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For the Birds {recipe: nut and seed biscotti}

28 May

Recently, Rocky has really become quite the watchdog. We have a picnic table in the backyard and he takes the liberty to sit on top of it. From there, he can see into a few of our neighbors’ yards and also moniter all bird activity in a 100-yard radius. Oh, how he would love to snag a bird. I even got a birdhouse that Jon put up in the back yard to entice the birds to come into the back yard and entertain him.

It is all very cute.The bridge here is that this biscotti is maybe a little like bird food. It is full of toasted nuts and seeds and whole wheat flour.I like to say that this is a biscotti for the tea drinkers. It’s not heavy and doesn’t need the sweetness that normal biscotti does to hold its own against bitter coffee. This biscotti is perfect with a cup of herbal tea. I am going to recommend something like a tarragon lemon tea. Yes that would be perfect.

Nut and Seed Biscotti

This is totally not my recipe at all. It came from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. Her site is full of recipes and fabulous.

makes about 15 pieces.
1 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I used a combo of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sliced almonds, and pistacios)
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup natural cane sugar, fine grain
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Rack in the middle. Lightly butter or oil a 1-pound loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

If you are using any whole nute, place them in a plastic bag or between two sheets of waxed paper. Bang them with a meat tenderizer or a wooden spoon or rolling pin to get them into smaller pieces.

Combine the flour, nuts and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl whisk together eggs and sugar. Add the flour-nut mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined. The dough will be quite thick. Scoop into the prepared pan and press the dough into place using damp fingertips. You want to be sure everything is nice and compact, level on top, with no air bubbles hiding in there. Bake for 45-50 minutes – or until the loaf tests done. If you under-cook the loaf at this stage, it makes slicing difficult. Remove loaf from the oven, and turn the oven up to 425F.

Immediately run a sharp knife around the perimeter of the loaf, remove it from pan, and set the loaf upside down on a cutting board. Using a thin serrated knife (or the thinnest, sharpest knife you have), slice the loaf into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet. brush tops with a bit of olive oil and bake for 3-4 minutes or until the bottoms are a touch golden and toasty. Pull them out of the oven, flip each one, and brush the other side with olive oil. Bake for another 4-5 minutes or until nice and crisp. Let cool.

Here are some pics of the other animals, you know, so they don’t get jealous.

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Mojitos and Tamale Cornbread Casserole

22 May

Some of our friends have a garden in their backyard (this is very impressive as we know few people with houses and even less with gardens) and are growing some herbs and veggies for the summer season. This weekend, I benefited from the mint plant in their backyard. Amanda came over this weekend to lay out by the pool with me (our perk for living in an apartment complex) with the mint, some mango rum, and club soda…and Saturday afternoon Mojitos were born.

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I didn’t even think I liked rum (maybe because we’ve always bought the cheap stuff) but Amanda brought some Mango rum from St. Croix that was very, very good. So good, in fact, that we made them again tonight! Note to Amanda: according to how the grocery store values Mint…you have at least $100 of it if your garden

Mango Mojitos

serves 2.

16 mint leaves

4 T. sugar

1 lime

16 oz club soda

3 oz. Cruzian Mango Rum

Chop mint leaves and divide between two glasses.

Put 2 T. sugar in each glass. If you have a muddler –now is your chance to show it off, if not–a wooden spoon works just fine: crush the mint and sugar together in the bottom of the glass, you are trying to release the mint flavors from the leaves and mix them with the sugar.

Cut lime in half, squeeze each half into a glass and drop the lime into the glass.

Fill glass 3/4 full with ice (this will keep all og the mint from immediately floating.

Add 8oz club soda and 1.5oz rum to each glass.

Stir. Insert straw. Enjoy.

(To complement the mojitos) we had this Tamale cornbread casserole.

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This casserole really does not resemble tamales at all, but it is very good, easy, healthy and quite cheap-all things we like. I am not crazy about corn tortillas, but this recipe gets the corn feature of tamales into the dish with cornbread, which I love. The sweet flavour of the cornbread complements the spicy chile powder and the bite of the green chiles. I used pepper jack cheese in the recipe for an extra kick, but you could use cheddar for a sharper taste, or american for a more mild taste.

Tamale Cornbread Casserole

adapted from Hands-Off Cooking: Low-Supervision, High-Flavor Meals for Busy People, Ann Martin Rolke

serves 4.

3/4 pounds lean ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons chile powder (more or less to taste)

2 teaspoons cumin (more or less to taste)

1 (28 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained (Muir Glen makes the best ones around, but I can’t always find them at all grocery stores. Down south, HEB and Randall’s usually have them)

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained,

1 (16 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced ripe olives

3/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese (about 3 ounces)

1-pound of Jiffy cornbread mix prepared with 1/3 c. milk and 1 egg as directed.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat ground beef in a large skillet on medium high. Add the onion and bell pepper. Add salt, chile powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef has browned. Remove from heat. Drain excess fat if necessary (if you are using lean beef, there shouldn’t be excess).

Mix in fire-roasted tomatoes, chiles, corn and olives

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Grease an 8×8 pan and spoon in filling.

Top with shredded cheese.

Spread prepared cornbread as top layer over cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned.

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