Monday, May 30, 2016

Key Lime Bars

Chocolate is amazing and all, but I find that in the summer especially, I get to craving other things (don't tell Kip I said that). Enter the berries, citrus, ices, and stone fruits.

As for non-chocolate desserts, this was a very good place to begin this summer. In fact, writing about these makes me want to eat them RIGHT NOW. So it's probably good they're all eaten up. They were so delicious and refreshing and sweet without being cloying. They'd be perfect for pretty much any summer activity ever. Amen and amen.

(I put lime zest on the top to "decorate." 
It looked like chopped broccoli. 
You win some; you lose some.)

Key Lime Bars
adapted from Little Spice Jar
Makes 16 squares
Prep and cook time: 40 minutes
Cool time: 3 hours
Cost: $3.25
graham crackers: .70, pecans: .20, sugar: .10, butter: .50, eggs: .30, sweetened condensed milk: 1.00, limes: .45 (Asian store pricing),

12 large graham cracker rectangles
2-4 Tbsp pecans
1/3 C sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C (1 stick) butter, melted
3 egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
4 tsp lime zest (2 limes or so)
1/2 C key lime juice (or regular lime juice)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 8x8 inch pan.

In blender or food processor, combine graham crackers, pecans, sugar, and cinnamon. Ground it to powder. (Alternately, like if you need your workout for the day or something, you can put this stuff in a bag and crush it with a rolling pin or the sheer strength of your inhuman arms, but I always take the low road and blend it).

Dump it into your pan and add the melted butter. Mix together and press into the bottom of the pan. It should be a lovely thick crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.

While it's baking whisk the yolks for two minutes (I used a kitchenaid, but a mixer will work). Add the condensed milk and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes. Add the lime zest and mix. Then drizzle in the lime juice and mix for 2 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thicker when you're done than when you started.

Take out your crust and let it cool for just a couple minutes. Then add the lime filling.

Put it back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. It should NOT be sloshy at all when done, but if there's a TINY jiggle, that's probably okay. It will set completely as it cools.

Cool on rack then refrigerate for 2 hours (and, yes, that's important).


Monday, May 23, 2016

Dumb Easy Dinner: Mexican Rice Skillet

Summer is nearly upon us. With it comes the pitter patter of little feet. Or rather the stomp stomp stomp of bigger feet, the sometimes pajama days, the summer reading program, the bike rides, the park visits, the pool visits. And then we must not forget the messes, the muddy shoes, the bitter arguments over which cartoon character you are and why your sister is not allowed to be the cartoon character she wants to be. Oh, yes, and the plaintive cries of "I'm hungry."

Sometimes in summer it's actually easier for me to cook. Things are a little more laid back. We have fewer places we have to be. But sometimes I just want to lounge around like a big pasty-skinned lizard and not spend all afternoon in the kitchen. And other times we get home famished and ready to eat one another. On those days, it's good to have a few dumb easy dinners in the back pocket, preferably ones that won't use a booty load of dishes or heat up the oven for hours. Here you go.

The fantastic, glorious thing about Mexican Rice Skillets is that you just need rice, broth, and tomatoes. After that you can kind of do what you want--add meat or beans or enchilada sauce or heat or cheese. Whatever. It's really a dump and eat kind of meal that can be adapted to whatever on earth happens to be in your fridge. If you already have rice leftover, you can even use that, though it's super flavorful to make the rice with all the seasonings simmering into it.

Mexican Rice Skillet
serves 6
adapted from Butter Yum
prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Cost: $7.50 ( $1.25/per serving)
bacon: .50, onion: .15, pepper: .75, beef: 3.00, rice: .15, canned tomatoes: .65, beef stock (from bullion cube): .15, other stuff: .15

a few strips bacon (optional)
1 bell pepper, chopped; I used red (also kind of optional, but veggies for heaven's sake)
1 medium onion, chopped (or finely grated if you have onion-texture haters among you)
1 clove garlic
1 pound ground beef (or cut this to 1/2 pound or use beans instead; seriously, this is that kind of whatever recipe)
1 C uncooked white rice
6 tomatoes, chopped (or a can of diced tomatoes with juices)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/4 C beef stock (if you used the can of tomatoes, reduce this to 1 Cup)
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper.

Saute bacon if using. Add ground beef and cook (the original recipe just had the beef going raw into the rice and cooking, but I was afraid, so I cooked it first; you could potentially skip this step and you should know the beef doesn't have to be completely cooked through as it will cook longer).Add onions and peppers. Continue to saute until vegetables start to soften.  Add garlic and cook one more minute.

Add rice and cook for a minute. Then add the remaining ingredients.

Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low or medium low. Cook until all the juices are absorbed and the rice is tender. If you taste it and the rice is still a little too tough, add a bit more water (maybe 1/4 C) and cook until it's absorbed.

That's it, and there's dinner. We served it with some grated cheese and sour cream. Also, avocado would have been amazing.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli

So I almost posted another cake recipe on here today. You deserve it, of course. But I thought that I really should get back to writing about real food (you know, sometimes). So then I was going to post Chicken Lazone, which is kind of like the dessert of the meat world because it contains no less than two cups of heavy cream (you deserve that too). And then I thought that maybe I should get control of my food porn problem and seek help or something. But then I didn't. So, even though you're getting a Brussels sprouts recipe today, you should know that it is every bit as fantastic as all those other recipes. It's a little more wholesome, but I did make a garlic aioli sauce to keep it from becoming too virtuous.

Cole vegetables are in season right now. Cole vegetables are the broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale family. They have an undeservedly bad reputation. Maybe because these veggies have often been used at times of war, famine or distress to keep starving people alive. No one loves a vegetable they had to eat every day for two years when the only other option was eating tulip bulbs. And they are vegetables that don't take well to canning (or boiling for that matter), so some traditional means of cooking and preserving them make them gross. Which hasn't helped their reputation at all. But in non-starving America where you can roast your delicious cool season vegetables and serve it up with a side of dipping sauce (not because it is necessary; these are delicious even without it), you should definitely add some of these lovelies to your meal rotation. They're easy. They're healthy. They're on sale.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli
adapted from Cakescottage
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Cost: $1.85
Brussels sprouts: 1.50, mayo: .20, other stuff: .15

1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in halves or quarters if they're large
olive oil

For Aioli sauce:
6 Tbsp mayo
1/4 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Set oven to 400 degrees. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt (the dip has no salt, so we're relying on a little salt here). Roast for 20-30 minutes (depending on how big the halves/quarters are). Ever 10 minutes or so, you'll give them a little toss, so they get color on all sides.

While it's cooking, prepare the Aioli sauce. To do so, just mix all those ingredients together (rocket science, here I come).

Serve the Brussels sprouts warm with the dip. You can serve it as a side or a light lunch.

Note: You'll have leftover sauce (at least I always do. It's great with meat, especially chicken, especially chicken or pork sandwiches).



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