Tag-Archive for ◊ superbowl ◊

02 Aug 2013 Beans!

beans01

I am so excited about this recipe!  It’s a paradigm shift recipe!  It’s not a recipe in the true sense of the word, it’s more of a road map to a particular destination.   A road map allows for more flexibility than a recipe, a road map allows the cook to make adjustments based upon personal preferences, taste, time, and what’s in the pantry.  I think most people have a road map for a few good dishes.  I have a road map for spaghetti sauce, chicken soup, stir-fry and hamburgers.  You might have a road map for meatloaf, burritos and rice bowls.  Most people have road maps for sandwiches and salads. A road map means there are guidelines, easy ones, usually ones that can be memorized, and that can always be adapted as the situation requires.

So here it is, a guideline for a pot of beans, in the crockpot no less!  Crockpot cooking is great for summer, the kitchen doesn’t get heated up, and a pot of beans pairs well with almost everything that can be BBQ’d.  In the winter months, a bowl of beans with some cornbread or tortillas is almost the definition of comfort food. Another plus, crockpot cooking is fuss free, so toss everything in the pot and then go sit in the sun or shovel snow.

Many thanks to Mark Bittman of the New York Times for this road map. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

BTW…, for years I have been looking for a good baked beans recipe, so that’s what I make with this recipe:  meaty, slightly sweet Boston-style beans.  YUM! They go with everything and I have  a serious love for leftover beans on toast (I’m English).  My son mastered this recipe in one take and he makes killer spicy teriyaki beans with chicken.  I can see others going for more of a Mexican style bean. What sort of beans do you like? Make them!

The House Special Beans

  • 1 lb of dried beans, any kind, I like small white and pinquitos but black, pintos, garbanzos, kidney, or a combination of different kinds of beans can also be used.  Don’t have a full pound of beans?  Add in some split peas or lentils to make up the difference.  Remember these are dried beans (about $1.25 for a pound bag) we are not using canned beans here (and there is no need to soak the beans first).
  • 4 cups of liquid, any kind.  Find a mixture that appeals to you. I start with a bottle of beer, then I add in about 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a squirt of mustard, using molasses instead of maple syrup and brown sugar would be good too. If my Dad were here I’d stir in 1/4 cup of bourbon. Then I add water, broth (any kind), or cold coffee to make the 4 cups (too much coffee will make the beans a bit bitter, so stick to less than 1 cup of cold coffee).  My son adds BBQ sauce, sriracha, honey, teriyaki or soy sauce along with beer and coffee.  Don’t like beer?  Use some leftover wine. Don’t drink at all, stick to broth and water.   Health nut?  Stir in carrot juice and some of that green liquid you’re so fond of !
  • Seasonings, any kind.  Start with a healthy amount of salt and pepper, then add in what appeals to you.  I add in 2 t. salt, 1 t. black pepper, 1 t. cumin, 2 t. chili powder, minced garlic, and 2 bay leaves.  Other options include oregano, basil, coriander, red pepper, curry powder, ginger, paprika, liquid smoke, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…
  • 1 lb meat, any kind, a bit more or a bit less is fine.  I like beef, and I buy something on sale, beef shanks, top sirloin, stew meat, steak, anything.  Throw in a pork chop or two, or some ground meat (brown it first and drain off the fat), chicken (with or without the bones, but boneless chicken does tend to get a bit overcooked), sausage, ham, cooked bacon…, or go for a combo.  Sausage and chicken? Beef and bacon? Or leave out the meat all together if  you’d rather.
  • 2 lbs finely minced or grated veggies, any kind.  I always add diced onion, grated carrots, and minced celery.  Then I might add some shredded zucchini, turnip, cabbage, spinach or kale, whatever I have on hand. Throw in some potatoes. Lots of folk like bell peppers, dice some up and throw them in.  Leeks are yummy. A few diced jalapenos would spice things up. Even canned pumpkin works. The only veggie I don’t add is tomatoes. I heard once that tomatoes interfere with the cooking process of dried beans, so I leave them out (I also don’t use tomato juice as a liquid, but I do stir in a bit of ketchup, and have had no problem with that).

Directions:

  1. Put the dried beans in the bottom of the crock-pot.
  2. Get out a 4-cup measure.  Combine your liquids.  When you have 4 cups, pour it over the beans in the bottom of the crock-pot.
  3. On top of the beans and liquid, add the meat.  I add the meat as is, then remove the fat and bones, and shred the meat after cooking.  You can do the same, or you can add cubes of boneless, skinless meat.
  4. Sprinkle desired seasonings on top of the meat.  (If you add bay leaves, count them so you know how many to remove before serving!)
  5. Finely mince, dice, or shred the veggies.  Add the veggies on top of the meat. (The liquid will not cover the veggies, yet).
  6. With a spatula or a spoon, press on the ingredients to lightly pack.
  7. Put the lid on the slow cooker, plug it in, turn on high, and go out and play! If you are around, check the beans after a few hours.  If the beans look dry add a bit more water, stock, beer, or wine (don’t stir, just pour it on top).
  8. Let beans cook for 6-8 hours.  Turn off.
  9. After the beans have cooled for a bit, taste them.  Needs more salt?  More maple syrup? More heat? Add it now.  If you added large hunks of meat with bones, remove bones and shred the meat. Remove the bay leaves, if you used them.
  10. If you want to add in extras, do it now.  You could stir in some diced tomatoes now, if you’d like, they won’t do any harm at this point (let cook for an additional 30 minutes or so).  Sometimes I stir cooked bacon at this point.  You could stir in frozen corn, if you’d like. Adding chopped parsley, cilantro, or green onion makes the beans look pretty and brightens them up a bit for a pretty presentation.
  11. Remember, beans seem to taste better the day after they are made, so don’t be afraid of letting them rest in the refrigerator for a bit.

Soooo, do you have the road map memorized?  1 lb beans, 1 lb meat, 2 lbs veggies, 1 qt (4 cups) liquid. Seasonings. Crock-pot. High. 6-8 hours, while you go out and play 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Go ahead now, make some beans! Let me know what you used and how they turn out 🙂 I can’t stop my son from making these beans! We’re drowning in beans…, but we’re not broke! Beans we can afford 🙂

26 Jan 2013 Onion Rings

There are a lot of bad onion rings out there.  I know.  If onion rings are on the menu, I will find a way to order them, but I rarely order them a second time at the same restaurant.  There used to be some good Onion Rings out there (and, eternal optimist that I am,  I keep hoping I will stumble upon them once again), but not any more.  Onion Rings are pretty much universally bad now, and often the same from restaurant to restaurant.  There’s this huge ring of  “crunchy” (“stiff” would be a better word) “batter” (if that’s what you can call brown cement) engulfing a thin, watery, tasteless bit of something-that-looks-like-an-onion, which is served up hot and hard.  One bite, and that something-that-looks-like-an-onion comes slithering out leaving a hot ring of brown cement in your hand.  Sadly, these are not the worst Onion Rings.  The worst ones have the same batter, but with reconstituted onions on the inside!  Horrific.  Let me tell you a little secret though.  Onion Rings, good ones, real ones, are very easy to make.  If you promise to read my blog forever and ever, comment occasionally, and say nice things to your friends about it, then I will share my recipe with you!

Way back when, when my Dad was healthy, he would visit on a regular basis.  I would make a batch of these for him.  He’d sit on his stool, drink his Manhattan, eat onion rings  and tell me what a good cook I was while I prepared dinner.  That doesn’t happen any more.  Sometimes he forgets he’s eaten dinner, even when he’s still sitting at the table. Occasionally, he still tells me I am a good cook though.  I think I’ll make Onion Rings for him again, next time I see him.  Maybe they’ll trigger a memory, just like this recipe did for me.

There is not much batter on these Onion Rings, just a light coating of flour moistened with buttermilk…, and they are sooooooooo GOOD!

Polly’s Onion Rings

  • 2 or 3 large brown onions
  • 2 cups buttermilk (in a pinch I have successfully substituted 2% milk)
  • 4 teaspoons salt (divided use)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (more if you are a pepper lover, you could also substitute or add in a dash of cayenne, if you’d like)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • oil for frying (I use one 48-oz bottle of canola or vegetable oil.  I discard all the oil when cool)

1.          Cut onion into 1/2 inch thick slices and separate into rings (my rings are usually a bit less  than ½ inch)

2.        In a large bowl or  Ziploc mix buttermilk and 2 teaspoons salt.  Add in the onion rings.  Stir or shake to drench all the onions.  Let onions soak in the buttermilk, at room temperature, for least 10 minutes, and up to an hour or more.  Stir or shake occasionally.

3.        Drain rings from buttermilk. Discard the buttermilk…or save it for another use. ( I have been know to use the buttermilk and the leftover flour from the next step  in Yorkshire pudding batter.)

4.        In a large Ziploc bag combine 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  Shake to combined.

5.        Add onion rings to the flour mixture a few at a time.  Shake until covered with flour.  Remove the rings from the flour and place on a cake rack to dry for at least 15 minutes (and up to an hour).  Repeat until all onion rings are lightly coated in flour and drying on a rack.

6.        Pour oil into a heavy pan.  Heat oil to 360 degrees. (If you are an experienced and careful cook, the oil can be heating while you are completing step 5)

7.        Fry onion rings, in batches, until golden.  Turn each ring over at least once.  (A batch, determined by the size of your pan and the size of the onion ring, so a batch could be as few as 4 onion rings or as many as 10.  Try to cook large onion rings in the same batch, small onion rings in the same batch, the medium onion rings together, and so on.) Each batch should cook for approx. 3 minutes (up the time a bit for larger onions).

8.        Transfer cooked onion rings to a paper towel lined tray to drain off and absorb excess oil then place in a 200 degree oven to keep warm, while you fry another batch. (My family eats as I fry, I can’t get them in the oven.)  Bring the oil temperature back to 360 degrees before adding more onions.

9.        Serve hot with additional salt (I use Kosher salt)

Makes approx 50 onion rings.

I just made these for the “Superbowl Snack” theme meeting of my cookbook club. They are great to make as your guests walk in, as they are best right out of the oil.  Don’t cut up too many onions though, or you will never get a chance to sit down.  I find folks will eat as many onion rings as I make…, and at a faster clip than I can make them!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  It was a good day to stop by, this is one of my all time best recipes (and one of my most sinful… 🙂 )

 

17 Oct 2011 Brown Bag Popcorn

I have been meaning to post this for ages.  It’s so simple.  It’s so easy. It’s so GREAT.  Listen, there is no need to buy any more packages of oily microwave popcorn!  REALLY!  Save money. Save calories. Reduce waste. Skip the preservatives.

Those big time popcorn companies really pulled one over on us.  You don’t need thier fancy box,  their fancy bag, their celephane overlay, their oil (or any oil at all), to pop popcorn in the microwave.  You just need one plain brown lunch bag (approx 10.5 inches x 5.5 inches), 1/3 cup of popcorn, and 1 microwave, and 2 minutes on the timer.  DONE! It’s like….a miracle!

Why did I post this recipe now?  Because a Pumpkin Spice Coffee (my previous post) a fresh bowl of popcorn, and reality TV  is just about the perfect way to enjoy a bit of fall R&R. Project Runway hails on Thursday.  Brew the decaf.  Pop the corn.  Slippers.  Snuggle quilt. It’s gonna be a good, good night!

Brown Bag Popcorn

1/3 cup popcorn kernels (no more, no less)

1 brown lunch bag

1 tablespoon melted butter, if desired

pinch of salt (to taste), if desired

Pour the measured 1/3 cup popcorn kernels into the brown bag.  Fold the top of the brown bag down at least twice, just so the bag fits into the microwave and is able to turn.  Set the timer for 2 minutes.  POPCORN!  IF desired, drizzle the freshly popped popcorn with 1 tablespoon butter and a pinch of salt.  Shake in the bag to combine.  Then pour into a bowl and enjoy.  Serves one or two.

Just a few notes…there will be some unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bag.  Look for them, and then don’t pour them into the serving bowl!  Measure the popcorn!  If you get too much popcorn in the bag the bag could burst.  If you put in too little, the popcorn could start to burn.  Gray popcorn does not taste good.

My grandson likes popcorn for breakfast. I think it's a lot better for him than highly processed, often highly sugared, always full of preservatives boxed cereal.

It’s so SIMPLE!  Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope there are many bowls of freshly popped popcorn in your future.

 

 

22 Jul 2011 Traditional Arabic Hummus

Traditional Arabic hummus.  How do I know its traditional?  Because I learned how to make it from my Saudi and Kuwaiti students in 1981 and 1982.  I watched how they made it, wrote everything down, and have followed the recipe ever since.  Well, once I tinkered with it and added a bit of cumin and coriander.   My kids reacted most negatively.  I remember their scorn quite clearly,  “What did you do to the hummus? It tastes FOUL!”  Lesson learned.  No tinkering with the authentic 🙂

This was the first recipe my son learned how to follow and  for a long time was the only thing he knew how to make.  Truth be told, his hummus is better than mine!  Why?  He follows the recipe!  He shells the garbanzo beans, just like my students used to do.  (Before 1981 I didn’t even know the garbanzos had shells, but they do.  Pop one out of its clear little membrane, and you’ll see!)  Over the years I have gotten lazy, and I now no longer shell the garbanzos.  As a result, my hummus isn’t as smooth as my son’s or as my students’ used to be.

Do as you wish, shell the garbanzos or not, just don’t even think of tinkering with the other simple ingredients.

Traditional Arabic Hummus

  • 1 can Garbanzo beans
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup sesame paste (available at most larger supermarkets now, in the middle eastern foods section)
  • approx. 1/2 cup reserved garbanzo liquid
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • paprika (optional)
  1. Drain the garbanzo beans, reserving the liquid.
  2. Shell the garbanzo beans if desired (shelling the garbanzos results in a much smoother dip).
  3. Place drained garbanzos, approx. 1/2 cup reserved liquid, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender and process until smooth.
  4. That’s IT!   Isn’t that easy?
  5. Add more garbanzo liquid if needed to make a softer dip.  Remove dip to a serving bowl.  My students used to spread the hummus onto a dinner plate and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.  Americans usually serve it out of a bowl.  My students served hummus only with triangles of warm pita bread.  American often serve with pita bread plus carrot and celery sticks, cucumber rounds, red pepper strips, and cherry tomatoes.

From following my students around I also have recipes for Sambusas and Kapsa, and so many warm and fond memories of teaching English as a Second Language to some wonderful pre-literate Arabic and Saudi women.

Thanks for stopping by my middle eastern kitchen today. Enjoy the hummus.  It’s better than that stuff you can buy in tubs, and much cheaper!

19 Jul 2011 Corn Dogs

I am sooooo bad.  I KNOW I shouldn’t cook like this.  I know it. I know it. I know it.  But I did.  And my little experiment turned out wonderfully well.  Who knew homemade corn dogs were so easy to make?   I guess there is no need to go to the fair now, or to make that once every other year stop at the Hot Dog On A Stick outlet in the mall.

I made mini corn dogs, so that counts for something, right?  I cut each bun length hot dog into 3 pieces, speared each piece with a good quality toothpick, rolled it around in the cornbread batter, and then placed it in the <gasp> hot fat to <gasp, gasp> deep fry.

Bad girl, BAD girl.

Delicious outcome though.

We–my son, my daughter, my grandson, and my houseguest–ate them standing at the stove, putting the mustard and ketchup on the paper towel I was draining the corn dogs on.Dip, bite, mmmm, dip, bite, mmmmm, dip, bite, mmmmmm…

Tes At Home led me astray. Her Tastespotting picture showed up in my RSS feed right at lunch time. I followed her directions exactly.  The only thing I have added in is a suggested temperature for the hot oil (I know, I know, it’s a sin that I know such things), and I did increase the salt a bit <gasp>, and I rewrote the directions just a bit, just to make them sound more like me…, BUT! The recipe is ALL Tes At Home 🙂

Mini Corn Dog

  • 6-8 hot dogs, your choice…all beef, turkey, Kosher, vegan, super premium, ultra bargain discount, regular length or bun length, it doesn’t matter…, whatever you prefer or have on hand
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • additional flour for coating the hot dogs (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • Oil for deep frying
  1. Cook the hot dogs in boiling water for few minutes.  (I know they are already precooked, but do it anyway so they can get all that plumping business out of the way.) Remove cooked hot dogs from the water, drain,  and set aside.
  2. Combine corn meal, flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk egg and sugar until sugar is dissolved,  then stir in milk.
  4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir well.  Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in the deep fryer over the medium heat.
  6. If desired, cut hot dogs into halves or thirds. Spear each piece with a good quality toothpick.
  7. Roll  hot dog pieces in flour and then dip into the corn bread batter, coating well.  (The cornbread batter coats surprisingly well.  No worries here!)
  8. When the oil reaches 365 degrees, place the cornbread covered, toothpick skewered, hot dog into the hot oil. (I have a small pan for deep frying, so I could only cook two mini dogs at a time.)
  9. Deep fry until golden brown. Serve hot, with ketchup and mustard for dipping, of course.

Note: I had enough batter for six bun sized hot dogs cut into thirds, 18 mini hot dogs–and I put the batter on pretty thickly (the corn bread batter is my favorite part).

Aren’t you glad you stopped by my kitchen today?  Just what you needed to know…, how to coat a hot dog in a corn bread batter and deep fry it!  Deeeeeelicious!!!  Serve with a green salad and a glass of orange juice.  My daughter sees no reason why these can’t be frozen and then reheated in the oven as needed.  I don’t either.  Costco sells them twenty four to a box just that way!

Now for all my Facebook, “Polly, Julie and Julia” friends.  YES,  to make matters WORSE I then cut some Reese’s Peanut Butter cups in half , wrapped each half in that roll out crescent roll stuff, baked at 375 for 10 minutes, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and ate.  Ummm, no.  That refrigerated crescent roll stuff is bad news.  The rolls tasted and smelled like chemicals. That being said, of the eight I made guess how many are left?  ZERO.

Now, aren’t you glad to know you can make killer corn dogs at home any time you want?!  I’ll try to post something a little more sane tomorrow….

14 Jun 2011 Chocolate-Peanut Butter Popcorn

My friends tell me I have more than my share of cooking gadgets.  I don’t disagree with them.  But I don’t have everything.  For example, I don’t have one of those quick freeze Popsicle makers, and until today I didn’t have a popcorn machine. The Popsicle maker is on my “Wish List”, but the popcorn machine has been on my kitchen counter churning out popcorn for the last few hours.

I needed a popcorn machine today.  My daughter Abby is manager of our neighborhood pool this Summer and tonight is the first Kid Movie Night.  The pool’s popcorn machine is broken, and she can’t have her first movie night without popcorn, now can she?  So we went out and got a popcorn machine.  It wasn’t expensive.  It was on super-duper clearance at Target.  I KNEW that lucky penny I found on the driveway this morning was going to mean something!

My daughter, being sensible and well organized (like her mother), thought she should practice with the popcorn machine before taking it down to the pool and expecting it to perform perfectly.  So she practiced, and managed to churn out a lot of popcorn.  The machine worked like a charm!  But there was about twenty-four cups of practice popcorn on our counter.  I ate a cup.  My grandson ate about four pieces, and then spilled a cup.  My son refused a cup. Only twenty-two cups to go!

I thought about making Caramel Corn with the popcorn.  I have a terrific Caramel Corn recipe posted, and while my Caramel Corn is one of my favorite foods on the planet, it is a bit of a bother to make.  Time was running out, so I turned to foodgawker, searched on Popcorn, and found this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn.  On closer inspection I found the recipe had been posted by one of my favorite bloggers, Brown Eyed Baker.  The recipe had to be good!  I just knew it!  It was my lucky day.  That was one powerful penny.

This recipe is the same recipe as for Muddy Buddies, but using popcorn instead of Rice Chex.  It’s a cinch to pull together, and it’s good for you:  popcorn, whole grain; peanut butter, plant based protein; chocolate, dairy!  And it’s melt-in-your mouth delicious.  Seriously addictive. I am pretty sure you have all the ingredients in your cabinet, too.

And it’s Summer.  Don’t we all need a movie night?  How about movie night with one of the best popcorn snacks EVAH?!

Umm….there’s just one more thing.  This popcorn doesn’t keep well; it starts to get soft after a few hours.  So eat fast!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

9 cups plain popped popcorn (top of stove, air popped, popcorn machine, microwaved…)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate, or half bittersweet and half milk, or whatever chopped chocolate you have on hand)
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups powdered sugar

  1. Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl.
  2. In a microwave  melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter for about 1 minute.  Stir well. Chocolate and peanut butter should be melted and very smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture over the popcorn. Using a large spoon or spatula, stir until all of the popcorn is evenly coated with the chocolate/peanut butter mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the chocolate-covered popcorn and stir until evenly coated.
  5. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is set.
  6. Serve! Leftovers don’t keep well.  Eat everything as soon as it’s made!

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today.  If you like what you see, please consider subscribing to my blog.  If you subscribe you will get a quick e-mail to alert you each time I post a new recipe (which I try to do a few times a week).  Great seeing you!

Polly