Aug 6, 2017

Mexican Haystacks

Many of you may have tried Hawaiian Haystacks, but here's a Mexican version. I tried this dish for the first time yesterday, and I can tell already that it's going to be a favorite that I will make again and again. This recipe would be great for a family or even a large group. I think it would appeal to both adults and children. And like many recipes on this blog, it's very easy to make. You can find the original recipe here. Give it a try!

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium beef broth (if using regular broth, cut down the salt in the recipe)
8-ounce can tomato sauce
15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
Hot, cooked rice or quinoa for serving
Taco toppings of your choice: lettuce, sour cream, cheese, salsa, olives, diced tomatoes, green onions, Fritoes, avocado, etc

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef or turkey, salt and pepper, and cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until cooked through. Drain excess grease, if needed.
Stir in the paprika, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder and flour. The mixture will be crumbly. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the meat and spices are fragrant and sizzling. Whisking quickly and constantly, slowly add the beef broth and tomato sauce about 1/2 cup at a time, letting the mixture thicken and bubble between additions before adding more. Stir in the black beans and corn. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook 5-7 minutes until thickened.
Serve the sauce over rice (or quinoa) with lime wedges and taco toppings.

Quick and Easy Blender Salsa

I've had this recipe on one of my Pinterest boards for a long time, but never got around to trying it until my niece Cate made this for one of our family reunion activities. I was impressed by how good it was. I like the recipe because it is quick, because you can make the salsa year round since it uses canned tomatoes, and because it tastes quite fresh. You can find the original recipe here.

1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1- 10 oz can original Ro-tel
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded or not (depends the degree of spiciness you prefer; I actually omitted this)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
juice of one lime

Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor or good blender (I used a stick blender) and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with chips or over tacos.

May 7, 2017

Make-Ahead Refrigerator Bran Muffins

I've been looking for a good bran muffin recipe for a long time now. My mom had a recipe I liked when I was growing up, but it requires bran products that don't match what you can buy in stores anymore. And Provo Bakery has a honey bran muffin recipe that I love, but they won't divulge the recipe. So I was very happy to find this recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Like my mother's recipe, the batter can be stored in the fridge and baked as needed, which is convenient for a quick breakfast or dinner item once you've made the batter. These muffins are high in fiber, not too sweet, and they have a fairly delicate texture. Plus they are delicious!

4 cups wheat bran flakes or plain wheat bran
2 cups bran buds (these look like little pebbles) or all-bran (these look like little twigs
2 cups boiling water
4 cups buttermilk
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl with a tight fitting lid (needed if you aren't baking the muffin batter right away), add the wheat bran flakes or wheat bran and bran buds or all-bran. Pour boiling water over the top, and mix well. Stir every couple of minutes while mixture cools to room temperature. The mixture will be  thick and sticky. After the mixture cools to warm room temperature, add the buttermilk, melted butter, applesauce, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until ingredients are combined. 
The batter can be baked right away or stored in the refrigerator, covered well, for up to a month to bake as needed. Give the batter a good stir before using if it has been refrigerated. 

To bake, scoop the batter into greased or lined muffin tins, filling 3/4 full. Bake at 375 degrees (350 degrees for dark coated muffin tins) for about 14-16 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Makes about 4 dozen muffins.

Apr 11, 2017

Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup

I can't explain it. Bean and bacon soup feels like comfort food to me, and yet it wasn't something I even remember eating as a child. My mom didn't ever make it, and I don't recall cans of bean and bacon soup in our cupboard. Nor have I eaten it as an adult. So it's a mystery. But I must have tried it at some point, and it stuck in my imagination. So when I saw this recipe for Homemade Bean and Bacon Soup on the Taste and Tell blog, I knew I had to try it. And this is a soup I'll definitely make again. The taste, the texture, and the look all appeal to me. And it's comfort food, after all. In any case, below is the original recipe with a few noted modifications. So get yourself a good crusty bread and give this soup a try.

8 ounces thick sliced bacon, diced (the original recipe calls for a cherry smoked bacon, but I used an applewood smoked bacon with a slight maple flavoring)
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery (I'm not a big fan of celery with this soup. So I used about 3/4 of a cup and will use even less next time. Probably half a cup. But it's up to you.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour (the original recipe didn't call for this, but I added it to the sauteed vegetables and mixed it well before adding the chicken broth)
4 cups chicken broth
3 cans (15 ounces each) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (I might even add an extra can of beans next time because I like a chunky soup.)
2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste (the original recipe didn't call for this either, but I wanted a hint of sweetness)
salt and pepper
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

Cook the bacon in a soup pot or Dutch oven until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. To the hot bacon grease, add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in flour until blended and then add chicken broth and beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a bubble then reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 1 hour. Remove half of the soup to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Return the puree to the soup pot and stir into the remaining soup. Add the brown sugar, tomato sauce, and ¾ of the reserved bacon and stir to combine. Taste and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the soup simmer until it is heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve topped with the remaining bacon. Serves 4

Apr 1, 2017

Beef Asparagus Stir Fry

This is another winning recipe from my friend Angie! Really easy to put together, and I love the combination of beef, asparagus, and mushrooms.

1 pound beef tenderloin roast, cubed
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Cooked rice

In a wok or large skillet, stir-fry the beef, onion, and salt and pepper in oil for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from the pan and keep warm. In the same pan, stir-fry asparagus and mushrooms in butter until asparagus is tender. Return beef mixture to the pan. Stir in soy sauce and lemon juice. Heat through. Serve with rice.

Jan 28, 2017

Lemon Blueberry Bread

I doubled this recipe and baked two loaves of this lemon blueberry bread for the first time today, somewhat of a risk since I'd never tried it before, and I think I'm in love! I love lemon, and this has a ton of lemon flavor, plus the combination of tart and sweet is perfect. The soft texture of the bread is just right. This is definitely not the last time I will make this sweet bread. I found this recipe on the Glorious Treats blog.

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I used fresh)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Lemon glaze
2 tablespons butter, melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9"x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper (or lightly grease with butter). In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Mix until well combined. While slowly mixing, add flour mixture and milk in two batches (some flour, then some milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk). Stop mixing as soon as it's just combined. Rinse off the blueberries (if using fresh) so they have just a bit of moisture on them. Then, in a small bowl, toss the blueberries and 1 T. flour. The flour coating will help prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of your loaf while baking. Add the flour-coated berries to the batter and gently but quickly stir, by hand, to combine.

Immediately pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in the pan for about 30 minutes, then move to a wire cooling rack with a baking sheet below (to catch the glaze you're about to add). Prepare glaze by simply whisking together the melted butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla, then pour glaze over the loaf. Allow to set a few minutes before serving.