Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

August 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

A warm, soft, and peppery biscuit is one of my favorite treats when I go out for brunch. I had the urge to make Cheddar Jalapeno biscuits because 1. I had cheddar cheese & jalapeno in the fridge 2. I craved biscuits  3. I wanted something gourmet that would blow my mind.   This biscuit recipe is a simple one I adapted from Food Network Favorites  Parmesan, Pepper, & Lemon Biscuit, which is equally delicious.

Ingredients for 8 biscuits:

Preheat Oven to 450 Degrees

  • 2 Cups of Flour; available at $0.79 per pound on sale at Sprouts
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1 Small to Medium Jalapeno, chopped. The seeds make it spicy, so it is up to you on the amount of seeds you’d like to use ($0.98 per pound at Sprouts).
  • 6 Tablespoons (divided into 6 pieces) of Salted Butter. If you use unsalted then add 2 teaspoons of fine salt.
  • 3/4 cup of small chunks of cheddar cheese (on sale at $2.88 per pound at Sprouts)
  • 3/4 Cup of Milk or 1/2 & 1/2 (available RBST free at Trader Joe’s for $1.99 for 1 Quart)

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and pepper in a bowl and mix with a whisk.
  2. Throw all the butter in a bowl then use your fingers to rub butter with flour, piece by piece, until the flour looks like tiny peas.
  3. Mix in chopped jalapeno. Use your hands to mix to make sure that the jalapeno is evenly spread.
  4. Mix in cheddar chunks. Use your hands to make to make sure that the cheese is also spread evenly.
  5. Pour in 3/4 cups of milk (I use 1/2 & 1/2) in increments and mix the dough with a wooden spoon as your pouring the milk. Once all the milk is mixed with the flour, you should have a loose dough.
  6. Sprinkle flour on a board. Place the loose dough on top of the board and pat it into a rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick. Visually divide the dough in 3 equal parts then fold the dough like a business letter. Pat it into about 3/4 inch thickness.
  7. Divide the dough into 8 biscuits and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 12-15 Minutes until the top is light golden brown.  Remove from sheet for the biscuits to cool.

Now, you get to enjoy wonderful biscuits oozing cheddar cheese and a spicy finish.  Transform the biscuit into mini sandwiches.  I made one with thinly sliced honey smoked ham, field greens, and caramelized onion.

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

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Biscuit Sandwich layered with thinly sliced honey smoked ham, field greens, and caramelized onion.
Dietz Watson honey smoked ham is available at Sprouts for $10.00 per pound or $7.99 per pound on sale. Organic field greens also available in bulk at $4.99 per pound, so you can get what you need.

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Easy Homemade Falafels

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Falafel is a Middle Eastern ball of goodness made from mashed chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) and a combination of herbs and spices.  The best ones I have ever had were from Maoz in Barcelona, a popular chain that (I believe) originated in Spain. I have yet to find a yummy Falafel in San Diego.  I tried ones from Jimbos; they tasted like cardboard. I also bought some from a Middle Eastern cafe; they were stale by the time I arrived home. Huge disappointments on my falafel hunt!

Honestly, the Kraft commercial featuring Falafels reminded me of that crispy first bite followed by the soft and warm taste of chickpeas, cumin, garlic, and parsley.  I searched on Google for an easy recipe. Luckily, I found one that only takes about 15-20 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can of Garbanzo Beans, drained ($0.89 or $1.19 for Organic at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Garlic, minced (about 2 large cloves)
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Cumin, ground (available by bulk at Sprouts Farmer’s Market)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Coriander (cilantro seed), ground. I used 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro instead.
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped ($0.50 a bunch at Sprouts)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Canola or Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Prepare the herbs and spices and combine them with the Garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Mash them with a large fork until it becomes a paste.  You can also use a food processor, but it is totally unnecessary.
  2. Once it’s a paste, pour in flour and mix well.
  3. When it’s all mixed together, form them into 1-2 inch balls and smash them into about 1 inch thickness.
  4. Heat oil just over medium heat in a frying pan or medium pot
  5. Place about 5 falafels in the pan.  Fry each side for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Fork them out (without stabbing them) and  place on a plate to let them slightly cool. You’ll get about 12 – 15 Falafels.

Serve over Salad or enjoy them as a wrap.  I had mine with a salad, pita, and hummus. If I were fancier, I would call it a deconstructed Salad.

Homemade Falafels

Homemade Falafels

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The total cost is approximately $2.00, and  the parsley can be used for a Spanish Chicken, but that will be for next time.

This recipe was adapted from about.com.

Chile Verde con Puerco

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dining out costs at least 3 times more than dining in. Once beverages, tax, and gratuity are included, the cost is closer to at least 4 times.  Business Insider recently published an article on how the restaurant industry saw its worst decline in revenues from 4th Qtr 2012 to present day while grocery store revenues have seen steady increases.  Looks like people are catching on!

So, if you’ve also caught on to the trend of dining in, consider making Chile Verde con Puerco, a recipe I found in Padma Lakshmi’s Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet.  I love this recipe not only because of it’s simplicity, but it was an opportunity to cook with Tomatillos (the main ingredient in Salsa Verde).

Ingredients for 2-4 servings (double the amount of ingredients for 4-8 servings) | Purchased from Sprouts Farmer’s Market.

  • 3/4 lb of Pork (stew meat), $2.45
  • 1/2 lb of Tomatillos (quarted) , $0.98
  • 3 Jalapenos (chopped), $0.16
  • 1 Medium Onion (yellow or sweet – chopped), $0.43
  • Garlic (1 Clove – minced)
  • Dried Oregano (1 tablespoon)
  • Fresh Cilantro (1/2 Cup), $0.25/bunch on Sale

Optional:

  • White Wine (Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe’s) $2.50 or whatever wine you have left over
  • Chicken or Vegetable Stock, $1.99/32 oz (you’ll only need 1 Cup)

Directions:

  1. Prep the vegetable ingredients (I’ve learned the importance of preparing ingredients. It saves more time than trying to cook and chop simultaneously. Chef’s don’t do it, and there’s a very good reason). Make sure to discard the tomatillo husks before quarting them.
  2. In a Pot (at least 2 Qrt Pot), heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  Once heated, throw in the pork stew meat and brown all sides.  When all sides are browned, toss in the onions and stir.  Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes or until glassy.   Optional: Before throwing in the onions, pour about a 1/4 cup of white wine and let it reduce for a few minutes before throwing in the onions.
  3.  When the onions are cooked, throw in the Garlic, Jalapenos, and Tomatillos.  Cook another 5 minutes or when the tomatillos have softened.
  4. Stir in oregano then pour 1 Cup of Hot Water. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Once that happens, reduce the heat to medium low/simmer (between 9 & 12 o’clock).  Stir every 15 minutes and let the stew cook for an hour.  Optional: Use chicken or vegetable stock as a substitute for hot water. I personally used room temperature stock instead of heating it.
  5. Once the hour is up, take the pot off the stove and stir in Cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve the stew over a bed of rice or warm tortillas. Finish with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.  Pair the dish with a Glass of Sauvignon Blanc (that you also bought to cook with). Enjoy the stew and money you just saved!

This dish cost around $5.00 to make for 2-4 Servings.  It would have cost at least $15.00 at a restaurant, and a glass of wine definitely would have cost at least $5.00. IMG_3011

Buen Provecho!

Potage Parmentier ala Julia Child (Potato and Onion or Leek Soup)

December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

It has been numbing to walk outside in San Diego. Thus, it has been a soup week for me.  A while ago I discovered the most simple potato soup recipe in my friend The French Chef Cookbook  by Julia Child. I think this recipe is as simple as it gets for French Cooking.  Today was the perfect day to try it.

For 6 – 8 Servings you’ll need:

  • 3 to 4 cups (sliced or diced) peeled potatoes – it ‘s about 2 medium Russet Potatoes; on sale at Sprouts for $0.50 per lb.
  • 3 Cups of thinly sliced leeks or yellow onions – it is about 1 1/2 small onions; on sale at Sprouts $0.50 per lb., leeks are more expensive at $1.99 per lb.
  • 2 Quarts (8 Cups) of Water
  • 1 TBSP of Salt
  • 1/3 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 2-3 TBSP of Butter
  • Bacon (optional) – $2.51 for 6 slices at Sprouts or buy in single slices from Butcher Shop at Vons.

In a 3 to 4 quart sauce span – simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together partially covered for 40 to 50 Minutes until the vegetables are tender. Once the vegetables are soft, either blend in batches with a food blender or mash the potatoes and onions with a fork.  If you prefer a smooth texture, use the blender.  If you like potato chunks, go with the fork.  Season with Salt and Pepper to your taste.  Stir in the heavy cream and butter.

You’re done! Hard to believe, right?

I decided to add bacon to the soup because I wanted a rendition of the potato and bacon soup my friends and I used to have at Schlotsky’s Deli before soccer practice.  So good!

Next time, I’m going to add a touch of shredded Cheddar Cheese, Chives, and a small scoop of sour cream for a baked potato soup.  I’ll let you know how it is!

All together, this soup required 10 minutes of actual effort and cost about $3.00 for 6-8 servings. Image

Orange Sugar Cookies

November 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Before you toss those orange peels, make some sugar cookies with them!

My mom made these when I was in Pre-school, and those were probably the last days she ever baked.   I wanted to re-create a childhood favorite after eating an orange today.  I google searched this recipe and found so many different ways to make the cookie dough.  I modified it based on a cardamom sugar cookie recipe from Padma Lakshmi’s cookbook.  The result was a total mystery to me, but it turned out to be one of the best batch of cookies I have ever made.

I made a small portion just to test it out – I got 10 Cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Stick (1/4 Cup) of Salted Butter
  • 2 Tbsp (1/8 Cup) of Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (1/8 Cup) of White Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp of Flour (3/8 Cup)  – I had to add 1 more tablespoon before baking, so it would be more doughy.
  • 1/2 Tsp of Orange Zest
  • 1/4 Tsp of Vanilla Extract

Directons:

  1. Combine Butter and Powdered Sugar and make into a firm mixture (with a wooden spoon)
  2. Then Combine White Sguar and continue to form it into a firm mixture
  3. Combine Flour, Orange Zest, and Vanilla Extract with the butter and sugar mixture
  4. Use your hands or the wooden spoon and form into dough
  5. Let it rest covered at room temperature for about 30 minutes
  6. Preheat oven at 325 Degrees
  7. After 30 minutes, add about 1 more Tbsp of flour to the dough and work it in.  Roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Use the bottom of a glass or your palms to flatten the dough.
  8. Bake for 22-25 Minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Orange Icing (optional):

  1. Squeeze orange juice into a cup or small bowl  (I used a thick orange wedge).
  2. Add Powdered Sguar – I didn’t measure how much sugar. I just added it to the orange juice until a got a thick consistency (Image of it shown at top).
  3. Spread just a touch of icing on the cookies. You’ll have enough icing with a thick orange wedge for about 20 Cookies.

They’re to die for either with or without the icing.  Enjoy!

Pannekaken: Norwegian Pancakes (with Caramelized Apples)

November 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s Sunday. For some reason, I was reminiscing about the Apple Pannokoeken I had on my first day in Holland. The beach front cafe served this thin crepe like pancake about a size of medium pizza with thin apple slices embedded. The pie was finished with a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar.

When I Google searched this recipe I came across Dutch Babies and Norwegian Pancakes.  To my surprise, the thin pancake I had resembled Norwegian Pancakes. Good enough for me!

From start to finish it took me about 20 Minutes to cook about 10 thin pancakes.

So here are the things you need to have and do:

Ingredients:

  1. 3 Eggs
  2. 1 1/2 Cups of Milk (I used 1/2 and 1/2)
  3. 1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract (optional)
  4. 1 Cup of Flour
  5. 1/8 Tsp of Salt

Directions:

  • Crack 3 Eggs into the mixing bowl
  • Add 1 1/2 Cups of Milk
  • Add Vanilla
  • Pour in 1/2 cup of flour – Whisk for a minute. Then pour the remainder 1/2 cup of flour.  Continue whisking until the mixture becomes runny.
  • Heat skillet/pan over medium high heat (3 O’clock or 4 O’Clock). Make sure to either butter or grease it.
  • Once heated, use a ladle or measuring cup and pour about 1/4 Cup – 1/3 Cup of the mixture onto the pan.
  • The pancake cooks quickly, so once you see it coming together, flip it over with a spatula and cook until it is light brown.
  • Continue this process until all the pancake mix is gone. I’ve found that it helps to add a thin slice of butter into the pan for every 2 pancakes made.

Caramelized Apple Filling: I used granny smith apples

  • Thinly slice a granny smith apple
  • Heat about 1 Tbsp of butter in a skillet/pan over medium heat
  • Throw in the apples once the pan is heated
  • Cook apples for about 5 minutes (or until it starts softening)
  • Add about 1 Tbsp of Brown Sugar
  • Apples are done once they are soft and coated with brown sugar

Finishing touches:

  • I decided to roll the caramelized apples into the pancake and finished it with cinnamon and powdered sugar.  Feel free to use whatever toppings desired. I also used Trader Joe’s Blackberry preserve; it was awesome 🙂

All together, this cost probably less than $2.00 to make.  Compare that to maybe $9.00 at a cafe for 1 Crepe. It is so worth it to cook!

Chinese Cucumber Salad

November 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cucumbers are refreshing.  I love them plain. I love them with Ranch Dressing.  I also enjoy a simple Chinese liang ban which means “cold mix” in its literal translation, or in Western food terminology: Chinese Cucumber Salad.

My grandma’s Chinese Cucumber Salad was mixed with thin glass noodles.  Her dressing had a touch of minced garlic, which I loved, but hated because of garlic breath.

So, here’s my version.  It’s super easy.

Dressing:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce +/- (I used low sodium)
  • A splash of Rice Vinegar
  • A Dash of Sesame Oil and Yuzu (Japanese Lemon Juice concenrate, optional)
  • A 1/2 Tablespoon +/- White Sugar
  • A squeeze of Siracha

Mix it all and taste it.  Modify as you wish.

Prepare the cucumber with or without the skin.  My grandma would thinly slice them into rice noodle like pieces. To save time. I slice and quart.  Put the cucumber in the bowl and dress it!

This will take you less than 10 minutes, and it serves 2.