CIC: Cauliflower & Cheese

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Hey I made it! Talk about procrastination. I made my Crazy Ingredient Challenge dish yesterday during the little man’s naptime. I had to do this during naptime because it required the food processor and my little man absolutely hates it when we run the Ninja. I’m talking completely loses it with big ole alligator tears. We try taking him over to the machine and even let him help push the buttons, trying to prove that we are in control of the loud noise, but it’s not working. So, I prefer to wait to use it if I’m the only one home.

The ingredients that won the vote this month are Cauliflower and Cheese – any kind of cheese! I thought first of doing mashed cauliflower and potatoes with cream cheese. But we had mashed potatoes earlier this week. I really wanted to try a cauliflower crust pizza, but knew I wouldn’t have the time to get that done. (It’s still on my bucket list though.)

I have been keeping a bean dip in the fridge for my afternoon snacks, either hummus or black bean, and thought that’d be a great way to “sneak” cauliflower into the menu. The cheese I decided to use was Parmesan. This dip ended up reminding me of pizza (I now see how cauliflower works in place of crust) so I added some oregano to the mix, if I had sun-dried tomatoes that would’ve gone in too! Veggies are a perfect healthy dipper but pita chips or even whole grain tortilla chips work nicely too.

Cauliflower Bean Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 1 can (15oz) great north beans (or any white bean), drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
  • zest 1 Meyer lemon
  • juice 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Break cauliflower into florets, about 1″ in size. Place on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil. Bake 25 minutes, until lightly golden.
  3. In a large food process, pulse beans, roasted cauliflower, cheese, zest and juice of the lemon, garlic, oregano, S+P, and up to 1/4 C water. Pulse until smooth. Season to taste with additional S+P if needed.

*This recipe is modified from Lauren at http://www.fromthelittleyellowkitchen.com/2012/02/22/roasted-cauliflower-white-bean-dip/*

Cauliflower Bean Dip | Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge click on the link below.

Fried Lemon and Chicken Wraps

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Today I unveil my first New Years Resolution Original Recipe Creation! I developed Version 1 of this recipe on January 22nd. It was lacking a balance of flavor and the fried lemon wasn’t as successful as the fried tangerines in the Stir Fried Beef with Tangerines. I developed Version 2 on February 5. By happy circumstance a plan b (or would it be plan c?) the lettuce cups were transformed into a wrap. Applying mayonnaise to the wrap really provided the chicken mixture with that missing component. When you make this feel free to add your favorite sandwich toppings – tomato, lettuce, etc.

recipe development

In Version 1 I made a sauce using pomegrante molasses and honey. Wesley eating  sew you think you can cookBut still the chicken mixture was too dry. I made a note to cook the ground chicken as if it were taco meat. So I added chicken stock. I also increased the herbs and added chopped onions, a serrano pepper, and garlic to help create a depth of flavor. In tasting the meat during Version 2 I was pleased. We decided that that pomegranate sauce wasn’t necessary – and I wanted to see if my son would try it – which I couldn’t do with honey in the recipe.

frying lemonsOne thing I knew for certain for this first recipe creation of the year was that I wanted to fry lemons. Version 1 I used regular lemons but they were still bitter. I decided to go on a search for Meyer lemons. I’m so glad I found them because they fried up much more nicely – I also increased the amount of cornstarch. The cornstarch created an almost tempura-like batter to the lemons. These lemons were amazing!

I still wanted to serve the chicken in lettuce cups. I still had the head of bibb lettuce from Version 1 but it was up against the back wall of the fridge and was frozen. I salvaged a couple leaves for photography purposes – and Stuart ate them. I almost put my serving in a pita pocket but decided instead on using a tortilla. Stuart stated that they still needed a sauce of some kind. I agreed and added mayo to my wrap. It was perfect! It’s amazing how something so simply can help to meld the flavors and give it “completion.”

I hope you give my recipe a try and let me know what you think!

An Original Recipe

Fried Lemon and Chicken Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 2 C + 1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided use
  • 1 meyer lemon, sliced in circles
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 4 tortillas
  • mayo

Steps:

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.
  2. Toss lemon slices in cornstarch. When oil has reached temperature fry lemons for 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Remove oil to a heat proof container and carefully wipe out skillet. To the same skillet, add a fresh tablespoon of oil. Saute the shallot, serrano, and garlic until tender. Add the ground chicken and season with basil, thyme, S+P.
  4. When chicken is fully cooked add chicken broth and cook until absorbed.
  5. Cut fried lemons into quarters.
  6. Spread mayo on tortilla, add the chicken and some lemon slices. Optionally, add lettuce and tomato, or your other favorite sandwich toppings.

Fried Lemon and Chicken Wraps | Sew You Think You Can Cook

CIC: Basil & Lemon

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We’re setting our thoughts and minds on spring and summer with today’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge. When it was announced that Lemon and Basil were to be February’s ingredients my first thought went to muffins.
Lemon and Basil is a pretty classic combination – perfect for seafood, chicken, and pastas. I wanted to try going in a different direction by baking!
I was scrambling to get this recipe made and photographed. With the winter storms that have been blowing by I didn’t get a chance to get to the grocery store until Wednesday night. Hey, at least I’m not in the Northeast! First thing Thursday morning these babies were baked. Happily the sun was shining and there was a lot of light being reflected off of the white snow. I did have to take down the beach towels that are duct taped to the sliding glass door. Yes, folks, beach towels have been severely downgraded now that we live in Ohio! They now protect against drafty doors and windows, act as a resting place for snowy wet boots, and are used to protect the carpet underneath my son’s booster seat when he’s eating. Okay, that last use might be an upgrade. 😉
These muffins are bright and help you forget about the negative temperatures outside. They make you want to lie down on those beach towels amongst green grass and flowers reading a good book.
There is a lemon sugar glaze that gets poured over the muffins after pulling them out of the oven – I didn’t use all of the glaze and even used more than was probably necessary. I also found these muffins to be a little too eggy for my personal preference – next time I’ll see if it would work with just 2 eggs.
This recipe makes 12 muffins.
Lemon Basil Muffins
Ingredients:
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 C sugar, divided use
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • juice of 1 large lemon
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and 3/4 C sugar.
  3. Add in the eggs until combined. Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and basil. When incorporated add the flour and baking powder. Mix until a consistent batter is achieved.
  4. Pour batter into 12 lined muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.
  5. Whisk together remaining sugar with the lemon juice. Spoon lemon-sugar mixture over top the muffins while hot. Allow to cool in the muffin tin 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Lemon Basil Muffins | Sew You Think You Can Cook
To see the other bloggers who participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge click on the link below.

CIC: Lemons & Peeps

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This month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge reveal day falls on Easter so our host Dawn of Spatulas on Parade picked the ever popular Easter candy Peeps to be paired up with Lemons!

If you’re wondering where last month’s edition of CIC was, I posted instead my first #BundtBakers recipe on March 20th.

But back to April’s CIC post. The biggest challenge with this month was using an already finished product.

Leave it to the preggo to come up with a cocktail! (Please don’t call child services, but I did taste a sip so I could validate that the recipe works!) I present to you the perfect cocktail for your Easter Sunday – Marshmallow Peeps Lemon Drop Martini. This is definitely what adults want in their Easter basket. If we can’t hunt for eggs, then we might as well sip on something fun!

An Original Recipe

Marshmallow Peeps Lemon Drop Martini

Ingredients:

  • 3 yellow peeps (any color will do, but a yellow lemon cocktail looks best)
  • 3/4 C vodka
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3/4 C lemon juice
  • sprinkles (optional)

Steps:

  1. In a jar soak peeps in vodka for at least 4 days. Remove Peeps from vodka (strain if they’ve fallen apart).
  2. In a small saucepan dissolve sugar in water over medium-high heat. Allow to cool.
  3. Place sprinkles on a flat plate. Run a slice of lemon along the rim of the martini glass and gently twist the glass in the sprinkles.
  4. In a cocktail shaker with ice combine equal parts lemon juice, simple syrup, and Peeps vodka. Pour into martini glasses.

Marshmallow Peep Lemon Drop Martini

Marshmallow Peep Lemon Drop MartiniMarshmallow Peep Lemon Drop Martini

To see the other bloggers who participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge click on the link below.

Lemon Marshmallow Pie

As both a nerd and foodie there’s no day better than a “holiday” that celebrates both – Pi Day! March 14th is Pi Day. Why? Pi is an irrational constant with an infinite number of digits, the value of which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Rounding to the hundredth’s place, Pi = 3.14. Hence, March 14 (3/14) is Pi Day! (Fun fact, it’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday.)

That being said, pies are not my favorite form of dessert. Well, not the traditional pies. I have a liking issue with warm fruit, so I don’t partake in America’s favorite Apple or Berry.

As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite pie is Key Lime. It’s served chilled and has a perfect balance of tart and sweet. The same can be said for this lemon marshmallow pie. And only three ingredients (four if you count the fresh fruit for garnish) separate you from a bright dessert. A dessert that will make you forget about winter’s extended stay and think you’ve just experienced a perfect spring day. With only five minutes of prep work required there isn’t any excuse to not try this pie. True, you could always make your own pie crust and lemon curd and probably marshmallow creme but I prefer to take the lazy way out. 😉

Lemon Marshmallow Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 jars (10 oz) lemon curd
  • 1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust

Steps:

  1. Using a hand mixer whip lemon curd and marshmallow creme until blended. Pour pie filling into pie crust.
  2. Refrigerate a few hours before serving with fresh berries.

*This recipe is adapted from Deborah at http://www.tasteandtellblog.com/lemon-marshmallow-tart/*

Lemon Marshmallow Pie

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

Chicken and Hummus Pita

My mother-in-law was visiting a couple of weekends ago for a “sew-cation” so I planned the weekend menu in advance to stay organized. Knowing she loves chicken thighs, this recipe was sure to be a hit. The fact that it’s a slow cooker dish is an extra bonus when we want to maximize sewing time and minimize kitchen time.

Additionally, the recipe calls for 12 chicken thighs.  Normally I’d halve a recipe of this quantity but it provided extra chicken which I used for the best pizza ever the next night. And for lunch the next day we enjoyed pita pockets with hummus, chicken, banana peppers, olives, and cheese while sitting on the back porch in the sun.

I served the chicken with another Roland product I got from Food Blog South, Roasted Garlic Israeli Couscous. Rice or orzo would be other great side options.

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided use
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 C pitted green olives

Steps:

  1. Season both sides of chicken with S+P. In a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat sear thighs in olive oil – about three minutes per side. Unless your skillet is massive, this will need to be accomplished in two batches.
  2. Transfer chicken to slow cooker. Add lemon slices and olives.
  3. Whisk together broth, lemon juice, flour, and cumin. Pour over chicken.
  4. Cook on LOW 6 hours.

*This recipe is adapted from emeals at http://blog.emeals.com/slow-cooker-clean-eating-meal-plan-lemon-chicken-thighs-with-olives-recipe/*

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken

Tuna Steaks

There were some pretty looking tuna steaks at the fish counter, so we bought two. I know it doesn’t sound crazy adventurous – buying tuna instead of say, squid. But I’d never prepared tuna steaks before. When it comes to fish, I usually stick with salmon or tilapia. I absolutely love grouper and mahi mahi, but I’ve never prepared my own.

Tuna SteaksI seasoned the fish with plenty of pepper, salt, and dried herbs and cooked them in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil. Spritzed with fresh lemon juice and provided pesto (I used my Nut-Free Basil Pesto) for dipping.

An Original Recipe

Tuna Steaks

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Steps

  1. Combine herbs, salt and pepper. Rub onto both sides of the fish.
  2. Sear fish over medium heat in olive oil. Cook to desired done-ness.

Tuna Steaks 1 Tuna Steaks 3Tuna Steaks 2