Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pizza Puffs, Mk. II

Where's the first draft of the pizza puffs? They were tasty, sure, but so haphazard in their construction that they weren't worth posting. But two changes in the past two weeks have made this second version a roaring success, and surprisingly simple. The changes? A bread machine, and muffin tins.


  • 1 cup flat beer
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant (bread machine) yeast (1 packet)
  • 6 oz pizza sauce (your favorite brand)
  • 2 tsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 4 oz shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 18 slices pepperoni


  1. Add beer, butter, sugar, salt, flour, and yeast to the bowl of a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the dough cycle setting, and press start.
  2. When the cycle is complete, dump the risen dough bowl onto a large, lightly floured prep surface. Cover the ball with lightly floured wax paper, and roll the dough to less than1/4" thick.
  3. Cut the flattened dough in half. Lightly drape each half of the dough over a standard muffin tin, lightly greased, allowing the dough to conform to the muffin holes somewhat. You may press the dough lightly into each hole with a thumb to assist shaping. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. With a pizza cutter, slice the dough along the tip ridges of each muffin tip, separating each muffin into a single square of dough.
  6. Mix pizza sauce and sriracha in a small bowl.
  7. Spoon ~1 tbsp of sauce into each muffin cup. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of mozzerella. Top with 1 piece of pepperoni, whole or sliced. 
  8. Fold each corner of the dough of each muffin cup over the top of each muffin, to form small parcels.
  9. Bake 13-15 minutes, until the tops of the dough are lightly brown. (Oil or cheese may bubble out from tops of parcels. This is normal.)
  10. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Serve warm.


Yep. Delicious. Plain and simple. Could switch the toppings up, but these were straight up tasty.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Having searched and searched for a tasty cinnamon roll recipe that doesn't require (1) a bread machine, (2) a stand mixer with a dough hook, and (3) oodles of time, I stumbled across the perfect recipe in a little recipe book in Ely, MN. Simple, tasty, and effective. A must.


  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 5 1/2 - 6 cups flour
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Mix water, yeast, eggs, cake mix, and flour in the above order. Knead well. Let stand until the dough doubles in size. Dough should be lightly sticky but pliable.a
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Spread with meltedbutter, sugar, and cinnamon. 
  3. Roll up dough and cut into 1" slices. Place onto a greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, 12-14 minutes.
  5. Serve warm!
The rolled dough on the left, with buns ready for the oven on the right.


Oh boy, were these tasty. You can never go wrong with brown sugar and dough, and these were no exception. I cut them about twice as large as they should have been, so we ended up with some pretty monstrous rolls. But tasty nonetheless. Will definitely make again.

Huge! Tasty! Sugar! Butter!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Sriracha Cookies

Not a full fledged recipe post today, just a pointer to an excellent recipe from another fun food blogger. Just four words:

Peanut Butter Sriracha Cookies by The Sugar Pixie


Any recipe that involves this as a step can't be bad, can it? Apparently no, it can't.
Mike and I just refill this bottle from the 55 gallon drum we keep out back.
The original recipe didn't seem quite Sriracha-y enough, so in goes more Sriracha! You can't possibly go wrong.
It's like the caramel ripple of the Sriracha world.
 They come out looking like regular old peanut butter cookies, so it's wise to put out a warning sign for your guests and friends. We had more than one person surprised by the spice, but less than one person unhappy with the switch.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Crab Rangoon

Tasty, hot, sweet, salty. Cream cheese. Crab. Wanton skins. Fried. What's not to like. Let's get to it.


  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz fresh crab meat, or imitation crab, dried and flaked
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha rooster sauce
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled, and mashed
  • Approx 20 wanton wrappers (square)
  • 1 small bowl of water
  • Oil for deep frying


  1. Combine cream cheese, crab, soy sauce, Worcestershire, sriracha, green onion, and garlic in a small bowl. Mix well.
  2. Feel free to add more soy or Sriracha if you like a saltier or spicier rangoon.
  3. Lay out one or two wanton wrappers on a cutting board. Cover remaining wrappers with a damp paper towel and work with only one or two wrappers at a time to avoid drying. (Dry wrappers neither fold nor dry well.)
  4. Place one teaspoon of the crab and cream cheese mixture in the center of each wrapper. With two fingertips, moisten all four sides of the wrapper, then fold in half to form a triangular rangoon. Press the edges together well.
  5. Do not overfill your rangoon! They will leak and make you sad.
  6. Set completed rangoons under another damp paper towel until all the rangoon are finished, to avoid drying.
  7. Heat oil in a deep pan, wok, or deep fryer, to approx 365 degrees. 
  8. Carefully add the rangoon to oil. Do not overfill - allow enough room for the rangoon to cook separately and fully.
  9. Cook until light golden brown, approximately three minutes. If using a pan or wok, turn the rangoon over after 90 seconds. Remove from the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Serve warm with sweet and sour sauce or sweet chili sauce.


Metal skewers make good mixing and flipping instruments, especially if you're using a deep fryer.
What's not to like?? A few words to the wise - don't undercook these suckers. They will be limp, and hard to eat. But it's hard to overcook them, so if you're unsure, leave them in a bonus 30 seconds.

Also, be sure to seal all your edges carefully! You'll know right away if you have a leak by the little floating cream cheese noodles that start coagulating on your rangoon.

If you remove your wounded rangoon before the cream cheese has time to burn, you can have a perfectly delicious inside-out rangoon experience
Crab Rangoon are the perfect party finger food, but like any fried food, they're best served hot and fresh. If you do have to make them in advance, keep them hot in the over at 200 degrees until it's time to serve.

Sweet chili sauce is really the way to go with these. You can find it at any Asian supermarket. It's hot, it's sweet, it's excellent. Just like these puppies. Om.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Homemade Flour Tortillas

After a day's worth of experimentation leading up to an evening with some Chicken Fajitas and Mango salsa, I finally ran across a fresh tortilla recipe that left the product crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, flavorful, and saved well. Worth making, and pretty easy. Just don't overcook them!


  • Two cups all-purpose clour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cups warm milk
  • 2 tbsp Crisco


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and oil.
  2. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and Crisco, until a loose, sticky dough forms.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Kneed 2-3 minutes. Add additional flour if dough with not cohere.
  4. Cover dough with a damp cloth for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Break dough into eight pieces, roll each into a bowl, and recover with a damp cloth for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Roll out each ball into an 8" diameter circle, keeping them moist by covering them with a wet cloth until cooked. Or simply roll the balls out one by one as you're ready to cook them.
  7. Cook each tortilla in a dry skillet over high heat for approximately 30 seconds per side.
  8. Eat warm! Microwave with a damp paper towel to bring them back if they cool or dry.


After the sad, over-crisp first draft of a butter-based tortilla, these held up to time and food really well. They were both flavorful and soft, with enough gumption to stand up to the juicy fajitas without falling apart. And oh so simple. I'll be making these again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New England Clam Chowder

This week is pretty grey and dreary in Chicago, and what goes better with clouds, fog, and missing California than New England Clam Chowder?

One undeniable fact is that there are just as many clam chowders in the world as there are clam chowder lovers, and twice as many opinions about what makes the best chowder a cut above the dissenting heretical recipes. Some use salt pork to pre-flavor the pot and and veggies. Others prefer straight bacon. Some use potato starch or arrowroot as thickeners, some used smashed potatoes, and some use use flour and cream. Which variety of clams to use, which spices to use (bay leaves? thyme? black or white pepper? What about parsley?), the authenticity of this or that type of potato or the acceptability of celery: a veritable cornucopia of choices.

As a first-time chowder-maker, I tried to put together a straightforward clam chowder with no fancy moves, something that I could be proud of and couldn't mess up too badly.


  • 3 cans clams (minced or diced, see Side Note below)
  • 1 bottle clam juice (8 oz)
  • 3 oz salt pork, finely diced
  • 4 medium sized redskin potatos
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 springs fresh thyme leaves (removed from stalks)
  • 1/2 tbsp bay leaves
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives or green onions
  • 4-6 tbsp thickening starch (in this case, corn starch. See Results below.)


  1. In a large soup pot, render salt pork over medium-high heat until just crisp. Remove pork bits from the pot and discard, leaving pork fat in the pot.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Saute yellow onion in the pork fat until translucent and delicious looking.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add butter, bay leaf, thyme, and garlic, and cook 3-5 minutes until thyme is wilted. Remove bay leaf.
  4. Add potatoes, celery, juice from the canned clams, and bottled clam juice, adding additional hot water as necessary to cover vegetables. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and broth is slightly thickened. Optionally, smash some of the larger potato chunks against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon to give create additional thickness.
  5. Look at all those delicious veggies, ready to be smothered in clam juice and cream.
  6. Stir in cream, green onions, salt, and pepper. Simmer and stir a few minutes until thickened somewhat.
  7. In a small bowl, make a rue of thickening starch and cold water, stirring until all clumps are dissolved. Stir rue into chowder, mixing thoroughly.
  8. Remove from heat. Fold in clams. Serve warm immediately, preferably with warm sourdough bread.

Side Note: Canned Clams and Clam Juice

On their own, the words "clam juice" are a little alarming. What is clam juice? Do clams even have juice? How does one juice a clam? Is a juice press appropriate?

No, no it is not.

Clam Juice is essentially clam broth - the liquid leftover after one steams clams. For those of us not bothering to steam our own clams (or not wanting to shell out for fresh clams in the Midwest), clam juice is just a bottled version of the same. It tastes vaguely of shellfish and clam, and it fairly high in sodium. So that's one mystery solved.

The second question: what's the different between the "chopped" and "minced" varieties of canned clams you see on the shelf? These seem to be the two levels of chopped-ness that clams come in, across brands.

So what's the difference? As far as I can see, not a darn thing:
Minced on the left, chopped on the right. And not a lick of difference between them.
Same quantity of clam, same density of clam, same bell curve of clam-piece sizes with the same standard deviation and amplitude. So really, get either chopped or minced, because at least to Bumblebee Seafood, they mean the same thing.


This hit the spot right on. Really, with cream, clams, saute'd onions, and veggies, how can you go wrong? The salt pork added a lot of flavor (well, fat) without turning this into a bacon chowder. The onions came out soft and delicious, and though I don't often have celery in my clam chowder, I really enjoyed the crunch it gave the final creation. We ate it with a loaf of no-knead bread (more on that later), which was fresh, hot, and great with chowder. Next goal? Homemade bread bowls.

So much flavor and texture in every bite!
The one major change I'd make next time would be to change up the starch used to thicken things up a bit at the end. The chowder left a little bit of a mealy texture in one's mouth, which I think has to do with using corn starch, as it has a tendency to coagulate into clumps under heat. Not that this was exposed to an extreme amount of heat, but for the sake of texture, a starch experiment may need to be in order.
Mike's in the middle of saying "Soooo good!"

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mango Cilantro Salsa

This recipe was born out of necessity: I had planned to make a strawberry cilantro salsa to go with the Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas from a previous post. But alas - the strawberries in my fridge had gone bad, and were beginning to mold! Thankfully, mangoes were 58 cents at Jewel that day, and a little improvisation gave birth to this yummy topping, which sports a nice blend of sweet, spicy, tangy, and salty flavors.


  • Flesh of 1 large, ripe mango, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, with seeds removed, finely diced
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime (approx 2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt


  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine mango, pepper, green onion, cilantro,  jalapeño, lime juice, lemon juice, and a generous pinch of salt. Mix well.
  2. Cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. (Will keep up to 48 hours in the fridge).
And that's it!


The cornucopia of flavors in this simple salsa balanced the umami and spice of the chicken fajitas very nicely. And the chilled salsa was a nice contrast to the warm meat, just out of the slow cooker. I wouldn't change a thing, except that if I were making this to consume with chips instead of using them as a topping, I cut the mango and pepper small enough to be easily scoop-able. As it was, there was no salsa left over after dinner anyway!