Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sriracha Egg Salad Sandwiches

Last year I posted about my love of egg salad sandwiches. I eat them pretty frequently - at home, at least. I still stick to my general recipe but every once in awhile I do try things out, like adding horseradish, or curry powder, or caraway seeds. My friend Scott recently tried to recommend chopping up green olives but I told him to go back to 1950 and have his olivey egg salad with a side of tomato aspic, because that is just gross. Normally I don't bother to post about these sandwiches anymore, but the other night I tried a specific recipe I found on Pinterest so I feel the need to share it.

Sriracha! You know I love it. I had to add way more to this recipe than was called for because the mayonnaise kept tempering the spiciness to a level that I could barely detect with my high tolerance for heat. The addition of onion powder and garlic salt (a small change I added) gave it a full flavor, and the green onions were a nice surprise. I didn't have the fancy oatmeal walnut bread it calls for and instead used some country white bread, but it was still delicious. The recipe calls for a softer-boiled egg so its yolk mushes in with the sauce, but I hate liquidy yolks intensely so I cooked them all the way through. I really enjoyed this and will add it to my mental arsenal of egg salad recipes.

The blog post I stole this from on Parsley Sage & Sweet has a great tutorial on how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs. Also for soft-boiled if that's your thing. But if you need to learn about eggs, that's a great resource. In addition, they posted a recipe for the oatmeal walnut bread, which I'm sure would have been delicious. My bread-baking has been unsuccessful lately and I can't handle more failure at the moment so I'm going to bookmark it and come back to trying the bread later.

egg

Chunky Sriracha Egg Salad
Loosely adapted from Parsley Sage & Sweet

2 large hard boiled eggs, peeled, rinsed, dried, and coarsely chopped with a fork (my method)
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
2-3 tablespoons sriracha, to your spice level
1 scallion, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
More salt if the garlic salt is not enough to taste

Mix it all together in a bowl and put on toasted bread.

Yield: 1 big sandwich

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Peas and Seared Scallops

Here's what I had: Ricotta cheese, lemons, some frozen tiny bay scallops, and mini-farfalle pasta. This was super quick to throw together and made for a lovely little dinner. My gentleman made the scallops because he always cooks them perfectly. I added the butter/oil from the scallops pan into the pasta as well just to add a little more fatty goodness. It was a really nice, springy dinner, which is mildly ironic since we just got more snow overnight.

I doubt I'd make this again but it was great just to throw together.

scallops

Lemon-Ricotta Pasta with Peas and Seared Scallops
From Crumb via Pinterest, of course

1 box pappardelle or fettuccine pasta
12 large fresh sea scallops
4 tablespoons good-quality olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh green peas, shelled and blanched
4 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 container ricotta cheese

Cook the pasta per package directions until al dente.

While pasta is cooking, rinse scallops and pat dry. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter over high heat in a skillet until foamy. Sprinkle scallops with a little salt and pepper; place in skillet in single layer. Cook, turning once, until brown on outside and just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Drain pasta and return to the pot over low heat. Stir in lemon zest, juice, remaining 3 tbsp olive oil, peas, and thyme. Toss to coat, then season with salt and lots of pepper. Add the ricotta and mix gently until pasta is coated evenly.

To serve, divide the pasta between four plates, topping each with three scallops and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Soft and Chewy Seven Layer Magic Bar Cookies

Hello Dolly Bars (also known as Seven-Layer Bars, or Magic Cookie Bars) are one of my favorite things ever. When my gentleman and I went on vacation to Vegas last year, I had a tester sample Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream with pieces of Hello Dolly crumbled up in it. SO AMAZING. So! The bars always are a small batch with a lot of work and they are messy and sticky and would be terrible for a Cookie Monday treat.

BUT THEN I FOUND THIS RECIPE. On Pinterest, of course. It's a standard cookie (with some cornstarch for a nice soft texture) with all the ingredients of a Hello Dolly Bar - coconut, crushed graham crackers, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips. You get all the magical wonder of the cookie bar without the messy sweetened condensed milk (and without the pecans, but you could probably add those in).

Everyone loved these. Even the people who said they hate coconut (an ingredient I've avoided thus far since people have such strong feelings about it). Even THEY loved them. This is probably one of my favorite cookies I've ever made for a Monday and I certainly will make them again.

Maybe next time I'll underbake them by about a minute and then mix them in with some vanilla ice cream. Just like Vegas!

cookies

Soft and Chewy Seven Layer Magic Bar Cookies
Averie Cooks

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup coarsely chopped graham crackers (about 4 whole sheets)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-creamed, light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (or use a hand mixer and beat for at least 7 minutes).

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

Add the graham crackers (include the fine crumbs too, they act as flour here and are important), chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and beat momentarily to incorporate, less than 1 minute, or fold in by hand.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping two-tablespoon mounds. Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly with your palm, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.

(NOTE: I didn't do this. I stuck the whole mixer bowl in the refrigerator and rolled dough-balls with my hands, then put them directly onto the pan and flattened them. I stuck the bowl back in the refrigerator between batches.)

Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat, or spray with cooking spray. Place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Do not bake longer than 9 minutes for soft cookies because they firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Store cookies airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Yield: 22 medium-large cookies

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cookie Monday: Lucky Charms Cookies

Woops, I forgot to post this earlier this week.

So for St Patrick's Day I thought I would make these SUPER COOL cookies I found on Pinterest. They involve finely grinding up the cereal part of Lucky Charms in a food processor and adding it to the flour mixture to give the whole cookie the flavor of Lucky Charms, then mixing the marshmallows in just prior to baking.

Unsure why I thought this would work. The photo clearly has been touched by a food stylist. Common sense should have alerted me: No, Lauren! Marshmallows melt in the oven! BUT THE PHOTO LOOKED SO NICE.

Well, it should come as no surprise then that the marshmallows melted. They no longer looked like charms and instead looked like a child had colored on some sugar cookies with magic markers.

The good thing is, they TASTED really good. They really did taste like Lucky Charms and they had a nice (albeit slightly flat) texture. Everyone agreed that probably it would work a lot better if you bake the cookie (though I don't know how to remedy the flatness) and THEN push the marshmallows into the tops when they come out of the oven. So if you try these, try that out and let me know how it goes.

lol

Lucky Charms Cookies
Good Housekeeping via Pinterest

2 cups Lucky Charms -- (just cereal, no marshmallows)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces butter -- (16 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup Lucky Charms marshmallow bits
1/2 cup white chocolate chips -- (or up to 3/4 cup, if desired)

Line a large jelly-roll pan with parchment paper.

In food processor, pulse Lucky Charms 1 minute or until finely ground; transfer cereal to large bowl. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk until combined.

In large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. Add flour mixture all at once and beat until it is just combined. Fold in marshmallow bits and chocolate chips using a spatula or wooden spoon. Cover and refrigerate dough 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until pale golden. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 3 dozen

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Have A Gentleman Who Cooks

Now I am going to explain why I do not really cook anymore: I have a gentleman who cooks.

I've posted about him for a long time now so that shouldn't come as a shock. My cooking waned for awhile because he's been on a night-shift job Monday through Friday for the past year and it never made sense for me to make fancy dinners just for myself while we were on opposite schedules. So most of my cooking has been for friends, parties, special occasions, or (of course) Cookie Monday.

But he is off of night shift now! After a year of this terrible schedule, he got a new job where he is on a Regular Person Schedule. You might assume this means that I would start cooking again. I'd fall into my old habits. I'd make grocery lists and meal plans and make new things every night. My kitchen-control-freak would come back out of hiding. But that is very unlikely to happen. Why?

Because I have a gentleman who cooks.

He eats meat, and he cooks meat, but he doesn't forget about me. When things like shrimp or tofu are finding their way into my meal, then we cook together, where he makes the main part of whatever the food is and I add in my vegetarian stuff. He knows I like to experiment with recipes and is open to trying new things, but he really enjoys making our food. Recently we were discussing this and he said, "I don't like to eat food other people made. I want to know that I made our food, that I'm providing for us." And I love that.

scallops
{This was dinner Sunday night. He made scallops (steak for himself), roasted broccoli, and twice-baked potatoes. From scratch. WITHOUT A RECIPE.}

I have been tired for a long time, and to have someone just sort of take the reigns like this is so indescribably relieving. And to be able to trust someone to take over the kitchen from me? Clearly it shows I've found someone special. Because those of you who've followed here know that I've never been able to relax like that ever, in my whole life.

So my patience has been rewarded, in the form of a handsome gentleman and a LOT OF BREAKFAST FOOD.

breakfast

breakfast

And I am thankful. I am so, so thankful.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Homemade Tortillas

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and thought it would be pretty awesome to make our own tortillas so I don't have to buy them, or so I could make them if we've run out. This recipe is SO EASY and I do not know what went wrong. I feel like I've been saying that more often than not, lately. I really don't get it.

So we made these and rolled them out and they wouldn't stay together without ripping. Then they were kind of gummy after cooking them. They LOOK right, but instead of being soft and foldable like the website indicated, instead they were basically like a giant chip. Fine. But not what they were supposed to be.

I may try this again soon to see what happens. Faulty recipe, or faulty Lauren? Pretty sure I know the answer there. (Me.)

tortillas

Homemade Tortillas
Taste of Home, June/July 2010

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir in water and oil. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into eight portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 7-in. circle.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned. Keep warm. Yield: 8 tortillas.

Servings: 8

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Worth Noting

I'm going to do a post soon, when I am motivated, to explain why I am not cooking very much lately.

The key word to that is "cooking." BAKING, however, is extremely frequent.

Last Thursday I made a half-batch of my go-to Pudding Cookies for my gentleman's going-away party on his last day of work. (YAY, he is on day shift again!) He wanted "maybe peanut butter or chocolate?" so I chopped up some mini Reese's cups and added a little handful of milk chocolate chips. Yum!

Then this week I baked Lemon Crinkle Cookies because one of my coworkers requested them. Light and lemony and perfect for the spring that we are still hoping will arrive. I actually made them on Saturday in preparation for Monday, and they were still the right texture on Monday. This is such a great recipe. Make it now. And the pudding cookies.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Fettuccine with Garlic Beer Cream Sauce

I've been all about Jackie Dodd ever since I discovered her blog. We regularly have an enormous amount of beer in the house (my gentleman counted 28 individual brands and types this morning) and the idea of cooking with it is super fun to me. I've tried a few recipes already and I definitely plan to continue.

But! This recipe was disappointing! It was good, and the beer I used worked really well with it (Destiny's Wit from Free Will Brewing Co.). It had subtle spicy flavors to it, including white pepper, which lent itself well to the pasta. The only problem with this was that the sauce would not thicken up. It just wouldn't. And as a result, it didn't adhere well to the pasta and made for kind of a watery dish. I was disappointed with that. Oh well, I still enjoyed it.

pasta

Fettuccine with Garlic Beer Cream Sauce
Parade Magazine, recipe from Jackie Dodd

1 pound fettuccine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup wheat beer
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped

1. Cook the pasta in lightly salted water until almost al dente (about 3 minutes less than stated on package directions).

2. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.

3. In a saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter.

4. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

5. Add the beer, cream, and lemon juice, bring to a low simmer.

6. Add the parmesan about 2 Tbsp at a time. Stir until completely melted before adding more.

7. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened and slightly reduced, about 6 minutes.

8. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, allowing to cook until noodles are cooked to al dente, about 3-5 minutes.

9. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes.

Servings: 4

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Curried Lentil Soup

I felt inspired to cook the other night because it was -1*F outside and I was cold. I wanted something comforting, and I've had supplies to make this for awhile but never got around to it. So, I made the Curried Lentil Soup I made a few years ago to mimic a soup I had and loved on a vacation in Stockholm.

This was my dinner:

curry

Here is what I did differently:
*I omitted the carrot because, honestly, I couldn't be bothered with that.
*I used some canned, cooked lentils from Trader Joe's, which reduced the cooking time by about a thousand minutes.
*I added the diced, cooked potatoes just like I did the first time. This was important because it's what made the curry the same as the one in Sweden.
*I kept some of the chickpeas whole and added those into the soup as well.
*I topped it with a little bit of plain Greek yogurt.

These were some very good ideas for changes and I was very happy with the results. Yum!