Friday, May 26, 2017

Make Your Own Tartar Sauce


I am one of those people who judge a book by its cover. If the cover doesn't appeal to me, I'm not going to buy the book. In the same way, I am put off by certain foods simply because of the name. I didn't eat yogurt until I was in my 40s because the name yogurt sounded well, quite frankly, nauseating. When I was a little girl my dad told me that chocolate mousse (the concept of mousse was totally lost on this eight-year-old) was made of ground moose horns. That did it for me. I did not eat chocolate mousse, again, until I was in my 40s. Another thing that I've managed to avoid for most of my life is tartar sauce. Come on! Tartar sauce? TARTAR??? Tartar is the stuff the dental hygienist scrapes off of your teeth! Who came up with the name tartar sauce? I mean, really! Tell me that I am not the only one who says, "Ew" at its very mention?

I’d placed an order with Omaha Steaks (as the result of a combination of insomnia and too much wine) after seeing a late-night commercial. It's not that I got a bad deal, I didn't. In fact I got a great deal, and, come grilling time, I will be ever so glad that I have a nice supply of burgers, steaks, franks, etc. I also have a box of Pub Cod because it came with the collection that I ordered. Initially I was a bit leery, but as it turned out, it's very good!

I had malt vinegar, and I used it on the cod, but then I thought it might be good with a little remoulade, or… gasp!.. tartar sauce. Egad! I honestly had no idea what went into tartar sauce, so I started looking up recipes. None of them sounded bad, and it didn't look hard at all; essentially it was mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and herbs. Nothing wrong with that. So, I whipped some up and used it with the fish. It was delicious! It had a clean, crisp, light, delicate taste, made particularly pleasant with the fresh dill. This would be good as a sandwich spread in addition to using with fish. Okay, I'm sold. I like tartar sauce. But it really needs a better name.
Tartar Sauce

½ cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 heaping teaspoon sweet pickle relish
1 heaping teaspoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon finely minced fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before using to meld flavors.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Buffalo Pimiento Cheese with Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce

There is nothing that I like more than a new recipe for Pimiento Cheese, and last week's Post-Dispatch had a bunch of them! Do you know that I have an entire binder full of Pimiento Cheese recipes? It's hard to imagine that something so simple can be changed in so many ways that it would result in a binder of recipes, but it has. Generally, I'm a purist; I like my Pimiento Cheese with only a handful of ingredients. That's the cheese of my youth, and that's what I turn to more often than not. But, I do like to mix things up a bit, and this week decided to make Buffalo Pimiento Cheese using one of my new favorite seasonings, Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce. Moore's has a variety of marinades and sauces, one better than the next, from Original, Zesty Garden Herb, and Teriyaki Marinades, to Spicy Habanero Wing and Hot Sauce to Creamy Buffalo Ranch, to the Original Buffalo Sauce that I used here.
I find these sauces to be incredibly versatile. I've been stirring the Buffalo Sauce into ranch dressing, drizzling it on top of slices of avocado, mixing it into remoulade, and whisking it into sour cream for topping smoked salmon and baked potatoes. The uses for this tasty sauce are endless. You're' going to want some, and you can get it here.

You must try it, along with this recipe for Pimiento Cheese.  So easy, and so deliciously good!
Buffalo Pimiento Cheese

1/2 cup Duke's Mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped
Melissa's Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers
2 teaspoons (or more to taste) Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce
2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese

Whisk together mayonnaise, peppers, and wing sauce until combined. Fold in grated cheddar. Chill for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld.
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I received a complimentary sample of Moore’s Original Buffalo Sauce in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Half-Pound Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies



Many a time I have voiced my opinion on the lack of fun in the so-called "fun sized" candy bar. How much fun can you have with a tiny candy bar? Go big or go home is my motto. The same thing goes for cookies. So, when I saw this recipe for Half-Pound Chocolate Chip Cookies how could I possibly resist?

It wasn't long after I read the recipe that I decided to make them. Unfortunately, I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand, lacking the chocolate to be grated and stirred into the dough. I did, however, have some frozen Snickers available, so instead of using the called for chocolate, I grated a couple of frozen Snickers. Oh my! What a fabulous difference that made. So, my recipe is an adaptation of the Half Pound Chocolate Chip Cookie from the Cookies & Cups blog with a little something extra (Viva la Difference!), that I've renamed Half-Pound Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies. Yes, go big or go home, indeed. You're going to love these. Be sure to share them with one or two friends, these are indeed half-pound cookies, and that's a lot of goodness.
Half-Pound Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies
Slightly adapted from Cookies and Cups
 
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cold eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
2 frozen Snicker bars, grated (See Note)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together at medium speed for two minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until combined.

Turn the mixer to low, and slowly add the flour, mixing until just combined. Add chocolate chips and grated Snicker bars, and mix until evenly incorporated.

Using a food scale measure out the dough into six equal portions of 8 ounces each. Form the dough into balls and place 4 inches apart on your prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned and edges golden. Allow cookies to cool on a baking sheet for four minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

NOTE: I used a good quality box grater (see below) in order to grate the Snicker bars. Make sure to use frozen bars, although it seemed to me that grating them got a little easier as they thawed a tiny bit, but you certainly don't want to try this with a Snicker that hasn't been frozen.





PRINT RECIPE

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pistachio Vinaigrette


Last month, Lennie, a good friend of Jim's and mine, took me to dinner at one of my favorite places. It was something I was kind of dreading because this had always been Jim and my place. It was where we went to celebrate almost every birthday I had while we were married. (If you read this blog regularly, you know that Lennie is a widower, and our good baseball buddy who would come over a couple of times a week for dinner and to watch the game). As it turned out, despite my trepidation, it was a lovely evening; we had a delicious meal, and enjoyed each other's company. I'm glad that he took me, it was a very sweet thing to do, and now that I've broken the ice, it'll be easier to go back to my favorite place. My point in telling you all of this is that we ordered a salad as a first course, and it came dressed with pistachio vinaigrette. It was sensational! Ever since that evening I have been searching for a recipe for pistachio vinaigrette that is as good as the one we had that night.
I found a variety of them and, after a bit of experimentation, came up with what I think is the apex of pistachio vinaigrette dressings. It is wonderful on a salad of nothing more than spring lettuce. If you want to get fancy, add some very thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms, paper-thin slices of red onion, and be sure to top off your salad, no matter what you do, with chopped pistachios. This is easy enough for every day, but fancy enough for company. If you can't get pistachio oil locally (an absolute must for this dressing), you can get it here. I highly recommend the purchase; it makes a world of difference. 
Pistachio Vinaigrette

4 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons
pistachio oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons crushed pistachios
2 tablespoons minced chives
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 Blend together the first four ingredients. (I used a bullet blender because nothing emulsifies a salad dressing like a bullet blender.) Stir in the pistachios, chives, and salt and pepper to taste. This recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, well, you get the picture. It's delicious, so trust me you're going to want to make as much as possible.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

175 Best Superfood Blender Recipes, Reviewed


I don't know about you, but my bullet blender and I have a very close relationship. I keep telling myself that I like to keep my counter tops clean, but that doesn't apply to the bullet blender; we're as chummy as the coffee pot and me. When I had the flu, that bullet blender became my best bud, pressed into service daily to make what I referred to as my Flu-Fighting Smoothie.
Lately it's gotten a real workout, because I was given 175 Best Superfood Blender Recipes to review. If you are a fan of the bullet blender like I am, you are going to want this book. The recipes are phenomenal!
This book is way more than just smoothies, it's sauces, salsas, dips, soups, dressings, and desserts. Each recipe is made using wholesome, nutritious foods to set you on the path to optimal health.
There is even a section for kids! Now, I ask you, when have you seen a cookbook (that is not a children’s cookbook) with a section just for them? I loved this.
The first thing I made was the black bean dip, and I nearly ate the entire thing myself. I can only imagine what would've happened to me if I would have. That's a lot of beans!
As someone who gravitates more toward savory than sweet, I also enjoyed the Spicy Tomato Avocado Smoothie and Creamy Tomato Coconut Soup.
Here are a couple of recipes for you to try, and then, what the heck, just get the book. You will love everything, marvel at the speed and ease, and can pat yourself on the back for taking such great care.
One caveat is that it is bit short on photos. It does make up for this, however, with wonderful informational content.

Recommended.

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

One Pan 30-Minute Mushroom Alfredo


Those of you who follow me on my personal Facebook page know that, on the 13th of this month, my husband and I would have celebrated our 22nd anniversary. It was a tough day for me. Today was also a tough day for me, because I finally decided to try one of those one pan, toss everything together, pasta dishes. I couldn't imagine that this would possibly work, or if it did, be any good, but it was wonderful! And considering the late Mr. O-P used to love pasta, I thought of him with every bite, knowing that he would have not only enjoyed it as much as I did, but been equally as intrigued at how easily this came together.

I decided to use up some things in the fridge, so this recipe is based upon a number of them that I'd seen online. Once I tasted it, I completely forgot that I had also planned on throwing in a handful of fresh spinach at the end to wilt on top of the pasta, and add a few gratings of fresh nutmeg. I'll do that next time. From beginning to end, this took me no longer than 30 minutes. Imagine a pasta dish, to serve as a main, that's delicious, versatile, and can be made, start to finish, in 30 minutes or less. This is a keeper, my friends.
One Pan 30-Minute Mushroom Alfredo

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced cremini mushrooms
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
8 ounces spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a 12-inch skillet (I used my square 12-inch copper chef pan), heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Toss in mushrooms, stirring until softened, then add garlic, and stir for one minute more. Add pasta, butter, chicken stock, milk, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, put the lid on the pan, and set the timer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes are up, remove lid, sprinkle Parmesan on top of the pasta along with the chopped parsley, and toss until the cheese is melted. Serve.


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Scallops with Capers, Lemon, and Basil

I awakened this morning with my head on my iPad, and the cord of my ear buds wrapped around my neck. That should've told me something about the day, but I got up anyway. I am very much a late night person. I do my best thinking at night. As a consequence, when I retire for the evening, I do so with a stack of books, my stitching, my iPad, various pens and papers, and a decorated steno pad that has my entire life in it.

This morning, the first thing I did after attending to my ablutions, was to strip the sheets off of the bed and put them in the washer, it is, after all, Monday. I like to get the washer going early because there's something wrong with my dryer and it takes forever to dry a simple load. (So much for the “Life’s Good” explanation of LG. Garbage is more like it, but I digress.)

As I was moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer I noticed that there was some sort of debris all over everything. I couldn't imagine what that was, until I got to the bottom of the washer. At the bottom, there was a coil. The first thing that popped into my head was that it had fallen off of the washer and, oh boy, this is going to be expensive to repair. As it turned out, when I saw my favorite pen lying next to that coil (There's nothing special about the pen, it's just my favorite, because it feels good in my hand, and I like the way the ink flows across the page.), I realized that my notepad had somehow gotten tangled up with the sheets (I guess I fell asleep with the two), and ended up in the washer. This was devastating!

All of a sudden I realized that I didn't know what I was going to do today because my “To Do” list was in that pad. I didn't know what I was going to eat today, or for that matter the rest of the week, because my menu planner was in that pad. I no longer had my grocery list (and I keep a lot of them -- Trader Joe's, Sam's, Aldi, the regular grocery store, everything!), so what was I supposed to buy at the store(s)? All at once, it was both devastating and freeing. I thought to myself, huh, I have no plans for today, I can read. Well, after I clean out the washer, and subsequently the lint trap in the dryer, because it's going to be a colossal mess. It may even mean washing everything a second time. Sigh.

It was a bit like starting anew. I could plan different errands, I could plan different meals, and I could prepare something that I hadn't thought of before. So, knowing how quickly scallops thaw in the fridge, I decided to have them.

Scallops are easy to work with, because they thaw rather quickly (as I mentioned), they cook up in a matter of minutes, and are relatively easy to gussy up with ingredients that I tend to have on hand. The following recipe was the result of all of these actions. Whew! Hope you like it!
Scallops with Capers, Lemon, and Basil

1 large Meyer lemon
1 pound large sea scallops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon capers
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

Pat scallops dry with paper towels.

Zest lemon, and then juice, reserving 2 tablespoons.

Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add scallops; cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove scallops from pan; keep warm.

De-glaze pan with wine; add lemon juice to pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook, stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken. Add capers, lemon zest, and remaining 1 teaspoon butter; stir to incorporate. Stir in basil. Return scallops to pan to heat through; serve.

Makes two main dish meals or four appetizer servings.


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cuban Black Bean Soup From Fountain on Locust


Don't you love it when you see a recipe that you want to make, and know that you have all of the ingredients on hand? This is where I found myself last Wednesday while paging through the food section of the Post-Dispatch, spotting a recipe for black bean soup served by a popular eatery in the city called Fountain on Locust. Or, at least I thought I had all the ingredients. As it turned out, I only had one can of black beans, because I’d used the other can in a dip that I’ll be telling you about later.

As long as I didn't have two cans of black beans, I decided to use one can of black beans and one can of cannellini beans. Then, I realized that I didn't have enough homemade chicken stock, so I decided, what the heck, I'll just use 4 teaspoons of ham soup base dissolved in 4 cups of water. Then I thought, huh, I have a ham bone in the freezer, so why not toss it in for good measure?

I knew I wasn't going to stand in front of the stove for all of this -- I didn't want to be bothered with that -- so I threw everything into the crockpot. It turned out to be wonderful soup the way I made it, but I'm sure it's equally as good the way Fountain on Locust makes it as well. The original recipe is below, and it's vegetarian; if you don't mind eating meat and you’d like to try my version, just replace one can of black beans with cannellini, use ham stock, and toss it all into the crockpot with a ham bone. (I let it go on “low” all day long, so about 8 to 10 hours. At the 4-hour spot, I removed the ham bone, cut off the ham, diced it, and added it back into the crockpot, and continued to let it cook until I was ready for dinner.) I garnished with sour cream, diced avocado, diced tomatoes, black olives, and cilantro. It was a meal in a bowl!

Tasty! 
Cuban Black Bean Soup From Fountain on Locust

As appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ medium green pepper, seeded and dice
½ yellow or white onion — not sweet — peeled and diced
½ cup diced carrot piece
¼ cup diced red roasted peppers (I used Melissa’s Fire Roasted Sweet Red Bell Peppers)
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, approximately 4 cups, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup crushed tomatoes
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon malt vinegar
2 cups cooked rice
½ cup sour cream (optional)
Notes: At the Fountain on Locust, most soups are made a day ahead of serving to allow the flavors to blend.
• The Fountain serves this soup over rice and garnishes it with sour cream. The soup is vegetarian; vegan if no sour cream is added.
1. Pour olive oil into a large 4- or 5-quart heavy-bottom pan. Swirl to coat the bottom, then place over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.
2. Add chopped green pepper, onions, carrots and roasted red peppers, stir to blend, reduce heat to medium and cook until vegetables begin to soften. Add minced garlic, stir, and cook 1 minute longer.
3. Add drained and rinsed beans, broth, tomatoes, cumin, red pepper flakes, black pepper and chili powder. Stir to blend and simmer until done. If needed, add more broth to the soup to achieve desired consistency.
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little. Stir in the malt vinegar.
5. Divide rice evenly into bowls. Ladle soup over the rice. If desired, add a dollop of sour cream for garnish and serve.
Yield: 6 large servings or 8 medium bowls
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Happiness is Homemade Sunday