Sunday, September 28, 2014

Oh Hello There - Jalapeno Popper Dip

To answer the question my friend Denise has asked me a million times since August, no, I really haven't made anything recipe-ish since then. Nothing. I haven't cooked. You don't need to know how many bagels or packets of ramen I have eaten. I did go on a cruise at the beginning of the month but I barely took pictures of the food. I know. This is shocking.

BUT! Last weekend my jalapeno plant went crazy and I had a million jalapenos and Anaheim peppers that I needed to find a use for. I combined them all into this Jalapeno Popper Dip I made a few years ago, completely omitting the pickled jalapenos. And you know what? It's WAY better with fresh peppers. The pickled jalapenos only added an acidity and liquidized the dip a little bit, in a unpleasant way. I really liked it a lot better this time around.

We originally started eating it with tortilla chips, because that is convenient while watching football. I used some pretzels at one point, and that wasn't as great. But the real winning use of this is: I used it as a bagel spread. Oh my goodness. It's lovely. I added some sliced tomatoes (that I also grew!!) on top and it was wonderful.

So! Make the jalapeno dip, but make it without pickled jalapenos. Ok?

And as a side note: I'm currently on hiatus from Cookie Monday. I'm just too tired to do it right now. Maybe later on in the winter.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Peach Streusel Crisp

The first peaches appeared at the farmers' market this past weekend so I stocked up with the goal of making a nice cobbler. My gentleman is particularly fond of streusel toppings on these things, so I found this peach streusel crisp recipe from Penzeys. I used THIS TUTORIAL from KAF to peel the peaches, and discovered in the process that several of my peaches were not yet fully ripe. Oh well. Eventually I got them all in the baking dish.

I normally don't say things like this, but there was WAY too much topping. The peaches were covered up with floury crisp and it wasn't as bubbly or juicy as the recipe suggests. I poured a little bit of cream on top before serving so it wouldn't be so dry. With the cream, it was quite lovely, but the leftovers have thickened even more and it isn't as great as I'd hoped. I will have to try out a different recipe in the future.


Peach Streusel Crisp

9 good-sized ripe peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon china cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flour (for juicy peaches; 1 tablespoon for firm peaches)
1 stick cold butter
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon china cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom only of an 8x8 glass pan or medium casserole dish. Peel and pit the peaches, slice and place in a large bowl. Top with sugar, flour, CINNAMON and VANILLA, toss to coat. Set aside while preparing topping. Make the streusel by cutting the cold butter into a bowl, adding flour, sugar and CINNAMON, and rubbing it through your fingers until the streusel is a coarse, sandy/pebbly texture. Put the seasoned peaches into the pan, top generously with the streusel, and bake at 350° about 30 minutes, until the streusel is golden brown and the peach juice is starting to bubble up through the topping.

Yield: 3-4 servings (Enough for an 8x8 pan, double the recipe for a 9x13 pan.)

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Baked Eggplant Parm

My coworker came in the other day and said, "Lauren. You have to make this. You don't understand. It's perfect." Right, right. I LOVE eggplant parm so I figured I'd try it out, but my expectations were low. Homemade eggplant parm is so temperamental. The eggplant gets bitter. The eggplant gets soggy. The breading comes off and separates from the eggplant entirely once you've put it on your plate. It just never is quite right.

Well, this one is. This is the best parm recipe I've ever made and I don't plan to make any other one ever again. This involves roasting the eggplants, layering with cheese and sauce, and then adding a panko breadcrumb topping towards the end. Oh my gosh. No, seriously. It's perfect. I will absolutely make this again.


Baked Eggplant Parm
Lick My Spoon

1/2 cup olive oil
3 pounds eggplant
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
5 teaspoons minced garlic -- divided
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and brush the parchment with olive oil.

Cut the eggplant into ¼-inch slices and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Flip the slices over and repeat, so now both sides of the eggplant are oiled and salted. Roast until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes, flipping the eggplant halfway through. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F.

In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with 3 teaspoons of the garlic over medium heat. Let cook until the garlic is fragrant and starting to toast. Add the tomatoes to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the sugar. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, then add the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, 1 cup of parmigiano, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Assemble the Eggplant Parm: spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, followed by half of the roasted eggplant, 1 cup more tomato sauce, half of the ricotta mixture and half of the mozzarella. Repeat: eggplant, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, remaining 2 teaspoons garlic, 1/4 cup parmigiano and panko. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the filling is bubbling, take the casserole out of the oven, remove the foil and sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top. Continue baking, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown and crisp, about 20-25 more minutes. If the topping is not browning, drizzle a little olive oil over the top and place under the broiler (keep an eye on it, it'll brown quickly under there). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6

Make Ahead: This is a great dish to make ahead. Make everything through Step 5. Cover the assembled Eggplant Parm with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to two days before serving. I usually prep the panko topping as well and keep this in an airtight container in the fridge. When you're ready to bake the dish, bring it to room temperature and continue with Steps 6 and 7.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Margarita-Lime Cookies with Tequila Glaze

Cookie Monday turned into Margarita Monday this week! How? Magic.

Also because my friend Lisa challenged me to make something utilizing "Salgar," a combination of salt & sugar invented by Leslie Knope, a character portrayed by Amy Poehler on the television situation comedy Parks & Recreation.

{Image from Tumblr}

When I first thought of salt/sugar, I thought of salted caramel. But that's so overdone. My next thought was, shockingly, booze. There MUST be some kind of margarita cookie out there, right? So I did some searching and found this recipe. It's an icebox cookie so you could easily make the dough ahead of time. Mix up the lime dough, roll the log in some "salgar," slice it, bake it, drizzle it with tequila glaze.

Seriously though, these were amazing and they made my coworkers VERY happy.


Margarita Cookies with Tequila Glaze
Love from the Oven

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
Green food coloring (optional)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup sanding sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon tequila

Mix flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, lime peel, extract and food coloring if using; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a log about 9 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven 350°F. Mix sanding sugar and kosher salt. Roll each cold dough log in mixture to coat evenly. Cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place on ungreased baking sheets. If desired sprinkle a bit of additional sugar and salt mixture on tops.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Drizzle Glaze over cooled cookies. If desired sprinkle lightly with salt/sugar mixture. Let stand until glaze is set.

To make the glaze: Mix 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 1 tablespoon each water and tequila in small bowl until smooth. (Or omit tequila and use 2 tablespoons water.)

Yield: I doubled the recipe and got about 6 dozen

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies

Um, these are beyond amazing, and that's pretty much all I need to say.

I added some extra Nutella. Make sure you refrigerate it, seriously, because the Nutella needs to harden a little bit or it will melt everywhere.

I got six dozen of these magic discs of deliciousness.


Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies
The Sisters Cafe

2 sticks butter, room temperature
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 2/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Heaping 1/3 cup Nutella

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla together until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda and salt and add to butter mixture. Add Nutella in dollops over the top of the dough. Use a butter knife to swirl the Nutella through the dough. Do not over mix. Chill the dough in fridge for 15 minutes before spooning onto cookie sheet to firm the nutella. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Bake until slightly brown at edges. Let cool a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring.

Yield: 3-6 dozen depending on how big you make the cookie

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Whole Wheat S'Mores Cookies

I thought making a s'mores-themed cookie would be appropriate since we're in the middle of summer. I did this last summer, with the S'mores nipple cookies, but I forgot about that recipe and picked out this recipe from an old issue of Bon Appetit. I used some excellent buttermilk from a local farm, and I used semisweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I think that was a mistake. The cookies are not sweet at all, despite the marshmallows, so I think they would have been better with the milk chocolate. I also omitted the walnuts - too many people with allergies. When the cookies came out of the oven, they were very crunchy. I added some extra marshmallows on top before they cooled, just because. This turned out to be an excellent idea because, while they rested in the cookie box overnight, the marshmallows helped soften all the cookies to a much better texture. I didn't really like them but a lot of people did, which surprised me! I guess I just wish they had been sweeter. So American of me.


Whole Wheat S'more Cookies
Bon Appetit, February 2008

Whole wheat flour gives these clever cookie S'mores a graham-cracker flavor. Leave the marshmallows out for a day or two on a plate to get stale—they'll hold their shape better during baking.

3 cups whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon robust-flavored, dark molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (about 9 ounces)
1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla extract in medium bowl; whisk in butter. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until dough is evenly moistened. Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart (about 12 cookies per sheet). Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden brown, dry to touch, but still slightly soft, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool (cookies will firm up). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Yield: 3 dozen

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stuffed Shells

Last night I felt inspired to make dinner and discovered we had some large shell pasta in the back of the pantry. I had a huge tub of locally-made cottage cheese from the farmer's market, but it's a very fine curd, more like a ricotta. I decided to use that. I threw this together pretty quickly. Good for a weeknight dinner!

I took a picture but it looked like someone threw up Italian food so I figured no photo is better than that photo.

Stuffed Shells I

16 ounces jumbo pasta shells
4 cups large curd cottage cheese
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pinch garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
26 ounces spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook shells according to package directions. Place in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.

Mix together cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, and garlic powder. Rub the dried herbs in the palms of your hands to pulverize them, and stir into the cheese mixture. Stuff mixture into the shells.

Spread 1/3 of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 15 x 10 inch pan. Place shells open side up, and close together in pan. Spread remaining sauce over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8

Ozark Mountain Berry Crumble Pie

We bought a ton of berries for a Fourth of July picnic because they were on sale, but then no one ended up eating them. What to do with a million pints of assorted berries? I decided to make a mixed-berry pie and found a great recipe on Taste of Home for Ozark Mountain Berry Pie. But it is a double-crust recipe and I only had one disc of pie dough left in the freezer, so I looked through my recipes until I found a berry crumble-topped pie. I used a recipe for Blueberry Crumble Pie from Bon Appetit and adapted it for the topping.

So I hacked together the two recipes. I will type up what I did. I linked to the originals above, so if you want to see them, go to those links. It was pretty phenomenal, I must say. I used two pints of blueberries, 2 quarts of strawberries, and half a pint of raspberries. So good! Sorry for the crappy photos.

berry pie

{Even Emmadog loved it!}

Ozark Mountain Berry Crumble Pie
Adapted from Taste of Home and Bon Appetit, as linked above

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
dash salt
1/3 cup water
4-5 cups of berries (we used blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon if desired, salt and water until smooth; add the blueberries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool slightly.

Line a 9-in. pie plate with pie dough. Gently fold the rest of the berries and the lemon juice into the blueberry mixture. Pour into pastry.

For the topping, whisk flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted butter; mix topping with fingertips to blend. Sprinkle evenly over pie.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 servings