Spring In A Bite

Spring is just around the corner and these are a perfect first bite of the season. I made them for a party and they held up perfectly. The stored ones for lunch got a little dry. I’d recommend making them fresh or try wrapping them with a damp towel if you’re storing them for tomorrow’s lunch. Enjoy!

Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

  • 4-5 rice paper wraps (the circle ones that you have to rehydrate)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ hothouse cucumber, julienned
  • 2-3 carrots, julienned
  • ¼ head purple cabbage, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 head napa cabbage, very thinly sliced
  • large handful baby spinach
  • Firm tofu (can be flavored) cut into 1/4″ strips
  • fresh cilantro, mint and basil
  • You could also add lobster or other meats and rice noodles if desired.

Peanut Sauce

  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • juice of ½ lime
  1. Put all veggies and herb on a platter for eat assembly.
  2. Whisk together all Peanut Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  1. Fill a shallow bowl with warm water.
  1. Working one at a time, dip a rice paper wrap in warm water until it becomes just pliable, about 10 seconds. (You don’t want the wrapper to fully soften while you’re soaking it; it should still have structure when you pull it from the water and will continue to soften while you apply fillings.)
  2. Lay wrapper flat on a large clean surface and arrange a small amount of each topping in the center of the bottom-third, beginning with spinach and striving to keep the pokier ingredients (peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots) last, where they will be more protected within the roll.
  3. Gently bring the bottom of the wrapper up over the ingredients, completing at least one full roll before folding in the left and right sides; continue to roll until fully wrapped. (Roll should be somewhat snug — and yes, it takes a couple of tries to get it right.) Set aside and repeat until all fillings have been used.
  4. Serve rolls whole or sliced in half (for presentation purposes only) with Peanut Sauce on the side.
  5. Enjoy!

Bake Sale Betty Knock Offs

I’ve never been to the restaurant but friends have had parties with Bakesale Betty catering. Bakesale Betty is a restaurant in Oakland, CA. And although, I’ve never been, I love Betty. These chicken fried sandwiches that she has inspired me to make for every major sporting/watch-and-eat event. They’re crunchy and savory and oh so easy to eat way too much of. They’re also great booze absorbers.

Bakesale Betty Knock Offs

  • 4 whole boneless, skinless full chicken breasts (or 8 if they’re halved)
  • 2 packages of biscuit dough (or make your own, ambitious one)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 TBSP kosher salt
  • 1/2 head cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 TBSP poppy seeds
  • 1-2 jalapeños, diced
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Canola oil

Bake biscuits according to package – or your recipe.

While biscuits are backing, mix cabbage, cilantro, poppy seeds and jalapeños. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and set aside (kids do not like this slaw so I always serve it as an add on).

Mix eggs in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix part of the panko, flour and salt (this you’ll need to keep filling as the chicken cooks.) Cut chicken pieces diagonally to appropriate size of biscuits. Dredge chicken in eggs then dry mix.

Heat oil in a pan about 1″ deep. Heat until quick but not vigorous bubbles form around panko that’s dropped in to the pan. don’t let it over heat or smoke.

Add chicken to oil and cook until done. Drain on paper towels.

Assemble chicken sandwiches and devour!

Holy QUESO, Batman!!

Stop what you’re doing and make this NOW! Make it as a weekend snack. Serve it with margaritas. Bring it to your friends’ house in a fondue pot and be forever more, the most invited person to every eating event ever.

I love you, homesicktexan.com for this recipe – like love love!

Best Queso Ever (Bob Armstrong Dip)

Ingredients for the taco meat:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 bell pepper. seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne

Ingredients for the chile con queso:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound American cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • Salt
  • Sour cream and guacamole for garnishing
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions

  1. To make the taco meat, in a large skillet heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the bell pepper, jalapeño, and onion. While stirring occasionally, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add the ground beef to the skillet, along with the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir until everything is well combined and then cook the ground beef for 15 more minutes, or until browned. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and drain any excess grease.
  3. To make the queso, in a saucepot heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the jalapeño and onion. While stirring occasionally, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
  4. Leaving on the heat, stir in the cumin, black pepper, and cornstarch until the dry ingredients are well combined with the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and while stirring cook until the sauce has thickened, which should happen in a couple of minutes.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and working in batches, slowly stir in a handful of the cheese. After it’s melted into the sauce, repeat the process until all the cheese is added. Stir in the tomatoes, adjust seasonings, and add salt to taste.
  6. This makes a lot of queso. To keep it hot and reduce the “skin” from forming, serve in a fondue pot. To assemble, layer along the bottom of the dish the taco meat, then pour in the queso and then top with the guacamole and sour cream. Serve warm with chips

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Ok, ok. I know. It’s not the season but I’ve been really delinquent in posting and really need to archive this recipe. It’s so damn good! Seriously. Mark this one for next Summer’s jam making extravaganza.

Summer Jam

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries (chopped)
  • 1 cup rhubarb (roughly 1 stalk) (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place a small dish into the freezer to use for testing the jam.

In a large deep skillet, add strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice. Heat and stir until it reaches a rolling boil. Boil and stir until it thickens, 10 minutes. When it seems like it is gelling, take your plate out of the freezer. Put a small spoonful of the jam onto the plate and let sit for 30 seconds. Tilt it. If it slides too fast, keep cooking. If it moves slow, it is done. Test every minute or two and do not overcook it. Spoon into heat-proof container and cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I froze some and am still loving the fruits of a quick Summer’s bounty boil.

To can jam:
  1. Wash one 8-ounce (or 6-ounce + 2-ounce) glass mason jar with a two-piece lid with soap and hot water. Dry completely.
  2. Add the jar(s) and lid pieces to a large pot of boiling water deep enough for the jar(s) to be completely submerged in water. Once the water is boiling, leave the jar(s) in there until ready to use.
  3. Remove the jar(s) and lids from water and drain out all of the water from the jar. Keep the water boiling. Spoon the jam into the jar(s). Wipe excess jam off the rim of the jar(s) so it will seal properly. Add the lid. You may want to use an oven mitt so you can hold the jar(s) still.
  4. Place sealed jar(s) back into the boiling water and boil for 15 minutes. Make sure it is submerged in the water. Remove from the water and let dry on a heat-resistant surface for 18-24 hours. Once cool, press down on the lid. If it stays down, it is sealed. If it pops back up, put in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

Shrimp Ceviche

After living on the islands for two weeks, I came home a pescaderian. Not really but I feel so good when I eat fish. And I was craving something summery and fresh. Sooo, why not try ceviche?

Note: this being my first time cooking with lime and shrimp, the shrimp don’t necessarily turn pink like when you cook them in the pan. I waited and waited and waited for them to turn pink and it never happened. They were cooked after about 20 mins. But I waited like 5 hours. Ha!

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Shrimp Ceviche

* 1/2 lb prawns, shelled and deveined and cut into 3-4 pieces
* 2 limes (squeezed to make 1/2 cup lime juice)
* 1 lime to squeeze at the end
* 1 celery stalk diced
* 1 ripe avocado cut into 1″ cubes
* 1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into cubes
* 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
* 1/2 jalapeño diced
* pinch of salt

Put shrimp and lime juice in a non-reactive bowl (basically a glass one) and put in fridge for ~ 20 minutes. The shrimp will be firm when done.

Drain lime juice and mix shrimp with other veggies. Squeeze up to a whole lime in the mixture (I only used 1/2). Add salt to taste. Serve chilled with some corn chips (Have’A Corn Chips are our absolute favorites).

Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant Dip-ish

I’ve been lost. But now I’m found. I’m archiving recipes again. I didn’t mean to be on a four month hiatus. No recipe really inspired me to write. In fact, I’ve been referencing Scrumptious Bits a bunch.

Though I’ve made this recipe before, it wasn’t archived and its so good. It needs a spot in here. It’s great to bring to a party with some bread or crackers. And it’s super delicious for dinner with a cracked egg on top (hence, “dip-ish”).

Go out and get an eggplant and let your leftover veggies dictate the rest.

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Roasted Eggplant Dip-ish

1 eggplant, peeled and chopped in 1/2″ cubes
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, roasted
1 can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes
1/2 can of water or chicken broth
1 tsp each oregano, thyme and cumin seed
1 tsp garlic salt
Here’s where you get creative:
I added 1/2 red pepper, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes and feta cheese for the top.
You could add zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, etc.

Put it all in a Dutch oven. And set it in the oven at 325 degrees. Check after 1 hour. You want the eggplant to be so soft it melts in your mouth. Once it’s nearly there, take off the cover and cook until the liquid becomes a bit more thick.

Top with feta and serve warm.

I highly recommend this pot for cooking it. It’s a Bulgarian ceramic pot with a hole in the lid. I love it for stewing and slow cooking.

Enjoy!

Homemade Ricotta

I love making this cheese because it makes me feel like an accomplished homesteader. Something about a basic ingredient being elevated into something new makes me feel like I’ve achieved the impossible. It also stirs visions of life among cloth covered wagons and tipi living (I’m part New American and part Native American).

The act of turning milks into cheeses and preserving fruits, veggies and meats is so simple and basic and it feels so “right”. I know, we now have the convenience of stores where you can buy this stuff already made. And refrigeration has nearly obliterated preserved foods from our diet leaving only meager snack foods like dried fruits in trail mixes, or wasabi peas at bars, beef jerky on camping trips, or jam in our PB&Js.

Forget these conveniences and give it a try. Turn back the clock (heck, break the clock) and take some time to do a task our ancestors have done for centuries. Make some cheese. Dry some apples. Can some tomatoes. They will be better than any store bought option, I promise!

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homemade ricotta
Adapted from a recipe from smitten kitchen.com

• 3 cups goat milk
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 3 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine the milk, cream and salt into a pot and heat the milk to 190 degrees on medium low heat. I bought a candy thermometer just for this recipe. Be sure not to burn the bottom by stirring often. I use a wooden spoon. Definitely don’t walk away from the pot. It’ll go quickly.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Eat the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

You can keep the whey to lactose ferment things like cabbage into saurcraut. Check out the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for more recipes using whey.

Happy preserving!

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