Warm Spiced Cashews

Warm Spiced Cashews

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t…one of my all-time favorite jingles.  Even though they were talking about candy, I relate it to my state of being.  Most of the time I feel like a nut because of all that I have going on in my life.  I remember a couple of years ago my New Year’s resolution was simplify – and I really feel like I did a good job – I simplified my personal life so that my work life could continue to get crazier and crazier.  These days, if I can spend more than a couple of hours in the kitchen actually being creative, I feel like a new person.  I am very sorry that my blog posts are getting more and more infrequent, but that’s reality these days.  And as far as my New Year’s resolution this year, it’s called thrival.  I know it is not a real word, but I am sure you can imagine what it means.

A few years ago I started getting into making cocktails – not because I drink a lot of alcohol, but because it was a way for me to create something with almost instant gratification – I didn’t need to wait for it to cook or bake, and all of a sudden, I had a complex flavor creation that I could share with others.  Because at the end of the day, that’s what this is really all about – sharing.  Now what goes great with a nice cocktail, some awesome nuts!  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and I was so excited to be able to whip these up in an instant – seriously it was that easy.  They made the house smell like an exotic restaurant – and they went great with our New Year’s Eve cocktails.  At this moment, I was definitely experiencing thrival.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, five-spice powder, cumin, black pepper, red pepper, and water to pan. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture begins bubbling. Add cashews to pan; cook 2 minutes or until well coated, stirring constantly.

Spread cashews evenly on prepared baking sheet, using 2 forks to separate them and leaving as much room as possible between nuts. Sprinkle nuts evenly with salt. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes or until fragrant. Cool slightly on pan before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Warm Spiced Cashews

Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Blue Cheese Galette

Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Blue Cheese Galette

It has never felt so good to be back in the kitchen.  I had the summer of a lifetime, but there was one thing missing…my kitchen.  I thought it would be strange to cook after no kitchen time for a couple of months, but I got right back into it – with a little help from my market basket.  I still miss all the produce and wonderful food products from France and Italy, but this is the best time of year in Seattle – the markets are overflowing with beautiful produce.

It is also hard to believe it is September – not only the beginning of my favorite season – but the IFBC is just around the corner!  I can’t want to hear about the latest food/blogging trends and share them with you.

This week I had the opportunity to visit Coyle’s Bakeshop where she showed us how to make a delicious flakey pie crust.  It is very similar to my recipe (without the sugar) – and she made us a savory and a sweet galette.  It just so happened that the next day when my market basket arrived, it came with the perfect ingredients.  So here you go, my re-entry galette…  If you would rather make your own crust (which I highly recommend), please follow my recipe – omitting the sugar – and then use one disk for galette.

Ingredients

  • Pie crust dough (found in the refrigerator section)
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sherry or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preparation

Melt the olive oil and butter in a saute pan, over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onion and red bell pepper.  Saute, stirring, for a while, until the onions start browning and getting soft.  Add 1/4 cup of the sherry or white wine to deglaze the pan.  Keep stirring until all the liquid is evaporated and then add the rest.  The entire process should take around 25 minutes, and the onion and pepper should be nice and soft.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the pie crust in a 10″ circle.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Add the caramelized onion and pepper mixture, leaving a rim around the edge (to fold over).  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and sprinkle on top.  Then sprinkle the blue cheese.  Fold over the dough, creasing every couple of inches.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Blue Cheese Galette

Cheesy Sausage Balls

Cheesy Sausage Balls

My younger daughter was looking over my shoulder as I was loading up this picture…and I could tell she had something to say about this.  So, today’s post will be done by her.  Enjoy!

Yummy!  I am in 3rd grade, and I loved these cheesy sausage balls – they even had quinoa in them, and I couldn’t even tell.  The minute I saw those cheesy sausage balls, I couldn’t wait to eat them.  My mom sometimes gets a little crazy about making food – and so I never know if it is going to have too many vegetables for me.  But these cheesy sausage balls were on the spot.  But I shouldn’t be surprised, because my mom does make pretty good food.  In the picture it looked like we had a big party – but actually it was just me and my sister.  When we were done though, it looked like we did have a party since they were pretty much all gone.  She didn’t let us use the pretty napkins, although we wanted to.  She let us use the fancy toothpicks though, and I just loved them.  Everything tastes better when you use a fancy toothpick.

Well, there you have it – I couldn’t have written it better myself…thanks Cooking Light for another great healthy and delicious recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound reduced-fat pork sausage (such as Jimmy Dean)
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Shape mixture into 40 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place balls on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until lightly browned and done.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cheesy Sausage Balls

Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham

I don’t deal with this much anymore, but when my children were younger, I felt like I should change their name to Sam.  And for those of you who have made the connection, you are correct, they did not like green eggs and ham. Now if they were just eggs and ham, move out of the way.  But anything green just turned them off.  It was funny, when they were babies, they LOVED their green peas, avocados, and pretty much anything I put in front of them.  It was such a treat to have anything other than milk, that they could actually touch and play with, and more often than not find a way into their mouth.

When I hear from new parents that say their baby is not a picky eater, I congratulate them – and then tell them not to freak out when that ends.  It will come back – particularly if you don’t make a big deal about it.  We never forced our kids to eat anything, and always asked that they took a “no thank-you bite.”  If they ended up liking it, they could have more.  No pressure.  I actually thought I was a genius and was the only one to have it all figured out – and then I read this book.  It was seriously one of the best parenting books I have ever read (ok, maybe I have only read a couple, but still).  I felt like he had written this book about me.  And it just so happens that he is the father of a parent at my daughter’s school.  Still, affirmation feels good.

So, when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, it actually made me laugh.  Then after I finished laughing, I ran to the kitchen to try them out.  I have been hanging on to this post for quite a while, waiting for the perfect opportunity – and I decided that now was the time.  When you are trying to figure out what to bring to that holiday potluck, or what to bring to that party you were invited to – look no further.  These were amazing.  They were polished off instantly – and my children helped out.  Fortunately they are over their green fetish now.  These are good for any season, but I have to admit, the red and green is just a little festive.  So just like the book, give them a try, and I am sure that you will eat these little babies just about anywhere…

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 3/4 cup diced avocado
  • 2 tablespoons grated red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ounce prosciutto slices, crisped and crumbled

Preparation

Steam eggs in a vegetable steamer 16 minutes; cool slightly, and peel. Slice eggs in half lengthwise, and remove yolks; mash yolks.

Stir avocado, onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and salt into yolks. Divide among whites; top with prosciutto.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Green Eggs and Ham

Canal House Lentils

Canal House Lentils

To most of us, the world is not black and white.  The world is filled with beautiful colors all around us, that make us smile and think.  Of course here in the Pacific Northwest, there are definitely times of the year where the world truly does seem gray, but when you look beyond the gray skies, there is still a vibrancy in the air.  Many times it is what’s going on inside though that makes those colors dance.  At work, I live in a very gray space – and although there are times when we long for the black and white – it is the gray that can haunt people.  I watch it all the time.

Fortunately for me, even though I may live in a very gray space (literally and figuratively), I have plenty of color that keeps my days interesting.  Whether that is coming home to the drama of having two daughters, my co-workers that never cease to amaze me, or the food that I dream of making in all of my spare time.  It is the color that always keeps me going.

I have been on a little lentil kick lately.  It always seems to happen, I make a dish using a certain ingredient, and it is so good – I think about what else I can do.  That’s what happened with the lentils.  I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and after my last dish came out so wonderfully, I decided to try for another.  Wow.  That’s just about all I can say.  Wow.  I never thought of using soy sauce with lentils before – and I have been missing out.  Even my younger daughter was eating them up – although I can’t claim true victory with her, she has been eating just about everything lately.

So, the next time you find yourself in a gray space, try to dig a little deeper.  Just think about lentils.  They look so boring and drab, but if you season them right, they will be singing at your table.  Even though black and white may be easier, life is a hell of a lot more interesting when you add a bit of color.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup green lentils, preferably French
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Thinly sliced scallions (optional; for serving)

Preparation

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, garlic, and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and tomato paste begins to darken, about 4 minutes. Add lentils and 2½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 45–55 minutes.

Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 10 minutes; add soy sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve lentils topped with scallions, if desired.

DO AHEAD: Lentils can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Canal House Lentils

Indian Parantha

Indian Parantha

What a week…and I can’t believe it is only Wednesday.  I am only posting this tonight because I need a break from the madness.  Yes, there has been some serious madness going on this week.  I have probably two of the most important meetings I will have all year – tomorrow.  Isn’t that always the way things go?

And just when I didn’t think I could take anymore – tonight my daughter went to her new middle school she was redistricted to next year.  We have all been trying to look on the bright side of this move, but seriously, I see very little positives at all.  The worst part of all is that the majority of her friends will not be joining her.  Tonight they invited current 6th and 7th graders to come and talk about their new school, and what electives they would like to see.  This will be the first of a series of meetings with the kids – because at this point, they still have nothing but a Principal and a couple of teachers.  When she got in the car, she started telling me about how depressing it was.  The school is horribly old and run down, the science classrooms are from the dark ages (unlike her current school that was renovated a few years ago, and is beautiful) – and there won’t be an orchestra room (we are still crossing our fingers for an orchestra – there are 5 in her current school).  She said at one point the principal asked them to write down what they like about their current school – and one of her friends wrote this:

MY FRIENDS

Thanks for taking them away from me

I almost burst into tears.  I guess the principal saw this, and told the girl that they were supposed to be focusing on the positives, and to please turn that piece of paper over.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  My daughter said they are just looking for a way to get out their feelings – and I completely agree with her.  They need to be a little sensitive about this change…geez.

So – as you can see, I am in fine form right now, and trying to get out of this funk in preparation for tomorrow.  So now it is time to switch gears and talk about something that puts a smile on my face.  Indian Parantha.  The other week I took a class at my favorite Community Kitchen – all about making Indian breads.  One of my very good friends is from India and when I was pregnant she would bring me to her house so she could cook for me.  This was one of the things she would make – and she make them so easily – and beautifully.  I have to admit – they were not that difficult to make, and boy did they taste delicious – particularly with some ghee brushed on top.  Maybe if I can get through tomorrow, this will be my treat afterwards.  Personally, I think I will need something a little stronger, but this will be a nice accompaniment…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (Chapatti Atta in the indian grocery stores)
  • 3/4 cup cool water

Preparation

Using your hands, bring this together in a large mixing bowl to form a ball.  Knead it in the bowl for a minute until the dough comes off your hands.  Let the dough rest at room temperature for 5 minutes.

Preheat a cast iron griddle on medium low.  You will have to adjust the heat after the first roti depending on how fast or slow it is cooking, every stove is different.

Divide the dough into 10 equal portions.  Place one portion of dough in the palm of your hand and knead it with your other hand 10 times, roll it into a ball and flatten it slightly.  Pinch it into a flat disk about 3″ in diameter, lightly dust it in dry flour. On a lightly floured wooden cutting board or smooth countertop roll out to a 6″ diameter circle. If it starts to stick, pick it up and dust with more flour. Place the roti between the palm of your hands and shake off any extra flour. Place the roti on the grill for approximately one minute.  When the color of the roti has changed to a slightly deep tan flip the roti. There should be no brown spots on the other side. If there is, lower the heat until light brown spots appear all over the other side. Cook for another minute gently pressing down on the roti with a folded tea towel until light brown spots appear all over the other side.  Flip roti one more
time and cook for another minute gently pressing down with a tea towel slightly turning the roti. The roti should fill with hot air. Continue pressing gently, remove from heat and serve immediately with a dab of butter.

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

Creamy Queso with Sausage

Cream Queso with Sausage

There is a time and place for just about everything.  My mother loves to entertain – and she took after her mother.  One of the many dishes I remember her making when I was growing up was her chili con queso dip – there were two main ingredients as far as I can remember – a can of Hormel chili without beans and Velveeta cheese.  I am not exactly sure what was in that chili if it didn’t have beans, but whatever it was – once it was mixed with that velvety fake cheese, magic happened.

It has been years since I have even thought about Velveeta cheese – but I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and would you believe that was one of the ingredients?  I know Velveeta is nothing but processed cheese – and eating a hunk of Velveeta cheese is definitely not something I am interested in doing.  In fact, I seriously never imagined myself buying a stick of Velveeta ever…but there is really nothing like melted Velveeta cheese when you are making a dip.

The other weekend when I was trying to figure out what to make for the Super Bowl, I kept coming back to this recipe.  Part of me wanted to just make the recipe that my mother had engrained in my head – but this recipe looked even better.  It had a combo of Velveeta and real cheese – and some sausage.  Well, this dip was just about the best I have ever had.  I could have easily just sat down with a bowl and a spoon…but I was good and stuck to the chips – but let me tell you, there was no way to stop at just one.  Fortunately I wasn’t the only person that felt that way, so it went pretty quickly – otherwise I seriously would have eaten it all.  Velveeta – I’m sorry for ignoring you all these years, and thinking that I was done with you.  I just had to find the right time…and now that I have, there will be a place for you always.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 oz. fresh chorizo, casings removed
  • 2½ cups half-and-half
  • 8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 2 oz. crumbled Cotija cheese or queso fresco

Preparation

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes; set aside.

Heat half-and-half and Velveeta in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Velveeta is melted, 6–8 minutes. Add Monterey Jack and cheddar; cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth. Mix in chipotle chiles, salt, and both chile powders.

Transfer queso to a warm dish and top with Cotija cheese and reserved chorizo.

DO AHEAD: Queso (without toppings) can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Creamy Queso with Sausage