Tag Archives: easy

Cheesy Cauliflower Patties

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The low carb craze has made superstars out of some vegetables that at best were used to torture children in a previous life.  Kale.  Seriously.  Kale.  The only way kale is good is when it is cooked for a very long time in a ham hock gravy or in Kale and Andouille Soup.  There, I said it.  Kale becomes tolerable when cooked within an inch of its life and paired with a smoked pork product.

The next vegetable up for abuse is the poor man’s broccoli, cauliflower.  Cauliflower is tolerable when you add a signficant amount of dairy products to the mix.  I’ve made cauliflower puree, which can double as a quasi mashed potato substitute.   Cheesy cauliflower patties are now starting to trend, which would be the logical progression.  When I was a kid, my mom would make potato pancakes out of left over mashed potatoes.  After fending off dinosaur attacks, of course.  So, why not try to make fried patties out of cauliflower?  Well, cauliflower has no starch.  It also contains a lot of water.  You need a lot of help to make these suckers stick together.  This “help” likely defeats the purpose of choosing cauliflower, because it either adds carbs or gluten.  On the plus side, it’s probably far more healthy than what you were going to eat, even with the add-ins.

I saw purple cauliflower in the store and thought that maybe such a cool color would inspire the kids to give the dish a try.  My daughter did try it and didn’t really like it. Son and husband really liked it, as long as I didn’t try to say it was something that it wasn’t.  In other words, these were very good cheesy cauliflower patties.

As you can see above, I subbed the patties out for English muffins in Eggs Benedict.  These were really good.  A savory, cheesy bottom that you didn’t have to fight with, complimented the poached egg and Canadian bacon really well.  As a bonus, no need for asparagus, there was already plenty of veg on the plate!

The other time I used it, it was a vegetable for dinner.

 

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The patty served as a very nice compliment for my steak dish! I liked it and would make it again.  Definitely a different take and something to shake up the veggie routine in our house.  As a bonus, very easy to make!

Cheesy Cauliflower Patties
Makes about 6-8 Patties

6 cups roasted cauliflower florets (approximately)
1/2 cup easily meltable cheese (I used Monterrey Jack)
1/4 cup panko or bread crumbs
1 egg
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

Place all ingredients, except the butter, into food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower is coarsely ground. Remove mixture from processor and form into patties. The smaller and thinner the patties, the more likely they are to maintain their shape.

In a heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter just starts to foam, add the patties, careful not to crowd. When the patties are browned, carefully flip and cook until the other side is browned as well. About 3 minutes each side. Serve as desired.

Note:  I roasted the florets at 375 degrees fahrenheit in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper for about 25 minutes, turning once.

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

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My kids were getting tired of waffles for breakfast on school mornings.  Really, really tired.  But they are so easy.  You make them on the weekend, freeze them, pop them in the toaster and serve with “breakfast meats” you reheated because the hubs made them the night before and BAM! breakfast complete.  A seriously 5 star breakfast complete, if I do say so myself.  But, repetition has a price.  Boredom.

So, I tried pancakes.  They were fine, but didn’t store particularly well.  Couldn’t really separate them as nicely as the waffles.  The kids then came to a bit of an impasse.  They could agree on nothing, until I came across a recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Muffins. Well, what’s not to like?  To quote Cosby, it has wheat, eggs and milk!  Must be good for you! The recipe was originally from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. She is one of my favorite cookbook authors.  I found it on the Brown Eyed Baker’s blog.  I made a very few changes because Dorie Greenspan’s command of baking is just extraordinary.  Just reading the ingredients was a joy because you could see how they all fit together and their purpose.

I have one little change.  For whatever reason, buttermilk recipes are never quite right for me.  The batter is always too dry.  When I substitute milk and vinegar, it seems to work quite well.  I’ve tried all brands of buttermilk and find that I have to add more liquid.  Plus, buttermilk comes in quarts and I always need 1 1/4 cups or something like that.  What do you do with the rest?  Make the recipe again?  Milk is just more versatile and I don’t throw it away like I do buttermilk.

Ok, I lied. I have two changes. I’m not breaking up some fancy, expensive chocolate for this recipe. Bittersweet chocolate chips are just fine!

Also, and I’ve mentioned this before, I scoff at melting chocolate over the double boiler.  ESPECIALLY when I’m melting it with butter.  Put a dishwasher and microwave safe plate in the microwave and nuke for a few minutes on low power.  Done.  Stir, use mixture, and place in dishwasher.  No messy cleanup of several bowls and pans.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (divided)
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin pan with liners. Set aside.

Place 2 ounces of the chocolate and all of the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Over low power (50% or less), microwave the chocolate and butter in small increments until just melted. For my microwave, I started with 60 seconds on 50% power. Stirred the items, then another 30 seconds on 50% power and the mixture was melted. Stir between each increment, as chips can retain their shape not appear “melted”. Set aside. Or, feel free to use the double boiler method.

Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. In a large liquid measuring cup, combine milk and vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir. Add egg and vanilla extract.

Pour the melted chocolate mixture and the buttermilk mixtured into the flour mixture. Gently stir together until just blended. I found the mixture to have a mousse-like quality, much more so than a batter quality. Add the remaining chocolate and stir gently. Divide equally among the muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in a baking rack for at least 5 minutes.
 

 

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread

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One year.  My little blog is one year old!  Hard to believe.  So, for my one year anniversary, I decided to write a blog about my secret most favorite obsession.  I have never confessed this to anyone, but my favorite cookie, bar none (Ha! I see what I did there…), is shortbread.  Delightfully simple.  Crumbly, buttery, and just simply fantastic.  I tried Walker’s Scottish Shortbread years ago and was simply enchanted, despite the fact that it lacked my most favorite ingredient:  Chocolate.

Shortbread, said to be the favorite cookie of Mary, Queen of Scots, first appeared in cookbooks in 1736.  Interestingly, it started as a yeast recipe.  But the mid-1800s, it morphed into the more modern familiar butter-flour-sugar based recipe.

Finding a recipe was rather easy, but there seems to be a bit of a divide.  Some recipes are very purist:  flour, sugar, and butter.  But there is some discussion about adding either cornstarch or rice starch to the mix.  The recipe I used called for confectioner’s sugar, which is essentially sugar mixed with cornstarch.   Why cornstarch or rice starch or rice flour?  These items contribute bulk without toughness because there is no protein or gluten.  Fun fact I learned making these cookies!

“Short” in baking vernacular is not a description of the size of final product, but that something was used to shorten the gluten strands that form when you use flour.  So, shortbread will be a crumbly cookie, because it lacks long strands of gluten.  The butter playing the part of “shortening” the gluten strands.

I added the chocolate not for my own amusement, but my daughter thought the cookies would be better with chocolate.  I did not, I thought they were perfect plain.  Of course, she won out!

I found the recipe in James Beard’s American Cookery and added the chocolate!

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread

1 1/2 cups butter (some recommend 1/2 salted/1/2 unsalted)
1 cup powdered sugar (may also use plain sugar)
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon butter

Cream the butter until almost like whipped cream. Gradually cream in the sugar and continue beating until very light. Stir in the flour, then turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured board or counter and knead the mixture until it is very smooth and will break slightly when the thumb is run from the center to the edge of the ball of dough.
Side note: This is not “dough” in the traditional sense. This is a pile of crumbs. Seriously. See photo below:
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You can still kind of knead it and see that it does change consistency after several minutes. I seriously wasn’t expecting it to be a pile of sand. Now, if you omit the confectioner’s sugar and just use regular sugar, I doubt your dough would look like this.

Traditionally, this dough is pressed into shallow pie pans, the dough being about a 1/2 inch thick. The edges are fluted as on a pie crust, and the serving portions are stippled across the dough with a fork so that the shortbread can be broken easily into small pieces. Prick the dough with a fork in even the smallest pans, or it is apt to blister in the enter.

Bake in a 275-300 degree oven until the dough turns a pale brown around the edges. Time of baking depends on size of pan and thickness of the dough.

Remove from the pan, cool on a rack, and store in an airtight container.

For the chocolate dipping sauce: place chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Using 50% power, in small bursts of time, microwave the chocolate and butter until just melted through. I do this in 2 minute increments and stir between times. Slather on cookies, let dry.

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Chicken Big Mamou

http://dawnoffood.comI went to graduate school in New Orleans.  New Orleans blew my mind, food wise.   For one of our first food adventures, my mom and I ate at Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s in the French Quarter.  All of the food was so lovely!  I looked at the menu and Chicken Big Mamou stood out as something I wanted to try, but I’m not a spicy food person.  The menu warned that it was a very spicy dish.  My mother scoffed and said that this is a restaurant, they’ll moderate it and make it so that everyone can eat it.

I fell for it and ordered it.  For me, it was inedible.    Beyond spicy.  Torture level hot.  I couldn’t tell you what it tasted like because it just felt like molten lava in my mouth.  My mom traded with me (thanks mom!) and ate it because she loves food spicy.  It was hot for her, but she loved it.  We bought the cookbook and made it at home.  Others had to appreciate how hot a dish can be!!

The men in the house ate it, but it looked like they were having a heart attack:  red faced, pouring sweat and clearly uncomfortable.

So, why make it?  Well, one it’s Mardi Gras season.  I didn’t want to do a shrimp creole or crawfish etouffee.   Two, my husband and son love spicy food.  They make their own hot sauce!  So, back to my enemy.  I looked at the recipe.  My goodness, what a fussy recipe!  Lots and lots of ingredients, and butter.  Lots of steps.  Ugh.  So, I googled it.  Prudhomme had changed the recipe!!   Wrap your head around that.  The recipe on his website is 1/10th the fussiness of the one in his fantastic cookbook.   But in reviewing it,  I was about to make it a lot less fussier.  This has now become an easy (and cheap!) weeknight meal that anyone can add into the rotation.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m going to say here, but while I love Prudhomme, his recipes are maddening.  Extra steps that don’t seem to add much turn homey recipes into complicated, time consuming affairs.  The  spice lists alone are daunting.  I never got the sense that people in the bayou would cook this way.  Maybe they did and I’m totally off base.  But, it just seemed like he was “fancying up” traditional recipes so that food critics would take Louisiana cooking seriously.

So, first he modified the recipe, then I “unfancied” it.  And it is really, really good and very true to the original.  Excellent entertaining dish as well!!

Chicken Big Mamou
Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes (40 are low effort simmering)

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
6-8 chicken thighs or legs
2 1/2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme’s chicken magic, divided (see below for a substitute)
1 cup very finely chopped onions
1 cup very finely chopped celery
3/4 cup very finely chopped bell peppers
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne, if you want it really hot!!)
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock or water
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the poultry magic over the chicken pieces. Brown the chicken in the saute pan, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Saute the onions and peppers in the remaining oil, until the onions are translucent. Add oil or butter if needed to prevent the veggies from burning. Add the remaining chicken magic, bay leaf , minced garlic, and cayenne pepper (if you want it really hot!) and cook for about a minute. Add 2 cups of tomato sauce and 2 cups of stock. Return chicken to the pan and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve over cauliflower “rice”, rice or pasta. Top with the green onions and parsley.

From “Top Secret Recipes“, Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken Magic:
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
dash cumin

Combine spices.

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Sardines

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This post was a really hard one to do.  Look at those pictures.  Sardines are not really “photogenic”.  However, they are incredibly delicious.  And SOOO simple to make.   I was walking through my local Whole Foods and came across fresh sardines.  $5.99 a pound.  For wild caught, fresh fish.   So, I bought a half a pound and figured why not?  They are incredibly heart healthy, they’ll cook quick for a weeknight appetizer splurge, and it’s about $3.00. I’ll take a chance for $3.

Marinated them in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme.  Threw them on a screaming hot grill pan.  At 20 degrees outside, I thought it was a touch cold.  After the thick smoke abated from my “open concept kitchen/dining room/living room”, I decided next time they would cook on the grill.  A scant few minutes later, we had an amazing appetizer.  They were gone in seconds.  To say that tasted amazing would be an understatement.  Again, didn’t look like much, but tasted great.

I was inspired by this recipe and the author’s incredible photos.  While I should have probably left the fish whole for picture purposes, I’m pretty sure the kids wouldn’t have eaten them with the “guts”.

As this is a fish recipe, please be careful to avoid eating the bones. Sardines have bones, and lots of them. Bones can pose a choking hazard.

Grilled Fresh Sardines
Prep Time: 1 hour (marinating)
Cook Time: about 6 minutes

¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ pound sardines, cleaned, tails and heads intact.
finishing salt
lemon wedges to serve

Place the first 5 ingredients in a container and mix together well. Place sardines in container and marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.

Heat grill or grill pan moderately hot. If using grill, these fish are small, use a basket or some other device that won’t allow the fish to go through the grates. Place fish on grill, cooking on each side for about 3 minutes,  until done. Remove from grill, sprinkle with a bit of finishing salt (large crystal salt) and serve with a lemon wedge. Best eaten with hands, picking the fish from the bones. As with any fish, be careful with the bones!

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I’m on a roll with recipes that aren’t really good for you. I had blueberries and cream cheese that needed to be used and thought: what can I do with these items? Around the same time, my son asked for a hiatus from waffles for breakfast. So, despite having the brownies, I figured I would venture into coffee cake land. I love coffee cake, it’s an acceptable cake to eat for breakfast! What made this cake appealing was really the fantastic chunks of cream cheese dotted throughout. The cream cheese adds a sweetness and texture that is so unique and incredibly good to contrast with the tart blueberries.

As always, this recipe is very easy and straightforward. No surprises. I saw this recipe on tasteofhome.com and thought I would give it a go. I added lemon zest and lemon juice for a bit of a bright pop.

My son loved this recipe and my husband said it was amazing! So overall, this was a really big hit.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 40 minutes

1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, cubed

TOPPING:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cold butter

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish.

For batter, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and
fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Combine 1 cup flour, baking powder and salt;
gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Toss blueberries with remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir blueberries and cream
cheese into creamed mixture (batter will be thick). Transfer to the greased dish.

For topping, in a small bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter
until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Brownies

Yes, my New Year’s Resolution is fading fast. I have kids and they want snacks. Pineapple, apples and blueberries aren’t cutting it anymore!

Brownies. I joke that there’s no point in cutting brownies because they just end up getting slivered to death in my house. A literal death by 1,000 cuts. It’s no secret that I eat the most. I do. I hide them from my husband and children. I am shameless. Truly. Note in the picture the lack of actual brownies. There’s might be seven there. Couldn’t make it to the picture stage.

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In addition to being a brownie addict, I am a bit of a brownie snob.  There is only one type of brownie: fudgey. Take your cakey brownie and go. Don’t try to cover the listless dryness with frosting, it’s a lost cause. People have made their entire careers off of one spectacular brownie recipe (see Maida Heatter). For the longest time I thought the only good brownie came from a mix. Recipe after recipe lead me to the dry, unsatisfactory cake-like brownies I despise. I was partially convinced by Alton Brown that super chemicals unavailable to a lowly home cook made the mix brownies deliciously moist. I held that belief until I came across Maida Heatter and James Beard. Maida’s Palm Beach Brownies are the stuff of legends, and rightly they should be. Crinkly top, moist middle and all over CHOCOLATE. James Beard held little affection for the lowly brownie, but pointed me to an issue I had not considered: eggs. In one sentence, he cleared up the cake vs. fudge issue I had been having. If you spot a brownie recipe with more than 2 eggs, they will be cakey. If not, fudgey. It’s just that simple, most of the time.

Maida Heatter’s recipe teaches that brownies are pretty much eggs, sugar and chocolate. Small amounts of flour for binding and extracts for flavor amp things up a bit, as does a shot of expresso. But, was really sets Heatter’s recipe apart is the amount of sugar. 3 ¾ cups! Holy Crap!   Which might explain how she gets away with 5 eggs and not having a cakey brownie.  But, then I thought of fudge, and pretty much, same thing. Sugar. Lots and lots of it.

So, for me, the perfect recipe will have lots of sugar, 2 eggs and lots of chocolate.  I can’t do so much sugar in a brownie.  I’m by no means a nutrition drill sergeant, I’m doing a blog on brownies, but I have to draw the line somewhere.  3 ¾ cups in 1 pan of brownies is my line.  The recipe is good, trust me.  Really, really good.  But it’s a tad much.

My mom used to make black bottom cupcakes when I was a kid and I loved them.  I’m not that big of a cupcake fan now (read: can’t sliver them and mentally eating a whole cupcake instead of slivers of that amount to the same mass seems gluttonous.).  So, I wanted to recreate the recipe with brownies.    You can make the brownies without the cheesecake topping and they are wonderful.  The cheesecake topping is great, if you like that.  Allegedly, my husband didn’t, but a suspicious number of brownies (whole, not slivered) are missing, indicating otherwise.

Brownies are a rather new invention, probably around the 1900s.   General thought has the creation coinciding with the rise in food science and ready availability of chocolate, refined flour and sugar.    Of course, there is the legend of the Palmer House Brownies, created when a patron asked for a dessert that could be packed up and taken to the Chicago Exposition.  Either way, the brownie is an easily made and transportable dessert.

This recipe was inspired by recipes on Epicurious.com

Black Bottom Brownies

Cream Cheese Topping:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅛ teaspoon salt
6 ounces chocolate chips

Brownie Layer:

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease and flour a 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan. Set aside.

Put the cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a mixing bowl. Mix together until well blended. Add the chocolate chips and set aside.

Over medium low heat, melt together the bittersweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter. The chocolate mixture will be glossy. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar and vanilla. One by one, whisk in the eggs. After the eggs are incorporated, stir in the salt and flour until completely incorporated. Finally, stir in the flour.

Spread the brownie mix evenly into the baking pan. Top with the cream cheese topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a pan comes out with only a few moist crumbs, 35-45 minutes.

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