Granola Bars

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Oh we’ve been so busy lately. There have been birthdays, work events, actual work, side jobs, side projects, and getting the apartment back together after it completely exploded from having to shift things around to get our new bed in and put together. Not to mention figuring out what to do with the ten thousand pieces of cardboard and styrofoam that came with it. A fort in the living room turned out not to be as cool as I thought.

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I’ve really been enjoying the birthdays lately. We have a few months in our family where everyone’s birthday is a week apart so I’ve been doing a lot of baking for gifts. I came upon this original recipe and thought something similar might be just the thing for my older brother Ryan. I took out the chocolate, reduced the sugar, and added some sunflower seeds and almonds for an extra crunch. I think they came out really yummy. So yummy that I made a chocolate version for my valentine.

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Ingredients

5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons honey
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar, depending on sweetness preference
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Instructions

In a large bowl, stir oats, rice cereal, seeds, almonds, and cranberries. Set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten everything.

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Pour into a lightly greased pan, compressing the mixture to be about 3/4 inch in thickness. (You may only need to use half of the pan.) Cool on a countertop to room temperature for two hours. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Source: adapted from Lauren’s Latest

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Soyrizo and Black Bean Empanadas


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I’ve noticed that when we go out into the world on weekends, we spend money. Done. I’ve solved our problem. No seriously though. We met friends for lunch a few weekends ago and we ended up buying a bed. Don’t get me wrong… we are the furthest thing from impulse buyers. Before that day, we had shopped and shopped and shopped until I didn’t ever want to look at another piece of bedroom furniture again. It was just a coincidence that the restaurant our friends chose just happened to be across the street from a West Elm, which happened to have the bed we were considering, and after seeing it in person I was sold. Now I’m done with that purchase for life…until the next round, at least. Woo hoo!

So back to my thing about us spending money. I’ve been getting really creative about using up leftovers because I’m trying to keep us on track for our grocery bill each month. So far, I’ve been doing pretty well. After making these, I’d say I’m stepping up in the leftover-world because this was one of the best creations to come out of my kitchen in a while. Yep, I said it.

IMG_4345The dough was the second half of a batch leftover from having made a pie and the soyrizo was leftover from burritos the night before. I buy black beans dry and had cooked them up a few days previous. I like to have beans on hand to sneak some extra protein into our meals throughout the week, plus bean burritos are my go-to quick lunch. So really, everything was already made. I’m sure next time, some chicken or any other filling that I have left over will get used up.

If you don’t have dough on hand, check out this great tutorial here. To be honest, I think store bought may work for these, but you would have to use round cutters instead of rolling them out like I did.

Ingredients (Makes 16 small empanadas)IMG_4291

Half a batch of pastry dough, thawed if frozen, but still chilled

11/2 cups cooked soyrizo
1 cup black beans, cooked
¼ cup queso fresco
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Coarse salt
Pepper


Instructions

Preheat your oven to 375 F degrees

Make sure your pastry dough is still chilled. Divide in half, and in half again, and so on, until you have 16 equal pieces of dough. I found that keeping the rest of the dough I wasn’t working with in the refrigerator was very helpful. This dough gets very sticky as it comes to room temp.

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Roll out a small piece of dough to about an ⅛ of an inch thick, keeping it as equally oval as possible. Place about a tablespoon of soyrizo towards the bottom half of the oval. Add a few teaspoons of black beans on top of the soyrizo and top the pile with queso fresco. Fold over the top of the dough so that it covers the filling, lining up the edges as equally as possible. Trim away any large excess, but a bit of extra dough is fine. Seal the edges together with the tines of a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with silpats or parchment paper.

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When all empanadas are complete, melt two tablespoons of butter in the microwave or a small saucepan. Brush over the tops of each empanada. Sprinkle each with a bit of coarse salt and a sprinkle of pepper.

Bake for 16-18 minutes until edges begin to golden. Serve warm.

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts

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Does anyone else check their Pinterest ten times a day? No? Yea…uh… me neither. While I was checking mine for the first, or fifth time in a day, I saw this recipe for baked doughnuts. Jordan has told me before that his parents make killer cinnamon sugar doughnuts so I thought a variation like this would be just the treat for him. He’s been working a lot lately.

A few notes about these. Get lazy, and don’t over-knead the dough. It comes together really quick and I really don’t think it needs a lot of work. It’s pretty elastic as is. Also, they dry out pretty quickly. So I recommend making them day-of or the night before you want to enjoy them and keep them in a very airtight container.

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The dough is simple enough that you could add any sort of topping, glaze, or frosting to these. I think a confectioners sugar glaze or a maple coating would be great. That’s how I’ll make these next time. Also, you could probably cut these into any shape you like. Some cute hearts for your valentine or other related shapes depending on the day. I just think they’re so dang cute in the mini rounds. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the Dough (makes about 15 doughnuts)

3/4 cups warm milkIMG_4124
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 ½ cups flour
A pinch of ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions

For the dough, place ¼ cup of the warm milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yeast into the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.

In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the remaining milk with the sugar and butter.  Add it to the bloomed yeast mixture and stir to combine.  Add in the egg and give the mixture a good stir until combined.  Add the flour, cloves, salt and mix well. The dough will start to form.  Put the dough hook on the mixer and knead until the dough starts to become smooth, about 2 minutes.

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Place the dough ball in a large lightly greased bowl, and cover with a clean dish towel.  Let sit in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to half an inch thick.  Using your cutter of choice cut out as many doughnuts as you can get from the dough.

Preheat the oven 375 degrees F.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with silpats or parchment paper, about an inch apart. (They don’t spread during baking) Cover again and let it sit for about 45 minutes.

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Bake for 8 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the bottoms.  Take care not to overbake. Let the doughnuts cool for about 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan or in a microwave safe bowl. Combine the cinnamon and sugar  in a small bowl. Dip the topside of the doughnut into the melted butter.  Then dip them into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place on a cooling rack to set, about 5 minutes more. Best when served warm.

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Source: adapted from Krissy’s Creations

Chocolate Syrup

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Now because Jordan and I are grown adults, making important life decisions and all… we choose to drink chocolate milk. A lot. I’m slightly embarrassed to truly admit the extent of our intake. After we’ve eaten our daily portion of vegetables, fruits, and protein (of course I’m telling the truth here) we look forward to this treat served up with some bonus nostalgia. Ah, the days.

Now, you might think I’m crazy to be making my own chocolate syrup. Right? But I promise you, not only is it less expensive because it comes from pantry staples, but it tastes significantly better. Not to mention, it will save us another trip back to the store to return our previously beloved chocolate powder due to a recent recall. “Um… Yeah.” Is the exact response Jordan got from the store manager who thought he was crazy for returning chocolate powder. We were heartbroken. I promise you this isn’t a rebound recipe, its a keeper.

IMG_2818Ingredients

1 cup sugar (more can be added, to taste)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, combine the cocoa and sugar, whisking to get rid of the extra lumps. Add in the water and salt and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring very frequently. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce to a lower heat, letting it simmer for about 5 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let stand for another 5 minutes or so. Add in the vanilla, stirring well. Let it cool. Keep it in the fridge and it will last you a long time.

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Source: Adapted from Pennies on a Platter and Annie’s Eats


Albondigas Soup

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Let me tell you about one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever been given:

When I left for college, my mom gave me this collection of family recipes that she typed up and organized into a notebook. On some pages, she writes about where each one comes from, which family member started cooking the dish that way, whose favorite it is, and of course, pictures and/or artwork to go along with each recipe. She was blogging before it was easy. What a hipster.

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I love having access to the recipes I grew up with. When I was away at school, this notebook made it easier for me to have those comforting dishes that brought me familiar smells and tastes, easing the tinges of homesickness. My mom was also great to leave some blank sleeves in there, which I quickly added to.

So I mentioned last post that I had been having a tough week and when our toilet overflowed, I was ready to call it quits on being an adult. Instead throwing a fit (which has yet to get me anything. Ever. I must not be doing it right.), I went to this notebook and decided a bit of my mom’s kitchen was what I needed.

IMG_4071Growing up, this soup was pretty much the only soup I asked for. My brothers and I loved it. The clever part about this meal is you can change it up based on what you have in your kitchen; all the veggies can be substituted, you could use ground turkey, sirloin, or tofu even… the possibilities are only limited by what you choose. Our family usually ate it with turkey meatballs so that is just what I’m used to, but because I happened to have ground beef, thats what I used. See? Change can be good.

(Enough for 4-6 Servings)
Ingredients

Half a pound fresh ground beef/turkeyIMG_4065
¼ of a white onion, diced
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
1 egg
¼ cup breadcrumbs

8 cups water
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1 small can tomato sauce

1 small carrot, chopped
1 red potato, chopped
½ a zucchini, chopped
1 cup cauliflower florets

Instructions

In a large-ish pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl and roll into 1 inch meatballs. Add the chicken bouillon and tomato paste/sauce to the boiling water and stir it well. Carefully drop the meatballs into the boiling water. Let them cook for about 10  minutes.

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Prepare whatever veggies you are going to add. Carrots and potatoes take longer to cook than zucchini, so add those first. Once all your veggies are in, cook perhaps an additional 8 minutes. When your veggies are tender, your soup is ready. I like this soup served with fresh salsa and avocado on top and a hot corn tortilla on the side.

Source: Momma Jan

Garlic and Rosemary Wheat Thins

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I’ve been a little out of it lately. I guess its a combination of a few things, but mostly, I’ll admit, its just me acting crazy. This morning, the toilet overflowed. Logical reaction? Call the landlord and/or plumber… Nope. This girl cries, called the boyfriend (resisted all urges to call my poor dad in tears), and then I made soup. Soup! Why? I’m still not sure. Plus side, it cooked by the time I decided I was mature enough to mop up the bathroom floor.

DoughPicStitchPrevious to the bathroom fiasco, this week had been a bit on the tough side. Sometimes when that happens I find that I need to slow things down and just bake a little. I knew I was overwhelmed in the sweets department still so something salty sounded perfect. These wheat crackers were just what I needed. I changed up the recipe a tad by adding some garlic and rosemary. With some cheese and pickles (I eat pickles on the side with just about everything) these are a perfect snack and  turned out to be a soothing hour during a rather hectic week.

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Ingredients

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Add flour, sugar, salt, garlic, and rosemary to a wide bowl and whisk to combine.  Cube the butter into small chunks. Using a pastry blender (Or whatever method you prefer), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is in small pieces and crumbly.  In a small cup, combine the water and vanilla.  Add it to the flour/butter mixture and using a rubber spatula, mix until a smooth dough forms.  If your dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour.

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Divide the dough into smaller workable pieces (I divided it into thirds).  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface.  I found that keeping both extra whole wheat flour and a bit of water next to my surface was helpful so I could adjust as needed.  Roll the dough as thinly as possible, 1/16th-inch thick at most. Cut with a knife or pizza cutter into 1-1 ½ inch squares. Transfer crackers to baking sheets. Poke each one with the tines of a fork so they don’t puff up during baking.

Bake one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, mine took about 9 minutes. Check the crackers at 5 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. If some begin to brown before others, remove and continue baking the rest. Keep a close eye as the crackers can burn quickly. Once brown and crisp, transfer to a plate to cool. Store crackers in an airtight container.

Source: Adapted from The Baker Chick, Via Tracy’s Culinary Adventures

G-Ma’s Salsa

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I’ve been lucky enough to come from a family of wonderful cooks.  I remember the days when extended family would descend on one of the grandmother’s or great aunt’s homes, grab a utensil or a pan, contributing what they could to the meal. Everyone would file through, filling their plates with meats, sauces, heirloom casseroles, fresh salads, and of course, delicious desserts.

Growing up, my Dad’s mom lived in the house below ours. (It’s a super-rad duplex by the beach!) I loved having my Grandma so close and I consider myself lucky to have learned many things from her, including a few tips from her authentic style of Mexican cooking. On the occasional Sunday, she makes a big breakfast for anyone who can stop by. It always includes Menudo, (which I know I never gave a fair shot, but come on) chorizo, eggs,
sometimes carne con chile, and always a fresh batch of her classic salsa.

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This salsa is kind of a big deal. My best friend Amy has parents who grow their own chilies and make a fresh batch every day, but this is still her favorite salsa.  My friend Bob is equally in love with it and his wife also comes from a family of amazing cooks. When my G-Ma knows that they are coming, she’ll make an extra batch.  And we always eat it.

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Ingredients

1 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 pickled jalapenos (I use the Embasa brand)
2 teaspoons jalapeno pickling juice (that comes with the jalapenos)
¼ of a white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of a lemon
Handful of cilantro, chopped

Instructions

Cut the jalapenos into large chunks, discarding the stems. Toss them into a blender. Add the tomato juice, jalapeno juice, half of the lemon juice, and only one of the peeled tomatoes into the blender. Blend until the jalapeno is finely chopped. Add the rest of the tomatoes. Pulse the blender for just a second or two. You want the tomatoes chopped, but still chunky. Pour tomato mixture into a bowl. Add remaining lemon juice, salt, garlic, onion, and cilantro. Give it a good stir and enjoy.

Note: If you prefer more spice, simply add more jalapenos. I prefer mine on the mild side, so I find that two is the perfect amount for me.

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Source: Taught to me by my Grandma Esther, additionally, learning by watching my Mom make her salsa the same way for most of my life.