Saturday, October 22, 2011

Comida Dominicana!!!

I FINALLY DID IT!!!! I found a recipe that makes authentic Dominican food just like Josh remembers! POR FREAKING FIN, as we like to say around here...
La Bandera, which literally translated is "the flag," is a dish served at lunch in the Dominican Republic. Josh has been raving about it since we started dating. It's basically tons of rice smothered in a red kidney bean soup (I don't know how else to describe it) and served with pollo frito (fried chicken). I've tried 2 other recipes, neither of which was close. A few weeks ago, Josh found the website and sent me a link. We spent one Saturday morning looking through all the recipes and he pointed out some that looked like things he'd liked on the mission. I now have a whole Word document's worth of "recetas dominicanas" to try out and if this was any indication, they should be good.
Rather than write the recipes here, I'll send you to Aunt Clara herself. I made the rice authentic style instead of popping it in the rice cooker (and it was pretty darn good!). It's under arroz blanco, here:
The bean mixture is called Habichuelas Rojas Guisadas:
And the chicken I made is pica pollo. It's different from the chicken usually served with the La Bandera, but I wanted to try it anyway: Like it says, you usually serve this with fried green plantains (just as good as french fries!) and ketchup.
The result? Something akin to Zatarain's red beans and rice, just more nutritious and flavorful!!
Here's some pictures:
The best looking fried chicken I've ever made!!!

Arroz Blanco + Habichuelas Rojas Guisadas=La Bandera= DELICIOSO!!! (do I sound like the Kahlua lady yet?)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Women who've made a difference in my life: Grandma Hyatt

My Grandma Hyatt has been my best friend since I was born. She's AMAZING!! She raised 5 boys (one was Dad), and is a Marriage and Family counselor. She remembers each and every special event with a card. AND... she's an EXCELLENT baker! Her desserts are to DIE for! Pudding cake, cookies, cakes, and, her specialty...CHOCOLATE BARS!!!

I made these for a meeting at church. They were gone so fast, I couldn't get any pictures. But here's the recipe, and make sure you make these for a lot of people, because these WILL make you gain 10 pounds per pan.

Grandma Hyatt's Chocolate bars
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup margarine
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
3 cups oatmeal
Mix together and press more than half into 9X13 pan.

1 can Sweetened condensed milk
12-16 oz chocolate chips (2 1/2 cups)
2 tbsp margarine
Melt together and pour over first layer.
Put rest of batter in globs on top. Bake at 350 for 25 min.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Women who've made a difference in my life: Aunt Sarah

When I was 12, my uncle Wade married a really cute lady: Aunt Sarah. She's closer to my age than she is to my parents and she lets them know it ALL THE TIME!!! All in good fun, of course. My junior year, their family moved in with us. All five of them!! It was awesome! For 6 months I had 2 little brothers and another little sister. I also got to know my awesome, petite, whirlwind of an aunt! Here's the family at our wedding last year:

If you can't tell, she's the blonde in the back. It's hard to know which ones are the kids!! (I can only say that because she's only a little shorter than I am).
Sarah influenced my life in helping me learn to be more girly. She taught me how to do nice eyeshadow, how to style my hair and how to be more happy. She did mine and my friends makeup for senior prom. And she's still like an older sister to me!
When they lived with us, our families would take turns with cooking dinner. We introduced Swedish Hotcakes to them and she made things like Chicken Chile Enchiladas and Manicotti. I still don't get how she doesn't think she can cook! I took her manicotti recipe about 2 weeks ago and spiced it up a little. Here's her recipe:

1 pkg manicotti noodles
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 lb mozzarella
3 tbs shredded parmesan cheese
2 tsp parsley flakes
1 egg
1 jar spaghetti sauce
salt and pepper

I changed it a bit to include more "veggies" and because I didn't have some of the ingredients.
1 pkg manicotti noodles
1/2 lb low-fat ricotta
1 lb mozzarella
1 egg
1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
garlic salt
Italian seasonings
3 cans tomato sauce

Prepare noodles as directed on package. Rinse in cold water and set aside. Mix together all cheeses and seasonings to taste. Add egg and mushrooms. Mix.
so it doesn't look THAT appetizing, but trust me, it's YUMMY! Next, stuff the noodles and place in a pan.

Cover with tomato sauce.

Top with Italian seasonings and mozzarella.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes and enjoy!
Thanks Sarah for being awesome!! Oh and for the awesome food!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Women who've made a difference in my life: Mom

I've decided that I'm going to do a mini-series on women who've inspired me or changed my life in some way and the foods they're famous for. Of course, I must start with my wonderful Mom.
What can you say about the woman who raised you except SHE'S AWESOME!! Sure, we butted heads a lot when I was younger, what mother and daughter don't? She taught me just about everything I know about housekeeping, cleaning, cooking, and raising kids. (ok, so I'm not to that point yet, but she's a very good example of what you do to have well-mannered children!) Mom's heritage is like most Americans: mixed. Great Grandpa Heller was Dutch, Great Grandma Heller was Norwegian, and Grandma Heller comes from English and Irish ancestry. However, when I think of Mom, the dish I associate most with her is something she learned from Great Grandma Heller: Swedish Hotcakes. Which come from Norway. Everyone I've ever cooked these for have raved about them. Here's the recipe

Swedish Hotcakes (NOT pancakes!!)
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
dash of salt
3/8 cup sugar
1 1/2 flour

Beat eggs with a wire whip until frothy. Add milk, salt and sugar. Beat. SLowly add flour while whipping. Beat until smooth (so you don't have big flour clumps like I did in these pictures). Cook on a medium hot grill.

The batter should look like this, with lots of bubbles and no flour clumps.

Spray the pan with Pam every time or the hotcake won't come off the pan.

Put a ladle-full of batter into a skillet...

and swirl it around a bit.

wait until the hotcake is almost cooked through before flipping it.

should look like this
These are similar to crepes, so you put sweet things in them. The best things to put in them is pie filling and whipped cream. When you don't have those, spread them with peanut butter or jam, roll them up and drizzle syrup and powdered sugar. I prefer strawberry jam and that's what's inside mine here in this picture.

I would say "Bon Appetit," but these aren't crepes. Too bad I don't know how to say it in Norwegian!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Spicy SpIcY SPICY Mexican Chicken Soup

I have nothing but huge compliments for this dish. I wanted to try to make some healthier stuff for our dinners and Josh suggested that we find a spicy chicken soup, so I did. This is really spicy, but not so spicy as to cover up the flavor. The spiciness makes you really sit down, slow down and savor it. I had to take breaks between my bites so I could enjoy it without burning my mouth. The biggest compliment I have for it is that it has 2 of my most hated foods in it and I totally didn't even notice they were there. This might be a good way to make me eat my veggies :-D Josh just told me that this was a leftover he would actually eat (he NEVER eats leftovers). Here's the recipe:

Spicy Mexican Chicken Soup
Serves 6
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1 1/2 cups chopped white onion
3 small garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 ear of corn-cut off cob, or 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Ancho Chili powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 15-0unce can reduced-sodium black beans-rinsed and drained
1 10-ounce can Rotel Diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro (if you do not want a spicy soup, then just switch the Rotel out with a can of diced tomatoes. You can even add a small can of mild diced green chilies for a little more flavor without the punch)
2 cans (14 oz. each) reduced sodium chicken broth
8-ounces tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I used a market roasted chicken~chicken breast only)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Spray the bottom of a large saucepan liberally with the olive oil cooking spray. Once hot add the onions and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions for about 5 minutes (stir often). Add the corn and lightly season with salt and pepper. If there is not enough moisture in the pan then add a little bit of the chicken broth to the pan (stir often). Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the cumin, ancho chili powder and the chili powder to the vegetables. Saute and stir often for about 1 minute. Add the black beans, Rotel, shredded chicken, chicken broth and tomato sauce to the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

To tone down the heat, top with sour cream or cheese. I actually would suggest that you NOT put any other garnishes on it, but make quesadillas to eat in between bites. In fact, I might just do that now!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Chinese feast

On the way home from seeing Wicked in Boise, we stopped at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Idaho Falls. It's just a little hole-in-the-wall place right next to the theater. We decided that we'd order for each other. I got Josh the Hunan Chicken (a little bland) and he got me Mongolian Beef. It was so good, it inspired me to find a recipe for my "new recipe" dinner yesterday. So I found a Slower cooker Mongolian Beef and an Egg Drop soup recipe. Both of these recipes were restaurant quality and they were excellent!! Here they are:

Egg Drop Soup

4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (I didn't use any, it was fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

Reserve 3/4 cup of chicken broth, and pour the rest into a large saucepan. Stir the salt, ginger and chives into the saucepan, and bring to a rolling boil. In a cup or small bowl, stir together the remaining broth and cornstarch until smooth. Stir in the cornstarch mixture gradually until the soup is the desired consistency.In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk together using a fork. Drizzle egg a little at a time from the fork into the boiling broth mixture. Egg should cook immediately.

Amount Per Serving Calories: 79 | Total Fat: 4.2g | Cholesterol: 163mg

Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef

1 pound flank steak, cut into bite-size pieces(I used Stew Meat)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 large green onions, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Place garlic, flank steak, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, ginger, and hoisin sauce in a slow cooker on Low. After 2 hours, add the onions and green onions. Cook on Low setting for additional 2 hours. Serve over steamed rice

Amount Per Serving Calories: 450 | Total Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 47mg

Note: for this one, I omitted the sugar because the hoisin sauce is pretty sweet to begin with. To add some kick, I added about a tbsp of Sriracha sauce (hot chili sauce, you can find it and the hoisin sauce in the same section as the soy sauce). Next time, I would add a little more because there wasn't enough kick for my taste.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Digging at my Jewish roots...

Chag Pesach Same'ach! That means Happy Passover in Hebrew. Tomorrow at sunset is the first official day of Passover and at this time of year, I've decided to learn a little more about my Jewish ancestors. These people came from Turkey, of all places. How'd they get there? Don't Jews come from Israel originally? Well, actually...
So picture this... a few years after King Solomon, the once strong country of Israel is split between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. (this is all in the Bible, kids!) The citizens of the Kingdom of Judah are mostly from the tribe of Judah (hence the name Jew) and a little bit of Benjamin and Simeon. The Kingdom of Israel houses mostly the other tribes, who are more commonly known as the Lost Ten Tribes. Sometime after 600 BC, the Babylonians invaded Israel and Judah and carried off a lot of the people (this is where we get the stories of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo from). At that time, the Babylonian empire covered from half of what is now Saudi Arabia all the way up to the southern coast of Turkey. About 50 years later, the Persians took over this empire (this is Esther's time now) and stretched it out west to Macedonia, East to the Indus river, and south to Egypt. And AFTER THAT comes the Roman Empire, which stretched even farther west to Spain.
Enter my ancestors. They were Sephardic Jews and we're from the tribe of Ephraim, one of the Lost Ten Tribes. They probably were captured or ran for their lives to the edges of the Babylonian empire and then were pushed from place to place (probably scattering all over Europe) until my particular group of ancestors settled in Spain (those who settled elsewhere in Europe are called Ashkenazim). They were treated as second class citizens for about 1000 years, then were chased out by Queen Isabella and the Inquisition. They had two choices offered to them: convert to Christianity or die. They took the third option and headed to the Ottoman Empire where the Sultan promised they would have no persecution there. They lived there until the early 1900's. and that's a whole different story of how they got to America. I'll save for some other time.
Anyway, Passover is the celebration of the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. You know, the plagues of Egypt came and went and Pharaoh still wouldn't set the Hebrews free. So God commanded the Hebrews to mark their door frames with lambs' blood so his final plague would pass them over (hence the feast of Passover). That night, all the firstborn children of the Egyptians died and the Hebrews were spared. It was then that Pharaoh finally decided to let the Hebrews go.
So, to kind of celebrate it, I decided to make Matzo Ball Soup and Charoset. I found these recipes on Jewish websites. The matzo ball soup was found here and the charoseth was found here . As it says on the website, Matzo Ball soup is also known as Jewish penicillin. It's the equivalent of chicken noodle soup, but I think it tastes better!!

1/2 cup matzah meal
2 eggs
2 tbsp. oil or schmaltz (melted chicken fat)
2 tbsp. water or chicken broth
2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley (I used Italian seasonings instead)
a little black pepper
2 quarts thin chicken broth or consommé
A handful of baby carrots or regular carrots cut into large chunks (optional)
a few stalks of celery cut into large chunks (optional)
Beat the eggs, oil and water together thoroughly. Add the matzah meal, parsley and black pepper and mix until you achieve an even consistency. Let this sit for a few minutes, so the matzah meal absorbs the other ingredients, and stir again.
Bring the broth to a vigorous boil, then reduce the heat until the broth is just barely boiling. Add the vegetables to the broth (if used). Wet your hands and make balls of about 1-2 tbsp. of the batter. Drop the balls gently into the boiling water. They will be cooked enough to eat in about 15 minutes; however, you may want to leave it simmering longer to absorb more of the chicken broth flavor. They are done when they float on top of the broth and look bloated.
For lighter matzah balls, use a little less oil, a little more water, and cook at a lower temperature for a longer time. For heavier matzah balls, do the reverse. If you are using this to treat a cold, put extra black pepper into the broth (pepper clears the sinuses).

I could not find matzah meal to save my life, so I crushed some saltines as a substitution (it's not kosher, but that's ok for me). Make sure if you do this that you crush it really fine or it won't make balls. Mine ended up being a kind of layer on the top, really tasty, but not exactly what I was hoping for. Still, I give it 2 thumbs up and 5 stars!
Charoseth is traditionally a mixture of apples, raisins, and wine. It symbolizes the mortar that the Hebrews made in slavery and also the sweetness of freedom. Since we're LDS and we con't have alcohol, this recipe was great!

(makes 4 cups)
1 pound chopped apples
1 pound dried raisins
8 ounces pitted dates
2 cups water (or as needed)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Place the apples, raisins, and dates in a bowl with enough water to cover. Let stand for 1 hour.
Add the sugar and whirl the mixture in a blender, a few spoonfuls at a time. Or divide the mixture in thirds and place in a food processor.
Transfer the chopped fruits to a heavy saucepan and let simmer over low
heat until the fruits are cooked and the liquid absorbed. It should take about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and place in a jar. When cool, sprinkle with chopped nuts.
YIELD: 16 Servings

Mine's currently cooling right now, but it smells amazing! I substituted golden raisins for dates because I don't like them very much. I also added cinnamon and ground cloves because I've noticed most charoseth recipes have spices in it. Anyway, that's all for today, enjoy!!