Two Second Salmon Dip

This weekend marks my last weekend of summer freedom before the second year of graduate school starts again.  Not that I really had “summer freedom”, as I was in summer school up until last week.

The point is, I am living it up as much as possible until Tuesday evening hits like a ton of bricks.

Which is what brings me to this salmon dip.  I brought it to a friend’s backyard BBQ and ate like it was my last supper.

This recipe takes anywhere from two to ten seconds…total.  It’s that easy.  If you love salmon, you’ll love this…I promise.

The cast of characters:

We bought the fancy salmon this time around, but cheapo salmon works in a pinch.

1 package cream cheese (I always use 1/3 less fat without any ill effects)

1 package salmon in the pouch – shredded

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup capers

Splash of hot sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

Simply combine all ingredients and chill until you are ready to serve with crackers or veggie sticks.

Use about this many capers…or more if you’re feeling frisky…or less if you’re feeling capered-out.

This recipe is in our stash of family favorite recipes, but we got the original from our friend, Ginger.  The family favorites are tried and true, never fail to please a crowd, and taste delicious served with love.  You know those recipes…the ones that have tattered corners and get passed around at every major holiday?  Yup.  mmmm

Shred the salmon a little bit with your weirdly angled thumb. I swear my right thumb isn’t normally this disfigured.

We ended the bonfire with an outdoor movie and popcorn and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the summer!

Two Second Salmon Dip

What are you doing to celebrate the last few days of summer?

-Mads

 

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Crackle Cookies

I recently took part in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap:

Image courtesy of Loveandoliveoil.com

You are randomly paired up with three bloggers, and then you send them each 1 dozen homemade holiday cookies.

Fun, right?

I was paired up with:

Somewhere In Between

Lucky Zucca

Lex’s Life as a New Wife

I decided to go with an old family favorite to avoid kitchen disasters.  Unfortunately for me, the recipe was written down wrong, and I had to make some last-minute adjustments anyway.  Woops!

This recipe is a bit labor intensive, but I definitely want to try it again next year.  They are crunchy, soft, and oh-so-tasty when done right!

You will need:

1/2 cup canola oil

2 cups sugar

8 oz melted dark chocolate

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

Dash of salt

2 cups flour

1/2 cup each of white sugar and powdered sugar for rolling

Mix oil, sugar, and chocolate together.

Beat eggs separately.  Add to chocolate mixture with vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Slowly add to the chocolate mixture until combined.

Chill dough overnight.

Roll dough into small balls.  Roll in white sugar.  Roll in powdered sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

 

*The original recipe called for only 4 ounces of chocolate.  This was SO not enough.  The cookies came out very bland.  It was too late to add melted chocolate, so I tossed a bunch of chocolate chips in at the last-minute.  If you want to go crazy, use the 8 ounces of chocolate AND the chocolate chips.*

This is a fun project, but I don’t think I’ll do it again next year 😦  I know myself, and I know that I am not on top of my shit enough to bake, cutely package, and ship out cookies in a timely manner.  Obviously, I was frantically whipping these together the morning before 2 big presentations and 2 papers were due.  Do. Not. Want.

What holiday cookies are you making this season?

Stay tuned, next week is #COOKIEWEEK!!!  (very similar to #PIEWEEK)

-Mads

p.s. If you are taking part of a cookie exchange or bake sale this year, register your cookies here.  Each cookie baked will raise 10 cents for kid’s cancer research.  Just say you are hosting the cookie exchange and shoot them an email telling them how many cookies were made.  Win win win!

 

 

Corn Bake Recipe

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving with delicious food!  Mine was incredibly relaxing, but I do not recommend cooking an entire feast at one house and then transporting it to another house 45 minutes away.  As a result, we had to microwave everything, which dried everything out. 😦  Ah well, I still enjoyed spending time with Jonathan’s family.

I made the family corn bake recipe this year.  This recipe is a no-fail deal, and it’s probably the most requested recipe in my repertoire.  The gooey cheese mixed with the crunch of the corn is a perfect combination.

I make this around the holiday season, for cabin weekends, and potlucks.  It can easily be served year round, and it should be.  Nom nom nom.

You will need:

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 onion

1 Tbsp. butter or oil for sauteing

3 cans corn-drained

2 cans creamed corn

2 eggs-beaten

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix

6 oz. sour cream

6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Nothing says homemade goodness like creamed corn.  Mmmm

Experimenting with food photography

This is where it’s handy to have a sous-chef.  If you’re not an Iron Chef, you will have to chop the peppers and onion yourself.  *sigh*  Isn’t life hard?

Lightly sauté your veggies in 1 Tbsp. butter or oil.

Now, this is the amazing part.  Grab a big bowl and dump in the corn, creamed corn, corn muffin mix, eggs, and sautéed veggies.

A big ole mess o corn!

Make sure you stir it up until the wet ingredients have soaked up all of the corn muffin mix. You don’t want any clumps of muffin mix.  Blegh!

Now, pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.

Mix the sour cream and cheese in a separate bowl and dollop into the casserole.

See the dollops in there? That's what you want. Mmmm dollops of cheesy goodness.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until it is golden brown.

Obviously I didn’t take a finished product picture because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.  Either that or I am an airhead.

Enjoy!

-Mads

Taco Dip

This recipe was originally given to me by my friend, Sarah.  I ate pretty much the entire tray of taco dip and then looked at her with sad puppy-dog eyes, begging for more.

Warning: You may eat the entire tray of taco dip.

My favorite part about this recipe is that it takes 3 minutes to whip together.  3 MINUTES!

The party starts with 1 pkg. softened cream cheese, 8 oz. sour cream, and 1/2 packet taco seasonings.

Made for each other.

Mix those bad larrys together until all the lumps are gone, and then spread on a pan.  I used a cookie sheet, but I also double the recipe…

A double batch fits perfectly on a cookie sheet.

Bust out your taco sauce and drizzle a fair amount on top.

See?  This recipe is so easy, it doesn’t even need precise measurements.

My drizzle looked like this:

Party PLATTER

Ok.  Now sprinkle the top with shredded lettuce (~1/3 cup) and shredded cheddar (~1/3 cup).

Sorry about this pic. Nighttime fell, which happens in real life, but not for real food bloggers. I apologize for not being a real food blogger.

If you want to get fancy, you can add all sorts of toppings…tomato, black olive, beans, etc.

Full recipe:

8oz. package of cream cheese

8 oz. sour cream

1/2 packet taco seasoning

Drizzle of taco sauce

Sprinkle of shredded iceberg lettuce

Sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese

Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning until smooth.  Spread on serving dish.  Drizzle with taco sauce.  Sprinkle with lettuce and cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips and veggies.

What’s your favorite party dish to make?  What recipes do you fall back on in a pinch?  

Don’t say I didn’t warn you about eating the whole pan.

-Mads

Guest Post: Basic Guide to Canning Dill Pickles

My dad’s cooking is delicious.  I’ve already posted “Dad’s Badass Chili” and the pesto was his original creation.  I’m sure there will be more.  Anyway, he has taken up a new hobby of pickling everything and anything in his sight (his salsa is insane).  I’ve asked him to guest post for me with a how-to guide to canning.  Here is his dill pickle masterpiece:

Canning Hints for Making Dill Pickles –

-In advance of your pickling day, buy and wash plenty of quart size canning jars, rings and new lids.  You can’t re-use lids!  Have on hand your large boiling kettle, a kettle for preparing brine, a quart-sized pan for heating lids in near-boiling water, and a canning tool for grabbing hot jars in the boiling water bath.  In addition, I use a magnetic extension tool for retrieving lids from hot water (available at hardware stores).

-Purchase pickling spices and supplies in advance.  See spice options below.

-Wake up early on a Saturday morning in late July or early August (in Minnesota, anyway).  Stop by your local coffee shop for a cup of your favorite dark roast then head to the nearest Farmers’ Market.

-Wander the rows of vegetable displays and scope out the best – freshest – cleanest pickling cucumbers.  Buy ½ bushel of pickling cucumbers or however many you feel ready to can.  I prefer small sizes (2” – 3” long…about like your index finger).  Process soon – while fresh.

-In your kitchen sink, rinse the cucumbers multiple times until water runs clear.  Get your hands in there and stir them up – they hold a lot of dirt.  A good friend actually tumbles hers in the washing machine in a pillow case.

-Cut off any stems.  Sort to maintain quality.

-Pack baby cucumbers in ice for at least 4 hours.  I suggest simply holding them in an ice water bath in the kitchen sink while you prepare the canning materials.

Pickle Ice Bath p.s. I totally love how my parents wash and reuse Ziplock baggies. Can you find the drying baggie? haha -Mads


The Pickling Process –

-Begin a boiling water bath in your largest canning kettle (to sterilize empty jars and then to boil filled jars for last step of the canning process);

Sterilizing cans in boiling water

-Prepare a brine solution in another large kettle (make more or less depending on amount of cucumbers purchased – sufficient to fill all jars):

  • 16 cups water
  • 8 cups white vinegar (I’ve used apple cider vinegar before with successful results)
  • 1 cup pickling salt
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

-Bring the brine to a boil until salt and sugar are completely dissolved.

-In the bottom of each of the sterilized jars, place 1) sprig of fresh dill, 2) wedge of white onion, and 3) 2 cloves of fresh garlic.

-Add combinations of pickling spices to the jars – depending on your preference.  I usually add mustard seed, 5 or 6 whole cloves, and allspice (they’re dominant flavors – make sure to judge accordingly).

-Pack the cucumbers as tightly as possible with various sizes (they float once the brine is added), and add another sprig of dill, onion wedge and garlic clove midway during packing.

Packing pickles

-Pour brine into the jars to above the “shoulder” – about ¼ – ½ inch from top.

-Heat lids for a couple of minutes in steeping water in quart-sized pan to activate the rubber seal material.

-Seal jars with lids and rings.  Make sure jar lips are clean and free from ingredients.  Continue with the rest of the jars and pickles.

-Making sure boiling water bath continues at a rolling boil, grasp top of each jar with your canning tool and insert into bath for 4 minutes.  I usually boil 5 jars at a time so that you can maintain temperature.  Boiling water must cover the jars.

-Remove jars from bath with canning tool and let cool on counter top.  As they cool, the lids should “pop” as ingredients contract.  If you can push the lids down after cooling, they probably haven’t sealed properly and you need to re-do the bath with a new lid.  Clean rims of the jars…

-Store in a dark, cool place for at least two months. Chill and eat!

Wait 2 months before eating


Homemade Pickling Spices –

Bunches o' Dill

2 large bunches of fresh dill (purchase at Farmers’ Market or produce department of grocery store)

1 jar mustard seed (3 oz.)

1 jar whole allspice (3 oz.)

Dried red pepper flakes

1 jar coriander seeds (3 oz.)

1 jar whole cloves (3 oz.)

2 jars cinnamon sticks (2 inches – add a stick to each jar)

Have you ever pickled before?

What is your absolute favorite canned treat?

Family Favorite Recipe: Pesto

Pesto makes everything better.

I have a black thumb.

It is a truth I have to face.  How do I know this?  Well, I sprouted two different basil plants and then watched them die as I frantically tried to water them more, water them less, give them more sunlight, give them less sunlight, etc.

It wasn’t pretty.

Then I thought, “I’ll buy adult basil plants so they have a fighting chance in this world!”

Big. Fat. Chance.

Three adult basil plants have quickly gone by the wayside.  So, I’ve given up entirely.

I have resorted to buying the adult basil plants from Trader Joe’s for $3 and using leaves for a month or two until the plant dies.  It’s still cheaper than buying teeny packets of pre-cut basil and it lasts a bit longer.  How pathetic!

I bought a new plant this weekend and knew it would be PERFECT for a big batch of pesto.

You will need:

  • 3 cups fresh basil (or about 2 heaping handfuls)
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Blend in a food processor until smooth.

Some fun variations:
-Use celery leaves, arugula, peas, broccoli, or kale instead of basil
-Use walnuts, almonds, or cashews instead of pine nuts
-Use asiago, romano, or pecorino instead of parmesan
-Add lemon zest if you are feeling spunky

One of the best things about pesto is that the combinations are endless.

I put mine in a mason jar in the fridge.  I plan on putting it on pasta, fish, bread, a spoon…you know…whatever suits my fancy.

Bowtie pasta, homemade pesto, mini heirloom tomatoes, and crumbled goat cheese.

-Mads

Dad’s Badass Chili

Well folks, it’s half-past time I posted another family favorite recipe.  This recipe is a huge crowd pleaser and doesn’t take too much effort on your part.  But it does involve some beer drinking, so make sure your party hat is on before you start the cooking.

I frequently get asked for the recipe, so here it is for all my lovely readers.

This chili always gives me warm fuzzies of snowy weekends in Minneapolis, breaking up the monotony of Thanksgiving leftovers, and helping my dad taste test in the kitchen.  The recipe pulls on my heartstrings.

It will pull on yours too.  I mean, it’s called “Dad’s Badass Chili” for goodness sakes!

As a note, I have never actually measured any of these ingredients.  Make sure you do many taste tests throughout to make sure it isn’t too sweet or salty or spicy.  In fact, my batch last night was too sweet, so I added salt, garlic powder, and a little more chili powder.

Do what tastes right.

You will need:
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes
28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
4 oz. tomato paste
14 oz. tomato sauce
1 can light red kidney beans (drained)
1 can dark red kidney beans (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 lb. chorizo or hot Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef
2 cans beer (1 for the chili and 1 for you!) — I used Heineken, but you can get creative.  I would steer clear from overly hoppy beers, but that might just be my personal preference.
1-2 cups diced carrots
1-2 cups diced celery
1 cup diced onions
1/2 cup brown sugar to taste
1/4 cup ketchup (or a few big squirts)
1 tsp brown gravy base (I used the packet of dried mix from the store.  You can also substitute this for liquid smoke, but I have no idea where my dad finds that.)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
3-4-8 Tbsp chili powder (This is the most important ingredient, but each batch seems to widely vary on how much it needs.  Again, taste testing along the way is key here.)
Optional sides:
-sharp cheddar cheese
-sour cream or nonfat plain Greek yogurt
-hot dogs

This is where a sous-chef comes in handy…force them to open the billion canned ingredients 🙂

-Brown the sausage and beef in a big pot.  Drain and set meat aside on paper towels to soak up any remaining grease.

-Saute the onions and celery in the olive oil and butter until slightly opaque.

-Then add the carrots to the mix until the whole batch is sizzling.

-Return the meat to the big pot and add all of the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Stir regularly to prevent burning on bottom.

Don’t forget the main ingredient:

Or the secret ingredient:

-At this point you might want to add some water to get the chili to your preferred consistency.

You can try Ancho chili powder for a different taste, but don’t use “hot chili powder”.  You will be sad with the results and your friends will disown you.  Things like cayenne pepper and hot red pepper will make this too spicy!  Maybe it’s just ’cause we’re from Minnesota, but it has not gone over well in the past.

-Get your sides ready.

And enjoy!

-Mads

p.s. Eating leftovers on top of hot dogs is a really good idea.  This stuff also freezes very well.

p.p.s. When referring to this recipe in the future, feel free to call it “Mads’ Dad’s Badass Chili”