Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wine Juice Boxes and Falafels

Tiny boxed wine. Too cute not to buy. Thanks Target. Here's my recipe for falafels. Grind the garbanzo beans with other ingredients in a food processor. Try to form them into balls. Swear because they won't stick to themselves and refuse to form ball shapes. And, the falafel batter is totally soaking wet. Fry the falafel balls in a fry pan. Swear more because the balls fall apart in the pan and take forever to fry with lots and lots of tending. Call everyone to dinner and state loudly "You'd better enjoy these because I'm never making them again." Eat and try to figure out a way to make them that would be easier, because they taste so good.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fire Grilled Quesadillas

There's complicated about quesadillas on the grill. But I thought I'd post this anyway. Some of you may not know that quesadillas are perfection on the grill. All you need to know is how to flip them. Today's quesadilla was whole wheat tortillas filled with beans, onion, green pepper, chive flowers, cilantro, and cheddar.


2 tortillas, helps if they are the same size and shape (I like whole wheat)
Shredded cheese, Pepper jack, jack, cojack, cheddar, etc. Anything that goes with Mexican food.

Any thing you would use for a quesadilla filling. Don't overstuff. If you want a little extra fancy, grill your veggies before you make them into quesadilla filling or use leftover grilled veggies. Leftover corn on the cob would be great.
Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, and chives would be nice.

Spray the tortilla with cooking spray or brush with oil. Place the tortilla oiled side down on the grill. Working quickly, sprinkle with half the cheese. Add your filling. Sprinkle remaining cheese and top with a tortilla, oiled side up. Close the grill and cook on medium for approximately four minutes. (I didn't time this) Don't leave the grill. Check often to see when the tortilla is done. When it is browned with nice grill marks, it's time to flip.

To flip, slide the quesadilla on to a plate. Off the grill, place another plate on top of the plate with the quesadilla on it. The plate on the top should be upside down. Hold the two plates together, and quickly flip. Remove the top plate (was previously on the bottom). Slide the quesadilla on to the grill. Cover and grill four more minutes. (approximately). When the quesadilla is browned on the bottom you can slide it onto a plate and take it off the grill. Let it rest for 2-5 minutes. This helps it set. That way, when you cut into it, the cheese won't ooze all over and the top tortilla won't slide off.

Oh. Add eggs and bacon to your filling and it's breakfast. Also, my yogurt chive sauce is good on these.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

This is really good. It has the extra tartness of homemade yogurt and sweetness from the sugar. I found this recipe for frozen yogurt which was based on this recipe which came from Dave Lebovitz's cookbook "The Perfect Scoop". And so on, and so on, and schoo be do be do be. On my first attempt, I drained my 1% skim milk yogurt before I made it into frozen yogurt. That turned out to be a bad idea. With homemade yogurt, strained yogurt turns out to be very thick. It's almost like cream cheese. The way ice cream makers work is as the ice cream freezes and becomes more solid, it moves to the middle of the machine. The yogurt cheese was so thick it moved to the middle of the machine instantly. My second attempt was successful. I used whole milk homemade yogurt. I may strain the yogurt slightly next time since it didn't' scoop well. It was easy to scoop, but it didn't hold a shape. I'll update this if I come up with a better method. If you are starting with store bought yogurt you should check out the other recipes in the links for suggestions. I plan to serve mine with grilled fruit.



3 c yogurt

3/4 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Whisk ingredients together and freeze as directed in an ice cream maker.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bacon fun, part four

I'm not looking for weird bacon recipes, I swear. I just seem to happen across them. I'll stumble across them less often with the demise of tastespotting (next post). Darn it. Anyway...
Bacon in a can. Take it camping with your whipped cream can pancakes. :)
Bacon ice cream is showing up everywhere. It was just on the top chef finale. It must be pretty good if it keeps showing up. Or, it might just be that people are in love the concept. I read the recipe, and it is butter pecan with candied bacon replacing the pecans. (Well, a few twists on a butter pecan ice cream base.) In fact bacon ice cream has become so popular that people are adding their twists to bacon ice cream. Dark chocolate bacon crunch sorbet anyone? No. Well you must not be in an ice cream mood.
How about some chocolate covered bacon (You have to click on that link for the picture. It's quite odd.) or bacon toffee perhaps?

See also Bacon fun part one, part two, and part three.

So Long Tastespotting

One of my favorite blogs, Tastespotting is down due to a legal matter. I hope it's not permanent. I'll miss you tastespotting. It was such a nice picture digest of food blogs. Ah...well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why blanched vegetables sometimes turn brown

Why do blanched vegetables (broccoli) sometimes turn brown? I found this answer on apartment therapy.
The most likely reason our veggies turned brown is because we covered the pot
with a lid after adding the vegetables. Yes, covering the pot certainly seems
like the logical thing to do! After all, a covered pot conserves energy, brings
the water back up to a boil, and keeps the steam inside the pot--all things that
would theoretically help our veggies cook more quickly. Here's what is really
going on in that pot: As the veggies hit the boiling water, volatile acids are
released into the water and are carried away in the steam. When the pot is
covered, the steam and the acids it contains are forced back into the water.
Once there, the acids react with the chlorophyll in the vegetables, turning them
an unsightly shade of brown. A similar reaction will take place if there's too
little water in the pot (thus concentrating the acids in the water) or if you
overcook the vegetables (thus prolonging the exposure time to the acids).
Solutions? Use a large amount of boiling water for blanching, test the
vegetables frequently to check their doneness, and leave the pot uncovered!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Topped Brownie Bars

I found this recipe while poking around the Internet and e-mailed it to my sister Julie. They seemed right up her alley. Brownies with chocolate chip cookies on top. Those are two of the only deserts that are acceptable to Julie. It's not that she doesn't like other desserts. It's just that she doesn't really see the point of making non chocolate desserts. I told her I made the one smart cookies (next post) and she asked what was in them. I told her and inadvertently forgot to list chocolate chips. She says that she hates cookies with random (cardamom and nutmeg) spices. "What's the point of making cookies that aren't chocolate chip? Why didn't you put chocolate chips in them?", she joked. I told her there were chocolate chips in them and her tone changed. She said, "When you come for my daughter's baptism, you should bring some of them along."

We made these chocolate chip brownie bars for Lillian's baptism. Three notes on them. First, they are a fair amount of work. You are making brownie batter and chocolate chip cookie dough all at once. (I found the recipe to be less of a hassle then Julie, but I'm guessing more people would agree with her.) Second, they make enough for an army. The bars get to be approximately two inches deep so if you cut them an in an a 1 1/2 inch square, you have a good sized bar. One pan makes a ton of bars. Third, our bars didn't come out pretty like the ones Eggs on Sunday made in the first link. They didn't have distinct layers. Our cookie layer got very dark. You wouldn't know the cookie layer was there unless you knew to look for it. Julie's oven temperature is a little off, so that may be the problem. We ended up having to cook these longer then the recipe called for. In another oven you may or may not get the pretty version. Now for the important part, the taste is exactly what you would imagine. Chocolate heaven. What else would you expect from a somewhat cakey brownie topped with a chocolate chip cookie. I've added a picture to this post of the pretty cookies Julie's friend Beata made for the baptism. The original chocolate chip/brownie recipe came from this cookbook.



For the brownie layer
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (I omitted)

For the cookie layer
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment (use enough so that it comes up and over the sides), and butter the foil/parchment.

To make the brownie batter, melt both chocolates and the butter together in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Melt and stir just until the mixture is shiny and smooth, then remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, beat the sugar and eggs together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) on medium high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla, then reduce the speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and butter, mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the flour, mixing on low speed just until it disappears into the batter. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chopped walnuts by hand with a spatula, then scrape the batter out into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Set aside.

To make the cookie dough, first whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, and set aside. Wash the bowl of your stand mixer (that you used to make the brownie batter), and then beat the butter and both sugars together using the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the egg yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, then reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low, mix in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.

Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls onto the brownie batter, then use a spatula to gently smooth out the cookie dough layer evenly over the batter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the cookie top is deep golden brown and a sharp knife inserted into the pan comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate.

Transfer the pan to a cooling rack to cool, then when you're ready to cut them, just lift them out using the foil/parchment that you lined the pan with. It's easiest to cut these when they're cool/cold, if you can wait that long.

Monday, June 9, 2008

One Smart Cookie

I found this recipe on Rhubarb and Venison. Beth from Rhubarb and Venison found it on Everyone Likes Sandwiches. It's a healthy cookie with whole wheat and oats. But the question everyone wants to know is "What do they taste like?". Well, they taste like a cookie. A healthy cookie, but definitely a cookie. They will definitely satisfy you sweet tooth. In fact I may consider cutting the brown sugar next time. But then again, cookies should be sweet or what's the point. With all the oats they are a bit like a granola bar as well. I made a few substitutions, mostly because of what I had on hand. I used half maple syrup and half honey (because I ran out of maple syrup), I used half pecans and half walnuts (because I ran out of walnuts), wheat bran instead of oat bran (because I keep wheat bran on had to make granola), mini chips (I keep those around in case I need to make mint chip ice cream) and I ground the flax seeds. If you don't grind flax seeds your body cant digest them properly and the good nutrition just passes through your body. Oh, and I used parchment paper to bake them on in place of a silpat. Beth from Rhubarb and Venison described the dough as a little fussy. I'd describe it as a giant pain in the butt. It's sticky and doesn't want to stick to itself. (This may be due to my substitutions.) Oiling your hands helps some, but they are still a pain. I just kind of shaped most of my cookies in a pressed together clump rather then rolling and flattening. There is no oil or butter in these cookies, so they won't spread. They will end up pretty much the shape that they were when they went in the oven. Oh, these are vegan too if make sure there is no dairy in your chocolate.

Yield 65 cookies

1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c oat bran ( I used wheat bran)
1 c raisins
1/2 c coconut
3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c walnuts, broken
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/4 c flax seeds, ground
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 large pinch each nutmeg + cardamom
1 t vanilla
1/2 c applesauce
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix up everything from the flour on down to the nutmeg/cardamom. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix well.
Roll a tablespoon of the mixture into your hand and then flatten. Place on a silpat covered cookie sheet and bake for 14 (16 for me) minutes or until the tops feel dry. Let rest on cookie sheet for 3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in a covered tin.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cornmeal Crusted Fish on the Grill

O.K. so I have a fish phobia. I have this belief that I don't know how to cook fish. I actually not that bad. I'm still a bit afraid of it though. I'm trying to cook and eat more fish, because I don't eat enough. I have a big box of pollock in my freezer for inspiration. This isn't the most impressive fish recipe ever, but it's quick and easy and I seem to make it quite often. I also recommend coming to terms with the fact that the fish might not be whole when you serve it off the grill and that's O.K. Fish can get hard to flip,especially if it's really thin like this fish. By the way, there is not less calories in cooking spray then oil. Cooking spray is just oil and propellants. There is only less calories if you use less then you would if you were using oil. It makes more sense in this recipe to spray the fish with oil then to try to brush it on.


Fish (I used pollock that was maybe 1/4 inch thick)

Seasoning Mix (I used Penzey's Northwoods Fire but I also like Cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning. Anything you like on fish.)

Salt (if there's none in your seasoning mix)


Cooking Spray

Pat fish dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel if it's really wet like mine was. Season fish with seasoning and salt (if using). Bread fish with cornmeal. Heat the grill with the flat grill pan on the grill. Spray the fish liberally with cooking spray. I cooked my thin fish for 3 minutes per side. Cook for the correct time for the thickness of your fish.

Why Buy Local Honey

I'm not really the local food queen, despite my many posts on local food. I just pass along the information I find. Today I found a post on local honey on Eggs on Sunday. I found all the following links there. I like the link on why you should eat local honey (only four paragraphs). The reason I found most compelling is that industrial bees are fed sugar syrup to make honey. Yuk. I want my honey to come from flowers please. Check out this local honey locator to find local honey in your area. I found Spring Time Honey Company in Belfield (only 55 gallon drums), Stewart Apiaries in Bismarck, Stromme Honey in Kloten, ND, Grand River Honey Company in Hettinger, and American Honey Company also in Hettinger who sell chokecherry honey among other things. And attention Brandy, Big Sky Honey inc. is in Fairwiew Montana.

Hey, do you like to sit and stare at a sunflower for a half hour while you drink your morning coffee every couple of weeks, but haven't figured out how that can save the environment? Well the Great Sunflower Project is looking for people to do just that. They want people to see how long (up to a half hour) it takes for 5 bees to reach you particular sunflower. Don't have a sunflower? They'll send you seeds. They are using the data to study bee Colony Collapse Disorder. A recent problem (since October 2006) with the collapse of bee colonies. If you've seen Bee Movie you already know bees are important for the pollination of fruits, vegetables, and flowers in addition to the whole honey thing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wash Fruits and Veggies with Water

Kristy sent me this link on washing fruits and vegetables. It's a short one page article and worth a click. To summarize the article, wash fruits and veggies with water. Don't use soap. Soap washes on, but (on some foods) it doesn't wash off. Adding bleach to your water to wash your veggies is unnecessary. Wash everything, even if you are not going to eat the outside. When you cut into a melon (for example), if it did have some kind of bacteria or something on the rind, cutting it with a knife could drag the bacteria into the inside of the melon. Do use a scrub brush to wash your fruits and veggies.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cauliflower with Lemon, Capers, and Hard Boiled Egg

This dish can be served hot or cold. If you serve it hot, add toasted panko breadcrumbs to the top. If you serve it cold along side your grilled food, skip the bread crumbs, because they'll get soggy. Don't add any bread crumbs to the hot version if you think you might have leftovers. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the individual servings instead.

A word about panko bread crumbs. They're freekin' awesome. You should never use another kind of bread crumb. They're crispy and magnificent. They are great for breading a pork chop or topping a casserole. A Japanese product, they were all the rage on Iron Chef (a cooking competition show on the food network) a few years ago. Now they have them in supermarkets everywhere. What is panko?



1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces

1 1/2 T lemon juice

1 hard boiled egg, chopped

2 T capers

2 T parsley

salt and pepper


panko bread crumbs

Steam the cauliflower. Mix in the rest of the ingredients (except panko and butter). *Optional*Top with panko that you cooked in butter in a skillet until browned.


Place cauliflower and lemon juice in a covered, microwave safe bowl. Microwave until the cauliflower until it is cooked through. Start with 5 minutes and check. Add one minute and check again. Repeat until your cauliflower is done. (Mine takes 9 minutes in my slow microwave.) All microwaves cook differently. Write down your time so you know how long to cook it next time. Mix in remaining ingredients (except panko and butter). *Optional*Top with panko that you cooked in butter in a skillet until browned.

Local Eggs and Duck Eggs

I came across some sources for local eggs in the Bismarck Area.
First of all, of course, there are the eggs from the Berg farm sold at the Wilton Cenex Station. That's where I get mine. You can get free range, grass fed eggs here for three dollars a dozen. Duck eggs anyone? They sell local duck eggs here when they are available. Evidently ducks don't lay eggs reliably in the winter. Duck eggs are (evidently) prised by bakers. The whites in duck eggs have more protein and whip higher, making fluffier cakes. I found this post on cooking with duck eggs. I don't see duck eggs in my future, but if they're in yours, good luck.

Grilled Vegetable Chart


Place veggies in center of foil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, dot of butter (or olive or canola oil). Add 1T water (or ice cube). Seal foil with some area for steam expansion. Cook over indirect heat turning halfway between cooking time. You can also use a marinade (that hasn't been near your raw meat) or salad dressing. Kraft Zesty Italian is really good with veggies on the grill. I think it's terrible on salads though. Weird. These charts are from the cookbook that came with my Weber grill. I'll let you know my real life times as I make veggies this summer.

BEANS, GREEN AND WAX (WHOLE) 30 beans 30-35 minutes (real world time 20-25 minutes)

BROCCOLI 1 cup 15-18 minutes

BRUSSELS SPROUTS 1 ½ cups 18-20 minutes

CARROTS 1 ½ cups 15-20 minutes (20 minutes real world time, done but not browned)

CAULIFLOWER 2 cups 20-25 minutes

CORN ON THE COB (FOIL WRAPPED) 4 ears 25-35 minutes

EGGPLANT (cut into 1-inch slices) 1 small 20-25 minutes

KOHLRABI (julienned) 1 ½ cups 25-30 minutes

MUSHROOMS (WHOLE OR SLICED) 1 ½ cups 8-12 minutes


(CUT INTO 1-INCH STRIPS) 1 ½ cups 15-20 minutes

POTATOES (FOIL WRAPPED) 4 medium 50-60 minutes

(CUT INTO 1-INCH CUBES) 1 ½ cups 6-10 minutes

ZUCCHINI (CUT INTO ½-INCH SLICES) 1 ½ cups 6-10 minutes


First brush vegetables with oil or vinaigrette. Then place on cooking grate and turn once during cooking.

ASPARAGUS- Wash and scrape off scales with vegetable peeler or knife. Snap or cut off woody stems. Arrange spears crosswise on grill and cook 5-7 minutes.

GREEN ONIONS- Arrange crosswise on grill. Cook about 3 minutes.

MUSHROOMS- Thread on skewers and cook about 3 minutes.

ONION- Cut in ¾ -inch slices. Thread crosswise onto skewer and cook 10-12 minutes.

TOMATOES- Halve tomatoes crosswise. Cook 5-6 minutes. Do not turn.

ZUCCHINI- Halve lengthwise. Cook 7-9 minutes.


Place whole pepper on cooking grate. Cook pepper until it chars evenly on all sides. Remove from cooking grate and place in a zip lick bag and close tightly. Let stand 10-15 minutes. Peel off charred skin, cut off top and remove seeds. Pepper can be done ahead of time at this point and stored in fridge. It is also good with green peppers.


Trim off excess silk and soak in water for at least one hour. Cook 25 minutes turning three times.