Orange Popovers

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Popovers and I have history.  Funny thing is I  never introduced my family to them until this past fall.  I would probably put them in the Treasure Chest of recipes, but I guess they got buried for the past fifteen years. Popovers are simple, take very few ingredients and are almost foolproof, or so I thought.

As a dietetic student in college I had a textbook that was a cookbook.  It was my senior year internship and I was living alone, so I had to learn how to make meals for one. When you are living in the lake effect snow region of the United States one cannot survive on salad alone.  I would often decide on a meal or two I wanted that I could make ahead and heat when I returned home from the hospital each night.   I had a couple of casseroles that I learned to make, but then I would be left with extra ingredients.  This happened a couple of times with eggs and milk.  So I began searching my Good Housekeeping cookbook to determine a way to use up my ingredients before they went bad, I found popovers took little more than milk and eggs and they were fairly quick to make.  I had a ceramic baking dish so rather than individual popovers, I made a giant one. My first attempt was a success and the light fluffy bread was a perfect accompaniment for myself on a salad night.

Fast forward to a recent family vacation and my father was awstruck by fresh popovers he found at a local farmers market.  So I decided to dig out my recipe from the trusty Good Housekeeping Cookbook, which I still have and reference occasionally, and give them a try.  Needless to say Mr. Mixture and Little Miss Mixture were very happy and a little taken back that I had never made these for them before.  They have now been made several times over this past winter.

As I browse pinterest I have seen a lot of popover recipes, one in particular caught my eye for coconut and dark chocolate.  I gave them a try. but was not happy with the consistency of them.  That is not to say I will not attempt them again, but when I think popover I want light and fluffy so if it does not rise to double what the batter began as, it is not the taste I am looking for.

Determined to make a sweeter more unique popover for a brunch, I decided why recreate the wheel.  So I referenced my trusty recipe and decided to tweak it by adding some orange zest and orange extract.  The result was a light and refreshing taste.  I also had some leftover grated chocolate from my failed coconut and dark chocolate popover attempt, so 6 of the mini popovers got that tossed in the batter as well.  Again a success. If you are looking for a light bread to go with a meal, a brunch, or you need to use up your milk and eggs give popovers a try.

Mini Orange Popovers

Ingredients

3 eggs

1 cup milk

3 Tbsp. melted butter

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp orange extract

2 tsp grated orange zest

3 Tbsp. grated chocolate (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 24 mini muffin cups

2. In a large bowl with mixer at low speed beat eggs until frothy.  Beat in milk and melted butter.

3. Continue at low speed and beat flour and salt into egg mixture

4. Add orange extract and orange zest and beat until well blended.  If adding chocolate do so at the end and store to incorporate.

5. Spoon batter into mini muffin cups filling each about 3/4 full

6. Bake in preheated oven at 375 for about 50 minutes

Popovers are best served warm.

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Printer Version mini orange popovers

Save the Salt for the Margarita Glass

Mexican food is always a go to in our house.  With Cinco de Mayo just over a week away, I thought I would share our favorite taco recipe.  Tacos are a great meal since everyone can adapt them to their own taste and they provide a good serving of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants depending on your chosen toppings.

Armed with the following ingredients you can have a healthy made from scratch taco dinner ready in under 30 minutes.  I am not a salt person and though every recipe calls for it the only time I tend to use salt is when baking and even then I may not use the entire amount.  I have never had a problem with salt except I see no reason to add the extra sodium to your diet and so many recipes and foods can be enjoyed just as well by adjusting the seasonings and omitting the salt.  I save the salt for where it is enjoyed on the rim of a margarita glass to accompany my mexican dinner.

In order to make these tacos you need to take a minute to get your taco seasoning ready.  Here is my basic recipe.  It is perfect for seasoning about one pound of meat.

Taco Seasoning

1 Tbsp chili powder                                                  1/4 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp garlic powder                                               1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp onion powder                                               1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, ground                            1/2 tsp black pepper, ground*

In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients and set aside.  

* I use rainbow pepper since that is my standard black pepper mix in the house

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Tacos

1 lb. ground meat ( beef, chicken, or turkey)

Taco Seasoning Mix

2/3 cup water

1 Tbsp olive oil

In a medium size skillet pour the olive oil and heat over medium to medium high temperature.  Add your meat and brown, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks.  Meanwhile you can begin preparing your toppings.  Once the meat is brown you add the taco seasoning mix, 2/3 cup water and stir to coat the meat.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low to simmer for about 5 minutes or until the rest of your dinner is ready.

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In several small bowls place your toppings on the table or a designated area in the kitchen so everyone can build their own taco.

 

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Toppings:

Spinach or other dark green, torn or cut into small strips or pieces

Diced pepper – any color or combination of colors

Diced onion

Cheese – I am lazy so it is not shredded in our house, but rather cut into small pieces about 1/4-1/2″ in size

Diced Tomatoes

Guacamole or chopped avocado

Salsas, and Sour Cream – as far as salsa we use a store bought generally.  It is great when made fresh, but we use salsa on a lot of items and finding ripe tomatoes to make it can be difficult certain times of the year.  There are a lot on the market many of which have very few preservatives or none at all.  We also enjoy corn salsa, a product from Trader Joe’s that is a staple in our refrigerator.

You can use whatever type of taco shell you prefer though the soft Whole Wheat/Whole Grain are the healthier option.

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Everything is ready and set out, so call the troops to dinner and have everyone build their own and enjoy.  Kids love this because they get to help make their dinner.

 

North African Chicken Couscous

North African Chicken Couscous is the name I coined a recipe that we have been enjoying for the past decade.  When I started cooking more and had to get more acclimated to apartment living and being on my own for meals, my mom begin giving cookbooks as a gift each year to my sister and I.  I had always been the one to pull recipes from magazines, newspapers, etc. Remember back then before the internet we had to look much harder to find recipes.  In fact in thinking about it the internet has done wonders for recipe searches.  How many times do I type random food items into my search bar or pinterest search just to see what I find?  Too many to count in a day much less a week.  I still love looking through magazines, cookbooks, and other publications for recipes and marking them to try at a later time.

My Treasure Chest Thursday recipe comes from one of the first cookbooks mom gifted us.  It was Better Homes & Gardens The Big Book of 30-minute Recipes.  I still have this cookbook and it holds several of our family favorites that I have tweaked over the years.  North African Chicken Couscous was adapted from North American Couscous in the BHG cookbook; however I never truly understood the name since the recipe has a lot of african moroccan type flavors. I think I accidentally referred to it as North African Chicken Couscous one time and the name stuck.  In  the cookbook it was also referred to as a stir fry which I really do not think it is.  It is however a nice combination of meat, veggies and fruit.

North African Chicken Couscous

1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges/slices

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup sliced carrots (The original recipe calls for 16 baby carrots or 3/4 cup. I have always increased this amount)

2 cup chicken broth

1-2 zucchini depending on size, quartered and cut into pieces

3/4 cup raisins

2-3 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup whole wheat couscous

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Rinse chicken, pat dry.  Cut chicken into bite size pieces, about 1-2 inches in size. In a large saucepan cook onions and garlic in hot oil about 3 minutes or until lightly sautéed.  Add chicken and carrots.  Cook, uncovered over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 cup chicken broth, zucchini, raisins, curry powder, and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Cover and cook over medium heat until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are still crisp, but tender.  The flavors enhance nicely if turned to low and simmered for about 5-10 minutes.

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Meanwhile in a medium saucepan combine 1 cup chicken broth and 1 tsp cinnamon and bring to a boil.  Stir in couscous. Cover and remove from heat to let stand and fluff for about 5 minutes.  Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous.

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Enjoy.

 

Simple Spring Asparagus Wraps

I am traveling this week, so my posts need to reflect things other than what I am currently whipping up in the kitchen.  Because I am not whipping up anything.  Instead I am going to increase my Vitamin D and enjoy time with family, and indulge in someone else’s cooking and most likely they will be on the form of ordering in or going out.

This past weekend we had friends over and I wanted to put something simple out as a pick up while dinner was being prepared.  Some things such as this are so simple, I am not sure I would even call it a recipe.  However I will lump it in to my Treasure Chest because it is simple, easy, and always a crowd pleaser.

Asparagus is one of the first signs of spring in the stores and farmers markets.  Just as I begin to tire of the winter vegetables and fruits and anxiously anticipate the spring summer colors and opening of farmers markets, this green tends to pop up.  Asparagus is such a versatile vegetable as it can be served hot or cold.  I like it in broiled, grilled, or steamed. Served along side a protein, tossed into a quiche or pasta, or it is perfect in this simple appetizer.

Asparagus like most green vegetables is a great source of vitamins, but asparagus may not get enough hype.  One cup of asparagus provides roughly 60% of the recommended RDA for Folic Acid.  Reason enough that woman of child bearing age should start eating more asparagus.  Not to mention it is a natural diuretic and laxative.  Hello why are OBGYN’s not adding this to a Do Eat list while pregnant, rather than the foods you should limit or avoid being the only foods discussed.

Asparagus also is rich in Vitamin K and has been linked to decreasing effects with Alzheimer’s Disease as well as providing an adequate source of Fiber, Vitamin A, B6, and C.

Asparagus wrapped Prosciutto

1 bunch asparagus

1/2 piece of prosciutto for each piece of asparagus

Wash asparagus and snap ends to the appropriate length.  If you like them longer you can bend a piece of asparagus and determine where the natural break is.  Then you can cut or break all the other pieces in the bunch. If you like more uniformed and prefer petite pieces for your appetizer than cut each stalk to about 5 inches long. You can cook the asparagus as desired.  This past weekend I lightly steamed the asparagus, but grilled or broiling can enhance the flavor of the appetizer with a little olive oil drizzled on the stalks prior to cooking.

To steam simply bring water to a boil.  Toss in your asparagus and allow to simmer about 5 minutes so that it remains bright green and has a slight crunch still.  Remove asparagus from hot water and cool under running cool water.  Allow to dry and then wrap each stalk with 1/2 piece of prosciutto.  Arrange on platter and serve.

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Short on time trying to get other food items together.  Need a way to occupy the kids or do you have an aspiring chef.  This is a great menu item for the kids to prepare.  Perfect for almost any age children’s hands can wrap prosciutto just as well as an adult and they will be so proud.  If they do not already enjoy asparagus wrapped prosciutto their preparation of it might make them try.

 

“It’s a Family Tradition”

 

Treasure Chest Thursday

Here it is Thursday and some how I have been wishing the week away without realizing it.  Do you ever have those weeks that you just seem off.  Not once but three times yesterday I mistakingly thought it was Thursday.  No please the last thing I need is this week to be over.  I have a ton of things to do, my calendar is busier than usual with at least two to three things each day for the next five days and the most overwhelming is get ready for Spring Break.

I am not complaining though the sun is out, though it is a little brisk, the day is going to be beautiful.  Beautiful days make everything seem better because when the sun is shining, it is just easier to smile.

Today is my dad’s birthday and my dad has always been a great role model and support for me.  We will not be celebrating this year with him as he and my mom are off on an adventure.  They are somewhere in Texas celebrating on a dude ranch.  In honor of his birthday, I thought I would pull out a favorite that reminds me of my dad.

Remember I said in my “let’s have mixture” post I have become more southern as I age. Well indeed I have, but my roots have always been there.  Dad grew up on a farm in a small Tennessee town. A true southern boy born and bred.  Though never had grits until I was 25, and I was never and will never eat  vegetables that have been cooked to a slow death.  I did enjoy a few southern traditions… Fried Okra has always been a favorite.

Truth be known I never ate okra any other way  (see family is great I did not know okra could be done anyway but fried and who eats cookie dough that has actually been cooked.) When I began cooking for myself I started trying okra in a variety of ways.  I really enjoy grilling the little green things, but fried food is never bad at least in how it taste.  As my dad has always said “a little grease never hurt…everyone needs some grease some time.”

Fried Okra may not be the healthiest way to include this vegetable in your diet, but okra has some great health benefits.  A serving of okra is approximately 1 cup.  In that one  cup you only take in 33 calories (depending on the preparation) but you gain 10% of your recommended Fiber intake, 27% of Vitamin C intake, and 11% of your Folate for a day.

So Happy Birthday Dad! This one is for you

Fried Okra (Dad’s) Style

Dad was the cook when it came to foods like this and he would get out his trusted cast iron skillet, a kitchen staple that every southern cook owns.  A staple I have learned to love over the past five years.  This recipe, or lack of one is definitely coming from a treasure chest.  It is one of those foods that has been passed down from his mother and grandmother, but it is word of mouth no true recipe.

I do not recall any batter being used he simply cut the okra in 1/2″ -1″ inch thick slices and tossed them in the hot oil of a cast iron until they we nice and crispy. Often there was some diced onion tossed in as well or the okra was added to another southern favorite fried potatoes and it was all served together.

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Simple Southern Goodness.

Does your family have recipes like this or foods you prepare that just get done out of tradition? I can hear it in my head now ” I’m just carryin’ on an old family tradition”

Sorry no pictures of my own as I am anxiously awaiting Okra to come into season.  In our house nowadays we eat okra in a variety of ways.  Wait until this girl fires up the grill and tosses them on whole.

*photo borrowed from bfeedme.com