Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rice, chicken, Bread and The Sierra Madre Grocery Company

I love food that is home made.  As a general rule I feel like the food tastes, smells and looks better than foods made from packaged, processed ingredients.  There are a few exceptions to that rule and the products from the Sierra Madre Grocery Company are definitely exceptions!

I was given four jars of salsa, one jar of caramelized onions and garlic, seasoning rub and a box of cheese and olive crisps (yum!) to sample and immediately thought to myself "play time!"  Yes, salsa is often eaten with corn chips (which my kids love to do) but since I can't eat corn tortillas I usually find something else to do with it. 

The first jar I opened was the Fruit N' Fire Bruschetta Salsa.  It intrigued me.  I had a fresh baguette which I sliced, topped with Brie cheese and added a spoonful of the sweet and slightly spicy salsa.  I loved it!  The flavor is fresh with a sweet tangy fruit taste and a bit of a spicy bite that hits you at the end. 

The kids thought I was crazy, nothing new, but I knew they would understand once they tasted it.  I suggested they open the other jars and try them with the corn chips I had picked up.  My daughter skeptically tried the Black Bean and Corn Bruschetta Salsa.  As she started chewing her face lit up.  "Oh my gosh this is really good!" she said as she dug in with the another chip, all while telling her brother to he had to try it.  A full bag of chips later they had eaten more than half of that the jar and half a jar of the Roasted Rustic Vegetable Bruschetta Salsa.    I have been told I must find where these products are sold.

As you know I like to play with my food and I thought the Caramelized Onions and Roasted Garlic would be wonderful not only on burgers but also baked into bread.  Turkey burgers, wonderful topped with this.  The bread, so good.  I used my one hour French style bread recipe, reduced the water by 1/2 a cup and added 1 cup of the onions and garlic in its place and a 1/4 cup of finely shredded Parmesan cheese and proceeded as usual, adding a little extra shredded Parmesan cheese on top of the loaf also.  The bread made great toast, garlic bread and sandwiches but was really good all on its own also.

Since the bread worked so well I decided to use the Roasted Garlic and Olive Bruschetta Salsa in a version of my pressure cooker chicken and rice. I also used the Sierra Seasoning Rub on not only the chicken but also in the rice.  Using the pressure cooker I had a really good meal in under 30 minutes and I didn't heat up the kitchen.  I will definitely be making this again soon.

You will want to find these products.  You will be pleased.  Try the chicken and rice, it is a quick easy dinner your family will enjoy.

Chicken and Rice with Sierra Madre Grocery Company

4 chicken breast halves
1 Tablespoons Sierra Seasoning Rub (plus more for seasoning the chicken)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups long grain rice
3 cups water
1/2 SMGC* Roasted Garlic and Olive Bruschetta Salsa
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Season both sides of the chicken liberally with the seasoning rub. Set an electric pressure cooker to brown, add 2 T olive oil. Brown both sides of the chicken in pressure cooker (2-3 minutes each side).  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Set the pressure cooker to saute.  Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook 3-4 minutes until soft. Add water, tomato sauce, rice, seasoning rub, salsa and salt. Stir to combine.  Place chicken on top of rice mixture. Close pressure cooker.  Set to high pressure for 3 minutes. Natural release for 7 minutes then quick release pressure.  Serve chicken with additional salsa if desired.
 *SMGC = Sierra Madre Grocery Company

One final note.  If, like my son you love these salsas so much you find you can't just eat a small amount, he discovered they combine well.  He found about a 1/6 of the of the Roasted Rustic Vegetable Salsa and decided that it was not enough so he combined with with about the same amount of the Roasted Garlic and Olive Bruchetta Salsa and said they tasted great together.  Who knew? Got to love the kid!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes with flax

Both pancakes and oatmeal are favorites breakfast foods in my home.  We like to try different toppings and mix-ins for each.  So, to have the two combined was perfect in my book.  These pancakes take a little planning ahead, but not much, and they are definitely worth the forethought. 

My daughter is a nursing mother so one of the things I wanted to do with these pancakes was include 3 ingredients that are supposed to help a nursing mother produce more milk; oats, flax seeds, and nutritional yeast.  For those of us that are not nursing (those days are LONG gone!) they are just full of flavor and nutrients.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes with flax

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour /  whole wheat pastry flour / Gluten free baking mix
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flax seeds, ground
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups buttermilk (See notes for vegan option)
2 large eggs (See notes for vegan option)
1/4 cup butter, melted (See note for vegan option)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
oil (vegetable or canola work well)
1/4 cup milk (added just before cooking)

In a medium bowl combine the oats, flour, sugar, ground flax seeds, nutritional yeast (if using), baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a second bowl whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until completely combined.  There may be some small lumps.  Cover the batter with plastic wrap or lid and place in refrigerator for about 8 hours (overnight works well).

When ready to prepare pancakes, remove batter from refrigerator and  stir in the 1/4 cup of milk.  The batter will be thick. 

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium low heat and add about 2-3 Tablespoons of oil.  Drop about batter a 1/4 cup of batter into the hot skillet for each pancake.  Cook on the first side until the bottoms are medium golden brown and bubbles form on top (about 2 minutes).  Flip pancakes and cook until medium golden brown on second side.  Add oil as needed while cooking pancakes.


If you are wanting to make these vegan the following substitutions can be made:

Eggs can be replaced with 1/4 cup of mashed banana for each egg.

Buttermilk can be replaced by using 1 cup of soy milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar (per cup of buttermilk) and allowed to sit for at least 5 minutes.  For the 2 1/2 cups of buttermilk needed for this recipe you would use 2-1/2 cups soy milk with 2 Tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

The butter may be replaced by using an equal amount of canola oil or applesauce. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

French Style Bread in an Hour

I think it has been well established that I love bread, good bread.  Fresh from the oven, warm and tasty.  It is so incredibly good that it is hard to resist.  Someone told me recently that good fresh bread is like crack, you can't resist eating it.  I have to agree.

Now I usually say to wait for the loaf to cool before cutting into it so it doesn't dry out but this loaf is so quick and easy to make that I say cut as soon as you like.  It won't last long so grab some cheese, tomatoes, salami, butter, jam or whatever you like best with fresh bread and dig in.

The dough has A LOT of oven spring (initial quick rise in the first few minutes after putting the dough in the oven) so when shaping your loaves keep in mind that they will double or maybe triple in size (around not in length).

French Style Bread

2-1/4 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
5-1/2 to 6 cups All purpose flour
3 Tablespoons instant yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Morton's)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (400 if using convection).

Combine all the ingredients in the order they are listed above (when adding the flour begin with 5-1/2 cups of flour for now) in your mixing bowl.  Knead in a stand mixer for about 6-7 minutes adding more flour if needed to get a soft dough that barely cleans the side of the bowl and is a little tacky.  Leave dough in the mixing bowl, cover it with a towel and allow to rise for 15 minutes.  If kneading by hand, knead for about 12 minutes until you have a soft slightly tacky smooth dough, then place in the mixing bowl and cover with towel to rise for 15 minutes.

Prepare a jelly roll pan or large cookie sheet (preferably with an edge on all 4 sides) by spraying with nonstick spray.  Spray your counter with nonstick spray and remove dough from bowl and place on the counter.  Divide dough in half.  Form each half into a long thin loaves.  The dough will bulk up in the oven 3-4 times the size of the initial loaves you form so keep them long and thin, I usually have them almost as long as the jelly roll pan.  Slash diagonally each loaf 3-4 times with a very sharp knife or razor blade.  Brush each loaf lightly with water if you like and put it in the oven.  

Bake for 23-28 minutes until a deep golden brown (interior of loaf should read 195-200 on instant thermometer if you are not sure).  Remove from oven, remove loaves from pan and place on a cooling rack and allow to cool.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Life, turkey sandwiches and so much more

Life has a habit of throwing you a curve ball just when you least expect it. Last year life decided to not only catch me off guard but to knock me on the head too. Several times. Two deaths, one pregnancy, one car theft, and many broken necessary and costly items to replace just to begin with. As much as I love being able to share things on this blog I just had to set it and a few other things aside and deal with life. I have thought many times about how much I would love to get back to writing here but I just needed some time. I am happy to be back and although this is not much of a food post (there are two short and simple recipes at the end) I wanted to share some of what life has brought me. I have several posts planned, including the dressing that Carol says she is addicted to, and look forward to sharing them.

One of the big things our family has done, is welcome a new member.  My daughter Tara was pregnant so a baby shower was in order. She was due on January 10, 2013, but with holidays coming up and I decided to have the shower in November. It was decided that the shower would be Jungle themed and in order to eliminate the need to transport food and gifts (I wasn't sure I would have a vehicle yet) that we would do it in our home.

We kept it simple and served pesto turkey and provolone sandwiches, macaroni salad, fresh fruit, cucumber bites with hummus, caprice salad bites, spinach and artichoke dip with pita chips and olive Tapenade on toasted baguette slices.

We had these cute glass bottles with striped paper straws with a paper leaf on twine for everyone to write their name and hang around the neck of the bottle.  We served a bubbly apple drink much like sparkling cider.

We had two cupcake flavors.  Chocolate with chocolate frosting topped with a sugar sheet green leaf and vanilla bean with vanilla butter cream frosting topped with a dried pineapple flower.

Two dear friends, Jezebel and Kathleen, came over early and helped set up and prepare and plate some of the food.  My sister Lisha, brother Adam and sister in law Marie also arrived early and helped by putting the sandwiches together which allowed me to actually go upstairs and change and even put on a little make up.  I don't know what I would have done without them.  They were amazing!

There were so many kind people who supported my daughter and wanted to be included and I am thankful that many understood that our space is limited. We are so thankful to be surrounded by them and we appreciate them so much.  In the end we had over 40 people in my living room and dining room, it was definitely a full house.

Tara had several trips to the hospital with early contractions. Luckily he decided to allow mommy to finish her finals and arrived four days later. She gave birth to my first grandchild, August Ira Huang on December 16, 2012.  He arrived almost four weeks early but already weighed 7 pounds 10 ounces and was 19-3/4 inches long.  I think he may the most perfect child I have seen since my kids were born, but I may be the slightest bit biased.  Babies have a way of making life better and August definitely has made all our lives better. 

As for the recipes, like I said they are short and sweet this time. The sandwiches were a hit and part of the reason is the pesto sauce.  I bought some soft Torta rolls from Costco, and we put thick sliced turkey breast, a slice of provolone cheese, romaine lettuce and tomatoes on the sandwich with the pesto sauce on one of the side of the roll.  It makes for a quick and easy lunch that looks like you went to more trouble that you really did.  We wrapped the sandwiches in parchment paper. put a toothpick in both halves and sliced them in half.  You could also tie them with bakers twine.

Pesto Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup prepared pesto sauce

Combine the mayonnaise and pesto sauce.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Sparkling cider
This drink is much like the bottled sparkling apple cider but possibly better.

2 cans frozen apple cider concentrate
1 - 2 liter bottle club soda

Keep both the cider concentrate and club soda cold.  Pour cider concentrate into a pitcher, punch bowl or dispenser.  Add the club soda and mix just enough to combine completely if needed.  Stirring pops the bubbles so it is best not to stir or stir very minimally if needed.  I usually pour the club soda in while moving the bottle in a circular motion so it mixes as it is poured in.