Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Escargots... at Walmart??

A couple of months ago we happened upon a clearance rack at Walmart. To our surprise, there was a package of escargots on the shelf. We glanced at it, then at each other, and decided to give it a go!

The package was a plastic tube with a small can of escargots at the bottom, and shells filling the tube to the top. The instructions were right on the can. It was easy and fun; it was also my first time trying escargots. I was pleasantly surprised.
  1. Start by boiling the shells in water.
  2. Whip up a garlic-butter sauce. Use melted butter, garlic or garlic powder, and perhaps some herbes de Provence. 
  3. Place one shell in each cup in a muffin tin. Pour a little garlic-butter sauce into each shell.
  4. Place one canned snail into each shell. Pour remaining garlic-butter sauce into each shell on top of snail.
  5. Bake. I think it was probably around 10-15 minutes at 375°F or so. The snails are already cooked, but you want them heated through and for the butter to bubble.
  6. Bon Appetit! It would help to have escargots forks to remove the little fellows from the shells, but we don't have any and made do without.

The texture of escargots is slightly chewy - it was very similar to the pasta we were also eating that night, with homemade pesto sauce.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Horchata Mix

Have you ever had horchata, the sweet Mexican rice drink? I think it's delicious. It seems like most people either love it or hate it.

I tried to make horchata from scratch several years ago and it was horrible. Just disgusting.

But fortunately, a few months ago, Thomas tracked down a recipe for horchata mix, which actually makes a yummy horchata. Real horchata does not have milk in it, but this is so good that I do not care that it is less than genuine :) We made a big batch last night for when we hosted our ward's weekly (during the summer) lemonade social.

You can either mix it with water right away, or make the dry mix and store it until your next fiesta.

Also, a note on rice flour: you can buy this product at your grocery store, but if you cannot find it or if you do not want to purchase it in the quantity available, you can take some (dry, uncooked) rice and stick it in your blender. It will make a terrible sound, and you will probably have varying sizes of rice granules in the end, but if you are ok with that it works just fine for horchata.

yields one gallon
6 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk
1/4 cup rice flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp.+ cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla 
1 gallon water
  1. Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Mix into one gallon of water.
  4. Chill for at least an hour for optimal flavor.
  5. Serve cold, with ice if desired.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lentil & Beef Sloppy Joes (& Cheesy Hamburger Buns)

The sloppy Joe: I hadn't had one in years, but one day browsing recipes I saw one for a lentil sloppy Joe. I was intrigued, and it kind of sounded good. I bookmarked it and came back to it a few weeks later. The original recipe I saw did not suit me, so I looked around a bit more and found this one which was a better match for what I had on hand.

You may notice that the recipe I followed calls for 1/2 cup ketchup. In an odd turn of events, we had used more of our ketchup than I had realized (although, honestly, I hate ketchup and didn't check before I started the recipe. When you dislike ketchup like I do you never dream you'll run out... I only use it in recipes, and the only other thing I've used it in that I can think of is meatloaf, maybe twice. We occasionally have hot dogs or other dishes that Thomas likes ketchup as a condiment on, but I really didn't think we'd have less than 1/2 cup!). Pondering possible substitutions, I came up with barbecue sauce or tomato sauce. I asked Thomas' opinion and we decided to try the barbecue sauce. It was a success! It added a really nice flavor and sweetness that I don't think it would have had otherwise. In the future I think I will always do half ketchup and half barbecue sauce.

Lentil & Beef Sloppy Joes

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried brown lentils
~1 cup water
1/4 tsp. oregano
8 ounces ground beef
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  1. Sauté onion, carrot, bell pepper, and ketchup in vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and continue to cook for about a minute.
  2. Add lentils, oregano, and water. Boil about 5 minutes, then reduce heat and cover, simmering about 35 minutes. Check occasionally to ensure there is enough water. Add more water in 1/4 cup increments if necessary.
  3. In the meantime, brown ground beef in a skillet. Drain off fat.
  4. To ground beef, add Worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauce, stirring until combined.
  5. Add fully cooked ground beef mixture to lentil mixture. Continue cooking until lentils are done.
  6. Serve hot, on hamburger buns.
I don't keep hamburger buns around, so I made my own to go with my sloppy Joes. I used this recipe. They turned out pretty good, but I did goof up a little: where the recipe said to make 6 buns, I split my dough 6 ways and ended up with 6 buns, but they were such a funny shape I couldn't justify slicing them. The result was basically 6 bun halves. Which was fine, but they were kind of big and it would have been better to have 6 actual buns. So, if you want 6 buns, divide your dough 12 ways...

Cheesy Hamburger Buns

2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
4 Tbsp. softened butter
1 large egg
2/3-3/4 cup lukewarm water
  1. Mix all ingredients until well combined, sticky, and gooey. Cover and let rise about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Divide dough (taking into account my advice above). Your dough will still be sticky. You can add a little bit of flour to make this process less messy. Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Shape into small rounds. The original recipe uses a hamburger bun pan. I used a baking sheet, which resulted in misshapen buns, but it's what I had :o)
  4. Let rise another 30-60 minutes, or longer if you have time.
  5. Bake about 20 minutes.

Curried Chicken, Lentils & Rice

In an attempt to eat a healthier diet, I've been trying some new recipes lately. I was seeking lentil recipes when I came across this one. Although the original recipe is missing some information, I made some guesses and have come up with a dish that I like quite a bit.

The combination of spices in this turns out a pretty hot dish. I've played around with it a little (I think the ginger is what really gives it its kick, along with the chili flakes) but have not yet successfully toned it down (I have only made it about 3 times). So, if you don't like spicy, you might want to skip this recipe.

Curried Chicken, Lentils & Rice

2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (I've used a handful of dehydrated onion)
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup brown lentils
3/4 cup rice (I've used long-grain white rice; the original recipe suggests Basmati, I bet brown rice would be pretty good)
1/2 cup minced carrot (I've used a small handful of dehydrated carrots)
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
2 cups chicken broth/bouillon
~1 lb. chicken breast, cut to about 1" cubes
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves (optional; it's good with it, but if you don't have spinach, it's fine without)
  1. Combine olive oil, onion, curry powder, ginger and cumin in a saucepan. Sauté on medium-high heat 4-5 minutes until onions are transparent. 
  2. Add the lentils, rice, carrot, and red chili flakes, stirring to coat with spice mixture. Pour in chicken broth. Turn heat down, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes. Check occasionally to be sure it is not dry; you can add water about 1/4 cup at a time if it looks too dry.
  3. In the meantime, stir-fry chicken cubes in a separate pan with a little bit of oil until cooked through. Season to taste with salt, pepper, perhaps some garlic powder.
  4. Add cooked chicken and lemon juice to saucepan with rice and lentil mixture. Cook another 5-10 minutes, covered, until rice and lentils are done.
  5. Remove from heat; stir in chopped spinach leaves. Cover and let sit 5-10 minutes, until spinach has wilted.
  6. Serve hot. The original recipe calls for serving with a minted yogurt garnish.