My Favorite Morning Smoothie

My Favorite Morning Smoothie

I should trademark this phrase. ‘My Favorite Morning Smoothie.’  It’ll undoubtedly be the upcoming title of a new band,  a popular song, or political podcast.  Alas, for now, it shall be the modest title of my most recent post. (Don’t any of you go stealing it!)

In addition to being low in calories and high in vitamin C, strawberries and raspberries are high in fiber.  Banana adds a wonderful depth of flavor and an extra boost of potassium.  Yogurt is added for a creamy texture and a bit of protein. Fresh orange juice gives the wonderfully subtle tang.  Both fresh or frozen fruit can be used.  I prefer frozen, adding a nice thickness.  I adore this recipe.  If you use all frozen fruits, you may need to add a bit of milk or water.  If you use all fresh fruit, you may need to add a bit of ice.

Now you can be that person.  You know where “My Favorite Morning Smoothie”  actually originated.  It came from Emily Always Cooks!

My Favorite Morning SmoothieMy Favorite Morning Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 10 strawberries (hulled), fresh of frozen
  • 1/4 cup raspberries, fresh of frozen
  • 1 banana, fresh of frozen, cut into thirds
  • The juice of 1 whole blood orange
  • 1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tbsp of water or milk, if needed
  • Ice, if needed

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in your blender.  Blend on high for 45 seconds or until smooth and creamy.  Add additional liquid or ice if needed.  Note: If you use all frozen fruits, you may need to add a bit of milk or water.  If you use all fresh fruit, you may need to add a bit of ice.

Servings: 1 (Serving Size: 2 full cups)

Thank you Driscolls for sponsoring this post.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote (and warm maple syrup and bacon)

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

 

A classic recipe.  A memorable twist on it.

You didn’t know National Blueberry Pancake Day existed, did you?  No, I didn’t make this day up … someone else did.  That said, I’m more than happy to celebrate.  I’m also more than happy to show you a fantastically simple, not-so-typical, blueberry pancake recipe.

I’m also quite hungry …

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

 

Using a combination of all-purpose flour and yellow cornmeal gives these cakes a very nice unique texture.  Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Top these cakes with homemade blueberry compote and warm maple syrup.  This luscious blueberry compote is made with just 5 simple ingredients – blueberries, sugar, blood orange, cornstarch, and vanilla.  So very easy to throw together while you’re preparing the rest of the meal … ahem, frying up your bacon.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

 

There’s something special about a day that begins with pancakes. There’s something extra special about these.  Happy National Blueberry Pancake Day!.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (scant) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (heaping) yellow cornmeal, I like Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen could also be used)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh squezed orange juice (I used blood orange juice)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (scant) tsp orange zest
  • Butter, for cooking and serving
  • Pure maple syrup (warmed), for serving

Instructions:

  1. Mix together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine milk, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir ingredients to just combined, then stir in melted butter. If batter is overly thick, splash in a small amount of milk.  Set aside for 10 minutes. Stir again.
  4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine blueberries, water, sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a low boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  While whisking, slowly add cornstarch and water mixture.  Continue to whisk making sure not to crush too many of the blueberries until sauce is nice and thick, about 5 additional minutes.  Add vanilla extract and orange zest, stir to combine, and reserve.  (Note: I like my blueberry sauce warm when spooned over the cakes, so keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve.)
  5. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat.  When evenly heated, drop 1/4 cup batter per pancake and cook until golden brown on both sides.  I like to cook these cakes on a cast iron griddle to give them a crispy top layer.  Once fully cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Stack pancakes, top with a pat of butter, a drizzle with warm maple syrup, and a spoonful of blueberry sauce over the top.  Serve immediately when cakes are still warm.

Cornmeal Cake recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Thank you Driscolls for sponsoring this post.

Salmon Sliders with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

Salmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

 

Most of us are currently in the doldrums of winter.  It’s cold.  Perma-gray clouds are lingering.  We’re tediously wiping the pup’s paws after every walk.  (“tedious” is the best euphemism I could think of … it’s a family blog, after all.)  With all that said, I have to admit my inspiration for this fantastic dish.  It’s my recent return from a weekend in South Florida.  (Don’t be angry, fellow Northerners.  I won’t post pictures of the beach … yet.)

Here we go, with wonderful handheld salmon sliders.  What’s not to like about a small handheld sandwich on a mini brioche bun?  NOTHING.

This version is stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth wild salmon, tangy dill and caper yogurt sauce, thinly sliced red onion, cucumber, radish, creamy avocado, and crispy Romain lettuce. Harmonizing all these ingredients is the yogurt sauce.  Simply combine plain yogurt, capers, garlic, fresh dill, lemon zest and juice, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Then, allow the sauce to marinate when you prepare the remainder of the ingredients.  A little sandwich with a huge amount of flavor.

Salmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

 

These sliders are ideal for game day, a cocktail party, or a family brunch.  Sandwich in one hand, cocktail in the other.  We’re all in sunny warm weather, as long as these sliders are on the menu.

Salmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt SauceSalmon Slider with Dill and Caper Yogurt Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt, I used Noosa yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 4 springs fresh dill, about 1 tbsp, chopped
  • The zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 lb fresh salmon, I used wild sockeye salmon
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 leaves of Romain lettuce, torn into pieces to fit the size of slider bun
  • 6 brioche slider buns, toasted (Note: A good bun makes the sandwich, so check out your local bakery for fresh options.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, capers, garlic, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, prepare your slider toppings – red onion, cucumber, radish, avocado and lettuce.
  3. Next, prepare your salmon.  You can ask your butcher to remove the skin when you purchase the fish, or follow these instructions.  Cut salmon into 6 equal pieces, roughly the size of your slider buns.  Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat a large pan over medium high heat, add oil, and sear salmon for 2-3 minutes per side.  I like my salmon slightly pink in the center.
  4. Next, assemble sliders.  (Note: Always use lettuce to protect bun from sauce.  Assemble as follows – bottom bun, lettuce, caper and dill yogurt sauce, salmon, cucumber, radish, avocado, top bun.)
  5. Consume immediately!

Servings: 2-3 (Serving size 2-3 sliders)

Note: Recipe easily doubled to serve a crowd. You will have plenty of caper and dill yogurt sauce left over.  If you double the recipe, no need to double the sauce.

* Thank you Noosa Yoghurt for the incredibly delicious yogurt used in this recipe. It’s tangy, thick, velvety, and ideal for a sauce.  I used their plain yoghurt in this particular recipe. Their flavored varieties must be mentioned as well.  A simple combination of plain yoghurt and a fresh fruit puree.  Noosa yogurt is a welcomed addition to my refrigerator!

Plain-Salmon-Sliders-with-Dill-Caper-Yoghurt-Sauce-Emily-Always-Cooks

Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

 

You know the “This Little Piggy” nursery rhyme, don’t you?  Of course you do.  You’re saying it to yourself right now … Well, these little piggies waited to mature into sophisticated, tasty pigs before they went to the market.  That said, they still love the simple pleasure of cuddling into a blanket.

(Now that I’ve got my somewhat awkward pig-to-human analogy out of they way, lets get to how easy these are to make.)

Sophisticated, yet only 5 ingredients!  Andouille sausage is wrapped in puff pastry, sliced into rounds, and baked until golden.  The Andouille is bit spicy.  Thus, the sweet, cooling, addictive chutney and mustard dipping sauce is a must.  These morsels get consumed in high volume, so be sure to make plenty.

Sophistication combined with simplicity.  If you think about it, aren’t we all trying to achieve that? (Just say yes, and agree with me.)

Enjoy.  Happy New Year!

Andouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping SauceAndouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping SauceAndouille Pigs in a Blanket with Chutney Mustard Dipping Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces all-butter puff pastry, thawed and cut into four 5-inch squares
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 4 andouille sausages (3 ounces each), I used Kayem Artisan Andouille Sausage
  • 1/4 cup mango ginger chutney, or your favorite chutney
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven.  Arrange the puff pastry squares on a work surface and brush the top edges with the egg wash.  Place the sausages on the bottom edges and roll up the pastry, pressing the edges to seal. Freeze the logs for 10 minutes, or until firm.
  2. Cut the logs into 1/2-inch slices, discarding the end pieces, and place them in a 24 cup mini muffin pan.  Each sausage should yield 6 pieces.  Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and sizzling.
  3. Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, pulse the chutney and mustard just until the chutney is chopped.
  4. Serve pigs in a blanket warm with dipping sauce.

Thank you Kayem for supplying the Artisan Andouille Sausage for this post.  They were a real treat!

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

So, here we go with the 100th recipe post on EmilyAlwaysCooks.  It’s been one heck of a yummy ride, and I’m already looking forward to post number 200.

Quite befitting a make-ahead holiday recipe.  Rich and savory custard, flecked with smoked salmon, goat cheese, dill, and leeks with a buttery crust base.  I have no problem serving this for any meal at any time of the day.  I kept to tradition by serving this quiche at room temperature or just slightly warmer.  Quiche will stay at room temperature for up to 2 hours.  After 2 hours it should be refrigerated.   To reheat quiche, bring to room temperature then bake in a 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche
Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

If you’re making homemade pie crust for a holiday pie, just double the recipe.  I’ve included my favorite homemade pie crust recipe in the ingredient list below.  It uses both butter and shortening which creates a flaky, slightly buttery crust.  Don’t be intimidated to make your own crust. It’s pretty simple.  That said, Store-bought pie crust can be a serious life saver.  Either way you slice it, it’s a winner.  (See what I did there?  Sorry, I had gone too long between obviously cheesy puns.)

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese QuicheSmoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 homemade pie crust (you will only use half of this recipe) or store-bought pie crust, if using store bought thaw according to package directions (If I’m using store-bought crust, I like Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 leek thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4-6 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. If using homemade dough, prepare and roll out into a 12-inch circle. If using store-bought dough, thaw first according to package directions and unroll (dough should be about 11 ounces).
  2. Place it into a 10-by-1 1/2-inch round tart pan, pressing dough into corners.  Line pastry with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, pressing into the corners and edges.  Fill at least two-thirds with baking weights (you can use dried beans, rice, or ceramic or metal pie weights).
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pie pan with the tongs of a fork (fork holes are for any air to escape) and return to oven.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until just golden.  Place on a wire rack to cool while making filling.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  4. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the leek, a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook one additional minute.  Remove from heat and reserve.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, dill, lemon zest, and black pepper.
  5. Line the bottom of the quiche crust with cooked leeks and garlic.  Put one layer down of half the smoked salmon and goat cheese.  Pour half of the egg mixture over the salmon and goat cheese in the quiche shell.  Layer down the remaining salmon and goat cheese, and pour the remaining egg mixture over it.  (Note: You may have a small amount of egg mixture remaining depending on the size of your tart pan. either discard or reserve for a later use.) Hint, make mini frittatas.
  6. Bake until quiche is just set in the center, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6

Note: Reheat by covering quiche with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

At first glance, these cookies seem usual enough.  But, a few key steps make these cookies unusually irresistible.

These soft batch style cookies have a subtle touch of peppermint, (tis the season) and they’re incredibly easy to throw together.  The secret ingredient that makes these so playfully soft … a pack of instant vanilla pudding. Minty, buttery, chocolatey.  The perfect holiday chocolate chip cookie.  They’ll fly off your dessert table.

Yummy. Distinctive. Simple. Melt in your mouth. Impossible to eat just one.

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip CookiesPerfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfectly Soft Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3.4oz box of Jello instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate mini chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter, light brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again for 30 seconds. Add eggs, vanilla extract and peppermint extract. Beat until well combined, about 30 additional seconds.
  3. Combine flour, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Add mini chocolate chips and mix again until chips are incorporated.
  6. Place dough onto prepared baking sheet in 1 tablespoon increments. I like to use a small cookie scoop for this.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 60 mini cookies

cookies2

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

 

Stuck in a salad rut?  Well, not anymore.

This one has a fantastic variety of delicious and beautiful attributes.  Time to bust that salad rut!  (That sounds kinda weird, but I’m gonna roll with it.)

Charred cauliflower is a fun and unique salad ingredient.  When combined with the nutty farro, a hearty quality is achieved without taking away from the salad’s inherent light/healthiness.  Farro is a simple hearty grain with high contents of fiber, protein, and iron.  I adore adding it to soups and salads, and I often use it as a substitute for pasta or rice.  If you are a farro novice, check out Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro.  This cooks up easily and perfectly every time.

A few more bright ingredients and a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing round things out.  Look at these pictures … There’s too much delicious harmony in this salad for any type of rut to continue.

Arugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and AvocadoArugula and Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Feta and Avocado

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 7 oz. bag arugula
  • 20 pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 ounces feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
  • Simple Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients: 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 shallot minced, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, salt and black pepper

 

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning halfway, until the cauliflower is tender and golden.
  2. Next, prepare the lemon vinaigrette . Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, salt and black pepper; mix well.  I like to prepare this vinaigrette in a mason jar. Simply combine the ingredients, attach lid, and shake.
  3. Meanwhile, cook farro. In a medium saucepan, combine farro, 3 cups of water (enough water to cover the farro by a couple of inches) and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer.  Cook until the farro is tender to the bite but still a little chewy (about 30 minutes). Drain off the excess water and rinse well.  Allow farro to drain well to remove as much water as possible.  Toss cooked and cooled farro with a small amount of vinaigrette and 2 tbsp fresh parsley. (Note: Check the cooking instructions on the bag of farro you purchased. Shorter or longer cook times may be required depending on the type used.)
  4. In a large serving bowl, toss together arugula and 1/3 cup salad dressing. Add the roasted cauliflower, reserved farro, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and capers.
  5. Top salad with avocado and additional salad dressing if desired.

Servings: 3 as a main dish, 6 as a side dish

 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Homemade Turkey Stock

 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Homemade Stock

 

Of all the life lessons I was taught, this is one of the most important.

Never throw away the bones and carcass from the Thanksgiving turkey.

I prefer to make my stock on Thanksgiving night.  Turkey bones, veggies, and aromatics are placed in a stockpot.  Simply covered in water, brought to a simmer, and left to work their magic.

If you aren’t going to make the stock immediately, put everything into a zip-lock bag.  Keep that bag in the refrigerator for a couple days.  While your relaxing and listening to holiday music, throw the contents of the bag in the pot.  Let it simmer away.  Easy peasy.

Soup is always made with my homemade stock.  Onion, carrots, celery, garlic, fresh herbs, turkey, and noodles.  Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, or a pinch of parmesan cheese to the finished product.  Healthy, hearty, and soul warming.  The best use of leftovers.  Adhere to the delicious life lessons.

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with Homemade Stock

 

Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 4 medium celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, left whole
  • 2 quarts homemade turkey stock, recipe below  (Note: You can supplement with store bought stock if you do not have enough homemade.  You can solely use store bought stock, if needed.)
  • 2 cups shredded turkey (Note: Use the turkey you reserved after making the stock.  If you do not have 2 full cups, supplement with leftover turkey.)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Noodles, for serving
  • Fresh parsley, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 10 minutes until onions begin to look translucent.  Add garlic and cook 2-3 additional minutes.
  2. Add bay leaf, rosemary sprig, and turkey stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  At this point, you want to taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as you see fit.
  3. Add turkey and fresh parsley and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and rosemary sprig.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles.  (Note: I do not like to add my noodles directly to the soup, as they absorb too much broth.)  Drain noodles and reserve.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of noodles into serving bowl. Top with turkey soup and garnish with fresh parsley.

 

Homemade Turkey Stock

Ingredients:

  • Turkey carcass with some meat still intact and reserved neck
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2-3 celery stalks, cut in half
  • 2-3 carrot sticks, cut in half
  • 1 garlic head, cut in half crosswise
  • 10-12 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water by 2-3 inches.  If you do not have a large enough pot, you can use 2 pots.  Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2–3 hours.  Skim off any foam or fat that rises to the surface as needed.
  2. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve or colander into a large bowl.  Allow to cool down completely.  Remove any fat that rises to the top.
  3. Do not toss out the bones and veggies yet.  Once cooled, pick through and remove any meat.  Reserve this meat to be used in the soup.

Note: You can also make homemade stock in the Crock Pot.  Place all of the ingredients in a large Crock Pot and cover with water.  Cook on low overnight or for 12 hours.  Strain stock through a sieve or colander into a large bowl.  Follow additional instructions, per the above.

Note: Once cooled, Turkey stock is more gelatinous than chicken stock.  Do not be alarmed.  This thins out when cooked.  The stock will last a few days in the refrigerator and freezes well for up to 6 months.

 

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

This dish accomplishes three ever-important objectives. 1) Delicious taste. 2) The kitchen is filled with a wonderfully unique and enticing aroma. 3) Easy to make.  Three objectives met. One adjective needed.

Magical.

Indian food is all about the spices. While there are numerous spices to choose from, I brought this particular taste of India home by focusing on these basics. Sweet cinnamon, smoky cumin, spicy cayenne, lemony coriander, and warm garam masala.

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

This is far from an intimidating spice list.  In fact, I bet you have most in your spice cabinet. But even if you don’t, all of these spices are easily accessible and affordable. Garam masala was the only new spice I had to purchase to complete this dish.  Garam masala is a Northern Indian style spice blend.  The composition of garam masala differs according to regional and personal taste.  The specific blend I used is a tripart mixture of cardamom, coriander and black pepper.  Well worth the investment.

I like to serve this dish over fluffy white rice. As an accompaniment, a heaping scoop of cilantro yogurt sauce and a plate of warm naan.  Don’t skip the sauce, it brings a cooling balance to the dish.

We know you’ll be back for seconds. We know I’m about to steal an old, corporately-leprechaun cereal slogan.  You and I both know this dish is… magically delicious.  (I couldn’t resist.)

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt SauceCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs chicken breasts, approximately 8 large chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 26oz container strained tomatoes, I prefer Pomi
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
  • Long grain white rice, prepared according to package direction, for serving
  • Naan bread, Firestone and Whole Foods Market make a great garlic variety, for serving
  • Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
    • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
    • 1/4 white onion, very finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
    • 6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 garlic clove, mashed into a paste
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken breast into 1 inch pieces and reserve.
  2. In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine onion, garlic, ginger, strained tomatoes, olive oil, garam masala, cumin, sweet paprika, salt, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, lemon juice, and black pepper.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add chicken breast. Stir to combine, and nestle bay leaves into the sauce.
  4. Cook on low for 5 1/2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare yogurt sauce by combining all of the ingredients into a small bowl.  You can do this several hours before serving to allow flavors to meld together.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Whisk together half and half and cornstarch in a small bowl, and add to the slow cooker.  Stir well and cook with the lid off for an additional 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and discard.  Total cook time is 6 hours.
  7. Note: If you haven’t already done so, prepare rice.  Most long grain rice takes approximately 30 minutes to cook.
  8. Serve chicken with freshly chopped cilantro, white rice, naan, and cilantro yogurt sauce.

Servings: 10

Serving Size: 1 cup chicken and sauce, plus rice, naan and cilantro yogurt sauce

Note: You could easily make this dish on the stove-top.  Follow the directions as is, and cook on the stove-top for 2 hours over medium-low heat.  If the mixture starts to boil vigorously, reduce the heat to low and simmer for the remainder of time.  After 2 hours, add the cornstarch mix, and continue the recipe as noted.

 

 

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

Crispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

I get it.

Telling you “Asian roasted Brussels sprouts are the perfect bar food snack” makes me sound like a food snob.  But if you’re reading this, you’re either already a food snob, or you’re on the road to becoming one.  So let’s embrace both our inner food snobbery, and this fantastically delicious and easy to make bar snack.

Like clockwork, 4pm rolls around and I begin craving a cold beer and a salty treat.  I look in the fridge to find something to curb my hunger.  My eyes keep going back to a bag of Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom tells me my snack attack cannot be cured by Brussels sprouts.  Conventional wisdom be damned!

I crank the oven to high heat to get the Brussels sprouts charred and crispy, then toss them in a sticky Asian glaze.   Slightly sweet, a bit tangy, and nicely balanced by the heat from the Sriracha.

Kiss the mozzarella sticks goodbye.  You’ve evolved into a more sophisticated form of bar food.  Don’t forget the cold beer.

Crispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels SproutsCrispy Asian Brussels Sprouts

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • A pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and set a rack on the very top level. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and reserve.
  2. Prepare the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the base of each sprout and slicing them in half.  Discard any loose outer leaves.
  3. Rinse Brussels sprouts under cold water and drain removing as much excess water as possible.
  4. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with the oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir with your hands to ensure they are well-oiled and salted, and spread out evenly on baking a sheet.
  5. Place in the oven on the top rack for 45-50 minutes. After both 20 and 40 minute mark, stir the Brussels sprouts to ensure all sides get crispy.
  6. When Brussles sprouts are close to being done, prepare the sauce. In a small saute pan, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, lime juice, Sriracha, and black pepper. Reduce sauce over medium-high heat until sauce is thickened (about 5 minutes).  Make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning.
  7.  When fully cooked and crisped on all sides, remove Brussels sprouts from the oven. Place them in a bowl and toss with some of the reduced sauce.  Add sauce the sauce a little bit at a time, as you don’t want the Brussels sprouts to be overly soaked. You want them to retain their crispy texture. You should have a little sauce leftover.
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