Jalapeno Overload; A Confession- Recipe for Cheesy Jalapeno Cauliflower Rice & Beans, and an Aioli

img_2514I have a confession for our community “Gospel Garden.” If you have visited you would guess that either the Modesto Gospel Mission loves jalapenos, or I do. By far the most prolific plant that has grown, in pace with the tomatoes, are the jalapenos. I never knew that the plants could reach 5 ft tall! I think we had around 50 plants donated, and each bush puts out around 20 peppers! Well my confession is this, it was a mistake. A friend of mine asked how many peppers we would like when he made his donation. I was thinking bell peppers for the salad bar, turns out they were jalapenos. Should have asked! I have new found love for these peppers after this summer. They have been such a blessing at our garden. We found that kids love them when you remove the seeds they are not all that hot, and make for an exciting snack! Many were used by the mission and given to neighbors and family. I have found many fun recipes, and they make an excellent addition to marinara sauce, stir fry, breads, pizza and on! Below are two recent recipes.

With the change in weather I  was excited to create something warm and homey. This cauliflower rice dish is great way for kids to get there vegetables, and to avoid a starch overload. Super simple to make, kids can help! Can either be a great side dish or the star of the show. Simple to prepare, cauliflower rice is now a staple in our home. I love the big fresh bag from Taylor Farms available at Costco stores! Think of this recipe as a great way to clean your fridge of vegetables that need to be used. Use here! get creative! I use my marinara and farm fresh yogurt: OK to use store bought of course! Also below another fun way to use jalapenos; make an Aioli, (fancy word for garlic mayo). Below is a recipe inspired by my mom, who used a jalapeno aioli with fish tacos at our last visit to her place on the coast.

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice                                                                  Yield: 6 largeservings

Ingredients:img_2526

  • 4 Jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 C Shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Stalks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Can Pinto Beans
  • 2 C Cauliflower Rice
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 C  Chopped leeks, squash or other extra vegetable from garden or fridge.
  • 1/2 C Yogurt
  • 1/2 C Marinara Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Butter

Directions:

In saute pan over medium heat, melt butter, add onion, celery and saute until translucent around 8 minutes.

Add cauliflower rice and cook an additional 8 minutes. Once cooked through add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add beans, yogurt and marinara. Mix well and then add cheese. Serve once cheese is melted and ingredients warmed through Enjoy!

Simple Jalapeno Aioli

Directions:

Place 4 chopped jalapenos, 1 C mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp yogurt, 3 cloves of garlic and blend! That’s it! Feel free to fool with the portions. This makes approx 2 cups of sauce. Use on sandwiches, burgers, pasta, tacos and on!

A Simple Way to Make Cheddar Cheese and Your Own Cheese Press!

This as simple a way to make a  pressed cheddar cheese, I will also include illustrated instructions on how to make your own press!  You can create fresh cheddar curds without the use of a press. They taste good and are immediately gratifying. The aging and use of  press for hard cheeses makes the cheese special and creates a depth of flavors as time goes on. You can get creative and try different pressing and aging times, then sample the cheeses as time goes on. I did not get that far. I put my lovely pressed cheese to dry on the counter and the kids and I got too curious. We tried it and it was delicious, and gone before dinner. Either way it was fun to create and making cheese is such an art form. You can try to measure temperatures, time, weight, and ingredients just right but it really comes down to intuition and taking the time to know the process and sticking with it. Like any art.  Cheese making is a skill I am still learning and to me that is the fun of it. I’m going to outline through my experiences the easiest simplest and least fussy way to have a successful cheese. There are a whole lot of other recipes out there that go into more depth but I’m going to keep it as fun as possible, kids love this because it is a science experiment with yummy results!

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Ingredients:

Directions:

Put the milk in large clean stainless steel pot and slowly warm milk to around 80F, or just until milk feels on verge of getting hot. Sprinkle the culture into milk and stir well with whisk.

Cover and allow the milk to culture for around 45 minutes. I put this in the oven with light on and towel over top. Mix rennet in 1/4 C water and stir well into the milk. Cover and allow to sit another 45 minutes. It is now that a curd will begin to form. Using the blade of a long knife ( I use a cake frosting knife) you can literally cut into the curd. Make long cuts length wise and across to form 1/2 inch cubes. See picture.

Be gentle as the less you handle the more delicate your cheese will be. Let the now cut curds rest for 10 minutes. Then move pot to burner and heat to a little over 100 F for 40 minutes, stirring gently to keep curds form sticking together. Scoop out the curds with a strainer or slotted spoon into a colander. Allow the curds to rest in the colander and drain over the still warm pot. Let the curds drain for an hour, turning the curds to drain well and keep the whey below warm to allow the process of “cheddaring” to occur.

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It is now that the cheese will take on a squeaky texture, which the kids love to sample. Then remove the curds form the strainer and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Put them in a bowl and toss with the salt. It may taste very salty but as the cheese is pressed, the salt comes out with the whey, so it is better to be a little heavy with the salt.

Creating a Cheese Press:

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Directions for Pressed Cheese:

Line the cheese mold with cheesecloth, I use a tea towel, and fill with the cut curds. Place on center of cheese press with pan to collect whey underneath. Place follower on top. I then put an empty mason jar which fits in lid. Place top wooden board and add 10 lbs weight for an hour. Take out cheese and cloth and turn over.

 

Replace weight and press an additional hour. Add 10 lbs and press overnight. Remove cheese and let air dry for 4 hours. You may eat fresh . Will last 2 weeks in refrigerator.  Age for flavor in cool dry place with wax for 4 weeks and   up to 6 months, even longer if desired!  The longer the cheddar ages, the sharper the cheddar becomes! Enjoy the process and let me know how your trails go!

 

 

Brown Butter Maple Oat Breakfast Muffins; Learn my Quick, One Pot “Blank Canvas”  Recipe, and a lemon version

img_9499I’m bringing muffins back! Some of you may be thinking, I never knew muffins were out, neither did I! That was until I went to research muffin recipes in my new cook book and nada! Looking further online, it seems the culinary world has turned its back in this American staple. The muffin  is underrated and seen as creation that takes little skill that has now been confused with its trendier counterpart the cupcake. Muffins were created in America, different from the English version, this muffin was a batter that required a tin, and baking powder, which wasn’t invented until the late 1800’s. Muffins were traditionally made by hand, but modern bakeries wanting to make them more light like the much desired cupcake,  added more sugar and used a mixer to add dry to wet ingredients. Personally the muffin means a lot to me. It has been a wonderfully easy way yo be creative as a busy mom, and feed my kids a wholesome snack at the same time. Muffins are versatile and a great way to use seasonal fruits an vegetables. The possibilities are endless, and in using traditional methods with high quality  ingredients its like creating a work of art. It has taken me time to be able to not have to look at a recipe, creating a stand by muffin recipe that I can make quickly,  being able to get creative with what I have, and double easily to share. My recipe takes one pot, little mess and little time. I usually can make these in 10 minutes or less and you can too! Think of this recipe as a blank canvas. The ingredients should be the freshest you can find. If you can take the time to make fresh yogurt  I encourage it. See my recipe for homemade yogurt. Besides added health benefits, yogurt tenderizes baked goods. The homemade yogurt makes this muffin special, and creates a feeling of accomplishment. Get cookin’!

Ingredients

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Everything here except the Baking Soda and Powder

  • 3 C flour
  • 1 C Rolled Oats
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 3/4 C Sugar
  • 1/4 C Maple Syrup
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 C yogurt
  • 1/2 C Butter (melted)
  • 1/2 – 1 C add ins- see below.

For Lemon Oat Muffins:

  • Juice and Zest of 2 Meyer Lemons
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting.

Other ideas for ad ins for both sweet and savory muffins include ; Apple sauce, Fruit puree or whole berries, chocolate chips, almond butter, roasted nuts, pureed vegetables like carrot or cauliflower, cheeses, grated zucchini, and the list goes on! You can adjust the add ins by decreasing the amount of yogurt or butter used. For example if you want to add 1 C apple sauce use only 1/2 C yogurt.

Have fun creating new muffins to try with your family. The portable nature of a muffin makes it such a great convenience and a way to pack nutrition into your day without hitting the drive thru, taking time and money. Remember these also freeze great for later use so stock up when you have some extra time to bake!

Directions;

In large pot melt butter. If making Lemon Muffins as pictured above, add lemon zest and juice. Let butter cool slightly. Add sugar, yogurt, maple syrup and oats, stir.

Place sifter over pot and sift in flour, salt, baking powder and soda.

Make a well in center of flour crack in 2 eggs. Using a fork beat the eggs until yoke and whites combined, then fold into dry and wet ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix, batter should be lumpy and this is OK. Spoon into buttered tins.

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You can never over fill and muffin tin!

bake 350 F for 15-20 minutes, or until tooth pick comes out clean. For Lemon Muffin sift tops with powdered sugar and additional lemon zest. Enjoy!

 

Festive Persimmon and Pomegranate Cookies

 

These persimmon and pomegranate cookies are for when you really want to share something special during the holidays. So many people I shared these with  had fond  memories or persimmon cookies during the holidays. This cookie surprises as it has a little twist. I use persimmon and pomegranate . I use my Christmas Jam in these, and this recipe is a snap if you already have the jam on hand. See my recipe and make extra for gifts to go along with these cookies. Persimmons and Pomegranates are two very special ingredients, that is very expensive at the stores, but I was lucky enough to have a neighbor with an ancient Pom tree as well as a long-standing persimmon tree up in knights ferry. Make your holiday extra special by making these cookies! The cookies freeze nicely, and kids love them as well! Glad I wrote down the ingredients when creating this recipe, and hope you will enjoy!

Yield: Approx 20 Large Cookies                                             Time: 45 Minutes

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Ingredients:

  • 1 C Butter
  • 1 1/2 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Yogurt ( Try my Recipe to make your own!)
  • 1 1/2 C Christmas Jam
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 C Flour
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 3 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 Tsp Nutmeg

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Sift Dry ingredients into bowl and set aside. In bowl of mixer add butter and sugars, cream on high until light and fluffy. Add  jam and yogurt, mix until smooth.  Adding one egg at a time, beat at  low speed until just incorporated.

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Hint: Batter can be clumpy, its best to not over mix eggs, they will mix once dry ingredients are added.

Slowly add dry ingredients, taking time to stopping to  scrape sides, adding 1/3 of dry mixture at a time until just blended together. Drop large rounded spoonfuls onto parchment paper 1 1/2″ apart. Bake for approx 12 minutes. Do not over cook, cookies are done when edges appear golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired. Happy Holidays!

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Fresh Breakfast Lasagna

img_7969If you think this does not sound good for breakfast,  I promise it is perfect for brunch and even for dinner! Yummy fresh layers of cheese, eggs, hash browns all with a light marinara. I found myself making two, a smaller one for dinner and a larger one for a brunch the next day. This is  a great make ahead dish, pop it in the oven the next day. I used my home-made pasta sauce, with lots of mushrooms and egg-plant which lightened up the sauce, and my raw yogurt, which I think gives it a fluffier texture than most egg dishes. You could use store bough marinara and yogurt as well. Experiment with diffrent sauces, maybe even a pesto with sausage instead of bacon! Pictured here in my “Holstein Plate” Available at Art to Feed website, portion of proceeds donated to support your local food bank!

Ingredients

  • 2 C Cubed  Sourdough Bread ( I found a jalapeno bread for a kick, but use any bread you have on hand)
  • 2 C Hash Browns (thawed)
  • 8 Slices of Bacon Crumbled
  • 10 Eggs
  • 1/2 C Yogurt
  • 1/4 C Milk
  • 1/2 C Marinara Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Tsp Salt and Pepper
  • 2 C Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 C Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat bottom of 9″ x 13″ Dish. Spread half marinara on bottom of dish. Place Hash Browns and top with cubed bread.

This is where my kids have fun, its like a puzzle trying to get them all to fit. Mid home work break! img_7963

Whisk Eggs, remainder of tomato sauce, yogurt, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour gently over bread and hash browns. Layer Parmesan and then Cheddar. Place in oven or store in fridge overnight. Bake 40-55 minutes and golden brown and bubbly! Enjoy, and serve for dinner if desired!

Super Moist Pumpkin Muffins…made with yogurt and almond Butter

img_7839I painted this pumpkin platter and made these pumpkin muffins in hopes that fall will come early! A portion of proceeds from this platter goes towards your local food bank and can be purcahsed at ART to FEED website.

I hope to try this recipe with fresh pumpkin from our cousins Pumpkin Patch, but you can also use canned pumpkin as well! My muffin recipes are no fuss, use one bowl and make your life easier please and have fun cooking!  Muffins give so much room for creativity to add you own twist as well. I added my Raw Yogurt and some almond butter that give these muffins a super moist texture. For a healthier muffin you can omit the topping. Purchase almonds for a good cause through Farm to Kids and make your own almond butter as well! These freeze well for busy mornings and this recipe makes enough to share with neighbors and spread the love for all things pumpkin! Makes approx 24 muffins.

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Ingredients

  • 3 C Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 C Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2  C  Butter
  • 1/4 C Yogurt
  • 1/4 C Almond Butter
  • 1 15 oz Can Pumpkin or 2 C Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Topping

  • 1 tbsp Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 2 c Oats
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C flour

Directions:

PreHeat oven to 350 F. Grease muffins Tins. In large bowl combine dry ingredients. Melt the 2 sticks of butter in microwave or pan. Make well in dry ingredients and in this order add; melted  butter and sugar. Stir to combine only the wet ingredients without scraping sides. Add eggs and beat into wet ingredients one at a time. Add yogurt, maple syrup and pumpkin (reserve 1 tbs for topping). Fold gently until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Over mixing you eggs will lead to a tougher muffin. In general with baking the less you handle the better. Batter will be lumpy and this is ok!  Spoon into muffin tins.

Prepare topping; Melt butter and add remaining ingredients. Stir until mixture resembles a loose crumble. Add more flour or oats if needed. Place a large spoonful on top of each filled muffin tin. Bake for 30-4o minutes or until golden brown.

 

Raw Butter With Yogurt

 

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Is this  a new dairy product? Probably not, there is probably another name for this but I don’t know what it is, let me know if you do! I add my raw yogurt to this butter which gives the butter a nice tang. It may be too strong in flavor for some, and if so feel free to omit the yogurt. Butter is easy to make at home, only problem is it takes alot of heavy cream. I create our butter with milk from the dairy. I allow the milk to separate from the cream by letting it sit for 24 hours. I then carefully skim the cream off the top. Using a wide mouth container helps. By adgetating the butter in a blender, food processor or other means, it begins to form butter that you them pat into a desired shape and place in serving dish. I created this Holstein Butter Dish  to benefit Art to Feed and your local food bank.

Making your own butter is worth the work and time, fresh butter really tastes amazing. I plan on using if for my Cultured Chocolate Chip Cookies, try it out! Get creative, add things to butter like garlic or other seasonings to make a very special treat!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 C or more of Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Yogurt
  • 2 tsp Salt or to taste.
  • I Bowl of Ice Water

Directions:

Place Heavy Cream in bowl of blender or food processor. Blend until milk starts to form little clumps.(Approx 3 -5 Minutes)

Strain the “clumps” from the whey. Press the clumps together and place in ice bath. Slowly begin to pat and shape encouraging any excess whey to drain. If butter gets too soft place back in ice bath and repeat until all whey has been removed. Place on parchment paper and roll into log shape. Or place in desired container and refrigerate until firm. Enjoy!

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