SECRET RECIPE CLUB: MINI-QUICHES WITH DUXELLES AND BABY BROCCOLI

It seems like FOREVER since we’ve had a Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club, but finally here we are, having the greatest time together…  My assigned blog for the first month of 2015 has such a cute name, makes me smile:  A Calculated Whisk… Becky, the cook behind the blog is a teacher of English to young Spanish-speaking kids, and next year will be starting to work on her master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology. Impressive!  Her site focuses on Paleo-friendly recipes, but is  not restricted to them. For those interested in the Paleo life-style,  I recommend reading her series of posts starting in January 1st, 2014, in which she shares her experience doing the Whole30 thing and blogging daily about it. That is endurance on several levels!  ;-)   Becky has two incredibly cute cats, Cupcake (a butter-addict) and Furpaws (prefers to hang inside the kitchen sink hoping for a sip of water straight from the faucet).  I say we pet lovers have our share of idiosyncratic creatures to deal with…    I am quite fond of Paleo recipes because they are usually moderate in carbs and high in protein, which is my preferred way to eat, so I had no problem finding stuff in her blog that pleased me. In fact, I intend to enjoy in the near future her Chicken Meatballs with Garlic Kale Marinara, her Chickpea Mushroom Spread (this one not Paleo), her Pumpkin and Pecorino Souffle (pretty intriguing gluten-free version), and her Spicy Cocoa Chili.  But this recipe won my heart to share with you today: Mini-Quiches with Duxelles and Broccoli.  As I expected, they were cute and absolutely delicious!

Mini-Quiches2

MINI-QUICHES WITH DUXELLES AND BROCCOLI
(slightly adapted from A Calculated Whisk)

makes 12 mini-quiches

for the duxelles:
2 tablespoons ghee
1 large shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup minced mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the mini quiches:
2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets
4 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup coconut milk, full fat
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil, for greasing the pan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 12-cup muffin pan with olive oil.

To make the duxelles, melt the ghee in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and most of it is gone, about 10 minutes. Season the duxelles liberally with salt and pepper, then set aside on a plate to cool.

Return the skillet to medium and add the chopped broccoli. Cook, stirring frequently, until bright green and crisp tender, about five minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Stir in the duxelles and broccoli. Divide the mixture among the 12 greased muffin cups, filling each one about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until just set in the middle.

Gently run a knife around the edge of each quiche, and carefully scoop them out with a spoon. Enjoy hot or warm. Leftover quiches can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days and reheated.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I turned this recipe into a Neolithic version by adding feta cheese, my apologies to all modern cave men out there.  But some pieces of leftover feta were staring at me from the fridge JUST as I was grabbing the eggs, and they actually screamed when left behind: “Please, take us, take us!”. I could not ignore them, I’m sure Becky will forgive me for the tweak.  Those of you on a strict Paleo kick, simply omit the feta, but adjust the salt accordingly.

These were so tasty and convenient both as a side-dish at dinner or as a snack. Of course, you can think of all types of goodies to add to the mixture, keeping it Paleo with diced roasted butternut squash, shredded zucchini, or stretching a bit its limits with a little Roquefort or other yummy cheese.  However, this version joining broccoli with mushrooms is going to be hard to beat.

Mini-Quiches1

Becky, as soon as this post is public, I am going to subscribe to your blog, as I don’t want to miss any of your future recipes. I truly enjoyed secretively exploring your site, and look forward to more…

As usual, my readers are all invited to go poke a blue frog. There is one waiting for you at the end of the post, and once poked, you will be able to see what all my fellow Secreters have been up to in the first month of 2015! And if you are curious about who had my blog, take a look at this beautiful post by Tara.  She made brigadeiros!  Clever girl!

ONE YEAR AGO: Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

THREE YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

FOUR YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

THE SECRET RECIPE CLUB COOKIE SWAP: SPICED HONEY-GINGER COOKIES

I have been a member of The Secret Recipe Club for a little over 3  years, and never get tired of it! Getting assigned a food blog every month to cook from is so much fun, because it exposes you to different styles of cooking and of course opens the horizons to new sites that could otherwise go unnoticed.  Every year,  the club takes a break for the holidays, so groups C and D do not post in December. However, instead of taking a break this year, Sarah, the club’s Owner – and Resident Saint who keeps our boats sailing smoothly – came up with a different twist: both groups would be joined in a single event, a Cookie Carnival Swap. Participation would not be mandatory, so that those who prefer to sit back and relax could do so. Me? Sitting out?  No way.  So, this month we have a huge event with 60 food bloggers! As usual, we were assigned a blog in secret, and had to pick a cookie recipe to make and blog about.  My assigned blog, Culinary Adventures with Camilla, was a ton of fun to stalk!  One of the things I loved about her site is that she designs all her recipes. Nothing from cookbooks or cooking shows. That is beyond impressive. Camilla describes herself as a “tree-hugging, veggie-crunching, jewelry-designing mean mommy who loves to cook but hates to clean”.  She is also a freelance writer and photographer for Edible Monterey Bay.  Is that cool or what?

I had a tough time deciding between three cookies: Faux-reosSalted Mayan Chocolate, and Spiced Honey-Ginger Cookies.  You must stop by and read about her Oreo Cookie experience, she was sort of challenged to make them from scratch, and admitted she had never even tried a Oreo until then. Talk about a challenge!   Still, my love for spices made me choose the last one. Plus, since the recipe called for ginger syrup, it gave me the opportunity of making it myself, something I’ve been meaning to try for years.

HoneySpiceCookies

SPICED HONEY-GINGER COOKIES
(slightly modified from Culinary Adventures with Camilla)

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 C butter, at room temperature
1 cup raw turbinado sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup ginger syrup (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons honey (I used acacia honey)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, ginger, baking soda, and spices into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Add in the sugar. Beat in the egg, honey, and ginger syrup. Mix together until a soft dough forms. Pinch off small amounts of dough,  and roll into balls. Place the balls 2″ apart on an ungreased baking sheet, flatten slightly. Bake until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, about 13 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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dough

GINGER SYRUP
(adapted from many sources)

4 ounces fresh ginger, unpeeled
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
pinch salt

Cut the ginger into small pieces.   Place the ginger pieces with water, sugar, and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce to a low simmer, and cook for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Let cool, then strain the syrup through. Store the strained syrup in the refrigerator, covered. It should keep for a couple of weeks.
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to print the ginger syrup recipe, click here

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These cookies were absolutely delicious, and perfect for this time of the year. If you like gingersnaps, they will please you because they are similar, but the cardamon takes them in a slightly different direction. On a side note, every time I open the bottle of cardamon I get mesmerized by its intense, delicious smell. Truly addictive for me. I reduced the amount of ginger powder called for in the recipe because my syrup seemed very powerful.  Do not be alarmed by the amount of sugar in the recipe: one cup of sugar plus the syrup, and honey.  The cookies end up with a perfect balance of spice and sweetness.

baking

I took the full batch (about 35 cookies) to our department, and once again they were a huge hit. They  seem pretty humble and harmless, but once you grab the first one it is impossible not to go back for more.

The ginger syrup was a fun culinary project that made our home smell terrific on a gray Saturday afternoon.  You will have more than you need for the cookies, so consider making homemade ginger ale: just add a little syrup to a glass with some ice cubes, squirt a little lime juice, and fill the glass with carbonated water or club soda.  If the temperature outside was not so polar-bear-friendly, I would have a glass right now.

Camilla, you have a great food blog, and I’ll be visiting you often from now on.  I hope you also had a blast with your assignment… As a note to my readers, at this time of the year cookies are in everyone’s mind, so click on the blue frog for a serious collection of goodies made by my fellow virtual friends from The Secret Recipe Club.

Sarah, thanks for organizing this event, saving me from a horrible SRC withdrawn episode!

ONE YEAR AGO: A Simple Taco to Remember

TWO YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Homemade Calzones

THREE YEARS AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

FOUR YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

FIVE YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: GREEN RICE

THREE YEARS AS A MEMBER OF THE SECRET RECIPE CLUB!

Last Monday of the month. You probably expect me to whine about the cold, but guess what?  As you read this post, I should  be far, far away in Brazil, enjoying balmy temperatures, wearing shorts, t-shirts, and recharging my batteries to face the frigid months ahead.  But the last Monday means fun, because it’s Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club! I was paired with the blog “A Day in the Life on the Farm“, hosted by Wendy. Her story is fascinating: she and her husband were police officers in a large city (which of course meant a ton of trouble in their hands…), but when they retired they moved to a tiny little town of 4,000 people, and bought a house on 12 acres of land.  They raise meat chickens, turkeys, and pigs, and Wendy – to fight her empty nest syndrome  –  decided to host foreign students in their place.  Now she works part-time for the World Heritage, placing students into homes for a year of schooling here in the US.  Being in academia and therefore often exposed to the troubles that foreign students face (plus, I was one myself), I know how important this type of work can be.  Please, stop by her about page and read more about their life on the farm, and how on top of everything she also takes care of her Mom, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She actually devotes a section in her blog to talk about it, under Life with Mom. Beautiful, touching, and at times funny.

We had so much going on this past month, that I needed to jump on my assignment right away.  The recipe I set my eyes on was a drool-inducing dessert, a Caramelized Almond Apple Upside Down Cake. But, I decided against it.  Why? With Thanksgiving saying hello, then the holidays, a lot of heavy food will be popping everywhere.  I did not want to start early with the excesses, so this cake shall wait. Sorry, folks, but better safe than sorry.  Then, I almost went with her cute Pretzel Dogs. Finally it was a tough decision between Zucchini Enchiladas, or Green Rice.  As you can see, I went green.  Green is good for you, and this was one of the most flavorful rice dishes I’ve made.

Green Rice

GREEN RICE
(very slightly modified from A Day in the Life on the Farm)

2 poblano chile peppers
1 green pepper (I used half a Serrano)
1 cup long grain rice
1 large bunch of cilantro
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley
2 cups chicken stock
1/2  teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil (I used grapeseed)
1 small shallot, minced
Dry roast the peppers in a griddle pan (or on a grill), turning frequently so the skins blacken but the flesh doesn’t burn.  Place in a strong plastic bag, seal and set aside for 20 minutes
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Put the rice in a heat proof bowl, pour in boiling water to cover and let stand 20 minutes.
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Drain the rice, rinse well under cold water and drain again.  Remove the peppers from the bag and peel off the skins.  Remove any stems, then slit the peppers and scrape out seeds with a sharp knife.
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Put the peppers in a food processor, strip the leaves from the cilantro and parsley and add to peppers.  Pour in half the chicken stock and process until smooth.  Add remaining stock and puree again.
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Heat oil in a saucepan, add the rice and minced shallot and fry for 5 minutes over med heat until the rice is golden and the shallot is translucent.  Add the salt, stir in the green puree, lower heat, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed  and the rice is just tender. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
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ENJOY!
to print the recipe, click here
 
Comments:  Lately I’ve been quite smitten with poblano peppers.  Very little heat, but so much flavor! Our stove did a great job charring them, I don’t think I was ever able to get such a beautiful blackened skin with almost no effort.   Using a paper towel to remove the charred skin was also a great move, a tip I got from watching Marcela Valladolid in her show Mexican Made Easy.  I never liked the idea of rinsing the peppers because there’s quite a bit of flavor loss if you do that.  The paper towels removed just the skin and I could leave little bits here and there for an extra smoky flavor.   Aren’t they cute?

compositePeppers

Adding boiling water to the rice and waiting for 20 minutes was also something I had never done, and I liked the texture of the finished product.  If you are a cilantro-hater, this rice is not for you, its flavor is obviously very prominent.  You could substitute spinach.

GreenRiceServed
This was a delicious dinner!  Green rice, simple roasted carrots, and for our protein a few slices of center-cut pork chops, cooked sous-vide, and finished off on the grill.   Life is good!

Wendy, I hope you had a great time this month with your assignment!  It was wonderful to browse through your site, I read all your posts about your Mom, and am still in awe of your ability to do so much Everyday in your Life on the Farm… 

For my readers: if you want to see what my fellow Secret Friends cooked up this month, give a little click on the blue frog at the end of this post.   Normally Groups C and D would take a break in the month of December, but apparently me and Dorothy from Shockingly Delicious whined so much about withdrawal syndrome, that The Secret Recipe Club will have a little surprise reserved for both groups.  It will be awesome, so stay tuned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Potato-Crusted Italian Mini-Quiches

TWO YEARS AGO: Beetroot Sourdough for the Holidays

THREE YEARS AGO: Cod Filet with Mustard Tarragon Crust

FOUR YEARS AGO: Soba Noodles: Light and Healthy

FIVE YEARS AGO: Potato-Rosemary Bread

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: PECAN-CRUSTED CHICKEN WITH HONEY-MUSTARD DRESSING

Not sure what happened, we were waiting for Spring to arrive, I blinked twice and October is about to end. As those who follow my blog know very well by now, I look forward to the last Monday of each month, because it is Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club.  Food bloggers are paired in secret, choose a recipe to make from their assigned blog, and post about it on the exact same time.  This month I was assigned the blog hosted by Traci,  Burnt Apple.  Her choice of name for her blog gave me a huge smile – apparently she was not a very good cook, and had a tendency to burn stuff. Evidently, those are days left behind in her distant past.  Not only her site is full of great recipes, but she deals with a tricky situation as far as cooking is concerned: her husband was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes when he was very young, so Traci adapts all sorts of recipes to accommodate his requirements.  I feel that I have it all so easy!  Both Phil and I can eat anything, so if I decide to bake something gluten-free, or opt for a Paleo-friendly recipe, it’s just for experimenting and for fun.  It is a totally different story when one deals with diabetes or serious food allergies.  I am in awe of her efforts, and the way she uses her blog to help others faced with the same type of problem.  Now, quoting a paragraph from her About page:

“I’ve become a master recipe manipulator. I can make anything healthier and still taste great. I’ve also learned how to eat healthy on a strict (aka teeny tiny) budget. I’ve taught what I’ve learned (and made) for stores like Whole Foods Market and Sunflower Market. I’ve even shared my creations and ideas on my local TV news programs”.

Isn’t that amazing? I was paired with a superstar!  Usually I decide on a recipe pretty quickly, but this month I went through a bit of a struggle.    I kept going back and forth, tempted by her Winter Squash Cheese Flatbread,  her Ham and Cornmeal Cakes,  her Greek Yogurt Lemon Drop Cookies,  and – this might surprise you – her Arby’s Beef and Cheddar Sandwiches.  It turns out that in one of my first road trips with Phil, we were in the middle of nowhere and stopped for a bite to eat at Arby’s.  I had never been to that fast food place, and ordered that exact sandwich.  My gosh, I loved every single bite of it, could not care less if it was fancy or not fancy, healthy or not healthy. In fact, just writing about it makes me crave one… Anyway, after a full week of indecision, I made her delicious version of boneless chicken breasts, and a tasty dressing to go with it.

PecanCrustedChicken

PECAN-CRUSTED CHICKEN WITH HONEY-MUSTARD DRESSING
(from Burnt Apple)

for chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup finely crushed pecans
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

for dressing:
1/4 cup honey
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped (I omitted)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbsp lemon juice (or the juice of 1/2 lemon)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a baking dish or use a dish with a rack to keep the pieces surrounded by air all around.

In a food processor, pulse grind the pecans, cornmeal, parmesan cheese, onion powder, rosemary, salt and pepper until fine. Pour mixture into a bowl. In another small bowl, mix together the egg and milk.

Dip the chicken pieces in the milk mixture, than into the pecan mixture, lightly coating both sides. Arrange chicken pieces in the baking dish.

Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, flipping the chicken once halfway through baking time. Make the dressing while the chicken is cooking:  whisk together all dressing ingredients until combined. Transfer dressing to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Shake before use.

Remove the chicken from the oven when the center of the chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Allow the chicken to cool for several minutes before slicing.

Drizzle with honey mustard dressing when you serve it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

compositeComments:  This was a fun recipe to prepare, and the chicken turned out surprisingly moist for boneless pieces baked straight in a hot oven.  I guess the coating performed its beautiful magic.  I baked the pieces over a rack, and turned the pieces half way through baking time, as recommended.

The dressing went perfectly with it, at least for my taste. Phil preferred his chicken without any extra flavor, he thought that just the breading with the nuts and cheese was perfect to showcase the natural taste of the meat.  You will have to make it and decide if you side with me or him…  Of course, if you side with the hubby, this shattering blow to my ego will not affect my relationship with you. We will still be friends.  I promise.

Traci, now that the secret is out, I will be following your blog adventures, your style of cooking matches mine quite well…

For those who want to see a nice collection of recipes from my friends over at The Secret Recipe Club, click on the funky frog at the end of the post. She is funky, but nice, and loves to be poked…

ONE YEAR AGO: Bewitching Kitchen on Fire!

TWO YEARS AGO: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

THREE YEARS AGO: Chiarello’s Chicken Cacciatore

FOUR YEARS AGO: Donna Hay’s Thai-Inspired Dinner

FIVE YEARS AGO: Panettone

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: BUTTERMILK-BLUEBERRY BREAKFAST CAKE

This semester is shaping up as one of the busiest for us. I even flirted with the idea of sitting out of the Secret Recipe Club for a month, but I would be miserable watching everyone else posting their tasty recipes and not joining the party. No, not skipping it. My approach then is to jump on the assignment pretty much the day I get the email, on a rapid-fire stalking mode.  The blog I got this month was “Making Miracles“, hosted by Rebekah. I urge you to read her About page, she has lived in many places in the US, including Alaska, but also spent a little over two  years in Senegal back in 1995. A fascinating experience, even if at times not easy. If the subject of surrogacy interests you, she has a lot of experience with it as a surrogate mom herself, and also from helping families reach their dream of having a baby. That’s what the title of her blog, “Making Miracles” is all about.

I decided to go back to sweets for this month’s assignment, and had blueberries on my mind.  Two recipes were begging to be featured, her Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins, and her Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake.  The husband spoke. Breakfast cake won. So here it is!

BlueberryCoffeeCake

BUTTERMILK-BLUEBERRY BREAKFAST CAKE
(from Rebekah’s Making Miracles)

½ cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, separated
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour, separated
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups blueberries
½ cup buttermilk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, lemon zest, and 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour. In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining 1 + 3/4 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Remove excess flour from the blueberries, then fold the blueberries gently into the batter. Batter will be thick.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick to make sure is cooked through. If necessary, return pan to oven for as long as 10 more minutes.   Let cool at for 10-15 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

batter-side

Did I mention we’ve been overly busy these days?  At the risk of boring you to death with trivia about growing bacteria, I will share some of the sordid details. For some experiments, we need to start cultures growing around 11pm, and then take care of them again before 5:30am. Usually Phil goes late at night, and I play the early bird.  It’s not that bad, these late night and early morning visits to the lab are short, we prepare everything beforehand to make it easier. I can quickly drive back home, swallow a much-needed cappuccino, take a shower and we go back to work on our regular schedule. Soooo, back to food.  I decided to bake this breakfast cake in of those hectic mornings and take to the department still warm from the oven.

Knowing I would be sleepy and prone to making mistakes, I lined up all ingredients the night before (the blueberries slept in the fridge, together with the buttermilk). Mis-en-place, mes amis. Mis-en-place.

ingredients

Before I left for the lab, I turned the oven on.  Arriving back, Phil had my cappuccino ready, all I had to do was drink the batter, mix the cappuccino… ooops, I guess it was the other way around… What matters is that our department got a freshly baked blueberry cake. Mission accomplished!

pieces

Lots of blueberries make this cake moist and quite crumbly. Make sure to bake it long enough so that pieces will be easy to cut.

Rebekah, I hope you are having a wonderful Reveal Day, I loved cooking from your site!

For all my readers, have fun checking out what the other members of my group prepared for today’s Reveal Day by clicking on the blue frog at the end of my post.

ONE YEAR AGO: Silky Cauliflower Puree with Almond Milk


FOUR YEARS AGO:
 Popeye-Pleasing Salad 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Summer’s Finale

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: TACO SALAD

This is the last Monday of August.  We are about to say goodbye to Summer, and I cannot stand the thought of it.  Only Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club can bring me some joy under the circumstances. My assignment this month was Flying on Jess Fuel, and I had a blast stalking it and making a list of possibilities to blog about today.  Jess met her husband Nick at a Mexican restaurant, and apparently he went nuts over her jalapeno-eating skills. What a great way to fall in love! They lived in many different places while Nick went to flying school for the Navy, including Enid, a location quite close to Norman, our former home in Oklahoma.

For some reason, I usually pick sweets for my Secret Recipe assignments, but this time I took the road less traveled and went with her Taco Salad, considering that Mexican food would be a fun way to celebrate the way they met.  I find it amusing that some recipes that I order in restaurants on a regular basis are never part of my own cooking at home. Taco Salad is one of those.  For the most part, Tex-Mex restaurants offer dishes over-loaded with cheese, and served with a humongous portion of rice, beans, plus a few flour tortillas for good measure.  Taco Salad is my default request to avoid feeling like a bloated whale as I leave the restaurant.  I made just a few changes in her recipe, and decided to pump up the presentation by making my own tortilla bowls.  Now, that was a ton of fun, but some unexpected problems were encountered.  As I was frantically trying to figure out which cups would be appropriate to shape the tortillas, one of my custard cups fell from the cabinet and crashed on the granite (yes, glass flew everywhere), but not without first hitting my head. OUCH!  And, going on with my usual modus operandi in the kitchen, I burned myself not once, but twice baking those tortilla bowls.  Sometimes I even amaze myself… However, I can tell you it was all worth it!  This recipe rocks, my friends….

TacoSalad

JESS’ TACO SALAD
(slightly modified from Flying on Jess Fuel)

1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 lb ground beef
2 tablespoons bulk taco seasoning mix (or 1 packet)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large head romaine, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Black kalamata olives, chopped (to taste)
Shredded Mexican blend cheese (to taste

To make the dressing, combine sour cream, yogurt and salsa in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oil on a skillet and cook the meat for a few minutes. Season with salt (in case your taco seasoning doesn’t have salt already), then add either a packet of store-bought taco seasoning or 2 Tbs of a bulk product such as Penzey’s. Cook for a couple of minutes, add the amount of water recommended by the mix, and cook further just to thicken it slightly. Add the beans to the pan in the last 2 minutes of cooking.

If serving cold, let the meat and bean mixture cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, place half the lettuce, half the tomatoes, half the scallions and half the olives. Top with half the dressing. Top with the meat and bean mixture (you can reserve a little bit for decorating the top, if you want to be fancy). Sprinkle half the cheese on top. Add the rest of the veggies, dressing, and cheese (and meat mix if you reserved some). You can also serve it warm, adding the cold ingredients to the hot meat/beans mixture.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Here you can see some photos of my burning adventure with tortilla cups. You can do this in several ways, but I recommend the muffin tin + custard cup combo.  Using the two custard cups nested together requires that they both fit just right not to tear the tortilla, and also makes it a lot harder to remove the top cup to brown the tortilla in the final moments of baking.

compositeShells

MAKING TACO BOWLS:  Warm a corn tortilla very quickly over an open flame on your stove (I heard you can also use the microwave, but I haven’t tried it).  Spray both sides of the warm tortilla very lightly with canola or olive oil spray.  Immediately place in the muffin tin (or over a custard cup), and place another container on top to keep the shape.  Bake in a 375 F for about 15 minutes, removing the custard cup in the final 5 minutes. Let cool over a rack.

We loved this recipe!  Actually, Phil was raving about it non-stop, and begging me to make it again, and do it soon.  The tortilla cups make it very festive, but the taco stands on its own without any problem, it is fresh, bright, the dressing mixing sour cream and salsa was incredibly tasty!  I used a home-made salsa given to us by Mr. and Mrs. K (thank you, guys!), and it had just the right amount of heat.  Use any store-bought salsa you are fond of, or make your own if you have a chance.

Jess, I loved being assigned to your blog!  This has been one super busy month for us, but I made sure to compose this post within one week of getting the email notification. I fell in love with this recipe right away, and you can bet this will be in a regular rotation in our Bewitching Kitchen! 

To my readers: if you want to see what the other members of my group cooked up this month, poke the blue frog at the end of the post.

ONE YEAR AGO: Semolina Sourdough Boule 

TWO YEARS AGO: Forgive me, for I have sinned

THREE YEARS AGOCracked Wheat Sandwich Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Au Revoir, my Bewitching Kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO:  French Bread

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: MINI-CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE BITES

August is already knocking at the door, this year is flying by.  But before a new month starts, there’s always the excitement of the last Monday of the month, with Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club. For those who are new to this concept, bloggers are paired in secret, have a few weeks to stalk their assigned site, and everyone in the club blogs about their recipe on the exact same day and time. Nothing cooler than that, you must admit…  This month I was paired with Colie’s Kitchen.  Nicole, who hosts the site, is a full-time college student, with a full-time life of organized chaos.”  Ha!  I can totally relate…  She is married and a “bonus mom”, what a great expression, much better than step mom,  I guess I can relate to that too.  I had quite a few options selected as possibilities for my assignment, like her Lasagna Rolls, her Parmesan Meatloaf Muffins (great idea!),  her Oh My God Macaroon Pie, and her Cauliflower Cheddar Fritters.  But, as is often the case with The Secret Recipe, I took the sweet path, and ended up with these super cute single bite (ok, a couple of bites) desserts…

MiniCheesecakeBits

 

MINI CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE BITES
(from Colie’s Kitchen)

3 Packages of Neufchatel, softened
1 + 1/4 cups sugar
1 (8 ounce) container of dairy sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
28 Oreo cookies halves, removing the cream center
28 cupcake tins/liners

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until blended. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until fully mixed.

Beat in cocoa and flour. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until well blended.

Remove Oreo filling with a butter knife and add one half of a Oreo to each cupcake tin. Fill each tin with one large spoon full of cheesecake filling until you have filled all 28 then go back and top off each tin with any extra filling.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours. Store covered in refrigerator or in the freezer.

 ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I cannot tell you how much fun I had making this recipe! The toughest part was discarding the filling of the Oreo cookies. Part of me wanted to throw caution to the wind and behave like my former self of decades ago: shamelessly open the Oreos, scrape them clean, and try to sneak the cookie halves to the trash can without my Mom realizing. That never had a happy ending.  At most, I could get by with a couple of cookies, then pay a price for my behavior. Waste not. Ever. Do you know how many kids in the world went to bed hungry last night?  Apparently, I did not. (sigh)

The idea of using Oreos as a base for these cheesecake bites is a strike of genius!  Perfect size for cupcake liners. Because the recipe made so many and I only have one muffin baking pan, I got the disposable aluminum pans at the grocery store, and was quite pleased by how well they worked.  No difference in quality of baking, although in the name of full disclosure, I confess that I dropped one of the disposable pans while taking them out of the oven.  Huge big mess, coupled with language even more colorful than the cupcake liners. I am glad there are no hidden cameras in our home…

rack

If you follow my blog, you know that I never add the caloric content of any of my recipes for the simple reason that I don’t pay attention to it. But, since Nicole provided that info, I will share it with you: one of these babies has only 134 calories, which, as far as dessert is concerned, sounds pretty moderate to me.  Keep in mind this interesting linear fit, though. It can be cruel to your waistline.

cheesecake

 

Nicole, thanks for such a cute recipe that was very appreciated by our colleagues at the department…  I hope you had as much fun as I did with my assignment this month.

As usual, if any of my readers would like to see all assignments for my group, click on the blue amphibian at the end of this post, and enjoy the ride through the blogosphere…

ONE YEAR AGO: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Grated Tomato Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: A Taste of Yellow to Honor Barbara

THREE YEARS AGO: Gratin of Beefsteak Tomatoes

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tour de France Final Stage: PARIS

FIVE YEARS AGO: Snickerdoodles with a Twist