Blue cheese crumble

This is so good and so easy.

It’s awesome with apple slices and crackers, and even better on steaks or burgers.

Speaking of burgers, that’s how we served it last weekend. As a bonus, hubs got to use his new toy, a charcoal chimney.

He’s been a gas grill man, but has recently been branching out to charcoal.

He dabbled with a smoker a few years ago, but smoking stuff takes for-ever (like 5-10 hours?!). We’re kind of too last-minute for that. We’d decide at maybe 2 in the afternoon to smoke something, then end up eating at around 10pm. We’d have filled up on a million chips and dips waiting around for the magical smoking to complete, and then no one was even hungry any more. ?!?

But anyway – grill your steaks or your burgers whatever way you like (I’d avoid smoking them), then spoon gobs of this blue cheese crumble all over them. You will not be sorry.

Blue Cheese Crumble

  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 3 T nice olive oil (I like Olive Orchard’s Sicilian for this)
  • 1/4 C finely chopped parsley (I like flat leaf parsley, but the store was out of that and the curly was just as good)
  • 1/4 C finely chopped red onion
  • pepper, to taste

Crumble the blue cheese onto a serving plate (dinner plate-sized is good). Sprinkle the lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, red onion, and pepper over evenly. Serve as an appetizer on crackers or apples, or as an accompaniment to steaks/burgers.

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Kidfood – Popcorn and chicken strips

Ever make popcorn on the stovetop? It’s sooo easy, and cheaper than those microwave bags. I’d spell out how to do it here, but the Tasty Cheapskate and Recipe Girl (two of my faves) have already done that for us. I think it is the best, easiest, cheapest thing to give to kids for a snack.

me: “everyone put your hand in the bowl for a picture!”

kids: [blank stares]

And I love how this picture looks like we staged it for a corporate diversity initiative.

In other kid food news, I’ve successfully duplicated Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers (the 11yo’s very favorite restaurant – where he asked to eat at his special birthday dinner) at home. They’re not really exactly like them, but my son ate them which is the measure of success I’m using here.

All I do is dredge some chicken tenders in corn starch, then deep fry them in vegetable oil in my wok for 3 minutes. It takes like 15 minutes total. So easy. And I even tried this recipe for Cane’s sauce which got rave reviews.

Look how after only 11 years, I am able to make two things my child likes to eat! And he ate about 6 of those grapes! Mother of the year.

 

Crazy for Kebabs*

Summer means hubs is on the grill. Last weekend, he did a bunch of kebabs: lamb, buffalo, peppers, and onions.

For the lamb, he skewered a mint leaf in between each piece.

He did each item on its own set of skewers. That way everything gets done evenly. (He also gets a lot of texts, and doesn’t let making veggie kebabs slow that down. I’m sure they’re very important**).

He also skewered everything on two skewers so the meat and veggies don’t spin around when you turn them.

And the big shocker of the day? This little lady loved the lamb.

Here’s what he used:

Buffalo strip steak, cut into chunks and marinated in salt, pepper, and olive oil (Chilean), then skewered with green peppers.

Leg of lamb, cut into chunks and marinated in salt, pepper, and olive oil (Thyme), then skewered with mint leaves.

Onions, quartered.

Red, green, and yellow peppers.

*So I totally plagiarized this line from something I wrote recently for a client. But there’s only so much creative energy I have to come up with a cute line about kebabs, right?

**Just yesterday he got a text from my brother in law with a picture of a snake he’d just beheaded with a garden hoe. Important, that’s what I said.

Fish fry

Me. Hubs. The 11yo. The 6yo. My mom. My dad.

A boat in the Florida Bay. Fishing poles and live shrimp.

A lot of yelling, by everyone except hubs. (“I need bait!” “Cast my line!” “Reel it in!” “Get it in the boat!” “It’s a keeper!”)

A little sunburn. A cooler full of fish.

A fried feast. A beer.

These are the ingredients for the perfect day of vacation.

 

Lasagna – Recipe Swap

This month’s classic recipe: ham snails. Perfect for April Fool’s Day, yes?

The title alone would suggest some kind of disgusting escargot-with-pork-bits concoction, but it’s really just a biscuit dough rolled up with some ham and topped with tomato sauce.

Inspired by the spiral shape, I wanted to make lasagna rolls. After a few failed attempts at keeping any filling inside during the rolling, I decided just to go with a plain old lasagna.

Ok guys. Lasagna is really not photogenic at all. Especially in fading light. And especially when you are still an aspiring photographer.

I tried getting it in my usual food-shooting spot by the window. Umm no.

With a little artificial light by the sink. Ick.

I even ran outside to the patio to shoot in “direct sun” (such as it was at 8pm.) Suffice it to say that this tastes way better than it looks in these photos.

Unfortunately, I have another hard truth to share about lasagna. Not only is it ugly, it’s kind of labor intensive. I don’t mind all the work, but it’s not really something you can throw together right after you come home from a long day working for the man. There are just too many moving parts and slow cooking sauces.

You can however, spend Sunday morning putting it together and bake it the next day for dinner. You might even forget it’s Monday for a few minutes.

Lasagna

  • 9 Lasagna noodles, cooked for 6 minutes then rinsed and drained
  • 1 batch red sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 batch white sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 pound sausage, browned (I like the hot kind)
  • 1/2 pound ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C shredded fontina cheese*

Heat oven to 350. Mix ricotta, egg, and fontina together. Mix red sauce and white sauce together. In a 9×9 pan, layer the ingredients in this order:

1/4 of the sauce, 3 lasagna noodles (you’ll have to cut them to fit), all the cheese mixture, 1/4 of the sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, all the sausage, 1/4 of the sauce, 3 lasagna noodles, 1/4 of the sauce.

Bake this until bubbly (about 30-45 minutes). If you like it super cheesy, add more fontina on top for the last 10-15 minutes of baking.

Red Sauce

  • 1 32 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Saute the carrots, onions, and celery in the olive oil until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

White Sauce

  • 1/4 flour
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 C whole milk, warmed (I pop mine in the microwave for about a minute 30)
  • salt, to taste

Cook the flour and butter together over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Don’t let the flour get brown. Whisk in the milk. Continue whisking over medium low heat until the sauce thickens. It will take about 10 minutes.

About the Recipe Swap: The recipe swap is organized by Christianna at the Burwell General Store. Each month, a collection of bloggers reinterprets a classic recipe selected by Christianna. Click below to see what other recipe swappers did with this one.

*Did you know you can shred cheese in your food processor? How did I not know this? It takes like 40 seconds. And I’ve been doing it by hand on the box grater all these years like a dope.

Fried Wild Rice – Recipe Swap

Up until yesterday, I had planned to do a wild rice salad for this recipe swap.

Some pecans, some dried cherries, some diced red onions, and an orange vinaigrette. Yum right?

But Asian food has been calling my name lately.

It started with this. I read it, cover to cover.

Inspired by Dave Chang and his adorable rags to riches story, I even started eating Ramen again.

(I had stopped after I ate 2 million packages of it in college.)

I’ve also become quite the Ching-He Huang fan, watching all the Ching videos on CookingChannelTV.com, eating Congee for breakfast all last week per her recommendtion, and making three recipes from her book for dinner last night.

So today, I found myself drawn not to that salad I’d originally planned, but more towards something savory and (vaguely) Asian: Fried rice.

For successful fried rice, always start with COLD rice.

Fried Wild Rice with sausage

  • 1 t bacon grease
  • 2 sausages (breakfast link size), casing removed
  • 1/2 C white rice
  • 1/2 C steamed wild rice*
  • 1/4 C diced red bell pepper
  • 1/3 C sliced green onions
  • 1 egg, very lightly beaten
  • Soy sauce, to taste

Brown the sausage in the bacon grease until almost done, breaking it up as you go. Add both rices, and the veggies. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the egg, stirring slowly. Allow it to cook, but stir often enough that it breaks into small pieces. Add 5-10 dashes of soy sauce, and serve hot.

*To cook the wild rice, add 1 C rice to 3 C water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until all water is absorbed and rice is split open.

This is comfort food for a lazy Sunday.

About the Recipe Swap: The recipe swap is organized by Christianna at the Burwell General Store. Each month, a collection of bloggers reinterprets a classic recipe selected by Christianna.

Mushroom Custards – Recipe Swap

Inspiration.

I always used to think of it as something dramatic. “Inspiration strikes,” they say. And “strikes” is, if not violent, at least something reasonably significant. That time when the skies open, the heavenly host sings, and you are handed that game-changing idea.

I’ve found that it rarely works like that. In fact, never, in my case. Rather, inspiration is something you choose to seek. Once found, it comes not in one huge rush, but in small ideas and little pushes that lead you to the next inspiration.

For 2012, my intention is to be open to the inspiring things that are everywhere around me, and to seek inspiration more often.

Hmm. I just paused to read that.

Have I really become so serious? And didn’t the post title imply a recipe for mushroom custards?

Ah, well. Apparently 35 (and a half) is the age at which you become morosely reflective over things like creating a recipe for recipe swap. I’m sure I’ll return to my normal madcap, slapdash ways tomorrow. Until then, I present the series of inspirations that lead to mushroom custards.

#1 Classic Recipe presented by Christianna at Burwell General Store.

#2 Ologie Holiday Party, where each of 7 teams was tasked with creating a signature drink, appetizer, and themed display to go with it. My team (represented by the sweet little pine cone drinks below) served an appetizer of rye crackers, carmelized onions, mushroom ragu, and goat cheese.

#4 Bacon. Always its own inspiration.

With an idea of an earthy, savory custard in mind, I borrowed Lidia’s custard technique, and Elise’s onion technique. And mushroom custards were born.

Before you start, carmelize your onions, cook and chop your bacon, then saute your mushrooms.

You can use nice ramekins, but I love these Pampered Chef mini bowls because they have their own lids.

These would make a nice first course for a winter dinner. They’d also double nicely, but I made only three since I’m the only one around this house that would even consider eating such a thing.

Mushroom Custards

  • 1/4 C chopped bacon
  • 1/4 C carmelized onions
  • 1/4 C sauteed mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 375, and place a rack in the middle. Butter ramekins. I used 3 one-cup glass dishes. Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth, then stir in rest of ingredients. Pour evenly into ramekins, then place in a 9X13 pyrex or other large, flat dish. Place in oven, with the rack pulled out. Pour hot water into the 9×13, until it reaches about half way up the sides. 

Bake 10 minutes, then jiggle it. If they’re still liquid-y, put them in for 5 more minutes. After that check them every 2-3 minutes. You want them a little wobbly in the middle, but no liquid should come to the top when you press with a finger.

When finished, remove them from the oven, then the hot water bath. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

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