Chex Mix or something like it – round 1

My mom, (here we go again), always made chex mix for Christmas Eve. No idea why really. Actually that is kind of strange – Christmas was always banana nut bread, magic bars, M&M cookies, vanilla taffy, and chex mix, oh, and then the very strange cheese ball that I always made. Once again I mention that. Strange.

Take away story: yes, do let your eleven year-old run Christmas Eve. It makes for some great stories. But not necessarily great cheese balls. Just saying.

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This is so not my mom’s recipe, but mine since I decided to make it for Christmas Eve this year. That said, this is an experiment and I want to see what I like and what I want to change. I think my “part 2” will be for the Super Bowl. Yep.

4 cups Crispix Cereal
8 ozs lightly salted cashews
1 cup pretzels twists
1 cups of bagel chips and/or pita chips
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, bruised – not too mashed
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 tsp ground garlic
1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
good pinch kosher salt

In a heavy bottomed pot over low heat, melt butter with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, ground garlic, Herbs de Provence. Let simmer super low while preheating oven to 250 degrees.

Remove thyme and garlic clove. Add Crispix, cashews, pretzels, and bagel chips to a heavy-duty foil lined baking pan. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and mix well to combine and let soak in just a bit, 2 – 3 minutes. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes and if you are like me adding just a bit more Worcestershire sauce each time. Spread on paper towels to cool and then store in an zip top bag. I plan to make it dinner several times this week. I mean it is cereal for dinner, right?

Modified from : www.halfbakedharvest.com/moms-secret-Christmas-eve-Chex-mix

Guess I’m not the only person who had a mom that made this for Christmas Eve. Cool.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 

So I have been interested in cupcakes and muffins lately, and this was a request – lemon cupcakes. And I also want to use the new cupcake liners that I got from the Amazon. They are really kind of pretty. Not very fall like, but I do like the pink. dd_1645
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in lemon zest.

In a bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and lemon extract. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, folding with a spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Fill muffin cups half full and bake 29 – 31 minutes or until toothpick come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Set on a rack to cool.

Frosting:
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
juice of one lemon and zest that lemon too, if you are going for it. You should
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

I think next time I will leave out the lemon extract from the cupcakes. It just seems to take over. Bugger all. I really think I like lemon extract less as time goes on. No, I know I do.

Cous Cous Salad

Well, I am doing it … again. Making the same recipes over and over because I like them. That said, it does not make for new and exciting things for this blog, but it is true to life and to me that is pretty important. This is how I cook. I make things that make me and mine happy – or sometimes, just me, happy. That is the case with this recipe. It is a combination of flavors that I love. You will also find it in the Asparagus, Red Onion, Orange Juice, White Wine butter sauce pasta. Red onions and orange juice are really amazing together.

It kind of bugs me (no, really bugs me) that I cannot find the source for this recipe – google –  can you not fix this?  Again, another recipe from my vegetarian decade and I so thought this was from The Greens Cook Book, but, alas, no. Still one of my favorite cook books.D&D_1556

1 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup sultanas (or just raisins in this case)
1 medium red onion, sliced into half circles
red wine vinegar – or apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup toasted pecans (or walnuts whatever you have)
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 cup cous cous*
1 Tbs canola oil

In a dry pan, heat nuts until they are just fragrant and slightly toasted. Remove from heat. In a small pot heat water to boil and place red onion in a heat-proof bowl. Add the hot water to the red onions for a few minutes and drain. Set aside and splash with red wine vinegar. Heat orange juice in a pot over medium heat and add sultanas. Add cous cous to the  orange juice mixture and add canola oil. Cover the pot with the lid to steam. Give it a few minutes and then fluff with a fork. Add in scallions, nuts, and red onions (w/the vinegar).  This is pretty damn amazing.

This salad, in my opinion, is great at room temperature and not bad on the cold side either. The vinegar pickles the onions and makes them crunchy and that is just lovely with the cous cous and the soft sultanas and crunchy nuts.

* I have tried this with Israeli cous cous, but prefer the Italian version – smaller, in this case, is better in my opinion.

Steven’s Market Deli – Pace, Florida

I am a bit of a potato salad person. I will pretty much try everyone’s potato salad – it is just a thing for me. It is a measure of how well a restaurant can do something that is relatively simple. I love to make my own, but I also love to try any other version. Steven’s Market Deli caught my attention because they sold German Potato Salad – yes, I just did lots of capital letters there. But I had a real idea of where they procured that German potato salad (yes, I have now relaxed a bit, not so many capital letters), but it was so obvious it was from The Creamery – an excellent Gulf Breeze restaurant that sadly closed not too long after we moved here. I had the fading hope that after The Creamery closed that Steven’s might pick up the idea and make their own German potato salad. They did not, but that was a boon for me because it made me try their traditional potato salad. Damn skippy – that is some really good potato salad. D&D_1494

I used to work at a place very similar to Steven’s Market Deli. It was in Jacksonville and it was a cafe that also had ice cream. Hence, why I am so over ice cream. Serve it enough and you just do not care anymore. This place had a stupid name and though it thought itself a tearoom, it really was a small cute cafe that served croissant sandwiches, quiche, soup, and oddly enough a knockwurst plate with… wait for it … German potato salad. I will say this was my introduction to Twinings tea with my favorite being Earl Grey and that was a very good thing.

Well, once again, I have wondered far afield from where I started. Back to Steven’s Market Deli. Beyond getting potato salad to go, I have had their pork barbecue sandwich with cheddar and it is just amazing! – yes, it deserves the exclamation point. Chicken salad is also really good. And the stuffed grape leaves, sigh. I need to get them more often. I have not been to brunch there, but the menu looks pretty amazing – I just don’t quite get up early enough on the weekend for that. Yep – that is just me.

It seems when I go on the weekend to get potato salad (and next time stuffed grape leaves), there are always high school-aged kids. I think that is cool. And one thing that always impresses me is when I get my potato salad, these high school kids sprinkle the top of the potato salad with paprika and chives. It is just a little attention to detail that endears them to me. They do not have to do that, but they do – and to me that means a great deal. This is the kind of local establishment that I want to, and continue to, frequent. Love local restaurants.

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are so slightly amazing. Think hummus, think salads, and now roasted chickpeas.  I had being seeing recipes for this for a while, but this is the first time I tried it. But as usual, had to make a modification or two. D&D_1489

So this is …

2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed  – yes, that is a must – rinse them. Not kidding.
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
pinch cayenne
1 tsp dried chipotle chili pepper – do love this stuff for the smokey thing going on.
juice of half a lemon
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a roasting pan with foil, for easy clean up.

In a bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil, salt, cayenne, chipotle pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire. Mix to coat. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, mixing the pan and rotating half way through. The chickpeas should be lightly browned. Allow to cool completely.

These were pretty amazing in my opinion. I think they might be good on a salad and they also might pretty good hummus too. Just a thought.

Homemade Boursin

I am a huge fan of Boursin. My spell check wants me to write bourbon but I am not a big fan of that, so that is not going to happen. I think the best Boursin-like cheese I had was in Amsterdam. Lord, there are cheese shops there are on every corner. Yes, I should move there now. I really could live on bread and cheese alone – I am not kidding about this.D&D_1485

We were in Amsterdam when the Boy was about three and a half and he and I would walk along the canals. Such a lovely city. One time there was a what I can only think was a boat full of tourists on the canal and they were video recording the Boy and I (mostly the Boy) on the bridge as they went by. Funny, with his blonde hair and blue eyes, I’m sure they thought he was a native. They recorded a really cute American kid in Amsterdam.

It is a bit of an indulgence, Boursin. It is not cheap, but it is worth it. And to figure out  a way to make it at home would be pretty nice. Even if it is a close approximation I think I will be pretty damn happy with it.

Yes, just bread and some sort of cheese –  No dessert, no chocolate. Not sure I could give up lemons though. Just give me bread and cheese and I will be happy. Yes, very happy.  And beer not giving  that up, forgot to mention that bit. But I do not think that is a big surprise.

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 medium sized shallot, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
2 Tbs chives, minced
a couple or three scallions, minced
Lemon zest, as much as you would like – I lean in favor of quite a bit, but that is me – at least, and then the juice of that lemon too.
Finely ground black pepper, just a few turns

Whir up the shallot in the food processor. Add salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice and whir just a couple more times. Add the cream cheese,  parsley, chives, scallions, and ground pepper.

Pack into a ramekin and cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and chill for an hour and up to five days.  Serve with crostini or some kind of bread thing – so random – toast maybe. I still think that an oven-toasted crostini would be the best delivery vehicle. But now that I have had that, I think a nice soft bit of French bread would also suit well.

I have to say … I really liked this – um, a lot. Probably too much.

Pretzel Toffee

I love toffee. I can’t help myself. And when you pair it with salty pretzels what is not to love?  I am going to plan this carefully – Florida = humidity, but I think past weekend was my time. In May that is a strange land indeed. What the hell, I will give it a go.D&D_1465

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (how would this work if we changed it to brown sugar?)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups of pretzels
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a baking pan with a Silpat. Cover with the pretzels in a single layer. Sprinkle walnuts evenly over the pretzels.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cook until the sugar is light amber in color, about 7 – 10 minutes. It can separate but that’s okay.

Pour sugar mixture over the pretzels with the walnuts. Top with chocolate chips then use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate over the toffee. Cool the toffee in fridge. Then break into big or middle-ish pieces. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Fridge = dry, and in NW Florida, at this time of year, that is a good thing for toffee.