Katie: I haven’t posted anything in awhile, but I’ve still found some time between studying and other activities to occasionally try something new. For my mom’s birthday, I gave her the tough choice of requesting something sweet or salty. She chose the latter, so I decided to try making some homemade cheesy crackers. They were much easier to make than I expected, and they turned out great! I made them as directed, but mixed in some smoked paprika and sprinkled them with sea salt before putting them in the oven. The pungent smell when they came out of the oven was irresistible!
Cheddar Crackers (adapted from various online sources)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
- 4 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
- 3-4 Tbsp. water
- Pulse the flour, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika in a food processor, then add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the grated cheese a little at a time until the mixture again resembles coarse meal.
- Pulse in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball and rides the blade.
- Remove the cracker dough, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Roll the dough out to 1/8th-inch thickness directly onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.) Using a pizza or pie cutter, cut 1 inch squares, separate them slightly, and bake at 350° F for 15-20 minutes or until crackers are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven. Store in an airtight container for up to one week. They probably won’t last that long!
Matthew: Now that it is getting cooler I’ve been itching to do more baking. But with so much late summer produce at hand, I decided to try something a little different. I found the basic cornmeal biscuit recipe in The Joy of Cooking and then added some roasted corn, red bell peppers, jalapeno, and cheddar cheese right before forming the biscuits. They didn’t rise as much as I hoped they would, but they still taste really good, especially warmed up. Next time, I would add a little more than the half of a jalapeno that I used to spice them up a bit more. Below is the biscuit recipe:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 2 t baking powder, 2 T sugar, 1/2 t baking soda, and 1/2 t salt. Cut in 5-6 T cold butter until pieces are the size of breadcrumbs. Add 3/4 cup buttermilk, mix. (Add roasted veggies and cheese.) With floured hands, gather dough into a ball and gently knead in the bowl. Roll dough out 1/2 inch thick and cut into 2 inch squares. Bake 10-12 minutes.
Matthew: Well, I’m not sure that I’m ready to try canning at home yet, but I was curious about the corn relish that we canned for the food pantry. I made approximately 1/3 of this recipe, using corn, red bell pepper, onion, and a hot reddish/orangish pepper. I also added a little extra liquid (water and vinegar) since it seemed like it needed more. After it was done cooking, I let it cool in the fridge overnight and then tried it the next morning. I was glad that the corn still had a crunch to it. The red pepper adds a nice sweetness to contrast the vinegar. I put the relish on a few different things, including a black bean burger, a fried egg on toast, a baked potato, and just some corn chips. I was pleasantly surprised with how good this was.
Katie: If you’re in the mood for something yummy and sweet, but don’t feel like spending a lot of time or heating up the kitchen with baking, these are the perfect treat. They’re simple, easy to make, and delicious! I followed this recipe for No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cake Bites from Loves Veggies and Yoga. You just combine oatmeal, carrots, dates, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a food processor, and then mix that mixture with some reserved oatmeal and raisins. I followed the recipe as written, except for toasting the reserved oats in a pan to enhance their flavor.
These tasted really great and were so simple to make. It’s like eating cookie dough and isn’t even that unhealthy (as long as you don’t eat them all at once!). A good treat that I will definitely make again!
Matthew: As the rhubarb at the market gets bigger and more green each week, I decided that this week would be my last hurrah with rhubarb for the season. I’ve done unconventional things thus far, so I thought I would try something more familiar. I saw this recipe for rhubarb streusel muffins on Smitten Kitchen and thought it sounded good. These muffins are sort of like rhubarb crisp in muffin form. They were really quick to make and turned out very moist with the addition of sour cream. I used 1:2 ratio of whole wheat to regular flour and that seemed to work out well.
Ok, so I guess my last use of rhubarb wasn’t entirely traditional. In addition to making the muffins, I extracted some juice from the rhubarb and used it to make a really fantastic rhubarb margarita. Juicing rhubarb is a little strange, but all you need is a blender and some cheesecloth or a sieve. I followed the instructions for juicing here. For the margarita, I used approximately 3 oz of rhubarb juice, 2 oz of tequila, juice from 1/2 a lime, and 2 oz plus more to taste of triple sec. I have to say, this was the perfect summer drink! Below is a photo of the juice before I made it into the margarita.
Katie: I like baking and freezing muffins to have available for a quick, sweet snack. Muffins are also easy to experiment with, so each time I bake them, I like to try out a different recipe. While considering what to make this time, the parsnips in my refrigerator caught my attention. I decided if zucchinis and carrots work in muffins, then maybe parsnips would too. I actually wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea. I discovered this recipe on the Eating Well website. I followed it as written, except for using brown sugar instead of white, chunky applesauce instead of apple butter, soaking the raisins in hot water to make them moister, and skipping the nuts. I was a little skeptical about using a whole tablespoon of cinnamon and vanilla extract, but the amounts were just right. The chunky applesauce helped make these really moist, without being too chewy. They are similar to carrot muffins, but have a distinct flavor from the parsnips. If you’re not a fan of parsnips, you probably wouldn’t like them. But if you’re looking to try something different or have some parsnips to use up, you might want to give these a try!
Matthew: I was having a party with some work friends and I decided that I should try making cheese fondue since I hadn’t ever made it before. The photo above shows the cheese that was used along with the other food and beverages for the evening. I only ended up using the Emmenteler and Gruyère, since that was enough, and saved the Jarlsberg for later.
I used the simplest fondue recipe which called for:
1/2 garlic clove
1 pound Gruyère
8 ounces Emmentaler
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used an Italian chardonnay)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch (I didn’t add this)
You just rub the garlic clove in the saucepan (and to the fondue pot), then add all the ingredients to the saucepan and stir in a figure 8 motion over medium heat. Then I just transferred it to the fondue pot and it was ready. To dip in the fondue, we used chunks of bread, summer sausage, pretzel crackers, tiny pickles, and broccoli. I thought it was really good and I think my friends did too. It was definitely worth splurging on the fancy cheese. Later in the evening, we enjoyed the salted caramel cocoa with some Baileys and the Toblerone chocolates while playing a couple intense rounds of Skip-Bo!