Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sriracha Deviled Eggs

Finally, summer arrived in Oregon! Well, it did last weekend at least. I spent the weekend with pals bumming around a swim hole, celebrating a close friend's 30th birthday. Beautiful, right? I hope to have many more days like this in the near future.

Back to cooking...the other day I found myself with an abundance of eggs in the house. What does that mean? Why, deviled eggs of course! And not just any deviled eggs, Sriracha Deviled Eggs!

I know there are a few dozen different versions of deviled eggs out there, but this one is the one! Slight sweet, yet spicy. Delicious and filling. Trust me, you will want to make this recipe soon. It's a perfect addition to any BBQ or cookout.

I adapted this recipe from Cook The Book, removing the chives and lime and adding a lot more flavor (at least in my opinion). Don't fret if you are unsure how to hard boil eggs. A post will follow in the coming days with tips on how to make it through a hard boil without losing most of your egg. Now go out and enjoy some summer!

Sriracha Deviled Eggs
Adapted from: Cook The Book 

  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/3 c mayo
  • 4-6 tbsp sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp horseradish 
  • 3/4 tsp dijon mustard 
  • 1 tsp sweet mustard
  • 1 tsp white wine mustard
  • 1/2 tsp spicy brown mustard 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

In a medium bowl, mix together the mayo, mustards, and horseradish. Refrigerate promptly. Split the eggs in half lengthwise. Remove the egg yolks. Using a fork, break up the yolks in a mixing bowl. Stir in the Sriracha Mayo, salt, pepper, dill and smoked paprika. Blend well. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip or use a ziplock bag with one corner snipped off and pipe the yolk mixture back into the egg whites. Top with a pinch more of smoked paprika, dill, salt and pepper. Serve or cover and refrigerate immediately.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

One can never have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes, at least not in my book. And this is definitely a good one to add to your collection! This recipe is a good mix of chewy yet chocolaty, delicious yet satisfying. Isn't that apparent by the happiness seen on my face as I shove this cookie in my mouth? Yes, I am a total ham if it means getting a few laughs.

This recipe was discovered over at Bake or Break and is a goody to keep in the recipe box. My changes included adding almond extract, using my farm fresh eggs, trading out the chocolate bar for actual chocolate chips, and omitting the nuts this time around. The trick to the amazing chewiness? Blending the oats in a food processor first! Seriously, try it. The results are both surprising and tasty. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted From: Bake or Break 

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked regular oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 375°.
Beat butter at medium speed in a heavy-duty mixer until creamy. This can take up to 3 or 4 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the edges of the bowl in between. Gradually add sugars and beat well. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, beating well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bakings soda, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and beat well.
Process oats in a food processor until finely ground. Add to butter mixture and beat well. Stir in chocolates.
Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly on baking sheets. Then, remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Chicken News...

The weather here in our corner of Oregon has been less than summer like of late. Rain when there should be sunshine, clouds when we should have blue skies on the horizon. It makes for an unhappy garden and testy chickens. Come back soon, sun!!

The flock integration continues, although not with as much success as I had hoped. The older gals still pick on the pullets, sometimes with a streak of meanness, yet the younger ladies are slowly fighting back. The two flocks still maintain separate space for most of the time, however they have formed this habit of hanging out in each others hen houses (trading spaces chicken style?).

Most mornings involve me rushing outside at the sound of an unhappy feathered lady to play mediator in the chicken hierarchy that is my backyard. After some feather flapping and squawking, things calm down until the next incident (hence why I'm so unproductive...well, there may be other reasons too).

With the garden finally producing some crops, they ladies have been getting their usual summer spoiling with fresh veggie treats. They've also witnessed the slow transformation of the garden, with the addition of a new bark mulch (or is it barkamulch) path. The plus side for the chickens - they get to chow down on all the weeds I yanked out of the garden path. Win win for everyone!

LeLu is still the sweetest of all of the feathered ladies. Both her comb and wattle have come in nicely, turning a beautiful color red. Signs of a good layer-to-be! One of my most favorite things to do is to pick her up, take a lazy stroll with her tucked under my arm, and sing to her in a low, melodic voice. Yep, I'm the crazy chicken lady. No fighting it any longer!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Basil Quinoa Salad & Pork Chop!

I confess. I have a new love in my life. He's sweet as can be, loves to cuddle, and is very much overweight. Foodie friends, meet Pork Chop! Also known as Gordon, Gordy, Gordo, Tubbers, Chub Chub...he is a cat of many names and faces (chubby ones).

Through a roundabout way, Pork Chop was welcomed into our home recently and is a wonderful addition to the urban homestead. He is an indoor kitty due to being declawed (not my doing, and yes, I agree it is pretty indecent to cut a cat's claws out) and has yet to discovered the chickens. However, he has made friends with our outdoor neighborhood kitty, Sophie, and seems to be settling in just fine.

His favorite hobbies: sleeping, eating, sleeping more, waddling around the house, sleeping in front of the window, waking me up at 6 am. We should get along fabulously! And I haven't told him yet, but he is going to lose some weight if I have my say...he is nearly 20 lbs at the moment.

For the holiday weekend a few weeks ago, friends and neighbors came by to play some lawn sports and have a few beers. In an effort to keep us more or less sober and healthy, I searched high and low for a quinoa salad I hadn't yet tried - something quite difficult as I eat a lot of quinoa!

Randomly, I stumbled across this Care2 recipe and thought it sounded scrumptious for a hot summer day (it never gets THAT hot here in Eugene). After sitting overnight in my fridge, this salad was delicious! It's vegan, can be made with some local ingredients, is fast and easy. All wins in my book!

BBQ goers gave some pretty good feedback on this recipe and I plan to make more of it soon. It has lots of room for personal taste changes, adaptations, etc. and deserves a place at the picnic table. Enjoy and happy summer! If you live in the area, Pork Chop always likes meeting new people. ;)

Basil Quinoa Salad
Adapted from: Summer Basil Quinoa Salad 

  • 1 cup Quinoa-rinsed
  • 1/8 c sweet Texas onion, diced
  • 1/8 c red onion, diced 
  • 2 whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice 
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard - I used a 4 mustard combo from my bridge
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the quinoa, cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or until water is fully absorbed. Set aside and let cool.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients except the olive oil. When combined, slowly whisk in olive oil, a little at a time to allow oil and vinegar to mix.
Toss all salad ingredients with dressing and garnish with nuts if available (toasted pine nuts, almonds, or hazelnuts are wonderful). 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Carrot Cake Squares, Frosting For The Cause

*Quick Note: Many thanks to Paula and Frosting for the Cause for allowing me to contribute as well as Janel for letting me take a few moments to share her story! Check out the simultaneous post over at Frosting for the Cause.*

It took me years to discover my health and its importance in my life, even more so that I should take it seriously. One of the catalysts happened to be a work colleague and friend, Janel, whom I frequently crossed paths with at conferences around the country. She was in the most phenomenal shape, getting runs in before conference sessions, eating healthy even while out on the road. Observing her energy and zest for life led me to realize that I wanted to feel the same way too, and shortly thereafter I discovered I was a runner.

Janel (right) enjoying Race For The Cure with her friend Phyllis (left), also a survivor.

When I found out that Janel had been diagnosed with Stage I bilateral breast cancer last year, I had a reality check. How could this be, she was one of the healthiest folks I knew? This wasn't fair! It turned out Janel carried the gene, BRCA2 mutation, which put her at risk for several types of cancer. From the beginning she adopted the mindset that she would overcome the illness and fight, and she never wavered from this view. She opted for a nipple sparing bilateral mastectomy (both sides), with rounds of chemotherapy, and eventually reconstruction surgery earlier this year. It was a long and painful road, but she pushed through her pain and suffering. After being down for 6 months, she was able to go for her first run late this spring.

If you haven’t figured this out yet, I have a huge crush on Janel and consider her one of my heroes these days. Instead of letting her cancer take control of her life, Janel took control of it with grace and style. Her struggle brought her closer to her loving husband and supportive family, it allowed her to have greater empathy for others, especially seniors, and she became a lifelong spokesperson for cancer awareness. Her ‘incredible network of strength’ came from both her strong will to live a long and healthy life as well as her amazing group of friends, family, and loved ones.

If you ask Janel about her battle with cancer, you might be surprised to hear her speak so openly about it. The first lesson she says she walked away from the situation with is to let people help you. Cancer can be quite scary for the individual diagnosed, but it is just as scary for the people that care about that person. By letting others help it allows them the ability to work through the process of acceptance. The second lesson Janel says she learned from her struggle with cancer is how important exercise is in your life. She had always been an active person before cancer, which likely helped play into her solid recovery, however even more so now that she has experienced one of the greatest feats in her life. Being able to get outside for a daily walk during her recovery made all the difference for both her body and her mind.

Once I discovered Frosting for the Cause and its mission, I instantly signed up with Janel in mind. What better way to showcase a delightful person and her strength?! As per her request, a batch of Carrot Cake Squares was delivered to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society here in Eugene this week. Needless to say the office was overjoyed with the unexpected gifts and their hearts deeply touched by Janel’s story. Please feel free to share in our foodie joy by making a batch of these gems for yourself, enjoy! 

Carrot Cake Squares
  • 2 c flour
  • ½ c flaxmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 carrots, shredded (roughly 2 cups)
  • 1 – 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 ¼ c applesauce
  • ¾ c brown sugar
  • ¾ c white sugar
  • ¼ c raisins
  • ½ c walnuts
  • 1 ½ packages of reduced cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ½ sticks of butter, room temperature
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Zest of one lime
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9"x13" pan. 

Sift together the flour, flaxmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. If some of the flaxmeal seeds doing get easily sifted, add them back to the mix. 

In a separate bowl, mix together the applesauce and eggs. Next add the sugars, and oil, then mix well. Finally, add the pineapple and carrots and mix. 

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, until well incorporated. Then add the walnuts and raisins. When everything is well mixed, add the mix to the floured pan. 

Bake at 350 F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. It doesn't hurt to check on the pan after about 30 minutes in the oven to ensure consistent cooking. Rotate the pan once halfway through baking. After baking, remove from the oven and let cool for half an hour. When ready, flip the pan over and remove the cake. Continue to let cool. 

To prepare the frosting, combine the butter and cream cheese in a bowl with an electric mixer. Beat for 3 or 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides, until well blended. Then add the powdered sugar, lime and lemon juices, and lime zest. Beat on high for at least a minute, scraping down the sides once. If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more juice. If the frosting is too thing, add more powdered sugar. Once the correct consistency has been reached, spread the frosting over the surface of the cake in one very thick layer. Using a sharp clean knife that gets wiped off in between each cut, cut the cake into small squares. Use paper cupcake liners to hold and present the squares. Decorate as your heart desires!