Elote Inspired Tostadas

Aunt Suzy says

I saw this article and recipe in last week’s Taste section of our local newspaper and that was all the inspiration I needed. The headline was “One more taste of summer” and I said yes, please. Tomatoes and corn are still plentiful here in Minnesota and I have not yet had my fill of either. If you know us here at S&SK you will already expect that I made a few adaptations to the recipe, but I think following the original, using my recipe or making up your own riff would all end in a great tasting tostada. We both loved these, and as Randy said “this has great mouth appeal”. Indeed!

Elote-inspired Tostadas with Corn, Chicken and Avocado

This note is from the original article: Elote, or roasted corn on the cob, is a popular street food in Mexico, and is often served with condiments such as Cotija cheese, lime juice, mayonnaise and ground chile peppers.

This recipe makes approximately 8 tostadas.

This tostada consists of layers (starting from the bottom) of avocado, corn, chicken, cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced onion and optional cheese. Prepare the layers as follows:

For the chicken: Shred approximately 2 cups of cooked chicken. This could easily be from leftover roast or rotisserie chicken or cook up a couple of chicken breasts. We baked 2 bone-in/skin-on breasts sprinkled with some ground cumin and ground chile. (I had ground red Hatch chile on hand.)

Once the chicken is shredded, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet on medium high. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic. Saute for a minute stirring constantly. Add the chicken, saute for another minute or two, then add 1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles. Cook for another couple of minutes until heated through all chicken is coated with the sauce. Stir in a squeeze of lime and some salt, to taste. Set aside. The chicken can be served warm or room temperature.

For the corn: You’ll want about 2 cups of corn. I got that amount from 4 large ears of sweet corn. Shuck the corn and then slice the kernels off the cobs. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Once hot, add the corn kernels and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste). Saute, stirring often until some of the kernels start to brown. Remove from heat, turn into a bowl and set aside to cool. Once cool, add 1-2 teaspoons mayonnaise, a squeeze of lime and some salt, all to taste.

For the avocado: Mash 2 ripe avocados to the consistency of a chunky paste. Add a squeeze of lime and some salt, to taste.

For the tostadas:

Chop 1/2 yellow or white onion.  Seed and chop one ripe red tomato. Chop 1/2-1 cup cilantro leaves. These can be kept in separate bowls or combined for a quick pico de gallo.

Crumble some feta cheese or have on hand grated Cotijo cheese, optional.

Have on hand the required number of tostadas. You can make them yourself from tortillas – instructions included in the original recipe. But if you live near a Hispanic grocery, I say go ahead and buy a package! We got two meals of 8 tostadas each from our package with enough leftover to give to friends Sue and Al for a meal! NOTE: If you’re making these for kids, I think hard taco shells might be easier for them to eat. Just a thought. 🙂

Assembling the tostadas:

Spread some avocado on the tostada. Add a layer of the corn, then some chicken. Top with the onion, tomato, cilantro and cheese if using. If you love lime, squeeze a little on top. Dig in!!

Vegetarian option:

The next night we made vegetarian tostadas, starting with a layer of refried beans, then adding the corn on top. Instead of mashing the avocado, we chopped it and added it on top with the onion, tomato, cilantro and cheese. Rave reviews for this approach too!

Holiday granola

Margaux says…

This time of year, when peaches are extra, super delicious at the farmer’s market (and those 4 lb boxes at Trader Joe’s! Yum!) my favorite breakfast is yogurt, granola and peaches. It’s really like a heavenly dessert for breakfast. Juicy, sweet peaches. Creamy, rich (whole milk, of course) yogurt. And crunchy granola, with tons of nuts and a hint of salty-sweet. I also have it for dessert sometimes, too (it’s great on ice cream!) And for a mid-day snack. We walk through one of those 4 lb boxes of peaches in about a half a week!

Holiday Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

The granola is just as an important ingredient as the peaches. It can’t be too sweet, too chewy, or too hard. Supermarket granola, even the best kind, always has a weird aftertaste to me, almost like a coating is left in my mouth. I really don’t like it. Thankfully, making your own granola is really easy. I have two recipes that I use, both from my Aunt Judy. I’ve already posted one, the original “crunchy granola,” that I make on a regular basis. It’s very cheap, quick and easy. I also use this recipe, which Aunt Judy calls “Holiday Granola.” It has a few more ingredients (more nuts!), and uses real maple syrup instead of honey and maple flavoring like the other one. My aunt makes it for friends and family members as Christmas gifts, which is how I first tasted it. It makes a perfect Christmas gift because of the pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) and dried cranberries: it’s red and green. I prefer it to the “Crunchy Granola” recipe, but don’t make it as often because it’s quite a bit more expensive. But it is totally worth it!

Maple Pecan Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Holiday Granola

4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup large flake, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ, preferably untoasted*
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries, or other dried fruit blend (optional)**

* I’ve made this gluten-free by substituting flax meal for the wheat germ and had great results.

**I leave out the dried fruit during the summer because I don’t want it competing with my delicious in-season fruits. Totally your call, though. 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Heat maple syrup, oil and salt together, stirring to dissolve salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in large flat pan (I use a large baking sheet and it fits perfectly).  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or more, until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Sprinkle dried fruit over granola and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in airtight containers.

Note: I have subbed all sorts of nuts for the ones suggested, just sticking to the same measurements. In this last batch I swapped half the pecans for cashews, and in the past I have used chopped walnuts in place of pecans, pistachios in place of pumpkin seeds and an additional 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in place of sesame seeds. Just make sure all the nuts are raw and unsalted!

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

September 13, 2015

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Margaux says…

I know, I know…why am I posting about something boring like tuna pasta salad? Where’s the cake? Cookies? Cupcakes? It’s end of summer harvest…where are the tomatoes? Zucchini? Sweet corn? Well, sometimes I have nothing in the pantry but a couple of cans of tuna, some pasta, some frozen peas and some parsley.  When I desperately need to go grocery shopping, it’s likely that I have those things. So I make this tuna pasta salad, a recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated 30-minute suppers magazine that I’ve vowed to post all of my favorite recipes from.

And this is not your normal tuna pasta salad. It’s not mayonnaise-y or sweet. It has great flavor and a little bit of a bite from the lemon, garlic and Dijon mustard. I like to serve it on a bed of arugula, and if I have them on hand, with a handful of cherry tomatoes thrown in, too. The original recipe calls for toasted breadcrumbs on top, which I don’t love the texture of, but I’ll include the steps to that for those of you who would like it!

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

adapted from 30-Minute Suppers from America’s Test Kitchen, Fall 2010 edition

2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (optional)

1/2 cup olive oil (plus 1 tbsp if doing bread crumbs)

3 tbsp juice from one lemon

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 (6-oz) cans tuna packed in water, drained and flaked into large chunks (I like the “chunk light” tuna)

1 pound small shells

2 cups frozen peas

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. If doing bread crumbs, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about 6 pulses. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

2. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper together in large bowl. Slowly whisk in remaining oil. Gently toss tuna with 1/4 cup dressing in separate bowl.

3. Meanwhile, add shells and 1 tbsp salt to boiling water and cook until almost al dente. Add peas to pot and cook additional 1 minute. Drain pasta and peas and rinse with cold water. Add pasta, peas and parsley to bowl with remaining dressing and toss to coat. Gently fold in tuna and season with salt and pepper. Serve, topping each portion with bread crumbs.

Serve over a bed of arugula, or by itself with a green salad on the side.

multigrain sandwich bread - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Yesterday was a total flop in the kitchen. I started out making this bread, got to step two and couldn’t find the honey ANYWHERE. I asked my 2-year-old daughter, who is notorious for hiding things, where she put it. “Ummmmmmm….in there,” she said uncertainly, and halfheartedly pointed towards the living room. My multigrain cereal was quickly cooling, soon going to drop below the 100 degree mark, and I frantically searched the house, to no avail. I gave up, and scrapped the now very cool cereal, and made granola. (Which turned out great, so I suppose the day wasn’t a total failure. And while I was at my hair appointment, which was also a success, my husband found the honey where Stella squirreled it away in a shopping bag in the kitchen. Sigh.)

weighing ingredients

dough ball

Homemade pasta was on the menu for that night, which I got started on immediately after my haircut. I’d made it only once before, but it was pretty easy and seamless, so I thought it would be no problem to make starting at 3:30 pm. Ha. I mistakenly used a different recipe, and after 2 hours of work had to throw out the whole thing. Of course, I cried. And the kids, bored with TV and with me being in the kitchen, started going bonkers. I turned just in time to see my daughter playing in the bowl of flours that I was saving for the bread I wanted to start on again the next day. When my husband came home from work, I was at my wits end, and said I was never going in the kitchen again. Ok, end of rant.

rolled out dough
rolled out dough
dough log

Here I am, the next day, making the bread. I can say it’s because I’m saving us money, but that would only be part of the truth (good bread is expensive!). But it’s mostly because it’s been a month since I made this last, and I have been dreaming about it. I don’t think I can eat another supermarket loaf again, at least not for awhile. This bread is amazing. It takes my family about 4 days to walk through two loaves. I wouldn’t say it’s SUPER easy to make, but so worth it. This winter, when we didn’t have much to do but sit around and read and play games and make food, I kept us stocked with this bread. So, here I am, back in the kitchen, making this bread, while my crazy daughter is doing who-knows-what. This time I will at least make sure I have the honey, and that she keeps her hands out of the flour.

loaves, before rise
loaves, after rise

 

Multigrain Sandwich Bread - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Easy Multigrain Sandwich Bread - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Easy Multigrain Sandwich Bread

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (of course)

Tools you will need in order to make this:
-Stand mixer with dough hook attachment
-Two 9×5″ loaf pans (I have made this with 8×4″ pans, and it turned out okay, but I would recommend the bigger size)
-Kitchen thermometer (preferably instant-read)

Tools that really really come in handy when making this:
-Water sprayer/spritzer bottle
-Bench scraper (like this one)
-Kitchen scale (I like this one because it comes in a rainbow of colors, and it slides nicely in with my cookbooks on the shelf because it’s nice and flat.)

A note on ingredients: You will need to get a 7-grain hot cereal mix, like the ones from Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills. You will find it in the cereal aisle, with the hot cereals, but I’ve found that it’s not in all grocery stores. I have bought it on Amazon a few times; it’s a good idea if you’re going to use it often because it’s a bigger package. It’s also really delicious as actual breakfast cereal. 🙂

6 1/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) 7-grain hot cereal mix
20 ounces (2 1/2 cups) boiling water
15 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting work surface)
7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
4 tbsp honey *(see below for vegan option)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, *(see below for vegan option)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon table salt
3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin or sunflower seeds (I do half and half if I have both)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1. Place cereal mix in bowl of standing mixer and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour. Whisk flours in medium bowl.**
2. Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, melted butter, and yeast and stir to combine. Attach bowl to standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer running on low speed, add flours, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until dough forms ball, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; cover bowl with plastic and let dough rest 20 minutes. Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3 to 4 minutes (if it does not clear sides, add 2 to 3 tablespoons additional flour and continue mixing); continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes on low (on my Kitchenmaid, it’s speed level 2). Add seeds and knead for another 15 seconds. Transfer dough to floured work surface and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, taut ball. Place dough into greased container with 4-quart capacity; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.***
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 9×5-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and pant into 12×9-inch rectangle ****(see note below); cut dough in half crosswise with knife or bench scraper. With short side facing you, starting at farthest end, roll one dough piece into a log. Pinch seam together gently. Spritz with water all over, then roll in the oats so that they completely cover the loaf. Drop loaf into prepared pan, then repeat process for second loaf. Cover loaves lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes (in the winter, when my kitchen is chilly, I rise the loaves on my stovetop while the oven is preheating). Dough should barely spring back when poked with your knuckle when it is ready to go in the oven. Bake until internal temperature registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 35-40 minutes. (I start checking at 30 minutes). Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire rack before slicing, about 3 hours.

Notes:

This bread is called easy, and it is. The 7-grain cereal replaces a whole bunch of different flours, so the ingredient list is pretty minimal for a multigrain bread. I’ve never been much of a bread-baker; baking with yeast seemed daunting to me. This was one of the first bread recipes I ever tried, and it turned out great the first time! However, it is time consuming. It takes almost 4 hours to make this, from start to finish, including resting and rising times. The nice part is that you can get the hot cereal mix going, and get all your other ingredients ready while it’s cooling. But for me, the rest and rise times just aren’t quite long enough for me to go anywhere, so it has to be made on a day that I’ll be sticking around the house.

*Vegan options: For the butter, you can probably substitute Earth Balance, but my trusted vegan source says that what’s way way better is making your own vegan butter from scratch. She uses this recipe. For the honey, my source recommends “Honee”, which is a vegan honey substitute made from apples and lemon. Agave syrup would probably be too sweet, and I think maple syrup is too strong of a flavor, although if you can’t find Honee and don’t want to order on Amazon, maple syrup is probably your best bet.

**Having a digital kitchen scale is so very helpful when baking. I just started doing this, and wish I would have started years ago! It’s a more accurate way to measure flour and other dry ingredients, and it is super fast and easy. I just put my bowl on the scale, hit “tare”, add the first ingredient, then hit “tare” again, and add the next ingredient. “Tare” clears the scale, so you are weighing just what you’re putting in after pushing it. I recommended a scale above, but you can find ones even cheaper on Amazon that get good reviews.

***An easy way to get your dough to the perfect 12×9″ size before making into loaves, spread your flour out on the counter, and then draw a 12×9″ rectangle in the flour with your finger. Then plop your dough in the middle of the rectangle and gently press it to the edges of the drawn rectangle. (See photos)

quick tip
rolled out dough

 

****Today while baking the bread, I ended up running out of time before it would be ready to go in the oven, so I tried slowing down the final rise process by putting the prepared loaves in the refrigerator. They ended up still really great, so if you are short on time for some reason, I recommend putting your prepared loaves in the fridge until you can bake them. I’m not sure exactly how long you can do this for…the recommended rise time for the loaves is 35-40 minutes at room temperature. I put them in the fridge right after preparing them, and took them out to bake about 3.5 hours later and they had doubled in size in the fridge. I let them get back to room temperature (set them on the stovetop while the oven preheated) before baking. I don’t think you could let them sit in the fridge for much longer than that since they doubled already in that amount of time…definitely not overnight. But this is a quick fix if you somehow run short on time and need to come back to it later!

Snickerdoodles

March 3, 2015

Snickerdoodles

Margaux says..

It’s really difficult for me to get requests for foods or treats out of my husband, except for when it comes to cookies. He loves cookies. If I baked cookies once a week, he would be a happy man. And his taste is simple: chocolate chip is his favorite, and any other simple cookie like unfrosted sugar cookies, chocolate cookies, oatmeal cookies, and snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles remind me of my childhood…both my aunt and my grandma made them on a regular basis. The flavor is like cinnamon toast, all buttery and cinnamony, a perfect treat on a dreary winter day.

Snickerdoodle dough

I love the texture of snickerdoodles…chewy in the center, slightly crispy on the edges. This recipe gives you that perfect texture. I’ve tried tons of different recipes for them, and sometimes they turn out a little too cakey, and sometimes a little too crispy. The Martha Stewart recipe is a winner. And they require very few ingredients, which most people have on hand, so they are the perfect spontaneous baking project!

Snickerdoodles

 

Snickerdoodles

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into twenty 1 3/4-inch balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Italian Chicken Casserole

February 28, 2015

Italian Chicken Casserole

Margaux says…

Back in the relaxing days of only having one small child, I used to watch a lot of daytime TV. My son would only nap for long stretches when he was laying on me…if I tried to lay him down in his own bed, on our bed, or on the couch, he would wake up within 10 minutes. And then would be crabby for the rest of the day. Luckily he was my first born, and got lots of snuggles on the couch, every day, for the first 2.5 years of his life. It got frustrating: dirty dishes would sit in the sink, phone calls would go unanswered, laundry would sit in the dryer, dinner would go un-prepped. I had no smartphone, so no emails, Facebook, or Words with Friends. So, I watched A LOT of television. And after I had marathoned Doctor Who, Firefly and Veronica Mars on Netflix (thank goodness we had Netflix), I turned to daytime TV. And a whole bunch of Food Network. And I’m actually glad for it, because I learned a bunch of really great cooking tips from Ina, and quick meal ideas from Rachel and Giada. This was one of them, and I make it on a pretty regular basis. I remember it was on an episode when Giada was cooking with a child, so it’s meant to be a good recipe for a kid to help with. Which is true, my son has helped me make it many times. It can be prepared in about 30 minutes. A great weeknight meal!

Italian Chicken Casserole

 

Italian Chicken Casserole

This makes enough for 4 people, in an 8×8″ glass baking dish. I like to double the recipe and bake in a 13×9″ dish so we have plenty of leftovers.

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Note: This can also be made with already cooked chicken. Just saute the onion and garlic on their own, and add the chicken to the bowl with everything and toss.

Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens
Oatmeal, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chip really doesn’t adequately describe these cookies. It’s more like: Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Browned Butter Almond and Craisin Cookies. But that’s too hard to remember. These cookies are jam packed with yummy goodies, and I LOVE cookies with everything but the kitchen sink in them. These are exceptional, and I think it’s the coconut. So, if you’re like me, and love coconut and chocolate together, you should give these a try. My Aunt Cindy emailed me this recipe last spring, and I have made them several times.

Browned Butter

The original recipe didn’t call for browned butter, but after making cookies with browned butter in them, I’m always willing to go the extra mile. It really enhances the flavor! These cookies have so much in them, that I don’t feel bad grabbing one for breakfast even. Protein, fiber, carbs, vitamin C…it has it all. Right? 😉

cookie dough

oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens
Oatmeal, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 24 large cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups packaged finely shredded unsweetened coconut (see note below)*
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
3/4 cup almonds with skins (4 oz), toasted, cooled, and chopped
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Brown the butter: In a large saucepan (preferably light in color so that you can see when the butter browns so that it doesn’t burn), melt one and a half sticks of the butter on high heat. When it’s just melted, start swirling the pan around on the burner, until you see the butter starting to brown on the bottom of the pan (it will appear as little brown bits on the bottom). Remove from the heat, and put the remaining half stick of butter in the pan and swirl around until completely melted. Set aside to allow to cool slightly.

Beat together butter and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium
speed (or beat by hand with a wire whisk). Add eggs and beat until just blended, about 30 seconds. Let sit for one minute, then beat for 30 more seconds. Then beat in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Add flour and mix at low speed until just blended (or carefully stir in by hand with a wooden spoon). Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit.

Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased) (about 8 cookies per sheet). Pat down cookie dough slightly so that it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position and rotating pans halfway through baking, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes total (it should still look just slightly underdone in the center).

Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies in same manner.

Cook’s notes: I have made these without the browned butter step, also, and they are still great. Just use room temperature butter, and beat it on high speed with the sugars until light in color and texture. I have also used pecans instead of almonds, and left out the craisins altogether, although I like the tartness of the craisins paired with the sweetness of the chocolate.

My Aunt Cindy just reminded me that these also can be made subbing half the butter for coconut oil! It gives a more intense coconut flavor. If you still want the browned butter, just brown one stick of butter, and then swirl in the coconut oil once the butter is browned.

*note on coconut: I have used both unsweetened shredded and sweetened (the regular Baker’s shredded coconut found in the baking aisle). The unsweetened is preferable, but in a pinch you can use sweetened. It makes the cookies MUCH more sweet, and I feel like the coconut flavor is lost a little because of that. So maybe decrease the sugar a bit and use only a tablespoon or two of the granulated.

I love these warm, and highly recommend microwaving them for 20 seconds or so before eating them (or just eating them right off the pan!).

Lemon Ice Cream - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My aunt Judy lives in North Carolina, and my mom and I went to visit her several times through my childhood.  One of the times we were there, I’m thinking when I was in junior high, she served this homemade lemon ice cream.  That lemon ice cream stuck in my mind for YEARS…it was SO GOOD.  Then on one of our more recent visits, she made it again, without me even suggesting it, and it was exactly as I had remembered.  Creamy and tart, and so, so good.  But I didn’t have an ice cream maker, so I wasn’t able to make it myself.  I’ve always wanted an ice cream maker, though, with this ice cream in mind as one of the first things to make.

Well, this spring I found an ice cream maker at a thrift store…a vintage 1970’s Master Chef.  And it works perfectly.  I made vanilla ice cream first, just as a test run, and to serve with a chocolate cake I made.  But I was dying to make the lemon ice cream.  I emailed Aunt Judy for the recipe, and she sent it, along with it’s origins.

She first tasted the lemon ice cream at Maldaner’s Restaurant in Springfield, IL, when my Aunt Annie took her there when she was a teenager.  Back then, they called it Lemon Creme Sherbet, and they claim it is based on a recipe from Mary Todd Lincoln.  It obviously had the same influence on Judy as it did me, because she went home and tried to recreate it!  She says this recipe has the same flavor and texture as the restaurant’s, as far as she can recollect.  Now I kind of want to make a trip down to Springfield to check this place out, and taste the sherbet for myself!

Old fashioned Lemon Ice Cream Soda - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

I also thought this was really good in an old-fashioned ice cream soda!  When I was a kid, whenever my dad took me to Dairy Queen, I would order an old-fashioned chocolate ice cream soda.  It was my absolute favorite.  They took it off the menu when I was a teenager, and I rarely see them on menus at ice cream shops.  They should make a comeback, because they’re really good.  My dad said that when he was a kid, there was an ice cream soda stand in Peoria, IL, that had every flavor you could imagine.  I had some lemon flavored La Croix on hand, so I thought it would be fun to try a lemon ice cream soda.  I’m sure it’s supposed to have lemon syrup in it as well, but to me this was perfect.  Not to sweet, nice and tart and creamy, and the soda makes the best ice crystals with the ice cream.  Just pour some soda water over ice cream and you’re set!  Of course, I added some whipped cream, too.

Lemon Creme Sherbet

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/3 c. sugar

4 tsp. flour

1 1/3 c. half and half

1/3 c. milk

1/8 tsp. salt

****************************************

1⁄2 c. milk

1⁄2 c. lemon juice

1 1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon rind

Beat egg and yolk in medium bowl until fluffy. Set aside. Mix next five ingredients in heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly till mixture thickens (10 – 15 min).

Slowly add small amount of hot mixture to eggs whisking thoroughly. Return this mixture to pan. Cook and stir 1 additional minute. Chill.

Add remaining milk and lemon juice. Mixture will be curdly. Process in ice cream maker, folding in lemon rind just before packing to freeze.

 

Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies

Margaux says…

I was at the farmer’s market yesterday and saw that sour cherries are still available around here.  I was surprised, because I know that sour cherries are only available for a short while…and we picked ours a month ago!  But of course I wasn’t thinking about the fact that there are a few different varieties of them, and the ones available now are a darker red shade, but still just as sour.  So, I wasn’t going to post this recipe because I thought the season was over, but we’re in luck around here!  Grab some this weekend and bake these…I promise you won’t be sorry.  The crust is heavenly, and I love hand pies because the crust to filling ratio is perfect.  And these are a perfect dessert to bring to your friend’s BBQ!  No serving hassle at all…just put them on a plate and watch them disappear.

sour cherry hand pies - sweet & savory kitchens

Sour Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies

adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe for rhubarb cream cheese hand pies

The Crust:
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Using your hands, knead it just two or three times to form a ball. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days or slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

The Cherry Filling:
1 lb. pitted sour cherries (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp instant tapioca

Place cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan with sugar and tapioca and stir to combine. Cover and cook at medium-low heat for 15 minutes, no need to stir. Increase the heat to medium, remove the lid and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until thick enough that if you run a spoon across the bottom of the pot, you can see a trench quickly form and disappear. Spread mixture on a large plate in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly, then scrape into a bowl. Keep cold until needed; it will be thicker and easier to “scoop” onto the pie bases.

The Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large egg yolk

Beat cream cheese, sugar, zest, juice and yolk together in a small bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Keep cold until needed.

Assembly:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Coarse sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two to three baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat your remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water and keep aside with a pastry brush.

Dust your counter or pastry mat with a lot of flour, unwrap the first half of your dough and start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the floured pin and moving it from the center out. Be patient about rolling, don’t press too hard, and it won’t crack as easily. Roll until 1/8″ thick. I cut mine into circles using a 3″ biscuit cutter, but you can also cut into 3″ squares using a pizza wheel or pastry cutter. You won’t have as much dough scraps left if you cut into squares, but I really wanted rounds. If doing rounds, you’ll have quite a bit of scraps, which you can form back into a ball, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then re-roll and cut some more. It will make for slightly tougher crust on those, but I didn’t think it made that big of a difference. If your dough becomes soft, slide onto baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. It will make it easier to assemble.

Brush half the squares very, very lightly with the egg wash; these will be your bases. Cut a small vent in the other half of the squares; these will be your lids. In the center of each egg washed square, put a small dollop (a measured teaspoon) of cream cheese, then cherry filling on top. Don’t overfill! Top each filled base with a vented square. Press outer edge of top and bottom all around to seal with your fingertips or a fork. Transfer pie to a baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, including second half from fridge, and fillings (you will probably have some fillings left over…you can do what I did and re-roll the remaining scraps a third time and make a tiny little pie for someone who won’t mind tough pie crust, like my son. 🙂 )

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden, and even more brown at edges. Transfer to cooling racks and cool to room temperature before serving.

TACO TUESDAY!

March 4, 2014

Tacos - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We love tacos around here.  Really really love them.  Especially since it’s become my son’s favorite food, and, well, if you have a toddler, you know how important that is.  Since Desi turned 3.5, he went from eating everything we gave him to becoming vegetarian and not eating much of anything at all.  We’ve come a long way from there, and luckily we have a kid that has never disliked vegetables, even through the tough eating times.  But he’s still pretty picky now, and won’t eat much of what I make anymore.  So we have back-ups in our fridge for nights that he won’t eat what I make for the rest of us: veggie dogs, taco and quesadilla fixings, cooked noodles and tomato sauce…you get the idea.  Kid stuff.  In the meantime, we have tacos as a family pretty often.  Almost once a week.  And when we saw The Lego Movie, we thought “Taco Tuesday” sounded pretty awesome.  Because, you know, “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.”

I’ve been making my own taco seasoning ever since I discovered the recipe in my Joy of Cooking that Aunt Suzy gave me back in 2001.  I never loved the super salty McCormick packets that we always used before, and was super excited in my early cooking years to discover how easy it is to make yourself.  I almost always have taco seasoning stuff on hand, and it takes less time to make the meat and/or beans part of the tacos than it takes to prepare everything else.  Now that we have a vegetarian in the family, I make meat for us and season a can of black beans in almost the same way for him, basing it on this fabulous recipe that we posted about last summer.  I also almost always make homemade guacamole, because Desi decided he only likes avocados in that form anymore (we used to just put chopped up avocados on our tacos).  I use this recipe because it keeps longer and tastes better with all the lime juice in it.  I also make pico de gallo (recipe below) instead of just plain chopped up tomatoes.  It’s better that way, and then we can eat the leftovers the next day on tortilla chips for an after-school snack.  Our other fixings are shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, taco sauce (not really needed, if you ask me…but hubby and son love the stuff), and black olives.  I know, it’s weird, but it’s what I grew up putting on my tacos, and one of the reasons Desi loves tacos so much.

We have a few other taco recipes here, because I think Aunt Suzy loves tacos, too.  Maybe not as much as Desi, though.  🙂

Chipotle Chicken Soft Tacos
Fish Tacos with Avocado Slaw and Chipotle Sour Cream
Fish Tacos with Lime Guacamole and Cabbage Slaw
Fish Tacos with Black Bean Salsa
Braised Greens and Onion Tacos

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

YES, we love tacos up here in the Northland also! A few comments:  We often do veggie tacos with seasoned beans, but Randy also makes the taco filling with Tempeh as a substitute for the meat. He breaks it up into small chunks and toasts it in a skillet with a little oil and whole cumin seeds to get it crispy. This helps it keep its shape and texture when added to the sauce with seasonings and onions. We also like diced zucchini and shredded carrot with these traditional style tacos. We often serve doctored up refried beans as a side. So Margaux . . . does your family like soft tortillas or crispy taco shells?  For us, corn is a must – no flour tortillas for these – and we go back and forth on soft or crispy!

Margaux says..

We like soft tacos…corn and flour.  I always buy both, and we all have a couple of each.  I almost never buy hard shells, mainly because I never think of it!  I’m sure Desi would love them.  I’ll have to remember next Tuesday!  🙂

Ground Beef, Chicken or Turkey for Tacos

adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of anise seeds, slightly crushed
salt to taste
1 cup tomato sauce (one small can)
minced fresh jalapenos, other fresh chili peppers, or chipotle peppers in adobo

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, about 4-5 minutes.
2. Increase heat to medium-high and add the meat. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, anise and salt. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fully incorporated and fragrant.
4. Add tomato sauce and minced peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10 minutes.

Pico de Gallo

Seed and chop 2-3 Roma tomatoes, 1/4 red onion, and cilantro. Seed and mince half an jalepeno. Mix all in a small bowl together, with a squeeze of lime juice.