The Randomness of E

I never said there was going to be a point...

This is why I haven't been posting any recipes of late...
cwhf


This stuff is amazing. Marinate with meat (I have done chicken tenderloins and pork chops...so far) ~1-2 tsp per pound (respect that amount, I would go on the low end which is saying something) for 1-2 hours and it turns out utterly amazing. I just bake in the oven and it is insanely flavorful with a heckuva a kick. This is true authentic jerk, none of that overly sweet Americanized stuff. I can't wait to try this on shrimp as well as try to create a jerk sweet potato burger.

I had been trying to perfect a jerk paste but now I am just going to buy this. WIN!
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Raspberry Streusel Bars
cwhf
These babies are my go to potluck dessert, can be done in 45 minutes and never fail to impress. I have been making them for 5-6 years but somehow never put them on the blog.



Raspberry Streusel Bars

24 bars, 5 WW points plus per bar
(you could cut into 48 mini bars for 3 points per bar or 2 for 5 points as well)


Ingredients

1 1/4 cup uncooked quick oats
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt
1 cup(s) jam, raspberry (or whatever flavor you like)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
14 Tbsp regular butter (i.e. 1 3/4 sticks), melted
1/4 cup roasted almond, chopped



Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Slowly drizzle in melted butter until it reached a nice crumbly texture that holds together well (you may not need quite all the butter).
Reserve 1 cup of this mixture. Take remainder and press evenly into the bottom of a 8x8 inch (or 9 x 9 inch) pan lined with overhanging foil (so you easily lift them out to cut them). Bake this for 10 minutes.

On prebaked base, top with raspberry jam and spread evenly to within 1/4 inch of edge. Top with ½ cup of the white chocolate chips. Combine reserved mixture with remaining white chocolate chips and chopped almonds. Top the base/jam evenly with this mixture, lightly pressing down.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool completely on wire rack before cutting into 24 pieces (ideally with a long serrated knife).

My next iteration of this recipe is to make it with a homemade cranberry jam to add a tart bite to these very sweet bars.

Red quinoa pilaf with pomegranate, sugar snap peas and scallions
cwhf


1 cup red quinoa (I would use regular if I remake this. The red is nice but a bit earthier), rinsed well and cooked as per directions. Can use broth for more flavor to replace water. Let cool a bit and prep the rest of the recipe

12 sugar snap peas, destringed and sliced thinly
4 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 yellow pepper, diced fine
1/2-3/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1-2 tbsp orange champagne vinegar (or whatever vinegar you like)
Juice of 1 lemon, fresh squeezed
salt
pepper

Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and lightly sautee snap peas and yellow pepper til slightly softened. Combine with quinoa (careful not to transfer too much moisture) and add pomegranate, scallions. Salt and pepper to taste. Combine remaining olive oil with vinegar and lemon juice and dress the pilaf with it and correct seasoning to complete.

Ideally this was going to have some lovely luscious shrimp to make it a complete meal but the grocery store had no decent fresh shrimp (not suprising, I guess, I live in Missouri). Next time perhaps some grilled chicken.

Saturday Stir Fry - Pork and Green Beans with ginger and peanut butter
cwhf
I was lucky at the store today and scored some discounted pork chops, 4 nice thick ones. I decided to take 2 and make a nice stir fry with them tonight. I don't stir fry a lot but decided to make one using the sauce from this fabulous Asian green bean recipe printed in our local paper: http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/recipes/peanut-garlic-green-beans/article_30c2c41e-6f99-581d-93a0-866d0f34f207.html . I inadvertently left out the sesame seeds but it still turned out fabulous. I punched it up with fresh ginger and sautéed in chili oil for a bit of heat and subbed PB2 powder for the peanut butter and doubled the amounts.



Ingredients
3/4 pound(s) uncooked center rib pork loin (lean and fat), trimmed and cut in chunks
3/4 pound(s) fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tbsp chili oil
1/2 large yellow pepper(s), sliced and halved

For sauce:
kosher salt
4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), pressed
1 Tbsp unpacked brown sugar, scant
1 Tbsp PB2 (powdered PB with the fat extracted, dissolves well, less fat/points)
1 1/2 tsp ginger root, microplaned

3 medium uncooked scallion(s), sliced, for garnish

Instructions
Combine all sauce ingredients in airtight jar and combine. Set aside.
Salt pork and then stirfry in chili oil until seared on all side, remove to plate, keep warm.
Stirfry green beans and yellow pepper for 3-5 min. Add pork and juices back to pan and stirfry 1-2 min.
Add sauce and cook 2-3 minutes until thickened a bit and pork cooked through.
Top with scallions if desired-I had some to use up but it was still delicious without.

Makes 3 servings (though the 2 of us woofed it down tonight), 8 WW points plus per serving. If 2 servings, 12 points per serving. 1/3 or even a fourth would be filling if paired with rice or a grain which we didn't do.

Missed Post: Banoffee Pie
cwhf
I made this for a potluck a few months back and apparently failed to blog it. Which is a shame as it was one of the easiest, tastiest desserts I had made in a long while.

The recipe I took inspiration from is here: http://www.curtisstone.com/Recipes/Desserts/Banoffee-Pie.aspx





These not my images, as mine was consumed so quickly that I literally had no time for a photo; I put it out, ran to the restroom, came back and poof, it was gone! But they give you an idea of the loveliness.

I did say this was easy because I did one reasonable short cut and one short cut no self respecting cook should likely admit to. But it was really tasty.

Short cut 1: Buy dulce de leche in the can ready to go rather than to risk making danger pudding. ("Pot go boom" was not something I wanted to experience).

Short cut 2: A tub of low fat cool whip to replace the fresh whipped cream (oh the shame, but it made it somewhat "healthier" at least in calorie count). I do admit this would be even better with real cream. Don't judge me.

Banoffee Pie

1 package of graham crackers (8-10 of the large crackers, ie 4 sections as I recall).
1 stick of butter, melted
2 cans of dulce de leche (you can make your own, but I don't advise it)
3-4 bananas
8 oz tub of thawed low fat cool whip (stop laughing!) or freshly whipped cream (about 1.5 -2 cups I would guess)

Whiz the graham crackers in a food processor til fine crumbs. Or if feeling a need to release tension, put in a large ziploc bag and pound with a rolling pin or other heavy object until fine crumbs. Making a graham cracker crust here, not rocket science. Combine with butter so it sticks together well (I didn't use quite all the butter). Press into a pie pan (deeper dish is probably best) or springform pan if you want to be fancy. Chill for ~1 hour.

Now, here's the hard part. Open the dulce de leche can and pour into the crust. Open the second if you want to be really decadent (it's optional but lovely). Smooth out the dulce de leche and layer on sliced bananas; you can put them all here or you can same some to make the top pretty. I was taking this for folks at work so I reserved one banana for fanciness. You can also mix the bananas and the cool whip/whipped cream and layer the whole shebang on top too. That is very nice also.

Open tub of thawed cool whip (exhausting!) and slather on top of bananas. Try to make it look nice. Top with artfully arranged bananas. If you want to get crazy you could even save some dulce de leche and drizzle some of that on top. I am not that crazy.

Chill 2-4 hours (or as long as you can stand it; it will be fine served immediately).

I do love dulce de leche. It is food of the devil. I could eat it out of a can and never stop.

I'd better go find some celery. BTW this is not point friendly by any stretch of the imagination, even with low fat cool whip.

No pictures but a solid vegetarian entree---Mushroom "Kale" Stroganoff
cwhf
I found this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to try it. It turned into a bit of a comedy of errors but in the end it turned out tasty.

I put Kale in quotes because the recipe actually called for Kale but I alas I used mustard greens. It was not my intention. In the grocery, I asked the produce guy who was stocking the area to hand me some kale, which is next to mustards. I tossed it in the bag and didn't look closely until I got home, and sure enough he gave me mustard greens. Clearly not a Southerner. I decided to go with it. Kale I think would be a nicer texture to stand up to the cooking but the mustards were actually really tasty with some zip.

Here's the link to the original recipe: http://bevcooks.com/2013/01/portobello-mushroom-and-kale-stroganoff/

Admittedly even in the best hands, it is not the sexiest looking plate of food but it is tasty and satisfying.
Here's my modified recipe based on what I had on hand and to lighten it up a bit:

Mushroom and Mustard Stroganoff
4 servings, 8 WW points plus per serving

* 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
* 3 large cloves garlic, minced
* 2 portobello mushrooms, cleaned of gills, stemmed and sliced into 1/2 inch strips (you could use baby bellas too).
* 2 tsp (at least if not a full Tbsp) smoked paprika
* 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
* 1 Tbs. tomato paste
* 1 bunch chopped mustard greens, dried in the salad spinner (!)
* 1 bay leaf
* 6 oz egg noodles
* 6 oz plain Greek yogurt
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onions and sauté for about 4 minutes, or until they start to soften. Add the garlic and mushrooms; season with the smoked paprika and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté another 3 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened and are darker in color.

Lightly dust the mushroom mixture with the flour and toss to combine.

Add the stock and the tomato paste. Stir to sort of dissolve the paste. Add the greens and the bay leaf; simmer 5 to 7 minutes (the mustards break down a lot faster than kale would).

In the meantime, cook the egg noodles in boiling water until it reaches al dente, maybe 5 minutes. Drain (reserve about 1/2 cup of the water) and add to the mushroom skillet.

Add the sour cream and stir to combine; use a little pasta water if needed to loosen it up. Remove the bay leaf and enjoy. This is a nice quick meal.

Next time, I will likely up the mushrooms and try actual kale. I would bump the paprika as well but C thought it was very well seasoned/spiced and thinks what I used was fine.

Peruvian Inspired Pork and Quinoa Stew with Pickled Red Onions
cwhf
I have been on a huge quinoa kick of late. I recently became enamored with the idea of quinoa stew. Though to be honest, this recipe really started because I (finally) am now the proud owner of a mandoline, and I desperately wanted to make pickled onions. I hate slicing onions, I react very exuberantly (like tearing until I can't see and then I promptly cut my thumb, arrgh) so this is a real godsend for me. I have already promised to always use the guard---I want to keep all my finger tips, I am quite fond of them.

So the pickled red onion recipe I used (as a jumping off point) is here:
http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/09/pickled-red-onions/

I used peppercorns, cloves, a bay leaf and an Indian dried pepper I had on hand as well as a cinnamon stick. Note the liquid did not cover the onions for me, a large onion sliced to 1/8 inch thickness. They still turned out delicious.

So now that I had this lovely sweet sour slightly crispy element with complex flavors, I thought it would complement something rich quite nicely, and I naturally gravitated to Latin American flavors. After googling for ideas, I decided to make a pork and quinoa stew. I ended up using pork country ribs (which are a shoulder cut) which worked beautifully.



Peruvian Inspired Pork and Quinoa Stew

Ingredients
1 1/2 pound(s) uncooked country-style pork ribs
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, yellow chopped
1 cup uncooked scallion(s), chopped including 1/3 green part
10 baby carrots, chopped
1 orange bell pepper (or whatever color you like), chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 serrano chile, chopped fine- optional
1 tbsp ground cumin (estimate)
1-2 tsp ground coriander (estimate)
1-2 tsp Penzey's vindaloo seasoning
1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans of diced tomatoes, I used fire roasted
3-4 cup(s) water
3/4 cup(s) uncooked quinoa, rinsed well before using
salt
pepper

Directions
Cut the pork off the bone into ~1 inch cubes. Save the bones. Season well with salt and pepper.
Using a large dutch oven, add 1 tbsp of canola oil and brown the pork in batches on all sides for about 5-7 minutes (along with the bones!). Remove and set aside.
Add 1 tbsp of canola oil and add all chopped veggies and saute/sweat over medium heat for ~5 min (if you used a pepper, no sniffing unless you what to have a horrible wheezing attack. Not that I know from experience). Add spices and cook another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Deglaze pan with wine.
Return pork to pan and add tomatoes, water and bring to a boil then simmer covered for 1.5 to 2 hours until pork is tender. Season to taste at this point if desired with salt, pepper.
About 20-25 min before planning to serve, add rinsed quinoa to pot. Cook (still simmering) until quinoa is done (about 20-25 minutes).

Serve bowls of stew topped with pickled red onions. Yummy. C's only complaint was that there was no cornbread to sop this up with. An oversight, admittedly.

Makes 6 servings, WW Points plus 11 points per serving (servings are about 2 cups, so generous)

I need to make more pickles; clearly I find them inspiring.

Christmas Scones or How I Relive the Best Breakfast in San Francisco
cwhf
Every year, the grownups of my husband's family (his 2 brothers and their wives and his mom) always exchange something homemade, not bought as a gift. I traditionally do biscotti (see multiple posts via links on side) but brother and sister in law stated they didn't want cookies/sweets this year. This left me stumped. I don't really do savory baking, and chex mix just doesn't seem special.

I was blindly stumbling through the store when inspiration struck---scones! everybody has to eat breakfast, right? Then I thought, what about cranberry or even cherry scones...with cornmeal...that sounded really good, inspired even. Then I realized it sounded familiar.



Arizmendi's cherry cornmeal scone was my breakfast obsession when I lived in San Francisco. Every weekend day I had off, I hopped on the train for 20 minutes just to buy one of these babies. Sweet (but not too sweet), wonderful texture, just utterly crave worthy. It was like London meets the South with the cornmeal goodness. I pined for them so much I think my mind made me forget them when I moved back to St. Louis so I wouldn't miss them so much.

Fast forward to my subconscious flashback in the store. Thanks to Chef Google, I had a recipe at my fingertips in seconds. It was fate. Delicious fate.

I doubled the recipe here: http://en.onegirlinthekitchen.com/2009/08/arizmendi-scones-n1.html
which made 14 scones (12 to give away and 2 for me and C). It is killing Chris not to dive in tonight. We are saving ours for breakfast on Christmas.

Nice, rustic, craggy scones are the best:



Army of pastry:



Hopefully my in laws will enjoy them. Although if not, I think C will take care of them without questions.

ADDENDUM: These were fantastic! Wonderful texture (definitely use stone ground corn meal; I did a medium grind so ours were extra toothsome so you might want to do finer, but we really enjoyed them). Not too sweet, fantastic crumb. This will become a staple; they come together so quickly. Next time, I may try brandy soaking the dried cherries for a bit of extra pop, but bravo on these scones. Made for a very merry and satisfying Christmas morning---I hope all you have the same.

As seen on TV...Tortilla bowls!
cwhf


I can't lie; I have been lusting after these from the first time I saw the commercials. I love bowls and an edible bowl equals nirvana in my world. I resisted however; I needed another kitchen gadget like a hole in the head.

But Santa was listening! At a white elephant party, C scored a set. I thought it could not possibly live up to my dreams, but fortunately, I was wrong!

My first tortilla bowl was filled with
-1/2 cup cooked red quinoa
-3/4 cup of Trader Joe's cuban style black beans
-1/4 cup of mango chunks
-diced tomato, green onion, jalapeno, avocado and some sambal oelek.
WW PP 10

This was a quick winner of a meal. I think all food will be served in tortilla bowls going forward. Yay!




December picspam
cwhf
Barbie has come a long way. She stands on her own now. About time. I just wish there was a black Barbie in this model; I'd love to get a few to give as gifts to my favorite little people.



My work Christmas tree thanks to my fabulous friends who brought me a tree and all the trimmings since I was on service and missing out on holiday cheer. It's real!



C mastered his fear of babies.



I gave myself a manicure for the first time in ages---OPI The World is Not Enough. Sparkly.



And I went to and actually enjoyed the work department holiday party this year---I got dolled up.

Makeup---this is rare for me lately:



The dress---not a great pic, but I felt fabulous in it!



Happy Holidays everyone!
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