Monday, November 30, 2009

Lefse with Peanut Butter and Nutella

This isn't a recipe so much as just a new way to use up the leftover holiday lefse in your fridge. Assuming anyone else has leftover lefse in their fridges.

If you're not familiar, lefse is a Norwegian flatbread that's thinner than a quesadilla, but thicker than a crepe, and its primary ingredient is potatoes. (Potatoes are a common baking ingredient in the area -- in early days, they were locally grown, plentiful, and had a long cellar life.)

My family isn't of Norwegian heritage, but we grew up in a community that was predominantly Norwegian Lutheran. A lot of people made lefse at home, and distributed it to any neighbors who didn't. One of my high school organizations even sold lefse as a fundraiser each year. Some of the men and women from the community would gather at the high school cafeteria, and we'd all make lefse together to fulfill our orders.

Making lefse is time-consuming, but fairly simple, although it requires a lot of extra tools that I don't have room to store. So I'm content with buying my lefse. This is Freddy's.

They're a year-round lefse-making operation, and they supply lefse to all the local grocery stores. They're located about a mile away, and you can walk up to their shop -- via a nearly hidden side door in a corregated steel building -- and buy your fresh, warm lefse any day of the week.

You probably can't read the guidance on the package, but the folks at Freddy's recommend serving "with lutefisk, pork links, bacon, sausage or hamburger. Also delightful rolled up with butter, or butter and sugar, jelly or cinnamon. Excellent potato substitute for family lunch boxes."

Now, I don't know of anyone who eats lefse with meat, and I certainly don't know of anyone who considers it a substitute for potatoes. But I know a lot of people who eat lefse with either butter or butter and sugar. Except my mom, who eats hers with Cool Whip. And me. I've been eating lefse since I was a li'l whippersnapper, but I've always asked for my lefse with peanut butter and jelly, and that's how I love it to this day.

But today I had a chocolate craving, so I substituted Nutella for the jelly. And it was delightful.

Simply lay your lefse on a flat surface, and cut down to your preferred size. These were small sheets; no cutting required.

Spread with peanut butter and top with Nutella.

I'd use more Nutella than I did in this photo. I was at the end of my jar.

Roll 'em up, and scarf 'em down. Uff da!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Baked Turkey and Black Bean Taquitos

The hubby and I hosted Thanksgiving last week, and invited both our families. And that's about all I have to say about it.

Yes, I'm a food blogger who has no Thanksgiving recipes to post. The hubby and I made a few turkey breasts and a ham, mashed potatoes, and steamed corn. My dad made gravy. The hubby's mom and older sister provided the pies and sides galore.

It was pretty much The Thanksgiving Where I Did Nothing Except Clean and Set the Table. Which, admittedly, was a lot of work. It was the first big clean sweep of the house since the little man was born, and come Thanksgiving Day, I was exhausted. (Operating on about three hours of sleep may have contributed.) I was so tired that I forgot to make coffee after dinner, and I think half our guests left without being offered pie.

But it was great to see our families, including this guy, who spent his previous three or four Thanksgivings elsewhere.

This is my brother. Ladies, he's single, owns his own business, has all his teeth, AND changes diapers. Please, take a number.

And now we're swimming in leftovers, including lefse, which my sister-in-law left for me because she knows I love to eat it with peanut butter and jelly. (I've grown up with lefse all my life. I've even made it on multiple occasions. But I'm not Norwegian, so I'm allowed to eat it however I like.)

But mostly ham and turkey. And while I love pot pies and soups like everyone else, I quickly reach the point where I want my leftovers to taste like anything a holiday dinner. No gravy, and definitely no poultry seasoning.

Enter leftover idea #1, turkey and black bean taquitos. This actually started off as empanadas, which I think was a Robin Miller recipe. The hubby had never heard of empanadas; he had them confused with pinatas.

Anyway, I had waaaaaay too much filling left over. So I made some oven-baked taquitos, just to see how they'd turn out. And the hubby and I both liked them far better than the empanadas. Hooray for improvisation! You can add more cheese, if you prefer, but the hubby and I are still trying to undo the food sins of the past few days.

Baked Turkey and Black Bean Taquitos
Makes 12

2 c. shredded cooked turkey
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained
1/2 c. shredded pepperjack cheese
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. salsa
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (optional)
1 tsp. ground cumin
12 7" flour tortillas

Olive oil, for brushing (can use cooking spray, as well)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, black beans, cheeses, salsa, cilantro, and cumin.

3. Place a few spoonfuls of turkey mixture at the edge of each tortilla.

4. Roll the tortilla tightly and secure with a toothpick.

5. Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil, or spray with cooking spray.

6. Bake 15 minutes, until crisp.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Angie's Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Angie is a high school friend of the hubby's, and she makes wonderful chocolate chip cookies. And pizza. And wontons. And nachos. And everything else that she's ever cooked for us. She sent this recipe to me a few weeks ago, and if Angie likes it, it's gotta be good. And pretty quick. Angie's a busy woman.

Wild rice is very popular in this area, because it's the state grain of Minnesota, which is right across the river. Wild rice is actually a water-grass seed rather than rice, and the grass from which it is harvested grows abundantly in the Minnesota lakes country. It's quite hardy and flavorful, making it a good addition to soups. It's my favorite of all the grass seeds.

I love chicken and wild rice soup -- with cream, without, with bacon, without, with mushrooms, without, high-fat, low-fat, etc. But always with crackers.

This recipe makes a pretty big batch, and I'm heading off to deliver a container to the hubby's older sister. She's been a godsend these past several weeks. She brought us food when the little man was born, has already babysat for us, and periodically checks up on me to make sure I'm still mostly sane (relatively speaking). And this week, she's helping the hubby's younger sister, who has a new baby and is moving into a new house. And THEN she and my mother-in-law volunteered to bring most of the Thanksgiving feast to our house on Thursday. So yeah, she deserves a lot more than a container of soup. But we'll start small.

And then I'm delivering a container to my little brother. He just likes soup.

I made just a few tweaks to the original recipe -- I halved the amount of oil, and tossed in a bay leaf and some sherry. I also used a long grain and wild rice combo. Wild rice is harvested by hand, making it quite spendy. It's easier to find it mixed with long grain rice. And even though I could probably walk to Minnesota and harvest some myself, I couldn't seem to find JUST wild rice at the local supermarket. I hope I'm not doing a disservice to Angie's recipe.

Angie's Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Serves 8

3 c. cooked wild rice or long grain and wild rice combination (1 c. uncooked)
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped

Salt and pepper
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 c. canola oil or olive oil
1 c. flour
8 c. chicken broth

Additional salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. dry sherry (optional)
1 c. fat-free half and half

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil to medium-high. Add onion, carrot, celery, and chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add bay leaf. Sauté about 3-5 minutes, or until the veggies are softened.

2. Sprinkle in flour, a little bit at a time, stirring and cooking until flour is blended in. (Don't let it brown.)

It'll start to look very paste-like, but this is OK. This is forming the roux to thicken up the soup, and your veggies and chicken will again return to their usual forms.

3. Slowly add chicken broth, stirring until the broth and roux are blended.

4. Add the wild rice, and adjust your seasonings. Heat thoroughly.

5. Add the sherry and the half and half. Reheat gently, but do not boil. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry

I was going to start this post by mentioning that we had a busy week, except that I think I've started off my last 13 posts that way. So instead, I'll say that we had a harrowing week. It was full of drama. Suspense. Anxiety. Sleepness nights. Sitting on pins and needles, awaiting news from the hospital.

Luckily, we had a happy ending; the hubby and I are officially an aunt and uncle! My sister-in-law deserves a gold medal in the Childbirth Olympics, but I'm sure she'll be even happier to take home her beautiful baby boy. We're hoping to meet him when he goes home this week, and we hope that the Jack-baby and his cousin Connor will be good pals.

The hubby was going to and from the hospital most of the week, so I made a batch of this stir-fry to nosh on while the little man and I hung out at home. (Little men aren't allowed to visit the hospital during swine flu epidemics.) This is modified version of a Healthy Cooking recipe, and it was surprisingly tasty. I think you can swap in whatever veggies you have on hand -- I certainly did -- but I'd definitely recommend using the reduced-sodium soy sauce instead of the regular. (I was too lazy to open a new bottle of reduced-sodium, and I regret that.)

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry
Serves 4

1/ c. chicken broth
6 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut in thin strips
2 tsp. cornstarch
4 tsp. canola oil, divided
2 c. fresh broccoli florets
1 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 c. canned sliced water chestnuts
1/2 c. canned bamboo shoots
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1. Combine broth, soy sauce, water, rice vinegar, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Cover and refrigerate 3/4 c. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken in a resealable bag. Marinate 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Or for 10 minutes on the counter, if you didn't read ahead.

2. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and reserved marinade. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

3. In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tsp. oil over medium-high heat and stir-fry chicken until cooked, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from pan and set aside.

4. Stir-fry broccoli and mushrooms in remaining oil for about 2 minutes. Add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and green onion, and stir-fry another minute.

I didn't have mushrooms. Or bamboo shoots. Or enough broccoli. So I threw in some chopped green pepper. It worked.

5. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil. Stir and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Return to chicken to pan and combine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Slow Cooker Italian Pork Chops

First off, an award! I received the following from Sophie at Sophies Foodiefiles. Her blog is so fun and interesting, and I learn so much about new ingredients from her.

I'd like to pass this on to three of my favorite blogs:
And a big thanks to everyone who sent me recipe suggestions for my exotic Australian ingredients. There are a few that I can't wait to try! I just didn't get a chance to look at the recipes before last week's grocery list deadline. Yes, I had a deadline. "You must submit your online order before blah, blah, blah, or you'll have to go to the store and get your groceries yourself, like a normal person." It's a bit hectic around here these days. We need all the help we can get.

Take today, for instance. The little man didn't go down for his first real nap until 3 p.m., and then he was crabby. I've been drenched in spitup twice. One of the dogs is sick. The cat ripped open a bag of catnip and got it all over the basement, and then slept off her high in the baby's crib. And so on.

Slow cookers were designed for days like these. This is a recipe that I threw together during a lunch break one day. It's simple and tasty, and the pork chops are incredibly tender. I like to serve it over pasta as is, but you can easily thicken up the sauce with a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken it up.

Slow Cooker Italian Pork Chops
Serves 4

4 boneless pork loin chops
1 tsp. oil
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/3 c. dry white wine
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
Cooked pasta, for serving

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper, and brown in oil, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chops to slow cooker.

2. Add garlic, onion, and mushrooms to pan and cook until vegetables are just slightly soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add vegetables to slow cooker.

3. Pour wine in pan and scrape up bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour into slow cooker.

4. In a bowl, combine tomato sauce, lemon juice, and seasonings. Pour over chops and vegetables in slow cooker.

5. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, or until chops are cooked through. Serve with pasta.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Cake Bars

The little man and I had a busy week, with appointments almost every day, and a few trips out of town. We ate a lot of leftovers. And bagels.

The little man has changed a lot in the past few weeks. He's discovered that it's more fun to be awake than asleep -- he's got places to go, people to see, ceiling fans to stare at. So he fights sleep with every ounce of his being. (And he's gaining about two ounces of being each day.) He'll fall asleep while we're holding him, but is instantly awake as soon as we put him down. Why sleep alone when you can sleep with someone else?

The hubby and I spend a lot of time trying to get the little man to take his naps, and entertaining him when he's awake. He's not terribly content to lie there and entertain himself. So far, we've discovered that he's fascinated by lights, ceiling fans, and brightly colored pictures on the wall. And he is not fascinated by anything that is designed to fascinate a baby. But even a baby can stare at the ceiling for only so long.

And the most fun thing of all? Human attention. Being fed, cuddling, being fed, and then maybe being fed.

It's fun, but it's also a big adjustment for first-time parents who are used to being more selfish with their time. How to cope? First, go visit the grandparents, where there are a few extra people tripping over themselves to spend time with the one and only grandbaby.

Secondly, eat some cake. Or bars. Or cake bars. This recipe is from Simple & Delicious, and it's a cakier, peanut butter-flavored bar packed with chocolate chips.

Thirdly, Family Nap Time. Mandatory. No exceptions.

Peanut Butter Cake Bars
Serves 20

2/3 c. butter, softened (that's almost 11 Tbsp., for those of you following along at home)
2/3 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour
1 12-oz. bag milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan, or spray it with cooking spray.

I'm lazy. I grease for cakes, but spray for bars.

2. Combine butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

3. Add vanilla, baking powder, salt, and flour, and stir until well combined.

4. Stir in chocolate chips, and pour batter into pan.

5. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.