Brownifer Bites: October 2015

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

First Attempt at Asian Cuisine!

Just a quick photo!

We love to eat Asian food of all kinds - but neither of us are incredibly talented at cooking it.  So Brownie broke out the wok and for the first time - successfully made us Asian cuisine!  Stir Fry Veggies with Noodles and Laab Lettuce Wraps.  SO good, I could do this every night!!!!

Homemade Bagels

My homemade bagels are a huge hit in our house!  These babies with cream cheese are to die for!  One batch makes 8 bagels and some weeks .... it just isn't enough.  The key is definitely sticking with high-gluten flour!

I found the recipe I use here and while they don't necessarily LOOK like they do in their pictures, the flavor is definitely there.  I'm in love with this recipe.

Now, get baking!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Linguine Marinara

We used one of our jars of delicious homemade marinara tonight with some grass-fed beef and ate it over linguine - this sauce is just amazing!  The kids liked the high beef-to-sauce ration and it kept them from picking out the tomatoes! :-)  Score 1 for the parents!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mexican Chicken Soup (with recipe)

Threw this together tonight for my first adventure in canning soup. I actually wrote down a recipe!!! Sort of; soup is about taste and personal preference. I listed my ingredients but no quantities because well...everyone likes different flavors. Soup depends on the size of your pot as well. Always remember that soup grows quickly and you can end up nearly overflowing the pot if you're not careful. I always make too much 
But soup freezes amazingly well and it can be pressure canned if you're so inclined. 

Chicken...I just buy a whole organic cooked chicken and pull the meat, shredding and tearing it into small pieces. It gives me a good balance of light and dark meat and if I don't use the whole chicken, I have plenty for chicken salad later. Ain't nobody got time to cook a whole chicken! If you prefer large chunks of chicken, you can absolutely cook some thighs or breasts and chop them. Totally your call.
I also don't prep for this until I'm cooking. The time it takes to cut and chop and shred chicken gives the soup time to simmer and flavors to make friends. 

Taste your soup after stirring in batches of anything and adjust your spices and salt. Taste constantly. Add small amounts at a time; you can always add more but you can't take it out! You'll know the soup is done when the veggies are soft and you taste it without thinking something is missing. With soups, I follow a rule my friend from India gave me: if it's missing something you can't put your finger on, add cumin. This has NEVER failed me 
Chicken, cooked
Canned black beans, drained and rinsed
Canned tomatoes
Canned green chiles
Chopped onion
Chopped celery
Chopped carrots
Raw garlic cloves
Zucchini and yellow squash, sliced and quartered
Cumin, salt, chili powder, cilantro, thyme, garlic powder to taste
1. Sauté onions, carrots and celery with olive oil until soft, adding fresh minced garlic halfway through.
2. Fill pot with water until covering vegetables, bring to a boil.
3. Add zucchini and yellow squash, add water to cover vegetables again. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
4. Add salt and spices to taste
5. Add chicken, keep simmering
6. Add beans
7. Add canned tomatoes, juice and all
8. Add green chiles
9. Throw in some salsa for flavor
10. Simmer and adjust spices until the flavor is what you want. If you want spicy, add some cayenne pepper a little at a time.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Homemade Marinara

We spent a very long day making this marinara!  We got 30 lbs of tomatoes from a local farm and threw in our latest garden harvest for measure.  We kept it simple:  tomatoes, basil, onions, garlic and a little salt.

We cooked it down for 2 1/2 hours and after trying it on an omelette this morning ... I think that may have been a bit too long.  Next year, I want to leave more of the juices in the marinara when we can.  But the flavor?  You won't find ANYTHING in a jar on the grocery store shelf that is even CLOSE to this sauce.

I can't recommend making and canning your own enough!  We will make so many delicious things with this!  We got 9 quarts .... I'm thinking we better double that (at least) next year!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Chicken Remoulade Wraps

We had some remoulade sauce leftover but ... no more shrimp!  So Brownie used some of the cooked chicken in the refrigerator and these beauties were born!  Chicken Remoulade Lettuce Wraps with cajun bell pepper and lemon juice!

I could eat about a million of them!

Pulled Pork Tacos!

We come up with some pretty awesome things to do with our leftovers!  Our favorite is Mexican food - so much flavors to be had!

Brownie roasted a chili for us, I made rice .... and that was that!  The smoky flavor of the pork was just to die for!

Always consider Mexican food when you're wondering what to do with leftover BBQ! :-)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sweet Red Bistro

We haven't had a date in a long while, we were due!  Tonight we chose Sweet Red Bistro in Albany, Oregon.  This wasn't our first trip to the restaurant, but I thought I would share a little about it here.

This space was home (for years) to the old Boccherini's Coffe & Tea House.  It's always been a quaint and relaxing space to spend time in.  Albany-ites were so sad to see Boccherini's go but now .... we have Sweet Red's in its place!

You can order from a list of beautiful wines (lots of sweeter dessert options here) or you can even bring your own bottle and they will open it and pour it for you.  I always like to try one or two of their wine flights to taste which goes better with what I'm eating and tasting.

Tonight I also decided to try the tomato basil soup - I was starving.  It was delicious and full of basil flavor!  

We ordered the cheese board, knowing that it would fill both of us up and we felt like playing and flirting and creating fun combinations of nuts and cheese and fruit.  It was perfection!  

The atmosphere here is perfect for a romantic date night.  The lighting is low, you can tuck yourself in the back and enjoy your food.

The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable about the wines and food!  They answered all of our questions without a blink and when my flights of wine came, I got to hear all about each of them. 

Tonight we also did something we rarely do:  we ordered dessert!  No need to order coffee, the wines went wonderfully with our chocolate dessert!

Overall, we adore this place.  The art on the walls, the ambiance, everything just screams 'relaxing sexy date night'.  It was perfect for our mood!  Love it!