Thursday, October 31, 2013

Slow Cooker Simmering Hot and Sour Soup

     One of my favorite treats at any Chinese restaurant is hot and sour soup. I used to go to a restaurant up north that would give me free quarts of the soup because I raved about it so much. NOTE TO POTENTIAL SPONSORS: I will gladly rave about any product you give me free of charge. I've been trying to replicate hot and sour soup with varying degrees of success. I was a bit leery of using a slow cooker recipe for hot and sour soup from Crock Pot Weeknight Favorites, but I gave it a try. It was not even close. It was, however, a tasty soup worthy of cooking again. I did make a number of changes, especially in the heat department. The soup wasn't anywhere hot enough for my liking. Give it a try and see what you think. As always, any notes and changes are in blue.

Slow Cooker Simmering Hot and Sour Soup
via Crock Pot Weeknight Favorites

  • 2 cans (about 14 ounces each) chicken broth (I had actual chicken stock in the freezer, so I just used 28 ounces of that)
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken or pork (we went with chicken)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (didn't have any in the house, but for whatever reason, we had a 5 ounce jar of nameko mushrooms in the cabinet. We used those)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots (none in the house, omitted)
  • 1 can (14-15 ounces) bean sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon chili paste or 1 teaspoon hot chili oil (we wound up using about 3 tablespoons of sriracha)
  • 4 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (we used full one pound block)
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (we ended up using close to 5 tablespoons of cornstarch and water to get the soup to the desired consistency)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or sliced green onion (no)
  1. Combine broth, chicken, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, vinegar, soy sauce, and chili paste in slow-cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 3 to 4 hours or HIGH 2 to 3 hours or until chicken is heated through.
  2. Stir in tofu and sesame oil. In a small bowl, whisk water into cornstarch until mixture is smooth; stir into soup. Cover; cook on HIGH 10 minutes or until thickened. Sprinkle with cilantro or onion. 
Good times!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Wife's Eggplant Parmigiana

Note: the following post is from the wife.

Okay, The Husband has posted several pictures of this, and I promised to type up the recipe…quite some time ago. This is one of my favorite meals to make with eggplant, mostly because it’s one of the only ways I can get my husband to eat said vegetable. I also feel it’s an improvement on Olive Garden’s eggplant parmigiana because the eggplant isn't squishy.
Eggplant Parmigiana
via The Wife
(assuming you’re only serving 2, but this is easily doubled)
  • 1 large eggplant (Of course, this is subjective. I grew what I considered to be a pretty large eggplant this summer, but then I saw one at a farmer’s market that put mine to shame…)
    This little fellow seems fairly shameless.
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (I use Italian style, but I also supplement with Italian herbs. In a pinch, you can use regular bread crumbs.)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil (You might want to add more of these herbs if you are using regular vs. Italian style bread crumbs.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I actually use a Tuscany Blend of salt and pepper)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Slice eggplant into ¼ - ½ inch rounds and soak in salted water for at least 30 minutes to remove bitterness. (I tend more towards the ¼ inch slices. Any thicker and my husband won’t eat them.)
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and a tablespoon of water.
  5. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper.
  6. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture allowing excess to drip off. Then dip in bread crumb mixture and coat well. (This can get really messy. I highly recommend removing any rings before performing this step – unless you’re a fan of bread crumb-caked jewelry.) Place eggplant slices on baking sheet.
  7. Bake slices 20-25 minutes, until golden-brown on the bottom.
  8. Flip slices and bake for another 20-25 minutes.
  9. Remove cookie sheet and top each slice of eggplant with a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella. Return to the oven for approximately 5 minutes – until cheese is melted and bubbly.

I like to serve this with a side of pasta and top the whole dish with pasta sauce.
Good times!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Far Breton

     Every now and then it's fun to put together a recipe that really looks like it took a ton of work. This dessert from Pol Martin's Supreme Cuisine is one of those recipes. This is a really fancy looking baked custard that has never failed to impress every time I've served it. The thing is, Far Breton is super easy to make. If you have a Kitchenaid or electric mixer, it's almost embarassingly easy. I've even managed to buy a sifter so the dusting of sugar doesn't look like absolute shit anymore! As always, notes or changes are in blue.
Far Breton
via Pol Martin's Supreme Cuisine
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 1/4 cup marmalade
  • 1/2 cup sultana raisins (those of us that don't poop money call sultanas "golden raisins")
  • 2 cups milk
  • Pinch salt
  • Icing sugar (I hope that confectioner's sugar is the same thing, because that's what I used)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a baking dish (about 12"x8"x2") 
  2. Place eggs and sugar in bowl; beat together. Add flour and salt; beat to incorporate.
  3. Add rum (make sure to have a little rum yourself. You know, for quality assurance), marmalade and raisins; beat well. Pour in milk and beat to incorporate.
  4. Pour batter into baking dish and bake 50-55 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in baking dish and serve cold. 
  5. Cut into squares and sprinkle with icing sugar (use some form of sifter or it will end up looking like mine. That's what happens when you just grab a fistful and throw it). Serve with maple syrup, if desired (We desired it)
Good times!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

     We love garlic. A lot. If garlic truly possesses all the health benefits attributed to it, the wife and I should be functionally immortal. So when we find a recipe that calls for 40 cloves of garlic, we are duty bound to have it. There's plenty of versions of this recipe; we used the recipe from Barefoot In Paris, by Ina Garten. It is a fairly labor intensive recipe, so it qualifies as a PITA. Peeling 40 cloves of garlic sucks. However, the end result is totally worth the effort. If you want to cook to impress, this is a good way to do it. You're just not going to be kissing anybody for a while. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
via Barefoot In Paris
by Ina Garten

  • 3 whole heads of garlic, about 40 cloves (about? Screw that. The recipe isn't called "Chicken with about 40 Cloves of Garlic. It says 40. I'm using 40)
  • 2 (3.5 pound) chickens, cut into eights (I don't normally keep whole chickens in the house. I used 6 enormous breasts. I like enormous breasts)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I just used regular stick margarine)
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil (good call there. The evil olive oil is prone to otherworldly moaning and floating around the room)
  • 3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I used 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  1. Separate cloves of garlic and drop them in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.
  2. Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches 
    Sorry. Carry on.
    saute the chicken in fat, skin-side down first, until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or spatula. Do not pierce the skin. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue with the next batch.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate and add all the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5-10 minutes, turning often (the garlic, not you. You'll just end up dizzy) until evenly browned. 
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and all of the wine, return to a boil and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. 
  5. Return the chicken with the juices to the pot and sprinkle with the thyme. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.Remove the chicken to a platter (plate, whatever) and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  6.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce from the pot and the flour, and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce and garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Potato-Crab Chowder

     If you visit my home most Sundays during the fall or winter (please don't), you will likely find some form of soup, stew or chowder bubbling away in a slow-cooker. On a good day, there could be as many as three cookers going at once. This particular recipe gets a lot of action during that time of the year. This is super easy and we usually have most of the ingredients (or close approximations) on hand. Plus, the way I make it, it's only about 170 calories per cup! As always, any notes or changes are in blue.

Potato Crab Chowder
via Slow Cooker Magic in Minutes

  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen hash brown potatoes (this is something you will never find in our freezer. We used a little over a cup of diced potato)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped carrots (we just cut them into little pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic-pepper seasoning
  • 3 cups fat free reduced-sodium chicken broth (no happening. We did 3 cups water and a bouillon cube or two)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 can (6 ounces) crabmeat, drained (We just used an 8 ounce bag of imitation crab meat, which we fondly call "Crabuluxe") 
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  1. Place corn, potatoes and carrots in slow-cooker. Sprinkle with thyme and garlic-pepper seasoning
  2. Add broth and water. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours
  3. Stir together evaporated milk and cornstarch in medium bowl. Stir into slow-cooker. Turn temperature to HIGH. Cover and cook 1 hour. Stir in crab meat and green onions. 
Who doesn't love chowder?
Good times!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Beef Wellington and Sauteed Potatoes

     There are times when I feel like working outside of my comfort zone. Those are times when I want to dabble in recipes outside what would be considered my skill set, if not my budget. Beef Wellington is one of those recipes. It just sounds fancy and expensive. Fortunately, my close, personal friend Gordon Ramsay has provided me with an excellent recipe. I took that recipe and screwed around with it to fit my budget and what I had on hand. The end result? I call it a success. I've never actually had a proper Beef Wellington, so I can't say how close I got. I do know it looked and tasted great, so that's what really matters. Be warned, this recipe does qualify as a PITA (Pain In The Ass). As always, notes and substitutions are in blue. 

Beef Wellington and Sauteed Potatoes
via my close, personal friend, Gordon Ramsay
  • 1 lb beef fillet (most boneless roasts work. We're not dumping the money on a fillet) 
  • 1 lb flat mushrooms (mushrooms are actually pretty round, so we had trouble with this. We wound up using baby bellas)
  • 4-8 slices Parma ham (we just gleefully ingored this and used thinly sliced peppered turkey) 
  • English (Dijon) mustard for brushing meat 
  • 8 oz puff pastry (save yourself the trouble and just buy a box of ready-made puff pastry) 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • Approx 8 Charlotte/New potatoes (those are potatoes that we never have in the house. I think we used some form of gold potato)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed 
  • 1 sprig thyme (we went with rosemary and thought it was great) 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Olive oil 
  • Mustard vinaigrette, optional (so optional we didn't even bother considering using it)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

2. Heat some oil in a large pan and quickly fry the seasoned beef all over until it's brown. Remove and allow to cool. (The point of this is simply to sear the beef and give it a nice crust, you don't want to cook the meat at this stage). Allow to cool and brush generously with the mustard.

3. Roughly chop the mushrooms and blend in a food processor to form a puree. Scrape the mixture into a hot, dry pan and allow the water to evaporate. When sufficiently dry (the mixture should be sticking together easily), set aside and cool.

4. Roll out a generous length of cling film (that's UK for plastic wrap. They have different terms for things that we don't use. i.e. boot=trunk, lift=elevator, tallywhacker=pecker froynaden=butter knife), lay out the four slices of Parma ham (or turkey), each one slightly overlapping the last. With a pallet knife (pallet knife. See what I'm talking about? I use a pallet knife for spreading caulk. I just used a spatula, which in the UK, means "kneecap") spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the ham.

5. Place the beef fillet in the middle and keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edge, neatly roll the parma ham and mushrooms over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends to secure the cling film. Refrigerate for 10 -15 minutes, this allows the Wellington to set and helps keep the shape.

6. Roll out the pastry quite thinly to a size which will cover your beef. Unwrap the meat from the cling film. Egg wash the edge of the pastry and place the beef in the middle. Roll up the pastry, cut any excess off the ends and fold neatly to the 'underside'. Turnover and egg wash over the top. Chill again to let the pastry cool, approximately 5 minutes. Egg wash again before baking at 400F for 35 - 40 minutes. Rest 8 -10 minutes before slicing (the Wellington, not you. Stop being so lazy).

It's almost as if I know what I'm doing.
7. Par boil the potatoes in salted water. Quarter them and leave the skin on. Sauté in olive oil and butter with the garlic and thyme, until browned and cooked through. Season. Remove the thyme and garlic before serving (that is not happening in our house. Garlic and herbs are never left behind).

8. Serve hearty slices of the Wellington alongside the sautéed potatoes. A classic mustard vinaigrette makes a great dressing (which we would not be bothered to make since this recipe was a Colossal Pain In The Ass).

Whoever made this meme needs to be punished savagely
for failing to use an apostrophe in "it's."

Good Times!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chocolate Concoction

     Slow-cooker cook books often have recipes that are a bit sketchy health-wise. Often they are packed with sodium to the point of causing a cardiac event at the dinner table. Every now and then you come across a slow-cooker cook book that is full of hilariously unhealthy recipes. Gooseberry Patch Super Fast Slow Cooking is one of those books. Recipe after recipe is absolutely packed with salt and sugar. I love this book. Most of the meals will cause me to gain 4-7 pounds in water from a single meal. While this recipe is not packed with sodium, it is a fat and sugar bomb. If you're counting calories, you'll need a scientific calculator for this one. It is phenomenally rich; we can only eat about three forkfuls before we need a drink of water to move it along. As always, any notes and changes are in blue.

Chocolate Concoction
via Gooseberry Patch Super Fast Slow Cooking
  • 1 box 18.25 ounce devil's food cake mix
  • 16 ounce container sour cream (we tried to mitigate the damage of this dessert by using low fat sour cream)
  • 3.9 ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix (more damage control here by using sugar-free pudding mix)
  • 1-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: French vanilla ice cream (if you're having ice cream with this, you might as well just go ahead and stab yourself in the pancreas)
  1. Beat all ingredients (except ice cream, if using) until smooth.
  2. Pour into a slow cooker that has been sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours
  4. Serve with ice cream if you really hate yourself.
Good times!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Beef Barley Lentil Soup

     As I've mentioned before, The Wife loves her soup. It doesn't really matter what time of year or what the weather. She will almost never say no to a bowl of soup. I'm pretty sure it's due to some previous psychological trauma, but there's not much to be done for it now but give her soup. I'd hate to be responsible for causing a psychotic break. Anyway, she found this recipe in one of our cookbooks and made it herself. If was a good, hearty soup with a nice savory flavor. Next time I would use diced tomatoes instead of stewed. I'm not a big fan of enormous wads of tomato floating in my soup. As always, changes and notes are in blue.
Beef Barley Lentil Soup
via Fix It and Forget It Lightly

  • 1 lb extra-lean ground beef (we openly mock this ingredient and use 73/27 ground beef. Bring on the grease!)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup medium-sized pearl barley
    Pearl barley, not Bailey. Totally different. Make sure you add the right one.
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules (that's a lot of sodium. We used a single bouillon cube)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (omitted. There's already enough sodium from the bouillon and canned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning (we ended up using a full teaspoon. The Wife likes lemon pepper)
  • 2-14 ounce cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
  1. Brown ground beef with onions in a nonstick skillet, drain. 
  2. Combine all ingredients except tomatoes in slow cooker.
  3. Cook on LOW for 6 hours, or until lentils and barley are tender.
  4. Add tomatoes. Cook on LOW for 1-2 more hours.
Good times!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Slow Cooked Asian Chicken

     It's nice to find a slow cooker recipe you know you're going to get a lot of use out of. These Asian-style recipes are so versatile. This particular one from Taste of Home Slow Cooker benefited greatly from the addition of some black bean and garlic paste. It ended up tasting very similar to a mu shu. So much, in fact, that we cooked up a bit of cabbage, onion and carrot and mixed it in to serve in flour tortillas. This one is a winner. As always, and notes and changes are in blue. 

Slow Cooked Asian Chicken
via Taste of Home Slow Cooker
  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (3-1/2-4 pounds) cut up (we just used 3-1/2 pounds of chicken legs and thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (omitted)
  • 2 tablespoons black bean and garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed in 1 tablespoon cold water
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in oil on both sides. Transfer to slow cooker.
  2. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic and ginger. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or until chicken juices run clear.
  3. Remove chicken and strip meat from bones. Mix 1 tablespoon corn starch with 1 tablespoon cold water. Mix into sauce in slow cooker. Cook another 15 minutes or until thickened. Return chicken to slow cooker. 
Mix in some cabbage, onion and carrot for a quick faux mu-shu!
Good Times!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Avgolemono (Greek Egg, Lemon and Rice Soup)

     With the weather turning cold, the Wife is demanding soup. One of her favorites is Avgolemono. We used to get this soup from a Greek restaurant when we lived up north. It is thick and extremely rich. The texture can be a bit off-putting to some people, but those people are lame and need to get over it. This recipe calls for constant vigilance to make sure you don't end up with scrambled egg soup. Thus, this recipe qualifies as A Pain In The Ass. For the life of me, I can't recall where I got this recipe. If anybody recognizes it, let me know and I'll give credit where credit is due. As always, notes are in blue.

Greek Egg, Lemon and Rice Soup
  • 8 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 cup orzo pasta or rice (we've always used rice)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Juice of 3 lemons or 9 tablespoons lemon juice (go with fresh if you can. It's not quite as good with the bottled lemon juice)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring stock to boil and add rice or orzo. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. 
  2. When orzo/rice is nearing tenderness, whisk egg whites in separate bowl until medium peaks. Add egg yolks and lemon juice, whisking continuously. 
  3. When orzo/rice is finished, transfer 2 cups of the hot stock to the egg/lemon mixture, adding slowly in a constant stream and beating vigorously to prevent the eggs from solidifying. 
  4. Take he soup off the heat and add the beaten mixture back into the pot, whisking to incorporate. Serve immediately with fresh ground black pepper. 
Good times!

Baked Pasta Frittata

     I really like the idea of baked pasta, but it's just not something we do much in our house. I'm not sure what came over me to decide on this recipe. I think I was looking for some sort of pasta casserole and saw this. I had most of the ingredients in the house and had solid substitutions for the ingredients that were not on hand.  The result was not bad. The smoked sausage gave it a nice savory flavor. I think this would be good if I swapped in some spinach or kale. It was a touch on the heavy side and made for a very filling meal. I'll try it again, but I have the feeling this will be one of those recipes I'm endlessly swapping parts on. As always, changes and notes are in blue.

Baked Pasta Frittata 
via The Essential Pasta Cookbook

  • 1 oz butter
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped (the Wife's not a huge fan of green peppers, so we used a yellow bell pepper)
  • 4 oz ham, sliced (we decided we had a surplus of smoked sausages in the freezer, so we used a 7 oz smoked sausage, halved and sliced)
  • 1 cup cream or milk (we went with heavy cream)
  • 3-1/2 oz spaghetti, cooked and chopped (amazingly enough, we did not have spaghetti in the house. We used rotini instead)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (right. Freshly poured out of the jar of Parmesan is more like it)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly brush a flan dish with oil or melted butter (flan dish? Didn't have one on hand. I must have left it in the trunk of my Rolls Royce when I had the butler take it to be serviced. Please. I used my trusty cast iron skillet)
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the pepper and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the meat. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. 
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the pasta, parsley and mushroom mixture and pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 25-30 minutes. 
Good times!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

     It's been a while since I've dug into my trusty copy of Taste of Home Every Day Light Meals for something other than a bread recipe. This particular dessert was very rich, closing in on a touch heavy. Don't get me wrong, it was damned good. Just have a glass of milk or bourbon or something to help it on its way. The recipe called for egg whites, but I wasn't feeling that and just used whole eggs. It seemed to work out fine. As always, any changes or notes are in blue.
Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
via Taste of Home Everyday Light Meals

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 squares (1-1/2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate (we used 2 ounces because I didn't feel like breaking the piece in half. I'm lazy like that)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white (I didn't really want a bunch of leftover yolks, I just omitted this)
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (we used Greek yogurt)
Cream cheese mixture:
  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced fat cream cheese (as always, we went with Neufchatel)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg white (didn't feel like separating eggs, we just used another entire egg)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. In a small saucepan, combine water, butter and chocolate. Cook and stir over low heat until melted; stir until smooth. Allow to cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add egg, egg white (if using) and sour cream. Beat on low speed until just combined (I used the Kitchenaid, any electric mixer will do. You can do it by hand if you're feeling particularly industrious). Stir in chocolate mixture until smooth.
  3. In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg white (or just egg if you're hardcore like me) and vanilla; set aside.
  4. Spread chocolate batter into a 15"x10"x1" baking pan coated with non-stick cooking spray. Drop the cream cheese mixture by tablespoonfuls (that doesn't sound right. Tablespoonsful? This is going to bother me) over batter. Cut through batter with a knife to swirl (Protip: read the recipe all the way through. I generally do not. Which is why I ended with a nice layer of cream cheese right across the top of the cake. It still tasted good, though). Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  5. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes (we went 25 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Good times!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Corn Relish

     I've loved corn relish ever since I was little. It was on a salad bar in a rib joint. It was thick, almost like a chutney. This recipe is not. I guess I wasted your time with that little bit of nostalgia. This version is not thick, probably due to the fact that it doesn't use a ton of sugar or cook for very long. I suppose if you let it cook for a lot longer. It is, however, delicious. It is just the right combination of sweet and tangy. Plus it looks great. You can toy with the ingredients, shifting different kinds of peppers in and out. The last batch we made added a couple of chopped jalapenos. Fair warning, this stuff stains the crap out of anything it touches. If you're a sloppy eater, I hope you're a fan of little yellow spots on your clothes.
Corn Relish
  • 2 quarts sweet corn kernels 
  • 4 cups chopped cabbage 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (sometimes we'll use yellow pepper in place of green)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper 
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons ground dry mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed 
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed 
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric 
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 cup water
  1. In a large saucepan, mix corn, cabbage, onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, white sugar, ground dry mustard, celery seed, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, apple cider vinegar and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. 
  2. Transfer the mixture to sterile containers. Seal and process in boiling water bath. Process 25 minutes for quart jars. As always, refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for tips on how to not accidentally poison yourself or loved ones.
Good times!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuna Casserole from The Wife

This recipe is a guest post from my lovely wife. It is one of my favorites. I turn things over to her.

     I don’t do much cooking in my house. It’s just easier to let my husband cook and tell him how good it is. However, there are a few dishes he occasionally asks me to make. A few nights ago, he had to stay late at work, so he requested I throw together a tuna casserole for dinner. I guess his incessant cooking has inspired me, because I decided my usual version needed some tweaking. Notes are in blue:

Tuna Casserolevia The Wife
  • 1-16oz. bag of egg noodles (This was my first tweak. I’ve always used macaroni for my tuna casseroles, but there was a bag of egg noodles in the cabinet – and they were calling to me.)
  • 2-5oz. cans of tuna in water (Use more if you like a lot of tuna. This seemed to be the right amount for our tastes.)
  • 1-10.5oz can of cream of mushroom soup (Of course…)
  • 1 cup (4oz) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup of peas (Husband’s request)
  • 1 small red pepper – chopped
  • 1 small yellow pepper – chopped (We had an overabundance of peppers, and not being a big fan of peas, I decided peppers would both add color and lessen the pea flavor.)
  • 1 cup crushed potato chips
  • Lake Shore Drive Seasoning to taste (from The Spice House)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  3. Drain egg noodles and return to pot. Add tuna, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese, and stir until incorporated. (In my original version, the shredded cheese was sprinkled over the top of the casserole.)
  4. Mix in peas and red and yellow pepper.
  5. Add Lake Shore Drive Seasoning to taste
  6. Pour mixture into greased Pyrex and top with crushed potato chips. (This may surprise some of you, but I had never made a tuna casserole with potato chips before. The inspiration came from a story my mother likes to tell. My grandmother would always make her children their favorite meals on their birthdays. My Uncle Steve’s favorite meal was tuna casserole with crushed potato chips on top. My mother hated it.)
  7. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until potato chips start to brown.
Good times!