Gooey. Fried. Apples.

Gooey. Fried. Apples.

My ex loved to cook. Still does, I’m sure, but we don’t talk like that. Me? Not so much. Before him, I never knew the glory that is French Toast made with challah bread or how much tastier scrambled eggs are with a dash of onion powder (or that onion powder is even a thing).

I’d also never heard of a Dutch Baby.

*wipes screen after tongue-kissing this picture from Cookin’ Canuck*

For those of you not in the know, a Dutch Baby (a.k.a. German Pancake) is like a regular pancake, but baked in the oven. Kind of like if a pancake and a popover had a tasty baby–a baby that’s even tastier covered in gooey fried apples.

 

If you’re looking for the perfect addition to your challah French Toast and onion-y eggs, I highly recommend this recipe from Cookin’ Canuck!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp ground ginger 
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 lb (3 to 4 large) Gala or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch slices 
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar

[Quick interruption from yours truly: I’m not a fan of nutmeg, so I replace that and the ginger with cinnamon…LOTS of cinnamon…in both the batter and the apples.

I’m also heavy-handed with the butter and brown sugar. I have a the-more-the-merrier philosophy with those two ingredients in pretty much any recipe.

As for the apples, peeling them is hard. Okay, not hard, per se….but tedious and time consuming. This is where my ex came in handy.]

Directions:

  1. Place an oven rack in the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, salt, nutmeg, and ground ginger. In a medium bowl, whisk together half-and-half, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour the half-and-half mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth, without lumps.
  3. In a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in lemon juice. Pour the batter around the edges of the pan and then over top of the apples.
  4. Place the skillet into the oven and immediately turn the heat to 425 degrees F. Bake until the pancake is brown and it has puffed above the edges of the skillet, 15 to 18 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the edges of the pancake from the skillet and invert the pancake onto a serving platter. Sift powdered sugar over the top of the pancake and cut it into wedges. Serve immediately.

My very first Dutch Baby–made by me!

Hugs n’ stuff!

Everly Lucas

 

Popcorn has a day!

Popcorn has a day!

Today in my inbox I received a proclamation from the lovely folks at National Day Calendar. It’s National Popcorn Day. Popcorn has its very own day. And rightly so.

Hand to heart, popcorn is the one food I simply could not give up. I can resist (who am I kidding?). I even defriended it for a while, but I will always come crawling back to it. My favorite is movie theater popcorn, followed by the microwave stuff. Pop a bag of that salty, fluffy goodness and I’m eating the entire thing. Those 100 calorie snack bags are for underachievers.

I’m not a purist, although I do prefer my popcorn with just salt (definitely not a fan of anything sweet). In college, I had an air popper and my roommates and I would add brewers yeast or parmesan cheese to the snack. But recently, I’ve discovered several new flavors – Cilantro Lime, Garlic and Herb to name two.

Today I want to share a recipe I discovered from Shutterbean on Pinterest for Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn.

Photo courtesy of Shutterbean.com

SOUR CREAM & ONION POPCORN

makes enough for 2-4

recipe slightly adapted from Seriously Delish

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons powdered buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1  teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place a 3 quart saucepan (or Whirley Pop) over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and popcorn kernels to the pan. Close the lid and  move pot back and forth (or whirl around!) on the stove and pop the popcorn until you start to hear the popping slow down. Remove from the stove. Put popcorn in a large bowl and set aside. (I cheat and use lite microwave popcorn.)

Drizzle the popcorn with olive oil and toss it well to coat. In small bowl, whisk together dill, cheese, buttermilk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour it over the popcorn and toss the popcorn evenly to coat it in the mixture. Taste the popcorn and season it additionally if needed.

* If you cannot find powdered buttermilk for this recipe, powdered milk can be used in a pinch. You might need to adjust to the salt level as the powdered milk is slightly sweeter and less tangy than the buttermilk.

Enjoy!

A New, Healthier Me

A New, Healthier Me

I’ve recently lost quite a bit of weight (Let’s talk again in six months to see if I’ve kept it off, okay?) and I managed the task by dieting and some occasional exercise. It seemed to take forever, so you can bet I’m going to go out of my way to try to keep it off. But along comes Autumn, a season when I typically want to get in my kitchen and cook up all the yummy comfort-style foods that I am nostalgic for. Meatloaf, lasagne, chicken and dumplings, homemade mac and cheese. Exactly the kinds of foods that adds the pounds on in the past.

So, I’ve started a new recipe file and I’ve titled it Keeping The Pounds Off (or Do Not Put That In Your Mouth). Every meal is an adventure in trying to find ways to make a recipe healthier, but still ensure the taste brings back good memories.

Recently, I tried a recipe for Healthier Chicken Pot Pie from AllRecipes and was pleasantly surprised. It was easy and tasty. Here’s a picture of the final product. I’ve copied the recipe for you below. If you try it, I hope it brings back memories of family meals and fall.

2016-11-06-17-18-09

 

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery in a saucepan. Cover with water. Boil until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and vegetables are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
  3. Cook and stir onions in butter in a saucepan over medium heat, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and remove from heat. Set aside.
  4. Place chicken mixture in bottom pie crust; pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Gemma Sig-1

Labor-intensive Dessert for Labor Day

Labor-intensive Dessert for Labor Day

Labor-intensive

I love watermelon. And I’ve volunteered to bring one to a Labor Day picnic. But I can’t show up with one as-is. No, it needs to be impressive. And so I ask you, Spice Aisle readers, to help me decide…

 

Do I make a dolphin fruit party?

dolphin

 

Do a fish filled with fruit?
fish

 

Go for the top of the ocean food chain, and create a shark?

shark

 

Maybe something sharp?

porcupine

 

Something slow-moving?

turtle

 

Or something stunningly feathered?

peacock

 

Or is there something else I should sculpt? Let me know your favorite!

I’ve never attempted to carve anything other than a pumpkin before, so tips and tricks are appreciated.

And so, if all else fails, here’s my back-up plan:

pops

 

 

Happy Labor Day!!

Susan-Sig

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees!

A few months ago I injured my knee while walking to the bus stop. What I thought was a simple sprain turned out to be so much more and extremely painful–namely, a torn meniscus, a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (also known as the ACL) and incipient osteoarthritis in my left knee. Yes, I’ve got it all at the moment. My orthopaedic surgeon is taking a wait-and-see approach and I’m doing physiotherapy (which is helping a lot, actually). I have to do special exercises just for my knee every day…and now they tell me to… lose a little weight.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 06.27.24

Yes, Kevin Hart, I wore that same expression on my face when they said it!

The foodie in me is not happy about this, but I do have some extra pounds that I’d love to see magically vanish…so I am trying to take a reasonable approach that involves cutting back on certain things, namely carbs, and not completely cutting out all the things I love.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 06.34.33

Did someone say bread….? Yum!

I freely admit it: I am a carb junkie. I love potatoes. I absolutely adore pasta. Got waffles? Yes! Sourdough bread? I am in ecstasy. But…these are, of course, the very things I need to cut back on if I am going to lose the first 5 kilos my physiotherapist says will help my knee feel better.

At least it’s summer. And usually during the summer–as long as it’s hot (which there is no guarantee of here in Sweden) I tend to crave other thing than…bread, pasta, comfort food. Lately, I’ve been craving roasted veggies–tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, red onions, carrots, you name it. I’ve also been longing for a good Caprese salad since my June trip to Matera, Italy.

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Oh my stars! I love a good Caprese salad! Photo credit: www.pioneerwoman.com

Caprese salads are the bee’s knees and super simple: the only ingredients you need are

  • ripe tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • good quality mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

That’s it. It doesn’t need to be more complicated. Pull out a shallow bowl or serving dish. Slice the tomatoes–not too thinly, you’ll want thicker slices to really enjoy this–and set them aside. Drain and slice the mozzarella. Again, not too flimsy slices. You want to savour the texture and the flavour. Pick a goodly amount of basil leaves–no point in stinting since–again–this is all about flavour.

Now don't you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now don’t you want to try a bit of that loveliness? Photo credit: www.recipeshubs.com

Now start placing the ingredients on your plate–tomato slice, mozzarella, basil–repeat–until you’ve got this lovely vision of red, white and green that makes you dream of Italy. Sprinkle a little sea salt and black pepper over this beauty. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And you’re done!

Told you it was easy. 🙂

Now if you want to jazz it up, you could roast the tomatoes or use dollops of burrata (a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream) or add some fresh baby spinach or toss in some strawberries or use crema di balsamico (a thicker, slightly sweeter version of balsamic vinegar that’s good on just about everything) instead. Go wild with it. 🙂 I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Caprese salad so I stick with the basics.

The great thing with a Caprese is that you can have it as a side salad or as your main dish–and it’s so pretty that people think you slaved over it when it took no time at all. Simply pretend it was so much more difficult than it really was to pick the perfect basil or slice that tomato just so.

So next week when I am in Philadelphia (where it’s always hot during the summer) instead of Stockholm (where you never know what sort of summer weather you’ll get), I have the feeling I will be eating a lot of Caprese salads.

Are you a Caprese salad lover? Or does some other bit of salad loveliness speak to you?

My Signature for the Blog

The Manly Art Of Lefsa Making

The Manly Art Of Lefsa Making

The holiday season is fast approaching, and that means that lefse day is also on the horizon. Each year bold Vikings strive forth into the kitchen, sword in hand, for that manliest of occasions –  lefsa making.

For those of you unfamiliar with lefse let me just say…you are missing out. This Norwegian flat bread is the basis for an extraordinary cuisine that includes a jelly-like white fish treated with lye and stacked like cord-wood behind the cabin in the winter cold, rich, bland cream sauces, and macaroni boiled to within an inch of it’s life. (In Norwegian al dente means ‘not yet done’.) Thank the Lord for Swedish Meatballs or I would not have survived my church’s annual Lutefisk dinners.

But the shining star of the blond, bland traditional Norwegian cuisine…is Lefse!

Lefse

This incredibly versatile and almost tasteless flat bread is made of mashed potatoes, flour, cream, butter and salt. Now come on, can you get any blander than that?

Okay, I hear you asking…what’s the big deal?

My friends…here is the big deal. Behold my vast array of lefse making tools:

Lefse tools

What is that implement in the center you may ask? (go ahead…you may ask.)

Lefse Sword

Yes, that is my Lefse Sword. If ever one food reflected the proud bearing of a cuisine…a people…Nay, A NATION! it is Lefse. For Lefse is made with a sword!

Oh how those hearty Vikings, fresh from the rape and pillage of Europe must have looked forward to wielding their swords in the kitchen upon their return to Norway. Hearty men in horned helms flinging bland flat bread on to table and shield in a quest to find something…anything…that would make that lye soaked fish palatable.

Now women, stand back, for this is a manly art, and not for the faint of heart.

Balls of cold dough…

rolled so thin you can almost see through them.

Then the sword is applied…

to move the thin pastry to the griddle.

It is the truest mark of a man’s skill at arms.

At my side will be my trusty sword-mate (my niece’s husband) Matt. He learned the craft at my knee a bare five years ago. The boy became a man that day, and has since upheld the annual tradition that is Lefse Day.

Lefse will soon be once again available for meals, for snacks (it isn’t just for breakfast anymore). A dinner roll replacement with butter, a wrap for sandwich fixings, a basis for hundreds of different meals, snacks and desserts. This flexible food has limitless options, and only wants for a bit of imagination. Don’t take my word for it. Look here (I ♥ this restaurant. Lefse year round.): http://norskenook.com/menu-lefse-wraps-specialties/

If we are frugal, our batch will last through the holidays, though most years I am forced into making a second batch. Gladly do I draw my sword and march once again into battle. For we must have lefse for  Christmas. But there will come that day, usually late into a cold, snowy January, when the lefse runs out. Then we must wait, and do without lefse, the rest of that cold, dark year, for the grand tradition that is…LEFSE DAY!

Steve

Servings…Veronica’s Pumpkin Spice Latte

Servings…Veronica’s Pumpkin Spice Latte

pumpkinspice

It’s fall and all things pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones, and my personal favorite pumpkin spice lattes. Here’s my recipe…be careful taking the bowl out of the microwave. The steam escapes under the plate.

 

1 cup milk (1/2 and 1/2 for the best taste, skim for less calories)

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (the stuff from a can works way better than trying to get a whole pumpkin to the perfect consistency)

1/2 cup hot espresso (no espresso? No problem-use really strong coffee)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream.
Add the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, spice, and vanilla in a medium bowl, cover the bowl with a microwave safe plate that covers it. Microwave 1 to 2 minutes until the mix is hot. (Be careful taking the bowl out of the microwave. The steam escapes under the plate.) Whisk the contents until it is foamy.

Pour the espresso into a large mug. Add the foamed milk with a light touch to keep it floating. Cover with as much whipped cream as you can handle.

Enjoy!

Salad Days

Salad Days

It’s Summer. It’s hot. No one wants to turn on their oven. Plus, you’ve worked hard (or played hard) all day. You don’t want to spend an hour prepping and then cooking a meal. And so, *drum roll, please* I present to you my go-to Summer meal… (frankly, it’s my go-to every-season meal)…
 
The Salad.
 
And not just any salad. No. It’s special. It’s “tropical. And that means: your taste buds are about to go on vacation.
Tropical Spinach Salad
Recipe credit: Cathy at Lemon Tree Dwelling
Ingredients
3 c. fresh baby spinach
⅓ c. strawberries, chopped
⅓ c. pineapple, chopped
½ avocado, cubed
1 slice red onion, quartered ⅛ c.
⅛ c. chopped pecans
fresh-shaved parmesan cheese, to taste
(Change it up by adding in almonds, walnuts, or chickpeas)
Instructions
1. Layer ingredients in medium salad bowl.
2. OPTIONAL: Top with Sweet Lime Vinaigrette – (1/8 c. olive oil, 1/8 c. vinegar, Tbsp. lime juice, Tbsp. agave nectar). I find this dressing too sweet, so if I use anything, it’s a light drizzle of olive oil.
3. Combine ingredients in a small container with a lid; shake well.
Voila! Your meal is served. 
But, wait. Where’s dessert???
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget that!
Here it is, in all its gorgeous, colorful, vitamin-filled goodness 🙂
Summer Fruit Salad
 
Ingredients
 
Blackberries – 1 cup
Strawberries – 1 cup hulled and quartered
Grapes – 1 cup
Kiwi – 1 cup peeled and quartered
Blueberries – 1 cup
Oranges – 3 oranges, peeled and cut into wedges
Watermelon – 1 cup cubed watermelon
Instructions
 
   1. Mix ingredients into a bowl.
   2. Serve.
 
Beverage perfect for the meal:
You could have a glass of chilled wine, or coconut water, or regular water, or my go-to iced coffee.
 
There. Dinner (or lunch) done. Light and healthy and delicious. 🙂
Susan-Sig
Cooking with a blowtorch.

Cooking with a blowtorch.

A few years ago, while dining at a fancy restaurant, my wife and I discovered Crème Brulee. If you’ve never tried it, do. This is some seriously delicious stuff.Crema brule - Crme brle

 

Now, we rarely do dessert at restaurants, but crème brulee on the menu always makes us reconsider. So it soon became apparent I needed to learn how to make this incredible treat.

 

A little research turned up some recipes, and a list of equipment needed. Seriously? A blowtorch? Okay, a small, kitchen torch, but wow. I had to get me one of those.

Off to Williams-Sonoma. Not only did they have the torch and special baking dish with ramekins, but the torch came with what has become our favorite crème brulee recipe. You’ll find it here: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/creme-brulee.html

Bon Appétit.

Steve

An Ode to Oreos or The Loss of Mindless Eating

An Ode to Oreos or The Loss of Mindless Eating

by Veronica Forand

Diets annoy me. Don’t eat bread, stay away from alcohol, ignore the chocolate ice cream. It’s like making a list of the most wonderful things in life and then avoiding them.

When I was younger, I never had a problem with a diet. I’d sit down with a box of Oreos and eat every damn one of them. Ice cream? Bring it on. I’d go for seconds most nights, and the scale wouldn’t tip. Eating habits of an eighteen year old that worked out for two hours every day and rarely sat in a chair.

Life as an over forty writer? Not exactly a lifestyle that spikes metabolism into overdrive. And while I don’t want to diet, I need to. As I gain weight, I feel sluggish and my mind, the main tool I use for writing, doesn’t provide me with the best ideas. More weight for me increases my need for mid-afternoon naps.

So this week, I’ve cut the carbs and the alcohol and the chocolate and anything pleasant that makes me want to sprint to the kitchen. The result? I’m surviving and slowly as the days pass, I feel better.

Will this last? No. Probably not even to Friday. But after I break my bad habit of eating everything I desire in large quantities, I can return to eating some things. Wine and chocolate. And really after that- what else would I need!

And in a shameless plug- Susan Scott Shelley are releasing our hockey romance today “Simmering Ice.” Don’t count on either the hero or heroine for good recipes- they stink at cooking. At least in the kitchen…

Simmering Ice Screenshot Cover