4.28.16 Rhubarb Yogurt Parfaits with Hazelnut Crumble

These days, rhubarb is my jam. It’s one of the few things making a consistent appearance at the farmer’s market this early in the season, and there’s something about its super sour, slightly bitter, and wholly unique flavor that I can’t get enough of.  During rhubarb season, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll find the stuff hanging around my kitchen, waiting to be incorporated into my latest kitchen experiments.

Yes, rhubarb is my jam. So I suppose it’s fitting that my most recent rhubarb endeavor has been to literally make it into jam. I mean why not? It’s incredibly easy to do. Toss it in a pot, add some brown sugar and honey to sweeten things up a little, throw in some vanilla and cardamom to make things interesting, and boil away. It’s that simple.  

And as your jam simmers away, it’s just as easy to roast up a quick cinnamon-spiked oat and hazelnut crumble to go with it. Jam and crumble, of course, being the perfect accompaniments to a creamy bowl of yogurt. Layered together, this trifecta gives the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, creamy and crunchy. Not a bad way to start the day, if you ask me.

Rhubarb Yogurt Parfaits with Hazelnut Crumble

Rhubarb Jam

  • 2 ½ cups sliced rhubarb
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt

Hazelnut Crumble + Assembly

  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Plain or vanilla yogurt ( I love Sugar River Dairy’s vanilla yogurt )

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking sheet.

2. Make the rhubarb jam: Combine all jam ingredients in a pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally until rhubarb has cooked down to form a smooth, sauce-like consistency, about 15 minutes. Rhubarb jam can be made ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

3. While rhubarb simmers, make the crumble: combine all crumble ingredients (except yogurt) in a bowl, tossing until well mixed. Spread mixture out onto prepared baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and fragrant, about 10-12 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking. Cool completely. Crumble can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

4. Make parfaits by layering yogurt, with the jam and crumble. Serve immediately.

4.26.16 Wisconsin Grown | Part 1

We’re trying something new this year guys. One of my favorite parts about living in Wisconsin is the fact that we have access to a ridiculous amount of amazing, locally grown produce for much of the year. Obviously, this is something I take advantage of as much as possible. When local Wisconsin produce abounds, I do my best to get my hands on as much of it as I can.

The truth is, living in Madison, we’re a little spoiled in the local produce department. Between our weekly CSA share (for those unfamiliar, that stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s one of the best things ever), frequent trips to the Dane County Farmer’s Market (the largest producer-only farmer’s market in the country, I’ll have you note), and our own little backyard garden vegetable growing experiments, we stay well stocked with Wisconsin produce.

But what to do with it all? I mean, keeping on top of all of this locally grown goodness can sometimes get overwhelming, and letting it go to waste would be a travesty. My solution has been to keep a weekly list of procured produce and come up with a plan for how to use each item. It’s worked great for me, and I figure now it’s time to share the knowledge. Throughout the season, I’ll be posting about what local fruits and veggies I’ve currently got on hand, and what I’ll be making with them. Hopefully, it will help inspire you to be creative with your locally grown bounty as well!

This week, we got some great finds from the farmer’s market. Last weekend was the second outdoor market of the year (we were out of town for the first), and I was beyond excited. Here’s what we’re working with this week:

Spinach - This frost-sweetened spinach is going to get scrambled up with eggs for breakfast and most likely made into saag aloo, a potato and spinach curry that’s perfect for chilly spring weather.

Rhubarb - This rhubarb upside down cake is calling to me.

Ramps - These early season alliums have a mild oniony, garlicky flavor and are one of my favorite ingredients to cook with this time of year. This week, I’m thinking ramp pesto, which will probably end up in pasta, in an omelette, slathered on toast, or all of the above.

Scallions - These guys are getting grilled up with some pineapple for one of the easiest, most delicious grilling side dishes ever. Chop one bunch scallions and 1 medium pineapple into approximately 1” pieces. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, throw in a grill basket (or thread onto skewers) and grill until soft and caramelized, about 10-12 minutes.

Shallots - Fried shallots you guys. I bought a pint box of shallots this week pretty much exclusively for this purpose. Use them as a delicious crunchy topping on pretty much everything.

Eggs  - I almost always buy my eggs at the farmer’s market when I can - regular old grocery store eggs have nothing on these. Perfect for general breakfasting, and I’m hard pressed to think of a meal that can’t be made better by putting an egg on it.

4.7.16 Mini Banana Monkey Bread

Guys - remember monkey bread? I don’t know what made me think of it recently, but as soon as I did, man, the memories came flooding back. That big gooey pile of cinnamon-y biscuit pieces baked together into the shape of a cake. Kindof like a cross between a sticky bun and a cinnamon roll, but way easier to make, and way more fun to eat. Just thinking about it makes your fingers itch to start pulling those little doughy pieces apart and devour them.  

And once the thought of monkey bread was in my head, I couldn’t shake the idea that some needed to be made in the very near future. Of course, I decided to change things up a bit from the monkey bread of my youth. On the very rare occasions we had it growing up, it was made from refrigerated biscuit dough. Now that I’m an adult and have realized that making your own biscuit dough is actually pretty simple, I decided that if I made it from scratch, it would be pretty amazing, and really not too difficult at all. Best of all, I found that if you make monkey bread in a muffin tin, you end up with perfect, mini sized monkey breads. Personal-sized desserts being, of course, one of the best ways to serve dessert.

Also, as it so happened, I had a bunch of way-past-ripe bananas lying around, and decided that at least a few of them should be destined for something a bit more exciting than your standard smoothies or banana bread. This seemed like the perfect opportunity - banana monkey bread it was. It only seems fitting, don’t you think?

Mini Banana Monkey Bread

Makes 8

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large bananas)
  • 2+ Tbsp milk
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 8 cups of a standard size muffin pan.

2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

3. Cut the 4 Tbsp cold butter into very small pieces and add to the bowl. Using your hands, work the butter into the flour until the pieces are small and the mixture has a grainy texture.

4. Stir in the mashed banana and 2 Tbsp of milk and mix until a cohesive dough has formed. If dough seems dry and doesn’t come together well, add more milk in small increments until a workable consistency is reached.

5. In a large bowl or large ziploc bag, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.

6. Cut or pinch off tablespoon sized pieces of dough and add to the cinnamon sugar mixture. Mix until pieces are fully coated in cinnamon sugar (if dough is on the stickier side, you may want to do this in batches to keep them from all clumping together).

7. Mix together the melted butter and brown sugar. Divide mixture evenly between the 8 greased muffin cups. Top with equal amounts of the dough pieces until muffin cups are full. Place muffin pan on a baking sheet (to prevent any errant butter/sugar from dripping onto the floor of the oven), and into the oven.

8. Bake at 400 degrees until tops are golden brown, about 20-25 min. Remove from oven, run a knife around the edges of each muffin cup and invert monkey bread out onto a plate. I recommend serving warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some pecans if you’re feeling decadent.

3.31.16 Cold Brew Dirty Chai

Have I mentioned that since having a baby, I’ve gone from long-time coffee hater, to having  a cup every morning? Usually not a full cup if I can avoid it, but yes, I’ve become - dare I say it - a coffee drinker. Granted, it’s only by necessity - I still wouldn’t say I like coffee. I just like my days a little better when there’s some coffee induced caffeine involved.

Lord knows that when the baby starts up a fun little bout of sleep regression and goes back to waking up every few hours during the night, some serious caffeination is going to be required. If we add to this the fact all this fun sleep (or rather, lack thereof) business came about while Forrest happened to be out of town on a work trip, you can probably see where my mind was going when I came up with this little (and shall we say quite possibly lifesaving) beverage.

At my overtired wits end, I took coffee consumption to the next level and made it a bit more palatable by making it into cold brew (aka the best version of coffee) and adding in some iced chai, maple syrup, and a splash of half and half. What you end up with is a refreshingly sweet and spicy beverage that’ll still get you some much needed caffeine, but with just a little less coffeeness all around. Oh, and most importantly, armed with a shot of bourbon, it’s incredibly easy to turn said beverage into a cocktail should the need arise (trust me, it will).

Cold Brew Dirty Chai

Makes 1

I realize that a true dirty chai has espresso rather than coffee, but one can only ask so much of newly minted coffee drinker.  Feel free to swap the cold brew for a smaller amount of iced espresso (1-2 oz depending on how tired you’re feeling). I highly recommend making extra large batches of cold brew and iced chai ahead of time, and you’ll be able to whip up one of these at a moment’s notice.

  • ½ cup cold brew coffee
  • ½ cup iced chai tea*
  • 1.5 ounces Bourbon (optional)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp half and half
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or more to taste)

1. Pour all ingredients into a glass over ice. Stir to combine, then drink up!

*Brew chai tea hot, transfer to a heat resistant container (mason jars work great for this) and transfer to the refrigerator. Let chill for several hours. You can use a premixed chai tea blend, or make your own from scratch (omit the sugar/honey and milk for this recipe).

3.21.16 Curry Roasted Cauliflower with Freekeh and Tahini Sauce

This dish is one whose sum is greater than its parts. I mean, let’s take a look at the ingredients here - cauliflower, grains, arugula, yogurt, golden raisins - I’ll be honest when I say that none of these on their own are anywhere near my top favorite foods. Yes, I suppose I could consider cashews to be a relatively tasty snack-type food, but otherwise, in my opinion, we’re looking at some b-squad ingredients here.

So when I thought up this recipe, I knew I had to trust in the combination of flavors, rather than the individual components. I knew that these ingredients, once combined and gussied up a little with some warm, spicy curry powder, savory tahini, and a bright squeeze of lemon would be pretty fantastic. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would somehow become - dare I say it - craveable. I found myself sneaking bits of roasted cauliflower off of the pan, and licking the spoon for the tahini sauce a few times too many. When it all came together, I cleaned my plate in record time.

Is it a salad? A grain bowl? Something else entirely? Truth be told, I’m having a hard time assigning it any sort of designation beyond absolutely delicious. So go ahead, eat it as a vegetarian main dish (a side of naan would not be remiss here), or as a side dish along with some simple roasted chicken or fish, or just simply mix everything together in a bowl and call it a meal. However you go about this dish, the fact remains that if you’re like me, you’ll find that it’s been eaten before you know it.

Curry Roasted Cauliflower with Freekeh and Tahini Sauce

Serves 2-3

This recipe is very forgiving when it comes to which grain to use. I chose freekeh, mainly because I had a lot on hand, love how quickly it can be cooked up (about 20 minutes and you’re done) and can’t get enough of its nutty, slightly smoky flavor. But truth be told, most any whole grain would be great here, so use what you have on hand!

  • 1 ½ lbs cauliflower (about 1 medium head), cut into medium sized florets
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ¾ tsp salt, divided
  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp tahini paste
  • Juice from half of a lemon (about 1.5 Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1 ½ cups cooked freekeh (from about ½ cup dried) or other whole grain*
  • 2 cups arugula (loose packed)
  • ⅓ cup cashews
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower pieces, olive oil, curry powder, and ½ tsp of salt until well combined. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees until tender and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes. Stir once halfway through roasting to help keep even browning.

3. To make the tahini sauce, whisk together the yogurt, tahini paste, lemon juice, water, honey, cumin, and the remaining ¼ tsp salt. Add a bit more water to the sauce if you’d like a thinner consistency.

4. Divide the freekeh evenly between plates (or bowls, or what have you), top with equal amounts of arugula, roasted cauliflower, cashews, and golden raisins. Drizzle tahini sauce over top and serve immediately.

*If you’re using freekeh or a similarly quick cooking grain, you can cook it while the cauliflower roasts and the timing should work out perfectly. I served the grains warm when I originally made  this dish, but have also tried it with previously cooked room temperature grains, and found this to be delicious as well.

3.9.16 Savory Cheddar and Green Chile Cornmeal Waffles

I’ve admittedly been on a little bit of a brinner kick these days. I can think of worse problems to have. But really, when one has gone their whole adult life without owning a waffle iron (!?!) and FINALLY gets around to buying one, it’s an inevitable fact that there’s going to be a decent amount of waffling going on.

I’m one of those people who until recently had only categorized waffles as a sweet breakfast item. Which I now realize is completely silly, because these savory waffles are a pretty fantastic addition to anyone’s brunch game. Delightfully cheesy and slightly spicy, they’re are not only delicious on their own, but are the perfect vehicle for any number of delicious toppings.

As you can see, I went all out. As should you. But the key topping here (at least in my mind) is fresh tomato salsa (although my husband would argue that maple syrup (??) is the way to go here - to each their own). And yes, making fresh tomato salsa may seem like something more attuned to summer. But let’s be honest, homemade salsa is always delicious (decidedly more so than anything that comes in a can), and when the weather is as warm and beautiful as it’s been lately, I can’t help but be tempted to eat things that taste like summer, because, let’s face it, it’s been a while.

Savory Cheddar and Green Chile Cornmeal Waffles

Makes 3 waffles (the perfect amount for 2 hungry people)

In a pinch, you can sub canned green chiles (¼ cup drained should do the trick) here, but if you’ve got the time, I highly recommend roasting your own. It’s one of those things that I find is pretty easy to do, but adds a ton to the overall flavor of the dish.  

Salsa:

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp chopped green onions
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (seeded if less heat desired)
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • a pinch of salt

Waffles and Assembly:

  • 2 large green chile peppers (such as Anaheim), halved lengthwise and seeded
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Additional toppings: poached eggs, sliced avocado, cilantro sprigs, and/or hot sauce.

1. Make the salsa by combining all salsa ingredients in a bowl and stirring together until well mixed. Let salsa sit while you make the waffles.

2. Roast green chiles: place peppers, skin side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Place baking sheet on top rack in oven and broil on high until peppers are blackened and blistering, about 10-12 minutes.

3. Immediately transfer peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let peppers sit inside the bowl for 5-10 minutes (this steams them, which will make the skins much easier to remove).

4. Peel charred skins off of peppers, discard skins and chop peppers into small pieces.

5. While peppers are steaming, mix up your waffle batter. Stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add in the milk, egg, and melted butter and mix well.

6. Fold in the shredded cheddar cheese and chopped roasted chile peppers.

7. Preheat waffle iron, and once hot, pour on ⅓ of the batter and cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions. Repeat with the remaining batter - you should end up with 3 waffles total.

8. Serve waffles topped with fresh salsa, and any and all other toppings you can think of. My combo of salsa, avocado, poached egg, cilantro, and hot sauce is pretty darn awesome - highly recommend.

2.29.16 Winter Hash {All Whisked Up}

I’m happy to report that it’s time for another edition of All Whisked Up! I’ve had a lot of fun participating Wisconsin Whisk’s blog recipe swap in the past (as evidenced here and here), so I was pretty excited when the opportunity rolled around again.

I was even more excited when I found out that my assigned blog this time around was The Leek and the Carrot. I’ve been a big fan of this blog, written by Lauren (leek) about her many adventures running a real, actual CSA farm with her husband (carrot). I’ve loved learning about the ins and outs of greenhouses, the intricacies of hosting a huge dinner on the farm, and the occasional chaos that’s an inevitable part of being a CSA veggie farmer.  What’s even more impressive is that in addition to all of this farming, Lauren still has time to make some pretty awesome food. With recipes like orecchiette with kale pesto, sausage, and white beans and red kuri squash cardamom cake, I definitely had a hard time whittling the list of contenders down to just one recipe to share with you.  

In the end, though, I went with this winter hash, because, let’s face it, I’m a sucker for brussels sprouts. And also, I will take any excuse to make brinner (for those who are not familiar, that’s breakfast for dinner, and it is arguably the best thing to ever happen to dinner).

I also have to admit that I have very little experience cooking with parsnips, so this recipe seemed like a good gateway to the world of parsnip cookery, which I have to admit is a very wonderful world indeed. The sweet parsnips, crispy brussels sprouts, and spicy sausage mingle beautifully to create one satisfying dish. Whether eaten for breakfast, brunch, or brinner, you won’t be disappointed. And I highly recommend doing as Lauren does and serving it with a side of avocado toast. Trust me on this one.

Winter Hash

Recipe slightly adapted from The Leek and the Carrot

serves 4

As referenced by the original post, serving this dish with a side of avocado toast is highly recommended. My ideal avocado toast consists of a crisply toasted slice of bread (MSCo’s Pepitas Polenta bread is a favorite), topped with ¼ of a ripe avocado, thinly sliced. Sprinkle the whole thing liberally with some flaky sea salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and chopped chives, and you’ve got yourself some pretty amazing avocado toast.

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ lb (about 2-3 medium) parsnips, cleaned and chopped into ½” pieces
  • ½ lb bulk italian sausage
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp dried sage
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • poached or over-easy eggs for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut brussels sprouts in half (or in quarters for especially large sprouts) and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, ½ tsp salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss until sprouts are evenly coated, then spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast until browned and crispy on the edges, about 25 minutes.

3. While brussels sprouts roast, put the chopped parsnips in a large cast iron skillet, add water until parsnips are just covered, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until parsnips are just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Drain parsnips and set aside.

4. Dry skillet of any excess water, then add the sausage and brown it over medium heat, breaking it up into small pieces as you go. Once browned, remove sausage from skillet and set aside, leaving all drippings in the pan.

5. Add the butter to the drippings, and once melted add the onion, garlic, sage, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook until onions are soft and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  6. Turn heat to medium-high and add the cooked parsnips, stirring to coat with the onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until parsnips are completely tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

7. Add the sausage back to the pan, along with the roasted brussels sprouts and mix to combine. Top hash with sliced scallions and serve, topped with poached or over easy eggs if desired.

2.23.16 Spicy Sauteed Kale with Coconut Milk

I’ve always been a big fan of eating greens, but in our household, I’m pretty sure I’m totally alone in this respect. Forrest would probably rather eat pretty much anything other than a side of greens. On the one hand, that means more greens for me. On the other hand, part of me feels like he is really missing out, which is why, much to his chagrin, I keep cooking them in various ways in an attempt to get him to see the light on this. We’ve had some good successes too. Like that time I pickled said greens and served them atop grilled pork chops. But I also feel like it’s good to have some variety in the greens department as well, so I keep trying.

And finally, last week, we hit upon a winner. Not only was there no complaining about having to eat a big pile of kale, it was eaten faster than I have ever seen Forrest eat anything leafy and green. So what’s the secret here? The kale is blanched to take away some of its toughness, then roughly chopped, and sauteed with aromatics like fresh ginger, garlic, and chiles. Simmer it all in a bit of coconut milk, and you’re left with quite possibly the creamiest, most delicious greens to ever grace your plate. Serve with some rice, and something roasty (miso butter chicken perhaps?) and you’re talking perfection.

Spicy Sauteed Kale with Coconut Milk

serves 2

  • 1 lb (about 2 big bunches), tough stems and ribs removed (I used lacinato kale)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1-2 thai chiles, finely chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup light coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp salt

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the kale, and cook until bright green and just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, squeeze dry, and give kale a good chop.

2. In a pan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chiles (if using) and cook until garlic begins to brown, about 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the chopped kale, and cook another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until coconut milk has thickened and soaked into the greens, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the salt, adding additional salt to taste if needed. Serve immediately.