Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pineapple Black Bean Enchiladas

Amidst layoffs (not my own) and other chaos at work, it was nice to come home and have a tasty dinner. We chose this recipe that was a runner-up in last year's Pillsbury BakeOff. It was actually submitted by a woman from the CLBB, which was neat. Anyway so we made it with no problems, and it was good but not spectacular. We skipped our normal Old El Paso enchilada sauce in favor of the cheaper Trader Joe's brand, which was a mistake. I will stick with Old El Paso in the future. We also thought the pineapple was good, but yet really weird. It was a good dinner but we won't make it again.

Pineapple Black Bean Enchiladas
Traditional enchiladas take a healthful vegetarian twist in a sassy dish filled with fruity flavors.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 can (20 oz) pineapple tidbits in juice, drained, 1/3 cup juice reserved
1 can (15 oz) Progresso® black beans, drained, rinsed
1 can (4.5 oz) Old El Paso® chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (12 oz)
1 can (10 oz) Old El Paso® mild enchilada sauce
8 whole wheat flour tortillas (8 or 9 inch)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
8 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, green chiles and salt. Cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro and 2 cups of the cheese.

2. Spoon and spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture over sauce on each. Roll up tortillas; place seam side down in baking dish.

3. In small bowl, mix reserved 1/3 cup pineapple juice and remaining enchilada sauce; pour over entire surface of enchiladas in dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Spray sheet of foil large enough to cover baking dish with cooking spray; place sprayed side down over baking dish and seal tightly.

4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, removing foil during last 5 to 10 minutes of baking, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Top each baked enchilada with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon cilantro.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Spinach and Kale Turnovers

Tonight's dinner was fantastic! We made these turnovers from the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light, and served it with some pine nut couscous and mandarin oranges. Yum yum! The filling reminded me of the Spinach and Feta Stuffed Foccaccia I made last summer. Anyway, I really liked these a lot. He was a little put off by the amount of spinach and kale, but ultimately agreed that he would eat them again. I am planning to take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, because the magazine claims that they make excellent lunchbox food warmed up the next day. We shall see!

Spinach and Kale Turnovers
In addition to being tasty, kale is a good source of lutein, benefitting eye health, and vitamins A and C. Serve as a side dish with steak or roast chicken, or enjoy two turnovers as a meatless entrée. They are great made ahead and brown-bagged; reheat in a microwave or toaster oven.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 cups chopped kale (about 1 small bunch)
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (Note: I also added some cayenne!)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1 (11.3-ounce) can refrigerated dinner roll dough (such as Pillsbury)
Cooking spray
2 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add kale and spinach; sauté 8 minutes or until kale is tender. Stir in pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in feta.

Separate dough into 8 pieces. Roll each dough piece into a 5-inch circle. Spoon about 1/3 cup kale mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold dough over kale mixture until edges almost meet. Bring bottom edge of dough over top edge; crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim.

Place turnovers on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat turnovers with cooking spray; sprinkle each turnover with about 1 teaspoon Parmesan. Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving; serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 turnovers

Photo added retroactively on February 19, 2008:

Monday, February 26, 2007

Broccoli and Cheddar Kugel

I don't know what a kugel is, but this is apparently what one is. I guess it's like a pasta casserole. Regardless, tonight for dinner he made us this recipe I found on the Country Living website. He did not enjoy making it, but we did enjoy eating it. It's nowhere near being fantastic, but it is comforting and good. For some reason the recipe keeps calling it a 'pudding,' but it is not creamy enough to be considered anything like a pudding. I liked it and am going to take it for lunch tomorrow, but we will probably not make it again.

Broccoli and Cheddar Kugel
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 small carrot, grated
2 cups small broccoli florets
10 ounces medium egg noodles
2 yellow onions, grated (about 1 1/4 pounds)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
4 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Heat oven to 375° F. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and the carrots and cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli and cook 1 more minute, transfer vegetables to the ice water, let cool, and drain. Bring the pot of water back to a boil, add the noodles and cook for 8 minutes. Strain and cool under cold running water. Combine the remaining ingredients, except 1/2 cup cheddar, in a large bowl; add the broccoli, carrots and noodles, and gently toss. Pour the noodle mixture into a 3-quart casserole or eight 8-ounce dishes; top with the remaining cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pudding and continue to bake for 20 more minutes. Let the pudding cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, February 25, 2007

EN Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar

Tonight for our 6-month anniversary of dating, Gibby and I went to EN Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar, which just opened up a couple blocks from our apartment. For those of you in the area, it is on Century Blvd in Germantown, near the Safeway and Panera. It is absolutely fantastic. Everything we ordered was incredible. Gibby ordered some General Tsao's Chicken, which he loved. I ordered a sushi roll combo which included a cucumber roll, a California roll, and the best spicy tuna roll I've ever had. We also ordered two specialty sushi rolls to share, which were quite possibly the yummiest I've ever eaten. The first was the Bagel Roll, which was cream cheese and smoked salmon. I've had similar rolls before, but this was much better. The other we ordered was called the Crouching Tiger Roll, which is now my favorite ever created in the entire world. It has spicy salmon, avocado, and minced jalapenos (!), wrapped in rice and then rolled in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). Oh my goodness.

Summary: If you are in Germantown, MD, you should eat your sushi at EN Asian Bistro.

New York Crumb Cake

One of my wonderful friends, Miss Ashley, is currently 6 months pregnant and on strict bedrest. I told her I was going to bake her something and asked for any requests, and she said she'd like a coffee cake. So I made her this crumb cake.

It is from an issue of Martha Stewart Living. It was very simple to make, but the batter spreads very thinly in the pan - like 1/4 of an inch deep. I really thought I'd somehow ruined it. But once you add the topping and pop it in the oven, the cake bakes up to a surprisingly normal size. A note about the topping: it did not end up "crumbly" like the recipe suggested it would. In fact, it was almost like a second dough. So I used my fingers to drop pieces of it over the top of the cake batter to simulate crumbles. This worked very well. There is also a LOT of topping, but you really do need all of it!

After it cooled, I cut it into squares to arrange on a plate to take to Ashley, and saved one for myself. My goodness, it is fantastic. It's very buttery and cinnamon-y. I used my new Korintje Cinnamon from Penzeys, which truly is the best cinnamon I've ever tasted. Awesome. I hope Ashley and Adam and Baby enjoy it!

New York Crumb Cake
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for pan
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325°. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

2. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

3. Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.

4. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Cakey cake cake:

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Badenjan Dip

A couple of years ago I had this fantastic meal at the Lebanese Taverna in Adams-Morgan in DC. The website describes it as such:
FATTEH BEL BATHENJAN: eggplant and chick peas, topped with toasted Lebanese bread, smothered with warm yogurt and sauteed pine nuts

It was delicious and I have been hoping to replicate it ever since. I tried one time about a year ago and it was a disaster. So I decided to try again tonight, using a recipe from Nigella Lawson. It came together nicely and was definitely tasty, though I'd cut back on the saffron a bit, but it still wasn't like the one I had at Lebanese Taverna.

I just discovered that in March they are having a cooking class where they will be teaching how to make my beloved dish, but alas, I cannot afford to pay $60 just to learn to make one freaking recipe. Instead, I will just force myself to visiting the branch in Rockville every time I need my fix.

Back to the recipe! Like I said, it was good, but I added too much saffron and the flavor was a little overpowering. I used Fage yogurt, which is my new addiction. We had it with some storebought couscous from Trader Joe's, and some pita bread. It was yummy and was a very good dinner, but I wish I'd just gone the extra 5 miles to the restaurant and bought it there.

Badenjan Dip
from Nigella Lawson

3 small eggplants (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) to make about 1 1/4 cups when roasted, pulped and sieved
2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1 large onion, finely diced
3 fat cloves garlic, minced or grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, to garnish
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, to garnish
Dribble extra-virgin olive oil, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Prick the eggplants with a fork and put them on a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until soft to the touch. Allow to cool before peeling and mashing them, then leave the pulp in a sieve to drain.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until golden and then add the drained eggplant mush, cooking it with the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes over a gentle heat, stirring frequently. Take off the heat and turn into a bowl to cool and season with salt and pepper.

Add the yogurt to the cooled eggplant mixture together with the saffron in the now golden water, stirring together well. Turn into a bowl and sprinkle over the mint, toasted pine nuts, and a dribble of oil.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Baked Corn Dogs

Someone posted this recipe on the CLBB and I thought it sounded cute and fun to make for a Friday night dinner. I think the recipe is originally from Everyday Food. Anyway. We substituted Tofu Pups for the chicken sausages but otherwise stuck to the recipe.

It was super-cool to make them because they actually looked like how a corn dog should look. They weren't as golden, obviously, since they are baked instead of fried, but that was okay. The taste, however, was only alright. It wasn't anything spectacular, even when covered in my favorite Maille Dijon mustard. Of course, there's always the chance that the Tofu Pups are to blame, since they don't taste like real sausage. Who knows? Regardless, we will not make these again.

Baked Corn Dogs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (spooned and leveled),
plus more for dusting sausages
2/3 cups of yellow corn meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 precooked smoked chicken sausages (13 oz. total)
ketchup and mustard, for serving (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Make a well in center; add milk, eggs, and oil. Mix just until combined.

2) Insert an ice-popstick into one end of each sausage, leaving a 1 1/2 inch handle. Dust with flour; dust off excess. Using handle, rotate each sausage over bowl as you spoon batter to coat evenly. Place on sheet, bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Using a spatula, reapply batter that has slipped onto sheet. Return to oven; bake until golden, 20 minutes. Serve with ketchup and mustard if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pepper Jack & Pepper Sandwiches

No NEW recipes for the past few days, just a few repeats. I just realized I haven't posted one of them before though, so I will include that.

Tuesday we had Pepper Jack & Pepper Sandwiches (recipe is below).

Wednesday we had Black Bean, Corn, and Pepper Fajitas.

And tonight we had Vegetable Bibimbap.

This is the simplest recipe ever, thanks to Miss Martha Stewart:

Pepper Jack & Pepper Sandwiches

Rye bread
Pepper jack cheese
Roasted red peppers

Dry the peppers with a paper towel before placing them on the bread to avoid a soggy sandwich.

Proceed as usual for a grilled cheese sandwich.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

We had some frozen cauliflower in the refrigerator, so we chose this recipe from Paula Deen & Friends. It's crazy-easy, making use of a lot of prepared foods. Plus we got to use my immersion blender! :) We liked it a lot, and appreciated how quick and simple it is. We did not make it ahead of time, but it's nice to know we could have. We would make this again!

Cream of Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup

Two 10-oz packages frozen chopped broccoli
One 10-oz package frozen cauliflower, or 1/2 head fresh cauliflower, separated into flowerets, or one 10-oz package frozen cauliflower in cheese sauce
2 cups chicken broth (canned is fine)
1 cup half-and-half
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups grated Swiss cheese

1. In a 4-quart stockpot, cook the broccoli and cauliflower in the broth until tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Puree in a blender or food processor, leaving the soup a little chunky. Return the soup to the stockpot. Add the half-and-half, salt, and pepper. Let cool and refrigerate until party time.

2. The next day, reheat the soup over very low heat for about 45 minutes. Just before your guests arrive, stir in the Swiss cheese.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups

My mom ate this at a PEO luncheon she went to a few months ago, and was so impressed that she acquired the recipe and sent it to me. I did my best to lighten it (low- or no-fat cheeses, 1% milk, etc), and was very satisfied with the results. I also added some shredded carrot to the vegetable mixture. It was easy to make and was very, very yummy! I really liked it a lot - I especially like the addition of the red onion, because it's an unexpected and appreciated flavor in the filling. We were kind of put off by the messiness. I would still make this again though, especially for company, because it is very tasty.

Vegetable Lasagna Roll-Ups
From my mom's friend

8 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 c (1med.) sliced zucchini
1 c. (l med.) yellow, red or green pepper, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 c. coarsely chopped red onion
1/2 tsp. salt
l/4 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. torn fresh basil
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 egg slightly beaten
l c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
l/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
2 c. 2 med. ripe tomatoes cut into 1/2" pieces

Herb Sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
l/4 tsp. salt
l/4 tsp pepper
1 c. milk
1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
l/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. torn fresh basil
2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; rinse. In 10" skillet melt 2 tbsp. butter until sizzling; stir in garlic. Add remaining lasagna ingredients except egg, 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, l/2 cup Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, tomatoes and lasagna noodles. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender (5-6 mins). Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together egg and cheeses. Stir in tomatoes and cooked vegetables. Place about 1/2 cup filling on one end of each lasagna noodle. Roll up lasagna noodle,jelly roll fashion. (Some filling will spill out each end.) Place seam side down in 12 x 8 baking pan. Fill in around roll-ups with excess filling. Set aside. In 2 qt. saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. butter over med. heat; stir in flour, l/4 tsp. salt and l/4 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth and bubbly (30 sec). Add milk; continue cooking until sauce begins to thicken (l to 2 mins) Stir in 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, 1 tbsp. parsley and l tbsp. basil. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted (2 to 4 min.) Pour over lasagna roll ups; sprinkle with 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 min. or until heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

Our lasagna:

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts

When I saw this recipe listed on Epicurious, I knew I HAD to make it. Brownies and peanut butter and ganache? What a wondrous combination! We made them this afternoon. They are pretty easy to make, though there are a lot of steps involved. We didn't use chunky peanut butter and had very few peanuts because someone ate almost the entire can of peanuts, but nothing was really lost. We also used Hershey's Truffle Kisses to melt for the ganache, which was an awesome idea. We really like these brownies a lot and would make them again!!

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts
from Bon Appetit, Jan 2007

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Frosting and ganache
1 cup chunky peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

For brownies:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving long overhang; butter foil.

Place 3/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan. Add both chocolates; stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time. Fold in flour, then nuts. Spread in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; cool.

For frosting and ganache:
Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla. Spread frosting over brownies.

Stir chocolate and 1/4 cup butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Drop ganache all over frosting; spread to cover. Chill until set, about 1 1/2 hours. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Using foil as aid, transfer brownie cake to work surface; cut into squares. Bring to room temperature; serve.

Yield: 30 brownies

Our brownies:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shrimp Po'Boys

Oops, I've neglected my blog! Nothing has been missed - we had frozen pizza on Thursday night, and went out to belatedly celebrate Valentine's Day at Macaroni Grill on Friday. Tonight we had Shrimp Po'Boys and they were tasty as usual.

The main point of this post, however, is to share with you the joy that I experienced when I tried a new (to me) Ben & Jerry's flavor: Dublin Mudslide. The package describes it as:
Irish Cream liqueur ice cream with chocolate-chocolate chip cookies & a coffee fudge swirl.
Yes, it is as tasty as it sounds. I don't even like alcohol, and I still loved this ice cream. I shall buy it every year from now on for St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake

We didn't pick anything special because we're going to celebrate Valentine's Day on Friday. We decided on this recipe from the Jan/Feb 2007 issue of Cooking Light. It's very similar to a baked ziti, but has a creamier, smokier flavor. We liked it but didn't find it particularly outstanding, though we did discover that the Smoked Dutch Cheese from Trader Joe's is freaking amazing! :) I would save this recipe just in case we decide we want it again sometime, but we probably won't repeat it.

Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake
This dish owes its creaminess to a layer of tangy sour cream. Make it on a Sunday afternoon, and enjoy leftovers for another meal during the week. Or you can assemble the casserole, refrigerate overnight, and bake shortly before serving.

1 pound uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)
1 (26-ounce) jar fat-free marinara sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded smoked farmer or mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

Heat marinara sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and spinach, stirring until blended; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cooked pasta.

Spoon half of pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine sour cream, smoked cheese, and basil; spread over pasta mixture in dish. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture over sour cream mixture; sprinkle evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings
(Note: I think it makes more than 8 servings, because we halved the recipe and still have a ton left over!)

English Muffin Bread

Last night we got hit by a snow/ice storm, so the school I work at was closed today, and my night class was canceled. Thus, it became a pajama-and-baking day. We originally wanted to bake some banana bread (since I have some bananas in the freezer), but didn't have the other ingredients. Then we decided on muffins, but discovered that our buttermilk had expired last week (oops!). We finally found this recipe amidst my collection: English Muffin Bread, from the King Arthur Flour website. The description promised a loaf of bread similar to an English muffin, and that is precisely what it produced. The recipe could not be more simple, if you own a bread machine. Throw everything in, run a white-bread cycle, and ta-da!

We each just had a slice toasted with butter and jam, and it was excellent. The bread doesn't have the 'nooks and crannies' of a traditional English muffin, but otherwise has the same taste and texture. I would definitely make this again, especially for overnight company. It would be tasty for breakfast!

English Muffin Bread
For those of you who don't feel like doing a lot of rolling and cutting, here's an English muffin bread developed for the bread machine. It makes a mild-flavored, light-textured 1 1/2-pound loaf, perfect for toast.

1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

Program your machine for basic white bread, light crust. Midway through the second kneading cycle, check the dough; it should be soft, smooth and slightly sticky. Adjust the dough's consistency with additional flour or water, if necessary (as this recipe was developed in the dead of winter, when flour is at its driest, you may find you need to use more flour -- or less water -- in the summer.) For a true English muffin effect, remove the dough after either the final kneading or before the final rise and roll it in cornmeal. Place the dough back in the machine to rise and bake. Yield: 1 loaf.

Our bread:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pad Thai

Tonight I hacked together two recipes for pad thai. One came from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman. The other came from Vegetarian Planet, by Didi Emmons. They both had components that I was fond of (one had tofu, one had sriracha, etc). The recipe came together nicely, since the differences in the original recipes were slight, but it tasted nothing like any pad thai I have ever had. It was alright, but I would not make either recipe again. I don't know what makes restaurant pad thai taste differently, but I will need to find out so I can successfully replicate it at home!

Pad Thai
12 oz rice noodles, preferably vermicelli
1/4 cup lime juice, or more, to taste
3 Tbsp Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, or 1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 to 2 tsp hot chile sauce
3 Tbsp canola or corn oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger (optional)
1 carrot peeled and cut into thin julienne strips
8 to 10 scallions, halved lengthwise, then cut into 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup diced pressed tofu
1/4 cup chopped dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, divided
1 cup mung bean sprouts

1. Soak the noodles in hot water for 15 minutes, then drain them.

2. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce or salt, sugar, chile sauce, and 1 Tbsp water.

3. Pour 1 Tbsp of the oil into a large non-stick skillet, and cook the eggs over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Once the eggs are barely cooked, transfer them to a plate.

4. In the same skillet (rinsed if necessary), add the remaining 2 Tbsp oil. Over medium heat, add the garlic and ginger. Saute for about 30 seconds, then add the carrot, scallions, half of the peanuts, and the tofu. Saute for 1 minute more, stirring frequently. Add the lime juice mixture, then the drained noodles. Cook the noodles, stirring constantly, until they are tender but still chewy, about 1 minute. Add a bit more lime juice if you'd like a perkier Pad Thai, and add the sprouts and the scrambled eggs, stirring well. Quickly divide the mixture among plates, sprinkle with the remaining peanuts, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pot Stickers and Slaw with Asian Dressing

We had decided on a recipe I found on Desert Culinary that was relatively simple and looked very tasty. It turned out very yummy! We both agreed we probably wouldn't eat it again (specifically the slaw - it should have been noodles or rice or something), though we did love the shrimp pot stickers from Trader Joe's. All in all it was a yummy meal for tonight.

Pot Stickers and Slaw with Asian Dressing

For the dipping sauce
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

For the slaw
8 ounces broccoli slaw
4 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped green onions

For the pot stickers
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
16 ounce package frozen vegetable pot stickers
3 tablespoons water, divided
8 ounces trimmed sugar snap peas

To make the dipping sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, cilantro, sesame oil and ginger.

To make the slaw:
In a medium bowl, toss together broccoli slaw, cilantro, green onion and 3 tablespoons of the dipping sauce.

To make the pot stickers:
In a large skillet, heat sesame oil over medium-high. Add pot stickers and cook until browned - about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour in 2 tablespoons water, cover and cook until pot stickers are thoroughly heated through - about 3 minutes. Remove and add pot stickers to the slaw.

Add peas and remaining 1 tablespoon water to the skillet, cover and cook until the peas are crisp-tender - about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and add to the slaw mixture.

Serve remaining sauce in small bowls on the side for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Argentine Black Bean Flatbread with Chimichurri Drizzle

This recipe won the appetizer category of the Cooking Light recipe contest this year, and was very highly reviewed by people on the CLBB. When I read the recipe, I didn't think it sounded particularly spectacular, but after hearing so many good things about it I decided to try it.

It was so good!!!! We really liked it a lot. I had some issues with the crust dough - it was super-crumbly and dry, so I thought I'd ruined it. But it turned out to be okay. I also didn't roll it out thin enough so the whole thing ended up like more of a pizza than a flatbread. This was not a bad thing at all; in fact, we liked it that way. It helped it to be a substantial meal instead of appetizer-y. I would probably use a store-bought pizza dough or flatbread in the future, instead of making my own dough, because it was way too time consuming. The black bean spread was delicious, the chimichurri sauce was fantastic, and I loved the addition of Parmesan and roasted peppers. We will definitely make this again.

Argentine Black Bean Flatbread with Chimichurri Drizzle
Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2007

1 red bell pepper
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°), divided
3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Black Bean Spread (recipe follows)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic

Preheat broiler.

Cut bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and cut into 16 strips. Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 450°.

Sprinkle cornmeal over a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add remaining 1/2 cup water, flour, and salt to yeast mixture, stirring until dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Roll dough into a 14 x 11-inch rectangle; place dough on prepared baking sheet. Spread 1 1/2 cups Black Bean Spread over dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450° for 13 minutes or until crust browns and cheese is bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes.

Combine parsley and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle parsley mixture over cheese. Cut bread into 16 squares; garnish each square with 1 bell pepper strip.

Black Bean Spread
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 (15-ounce) can 50%-less-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained (such as Muir Glen)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth.

Yield: 16 appetizer servings

Chocolate-Studded Dream Cookies

My dad was down here for the weekend helping me with the car-buying process (yay!), so we weren't planning on baking anything. But after taking him to the train station, I decided we needed some cookies. I picked up some chocolate-peanut butter chips at the grocery store and randomly decided to try this recipe, from a Nestle Swirls chips advertisement. I followed the recipe as directed, except that instead of the semisweet & chocolate swirled chips, I used the chocolate-peanut butter swirled chips. This was a good decision on my part. The cookies were very tasty, but they didn't spread to be rounded. Instead they kind of stayed the way I dropped them on the sheet. They're kind of cakey, versus chewy. They are yummy but I probably won't make them again, due to an abundance of other cookie recipes to try. :)

Chocolate-Studded Dream Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Baking Cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® SWIRLED™ Real Semi-Sweet & White Chocolate Morsels, divided

PREHEAT oven to 325° F.

COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in 1 cup Swirled Morsels. Drop by well-rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Top with remaining Swirled Morsels.

BAKE for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 3 1/2 dozen

Our cookies:

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dippy Potatoes

It has been a rough week, evident in the fact that I have not updated since Sunday!!

Tuesday night we had Dippy Potatoes. I will post the recipe below. It's what I call a "crap meal," which means that it's easy to throw together, nowhere near being gourmet, and doesn't appear to be a full meal, but it is. It is one of my favorite meals, in fact. My mom used to make it when I was growing up. I guess they kind of turn out like soft potato chips. But we make a lot of them so it ends up being substantial and delicious.

Tonight we had Rumpledethumps, which was tasty but for some reason not as tasty as the last time I made it. I think it needed more garlic or something.

Dippy Potatoes
As written by my mom

Baking potatoes - large or small - washed
Melted butter
Garlic salt
Basil leaves (dried/crushed)
Parmesan cheese (grated)
Dip (recipe follows)

Slice potatoes about 1/8" thick.

Place on baking sheet which has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Brush melted butter on each slice. Sprinkle each slice with paprika, garlic salt, and basil leaves. Bake at 400° for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven; carefully turn over all slices. Do the butter-paprika-garlic-basil thingy again :) Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle Parmesan on each slice. Put under broiler and watch it until cheese is bubbly, or your smoke detector goes off. :) Remove, eat with dip.

Note: Thicker slices may take longer to bake - eyeball it.

Mix Hidden Valley Ranch mix with 16 oz sour cream. Let sit in refrigerator for an hour or more.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Southwestern Bean Casserole

Tonight for dinner we had Southwestern Bean Casserole. I figured that since I already had cornmeal and buttermilk, I might as well make this casserole. And then when I went to get the link to the recipe to make this post, I realized that the only other time I've made it was on February 4, 2006! One year ago today! That is too funny. I am cracking up. What are the odds?

Corn-Blueberry Loaf

This recipe came from Family Circle magazine. It was time to use up the rest of the blueberries I picked and froze over the summer, so this seemed like a good way to use them. We randomly decided to make muffins instead of a loaf, but it would be good as a loaf. If you decide to do this, bake them for 20 minutes in a greased muffin pan. You'll get about 16 muffins. We liked them a lot. I would even enjoy them without the blueberries because the corn muffin base is so delicious. I would make these again.

Corn-Blueberry Loaf
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Heat oven to 375°. Coat two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 5/8 inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda until blended. Make a well in flour mixture. Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a measuring cup; add to flour mixture. Gently whisk just until ingredients are moistened. Fold in blueberries.

3. Divide batter evenly among prepared loaf pans. (This batter can also be made into muffins; baking time will decrease slightly).

4. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes until lightly crowned and lightly browned. Let cool in pans on rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack; let cool.

Yield: 2 loaves, or 16 muffins

Our muffins:

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Split Pea-Spinach Dal with Cauliflower

When I was making our meal-plan for the week, I randomly found this recipe on the CL website and tossed it into the rotation at the very last second. I've made dal before with red lentils so I had some idea of what to expect. It was very yummy! I liked the addition of the spinach to a typical Indian curry. We definitely enjoyed it. My one caveat is that it took forever to make (about an hour and a half), and because of that I probably will not make it again. But it was yummy!

Split Pea-Spinach Dal with Cauliflower
CL, April 2003
Throughout India, a meal is not complete without some variation of this spice-tempered legume dish. Cumin and turmeric provide slightly bitter notes, but the dish has an overall salty-savory flavor. The dal is more of a stew than a soup; for a thinner version, decrease the final simmering time.

3 1/2 cups water, divided
1 cup dried yellow split peas
1 bay leaf
2 cups chopped cauliflower florets
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
4 cups torn spinach

Combine 2 1/2 cups water, peas, and bay leaf in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 50 minutes or until tender. Add 1 cup water, cauliflower, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes or until cauliflower is very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.

Heat butter and oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until butter melts. Add onion, ginger, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add cumin and next 5 ingredients (cumin through cloves); cook over low heat 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture to pea mixture. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until thick. Stir in spinach; cook 3 minutes or until spinach wilts.

Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Taco Salad

Tonight we made Taco Salad. It was tasty. I added some avocado. Gibby had never had taco salad before and he enjoyed it. I wish I'd had some black beans to toss in. Maybe next time. :)

In the original post, I did not mention how to make the magical tortilla bowls to serve the salad in. This is how you do it: take a glass or oven-safe bowl and put a tortilla over it, so that it will mold around the shape of the bowl. Then pop it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until it's crispy and golden-brown. Fill with salad and eat.