Monday, March 16, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day - Irish Boxty

In honor of St. Patrick, Patron of Ireland, we are having Irish Boxty for St. Patrick's Day on March 17. Boxty is a traditional Irish dish made of - go figure - potatoes! I haven't made this exact recipe before, but I have fried mashed potato cakes in butter. This is similar. While I cannot claim to have a trace-worthy hint of Irish in my blood, potatoes were a huge part of my Grandpa Earl's life. My mom's dad, Grandpa Earl is a potato farmer. At 95 plus years, he's still growing and harvesting potatoes. This root crop has been a part of every 'big meal' and many small meals in our family. Here's the recipe if you'd like to join us in sampling this Irish tradition.

Irish Boxty
Yield: 6

1 1/2 cups grated raw potato
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Toss the grated potatoes with flour in a large bowl. Add mashed potatoes and stir until combined. In another bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Mix the egg mixture into the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop in the potato mixture to form patties about 2 inches in diameter. Fry on both sides until golden brown (approximately 3 to 4 minutes on each side). Remove the patties to a paper towel lined plate. Serve while warm.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Egg in the Hole

This is a favorite breakfast from childhood and late night college gatherings. In childhood, we seasoned with salt and pepper. In college, we were a bit more adventurous with the spices and tried almost anything ... then dared the recipient of our concoction to 'eat it all'!! No one ever refused the meal ... but, I stick to the salt and pepper, nowadays.

Egg in the Hole
Yield: 1 serving, but easily multiplied

1 slice bread
1 large egg

Tear a hole large enough for the egg yolk in the center of the bread (eat the raw bread - no waste here). You can either butter the bread, or put the dab of butter in the pan to prevent sticking and help in toasting the bread. Place the bread in a hot skillet. The skillet should be large enough to hold the slice of bread.

Crack open the egg and drop in the hole in the center of the bread slice.

Fry until the botton of the egg is 'set'. Flip the egg and bread combination over and fry on the other side until your desired doneness is met.

I like to be able to dunk the toast, but some prefer the egg to be completely done.

Tuna Roll-ups

I really do like tuna & so does the rest of the family. It's just that I've become complacent about thinking outside of the norm of 'tuna on a bun' for our Friday meals away from home. So, this is another attempt to spice it up a bit.

Tuna Roll-Ups
Yield: 4 roll-ups

1 - 6oz. can drained canned water-packed tuna
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 Tablespoons chopped celery
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish*
4 four tortillas - 8" is a good size

Mix tuna, cheese, celery, mayo and relish. Spread evenly on the tortillas; roll up. Place seam side down on a microwaveable plate. Microwave on HIGH for 20 seconds or until the cheese begins to melt. To serve cold, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

It would be easy to substitue another meat ... turkey, chicken or ham would be good, as well. You could also eliminate the tortillas and serve the spread on English muffin halves or bagel halves.

*Normally, relish is something I can myself. My version isn't as sweet as store bought, so Miracle Whip could be substituted for the mayo without being too sweet.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Chai Experiment

You all know I like Chai tea! My favorite brand is Tazo - that's what Starbucks uses to prepare their Chai Tea Latte and this used to be a sometimes (okay, probably more like -at least- weekly) treat when we lived in town. Often, when Eric had early morning meetings, he'd bring back a cup for me. He loves to do those little things - and I love him for it!

Since we moved about a 100 miles from the nearest Starbucks, I’ve been buying Tazo Decaf Chai. It’s a decaffeinated spiced black tea latte concentrate; you can also buy caffeinated. I don’t need the caffeine. Anyway, today I though I’d experiment because I also buy the Tazo Chai tea in tea bags. Same brand – should turn out to be approximately the same thing if I add milk and sweetener… right?? Well, that's what I'm counting on in this mini-mixing experiment.

The extras in the concentrate amount to cane sugar, honey, ginger juice, natural flavors, vanilla and citric acid. I happen to have cane sugar, honey and vanilla in my pantry. I figured the ginger isn’t necessary, because it’s already included in the tea mix. The natural flavors I won’t worry about, and the citric acid is most likely for preservation – which I don’t need, either. To prepare the Chai tea from the concentrate, you mix equal measures of the concentrate and your choice of milk (or milk substitute); and then heat the mixture in the microwave. I always use whole milk because I like the smoothness of the drink and I think it tastes better.

Earlier this morning, I brewed a cup of Tazo Chai tea. By the time I made the latte, my tea had cooled, but I’ll reheat it. So, equal amounts of Tazo Chai tea and whole milk mixed in a mug. I added about ¼ teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon honey, ½ teaspoon cane sugar. (The cane sugar I’m using is called Sugar in the Raw® Natural Cane Turbinado Sugar From Hawaii. I’m sure the cane sugar could be substituted with white sugar or stevia, but I have it on hand and may as well use it.)

The result is very close to what I enjoy from Starbucks. It is more economical than purchasing the concentrate, and if I save half the of brewed tea for later or the next morning - I'm ahead even more! Here's my recipe...

Tazo Chai Tea Latte
Yield: 1 mug

1/2 mug (about 1/2 cup) brewed Tazo Chai tea - either decaffienated or caffienated (whichever suits you!)
1/2 mug (about 1/2 cup) whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cane sugar

Mix together and heat in the microwave to desired temperature. I usually hit the beverage button - hasn't failed me yet. Since mine is usually cooled by the time I'm down to the last 1/4 of the mug, I can say that it would also be great over ice, as iced tea latte.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Menu Planning #3

This is my menu for this week and the following week. I'll include a few of the new recipes later. I honestly wish that I could be more creative with Fridays. Our schedule this year has us on the road for most Fridays, so meal preparation is very limited. I have so many great non-meat meals for Fridays. I, and everyone else in the family, miss our non-meat and seafood meals so much that they've oftentimes found their way into the weekday plans. I am VERY thankful that the kids, Eric and I like tuna. It's our Friday staple - at least for this year!

March 1-7
Dinner: Scrambled Eggs & Venison Sausage
Supper: Leftovers (Eric and I will be gone all afternoon and we have plenty of leftover items to be used up)

Dinner: Cornbread Topped Hot Dog Casserole
Supper: Beef Stroganoff over Noodles

Dinner: Leftovers
Supper: Chipped Beef in Gravy over Buttermilk Biscuits

Dinner: Leftovers (first priority) or sandwiches
Supper: Ham & Cheese Sandwiches (cold packed, as we’ll be away from home for supper)

Dinner: Cheddar Chicken Spaghetti
Supper: Leftover Cheddar Chicken Spaghetti

Friday – Away from home
Dinner: Eat at ND Winter Show in Valley City
Supper: Eat out at Fish Fry

Saturday – Away from home
Dinner: Eat out
Supper: Eat out

March 8-14
Dinner: Pancakes & Venison Sausage
Supper: Classic Meat Loaf and Baked Potatoes

Dinner: Leftover Classic Meat Loaf
Supper: Baked Potato Soup

Dinner: Leftover Baked Potato Soup
Supper: Chicken Enchiladas

Dinner: Taco Soup
Supper: Leftover Taco Soup

Dinner: Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
Supper: Italian Sausage Soup

Friday - Away from Home
Dinner: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Supper: Egg Salad Sandwiches

Dinner: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Supper: Hamburgers with Oven Baked Fries

Fish image from ChristArt

Hot Dogs?

This morning, 2yo Graham found me to ask if we could have Hot Dogs for dinner. Hot Dogs? Where in the world did that idea originate! Hot Dogs are a rare meal at our house. When we lived in town, Hot Dogs were reserved for quick meals before rushing off to attend an NDSU Bison FB game. Since moving, we enjoy Hot Dogs at the game as a treat. Regardless, the last time Graham had a Hot Dog was probably back in November 2008.

Knowing I had Hot Dogs in the freezer, I decided to see what I could concoct with ingredients on hand. I found a recipe for Hot Dog Cornbread Casserole that sounded like it might fit our tastes. After reducing and eliminating different ingredients, I came up with the following recipe.

Cornbread Topped Hot Dog Casserole
Yield: 6 servings

12 oz. Hot Dogs
1 (12oz.) can baked beans
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk

Optional ingredients:
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup chopped onion

1. Cut hot dogs into 1/2 inch pieces. Put in a 2 quart baking dish (I used a round 2 qt. baking dish) with beans, ketchup, water, mustard and worcestershire sauce.
2. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal. Add egg and rest of ingredients. Stir just enough to combine.
3. Spread cornmeal mixture over top of the beans. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Recipe Review! The kids absolutely would eat this again. I found it a bit bland for my tastes; adding the optional ingredients may have helped.

Raspberry Syrup

I purchased bulk, frozen raspberries from a food coop quite some time ago. Many of you might have given them over to compost it was so long ago. But, even with freezer age, I cannot throw out the berries! Their taste might be slightly compromised (okay, when I first brought them home, they were amazingly sweet and delicious, so I am expecting a less than ideal syrup flavor), but I think I can salvage them for our use here at home. Sugar makes pretty much anything taste good, and Raspberry Syrup will be a treat on pancakes, waffles or French toast on an upcoming Lenten Sunday.

Raspberry Syrup
Yield: Approximately 6 cups

1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water

1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch.
2. Stir in water.
3. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil.
4. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
5. Stir in the raspberries, cooking gently over low heat until the syrup reaches your desired thickness.

WOW, am I impressed! I cannot detect a hint of freezer age in the syrup. And, the color is beautiful.

I did not strain the raspberries for this recipe. Some people may find the syrup more pleasing if about 1/2 of the seeds are strained out and if the berries are crushed. I just did not want to take the extra time when I couldn't be sure of results with using old berries. In hindsight, I could have taken this extra step.

I've saved glass syrup jars that have been purchased or given as gifts over the years. I prefer glass over plastic, and therefore give up the safety feature of a squeeze bottle! Since I don't have a funnel large enough to allow the berries to pass through, I made a foil funnel to transfer the syrup into jars.