February 27, 2014

Spinach Goat Cheese Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Blood orange season is here.  The delicious ruby fruits are only available for a short time.  Blood oranges are sweet and fruity; they also have less of an acidy bite than normal oranges.

I've been experimenting with and eating these blood oranges since I found them in the grocery store last week.  Stay tuned for blood orange curd with panna cotta, and blood orange and dark chocolate scones.

I love fruit in spinach salads; the blood oranges pair so well with the tangy goat cheese and the bright happy blood orange vinaigrette tops it all off. I might have eaten this salad for lunch every day this week.  And I will probably be able to keep eating this salad until the blood oranges disappear again.

Spinach salad is infinitely adaptable, and this one is no different.  Add some nuts (candied walnuts would be great), more cheese, different cheese, different fruit.  Experiment and play until you're super happy with what you're eating.  But don't skip the blood orange vinaigrette--it's the best part.

Spinach Salad

2 cups spinach leaves
1 blood orange
1/2 slice of goat cheese
blood orange vinaigrette

  1. Wash your spinach leaves and pile them on a plate. 
  2. Peel your blood orange slice it into quarter inch rounds.  I peeled it normally and ate the outer membrane, but you can peel it with a knife if that floats your boat. Place blood orange on top of spinach leaves.
  3. Use your fingers to pull small chunks of goat cheese and scatter them around your salad.  
  4. Dress with the blood orange vinaigrette on top and enjoy!

Blood Orange Vinaigrette 

2 tablespoons blood orange juice (from about 1 orange)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
squeeze of honey
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of olive oil--good quality and tasty

  1. In a mason jar combine blood orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, honey, and olive oil.  
  2. Tightly place a lid on your jar, and vigorously shake to combine all the ingredients.  
  3. Taste your vinaigrette and add salt and pepper.  Shake and taste again.  It is sometimes easier to taste dressing if you dip a lettuce leaf into it.  Add more salt or pepper if necessary. 
  4. Drizzle over your favorite salads and try it on the one above!
This salad is so delicious, and it's full of vitamins and minerals which are totally helping me get over the winter doldrums. 

What's your favorite winter fruit? What are you cooking that's helping beat the winter blahs?

February 26, 2014

Cheddar Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread Waffles

Cheddar Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread Waffles

That title is just ridiculous, but it really does say it all.  Cornbread waffles are loaded with  big chunks of cheddar cheese, bites of spicy jalapeno, and crispy bacon.  The waffles are the perfect side for your chili, but of course you could also pile chili on top, throw on even more cheese, and cook under the broiler to make the cornbread waffles the base of an epic chili tower.

Loaded Cornbread Waffles

I made the cornbread waffles to dip in my chili, because I like to dip my food.  The waffles are slightly crunchy and crispy and filled with bites of gooey cheese.  The jalapenos and bacon add a contrast to the cheese and make chili even more tasty and delicious.

Cornbread Waffles

I could also see these being used as a snack on game day, or even for a very adventurous breakfast--topped with an over easy egg. Gosh that sounds good...

Try these loaded cornbread waffles the next time you have chili.  They really were the perfect pairing!

Cheddar Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread Waffles
makes 6-8 waffles

1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 jalapenos
1 block (8 ounces) cheddar cheese
6 pieces crispy bacon
  1. Finely dice the jalapenos. Chop or roughly crumble the bacon.  Cube the cheddar cheese into ¼ inch cheese cubes.
  2. In a glass measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and butter.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add the cheese cubes to the dry ingredients.  Mix them in a handful at a time to keep them from sticking together.  Add the bacon and jalapenos and mix them in.
  5. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl with a silicone spatula.  Mix until the dry ingredients have just disappeared. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes. This allows the cornmeal to absorb moisture and soften.
  6. Heat your waffle iron and coat with nonstick spray.  Scoop 1/3 cup of batter into waffle iron.  It will be thick and sticky. Use a silicone spatula to gently spread the batter into the waffle iron.  Close your waffle iron and cook until the waffles' edges are crispy and lightly browned.  Remove waffles to a plate and cover with aluminum foil until all the waffles are cooked. 
Cheddar Jalapeno Bacon Cornbread Waffles

Would you try cornbread waffles with your chili?  I would highly recommend these! 

February 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes

Delicious pizza at Bazbeaux in Indianapolis.  I was very nostalgic about all the times we went in college. 

Boomer and I enjoying the sunshine! All that snow is gone now.

After tearing out my parents' kitchen floor Dad and Magoo demonstrated how to turn a wheel barrow into a seat. 

Dustin's Valentine's Day surprise for me. I loved it!

5 minute long thunder storm. Long enough for Boomer to need his thunder shirt...

I hope everyone had a good Monday!  The week has started.

February 20, 2014

Spicy Turkey Chili Soup

Turkey Chili is my favorite cold weather food.  I'm pretty sure I could eat it every week if Dustin would let me.  Especially because of all the different ways you can eat it; I like having it served with pasta, over a baked potato, with nachos, in a bowl with lots of cheese. 

I love my chili spicy but you can totaly adjust the spice level without losing any of the flavors.  Because of the combinations and layers of spices this chili is flavorful and delicious--and it sure can be spicy.  

First I like to gather all my ingredients.  It makes it much easier to put the chili together quickly when I don't have to dig for spices in the middle of cooking.  

Dice your onion, mince the garlic, and finely dice the jalapeno.  If you would like less heat make sure to remove the seeds and white membrane out of the inside of the jalapeno.  But don't leave the jalapeno out; it adds a fresh bright flavor to the chili, and once it's cooked the spiciness is distributed throughout the chili. 

Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until softened--about five minutes.  Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for two more minutes.  

Increase heat to medium-high.  Add ground turkey and use a wooden spoon to bash it into crumbles. Cook the turkey until it's browned.  

Add the chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Mix in spices and stir for 30 seconds on the heat to toast the chili powder. 

Add tomatoes, juice, beans, and remaining spices.  If you want thicker chili omit the tomato juice--your chili will be more of a chili sauce and less of a chili soup.  Stir everything together.  Cover and bring chili to a simmer.  Allow chili to simmer for at least a half hour.  Taste and add more salt or pepper if necessary.  Serve your chili with cooked pasta noodles, with a baked potato, or in a big bowl with cheese. 

Spicy Turkey Chili Soup
serves eight

1 large onion
1 garlic clove
1 jalapeno
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8  teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 15 ounce can hot chili beans

  1. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium low heat. 
  2. Dice onions, garlic, and jalapeno.
  3. Add onions and cook until soft--about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for 2 minutes more.
  4. Increase heat to medium high and brown turkey until no pink remains.  Use a wooden spoon to mix turkey around to make crumbles.
  5.  Add salt, pepper and chili powder.  Toast the spices for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  6. Add the whole tomatoes, tomato juice, oregano, cayenne, bay leaf, cinnamon, and beans.   Stir all together and bring pot to a simmer.  

What's your favorite way of eating chili?  My dad always fills his with crackers and one of my friends swears by peanut butter sandwiches.  I'm more of a pasta with lots of cheese kinda girl!

February 18, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

I love blueberry muffins! They're pretty much the perfect breakfast food in my opinion.  But sometimes muffins can be such sugar bombs.  And I put enough sugar in my coffee thankyouverymuch.

I love making my own blueberry muffins because I can control everything that goes into them--twice the blueberries, Greek yogurt, whole wheat flour.  It creates a breakfast that I don't feel quite so awful about eating and has a lot more nutrition than a traditional blueberry muffin.

The Greek yogurt provides moisture and a hit of protein, blueberries throw in fruit, and whole wheat flour provides a great texture and even more protein.  I love streusel topping on muffins-crunchy, crispy with lots of lemon flavor--the streusel on these muffins bring their flavor to another level.

Blueberry muffins are great for breakfast.  They last about a week in an airtight container, but are best the sooner you eat them.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes about 12 muffins
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

5 tablespoons unsalted butter--softened
½ cup raw sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup plain yogurt (full fat or non-fat plus 1 tablespoon oil)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup blueberries + ¼ cup for topping

Streusel Topping
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with 11-12 paper liners. 
  2. Add sugar and lemon zest to a large bowl.  Use your hands to rub the lemon zest into the sugar until it's fragrant.
  3. Add 5 tablespoons butter to sugar mixture.  Using a mixer cream together the butter and sugar.  Scrape down sides.
  4.  Add egg and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
  5. Add yogurt (and oil if using) and vanilla.  Beat together.
  6. In a large bowl whisk together all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined. 
  8. Gently fold in ¾ a cup of the blueberries.  The dough will be rather sticky so fold carefully.
  9. Make Streusel--combine ¼ cup brown sugar and ½ teaspoon lemon zest in small bowl.  Use hands to rub zest into sugar. Add in ¼ cup flour and mix together.  Use fingers to smoosh 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into mixture to create crumbles.  You want some big and some small crumbles.
  10. Scoop muffin batter into papers about ¾ of the way full.  Place the additional blueberries on top of the batter, 3 or 4 per muffin. 
  11. Spoon the streusel on top of the batter.  Gently press the streusel to help it stick. 
  12. Put muffins in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  When a toothpick comes out clean (no crumbles sticking to the toothpick) they are done.
Notes:  I make these muffins in my stand mixer--just make sure to stop mixing as soon as everything is incorporated.  You don't want tough muffins!  And mix the blueberries in by hand

I love blueberry muffins.  We just finished eating the last ones from this batch and I already want more.  What is your favorite flavor of muffin?  Maybe it will be this one! 

February 12, 2014

Twice Baked Potatoes

One of Dustin's favorite side dishes are twice baked potatoes.  I don't make them often because they do take multiple steps; definitely not a 30 minute meal.

When we made Valentine's Dinner this weekend (yes we were early, don't judge :) he asked for me to make twice baked potatoes.  These are a really delicious savory side dishes to pair with our steak.  Twice baked potatoes are also very adaptable--change up the flavors, cut some of the fat, add more herbs..the possibilities are endless!  

These twice baked potatoes are stuffed with bacon, green onions, and cheese.  The sour cream and butter add flavor and moisture.  And they were so so good paired with our steaks!  I could also see making a bunch of these and serving them as an appetizer or party food.  

Twice Baked Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes
olive oil

¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoon butter, softened
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Generous  ¼  cup sharp cheddar cheese plus ¼ cup for topping
2 strips bacon, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped green onions

  1. Thoroughly wash the potatoes.  Pat dry and then rub the skins with olive oil.  Poke holes in potatoes to allow steam to escape.  Bake on a cookie sheet for approximately one hour at 350 degrees until cooked through. 
  2. Hold hot potatoes in a towel and cut in half length wise.  Use a spoon to gently scoop the middles out of the potatoes.  Place the middles in a large mixing bowl.  Leave about a quarter inch of potato in the skins.   
  3. Place the shells skin side up back on the cookies sheet.  Use a brush to gently brush on olive oil.  Lightly sprinkle kosher salt onto the skins.  Put back in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up the shells.
  4. In the mixing bowl add sour cream, butter, seasoned salt, and pepper to the potatoes.  Mix and mash the ingredients together with a spoon.   
  5. Add ¼ cup cheddar cheese, bacon, and green onions to the bowl.  Mix together until everything is equally distributed.
  6. Remove shells from oven and flip over on baking sheet.  Fill each shell with potato filling mixture.  Top filled shells with remaining cheese. 
  7. Place potatoes in oven for 10-15 more minutes until warmed through.  Top with more green onions, bacon, and sour cream for garnish.  

Twice baked potatoes are a great side dish for savory dishes.  And sometimes the extra time it takes to make them are totally worth it!

February 10, 2014

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

When you spatchcock a chicken you are opening it by removing its backbone.  You spatchcock a chicken to allow it to lay more flat which in turn makes the chicken cook faster and more evenly.  These pictures will walk you step-by-step through spatchcocking a chicken.

Spatchcocking a chicken seemed really weird the first time I did it.  You really do have to get very personal with the chicken.  But it's become a little more natural each time I've done it.  And spatchcocking really does produce a very juicy chicken that cooks much more evenly than a whole chicken.

Disclaimer--these photos show the inside of a raw chicken.  If you don't want to see that I recommend you skip this post!

First the supplies you need:

You need a cutting board; I recommend a sturdy one that you can put in the dishwasher.
A pair of kitchen shears; these make the job of really getting into the chicken along the backbone so much easier.  Make sure they are a pretty hefty pair.  You put a lot of force on them while cutting through the chicken's ribs.
And sometimes I use a chef's knife to help get through particularly tough sections of the chicken.  I didn't need it this time!

Step 1:  Remove chicken from any wrappings.  Take out giblets and innards included with your chicken.  If you chicken is wet pat dry with a paper towel so you will be able to hold it better. Set chicken on your cutting board.

Step 2:  Starting at the rear of your chicken use your fingers to locate the spine.  Grab your kitchen sheers and start snipping along one side the spine.  Keep close to the spine as you cut.  Cut up to the ribs-they are considerably harder to cut so you will know when to stop.  Repeat on other side.

Step 3:  Cutting the ribs. Use your non-scissor hand to hold the spine out of the way.  With your scissors take a large cut along one side of the spine.  You will need some/a lot of force to cut through the ribs.  Continue cutting along the spine through the rest of the chicken.  Repeat on other side.  Remove spine from chicken.

Step 4:  Use your hands to spread chicken apart.  This exposes the cavity and flattens the chicken.  You can then season the inside of your chicken and cook as directed.  I keep the spines from the spatchcocked chicken in a freezer bag and use them to make stock when the bag is full.  You've now successfully spatchcocked a chicken!

Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? What is your favorite way to use a spatchcocked chicken?

February 5, 2014

Rosemary, Garlic, Lemon Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

I love the versatility of roast chicken. It's fancy and beautiful and perfect for company.  But when spatchcocked and cooked at a high temperature it gets golden brown and cooked through in a short enough time to make this perfect for a weeknight meal. 

Roasting the chicken over the lemon, garlic, and rosemary makes the chicken super flavorful and delicious.  The flavors permeate the chicken, and you can taste them in every bite.  The high temperature makes the skin golden and crispy while keeping the chicken itself really juicy.

And the potatoes!  Where they meet the cast iron skillet they get crispy and brown, and the chicken drippings bake all around them turning them into golden bites of potato-ey goodness.  

I love this roasted chicken; it has found its way into our weekly meal plan quite often.  When served with green beans, I can have an entire meal ready in less than an hour--including 30 minutes of cooking time.  

Lemon and Rosemary Roasted Chicken

2-3 medium potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

1 6-inch square of aluminum foil
1 lemon-quartered
2 sprigs rosemary
4-5 garlic cloves

1 small (3-5 lbs) chicken, spatchcocked
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon rosemary

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Cut your potatoes into large chunks. Place them in a mixing bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  3. Into the middle of your aluminum foil place the quartered lemon, 2 rosemary sprigs, and 4-5 cloves of peeled garlic. Gather your aluminum foil around the ingredients, bringing the sides up to create a bowl shape. 
  4. Place the foil bowl in the middle of a large cast iron skillet.  Arrange the potato chunks around the foil in a single layer.  
  5. Spread your chicken open so you can season the cavity of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper.  
  6. Place the chicken breast side up over the foil packet, pat the skin dry with a paper towel, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon rosemary over the chicken. 
  7. Put chicken in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until a thermometer inserted in the thigh measures 160 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving. 
  8. You can serve this chicken out of the cast iron skillet, or carve and place on a platter.  Just don't forget about the delicious juices in the pan. They taste like heaven. 
Rosemary roasted chicken is a great meal for Sunday, and it's great for a weeknight too!  

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