Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a great way to use up leftover white rice.  We make a quick batch of this in the morning and eat it for breakfast in place of oatmeal or Cream of Wheat.  The kids love this with lots of cinnamon and no raisins, so I always add the raisins to the top of mine instead of cooking them in the whole dish.  

Rice Pudding
1 1/2  cups leftover cooked white rice
2 cups milk
1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar (adjust for your taste- I do 1/4 cup and then do a light sprinkling on the top before serving)
1 egg
1 T butter
2/3 cup raisins
1 tsp. vanilla extract
salt

Add 1 1/2 cups milk, cooked rice, sugar, and a 1/2 tsp. salt to a medium pot and bring to a boil.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, and cook until thick and creamy.  In a small measuring cup add 1/2 cup milk and 1 egg, beat thoroughly.  Stir into rice mixture and add raisins (if using) and cook 2 more minutes then remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.  Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Molasses Cookies

These molasses cookies turned out deliciously spicy, chewy, and moist.  They were the perfect cookie to make on a crisp day and were enjoyed with a cup of tea after our dinner.  I made them rather petite, using my small ice cream scoop, and we had over 60 cookies from this recipe.  Quick tip, they freeze beautifully and can be defrosted by leaving at room temperature for an hour or two before serving.

Molasses Cookies

4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. espresso powder (optional)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, espresso powder, and cinnamon; set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the butter, shortening, and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the molasses and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Slowly add the flour mixture until combined and no flour remains.  In a small bowl add 1/2 cup sugar and form dough into 1 inch balls (I use a small ice cream scoop) and roll in the sugar.  Place on trays leaving 2 inches between cookies.  Bake for 12 1/2 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kibbie - Middle Eastern Stuffed Meatballs

Kibbie are Middle Eastern Meatballs that are stuffed with ground beef, onions, nuts, and spices.  They are very delicious and fun to make.  They are a bit time consuming, but if you make a big batch you can easily freeze a portion to fry up quickly on a busy night.  They make great appetizers along with pita bread, hummus and tabbouleh, or you can serve them with rice and a salad to make a meal out of them.

Kibbie

Filling:
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 T butter
3/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds (my slivered almonds happened to be rather large)
1 1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
black pepper

Heat the butter in a large heavy pot.  Add ground beef, onions, and spices.  Saute until no pink remains.  Add nuts and reseason if necessary.  Set aside to cool completely.



Kibbie (Outer dough):
1 1/2 cups dry bulgur (No. 1 cracked wheat)
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. allspice
pepper

In a medium bowl combine the bulgur and 1 cup water and stir to combine.  Set aside for 30 minutes. Bulgur should be tender to the bite after 30 minutes and should be "dry."  If bulgur is still wet squeeze water out by placing in thick paper towels and wringing out or by pressing water out through a fine mess sieve.

Add onion to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until onion is diced.  Add meat and spices and pulse for a few seconds or until meat and onion are completely incorporated.    Add prepared bulgur and process until mixture is thick and dough-like.

Assembly:
Have a cool bowl of water nearby and line a sheetpan with parchment paper.  Generously wet your hands with water and then take a large tablespoon of "dough" and press it into a flat oval.  Try to cup it in your fingers and place a spoonful of filling in the middle and pinch dough around filling to enclose it.  Shape into a football or a regular meatball shape if you prefer and set on parchment.  Repeat with all remaining dough and filling.
*Make sure to keep your hands wet to prevent the dough from sticking.

(Alternately, you can  grab a ball of dough and press your thumb into the middle and create a "cup" then spoon filling into the middle. Pinch the opening closed and then shape into a football.  Do what works for you.)
Frying:

Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a saucepan to 350 degrees.  Add a few kibbie at a time, but do not crowd the pan.  Fry for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel lined tray and let cool 5 minutes.  Repeat with remaining kibbie.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lamb Stew with Chick Peas

I'm calling this Lamb Stew, since it is braised meat with lots of veggies cooked in tomatoes, but it is not thick like the traditional stew most of us know.  In our home we always serve it over a stove-top version of my arabic rice, but I'm sure you could have a bowl of it with a hunk of bread and be completely satisfied.
It is a very flexible dish, and I honestly don't believe I have ever made it with the same combination of vegetables.  It also doesn't really matter which cut of meat you have since a lamb shoulder, shank, chuck roast, or any other cheap bone in cut would really work for braising.
Lamb Stew

3-4 lbs bone in roast/shoulder meat
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 can Chick Peas, drained and rinsed
1 large zucchini,  cut into a large dice
salt and pepper
fresh thyme
olive oil
Season meat on all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add a bit of olive oil and the seasoned meat.  Brown meat on both sides, try not to turn or flip the meat too much.      Add the onions and celery, stir to combine.  Carefully hand crush the tomatoes into the pot.  Add a little water (1/2 - 1 cup) if necessary and season with a couple teaspoons of thyme, a bit more salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 3 1/2 hours or until meat is tender and pulls away from the bone.  Add carrots and simmer for for another 20-30 minutes.  Finally add the can of chick peas and the zucchini and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
Sometimes I remove the meat and debone it and then reintroduce it to the pot and other times I serve it over rice and let everyone pick the meat off of the bones.

Potatoes, spinach, yellow squash, okra, and eggplant are other tasty additions.  We like our veggies barely fork tender, but if you like them more well done simply add them earlier on than I did and let them cook until your liking.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Country Apple and Vegetable Stuffing

This is a great everyday stuffing that goes well with pork, turkey, or roast chicken.  It gets a big hit of flavor from the sautéed veggies and Granny Smith apple mixed in with the bread cubes.  It also makes the perfect amount for a weeknight meal and can be prepped the day before and baked off with the main entree.

Country Apple and Vegetable Stuffing
7 slices white bread, cubed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 egg
1 cup chicken broth
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread cubed bread on a sheet pan and bake until lightly brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.  In a saute pan heat butter and olive oil and then add onion, celery, carrot, and apple.  Season with salt and pepper.   Saute for 8-10 minutes over medium heat or until vegetables soften and apple breaks down.  Add thyme and poultry seasoning.  Mix thoroughly and remove from heat.  In a bowl combine bread cubes and vegetable mixture.  In another small bowl whisk together the egg and chicken broth and then pour oven bread cubes.  Mix to combine.  Pour into prepared baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cinnamon Rolls with Almonds

I blogged about this terrific bread last week and it didn't take long before everyone was asking me to make it again.  This time around I made the dough into these mini cinnamon rolls with an almond topping.  These were a yummy treat in the  morning...they came out of the oven a bit sticky and gooey, but not so decadent that you can't eat the rest of the day. The dough is easy to work with and it really is very versatile.

Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 2 pie pans of rolls

3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoons honey
about 1 cup very warm water


Almond Topping
6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds


In a measuring cup add olive oil and honey, then fill with enough warm water to measure 1 1/4 cups.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour, wheat germ, salt, and the yeast.  Mix with a spatula.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add the wet ingredients.  Increase speed to medium and mix for a few minutes until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  (If dough is dry add a tablespoon of water at a time until it just comes together.)
Lower speed a notch and knead for 6-8 minutes.  Remove dough and form into a ball.  Place in a large greased bowl and cover for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.  (Place dough in a warm area.)

Prepare two pie pans by placing 1/4 cup of sliced almonds in each pan.  Melt butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir to combine.  Once mixture is thick and bubbly pour half of the mixture into each pan.

Divide dough into two portions.  Turn one portion of dough onto counter (I lined mine with plastic wrap for ease of clean-up) and flatten into a large rectangle about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Spread a bit of butter on the dough and then sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.  Roll long end to long end and then slice rolls about 1 inch thick.  (I cut mine by sliding a piece of thread under and pulling up and crossing over to cut the dough without smushing it.)  Place rolls in pie pan leaving space between each roll.  Repeat with remaining dough and second pie pan.

Cover rolls and place in a warm area to rise for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake rolls for about 25 minutes or until browned.   Remove and let cool 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate.  (Simply place a plate on top of the pie pan and quickly but very carefully flip and tap a few times to release the rolls.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spiced Lentils with Rice and Pita

 
Awhile back I purchased a huge bag of red lentils because I was on a carrot soup kick that required a bit of red lentils and it was more economical to get the 4 pound bag than the smaller 1 pound bag.  Since then, I have made that carrot soup many times and I've barely made a dent in the 4 pound bag.  So I decided to make a big pot of these spiced lentils and found that we rather enjoyed eating them this way.  I'm sure I will be able to make my way through that bag pretty quickly now.  
Spiced Lentils
We found that it was pretty tasty with a bit of Jasmine Rice and some toasted pita bread on the side.   Another terrific addition would be some grilled chicken thighs or drumsticks.

1 cup red lentils
2 cups water
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 Serrano or jalapeno sliced in half
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
3/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 T vegetable oil
salt

Soak lentils in a bowl for 30 minutes.  Drain water and add to a medium saucepan or dutch oven and add the water, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, Serrano pepper, and lentils.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lentils are tender and almost falling apart.
Whisk or mash the lentils until the mixture becomes thick.  Add salt to taste.
In a small frying pan heat the vegetable oil.  Once oil is hot add the cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, and curry and fry for 30 seconds to bloom, be careful since it may sputter.  Add hot spices to lentil mixture and stir to combine.  Remove Serrano pepper and serve with rice.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Wilted Spinach Salad

We used to have Wilted Spinach Salad as kids, I'm not exactly sure what recipe my mom used, but this version was pretty tasty.  My dad loved it and now I see why.  It is an easy and very tasty salad.  If you think ahead and store a bit of the extra bacon drippings in the fridge you can heat it up and make fresh dressing throughout the week.

Wilted Spinach Salad

Two large handful of washed baby spinach
Red onion
Sliced mushrooms
1-2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 hard boiled egg, chilled, peeled, and sliced

Dressing:
2 Tablespoons bacon drippings
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoon sugar
Heat bacon drippings in a pan and then add remaining ingredients.  Whisk to combine and then pour hot dressing over salad.  Toss and enjoy immediately.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I'm glad I thought to take a picture of this bread before it was completely devoured the day I made it.  I wanted to make a single loaf, a half batch, just to make sure the bread was as good as it was claimed to be.  Don't you just hate it when you waste so much time, energy, and ingredients on something that turns out to be so-so?  Me too!
This bread turned out to be just as tasty and versatile as it claimed to be.  A bit of cinnamon and sugar elevated this basic loaf of bread into a delicious cinnamon swirl bread that came out perfectly hearty and tender at the same time.  Warm from the oven and slathered with butter, half the loaf was inhaled by my little ones.  It tasted just as good the next day.  Next time I am going to make the full batch, 2 large loaves, and save some to slice thick for what I image will be a delicious french toast.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread
adapted from remedialeating.com
Makes 2 loaves

6 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
4 tsp salt
4 tsp active dry yeast
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons honey
2 1/3 cups very warm water

In a measuring cup add olive oil and honey, then fill with enough warm water to measure 2 1/2 cups.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour, wheat germ, salt, and the yeast.  Mix with a spatula.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add the wet ingredients.  Increase speed to medium and mix for a few minutes until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  (If dough is dry add a tablespoon of water at a time until it just comes together.)
Lower speed a notch and knead for 6-8 minutes.  Remove dough and form into a ball.  Place in a large greased bowl and cover for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.  (Place dough in a warm area.)
Divide dough into two portions.  Turn one portion of dough onto counter (I lined mine with plastic wrap for ease of clean-up) and flatten into a large rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  Spread a bit of butter on the dough and then sprinkle generously with sugar and cinnamon.  Roll short end to short end, tuck ends under and place in a buttered loaf pan seam-side down.  Repeat with remaining dough.
Cover dough and place in a warm area to rise for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake breads for about 35 minutes.   Remove and let cool 15 minutes before slicing.

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