longs days, slow cook

open book

I am sorry I have been away for so long! I have been busy. Very Busy. Some may know and some may not, but I am a grad student finishing up my thesis in the next 2 months and I barely have time to breathe never mind cook!

So I am hoping to squeeze in a few things between now and my final thesis deadline in late January but forgive me if I am a little slow about posting. Now as I head into the holidays I am going to have even more things to juggle!

These busy days call for the helping hand of the slow-cooker. There is nothing better than dumping a few things in and hours later having a meal waiting for you. My latest creation was inspired by the cold night and the fact that I happened to have potatoes on hand.

I put scrubbed, chopped to bite size potatoes into the slow-cooker with a couple of tablespoons of butter and 1 smallish-medium onion chopped small. I opened a can of creamed corm and a can of niblet corn and added that. Next a can of low sodium broth, a dash of ground nutmeg, dash of garlic powder and plenty of salt and pepper. I also happened to have a small ham steak in the fridge so that got chopped and added too, but you could leave out for a vegetarian version. I let the whole thing cook on low for 8-10 hours till potatoes were tender. (consult your crock pot directions for times/settings as you may want to do high for a shorter time) At this point I took out my immersion blender and gave the mix a quick couple of pulses just to “thicken it up” with the blended potatoes etc. I added about a cup of half and half, adjusted for salt and pepper and served!

It came out delicious, couldn’t have been easier and sustained me  and my husband for several servings each while I march onward towards my academic goals!

chowder

Breakfast Tomatoes

If you have been reading along you already know my obsession with tomatoes.

If you don’t know already… I am obsessed.

So this past weekend when I was visiting my “tomato dealer” I just had to have some these beauties immeadiately.

tomatoes on a plate

And the fact that it was breakfast time didn’t stop me.

Such good looking late season fruit needs to be handled simply and since it was breakfast and I was planning on eggs, I simply sauteed them lightly with some dried basil and butter* and served over fried eggs on toast!

 

It was all so good that I had most of it eaten up before I remembered to take a picture!

egss and tomatoes on toast

 

*if you are dairy-free just use oil!

Holly’s Quiche

A while back a friend of mine, Holly, asked me to post an easy vegetarian recipe for her and that resulted in “Holly’s Fritatta.”

Ever since that blog post she is “off to the races” with her own creations!

Appearing as a first-time guest blogger is her latest creation….

2014-10-09 22.24.01

Holly’s Quiche – It’s rather pretty isn’t it?

When asked for the recipe her reply reads like this…

“no measuring… grape tomatoes, rosemary, cilantro, black pepper, sautéed red onion, Asiago cheese, 5 eggs, a splash of whole milk (about a 1/3 to a 1/2 of cup) and scallions. Bake at 400 degrees until it looks done.”

She also told me she used a pre-made crust (as I would) from the refrigerated section.

My thoughts are: I presume the cilantro was fresh chopped and the rosemary and black pepper were dried. And I presume that it was delicious! And I obviously need to step up my photography skills since this is the prettiest picture of a Quiche EVER!

 

Note to readers…

Please be patient as I am in the final months of my thesis semester and cooking is happening rather sporadically at my house!

 

Crispy Bits

Doesn’t matter what you are actually eating, the crispy bits are always the best!

Lasagna, meatloaf, pizza, hot dogs or even french fries to name a few – all have crispy bits (and in the french fry’s case – the extra crispy bits!) And those are always the best part!

So recently when my husband asked me if I had used breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni and cheese (I had not) I knew the extra time in the oven “crisping up the top” was totally worth the wait!

mac and cheese with ham

A little paprika sprinkled on top makes it “fancy” :)

Now for a few secrets about this particular dish ( mostly to see if my husband is reading all the way to the end!)

I used a gluten-free pasta and thickened the cheese sauce with arrowroot flour! Also I added cubed ham but you could easily leave this out and have a vegetarian version too! Be sure to sprinkle some extra shredded cheese on top for that extra yum factor!

“mash-up”

If you love guacamole and you love bruschetta- why not create a “mash-up” of the two?!

That’s exactly what I did one night for dinner. I had a PERFECTLY ripe avocado (a rare find sometimes) which I “mashed up” (pun intended!) and mixed with a squirt or two of lime juice, salt, pepper and ground cumin. I spread that on some toasted Italian bread and topped it with sliced tomatoes. A light drizzle of olive oil and some more salt and pepper and there you have the ultimate “mash-up!”

(The only thing missing was some fresh torn basil on top, but I was too lazy to go out into the garden with a flash light and get it!)

avocado and tomato toast

Raspberry BBQ

My mother is on the eternal search to find the perfect salad dressing. Not too tart, not to sweet- just perfect for her. This results in her buying and trying many different ones and when she inevitably doesn’t like them she sends them home with me. I pretty much like them all but her salad dressing tastes do run a little sweeter than my preferences. So this is how I find myself at the time of this writing with no less than 3 bottles of raspberry vinaigrette in my refrigerator.

I decided to use one of them up by turning it into a sweet and tangy homemade BBQ sauce. And I think it turned out pretty good. Watch out competitive BBQ participants I might just be on to the next greatest thing!

ribs with raspberry BBQ sauce

I simply combined the rest of a barely used bottle of fat-free “balsamic raspberry” dressing (about 3/4 cup) with about a cup of ketchup, a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, some Korean hot pepper paste for heat and a cup of water. I added in a couple teaspoons of liquid smoke for that “just off the grill” nuance. I the whole thing simmer over medium heat till reduced by about a third. I used some of it to brush on  my ribs in the last 30 min sof cooking for a nice glaze and poured additional on at serving time for that “finger-licking” delicious rib experience!

Summer Classic

Potato Salad.

I can think of many classic summer foods but potato salad has to be number one. However I rarely make it. I find it to be generally a lot of effort. Especially for 2 people. If I volunteered to bring it as my “pot luck dish” to the family cookout, well than I am happy to make the effort. Otherwise it’s a lot of work; all the peeling of potatoes and boiling, etc.

But recently I was inspired to make the effort with help of some conveniently sized and packaged small red potatoes. (about 3/4 to 1 lb) I simply scrubbed them up good and boiled them until just tender. Drained them and let them cool a bit while I chopped up a few other things. The other things were dried chopped rosemary (about a heaping tablespoon) and scallions (about a cup, medium dice, green parts only) and bacon*. (fully cooked, not too crispy, about 5 slices) Don’t forget a generous couple of pinches of salt and pepper – potatoes need lots!

The dressing was simple – mayonnaise, vinegar, crushed mustard seed or celery seed, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. I know this sounds suspiciously like a coleslaw dressing and you would be right, but why not let this dressing do double duty!

For this amount of potatoes, I started with a cup of mayo, 1-2 tb of vinegar (depending on how tangy you like it) a couple tsp of sugar to smooth it all out and a couple tsp of the mustard seed. (I was out of celery seed!) As with all cold salads, mix in the dressing in batches to see if you need more or less and reserve a bit on the side to re-moisten after the salad has sat a bit in the fridge to fully chill and potatoes have absorbed the flavors. The other most important tip is adding the dried rosemary and bacon to the potatoes after they have drained and while they are stilling cooling. The warm potatoes really activate the bacon and rosemary and absorb their flavors. Let this cool to at least room temp before adding on the scallions and dressing. This way the scallions will stay crisp and crunchy.

rosemary and bacon potato salad with pork tenderloin

I served mine with grilled pork loin. You can serve it with whatever.

*obviously you could leave out the bacon – but why would you want to ;)