Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Blueberry lemon pancake bars

I'm itching for an adventure. I'm ready for the road. I want the Utah desert. I want that quiet. I want those ethereal rocks. I want to feel small below grand arches. Instead what I have is snow, snow, and more snow.

Snow and I are now done. I can almost make it to March with my resolve to appreciate snow and then I fold. That little snowflake symbol occupies almost every day of the 10 day forecast. I must make the best of it. 

This weekend in the snow, I read almost all 800 pages of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I really liked this book. It's completely different. It unravels a series of mysterious events in a New Zealand mining town in the late 1800s. It's intriguing and engaging. If you have some spare time, I would definitely invest it in this book. 

I also baked blueberry lemon pancake bars on this snowy weekend and my world as I know it will never be the same again. I love pancakes but I hate flipping them. It takes too much time. The genius over at The Kitchn who decided to take pancake batter and bake it into a big casserole dish will never know how much I love her. These baked pancake bars result in all the tasty fluffy delight of a pancake with none of the hassle. This week I have been so excited to wake up, warm up my pancake bar in the microwave, and douse it in maple syrup. Pancakes for breakfast every morning. What a dream.

Blueberry lemon pancake bars
Adapted from The Kitchn, makes 10-12 bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Grease a 9" by 13" baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add blueberries and mix in with a spatula.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish and let rest while you preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just browning the edges and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Homemade party mix (aka get out of the way Chex mix!)

Be forewarned. Making this mix will result in consumption of unreasonable quantities of carbohydrate filled delight. It's so good that a handful will never do. Make it and share it. Or make it and shamelessly consume the entire massive bowl in a day. I'm not here to judge.

This party mix is fun to make. Pick your wheat filled products and go to town. Pretzels, chex cereal, peanuts, wheat crackers, and popcorn made up my first version. Next time I'm adding goldfish. Once you have some brown butter, the sky's the limit  for how to season this baby.

This version contains Frank's red hot and worcester. I also just made a BBQ version. Next I'm thinking a sticky sweet and spicy asian variety with hoisin and sweet chili sauce. Oh the fun we are going to have with this mix.

Homemade party mix
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, makes massive quantities appropriate for as few as 1 and as many as 10

2 tablespoons oil
6 tablespoons unpopped popcorn (can sub six cups already popped popcorn)
1 cup peanuts or any darn nuts you love
2 cups chex cereal
1 1/2 cups mini pretzels
1 cup wheat crackers, or melba toast, or goldfish, or pita chips
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons worcester sauce
1/4 cup Frank's red hot (or sub BBQ sauce for a BBQ version)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Pop that popcorn! Heat the olive oil and 2-3 corn kernels in a large pan with a lid over medium high heat. When the first kernels pop, add the rest. Every 30 seconds grab the pan and lid and shake. Once a few seconds passes between pops, remove from the heat. Pour popcorn in a large bowl. Add the peanuts, chex cereal, pretzels, and crackers to the bowl and use your hands to mix.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over high heat. When the butter begins to turn golden brown, remove from heat. Whisk into the butter the worcester, Frank's red hot (or BBQ), brown sugar, mustard, salt, paprika, garlic, and onion powder.

Pour the butter sauce over you party mix and stir with a large spoon or spatula, until everything is coated. Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool and go to town!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Saucy chipotle baked eggs and potatoes

Blake and I spent the weekend in Grand Lake, which is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park on the westside. We stayed in a perfect little cabin warmed by a gas stove. We slept in and drank warm and warming beverages. We ate pizza and BBQ. We hiked on a quiet beautiful trail in our most beloved national park. It was all quite wonderful.

As per usual on these trips, we ate and ate and ate. When we came home, we wanted to eat something that contained a vegetable but it also needed to be warming and hearty, as it was dumping snow outside. What we settled on is our absolute new favorite dish. We have eaten this meal once a week for the last three weeks.

The premise is simple. Baked eggs and potatoes swimming in a slightly spicy chipotle tomato sauce with kale and goat cheese. Mop up the sauce with piece of toasted crusty bread and you will find yourself so very satisfied. The beautiful thing about this dish is that you can adapt it to your own preference. Maybe you don't want spicy? Instead of the chipotle add some italian seasoning and parmesan for an more Italian spin. Once you make this dish, you will make it again and again.

Saucy chipotle baked eggs and potatoes 
Adapted from Pinch of Yum, serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups yukon gold potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 cups kale, chopped
2 ounces goat cheese
Crusty bread, toasted

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat in a large saute pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of the chipotle powder, salt, stock, and can of tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes. Pour tomato sauce in a blender and puree until smooth.

In the same pot you cooked the sauce in over medium high heat, add the last tablespoons of olive oil. Add the potatoes and chipotle powder. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add back in the sauce, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in your kale. Using a spoon make little holes to crack the eggs into. Put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 4 more minutes. This will give you medium soft eggs. If you shake the pan and the eggs jiggle a lot leave them longer. You can also adjust the time depending on how soft or hard you prefer your eggs.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day inspiration

I'm all about celebrating love. All love. All the time. Let's celebrate love for your significant other, family, and friends. Love is the most wonderful thing. We don't celebrate it enough.

I'm celebrating love this weekend with a pretty neat guy. We are making pizza and brownie sundaes complete with chocolate bourbon ice cream and hot fudge. We will be drinking my new favorite cocktail, the French 75, made with sparkling rose because it's pink and I'm a sucker for this holiday. Let the love fest begin!

Below is some inspiration for food to celebrate love.

1.For dessert:Chocolate lava cake with brandied cherry sauce

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Roasted dill potato salad

You know what I love? When spring decides to come early and by early, I mean January. Good old Colorado is giving us weeks in the 60s. Literally weeks. I have forgotten it's winter. In fact, I keep thinking it's March but it is most definitely not March. It's a little alarming really. In a state where we rely on snowpack to keep us going through the summer, we could really use the return of winter. But it is not in my hands to decide the weather and I quite love 60 degrees so I am going to enjoy it.

Yesterday we hiked to 10,000 feet on mostly dry trails. Once again not exactly what we want to see in February but we had fun. The sun was shining. It's porch weather. One day this week I gave myself the luxury of sitting on the porch in the sun and reading for a couple of hours. I'm about to put up the hammock, uncover the grill, and try to find some watermelon. 

I will hold off though and leave the joys of summer for May. For now, I will strike a happy balance with this roasted potato salad. A very happy balance, as I deem this potato salad to be awesome. A new favorite. Potato salad is undoubtedly a summer picnic item but roasting the potatoes in the oven makes it a winter friendly salad. How versatile. This salad is creamy with only a dab of mayo. Roasting the potatoes with the garlic creates that wonderful sweet garlic flavor. Combine that with a generous sprinkle of dill and we have ourselves a winner for winter spring.

Roasted dill potato salad
Serves 4, adapted from my favorite Date Night In

1 pound red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons grainy mustard
3 tablespoons dill

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together potatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Layout a large sheet of aluminum foil on the counter and pour the potatoes in the center. Wrap up tightly. This may call for another sheet of foil for reinforcement.

Roast for 40 minutes, until tender. Cool potatoes for 10 minutes.

Whisk together the red onion, mayo, mustard, and dill.

Toss with the warm potatoes with mayo mixture and enjoy. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Chocolate bourbon pecan pie bars

Blake is a pie guy. I am a cookie, brownie, cake, bread pudding, and ice cream girl. Give it all to me except pie, which makes my husband sad.

They say marriage is about compromise though and I'm all about baking. Given this, I have committed to giving pie another try. Pie makes Blake happy. Happiness is a beautiful thing.

I have a few pies to my name and I'm still working out what makes for my perfect flaky pie dough. I know its definitely all butter. All butter. All the time. My favorite part of pie is the filling. I especially love cream pies, which essentially remind me of pudding. But the pie project is for Blake and he is more of your traditional fruit pie guy or the occasional pecan pie.

 Blake also quite enjoys bourbon and chocolate and I enjoy desserts in bar form. That is how I came to make these chocolate bourbon pecan pie bars from Joy the Baker's new cookbook Homemade Decadance. I liked these bars a whole lot and so did Blake. They lasted 4 days in our house. Although in our defense, we shared some with a friend. Three to be exact. We shared 3 bars of about 15. Generous. These bars consist of a buttery crust layer topped with a pecan, chocolate chip, bourbon filling. If you too want to bring a little joy to any of your relationships, I highly suggest a batch of these.

Chocolate bourbon pecan pie bars
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Pie crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup dark chocolate chunks

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" by 13" baking dish with butter.

For the pie crust, in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or a handheld electric mixer with beaters), combine flour, confectioners sugar, butter, and salt. Beat until crumbly, about 4 minutes. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and press with your fingers evenly across the bottom of the dish.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from oven but leave the oven on.

For the filling, in a medium bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, honey, eggs, bourbon, and salt until completely combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate chunks. Pour the mixture over the baked crust, distributing the chocolate and pecan pieces evenly.

Bake until set, 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely, before slicing.