Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

Your sense of smell is so important, almost as important as your taste buds.  You can recall things instantly with your sense of smell, it is extremely powerful.  You can be walking down the street, smell something, and suddenly you remember something you haven’t thought of in years, just because it reminds you of the last time you smelled that scent.  Half the enjoyment of eating for me, is smelling the beauty of the food.

My father was visiting this weekend, and I found out he has been having trouble with his sense of smell.  He seems to be in good spirits about it, and hopefully it is just temporary.  Fortunately when he walked up the stairs for dinner on Monday night, he could actually smell the smoky goodness of the Big Green Egg fired up in the back.  Now that is heaven to your nose…let me tell you.

Tonight I came home from work to the worst smell ever…fish fertilizer and seaweed.  I am telling you, it doesn’t get much worse than that.  I walked into the house, and the girls immediately started complaining about it.  Yes, the men came today to fertilize the trees and shrubs.  They use all natural and organic fertilizers, but that comes with a cost, and I am not just talking about money.  The smell is so bad, it leaks into the house.  Since I am allergic to fish, it is even worse for me.  I feel completely sick.  There was only one thing to do – start cooking.  I needed something quick, and something fragrant, so I went to this recipe in Cooking Light (which I adapted slightly below).  I was desperate for anything to saute on the stove.  This dish is so delicious and easy – what a treat it was.  The problem was the good smell didn’t last long enough to wipe out the bad smell, and after dinner I found myself sick again.  I couldn’t even eat dessert.  I am now hiding in the office with a Pound Cake candle lit next to me.  I am dealing.  Good thing it usually goes away pretty quickly – especially when it is raining.  I am still thankful for my sense of smell, but looking forward to smelling rain soon.

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Filling

  • 1  pound of ground turkey breast
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 6  thinly sliced green onions (about 2/3 cup), divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 2 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • 8  Bibb lettuce leaves

Preparation

To prepare sauce, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallot, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water and next 3 ingredients (through red pepper), and stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 1/3 cup green onions; sauté 1 minute. Add ground turkey; sauté until browned, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, and Sriracha; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cucumbers, carrots, and remaining green onions.

Spoon 1/4 cup rice into each lettuce leaf. Top with about 1/2 cup meat mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve with sauce.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

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Peanut Butter Honeycomb Pie

Where did this week go?  All of a sudden it was Saturday, and I realized I never posted anything this week.  Sorry about that.  I was talking to one of my very close friends today, who by the way, I never have time to talk to anymore…and we were venting about the end of the school year.  She calls it the “100 days of May” – I think that’s it anyway, and has to do the fact that there are a million things to do before school is over.  We are cut from the same cloth – there is no resting – and she has three kids.  The only difference is that I work full-time, and she works part-time – but that doesn’t mean she has free time.  She fills it up just like I would with school activities, volunteering, and anything else she can get her hands on.  We used to joke that we would buy houses next door to each other and she would take care of my kids.  She knew I would never stop working, and she is Super Mom.  Too bad that never came true – we are at least in the same time zone, but an airplane ride away.  Well – her kids get out of school in just a couple of weeks, I told her she was in the home stretch…and I am just a week after that.  Soon summer will be here, and we will be dealing with a whole different set of chaos!

So, I am sure you are all wondering what I did with that delicious honeycomb I made.  The wait is over!  Now, unfortunately I never got to eat the entire pie put together – because this was a dessert I made for my younger daughter’s school auction…but I am telling you, that I sampled every bit of the way, and this is a winning recipe.  The peanut butter center was so creamy and amazing, I swear I liked the bowl clean.  I changed the recipe slightly from the Bon Appetit version, because I really thought it needed a chocolate cookie crust.  I think it really cut the sweetness of the filling.  Some friends of mine ended up with the pie that night, and they were pretty pleased.  One of them asked my husband how he stays so thin…the secret is in the stress.  Did you know that stress actually melts the pounds away?  Well I wouldn’t recommend it for a diet, but it seems to work in our house.

So – on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend (yes, it is sunny and 75 degrees here!!), sit back and relax – after you make this pie that is…I am heading to the kitchen now and toast to my friend Marti.  I am ready for summer!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 box of chocolate wafer cookies
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, melted

Filling

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 12 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Topping

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Honeycomb
  • 1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts

Preparation

Crust

Preheat oven to 325°. Finely grind cookies in a food processor.Transfer crumb mixture to a medium bowl. Add butter and stir to blend. Use bottom and sides of a measuring cup to pack crumbs onto bottom and up sides of 9″ glass or metal pie or tart pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Filling

Mix yolks and 6 Tbsp. sugar in the bowl of a stand mixers fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat at high-speed until ribbons form, stopping once to scrape down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes.

Combine milk and remaining 6 Tbsp. sugar in a large saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add bean. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove bean. With mixer running, gradually add hot milk mixture to yolk mixture. Scrape mixture back into pan. Clean bowl. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat; whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Return custard to mixing bowl, beat on high-speed until cool, about 4 minutes. Mix in butter on Tbsp. at a time. Add peanut butter, powdered sugar, and salt; beat to blend. Scrape filling into cooled crust; smooth top. Chill until set, 2-3 hours.

Topping

Stir chocolate and butter in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth.

Drizzle some of the chocolate glaze over the peanut butter filling, making a circle in the middle of the pie and leaving a 1″-2″ plain border. Pile pieces of honeycomb and salted peanuts on top, then drizzle remaining chocolate glaze over.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Peanut Butter Honeycomb Pie

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Mango Marti

Mangos are a coveted fruit in our house.  I don’t buy them that often, because for some reason I am the subject matter expert when it comes to cutting a mango – and to tell you the truth, it stresses me out. I hate to waste food, and I can never seem to get all the good mango around the pit without seeming like I am leaving a lot of good fruit.  In the scheme of things, if that is what I am getting stressed out about, I am pretty darn lucky.  Too bad that’s not the only thing…

So – this weekend, I had three beautifully ripe champagne mangos sitting in the fruit basket, staring at me.  I swear they were calling to me, and the cucumber vodka I had just bought in the liquor cabinet – that started chiming in as well.  I knew what I had to do.  So – I looked around the kitchen while thinking about a recipe I saw in Cooking Light the other week (Champagne Mango Margaritas), and decided to go my own route.  Basically you can’t go wrong with deliciously ripe mangos.  I made a virgin batch for my kids first, and they were hooked.  The next batch was for my husband and I, and wow…that’s just about all I can say…wow (who knows what that’s from???).  What an awesome drink.  The cucumber vodka gave it this flavor like I was in a spring meadow, the wind whipping through my hair…ok, I have no idea where I am going with this, but it was one of the best cocktails I have ever made.

So – how did it get its name?  I was looking for the pictures I took tonight, and my phone syncs wireless with my computer, and to my files on the cloud (what an awesome phone I have).  When it syncs, it gives me a little notice that new files were loaded – so I clicked on the program, and it showed me one of the pictures – and put a title on the photo with the folder name.  I named the folder “Mango Martini” – but for some reason it cut off the last two letters – so I had a picture called Mango Marti.  I burst out laughing – my husband asked if I named the drink after my long-lost friend “Marti” – I said who?  Then he proceeded to make up this story about my long-lost friend (that doesn’t exist), and how I created this drink in honor of him.  So – there it is, our Mango Marti, best drink ever.  Here’s to you Marti!!

Ingredients

  • 3  Champagne mangoes, peeled, seeded, chopped, and frozen (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber vodka
  • 1/4 cup mango nectar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Triple Sec
  • 1 cup ice

Preparation

Combine mango, and next 4 ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth. Add ice to blender; pulse to combine. Chill in refrigerator 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mango Marti

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Honeycomb

My husband is the jingle king.  He knows every jingle that was ever created – seriously.  He can’t seem to remember when I ask him to take out the garbage, yet when I ask him about a jingle that is 30 years old, it flows out of his mouth like he watched it on television yesterday.  So, when I found this recipe in Bon Appetit for honeycomb, what do you think came next?  You got it…and of course for days, there it was, stuck in my head.

This was quite an adventure.  I was actually making this to go with a dessert I was making for an auction.  More on that later in another post…  So it was time to make the honey comb – and I had about 4 hours left before the dessert had to be sitting at the auction.  I had never made honeycomb before, but I make caramel all the time, so I thought I was prepared.  I read somewhere that you have to use a really large pot, because once you add in the baking soda, it really foams up.  So, I used my large 8 quart saucepan.  That was challenge number one – the pan was so big that I couldn’t use the candy thermometer to make sure I took it off at the right time.  Now, the recipe didn’t say to use one, but I wanted to be safe – I only had 4 hours left.  Instead I decided to go without the thermometer.  I let the sugar turn just golden amber, but it was too late.  By the time I added the baking soda, it smelled like burnt sugar.  I tried to pour it out and see if I could salvage it – but the honeycomb was inedible.

Honeycomb Take 2.  Now I was down to about 3 1/2 hours, and starting to sweat.  It was painful making the first batch.  The pot was so hot and heavy, it was almost impossible to pour the honeycomb out – and I was so worried about burning myself.  I had to have a better plan.  Also – I had to take it off the heat much earlier in the process – this is not like making caramel.  As soon as the sugar starts to turn color – that’s it.  So – I went with that, and it worked.  It was not as hard the second time, and the honeycomb came out perfect.  It tasted almost like burnt marshmallows, which is seriously one of my most favorite tastes ever.  This was sweet and crunchy, and amazingly delicious.  Just like in the jingle…honeycomb’s big, yeah yeah yeah!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda, sifted

Preparation

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Combine  sugar, corn syrup, honey, and 1/4 cup water in a heavy deep saucepan. Stir over  medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil.  Cook without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a  wet pastry brush, until sugar turns pale amber. Working quickly, add baking soda  (mixture will foam up dramatically); whisk quickly just to combine. Immediately  pour candy over prepared sheet (do not spread out). Let stand undisturbed until  cool, about 20 minutes. Hit candy in several places with the handle of a knife  to crack into pieces.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Honeycomb

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Chai Banana Bread

Happy Mother’s Day!!  What a perfect day – seriously – 75 degrees and sunny, that alone creates a happiness in the air – especially with the cold spring we have had.  We joked that it was nicer today than it was all last summer.  We have been hit hard with the bad weather here…and even I, who loves the clouds, had a smile on my face with the clear blue sky day.  It didn’t hurt that my girls were extra special good today, and showered me with cards, gifts, and lots of hugs.

My mother is an incredible cook – she cooks just about everything and anything – but my favorite recipe of hers is still her banana bread.  It is really just the most perfect bread there is.  I seldom try other recipes, but this one caught my eye in Cooking Light – mostly because it was created by a 10-year-old.  I knew that my mother’s would be better, but I decided to try this one anyway.  My husband loves cinnamon, and if nothing else, I would add these spices to my mother’s bread the next time I make it.  This one uses butter instead of oil, and it is much healthier than my mother’s recipe – much less sugar, and less fat.  I made a couple of slight changes to the recipe, because I thought the dough needed a little more moisture – and I decided against the glaze on top – it really didn’t need it.

This bread was really not bad at all – in fact, we actually enjoyed it a lot.  My mother’s is still moister, but this gave it a good run for its money.  I am definitely going to try to add the spices to my mother’s recipe next – just for fun.

So – I hope all your mother’s out there had a wonderful day – and Happy Mother’s Day to you Mom – wish I could share a slide with you!

Preparation

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3)
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 10 ounce all-purpose flour (2 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended. Add sugars; beat at medium just until blended.

Weigh or spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Combine flour, soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.

Combine cardamom and next 3 ingredients. Stir 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture and 1 teaspoon vanilla into batter. Pour into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan; cool.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chai Banana Bread

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Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Rules.  They are everywhere.  At work, when they are mandatory to follow, we call them “policies” – but sometimes we create rules that could have exceptions, those are called “guidelines”.  At home, they are just called rules and for the most part, our girls are complete rule followers.  When they were very young, under 3, they would repeat rules to themselves.  They both did this, even though they were three and a half years apart.  It was hilarious, they both loved the rules, it gave them structure and they always knew where the lines were.

The rule we most often need to remind them about now is to finish your work before you play.  Fortunately for them, they can actually do that.  I am a rule follower as well, but I realized years ago that rule was just not one I would keep up with.  There would never  be time to play if that were the case.  My work is never done – not just at home, but at work.  I have this fantasy that eventually I will be completely caught up with everything I need to do.  I have been waiting 14 years for that to happen.  This week is no exception, I have had so much going on, that I have not even been able to break away to post these cupcakes.  The funny thing is that I am a morning person.  I do my best work in the morning.  Usually I am on the first bus of the morning, just so I can have some quiet time to crank on work before the craziness begins.  My blog though gets the shaft.  At 9pm, I am spent.  But I power through it, and somehow manage to get a post done.  This week it just didn’t happen.  So here I sit on the bus, my mind as sharp as it gets, words flowing out of my head freely.  Good thing I have to get off the bus soon, this could turn into a very long post!

I don’t usually mix work with baking, but I donated cupcakes in an auction we had for charity in the fall.   I have done this before (remember these?) and I swore I wouldn’t do it again, but here I was.  This time it was a much more pleasant experience – she let me choose whatever cupcakes I wanted!  What a gift.  The only problem was she wanted them to share with her team on Friday, which meant weeknight baking – but as I tell my kids – dig deep, you can do it – you can do anything you set your mind to.  I was so excited to try these cupcakes from this awesome cookbook Cooking My Way Back Home, it wasn’t too hard.  I decided to make minis, which would yield more cupcakes for her team.  I have to admit, I didn’t actually get to try the cupcakes, but they looked amazing.  These were real red velvet, not chocolate with a little red food coloring – this was the real deal.  I did get a spoonful of the cream cheese frosting – and what is not to love.  I heard these were a big hit – I certainly had fun making them.  Even though it was a Thursday night, and I was exhausted from the week, once I got that pastry bag in my hand ready to frost – I was a million miles away – in my happy place.  My older daughter helped me with the hearts on top, which is starting to be our specialty when it comes to red velvet.  They add just a little extra special touch.  She wanted to help with the entire process….but she had work to do.  Fortunately for me, my work that night was making the cupcakes.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup canola or safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting

  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 mini muffin-tin cups with paper liners.

To make the cupcakes, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into the bowl of a stand mixer.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.  Add half of the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until a paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides and along the bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until smooth.  Do not over-mix the batter or the cupcakes will be tough.

Fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full with the batter.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then remove from the pan.

To make the frosting, in the stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed until smooth.  Don not whip!  Add the butter and mix until incorporated.  Use the rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and along the bottom of the bowl to check for lumps.  Sift in the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth.  Add vanilla and mix until combined.

Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch star tip and pipe a rosette onto the top of each cooled cupcake.  Serve right away.  They will keep for a day in an airtight container.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Corn Griddle Cakes with Sausage

Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite things.  Unfortunately I don’t get to indulge very often, as that is not one of my husband’s favorites.  My kids on the other hand, love it.  I am usually so trained to make pasta when my husband is out-of-town, I forget about making pancakes for dinner.  The next time he goes away, that is definitely on the menu…

So, when is it ok to have breakfast for dinner?  Well, I decided to test the limits just a bit.  I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit by one of my favorite chefs from this latest season of Top Chef.  I was really surprised when he was asked to leave, but then again, there were some amazing chefs this season.  Since this was one of Ed’s recipes, I knew it had to be good.  I decided to make these as a side dish to go with the smoked chicken we were having for dinner.  Little did I realize how many griddle cakes I was actually making.  Good thing they were amazing, because I had enough to feed a small village.  Fortunately my neighbors were able to benefit as well, and we still had enough for leftovers the next day.  I loved the combination of the sweet and savory with these corn cakes – the honey butter on top, I am drooling just thinking about them now.  I didn’t have any green onions in the house, so I substituted with chives instead, which worked out just fine.  The other thing I did was to brush the butter onto a non-stick pan, so I didn’t use as much.

So, if you are cooking for someone who is not keen on breakfast for dinner – I have found the secret – and you will definitely have leftovers for breakfast the next morning…

Ingredients

Orange-Honey Butter

  • 1/2cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Corn Cakes

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (about 7 ounces) breakfast sausage, casings removed if necessary
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) corn kernels
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 scallions or a bunch of chives, chopped

Preparation

Orange-Honey Butter

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in honey and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Corn Cakes

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Spoon milk solids from surface and discard. Pour clarified butter into a small glass measuring cup (there should be about 1/4 cup), leaving any browned bits behind; set aside. (Alternatively, use 1/4 cup grapeseed oil.)

Cook sausage in a 10″ cast-iron skillet or other large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces with the back of a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a small bowl. Add corn to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until browned, 5–6 minutes. Transfer corn to bowl with sausage and let cool. Wipe skillet clean and reserve.

Whisk cornmeal and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and eggs in a large bowl; add dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fold in sausage, corn, and scallions.

Heat 1 Tbsp. clarified butter in reserved skillet; working in batches and adding butter as needed between batches, add batter to pan by tablespoonfuls. Cook until cakes are crisp and golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Turn cakes over and cook until browned, 1–2 minutes longer. Transfer cakes to paper towels to drain. Serve warm drizzled with orange-honey butter.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Corn Griddle Cakes with Sausage

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Chili-Cheese Mac

Have you ever had a car that was close to 100,000 miles?  You tell yourself that you are going to watch it get to that milestone, but the next time you look at the odometer, it is at 100,007.  That has happened to me a couple of times, and I swear to myself, the next time I will pay more attention.  I am still not sure what the allure is, maybe subliminally you think that confetti will come out of the sky, and there will be a band playing in the background, all because of this big milestone.  Well – I have been looking at my page views lately, as I edge towards one million…yes, that is a very large number.  I was so excited to reach that milestone.  Of course, I forgot about it though, and the next time I looked, I was a thousand over.  Would you believe I was actually disappointed that I missed it?  Like I would actually sit at my blog and keep refreshing the dashboard until I reached the magic number?  Maybe if I had nothing else to do with my time, but certainly that should not be my priority with the life I currently lead.

Back to why you are here in the first place…food.  Yes, my husband was away again, and I was back to making another variation on macaroni and cheese – this time the chili version.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and when I saw the cream cheese in the list of ingredients, I knew it would be a winner.  I am edging my way towards my college roommate’s orange pasta with this recipe, and I knew it had to be awesome.  I loved how creamy this was – and the meat was a welcome addition.  The kids actually loved it – but then again, I am not sure I have ever made a mac-n-cheese that they didn’t like.  For a super easy recipe, this was definitely a keeper.  Here’s to a million more…

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 3/4 pound ground round
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1  (10-ounce) can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 4 1/2 ounces finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add beef and next 4 ingredients; cook 3 minutes. Add broth, water, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni; cover and cook 10 minutes or until macaroni is done.

Heat milk and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar. Add cheese sauce to macaroni mixture; toss well to coat.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chili-Cheese Mac

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