Category Archives: Recipes

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Strawberry – Pineapple Dump Cake

One of the simplest and best things in life. . . dump cake!

I was first introduced to dump cake several years ago.  I was just married and  relatively fresh from the Marine Corps.  My Wife introduced me to a amazing classic American dessert, Dump Cake!  Any time we had to go to a pot luck or when I  would have my friends to the house to play Dungeons and Dragons (not a dork), she would always make dump cake and have fresh whipped cream.  It was awesome.

Dump cake is simple easy and quick to put together.  Don’t feel any pressure to buy a expensive cake mix.  It has been my experience that the cheaper mixes work great. I suppose there are those that have figured out how to do this from scratch, with out the box cake.  I personally have never walked that path, perhaps some day, for now Its too good and easy the way it is.     One thing to always remember is to buy unsalted butter.  Then again, Its always good to use unsalted butter. . . One of life’s simple truths.

One of these days I will include her “original Dump Cake” recipe but for today I decided to make a slight variation.  Here in Texas we have had so many days of rain and storms it seemed like when we had a day of sun something with strawberries, or at very least strawberry flavor,  seemed like the natural thing to make.  Funny how once in a while something from a can or box hits the spot.  Dorito Topped Chili Dog Enchiladas come to mind. . .  ahh another day perhaps.  Today there is Strawberry Pineapple Dump Cake.

Ingredients

1 can strawberry pie filing (about 21 ounces)

1 can crushed pineapple, not drained (about 20 ounces)

1 box strawberry cake mix (15.25 ounces), I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme

1/4 pound butter (1 stick)

Preheat oven to 350f

1.  In a 9 by 13 pan spread both the pie filling and the crushed pineapple.

2.  Dump the cake mix on top, trying to keep it fairly even.  Cut the butter in 1/8th inch slices and place evenly over the cake mix.

3.  Bake at 350f for about 40 to 50 minutes depending on your oven.

4.  Remove when golden brown.  Your kitchen will smell amazing, you will crave dump cake.

5.  Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream or even just plain.  I prefer to serve this either room temperature or cold.

Thyme for dessert,

Jason

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Cauliflower Hummus

Is Cauliflower  a misunderstood and underappreciated vegetable? You bet!  It’s often regarded as a peasant vegetable, not elegant or full of flavor, and that’s just wrong!  Cauliflower has many wonderful uses – not the least of which is this awesome low carb, paleo friendly, healthy “hummus”. It also happens to taste great!

I  love all things hummus but once in a while I find myself looking for something just a little bit healthier (not that hummus isn’t good for you), something with just a few more veggies and less carbs.  This is it!  Healthy and fantastic.

In this recipe the cauliflower is grated then cooked in the microwave with a bit of water.  This can take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes depending on the microwave.  Its very important to cook  completely or it will be impossible to get the smoothness you will want.

Cauliflower Hummus

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

1/8th cup of water

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 ounces of tahini (Lebanese)

1.5 ounces lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  Separate the head of cauliflower into flowerets that are a good size to grate.  Grate the cauliflower and put into a microwave save container.

2,  Add the water to the cauliflower and microwave on high for five minutes.  Cover and microwave at lest 3 more minutes (but up to 10 minutes depending on the microwave).  The important thing is its complete cooked.

3.  When the cauliflower is completely cooked put all remaining ingredients, including the cauliflower into a food processor and puree very well.  This could take 5 to 8 minutes.  Scrape down every minute or so with a rubber spatula.  This needs to be very smooth!

4.  Chill and serve with a drizzle of avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy and be healthy!

Thyme for a snack,

Jason IMG_2864 IMG_2849 IMG_2852 IMG_2859

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Quick, Easy and Delicious Hummus

Greetings all. I was recently enjoying a glass of wine (bottle actually) reflecting on things, life and hummus. Thinking of the old times when I lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Some if the best hummus in the world was a 5 minute drive away, to a restaurant called La Shish. In my post “Chasing the Hummus Ghost” I shared my experiences on trying to replicate the famed hummus of La Shish (complete with 15 years of failure).  I still hold to the belief that the recipe in that post gets really close to the magic of “la Shish”, however, I do realize not everyone wants to wait two full days to satisfy a hummus craving.

For years at work we have been making a “quick hummus” which has Greek yogurt in it. The yogurt adds creaminess and a tang to the hummus. Short of making the recipe from scratch with dried chickpeas this quick hummus is one of the best recipes you can find. It takes about 10 minutes to make, 5 to 8 of which is watching it puree in the food processor.

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to make the hummus as smooth as possible. Put everything in a food processor and puree!! Every so often stop the food processor, grab a rubber spatula and scrape it the bowl down in case some chickpeas get stuck on the side or on the bottom. The cumin is optional. Some people are chickpea purists and would not want it, others like the extra spice. I fall directly in the middle and use it about half the time.

When I serve this I like to drizzle with some avocado oil (or extra virgin olive).  Use some nice warm flat bread or some nice crisp lettuce to scoop.

Thyme In,

Jason

Simple Quick Hummus

Ingredients

2 each 15 ounce cans of chickpeas (drained reserving ¼ cup of the liquid)

4 ounces Lebanese tahini

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (heaping)

4 teaspoons lemon juice

6 ounces Greek yogurt (2/3 cup)

1/4th cup of the drained chickpea liquid (optional)

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

  1. Drain the chickpeas, reserve ¼ cup of the liquid (adding the liquid is optional depending on the texture you like in a hummus)
  2. Place everything in a food processor except he reserved liquid.
  3. Puree very well. In my experience this can take 5 to 8 minutes. Occasionally stop the machine and scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. While pureeing you can decide if you want the liquid in. It will help with the pureeing but will also make the final hummus a bit lighter than without. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
  4. Puree until ultra-smooth!

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Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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I love it when great taste and good nutrition meet! The genesis of this was plain and simple . . . hunger and the desire to have something healthy! I had all the ingredients in the refrigerator so it was just a matter of measuring, mixing and cooking. With all the fragrant ingredients the house smelled awesome.

I often lean toward Asian flavors, could have something to do with working almost ten years working for an Asian hotel chain (Mandarin Oriental). This dish, although not based on a traditional recipe it is certainly full of flavor.

For old thymes sake,

Jason

 

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

 

Wraps

1 pound ground turkey

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 ½ teaspoons roasted sesame oil

1 bunch chopped cilantro

3 teaspoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons kosher salt

½ recipe of my essential cabbage slaw

16 lettuce cups romaine or bib lettuce work great

 

  1. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the slaw and the lettuce. Mix well with a rubber spatula, trying not to let the mix warm up too much.
  2. In a nonstick pan cook a small amount to check and see if it has enough salt. You can adjust if needed.
  3. With your hand roll the mix into little meat balls about ½ ounce each. The mix will be a little soft but will firm up as they cook.
  4. Depending on the size of the pan you have you can cook the meat balls in batches. Put a small amount in oil in the pan and when it is at a medium heat add the meat balls. Cook moving them around until they are cooked through (165f). Try not to overcook as the turkey is lean and will dry out quickly.
  5. Serve them with the lettuce for cups, the slaw as a topping, and any other toppings you can think of. I like sautéed hot chilies or roasted peppers.

 

 

 

 

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Essential Cabbage Slaw

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Long considered to be the bland foodstuff of peasants and the incarcerated, cabbage is a very underappreciated vegetable. I happen to love cabbage, when prepared correctly it is not only flavorful but full of nutrition.

This is one recipe that is very easy to make and produces big results. This is my go to spicy slaw for tacos, enchiladas, and nachos. It’s also a great slaw for simple grilled meats and tastes great on hot dogs and sausages! Once you have this simple little slaw in your arsenal you will use it time and time again. Feel free to use lemon juice instead of lime, and of course you can play with the amount and variety of the chilies. Habanero chilies taste awesome in this slaw . . . if you can handle the heat!

The salt in this recipe draws moisture from the other ingredients which makes its own marinate along with the citrus. I try to make this an hour in advance if I can, it allows the salt to work its magic. This slaw is good for up to a few days in the cooler but it will “wilt down” more and more as time goes on.

Have a good thyme,

Jason

 

Cabbage, Chili and Citrus Slaw

Makes ¾ quart

Ingredients

 Slaw

1 quart shredded cabbage (packed a little tight)

1 bunch chopped cilantro

3 red cayenne peppers or 2 jalapeños sliced thin

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt (you can do ½ if you are sensitive to salt)

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

 

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.

  1. Cover and put in the refrigerator, allow to marinate for at least a ½ hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Simple Pickled Peppers

 

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Have a garden full of peppers and not sure you can keep up?  No problem!

This year I planted a garden made up almost exclusively of hot chili peppers.  We have been getting a lot of rain and the garden is going wild!  Peppers are rolling in faster than we can eat them.  Last week I made an awesome hot pepper sauce, this week they are destined for a pickle jar! This very simple pickled pepper recipe will not only help you preserve your peppers but it has great flavor too.  Your pickled peppers will be great on sandwiches, pizzas, salads and just about anywhere you want a little heat.

I use this same simple pickle recipe to pickle all sorts of vegetables when I have the chance.  It makes great pickled carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, or green beans.  I have even used it to pickle hard boiled eggs.

For this recipe, which is just a quick simple pickle, I cooled the liquid before pouring on the peppers. This will help them keep the color and crisp texture. You don’t have to do that. You can pour the hot liquid on the peppers (be careful) and the peppers will take on a softer texture and will take on the pickle flavor faster.

 

Simple Pickled Peppers

Makes 1 quart jar of pickled peppers

 

Ingredients

Enough peppers to fill a 1 quart canning jar

2 cup vinegar (either white wine or red wine)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

5 sprigs of thyme

  1. In a non-reactive sauce pot combine all ingredients and bring to a simmer just enough to dissolve everything.
  2. Put the liquid in a refrigerator and chill.
  3. While the liquid is chilling, wash all the peppers and put in the caning jar. You want to fill the jar but not to pack them too tight. The peppers can be touching but not jammed in there as you need the liquid to work its magic.
  4. Pour the cooled liquid over the peppers, add the sprigs of thyme, cover and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of three days. Then enjoy.
  5. These peppers will keep for at least a month in the refrigerator as long as they are covered.

Thyme Out!

Jason

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Easy and Quick Hot Sauce

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If you are like me you believe that hot chilies are one of the four basic food groups. It is a rare day when I don’t use some sort of hot sauce, salsa or chili relish. My garden this year is almost entirely made up of hot chilies. Today I picked so many chilies I decided it was a perfect opportunity to make some awesome hot sauce. A simple hot sauce is surprisingly easy and quick to make. What I like about a simple chili sauce is that it’s a great representation of the chilies used. If you make it with jalapeños, it tastes like jalapeños. If you make it with cayenne, it tastes like cayenne.  It also doesn’t hurt that it’s easy and quick!

Quick Hot Chili Sauce

Makes 2 cups

 

Ingredients

8 ounces garden fresh hot chilies

2 ounces white onion (about ¼ of an onion)

3 cloves garlic (about ½ ounce)

1 ½ cups red wine vinegar

½ cup water

1 lime (juice of)

1 lemon (juice of)

2 teaspoons salt

  1. Wash the chilies well and then cut the tops off (it’s good to wear gloves for this process).  Cut them into rough slices (doesn’t have to be perfect as you will be pureeing later). Put in to a pot that will hold all ingredients, but that is not too big.
  2. Rough chop the onion and garlic and add to the pot.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, put on the stove and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached turn to a simmer and simmer for 12 minutes.
  4. Carefully put in a blender (it’s good to have a blender that has a variable control). Start on low and gradually turn up to high. Liquefy the mixture (this may take a few minutes in the blender).
  5. If your blender did not do the job it is ok to strain the sauce. If you have a good blender you should not need to strain.
  6. Chill the sauce right away. It will keep in the cooler for a few weeks. The sauce has a high vinegar content and therefor a good shelf life.

Thyme for some heat!

Jason

 

 

 

 

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The Cauliflower Pizza Crust Experiment

Pizza crust made with cauliflower instead of flour . . . say it isn’t so! Well it is. Lately I have been hearing a lot of talk about the technique and since I’ve been looking for ways to eat healthier and sneak in some extra vegetables, I  had to give it a try. Some years ago I would have jumped off the roof before eating a pizza that was not made with wheat flour and yeast! Now I am a bit more open minded, even though I will never completely give up on classic pizza . . . no way! I will, however, sometimes opt for the health cauliflower version.  This recipe is awesome for anyone looking to limit carbohydrates or eliminate gluten.

I can tell you that for me it’s about adding vegetables.

I really did enjoy the recipe. It doesn’t exactly have the taste or texture of pizza, however if you are having a pizza craving but want to keep it healthy, it’s a great alternative.

I used a very simple pizza sauce made by draining a can of diced tomatoes (San Marzano if possible) very well in a colander. Then I pureed the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and a garlic clove.   Simple and classic. If you don’t drain the tomatoes well the sauce will be too thin.

For this pizza I topped it with some smoked turkey breast and some ground turkey.

One head of cauliflower will make about 3 pizzas.

Cauliflower Crust

Makes 1 Crust (roughly a 10 inch pizza)

 

Ingredients

2 cups grated raw cauliflower

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese ½ cups skim milk

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 egg

 

  1. Pre heat oven to 400f.
  2. Put the grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, uncovered. Cook on high for 8 minutes. This will essentially dry out the cauliflower.
  3. After removing from the microwave fluff with a fork and let it stand for about 5 minutes. Then add all remaining ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.
  4. Now we will prepare a baking tray one of two ways: (1) Line a baking tray with a silpat and rub a bit of olive oil on it (you can also spray with a bit of pan spray), or (2) Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Spread the cauliflower mixture in the shape you want on the prepared tray. Try to keep it thin, approximately ¼ inch thick.
  6. Bake in the oven for approximately 9 minutes. You will want to watch it and take it out when the edges are browning. At this point you can let the crust cool, wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  7. To finish a pizza, turn the broiler to high. Top the pizza as desired with sauce, toppings and cheese. Broil in the oven on a baking sheet until the cheese is brown and everything is hot and bubbly.

Thyme Out,

Jason

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Essential Charred Tomato Salsa

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What would the world be without salsa? Salsa is healthy, vibrant, and simple while at the same time capable of great complexity.  There was a time in our country when ketchup ruled the condiment world, a bleak time in history to be sure. Thankfully we are now in the know and have at our disposable thousands of recipes for glorious salsa.

This particular salsa is quite simple.  Not a lot of ingredients, easy and quick to make, and it allows the natural flavors of the tomatoes and peppers to shine through.  I consider it an essential recipe.  The problem with simple recipes is that when there are not a lot of ingredients the quality of technique and integrity of the ingredients are paramount.   Be sure to char the tomatoes, peppers, and onions well in the oven.  The other key is the dry pan roasting of the garlic.  The unpeeled cloves of garlic get roasted in a medium hot pan until blackened and charred.  This adds a smoky sweet element to the salsa that is really amazing.

 

Essential Charred Tomato Salsa

Makes 1 quart

 

Ingredients

2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 7 Roma tomatoes)

2 to 4  Jalapeño Chili’s

1 habanero chili (optional)

1 onion, rough chopped

8 garlic cloves, fresh and not peeled!

2/3 cup fresh cilantro (about 2 bunches)

3 fresh limes

3 teaspoons kosher salt

  1. Start the broiler on your oven on high.
  2. Begin by slicing the stem off of all the tomatoes and slicing them in half lengthwise.  Also slice the stem off all the chilies and slice them in half as well. You may want to use gloves to avoid getting any of the oils on your fingers . . .  then eventually in your eyes!
  3. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil, oil it or spray it lightly with pan spray.  Place the tomatoes on the tray with skin side up.  Scatter the jalapeños skin side up on the try as well.  Scatter the rough chopped onions as well.
  4. Place the tray in the oven under the hot broiler until the skin on the tomatoes and peppers are blisters and blackened.  In my oven this takes about 20 minutes.  While they are broiling heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.  When hot add the garlic cloves (do not peel) and cook on medium heat, with no oil, until blackened, charred, and soft (about 15 minutes).  Cool everything down in refrigerator.
  5. Once everything is cool peel the garlic and put in a blender with the tomatoes, peppers and onions.  Add the juice of two limes and two teaspoons of the salt.  Puree until roughly pureed, not too smooth.
  6. Use the remaining salt and lime to adjust the seasoning.  It should be highly seasoned!!

Thyme for some spice,

Jason

 

 

 

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Dead Shirley’s Buttercream

 

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Shirley was, to the best of my memory, a mean woman.  Not pleasant and not well put together.  Shirley was not friendly, at least not to us, although she seemed fond of her gaggle of cats.  How my family fell into buying our special occasion cakes from her I cannot say.  I was too young to know the politics of that.  I suspect that she was the relative of a friend and we were under some sort of unwritten obligation to do so.  Whatever the case, I grew up eating birthday cakes and special holiday cakes made by Shirley.  I do not know her last name but the frosting she made, in my mind,  is synonymous with a celebration.  Like many foods from childhood, one bite can take you back 20 years.   Before she passed away we were fortunate enough to get her icing recipe “Shirley’s Buttercream.” After she was gone we referred to it as “Dead Shirley’s Buttercream”.

When I first started cooking professionally I had the opportunity to try many pastries, some of which really were amazing and in some cases just ridiculously good.  Some pastries that really made an impression are baklava, Eaton mess, pavlova, and soufflés.  Not to mention the many awesome original creations by pastry chefs around the country.  One thing that has always left me unsatisfied, however, is the icing on cupcakes and special occasion cakes. . .  it’s always too refined, not sweet enough, not Dead Shirley’s!

I had given the recipe out for a few years to any colleague who wanted it, after singing the praises of my wonderfully unrefined icing of course.  One day, while working at the Ritz – Carlton in Dearborn Michigan, we had a visiting Pastry Chef from the Ritz – Carlton San Francisco.  The most amazing thing was that he was making a recipe called “Dead Shirley’s Buttercream”!  I asked him where he got it and he said from a friend who is a Pastry Chef.  Not being able to resist I asked him if he knew the origin of the name. He did not but speculated that it’s so full of sugar and fat it must have killed someone named Shirley. . .  He may have had a point!

 

Thyme Remembered,

Jason

 

Dead Shirley’s Buttercream

Makes about 1 quart (enough to ice 30 – 35 cupcakes)

Ingredients

360 Grams Confectioners’ Sugar

200 Grams Butter

200 Grams Shortening

15 Grams Vanilla

  1. Combine in a electric mixing bowl with whisk
  2. Start on slow until the ingredients come together then turn up slowly
  3. Beat on high 10 minutes
  4. Store in a cool place covered in plastic for up to a week, you do not have to keep in a refrigerator unless keeping for an extended period (just be careful its covered so it does not take on any off flavors)