Jalapeño Coleslaw

Summer is all about cookouts, and with it being late summer, these gatherings are still in full force. I’m not complaining one bit – the next few weekends for us are filled with plenty of get-togethers with friends and family. Obviously, it’s good to have several ‘entertaining’ dishes up your sleeve for these occasions.

My husband is a big fan of coleslaw. With me, I could take it or leave it – at least, the stuff that you see pre-made at the deli and/or sold in bulk. I had never tried my hand at homemade coleslaw up until a week or two ago. Now that I have, it might be safe to say that I’ve turned a corner of sorts.

Don’t let the name fool you – this coleslaw does have a jalapeno pepper in it, but it isn’t overpowering at all. It gives just a bit of a bite.

Jalapeño Coleslaw

adapted from Serious Eats

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped – I used the stuff that they sell in the tube. Love it.
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the Slaw:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots; peeled and grated
  • 1 large jalapeno – stemmed, seeded and diced (unless you want it super hot)
  1. Make the dressing: whisk together all dressing ingredients. Set aside (or in the refrigerator).
  2. Make the slaw: Using a mandolin, shred the cabbage; if you don’t have one, then finely chop it by hand.
  3. Combine the cabbage, carrot and jalapeno in a large bowl. If serving right away, pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Add salt, pepper and/or sugar and season to taste. If serving later, refrigerate the slaw until ready to serve (or transport in a cooler). Mix everything together when it’s time to eat.
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I know, I know. Functionality over plating…

 

I really enjoyed this dish. We brought it over to a friend’s house for a cookout where they were serving pulled pork sandwiches. It paired really well together. The cumin, lime juice and pepper give this coleslaw a Southwestern flair to it; you could easily serve this with chicken or with fish tacos, too. It tastes wonderfully fresh and beats the store-bought slaw, hands down. Then again, homemade dishes beat store-bought ones anyways, right?

They say Labor Day is the end of summer, but don’t let it – keep on enjoying this great weather!

Crew Picnic Pepper Relish

Happy Halloween! 🙂

Tonight we’re having some friends over to help pass out candy (they barely get trick-or-treaters at their house), play a game or two, & have some pizza. We are having a very rainy day today up here and I’m a little thankful that I don’t have a little one to take around door-to-door tonight. 🙂

Today’s recipe is a bit on the side of “Throwback Thursday” as it takes me back to fond memories from high school. Back then, I was very active in not only the music department, but the drama department. I loved to participate on the stage, but as I got older I started to get more hands-on with stage production. The group of people I met while on stage crew are still many of my friends to date, even though it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school (whoa.).

dianne

Diiiiannnne!

As a high school teacher now, I completely understand what our fearless leader & brave supervisor-adult Dianne meant when she said we were giving her grey hair. I could write, and write, and write about all the hilarity that ensued during those hours I spent after school. But, some stories are best kept amongst “the few, the proud, the crew”. 😉 One of our many traditions was the “crew barbecue” (or as our fearless leader, Dianne called it, the crew picnic). We’d all come in on a Saturday (we’d normally just meet after school) and work on sets, painting, etc., all while having a grand old time goofing around and pulling shenanigans. For lunch, we would fire up a grill and grill out some hambugers. Dianne would bring this pepper relish that she made herself during the summer.

hamburgers

Grilling at a crew barbecue

While I’m not sure if I was the only kid that ate it, what I do know is that for at least three of crew barbecues (we had one for every show, even when it was snowing), I would end up coming home with a jar of pepper relish and proceed to eat with sandwiches, crackers, hambugers, hotdogs, you name it.

I’ve seen Dianne several times since I’ve graduated high school and I’ve actually even met up with her twice since I’ve moved to northern Michigan…it’s a small world after all, and she has a family cabin about a half hour away from us and come up here every once in a while. We have plenty more to catch up on other than stage crew and pepper relish (she had a lot of fun touring our house and giving her two cents on what the original floorplan probably was – I tell ya she is one smart woman).

This past summer, with the exhorbitant amount of peppers in my fridge (about 4-5 different varieties and 30+ to count) I needed to do something with them. And I had a major taste for some pepper relish. So, I got to work doing some research to see what I could come up with on my own…and I came up with something pretty close. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and savory, with a bit of a bite, because I used some jalapenos & serranos.

Pepper Relish

Inspired by BonAppetit, Diana Rattray, and of course, Dianne

  • 20 peppers – you can adjust the ratios to your pepper preference*
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt

* I used 5 jalapenos, 6 green/purple peppers, and 9 sweet peppers (some were the small, sweet peppers)

  1. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Wash all of your peppers, chop them up, and add them to the pot. Chop your onion and add it in as well.
  2. Cook down the peppers until they are nice and soft – about an hour. Do not let them burn; turn down the heat as necessary. Let cool when finished (they will cook down).
  3. Use a food processor to chop the pepper mixture down to a relish-sized texture. One all the mixture has been processed, put it back into the pot and add the vinegar, sugar and salt.
  4. Boil the peppers for 15 minutes until everything is evenly distributed.
  5. Store in a glass jar. This made a pint and a half for me.

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So far I’ve managed to eat this on pulled pork, sloppy joes, and turkey sandwiches. I just can’t get enough! It is awesome. I’m not sure how long this will keep in the fridge, but I’m pretty sure that it will last me for a little while. If you make more than one batch, the processing time is either 10 or 15 minutes – honestly, I don’t remember what I read in the planning stages.

All I can currently think about is how this would also be fantastic with cream cheese and crackers. Mmmm.

I hope you all enjoy your evening tonight, be it with your young’ins, just passing out candy, watching scary movies (not my thing much to my husband’s dismay), playing games, or just relaxing 🙂

 

Cheddar Jalapeño Bread

This is one of those recipes that I had read about on another blog, and just couldn’t get out of my head for weeks. I knew I had to make it! I love cheese, and I love jalapeños…what more could I ask for? I even got to break in the dough hook that I received with my Kitchenaid mixer.

Now granted, this isn’t a good bread for making sandwiches. It’s a good bread to eat for a snack, or along with a hot bowl of soup or chili – which we did this evening since it feels like October outside (back to perfect weather tomorrow, though!). I also recommend this bread with just a smear of butter/margarine. But, no matter what the weather or way you eat it, it’s pretty darn good.

Cheddar Jalapeño Bread

adapted from Wit & Vinegar

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 oz sharp cheddar, cut into cubes
  • 1 medium jalapeño, deseeded & chopped fine – make sure to wear gloves if you can!
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 400*. Grease two 5×9 bread pans (or just the one, like I have)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Add the butter and mix well (either with your hands or with your dough hook in your mixer) until the butter is broken up and well-distributed in the flour – kind of like ‘grains of sand’. Add the cheese and jalapeño.
  4. Add the buttermilk and mix until it combines – try not to overmix it.
  5. Divide the dough half and place each half in a loaf pan – or just leave the other half of the dough in the bowl. Smooth out the top and etch a few slits into the top.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minute until a nice golden brown.
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Don’t judge a bread by it’s shape. I’ll admit, my loaf is ugly.

Since I only had one loaf pan, I simply let it cool, removed the loaf of bread, sprayed the pan again, and prepared the 2nd loaf; half of which went to our neighbor.

The jalapeños in the bread give it some heat every other bite, while the cheddar cheese is also quite pronounced. My bread didn’t turn out very ‘pretty’, as I veered from the recipe a bit. I also used whole wheat flour, as that’s what I had on hand.

I’ll be making this again once soup season is in full swing. Until then, though, I’ll simply enjoy the rest of summer weather and some of this bread to snack on 🙂

Buffalo Chili

This post is long overdue – I made this recipe over a month ago and just never got around to blogging about it. But trust me, it will be worth the wait.

One of the guys my husband works with owns a bison farm – Jordan Valley Bison. Random, right? Well, a lot of people up here do farming, canning, or hunting of some sort – so I suppose in retrospect it’s not too strange. My husband & I are not hunters by any means, but I did start canning last summer; we also have a vegetable garden once again this year which I hope will be much more plentiful than last year’s.

We purchased some bison at our local farmer’s market and my husband made sure to say hello to his friend’s wife, as his friend was working at the foundry that morning. She had lots of great suggestions for how to use the bison that we were purchasing – and gave us probably 3 or 4 different recipes. We chose this one! 🙂

Buffalo Chili – adapted from Jordan Valley Bison

  • 1 lb bison burger
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 peppers (red, yellow, orange or green)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dark chili powder (I used powdered smoked adobo chiles)
  • 2 tbsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 46 oz. tomato juice (low sodium)
  • 28 oz stewed tomatoes (chopped fine)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 can light red kidney beans (drained & washed)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beants (drained & washed)
  • 1 can black beans (drained & washed)
  1. In a large stockpot, carmelize the onion & celery with a good splash of olive oil.
  2. Add the bison burger on top, flipping/mixing once, and breaking into smaller 1-inch chunks.
  3. Add garlic & peppers. Stir to combine.
  4. Add remaining ingredients & simmer for two hours on medium heat. Enjoy!
The photo is unappealing, but the flavor is delicious!

The photo is unappealing, but the flavor is delicious!

If you are not adverse to trying bison/buffalo, I highly recommend it. It has a bit of a gamier taste than beef, but is actually very lean. As you know, locally raised is definitely the way to go on this one 🙂

We made this dish on a cold, chilly Sunday – and it really hit the spot! I liked how many vegetables were incorporated into this chili. It also made a lot of leftovers, which were great the next day or two for Mike’s lunches.

It’s really neat to be able to really KNOW where your food is coming from and to know the people who are taking care of food for you. The amount of local products (and the quality!) available up here in northern Michigan still astounds me – and I love it.

Szechuan Pork Stir-Fry

For those nights when I have few vegetables in the refrigerator, and not a lot of time to cook something complicated, a stir-fry is usually the best thing to cook. I love how easy they are to throw together, and how something so incredibly simple can taste delicious and be good for you, too!

This recipe was bookmarked (okay, Post-It noted) in my awesome Cooking Light cookbook for over a year, and I just never got around to making it. I’m glad that I finally did, as we both really enjoyed it. The best part is that it was easy, and was ready very, very quickly – a must when you leave work late, leave the gym late, and get home late!

Szechuan Pork – adapted from Cooking Light

  • 6 oz udon noodles, precooked (we use the ‘Ka-Me’ brand & found it at Meijer)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb pork, trimmed & cut into 2-inch strips (we used boneless pork chops)
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter (can be omitted if needed)
  • 4 green onions, sliced diagonally
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan & swirl to coat.
  2. Add pork and chili garlic sauce, followed by the ginger. Stir fry for two minutes, then add the bell pepper.
  3. After another 2 minutes, add the both, soy sauce, and peanut butter. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce starts to thicken.
  4. Stir in the onions. Add the udon noodles and toss well to combine.
  5. Serve nice and hot!
A quick stir-fry for a busy night!

A quick stir-fry for a busy night!

I’d say that from start to finish, this dinner took 30 minutes, tops! It was quick, easy, and tasted absolutely fantastic. At first I was a tad skeptical about adding peanut butter – of all things?! – to this dish, but it really took it to the next level. Trust me – don’t leave it out if you can help it.

Mike & I recently discovered these precooked udon noodles at one of our grocery stores, and we can’t get enough of them in our stir-fry’s as of late. If you want, you can simply omit and serve with rice instead.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Every now and then my husband reminds me that I do, in fact, like shellfish, and should cook some for dinner. I’m not a culinary expert when it comes to making anything seafood-related, but I can hold my own. Needless to say, when he suggested that I make a shrimp pasta for dinner, I immediately knew what dish I wanted to make.

With the help of the awesome Giada de Laurentis, I cooked up a delicious, spicy, garlicky shrimp pasta dish that hit the spot. I received her cookbook Everyday Italian for Christmas a few years ago – and being Italian, this is a great resource for making dishes that I should be stereotypically good at (which, not to brag or anything – I am 🙂 ) When I have a taste for Italian food, this the book that I go to for any inspiration. I highly recommend it.*

Shrimp Fra Diavolo, with Linguine – adapted from Giada de Laurentis

  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1.5 tbsp dried basil
  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high. Add the shrimp & saute until cooked through & pink. Remove & set aside. (NOTE: If you are using precooked shrimp, don’t add it now. Add it at Step 3.)
  2. Add onion and saute until they start to become translucent. Add tomatoes, wine, garlic, and oregano, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken.
  3. Add the shrimp to the sauce & toss around to coat/reheat the shrimp. Remove from heat & add parsley and basil. Season with more salt and red pepper.
  4. Serve either atop fresh cooked linguine, or all by itself in a shallow bowl, with some fresh bread.
Shrimp fra Dialvolo, with linguine & the best bread in the world

Shrimp fra Diavolo, with linguine & the best bread in the world

The bread, above, is Pepper Parmesan bread, from my favorite bakery, Crooked Tree Breadworks. I worked there last summer & will probably be doing a few shifts there this coming summer to make some extra cash & work with the awesome people there. (FYI – You can buy their products online, and I swear to you, they are worth every frickin’ penny*).

This dish, I said before, can be served either with the pasta, as I did, or alone by itself in a bowl – maybe even atop spinach instead; I may need to try that next time!

In other news – it’s raining, and not snowing. I’m very thankful for this brief respite from snow.

Happy Sunday, everyone 🙂

*No, I am not getting paid to talk up these things. I just like them, and use them, and thus highly recommend them!

Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry

I love stir-fries for two reasons: 1) lots of veggies, and 2) lots of flavors. I can’t seem to successfully make a really AWESOME stir-fry unless I have a recipe to go with it. Throwing veggies in? Not a problem. The sauce? Well…still working on my own concoction.

When I saw this recipe in my Jan ’13 issue of Cooking Light, I was intrigued by the usage of lemongrass (which I have in my cupboard, dried) and green beans in the veggies list. I decided to make this for dinner one evening after work, and it was definitely a hit.

Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry – adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • 2 tbsp canola oil (divided)
  • 2 tsp dried lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 8-oz green beans, trimmed
  • 1 lb boneless&skinless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1 Thai chile, thinly sliced (I had a whole cayenne pepper frozen in my freezer from summer, so I used that).
  1. Combine brown sugar, stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sambal oelek in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large work or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of the oil & swirl to coat the pan.
  3. Add lemongrass & garlic; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Turn heat up to high. Add bell pepper, shallots, & green beans to the pan & stir fry for two minutes. Remove all vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon & set aside in a bowl.
  4. Add remaining oil to pan & swirl to coat. Add chicken and cook until browned (2-3 minutes).
  5. Add cashews & chile & cook for about two minutes. Then, add the vegetables back in and the sauce mixture.
  6. Bring to a boil & cook until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.
Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

When I was younger, I was not a huge fan of dark-meat chicken, especially chicken thighs. The more I cook, the more I have noticed that they have a very rich flavor and are especially great with Asian cuisine. I do my best to cut off as much fat as possible, but am definitely not as wary about using them as I used to be.

I served our stir-fry with some ready-to-serve udon noodles that I found at my grocery store. Since they were pre-cooked, I threw them into the wok when I added the vegetables back in. They were absolutely fantastic & I highly recommend you try them. I think I like them better than the dried rice noodles I normally buy.

The only thing I did not enjoy about this dish was – believe it or not – the green beans! I would have much rather preferred carrots or zucchini in the stir-fry. They tasted okay, but it just didn’t seem ‘right’ to have them in there. One part of this dish that I suggest you don’t leave out is the cashews – that is, of course, unless you or someone in your home has a nut allergy. They added a really good texture to the dish and I was surprised at how much I enjoy them. I am looking forward to making this dish in the summer, when more vegetables are in season. This stir-fry is definitely in my arsenal for dishes to repeat!

As far as the spiciness is concerned – I personally needed more punch. If you like, you can add more sambal oelek for some more heat. Or, of course, sriracha…

…speaking of which – have any of you out there tried those new Sriracha chips from Lays? 🙂 YUM!