Falafel

19 Jan

Well, it certainly has been a while…

Over the last year, I graduated, took (and passed) my boards, and got a job that I love. I’ve had a hard time managing my work vs. home life, but my New Year’s resolution is to spend more “me time”… which, of course, means more cooking.

Nick and I are trying to do more meals that we can make in advance and eat over the course of the week. His Mother got us a great America’s Test Kitchen cookbook that we have been stealing ideas from. I love Greek food, so we decided to try doing make-ahead falafel.

We make a ton in advance, bake them, and then freeze them. Whenever we’re craving them, we pull a bag out of the freezer and just defrost it. They’re pretty easy to make and taste great on a salad or in a sandwich.

What you’ll need:
2-15 oz cans of chickpeas (or one large can), drained
1 white onion
10 tbsp chopped parsley (roughly 2 bunches)
5 garlic cloves
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400.

Using a food processor, blend the chickpeas, the onions, and the seasonings. Add olive oil, and stir until the mixture starts coming together.

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Take a cookie sheet with aluminum foil on it, and spread a little bit of olive oil on it. Form patties using your hands (ours were more like pucks, but we’ve also done ball-shaped ones before). If you find that the patties aren’t staying together well enough, add more olive oil.

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Bake for about 15-20 minutes on each side… they’re ready to flip when the bottom side is brown (otherwise, the patty won’t stick together when you go to flip it).

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Let cool, and then put over a salad or on a pita with some tzatziki sauce.

Craisin Almond Chicken Salad

3 Sep

I like to make a big chicken salad at the beginning of the week so I can A) make lunches off of it, and B) eat it cold while standing in front of the fridge looking for real food to eat. I typically will make between 4-8 chicken thighs if I’m doing it this way, or if I’m just making it for one meal I’ll just use one breast. This recipe is just my best guesstimate – I change it up every time I make it. Just a heads up – this makes a large amount of food! You can always scale it down to be a more… manageable? appropriate? not-so-ridiculous amount? Whatever. Have fun.

 

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What I used:
8 chicken thighs
2 green apples, cored/seeded and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 oz craisins
4 oz slivered almonds (any nuts will do, but I like almonds)
¼ cup greek yogurt
¼ spicy mustard (or regular… but I like to live adventurously)
salt, pepper, basil – I tend to do it to taste

Cook the chicken thighs in slow cooker until cooked through – usually 3-4 hours or so. Pull off the bone and discard any remnants of fat or bone. Pop in the fridge until it’s cool. You can really cook it any way to your liking – especially if you’re scaling down. I think it’s a little ridiculous to slow cook one thigh!

Combine chicken, apples, celery, craisins, and almonds. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, mustard, and spices. Pour over the chicken and mix in. If you find that you do not have enough sauce for your liking, you can always add more! That’s just the amount I like to start with.

I like putting this chicken salad on wraps or on a sandwich (especially if the bread is toasted… yum).

Chive Butter

22 Aug

Earlier this year Nick built me a planter so I could grow some herbs – it was going well until recently when my thyme, chives, parsley and oregano absolutely exploded.

I didn’t know what to do with all of my flavorful greens… I started drying some and putting them in mason jars, cooked with some, and threw some in olive oil (foreshadowing for another post coming soon!). While the thyme, parsley, and oregano dehydrated well, I knew that the chives wouldn’t do too hot just drying. I had to figure out what to do with my pounds and pounds of chives!

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In the main office at work we have a large poster of Paula Deen. Every day for the last few months those blue eyes just pierced my soul… it was like she was trying to communicate with me. And then, finally, it happened. Paula quietly whispered “butter” in my ear, and I knew what I was going to do.

I started by pulling a stick of butter out of the fridge before bed one night, to let it soften (cue major debate on whether or not you’re supposed to refrigerate butter… I do, get over it). Early the next morning, I cut about a handful of chives from the garden, and diced them finely – it turned into between ⅓ cup and ½ cup when chopped.

In a bowl, I combined the butter, the chives, and I added about 1/2 tsp of sea salt. I mixed well with a spoon, put into a tupperware container, and then instantly started putting it on everything! Spreading on toast, caramelizing onions, and our next step is to throw it on steak.

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Easy reading version:
1 stick butter, softened
~½ cup chopped chives
1/2 tsp sea salt

Combine! Put in a nice container and pop in the fridge.

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Limoncello

6 Aug

Although I had originally made this three different posts, it’s easier to read as one. Just remember: there are three distinct steps, each taking place at least a couple weeks from each other.

Long story short, you take the rinds off of lemons, steep in grain alcohol, add sugar, and drink. Sounds easy enough, right?

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STEP ONE:
What I used:
1 handle of grain alcohol (or the highest proof alcohol you can find)
25 lemons
a sharp knife or veggie peeler
a large container that you can close up tight (large tupperware works well)
recommended: citrus juicer

What I did:
Start by peeling all the lemons, being sure to get only the rind with no pith (so just yellow, with no white parts). Throw it in a giant tupperware container (or whatever you’ll be using), and pour in all of your alcohol.

Cover and put in a cool, dark place. Shake it up every once in a while, about once a week or so. The booze should sit in the tupperware for about 6 or 7 weeks – you’ll know it’s ready when the lemon peels get crispy and snap when you bend them.

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STEP TWO:
What I used:
The aforementioned grain alcohol with lemon peels
Funnel (or some type of funnel-y apparatus)
Coffee filters
Bottles
Water
Sugar

Only do this step when your liquid is now bright yellow and the rinds are brittle.

Start by making a simple syrup. For the amount and strength of alcohol we used, we’ll use 8 cups of water and 5 cups of sugar. Feel free to scale up or down if you prefer tart or super-sweet drinks, or if you use a different strength alcohol. You’ll definitely want to scale if you used a different volume of booze.

Heat 8 cups of water in large pot until boiling. Turn the heat off, add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Let rest until cool enough to handle.

As you’re waiting for the water to cool, take a minute and sanitize your bottles and funnel. We have a sanitation powder we mix with hot water that Nick uses in brewing, so I just used some of that. I didn’t know if our funnel could stand boiling water… but that’s always an option.

Pour the lemon mix into a large bowl through a colander to remove large lemon peels. Add sugar water and stir well until everything is fully combined. If your funnel has a filter, that’s great, but if not use a coffee filter in there and filter/funnel the booze into bottles. Some people like to filter it several times… but I am partially too lazy and partially too impatient for that. I find that one pass through the filter is enough for my inexperienced palate. Warning: this will take longer than expected so be ready to wait for a while! You may need to change/clean the filter out a few times during the process.

Once the bottles are full, throw them in the freezer!

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STEP THREE

Assuming you followed steps one and two, you should be left with a couple bottles of stuff in your freezer. I’ve seen some sources that say you can drink it right away and others saying you should wait between 30 and 45 days for it to mellow and for the flavors to come together. I am personally of the belief that it is just sugar, water, alcohol, and lemon, so let’s not waste more months waiting around.
I’d say I waited about two weeks before I became too impatient and started drinking it. I’m going to try and wait another month before enjoying the rest… but we’ll see what happens. You can enjoy it alone, or make it into a mixed drink. Just watch out – even though it tastes like candy, it is super duper potent. Enjoy!

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Rosemary-Infused Lemonade

31 Jul

Whenever it gets really hot out I just absolutely crave lemonade. I had a bunch of lemon juice leftover from the limoncello, it was like the drink gods were calling to me! We had recently tried a rosemary-infused lemonade at a sandwich shop, and I wanted to see if I could copy the recipe but also cut down on some of the calories. I used Stevia instead of sugar and it tasted pretty delicious.

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There are a couple different brands of Stevia with different conversions. It typically tells you on the package what it is – mine was 1 Cup=6 TBSP, so I used 12 TBSP for this recipe. As this amount isn’t true for all types of Stevia, I put in the sugar equivalent and you can do the math yourself.

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What I used:
2 cups of lemon juice (probably about 12 small lemons worth)
12 cups of water
2 cups of sugar (or an equivalent – I used stevia)
4-5 sprigs of rosemary

Heat 4 cups of water and the sugar (or substitute) in a medium sized saucepan on high, stirring until it’s dissolved and the water is clear again. Turn the heat off, put the rosemary in, and let sit until cool.

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Combine the lemon juice, rest of the water, and the cooled water/sugar mix. If not drinking immediately, discard the rosemary and garnish each glass with a new sprig.

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I think the hardest part about making this was resisting the urge to drink it all in one day!

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Limoncello, third and final step!

18 Jul

Here it is… the third (and final) installment of the Limoncello series. It’s my personal favorite part – the drinking!

Step One

Step Two

Assuming you followed steps one and two, you should be left with a couple bottles of stuff in your freezer. I’ve seen some sources that say you can drink it right away and others saying you should wait between 30 and 45 days for it to mellow and for the flavors to come together. I am personally of the belief that it is just sugar, water, alcohol, and lemon, so let’s not really waste more months waiting around.

I’d say I waited about two weeks before I became too impatient and started drinking it. You can enjoy it alone, or make it into a mixed drink. Just watch out – even though it tastes like candy, it is super duper potent. Enjoy!

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Limoncello, part 2!

3 Jul

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while… my computer is (temporarily) not working so it’s been hard to post. Expect an onslaught once it’s back!

Anyway, welcome to step two of making limoncello! Assuming you’ve already completed step one, you can now take your lemon booze and make it something delicious (and actually drinkable!).

Step One

Step Three

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This recipe is assuming that you followed my step one, and are left with lemon peels in grain alcohol that has been sitting for about 6 or 7 weeks. Long story short, you’re going to mix this with simple syrup to make it something drinkable. You’ll need a funnel, some bottles, water and sugar.

So we started with a handle (1.75 liters of alcohol), and added the rind of a bunch of lemons, right? We let it sit for a while, until the alcohol was bright yellow and the rind becomes so brittle that it cannot bend anymore, it just snaps. That’s how we know it’s ready!

Let’s start step two making a simple syrup. Note: this amounts are specific to the volume of alcohol we used, if you are using more or less it is important to scale up or down, respectively. Heat 8 cups of water in large pot until it is just about at a boil. At this point, turn the heat off, and add 5 cups of sugar. Stir until dissolved. Let cool so you can handle it.

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(Not a very interesting picture, I know)

As you’re waiting for the water to cool, take a minute and sanitize your bottles and funnel. We have a sanitation powder we mix with hot water that Nick uses in brewing, so I just used some of that. I didn’t know if our funnel could stand boiling water… but that’s always an option.

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The next step is to get all those rinds out of there – I poured the lemon mix into a large bowl using a colander to remove as many of the big pieces as possible.  Add the sugar water and stir very, very well, until everything is entirely mixed. If your funnel has a filter, that’s great, but if not use a coffee filter in there and filter/funnel the booze into bottles. Some people like to filter it several times… but I am partially too lazy and partially too impatient for that. Warning: this will take longer than expected so be ready to wait for a while! You may need to change/clean the filter out a few times during the process.

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Once the bottles are full, throw them in the freezer and wait for step three!

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