Sunday, August 30, 2015

Asiago Cheese Bread

This bread is the bomb! It's a light yet absolutely cheesy loaf with hints of oregano and thyme that pair perfectly with the decadent asiago. The combination of eggs and yeast help to give it an amazing texture, and shredded cheese is incorporated throughout the dough. (Or is it batter since it is kind of runny and has eggs?)




Once you try it there is no going back to your pre-cheese bread days. You will be an immediate convert. Maybe this recipe should be accompanied by a warning label.....


WARNING: MAY CAUSE AN EXTREME ADDICTION TO ALL THINGS CHEESY




Asiago Cheese Bread
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasonings
8 ounces asiago cheese, grated
4 eggs or 6 egg whites

Combine the yeast and warm water. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes until the yeast is activated. Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings into the yeast. Add the cheese and eggs. Stir the mixture vigorously for 5 minutes. Cover the batter and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and oil a large bread pan. Pour the batter into the pan and allow it to sit for about 10 minutes while the oven is preheating. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bread to sit for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.




You can't say I didn't warn you. :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flying Butterfly Card

I just love this fun birthday card. The butterflies look like they are practically about to fly off the page. I also love my new(er) stamp that says "May your birthday be as special as you are!" How sweet!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Let's Try Some Chayote

French Guiana is actually officially called Guiana, but since it is an overseas territory of France, we call it French Guiana. The origin of the "French" in front of it dates back to colonial times when the Spanish, British, French, Dutch, and Portuguese all had their own territories named Guiana. (Between Guinea and Guiana you would think that there wasn't another name on earth. I know I talk about this in pretty much every post, but it drives me crazy! I need some originality here, people.) It's the largest overseas department of France and has the coolest capital city name ever: Cayenne (like the chili!). There is a lot of immigration to French Guiana. Only a little over half of its population actually was born in the territory. The majority emigrated from Brazil, Haiti, and Suriname.



Curries, seafood, and one-pot meals make up a lot of the French Guianese cuisine. Since it is on the northern coast of South America, you can imagine why seafood plays such a vital role. There is also a lot of influence from French, creole, and Asian cuisines. Because of the high rate of immigration, many people groups have brought their own cuisines to the territory to make it a big melting pot.



Chayote is a cool Mesoamerican fruit that is related to melons and squash. Before tonight, I had never tried it before. I saw it at Kroger the other day and jumped on the opportunity to use it for one of my countries. These potato-cakes showcase the exotic fruit and make a great side.

Chayote-Potato Cakes
1 chayote, grated
1 potato, grated
1 small yellow onion, grated
1 egg
¼ cup cornmeal
dash of cayenne pepper powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp oil

Squeeze any excess moisture out of the chayote, potato, and onion. Mix them together with the remaining ingredients except for the oil. Preheat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tsp of the oil. Scoop out a few tablespoons of the potato mixture at a time onto the pan. Cook each side for a couple of minutes until browned. Remove the cakes to a paper towel lined plate. Cook the rest of the potato mixture in batches, adding more oil as needed.

 


 Poulet Colombo is a warm and hearty stew that is common in the French West Indies and French Guiana. It is made out of local produce, chicken, and an interesting spice blend called Colombo that contains toasted rice along with several other delicious spices. This stew is easy to make and goes great with some rice to cut the heat of the chili pepper.

 
Poulet Colombo
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scotch bonnet chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 ½ tbsp Colombo spices
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups chicken broth or water
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 zucchini, cubed
1 chayote, cubed
1 eggplant, cubed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and chili. Cook until the onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile mix the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice as well as salt and pepper to taste. Add them to the pan and cook until the pieces are browned all over. Pour in the water or broth, seasonings, and remaining lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables to the pot and continue to cook for another 45 minutes. Once the stew is done, stir in the coconut milk and serve.



Although I did enjoy trying chayote for the first time and will definitely use it in the future (assuming that I can find it in the future), I don't think I will be making either of these recipes again. They were not bad, but that oomph that African dishes seem to have about them was not present. I should have used chicken broth instead of water in the Poulet Colombo recipe, but I was being cheap and lazy. There would have been a little more flavor if I had used broth instead. The chayote-potato cakes were good, but I have made better ones in the past. I'm also not so certain about the recipe's authenticity. It was really hard to find information on the cuisine of French Guiana. Hopefully I can travel there one day to try it out myself.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Quiche to Beat all Mondays

Tomorrow is a Monday. Every college student knows that there is nothing worse than Monday mornings, especially the first Monday of the semester. (We had last Monday off and started classes on Tuesday.) Today I have a recipe that will make you want to wake up tomorrow morning. Don't believe me?





Now do you believe me? Just wait until you hear what this amazing creation is. It was my special (and delicious) concoction to battle those dreary Monday mornings. It's the best bacon and bell pepper yogurt-crusted quiche you will ever lay eyes on.



 Of course, if you aren't in the mood to make a quiche tonight, it is equally as delicious on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning. And it is absolutely heavenly on a lazy Saturday morning.



 But why wait when you can have a scrumptious quiche to look forward to before work or class tomorrow? Scroll down to see the recipe and try it out for yourself!




Bacon and Bell Pepper Yogurt Crusted Quiche
For the filling:
4 slices thick bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 tsp herbs de provence
6 egg whites or 4 whole eggs
¾ cup milk
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
2 ounces grated provolone cheese
2 ounces grated fontina cheese
2 ounces grated romano cheese
2 ounces grated parmesan cheese

For the crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup white cornmeal
¾ cup plain yogurt
½ tsp salt

To make the crust, mix the cornmeal, flour, and salt together. Add in the yogurt and knead until a soft dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and oil a tart or pie pan. Whisk together the milk, eggs, and herbs. In a separate bowl, combine the cheeses. Mix all but ½ cup of the cheese mixture into the eggs along with the green onions, bacon, and bell pepper.

Roll out your crust on a lightly floured surface. Press it into the prepared pan and prick the bottom a couple of times with a fork. Pour the filling evenly into the crust and sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the egg has set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the quiche come to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cheese Lovers Anonymous

I admit it. I am a cheese addict. It's not long before the CLA (Cheese Lovers Anonymous) comes knocking on my door. (It will probably be right after I get a call from Peanut Butter-aholics Anonymous and Oatmeal Fanatics Anonymous.) Honestly at any given time I usually have at least 5 types of cheese in my fridge. My most recent obsession has been Havarti cheese. I love to make it into a quick and simple cheese sauce to mix with spinach and serve over pasta. Are you ready for this amazingness? I hope I don't send anyone out there into a cheese relapse with my delicious recipe for Creamy Havarti Pasta with Spinach. Enjoy!!





Creamy Havarti Pasta with Spinach
8 ounces spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente
1- 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 ounces shredded Havarti cheese
1 ¾ cups milk
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the milk over medium low heat in a large saucepan. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes. Make sure the milk does not boil but simmers lightly. Once thickened, add the cheese, stir to melt, and then remove the saucepan from the stovetop. Evenly toss the pasta and spinach with the sauce and serve.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fried Rice!!

Fried rice is the quintessential quick meal that you can throw together when it's time to clean out the fridge. Leftover rice, chicken, and veggies that may look like they are about to turn are generally not very appealing, but you can make practically anything taste great when you transform it into the beautiful creation that is fried rice. If you don't have leftovers and want to make everything fresh, that's great too. Just make sure your rice is nice and cool before you attempt to fry it up. I just used broccoli, carrots, and green beans, but feel free to mix up the veggies to create your own personalized touch. Snow peas, zucchini, mushrooms, and bean sprouts all go great with fried rice.



 
Chicken and Egg Fried Rice
serves 2
½ cup dry brown rice
½ cup frozen broccoli florets
½ cup frozen green beans
3 eggs
1 tbsp + ½ tsp oil
1 chicken breast
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup diced onion
1-2 tbsp soy sauce (to your own taste)

Bring the rice and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 40 minutes, or until all the water has absorbed. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Stir in ½ tsp oil, the broccoli, and green beans. Allow it to cool and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Preheat your broiler. On a broiler safe pan, cook the chicken breast for 10- 15 minutes, or until it is cooked through, turning over after about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot, and cook for 5 minutes. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and pour them into the pan. Cook until they have set and then scramble them up. Pour in the rice and remaining veggies along with the soy sauce. Cut the chicken into chunks and add it in to. Heat the rice through, stirring often for about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lollipop Cards!

I saw this cool lollipop made out of twine on pinterest and I just had to make a card out of it. It was super simple. All you do is cut out a circle and brush it with liquid glue. Starting at the center slowly wind the twine around the circle until you get to the edge. Cut off the loose ends, stick on a popsicle stick, and glue it onto a card. The end product is a fun and colorful lollipop that jumps out of the card to greet you.