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Warm Spinach Parmesan Dip

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March 2014 080

My husband took me out to lunch at a restaurant called Houlihan’s for my birthday.  It was a blast.  And the food, it was great because it was different.  For instance, they serve a shredded lettuce salad with a confetti type arrangement of small bacon bits, yellow corn, and croutons.  And they have this delicious warm spinach dip that’s really addicting.

We sat there (a little too long) trying to dissect every ingredient so we could attempt to recreate it at home.  This my friends, is my attempt.  My husband claimed it didn’t quite have the exact sour note as the dip from the restaurant, but he said he liked mine better.  If you know my husband, then you know that he doesn’t feed anyone bull.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Warm Spinach Parmesan Dip

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons sweet onion, minced

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

pinch of salt

3 ounces frozen spinach, slightly defrosted and wet*

1 cup water

1 teaspoon chicken base

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I grated directly into the measuring cup without packing it down)

1 Tablespoon sour cream, full fat

1/2 cup cold water

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in the butter over medium heat.  When the onions become translucent, add the spinach, the chicken base, and the 1 cup of water.

Then add the sugar, white pepper, and the pinch of salt.  Stir and cook on medium heat until simmering.

Stir together 1/2 cup cold water and 1 Tablespoon cornstarch – whisk with a fork.

Add the cornstarch slurry to the spinach mixture.  Cook until slightly thickened.  Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and sour cream and stir just until melted.

Serve with tortilla chips.

*I placed a block of frozen spinach in the microwave and defrosted it just until I was able to cut a section off, I then weighed it and added it directly to the pot.  Then I place the remainder of the spinach in a freezer bag and put it back in the freezer.

Summer Slaw

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August 2013 799My family affectionately calls this “Summer Slaw.”  I don’t know if it’s the fresh squeezed lime juice or the large bunch of herby cilantro, but it just fits.  We love eating this on sandwiches, with eggs, and on my Colorado Green Chili with Pork.

Below I have given you my best guess estimates, because this really is a dump and stir.  One of the other reasons I really love this dish is because the cabbage doesn’t wilt like lettuce does when doused with dressing.  However, after being in the refrigerator for 2 days the slaw can dry it out – just refresh with more lime juice and olive oil.

Summer Slaw Adapted from Perry’s Plate

1/4 - 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil, enough to coat the cabbage (it needs to be nice and shiny) – I just eyeball it

Fresh juice from 1 – 2 limes

½ of a small cabbage

4 – 5 green onions (green and white parts), chopped

1/4 cup of (lightly packed) grated carrot

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

a sprinkle of salt, if desired

Wash the cabbage and slice it thinly.  Toss it in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Roasted Garlic Bread

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February 2014 182When I think of comfort food, I think of pasta.  Then I immediately think of garlic bread, because pasta just isn’t as good without it.  In fact, I’d wager most things are better with a nice slab of garlic bread.

If you’ve been making yours with butter and garlic powder, stop!  Well, at least for now and give this a whirl.  I’d say the most time consuming part is oven-roasting the garlic, but you have to let your butter come to room temperature, so you’d be waiting anyway!

Garlic Bread

1 loaf of Italian, or French bread (cut in half – lengthwise)

1 stick of salted butter, softened

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 bulb of garlic, roasted (see below)

2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

1/8 teaspoon sugar

Cut off the top of the garlic bulb to expose all of the garlic cloves, place in the center of a sheet of foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap up and pop in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.

Set the butter out to softened at room temperature.

When the garlic is squishy take it out of the oven to cool slightly.  When you are able to handle it without getting burned, squeeze the bulb of garlic (until all of the roasted cloves come out) into a small bowl to cool.

In a food processor, place the butter, the slightly cooled roasted garlic, and the remaining ingredients.  Pulse until everything is combined and smooth.

At this point the compound butter can be refrigerated in a covered container for 3-4 days (bring it back to room temperature before spreading), or you can slather it on bread and broil on high for 3-5 minutes.

Just a few notes: I used the entire butter mixture for 1 loaf of French bread.  I also occasionally opened my oven, while broiling, to keep the bread from browning too much on the edges.

Alternatively, you could slice the bread after slathering on the compound butter, so you are able to pull out slices as they brown.

Either way, serve warm and enjoy!

The Grasshopper

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January 2014 001

Oh, Grasshoppers.  What’s not to love?  Ice cream, mint, and chocolate all in a glass.  YUM!  The drink is not technically supposed to have whipped cream layers, but that’s what happens when you mess up and dump a finished glass head first into another glass.

January 2014 009

I used to order these in college at The Service Station.  I don’t think they’re on the menu, but the bartenders never seemed to mind, in fact once they decorated my drink with an Oreo on top – I loved that!

January 2014 018

Grasshoppers Adapted from Saveur Magazine

2 ounces crème de menthe

2 ounces crème de cacao

2 cups vanilla ice cream (any will do)

Combine all ingredients in the blender – blend!  Serve.  Makes 2 servings.

Glasses bought from here.

Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream

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January 2014 181

This ice cream, well it’s become my new favorite vanilla ice cream.  Doesn’t it look amazing?!  It uses 9 egg yolks – thus the gorgeous light yellow color and amazing creamy texture.  And it’s the perfect thing to make with all those leftover egg yolks when you’re making an angel food cake or a gluten free angel food cake.

Also, despite the long-winded post, it’s actually quite easy – just read through once completely before starting!

And be sure to get your timer out for this recipe, especially if you’ve never made a base for ice cream before, as this will help you a great deal until you learn what it’s suppose to look like.  You’ll also need an ice cream machine for this particular recipe.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine, I strongly encourage you to make this anyway.  You can use it for an amazing warm (or cold) vanilla sauce to top fruit or cake.

Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream Adapted from The Busy Mom’s Cookbook

4 cups heavy cream

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

9 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups sugar

Add-ins (optional): crushed Oreo cookies, M&M’s, frozen brownie chunks, etc.

In a large pot, heat the cream and vanilla on medium heat (I set my gas burner in between 5 & 6).  Whisk occasionally, for about 5 minutes just to heat it up.

In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large heat-proof bowl for about 5 minutes, or until they’re lighter in color.

When the cream is steaming, but not boiling, pour a large ladle of heated cream into the egg yolk mixture and whisk immediately to temper the eggs (bringing them to the same temperature as the cream without scrambling them).  Add another large ladle of heated cream, and whisk immediately again.  Add one more large ladle and repeat.

Then pour the tempered egg yolk mixture into the pot of remaining heated heavy cream, whisking the entire time.  Grab a wooden spoon and continue to stir the custard for 5 minutes – set your timer!

The custard will go from watery and frothy to slightly thickened with no frothy bubbles in about 4 – 5 minutes.  As soon as it starts to slightly coat the back of your spoon (it will still be translucent) take it off the heat and pour it through a sieve (to catch all the chewy pieces) into a food storage container.

Let it cool on at room temperature for about 30 minutes to reduce sweating in the refrigerator.  Then set the container in the refrigerator with a paper towel over it, or a lid if you don’t mind any sweating.  Let set overnight before churning in an ice cream maker.

When ready, pour the base into an ice cream machine and turn on low for about 15 minutes, or follow the instructions given by your particular ice cream machine.

In the last few minutes, pour in any add-ins, if desired.  Scoop into a food storage container and place in the freezer.

Super Moist Banana Bread

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Banana Bread3

This banana bread is really popular at my house.  In fact, my kids always leave a few bananas to over ripen just so I’ll make this.  I love that as it sits (in it’s covered container), it actually gets more moist and delicious.  So it’s even better the second and third day – if it lasts that long!

Banana Bread2

Super Moist Banana Bread Adapted from Taste of Home Contest Winning Recipes

1 3/4 cups flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup of mashed ripe bananas (approx. 2 medium bananas)

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray really well; set aside.  (I only use this tea loaf pan - because I love the look of the baked loaf, the pan goes in the dishwasher, and it bakes evenly.)

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients.  Then add all of the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.  Stirring more than required will make the bread tough.  Stir in the nuts, if using.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour - 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack (still in the loaf pan for 10 minutes).  Then loosen the sides of the bread from the pan with a knife (if your pan is ceramic) or a thin nylon spreader if it isn’t.  Turn the pan over and leave for 10 minutes, if that doesn’t loosen it, I shake my pan a little until the bread falls from the pan.

Turn the loaf right side up and let cool completely.  Slice and serve.  Store in a covered container for up to 4 days.

Makes 1 loaf

According to King Arthur Flour’s website, the “12″ x 4″ x 2 1/2″ tea loaf pan holds the equivalent of a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.”

Tzatziki Sauce

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January 2014 072

I love, love, love Tzatziki sauce!  If you’ve ever ordered a gyro, then chances are you’ve tasted this sauce.  I was waxing on poetically about this sauce to my buddy, Janna – who I discovered doesn’t like cucumber!  Oh my gosh.  Just goes to show that you really don’t know everything about anyone.  Know what I mean?

Anyway, this isn’t the sauce for her, because it has a whole cucumber in it.  So for those of you (are there many?) that don’t like cucumber, you’ll want to skip this recipe.  Everyone else, read on!

Tzatziki Sauce Adapted from New York a la Cart

1 medium cucumber, peeled

8 ounces Greek whole milk yogurt

8 ounces sour cream

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

3 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon dried dill weed

dash of pepper

Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds (a melon baller works great), then chop the cucumber in large chunks.  Place the cucumber in the food processor and whirl around until it’s completely pureed.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.  Enjoy!

Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, in a covered container.

*This sauce is quite thin due to the water in the cucumber – if you prefer a thicker sauce then place the pureed cucumber in a sieve and gently press down with a rubber scraper to remove all the excess water (before adding the other ingredients).  Return the cucumber to the food processor and add all of the remaining ingredients.  Puree until smooth.  The only down side is that there is a noticeable reduction in cucumber flavor.

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