Thursday, June 23, 2011

Snack - Baked Kale Chips

I heard of these kale chips a month or so ago. The recipe is currently circulating many blogs and food websites, and it is an interesting recipe simply because it claims to take something healthy and make it into something that resembles chips.

This was my first foray into eating kale, and it really was not that bad! These "chips" came out crispy, and sort of reminded me of nori (Japanese seaweed sheets) that you find in sushi. It really had that same crispiness to it, with the slight vegetable flavor.

The chips were fairly easy to put together, but they do require a bit of prep work including washing the kale and making sure it is thoroughly dry. If the kale is not dried properly, it will not crisp up and will steam instead. All the recipes I saw for this recommended giving the kale a whirl in a salad spinner, but since I don't own a salad spinner, I opted to sandwich the kale between two sheets of paper towel and press the water off the leaves. It seemed to work fairly well.

Now, I am not sure quite how healthy these remain, but you use olive oil to crisp the chips up, so I guess the oil is somewhat healthy. The chips are quite fragile, so don't expect to be able to scoop up salsa or anything!

Baked Kale Chips

-1 bunch of kale (I think it was a good 3 cups or so?)
-1-2 tablespoons olive oil (I used nearly 2, but would use less next time. A little goes a long way!)
-Sea salt, kosher salt, or desired seasoning (I used 4S salt seasoning from Penzey's)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a baking sheet or two by lining with parchment paper.
Wash and thoroughly dry kale (see notes above in blog). Tear kale into small pieces, removing tough stems.
Place torn kale in a bowl and add tablespoons of olive oil (start with one, if you need more add it), mixing evenly with your hands to coat all the kale. Do not season yet!!
Move kale to the baking sheets, spreading in an even layer. Try not to overlap leaves.
Bake for 12-20 minutes, until crisp. Check after 12 minutes, then add minutes as needed. Mine took about 14 minutes. The leaves will be paper-thin and will crunch when touched. Be sure to remove the kale before it begins to brown!! Once it turns brown it will taste icky.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with your salt and/or seasoning.
*Be sure to make these the same day you plan to use them. Like salad, they do not keep very well.

Dessert - Snickerdoodle Bars

Every year, I make my dad and Matt's stepdad some treats for father's day. This year, I attempted to make this Pretzel and Beer pie but it didn't turn out exactly as I envisioned. So, on father's day, I decided to make something else for the dads to give along with the pie. I needed a quick recipe that could be ready in under an hour and a half.

I again flipped through one of my Betty Crocker recipe card booklets and found this fantastic recipe for Snickerdoodle Bars. The bars taste almost like a cinnamon roll, especially since they are topped with a deliciously simple glaze icing. This recipe is definitely a keeper, and something we will make time and again. It is simple, takes basic ingredients, requires one pan for baking, and makes a nice number of servings!

So without further ado, here is the recipe for these tasty little guys! If you'd like a more printer friendly recipe, I will direct you to the Betty Crocker website for the Snickerdoodle Bars recipe.

Snickerdoodle Bars

-2-1/3 cups flour
-1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
-1-1/4 cups sugar
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-3 eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon Filling:
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1 tablespoon cinnamon

-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 to 2 tablespoons milk
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 9x13 pan.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.
In large bowl, cream butter with electric mixer. Add sugars. Gradually add eggs and vanilla in sugar mixture until well mixed.
Beat in dry ingredients until combined.
Spoon half the batter into the pan. Spread evenly and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
Plop teaspoons of remaining batter over the cinnamon-sugar mixture, placing evenly over entire pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
Stir together glaze ingredients in small bowl. When it is smooth/thin enough to drizzle, drizzle over the bars.
Makes 24 servings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dinner - Linguine with White Clam Sauce

The linguine with white clam sauce recipe comes from a great cookbook that Matt and I got for our wedding, called (appropriately) The Newlywed Cookbook by Robin Miller. I'll be honest, I was apprehensive to reference this cookbook frequently because it seemed that each recipe needed a ton of ingredients.

The other day I decided to flip through it again, and I was pleasantly surprised! The recipes seem to have lots of ingredients, but most of them are pantry staples, things you have on hand, or things that are inexpensive to purchase.

I've always been a fan of clams in things like clam chowder, but have never really tried to cook with them. This recipe sounded intriguing enough to try, however I was a bit worried about the cost of purchasing clams. I am happy to note that you can purchase canned clams for under $2 a can, not bad for a good source of protein!

This meal is also great because although the book says it serves four, we have already gotten five servings from it and I believe there are still one or two more in the fridge. You really get a lot of bang for your buck on this meal. The only thing I messed up was the type of pasta. I totally flaked on putting linguine on our shopping list, so we ended up using some angel hair pasta we had on hand. It still turned out well, just a little different than I expected. Also, the "white sauce" isn't quite what you'd expect as it's more of a light wine sauce. Very tasty and light.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

-12 ounces uncooked linguine (or if you're forgetful like me, another stringy sort of pasta)
-2 teaspoons olive oil
-1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 (10 oz.) cans whole baby clams, drained (we used 1 whole baby clams and 1 chopped clams)
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
-8 ounces bottled clam juice (gross sounding, I know! Just go with it!)
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
-1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped (optional. We skipped these.)

Cook pasta according to package and drain, placing noodles in a bowl covered with foil to keep warm.
Heat oil in nonstick skillet with sides over med-heat. Add onion and garlic, saute until tender. Add clams and saute about 2 minutes.
Add spices and stir to coat. Add liquids and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and simmer until cheese melts (about 1 minute).
Pour clam sauce over pasta and toss. Garnish as desired with parsley or with additional shredded cheese.

Dinner - Summer Salad with Asiago, Pears and Cashews

Lately I have been trying to eat a bit more healthy. Well, in so far as eating more fresh stuff I guess you could say. Matt and I were pretty proud on our last shopping trip, as we only grabbed two or three items from the inside of the store, while everything else came from the non-processed/ non-prepared areas!!

Now don't think that the Kiefer Kitchen is getting all healthy on you. Just looking for a few good recipes that will help us lighten up this summer.

Salad has never been something I really enjoyed eating. It just really reminds me of eating just a bunch of leaves on a plate. Matt always says I'm probably the only girl he knows that doesn't like salad (well, my sister doesn't either, so I guess that makes two). I've been trying to get past that, since what adult doesn't eat salad?! Well I am sure there are some aside from me, but...

The start of my transformation to being someone who can tolerate salad came in the form of a deliciously sweet salad from Joey Buona's here in downtown Milwaukee. This particular salad, the Tuscan Harvest salad, contains a delicious combination of mixed greens, cranberries, apples, candied pecans, bleu cheese and is all topped with a sweet sort of raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

Of course, we all know that I like this salad simply because it is sweet and has candied things and fruit in it.

I found the recipe for this salad via Betty Crocker, in that fantastic little recipe card magazine I am always raving about. This recipe comes from last summer's issue which is packed full of delicious summery recipes. You can find a nice version (aka printable) of this recipe by clicking here.

This salad recipe gets the thumbs up from us, although if you make it, be sure to eat it all up as we tried to have leftovers the following day and it was a bad idea. The dressing recipe made plenty, was basic, simple to make, and it would be perfect on plain ol' mixed greens too.

Summer Salad with Asiago, Pears and Cashews

-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-2 teaspoons honey
-1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard (we used stone ground mustard we had on hand)
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/8 teaspoon pepper

-1 bag (5 oz.) mixed spring greens
-1/2 cup shaved Asiago cheese
-1 medium ripe pear, thinly sliced (we used a bartlett)
-1/2 cup cashew halves and pieces

Shake dressing ingredients in a small jar with tight-fitting lid.

In medium bowl, toss salad with dressing and arrange on serving tray.
Top with cheese, pear slices and cashews.
Serve immediately (they're not kidding!).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New post at blogcritics!

Hey! I have a bunch (okay so 3) new recipes to post up here sometime in the next two days!

In the meantime, why don't you check out the newest article from the Kiefer Kitchen (it's all about beer! In specific, a beer and pretzel pie!) over at You can find it by clicking here! Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dinner - Skillet Beef and Beer Stew

Let me just preface by saying this is one of our new favorite recipes. It's basic, but really hearty, and although we ate it in the "summer", it would be perfect for a chilly fall or winter day. Matt called this a "Kiefer Keeper" and I had a good laugh.

This recipe comes to you from a small little cookbook titled simply, "Beer Cookbook". Seriously. We purchased ours after taking the Miller Brewery tour here in Milwaukee, WI. You can also purchase it here on Amazon. It contains many different recipes all containing beer, including appetizers, main dishes, and even desserts (for example, beer and pretzel chocolate pie!! I want to make that.).

For this recipe we used New Glarus Totally Naked beer. The beer is a nice lager and the flavor comes through really nicely in this meal. We also paired the stew with fantastic pretzel rolls from Pretzilla, also made locally. It was a nice match to the beer flavor.

I really hope you will all try this recipe, it is so good. Perhaps file it away for the fall, when you want a nice, warm and hearty meal.

Skillet Beef and Beer Stew

-12 oz. lean beef round, roasted and cut into cubes (we used 1 pound beef stew meat)
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 medium bell pepper, chopped (we used red pepper)
-2 teaspoons minced garlic
-2 medium raw potatoes
-1/2 pound baby carrots (24 carrots)
-8 oz. beef broth
-8 oz. light beer (we used a regular lager)
-1/4 cup evaporated milk
-2 tablespoons cornstarch
-1 teaspoon paprika

Coat large non-stick skillet with cooking spray (you may want to just use a large diameter pot, as there is quite a bit of food in the recipe!). Heat over medium-high heat.
Add beef, onion, pepper and garlic to the skillet. Cook until beef is browned, stirring.
Stir in potatoes, carrots, broth and beer. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover.
Simmer until meat is tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir together evaporated milk, cornstarch, and paprika in a small cup, then add to beef mixture and stir.
Cook until thickened slightly and bubbly, around 5 minutes.
Cook, stirring, 2 minutes longer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dessert - Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes

I have a small (okay, so it's huge really) obsession with cupcakes and cupcake cookbooks. I decided to make two kinds of cupcakes yesterday, mainly because I have been a baking slacker lately, and a bit because I had an occasion to bake for.

The first type of cupcakes I wrote about on the blogcritics website (which you can find here), and the other (better in my opinion!) type of cupcakes were these little gems, the Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes.

I've been really wanting to make these cupcakes for a long time, so I finally broke down and bought a container of malted milk powder. Let me tell you, it's totally worth it!! I got the plain kind, as it is also used in this Chick-Fil-A knockoff recipe from Food Network (hope to be making this soon as well). Just think of the possibilities, especially now that it's summer!!! Malted milk ball pie, chocolate fudge malts, Rumchata malts, I could go on and on!!

This particular recipe comes to us from a delicious cookbook I have had for several years. Every recipe I've made from it is delicious, and it is actually the home of my fave red velvet cupcake recipe. This lovely book is called "Cupcakes! From the Cake Mix Doctor". The book offers over 100 recipes, plus party ideas, many varieties of frosting recipes, and several inspiring photographs.

I will have to say that this is one recipe I will be making again! Very tasty and the frosting is perfect for the cake!

Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes with Malted Milk Buttercream

-1 package (18.25 oz) plain yellow cake mix (I used Supermoist)
-1 box (3.8 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
-1 cup sour cream
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup sugar
-4 large eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup milk chocolate chips (I subbed about 1/4 cup chocolate chips and maybe 1/2 cup crushed malted milk balls for this, since I was running low on chocolate chips)
-Extra malted milk balls for garnish (about 40)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare 24 muffin tins by lining with paper liners.
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil, water, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend until well mixed.
Add the chocolate chips (or/and crushed malted milk balls) and combine with ingredients in the bowl.
Fill each prepared muffin tin 3/4 of the way full with batter. If there are empty cups left over, pull the liners out before baking.
Bake 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool muffin tins on stovetop or wire racks for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from tins and allow to cool at least 15 minutes on wire rack.

Frost with:
Malted Milk Buttercream

-8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
-3-1/2 cups confectioners' (powdered) sugar
-5 tablespoons malted milk powder
-1/4 cup milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*I wanted a more of a chocolate flavor for this frosting, so I added about 1 tablespoon hot cocoa powder to it. Feel free to use regular baking cocoa.

Whip butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and blend on low speed until mixed well. Bring speed up to medium and beat until light and fluffy.
Use a knife or pipe on the frosting as desired.
Garnish with crushed malted milk balls.

New articles at blogcritics!

I apologize for being behind on my Kiefer Kitchen blogs! Don't worry folks, I have 2 new ones coming up for you in the next couple days, so look forward to that.

In the meantime, I have started writing for in the "Tastes" feature. You can find my writer profile (which contains links to my articles) here.

My first article was a review for a newer cookbook titled "Heartland: The Cookbook", you can find that article here.

The other article is about how you can use root beer in some of your favorite recipes, basically an article to inspire you a bit on that end. Included is a recipe for some delicious root beer cupcakes!

Enjoy, and please peruse the site while you're there, it's a great place to read many different blog-style articles by many different people!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dinner - Basic Fried Rice

We decided to opt for a quick and easy dinner tonight, a basic fried rice. Usually, we make our favorite fried rice, Pineapple Fried Rice (as featured in this season's Penzey's Catalog!!), but tonight we stripped it down to its basic essence, using items we happened to have on hand.

To season the rice, we added a few shakes of a Hawaiian seasoning my parents brought us from their trip to Hawaii last year. The seasoning is called "Macadamia Nut Hawaiian Seasoning" and can apparently be purchased through the ABC Store chain. While the seasoning didn't pair particularly well with this rice, it would be quite delicious sprinkled on some chicken or fish. The seasoning is a bit spicy, crunchy, and has a little smooth sweet touch thanks to coconut.

We generally use a rice seasoning called "Furikake" typically found in Asian grocery shops. carries a good selection, alternately Mitsuwa Marketplace (Chicago, New Jersey, or Southern California), or Pacific Produce right here in Milwaukee.

The fried rice is a great simple meal, and we like it a lot because it can contain pretty much whatever you have hanging out in your fridge. We used some leftover frozen veggies and a scrambled egg. To round out the flavor, we threw in a little soy sauce, Mirin wine, and a splash of sesame oil. I hope you'll be inspired to make your own speedy version on fried rice!

Basic Fried Rice

-1 tablespoon olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
-1 cup rice, cooked (we used plain white rice)
-1/2 to 1 cup vegetables (we used frozen pea/carrot mix)
-1 egg, scrambled
-1 tablespoon soy sauce
-1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
-1/2 tablespoon Mirin cooking wine
-Desired rice seasoning

Cook rice in a rice cooker (or on stovetop).
Put olive oil into a skillet with raised sides, add vegetables and allow to cook 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat.
Add cooked rice to skillet, along with egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, and Mirin.
Stir to combine, then allow rice to rest for a minute, then stir, then allow to rest again. Rice should begin to brown a bit.
Once the rice has browned slightly, it is ready to eat! Season as you wish and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dinner - Penne with Peas

For you interested parties, I have several recipe collections. There's my giant cookbook collection, the recipe card box mentioned above, a shoebox full of recipes I tear out of magazines, and not one but TWO recipe card binders. It's pretty scary obsessive.

It's been my mission to organize all of these, and to date this has not yet happened. The last time I attempted to organize, I tackled the recipe card box, so it is nice and orderly, divided into categories then subdivided alphabetically.

Recently, I decided to delve into this nicely organized recipe card box in search of some recipes we have not yet tried. Penne with peas had a nice ring to it, and contained pretty great sounding ingredients, a fresh sounding combination for the beginning of summer.

Yes, I said BEGINNING of summer, because in our sorry state of Wisconsin, summer officially began (in my opinion) this past week. We've finally been having some nice weather, and it has been keeping me outside of the house, attempting to read books (Currently "Frank: The Voice", a great read!) and catch some sun.

Anyways, back to the pasta! The recipe seemed like it would be a nice light meal, filling but not heavy. It was everything I expected and tasted just like summer. I ate the leftovers the next day, which clocked in at a steamy 100 degrees (F) outside. I ate them cold out of the fridge and can say that this dish is not only delicious warm from the skillet, but also quite tasty chilled.

Penne With Peas

-6 oz multigrain pasta (penne, but we used more like 8-10 oz, also not multigrain..or penne for that matter! Oops.)
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 slices bacon, diced (we used 5 slices of precooked bacon, heated. What can I say? It's good.)
-1 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
-1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and chopped
-1 cup edamame (soybeans out of pods), optional

Cook penne until al dente in large saucepan.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet with sides over medium heat.
Add bacon and cook 1 minute. Stir in peas and tomato and heat through.
Drain pasta and toss with the pea mixture.

This recipe alone doesn't have much in the way of spice flavor. I threw in some Italian seasoning containing salt and pepper, and it tasted really delicious.