Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Olive and Feta Swirl Rolls

I don't know what it is about swirl rolls, but I love making them. And I fill them with all sorts of things.

I'll bet a lot of people would think of cinnamon rolls first when someone mentions swirl rolls, Or maybe they think of sticky buns.

Those are great, but swirl rolls don't have to be sweet.

Nope, savory swirl rolls are pretty amazing, too.

These rolls are filled with olives (I used kalamatas) and feta cheese, and the dough is flavored with oregano. They're tasty all by themselves, but they're also perfect with dinner, particularly when you're serving something with Greek or Mediterranean flavors.

This recipe is sponsored by my friends at Red Star Yeast, which makes a whole lot of sense for this blog. It's the brand that I buy exclusively, because I like it.

I use the active dry yeast most often, but I'm also a big fan of the Platinum yeast, particularly for finicky breads. The Quick Rise is great when you're in a hurry, and it's also a great yeast for bread machines.

But enough about yeast. Let's get back to the rolls!

These rolls are best when they're refrigerated overnight for the final rise, so you can bake them when you need them - right before lunch or dinner.

But, if you want to, you can let them rise at room temperature and bake the same day. Just let them rise for 30-45 minutes after shaping - if you poke one with a finger, the indent should remain. Then they're ready for baking. Personally, I think the flavor is better with the long, slow, overnight rise, so if you have the time, give that a try.

Olive and Feta Swirl Rolls

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons Red Star active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (or your favorite pitted olives)
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Combine the water, bread flour, sugar, yeast, salt, olive oil, mashed potato flakes and oregano in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.

If you prefer, you can mix the ingredients in a bowl and knead by hand. I like using the stand mixer for kneading, but I know that not everyone has one.

Knead until the dough is elastic.

Cover the bowl and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Flour your work surface and spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with baking spray (or, if you're confident, you don't need to spray. I usually do, for extra insurance.)

Roll the dough to a rectangle about 9x13 inches. It doesn't need to be precise. You can just eyeball it to see that it's about the same size as your pan.

With one of the long sides of the dough facing you, sprinkle the cheese and the olives over the surface of the dough, leaving about 1 inch uncovered on the far end. Use the rolling pin to gently press the filling into the dough.

Starting with the end closest to you, gently roll the dough, jellyroll-style. Don't roll super-tight. When you reach the opposite end, pinch the seam to seal the roll.

Cut the dough into 12 even pieces and place them, with the cut side up, in the prepared pan. If you've managed to cut them unevenly, it's not a big deal - I actually like having some rolls bigger than others, so people can choose a larger or smaller roll. If there are some that are taller than others in the pan, press them down gently so they're all about the same size.

Cover the pan (it's handy to have a pan that has its own cover, or you can cover with plastic wrap.)

Refrigerate the dough overnight or up to 24 hours. It will rise during that time.

When you're ready to bake, take the pan out of the refrigerator while you let the oven heat. Preheat to 350 degrees.

When the oven has heated, remove the cover from the pan and bake the buns at 350 degrees until they're nicely browned and cooked through - about 50 minutes.

Remove the buns from the pan (you can flip them out onto a rack, then from them over onto another rack so they're right-side-up) and let them cool before serving.

Want to see lots of pretty bread photos? Follow Red Star Yeast on Pinterest.

Thanks to Red Star Yeast for sponsoring this post!
Feta and Olive Swirl Rolls
Feta and Olive Swirl Rolls

Monday, September 28, 2015

Slow Cooker Chunky Potato Leek Soup #SimplyPotatoes

This post brought to you by Simply Potatoes. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Cookistry.

Potato soup is one of my ultimate comfort foods, and what's better than comfort food that's easy to prepare? This one is made in a slow cooker, so you don't need to watch it, stir it, or worry about burning. Slow cooking is one of my favorite methods for busy days.

This was my first time using Simply Potatoes, and I have to say that I enjoyed the convenience. Just rip the bag open and go. In case you haven't seen them yet, Simply Potatoes are fresh potatoes, not frozen or dried, so you'll find them in the refrigerated dairy section. Since they're peeled and prepared, they're easy to use. And they're made from real ingredients. You know - potatoes.

I found a number of different varieties at the store, including hash browns - and how convenient it that? No grating in the morning when you're sleep-cooking!

In the end, I decided to use two different types of Simply Potatoes - the traditional mashed and the chunks. I used the mashed because I wanted a thick, creamy soup, and I used the chunks to provide texture in the soup to match the other vegetables. It was the perfect choice.

The rest of the vegetables in this soup can be prepped ahead of time if you like. Unlike potatoes that brown when cut, the carrots, celery and leek can be cut ahead of time and refrigerated until needed, so when you're ready to cook, you don't need to do much work at all.

This is a thick, stick-to-your-ribs soup. If you prefer something thinner, add more stock or water to achieve your desired consistency.

Slow Cooker Chunky Potato Leek Soup

2 carrots
1 stalk celery
1 leek
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart chicken stock (more as needed)
1 24-ounce package Simply Potatoes Traditional Mashed
1 20-ounce package Simply Potatoes Diced Potatoes with Onion
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crumbled potato chips for garnish (optional)

Peel the carrots and slice them into thin rounds. Cut the celery in half, lengthwise, then slice into pieces about the same size as the carrots.

Trim the tough green parts off of the leek, and cut off the roots, if they're still attached.

Cut the leek in quarters, lengthwise, then slice into thin pieces. Put the leek pieces into a colander or strainer and rinse well. Leeks usually have dirt or sand trapped between some of the layers, and you want to make sure you remove all of that.

Heat the butter in a saute pan (or in your slow cooker, if it has a bottom-cooking function) and add the carrots, celery, and leek.

Add the salt, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables have soften a bit. You don't need them cooked through, but you do want to give them a head start.

Add the vegetable to the slow cooker along with the chicken stock and mashed potatoes.

Turn the heat to high and stir until the mashed potatoes are mostly mixed into the stock. It's fine if there are a few bits.

Add the potato chunks and stir again. Cook on high until the vegetables are cooked through - about 2 hours depending on your cooker and how thinly you sliced your vegetables. Taste and add more salt or pepper, if desired.

Serve hot.

Garnish with crumbled potato chips, if desired.

Thanks to Simply Potatoes  I gave away one slow cooker to a lucky winner (giveaway is now over).

If you're looking for more Simply Potatoes Recipes check out their website or follow Simply Potatoes on Pinterest.

Visit Sponsors Site
Slow cooker chunky potato leek soup.
Slow cooker chunky potato leek soup.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sept 23, 2015: 37 years and no longer counting

This is the blog post I've dreaded writing, but the time has come. On the morning of Sept. 23, exactly 37 years after I met my husband, he passed away peacefully after a brief illness.

The thing I will miss the most about him - and thing that he kept to the very end - was his quirky sense of humor.

Even when he was in the emergency room, he joked with the nurses. Someone asked if I was his wife, and he said, "No, that's my girlfriend. Don't tell my wife!"

I was legally his wife, for sure, but in my heart we were still boyfriend and girlfriend, in our carefree 20's, and deeply in love.

He once told me that it was his goal to make me laugh every day. He certainly did made me laugh a lot. Sometimes it was a little snort, sometimes it was a giggle, sometimes it was an eye-rolling groan. And sometimes it was a howler, where I splorted and laughed and giggled and had to catch my breath from laughing so hard.

One of the last howlers was when I served him a freshly-made slice of pie and as he was eating it he asked what it was. I told him it was a peach and quince pie.

He paused just a second or two, tilted his head, poked at the pink-colored fruit in the pie, and said, "So, this is a quince-idence?"

Monday, September 21, 2015

Idaho Home Fry Potato Salad with Poblano Mayonnaise

Potato salad is a welcome guest at pretty much every party, and for sure it plays well at tailgating parties along with all the typical grilled foods. Keep it chilled in your cooler until serving, then just bust out the bowl and serve - no muss, no fuss.

But of course, you don't want to make the same old potato salad that everyone's mom and grandmother has hauled to every picnic and potluck since the dawn of time. This one includes zucchini for a little extra crunch and a fire-roasted poblano pepper for a mild heat.

The last twist is that the potatoes are cooked twice - first boiled and then lightly pan-fried to add a rich, savory, roasted flavor to the potato salad.

Idaho® Home Fry Potato Salad with Poblano Mayonnaise

For the potato salad:
2 pounds Idaho® potatoes (smaller ones; not bakers), boiled in their skins until done, then cooled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 scallions
2 celery stalks
1 small zucchini
6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
1/4 cup parsley
For the poblano mayonnaise:
1 poblano* pepper, roasted, peeled, and cored
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, sour cream, or a mix
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

The potatoes can be cooked a day ahead and refrigerated, if it's more convenient. They slice best when they're fully chilled, but it's fine if they're still a little warm after cooking.

Peel the potatoes, then slice into 1/4 inch rounds.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and brown the potato slices on both sides. You can cook in batches, if necessary, or just add all the slices to the pan and flip occasionally. If you need a more oil to get the potatoes browned, add it as needed. If a few potatoes don't brown during the flipping, it's not a big deal.

While the potatoes are cooking, you can make the mayonnaise. Add the poblano pepper, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and salt to a blender or food processor and blend until it's as smooth as you can get it.

Meanwhile, slice the scallions into thin rings and add to a large bowl. Slice the celery stalks lengthwise, then slice thinly and add them to the bowl. Slice the zucchini into thin rounds and add them to the bowl. Chop the parsley and add it to the bowl - save some for garnish, if you like. Peel and chop the eggs roughly and add them to the bowl.

Add about half of the mayonnaise to the vegetables in the bowl and stir. When the potatoes are done, add them to the the bowl, add the remaining mayonnaise, and stir gently, trying not to break up the potatoes.

Refrigerate the potato salad until chilled. Garish with the reserved parsley before serving, if desired.

*Poblano peppers aren't super-spicy, so this isn't going to set your hair on fire - it just adds a mild hint of heat.

This post was sponsored by Idaho® Potatoes.
Idaho potato salad with poblano mayo

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Easy Cheesy Jalfrezi Chicken

I got a really positive response to my last quick 'n easy chicken recipe (or at least no one skewered me for using *gasp* a can of soup), so I figured I'd post this one too.

This time around, I used a jar of Seeds of Change jalfrezi cooking sauce. I got some samples from them a while back, but I've gone back and bought more of the jalfrezi. The best way I can describe it is that it's curry for people who aren't sure they like curry. It's got a teeny bit of heat and hints of typical Indian flavors, but it's not in-your-face.

What it is, though, is really, really tasty. Flavorful. Scrumptious.

And then I added a can of (gasp!) cheddar cheese soup.

My first experience with canned cheddar cheese soup was when my mom invite me over for dinner and she was giggling with delight about her new cheese sauce recipe that she used on the broccoli.

Prior to that, she generally didn't put cheese sauce on vegetables. Sometimes she'd sprinkle a little cheese on top of hot broccoli or cauliflower and let it melt, but she never made a sauce.

Until this one time. She gloated. She cooed. She rubbed her hands with glee. She was over-the-moon about her recipe and she waited until dinner was over and she asked me to guess what was in the sauce. And finally she announced that it was nothing but undiluted canned cheddar cheese soup.

Well, how about that.

Once I wrapped my head around the fact that it was nothing but canned soup, I had to admit that it totally worked.

These days, I don't use a lot of canned soup, but lately I've been using it in some slow cooker recipes. Because ... hey, why not?

Easy Cheesy Jalfrezi Chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 pounds)
1 onion, diced or chopped
1 orange or red bell pepper, cored, and diced or chopped
1 jar Seeds of Change Jalfrezi sauce
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 teaspoon salt*
1 bag frozen broccoli florets (about 14 ounces, depending on brand)

If you have a slow cooker with a browning feature, heat the olive oil in the cooker and brown the chicken, skin-side down. You might need to do this in batches. If your slow cooker doesn't have a browning feature, brown the chicken in a pan on the stove, then transfer to the slow cooker. If there's a lot of fat in the slow cooker, drain most of it before continuing.

Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for a few minutes in the pan or slow cooker, stirring as needed.

Add the  jalfrezi sauce, cheese soup, and salt. Stir to mix it all together. If you like, you can mix them prior to added to the slow cooker - depending on whether you think washing a bowl is easier, or trying to stir stuff in a fairly full slow cooker.

Cook on high heat until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through - 2-3 hours on high, depending on your slow cooker. Add the broccoli, stir to combine, and continue cooking until the broccoli is done to your liking. It will be crisp-tender and warm in about 15 minutes. If you prefer it cooked until tender, plan for another 15 minutes.

Serve hot. I served it with rice to soak up the sauce.

*Before you point out that canned soup is salty, I totally agree. It's salty - for soup. But for my taste, it's not quite salty enough for 4 pounds of chicken and another pound or so of vegetables. If you don't believe me (which is fine - I don't always believe me!) then leave the salt out until the chicken is cooked and give it a taste. Keep in mind that the broccoli is going in the pool, too. And adjust the saltiness to your taste.
Easy cheesy jalfrezi slow cooker chicken
Easy cheesy jalfrezi slow cooker chicken

Friday, September 11, 2015

No-Cook, No-Churn Vanilla Malted Milk Ice Cream

When you churn ice cream in an ice cream maker, it freezes the product and at the same time it adds air to the mixture. If it wasn't for the air, the ice cream would be much more solid - like a solid block of frozen dairy product. With this ice cream, you add air first, then freeze. So there's no need to churn.

In the ice cream industry, the air added to the ice cream is referred to as overrun. If an ice cream had a 100 percent overrun, it would mean that whatever amount of ice cream mix you started with, you'd end up with twice as much volume of ice cream because of the added air.

Needless to say, less expensive ice creams have a higher overrun - since they're selling you less product and more air, they can charge less.

With this ice cream, you can control the amount of overrun by allowing the air from the whipped cream to deflate before you freeze it. Or leave it really fluffy. It's different from what you'd get from a churned ice cream, and sometimes a different texture is appealing just because it's different.

When I made this, I froze it right after mixing, so it was pretty fluffy. I ended up with about 2 quarts of finished ice cream. Bonus of the extra air is that you can have an extra-large scoop with the same calories as a smaller scoop.

Vanilla Malted Milk Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 14-ounce can  sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cashew milk (you can use almond milk or regular old dairy milk)
1/4 cup malted milk powder (make sure it's the kind that dissolves in cold liquids)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

In large bowl using a hand beater, or in the bowl of your stand mixer using the whipping attachment, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. Make sure you don't overbeat and make butter.

Since the stand mixer is a hands-off operation, you can do the other mixing while the cream whips - just keep an eye on it.

In another bowl, mix the condensed milk, cashew milk, malted milk powder, vanilla extract, and salt until it's completely mixed.

If the malted milk powder is lumpy and there are lumps in the mix that you can't break up by whisking. a stick blender will take care if it nicely.

Mix the condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream, then transfer to storage containers and freeze until firm.
Malted Vanilla Ice Cream
Malted Vanilla Ice Cream

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chocolate Cashew Slushie

Super-quick recipe, but I've been making this just about every other day for the past week or so, and I'm still not getting tired of it. So I figured it was worth writing up, if only so I can remember it when I quit making it for a month or so.

Yes, I do look up recipes on my own blog. All the darned time.

To be honest, I don't measure everything exactly most days, so it might have a little more or less chocolate. I did measure it to write this up, though. But, hey, you know what you like, so adapt it however it makes sense for you.

The protein powder isn't necessary, but it does make this more of a meal replacement rather than a just a drink. Of course, if you're after "just a drink" this is pretty tasty.

I'm also thinking it could be really good with some malted milk powder thrown in.

Cashew Chocolate Slushie

1 cup cashew milk
1 tray ice cubes (Yeah, not an exact measurement, but more or less isn't going to be a deal-breaker.)
1 tablespoon chocolate sauce
1/4 cup cold brew coffee concentrate
2 scoops vanilla cream protein powder (optional)

Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass. Add a straw. SLURP!
Chocolate Cashew Slushie

Monday, September 7, 2015

Minty Chocolate Milkshake for Chocolate Milkshake Day #ChocolateMilkShakeDay #Brancamenta

September 12 is Chocolate Milkshake Day. Are you prepared?
I got a little added incentive to whip up a milkshake this year because the nice folks at Branca made me an offer I couldn't refuse. And that included a bottle of their Brancamenta, a mint-flavored liqueur. I'm a huge fan of chocolate and mint. Of course I wanted those flavors in a shake.

But before I started, I had to try the liqueur on its own. Unlike other super-sweet or one-note mint liqueurs, this one is pretty complex, with herby-spicy notes along with the mint. It was really nice over ice after dinner, and I'm looking forward to mixing it into cocktails.

I started the shake with a home made chocolate ice cream, but your favorite store-bought brand would be just fine, too.

To add a little texture to the shake, I added some cookies, as well. I used mint-filled Oreos, but when they're in season, Girl Scout cookies would be great. Or any other mint cookie you like.

Or, if you don't happen to have mint cookies hanging around, chocolate cookies would work. The Brancamenta has enough mint flavor, so you don't really need to add more mint.

Minty Chocolate Milkshake

2 generous scoops chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup milk (or as needed)
1 1/2 ounces Brancamenta
4 chocolate mint cookies (Thin Mints, Mint Oreos, or your favorite mint or chocolate cookie)

Toss everything into your blender and blend until it reaches the consistency you like.

If it's too thick, add a little extra milk to thin it out. If it's too thin, go right ahead and add more ice cream. I won't tell.

If you like, you can garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, but I didn't think this needed any embellishment at all.

Serve immediately.Slurp, slurp. Ahhhhhh. Now make one for everyone else!

Thanks to Braca for sponsoring this post.
Chocolate Mint Milkshake
Boozy Chocolate Mint Milkshake with Branca Menta

Friday, September 4, 2015

Quick and Easy Chicken with Hatch Chiles

Don't get me wrong. This isn't fancy food. This isn't something you'd serve the Queen when she showed up. What this is, very frankly, it the meal you make when you want an hour before dinner to just sit and chill.

Or maybe an hour to help problem child with homework.

This uses (gasp) a can of soup. Yes, there I said it. I was inspired (and possibly frightened) by a recent cookbook that passed this way. It was written by Coolio.

Yes, that Coolio.

He's not a cook, but he wrote a cookbook called Cooking with Coolio, and it's a little weird. He has an odd love for balsamic vinegar, and canned soup made its way into a whole lot of recipes.

So I tried one of the canned-soup concoctions. And you know what? I liked it. It was comfort food. He was also pretty heavy-handed on the salt. Just so you know.

Anyway, this is not one of his recipes; not even adapted. The book is now long gone, so I couldn't peek if I wanted to.

I made this in my slow cooker, which is my usual set-it-and-forget-it cooking tool, but you could also make this in a heavy-bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven, either on the stove or in the oven.

Chicken with Hatch Chile

1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs*
1 red bell pepper
2 fire-roasted and cleaned Hatch** chiles (hot or mild, your choice)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 can cream-of-something** soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
Chives or the green part of a scallion, for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in your slow cooker (if it's got a stovetop/browning function) or in a pan on the stove. Or in your Dutch oven, if that's what you're using. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until nicely browned. Flip the chicken over and cook the same way on the other side.

You can prep the vegetables while the chicken is browning.

Core the bell pepper and cut into a large dice. It doesn't need to be pretty. This is rustic food. Add to the pot when the chicken is browning on that second side.

Combine the peppers, balsamic vinegar, and water in a blender. Or you can use a stick blender or food processor. No tools like that? Just chop the peppers as finely as you can. Otherwise, blend the pepper mixture until it's as smooth as it can get.

Add the soup, pepper mixture, and salt to the chicken in the slow cooker and give it a stir. Cook on high for 60-90 minutes, depending on how much down time you need before dinner.

I served this with rice - made in my rice cooker. The rice was great for sopping up the extra sauce. Easy peasy.

Garnish the chicken with a few snips of chives or scallion, if desired.

* Of course, you can use other parts. Whatever you like. Cooking time might be different, though. I like thighs for the slow cooker because they're so forgiving as far as overcooking is concerned.

** If you don't happen to have freshly fire-roasted Hatch chiles waiting to be used, you can substitute with whatever you happen to have, or that you like.

*** I used cream of chicken, but you could use cream of mushroom, cream of celery, or even cheddar cheese soup.
Quick and Easy Chicken with Hatch Chiles