The Truth About Mayonnaise (recipe included)

Okay. Here’s the truth about mayonnaise. I don’t hate it. I say I hate it. I generally don’t eat it, but mayo and I have a love/hate relationship. I respect what mayo is there to do. On certain sandwiches mustard is too strong, no other condiments seems right, and to avoid a dry sandwich mayo steps up. It’s needed to make delicious dips and aiolis. In a Belgian restaurant it is absolutely essential for dipping frites! However, most commercial mayo is bland and full of chemicals and preservatives.

How have I tackled this condiment dilemma?
I make my own!

You might think this is a difficult task, but really, mayonnaise is extremely easy to make.  It doesn’t take a lot of kitchen prowess; it doesn’t even take complicated kitchen tools. I easiest way to make mayo is to use a blender, but it can be made with a standing mixer or a hand mixer.

Homemade Mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • squirt of lemon juice
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of vegetable oil.

That’s it!!! The type of mustard can vary. I’ve made this mayo with creamy dijon which produced a very mild flavored mayo, or with just plain ol’ yellow mustard which came out a bit zippier. I usually use regular vegetable oil, but there is no reason you can’t use olive oil to produce a healthier product.

Making this mayo is very easy, just add all the ingredients except the oil into the bowl or blender. Mix them a bit to get them blended. Then add the oil slowly so it can emulsify. In my blender on a lower speed it took exactly 5 minutes (adding the oil slowly throughout) to get perfect mayonnaise. If it gets too thick, add a little more oil.

Mayo 1

Start with a clean blender and add ingredients (See above)

Mayo 2

Slowly add oil through the lid and let it emulsify

Mayo 3

If you see a break in the mayo where there is oil under the top, stop adding oil and let what’s already in the blender get blended in. You can also stop and stir with a rubber scraper. 

One last note: Since there are raw eggs in the mayo it does NOT have a long shelf life like store-bought. Being kept in the fridge you probably should not keep it more than 2-3 days.

I use this mayo for sandwiches, in potato salads, or to make spreads of dips… in fact, this mayo recipe will be feature in a few upcoming posts! Other great ideas:

  • Mix in some Sriracha for a spicy dipping sauce
  • Mix in fresh herbs and roasted garlic
  • Add ketchup and relish for secret sauce
  • Use as a dip for fries
  • Use for homemade chicken, tuna, or egg salad
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Coconut Curry Chicken

We’ve instituted a new tradition at our house – slow cooker Saturdays! Since we are usually gone for longer than the time required for a standard crockpot recipe during the week, Saturdays seemed like the perfect day to try out some new crockpot recipes!

Up first? Coconut Curry Chicken! I used this recipe as inspiration, and was quite pleased with the results.

Coconut Curry ChickenCoconut Curry Chicken 2

  • 2 lb boneless skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 5 Carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 Onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can Tomato Paste
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp crushed Red Pepper Flakes

– Cut the chicken into cubes and put in the crockpot (I recommend using a crockpot liner for easier cleanup).

– Combine EVERYTHING ELSE in a food processor or blender until smooth, then mix with the chicken.

– Cook on low for about 7 hours, and voila! You’re done!

This recipe is super easy – perfect to throw together on a Saturday morning! As an added bonus, your house will smell amazing while this is cooking! I served my coconut curry chicken with rice and naan, and will definitely be making this again in the near future!

Happy Cooking,
Megan

Dustin’s Amazing Picnic Beans Recipe

With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, let’s talk cookout food! My (now) husband made Picnic Beans for me when we first started dating; I won’t say they are the reason I fell in love with him, but they certainly didn’t hurt his cause!

Picnic beans are a great summer side dish – they are lighter, fresher, and healthier than baked beans, and can be made quickly! One of the fun things about picnic beans is that they are never exactly the same twice. If there’s an ingredient you don’t like, omit it! If there’s something you’d like to add, go for it! While picnic beans are very customizable, the basics are always the same.

Photo 2013-05-22 10.28.26 AMBasic Picnic Beans Ingredients

  • Variety of Beans – We typically use black beans and navy beans, but have also used Chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and kidney beans.
  • Bacon – Use as few or as many strips as you want
  • Pepper – Any type
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Celery Seed (the secret goodness)
  • Lime Juice (fresh is best)
  • Fresh Cilantro

Step 1.
Dice the bacon, pepper, celery and onion

choppedveggies

Step 2.
Add some olive oil to a skillet (Dustin prefers cast-iron). Heat up the olive oil, then add the diced items and spices.

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Step 3.
Saute until the onions start to turn clear, then add the beans.

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Step 4.
Continue the saute everything for twenty minutes. You can leave them longer, but reduce the heat after a few minutes. The longer they mix the better the flavors will meld together. Add chopped fresh cilantro before serving.

These beans are a perfect go-to for summer potlucks and cookouts (ahem… Memorial Day). They can even be made them ahead of time, refrigerated until needed, and easily reheated in the oven or on the grill. How would you adjust this recipe to your taste?

Restaurant Review: Rice and Noodles in Lancaster, PA

We are a big fans of Vietnamese food so we were very excited to check out Rice and Noodles in Lancaster for the first time!

When we entered the restaurant we were seated quickly and given their extensive menu to peruse. They even have a large selection of beverages, our friend got the Tra Da Chanh, an iced jasmine tea with sweetened lime juice and it was amazing. It begged to be spiked and enjoyed on a porch some summer afternoon. The menu is large and creative, veering away from the expected pho dishes and into sandwiches, lettuce wraps, stir fries and other creative offerings.

Bailey’s Take!
I find with Vietnamese restaurants that I usually don’t like to go into them. Though I love the food, in our area, many of them don’t seem very well kept. With Rice and Noodles I did not have this reaction. I started out by going to their website. It is well designed and fashionable, showing that the owners know how much a restaurant’s web presence can help it’s business.

I decided to be adventurous and order the Vermicelli Noodle Patty Wraps. It was basically the Vermicelli noodle bowls but deconstructed so the diner can assemble them into lettuce wraps. I ordered the fried tofu and it came with the noodles topped with green onion and crispy shallots, basil, marinated cucumbers, carrots and onions, as well as peanut sauce. The flavors were delicious but I think I should have just ordered the bowl instead of the wraps.  They used green leaf lettuce instead of a Bibb lettuce, so it was very hard to wrap and the wraps kept falling apart on me.

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The Veggies with the Wraps         The Fried Tofu                   The Peanut Sauce


Megan’s Take!
I’m a sucker for pho – I absolutely love it, and I usually judge a Vietnamese restaurant by the quality of their pho. Combine my pho obsession with the fact that I was fighting a cold and craving some soup, and I couldn’t *not* get my pho on!

I was not disappointed with my order! I chose the Pho Tai, which is medium rare beef pho. I loved that I could choose how my meat was cooked – I’ve gotten overly cooked beef pho before that was very leathery, this was tender and cooked to perfection. The broth was flavorful and satisfying, and the accompanying sprouts, basil, lime, and peppers were perfectly portioned to the size of the serving. I liked that I didn’t have a mountain of sprouts leftover when I was done, since it always makes me feel wasteful!

photo 4         photo 3
The Pho Tai                                                         The Accoutrements

Overall, we felt that the portions were large and the prices were very reasonable. The interior of the restaurant was clean and modern furniture kept the place looking simple and fresh, much like the food. Rice and Noodles would be a great choice for someone new to Vietnamese food or someone who is a seasoned veteran. We will definitely be going back!

You can find Rice and Noodles at http://riceandnoodlesrestaurant.com/

Tortellini with Kielbasa and Edamame

I don’t know about all of you, but I am a BIG fan of quick & easy weeknight dinners… especially if they are healthy… and even more so if they don’t taste like a quick & easy dinner (no offense, EasyMac!).

I like to have some basic recipes that I can improvise and change depending on what ingredients I have around. One of my favorites is Tortellini with Kielbasa and Edamame! I use this recipe as a base, and I like that I can use any kind of sausage, swap the tortellini out for gnocchi, switch up the pepper, or add another veggie. The only ingredient I really need to make this dish is edamame… prompting my husband to dub this dish “Edamame Surprise!”

Photo 2013-05-17 11.18.12 AMThis time I used the following ingredients:

– One package of refrigerated Tortellini (tri-colored!)
– One Kielbasa
– One bag of frozen, shelled Edamame
– One Orange Pepper
– Olive Oil
– Minced Garlic (I usually prefer fresh, but prepared works in a pinch!)
– Italian Dressing

Start by boiling salted water for the tortellini. While you are waiting for the water to boil, heat olive oil and minced garlic in a pan. Use as much garlic as you want – I’m a garlic-loving gal, so I use a heaping tablespoon, but I won’t judge if you’re more of the scant teaspoon type.

As the oil and garlic is heating, cut the sausage into buttons and add to the pan. Next, cut up the pepper and add that to the pan. Cook all until the sausage is browned and the pepper is softened.

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By the time you add the peppers to the pan, your water should be boiling. Add the tortellini and cook until almost tender, then add the frozen edamame. Bring the water back to a boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and drain.

Photo 2013-05-17 11.19.58 AMRemove the sausage and the peppers from heat and mix wit the drained edamame and tortellini. Add some Italian dressing, toss to coat, and there you have it! An easy weeknight dinner in under 15 minutes!

I hope you enjoy this dish – I’d love to hear how you adapt recipes for quick & easy dinners!

Happy Cooking,
Megan

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix

Being plagued with stomach issues since I was a teenager, I am always searching for ways to keep my erratic digestive system in check. I was first diagnosed with Acid Reflux as a teenager, but I wasn’t able to control my symptoms. I tried changes in diet and medication but it was to no avail. In college I realized that it seemed to be related to stress. Every mid-terms and finals week I was stricken down by intense shooting acid in my esophagus. By my twenties the pain seemed to centralize right in the middle of my chest. I’d wake up feeling like I was being stabbed with a hot knife right between my ribs. After a gall bladder ultrasound and a scope, results were inconclusive. My doctor changed the diagnosis to a form of IBS and gave me the sage prescription “Eat healthy, exercise, and hope for the best.”

Recently I was advised to attempt a gluten-free diet, many people with stomach maladies have reported success from this. I won’t say I’m able to go truly GF, but I am certainly trying. I’d call myself, Gluten-limited or Gluten-reduced. After only a week I’ve already seen a difference.

Part of the fun of this new diet is trying out new baking and cooking techniques. Not being willing to give up my favorite food, pizza, I set out to find a GF crust recipe I could make. The first recipe I found required buying GF flour, dry milk, and Xantham Gum. I was set to do it, but at my local grocer the Xantham Gum was 11.00 for a package, and I wasn’t quite ready to be that committed yet. However, right beside those ingredients I saw the pre-packaged pizza dough mix.

Photo 2013-05-15 08.09.21 AM

The directions were very easy to follow, and the dough did exactly what it was supposed to. I spread it in the pan and baked it. The package makes two pizzas.

The first we topped with pizza sauce, ricotta and shredded cheeses, mushrooms and turkey pepperoni.

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The pizza itself tasted good, but the crust was very bland. It also did not have the crunch of a normal crust, but that also may be from being baked at home instead of in a real pizza oven. I felt like the crust needed salt, my husband said sugar,and we both agreed some herbs would have helped. We are going to do a little doctoring before we prep the second pizza.

Take Two! For the second pizza we went a little more creative and had slightly better results. This time the crust sat, wrapped in plastic wrap, for two days before we baked it. Perhaps it was the time it had to cool and maybe even get a little stale, but it was a bit crunchier this time. This also may have been from pressing the dough a little thinner. Thinner is better, I found. This round we did a fajita pizza.

I brushed the crust with olive oil and sea salt.

Photo 2013-05-15 08.06.45 AM

Then I topped it with salsa.

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And covered it with sauteed chicken, chiles, onions, and peppers as well as cheddar jack cheese and some queso fresco. Finally we topped each slice with some mango salsa, sour cream and avocado. The crust held up well to to the heavy toppings and tasted better. I wouldn’t say if gluten was not a concern that I’d bother, but if you, like me, are trying to cut gluten out of your diet, this is the way to go.

Photo 2013-05-15 08.06.35 AM                      Photo 2013-05-15 08.06.23 AM

Maybe next time I’ll try it from scratch. If I do, you’ll be the first to know!

Recipe: Warm Potato Salad with Bacon-Parsley Vinaigrette

For many years I avoided all potato salads. An aversion to excessive mayonnaise has kept me from almost all salads of the potato/macaroni picnic varieties. However, I have been introduced to vinegar based potato salads over the past few years and I have fallen in love. For dinner last weekend Megan was making a root beer pork recipe. To complement the sweetness of the pork we wanted something with a good acid and saltiness. Here is what we invented:

Warm Potato Salad with Bacon-Parsley Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

(Please note there are no quantities listed in the recipe, just get what you need for your guests.)

Small Red Potatoes

Bacon (the higher quality and thicker cut the better) I got mine from a local charcuterie called Rooster Street Provisions. We love them!

Curley Parsley

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

1. Start by slicing or dicing the red potatoes. Cutting them into small wedges would help the salad hold up a little better. I sliced mine so they would bake faster. After cutting the potatoes put them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes to coat them.
Photo 2013-05-12 11.07.18 AM

2. Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet and put into a 350 degree oven. Roast the potatoes until they are done. If you’re not sure when they are done, just poke one with a fork or take a bite.
Photo 2013-05-12 11.07.25 AM

3. When the potatoes seem to be close, start the dressing. First dice up the bacon, then chop the parsley. Get a medium-large saute pan. Drizzle some olive oil into the saute pan and put it on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the bacon and saute. When the bacon starts to crisp and there is a bit of dark residue on the bottom of the pan add the balsamic vinegar. Saute a for a few minutes. Add the parsley right before you remove the pan from the heat.
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4. Remove the potatoes from the oven. Put them into a heat-safe bowl. Add the dressing to the bowl and toss. You may want to add more salt, pepper, oil, or vinegar to taste.
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This salad is a delicious side at any picnic, feel free to adjust to your own tastes. Try different ingredients, we’d love to hear how you adapted this delicious salad!

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Welcome!

Welcome to Common Plate!

We are Bailey & Megan – food-loving friends from Central PA looking for a space to share our culinary adventures!

Common Plate was inspired on a spring afternoon while we were getting pedicures and discussing our plans to cook weekly ‘Farm to Table’ dinners this summer. You see, we had recently gone halfsies on a CSA share from a local farm, and were eagerly awaiting our first crate of fresh local produce! Planning our summer-long dinner series, we realized it would be a lot of fun to share our gastronomic escapades (farm-to-table and beyond!), and so we invite YOU along for the ride!

We chose the name Common Plate to evoke the intimacy inspired by sharing good food with good friends… the kind of meal where everyone is eating off of each other’s plates to make sure they try everything! We hope you are inspired by our kitchen adventures, and look forward to hearing how you fill YOUR plate!

Best,

Bailey & Megan