Category Archives: Recipes

The Cauliflower is Back

If you follow this blog you’ll know that cauliflower is a beloved veggie for this mum. I love the texture when its cooked. I love the texture when its raw. I love the flavor. I love that the florets look like little albino trees. I’m a nut. I know this. I love how cauliflower can be such a blank canvas. Quite frankly the only thing I don’t like about cauliflower is when you have to cut it up. The little shards are about as irritating as packing peanuts.   

Alas I digress. Last month I experimented with faux alfredo sauce, and today I experimented with faux mashed potatoes. Alright no one revolt. Please hear me out. Nothing will take the place of good mashed potatoes for this midwestern girl. This is a nice recipe, however, when you need something that reminds you of mashed potatoes in texture lusciousness, but doesn’t contain copious amounts of starch, butter or cream. 

I found this recipe idea on the Whole Foods website but altered it a good deal. Surprise, surprise. I added one russet potato to ease the family into it but it was delish. The key to this dish, like with the faux alfredo sauce, was cheese. You could get away with lots of different cheese options  here but I had a brick of parmesan on hand, so I used that. 

The instructions are very simple. Add one head of roughly chopped cauliflower to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover until tender. Reserve a half cup of cooking water and drain the rest. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse and blend the cauliflower. While pulsing, add a teaspoon of reserved cooking liquid (at a time) until you reach your desired texture. I got mine too thin so be cautious. Next add a tablespoon of parsley and a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Pulse a couple more times until incorporated. Fold in a cup of grated parmesan cheese or cheese of your choice. Think of a happy melter with a milder flavor. This is not the time for blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste and you’re done. I told you that was simple! 

Pair your cauliflower mash with fish, chicken, or another protein. Tonight the girls and I had it with pan seared, crusted tilapia and sautéed zucchini. It was simple, quick, and yummy. I wish I had had some fresh brussel sprouts on hand because I love mixing them with mashed potatoes. Its the perfect bite. We’ll try that next time. If you’re freaking out on the suggestion of sprouts trust me and Redeem the Brussel Sprouts. There is bacon involved so it’ll be alright.

Happy Cauliflowering Y’all!  

Note: I know that for some of you dairy is not an option. If so, cook your cauliflower in chicken stock and leave out the cheese. Season well with salt, pepper and maybe a spice that you would normally use in your mashed potatoes. You’ll still have a nice, luscious puree fit to accompany any protein you choose.  

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Mocha Ice Cream with an Extra Shot: Helping Students get Through finals Since 2016 

Chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven. During finals week they are a match that works. My husband is completing the third year of his masters degree at Dallas Theological Seminary, and by April most students look incredibly stressed. They talk less and have certain zombie qualities. School is a blessing but produces lots of wear and tear especially when it comes to sleep.  

I’ve never quite known what to call my coffee chocolate ice cream. I’ve never quite understood the jamocha term, however  I haven’t met anything labeled jamocha that I didn’t enjoy. According to the dictionary, jamocha is a combination of java (coffee) and mocha (espresso and chocolate). Okay so that’s a bit redundant, but maybe the idea is chocolate with  two times the coffee? Whatever it is or whatever you want to call it, the idea of coffee and chocolate together is  B-E-A-Utiful, and I can get behind that. For my purposes we’re just gonna go with mocha for simplicity. 

The past few weeks have been full of Mocha orders, with one wife asking me if I could amp up the espresso powder, as a way of helping her hubby get through finals. Bless him. I amped it up and the result was delicious but woo hoo it was strong! Whether you are simply a fan of the coffee chocolate combination or whether coffee keeps you running on a daily basis or whatever your reason, its a heck of a lot healthier than chugging energy drinks or soda. 

Next time you need a little boost give this recipe a whirl. This past week I added chocolate ribbons and almonds to experiment with more texture and flavor dimension. Oh heavens. Just think of one of Baskin Robins tride and true flavors: Jamocha Almond Fudge. 

  
Mocha Ice Cream 

Adapted from the Recipe featured in Taste of Home by Dick McCarty

Ingredients

2-1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup baking cocoa

4 ounces milk chocolate 

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee granules, or more to taste

Dash salt

3 cups milk with a milkfat of 2% or higher

5 eggs, beaten

4 cups half-and-half, divided

2 cups heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons vanilla extract

Directions

In a large saucepan, warm 2 cups of the half – and – half over medium heat. When warmed add cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and add milk chocolate. Stir until smooth. Pour into an airtight container large enough to hold all the dairy for this recipe and set a mesh strainer atop. 

Over medium heat, put the original saucepan back on the stove and add the milk, the other 2 cups of half – and – half, sugar, flour, coffee and salt. 

While waiting for the above conglomoration to heat up, whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl. When starting to gently simmer, add a cup of the milk mixture slowly to the whisked eggs, whisking as you pour. This will temper the eggs so you don’t get anything resembling a breakfast scramble floating about in your custard. 

Once that step is complete slowly pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking as you pour. Pull out a wooden spoon, metal spoon, or sturdy spatula and babysit by gently stirring almost constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon or spatula.  In other words run your finger through and if it leaves a clear path without running, you’re good to go.  This should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. 

Pour the mixture through the wire strainer so that it joins with your earlier chocolate mixture. Stir well and let come to room temperature. Place a piece of cling wrap over the top, directly making contact with the top of your custard, like you would when covering guacamole. Place in the refrigerator until chilled, preferably overnight. 

Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions and store. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes prior to serving. 

Yields: 2 generous quarts.

If you’d like to try adding chocolate ribbons see my post titled : The Iconic Magic Shell from Childhood. It’ll walk you through the process. Its an easy peasey step that will literally take you a minute to do. Take the minute. You’ll never be satisfied with throwing chocolate chips in your ice cream again.

Happy Mocha-ing Sleepy Heads! Hang in there. Summer is coming!  

Stock or Bone Broth or Bone Stock or …

I love making ‘broth.’ Using chicken or turkey carcasses gets me all excited because I get to feel like a mad scientist for 24 hours and I even get to use cheese cloth for straining!

  

 I know I’m hopelessly rising within the ranks of nerddome but that is nothing new. Maybe just maybe someone out there can sympathize. I place a giant stock pot on our stove at least once a month and add leeks, carrots, a chicken or turkey carcass, whole black peppercorns, onions (with the skins), aromatics, etc., and let it simmer usually overnight. So what is it called? What is the difference between broth, stock,  bone broth, etc.? 

  

I’m sure a lot of us frequently use recipes that call for chicken broth, stock or even beef or vegetable stock. Whenever a recipe I see calls for broth I always buy stock. Why? I feel like there’s more flavor action, and I feel like it’s superior in general. Can I back this up? No I cannot. Do I really know what the differences are? No I do not. Well that was two many ‘no I do nots’ for my liking so I decided to research. I scoured the web and read articles from licensed GAPS diet practitioners on biodynamic wellness.com, to the infamous Alton Brown, to an irritated author on the eater.com, finally landing on an article from Epicurios online, by Rhonda Boone, titled Stock, Broth and Bone Broth: What’s the Difference?

For the article Boone scoured the web and consulted her former boss, Marco Canora, Executive Chef and owner of Hearth restaurant, in Manhattan’s East Village. In 2015 Canora became New York’s broth afficionado when he opened Brado, a take away window which sells broth exclusively by the ounce. According to Boone’s research and findings, heres’ a simple breakdown. 

  • Broth is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and meat, and can include some bones. It is cooked for a short period of time, usually 45 minutes to 2 hours, then strained and seasoned. The goal of broth is to use a combination of ingredients to create a light, flavorful liquid that can be enjoyed on it’s own as a soup (or soup base along with other ingredients). Broth usually stays fluid when chilled.
  • Stock is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and animal bones, sometimes roasted, and sometimes with some meat still attached. It is cooked for a medium period of time, usually 4 to 6 hours, then strained. It is usually not seasoned at this stage. The goal of stock is to extract the collagen from the connective tissues and bones being simmered, which give stock its thick, gelatinous quality. When chilled, good stock should have the texture and jiggle of Jell-O. Stock is not served on its own; rather, it’s used to deglaze a pan, or as a base for a rich sauce or gravy. Stock is also a great binder to use instead of cream or butter, or used in a broth-like manner (just add some water to it).
  • Bone Broth is really a hybrid of broth and stock. The base is more stock-like, as it is usually made from roasted bones, but there can sometimes be some meat still attached. It is cooked for a long period of time, often more than 24 hours, and the goal is to not only extract the gelatin from the bones, but also release the nutritious minerals. It is then strained and seasoned to be enjoyed on its own, like broth.
  • Vegetable Broth and Stock are essentially the same thing, since no bones are incorporated in the process.”

Hopefully this helps clarify some differences for you, as well as helps you understand your needs when it comes to recipes. For me it helped clarify what it is that I make exactly. haha. These days I can’t even go on Pinterest to escape hearing about broth benefits, the amazingness of kale, or even essential oils. Now before you bash me as a broth, kale, and oil hater, know I use all of the above … well I only own three oils and kale I’m getting used to (except kale chips. I will not succumb to the nastiness of kale chips). Tangent, I know, but like many other moms and parents, having children often changes your nutrition outlook. The thought of feeding them like you ate in college or having them continue some of your eating habits makes you twinge. 

There are currently a great many health claims on broth  (bone broth specifically), as it seems to be one of the latest health trends. Are all the health claims true? Unlikely, but there are certain positive nutritional information facts you can’t ignore, and something you make at home from well-sourced ingredients is always better than reaching for something prepackaged. For Brodo their philosophy is a belief in meticulous attention to skimming and bringing  the maximum flavor and nutrients without emulsifying the fats and impurities. Do they believe in all the health claims of broth? According to Marco Canora,

“We believe some of it. Mainly, we think our broth is delicious and believe deeply in the old world nutrition and comfort that comes in each cup.” 

quote via brodo.co

“We believe some of it.” Brodo’s philosophy and thought process is something I can get behind. So next time you cook a chicken or anything with the bone-in, don’t toss the carcass. Try making some broth or stock. Its a good way to get rid of leftover veggies and aromatics too. I always seem to have a couple stalks of celery and a few rogue carrots hiding out in the crisper, unused from a previous recipe.  I will enclose a warning however: making broth may prove addictive. Whether its as a result of the nutritional information,  money saved or superior taste, you may just be ruined for the store-bought stuff forever. 

  

Here are a few great links to recipes if you need a starting point. 

Chicken Stock from Ina Garten 

Chicken Bone Broth from WellnessMomma.com 

Beef Stock from Emeril Lagasse 

Vegetable Stock from Martha Stewart. This page also has great storage instructions, tips and videos since its part of her Cooking School series

Happy Broth-Stock-ing!

*Note. I’m a busy mom and sometimes babysitting a stock pot of broth on the stove is unappealing or sometimes you just don’t have what you need on hand. Buy some. Just check out the ingredients and check the salt content. Salt can be a menace in store-bought broths. 

Confessions of a Cauliflower Lover 

I love cauliflower. Now that we have that out of the way let me tell you something about this cauliflower lover. Until a month or so ago I loved it in safe applications only. Like raw or raw with ranch (does that even count), or oven roasted in olive oil, or in this wickedly delicious potato soup my mum makes, but that was it. I would see adventurous recipes and just toodle right past. So I really wasn’t much of a cauliflower explorer I just knew I loved the taste of it. 

When you see recipes for cauliflower pizza crust and faux cauliflower Alfredo sauce or caulirice do you roll your eyes and ignore? I used to as well, mainly because I love pizza and I love rice. My husband loves a good Alfredo sauce and sometimes when we have favorite thing change seems unfavorable, but y’all I’ve been won over and you should give it a try. 

  

 I still don’t have the courage mustered to present my hubby with a cauliflower pizza crust but we’re getting there. I made faux Alfredo sauce with noodles and sautéed broccoli this past week and he really liked it. We both agreed it needed Parmesan cheese but other than that it would be a sufficient replacement. It was beautifully creamy and had a luscious consistency. It also took the normal calorie count of an Alfredo sauce from 400 to 40 calories so hallelujah. 

  

Can you tell its cauliflower? Sure. It’s not a magical replacement but it’s also not overpowering. With Parmesan cheese I’m guessing your detection of it would reduce even more significantly. Throw some grilled chicken on top and you have a special and easy dinner for your family or loved one. 

  

Still scared? Don’t be. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t like it. Alright, fair enough, but since I’m a glass half-full person, what’s the best that could happen? You like it and now have the ability to swap one recipe for another that hits the spot, and is actually good for you – without tasting like it. Give it a try and tell me what you think. 

Here’s the link to Pinch of Yum’s original recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Sauce. I added a minced shallot with the garlic as well as a tablespoon of ranch dressing (added it directly to the food processor) for a small herbal punch. In her comments Lindsey, the mastermind behind Pinch of Yum, said many of her readers really did like it with the Parmesan, so add a 1/4cup to the sauce when you blend it or just grate some atop. I don’t know about you but something about cozy Italian food, even if it’s faux cozy Italian food, demands grated cheese. 

Happy Cauliflowering! 

What Happened to the Ice Cream?

I was realizing today that I hadn’t written about ice cream in several months. Considering my ice cream enthusiasm or enthusiasm for anything smooth, cold and refreshing, I had to remedy that and share with you a recent experiment. 

As some of you know I make ice cream for friends, family, and others in our apartment building. It’s therepudic and a great deal of fun. I can make the bases when my girls are in bed and they love to help churn them the next day. Izzy has always dragged a chair into the kitchen in order to mooch and watch the transformation, and Sophia quickly learned the word ‘bite’ from her sister, as she realized she wanted a taste too. 

It’s not an especially lucrative enterprise but it brings in enough to support itself and keep people sharing in this crazy season of seminary life happy. For those reasons it brings me a great deal of joy. One particular family orders a quart of dark chocolate every couple weeks. They are precious, and this is where my cinnamon experiment began. They asked me to make cinnamon ice cream. 

   

I had never made cinnamon ice cream before, and for that matter I had never had cinnamon ice cream. I looked in my go-to ice cream book The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, but didn’t see a recipe, so I started my cinnamon experiment with another I scavenged online. It only used ground cinnamon. The flavor was good but the texture was dreadful so I decided to look in The Perfect Scoop again. Sure enough I had missed it. There was a cinnamon ice cream recipe! This base began by steeping cinnamon sticks in cream. Brilliant! It achieved a solid cinnamon punch without the grainy texture. In the end I added about a 1/4t of good vanilla extract (not in the recipe) and it was perfect. 

  

Not sure what to pair it with? Think fall or winter desserts like pumpkin or apple pie. Or head in a spring or summer direction with grilled peaches. Give it a whirl and let me know what you paired it with. I’d love to hear. Or maybe you just snarfed it down on its own because let’s face it – if you like cinnamon but you’ve never tried it in an ice cream application, it can be quite addictive all by its lonesome. You’ve been warned. 

Happy Churning! 

If you’ve never checked out David Lebovitz please do. Just start with the ice cream tab but I dare you to stay there. davidlebovitz.com

 

 

When the Roulade is Tough …

This post has been a long time coming since the last (and first) time I made a roulade was for our Christmas feast, but alas here we are. This post came about via a culinary snafu that left this home cook frustrated. Roulades aren’t terribly difficult but they are time consuming especially on a first attempt. I didn’t over cook ours but I did not pound the beef thin enough before rolling and filling and I think I even rolled it with the grain instead of against. The result? Delicious flavor but extraordinarily tough meat. I was so disappointed but knew I had to make lemons out of lemonade. We ate it in all it’s tough glory on Christmas day but before reheating leftovers and making them tougher I googled “what to do if you over cook the meat.” One of the solutions was to grind it for sandwiches. Well I can’t resist a good sandwich and out of all the solutions I read, this option was the most appealing. I got out the food processor and threw the rest of the roulade slices for a good whaz up, as Jamie Oliver would say. 

  
 
With that as a result I heated a buttered skilled over medium, grabbed my favorite white cheddar cheese and wheat bread to start assembly. It’s pretty straight forward but take a slice of bread and cover generously with either slices or a grated application of your favorite cheese. For this particular roulade the white cheddar was perfect. Anything yellow wouldn’t have been as good, but alas I digress. The point is, pic something that accompanies your meat well, and is a happy melter. When your cheese is in place top generously with your shredded meat, another layer of cheese and cap with piece of bread number two. Give each side a good golden browning in your buttered skillet and you’ll have a fabulous sandwich that makes you forget it came about via a culinary snafu. 

Happy Meat Grinding!

If you’d like the original roulade recipe toodle on over to simply recipes. It truly had delicious flavor but then again, they had me at walnut parsley pesto! 

The Missing Potato

I made individual pot pies yesterday that had the same “face only a mother could love” quality that my apple cherry pie did at Christmas. They didn’t win on pretty but for the first time I delivered the flake! These hot hands of mine finally didn’t drastically melt the butter and overwork the dough! For those of you who are new here read Pumpkin Pie Day and the last few sentences will make more sense. In short my hot hands usually give me pastry problems. This was the first time I have successfully delivered flakey dough. 

I turned to the recipe I know and adore by the lovely Ina Garten. If you haven’t tried her chicken pot pie recipe but love pot pie just start your journey there. They are so delicious but where are the potatoes? This isn’t an Ina criticism but a general one. 

I don’t understand why potatoes aren’t stock ingredients in chicken pot pie recipes. When I think of comfort food there is usually a potato nearby. Pot pies are the ultimate comfort food so where’s the potato? They add luciousness and heartiness without lifting a finger and are also great fillers. If you need your quantities and coin to stretch a bit further add a couple potatoes. 

As you would expect after all that fuss, I tweaked Ina’s recipe and added two large and one scrawny parboiled russet potatoes (along with a half cup additional stock). Never parboiled before? Dice up your taters, throw them in a pot of well salted, boiling water until they just start to tenderize. And there you go. Easy as pie. Make sure they aren’t soft like you’d want for a mash, or you’ll get a goopy mess in your pie.

So for all you non-Texas people who are actually experiencing really cold weather, give this recipe a whirl. It’s sure to warm you well and while you’re at it send us Texans some snow. My girls and I would heartily appreciate it and I’m guessing (unless you have littles or are little at heart) you are ready to get rid of some. 

I know there are days that just don’t go as planned and I’ll be the first to admit to frequent culinary disasters, but make the pastry yourself. I bought pre-made pie dough just in case, since others outside my family were counting on me for dinner, but thank goodness I didn’t need it. Golly it makes the difference and it can be done … even by me. It may not be pretty (see my exhibit A below) but your mouth won’t mind. 

  

Oh, and while I’ve got you, the recipe calls for roasting your own bone-in chicken breasts. If you need to cut corners here’s an easy way to do so. Buy a rotisserie chicken. Otherwise buy extra chicken breasts and roast them for another dinner later in your week. Prepare them as stated in the recipe. They are simply delicious! Add a side of Redeemed Brussels Sprouts and you’ll have happy tummies without spending all week in the kitchen. 

Happy Pot Pieing Y’all!