Southwest sweet potato salad

I (Laurel) made this for a potluck at work. It was a hit, so figured I’d share it here. No images, unfortunately, but the next time I make it, I’ll add one!

Also – it’s worth saving a couple single-size portions of this for lunches. Add some sliced avocado for extra nums. 

Southwest sweet potato salad (makes enough for a potluck)

Ingredients:

  • ½ – 1 c quinoa
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into about a ½-inch dice
  • 1 lb chorizo
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • Feta and/or cojita cheese, crumbled
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1-2 limes
  • Olive oil
  • Cinnamon, cumin, ancho chili powder, salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Cook quinoa as directed (usually boil with 2x water and some salt, then simmer for about 15 minutes)
  2. Heat oven to 400*. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, cumin, ancho chili, salt, pepper and cinnamon to taste (just a little cinnamon / I like lots of cumin). Put them on a baking sheet (with foil for easier clean-up!) and roast until done – probably about 20 minutes, tossing once. Cool a bit.
  3. Cook chorizo in a pan until done. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  4. Mix quinoa, sweet potatoes, chorizo, black beans, peppers, cheese, green onions and cilantro in a big bowl. Add some lime juice and olive oil, mix and taste. Adjust seasonings as you’d like.
Advertisements

Totally nuts nut-butter granola (OR) The most cluster-rific granola I’ve made to date

Granola is one thing that I love to make at home, and pretty much refuse to buy in store. Why? When you make it at home, 1) you know exactly what’s in it, and 2) you realize what a price-gauge the store-bought stuff really is.

My problem for awhile though, was getting granola into clusters. At first when making it at home, I’d end up with a bunch of tiny, crunchy oatmeal flakes … which tasted good, but were nothing like the chunky, delicious stuff you can buy in stores.

I’ve now found several recipes/techniques to end up with clustery granola (use egg whites, make a wetter mixture — like with pumpkin puree — and squeeze the granola into clumps prior to baking …) but recently made easily the best batch ever. The best secret for big-cluster granola in my book? Nut butter.

nut butter cluster granola

Totally nuts nut-butter granola (OR) The most cluster-rific granola I’ve made to date

Adapted from Pinch of Yum 

Ingredients (you can pretty much eyeball these)

Dry

  • 3 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1-1 1/2 c nuts (whatever you have on hand)
  • 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2-1 t salt (depending on how salty your nut butter is)
  • Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, and/or nutmeg to taste (probably no more than 1 1/2 t total; I just eyeball it)

Wet

  • 3/4 c nut butter (again, whatever you have on hand should be fine)
  • 1 mashed banana (over-ripe is best)
  • 1/2-2/3 c maple syrup
    • Depending on how sweet you want it, and what kind of nut butter you use, play around with this. Like if you have standard peanut butter, I’d go lighter on the syrup; if you have natural/unsweetened nut butter you may want to use more.
    • You could probably use honey if you prefer. (I’ll update if we try that, but my aunts just gave me a quart of homemade maple syrup from their backyards, so we have it in abundance.)
  • 2 t vanilla extract OR 1 t each vanilla and almond extracts (<– I kind of like the combo, but use what you’ve got)
  • ¼ c milk or milk substitute of your choice (again, if this is sweetened, keep that in mind when measuring your maple syrup)

What do to

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or a silpat.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl.
  5. Combine the dry and wet mixtures together in the bigger of the two bowls.
  6. Pour the granola mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and spread it out as evenly as you can.
  7. Bake until done. Ours takes about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. Every 15 minutes or so, take it out and turn/stir the granola. You should have clumps of varying sizes by the end. After about 30-45 minutes, start testing it for done-ness. You want it to be slightly darker than when it went in, and crisp. We try to take it out right when it’s stopped being moist at all when taste-tested (about one hour and 15 minutes), but if you prefer it a little chewy on the inside, take it out sooner. It’s your granola. And that’s part of the beauty of cooking at home.
  8. Let the granola cool, then store in whatever containers you have on hand. This keeps for a few weeks sealed at room temp, longer the in fridge, and even longer in the freezer. (Use a zip-top freezer bag if you’re going to freeze it, to keep the air out.)

The resulting granola is crunchy and clustery, and an ideal blend of salty-sweet. I loved this mixed into yogurt with blueberries and bananas, and it also makes a yummy snack all on its own.

Savory citrus chicken marinade

So the other day, Brock was in the mood for salad with grilled chicken, and we somehow made up the tastiest marinade for the chicken.

For about one pound of boneless/skinless chicken breasts:

  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • Small handful of thyme springs
  • About 1 t kosher salt
  • Few grinds pepper
  • Juice of 1/2-1 lemon
  • Healthy glug of olive oil

Mix everything in a ziptop bag, add chicken, shake it around and marinate for one hour in the fridge. Mix it around and flip it over once if you think about it. Take chicken out of the fridge about 20 minutes before cooking (we “grilled” on a cast iron grilltop).

We served this over romaine lettuce with roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, olives and avocado, but really the possibilities are endless. It was so good that I’m seriously considering making more already (3 days later).

Asparagus, egg and bacon pizza

I (Laurel) love asparagus in the spring. It’s a sign of all the produce coming in the next few months, and delicious to boot. These past few months, we’ve made a lot of asparagus dishes, but one of my favorites every year is this asparagus, egg and bacon pizza recipe that I stole frequently borrow from Michael Ruhlman.

Except I almost always use a no-knead pizza dough

… that I found here, and converted to weight instead of volume measurements. For 2-3 pizza crusts: 10 oz water, 3/4 T yeast, 1/2 T kosher salt, 1/2 T turbinado sugar or honey (or white sugar if I’m lazy), just <2 oz olive oil, 15 oz flour.)

asparagus egg bacon pizza

My pizza in the oven

asparagus egg bacon pizza

Ruhlman’s perfect pizza

^^Not TOO shabby an attempt, yeah?

What makes this dish exceptional is using great ingredients

… so I hit the farmers markets and local shops for:

… And then I topped it with some amazing truffle salt that Brock’s sister gave me, and shared the pizza with her and a friend. Because the best best food is that you share with those you love. 🙂 asparagus egg bacon pizza

asparagus egg bacon pizza

Ruhlman’s perfect pizza, sliced.

^^ I mean it’s obviously not going to come out looking like a pro chef and photographer’s … but I was happy.

Homemade General Tso’s Chicken.

As many of you know, I (Brock) am a FIEND when it comes to General Tso’s Chicken. It’s all I order from Chinese restaurants and the standard by which I judge all others. So to be fair, Laurel and I decided to try it on our own and see if we can make our own Chinese deliciousness at home. Here is the evidence of our attempt…

We followed the Serious Eats recipe for “The Best General Tso’s Chicken,” because Serious Eats is arguably the best food website on the planet, and their food lab experiments are the bomb.

We prepped everything a few hours ahead of time, so we just had to cook when we wanted dinner, which was a good call. Since we’re newbies, no timer was used, but I’d estimate 20 minutes prep + 30 minutes cooking. Fair warning, I’m (Laurel) a terrible estimator.

homemade general tsos sauce

Sauteeing aromatics and making the sauce

homemade General Tsos chicken

Chicken in sauce, then dredged, and finally fried. (We did the marinating as part of prep, dredging and frying during actual cooking time.)

homemade General Tso's chicken

Plated!

homemade General Tsos taste test

Brock’s taste test and approval!

We had to buy a lot of ingredients to make this the first time (and will hopefully soon have a post about the gin we’ll make with the leftover vodka, because that’s good for nothing but Bloody Marys in our book) but with a decent pantry/freezer, and knowing that we’ll have random cravings for the General, we could probably pull this off anytime from here on out. And it wouldn’t take too much longer than waiting for delivery.

Deliciousness:

  • Crispy! Adding part of the marinade to the dry mix is CLUTCH.
  • Nice balance of flavors, but  not quite spot-on with the General Tso’s Brock craves.
  • Chicken done properly.
  • Rice perfectly done. (L: Brock is too nice to me. The rice was my job, and adequate.)
  • Bonus: No off-putting, uhm, side effects that sometimes come with Chinese take-out.

Wishes:

  • Saltier, sweeter, spicier.
  • Less time consuming. (But it was quite easy. Also, worth noting this is a Brock complaint.)
  • Dish washer? As in, damn we had a lot of dishes to do after this was done. Live and learn.

Leftovers (microwaved at work): Flavor = excellent, texture = no longer crispy (obv), overall though, happy with it. Better than reheating take-out.

Tweaks for next time:

  • Play around with the sauce a bit … maybe add come garlic-chili paste … and add more green onions. We’ll break some of the chiles next time to release more heat, and taste test the sauce along the way more.
  • Remember to buy a new candy/deep fry thermometer.

Bottom line: When you want Chinese / General Tso’s, don’t you typically just want to be lazy and have someone bring you delicious(?) food you can eat for three days? Maybe. Definitely sometimes. So is planning and making and eating this General Tso’s worth it?

Yes.

Now we just need to try our hands at egg rolls.

Comment of the adventure: “It’s either you have children or you enjoy drinking all day.”

PS: Worth noting: With the leftover rice, ginger and single lonely chicken thigh, we made a riff on this ginger fried rice … added diced chicken to the leeks for the last five minutes or so, and stirred the eggs into the dish. Pretty awesome.