Vegetable Tart with Goat Cheese from Sizzle Cooks

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Tonight, I made this vegetable and goat cheese tart I found on the blog, Sizzle Cooks. It was delicious! I pretty much stuck to her recipe, but used baby portabella mushrooms instead of the large ones and added about a teaspoon of capers, sprinkled on top of the tart before baking. I had to bake the tart for about 30 minutes to get the pastry golden. Next time, I think I’ll bake it at 400 degrees. I served the tart with a simple salad dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Impressive.

Find the recipe here:  http://sizzlecooks.com/2013/02/18/vegetable-tart-with-goatcheese/

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I had a some of the roasted veggies that didn’t fit on the tart left over and I cut them up and made a quick ratatouille. I sautéed a chopped onion in some olive oil until it started to caramelize. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar and then added a chopped zucchini, some diced canned tomatoes, and the chopped left over veggies (eggplant, red bell pepper, and mushrooms) and cooked it over medium heat until the zucchini was tender. So good. Lunch for tomorrow.

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Asian Noodle Salad

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I made this Asian noodle salad for lunch today. Yum! I love noodles! I would typically make something like this with rice vermicelli noodles, but today I used somen noodles and thought they were pretty awesome. Angel hair pasta would probably be fine too. I used green cabbage, but red cabbage would add nice color to the mix. You can make this salad a couple of hours ahead of time, but after too much time the noodles will become soggy. This salad is definitely best eaten the day it is made. For something a little more substantial, try tossing in shredded cooked chicken.

 Asian Noodle Salad

4 ounces noodles (your choice)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 small head cabbage, cored, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled, shredded
2 jalapenos, seeded, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
crushed peanuts

Cook noodles according to package instructions. When noodles are done, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Let noodles sit in the colander to drain completely.

Combine minced garlic, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar,  soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine drained noodles, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, jalapeno, and cilantro. Pour dressing over the mixture and toss to combine. Serve noodle salad topped with crushed peanuts.


Won Ton Egg Drop Soup (includes a recipe for Filled Won Tons)

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This soup is so good. Making the filled won tons is a bit time consuming, but they are well worth the effort. Once the won tons are made, this soup is super fast to prepare.

Won Ton Egg Drop Soup

6 cups broth of your choice (vegetable, chicken, etc…)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 ounces snow peas (sugar snap peas are fine if you can’t find snow peas)
2 eggs, beaten
12 – 18 filled won tons, uncooked (recipe below)

Cook filled won tons in simmering water for 5 minutes.

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Drain and discard the water. Set won tons aside. In a soup pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the snow peas and soy sauce. Pour the beaten egg into the soup and stir. Remove soup from heat. Place 3 or 4 cooked won tons in soup bowls. Ladle soup over the won tons and serve. You can sprinkle sliced green onion over each serving of soup.

Filled Won Tons

The filling for the won tons is easy to make if you have a food processor. I toss the garlic cloves and veggies in the work bowl and pulse until everything if finely chopped. I empty the contents into a mixing bowl and repeat the process with the protein source.

I like making these with shrimp and veggies like cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, and water chestnuts. You can use almost any vegetables you want for the filling. You can easily make these won tons completely vegetarian by omitting the meat and doubling the vegetables for the filling. I usually have a little bit of the filling left over after filling all of the won tons. I stir fry the leftover filling in a tiny bit of oil over high heat and then spoon the cooked filling into lettuce leaves.

Filled Won Tons

1 cup finely chopped vegetables (cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, water chestnuts, etc…)
1 cup finely minced meat (shrimp, chicken, or pork)
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 package won ton wrappers
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons water

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Combine the finely chopped vegetables, garlic, and meat in a bowl.

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Add enough soy sauce to just moisten the mixture. Cover and refrigerate filling for at least 15 minutes.

Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl. Set aside. This is the sealer.

To fill the won tons, place the won ton wrapper with one corner facing you. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the center.

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Moisten the top edges of the won ton with the sealer and fold the won ton in half to form a triangle.

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Press the edges together and try to keep the filling from oozing out. Now put some sealer on the bottom side of the left corner and on the top side of the right corner. Fold the left corner up towards you and fold the right corner over the left. Seal together.

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Repeat with remaining won tons.

The won tons are now ready to be used in your recipe for Won Ton Egg Drop Soup. Uncooked won tons can be frozen for future use.

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The won tons can also be fried for an appetizer. Fry the won tons in hot oil until they are deep golden brown. Drain the fried won tons on paper towels and serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce. I have had a little problem getting the filling to cook all the way through without burning the won ton wrapper. It may help to precook the filling before filling the won tons so that everything is cooked.


Chocolate Fondue and Pound Cake

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Chocolate fondue is a Valentine’s Day tradition for my family. I usually make this chocolate coconut cream fondue but I didn’t buy the ingredients I needed the last time I was shopping for food and didn’t want to go back to the store for just a few items. This year I had to make a fondue with stuff that was already in my pantry. I have a pretty well stocked pantry, so it wasn’t too hard. I used milk chocolate chips because my oldest son prefers them. I think semi-sweet would be good too.

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Chocolate Fondue

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk, cream, or half and half

Heat the sweetened condensed milk in a heavy pan over low heat. Add the chocolate chips, butter, and cream and stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined.

Serve the chocolate fondue with various fruits, cookies, and cake for dipping.

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I made this pound cake to go with our chocolate fondue. I usually buy a frozen Sarah Lee pound cake, but I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store so I just made this one. I have yet to find a perfect pound cake recipe. This one is very basic (although not a true pound cake). It’s good for making strawberry shortcake.

I got distracted by my 3-year-old son and overcooked the cake (I baked it for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Don’t do that). It was very dry (my oldest son mentioned something about a brick…), but we were dipping it in chocolate, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I cut off the edges and the bottom and cubed it for the fondue.

Pound Cake

2 sticks (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a loaf pan or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Add the flour, mixing on the lowest setting until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake for at least 10 minutes before removing it from the pan . Let cool completely on a wire rack.


Jalapeno Ranch Dip/Dressing

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One of the things I miss most about Texas is the food, especially brisket and Tex-Mex. One of my favorite Tex-Mex places in Texas is Chuy’s in Austin. Chuy’s is a mini-chain now and I was able to eat at one in Plano when I was there this past September. It was wonderful! Of course Chuy’s serves up tortilla chips and salsa as soon as you are seated at your table. If you ask nicely, they will also bring you a little bowl of their Creamy Jalapeno dressing. It’s so yummy. I could seriously just eat spoonfuls of that stuff, but it’s also good as a dip for tortilla chips (or potato chips), as a salad dressing, or drizzled on anything (tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, etc…).

Here’s my attempt at a copycat recipe of Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno dressing:

Jalapeno Ranch Dip/Dressing

8 ounces sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 package dry Ranch dip mix (I used Hidden Valley Original Ranch)
1/4 cup prepared salsa verde (I used Herdez – it’s in a can)
pickled jalapenos, to taste (I used about 3 tablespoons of sliced pickled jalapenos)
fresh cilantro leaves, to taste (I used about a handful)

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

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Crockpot Baked Potatoes

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Did y’all know you could bake potatoes in the crockpot? I didn’t until last night.

Several years ago, I bought a crockpot to use in my classroom when I was teaching, but never really used it at home. It has been hidden away in a dark cabinet over the fridge for several years (although I think I pulled it out once to serve warm queso dip at a party we had). In the past few months, I have decided to try to use the slow cooker more. I have been trying out crockpot recipes here and there and am becoming a fan. I was finally able to pull off a perfect pot roast using the slow cooker. I also made a decent shredded beef with pepperocinis and some very tender chicken breasts with lemon and rosemary. Last night I finally tried baked potatoes in the crockpot.

I was skeptical about how the potatoes would turn out. I didn’t think they would get tender, but they did. The insides were moist and fluffy, but the skin was also very soft. Typically, I like to bake my potatoes in the oven so that the skin gets crispy, often giving up perfectly cooked insides. That’s just my preference.  I didn’t notice much difference in taste. One advantage I see with baking potatoes in the crockpot is not having the oven heat up the house. This would be espcially nice during the hot South Carolina summers.

You can bake up to as many potatoes as you can fit in your crockpot at one time.

Generally, I like my baked potatoes dressed with butter, sour cream, and salt. Last night, I topped my potato with some frozen broccoli florets that I zapped in the microwave and some cheese sauce I had made for my son’s macaroni (or as he says, “macamoni) and cheese. It was amazing. So good.

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Crockpot Baked Potatoes

medium sized baking potatoes (I like Russets best)
olive oil
Kosher salt
foil

Wash and dry the potatoes. Place each potato on a piece of foil. Drizzle each potatoe with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt before wrapping with the foil. Place the foil wrapped potatoes in the crockpot and cook for 8 hours on low or for 4 hours on high.