Cook the Collection #10: The Fondue Cookbook

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Sep 072015
 

Header illustration for cook the collection projectThis project is well-intentioned but boy is it slow. All this time and I’m just on the tenth book – that’s kind of ridiculous. I’ve got this dead wood of not-great cookbooks hanging over me that I would like to pare from my collection, but I feel I should cook at least one thing from each before I do.

The Fondue CookbookThe thing is, there are cookbooks that have great, accessible recipes, and there are cookbooks that have luscious, aspirational photographs and head notes, and a few treasured cookbooks have both. Then there are the cookbooks that might not be so great but they’re meaningful in some way (for instance I like to bring back a cookbook as a souvenir when I travel), and the books that are family heirlooms. Another group of cookbooks are the workhorses of the collection – the reference and technique books and the general books that get turned to over and over again. Finally, there’s a large group of books that have marginal recipes, poor illustrations and uninspired writing. These are my bane! These are the books that I want to toss into the recycle bin (or at least the donation box at the local library).recipe page from The Fondue Cookbook

The Fondue Cookbook, however, is not one of those dreary books. This book is a specialty book for sure – we got it as a wedding gift along with a fondue pot (and no I was not married in the 70’s, surprisingly) – and it is full of fondue recipes and nothing else. The very first recipe, for traditional cheese fondue, is a solid recipe that gives great results. This is my go-to cheese fondue recipe, and when my daughter asked if we could have fondue the other day, it’s the one I turned to. Later this month I’ve promised the kids we’ll make chocolate fondue, and I’m sure I’ll turn to this book again.

Lean and Clean Turkey Burger {Recipe}

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Mar 262015
 

lean and clean turkey burger with recipe

These lean and clean turkey burgers and heavy in our dinner rotation lately. Right now my kids are obsessed with “make your own” dinners. Make your own tacos, make your own pizza, and make your own burgers – basically anything that they get to assemble on their own is a hit. We have “make your own ” burgers just about weekly, and like to rotate between beef burgers, salmon burgers and ‘clean’ turkey burgers.

This recipe is quick and simple to prepare, and fits in with the kind of healthful eating we try and stick with. We like to fix oven roasted potatoes instead of french fries, and usually serve peppers, carrots, or cucumbers alongside as well.

Lean and Clean Turkey Burger
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for frying burgers)

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. The mixture will be really soft and sticky. Wet your hands with a bit of water before you form the patties to keep the meat from sticking to your fingers. At this point you can put the mixture in the fridge to chill if you’re not ready to cook yet, otherwise proceed to the next step.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat while you begin to form the patties. Once it’s hot add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and then as you make a burger set it right into the hot pan and pat it down a bit, then move onto the next one.

3. Cook the burgers for about 7 minutes per side, until the patty is entirely cooked through. If you want to add cheese, top the burgers with a slice once you’ve flipped them and they have about 3 minutes left to cook. Pepper Jack cheese is delicious on these!

4. Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings. Some of our favorites to choose from are bread & butter pickles, salsa criolla, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados or guacamole, and ranch dressing.

lean and clean turkey burger

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Manila Clams with Wine, Butter and Garlic

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Jan 152015
 

manila clams with wine garlic and butter

Yum, one of my favorite simple suppers is steamed Manila clams with white wine, butter, garlic and shallots. It’s so easy you don’t even really need a recipe, although I’ve got one for you. This meal manages to be unfussy yet elegant at the same time, which is often just what we need at our house after a stretch of burgers, tacos and pasta.

One of the best parts of this dish is that it’s a one pot meal – just add a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the sauce and you’re good. If we’re feeling really motivated we sometimes also add a green salad.

Steamed Manila Clams in White Wine
serves 4

  • 3 lbs Manila clams, live
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. Rinse off the clams and inspect them – discard any clams that are open and don’t close up when they are knocked together. Most clams you purchase these days are farmed clams and are quite clean so they just need a rinse – if you’ve harvested them yourself or suspect they might be sandy you can leave them in the fridge in a bowl of clean water for 30 minutes so they can flush the sand through their system.

2. In a large stockpot or dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat – when the foam subsides add the shallot and onion and saute until they’ve softened but not browned.

3. Add the drained clams to the pot and stir to coat with the butter, shallots and garlic. Pour in the wine and stir again briefly, then cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Check the clams – make sure they’re all opened and discard any that haven’t. Add the chopped parsley, stir and cook for a minute more.

5. Serve the clams in bowls with their sauce and good bread on the side.

manila clams wine garlic butter

Dec 272014
 

I love making homemade gifts for Christmas – some years almost everything I gift is homemade and some years it’s only a little token. This year I’ve got a serious sweet tooth going on so I had to try my hand at marshmallows and caramels.

homemade marshmallow

First up were the marshmallows – I have had the cookbook “Marshmallow Madness” for a few years now and for some reason I was too intimidated to try them before now. Even though the author is completely reassuring and the recipes are straightforward I just thought it couldn’t be simple to make marshmallows. How wrong I was! It’s so easy to do! I kind of felt like it was life-altering to make homemade marshmallows and I also kind of can’t wait for the summer so I can try out s’mores with my own marshmallows. I also kind of can’t wait to make some of the other flavored varieties – I just need an upcoming holiday or other reason to gift them so I don’t eat the whole pan. Maybe Valentine’s Day?

homemade apple cider caramels

I’ve also wanted to make caramels for a long time. We made them once when I was a girl and we must have overcooked them, because they ended up hard as a rock (like break your tooth hard) and so I’ve been scared to tackle those again too. The lure of making Apple Cider Caramels was too much though, so I finally overcame this other candy fear and got to work.

Months ago, in anticipation of making these caramels I made Boiled Cider, using the homemade apple cider that our family made earlier this fall. Then, armed only with a candy thermometer, I set out to tame the caramels. And guess what? They also weren’t all that hard, and they were absolutely amazing! I could have eaten the whole batch but I’m glad I didn’t – instead I wrapped them up for gifts as well. I definitely sense more candy-making in my future!

homemade caramels sheet

Ooodles of Zoodles!

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Sep 152014
 
zoodles are zucchini squash sliced into thin noodles

Zoodles are zucchini sliced into thin noodles

Have you heard of zoodles? They’re thinly sliced zucchini strips that can mimic noodles in pasta recipes and I just can’t get enough of them. They’re simple to make if you’ve got the right equipment – lots of people I know use spiralizers and love them, but I get good results using a mandolin that I happen to already have. Since I don’t have a ton of kitchen storage I try to make do with what I’ve got, and the mandolin with a julienne blade works just fine for me.

The technique is super simple. Use a large zucchini (the larger the squash, the longer the zoodles will be) and either with the spiralizer or mandolin slice it into long skinny strips. These are your zoodles! Now you don’t want to overcook them, so you can either boil them in salted water for just a few minutes (3 minutes tops!) or else add them to sauce that is simmering and again, don’t overcook them. We like to eat them with our favorite pasta sauces (they’re excellent with pesto and we love them with meatballs and red sauce), as a base for stir fries instead of rice, and they also work great as a side dish just lightly dressed with olive oil, butter or soy sauce.

Zoodles are so light and refreshing – they can turn a heavy meal into a really healthy one, and it’s very satisfying to see your children gobble up a big pile of zucchini. We still love our pasta, but zoodles are a winner in our house now!

zoodles tofu stirfry

 Posted by at 11:01 am
May 262014
 

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe

Because I’m on a health and fitness kick right now, I’ve been trying to come up with healthier versions of things I love to eat. I’m trying to follow some clean eating principles like less processed foods and leaner proteins. Regular hummus is pretty healthy as is, but I developed this clean spinach and white bean hummus to eliminate some of the fat (so that I can eat it in something else in the day!). It’s got a great earthy flavor that works well paired with vegetables or crackers, and also tastes delicious as a condiment in a wrap or sandwich.

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe

Clean Spinach and White Bean Hummus

  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini beans work well)
  • 5 oz. fresh baby spinach (1/2 of the typical clamshell or bag of washed spinach you find at the supermarket)
  • 1 large clove of garlic (peeled but whole)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne

Directions

1. In a small saucepan heat a quarter cup of water to a simmer, then add the garlic clove to the water and let it blanch for 30 seconds or so. Leave the garlic clove whole so that it’s easier to fish out later.

2. Add the spinach to the water and cook it briefly until it wilts – then scoop it out with a slotted spoon or tongs (to let the water drain off) and transfer it to a bowl or directly to your blender/food processor. Make sure you get the garlic clove out as well. Save the water in the pan for now in case you need to add more liquid to the hummus – you probably won’t need to but if you do it will be tastier to add the spinach/garlic water than plain water.

3. Now it’s time to blend. In the bowl of your food processor or blender, combine the white beans, spinach (make sure to leave behind any extra water in the bowl), garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne and blend until it reaches the consistency you prefer. You might need to start out by pulsing the machine to get going, and depending on the ingredients you might need to add a bit more water to thin it out, but make sure not to add more liquid right away or it will be too runny.

4. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, and enjoy!

Note: If you’re making this ahead to serve later, you’ll want to add a bit of olive oil to prevent it from darkening slightly. Otherwise, keep it in the fridge well covered or in a airtight container and it will be good for a few days.

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe with breadstick garnish

May 022014
 

clean eating turkey chile recipe

Since it’s springtime and summer’s just around the corner, I’ve been trying to eat a little healthier and shed some of my winter padding. Luckily for me I have a preschool friend who’s become a Beachbody rep (the company behind P90X and Insanity) and she recently hosted a clean eating challenge on Facebook complete with a meal plan and ‘clean’ recipes. All of the recipes she shared were quite good, but the Clean Eating Turkey Chili was the recipe my whole family enjoyed the most. Now the idea behind the clean eating movement (at least as I understand it) is to eat fresh, unrefined food with lots of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins and to avoid most processed, premade foods, caffeine, alcohol and refined grains and sugars. Sounds pretty sensible and it’s the way we usually tend to eat at home anyways but it’s always nice to have a little more accountability and encouragement, especially around weight loss, so I joined in for the week.

Of course I have trouble sticking exactly to any recipe, so like always I put my own spin on this one. I mean, what’s the fun in cooking if you can’t improvise a bit? I kept the heat from the spices pretty low so that I didn’t get any complaints from the little ones, but I like to add pickled jalapenos to my own serving for extra kick – a little hot sauce or salsa would work nicely as well. If you really want to make this recipe ‘clean’ you can cook the beans from scratch and roast the green chiles (use Anaheim or Poblano chiles) instead of using canned ones.

Clean Eating Turkey Chili
Serves 6

  • 1 TBS Vegetable oil
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange) chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and chopped
  • 1.5 lbs lean turkey, ground
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 7oz. can diced green chiles (with their juice)
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed (or use other beans of your choice)
  • 2 cups water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large pan over medium high heat and add the onion and bell peppers, sauteing for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and browned.  Add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more, then add the diced tomatillos and cook, stirring constantly until the tomatillos start to soften and give up some of their juice. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

2. Add the ground turkey to the pan and season with kosher salt, pepper, and the cumin and chili powder. While stirring, use a spoon or spatula to break up the turkey into small pieces. Once the turkey is cooked through and browned in some spots, add back the vegetables along with the crushed tomatoes.

3. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in the browned bits from the vegetables and turkey. Add the diced green chiles with their liquid, the beans and the two cups of water, mix well and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Serve as is, or accompanied with pickled jalapenos, minced scallions and sliced black olives as toppings.

 

clean turkey chili

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Making Homemade Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

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Apr 232014
 

chocolate frozen yogurt

As happens a lot lately (since we’re home alone together so much of the time) my little guy requested that we make something. The specific thing he wanted to make this time was homemade ice cream. He asked me if it was true that when Papi and I were married we had gotten an ice cream maker as a gift. I assured him it was true and boy did his eyes get wide and then when we went to the closet and I showed him the machine he wanted to make up a batch of ice cream immediately. Much to his disappointment we had to chill the bowl (for at least 24 hours) first, but after that we were good to go.

I decided we would make frozen yogurt instead of ice cream (mainly because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a custard base) and started searching for a recipe online. One of the first recipes for chocolate frozen yogurt I came across was this one from Chocolate & Zucchini and it sounded delicious so that’s the one we went for. The recipe was easy to follow and I think it turned out great, but it did use dark chocolate and no one else in my family is much of a dark chocolate fan (no big deal – more for me then!). I probably won’t use this same recipe again the next time I make chocolate frozen yogurt – I think we’ll do strawberry next time anyways – but I did have good results with it.

Dinner Prep with a New Mandolin

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Mar 142014
 
new mandolin potatoes

Layering potatoes and cheese for a potato gratin

I got a shiny new mandolin as a gift awhile back, and up until now I’ve been a bit nervous to use it – I’ve heard so many horror stories about slicing off bits of fingers along with paper thin potatoes – but I wanted to make a potato gratin and the mandolin was there, just waiting for me to grab it. After I skimmed the user’s manual (deceptively thick, it had instructions in 16 languages) I peeled four potatoes and away I went. Wow – this thing slices so easily I was through those potatoes in like a minute, and the finger guard worked great so I avoided giving myself a trim. I put about three layers of potato slices in a pan with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese in between each layer, and added milk up to the top of the potatoes, covered the whole thing with aluminum foil and into the oven. Easiest potato gratin ever – and we all loved it, even the little guy once we convinced him to give it a try.

Look at how thin these onions are; they're almost translucent.

Look at how thin these onions are; they’re almost translucent.

It turns out that the mandolin sliced the potatoes so quickly, easily and uniformly that I decided to use it on a red onion as well, to put in the roasting pan under a pork tenderloin. I just chopped the root end off, peeled the onion and sliced it up, in a fraction of the time it would have taken me with a knife. The next time I make up a batch of caramelized onions (one of my favorite things) it’ll be such a breeze.  Suddenly I want to slice everything with the mandolin! I wish I’d have overcome my fear sooner – what a time saver in the kitchen.

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French Onion Tortellini Soup Made with Only Four Ingredients

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Jan 142014
 

french onion tortellini soup with only 4 ingredients

On cold, rainy dreary winter days I love to have a pot of soup on the stove. There’s something about soup simmering that feels so homey to me. Here’s a quick and easy soup my family loves – French Onion Tortellini Soup. This soup is so fast to prepare if you’ve got the ingredients on hand in your fridge. Its really satisfying to be able to get a homemade soup to the table on a weeknight with a minimum of effort and a minimum of ingredients. I like to serve this with a baguette or rolls and a salad on side, and it’s also great with a leafy green added in – spinach, kale and chard all work great.

French Onion Tortellini Soup
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 quart beef stock
16 oz. Tortellini (I use the cheese tortellini from Costco).

Directions
1. Roll the Italian sausage into small meatballs and cook them in a large dutch oven or stockpot on medium high heat until they are browned all over and almost cooked through. You don’t need any oil in the pot – the sausage will release a lot of fat on its own.

2. Remove the sausage from the pan onto a paper towel lined plate and drain off the fat, leaving just a thin film behind on the bottom of the pot.

3. Saute the onion slices in the pot until they are soft and brown – the more caramelized they are the better.

4. Add the stock to the pot and stir to bring up all the browned bits from the bottom. Then add back the meatballs and the tortellini and cook for about 8 minutes more.

5. Serve and enjoy!

french onion tortellini soup recipe using 4 ingredients