Name: Rachel

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Web Site: https://www.rachelelwood.com

Bio: Freelance writer and editor based in Marion, Indiana.

Posts by rachelelwood:

    Fettuccine with Fresh Herbs

    July 30th, 2018

    Indiana had a late spring, which meant a somewhat delayed start to the garden growing season. But in the space of a few weeks, I’ve gone from begging my plants to produce to trying to find ways to use up the herbs and cherry tomatoes that are exploding from my garden boxes.

    Hubs had grilled up a bunch of chicken breasts to use throughout the week, and a couple of days ago, I found myself the only one who really needed cooking for. (Hubs had a late lunch and the kids…hmm…I’m sure they ate something.) At any rate, I was looking for a non-salad, quick-to-make side dish for my chicken. I picked up my copy of Simple Suppers, which had been a gift from my dear friend Melanie several years before. It’s one of the many cookbooks from the Moosewood Restaurant, a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York. (I have several Moosewood cookbooks, and they are fun to read and filled with great recipes) I was originally looking for a rice recipe, but the Fettuccine with Fresh Herbs looked really good. PLUS – I had all those herbs – parsley, basil, and chives – in great profusion. There was also a half-empty bag of fettuccine in the pantry that needed to be used up. So, off I went to snip, pick, and cook!

    The next time I make this, I will increase the herb amounts by about 50 percent. I like lots of herby flavor!

    Fettuccine with Fresh Herbs

    Fettuccine with Fresh Herbs

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound fettuccine or other pasta
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
    • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
    • 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
    • 1/2 cup minced chives or scallions
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (Rachel’s addition)
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • grated Parmesan cheese (optional, to serve)

    Directions

    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until tender. (Tell you what, this is way harder to do when your half-used package of pasta doesn’t have the cooking directions anymore!)
    2. Prepare the garlic and herbs. Warm the oil in a small pan on low heat, and cook the garlic for about a minute. Don’t let it brown. Add the herbs and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, and add a ladle of the hot pasta-cooking water. Stir and set aside.
    3. When the pasta is done, drain it. Pour in the oil-herb mixture and toss to combine. Add the salt and pepper, and I threw in a few chopped cherry tomatoes because we have so many. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

    Simple Suppers

    A Recipe to Repeat?

    Oh yes! This would be a great side dish to serve for company. I would increase the amount of herbs, and definitely include the tomatoes again for a tasty summer dish. The next day, I cut up another piece of chicken, sauteed it in a pan, and added in the rest of the leftover pasta for a great meal. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar to the pan and few more herbs to boost the flavor a bit. Yum!

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    Sugared Peanuts

    July 27th, 2018

    Sugared Peanuts

    I first made these for a work assignment a year or so ago when I chose several recipes from my organization’s international family cookbook to make for a marketing project. I picked this recipe because I thought it was interesting that missionaries from three different countries submitted variations on this snack – Kenya, Bolivia, and Honduras. A little research (thanks, Wikipedia!) revealed that peanuts were first cultivated in what is now southeastern Bolivia and northeastern Argentina before they spread throughout South and Central America, and European traders brought the peanut to West Africa and beyond, where it became a staple crop (often called ground nuts in Africa). When I was growing up in Bangladesh, we also ate a variation of these peanuts. A truly international snack!

    Each recipe differed slightly on the ingredient list and preciseness of directions. I picked the one from Honduras to follow because it seemed the most specific. I added cinnamon from the Kenyan recipe because that sounded good, and also added vanilla to round out the flavors. I remembered from last time I made this that the nuts could have stood to have more time to roast in the oven, so I added another 10 minutes to the oven time.

    Sugared Peanuts

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups raw Spanish peanuts (I grabbed a 10-oz bag at the store, and it ended up being 2 1/2 cups)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

    Directions

      1. In a heavy saucepan on medium heat, cook all ingredients except salt, mixing constantly until the peanuts crystallize with the sugar. At some point, preheat your oven to 300.
      2. Dump onto rimmed greased cookie sheet and add salt. Bake for 15 minutes, salta again, mix, and bake for another 15 minutes. Stir, and bake about 10 minutes longer if needed. Allow to cool, and munch away!

    A Recipe to Repeat?

    Yes! These sugared peanuts are crunchy, salty-sweet, with a very mild cinnamon flavor. This would make a great gift to mass-produce at Christmastime for hostess and neighbor gifts. I might play around with the spices next time, adding nutmeg, allspice, etc. My kids (4yo and 2yo) love them!

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    The Best Oven-Roasted Beef

    July 20th, 2018

    Today’s recipe comes from Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen. I love Laurie Colwin. Her writing is beautiful, emotional, and shows good humor. She wrote fiction throughout the 70s and 80s, and died at the age of 54 in 1992. I’ve read some of her fiction, but my favorites are her two cooking books: part memoirs, part recipes. They will probably be featured heavily in this blog!

    Laurie’s recipe for Oven-Roasted Beef comes at the tail end of a chapter titled Boiled Beef, one that I bypassed for a long time because boiled beef sounds like the epitome of unappetizing. I was a keen reader of Asterix comics as a kid (Oh who am I kidding? I still like them!) and Asterix in Britain contained a pretty scathing review of British cuisine, boiled beef included. It was hard to overcome this early dose of prejudicial messaging.

    But I finally read the chapter, and it closes with a quick-and-simple version of the much-more-complicated recipe for boiled beef (which seems to be more of a pot roast that anything else). So one day when I was going to be home all afternoon and I had a guest coming over who I knew could handle me experimenting on her, I gave it a try.

    More Home Cooking

    Laurie’s intro to this recipe is a sweet story about a lady named Aunt Gladys: “A long time ago I had a friend who had a husband who had an aunt named Gladys. She lived on a fruit farm and was responsible for huge meals while running the farm as well. Her recipe for Oven-Roasted beef, known to friends of this family as Aunt Gladys, is a friend to every hardworking person who has a million things to do and people coming for dinner.”

    Reason enough to take a stab at it, eh?

    Oven-Roasted Beef

    Ingredients

    • Large chuck steak or roast (3-5 lbs)
    • Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

    Directions

    1. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper all over.
    2. Place in a roasting pan or 13×9 pan and cover tightly with tin foil.
    3. Put it in a 275-degree oven and let it roast for six hours. When done, allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

    This beef is flavorful and fork-tender. It’s amazing. The best roast beef recipe I’ve ever made! So little effort, and you get a company-worthy meal! You can make gravy with the pan drippings if you want. I have played with the length of time in the oven – say, an hour at 300 and three hours at 275 – and it’s come out great every time.¬† I think a temperature that low is fairly forgiving, especially if your cut of meat is on the smaller side.

    Laurie continues: “Serve the beef in the evening to a lot of hungry farm workers or to hungry nonfarm workers with a big loaf of bread, some mustard, and some sliced tomatoes (this was, after all, a summer dish). Sit down, tuck in.”

    A Recipe to Repeat?

    Yes, and I have! I often coordinate the beef with a loaf of fresh bread or scones, popping them into the oven during the beef’s rest time. I serve the beef with a variety of BBQ sauces (and ketchup, because I have toddlers), bread or potatoes, and a salad. Perfect for Sunday dinner!

    Oven Roasted Beef

     

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    Simple Chocolate Muffins

    July 17th, 2018

    Ahh, simple. We’re all fans of “instant” recipes that taste amazing. Something you can whip up quickly but still has a wow factor. This is definitely one of those, courtesy of The 1825 Inn Bed and Breakfast Cookbook. Hubs and I stayed at the 1825 Inn, located near Hershey, Pennsylvania, last summer while my parents were so kind to keep the kids for a few nights at their place in Harrisburg so we could have a nice getaway at this B&B.

    The lodgings were excellent, but one of the main reasons I booked this place was the food got rave reviews on Google. The owners at the time have since sold the 1825 Inn and now run the Mansion Farm Inn in Milton, Delaware. So, while I can’t necessarily vouch for the 1825 Inn anymore, if you find yourself in Milton, stay at the Mansion Farm Inn!

    Our first breakfast was a bacon-egg nest, fresh fruit, and some incredible mini chocolate bread loaves. When David, one of the owners, came by to top up my coffee, he asked how I liked my breakfast. I was raving over the chocolate bread (possible also I was in a good mood since it was the first night I’d been able to sleep in in MONTHS), and he said, “Oh honey, it was the easiest thing. A box of devil’s food cake mix and a can of pumpkin. I think I threw some chocolate chips in this morning. That’s it!”

    We had a great time in Hershey and thoroughly enjoyed staying at the 1825 Inn. We ended up buying the cookbook sold in the little gift shop as a souvenir of our getaway.

    Oh, and I almost lost one of my favorite earrings there – a silver elephant pair I’d had for over 20 years from Bangladesh. I know things are just things, but I was pretty upset over the loss. We told Will and David about the earring before we left and they promised to look for it. About a week later, we get a call. They’d found it in the parking lot! I was so happy to have it back, and I will always be grateful to them for rescuing this relic of my past!

    1825 Inn Bed and Breakfast Cookbook

    In the cookbook, this is a muffin recipe, but it can be made in mini loaf pans, too. I made these several times for small group or other gatherings, and they were a hit every time! I always opted for to throw in some chocolate chips, like David did, and omitted the additional spices.

    Simple Chocolate Muffins (AKA Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins)

    David says, “Easy, delicious, moist, and you don’t even taste the pumpkin. Sometimes we throw in a ripe banana.”

    Ingredients

    • 1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
    • 1 15oz can of pumpkin
    • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional, did not include)
    • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, not really optional)

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and prep muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.
    2. Mix the cake mix and pumpkin thoroughly together. Fold in the chocolate chips.
    3. Fill muffin tins 1/2 full, and bake for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

    A Recipe to Repeat?

    Yes! I’ve made them two or three times with great reviews.

    Chocolate Muffins

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    Maple-Walnut Bars

    January 29th, 2018

    Quick, easy, and oh so yummy!

    I have been flipping through Taste of Home magazines since I was a kid. I always felt like the recipes painted a picture of a wholesome, rural, simple life, possibly with well-behaved chickens pecking around and a gently worn but not entirely decrepit red barn as a backdrop. I was drawn to the church-potluck-style, old-world German/Scandinavian feel that so many of the recipes seemed to have. But I’m being honest here, I feel like the magazine has fallen a bit from those roots in recent years. It’s just a little too fancy-fancy for me now. I don’t receive a subscription anymore; instead, I pick up “vintage” issues at Goodwill and yard sales. (And I refer to their website a lot.)

    Like this one.

    I needed a dessert item for a church gathering, and wanted to put something together with no need to run to the store. Perusing through this compilation magazine, I was intrigued by a recipe for Maple-Walnut Bars, mostly because I had all the ingredients on hand. The maple flavoring is the one maybe oddball ingredient, but Steve’s grandma had given me a bottle years ago, and uh, it apparently never goes bad. Interestingly enough, they are also featured on the cover!

    Maple-Walnut Bars

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    • 2 tsp maple flavoring
    • 1 tsp vanilla (not in the original recipe, but it gives a little more depth to sweet things
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (I did it in the microwave for about 45 seconds.)

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, butter, and maple flavoring. Add in the eggs, one at a time.
    2. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder, and add to the wet ingredients.
    3. Fold in the toasted chopped walnuts and scrap into a greased 9×9 cake pan.
    4. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Makes 16 bars.

    Source: Taste of Home, Country Cooking Collection, 1999

    A Recipe to Repeat?

    Yes! They are chewy, not insanely sweet (if you do what I do and cut down on the sugar the second time around), and have a lovely maple flavor. I made them essentially as written the first time and then made them again with some changes; I added the salt, boosted the maple flavoring, added vanilla, and cut down on the sugar. And toasted the walnuts. I also found that I needed to bake them a little longer than the recipe suggested.

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