About Me

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Simply put, I love food. I revel in everything about it: taste, texture, preparation, presentation, etc. The most favored aspect for me is the social aspect of food…learning to cook from one’s mother, preparing food with friends, grilling out, potlucks, dinner parties or simply meeting for dinner. I light up watching the people I love eat the food that I create. It still truly amazes me how food brings us together. So a little about me. Now in my early 30s, I’ve learned all I know about cooking from my mother and grandmothers. My Midwestern roots are definitely reflected in my cooking style and the recipes that I choose as I am very “meat and potatoes” centric and heavy handed with the butter sometimes. More later, but for now Happy Nomming!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Maple Brown Sugar Granola

When I went gluten free for about a year, I discovered how ridiculously expensive this diet can be.  I mean, really? $5 to $8 for a 12oz bag of granola!  Don't get me wrong, I know that nuts and dried fruit aren't cheap by any means but come on! So I came up with my own granola recipe (a combination of about a dozen recipes I tried) that seemed more cost effective, tasted far more fresh and that I absolutely adore.

It's good with fresh fruit and yogurt, on top of vanilla ice cream or simply drowning in milk.

3 cups of rolled oats (Gluten-free, if preferred)
2 cups of nuts (slivered almonds, chopped pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts or whatever you have on hand)
1 cup of shredded coconut (I use unsweetened shaved coconut, but either will do)
1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (I'm a salt fiend)
1-1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or cherries. Or a combination!)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts, coconut and sugar.  Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together syrup, oil, cinnamon and salt. Coat oat mixture with syrup/oil mixture and toss to combine.   Pour onto one large baking sheet with sides or two smaller sheets in one layer.  Bake for 1-1 1/2 hours, tossing/stirring every 15 minutes until golden brown.

Cool and mix in dried fruit. Store in air tight container.

Make this recipe your own by adding seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax etc.) or other mix-ins.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Triple Cinnamon Scones

Over the past few years, my dad has developed an affinity for scones.  He's very picky about them though. He covets this blueberry version from a bakery in Terre Haute, Indiana and, until about a year ago, they were the only ones that he truly loved.  He doesn't like dry British type scone so I venture that he wouldn't much care for the actual Scotish griddle scone either.

So a couple of years ago, I attempted to make scones for the first time to see if they passed his obviously discriminating taste (this from a man who, in my mother's absence, will eat a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner). I figured if I made them chocolate with chocolate chips that they would surely be a hit and I was right.  I went to my favorite source for any bread creation, King Arthur Flour. (That link will take you directly to a classic scone recipe with a bunch of different variations including the chocolate chocolate chip madness)

Last Christmas, I decided to try making King Arthur's Triple Cinnamon Scones.  According to a bunch of research I've read cinnamon is a great metabolism booster, so I'm fairly certain with the amount of cinnamon that these scones contain you're actually loosing weight while you eat them.*

**Compliments of the fine people at King Arthur Flour**
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup cinnamon chips
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pats
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons water

3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 tablespoons water

Combine the cinnamon chips with the half and half or milk in a small bowl. Let the mixture rest for about 20 minutes. While the cinnamon mixture is resting, get started putting together the rest of the ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.
Add the eggs and vanilla to the cinnamon-milk mixture, stirring to combine. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

Scrape the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Pat/roll it into a rough 9" square, a scant 3/4" thick. Make sure the surface underneath the dough is very well floured. If necessary, use a giant spatula (or the biggest spatula you have) to lift the square, and sprinkle more flour underneath.

Spread the filling over the dough. Fold one edge into the center and over the filling, as though you were folding a letter. Fold the remaining edge over the center to complete the three-fold. You'll now have a rectangle that's stretched to about 4" x 12". Gently pat/roll it to lengthen it into a 3" x 18" rectangle; it'll be between 3/4" and 1" thick.

Cut the rectangle into six 3" squares. Transfer the squares to a lightly greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet. Now you have a choice. For large scones, cut each square in half diagonally to make a triangle; you'll have 12 scones. For medium scones, cut each square in half diagonally again, making four triangular scones from each square. Gently separate the scones (if you like scones with crunchy edges), leaving about 1" between them. For softer scones, separate the scones just enough to break contact between them.

For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bake the scones for 16 to 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan.  This is the hardest part as now your entire house smells of cinnamony goodness.

Make the glaze by stirring together the sugar, cinnamon, and water. If the sugar seems particularly lumpy, sift it first, for an extra-smooth glaze. Line a baking sheet (with sides) with parchment, and pour about half the glaze atop the parchment. Set the scones atop the glaze, swirling them around a bit to coat their bottoms. Then drizzle the remaining glaze over the top. Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over each scone, to coat it entirely. The glaze is very thin, so this is easily done. Transfer the scones to a rack set over parchment, to catch any drips. As you pick each scone up, run its sides over the glaze in the bottom of the pan, both to use up some of the extra glaze, and to make sure all sides are coated. Allow the glaze to set before serving the scones.

*This is, of course, a false statement.  There's a stick of butter in this recipe. I'm pretty sure you could eat the entire jar of cinnamon and it won't counteract the fat content in that. 

Happy Birthday to the most important man, my hero, and my first love...my dad!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Eggs Galore!

So I remember when I went off to college, my mom telling me stories of when she and my father moved in together at Purdue.  She worked in some sort of chicken facility so she got to take home eggs all of the time.  Whenever they were low on funds, there were always plenty of eggs to be had.  Her go-to meal in a pinch is still fried egg sandwiches.

Now I can whip up a fried egg sandwich with the best of them, but somehow they never turn out as good as my mom's.  Doesn't that sound completely stupid? It's an egg, butter, a frying pan and some salt & pepper...so how does hers taste so much better than mine. Duh! Cause everything is better when your mother makes it for you.

So here's what I've been doing with eggs lately. (Oh and a little bit of leftover bacon from the Midwesterner's Bread.  I know, really?  I had leftover bacon? Totally unheard of! But it happened.)

Both of these recipes serve one hungry person.

Modified (GF) Egg in a Frame (aka Toad in a Hole and/or One-eyed Jack)

1 bell pepper, sliced in 1/2" rings
3-4 eggs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Place bell pepper rings in hot oil and saute for approximately 2 minutes. Flip rings and break one egg into each. Season with salt & pepper. Cover until eggs are cooked until desired (I like mine over-easy or medium hard). Adorn with toppins! I choose bacon (I will always choose bacon!) and cheese. Serve hot, delicious and gluten free!

Italian Eggs of Nom

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced (or a 1/2 teaspoon of that jarred stuff you have in your fridge door)
1/4 of a small onion, diced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, pureed
1/2  teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of parmesan
2-3 eggs (dependent on the volume of your stomach growl)

Heat olive oil over medium. Saute garlic and onions until translucent. Puree tomatoes with rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. (Feel free to use the fresh stuff, but I can't seem to use that stuff before it spoils in my fridge and I manage to kill all of the live plants I buy) Cook down until tomato sauce thickens. Stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle on the parmesan cheesey goodness. Break eggs atop the cheese. Cover and cook to desired. I like mine over-medium for this one. Serve hot with some oven 'fried' potatoes! (recipe follows)

Oven 'Fried' Potatoes (for one)

One potato (of any variety*), sliced 1/4-1/2"
Olive oil
Salt & pepper (or seasoned salt and pepper rather!!!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay the potato slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on desired seasonings. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, turning once about halfway through.  Serve with some Sriracha cause that stuff is liquid crack to a potato!

*Try with sweet potatoes. Season with cumin and drizzle lime juice on them prior to serving! (Skip the Sriracha on this one though)