Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bacon Sweet Potato Waffles

Hmmm...this recipe is really hit and miss. Sweet potato and bacon -- a 'hit' flavor combination! But the texture and technique of this "recipe" -- definitely needs help. (Of course, I'm not a 'paleo' dieter; and if this recipe is typical, it would not inspire me to go paleo!)

Original 'recipe' here:

There's no measure of any kind indicated for the sweet potato, and with a large sweet potato, I had to add an extra egg as binder just to keep the 'batter' from falling apart. 

There's no flour. Or leavening of any kind other than the eggs. The sweet potatoes are raw, cooked only by the waffle iron, so the 'batter' isn't really a batter...just a collection of separate ingredients. With egg and a little oil (I used the bacon drippings for extra flavor). The blogger's preference for "crispy" waffles is probably a necessity if you don't want raw sweet potato bits in your waffles -- I shredded mine, so pieces were quite small. And the advice to "remove waffles carefully" is needed...with no real 'batter' they fall apart very easily.

This recipe indicates serving waffles as either savory or sweet. The sweet potato and bacon combo can easily go both ways, but with garlic salt in the 'batter' and chives...that might not be quite so tasty if you want to go sweet. Maybe keep the 'batter' neutral (plain salt) and serve the waffles with a garlic-chive compound butter if you want to go savory? Or a garlic-chive sour cream sauce? Standard maple syrup would go great with these flavors for a sweet waffle.

I'm still inspired by the sweet potato and bacon flavor combo in a waffle, so I may play around and come up with a better recipe. (I've no intention of limiting it to a paleo diet.) Probably some batter to hold it all together, though I like the texture -- some precooked mashed sweet potato? with some flour, and a little leavening for fluffiness -- and maybe a bit of orange juice and/or zest to 'zing' up the flavor. We'll see... hopefully I'll post again soon.

4/25/2016 UPDATE:  MY version of Bacon Sweet Potato Waffles
Figured I'd better do this right away; otherwise it just gets forgotten! Side-by-side pics show a bit of difference: lighter/brighter color -- probably from the OJ, fluffier due to baking powder, and with a bit of batter from the mashed sweet potato and a little flour, they hold together instead of falling apart all around the edges.

Serves 2

8 oz bacon
1 large (or 2 smallish) sweet potato
zest of 1 orange
1-2 T orange juice
2 eggs
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ C flour (I used whole wheat)*

* If you have celiac disease or are avoiding gluten by choice, you might be able to skip the flour altogether...maybe cut down on (or cut out) the OJ so your batter isn't too runny; the zest will still add flavor. Or substitute a gluten free rice or corn flour. You'd know options better than I would! :)

Fry bacon until crisp. Crumble; set aside.

Peel and shred about half the sweet potato (I ended up with 1¼ C). Cook the other half until tender (I did mine in the microwave; quick!). Cool until handle-able; While it cools...

Mix orange zest and juice into shredded sweet potato. Not only does this taste great, but it keeps the potato from oxidizing...stays nicely bright orange. Add bacon and toss to combine. Set aside.

Preheat waffle iron.

Scoop cooked sweet potato out of the skin. Discard skin. Mash sweet potato (I had about 1¼ or maybe 1½ C of mashed sweet potato). Add eggs, salt, baking powder and flour, mixing thoroughly. Stir shredded sweet potato and bacon mixture into batter. 

Drop scoops of batter onto waffle iron; cook until nicely browned, slightly crispy (very little steam should be coming out of your waffle iron when they're cooked through).

These are great 'sweet' waffles with a little butter and maple syrup. If you want to go the savory route, try garlic butter and fresh minced chives. (Or if you're a chicken and waffle eater maybe try that? It's not really my thing, but it could work!)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Chicken Dijon

makes 4 servings

1¾-2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs (boneless or bone in)
 ½+ C Dijon mustard
     ~ quality vs cheap mustard can make a noticeable difference,
     don't skimp for good flavor; Maille or Grey Poupon hold up well.
fresh ground pepper
1 C white vermouth, or other white wine
1 C heavy cream
¼ C chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Cut large breasts in half vertically -- allowing more surface area for marinade. Keep pieces similar in size for even cooking. Coat chicken with Dijon on both sides; place in baking dish (lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray, for easy clean-up). Grind fresh pepper over chicken; gently pour vermouth over chicken. Let stand to marinate 1 hour.

Bake at 350˚ F, 35 minutes; check for doneness.

Scrape Dijon of chicken into large skillet; place chicken on a plate; cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour marinade into skillet with Dijon; boil until vermouth reduces by half. Add cream. Whisk periodically as mixture reduces to velvety sauce that coats back of wooden spoon (nappe).

Place chicken pieces into sauce to return to temperature for serving.

Typical 'French' serving suggestion: Serve with fresh greens, alongside French-style creamy mashed potatoes (link to recipe coming soon), drizzling sauce over chicken and potatoes.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Frisée-Romaine Salad with Bacon and Croutons

4 large (or 6-8 small) servings.

I want to make and post/save this recipe; but I don't have Frisée on hand. Or Romaine. I do have lettuce and I'd like to use what I have before I buy more (or what I have would just end up going bad). AND I have leftover croutons (store bought) to use up as well. So...what I've made -- and pictured -- is sort of a 'corrupted' version of the recipe. Though it was still delicious, the recipe AS IS is  definitely better!!

1 head Frisée lettuce
1 head romaine
8 oz thick sliced bacon
4 large slices quality, artisan bread
    ~ whole wheat, sourdough...anything will work; suit your tastes
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
salt & pepper
optional: granulated garlic
vinaigrette -- recipe below, though any vinaigrette will work

Wash and dry lettuce; cut or rip into small pieces.

Cut bacon into ¼" pieces; fry until slightly crispy. Drain well on paper towel lined plate.

Cut bread into small cubes. Melt butter and olive oil together. Toss bread with butter-oil mixture. Sprinkle and toss with salt, pepper, and garlic (if desired). Bake in 325˚ F oven 20 minutes (or more) until just becoming crunchy.

Toss lettuces with vinaigrette; add bacon and croutons, toss well. Serve.

1/3 C red wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
pinch black pepper
2/3 C extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together first 4 ingredients. Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify.

Spiced Chicken with Apple

Serves 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (6 oz ea)
½ tsp + pinch salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp turmeric
1 T olive oil
2 apples, cut into thin wedges
       ~ Gala apples recommended, but others will work; suit your taste
1 red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
½ C chicken broth
1 T honey

Season chicken with ½ tsp salt, pepper, allspice and turmeric. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until browned (3-4 min per side). Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.

Add apples, onion and pinch salt to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned (about 4 min). Add lemon juice to skillet, deglaze pan (30 seconds); add chicken broth and honey. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer.

Place chicken breasts on top of simmering apple-onion mixture. Cover, cook until chicken is thoroughly cooked (165˚ F) and sauce is slightly reduced (approx 6 minutes, but varies with thickness of chicken breasts).

Bacon Vinaigrette

Makes enough to dress approx 6 C fresh greens.

2 T strained bacon fat/drippings
4 tsp minced shallot
¼ C dry sherry vinegar
½ tsp minced fresh tarragon
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp each salt & pepper

Saute shallot in bacon fat over medium-low heat about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients. Best when used immediately, still warm.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Vanilla Buttercream

makes about 4 cups

2 C butter, room temperature
4 C confectioners' sugar, sifted
½ C whole milk
2 T vanilla extract

Beat butter on high speed until very pale and very fluffy (at least 5 minutes), scraping down sides of bowl 2 or 3 times during process.

With mixer on low, slowly add sugar. Scrape bowl again. Slowly add in milk and vanilla; mix until combined. Scrape bowl again.

Beat on high speed until buttercream is extremely fluffy, 8 to 10 minutes. It should look almost like whipped cream.

Right now...only have a picture of it in the bowl. I'll try to add one with it on a cake soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Vanilla-Prosecco Pound Cake

To give credit, this recipe may have come from Better Homes & Gardens. A search on their website didn't turn up anything however, so I can't be sure. It's a decent pound cake, but nothing outstanding -- especially considering all the vanilla paste and prosecco. I'd leave off the glaze next time, dust it with a little powdered sugar and serve it with fresh fruit...and save the prosecco to drink with it (use fruit juice IN the cake).

3 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 C prosecco (or other sparkling wine)*
3 T sour cream
2 C sugar
¾ C unsalted butter, melted
¼ C canola or safflower oil
5 eggs, cold
2 T vanilla paste (or extract)

Icing ingredients: 1 C powdered sugar, 1 T sparkling wine

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour a 10" tube pan; set aside.

In large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt; set aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, beat sugar, melted butter, and oil until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Continue to beat on medium to high 3-5 minutes until thicker and lighter in color.

Add a third of flour mixture, beating on low until just combined. Add half prosecco mixture next, then another third of flour, then remaining prosecco, then flour; beat until just combined after each addition.

Pour or spoon batter into prepared tube pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Turn out of pan, onto rack; cool completely. Drizzle with prosecco glaze.

* For an alcoholic-free pound cake, substitute milk or a fruit juice. Fruit juices will, of course, alter the flavor...but that might be an intentional choice!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Nựớc Chẩm

a.k.a. 'awesome sauce' -- or so says Cooking Light magazine. (It's their photo.) Lots of versions of nuoc cham sauce can be found, but the sweet, salty, sour and spicy blend typically comes from some kind of sugar, fish sauce, lime and chile. Other ingredients vary. This is a fairly typical recipe...

¼ C water
2 T sugar
¼ C matchstick-cut carrots (optional)
3 T lime juice
4 tsp fish sauce
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 Tha chile, thinly sliced

Combine water and sugar; stir -- or shake, in a sealed container -- until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients.Refrigerate up to 3 days.

Use as a baste for grilling, a dressing/marinade for shredded cabbage, toss with soba noodles, as a dipping sauce for spring rolls...

Whole Wheat Chocolate Waffles

Does the fact that they're whole wheat counterbalance the fact that they're chocolate? Actually, the original recipe called for buckwheat -- which isn't really wheat -- so it's gluten free. I don't care about being gluten free. And I don't have buckwheat, but I did use whole wheat flour. These are fun (chocolate!) for a special treat. My only complaint is that they don't have the little bit of crispness I love in a waffle's edges.

1 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa
¾ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1¼ C buttermilk
¼ C water
1 T oil
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
6 T sugar

whipped cream (or yogurt)

Slice or chop strawberries, lightly sweeten with sugar; set aside.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl, whisk together vanilla, buttermilk, water, oil and egg yolks. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour until well combined.

Preheat waffle iron.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, not dry. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the batter. Add remaining egg whites, folding until well combined.

Coat waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon batter (about ½ C) onto waffle iron, spreading toward edges. Cook until lightly browned and little to no steam is still escaping (3-4 minutes). Repeat cooking spray and spooning batter until all batter is cooked.

Serve with lightly sweetened strawberries (I added fresh chopped mint to mine) and whipped cream. Or opt for vanilla yogurt instead of the whipped cream. Toasted almonds were also a topping in the original recipe.

Leftovers, if there are any, once completely cooled, can be stored in zip-top plastic bags up to a month in freezer; use toaster to reheat.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

The inspiration came from Food Network magazine a while back (Food Network's photo @ top), though I didn't use their recipe... 

I had leftover peanut sauce from making Chicken Satay skewers, If you're not inspired to take on either of those peanut sauce recipes, here's a quicker 'cheater' version of  Easy Thai Peanut Sauce as an option.

I usually don't get excited about a big bowl of squash as my whole dinner. But with a good dousing of peanut sauce, a few chopped peanuts, some chopped mint and/or cilantro, and a sprinkle of pepper flakes...a bowl of squash starts to sound like a pretty good (healthy!) way to go.

How to roast a spaghetti squash...