Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

-1 large head of cauliflower
-1 C onion, diced
-about 1/4th of a bunch of cilantro, or more to taste
-optional zest of a small lime
-salt and or spices as desired (definitely garlic and maybe something for heat)
-chicken stock or water for boiling (or combination)

Cut the florets off the cauliflower head and boil in water, stock, or a combination until tender.  If you use water, I would suggest putting a little butter or similar, along with salt. Toss in the onions and let them cook as well.

Once it is all tender, drain and transfer the veggies to a food processor along with the cilantro and other spices as desired and pulse until it is well shredded.

You can also add in salsa or similar if you like and serve it alongside fajita fixings or whatever other food you may want to eat typical rice with.

I really like cauliflower as a rice substitute, as long as it is cooked with stock or similar and seasoned well so that it does not really still taste like cauliflower.

I may try to adapt this into a fried rice at some point.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Orange Chicken Salad

Ingredients (for approximately 3-4 salads):
-juice and zest of 1 large navel orange
-3 garlic cloves
-1 TB siracha
-1 TB maple syrup (the real stuff, or use locally sourced honey instead)
-2 tsp of a grease (coconut oil, bacon grease, butter, whatever you prefer, I used bacon because I love it)
-1 C water
-1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

-2 heads of romaine (3 cups chopped for each salad)
-2 chicken breasts
-1.5 C sliced cherry tomatoes
-4 green bell peppers, diced (or mix the colors)
-2 C onion, diced
-Other salad ingredients and toppings as desired

Pulse everything for the sauce in your food processor until well blended.  Transfer to a sauce pan and cook on medium or just slightly lower until it has reduced by approximately half.  You could also make this sauce ahead and use it as a marinade.  I personally want to use it like a wing sauce soon!

Anyway, transfer it to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, salt and pepper your chicken and toss it in a skillet to get it searing on both sides.  I added a couple spoonfuls of my orange sauce to the sides as it cooked.  Remember, there is maple syrup in it so it is going to carmelize, be prepared to reduce your heat if needed.

Once the chicken was mostly cooked and each side had some great looking color to it, I reduced the heat and added half of the veggies.  The other half I had to cook in a separate skillet because it is a whole lot of veggies to make 3 or 4 of these salads.  Season with garlic, salt, and pepper, or an asian blend as desired.

I also added a half cup of water to the veggie/chicken skillet and covered to let them all cook the rest of the way.

When all that is finished, you just need to toss the veggies and lettuce and tomatoes together and add the chicken after cutting into strips or chunks as desired.  You can top the salad with the sauce or add it to the bowl and toss to coat everything.

I am hoping to finally get back to blogging every day.  I have missed my blog! Life definitely has a way of taking over sometimes and throwing up really interesting situations that derail things a bit, but I seem to be getting back in the swing of things after the thesis, final classwork, prepping for graduation (I am speaking at it), and job hunting.  The last few months have been quite a scramble.

And maybe, just maybe, I am not Super Woman or Batgirl.  Apparently there is this small chance that I can't always fit every single thing I want to do into one day.  I am going to have to work on that.  ;)

Anyway, this sauce was really great and like I said I am itching to use it as a wing sauce or similar. Other things I think it could work on would be something like fish tacos.  It should be pretty versatile.

Happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Super Simple Cinnamon Rolls with an Orange Ginger Buttercream Glaze

-2C AP flour, with another 3/4 C set aside
-1/4C sugar
-1 Packet Red Star Platinum Yeast (I must say, I am quickly becoming a fan)
-1/2C warm water
-1/4C milk (I use vitamin D milk, don't skimp!)
-2.5 TB salted butter (you can use unsalted and add a pinch of salt if you prefer)
-2 very large eggs

-1/4C sugar
-2 TB cinnamon
-melted butter for brushing

-3TB nearly melted butter
-1C powdered sugar
-Juice of 1 navel orange
-2 shakes of ginger
-Water or extra sugar if needed to get desired thickness

I know, that is a laundry list of ingredients.  BUT they are worth it.  This all started because one of the security guards at work has been hounding me about making cinnamon rolls for about the last month.  Every time I walk out into the hallway he asks me when I am going to bring them in.  SO finally, I decided to suck it up and make some.  This is actually my first-ever batch making them myself, and I was pretty happy with the results.  Look how cute they are!

Anyway, toss the flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl.  Microwave the milk, water, and butter for maybe 10 seconds or so, and a few more seconds as needed to get it to a temperature of about 115-120F, without getting too high as it will kill your yeast.  No violence needed in these rolls.

Mix the liquids in with the dry and combine.  Add the eggs.  Slowly add some of the remaining flour that you had set aside until it just forms a dough.  It will be a really soft and slightly sticky dough.  Let it rest about ten minutes.

Liberally flour your countertop and plop the dough out.  Roll it into a very long rectangle, mine was a max of 6 inches wide or so and I really don't know how long other than the majority of my kitchen island.  I wanted to make smaller rolls, but if you want larger ones with a lot of curls then make it fatter.  I rolled mine out pretty thin, as you can tell by the spirals.

Anyway, brush it with melted butter and add on your cinnamon topping.  Roll it up tightly and cut pieces about an inch or so off.  Place them in a glass baking dish greased with butter.  I actually packed a little brown sugar, cinnamon mixture on the bottom so that they would have a carmelized feature.  I just thought it might be fun.

I spaced mine out to cover a 9x13 glass dish, knowing that they would rise a bit and spread out.  I would say it was maybe a half inch or so spacing, and I opted for random spacing as opposed to rows just because that is how I am.  Let them rise for about an hour or until doubled in size in a warm place.  I let mine sit in my gas oven.  You may want to preheat your oven to 200F and shut it off and let them rise in there if you do not have a gas one.  Any warm place will do.

I left mine in after the hour was up to go through the preheat cycle, which did not seem to hurt anything.  I baked mine at 350F for about 22 minutes.

Let them cool for a few minutes while you mix up the glaze.  I mixed mine up somewhat thick and put a small dollop on to let it melt over the rolls.  You could use cream cheese instead of butter if you prefer.

Devour.  And enjoy.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rustic Tree Bark Wedding Cake in Buttercream Icing

I have always seen the cakes that look like trees, and I got the opportunity to help my mom out on one this weekend.

Although, when I say help, I kind of mean that I basically came in and commandeered everything.  Because sometimes that is just kind of how I am.  Commandeered in a nice, polite way of course!

Anyway what I quickly discovered is that a cake like this is a LOT easier than I thought it would be.  For base icing, I made little batches of color by putting white icing in a solo cup and putting a drop or two of liquid brown cake coloring in and stirring  it around so that it was really only halfway mixed in.  Then I used an offset spatula to coat the sides and top of the cake before smoothing it out.

It was an awesome way to get a varied base without having to go to any work.  In fact, I actually went to LESS work because I just halfway mixed icing.  I call that, best cake ever!

To make the knots, I used essentially whatever tip I had on the bag so first a writing tip later a piping tip, it really doesn't make a lot of difference.  All you need to do is just pipe it in a circle and then build it up a few layers high.  Then, using an offset spatula I smeared the sides back down and blended them into the base icing.

I used a writing tip to make the lines.  For the heart, I did the outline with a cookie cutter, and used a toothpick to etch the letters before filling it all in with a writing tip.  If you get your tip down in the line before you start squeezing, it pushes the other icing out a bit and gives it a rough edge, just as if you had carved it.

Then my mom added back in the roses and leaves.  Roses are sadly not my forte, and mine always look sad and wilty.  But tree bark is apparently right up my alley.

The cake was sat on a tree round and it really just topped off the whole look perfectly.  I was very pleasantly surprised with how this cake looked in its entirety and how simple it was to pull off.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pork and Cauliflower Saffron Rice

-Pork cut of choice (I typically buy tenderloin sections and cut them into fourths or so)
-1 cauliflower head (I like the orange ones)
-2 C mini sweet peppers
-2-3 C diced tomato
-2 C red onion, diced
-1 pinch of saffron threads
-2 tsp dried parsley
-1/2 bunch of fresh parsley, leaves chopped
-4-6 garlic cloves
-3 tsp cumin
-Salt and pepper to taste

Get a dutch oven going on the stove at about medium heat.  Mix the parsley leaves, 4 garlic cloves, and cumin together (preferably blending or grinding together to make a paste with a little EVOO).  Use that combination plus salt and pepper to season the pork.  Add a generous dose of EVOO to the bottom of the dutch oven and put the pork in.

Add 1 C of red onions to the pork.  Let this all cook a few minutes on each side (for the pork) and then add about 3 C of water or chicken stock.  If just using water, I would suggest adding a little butter or bacon grease.  Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook for 2-3 hours or until shreddable.

About 30 or so minutes before you want to serve this, cut the cauliflower head into small pieces and add to boiling water (I used about a cup of broth from the pork and 2 or so more cups of water). Add salt and saffron.  Cook until tender, I like to cook it at a low boil.

Simultaneously, in a large skillet with a little EVOO in the bottom add your remaining vegetables and garlic cloves that are finely minced. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Add about a half cup of water or broth.  Cook until veggies are tender.

When the cauliflower is tender, use a potato masher to break it down into rice-sized pieces.  Add to the sauteeing veggies and toss to combine.  I like to add just another half-ladle or so of broth while everything finishes cooking.  Serve the saffron "rice" and veggies topped with the pork and onions.

My favorite part of this dish is all the bright colors.  It is always really gray in the winter and boring, but the weather has finally started to get a bit better and springier.  So, all the festive colors were exactly what I needed.  Even if you have to use white cauliflower, the saffron will still give it a festive color.  But having the orange cauliflower to begin with just gives an extra advantage!

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Turkey Loaf Stuffed Peppers: Thanksgiving Cravings

Ingredients (per person):
-1 large green bell pepper
-1/2 C onion, diced
-1/2 lb ground turkey
-2 large carrots, finely diced
-1 egg
-1/4 C almond meal
-1/2 TB sage
-2 tsp cumin
-Salt and pepper

Slice the pepper in half and take out the seeds and such.  Use your kitchenaid to mix the remaining ingredients together to make a filling.  The smaller you cut your veggies the better.  If you are like me and you hate crunchy veggies, allow me to suggest sauteeing the carrots especially first.

Anyway mix it all up and stuff it in your pepper.  I put mine on my donut pan flipped upside down because these little buggers had no desire to stay sitting level.

Roast at 350F for 35-45 minutes or until everything is brown and done.  I used a knife to cut into the center of mine to make sure it was cooked all the way through.

And then I drowned it in ketchup.  Because I love ketchup.  And will not apologize.

Every now and then I just get the craving for really warm, inviting, hearty tasting food.  I definitely think this qualifies while still staying healthy.  That is important to me.  I ate one of the halves for dinner and the other for lunch the next day.  This was a really fun, self-contained way to do a turkeyloaf also.  I would definitely like to try this again with meatloaf.

No matter what you are stuffing inside the peppers, using a donut pan or a muffin tin will help you keep them upright.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Breakfast Poblano: Eggs, Bacon, Spinach, Tomato, Onion

You will need:
-2 large poblano peppers (or 4 small)
-4 eggs
-4-6 strips of bacon (4 if thick)
-1 C diced onion
-4 C spinach
-1.5 C tomato

Cook the bacon first and set aside to drain on a paper towel.  Preheat your oven to 400F and roast the peppers for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally.  When they are done, you can slice them down the front and scoop out the seeds.  Set them aside until ready to stuff.

I cooked my veggies in the bacon grease, but you can opt for EVOO if you prefer.  Anyway toss the onion and spinach in and give them a head start before tossing in your tomato.  It probably does not really matter the order.  But that is how I happened to cook mine.

After your veggies are done and your onion is starting to turn clear, go ahead and crack the eggs and scramble them in.  You don't want to completely cook your eggs as they will continue to cook in the oven.  They need to be just set.

Divide the mixture between the two peppers, stuffing them as full as you can.  I mix some of my bacon in with the eggs and then save the rest for topping.  Bake for another 15 minutes.

Devour and enjoy.  I highly suggest guacamole or other topping.

Now, I know I have blogged something similar to this before and that I blog stuffed peppers basically all the time.  But I have to admit, I pretty much love them.  Poblanos are absolutely my favorite (not a big fan of the cubanelle as much) and they just end up with this great taste and texture that is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It is insane!

Also, I do have to pretty much apologize for the 365 Day Craft Challenge becoming not so thesis and finishing up grad school definitely derailed all my fun shenanigans for this second round.  However, with the semester winding down, I am hoping to get back in the swing of creativity.  But until then, I have a graduation to get ready for, a new job to find, classes to finish, and my sanity to keep.

And as always, happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Saffron Cauliflower Rice

Hello from the iPad....we will see how this goes!

I used:
1/4 of a head of orange cauliflower 
1 pinch of saffron threads 
Pinch of garlic (in retrospect I suggest a clove of real garlic. I'm becoming quite biased)
1/4 c diced onion
Salt and pepper
About 2 c of water
In retrospect, I'd also add a teaspoon or two of parsley

I threw all this in a pot and boiled it. Now. Don't get me wrong. Without butter...or meat...or something else to go in this it will be pretty bland. So you need to build things up around this. This makes a great base for quite a few dishes. 

You should be able to smash the cauliflower after about fifteen minutes or so. Estimated time of course, I was not paying full attention. But you want to stir it some, essentially it can just boil away and do its thing. 

Then mash it with a potato masher. I think I am going to save this and make some fish tomorrow to eat with it or maybe chicken. Like I said, this kind of thing makes a great base for a dish, so I am pretty excited. Cauliflower and I are becoming friends. 

Since this was already an orange cauli it really made it a vibrant and beautiful color. For someone who fully believes that you eat with your eyes as well, I could not be happier. I am looking forward to using this as a base for a healthy spin in Paella! 

Happy crafting!
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