Dyeing Easter Eggs

Hello, and Happy Easter! I haven’t been actively practicing a religion for a number of years now, so today’s post focuses on a fun activity that’s part of the secular candy/Easter bunny side of the holiday. My family and I used to dye eggs when my siblings and I were younger, but haven’t done so recently. I thought I’d pick up the tradition this year, and create some fabulous dyed eggs.
First, hard boil however many eggs you’d like to dye. The Pioneer Press had a few recipes for deviled eggs in their most recent Eat section (my favorite section and the highlight of my Thursdays), and they provided an excellent method for harboiling eggs.

  1. In a saucepan, cover the eggs by at least an inch with cold tap water and let them sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Place pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Immediately after the water starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and cover. Let eggs sit for 12 minutes.
  4. Drain the eggs and run them under cold water to stop the cooking.

I ate one of the eggs I made using this method this morning, and it was perfectly cooked on the inside.

I usually use food coloring to dye my eggs, adding a few drops to cups of water, but you can buy an egg dyeing kit if you’d like, and just follow the directions on the package. Make sure to line any work surfaces with newspaper so you don’t get dye all over everything. This article offers some great tips on how to dye eggs, like using rubber bands or dot stickers to create cool designs. I’m a big fan of experimentation, so have some fun with this. I dyed some eggs earlier today; the pictures below are my three favorites:


Easter Eggs 1

Easter Eggs 2

Blog photos 006

I really like having hard-boiled eggs in my fridge – they make for a great mid-morning or on-the-go snack.

Five-Way Chili

According to David Rosengarten, author of It’s All American Food, this dish was invented in 1922 by a northern Greek immigrant who wanted to “bring all kinds of Old Country spices into chili.” He decided to layer other things with the spiced chili, creating five different options or ways (hence the title of the recipe) to eat the dish. One-way chili is the spiced chili by itself; two-way chili is the spiced chili on top of spaghetti noodles; three way chili adds cheese; four-way chili adds chopped raw onions; and finally, five-way chili tops it all off with beans.

Unusual? Maybe a little. Delicious? YES. 

Cincinnati Five-Way Chili

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 (1 oz) square unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked
  • Garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese (optional), finely chopped onion, kidney beans (drained and warmed)

Instructions

  1. Grind the coriander seeds in a spice grinder, or put them in a plastic bag and use a blunt object to break them up. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, cayenne, cloves, nutmeg, and mustard seeds. Set aside.
  2. In a large soup pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and brown, breaking up into small crumbles. I like to use a plastic utensil that looks kind of like a potato masher to do this.
  3. When beef is browned add onion, garlic, and the spice mix that you set aside earlier, and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, water, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, chocolate, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Simmer uncovered for about 1 hour. You may have to stir occasionally, as the mixture gets  heavier and can stick to the pan.  Remove bay leaves before serving.
  6. To serve: divide spaghetti among bowls or plates. Top with chili mixture, and cheese, onion, and kidney beans. 

Source: Adapted from It’s All American Food by David Rosengarten

Almond-Coconut Macaroons, St. Patty’s Day Style

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s fairly easy to find dairy-free dessert recipes these days, but not quite as easy to find St. Patrick’s Day dessert recipes that are dairy-free. I found a super easy recipe for macaroons, and decided to add a holiday touch by adding green food coloring and green sprinkles. 

Almond-Coconut Macaroons

Yield: 8 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • a few drops of green food coloring
  • green sprinkles
  • pinch of coarse salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use non-stick baking sheet, or spray regular baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg white. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the sprinkles.
  3. Form dough into eight 2-tablespoon mounds, and drop each onto baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Top with green sprinkles and bake until golden-brown on bottoms and edges, about 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and let cool. Macaroons will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.

* I only had sweetened coconut, so I reduced the amount of sugar added.

These ended up oozing all over the pan while cooking. They still tasted good (very sweet!) but looked a bit messy.

Source: Adapted from Delish.com

I Love Ginger

Ginger is a wonderful thing. Google “benefits of ginger” and you’ll find that it has many supposed health benefits, from fighting nausea to preventing colds. I’ve found that a tablespoon or so of fresh, grated ginger steeped in hot water for about ten minutes makes a potent tea that helps relieve indigestion and other stomach issues.

On my way back from Washington, DC earlier this year I stayed with a college friend who lives in southeastern Minnesota. While I was there I had some delicious candied ginger, and decided that I would make some of my own in the near future. I recently bought 2 pounds or so of ginger, and decided to use half for the candied ginger and the rest for something else. So, today you’re getting two recipes, one for candied ginger and one for chicken with noodles and vegetables in ginger broth. 

Candied Ginger and Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh ginger
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups sugar

Instructions

  1. Peel the ginger and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch chunks.
  2. Mix sugar and water in large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. When sugar is dissolved, add ginger and boil gently for about an hour and a half or until ginger is sweet and tender.
  4. Drain ginger and reserve liquid.
  5. Let ginger cool on drying rack for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Coat ginger with sugar and let dry on wax paper. Feel free to coat with additional sugar if, after time, the ginger has absorbed some of it. Store in airtight container.
  7. Boil reserved liquid until reduced to a syrup with consistency between maple syrup and honey. Sugar may begin to crystallize; add a little water and bring to a boil if it does. Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Syrup can be used as a substitute for lots of other syrups and sweeteners.

Note: You can use less water and sugar and cut the cooking time in half by thinly slicing the ginger. I used sliced ginger the first time I tried this recipe and was not satisfied with the results. If you do decide to go that route, boil the ginger gently and keep an eye on it.

Source: Adapted from Food.com

Chicken with Noodles and Vegetables in Ginger Broth 

Ingredients

  • 4 oz rice noodles (super easy to make – can make more depending on taste)
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 5 quarter-size slices of peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 6 oz snow peas, trimmed and halved
  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  2. Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and star anise in a large skillet; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and return the mixture to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add vegetables and cook for about 5 more minutes.
  5. Remove and discard the ginger and star anise
  6. Grab the rice noodles you set aside earlier and divide them among however many bowls you’ll be serving. Top with chicken/vegetable/broth mixture and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

I’m a huge fan of the ginger broth in this recipe, and will definitely be making and using it again.

Source: Slightly adapted from  Healthy Cooking Basics

Roasted Winter Vegetable Stew

This week’s recipe is tasty and hearty, perfect for the waning days of winter here in Minnesota.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Stew

Ingredients

Stew and vegetables 

  • 1 medium onion, cut into large dice
  • 1 rutabaga, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, thickly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 11/2-to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, cut into 11/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 4 small red or yellow potatoes, cut into 11/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, halved or left whole if small
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 21/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper

Instructions

To roast the vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Toss onion, rutabaga, celery, red bell pepper, carrots and potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil.
  3. Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan, add water, and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until nicely browned and tender when pierced with fork. Stir once or twice while roasting.

To make the sauce:

  1. While vegetables are roasting, heat oil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add flour, stirring to combine.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux smells toasty/nutty and turns light brown.
  4. Add thyme, fennel seeds, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
  5. Slowly add stock, stirring constantly. Stir until stock comes to low boil and thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

To finish the stew:

  1. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small to medium frying pan, saute mushrooms in remaining oil for 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms to the roasted vegetables.
  4. Add beans and sauce. Cover the pan and bake for another 20 minutes.

*I served the stew with slices of baguette, baked in a 400 degree oven until crispy (about 15 minutes because it was frozen).

Source: Adapted from a recipe in The SpoonRiver Cookbook, published in a Pioneer Press column, 2/21/13