nations Headquarters from outside the apartment building we stayed in.

View of the UN from Tudor City - Copy

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Classic Margaritas

May 6, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? We don’t really. But yesterday I was inspired to make margaritas by Facebook posts and blog posts that I stumbled upon. Plus, I had way too many limes left over from making Chiang Mai Chicken. Margaritas seemed the perfect way to use them.

One of the online pieces I read was Michael Dietsch’s 2014 post on Serious Eats about which tequila is best for margaritas. In his opinion, Blanco (or Silver, the clear tequilas) worked best in margaritas. They first blind tested “mixto” tequilas (tequilas that are no more than 51% agave) and the two winners in that test were Jose Cuervo and Sauza.

They next blind tested the Cuervo and Sauza against 100% agave brands. The 100% agave brands turned out to be clearly better than the mixtos.

Their two favorites were Casa Noble Crystal (Michael said it cost about $33) and Herradura (quoted as about $29).

Armed with this new information about tequila, I headed to the liquor store. Now I don’t know if tequila prices have gotten insanely high since 2014 or if it’s just that Washington State has insanely high taxes on liquor, but his two favorites were out of my price range! They were on the top shelf and were in the $65-$70 price range. Not what I was willing to pay for margaritas! So I looked down a few shelves and chose Cazadores Tequila Blanco. With taxes, it was $40. Still expensive, but I was willing to give it a try.

I made the Classic Margarita from the “Serious Eats Team”. They used “high quality” blanco tequila, limes, Cointreau, and coarse salt. They noted that if you use a budget tequila, it would be better if you swapped the proportions of the Cointreau and lime juice and added ¼ ounce simple sugar for each drink. I figured my tequila was fine enough and made the classic recipe.

This recipe did make mighty fine margaritas! And it was very easy. I don’t have a cocktail shaker, so I used my Blender Bottle without the Blender Ball in it and it worked just fine. (The reason it’s a good idea to shake it with ice is that the margaritas will get really cold. Then when you put the strained drinks in the glasses with fresh ice, the ice won’t melt as quickly.)

I’ll definitely make this recipe for margaritas again. When I’m out of the Cazadores tequila I may try a less expensive blanco, all in the name of research, of course. How bad could it be?

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Classic margarita

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Classic Margarita

(Adapted, barely, from a recipe on Serious Eats)

Note: Serious Eats claims that this works best with a high quality tequila. If you use a budget tequila, they suggest it would be better if you swapped the proportions of the Cointreau and lime juice and added ¼ ounce simple sugar for each drink.

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2

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Lime wedge, plus 2 lime wheels (optional, for serving)

1 tablespoon coarse salt, for glass rims

4 ounces high quality blanco tequila (See note above)

2 ounces Cointreau

1½ ounces fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

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  1. Run the lime wedge around the rim of two glasses and dip in the salt.
  2. Put the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker (or Blender Bottle). Add several ice cubes and shake until the cocktail shaker frosts over on the bottom or the Blender Bottle feels cold, about 15 seconds.
  3. Strain the margarita into both glasses. Add ice cubes. Garnish with lime wheel, if desired, and serve.

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Classic margarita - Copy

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A Trip to Florida

May 4, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Have you tried Airbnb yet? On Wednesday, April 19, we flew to Tampa to see Bob’s cousins who live in St. Petersburg. I found the best Airbnb accommodation in Gulfport that was a short drive to our cousins’ homes.

This was our first experience with Airbnb and we loved it. Stephanie’s Lovely Guesthouse was perfect. It is a lovely one-bedroom guesthouse attached to Stephanie’s home. Stephanie has thought of all the little details, like plenty of hangers so we could hang up all of our clothes. It has a large private patio for relaxing outside. It’s a short walk to Gulfport Beach and all of the restaurants and shops in the town. There are even a couple of bicycles available. Gulfport is a great town for a leisurely bike ride; the neighborhood is flat with very little traffic. We didn’t use the bicycles. Maybe next time!

The guesthouse has a well-equipped kitchenette, but I have to admit we only used the Keurig coffee maker and the wine opener!

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Bob, in front of the entrance to the Lovely Guesthouse

Bob in front of the Lovely Guest House

Living room and kitchenette at the Lovely Guest House

Lovely Guest House

The Lovely Guest House 1

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The first night, after checking in to the Lovely Guesthouse, we drove to meet Maria and Carol. They took us to their favorite Greek restaurant in St. Petersburg, Athenian Gardens. It was excellent! I ordered their Greek salad with gyro meat. It turned out to be delicious and a huge portion. I took some back to the guesthouse to save in the refrigerator.

After dinner Maria drove us out to St. Pete’s Beach and we got there just in time for the sunset! It was a beautiful evening.

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Sunset at St. Pete Beach

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Thursday morning we walked to Gulfport to look around and have breakfast. Stella’s was obviously very popular, so we went there. It was so nice to eat breakfast outside in warm weather after the long, rainy winter in Seattle. (It has, in fact, been a record-breaking winter for rain in Seattle!)

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Sitting outside at Stella’s

Breakfast outside at Stella's

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Thursday night we met Maria and her son James and his family (Safina, Gabriel, and Dominic) at O’Maddy’s Bar and Grille in Gulfport.  O’Maddy’s is very popular pretty much all day long. James and Safina had made a reservation so we were able to get right in. The restaurant is right across the street from the water and it has a fun beach-town atmosphere. And the food was great! I enjoyed fried grouper, a Florida treat that we don’t get in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday morning we went to Mangia Gourmet for breakfast. They have a very pleasant outdoor patio that is bigger than the indoor seating area. We were the only people there so we had the patio to ourselves. The menu has a lot of gluten free and vegan options, but they also have eggs, cheese, and meat. But, as Bob pointed out to the very nice server, they don’t have bacon! I had a slice of quiche and a fruit cup; Bob had the bagel (gluten free because they only had gluten free bagels), lox, and cream cheese.  The gluten free bagel was actually quite tasty. The breakfast was good and we were ready for the day.

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Breakfast at Mangia Gourmet (Bob’s wearing his worn-out St. Petersburg Yacht Club cap.)

Breakfast at Mangia Gourmet)

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The last time we had been in St. Petersburg was 2009, eight years ago. Bob had gotten a St. Petersburg Yacht Club cap on that trip. It was a favorite cap and it was worn out. We stopped by the yacht club to get a new one for him. (As Seattle Yacht Club members, we’re able to enjoy reciprocal privileges at many other yacht clubs.)

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The porch at St. Petersburg Yacht Club

The porch at SPYC

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After driving around St. Petersburg a bit, we headed to Fort De Soto County Park. It’s a large park featuring camping areas, nature walks, and beaches (including a dog beach). There is a $5 parking fee collected as you enter the park. We went to East Beach. We had the beach chairs provided by our host, Stephanie, at the guesthouse and enjoyed an afternoon at the beach.

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At East Beach at Fort De Soto County Park

East Beach, Fort De Soto Park

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Bob with his new SPYC cap

Bob at East Beach, Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde, FL)

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Yes, I was there, too, in the shade and with plenty of sunblock! (The beach chairs were great! We found them in the closet for our use at our Lovely Guesthouse.)

Kath at East Beach at Ford De Soto Park.jpg

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Dinner that night was a feast at Maria’s! She made her cabbage rolls, which she called Arabian-style cabbage rolls. They were fabulous and different from other cabbage rolls I had seen. They were rolled into narrow cylinders. An Internet search produced several recipes for “Malfouf” that looked very similar to Maria’s. Maria said she had found a much easier way to make them. Instead of boiling the cabbage, she puts a whole cabbage in the freezer for two weeks. Then she defrosts it and the leaves are ready to be stuffed. I’ll have to see if Maria will share her recipe with me. 🙂 She served the cabbage rolls with a wonderful quinoa tabbouleh.

James, Gabriel, and Dominic are crazy about baseball! They watch it (they’re Rays fans) and Gabriel and Dominic both play on elite teams that do very well. It’s a huge time commitment with all of the practices and games. Each boy can have as many as 5 or 6 games on a weekend. (Safina likes it, too, but I don’t think she likes it as much as her 3 “boys” do!) We were excited to get to see Dominic play on Saturday. His first game was at 9:00 in Sarasota, an hour away. We decided to go to his second game at 11:00.

We drove to the Sarasota Farmers’ Market to look around and grab breakfast. There didn’t seem to be too many farmers at the market. It was mostly food vendors and crafts. We got breakfast from Annalida’s Gourmet Foods. Bob had a great crab cake and a sausage, and I had a gluten free wrap with a sausage and grilled onions, peppers, and zucchini. We didn’t spend much time at the market because we had to get to the game.

It was really fun baseball to watch, even though Dominic’s team didn’t win. They were ahead until the bottom of the last inning when the opposing team scored enough runs to win the game. It was disappointing for Dominic, but we got to see some great plays by both teams. So it was fun!

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Dominic at bat

Dominic at bat

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After the game we headed up Longboat Key, which was not as interesting as we thought it might be. It’s a residential area and you can’t see the water most of the way because of all of the large McMansions on both sides of the road. By the time we got to the north end of the key the traffic was stop and go because there was a beach and park area that was crowded with people. There’s only the one road in and out, so it was very busy on a Saturday afternoon. While we were stuck in traffic, I had plenty of time to look for a lunch stop on yelp. I zeroed in on Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina in Cortez. We finally made it to the place to turn to take a bridge to Cortez on the mainland.

Cortez is a small commercial fishing village on the Gulf Coast. Tide Tables Restaurant was very busy with a late lunch crowd. We felt lucky to get a spot to sit outside. They say the grouper is delivered right to their dock by the fishermen. So I chose fried grouper and Bob had conch fritters. Both were good, but I think mine was better. After lunch we continued on to Gulfport and relaxed at the guesthouse before dinner.

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Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina, Cortez FL.jpg

Tide Tables Restaurant.jpg

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Great Egret on the dock at Tide Tables

Great Egret at Tide Tables

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That evening the boys went to the Rays baseball game with friends. James wasn’t feeling well so he stayed home. We took Safina to dinner at Alesia, a Vietnamese-French restaurant a short walk from their home. Safina said she always likes to start with the Raw Honeycomb appetizer and it was amazing. The honeycomb was handcut from the hive and paired with a creamy bleu cheese, spicy candied pecans, grapes and toast points. It was a wonderful combination of flavors! I tried their Bún, perhaps my favorite Vietnamese dish. It’s a bowl of cooled rice vermicelli noodles served with lettuce, herbs, topped with crushed peanuts and grilled pork. It did not disappoint!

When we had stopped at the yacht club on Friday we learned that we could go sailing at St. Petersburg Sailing Center, which is across the street from and operated by St. Petersburg Yacht Club. If you’re not a member of St. Petersburg Sailing Center ($350/year for local people), you can take a boat out if you pay $45/hour for a sailing lesson. It’s not unusual for accomplished sailors to make an appointment for a “lesson” so they can take out a boat.

On Sunday we had an appointment at 10:00 for a lesson with Daniel. Dominic, Safina, and James had a day of Dominic’s games. Gabriel and his friend, Kevin, wanted to go sailing with us.

We got going early and needed a really quick breakfast so we (gasp!) stopped at McDonald’s for Egg McMuffins on our way to pick up the boys. It had probably been at least 15 years or more since I had eaten at McDonald’s. It wasn’t horrible, and it quickly solved breakfast.

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Egg McMuffin before sailing

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We picked up Gabriel and Kevin who had just rolled out of bed so they needed breakfast, too. We stopped at Burger King so they could eat. Then off to our 10:00 appointment with Daniel.

There was not much wind, but we still had a good time. Daniel helped Bob rig the boat, and then he just went along for the ride. Bob took the boat out, and Gabriel and Kevin each got some time at the helm. Bob and Daniel were both good teachers, giving them tips. We ended up being out for about two hours and it felt good to be out on the water.

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Bob, Daniel and Gabriel

rigging the sailboat.jpg

Gabriel and Bob sailing

Gabriel driving the boat

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After our sail we took the boys for lunch at St. Petersburg Yacht Club. They had a big Sunday buffet going on, but we were also able to order from the menu, so I had (of course)  grouper with sweet potato fries and remoulade sauce. Delicious!

Grilled mahi mahi with remoulade sauce and sweet potato fries at SPYC

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We took Gabriel and Kevin home and then headed back to Gulfport for an afternoon at the beach. The water seemed a bit warmer than it had been at Fort De Soto, but it was still not warm enough for me to consider swimming. We enjoyed sitting on the beach and watching the Laughing Gulls who were busy with all kinds of mating dances.

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Bob and Laughing Gulls at Gulfport Beach

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When we had had enough of the beach, we went to the upstairs balcony at Manatee’s across the street from the beach. Most of the buildings in Gulfport are one story, so the view from the upstairs balcony is the best in town. The food looked alright, but we just had Bloody Marys and enjoyed the view.

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The view from Manatee’s

Manatees on the Bay.jpg

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Relaxing on the patio at the Lovely Guesthouse

Relaxing at The Lovely Guest House

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After relaxing with some wine out on the patio at the Lovely Guesthouse, we headed back to Gulfport for a dinner for two at Pia’s Trattoria. Maria had told us about it and it was, indeed, very good. I had Shrimp Scampi with really delicious gluten free pasta, and Bob had Linguine with Clam Sauce. It was an excellent dinner for our last night in Gulfport.

Monday morning we took Maria and Carol for breakfast at Stella’s. It was busy, but we luckily got a table for 4 outside. It was fun to have the chance to see them again before we left.

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Stella’s is in the heart of “downtown” Gulfport. We loved that the town was so walkable.Stella's in the heart of Gulfport.jpg

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After breakfast we just relaxed at the Lovely Guesthouse and then drove to the airport to fly home. Both flights were nonstop on Alaska Airlines. It’s amazing that you can go from Seattle all the way to Tampa in 6 hours!

We had a wonderful, relaxing vacation in the Gulfport/St. Petersburg area. The best part was spending time with our cousins. We’re Facebook friends, which makes it easier to keep up, but it’s not the same as spending some time together. We all agreed that we can’t let 8 years go by without getting together again.

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The resident cat at the Lovely Guesthouse had a favorite chair on the patio

Resident cat at The Lovely Guest House

 Sign in private patio

Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang)

May 2, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang) may be the best chicken I have ever made or eaten!

I adapted the recipe from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the current issue (May-June 2017) of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine. I just started subscribing to the magazine this year and I really like it. It’s published 6 times a year and is full of recipes from around the world. I just noticed today that my Thriftway store has the current issue for sale, so you may be able to buy a single copy if you don’t want to commit to a subscription.

Kimball traveled to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where he ate this amazing chicken prepared by two young chefs who grill spatchcocked chickens over a charcoal grill. He loved the chicken and the tamarind-based dipping sauce that was served with it.

Back home, he set out to recreate Chiang Mai Chicken for home chefs. He makes it simple, giving directions for roasting in the oven.

The marinade is fabulous and gives the chicken so much flavor! The chicken should be marinated for 2 hours. Kimball says 1 hour is not enough and 3 hours makes it too salty.

After reading over the recipe I knew I wanted to make it for Laura’s and Rhett’s birthday dinner. (With their birthdays just 11 days apart, we celebrated both of them on the same day.) I doubled the recipe to have enough for everyone. Since two family members are currently eating a super low-carb diet, I used Truvia instead of sugar in the marinade. It worked really well!

I made both the Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce and the Tamarind Dipping Sauce. I doubled the sauces by making two batches of each one – one with Truvia and one with sugar. There was no difference in taste so I wouldn’t hesitate to use Truvia again. I found it was not necessary to double the sauces. We had quite a bit left over.

Everyone loved the chicken! It’s delicious even without the dipping sauces because the marinade delivers so much flavor.

The Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce was really good, but the Tamarind Dipping Sauce was outstanding and was everyone’s favorite.

This Chiang Mai Chicken is a great recipe to make when you have a leisurely afternoon. It’s easy, but you need to give it that precise 2-hour marinating time. The Tamarind Dipping Sauce takes a bit of time to make, but it is worth it. If you can’t find tamarind pulp or just want something that’s simpler, you won’t be disappointed with the Chili-Lime Sauce. Honestly, you’ll love this chicken as is with just a squeeze of lime juice!

Chiang Mai Chicken served with Cauliflower “Rice”

Chiang Mai Chicken with Cauliflower rice

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Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang)

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

(print the recipe)

Serves 8 (cut the ingredients in half for 4 servings)

 

Special equipment that makes it easier:

2-gallon zip-close bag

A large sheet pan

An oven-safe cooling rack that fits in the sheet pan

Heavy duty foil

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Some of the ingredients for the marinade and the sauces

some ingredients

Lemon grass, ends trimmed and the hard outer layers peeled off

lemongrass

Marinade ingredients

2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 cup fish sauce

1 cup soy sauce

½ cup packed light brown sugar (or 6 packets of Truvia)

2 lemon grass stalks, ends trimmed, bottom 8 inches chopped

8 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoons white peppercorns

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Other ingredients

6 pounds chicken parts (I used 12 chicken thighs)

1 cup kosher salt

Lime wedges, to serve (optional)

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  1. Put all of the marinade ingredients (the cilantro through the white peppercorns) in a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade for a glaze.
  3. Pour the rest of the marinade in a 2-gallon zip-close bag. Put the chicken in the bag skin-side down and spread it out as best as you can. Seal the bag; put it in a large baking dish in the refrigerator. Marinate the chicken for 2 hours, turning it over a time or two. (While the chicken is marinating, you can make the Tamarind Dipping Sauce and/or the Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce – recipes follow this one.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 400° and put the oven rack in the center of the oven.
  5. Line a large sheet pan with foil. Spread 1 cup of kosher salt over the foil. Place a wire rack over the salt. (The salt prevents the marinade from burning when it drips off of the chicken.)

Kosher salt in the baking sheet

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wire rack over the salt

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6. Put the chicken on the rack. Roast for 30 minutes.

Chicken ready to roast

Chiang Mai Chicken ready to roast

7. Brush the chicken with the reserved marinade and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until the thighs measure 175°F (160°F for breasts).

8. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes and then serve with lime wedges, Tamarind Dipping Sauce, or Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce.

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

Makes about ¾ cup

 

½ cup lime juice (4 – 6 limes)

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons light brown sugar (or 3 small packets of Truvia)

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

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Stir all ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.  Keeps refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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Chili-Lime Chili Sauce

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce

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Tamarind Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

Makes about 3 cups

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Tamarind pulp found at an Asian grocery near me

Tamarind paste

2 ounces tamarind pulp

2 oz tamarind paste

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2 lemon grass stalks, ends trimmed, bottom 8 inches chopped

1 large shallot, chopped

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 serrano chili, stemmed and chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

2½ cups water

2 ounces tamarind pulp (about ¼ cup)

5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (or 7½ small packets of Truvia)

¼ cup fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (1 – 2 limes)

Ground black pepper

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  1. Put the lemon grass, shallot, oil, and chili in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until it is just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

shallot, lemon grass, and chili

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2. Add the tomato paste and the ginger and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

tomato paste and ginger added

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3. Add water, tamarind pulp, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat so it is just simmering and simmer for 15 minutes.

water, tamarind pulp and sugar added

4. Take off the heat and stir in the fish sauce and soy sauce.

5. Let the sauce cool a bit and then pour it into a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

6. Pour the sauce through a wire mesh, pressing on the solids. Throw out the solids.

7. Stir the lime juice into the sauce.

8. Season to taste with pepper.

9. Keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

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Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Tamarind dipping sauce

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Chiang Mai Chicken with Cauliflower rice - Copy

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Milk Street Magazine

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Asparagus with Brown Butter and Sage

April 30, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Asparagus is in season now! I love asparagus and I love it when we can buy fresh local asparagus. The New York Times recently published a David Tanis recipe for Steamed Asparagus with Pistachios and Brown Butter that I had to try.

Mr. Tanis calls for ¼ cup of crushed toasted pistachios. I thought that would be overwhelming. I used only about a tablespoon. Next time I might just skip the pistachios. They were good, if you happen to have them, but, to me, it’s all about the brown butter and sage.

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Asparagus with Brown Butter and Sage

(Adapted from a David Tanis recipe in the New York Times)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4

 

1½ pounds asparagus, tough ends cut off

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped sage, plus 12 whole sage leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus ½ teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon toasted pistachios, chopped (optional)

Salt and pepper

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IMG_4117

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1. Put a plate in the oven and preheat the oven to Warm.

2. Bring one inch of water to a boil in a skillet. When it’s boiling, add 1 teaspoon salt and the asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes.

3. Drain the asparagus and put it on the warm plate in the oven.

4. Return the empty skillet to the burner on medium-high heat and add the butter. When it’s melted, add the chopped sage and sage leaves. Cook for a minute or two until the butter is lightly browned.

5. Add the lemon juice and zest and turn the heat down to low.

6. Add the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and turn the asparagus in the butter with tongs.

7. Put the asparagus on a serving plate and pour all of the butter sauce over it. Sprinkle with the pistachios, if using.

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A Simple Charcuterie and Cheese Board

April 17, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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We had our usual Snake River Farms ham for Easter dinner with family and friends this year. It’s gotten so it wouldn’t be Easter without an SRF ham. It’s so good!!

I had originally said that I would provide the whole dinner, but then I came to my senses and delegated. Everyone brought great contributions to the meal and I had a very relaxing day! 🙂

I wanted to set out an appetizer that would include “something for everyone”. Some of my favorite people at the dinner are serious CrossFit devotees and they eat a keto (super low carb, high fat) diet. A couple of people are dairy-free, and two are gluten free. I decided to do A Simple Charcuterie and Cheese Board.

I’d never done a charcuterie and cheese board and found it was quite easy. I just selected a few meats, some cheese, olives, cornichons, and pickled peppers and arranged them on a large wooden cutting board. I set out some rice crackers, wheat crackers, and Parmesan crisps to go with the meats and cheese. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

If you search the Internet you’ll find all kinds of fancy charcuterie and cheese boards. I found it a bit intimidating to think about trying to reproduce something like those picture-perfect examples. So I just relaxed and put together A Simple Charcuterie and Cheese Board. I highly recommend it for entertaining. You can truly make it so there’s something for everyone.

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In the upper left-hand and lower right-hand corners are Milano Salami and Fontina cheese, and then clockwise from the top: Sicilian olives, prosciutto, cornichons with pickled onions, Mama Lil’s Kick Butt Peppers, Beecher’s Herb Cheese Curds, and Salumi Salami 

Charcuterie and Cheese Board

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I set out rice crackers (gluten-free), Parmesan crisps (keto) and wheat crackers to go with the charcuterie and cheese.

Crackers.jpg

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I have never tried it, but Parmesan crisps sound very easy to make yourself. I may try that next time. (Just google “parmesan crisps” and you’ll find recipes.)

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

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Charcuterie and Cheese Board - Copy

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Lamb-Almond Dumplings with Tomato Cream Sauce

March 6, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Lamb-Almond Dumplings with Tomato Cream Sauce is a fabulous recipe from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries. I had a pound of ground lamb in the refrigerator and wanted to try something new with it. A search for “ground lamb” on eatyourbooks.com led me to the recipe. (If you have a large cookbook collection, as I do, a subscription to Eat Your Books is SO useful!)

The recipe uses ¼ cup ground slivered blanched almonds as a binder. I have some blanched almond flour so I used that. If I were to grind slivered almonds, I would probably use the coffee grinder that I use for a spice grinder. If you have a nut allergy, you might try grinding sunflower seeds instead.

In his tips, Iyer mentions that the ground almonds are the binder, but he says if the meatballs fall apart when you’re forming them, you can add a beaten egg to the meat mixture. With the almond flour, I found the egg was not necessary. The meat was easy to form into meatballs.

I did not make Iyer’s recipe for Punjabi garam masala to use in this recipe. Instead, I used Kashmiri garam masala from World Spice Merchants. The curry was absolutely delicious, but I am now curious to make it again with the garam masala that he recommends.

Lamb-Almond Dumplings with Tomato Cream Sauce is one of the best things I’ve made lately. Bob and I both loved it over cauliflower “rice”. I’m excited to have leftovers tonight!

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Lamb-Almond Dumplings in a Tomato Cream Sauce

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Lamb-Almond Dumplings with Tomato Cream Sauce

(Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s recipe in 660 Curries)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4 – 6  (4 as a stand-alone main dish, 6 as part of a multicourse dinner)

1 pound ground lamb

½ cup finely chopped red onion

¼ cup slivered blanched almonds, ground (or blanched almond flour)

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

6 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon garam masala

1½ teaspoons kosher salt (or 1¼ teaspoons table salt)

2 tablespoons oil (I used avocado oil.) or ghee

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup canned tomato sauce

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ cup heavy whipping cream

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Cooked rice or Cauliflower “Rice”* for serving

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Ingredients: Lamb, blanched almond flour, mint, cumin seeds, coriander and cayenne, garlic, cilantro, red onion, cream, tomato sauce, and garam masala

Ingredients

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  1. Mix the lamb, red onion, ground almonds (or almond flour), mint, cilantro, garlic, garam masala, and salt together in a bowl. (Using your clean hands is the easiest way to do it.) Form the mixture into 12 meatballs.

Lamb meatballs

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  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the oil or ghee. Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for about 5 – 10 seconds. They’ll turn reddish brown and smell nutty.

 

  1. Add the meatballs and cook, gently turning them, until they are evenly browned. This will take 5 – 8 minutes. Remove the meatballs to a plate.

Browning the meatballs

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  1. Stir in the tomato sauce and scrape the pan to deglaze it. Stir in the cardamom and cayenne. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 5 – 8 minutes stirring occasionally. A thin layer of oil will form on the surface and on the sides.
  1. Stir in the cream.

Tomato Cream Sauce

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  1. Add the meatballs to the cream sauce and spoon some sauce over them. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over rice or cauliflower “rice”.

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Meatballs in sauce

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*Cauliflower “Rice”

1 small head cauliflower, leaves and tough core removed, and cut into smaller pieces

1 tablespoon butter

 

(You can use the grating disc with your food processor, if you have one. It’s very quick and easy. If you don’t have one, grate it by hand with a grater that you would use for cheese.)

 

  1. Grate the cauliflower. (I did this step before I started the meatballs.)
  2. While the meatballs are simmering in the sauce, heat a second skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the butter. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 – 4 minutes. Serve with the meatballs and sauce.

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grating cauliflower

 Shredded cauliflower

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Lamb-Almond Dumplings in a Tomato Cream Sauce - Copy

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Green Bean Salad with Cilantro Sauce

February 23, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Instead of a tossed green salad, I served this Green Bean Salad with Cilantro Sauce as a side dish with Tortilla Soup. They paired together quite well, and we all loved the beans!

The cilantro sauce is kind of like a cilantro pesto but, unlike traditional pesto, it does not include cheese. Cilantro, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and a green onion are processed in a food processor to make the tasty sauce. Very easy. Very good!

The green beans are boiled and then plunged in an ice bath to stop the cooking. After tossing the beans with the cilantro sauce, they’re ready to eat.

The recipe, which is adapted from a recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, says the salad can be made up to 4 hours before serving. I think you could easily stretch it to more than 4 hours, though, based on how great the leftover salad tasted the next day. It still tasted fantastic and was still a vibrant green color.

I have made this Green Bean Salad with Cilantro Sauce twice in the last couple of weeks. I made the whole recipe, which generously serves 8, the first time. The second time, I cut the recipe in half for 4 servings. Bob and I enjoyed it for dinner two nights in a row.

At dinner, Bob wondered if it wouldn’t also be good hot. I had been thinking the same thing. I may try that next time. I would skip the ice bath and just drain the hot beans and toss them with the cilantro sauce. If I do that, I’ll update it here to let you know how it went.

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Green Bean Salad with Cilantro Sauce.JPG

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Green Bean Salad with Cilantro Sauce

(Adapted from a recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4 (double to serve 8)

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2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped a bit

1 garlic clove, unpeeled

1¼ cups fresh cilantro leaves and stems, tough stem ends trimmed (about 1 bunch)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 green onion, sliced thin

¼ teaspoon salt

A grind or two of black pepper

1 pound green beans, trimmed

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I like to line the beans up along the edge of a knife to cut the tips off several at the same time.

Cutting beans

 1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and garlic clove. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a small plate.

2. Let the garlic cool for a couple of minutes and then peel the clove and chop it up.

3. Put the cilantro, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, green onion, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process for about 1 minute, or until it’s smooth. You may have to stop the processor to scrape down the sides. Put the cilantro sauce in a large bowl.

cilantro-walnuts-in-food-processor

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cilantro-sauce

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4. Fill a second large bowl halfway with ice and water.

5. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. When it’s boiling add 1 tablespoon of salt and the green beans. (If you double the recipe, still use 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt.) Cook the beans for 4 minutes, then drain them and add them to the ice bath.

ice-bath

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6. Let the beans chill for about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry a bit with paper towels.

7. Put the drained beans in the bowl with the cilantro sauce. Gently toss so the sauce is distributed well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

mixing-beans-with-cilantro-sauce

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green-bean-salad-with-cilantro-sauce-copy

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Kung Pao Chicken

February 10, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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This recipe for Kung Pao Chicken is seriously delicious! I found it on epicurious where it was credited to Diana Kuan (The Chinese Takeout Cookbook). Almost all of the ingredients are easy to find, but I did have to go to our local Chinese grocery store to find the Chinese black vinegar. The recipe says you can substitute “good-quality balsamic vinegar”. I also already had Sichuan pepper which I had ordered from Penzey’s a while ago. (You may see it spelled “Szechuan” peppercorns. It’s the same thing.)

The recipe says it serves four as part of a multicourse meal. As main course served with a bit of rice it really serves three at the most, and two hungry people could easily polish off the whole thing. I added a red bell pepper to include a tasty vegetable that went well with it, served it with rice and a tossed salad. We had just a small serving of the Kung Pao Chicken left.

If your dried red peppers are really hot and you don’t like 5-star heat, use them anyway for their flavor; just pick them out of your serving. That’s what I do. Bob, Mr. 5-star plus, eats his.

The ingredient list for Kung Pao Chicken looks long, but the recipe is very easy to execute. Give this a try the next time you’re hungry for Chinese takeout. It’s sure to satisfy your craving!

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kung-pao-chicken

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Kung Pao Chicken

(Adapted from Diane Kuan’s recipe on epicurious from her The Chinese Takeout Cookbook)

 

(print the recipe)

 

I actually had some Sichuan pepper on hand, which I had ordered from Penzey’s. There’s no real substitute for it. It’s been described as having a slight citrusy or piney flavor. If you don’t have it for the sauce you could try subbing about ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.

 

Serves 2 – 3 (more if part of a multicourse Chinese dinner)

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Some of the ingredients for Kung Pao Chicken

ingredients

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Marinade and chicken

1 tablespoon tamari sauce (or soy sauce)

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (I used sherry)

1½ teaspoons cornstarch

1¼ pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes (can substitute breasts)

 

Sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon tamari sauce (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey (or sugar)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

 

For the stir fry

2 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares

8 to 10 dried red chilies

3 green onions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger

¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

 

Steamed rice for serving (optional)

 

  1. Stir the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and stir to distribute the marinade well. Marinate for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet (or wok) over high heat until a drop of water instantly sizzles.
  4. Add the oil. Add the chilies and stir fry for about 30 seconds, or until they are starting to blacken. (You may need your exhaust fan on because chilies can smoke over high heat.)
  5. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it is just done and no longer pink in the middle (3-4 minutes). (Cut a larger piece to check.)
  6. Add the red bell pepper and continue to cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  7. Add the white part of the sliced green onions (reserve the green part), garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.
  8. Add the sauce and stir. Add the peanuts and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes. Top with reserved sliced green onions and serve with steamed rice.

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kung-pao-chicken-copy

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Instant Pot Refried Beans

January 26, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Do you have an Instant Pot? If so, you can make Instant Pot Refried Beans in about 2 hours. No kidding!

There’s no need to soak the beans. Just rinse them well and look for any bits that should be removed.

I used Michael Natkin’s recipe on Serious Eats as my guide. He used a stovetop pressure cooker and cooked the beans under pressure for 35 minutes. Knowing that the Instant Pot cooks at a lower PSI than stovetop pressure cookers, I added 10 minutes and set the time for 45 minutes. The beans were cooked perfectly!

When cooking dried beans in any type of pressure cooker you should add some oil to the pot. The beans froth and foam less when oil is added so the steam vent won’t get clogged.

It’s also important not to fill the pot more than halfway when cooking starchy foods that tend to foam (like dried beans or rice). A pound of beans worked well in my 6-quart pot. I would not try to double it.

I followed Michael’s lead and used the sauté button to quickly cook the onion, garlic, and oregano before adding the beans and water and sealing the pot. I think this step may be unnecessary. Next time I will simplify and just put everything, except the salt and bacon grease, in the pot!

You may have heard that people love the Instant Pot because they can get rid of other appliances like their slow cookers. I, for one, will not be doing that. While my Instant Pot Refried Beans were cooking, my slow cooker was busy making Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork. It was very handy to have both to prepare our Mexican feast!

Speaking of slow cookers, Laura and Carrie wanted to know if these beans could be prepared in a slow cooker. A quick Internet search brought up Sommer Collier’s guest post on The Pioneer Woman blog all about making refried beans in a slow cooker. Although I haven’t tried it, I am sure you could do it with this recipe. I would put all of the ingredients, except the bacon grease, in a 6-quart slow cooker, including the 8 cups of water. Cook on HIGH for 8 – 10 hours. Drain the beans, reserving a couple of cups of the liquid. Put the beans and 1 cup of the liquid back into the slow cooker. Blend with an immersion blender or a potato masher. Add more cooking liquid, ¼ cup at a time, if needed to get the desired consistency. Stir in a tablespoon or two of bacon grease or butter, if desired.

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instant-pot-refried-beans

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Instant Pot Refried Beans

(Adapted from Michael Natkin’s recipe on Serious Eats)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 10 – 12

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1/4 cup oil (I used avocado oil)

1 medium white onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¾ teaspoon ground cumin (optional, I forgot to add it the first time I made them and the beans were still great)

1 pound (about 2 cups) dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over for stray material

8 cups of water

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To add after cooking:

1½ teaspoons salt

1 – 2 tablespoons bacon grease or butter (optional, but good!)

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Onions, garlic, dried oregano, pinto beans, and the cumin that I forgot to add 😉

img_4107

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  1. Press the Sauté button on the Instant Pot. Add the oil and onion. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, oregano, and cumin and cook, stirring, for about another minute.

onions-cooking

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3. Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn off the Sauté function.

4. Add the beans and the water to the pot. Stir and seal the pot. Make sure the pressure release handle is in the sealing position.

5. Press the Manual button and set the time for 45 minutes.

6. When the 45 minutes of pressure cooking is up, press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn off the pot and let the pressure release naturally. (This will take up to 40 minutes. I noticed the float valve was down at 40 minutes, but it may have popped down 5 or 10 minutes before that.)

7. Open the pot and use good pot holders to remove the stainless steel cooking pot. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.

Draining the beans over a Pyrex pitcher in the sink

draining-beans

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8. Put the beans back in the pot.

beans-back-in-the-pot

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9. Add the salt, bacon grease, and 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Using an immersion blender or potato masher, blend the beans to the desired consistency. Add more cooking liquid, ¼ cup at a time, if needed. (I didn’t need additional liquid.)

refried-beans-in-the-instant-pot

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10. The beans can be kept warm in the Instant Pot. Put the lid on and press the Keep Warm/Cancel button. My beans kept fine for a couple of hours.

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instant-pot-refried-beans-copy

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Quick Curtido (Salvadoran Cabbage Slaw)

January 23, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Quick Curtido (Mexican Salvadoran Cabbage Slaw) is a recipe that I found on Serious Eats. Author Lauren Rothman says that Curtido is popular in many Latin American countries and it adds a welcome freshness to many rich, long-simmered meat and bean dishes.

Traditionally, Curtido is made days in advance, but this quick version can be made the same day you serve it. Leftovers keep well, and stay crispy, for several days in the refrigerator.

The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of sugar. I decided to swap the sugar for Truvia, a stevia and erythritol sweetener that I had never used before. I was amazed at how well it worked. I recommend it if you have any concerns about using sugar.

We had a Mexican feast for Carrie’s birthday dinner last night. Dinner included Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork tacos, Instant Pot “refried” beans, homemade guacamole, and this Quick Curtido. The Curtido, as simple as it is, really was terrific with the other dishes.

I know I’ll be making Quick Curtido again. It’s so quick to make if you have a food processor to do the slicing for you. It’s great with Mexican food, but I’m thinking it would also be welcome at summer barbecues!

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quick-curtido-mexican-cabbage-slaw

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Quick Curtido (Mexican Salvadoran Cabbage Slaw)

(Adapted from Lauren Rothman’s recipe on Serious Eats)

 

In the comments below, Jennifer, who is from El Salvadore, pointed out that jalapeño peppers are not traditionally used. Feel free to leave it out if you want a non-spicy curtido.

 

(print the recipe)

 

Makes about 5 cups

 

½ small (2-pound) green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

½ medium white onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 carrots, peeled and shredded

1 small jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced (optional)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar (or 1 packet of Truvia, or ¾ teaspoon bulk Truvia)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

  1. Put the cabbage, onion, carrots, and jalapeno in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the cider vinegar, sugar (or Truvia), and salt in a small saucepan, stirring just until the sugar and the salt is dissolved.
  3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables and toss well to distribute.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Remove from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature before serving.

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quick-curtido-mexican-cabbage-slaw-copy

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Easy Butter Chicken Made 3 Ways (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Stovetop)

January 16, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is a very popular Indian dish that is said to have been developed by the Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj Delhi, India. The original recipe is made with dairy cream and garnished with butter. Most recipes for Butter Chicken are made with cream. Most Butter Chicken recipes also call for marinating the chicken in yogurt with spices for 4 – 24 hours before completing the recipe.

This Butter Chicken is adapted from Ashley Thomas’ recipe on her My Heart Beets blog. Ashley decided to streamline the recipe for her Instant Pot version and eliminated the step of marinating the chicken in yogurt; she mentioned in the comments that she thought it was just as good. She substitutes coconut cream for the dairy cream. It is a fantastic adaptation that we all enjoyed.

I have made Ashley’s Instant Pot version a couple of times since getting my Instant Pot in November and just loved it. The chopping, mincing and measuring take a bit of time but, once you have everything ready to go, it cooks so quickly in the Instant Pot.

I decided I wanted to make it for Christmas Eve dinner because it’s delicious, but also because it would work for everyone’s food preferences and allergies. I needed to double the recipe to serve 9 people and thought that it might be too much for my Instant Pot, so I made a slow cooker version and it turned out great!

If you don’t have an Instant Pot or a slow cooker, or you just want to make a stovetop version, click here for Ashley’s stovetop version of Paleo Butter Chicken. (In her stovetop version she does give the chicken a quick marinade in coconut cream and spices.)

The recipe uses a rather long list of spices, but the spices plus the garlic and ginger make it so flavorfully seasoned without being spicy “hot”.

Ashley uses a green pepper and that’s what I used the first time I made Butter Chicken. I prefer red peppers so that’s what I’ve used since. Green pepper does add a nice contrasting color, so use that if you like green peppers.

You can use either canned coconut cream or canned coconut milk. Coconut milk may be easier to find and I find the recipe is just as tasty made with coconut milk.

I really can’t recommend this Butter Chicken enough. It is just so good! Just writing this blog post is making me crave it. Whether you make it in a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or in a pot on the stove, I think you will love it!

And do check out Ashley’s blog if you love Indian food. She calls her recipes “real food, gluten-free/Paleo-ish”, but I find they’re just plain delicious!

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Butter Chicken, served here with rice

butter-chicken

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken

(Adapted, barely, from Ashley Thomas’ recipe on myheartbeets.com)

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(print the Instant Pot version of the recipe)

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Generously serves 4

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1¾ pounds pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons butter(or ghee or oil)

½ large onion, diced (about 1½ cups)

5 garlic cloves, minced

1-inch knob ginger, minced

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 red bell pepper, chopped in large pieces (or green bell pepper)

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 cup canned coconut cream(or canned coconut milk)

½ teaspoon of dried fenugreek leaves(“kasoori methi” – I ordered it online. Ashley says it gives butter chicken its unique taste. There’s no substitute that I know of, so just omit it if you don’t have it.)

 

Cilantro for garnish, optional

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  1. Use the Saute button on the Instant Pot. Add the butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are starting to brown. (This will take 6 – 8 minutes.)
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the spices and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chicken. Stir so it is well coated with the spices. Then cook, stirring often, for about 4 – 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato sauce and red pepper. Stir and press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to stop the Saute function.
  6. Put the lid on in the locked position and turn the steam release handle to the sealing position. Press the Manual button and set the time for 15 minutes. (The Instant Pot will show ON until it is up to pressure and then it will display 15 minutes.)

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Steam release handle set to Sealing

steam-release-handle

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Instant Pot has reached pressure and will cook for 15 minutes.

instant-pot-15-minutes

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7. When it is done, press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn the pot off and let the pressure release naturally. After 10 minutes you can turn the steam release handle to Venting to quickly release the rest of the pressure.

8. When the pressure is fully released, the float valve will drop down. Open the pot and stir in the coconut cream and fenugreek leaves.

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The float valve has dropped down indicating that the pressure is released

valve-down

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9. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro, if desired. (It’s great served with rice or naan.)

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Butter Chicken ingredients

(Clockwise from lower left-hand corner: fenugreek leaves, red pepper, tomato sauce, coconut cream, onions, chicken, cilantro, garlic and ginger, spices)

butter-chicken-ingredients

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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken for 8 – 10 People

(Adapted from Ashley Thomas’ Instant Pot Butter Chicken recipe)

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(print the Slow Cooker version of the recipe)

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Serves 8 – 10

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Use a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.

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3½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

¼ cup butter(or ghee or oil)

1 large onion, diced (about 3 cups)

10 garlic cloves, minced

2-inch knob ginger, minced

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

2 red bell peppers, chopped in large pieces (or green bell pepper)

2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce

2 cups canned coconut cream(or canned coconut milk)

1 teaspoon of dried fenugreek leaves(“kasoori methi” – I ordered it online. Ashley says it gives butter chicken its unique taste. There’s no substitute that I know of, so just omit it if you don’t have it.)

 

Cilantro for garnish, optional

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  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are starting to brown. (This will take 6 – 8 minutes.)
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the spices and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chicken. Stir so it is well coated with the spices. Then cook, stirring often, for about 4 – 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer the chicken and spices to a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and red pepper to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  7. Set the slow cooker to cook on Low for 5 hours.
  8. Stir in the coconut cream (or milk) and fenugreek leaves.
  9. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

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Butter Chicken in my slow cooker. It is FULL!

butter-chicken-in-the-crockpot

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Easy Stovetop Butter Chicken

(Adapted from Ashley Thomas’ Instant Pot Butter Chicken recipe)

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(I have not actually tried this version, but I am confident that it will work well.)

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(print the stovetop version of Butter Chicken)

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Generously serves 4 (easily doubles)

 

1¾ pounds pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons butter(or ghee or oil)

½ large onion, diced (about 1½ cups)

5 garlic cloves, minced

1-inch knob ginger, minced

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 red bell pepper, chopped in large pieces (or green bell pepper)

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 cup canned coconut cream(or canned coconut milk)

½ teaspoon of dried fenugreek leaves(“kasoori methi” – I ordered it online. Ashley says it gives butter chicken its unique taste. There’s no substitute that I know of, so just omit it if you don’t have it.)

 

Cilantro for garnish, optional

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  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and onions and cook, stirring often, until the onions are starting to brown. (This will take 6 – 8 minutes.)
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the spices and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chicken. Stir so it is well coated with the spices. Then cook, stirring often, for about 4 – 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato sauce and red pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil then cover. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the coconut cream and fenugreek leaves and simmer for another minute or so.
  7. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

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butter-chicken-copy

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Happy New Year!

December 31, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Wow! I just got a notice from WordPress wishing me a Happy Anniversary! I guess that’s right. I started this little blog 7 years ago today. 🙂

So going into my 8th year, here are the 8 recipes that got the most buzz from you. Just click on the names of the recipes and you’ll be taken back to the original blog posts for the recipes.

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Faux Potato Salad

I was so skeptical of this one, but it is really good. I love it when I serve it to family and friends for the first time. They are usually amazed and go back for seconds.

Faux Potato Salad

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Superb Black Bean Dip and How to Cook Black Beans in the Slow Cooker

Learning how easy it is to cook black beans in the slow cooker was a revelation. And Laura’s Superb Black Bean Dip is a wonderfully balanced combination of flavors.

Black Bean Dip

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Slow Cooker Cuban-Style Pork Roast with Mojo Sauce

This was another slow cooker recipe that is great for entertaining. The flavorful Mojo Sauce takes it over-the-top.

Cuban-style Slow Cooker Pork - 2

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Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you just need a few good chocolate chip cookies. This recipe, adapted from one from America’s Test Kitchen, couldn’t be easier. You don’t even need a mixer. Just stir everything together in a bowl and bake 12 – 14 delicious cookies.

One dozen

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Instant Pot Kalua Pork

I just got a 6-quart Instant Pot last month and I am in love. The Kalua Pork was the first thing I made in the pot and it made me a total convert to modern electric pressure cooking.  What’s not to love about having fabulous Kalua Pork in about 3 hours instead of having to wait 10 – 12 hours? It’s so easy-peasy!

(If you don’t have an Instant Pot, here’s a link for a slow cooker version from Nom Nom Paleo’s Michelle Tam: Slow Cooker Kalua Pig.)

kalua-pork-and-cabbage

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Turmeric Chicken with Sumac and Lime

This is definitely a new favorite in our permanent rotation. Turmeric Chicken is so easy; it’s a perfect quick weeknight dish. And it’s so flavorful! We love it.

Turmeric Chicken with Sumac and Lime

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Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice

Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice was so good that it makes a terrific vegan meal on its own. Pair it with the Slow Cooker Cuban-Style Pork Roast with Mojo Sauce and you have a real Cuban feast!

Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice

Gluten Free Lemon Bars

Even if you don’t need to eat gluten-free, you probably know at least one person who avoids gluten. These Gluten Free Lemon Bars are a terrific treat for all. No one will miss the gluten.

Gluten Free Lemon Bars

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So these are the ones that got the most buzz. They are also probably my favorites of the year, too. I know they’ll be popping up on the menu in 2017 and beyond at Chez Dedon! If you try any of them I’d love it if you let me know how you like them!

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The best of 2016 for me? That would be Carrie and Rhett’s wedding! It was a joyous weekend celebrated with friends and family!

carrie_rhett_wedding-0527

(Photo by Luzco Photography)

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carrie_rhett_wedding-0222

(Photo by Luzco Photography)………………..(Flowers by Terra Bella Flowers)

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Happy New Year!! ❤

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Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs

December 29, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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I thought I had found Hard Boiled Egg perfection, but I’m here to tell you that there’s a better way.

In my quest for perfect eggs, I even bought a cute little electric egg cooker earlier this year. It did turn out beautiful eggs every time that were easy to peel. It seemed miraculous!

Then I stumbled upon a 2014 Serious Eats article by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt that proclaimed the secret to perfect hard-cooked eggs – steam! He steamed eggs for 6 minutes to make soft-cooked eggs and 12 minutes for hard-cooked.

So there was nothing magical about my egg cooker. (womp womp) It just steamed eggs for the appropriate amount of time.

I decided to try steaming eggs in a pan for 12 minutes. They were very easy to make and peeled like a dream, but sometimes they were not quite done enough to our liking.

I was pondering all of this and decided I would try steaming them for 13 minutes. Nothing radical here, it just seemed like the next logical step. Then Byron gave me a copy of Cook’s Illustrated 2016 Annual recipe collection. And right there on the cover was “Easy-Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs”! And what do you know? Andrea Geary reported that she steamed her eggs for 13 minutes!

I tried it and it works perfectly every time. The eggs peel more easily than any method I have ever tried, including my egg cooker. They’re cooked just the way we like them. I love having hard-cooked eggs on hand for a quick breakfast or snack.

New Year’s Eve is right around the corner. Are you trying to come up with an easy appetizer to take to a party? Nearly everyone loves deviled eggs; they disappear quickly at any gathering. Now you can make them without fear about how your eggs are going to turn out. Just get out your steamer and you’ll have easy-to-peel perfect Hard Boiled Steamed Eggs in minutes!

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perfect-hard-boiled-eggs

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Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs

(Inspired by Serious Eats’ J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Cook’s Illustrated’s Andrea Geary)

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(print the recipe)

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You do need a steamer. My pan has a steamer insert, but you can use a collapsible steamer. To protect your hands from the steam, I would put a collapsible steamer in the pan and let the water come to a boil. Then lower the eggs onto the steamer with a large spoon.

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Eggs

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  1. Bring ¾ – 1 inch of water to a boil in a pan.

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Eggs ready to go over boiling water.

ready-to-steam

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2. When the water is boiling, add the eggs in a steamer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and set the timer for 13 minutes.

13-minutes

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3. When the eggs are almost done, prepare an ice bath.

4. When the timer goes off, remove the eggs from the steamer and place them in the ice bath for 15 minutes.

ice-bath

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5. Eggs can be used right away or refrigerated in their shells until needed.

6. Too peel, gently pound the egg on a flat surface and roll it a bit and then slip off the shell!

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The shells just slips off!

Perfect easy-peel eggs.jpg

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perfect-hard-boiled-eggs-copy

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(Thanks, Byron!  🙂 )

2016-annual

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Quick Beef Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

December 16, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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This Quick Beef Sauce with Spaghetti Squash is an easy recipe that lets you get dinner on the table fast during this busy season! I hesitated to share this because it’s so simple, but thought some of you might appreciate this quick idea.

Using a top quality jarred tomato sauce is the key to making a tasty sauce without any fuss. I really like Mezzetta’s Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onions sauce. I find it’s well-seasoned and needs no “doctoring”. The ingredients are California plum tomatoes, imported olive oil, fresh onions, roasted garlic, fresh basil, sea salt, and spices. There’s no added sugar, no dehydrated vegetables, just good fresh ingredients.

I was able to cook the spaghetti squash very quickly with my Instant Pot. I was inspired to give it a try after reading Michelle Tam’s blog post on Nom Nom Paleo. Using the Manual setting, I set the time for 7 minutes. It took 13 minutes to get up to pressure, then 7 minutes under pressure, and less than a minute for a quick pressure release. So it took just twenty-one minutes to cook the squash. While the Instant Pot was doing its thing, I put the sauce together. Quick and easy!

What? You say you don’t have an Instant Pot and/or you’re afraid to attempt to cut the hard squash in half? Here are a couple of good alternatives for you.

  1. You could roast spaghetti squash halves in the oven. It’s easy. I’ve used the same method that Chungah Rhee describes on her damndelicious.net blog. It works great but does involve cutting that hard squash in half.
  1. Apparently, you can roast the whole squash. I haven’t tried it. Here’s Martha Stewart’s recipe for a whole Roasted Spaghetti Squash.

Spaghetti squash does NOT taste like spaghetti. It’s squash. But it pairs very well with tomato sauce. Bob and I both enjoy it and it has become part of my regular rotation when I want to make a quick and easy meal.

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quick-beef-tomato-sauce-with-spaghetti-squash

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Quick Beef Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

(Inspired by Michelle Tam’s recipe on Nom Nom Paleo)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2

(I had leftover squash that I refrigerated to use later. To serve 4, use all of the squash and double the sauce ingredients.)

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1(2½ – 3 pound)spaghetti squash

1 cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 – 4 ounces sliced mushrooms

½ pound ground beef

1½ cups good quality jarred tomato sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

mushrooms-sauce-and-ground-beef

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To cook the squash in an Instant Pot (I have suggested a couple of links in the blog post above if you want to bake the squash in the oven.)

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  1. Wash the squash and cut it in half across the diameter. (I have read that you get longer strands when you cut it this way instead of end-to-end.)

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I find it easy to cut the squash using my cleaver and mallet.

split-squash

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2. Scoop out the seeds.

3. Put the squash cut-side up on the Instant Pot rack in the pot.

squash-in-the-pot

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4. Add the 1 cup of water to the pot.

5. Seal the lid. Using the Manual mode, set the time for 7 minutes.

6. In about 20 minutes, when the Instant Pot is done cooking, use the quick release.

Squash is done.jpg

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7. Using a fork, scoop out the squash strands.

 

Prepare the sauce while the squash is cooking

  1. Put about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are browned a bit.

mushrooms

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3. Add the ground beef to the pan, breaking it up as you put it in. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is cooked through and browned a bit.

beef-added

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Beef cooked

cooked-beef

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4. Add the tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir and cook until the sauce is hot.

5. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

6. Serve the sauce over the spaghetti squash.

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quick-beef-tomato-sauce-with-spaghetti-squash-copy

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Instant Pot Kalua Pork

November 6, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Yep. I treated myself to an Instant Pot. I had a perfectly good 30+ year-old stainless steel stovetop pressure cooker, but I never used it. Older pressure cookers need to be monitored closely. Plus, while I’ve read that some people find the jiggling top comforting, I found the jiggling sound a bit disconcerting. To me, it was a constant reminder that my pot could blow its top if I did something wrong.

So, after seeing thousands of positive reviews, I started an Instant Pot board on Pinterest to collect online recipes. It wasn’t long before I was convinced that I needed one. I’m now the owner of an automatic electric Instant Pot and I LOVE it! Although it’s touted as a multi-functional cooker (Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer, and Warmer), I am most excited about its pressure cooking abilities. I won’t be getting rid of my slow cooker or rice cooker just yet.

(Bonus: This newfangled pressure cooker cooks SILENTLY!)

The first thing I decided to make was Instant Pot Kalua Pork. I chose Michelle Tam’s recipe on her nomnompaleo.com blog. It was SO easy and we all loved it! The total time to make it is about 2¼ – 2½  hours, but since only about 10 minutes of that time is active cooking time it didn’t seem that long. And because I did keep my rice cooker, I made some rice. The pork and cabbage were great served with the rice.

I cooked the cabbage as Michelle suggests, but I only cooked ¾ of a head (6 wedges) since there were only 5 of us for dinner. Once I tasted it, I wished I had cooked the whole head of cabbage. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Truly.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you could try Michelle’s Slow Cooker Kalua Pig. She cooks it for 16 hours, but says if you have a newer slow cooker it will probably be done in 9 – 12 hours. My 6-quart Crock-Pot cooks hot even on the Low setting and I’m sure the pork would be done in 9 hours. If you try the slow cooker version, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you.

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kalua-pork-and-cabbage

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instant-pot

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Instant Pot Kalua Pork

(Adapted from Michelle Tam’s recipe on nomnompaleo.com)

If you have a stove top pressure cooker reduce the pressure cooking time to 75 minutes instead of 90 minutes. Stove top cookers cook at a higher psi than electric pressure cookers. If cooking a stove top pressure cooker recipe in an Instant Pot add 15% more time under pressure. Conversely, if cooking an Instant Pot recipe in a stove top pressure cooker reduce the cooking time by 15%.

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Total time to make the pork and the cabbage is about 2½ hours, mostly unattended.

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 8

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Hawaiian Alaea Salt

salt

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3 slices bacon

5 pound pork shoulder roast(I used boneless; you could use bone-in)

5 peeled garlic cloves

1½ tablespoons of Alaea Red Hawaiian Course Sea Salt(or 1 tablespoon of Alaea Red Hawaiian Fine Sea Salt. Michelle suggests you can sub smoked salt or kosher salt.)

1 cup water

1 cabbage, cored, and cut into 8 wedges

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  1. Put the bacon in the Instant Pot. Press Sauté.

bacon

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2. While the bacon is cooking (turn it with tongs occasionally), cut the pork roast into 3 pieces. Cut the garlic cloves into thinner slivers, cutting each one into thirds or fourths. Cut slits in the roast and press the garlic pieces into the slits. Sprinkle half of the salt over the pork pieces and rub it in a bit. Turn the pork pieces over and sprinkle the rest of the salt on the pork rubbing it in.

garlic-and-hawaiian-alaea-red-salt

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3. By this time the bacon should be nicely browned. Put the pork on top of the bacon slices. Stop the Sauté function by pressing the Keep Warm/Cancel button.

pork-in-the-pot

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4. Add the water to the pot, put the lid on and lock it in place. Make sure the pressure release handle is in the sealing position.

5. Select Manual. Press the “+” button until it shows 90 minutes. It will come up to pressure and the float valve will rise up. In a minute or two you’ll notice the time decreasing. The 90 minutes is the time it cooks once it’s under pressure. (If using a stove top pressure cooker time it for 75 minutes once the pot comes up to pressure.)

6. When the 90 minutes is up, press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn it off. Let the pressure release naturally. This will take about 15 – 20 minutes. The float valve will pop back down when the pressure is released and you can then open the pot.

7. Remove the pork from the pot.

8. Put the cabbage in the cooking liquid in the pot. Put the lid on and make sure the pressure release handle is in the sealing position, select Manual and press the “-” button to change the time to 3 minutes. While the cabbage is cooking, shred the pork with two forks.

9. When the cabbage is done, carefully move the pressure release handle to the venting position to quickly release the pressure. Use a good pot holder, or push it over with tongs or some other tool to protect your hand. The steam will release immediately.

10. When the pressure has released (the float valve will pop back down), open the pot.

11. Serve the pork with the cabbage. You can stir a bit of the cooking liquid into the pork if you would like it a bit juicier.

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kalua-pork-and-cabbage-copy

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Wasabi Shrimp

October 31, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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It’s Halloween. I always feel that Halloween marks the entry into the holiday party season. I’m always on the lookout for easy dishes that can be made for entertaining or can easily be taken to a potluck party. Wasabi Shrimp is perfect for the holiday season!

To make Wasabi Shrimp you simply stuff cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp with cream cheese blended with wasabi paste. The result is a tasty sushi-like shrimp appetizer.

Most markets carry shrimp that is already cooked and ready to eat. Buy cooked shrimp if you prefer to keep it extra simple.

If you start with raw shrimp, you’ll need to poach them. I used an easy method that I found on Serious Eats. I put the shrimp, still in their shells, in a pot of cold water with the juice of one lime and a heaping tablespoon of kosher salt and turned on the heat. While the water was heating I got a bowl of ice water ready. Using an instant read thermometer, I checked the temperature of the water in the pot. When it reached 170° I removed the shrimp from the water and put them in the ice water to cool quickly.  The shrimp were cooked perfectly!

The recipe is adapted from one by Rozanne Gold in Cooking 1-2-3. I find the most difficult thing about the recipe is getting the shrimp to look beautiful and not messy. Rozanne suggests stuffing the shrimp using a pastry bag. I don’t have one, but I think that may be the secret to creating a more neatly-stuffed appetizer.

Do give Wasabi Shrimp a try, even if you don’t have a pastry bag. I think you’ll agree that it’s a perfect recipe for the holiday party season.

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wasabi-shrimp

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Wasabi Shrimp

(Adapted from a Rozanne Gold recipe in Cooking 1-2-3)

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(print the recipe)

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2 pounds cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons wasabi powder

2 tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon salt (I used sea salt.)

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  1. In a small bowl, mix the wasabi powder with the water to form a paste.
  2. Put the cream cheese, wasabi paste, and salt in the bowl of a small food processor. Process until well blended.
  3. Cut a slit in the back of each shrimp, cutting almost all the way through.
  4. Use a small spoon or a pastry bag to stuff each shrimp with some of the wasabi cream cheese.
  5. Refrigerate until serving time.

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wasabi-shrimp-copy

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Sambal Oelek Roasted Chicken

September 30, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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I stumbled across Kirthana Kumar’s recipe for Sambal Oelek Roasted Chicken on Food52. It sounded so good, and so easy, I just had to try it.

It takes just a few minutes to mix the flavorful marinade. It’s recommended that the chicken should marinate for at least 3 hours and overnight is fine. I marinated chicken thighs for just 3 hours and they turned out great! Next time I will plan ahead and marinate them overnight for a super easy dinner the next night.

I bought a fresh jar of sambal oelek because the one I had seemed to have lost some of its punch. (“How long has that been in the refrigerator?”) I used 2 tablespoons which we thought gave the chicken a medium amount of heat. (Maybe 2½ stars) I thought it was just right, but I did put the jar of sambal oelek on the table so Bob could amplify the heat.

If you’re looking for a new take on roast chicken, I highly recommend this easy Sambal Oelek Roasted Chicken!

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sambal-oelek-roasted-chicken

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Sambal Oelek Roasted Chicken

(Adapted from Kirthana Kumar’s recipe found on food52.com)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2 – 4 (Could easily be doubled.)

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ingredients

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2 tablespoons sambal oelek (or to taste)

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon light soy sauce (I used wheat-free tamari.)

7 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1½ – 1¾ pounds of chicken thighs (or drumsticks)

Salt

(Optional) Sliced green onions for garnish

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1. Stir the sambal oelek, honey, soy sauce, and garlic together in a small measuring cup or bowl.

2. Put the chicken in a gallon-size ZipLoc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken in the bag. Seal the bag, getting as much air out of it as you can, and then squeeze the bag to spread the marinade over the chicken.

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marinating

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3. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 3 hours. It can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

4. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you want to roast it. Preheat the oven to 350°.

5. Put the chicken in a baking pan. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Roast the chicken for about 50 – 60 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165° and the juices run clear. (Timing will depend on your oven and the size of the chicken thighs. Large ones can take as long as an hour. If using drumsticks, turn them over after about 25 minutes. It’s not necessary to turn thighs.)

6. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Serve garnished with green onions, if desired, and with extra sambal oelek.

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sambal-oelek-roasted-chicken-copy

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Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

September 23, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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It was just nine months ago that I made 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies. They were so easy and so good!

But a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a blog post on smitten kitchen for Deb Perelman’s Salted Peanut Butter Cookies. She wrote that she had made 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies a few years ago and was underwhelmed.

Deb later had the opportunity to try a peanut butter cookie made from a recipe from Ovenly in Brooklyn, NY. It was basically the 3-ingredient cookie with the addition of a bit of vanilla and salt. She said it was “spectacular”. So, of course, she made the cookies from the recipe in Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York’s Most Creative Bakery, by Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kaluga.

I had to try this new version. It’s really just as easy as the 3-ingredient recipe, but it does have a couple of extra steps. The dough is put in the freezer for 15 minutes before shaping the cookies. After the cookies are shaped on the baking sheet, the baking sheet goes in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. The chilling probably helps them to keep their domed shape a bit better. It apparently also improves the flavor and texture. Check this post to read all about it.

I made half the recipe, yielding a dozen cookies. Mine didn’t keep the domed shape quite as well as Deb’s did. It may be because I used Jif peanut butter instead of Skippy. Even without the full dome, these Salted Peanut Butter Cookies are indeed spectacular! Bob said I could quote him when he declared that they are A-1 terrific!

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You can see the cookie I cut in half  to show the inside. These cookies are a bit crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. 🙂

salted-peanut-butter-cookies

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Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

(Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe on smittenkitchen.com which she adapted from the Ovenly cookbook.)

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(print the recipe)

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I cut Deb’s recipe in half. You can easily double this one to make more cookies. If you double it, you’ll need 1¾ cups of sugar and 1¾ cups of peanut butter. A commenter on Deb’s blog mentioned, and Deb confirmed, that a 16.3 ounce jar of Skippy contains 1¾ cups of peanut butter so no measuring required.

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A couple of comments on Deb’s blog mentioned that their cookies turned out great without the second time in the freezer on the baking sheets. I’ll be trying that next time.

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Makes about 12 cookies

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I did substitute maple sugar for the light brown sugar to make them Bob-friendly.

ingredients-for-cookies

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¾ cup + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (I substituted maple sugar.)

1 large egg, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

Coarse-grained or flaked sea salt, to finish

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the sugar and the egg together until smooth.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla.
  4. Whisk in the peanut butter until it is thoroughly blended.

.Whisk in the peanut butter.JPG

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5. Put the bowl of dough in the freezer for 15 minutes, stirring it once after about 8 minutes.

dough in the freezer.jpg

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6. Scoop or spoon the dough into balls on the prepared baking sheet. (Deb used a 1 2/3 tablespoon – 40mm – scoop. I used a 2 tablespoon – 44mm – scoop.)

Ready for freezer.JPG

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7. Put the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.

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I had to use the carton of ice cream to prop up the baking sheet so the parchment paper (and cookies) wouldn’t slide off.

tray-of-cookies-in-the-freezer

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8. Sprinkle the cookies with the salt and bake for 15 – 18 minutes. (Mine took 17 minutes; start checking at 15.) When done, the cookies should be getting golden around the edges.

Baked.JPG

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9. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for several minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

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Yes, the recipe did make 12 cookies, but Bob grabbed one as soon as I got them on the cooling rack.

cooling

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10. When totally cool, store in an air-tight container.

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salted-peanut-butter-cookies-copy

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Coconut Milk Mashed Potatoes

September 3, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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It was a revelation when I read in Heather Christo‘s beautiful cookbook, Pure Delicious, that she made creamy mashed potatoes with coconut milk! She uses vegan butter in her recipe, making it totally dairy-free and vegan. She promises that the potatoes do not taste like coconut.

Heather explains in the opening chapters of the book that people who have a true allergy to dairy products are allergic to the milk proteins found in all dairy products, including butter. Those who are lactose intolerant are sensitive not to the milk proteins, but to the milk sugars. They can usually eat butter which is low in lactose, the milk sugar.

Laura joined us for dinner last night and I decided to make Quick Roast Chicken Parts with Carrots and my easy recipe for Mashed Potatoes. This time, however, I used coconut milk! The Coconut Milk Mashed Potatoes were excellent! They definitely did not taste like coconut. We truly couldn’t tell the difference between the coconut milk mashed potatoes and dairy milk mashed potatoes.

I did use butter. If you need the recipe to be totally dairy-free or vegan, just substitute a vegan butter for the dairy butter.

If you, or people for whom you cook, have special dietary needs I highly recommend Pure Delicious. Heather is a trained chef and former caterer and her recipes reflect her professional background. You can check out her recipes on her blog, too. heatherchristo.com.

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Leftover Coconut Milk Mashed Potatoes reheated beautifully alongside the chicken and carrots for Bob’s lunch. In the background is So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk that worked so well in the recipe.

Mashed potatoes made with coconut milk

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Coconut Milk Mashed Potatoes

(Inspired by Heather Christo’s recipe in Pure Delicious)

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(print the recipe)

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Make it vegan, and dairy-free, by substituting a vegan butter for the dairy butter.

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Serves 4 – 6

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2 – 2½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes

1/3 – ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk(I used So Delicious found in the refrigerated dairy case.)

2 – 3 tablespoons butter(or vegan butter substitute)

Salt

Pepper

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1.    Scrub the potatoes well. If they’re about the same size and small, leave them whole. If not, cut them into similar-size pieces.

2.    Put the potatoes in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil.

3.    When the water’s boiling stir in about 1 tablespoon of salt. Reduce the heat so the water is simmering. Cover and cook until done, about 15 – 25 minutes. (Timing will depend on the size of your potato pieces.)

4.    When the potatoes are tender, drain the potatoes and put them back in the pot. Put the pot back on the burner for a few seconds to evaporate the rest of the water.

5.    Mash them right in the pot with a potato masher.

6.    After mashing a bit, add some butter and the coconut milk. Start with the lower amounts; you can always add more later. Continue to mash, adding more coconut milk and butter if needed, until done the way you like them.

7.    Season with salt and pepper. Serve, offering extra butter at the table.

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Mashed potatoes made with coconut milk - Copy

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Lesson learned about Hatch chile peppers!

August 22, 2016

I made Mika Garnett’s Southwest Chicken and Green Chile Stew again last night. It’s a recipe that we both had really enjoyed before.

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Doesn’t this stew look good?

Mika Garnett's Southwest Chicken and Green Chile Stew

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Well, I’m here to bring you this Important warning about hatch chile peppers!

This really is a great recipe, so I made it again yesterday with 4 hatch chile peppers that I found at Thriftway. They had two side-by-side boxes of hatch chile peppers that looked identical. One was labeled “Hot” and the other “Mild”. I chose the mild. Or so I thought.

When I researched hatch chiles before making this 3 years ago, I found this information someplace: “They can range from mild to medium-hot.” Wrong! I now know they can range from mild to insanely hot! 

Thinking I had identical peppers to the ones I had used before, I just added them to the chile. Just before serving I used a spoon to taste the broth for seasoning. I’m talking about 1/2 teaspoon of broth with NO visible signs of pepper pieces in it. WHOA! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything so hot before. I thought the top of my head was going to blow off.

Now, I’ll admit I am a bit of a sissy when it comes to hot stuff. (I order 2* at Thai restaurants and it’s plenty hot for me.) But this was insanely hot! I knew there was no way I could eat this stew last night. Bob offered to take me out for dinner, but I just quickly popped an emergency freezer meal into the microwave for my dinner.

Bob, Mr. 5*-Thai-food-guy who usually asks for extra hot sauce to add to his food, said he’d eat the stew. Well, he did finish his bowl, but I have never seen him sweat so much when he eats hot stuff! After he was finished, he admitted that it was even too hot for him!

So we threw the leftovers out.

I’m passing on the lesson I learned from all of this. Never assume your chile peppers are mild or medium. Taste a bite before adding them to your recipe. Had I done that, I would have used 1/2 – 1 of these crazy-hot chiles and it probably would have been fantastic. Lesson learned!

I still highly recommend the recipe, just be careful with your chile peppers. I might take the super-safe route and use a 4-ounce can of chile peppers next time. 😉

I’ll be back with a new recipe soon!

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This volunteer sunflower sharing a pot with geraniums and lobelia bloomed the day before Carrie and Rhett’s wedding!.Volunteer sunflower - bloomed 7-29-16.jpg

Quinoa Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

August 9, 2016

This Quinoa Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes from Heather Christo’s Pure Delicious is perfect for summer parties! I made it to take to a Seafair party last weekend where it was well-received. I had to share it with you, so I made it again yesterday and took photos.

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Quinoa Salad with Tomatoes.JPG

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Yes, it has been a while since I have posted a new recipe, but we have been very busy around here with happy wedding festivities! Carrie and Rhett were married on July 30!

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Photo by Frank Bedoya

Frank's picture of Carrie and Rhett

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The rehearsal dinner the night before was at our house, beautifully catered by Café Turko. The wedding was outdoors at a lovely park just outside the Pacific Tower, the Art Deco building that you can see from I-5. Then we all went up to FareStart’s venue on the 8th floor of Pacific Tower for the reception. The Panoramic Room is a stunning location for a reception with its 180° view of the city, the mountains, and Puget Sound. It was an awesome evening full of wonderful family and friends, great food, and lots of dancing to the fun playlist selected by Carrie and Rhett.

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View of Seattle from the Panoramic Room. Photo by Frank Bedoya.

View of Seattle from Pacific Tower

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The next morning many of us met Carrie and Rhett at Volunteer Park for Starbuck’s coffee and Costco croissants and muffins. It was great to have the opportunity to have a relaxed visit with Rhett’s family and some of the other out-of-state guests before they left Seattle.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend full of love and joy!

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♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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OK, so back to this Quinoa Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes! It’s a great choice if you’re hosting people with allergies. Those who are vegan or need to eat gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, or nut-free will appreciate this option. Plus, it’s just plain delicious!

It’s a very easy recipe to make. It takes a bit of time, but that’s only because the tomatoes slow-roast for 90 minutes. While they’re roasting, you can cook the quinoa and chop up the parsley and green onions. The dressing includes some of the roasted tomatoes; after a quick spin in the blender it’s ready to go.

This is the first recipe I have made from Pure Delicious. I am looking forward to trying many more. You can check out some more of Heather Christo’s “Deliciously Allergen Free Recipes” on her blog at heatherchristo.com.

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Tomatoes

 

Quinoa Salad with Oven-Dried Tomatoes

(Adapted, barely, from Heather Christo’s recipe in Pure Delicious)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 6 – 8

Oven-Dried Tomatoes

1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and cut in half lengthwise

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to sprinkle on the tomatoes

 

Quinoa

2 cups white quinoa, rinsed and drained

½ cup dry white wine (I used wine; you can substitute vegetable or chicken broth but reduce the kosher salt if the broth is salty.)

1 cup water

1 teaspoon kosher salt (If substituting table salt or sea salt, use ¾ teaspoon.)

 

Tomato Dressing

¼ cup of the oven-dried tomatoes

1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

 

To add to the salad

2 green onions, thinly sliced

½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Additional salt, if necessary

 

  1. To roast the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 250°. Spread the tomatoes out on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the olive oil over them and toss to coat. Sprinkle with some salt and roast for 90 minutes.

Oven-dried tomatoes

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2. While the tomatoes are roasting, cook the quinoa. In a 3-quart sauce pan, bring the wine, water, and salt to a boil. Add the quinoa, stir, and cover. Reduce heat to very low so it will simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the burner. Do not remove the cover; let it sit for 20 more minutes. Then remove the cover, fluff it up with a fork and put it in a large bowl.

3. When the tomatoes are done, make the dressing. Put ¼ cup of the roasted tomatoes in a blender. Add the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and smoked paprika. Blend until it no longer has any lumps of tomatoes.

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Dressing in the blender

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4. Gently stir the dressing into the quinoa so it’s all evenly coated. Stir in the rest of the oven-dried tomatoes, the green onions, and the parsley. Taste and season with additional salt if necessary. Can be kept at room temperature to serve within a few hours, or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

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Gently stirring the dressing into the quinoa

Stirring the dressing in.jpg

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Quinoa with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Smoky Tomato Vinaigrette - Copy

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Homemade Twix Bars

July 17, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Laura made these Homemade Twix Bars for Father’s Day dinner. I had not seen the family swoon so much over dessert in a while! These bars are incredible!

There are recipes for people with allergies that are acceptable and appreciated by the one who has the allergies, but they leave the rest of the group wishing they could have the real deal. This is NOT one of those recipes. Everyone absolutely loved them and eagerly devoured them.

Laura had found the recipe on Rachel Conners’ blog, bakerita.com. The only change she made was she substituted peanut butter for almond butter to accommodate an almond allergy. It worked beautifully!

The family gathered again last week for Bob’s birthday and I decided to make the Homemade Twix Bars for dessert. I couldn’t believe how easy it is to make them! The actual hands-on time is very minimal, but you do need to allow time for the shortbread crust to cool. After adding the caramel layer to the cooled shortbread, it needs to chill in the refrigerator. Then the chocolate is poured on the top and it is refrigerated again before serving. So it’s made in stages, but very easy stages.

If you want a special treat, do try these amazing Homemade Twix Bars!

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I turned one bar on its side to try to show you the layers.

Homemade Twix Bars

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Homemade Twix Bars

(Adapted from Rachel Conners recipe on bakerita.com. Rachel adapted the caramel filling from a recipe on Blissful Basil.)

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Special note about coconut flour

Coconut flour is very different from regular flour. It absorbs a lot of moisture. It is not easy to substitute other flours for coconut flour. If you want to make the bars with some other kind of flour, I suggest you find a recipe for shortbread using the flour you prefer and make that for the shortbread layer.

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(print the recipe)

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Makes 16 bars

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Shortbread crust ingredients

Ingredients for shortbread.JPG

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For the shortbread crust:

2/3 cup coconut flour

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil, solid

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Caramel filling ingredients

Ingredients for caramel filling.JPG

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For the caramel filling:

½ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif. I think a natural peanut butter would be too oily.)

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted in a microwave oven

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Chocolate topping ingredients

Ingredients for chocolate topping

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For the chocolate topping:

¼ cup coconut oil, melted in a microwave oven

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

½ teaspoon flaky sea salt (optional, I didn’t use)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and grease an 8 x 8 square pan with coconut oil.

2. Line the greased pan with parchment paper and then grease the paper.

pan ready.JPG

 

3. Either in a small food processor (what I used) or in a bowl, combine the ingredients for the shortbread crust. Process or mix in the bowl until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball. You’ll probably need to use your hands to make that happen in a bowl.

in the food processor

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4. Spread the dough out with your fingers in the prepared pan. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes until the edge is starting to brown. (9 minutes was perfect in my oven.)

Baked shortbread crust

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5. Allow time for the crust to fully cool.

6. Combine all of the caramel filling ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until everything is melted and combined. Pour over the cooled shortbread. Refrigerate the bars to allow the caramel layer to cool and set.

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A small whisk made it easy to combine the ingredients in the saucepan

Caramel filling

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Caramel topping poured over the cooled shortbread crust

Caramel filling poured over shortbread

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7. For the chocolate topping, stir the ingredients together until smooth. Pour over the set caramel layer. Sprinkle with the flaky sea salt if using. (Recommended, but I didn’t have any.)

Chocolate topping poured.JPG

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8. Refrigerate before serving so the chocolate will set.

9. Use a sharp knife to cut into 16 bars and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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Homemade Twix Bars - Copy

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Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

July 8, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Wow! These beans! Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans are a fabulous side dish with anything grilled. I found, though, that they are so delicious, they could take center stage as Rick Bayless suggests in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. He says that one of his favorite suppers is a bowl of Frijoles de la Olla (“Pot Beans”) served with tortillas, salsa, and a salad.

I used both Mexican Kitchen and Bayless’s Mexican Everyday for reference. In Mexican Everyday he gives instructions for cooking the beans in a slow cooker.

I learned from both Rick Bayless and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt that there is no need to soak the beans before cooking. Bayless observes that he has never seen cooks in Mexico soak their beans. And Kenji did all of the scientific testing to prove that soaking is not only unnecessary, but it makes inferior, less flavorful beans. In the case of black beans, they lose their rich black color when they are soaked and the soaking water is discarded.

In his epic book, The Food Lab, Kenji proves that it’s best to add salt in the beginning, contrary to popular belief. Most recipes, including the two Rick Bayless recipes for Frijoles de la Olla, give instructions to only add salt after the beans are tender. Kenji’s photos clearly show that the beans that were salted in the beginning were superior. Salt prevented the burst skins and blow-outs that the unsalted beans experienced.

I recently made plain black beans in the slow cooker to use for a dip. It was super easy. If you want to cook beans to use instead of canned beans, I would recommend that simple recipe.

If you want a beautiful bowl of flavorful Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans, I highly recommend this one. The beans were cooked perfectly and had a wonderful creamy texture. I loved the rich, porky flavor that the bacon grease gave the beans. I served the beans as Bayless does, in a bowl with some of the bean broth. Leftovers were also delicious drained and reheated. We just finished the last few beans last night tossed in an impromptu pasta dish. I’m already thinking of making Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans again. They are that good!

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Slow cooker Mexican black beans - Copy

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Slow-Cooker Mexican Black Beans

(Adapted from recipes in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and Mexican Everyday, and from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab)

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(print the recipe)

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I don’t really know if the epazote made a difference. I have some growing in a pot outside. Bayless recommends it for black beans. If you can’t find it, I think the beans will still be great if you omit it.

Make it vegetarian by using oil instead of the bacon grease. If you use oil, Bayless recommends cooking the onion in the oil until it is golden brown, about 10 minutes, before adding the onion and oil to the slow cooker. He says cooking the onion will give it a “roasty flavor reminiscent of what you’d find from pork fat”. There’s no need to cook the onions if you’re using bacon grease or lard.

Makes 7 – 8 cups

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1 pound (about 2½ cups) dry black beans

3 tablespoons bacon grease (can substitute lard or oil)

1 medium white onion, diced (about 1 cup of diced onion)

1 large sprig epazote (optional)

2 quarts water

1½ teaspoons salt

 

1. Check the beans for rocks and rinse thoroughly. Add them to the slow cooker.

2. Add the bacon grease, onion, and epazote, if using, to the slow cooker.

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Measuring bacon grease from saved bacon drippings

bacon grease

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Beans, onion, bacon grease and epazote in the slow cooker

black beans, onion, bacon grease, epazote.jpg

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3. Pour in the 2 quarts of water and stir in the salt.

4. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.

5. Serve in a bowl with some of the broth.

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Slow cooker Mexican black beans

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Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus

June 24, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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I made Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus for Father’s Day. I didn’t take pictures because I had already posted a recipe for hummus this month, and I really wasn’t sure how this one would turn out.

Well, let me tell you! Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus is my new favorite appetizer for friends and family who like all things spicy! This is spicy, but not too spicy*, smooth and fluffy, and totally addictive. Our little party of 7 quickly devoured it all. At one point, I noticed Bob, Byron, and Rhett all standing over the bowl, chowing down and muttering, “This is addictive!” I wish I had gotten a picture of that scene!

I found the recipe on Jessica Merchant’s entertaining blog, How Sweet Eats. I’ve followed Jessica for quite a while now. She comes up with very creative recipes and her photography is spectacular. I just got her book, Seriously Delish, and I’m looking forward to exploring it.

We loved this hummus so much that I made it again today, even though I had just made it last week. We needed something to take to a potluck party tomorrow. Bob said, “Why not The Hummus?” Why not, indeed! This time I took pictures.

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  • * Update 6/26/16:  So…I made this for a different group of people yesterday. Bob thought it was not as spicy as the first time I made it, but I think it was too spicy for just about everyone else at the party. If you don’t want it very spicy (I’d compare this to Thai food that is 2 – 3 stars.), just use 1 jalapeno pepper. 😉

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.Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus.JPG

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Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus

(Adapted, barely, from Jessica Merchant’s recipe on howsweeteats.com)

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(print the recipe)

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Makes about 1¾ cups

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The first time I made this I charred the jalapeno peppers with my broiler. It worked, but it got pretty smoky in my kitchen because of my poor ventilation system. If you have good ventilation, you could use the broiler. This time I used my grill to char them and that worked well.

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 Simple ingredients for an incredibly delicious hummus!

Ingredients.JPG

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2 medium jalapeno peppers (or just 1 jalapeno pepper if you don’t want it too spicy)

1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed

½ cup sweet yellow corn, defrosted if frozen

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

 

  1. Char the jalapeno peppers until they are blackened all over. Whether under the broiler or on the grill, this takes about 15 – 20 minutes. Set the peppers aside to cool.

Peppers on the grill.jpg

Charred jalapenos.JPG

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2. Peel the charred skin off of the peppers. Slice the top off, slice them open, and scrape off the seeds. Dice the peppers.

Peeled jalapenos.JPG

Seeded jalapeno.JPG

Diced jalapenos.JPG

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3. Put the chick peas, corn and peppers in the food processor. Process until it’s all blended, stopping to push the mixture down with a spatula if necessary.

Ingredients in the food processor.JPG

Processed.JPG

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4. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil into the mixture. (Slowly streaming the oil makes the hummus especially light and smooth.)

Slowly streaming olive oil.JPG

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5. Add the salt and pepper and process briefly once more. Serve with your favorite dippers.

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Especially good with Fritos!

Delicious on a Frito.JPG

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Sweet Corn and Jalapeno Hummus - Copy.JPG

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette

June 21, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette from Martha Stewart is a great side dish for summer entertaining. The beans can be cooked and the vinaigrette made up to a day early and stored separately in the refrigerator. Take them both out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving time and then gently toss the beans in the dressing when it’s time to eat. The beans make a lovely light side dish with grilled meats.

Martha’s recipe is for 2 pounds of beans, serving 8. I made 2 pounds for our family’s Father’s Day dinner and everyone enjoyed them. They were great with Rosemary Mustard Grilled Chicken Breasts.

I liked the beans so much that I had to make them again and take photos to share with you! I cut the recipe in half for 4 servings. Bob and I enjoyed them two nights in a row. The leftover beans were just as flavorful as the first night, although the beans lost a bit of their vibrant color overnight.

Give these Green Beans with Vinaigrette a try, especially if you have great homegrown beans this summer.

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These beans may look plain, but the simple, light vinaigrette makes them a delicious side dish.

Green Beans with Vinaigrette

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette

(Adapted, barely, from Martha Stewart’s recipe)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4 (double to serve 8)

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1 pound green beans

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Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

 

  1. Wash the beans and then trim the ends.

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I take several beans at a time and line them up against my knife and then cut off the ends.

Cutting beans.jpg

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2. Put the beans in a steamer basket and bring about an inch of water to boil in a pan.

3. When the water’s boiling, put the steamer basket in the pot, cover, and steam for 4 – 5 minutes. (Check a bean at 4 minutes to see if they’re done. You want them to be “crisp-tender” as Martha says.)

4. While the beans are steaming, get a bowl of ice water ready to cool them.

5. When the beans are done, put them in the ice water.

Cooling beans.jpg

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6. When the beans are cold, drain them and spread them on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to dry. You’ll probably want to use paper towels to dry them further.

Beans drying.jpg

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7. Put all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake well. At this point the beans and the vinaigrette can be refrigerated separately until ready to serve.

8. Just before serving, put the beans in a serving bowl. Pour all of the vinaigrette over them and toss gently so the dressing is distributed well.

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Green Beans with Vinaigrette - Copy.jpg

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Vegan Ranch Dressing

June 18, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Vegan Ranch Dressing is easy to make and it’s a real treat for anyone who has an allergy or sensitivity to dairy or eggs.

I searched the Internet for different recipes and decided to use the recipe on allergyfreetestkitchen.com as my template. I liked the fact that she used dried herbs because they’re easy to have on hand. And, what I’m guessing is the world’s favorite ranch dressing, Hidden Valley, uses dried herbs in their mix.

Hidden Valley also uses MSG, an ingredient many people want to avoid. MSG, however, is the ingredient that contributes umami to the dressing. That umami is what makes it so tasty and irresistible. So how could I add umami without using MSG?

Well, while searching the Internet, I also found Karrie’s recipe for Homemade Hidden Valley Ranch Mix on her happymoneysaver.com blog. She had not been able to replicate the flavor that she loved in Hidden Valley’s ranch mix until she figured out a way to add umami without using MSG. The secret turned out to be dried mushrooms. Dried mushrooms have lots of umami. Karrie used dried portabella mushrooms. I used a dried morel mushroom because that’s what I had.

I found that 1 dried morel mushroom produced about 1 teaspoon after I ground it up in my Krups coffee/spice grinder.

I made the dressing without the mushroom powder and tasted it. It was quite good. Then I added in the mushroom powder, and it really did make a difference in the taste! (For those who don’t like mushrooms, the dressing does not taste like mushrooms. The mushroom powder is just a magical secret ingredient that enhances the flavor.)

I will definitely be making Vegan Ranch Dressing again. And I’m sure I’ll also find other ways to use dried mushroom powder when a dish needs a flavor boost!

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Vegan Ranch Dressing

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Vegan Ranch Dressing

(Adapted from recipes on two blogs: allergyfreetestkitchen.com and happymoneysaver.com)

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If you don’t need the recipe to be vegan, dairy-free, or egg-free, just substitute your favorite mayonnaise for the vegan one and ¼ cup buttermilk for the coconut creamer and vinegar.

(print the recipe)

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Makes about 1¼ cups

1 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Just Mayo brand)

¼ cup coconut milk “buttermilk” (Pour 1 ½ teaspoons of distilled vinegar in a measuring cup, and then add coconut milk or creamer to equal ¼ cup. I used So Delicious Coconut Coffee Creamer.)

½ teaspoon dried parsley

½ teaspoon dried chives

¼ teaspoon dried dill weed

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground dried mushroom powder (Try portabella or morel. The mushroom powder is optional, but so good!)

 

  1. Make the coconut milk “buttermilk” as described in the ingredients.
  2. Grind the dried mushroom(s) in a spice grinder until it’s a fine powder. (I found one good size morel was enough.)
  3. Put all of the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and blend until it is all mixed together.
  4. Keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

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Dairy and Egg Free Ranch Dressing

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Wedge salad with Vegan Ranch Dressing

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Vegan Ranch Dressing - Copy

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Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini

June 10, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Don’t want to use tahini? You can still make fabulous Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini. Maybe you’re out of tahini. Maybe you’re serving the hummus to someone who has a sesame seed allergy. Maybe you just don’t like tahini. You can still make great hummus.

On Martha Stewart’s site I learned that you don’t need to use any substitutions; you can just make your favorite hummus recipe and omit the tahini. That’s pretty much what I did. I omitted the 6 tablespoons of tahini that were in the original Classic Hummus recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. I added a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter to give it a hint of flavor.

ATK’s method produces the creamiest texture! And you don’t need to remove the skins to achieve it. You grind the chickpeas and the dry ingredients in the food processor. Then, with the motor running, you slowly add the lemon juice and water blend and then the olive oil and peanut butter. The result? Silky smooth hummus goodness!

I highly recommend this method to make Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini. If you want to use tahini, just substitute 6 tablespoons of tahini for the peanut butter for a delicious Classic Hummus.

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Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini served with mini pepper strips and pita chips

Hummus with peppers and pita chips

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Silky Smooth Hummus with No Tahini

Adapted from a recipe in ATK’s The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook using advice from Martha Stewart’s site

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(print the recipe)

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Makes about 1¾ cups

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Ingredients for hummus.JPG

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¼ cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon peanut butter (I used natural peanut butter. The peanut butter is optional. Omit, if you want.)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1½ cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, rinsed and drained)

1 small clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional), for garnish

 

1. Stir the water and lemon juice together in a measuring cup.

2. Stir the peanut butter and olive oil together so it’s blended well.

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Mixing peanut butter with oil.JPG

I put the peanut butter/oil mixture in a small measuring cup for easy pouring.

Peanut butter and olive oil

3. .Set aside about 1½ – 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas aside to use as a garnish.

4. Put the rest of the chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in a food processor and process until it’s ground up well, about 15 – 20 seconds.

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Dry ingredients in the food processor

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ground

 

5. Scrape the mixture down with a spatula. Turn the motor on and slowly stream the water and lemon juice into the chickpeas. Scrape the mixture down again and then process for 1 minute.

6. With the motor running, slowly stream the peanut butter and olive oil mixture into the food processor. Process for about 15 more seconds.

7. Put the hummus in a serving bowl. Garnish with the reserved chickpeas, a drizzle of olive oil, and, if using, the cilantro or parsley.

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Silky Smooth Hummus with no tahini.JPG

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Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 25, 2016

By Kath Dedon

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Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies are just what you need when you want homemade chocolate chip cookies but don’t want to make a huge batch.  The recipe makes just 12 – 14 cookies. It’s quick to make, and it can be mixed in a bowl with a whisk or a fork. There’s no need to use a mixer!

The recipe was developed by America’s Test Kitchen for The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook (a great cookbook, by the way). They found that you can simply stir in melted butter, eliminating the need to cream the butter and sugar with a mixer. Talk about easy!

The recipe is supposed to yield 12 cookies, but it actually made 14 cookies for me. I baked the extra two in my new convection toaster oven, but I found that the ones baked in my regular oven turned out better.

The next time you just need to have a few chocolate chip cookies, I highly recommend that you try Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re quick, easy, and loaded with chocolate chips! You can be pulling them out of your oven in no time to satisfy your craving!

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One dozen

Small Batch Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Adapted from the recipe in The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook by ATK)

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(print the recipe)

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Makes 12 – 14 cookies

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5 tablespoons (2.5 ounces, or 71g) unsalted butter

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar

¼ cup (1¾ ounces) granulated sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

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Ingredients for the cookies (flour is in the bowl)

Ingredients for cookies

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1. Preheat the oven to 350° with the rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.

2. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool a bit while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl.

4. Whisk the light brown sugar and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl.

Sugars

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5. Pour the melted butter into the sugar and stir until it’s well combined.

Butter added

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6. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined.

7. Use a spatula to gently blend the flour mixture into the sugar mixture.

Cookie dough

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8. Fold the chocolate chips into the dough.

Chocolate chips added.JPG

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9. Using about 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie, roll the dough into 12 or so balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

10. Bake for 7 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 7 minutes, until the edges are set but the center is still soft and puffy.

Baked.JPG

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11. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing. Enjoy the cookies warm or at room temperature!

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Cooling.JPG