March 28, 2014

Behind The Scenes

It's the end of another good week.  And also almost the end of my Spring Break.  Back to teaching on Monday, but for right now I'm wringing every possible moment out of my last three days!

On Monday Mom and I went to Ikea.  She was looking for baskets for her new kitchen.  I was looking for a stool.  Of course we both came home with way more than that! And we had lunch.  I need to make Swedish meatballs at home, because I devour them at Ikea!

I met my beautiful friends for dinner on Tuesday.  We had delicious tacos and margaritas on Mass Ave. in Indianapolis.  Then we volunteered for Gleaners Food Bank.  Good food and good karma!

Boomer enjoying his doughnut treat.  It sure was crunchy!

Breakfast for supper is my favorite! Maybe because we never did that when I was little.  We had to wait for the weekend for bacon :)

And finally--I had a friend while I was getting ready this morning.  I'm pretty sure this cute squirrel has moved into the tree behind our house.  He seems friendly so far; though Boomer is highly suspicious of him.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  We're having friends over and have some fun things planned!

March 26, 2014

Braised Mushrooms

delicious vegetarian braised mushrooms

I love mushrooms!  Pizza, omelettes, salads..I love mushrooms on them all.  I found a beautiful big box of baby portobello mushrooms at the grocery store and decided that they needed to be dinner.

delicious braised mushrooms

After they were washed and cut in big chunks I braised the mushrooms in a little bit of broth to really bring out the mushroomy flavor and create a delicious sauce.  Herbs were added and these braised mushrooms were a tasty dinner when added with mashed potatoes or polenta.

braised mushrooms with herbs

I did try them with pasta, and while very good the sauce kind of got lost beneath the pasta.  When I ate the braised mushrooms with mashed potatoes the sauce got captured and acted a lot like gravy!  It was such a good dinner.

Braised mushrooms with pasta

Just a heads up, while braising the mushrooms do cook down a little.  I used 24 ounces of mushrooms, and Dustin and I devoured them as a meal.  I would cook about 48 ounces for 4 people--which is a lot of mushrooms, but they're so good you'll eat them all!

Braised Mushrooms
Author: Happy Food Happy Home

Serves 2
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon pepper
24 ounces baby portobello mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
  1. Wash the mushrooms. Cut them into large chunks.  I cut most of mine in half.
  2. Melt the butter in a large high sided skillet over medium heat.
  3. When butter is melted add the minced garlic and toast for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the thyme and oregano, and heat for 15 seconds.
  5. Add the mushrooms.  Top with salt and pepper  Toss the mushrooms in the butter and herbs, then allow to sit and brown for 1 minute. 
  6. After 1 minute stir the mushrooms.  Stir occasionally, about once a minute, until mushrooms start to release moisture--approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Add the broth to the mushrooms.  Scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the delicious flavor there.
  8. Bring mixture to a simmer and allow to cook and reduce for about 5 minutes.
  9. Taste the mushrooms for seasoning.  Add more as needed. 
  10. Serve braised mushrooms over mashed potatoes or polenta. 

To make vegetarian--Replace butter with olive oil or butter substitute, and chicken broth with vegetable broth. 

Braised mushrooms make such a great meal.  They taste meaty and delicious, and are a super filling vegetable based dinner.  I hope you try to make these soon!

March 24, 2014

Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins

healthy double chocolate muffins

What comes to mind when I say double chocolate muffins?  For me it's those big-as-a-softball, sugar and oil laden creations from the grocery store.  And while those muffins are delicious, they might not be the best breakfast.  Sorry if I burst your bubble :)

healthy double chocolate muffins

So I set out to create a chocolate muffin that I wouldn't hate eating for breakfast.  And that wouldn't create a sugar crash mid-morning.  Healthy double chocolate muffins came to mind.  They are made with whole wheat flour, applesauce, and Greek yogurt.  No butter!  

Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins

My healthy double chocolate muffins are tasty, filled with chocolate, and are a filling breakfast.  I normally pair mine with some fruit and the ubiquitous coffee, and they keep me full and happy until lunch.  Try these healthy double chocolate muffins for your breakfast soon!

Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins

1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
¾ plain Greek yogurt
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (chopped if large)
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips for topping 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.  Grease the liners with cooking spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together water, sugar, yogurt, applesauce, vanilla, and espresso powder.  Whisk until mixture is smooth and totally combined.
  5. Add chopped chocolate chips to wet ingredients.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry in two parts. Mix gently until just combined.  Be careful not to over mix. 
  7. Scoop batter into liners.  Fill ¾ full with muffin mixture. 
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.  They're done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  9. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin pan onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

The muffins are good warm, but store them in a closed container in the refrigerator after they have cooled completely.  Because they have no preservatives they might go bad pretty quickly at room temperature--in the fridge is best.   Double chocolate muffins are a great addition to your breakfast rotation.  

A bite of my healthy double chocolate muffins

March 19, 2014

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Spoon Full of Black Bean Soup

I love Panera Bread's black bean soup.  I especially love it served in a bread bowl, but for some reason I always end up at Panera on days with no black bean soup or when they're out of bread bowls.  Sad day lol.  So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make this vegetarian black bean soup at home. I love the subtle spiciness of the soup, and the delicious black beans filling out the soup and my belly.

Black Bean Soup

I toss together the black bean soup when I'm home alone for lunch or when I need a fast filling meal.  I customize the soup with whatever I have on hand.  I love adding toppings such as cheese, avocado, and tortilla chips to customize the bowls of black bean soup.

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Try making this black bean soup when you need a great lunch.  And make sure to include toppings! They really make this soup your own.

Black Bean soup
Author: Happy Food Happy Home
makes 2 servings

olive oil
¼ cup diced onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can black beans (do NOT drain)
½ cup cooked salsa
toppings-cheese, avocado, extra salsa, crumbled tortilla chips
  1. Heat 2 glugs of olive oil in sauce pot over medium heat.
  2. Dice onion and add to hot oil.  Cook for approx 5 minutes until onions are soft.
  3. Add chili powder.  Toast for 30 seconds.
  4. Add vegetable broth, black beans, and salsa.  Bring to a simmer.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove ¾ of the black beans.
  6. You can
    • pour the remaining soup into a blender and blend until smooth.
    • use an stick blender to blend until smooth.
    • Use a potato masher to smoosh the beans remaining in the pot.  All these things help thicken the soup.
  7. Add the beans you set aside back to the soup.  Stir everything together. 
  8. Serve soup hot with your favorite toppings.
Black Beans from Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

What is your favorite thing from Panera?  Do you have a favorite lunch you make when you're home alone?

March 18, 2014

Pico de Gallo-Fresh Salsa

pico de gallo

Pico de gallo is one of my favorite toppings.  It's perfect as a snack with tortilla chips, topping tacos, and mixed into scrambled eggs.

I love how fast this fresh salsa comes together.  No boiling, no waiting, it's almost as fast as opening a jar of store bought salsa, but it is a billion times tastier. Trust me-one billion times.

All you need to do is combine tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice.  All chopped, combine, and toss and your fresh tasty pico de gallo is ready to go!

Pico de gallo is more about ratios than exact amounts.  And though you can adjust the amounts of each, I would leave them pretty close to what I have listed.  Its the combination of the ingredients that make it pico de gallo and not tomatoes with some stuff mixed in.

pico de gallo with tortilla chips

Pico de Gallo-- Fresh Salsa

1 part tomatoes
1 part red onion
1/2 part jalapeno
1/2 part cilantro
1 lime
1 pinch salt

  1. Dice tomatoes into large dice.  Add to large bowl.
  2. Dice red onion into small dice.  Add to bowl.
  3. Dice jalapeno into a small dice. Remove membranes and seeds to a less spicy pico.  Add to bowl. 
  4. Finely chop cilantro.  Add to bowl.
  5. Add the juice of half the lime and a pinch of salt.  
  6. Toss everything together and taste.  Add more lime juice or salt if needed. 
  7. Eat with tortilla chips, use to top tacos, mix into anything and everything.  
For guidance I used cherry tomatoes that I quartered then measured a cup, half a red onion that I diced then measured a cup, 2 large jalapenos diced then measured 1/2 cup, 1 large handful cilantro chopped then measured 1/2 cup, half a lime juiced, and one heavy pinch of salt.  But you can really adjust the amount of salsa up and down to fit your needs! 

Pico de Gallo-Fresh salsa

The amount of jalapeno and onion might seem like a lot, but that is really where the pico flavor comes through!  Don't skimp because your afraid of the spice--it really becomes a nice flavor balance when everything is mixed together. 

Pico de gallo is a fresh tomato salsa that I love.  I really use it to top everything--I've even used it in place of salad dressing. Give pico de gallo a try, it really is easy to make! 

March 12, 2014

Mexican Braised Beef

Mexican Braised Beef

I have a secret love affair with Chipotle.  It's a secret because I would eat there every day if I didn't control myself a little bit. And even though I can normally eat 2 meals from one Chipotle burrito bowl, it still is going to become a rather expensive love affair.

And so I decided to try to recreate Chipotle's barbacoa, one of my favorites.  One of the things I found researching barbacoa is that Chipotle's isn't actually authentic barbacoa, which is why my delicious Mexican braised beef isn't called barbacoa.  Because technically it isn't.

Braised Beef like Chipotle's Barbacoa

My Mexican braised beef is braised in chipotle peppers, beer, and spices.  The braising liquid creates a meltingly delicious spicy beef.  I used it to make tacos, Dustin made braised beef sandwiches, and it's dinner tonight over polenta!

Delicious and Melty Mexican Braised Beef

Mexican Braised Beef
Author: Happy Food Happy Home

Chuck Roast, 5-7 pounds
salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (high heat)
Onion, small, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup wheat beer
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from a can)
2 tablespoons of adobo sauce from pepper can
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup lime juice
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat until oil is shiny. 
  2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  3. Generously season roast with salt and pepper.  You have a lot of meat to season so don't skimp.
  4. When oil is shiny add roast to pot.  Sear meat until dark brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side.  You want a decent crust, don't worry, it will soften while braising.
  5. While the meat is searing slice your small onion and smash your garlic cloves. 
  6. One meat has seared remove to a plate. If needed add another tablespoon of oil to the pot.
  7. Reduce heat to medium and add onion and garlic.  Cook onion and garlic until deep  brown and starting to blacken, approx 5 minutes.
  8. While onions and garlic are cooking prepare the braising liquid.  Combine chicken broth, beer, adobo sauce, apple cider vinegar, and lime juice. Use kitchen shears to slice the chipotle peppers into the mixture.
  9. Add chili powder, cumin, cloves, and oregano to the cooking onions.  Toast for 30 seconds.
  10. Add the braising liquid mixture to the pot. 
  11. Add roast back to the pot.  Nestle down into the liquid.  Cover pot with lid and bring mixture to a boil.
  12.  Place lidded pot into the oven and cook for 4 hours. 
  13. Halfway through the cooking time flip the roast over in the braising liquid.  I pulled my roast apart a little, it was falling apart any way.
  14. Four hours through braising time your meat should be falling apart and completely tender.  Use tongs or two forks to shred meat.  Pull out any connective tissue that hasn't broken down and throw that away.
  15. Toss shredded meat into braising liquid.  Mine was super juicy and delicious!
  16. Serve with tortillas, pico de gallo, cheese, black beans, avocado and any other taco toppings you love.  You could also serve this over polenta, and Dustin had it on a sandwich bun with pico on top. 
Mexican braised beef was delicious, and after putting everything together made a super delicious meal with pretty minimal effort.  

Do you love Chipotle? I really can't get enough.  Braised beef was a great solution for my love affair. Will your try to make Chipotle braised beef at home?

March 10, 2014

Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Scones

Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Scone

So I'm officially obsessed with blood oranges, and you (my darling readers) are probably over recipes about them!  I promise only one or two more--the season is almost over after all.

I love scones; delicious butter breakfast treats normally filled with yummy bites of fruit.  For these blood orange scones I added chunks of dark chocolate.  The chocolate was a perfect pairing with the blood oranges and make the flavor of these scones really pop!

Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Scone

These are a great breakfast treat, and I may have been hoarding them.  I meant to bring them to school to share with the other teachers--instead I've been eating them all by myself.

Blood orange and dark chocolate scones are a perfect breakfast treat.  They would be great for brunch, or even afternoon tea, if you're that fancy. I've also been eating half of one as my lunch treat.  It keeps me out of the chocolate stash at school.

Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Scones

Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Scones
Author: Happy Food Happy Home-recipe adapted from Bakery Style Blueberry Scones from Pinch of Yum

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
zest from 2 blood oranges
½ cup cold salted butter, cubed
1 large egg
½ cup cold heavy cream
1 cup blood orange segments
½ cup dark chocolate chips
few tablespoons of extra cream
turbinado sugar for tops
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Zest your oranges.  Combine with the sugar and use your fingers to massage zest and sugar together releasing the oils from the zest.
  3. Whisk together flour, sugar-zest mix, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Cut the cold butter into very small chunks.  Use a mixer, your hands, or a pastry blender to combine the dry ingredients with the butter until very small crumbs form.  Keep the butter cold--if it gets warm at this point set it in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix the cream and egg together in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout.
  6. In a thin stream, add the cream and egg to the dry ingredients.  Mix together with a mixer until just combined.  The dough will be thick and heavy dough.
  7. Peel the oranges and cut into chunks.  I cut each segment into three pieces. Make sure to remove seeds. 
  8. Add the chocolate and oranges to the dough.  Use your hands to toss and mix together until the chunks are spread through the dough.  It will be rather crumbly and full of chunks--this is what makes the scones good!
  9. On a floured work surface dump out your dough.  If it looks like a crumbly mess that's ok!  Use your hands to pat and push the dough into a circle an inch thick.  Cut the dough into 8 even wedges.
  10. Place your scones on the baking sheet.  Make sure to leave space between the scones because they will puff as they bake.
  11. Brush the tops of the scones with a light layer of cream. Sprinkle a pinch of turbinado sugar over the tops of the scones for crunch and a light sweetness.
  12. Bake scones for 18-22 minutes until the tops are golden brown and firm to the touch.

  • I washed and scrubbed my blood oranges before I zested them. The blood oranges I've been using have wax on the outside, and I wanted that off before I zested them.
  • You can segment the oranges with a knife if you don't want the membrane in your scones. I didn't really notice once they'd baked. 
  • Be careful not to bash up the oranges too much. They'll release some juice into the dough, but you don't want too much and make it really wet. 

Do you find scones tricky to make?  Or are you just intimated by their reputation?  Really they aren't that different from biscuits, and they're so delicious.

What's your favorite breakfast treat?  Or your favorite thing to make for brunch?

March 5, 2014

Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Curd

I love experimenting with food.  Especially new foods I haven't made or even tasted before.  New things make it fun! (Dustin doesn't always agree with me lol.)

I've heard of panna cotta, but always thought it must be difficult to make.  I had never had it before!  Faith from TheKitchn has a wonderful step-by-step explanation of how to make panna cotta, and I was very excited to try!

Panna cotta was actually pretty simple to make--the trickiest part in my opinion was making sure the half and half didn't get too hot while everything was dissolving.  My recipe is pretty concise compared to Faith's; if this is your first time making it a highly recommend reading through her great explanations.

The blood orange curd was a perfect topping for the panna cotta, the blood orange curd is bright and fresh and counters the smooth creamyness of the panna cotta.  These cups would be the perfect dessert for a special occasion--and the greatest part is all of it can be make ahead!

Panna Cotta
recipe adapted from Faith at the Kitchn

1 cup half and half
1 packet powdered gelatin (2 ½ teaspoons)
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
  1. Grease 4-6 ramekins or glasses--I used a paper towel dipped into a little oil to rub around my glasses. You want a very light layer of oil.
  2. Pour 1 cup of half and half into a medium saucepan.  Sprinkle with gelatin and allow to soften for 5 minutes. 
  3. Warm saucepan over low heat.  Whisk frequently to dissolve the gelatin.  The mixture should never simmer; if it starts to steam take it off the heat.
  4. Check to see if the gelatin has dissolved by rubbing a bit between your fingers; it should feel smooth and not grainy.
  5. Pour the sugar in the sauce pan over medium heat.  Continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat.  Add 2 cups of half and half, vanilla, and salt.  Whisk to combine.
  7. Pour the panna cotta liquid into your ramekins or glasses.  I put mine first into a glass measuring cup with a pour spout to help.
  8. Chill the panna cotta for 1-2 hours.  If you want to unmold the panna cotta a little longer is better.  Make the blood orange curd for topping

Note--if you want to unmold your panna cotta you can add ½ a teaspoon extra gelatin to the mixture to ensure it holds its shape.  Add it when you're adding the rest of the gelatin.

Blood Orange Curd
recipe by Abby at Happy Food Happy Home

the zest of 2 blood oranges
½ cup of sugar
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup blood orange juice
pinch of kosher salt
  1. Zest your oranges.  Add zest to the sugar in a medium bowl and use your fingers to massage it together and release the fragrant oils.
  2. Using a hand mixer cream together butter and sugar mixture. 
  3. Add one egg and thoroughly mix.  Add second egg and thoroughly mix.
  4. Add the juices and the salt.  Mix together until everything is combined and uniform.
  5. Pour mixture into a medium sauce pan.  Cook on low for approximately 10 minutes, whisking constantly.  The curd is finished when it will coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Pour your curd in a container and cool in the refrigerator.  It might form a skin on top--to prevent this press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd.

Once everything has cooled and the panna cotta is set gently spoon the blood orange curd onto the panna cotta.  I added a pretty healthy layer, but this can totally be done to taste.  Then top with a slice of blood orange and eat up.  I also ate one of the panna cottas without blood orange curd, and it was pretty fantastic alone.   

The panna cottas refrigerate pretty well, though the gelatin will get firmer the longer it sits.  I think these are probably best eaten within a day or two of making them. Would you try panna cotta?  It does have a slight gelatin texture, but much creamier than any I've ever had! 

March 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes

This was a busy week! My class went to the Children's Museum on Wednesday, and Dustin's birthday is tomorrow. His parents stayed with us on Friday night; it was good to visit with them before they went on vacation.  If only we could have gone to Mexico too!

It has been icing and snowing all day today. I am so looking forward to spring! Sunshine, flowers, and warm weather.  And also fresh fruits and vegetables. My body is craving spring, can you tell?

Donuts from Long's Donuts in Indianapolis.  Totally worth the 20 minute wait in line on a Sunday morning.  Not the most healthy breakfast, but sure is delicious. 

Dustin fought a cold all week.  So I made a bunch of chicken noodle soup..and then ate it all. But I didn't get sick, so it all worked out!

The Chihuly art ceiling at the Children's Museum was being cleaned, but the photos from the sides still are beautiful. 

The Shoefly Public House for lunch was a huge success.  I can't wait to go back and try more things from their menu. 

I have a new goal--Italian Cream Sodas at home. I order them at restaurants all the time, and they're so good!  This was a raspberry one from Buca di Beppos! 

I hope you guys had a great week.  Are you over winter as much as I am?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...