Categories
Cookies Dessert

You won’t have to ‘mull’ over trying this recipe

Oat “mull” cookies use mulling spices for flavor along with plenty of butter and oats to create chewy cookies.

I have to confess to a new addiction. 

I’m hoping that if I say it out loud, I will have more of a will to fight it, but I’m pretty sure I’m in too deep.

In true addict form, though, I want you to know that it isn’t my fault. The blame lands firmly on the shoulders of a local business and supporter of ours: Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan.

Owner Tina Ostrander has set up her website for extremely easy online shopping, and if there’s one thing I love more than shopping at local businesses, it’s not having to leave my house to do so.

On one of several recent shopping “trips” to their site to try to satisfy my Christmas shopping list, I, of course, found something on sale I needed to purchase, because not only did it sound delicious, but Tina promised a cookie recipe to come along with it. Not only that, but the title of the recipe was a pun, and if you’ve been reading my column for any length of time, you know how much I love a good food pun.

So this week’s recipe for oatmeal cookies comes from Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner and uses the Aspen Mulling Spice they carry in store and online. I used the original flavor, but they also have caramel apple and sugar-free versions that you could totally use instead. I doubled the vanilla in my version below.

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Oat “Mull” Cookies

Oat “mull” cookies use mulling spices for flavor along with plenty of butter and oats to create chewy cookies.
Course Dessert
Keyword cookies, mulling spices, oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Aspen Mulling Spice
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups quick oats or rolled oats

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat the butter, vanilla, brown sugar, egg and mulling spice until it’s well combined.
  • Beat in the flour and baking soda. Mix in the oats.
  • For about two-inch cookies, drop by the teaspoonful about one-inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  • Let cool for a bit before transferring to an airtight container.

These were so delicious. I’m guessing that had something to do with how much butter was in the recipe, but the mulling spices gave them a light, autumn-like flavor that we really liked. They were just a little crispy around the edges and were a good, chewy cookie.

Plus, the recipe made just over four dozen cookies, so if you are planning on a cookie exchange or giving some treats to folks this holiday season, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this recipe.

Also, this didn’t use the whole container of mulling spice, which means I will definitely be making myself a nice steaming cup of apple cider one of these evenings.

Shopping locally is important all of the time, but it’s especially essential this year, if we want to make sure that our favorite local businesses are still around after the pandemic is over.

Getting into the stores is sometimes tough, especially for those who aren’t comfortable getting out and about right now, but there are plenty of local businesses who have adapted to the times and have online shops and will ship or let you pick things up locally.

Before you shop on “Amazon” or another online retailer, do a quick search for local entrepreneurs you can support with your dollars. Those big box stores are doing fine without your contribution, and they certainly aren’t going to send you a great recipe to try with your order.

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 26, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Crockpot Main Dish

Don’t let me ‘cashew’ skipping this recipe

Cashew chicken finishes cooking in the crockpot and features great flavors as well as a wonderful, nutty crunch.

If you’re bored and want to blow your mind sometime, I highly recommend doing a quick web search for how cashews grow.

I have assumed for a long time that cashews, just grow inside a normal shell and look pretty much like a walnut or a peanut. But they don’t. At all.

Instead, the nut, which hails from Brazil, grows like a little tail off the bottom of a cashew apple. According to an article by Matthew Baron, people thought cashews were poisonous for a long time, because their shell contains a skin irritant—kind of like poison ivy.

Baron points out that, for that reason, you can’t actually buy unshelled cashews. I had never really considered that I haven’t ever cracked open a cashew before.

I started thinking about cashews this week, because Joey forwarded me a social media post with a recipe for cashew chicken and asked if I would be willing to add it to my experiment list. I, of course, obliged, and the results were great.

I don’t have a source for this recipe. It’s one of those that has been out circulating on Facebook, and the original author hasn’t been included. I did adjust the garlic and ginger for my version, though.

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Cashew Chicken

Cashew chicken finishes cooking in the crockpot and features great flavors as well as a wonderful, nutty crunch.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword cashew, chicken, crockpot

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 rounded teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup cashews

Instructions

  • Cut the chicken into about one-inch chunks. Combine the flour and black pepper in a large Ziploc, and add the chicken. Seal the bag and shake to evenly coat the chicken in the flour and pepper mixture.
  • Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a skillet and add the coated chicken, sauteing until it’s browned. (Don’t worry about whether it’s cooked through; it’s going to go into a crockpot next.)
  • Place the browned chicken into a crockpot.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and then pour over the chicken in the crockpot.
  • Cook for four hours on low heat.
  • Mix in the cashews, and serve over rice or lo mein noodles.

This was absolutely delicious. The cashews added a nice crunch, and the sauce was awesome. It was just the right amount of sweet and not spicy at all.

This is also really easy to double, which is what we did, and the leftovers heat up really nicely in the microwave.

And I was excited to have some leftover cashews in my pantry to snack on. Apparently, they’re a lot more interesting than I ever knew and have come a long way from being a “poisonous” nut on a tree to hanging out in my crockpot.

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 19, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Make a great week even ‘Moroccan’ with veggie stew

Moroccan butternut squash chickpea stew is a vegetarian dish that is chock full of fall flavors.

Despite some of the balmier days lately, I’m certain autumn is upon us after seeing multiple “It’s fall, ya’ll” signs around town.

Fall is always my favorite time of year, mostly because I’m excited to have slightly cooler temperatures that let me pull out my favorite sweatshirts, and I can start cooking up soup as much as I want without judgement. On the first cold day of this season, Joey and I immediately made a pot of chili. We couldn’t help ourselves.

This week, Joey asked if we could have something with butternut squash in it, so I started looking through recipes to see what we should try. I was kind of surprised to see that there isn’t a lot of variety out there when it comes to butternut recipes, but after a little hunting, I finally found something that looked super interesting: a Moroccan stew.

The recipe comes from the blog “Vanilla and Bean,” which contains only vegetarian recipes, so if you’re looking to include more veggies in your life, check out her site. You can find the original post at https://vanillaandbean.com/moroccan-squash-stew/. I subbed in more broth instead of water and added extra garlic in my version.

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Moroccan Butternut Squash Chickpea Stew

Moroccan butternut squash chickpea stew is a vegetarian dish that is chock full of fall flavors.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Moroccan
Keyword butternut squash, carrots, chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, Moroccan, stew, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion diced (I used yellow)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups carrots sliced into rounds
  • 3 cups butternut squash peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 15 ounces chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • Coconut Greek yogurt for serving optional

Instructions

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for seven to 10 minutes or until they’re soft.
  • Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, garlic and salt. Stir and saute for a couple minutes until the garlic starts to smell nice.
  • Pour in the broth, tomatoes, carrots and squash, and stir. Bring the soup up to a boil and then turn the heat to low and put a lid on the pot. Let simmer for about 25 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.
  • Add the chickpeas and cook for another five minutes to heat them through.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve with coconut-flavored Greek yogurt on the side or spooned over the top.

This was the ultimate fall soup. It literally tasted like autumn in a bowl, and we loved it. 

And we did try it with the coconut yogurt. (Be careful not to get one that’s blended with vanilla. I don’t know that it would be a great combination.) We each had a cup of it on the side, since we were too wimpy to dump a whole scoop of flavored yogurt into our bowls, but after trying several bites of the two together, I can definitively say it was really yummy. It added a completely new flavor element.

So, if the bevy of leaves filling your yard hasn’t been enough of a signal to you that fall is really here, I encourage you to break out the butternut squash and chickpeas and get to cooking. This one will instantly put you in an autumnal mood. 

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 12, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Pressure Cooker

Mexican recipe makes plenty to eat today and ‘tamale’

Red pork tamales are a time-consuming process, but overall, not a difficult one.

Throughout the summer, we discovered that, for some reason, pork butts were on fantastic sales.

Because Joey loves to fire up his smoker in the backyard, we bought quite a few of them and have lots of delicious, smoked pork in our freezer.

We mostly use it to make tacos, combining the pork in a skillet with fresh green salsa and sauteed onions and bell peppers, but I’ve been trying to get creative with other uses and decided this week that I was finally going to cross a recipe off my bucket list: tamales.

I was extremely nervous about trying to make tamales without any prior experience, but the posts from the blog I used were so helpful, and while it was still a long process, it also was a fairly easy one.

I actually used two, separate posts from the blog “The Busy Abuelita” to make these—one for the masa dough and one for the red sauce. You can find the originals at https://www.thebusyabuelita.com/2019/02/tamale-dough-recipe.html and https://www.thebusyabuelita.com/2019/02/tamale-meat-recipe.html. I added extra spices in my version, and I didn’t roast the pork like she did, but I’d encourage you to go to her website to get instructions if you need help with that step.

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Red Pork Tamales

Red pork tamales are a time-consuming process, but overall, not a difficult one.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword masa, red pork, tamales

Ingredients

Masa Dough Ingredients

  • 8 ounces corn husks
  • 2 cups lard or shortening I used lard
  • 6 cups masa harina cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 cups chicken broth

Red Pork Ingredients

  • 4 pounds pork butt or roast cooked and shredded
  • 16 ounces dried New Mexico chile pods
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Start by placing your corn husks in a large pot of warm water, weighing them down if necessary. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes before starting assembly.
  • For the dough, begin by beating the lard with a mixer until it’s light—about two to three minutes. Add in the rest of the dough ingredients and let the mixer run until everything is well combined. You’ll probably have to do that for around seven to 10 minutes. You’ll know the masa is ready when a pea-sized piece floats in a cup of water. If it doesn’t float, keep mixing.
  • Once the masa dough is done, cover it and refrigerate it until you’re ready to assemble.
  • For the sauce, remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles (don’t worry if you don’t get every last seed. Just do your best.), and rinse them.
  • Place them in a large stockpot and add just enough water to cover them.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let them simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the pods but do not pour out the water they cooked in. Add the bouillon cube to the pot, turn the heat back up to medium, and stir until it dissolves.
  • In a blender, adding each ingredient a little at a time and blending in between, add the pods, garlic, cumin and flour, along with one cup of the water from the pot.
  • Pour the sauce through a fine sieve to get rid of any solid bits and pour the sauce into a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk the sauce and let it cook for about five minutes. It’s done when it coats the back of a spoon. If it’s too thick, add more of the water from the pot. If it’s too thin, keep cooking to reduce it further.
  • Add in the shredded pork and stir to combine well. You don’t want a soupy mixture here—just a nice coating on the pork.
  • Remove the pork from the heat and get ready to make tamales. Lay a cornhusk in front of you with the smaller, pointier end on top. Using a two-inch cookie scoop, put about one-quarter cup of masa dough on the wider end and spread it out across the width of the husk and about two to three inches up vertically. The dough will be sticky, and wet fingers really help here.
  • Now place about two tablespoons of pork in the middle of the dough and roll the husk into about a two-inch-wide tube, rolling from the long side. Fold the pointed end up and tie the tamale shut with some baker’s twine. Set the tamale aside and repeat until all the filling is used.
  • To cook the tamales, use a large pot of water with a steamer basket or strainer pot, or use a pressure cooker with a steamer basket. In either case, add about two cups of water to the bottom and pack in as many tamales as you can, standing upright with the open end facing up. In the pot, cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until the masa easily pulls away from the husks. In the pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 20 minutes with a quick release.
  • Serve immediately, and store any leftovers in the fridge or freezer for later.

These were so, so good! We have already eaten them for three meals, and I only made them three days ago. The sauce was great, and I got a huge sense of accomplishment when the first batch of tamales came out of my pressure cooker.

I finally get to cross tamales off my list of recipes to try, and I’ll be doing this again in the future. After all, there’s still plenty of pork in my freezer.

This piece first appeared in print on Nov. 5, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Pastries are dish worth ‘scone’ing on about

With walnuts and chocolate chips mixed in, banana bread scones are a great choice for breakfast or dessert.

I don’t get a chance to listen to the radio much on the weekends, but when I do, I try to catch the public radio show “The Splendid Table.”

It’s a fun listen, if you’ve never heard it. The show isn’t just about sharing recipes. They tend to jump into all aspects of food—the culture, the techniques, the cooks. Strangely enough through, despite listening to quite a few episodes over the years, I haven’t tried very many of the featured recipes.

That changed this week when I was once again looking for some way to keep using up the rapidly browning bananas on my countertop, and I realized I should have tried more of their dishes a lot sooner, because this one was delicious.

This recipe is on “The Splendid Table” website and was written by Samantha Seneviratne for her cookbook “The Joys of Baking.” You can find the original post at https://www.splendidtable.org/story/2020/01/17/banana-bread-scones. I doubled the vanilla and changed the directions just a tad in my version. I also used walnuts instead of toasted hazelnuts.

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Banana Bread Scones

With walnuts and chocolate chips mixed in, banana bread scones are a great choice for breakfast or dessert.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword banana, chocolate chips, scone, walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 large over-ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream plus some for brushing tops
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup walnuts finely chopped
  • Sugar for tops of scones

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  • Beat the banana, cream, egg and vanilla together in a small bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt and then cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or a fork. Once the mixture looks crumbly, add in the banana mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  • Using a large cookie scoop, place scoops of the batter about two inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Brush the tops of the dough with cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

We had to make sure to give several of these away, because Joey and I were going to quickly eat all of them by ourselves. If you like banana bread, you’ll definitely like these, too.

The only problem is this recipe only helped me get rid of a single banana. I may have to make a second batch this weekend. I already know what I can listen to while I do.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 29, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Dessert

Banana dessert can foster sense of warmth for ice cream

Bananas foster is a great, warm dessert, which is easy to make and fun to light on fire.

I believe it was sometime during college that I first got to experience going to one of those Japanese restaurants where the chef makes a big show while cooking in front of you.

If you’ve never been, I recommend it. It’s nice to be entertained and fed at the same time.

One of the tricks they inevitably do is to stack the rings of an onion up to resemble a volcano, dump in some flammable cooking liquid, and then light it on fire. The result is an inferno that shoots straight up for a moment, and it’s a big crowd pleaser.

I’ve always been fascinated by recipes that let chefs light things on fire. It’s just the right amount of danger I need in my life—a very, very low amount—and it satisfies my inner desire to safely play with matches every once in awhile.

So, since I still needed to get rid of lots of bananas this week, I decided to try my hand at one of those fire-lighting recipes: bananas foster.

I will warn you that bananas foster includes the use of alcohol, which you can totally leave out if it’s not your thing, but then you’ll also skip the fire lighting step, too. The recipe I used is on the blog “Baking a Moment.” You can find the original post at https://bakingamoment.com/bananas-foster/. I doubled the cinnamon in my version.

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Bananas Foster

Bananas foster is a great, warm dessert, which is easy to make and fun to light on fire.
Course Dessert
Keyword banana, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 bananas
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • vanilla ice cream for serving

Instructions

  • Combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large skillet (you’ll need to fit the bananas in there later, too) over low heat.
  • As the butter melts, keep whisking the ingredients together until they’re smooth and fully combined.
  • Slice the peeled bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise to get four equal pieces out of each banana.
  • Add the bananas to the sauce and gently stir to coat them in the sugar mixture.
  • Let them cook for about five minutes or until the bananas are fully warmed through.
  • Now, you could skip this next step and go straight to the ice cream, but I highly recommend doing it.
  • Remove the bananas from the heat, and drizzle the rum over the top. Using a long match or a wand lighter, light the surface of the liquid on fire (you’ll barely be able to see a flame, and you’ll be able to hear a soft whooshing noise). Let the fire burn until it burns itself out.
  • Serve the bananas over scoops of vanilla ice cream, making sure to drizzle the sugar mixture over top, too.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers to reheat and use later on.

This was nice and warm and perfect for a cold evening while still getting to enjoy a little ice cream. If you’re not a big fan of the taste of rum, what I would describe as the “alcohol taste” burns off, so it really just adds some depth of flavor. It doesn’t taste like you’re taking a shot of liquor.

And, if you have no use for a full bottle of dark rum, I’d recommend buying one of those mini bottles like you’d see in a hotel bar. They are generally about 50 milliliters, and since 1/4 cup is about 59 milliliters, you could get away with just using one little bottle and not have to deal with leftovers. Plus, they’re often about $1, so that’s a pretty cheap, quick investment for a delicious dessert.

Also, in my case, bananas foster gives you a chance to light something on fire, if just for a moment, and that’s just the kind of excitement I need in my life these days.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 22, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Breakfast Dessert

Banana cinnamon rolls aren’t monkeying around

Banana cinnamon rolls have great banana flavor, paired with warm cinnamon, walnuts and a delicious cream cheese frosting.

My parents recently gifted me with bananas—a lot of bananas.

So, looking at the bunches lining my countertop, I decided it was time to try every banana recipe on my Pinterest board.

As I perused the large number of recipes I’d set aside, one popped out at me for banana cinnamon rolls. Not only did they look amazing, but there was no yeast to wait for, so I was excited to try it.

Plus, it got rid of a banana.

Yeah, just one banana. But, hey, at least that’s one fewer banana on my countertop, and these rolls were phenomenal.

This comes from the blog “Inside Bru Crew Life.” You can find the original at https://insidebrucrewlife.com/banana-nut-cinnamon-rolls/. I doubled the spices and vanilla in my version.

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Banana Cinnamon Rolls

Banana cinnamon rolls have great banana flavor, paired with warm cinnamon, walnuts and a delicious cream cheese frosting.
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Keyword banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, quick, walnuts

Ingredients

Filling Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup walnuts finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted

Roll Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 7 tablespoons butter divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or use regular milk with a touch of vinegar

Frosting Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup walnuts finely chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Butter the inside of an 8-by-8-inch baking pan, and set it aside.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the filling until well combined, and set it aside.
  • In a separate bowl, for the rolls, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir with a fork to combine. Add the banana, two tablespoons of the butter, melted, and the buttermilk. Mix by hand until the dough comes together.
  • Dump the dough onto a floured workspace and begin kneading with floured hands. Once the dough is together (it will likely still be a bit sticky), spread it out with your hands into about a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Spread out two more tablespoons of the butter, melted, on the dough. Sprinkle on all of the filling, evenly, leaving about one-half inch empty around the edges.
  • Starting on the long side (so you create a nice, long tube), start rolling the dough. (I had to use a flat, bendy spatula to help mine along, because it was firmly stuck to the counter. It also tore as I went, but don’t worry if that happens. Baking will cover all your sins.)
  • Cut the tube into nine slices and place them, spiral side up, in your prepared pan. Go ahead and crowd them together.
  • Melt the last three tablespoons of butter and drizzle it over the top of the rolls.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the rolls look golden brown.
  • While the rolls bake, combine all the frosting ingredients, except the walnuts, until it is smooth. Spread the frosting over the warm rolls and sprinkle the walnuts on top. Serve warm and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Despite only using a solitary banana, the flavor really came through in these rolls. They were soft, gooey and so, so good. If you’re looking for a good fall recipe to get cinnamon in your life, I highly recommend giving this a try. 

And be prepared for some more banana recipes from me over the next few weeks. I have to do something to reclaim my countertop, and unless I get a visit from a troupe of monkeys, it looks like it’s all up to me.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 15, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

Making pastrami can turn you into a real ‘brisket’ case

Homemade pastrami is a recipe that involves a lot of waiting, but the end result is delicious.

We have been cautiously returning to eating in restaurants over the past couple of weeks.

We’ve specifically been targeting local places who are clearly working keep their staff and customers safe and healthy.

It was during one of those meals that Joey said to me, “I think we could make this.”

“Oh, pastrami?” I replied, glancing at his sandwich. “Yeah. We probably could.”

He paused, a surprised smile on his face.

“No, I meant this Russian mustard, but yeah, let’s make pastrami!”

I’m always getting myself into things by assuming I know what Joey is talking about. So, instead of presenting you with what I can only imagine is a relatively easy condiment recipe, I’m going to share how Joey and I managed to make pastrami at home.

The recipe we used comes from the blog “The Hungry Hounds.” You can find their original post at http://www.thehungryhounds.com/blog/2014/11/16/homemade-pastrami. I increased a couple ingredients just slightly for the brine, but I mostly kept the ratios the same, since I had never attempted something like this before. I also changed up the cooking instructions a bit.

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Pastrami

Homemade pastrami is a recipe that involves a lot of waiting, but the end result is delicious.
Course Main Course
Keyword brisket, cured meat, deli meat, pastrami, smoked meat

Ingredients

  • about 6 pounds beef brisket
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 ounces curing salt the stuff I found was called a “home meat cure”
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 rounded cup garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 rounded tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
  • Around 2 to 3 tablespoons coarse ground pepper to finish

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl or pitcher (something you can pour from is a huge help), whisk the brine ingredients (everything on the ingredients list from the kosher salt to the cloves) until everything is well combined and the salt is dissolved.
  • Meanwhile, rinse the brisket and pat it dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife, slice off almost all of the fat layer that should be on one side of your brisket. You’ll only want to leave a thin layer—maybe a 1/8th inch.
  • Once the meat is trimmed, place it in a deep roasting pan. Take a meat injector and inject some brine every two to three inches along one side of the brisket, inserting the injector about halfway into the meat. (Be careful. I managed to squirt myself in the face during this step because I didn’t insert the injector far enough down.)
  • Pour the rest of the brine over the brisket and cover the top of the pan tightly with plastic wrap. Find a spot in your refrigerator and let the brisket sit for four to five days.
  • When you’re ready to cook your pastrami, remove the brisket from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Press the coarse black pepper all over the outside to help make a nice crust.
  • Now, either cook this low and slow on a wood smoker—Joey kept ours at around 250 degrees—or place it in the oven in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet at 250 degrees for about five hours.
  • (It might take longer, so don’t make any plans while you’re cooking pastrami.) The pastrami is done when the internal temperature reaches somewhere between 195 and 200 degrees.
  • Once the pastrami is done, let it cool down for a couple hours, wrapped in foil, and then you can slice it thinly or place it in the fridge for a bit to make it even easier to slice.
  • If you want something traditional, try this on rye bread with some brown mustard.

This was honestly a whole new experience for me. I’ve never brined anything like this, so it was interesting to see the process. I will say that you want to stick to the timeframe on letting the pastrami brine. We pushed ours to seven days, and it was definitely on the saltier side when it was done. 

But the meat was still really good, and we had some big, thick sandwiches as our celebration for finally finishing a week-long recipe.

And what I’ve learned from this process is that it’s really cute when couples finish each other’s sentences in movies. In real life, when you try it, you’re likely to end up just giving yourself a project.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 8, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Breakfast

Warm breakfast actually is all it’s cracked up to be

Cheesy egg toast is extremely easy way to make eggs and toast simultaneously.

About the time Joey and I got married 10 years ago, I learned what “egg in the basket” was—a simple breakfast dish where an egg is cooked in a hole cut in the center of a piece of bread.

I’ve tried to make egg in the basket many times over the years, completely enamored with the idea, but while I have had a few successes, I have often struggled to actually accomplish a perfect result each time.

On a recent weekend, I woke up early and decided I wanted to pour myself a bowl of cereal, but of course, we were completely out of milk.

Having already convinced myself that I needed breakfast, I started scrolling online and was extremely excited to discover a recipe for a different way to make eggs and toast simultaneously—no poking holes in bread necessary.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Crazy Adventures in Parenting” by Lisa Douglas. You can find her post at http://crazyadventuresinparenting.com/2014/06/cheesy-baked-egg-toast.html. The only change I made was to butter the underside of the bread, too.

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Cheesy Egg Toast

Cheesy egg toast is extremely easy way to make eggs and toast simultaneously.
Course Breakfast
Keyword cheese, easy breakfast, eggs, toast

Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Sliced bread
  • Butter or margarine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheese I used colby-jack
  • Cooking spray

Instructions

  • Prepare a skillet with a lid by spraying it with cooking spray (unless it’s nonstick) and heating it over medium-low heat.
  • Using a spoon or a butter knife, press the entire inside portion of a slice of bread down to create a rectangular well, leaving about a half-inch lip around the edges. (Repeat these steps for as many servings as you need.)
  • Lightly butter the other side of the bread and place it, well side up into the preheated pan.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper into the well and then carefully break an egg into the well you created. Spread a thin layer of butter around the edges of the bread, and sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Place the lid on the pan and cook for about three to four minutes; then check the toast every minute or so until the egg has reached your desired doneness.
  • Serve.

This was delicious and turned out perfectly. I didn’t have to flip the bread or try not to break the yolk while nudging the toast in the pan. I left my eggs with a runny yolk and ate my breakfast with a fork, but you could easily scramble the egg before adding it to the bread or just cook the eggs with a hard yolk to make it easier to just eat with your hands.

This certainly wasn’t anything fancy, but I loved my morning meal with a side of hot coffee. Plus, if you want a glowing recommendation, Joey politely requested his own plate full when he got up a few minutes later and saw what I made.

This will definitely be my new, go-to way to make an egg/toast combo in the mornings instead of the traditional egg in the basket.

Starting your day with a warm, easy meal is a lot nicer than beginning with the frustrating process of trying to corral an egg in the basket—and it sure beat my bowl of cereal, too.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 1, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

I’ll take all the Tex-Mex you can ‘chimi’

Chicken chimichangas with white sauce are a scrumptious weekday dinner that tastes like it took a lot longer to make than it really did.

The debate about “authentic” food always fascinates me. 

I recently listened to an episode of NPR’s “The Splendid Table,” where the host and guest were discussing the different ways people make sauce in Italy, and some of the recipes sounded very different than what I’d always thought was uniquely Italian.

The same debate seems to happen with Mexican food, too. People turn up their nose at “Tex-Mex,” claiming only the real thing is worth eating.

But I would argue that a lot of the amazing dishes in the States have benefitted from being tampered with a little—creating something new and delicious.

The recipe I tried this week for chimichangas is an example of that. A chimichanga, according to “What’s Cooking, America,” originated in Arizona, a creation by Mexican immigrants, where a traditional burrito received a deep-fried treatment.

This recipe is another step away from the original because it is baked, but despite its departure from the “authentic” version, it is absolutely delicious.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Munchkin Time.” You can find the original post at https://www.munchkintime.com/easy-30-minute-chicken-chimichanga-recipe/. I’m combining two of her recipes together for you, and I doubled the cumin in my version.

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Chicken Chimichangas with White Sauce

Chicken chimichangas with white sauce are a scrumptious weekday dinner that tastes like it took a lot longer to make than it really did.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword baked, cheese, cheese sauce, chimichangas, Tex-Mex, tortillas, white sauce

Ingredients

Chimichanga Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack shredded cheese
  • 4 ounces diced chiles
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 soft-taco-size flour tortillas
  • melted butter to brush tops

White Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream I used fat free
  • 4 ounces cream cheese I used fat free
  • 4 ounces green chiles drained
  • 1 to 4 teaspoons hot sauce I used chipotle Tabasco
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In an oven-safe skillet, heat a tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken breasts and cook for about four minutes (or until you get a nice sear). Flip the breasts over and slide the skillet into the oven. Check the chicken after about 10 minutes, and remove it from the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  • While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is melted, whisk in the flour and let it cook for a couple minutes.
  • Whisk in the broth slowly, making sure to break up clumps as you do. Once the mixture is smooth, add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let the mixture come up to a slow boil, stirring regularly to incorporate everything. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove it from the heat.
  • For the chimichangas, shred the chicken and add in the shredded cheese, chiles, cumin, salt and pepper and one cup of the white sauce and stir until well combined.
  • Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Spoon about 2/3 cup of the chicken mixture into the center of each tortilla, and wrap them by folding in the sides and then the ends to seal them.
  • Place them seam side down on a baking sheet.
  • Brush each chimichanga with the melted butter and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  • Serve them with a ladle of the white sauce over top.

These were amazing. I think Joey told me at least four times during dinner how much he liked them, so I will be making these again, I’m sure.

The cheese sauce was absolute perfection, and honestly, even if you don’t want to make the chimichangas, make the white sauce and use it as a dip for chips. It’s fantastic.

This probably wouldn’t meet the approval of those who look only for “authentic” Mexican food, but I can tell you without a doubt that my stomach didn’t mind the lack of authenticity even a little.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 24, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.