Creole Okra with Chicken and Tomatoes

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I don’t really know that much about southern food except that I like it a lot, and whenever I’m down south (I’m talking the southern US states here) I eat as much of it as I can. This dish started because I found okra at a good price at the grocery store and is more Creole-inspired than actually authentic (because again I don’t know much). It is adapted from something I found on The Kitchn. I doubled the amounts, prepared half this recipe in the pan and then chucked half of it in the freezer for later, like the clever person that I am†. Not that this recipe isn’t dead simple. I’m just lazy.

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I accompanied this one-dish meal with another dish: steamed beet greens.

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Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Zest 1 lemon.

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Gather your spices. Creole spice blends tend to run to mixtures of the following, so make one to suit your own taste (this one is about 1 teaspoon of each): onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, parsley, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne. The recipe I was looking at didn’t use creole spices; instead it called for a bit of cumin and coriander. So I just used everything. Set that aside for a few minutes.

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Start with your okra, about 1lb, and slice the tops off before cutting it in half lengthwise. Apparently people either love or hate okra, because it’s a bit slimy. I am ambivalent so far.

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Lay that on your baking sheet and sprinkle with about 1 cup (canned/drained/rinsed) black-eyed peas.

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Next, slice up a small white onion.

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Sprinkle that onto the pan, together with a few cloves crushed or minced garlic.

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Give that a good drizzle with some nice olive oil.

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Now here’s where I kind of diverged from the recipe. This dish is a good meal all in itself as a vegetarian option, but I feed boys (boys who are not vegetarians) so I had to chuck some meat in here somehow. In a large bowl, I threw 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs together with a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and your lemon zest.

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Then I chucked in all those lovely spices and gave it a good mixing.

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Spread the chicken and tomatoes evenly across the top of your peas and okra and shove it in the oven for about an hour. Give it a stir once or twice to make sure everything is browning evenly.

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We served ours over rice with the beet greens and it was pretty good. The Pie thought the okra was a little slimy (#1 reason why many people dislike it) but I thought it was pretty good!

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If you plan to freeze this recipe for later, I would recommend freezing it in two parts: in one bag goes the okra, peas, garlic, rice, and oil, and in the second bag goes the tomatoes, chicken, and spices. It just seems like a logical thing to do to tenderize the meat and prevent the peas and okra from getting too soggy.

Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake

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I made this (from Recipe Tin Eats) for Nana Nice’s birthday a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately I had the plague and couldn’t partake but I can assure you that it’s equally good the next day …

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″ springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter that too. You can never have enough butter.

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In a smallish pot on the stove, combine 8.5 ounces dark chocolate with 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 sticks unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup milk. Stir on medium low until the butter and chocolate have melted. Don’t let it come to a simmer.

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Tip in into a bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 3/4 cup milk.

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Then mix in 2 eggs – WAIT, I ONLY HAVE ONE EGG!

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Not to worry. You can substitute an egg with 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons milk, cream, butter, or yogurt.

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Whisk in those “eggs.”

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In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 3/4 cups plain flour, and 2 tablespoons instant coffee.

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Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

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Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean (a little residue means your cake will be extra fudgey!).

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Remove the sides of the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.

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You can frost this with whatever you want but a nice ganache is never a bad thing. Heat 1 cup whipping cream on the stove until it’s about to start simmering, then pour it over 8 ounces dark chocolate of your choosing.

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Stir until smooth and all the chocolate has melted, and then leave it to cool until it spreads like peanut butter.

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Frost your cake, and have fun with whatever swirls and squiggles you’d like!

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I went a step further and added some dragees

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… and some sprinkles

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It was a birthday cake after all!

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Cheesy Corn Fritters: In the Woods

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Seeing as most of our time camping is spent killing time between meals, it behoves me to put a bit of thought into them so they’re not a disappointment. And that means that all the lunches I made for our camping trip were hot ones. Granted, with everything mixed ahead of time, they were a snap to prepare, but I think the little bit of ceremony required in lighting the grill and getting everything ready made them a bit extra special.

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These quick fritters come from The Camping Cookbook – like most things we made for this trip – and are spectacular.

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Mix together 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in a bowl.

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Beat in 1 large egg and 3/4 cup milk.

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Stir in 75g corn (fresh, frozen, canned, it’s your choice, but make sure it’s well-drained), 1/4 cup shredded cheese, and 1 teaspoon fresh chives).

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Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a frying pan and drop tablespoons of the batter onto the hot surface. Fry 1-2 minutes each side until crispy and golden brown. This recipe will make about 8-12 small fritters, and we served them with some carrots on the side. Tasty and quick!

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Petite Piglet Patties

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I was going to call these things “savoury sausage sliders,” or even “summer savoury sausage sliders,” but then the Pie suggested the above title and for some reason I started to laugh so hard I needed a tissue and had to sit down.  And then he suggested that, since we used hot italian sausage meat, we call them “picante petite piglet patties” and I may have told him to shut up at that point.

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Anyway.  These are sliders, if you hadn’t gathered that by now.  I picked up a package of ground sausage meat the other day and this is what we did with it.  Basic ingredients are about 1lb ground pork, 1 egg, half a white onion, and some fresh summer savoury.

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Mince up the savoury and the onion and chuck them in a bowl with the sausage meat and the egg.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Give that a good stir with a spoon and then mix in about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or whatever kind of bread crumbs you have on hand).

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Form the goo into balls slightly larger than a golf ball but smaller than a cricket ball and flatten them into patties (I ended up with eleven patties).

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Fry those suckers up.  For some reason the light was such in my kitchen on this particular afternoon that it took us twelve tries (the Pie tried to help) of blurry patty photos before I gave up and used flash.

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While that’s on the go, why don’t you have yourself a salad, too?  Here we have a mixture of baby spinach, a small hunk of plain goat’s cheese (chevre), a handful of sliced almonds, another handful of dried cranberries, and a diced ripe pear.

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Then the dressing is 3 equal parts vegetable oil (I used almond, because we’re trying to use it up), rice vinegar, and orange juice).

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Toss it up!

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Top your sliders with whatever floats your boat.  I used mayo, tomatoes, avocado, and spinach.  The Pie voted for barbecue sauce and cheese.  We had them on some picnic buns I grabbed in the bakery section.

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All in all, a good summer meal. Don’t forget to eat your veggies! You see them peeking at you in the background? Don’t forget them!

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Slutty Brownies for My Birthday

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It’s my birthday.  Hooray!  Happy birthday to ME!

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As such, it means I can do whatever the eff I want to do today.  And I choose to be totally lazy and completely unhealthy and make these brownies*.  I’ve been hearing amazing things about this thing called a “slutty brownie,” and after looking them up on the interwebz I decided to go to the source, which, apparently, is a lady known as The Londoner.  Seems legit.  I could definitely get behind this sort of recipe.

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Normally I’m not one to make stuff out of pre-packaged food.  It’s just not my style.  For the most part, if you make something from scratch it tastes way better and is far more satisfying to make.  In this particular case, however, I think I can make an exception.

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It IS my birthday, you know.  But I have to say that the word “chocolatey” versus “chocolate” is always worrisome, though these did include real chocolate after all.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking dish with parchment.  I figured that seeing as some of the contents of my dish would fit normally into a square pan, and because I had extra ingredients on top of that, I should use a bigger pan.

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So you take a some chocolate chip cookie dough. In the British version, cookie dough comes in a box like cake and brownie mix, but here, unless you want it in bulk, it generally comes pre-made in refrigerated rolls.  The Londoner recommends using a teaspoon extra oil and water than recommended for the dry mix, because the cookie dough will be baking longer than usual and might dry out.  And you want this baby to be moister than moist.  So mix that up according to directions and add a bit more liquid. Smoosh the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan.  Use your fingers to make it all even and stuff. I decided I needed an extra roll of cookie dough.

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Take a package of Oreo cookies (double-stuffed is better, apparently), and line them up in the tray.  She says not to use the broken ones, but how else would one fill the gaps?  It’s thrifty.  However, I didn’t have any broken ones.  Way to go, modern packaging.

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And I didn’t have enough Oreos, actually.  So I moved everything to a smaller pan, which just involved some re-smooshing, and was very easy.

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Still didn’t have enough Oreos, though, and I couldn’t justify going out for another package when I was only a few short.

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So I just moved them over a bit.

THEN.  Then.  You take a box of brownie mix.  And you mix that up according to its directions. Mine had chocolate chunks in it!

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No need to add anything extra.  Just do it.  Giv’er.

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Pour that loveliness over top of the Oreos.  I’m serious.  Do it.  If you used a bigger pan like me you will need to spread it carefully so everything is covered.

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Bake that sucker for 40-50 whole minutes, then remove from the oven and put on a wire rack to cool.  Mine was big, so it actually took an hour.  A smaller pan would probably take you about 30 minutes. Look at that lovely shiny/crackly top!

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When it’s still a little warm, use the parchment as handles to remove the gloriousness from the confines of the pan, set it on a cutting board, and cut it up.  I recommend smallish cubes, as larger cubes of the stuff might result in DEATH.  And nobody likes death.

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Serve it up with a dollop of ice cream on top, or whipped cream, or caramel sauce, or fudge sauce, or all four in combination.  With a cherry on top.  And sprinkles.  Okay maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

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And I’m not going to give you storage instructions because if you have any sense, there won’t be any left to store.

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* This is actually a lie.  I don’t do ANYTHING on my birthday.  It’s a rule.  I made these a week BEFORE my birthday (because despite what you may believe I don’t get up at the crack of dawn and bake in time for a 7AM NST post).  The Pie is creating a magical birthday cake for me as we speak.  There may be a post on it.  Who knows.

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Fluffy Gluten-Free Waffles

Gluten-Free Waffles

This recipe is a modified version of the one that Iris over at the Daily Dietribe came up with.  I am indebted to her extensive experimentation.  Jul, who eats only gluten-free foods, is also indebted.  And the Pie and Cait are just full.

Iris has experimented enough that she knows which flours will do what, so I followed her advice and used a combination of almond flour and brown rice flour.

Gluten-Free Waffles

Take 1 1/4 cups of the flour and whisk it together with 1/2 cup starch (potato works best but I used corn starch because I can’t find it here), 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

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In another, larger bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and between 1/2 and 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (the amount will depend on what kind of flour you are using.  Here I used about 3/4 cup).

Gluten-Free Waffles

For a dairy-free version (and this is already egg-free), you can use 2 tablespoons vegetable oil instead of butter, and instead of the buttermilk you could go for coconut milk.

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Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Add more liquid, if necessary, a little bit at a time.  If you are making waffles, you’ll want your batter to be a little thicker, while with pancakes you’ll want it a bit runnier.

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Then you just pour the batter into a pan or smooth it into a waffle iron and you’re all set. I loved how this was just as simple as making regular buttermilk waffles and took no time at all.

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These came out a little darker than I was expecting but they were lovely and crisp, even after I left them to warm in the oven.   Just make sure to spray your waffle iron or your pan frequently or they will stick.

Gluten-Free Waffles

Put a Lid on It!

Put a Lid on It!

Like my mother, containers are my passion.  Bowls.  Vases.  Tins.  Boxes.  Jars.  I love them all, vintage ones especially.

I used to have a number of vintage jars to store various items in my pantry.  The Pie has broken two of them (*I* only break things that are new and expensive), but I’ve got some left.

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The lids are a little finicky, though, I guess from years of denting and twisting and probably a faint patina of rust and grime on the lid itself.  It’s hard to get everything to thread properly sometimes.

So my trick is pretty simple.  I take a piece of paper towel and I put a drop or two of vegetable oil on it.

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Then I rub it on the inside edge of the threaded part of the lid, making sure that it doesn’t come into contact with anything that might touch the contents of the jar.

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It’s the same sort of logic as spritzing cooking spray on a recalcitrant zipper.  A little lubrication goes a long way.

Put a Lid on It!