Categories
Cookies Dessert

‘Guava’ your friends a tropical dessert to try

Guava bars combine the sweetness of guava with the nuttiness of oats and the buttery goodness of a shortbread crust to create a delicious combination of flavors for your dessert table.

Several months ago, I decided, for some reason, I needed to get ahold of a can of guava paste to bake with.

I didn’t have a recipe picked out yet, but I’m sure I found some video about guava that convinced me I needed it in my life. I found a can while traveling and promptly stored it in my pantry, where I completely forgot about it.

That is until this past week, when I needed a new dessert to bring to a cookout.

I knew it needed to be something interesting—this particular crew appreciates creativity—but it also had to stand up to being out in the heat of July in Kansas for several hours. Enter the guava paste and a recipe for some bar cookies that looked too good to pass up.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Mission Food Adventure.” You can find the original post at https://mission-food.com/guava-bars/. I added extra guava paste in my version.

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Guava Bars

Guava bars combine the sweetness of guava with the nuttiness of oats and the buttery goodness of a shortbread crust to create a delicious combination of flavors for your dessert table.
Course Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, butter, cookie bars, cookie exchange, guava, guava paste, oatmeal, shortbread, tropical dessert

Ingredients

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour

Topping Ingredients

  • 21 ounces guava paste cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick oats
  • 1/2 cup butter cold and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare a nine-by-13-inch baking pan by lining the bottom and up and over all four sides with parchment paper to help remove the bars after they’re done. Set it aside.
  • For the crust, beat the butter and sugar together for several minutes until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the salt and flour until the mixture is smooth, and then press it evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
  • Cover the entire surface of the crust layer with slices of guava paste. You can cut it into smaller pieces to fill gaps, too. (You may have just a bit left over for you to snack on.)
  • Add the oats, butter, salt, sugar and flour to a food processor and pulse until the mixture kind of looks like wet sand and everything is well combined.
  • Sprinkle the topping evenly over the guava and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
  • Let the bars cool completely before using the parchment paper to remove them from the pan. Slice them and store in an airtight container.

I came home with one guava bar leftover from the cookout, so I guess you could say they were a success. They were absolutely delicious. If you’ve never worked with guava paste before, it’s jelly-like, but it’s also super sticky.

The flavor is fruity but not overly sweet, so it is an especially good filling for people who aren’t into sugary treats. That, combined with the buttery shortcake crust and the nuttiness of the oatmeal topping, makes for a great dessert.

It turns out I was right about my guava obsession. The next time I manage to spot a big tin of it at the grocery store, it will probably land in my pantry again. This time, though, it probably won’t last nearly as long.

This piece first appeared in print on July 11, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

The delicious smell of this dish will ‘bacon’ everyone to your kitchen

This buttery bacon and peas pasta is a great summer meal, with tons of flavor without feeling super heavy. Serve it alongside some summer veggies, and it’s a delicious dish to put on the table for a hot day.

“Lindsey, you don’t have to cook. I would have DoorDashed something for lunch,” our young, Gen Z houseguest told me as I fired up my stove this week.

I mean, yeah, I guess I could have let him do that, but where’s the fun in eating lukewarm fast food in your own home when you have a new person to try a recipe out on?

I assured him that not only did I not mind cooking, but he was about to become one in a long line of my guinea pigs for new recipes. He didn’t argue with me too much.

As I flipped through my possible meal choices, I knew I wanted to stick to something that was filling without feeling overly heavy and definitely something that avoided preheating my oven, if I could help it.

I landed on a pasta dish that, while certainly not light by calorie or flavor standards, really fit the bill for lunch on a hot day, and it even sported just a little bit of green veggies so we could pretend we weren’t eating copious amounts of delicious butter and bacon sauce.

This recipe comes from the blog “Serving Dumplings” by Anna Chwistek. You can find her original post at https://www.servingdumplings.com/recipe/orecchiette-with-crispy-pancetta-and-peas/. I added extra seasoning in my version below, along with changing up some of the amounts of other ingredients.

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Buttery Bacon and Peas Pasta

This buttery bacon and peas pasta is a great summer meal, with tons of flavor without feeling super heavy. Serve it alongside some summer veggies, and it’s a delicious dish to put on the table for a hot day.
Course Main Course
Keyword bacon, bread crumbs, butter, frozen peas, garlic, minced garlic, orecchiette, pancetta, panko, parmesan, parmesan cheese, parsley, peas, red pepper flakes, summer lunch, summer pasta, thick-cut bacon, thick-sliced bacon

Ingredients

Pasta Ingredients

  • 16 ounces orecchiette pasta or another small pasta shape
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces thick-sliced bacon or pancetta diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 12 ounces frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parmesan freshly grated

Topping Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 3-4 tablespoons parmesan freshly grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, saving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid when you drain it.
  • While the pasta cooks, prepare the topping. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, stir in the panko, and stir continuously, sauteing for several minutes until the panko is golden brown.
  • Transfer the panko to a bowl and stir in the parsley, parmesan, salt and pepper. Set it aside.
  • In the same large skillet, begin preparing the pasta part of the dish by heating the olive oil and butter over medium heat.
  • Add the diced bacon and saute until it’s cooked through. Add the garlic and saute for another minute and then add in the frozen peas, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir occasionally, letting the peas thaw and everything meld for about three or four minutes.
  • Add in the cooked orecchiette, parmesan and about half of the reserved cooking water. Stir until everything is well coated and the cheese is melted. If you need a little more liquid, use the rest of the water. This will not be a thick, creamy sauce. Instead, you’ll have a light, delicious coating.
  • Serve the pasta hot, with a nice sprinkling of the panko mixture on top.

Like I said, this is decidedly not a healthy recipe (you’ll notice that none of the bacon fat is drained off, for instance), but it was really, really good, and our teenage visitor even went back for seconds.

The flavor of the bacon and butter, alongside the brightness from the peas was a great summer lunch. I also paired it with a simple side of sauteed zucchini and summer squash to try to get a few vitamins into our lives.

It is a little on the drier side when you reheat this, but I didn’t mind it. If that’s not really your cup of tea, you could always melt a little more butter to stir into it when you eat it for leftovers.

I would say making a from-scratch meal is certainly not as easy as firing up Door Dash, but I don’t think any of us would have gotten a meal like that from an app.

This piece first appeared in print on July 4, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

I have a good ‘peeling’ you’ll love these apple bars

Granny Smith harvest bars combine the tartness of apples with the nuttiness of walnuts and the warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg to make the perfect dessert or breakfast bar.

Even though it seems to be billed as a fall fruit, I love a good apple all year round.

In a lively discussion about favorite fruits this past week, I decided apples hold the number one spot for me right now, and if I’m eating one on its own, I like a sweet, red one.

Someone else in the conversation noted they liked to bite into a Granny Smith, and all I could do was shudder while thinking about how tart they are. Granny Smiths are only baking apples in my book, although I’m sure plenty of folks like to eat them raw, too.

But I do absolutely love Granny Smith apples in all kinds of desserts. They have this bright, tart flavor that is just perfect alongside sugar and spices.

They didn’t disappoint me in this week’s recipe for some amazing apple bars, too, and once the temperatures cool down a bit and you start to feel ready to heat up your oven, you should put this recipe on your short list to try.

This comes from the blog “Sweet Ordeal.” You can find the original post at https://sweetordeal.com/granny-smith-harvest-bars/. I doubled the vanilla and spices in my version below, and I swapped in walnuts instead of pecans.

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Granny Smith Harvest Bars

Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword brown sugar, cinnamon, Granny Smith apples, nutmeg, quick oats, vanilla, walnuts

Ingredients

Bar Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups Granny Smith apples peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a nine-by-13-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Set it aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it is smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue mixing on high until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Beat in the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg until everything is just combined.
  • Fold in the diced apples and walnuts by hand.
  • Spread the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • While the bars cook, prepare the topping.
  • Begin by lightly toasting the walnuts for several minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat. Just let them get slightly browned and warmed through to really release some of the yummy oil in the nuts.
  • Then combine all of the topping ingredients in a bowl, mixing well.
  • When the bars come out of the oven, spoon the topping mixture evenly over the top, and bake for another five minutes.
  • Let the bars cool completely before cutting and serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

These were nutty and sweet and full of delicious spice flavor. I was a little nervous my bars were a bit overcooked when I first pulled them from the oven, but I trusted the process, and they were absolutely perfect.

I think over half of the pan was devoured at the office with only a few people present, so needless to say, they were a big hit.

Despite my recent fruit debate, I think I’m sticking with red apples for my favorite everyday snack for the time being. Granny Smiths will always have a place on my beloved list—just in a slightly different category.

This piece first appeared in print on June 27, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert Microwave

Beat the heat with a yummy microwaved dessert

If you’re looking for a very quick dessert or topping for ice cream or oatmeal, all you need is an apple and a few simple ingredients, along with a microwave oven.

Earlier this week, I made a fabulous apple cake. (I promise to share the recipe with you in an upcoming column.)

I realized after I peeled and diced all my apples, though, that I had more than the recipe called for, and while I put a few extras into the batter, I was a little nervous I was going to mess up the apple-to-cake ratio.

So then I had to decide what to do with a small bowl of extra apples. Thank goodness the Internet had an idea for me, and it was a delicious one at that.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Salad in a Jar” by Paula Rhodes. You can find the original post at https://saladinajar.com/recipes/desserts/fruit/apples-in-a-bag/#recipe. I added extra cinnamon and cornstarch in my version.

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Microwave Cinnamon Apples

If you’re looking for a very quick dessert or topping for ice cream or oatmeal, all you need is an apple and a few simple ingredients, along with a microwave oven.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword apple, cinnamon, cooking for one, cooking for two, dessert for one, dessert for two, easy dessert, Granny Smith apples, ice cream topping, microwave cooking, oatmeal topping, quick dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized apple I used Granny Smith
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

  • Core and cut up your apple into bite-sized pieces (I diced mine). You can peel it or not, depending on your preferences.
  • Put the cut apple into a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Add in the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and water and stir to ensure all the apple pieces are well coated.
  • Loosely cover the bowl (I put a plate over the top of mine), and microwave on high for two minutes. If the apples are not fork tender, continue microwaving, 30 seconds at a time, until they reach your desired level of tenderness.
  • Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave, give the apples a stir and eat them as is or over ice cream, oatmeal, yogurt, etc.

This was really tasty, and it was a great summer dessert that I definitely won’t forget to use in the future, since it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. It basically makes a very nice, lightly sweet glazed apple.

I wished I had some ice cream in the freezer when I ate them. They would have been fabulous on a bowl of vanilla.

But they were also delicious on their own, and I have to admit that I didn’t save any for Joey to try, since he was out and about while I was doing my experimenting. I suppose there have to be some perks when you’re the one in the kitchen.

The nice thing, though, is I can easily make these again if we’re ever craving something sweet. And I’ll always know from now on what to do in the event of extra apples.

This piece first appeared in print on June 20, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Bread Breakfast Dessert

Do what feels ‘ripe’ with those brown bananas

This is just a very simple recipe for banana bread, but it’s fabulous in its traditional flavors, including the warmth of ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

Once, back in my college days, when I was living away from home, I was visiting over a weekend. I grabbed a banana off the counter, and about that time, my sister came around the corner.

She gave me a horrified look.

“What are you doing?” she demanded.

“Eating a banana?” I told her, confused.

“Dad and I were leaving those so Mom would make banana bread,” she said.

I’d ruined the plan.

I don’t think they’ve fully forgiven me yet, even though Mom has blessed us with plenty of loaves in the many years since then.

I was thinking about that story recently when I whipped up a couple loaves for an event we were having at the office. I had a couple brown bananas in my freezer that I didn’t have time to bake with when they turned, and I figured it was a good time to put them to good use.

My recipe for banana bread comes from my mom. I’m sure there’s an origin story for it, but my only copy is a well-worn, handwritten version from her.

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Banana Bread

This is just a very simple recipe for banana bread, but it’s fabulous in its traditional flavors, including the warmth of ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword banana, brown bananas, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, overripe bananas, sweet bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 4 mashed overripe bananas
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cloves

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans, and set them aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, start by beating the eggs, and then beat in the rest of the ingredients until the batter is smooth.
  • Distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared loaf pans, and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.
  • Once a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, remove the pans from the oven, and let them cool to a temperature where you can handle them comfortably. Carefully invert the pans to remove the loaves, and let them cool the rest of the way before slicing them. Store the slices in an airtight container.

You can absolutely add some chopped walnuts to this bread, too, if you like them. I actually love banana nut bread, but since that’s not how we normally ate it when I was growing up, my nostalgia leads me to continue to leave them out.

I love this recipe because it has more spices in it than a lot of traditional banana bread recipes do. There is nothing better than plenty of warm spices along with the flavor of overripe bananas.

And to add insult to injury, both of these loaves were eaten by all of us at the office, and my sister was left out once again. I mean, she’s an adult now, so I’m sure it’s my niece and brother-in-law conspiring to let bananas brown on her counter these days.

I know one thing: if I go for a visit, I’ll leave any fruit in her kitchen alone.

This piece first appeared in print on June 13, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

This dishy pizza bake can really wow a crowd

Deep dish pizza bake is a new take on pizza, using dinner roll dough and lots of great pizza toppings in a large pan to create a meal with leftovers for days or a great crowd-pleasing meal.

We have homemade pizza night most weeks at our house.

At this point, it’s down to a science. I mix up the dough while Joey sautes some veggies or debones a rotisserie chicken, and then we work together to assemble the pie before popping it in the oven.

It’s a quick, delicious meal, and with plenty of options out there for sauces and toppings, we never get bored with it.

That being said, Joey sent me a video not long ago of another type of pizza he wanted to try. It was from a creator online who often has to cook for a crowd, and since I was just gifted a very large baking pan, it was the perfect time to see if the recipe was as good as it looked.

This comes from Kevin Ashton, who is on Instagram @oldscoolkevmo. I changed his method a little on my version below.

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Deep Dish Pizza Bake

Deep dish pizza bake is a new take on pizza, using dinner roll dough and lots of great pizza toppings in a large pan to create a meal with leftovers for days or a great crowd-pleasing meal.
Course Main Course
Keyword basil pesto, breakfast casserole, crowd-pleaser, deep dish, easy dinner, fresh mushrooms, frozen rolls, green bell pepper, marinara sauce, meal for a crowd, mozzarella, onion, pepperoni, pizza, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 48- ounce bag frozen yeast dinner roll dough
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cups pizza sauce we used pesto
  • Your favorite pizza toppings precooked
  • 32 ounces shredded cheese we used a combo of mozzarella and Mexican blend

Instructions

  • Spray a large 12-by-18-by-2-inch pan with cooking spray. Spread the entire package of frozen dough evenly over the bottom and spray them with more cooking spray. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set it aside for the dough to thaw and rise. This will take about three hours.
  • In the meantime, cook any toppings that are raw (ex. hamburger, sausage, etc.) that you’ll want to add to your pizza bake, and set those aside.
  • When the dough is about doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap. Drizzle the rolls with olive oil, and then gently squish the dough to flatten it and eliminate seams. Add salt and pepper, to taste, since the bread has not been seasoned at all to this point.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Spread the sauce over the top of the dough. (You don’t have to avoid the edges. There is no “crust” with this.)
  • Add your toppings and any additional seasonings you like on your pizza, and finish off with a healthy layer of cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the bread is completely baked and everything is heated through.
  • Let the pizza bake rest for five to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

This was really good. It was also a lot of bread, so if that’s not really your jam, I’d suggest only using half of the dough from the package instead of the whole thing. You can easily adjust all of this for a smaller pan, too, if you don’t want a huge one to eat on for several days. (Or, keep this in your recipe box for when you need to feed a big crowd.)

I can tell you, though, this reheated really well and was very nice for a week where we were meeting ourselves coming and going. Leftovers are a blessing for times like that.

It was kind of a deep dish pizza/casserole hybrid, which I really liked. We packed ours with sauteed onions and peppers, chicken, turkey pepperoni, fresh mushrooms and lots and lots of cheese, along with a pesto base.

I think this recipe will make it into the “pizza night” rotation every so often, although I’ll probably make a smaller version in the future. While I don’t really mind eating the same thing for several meals in a row, it’s better to mix things up. After all, variety is the spice of life.

This piece first appeared in print on June 6, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Dessert

Want to try something new? ‘Mousse’ around and find out.

This chocolate mousse is made with only three ingredients: coconut milk, sugar substitute and cocoa powder, making it a yummy dairy-free and vegan dessert.

During my junior year of high school, we read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” in English class.

Our final project included the option to create a video, and for some reason, my group thought it would be an excellent idea to recreate scenes from the classic novel in a mashup with jokes from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

As part of our filming, I purchased a “quick crack” coconut to use for horse hoof sound effects and learned quickly that this coconut did not want to crack quickly at all. In the end, my poor dad had to come to my rescue with a hacksaw. I was also horribly disappointed that coconut milk was not nearly as sweet as I thought it was. Many things were learned that day.

I was thinking about that this week when I bought a can of coconut cream for a recipe and then realized that it called for coconut milk. The good news is that they’re almost the same product. The only difference? Coconut cream has more fat and less water. And in this case, that was actually a benefit.

The recipe I tried came from the blog “Yummy Inspirations.” You can find the original post at https://yummyinspirations.net/2023/03/coconut-milk-chocolate-mousse-recipe/. With only three ingredients, there wasn’t much “spicing up” to do, so other than noting that you can also use coconut cream, I did not change anything in this one.

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Coconut Milk Chocolate Mousse

This chocolate mousse is made with only three ingredients: coconut milk, sugar substitute and cocoa powder, making it a yummy dairy-free and vegan dessert.
Course Dessert
Keyword cocoa powder, coconut cream, coconut milk, cream of coconut, dairy-free, easy dessert, keto, mousse, sugar substitute, vegan, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 13 to 15 ounce can of coconut milk or cream
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar substitute
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

  • At least 24 hours before you want to make this, put your can of coconut milk into the refrigerator.
  • When you’re ready to make it, carefully spoon the coconut solids off the top of the can into a mixing bowl, leaving as much of the water behind as you can.
  • Beat the coconut solids, on high, for several minutes until it is smooth and forms soft peaks.
  • Beat in two tablespoons of sugar substitute and two tablespoons of cocoa powder, and once everything is well combined, give it a taste. Add another tablespoon of either if you want it sweeter and/or chocolatier.
  • Serve right away or refrigerate until you’re ready to enjoy.

This makes either one decent-sized serving or two smaller servings of chocolate mousse. If you’re not a huge coconut fan, you probably won’t like this one, but honestly, the chocolate overpowers the coconut overall, so it’s not as prominent as you might think.

The texture is pretty close to a mousse but definitely not as airy as a traditional one. It was a nice treat, regardless.

It also isn’t going to be fat free by any means, and despite using a sugar substitute, there will still be some sugar in this from the coconut milk. The bonus, though, is it’s dairy free and vegan, so it’s a nice substitute for people with some dietary restrictions.

And I got to learn yet another new lesson about coconut products.

Looking back on it, I’m guessing not too many people learn about tropical fruits as part of their reading of Hawthorne, but I’m also guessing not too many English teachers are in a predicament where they have to watch a stupid movie in order to understand their students’ equally stupid project so they can grade it. (Sorry, Mrs. Coleman.)

But I suppose the silver lining is we all received some surprising lessons in the process.

This piece first appeared in print on May 30, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Salad Side Dish

There’s a kernel of summer flavor in this pasta salad

Mexican street corn pasta salad uses lots of fresh vegetables to create a flavor profile reminiscent of elote. It’s an excellent side dish for a summer meal.

When the Mexican American Fastpitch Softball Tournament rolls into Newton every summer, Joey and I try to make it out to watch a few hours of the action.

The games are definitely entertaining, but if I’m being honest, I’m mostly there for the food. Trying to pick what to eat from the various vendors is sometimes tough to do. Everything looks and smells amazing.

A couple summers ago, I decided to get elote, which is a roasted ear of corn, slathered in seasoning and mayonnaise and crumbly cheese. Trust me. It’s delicious.

I was thinking about that elote when I ran across this week’s recipe for a Mexican street corn pasta salad. It features a lot of the same flavor profiles, but it’s a bit easier to eat without making a huge mess.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Female Foodie” by Tyler Anastasio. You can find the original post at https://www.femalefoodie.com/recipes/mexican-street-corn-pasta-salad/#recipe. I added extra jalapeno, cheese and garlic in my version and changed up the instructions just a bit.

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Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican street corn pasta salad uses lots of fresh vegetables to create a flavor profile reminiscent of elote. It’s an excellent side dish for a summer meal.
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword adobo peppers, chipotle peppers, cilantro, cojita, ditalini pasta, fresh cilantro, fresh corn, fresh garlic, frozen corn, green onions, jalapeno, lime juice, lime zest, mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, queso fresco, sour cream

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces ditalini pasta or another small pasta
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 jalapeno seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1 bunch green onion sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch cilantro roughly chopped
  • 10 ounces queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sour cream I used fat free
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 to 3 whole chipotle peppers packed in adobo
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • zest from one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain it and rinse it with cold water, and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once it’s hot, add the corn to the skillet and stir regularly, getting a light char on the kernels. Add the garlic into the pan and saute for just about a minute, and then remove the skillet from the heat. Set it aside to cool.
  • Prepare the jalapeno, green onion and cilantro and add it to a large serving bowl. Crumble in almost all of the cheese, keeping back a handful to top the salad when you’re done.
  • Combine all of the dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until it is smooth.
  • Add the pasta, cooled corn and dressing to the serving bowl, and stir it well. Stir in any additional salt and pepper, if desired. Refrigerate the pasta salad until it’s completely chilled. Just before serving, top with the reserved cheese.

I really liked this, and even Joey, who is a notorious mayonnaise hater, liked the dressing, so you know it had to be pretty good. This will be an especially good pasta salad to put together once everyone’s gardens begin producing this summer.

And if you’re afraid of the jalapeno, you can easily leave it out. It does add a very nice crunch, though.

I’m also not going to pretend that this pasta salad is a perfect recreation of elote, but it does scratch the itch. You can bet, though, once July rolls around, I’ll be on the lookout for the real thing once again.

This piece first appeared in print on May 23, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

‘Hoi’ can’t recommend these Mongolian noodles enough

Mongolian beef noodles are easy to prepare and take fewer than 30 minutes from start to finish to get on the table. The addition of hoisin sauce gives it a sweet and savory flavor that makes seconds a must.

In an interview with the Food Network, Chinese food expert Nadia Liu Spellman explained hoisin sauce, a condiment that is new to my refrigerator as of this week.

“I would call it the ketchup of Chinese cuisine, because it’s used as an ingredient but also as a finishing sauce and condiment,” Liu Spellman said in the interview. “Hoisin sauce looks like dark brown ketchup but not as viscous; it’s thicker and pastier. It’s sweet at the start and savory at the end.”

I purchased my first bottle of hoisin for this week’s recipe, and since I had not knowingly ever tasted it before, I was going in blind on what the flavor profile would be.

Of course, knowing that I like soy sauce, garlic and ginger didn’t hurt anything.

The good news is I really liked hoisin, and now I’m excited to see what other applications it has—although I’ll likely be using it to make this week’s recipe again, because it was great.

This recipe was posted on Instagram by Kirk Muenzenberger. His page is @kirkscookingandcocktails, if you want to see the original. I added extra garlic and pasta in my version.

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Mongolian Beef Noodles

Mongolian beef noodles are easy to prepare and take fewer than 30 minutes from start to finish to get on the table. The addition of hoisin sauce gives it a sweet and savory flavor that makes seconds a must.
Course Main Course
Keyword 30-minute meal, fresh ginger, ginger paste, ground beef, hoisin sauce, minced garlic, pasta, quick meals, spaghetti

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces long pasta I used whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds and green onion for garnish

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth/stock
  • 5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain.
  • While the pasta cooks, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until it is cooked through. Strain off as much fat as possible, and add in the ginger paste and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce. Add the sauce to the skillet, stirring to combine. (The sauce will look very loose at this moment. Don’t worry. It will thicken up.) Continue to stir until the sauce bubbles gently and begins to thicken.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta until it is well coated, and continue stirring until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Serve with sesame seeds and fresh sliced green onion, if desired.

I will absolutely be making this again. It came together in well under 30 minutes, all told, and it was just slightly sweet, a bit spicy and very good. The next time, though, I will dice up a red bell pepper and cook that down with the ground beef. I think it would be a great addition for flavor, color and vitamins.

And now that I have “the ketchup of Chinese cuisine” in my refrigerator, the world is my oyster.

Actually, I’m not sure it’s good on oysters. I might have to do some more research.

This piece first appeared in print on May 16, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Cookies Dessert

Turn over a new leaf with basil lemon sugar cookies

Basil lemon sugar cookies are the perfect combination of fresh herb and citrus flavors, paired with a light sweetness. They are a great summer treat or great for teatime, too.

Something I probably haven’t mentioned often is that I have a constant helper in the kitchen when I try recipes for this column.

Sometimes she gets to sample something, and sometimes she is informed that the particular creation at hand is “not good for puppies.”

Regardless, our 15-year-old schnauzer, K.C., hopefully follows me around the kitchen or gazes at me from a good napping spot, hoping I will be clumsy enough to drop something or gracious enough to share.

Often, she gets lucky, and this week’s recipe is one of her favorite kinds: one that only uses half an egg. Because guess who gets to eat the other half?

As far as the recipe itself, there was no schnauzer taste testing, because once I tried one of the cookies I made this week, I barely wanted to share them with any of my beloved humans, let alone my sweet dog.

This week’s experiment comes from the blog “The Deeper Living.” You can see the original post at https://www.thedeeperliving.com/blog/lush-lemon-basil-sugar-cookies. I doubled the amount of basil sugar for coating in my version below.

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Basil Lemon Sugar Cookies

Basil lemon sugar cookies are the perfect combination of fresh herb and citrus flavors, paired with a light sweetness. They are a great summer treat or great for teatime, too.
Course Dessert
Keyword fresh basil, fresh lemon, lemon zest, sugar cookies, teatime

Ingredients

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves stems removed
  • 1 cup two sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 heaping teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Basil Sugar Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • about 12 fresh basil leaves stems removed

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  • Starting with the cookie ingredients, pulse the sugar and basil leaves in a food processor or blender until the leaves are completely pulverized, and the sugar is a bright green color.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter for one to two minutes until it is a light yellow color.
  • Add in the basil sugar you created and beat again for about two minutes, making sure everything is well incorporated and the butter is a light green shade.
  • Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest, egg and egg yolk for another two to three minutes until the mixture is smooth.
  • Leaving your mixer on a low speed, add the dry ingredients—flour, baking soda and salt—a little at a time, making sure it is just combined but not over mixing it.
  • Make the basil sugar for coating the cookies in the same way you made the mixture for the cookie batter, and pour it into a shallow bowl.
  • Using a one-inch (two-tablespoon) cookie scoop, scoop out the cookie dough and drop the balls of dough into the basil sugar, rolling each lightly to coat it in a thin layer of sugar, and then place them on the prepared baking sheet, at least two inches apart (they will spread).
  • Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are very lightly browned (they’ll finish setting up out of the oven). Remove the cookies from the oven and let them rest until they’re cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes) before transferring them to an airtight container.

OK, so I know these sound a bit scary at first. Basil is, after all, generally a savory ingredient. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that these are delicious. The basil and lemon meld well, and the basil sugar is so good that I made an extra batch to rim glasses for some cocktails over the weekend.

These cookies sort of taste like something that would be perfect to enjoy with a cup of tea. They’re unlike anything I have ever had, and I was absolutely on board with it.

So was K.C., after she cleaned up the egg white from her dog bowl. Her opinion was I should have made a double batch, but I suspect that was a self-serving request.

This piece first appeared in print on May 9, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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