Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Drying Silpat Mats

I mentioned in my latest post that we are moving. As of today, I've got 8 days and a wake-up before our first moving day (we are going to live in a townhouse until our house is built). With just over a week to finish packing up my house I've not done much (any) cooking; other than spaghetti and a fantastic crock-pot recipe a friend sent me, we've been eating out a lot (which is getting very old, very fast).

So, without a new recipe to post, I wanted to share this with you. Remember when I finally figured out how to store my Silpat mats? But drying them has still been an issue. They are so floppy! Well, the other night I was doing dishes, and in a fit of frustration, I did this:

Problem solved! I may have squealed a little. And jumped up and down.

And since you're going to get to come along for the crazy ride we're starting, here is the first picture of our house-building adventure:

It's an excavator! Digging a GIANT hole that the magic of construction will turn into our basement. This was very exciting--we started this whole thing back at the beginning of May, and we are finally getting into the building part. Whoo-hoo! Now, if I can survive the packing and moving, it will all be ;)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spicy Black Beans

First, I feel I need to say that I find it strange that I'm suddenly able to find the time to blog more frequently when what I should be doing is packing for our move. Hum. Strange. And mysterious.

Continuing on.....

These beans are easy and take about 10 minutes to make, which is perfect because I had about 30 minutes to make something for dinner between me getting home from taking care of moving stuff and my husband needing to leave for Scouts. And they only have 4 ingredients (5 if you count the cilantro), which is also perfect. Did I mention they were easy?

You can eat these beans as a side dish, or you can do what we did tonight and have them wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and lettuce. The spice comes from the salsa you use, but you can easily amp up the heat if your salsa is mild by adding red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce (you get the idea). I used our favorite salsa, Jack's Special Salsa (medium-hot) (our Costco sells it in a big container, and I've seen it in smaller containers at other smaller stores) but you can use whatever salsa you have.

Spicy Black Beans
printable recipe

2 15-oz cans black beans, undrained
1 cup salsa
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium pot, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes. Beans will thicken as they cool.

Makes about 4 cups.

*Use a slotted spoon to serve the beans if you want them to be less juicy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chocolate Muffins

My adorable, oldest niece is staying with us until she starts college at BYU in the fall. And apparently she has a muffin addiction: She loves them. She eats them all the time. My sister (her mom) keeps them in their freezer. But I don't typically have them on hand. So, being the amazing auntie that I am, I made her some of these Chocolate Muffins last night. At 11:30 p.m. Did I mention how amazing I am?

If you've been looking for a very chocolaty muffin, this is your last stop. Between the cocoa powder and the semi-sweet chocolate chips, these muffins are loaded with chocolate flavor. This recipe is originally from a little book I have called "Muffins A to Z" by Marie Simmons. It has some very nice recipes, my favorite being a recipe for a muffin mix you put together and keep in your pantry. The mix makes whipping up a batch of muffins even easier than it already is.

For these chocolate muffins I've made a few changes: decreased the cocoa powder (first time I made them there were really bitter and dry); increased the sugar (helped with the bitter issue); I use buttermilk instead of regular milk (a high-altitude thing, and buttermilk helps male the muffins more moist); and I use melted butter instead of oil, and increased the amount just a bit.

We've already eaten all the ones I baked, so I'm going to need to make more. A double (triple?) batch. So some can go in the freezer ;)

And, as always, these are formulated for my high altitude, but will also work at lower altitudes.

Chocolate Muffins (heavily adapted from "Muffins A to Z")

10 oz all-purpose flour, sifted (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 oz unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (about 1/2 cup, from the canister, not sifted)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda, sifted
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
3/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Heat your oven to 400. Line a 12-cavity cupcake pan with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, salt, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Whisk to combine.

3. In a medium bowl, (I use a 4-cup glass measuring cup) whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined. Don't over mix.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 prepared cavities and sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. 

Makes 12  muffins.

**Note: If you want muffins that aren't as generous and over-flowing, this recipe also makes 18 regular muffins (using a muffin scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup for each muffin). 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chicken Curry

Oh. My. Goodness. Life is crazy! C. R. A. Z. Y. We decided that we are going to move--again--and my life has been turned upside down the last eight-plus weeks trying to get everything figured out about building the house, and where we are going to live during construction, and what to do with our horses during construction...blah, blah, blah. Moving = complete insanity, as I'm sure you all know. Eek!

Glad you are all so patient ;)

I made this for dinner today, after not really cooking for what seems like forever because I've been so busy making move arrangements, and it was so, so nice to be in the kitchen again. This is a very easy chicken curry recipe and it has fantastic flavor. I love cooking with coconut milk, and I always mix light and regular coconut milk so I can still get a good amount of creaminess with a little less fat than using all regular coconut milk (I mix the two cans together, use half of it, and then freeze the rest for another meal).

Chicken Curry
printable recipe

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, scraped, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garahm marsala
2 cups chicken broth
1 13.5 can coconut milk (I use half light/half regular)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 15.5 oz can garbonza beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen peas 
Hot cooked rice for serving

1. In a large pot, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil until hot. Add the chicken and cook, stirring often until browned and no longer pink on the inside, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and carrots, and cook, stirring often, until the carrots are softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the curry powder and garahm marsala, and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes (don't worry when some of the curry and garahm marsala sticks to the bottom of the pan).

4. Add the chicken broth to the pot and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to get all of the stuck-on bits off and mixed in to the broth.

5. In a medium bowl (I use a 2-cup glass measuring cup) whisk together the coconut milk, tomato paste, and salt. Add to the pot and stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

6. Add the garbonzo beans, cauliflower, and frozen peas, bring back to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

Makes 6-8 servings.
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