……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Summer Fruit Crumble Bars July 21, 2012

It’s not 100 degrees any more. Which means I want to make something that isn’t an enormous green salad.

And I might have bought blueberries because they were on sale and I was making smoothies anyways. And then I might have gotten home and realized that I had SIX PINTS OF BLUEBERRIES but only two people to feed.

So, I made an incredible, simple dessert.



Fresh Fruit Crumble Bars (adapted from a few places)

1 cup white sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter
1/2 cup Crisco
1 egg
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
4 cups fresh fruit (I did mostly blueberries, with some sliced strawberries and peaches in as well)

Stir together first three ingredients, then stir in the salt and lemon zest. Then blend in the egg, butter and Crisco using a fork or pastry cutter to create a crumbly dough. Take half of this mixture, and pat it down into a greased 9×12 baking dish to form a crust.

In a separate bowl, blend lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar sugar and cornstarch. Add the fruit and gently toss to coat. Spread the fruit evenly over the crust, then crumble the remaining crust mixture over the fruit. Make sure this “crumble” portion is spread out evenly.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about an hour, or until top begins to brown. Before cutting into squares and serving, let this cool completely so the juices from the baked fruit stay in the crumble instead of escaping.

If you want to warm it up and serve it with some vanilla ice cream for dessert (or just toast it for breakfast), go right ahead.


Mustard-Roasted Potatoes July 1, 2012

Filed under: Side dish,Vegetarian — krandle @ 8:36 am
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Sometimes, I can look at a recipe and know immediately that I will love it and that it will turn out delicious. One of the only other places I get this sense of recognition, oddly, is on my daily walks to and from work. Sometimes, I see another girl, tromping along in her tennis shoes and business casual attire, hair a mess, carrying a giant bag – and I can just tell we could have a good conversation. Even if we just talked about walking and the homeless people we see and how we think we’re in every tourist’s photo of the Swann Memorial Fountain, I can just tell that it would be nice.

But here’s where the vague similarity between recipe research and  my identification with strangers ends. I have never once walked up to one of these fellow walkers to chat, and I can’t say that I have a strong desire to; I’m content to leave them alone in their own universes.

The recipes, however, I keep.

Mustard-Roasted Potatoes (from B.A.)

1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. (1/4 stick) butter, melted
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
3 pounds 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter mixed unpeeled red-skinned and white-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges

Position 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F.

Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray.

Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel and salt in large bowl to blend. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you’re ready to roast the potatoes.

Add potatoes to the large bowl and stir to coat. Sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper.

Divide potatoes between two lightly greased baking sheets, leaving any excess mustard mixture behind in bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast potatoes 20 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes longer.


Simple Appetizer: Goat-cheese wrapped grapes June 14, 2012

My favorite food group is snacks. I love tasting menus and happy hours and tapas and cocktail hours at weddings. Snack-sized things allow me to taste as many things as possible before I get too full to move.

And, when I headed to a friend’s house after work to look at vacation photos, I had the perfect excuse to make a lovely, simple snack / appetizer (an idea I borrowed from A Daily Something).

Grapes, wrapped in goat cheese, rolled in chopped pecans.

Not only do these involve some of the best parts of a cheese plate, they are also perfect for popping into your mouth whole, which makes you seem lady-like and prevents you from making a mess when you bring these to someone else’s house.

In case you were wondering, getting the goat cheese to stick to the grapes is not difficult; it’s kind of like playing with play-dough. Also, don’t make these too far ahead of time – the nuts will get a little soggy (and you will have a longer period of time to resist eating them all yourself).


Pasta Sauce with Chickpeas September 24, 2011

Last week, all my meals were based around the deliciou carnitas meat I defrosted (I promise to share that recipe at some point in the future): burritos, omlettes with carnitas, naked burritos, carnitas salad, etc. It was delicious.

This week, I’m ready to have a vegetarian (well, almost vegetarian) week. And yes, as a single girl with a full time job, I cook a full recipe of something over the weekend, and nosh on it all the way through the work week. There is NO WAY I am going to start using those “cooking for one” recipes; what’s the fun of cooking if you don’t get no-effort leftover dinners later?

So, on to a very easy recipe for pasta sauce with chickpeas. This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen with really only one change: I added squash to the pureed chickpea mixture so I could (a) sneak in some extra vegetables without even noticing (b) get rid of some of the last of the squash and (c) get the sauce the added moisture it needed without just having to add in pasta water.

Pasta Sauce with Chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, or 2 cups freshly cooked chickpeas [If you haven’t tried using dried chickpeas, this isn’t the recipe to start with…but you do need to start. They are delicious in a way that canned chickpeas can never be.]
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
(If you’re dying to use squash like I did, throw in some here)
Olive oil
1/2 cup pancetta – toss in some extra herbs if you’re excluding to make the dish vegetarian [I cheated and used just some proscuitto since I didn’t have pancetta]
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
Lots of chile flakes
1 can diced tomatoes
10-15 basil leaves
Salt and parmesan cheese to taste

Reserve 1/3 cup chickpeas. Throw the rest in the food processor or blender along with the stock (and squash, if you’re using that). Set aside.

In a medium pot, cook the pancetta with the olive oil, then put in the  onion and garlic, until everything gets translucent and fragrant. Then, add in the tomatoes, chickpea puree, and basil, cooking for about 20 minutes. When you’re done, toss in the chickpeas and some cheese, and put it on top of pasta. Mmmmmm.


Ginger Rice July 19, 2011

Not everyone has this problem: the ginger root in your crisper drawer has gotten just a tad old and if you don’t hurry up and use it, you’re going to lose it. (I’m sure other people have similar issues, but probably just inserting a food other than “ginger” into that sentence. If you have this problem with ice cream, just call me up – I will make sure it doesn’t have to be tossed.)

Anyhow, I have dilemmas about what to do with spare ginger root periodically, and have recently found a solution that is pretty well near perfect: ginger rice. This dish has a great deal of flavor (ginger flavor, if you’re curious), but isn’t so weird that it doesn’t go with a lot of other foods and isn’t so difficult that it requires me to go get more ingredients. It’s a perfect pantry recipe. Beware that it is very ginger-y, so if you don’t like the fresh stuff, don’t make it.

Ginger Rice (which goes terribly well with Apricot Chicken and, as leftovers, in Chicken Rice Bowls and Chicken with Eggs)

1 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup rice (preferably basmati)
1.5 cups stock or broth (chicken, turkey, and vegetable stock all work well)
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and then add everything else. Bring to a boil, then cook for about 12 minutes more or until water is absorbed. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.


Homemade Cornbread June 27, 2011

Filed under: Bread,Side dish,Vegetarian — krandle @ 5:29 pm
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I think my deep affection for cornbread lies not in my experiences in the South, and does not result from eating frugally–instead, my love for cornbread is rooted in the Little House on the Prairie books. They were always eating corn foods – and Ma had a skillet that she used to cook the cornbread, just as my mom did. So, when my mom whipped up a batch of cornbread in her well-seasoned cast iron skillet, I was pretty much as happy as the Ingalls girls when they got tin cups for Christmas. [Yes, I was one of those girls who read all the books, even the ones written by the distant relatives, and watched the TV show and pretended to be Laura when I was making mud pies in the back yard. Who didn’t do that?]

I, unfortunately, do not yet have a cast iron skillet. However, I do have my mother’s delicious cornbread recipe. And, as of late, I also have locally produced wildflower honey, which makes up for the lack of skillet when I put slather it on a piece of warm cornbread. And, since the recipe is incredibly quick and relatively light (esp. for cornbread), it’s really easy to whip up with a casual dinner or for whatever else you need cornbread (like the broccoli ‘gratin’ I like).


Mix together:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1.5 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine separately:
1/3 cup oil
3 Tbs. melted butter
2 eggs
1.25 cups milk

Stir together wet and dry ingredients until fully mixed. Pour into an 8×8 pan and bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or pour into muffin pans at 350 for 18-20 minutes.

Butter and honey are delicious with cornbread. I’m just throwing it out there.


Apricot Chicken June 23, 2011

Filed under: Dinner — krandle @ 9:23 pm
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If you couldn’t tell yet, I adore trying new recipes. Each one feels like a challenge or a puzzle that I have to finagle to get is just the way I want it. As a result, there aren’t too many recipes that I repeat very often, that is, unless you count my “recipe” for leftovers, which includes making burritos out of everything.

This apricot chicken is one of the few recipes that I go back to time and time again. To me, it has a great blend of sweet with a little hint of spicy – and it’s almost universally liked. Also, it’s great to use when I “grill” (the broiler and the Foreman count since I don’t have a barbecue) or roast chicken. I also have a deep affection for apricots, so that basically works out perfectly. I also think this is marvelous because all of these ingredients are always in my pantry.

Apricot Chicken (most recently served with ginger rice as part of a little dinner party)

Chicken (about 1/2 lb) – any type works, though with boneless skinless breasts cut into 1-in cubes, your meat gets at lot more apricot-y
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1.5 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. melted butter

Combine all sauce ingredients and spread over chicken. Basting with remaining sauce part of the way through cooking helps everything stay moist. I like to make a bit extra to serve with the chicken after it’s cooked [food safety psa: if you want to serve the apricot sauce with the cooked chicken, you need to make it separately from the sauce you’re using to baste the chicken so none of the poisonous raw chicken-ness gets in there].  I also use this to marinate chicken in before cooking it. Basically, it’s just a wonderful, all-purpose glaze/sauce/whathaveyou. It’s only downfall is that when it cooks on a surface that isn’t chicken, it crystallizes and burns since it has sugar in it, so the dishes in the end are rather miserable.