Friday, July 22, 2011

Sweet Chili sauce

When I made eggrolls the other day we had a Thai sweet chili dipping sauce to go with it. This sauce was from the Asian market and was very flavorful, like spicy sweet and sour sauce. As we ate the eggrolls the sauce quickly depleated. Not wanting to make a special trip to the Asian market just for the Sweet Chili sauce, I decided to use my witchcraft and just make a batch to use with the last of our eggrolls.

Seriously, it took 10 minutes total. And that includes how long it took to assemble my ingredients. Talk about quick! I made the sauce much like I do my sweet & sour, sugar and vinegar, thickened with a bit of cornstarch. To make it more like the Thai sweet chili sauce we had enjoyed I added finely grated carrot, garlic and of course chili paste. I was absolutely thrilled when the clear sauce took on the orange hue that the bottled one had. The carrot adds sweetness, earthiness as well as coloring to the sauce. Sambal chili paste added the heat as well as more orange color. The great thing about making your own chili sauce is that you can adjust the heat. I made mine a bit spicy and it was perfect. I can also see using this for my sweet & sour stir fries. Yum!

Sweet Chili sauce
makes about 12 servings
1 cup sugar
3/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c water
1-2 T chili paste
3 cloves garlic crushed but left whole
1 carrot fine grated
1 T corn starch
pinch of salt

In a small sauce pan combine the vinegar, water, sugar, garlic and carrot. Bring to a boil and cook at high boil for 3 minutes.

Make a cornstarch slurry of cornstarch and equal amounts water and slowly add to syrup then add the chili paste and a pinch of salt and boil for 3 minutes longer.

Taste and add more chili paste if needed. Remove garlic before serving.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 75.3
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 149.8 mg
Potassium 36.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.5 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Sugars 18.0 g
Protein 0.0 g

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Recently I reconnected with a good friend from high school, Tammi. We hadn't seen each other in over 10 years and it was great to catch up with her again. What was the basis of this reunion you may ask? Eggrolls. Tammi's mom made the BEST eggrolls my young palette had ever experienced. They weren't cabbage based eggrolls like most Chinese restaurants, no rather these rolls were filled with delightful clear noodles, egg and beef. They were simple and delicious. I had been trying to recreate these babies for years with no luck. Thanks to facebook I messaged my old friend to see if her mom would be willing to share the eggroll recipe with me. I was delighted when she said yes, and even offered to come over to show me how they're done!

The delightful clear noodles used in these eggrolls are bean threads. They are made from mung beans - the same bean that we get bean sprouts from. You have to soak the threads in hot water first to rehydrate them before use. They are unexpected in eggrolls, honestly these eggrolls are the only ones I've ever known to have bean threads in them. Its those bean threads that set this roll aside from others. Well that and fish sauce. Seeing as how the creator of these eggrolls is Thai descent it makes sense that she uses fish sauce in them. Fish sauce is salty and if used in large quantities can have an overpowering fishy flavor. If used judiciously it adds a nice mellow salty flavor, not at all fishy.

After you've got the filling ready to go, all that's left is rolling. It takes a little bit of practice to get it right; too little filling and the rolls fall apart in the hot oil. Too much filling and the rolls are hard to roll and can burst while frying. I found that it takes about 3T of filling to make a nice plump eggroll. We were able to get 2 packages of eggroll wrappers stuffed and had about 2 cups of filling left over still. The extra filling could be frozen for future eggrolls; I think my leftover filling will find its way into a salad with a sesame ginger dressing. The eggrolls freeze nicely before frying.

makes at least 24 rolls
Source: Tammi's mom SueBun
2 packs eggroll wrappers
1 pack bean thread noodles
6 eggs, beaten - reserve 1 for sealing the rolls
about 1/2 lb bean sprouts
1 lb ground beef
4 cloves garlic minced
up to 1T fish sauce
oil for frying

Begin by soaking the bean threads in hot water to rehydrate. You'll need about 1/2 to 2/3 of the package of bean threads.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Once hot scramble eggs (5 of them, reserve 1 for sealing the rolls). Once cooked remove and reserve.

Add about 1T oil to the wok and cook garlic until it just starts to brown. Add the ground beef and break up while browning. Once browned add the bean sprouts, stir well. Add the scrambled eggs to the beef. Now drain the bean threads and snip them with scissors into smaller pieces. Add bean threads to the beef and stir well.

Add fish sauce to taste. Start light and add more as needed. Fish sauce is similar to soy sauce in it salt content. If you use too much it'll have a fishy flavor, which is not what you're going for here. 4 times around the wok to start with, stir well and taste. Not seasoned enough? Do it again. I ended up doing 3 installments of fish sauce to get the seasoning where it was needed.

Start rolling the eggrolls by placing about 2-3T of filling on the eggroll wrapper, placed on a diagonal. Pull one end up over the filling, rolling it and using the end to help tighten the roll. Roll 1/2 way up the wrapper before folding in 2 of the sides. When you have a small triangle left at the end cover that with beaten egg and finish rolling. Press to seal.

Fry eggrolls in 350F oil. Cook until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, drain and serve with sweet chili sauce and soy sauce. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
~*~Nutrition info is based on an unfried eggroll. Add approx 75 calories per eggroll when deepfried. The fat will change also, however the amount depends on length of time in oil, type of oil used, etc.~*~
Calories 150.7
Total Fat 4.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.9 g
Cholesterol 62.6 mg
Sodium 169.9 mg
Potassium 73.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.6 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 7.7 g

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roasted tri color potatoes with herbs and cheese

Roasted potatoes are a staple in the Witch household. The browned bottoms, crispy and chip like compliment the soft and creamy insides while the skin is crispy and salty. If you're a potato lover you have got to try these!

The potatoes take about 30 minutes to roast, making them an ideal side dish. While you're working on the main dish these little gems mind their own business, getting all delicious in the oven with very little interaction from you. Adding an herb oil to the finished potatoes brings out all the bright flavors in the herbs and compliments the earthy potato nicely.

If you've never tried a Peruvian blue potato this is a great place to experiment. They taste like a regular potato but have a great blue color. Their flavor is slightly more earthy and really good. The blues are my favorite roasting potatoes, not just for their flavor, but its fun to eat blue food! Baby Yukon golds, Red Bliss or any fingerling potato will work fine here too. I hope you enjoy this easy and tasty dish!

Roasted potatoes with herbs and cheese
makes 4 servings
8 small potatoes, red bliss, yukon gold and Peruvian blue are all fantastic
3 T olive oil
3/4 t kosher salt, divided
ground pepper to taste
fresh herbs including chives, parsley, rosemary and thyme, minced
fresh grated Asiago cheese, or cheese of your choice, about 1/3 c grated

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wash and scrub potatoes. Cut potatoes in half. Pat potatoes dry with paper towels.

Place potatoes on a sheet pan and drizzle with 1.5 T of oil, 1/2 t kosher salt and pepper. Toss potatoes to evenly coat in oil and salt. Place potatoes cut side down and put into the hot oven.

Roast for 30 minutes until the bottoms are browned and the potatoes are soft.

While potatoes roast make the herb oil by mincing your herbs very fine and stirring into the remaining oil with the last 1/2 t of salt & pepper. Stir well.

Once potatoes are roasted remove from sheet pan and put into a bowl. Pour the herb oil over top and toss. Add your grated Asiago cheese, toss. Top potatoes with any extra cheese, if desired, and enjoy.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 382.3
Total Fat 13.1 g
Saturated Fat 2.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.0 g
Cholesterol 6.3 mg
Sodium 465.4 mg
Potassium 1,431.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 59.4 g
Dietary Fiber 7.5 g
Sugars 2.7 g
Protein 8.6 g

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sweet and spicy barbecue sauce

The Witch has shared a few barbecue sauce recipes on this blog before. And honestly I've not made either of them again because they weren't just right. Let's get a few things straight first: The Witch is very paticular on what kind of BBQ sauce she likes. It can't have any HFCS. It must be sweet, spicy and tangy. Not mustardy. So when a good friend and awesome cook suggested I try her BBQ sauce I said why not??

Boy oh boy that was the best "Why not" decision I've made in a LONG time!! This sauce is GOOD people. Really really good. And easy, too!! The list of ingredients is long - please don't let that intimidate you. Almost all of the ingredients are things that you should have in your pantry. The liquid smoke is one that you might not have, but its readily available at the grocery store in the ketchup/steak sauce section. It comes in 2 flavors, hickory and mesquite. I like the hickory for sauces but please use which ever smoke flavor you like the most.

The sauce is sweet from honey, brown sugar and a kiss of molasses. Its tangy from tomato paste, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. The spice come to you courtesy of chili powder, a mere 1/2 teaspoon, yet it flavors the sauce greatly. The Witch ground ancho chilies specifically for this sauce, they're my favorite chilies, sweetish and spicy but not HOLY HELL THIS IS HOT spicy. To grind your own chilies into chili powder couldn't be easier: get about 6 dried chilies of your choice, break them into smaller pieces discarding the stems and some of the seeds. Place them into a grinder (I have a dedicated coffee grinder that's for spices only) and grind until they are powdered. That's it! Homeground ancho powder!

After mixing up the sauce and allowing it to simmer for an hour or more your house will smell amazing. Try not to eat all the sauce before slathering it onto your favorite foods. I simply grilled some thick cut pork chops and glazed them with this sauce. It was amazing!! Everyone in the Witch household agreed that this is our new barbecue sauce. Thanks again Jenni for the awesome sauce recipe!!

Sweet and spicy barbecue sauce
Source: Jenni
makes about 2 cups of sauce, 8 generous servings
2 1/4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
2 teaspoons whiskey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dark molasses
1/2 tablespoon ground red chile powder (I used ground ancho peppers)

In a sauce pan heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened and the edges start to brown.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Whisk well to incorporate. Bring up to a boil then reduce to a low simmer and allow to simmer uncovered for 1.5 hours or until sauce has thickened. Stir every 15 min or so and scrape down the sides to avoid burning and hot spots.

Serve with your favorite grilled meats. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 149.8
Total Fat 4.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.6 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 674.2 mg
Potassium 288.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 31.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Sugars 28.5 g
Protein 0.9 g

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cheesy veggies with bacon

It was a typical week night: The Witch has been busy (probably playing on facebook or blogging, but busy nonetheless) and suddenly, the Husband is home! Oh joy, its so good to see you Husband but holy crap! When did it get so late? What's for dinner??? I should have thought about this hours ago! A quick inventory yields pork chops, I decide to simply bread and pan fry them. We'll need vegetables, of course. What can I get the girl to actually eat? More importantly, what do I have on hand?

A can of corn. Zucchini. Cherry tomatoes. Onions, garlic, of course. And bacon. Bacon, why yes! The little Witch loves bacon, I can get her to eat the veggies if there's bacon in them. Hmm...there's extra cheese in the fridge too. She likes cheese. The combo of cheese and bacon would be the double whammy to veggie consumption I was sure of it!

And I was right! She passed up everything else on the plate and demolished the veggies. She even had seconds!! And much to everyone's surprise, she ate it ALL, zucchini and cherry tomatoes included. She claims to hate zucchini, and I saw her start to tell me that she wasn't going to eat that part, but after she put it in her mouth all doubt was gone. This side dish was a hit to say the least - I hope you enjoy it as well!

Cheesy veggies with bacon
makes 4 servings
4 strips bacon, sliced into bits
1/4 onion diced fine
1 clove garlic minced
2-3 ears corn, taken off cob OR 1 drained can of corn
1 zucchini diced
about 15-20 cherry tomatoes OR 3 roma tomatoes diced
4 oz cheddar cheese shredded
1/4 c white wine or water

Cook the bacon in a large sautee pan until crispy. Remove and drain bacon, reserve for later use.

In the same skillet use 4 T of the rendered bacon fat, discarding the rest, and cook the onions and garlic until they start to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add the diced zucchini and cook until golden, another 10 minutes or so. Stir frequently to avoid hot spots & burning. If using fresh off the cob corn add it now too.

Once the zucchini has started to turn golden add the corn (if using canned) and cherry tomatoes. Stir well to coat everything in the bacon fat. Cover and allow to cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring ever few minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the wine or water. Stir well scraping the bottom to dissolve the cooked on browned bits. Simmer for 4-5 minutes to reduce liquid.

Once the tomatoes burst add the cheese in an even layer over the top and cover with bacon pieces. Cover and remove from heat. Allow cheese to melt, about 2-3 minutes and serve.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 217.8
Total Fat 14.0 g
Saturated Fat 7.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.8 g
Cholesterol 39.8 mg
Sodium 417.4 mg
Potassium 303.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.9 g
Dietary Fiber 4.6 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 9.0 g

Monday, July 4, 2011

Polynesian kabobs

Kabobs are one of the Witches' favorite things to grill. Why? Well, first of all they're really pretty! I love all the colors of veggies lined up on skewers next to perfectly grilled and slightly charred meats. The smaller chunks of meat means that theres more surface area for the marinade to make contact with the meat, therefore more flavor in every bite. They also are quick cooking since the pieces are smaller, an added bonus when its hot outside and standing around a hot grill while a hungry family wonders if its done yet. Yes kabobs are one of summer's perfect foods!

Best part of kabobs is how versatile they are. Want garlic & herb? Go for it! How about BBQ sauce? Sounds good to me. But what about Polynesian? Hmm...the sweet, spicy flavors of Polynesia is perfect for the grill!! The inspiration for this recipe was from my friend Eric. He had us over for dinner and made Polynesian kabobs. I was in heaven!! Grilled chunks of chicken and beef in a deep dark marinade, oh boy it was good!! The grilled pineapple was the crowning glory on this kabob fest. Eric's marinade was so flavorful and delicious that I knew the Kitchen Witch would be recreating this in her own home. Soon!

The marinade has a lot of Polynesian flavors, ginger, garlic, molasses. Yes, molasses. It adds the deep dark color, sweetness and a depth of flavor that is amazing. When the hot fire kisses the molasses marinade it caramelizes and seals in the meats natural juices making one of the best kabobs I've ever had the pleasure of putting into my mouth. The Kitchen Witch took a few liberties with Eric's marinade, no real surprise there, and added a touch of cinnamon, coriander, chili powder and ginger with just a bit of vinegar to balance the sweetness of this flavorful sauce.

The result is a sweet and savory kabob, spiced just right and absolutely delicious. The veggies are a great compliment to the grilled meats; grilling them brings out the natural sweetness and enhances the flavors. Finally the fresh pineapple, caramelized from the grill, brings all the flavors of Polynesia together. These Polynesian kabobs will take your tastebuds on a trip to an exotic island vacation, all with out leaving the comfort of your home. Enjoy!

Polynesian kabobs
makes 6 to 8 servings
Inspired by Eric
2 lbs meat, chicken, pork or beef, your choice, cut into 2 inch chunks
2 zucchini, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 bell peppers, cut into 2 inch squares
1 onion cut into large wedges
1 pineapple, cored, skinned and cut into 2 inch chunks
1/3 c molasses
2 T brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 inch ginger minced
2-3 cloves garlic
3/4 t allspice, ground
1/4 t ground coriander
1/8 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t chili powder
1/4 t red pepper flakes (optional)
2 T oil

Mix the soy sauce, molasses, oil, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and spices in a bowl. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Pour marinade over meat pieces in a resealable bag. Allow to marinade for 2 hours.

Chop veggies into 2 inch chunks and toss with 1T of oil, salt & pepper.

If using bamboo skewers soak in water for a minimum of 30 minutes before skewering and grilling.

Skewer meat onto soaked skewers
Skewer veggies and brush with oil
Skewer the pineapple chunks

On a preheated grill cook the meat and veg/fruit kabobs until cooked through and slightly charred on the edges. Pork should cook to an internal temperature of 145F, chicken to 160F and beef at 130F for medium. Remove and serve with rice.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving - based on 1 lb pork loin and 1 lb chicken thighs, values will vary based on cut of meat you use
Calories 325.6
Total Fat 12.4 g
Saturated Fat 3.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.6 g
Cholesterol 78.5 mg
Sodium 594.6 mg
Potassium 885.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 31.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Sugars 23.0 g
Protein 24.4 g
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