Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bison dogs with Asian BBQ sauce and slaw

Let's go out with a bang 2015! We will unapologetically devour these hot dogs right up until the end. Then in 2016 we will eat them as leftovers because they are awesome. Who said the New Year was for clean and healthy eating? I say it's for hot dogs! Especially really good ones, like these.

I'm talking the best combo of sticky sweet and spicy BBQ sauce with the lovely tang and crisp of the slaw. We both almost ate 2 each last night but we decided to be reasonable, if only slightly reasonable.

2015 was lovely. Top notch. Blake graduated from law school and passed the bar. I am proud of him because it was almost never fun. He also got a job. Big stuff. But in our household, the real success of a year is measured by the adventures we had outside of work.

In 2015, we visited 1 national monument, 3 state parks, and 7 national parks. Those are the metrics we love. The ones that give our day-to-day meaning. The great outdoors. Adventures shared together.

In 2015, we saw the Columbia Icefield, the largest icefield in the Rockies. We touched glacial turquoise waters in Canada's national parks. We wandered among hoodoos. We spent time fishing with family in the mountains. We learned about birds. We celebrated 2 years of marriage surrounded by blazing aspen trees. I wouldn't have traded a moment.

Bison hot dogs with Asian BBQ sauce and slaw
Serves 4

4 bison hot dogs
4 Buns (we used pretzel buns which were superb)

Asian slaw
1 small head of red cabbage or 1/2 a large head, sliced
1 carrot, grated on the large holes of a box grater
3 large radishes, grated on the large holes of the box grater (if you hate radishes, sub an extra carrot)
1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped
2 serrano or Thai chiles, diced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chile paste (found in the Asian aisle)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

I think this slaw is best made a few hours before you want to eat but it will still be tasty if made right before.

In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, carrot, radishes, cilantro, and chiles.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, chile paste, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over the cabbage mixture and stir until combined. Store in the fridge until use.

Asian BBQ sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons red chile paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of red pepper flakes

In a sauce pan over medium heat, whisk all ingredients together. Whisk occasionally for 5-7 minutes, until sugar has dissolved and ingredients are combined.

In a saute pan over high heat, crisp bison dogs on both sides. About 3-4 minutes a side. Load up your bun with hot dog, BBQ sauce, and slaw.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Black lentil and spicy Italian chicken sausage soup

Between all the stuffing, au gratin potatoes, cookies, and pie, we must take a break. A small break, albeit, but a break none the less. I don't want to scare you away by calling this dish clean eating. I figured you already are a little less than enchanted by the thought of eating lentil soup, but this dish is darn good. You will look at the simple ingredients and you may not believe it but give it a go. 

The parsnips, carrots, celery, and onions up the flavor of the broth. Use a chicken sausage you really like. That's part of the success here, good chicken sausage. This meal is healthy and good. So so good. In fact, Blake and I ate lentil soup at one of our favorite restaurants in town last night and we thought this recipe was better. We may or may not have served this with a big chunk of crusty bread. We all have our limits. 

Black lentil and spicy Italian chicken sausage soup
Serves 6, adapted from Bon Appetit 

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound cooked spicy Italian chicken sausage, cut into 1/2" rounds 
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped 
2 celery stick, chopped 
2 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning 
1 pound black lentils
3 quarts chicken broth
4 cups of spinach 

In a large pot over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. Once oil is warm, cook sausage until browned. Transfer sausage to a plate. 

Add last tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, and Italian seasoning to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, 7-8 minutes.

Add lentils and stir to coat. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. 

Add sausage back into the soup along with the spinach. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Banana bran muffins

I'm reading Bob Dylan's Chronicles right now. He has a brilliant mind. It's like going down the rabbit hole of an endless and interesting train of thoughts. One minute he is ruminating on how little he knows about the Civil War and two sentences later he is talking about Tolstoy and Pushkin and you are wondering how those topics connect so you just hang on for the ride.

I especially enjoyed his reflection on how he came to write his own songs. In Dylan's words, "I couldn't have come up with anything comparable or halfway close to the folk song lyrics I was singing to define the way I felt about the world. I guess it happens to you by degrees. You don't just wake up one day and decide that you need to write songs, especially if you're a singer who has plenty them and you're learning more every day. Opportunities may come along for you to convert something-something that exists into something that didn't yet. That might be the beginning of it."

I like this because I love to write and the way Dylan speaks to writing songs is how I feel about writing in general. Writing is an opportunity for me to express my thoughts about the world in small doses daily. It's a part of the reason I started this space on my favorite topic, food.

Which means my train of thought for the day went something like this: Dylan's ruminations, love of writing, food is great, breakfast muffins, need to use old bananas, love bran muffins, what about breakfast banana bran muffins? See how we got here?

Muffins! You all know how I feel about muffins. I especially love bran muffins. They are nutty, hearty, and full of fiber. I also happen to love banana muffins. Banana adds sweetness without sugar. These muffins were a perfect marriage. I feel good about eating them in the morning. As with all muffins, these are easy to make! Easy, I tell you! You are 30 minutes away from enjoying warm homemade muffins start to finish. Do it on Sunday and enjoy them the rest of the week.

Banana bran muffins
Adapted from my favorite Cook's Illustrated bran muffins, makes 12

2 1/4 cups bran cereal
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups 2% greek yogurt
3 ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a large muffin tin with nonstick spray.

In a food processor or blender, add a cup of the bran cereal and pulse until powder.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cup of bran cereal you just processed with wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla extract until combined. Add melted butter and yogurt and whisk until combined. Add bananas and use a potato masher to mash until mostly smooth (a few banana lumps don't matter). With a spatula, stir in remaining bran cereal.

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined. Distribute batter in muffin cups. Bake 14-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.