Saturday, March 31, 2007

Leek, Potato, and Fontina Tart

My laptop completely died two days ago, taking with it a large chunk of my files. I backed up my recipe files in February, but not since. I am sad because I've lost a lot of recipes (as well as a TON of other important stuff, ugh!) but hopefully we'll be able to salvage my hard-drive. And hopefully I'll be able to get a new computer sometime soon.

Anyway, tonight's dinner was an old standby, my favorite Leek, Potato, and Fontina Tart. It seemed appropriate for spring!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Meyer Lemon, Arugula, and Pistachios

When I saw this recipe in the January 2007 issue of Martha Stewart, I thought it looked good but wondered if Gibby would like it. So I turned to him and said, "Do you like the flavor of lemon?" He stopped mid-sip, having been drinking lemonade, and looked at me like I was an idiot. Yes. He likes the taste of lemon. We are also both fans of pistachios, and so I decided to make it.

It was easy to make, and it was fun to use Meyer Lemons. I've never even seen them before. They look like clementines. They're much sweeter than normal lemons. I like them. Anyway so the sauce is basically a pesto that you pour over the pasta and arugula. It was yummy, but a little too simplistic for us to make again. It would probably be good for a light summer lunch or as a side dish.

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Meyer Lemon, Arugula, and Pistachios
Sea salt or coarse salt
1/2 Cup shelled unsalted pistachios
1 small shallot, cut into eighths
1 Meyer lemon (about 5 ounces), cut into eighths and seeded
3 Tablespoons lemon or regular extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Pound whole-wheat spaghetti
2 Cups packed baby arugula
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool completely.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, pulse pistachios and shallot in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Without cleaning processor bowl, finely chop lemon. Add to pistachios and shallot; stir to combine. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil.

Add pasta to boiling water; cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Toss pasta with pistachio mixture until coated. Add reserved cooking water; stir until sauce coats pasta. Stir in arugula, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining tablespoon oil; season with pepper. Divide among 4 serving plates.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, March 26, 2007

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese

I am tired so this is going to be a short post. This meal was quick to make and used up our smoked Gouda from a previous meal. It is good, although not as thick as I'd hoped. I liked it though. We might make it again.

Smoked Gouda Macaroni and Cheese
From CL, March 2003

1 slice whole wheat bread -- (1-ounce)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 garlic cloves -- minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese -- (2 ounces)
1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese -- (about 1 1/2 ounces)
5 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
4 cups hot cooked elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about 2 minutes). Add cheeses; stir until melted.

Add spinach and macaroni to cheese sauce, stirring until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 4 servings (more like 3)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cheesy Vegetable Chili

In my previous post about the cheddar bread, I was planning on linking to the chili recipe we made, since I've made it like 13,000 times in my life. It is my standard vegetarian chili recipe. My mom used to make it for me when I still lived at home. I have no idea why I've never posted it on this blog. That is so weird! Well, here you go. This is my favorite chili recipe. It originally came from a Kraft advertisement.

Cheesy Vegetable Chili
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large green or red pepper, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp oil
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with added puree
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cans (15 oz each) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups diced zucchini
1 package (10 oz) Birds Eye sweet Corn, thawed
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) Kraft Natural Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided

Cook and stir garlic, peppers, mushrooms, and onions in oil 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, and cumin. Heat to a boil.

Reduce heat to low; add beans, zucchini and corn. Simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add 1 cup cheese; stir until melted.

Spoon into serving bowls. Top with remaining cheese.

Yield: 8 servings

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread

Today we decided to make this cheesy spicy bread from the March 2007 issue of Gourmet magazine. It took a long time - two rising times, an hour baking, an hour to cool, etc., but was worth it. It's delicious! During the baking the crust turns dark dark brown but the inside stays fluffy and cheesy. We really liked it and enjoyed it with our chili. We would make this again. I might even consider making it as a gift sometime.

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread
1 teaspoon active dry yeast (less than a 1/4-oz package)
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105-115°F)
4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeño, including seeds and ribs, plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh jalapeño, without seeds and ribs (from 3 medium total)
5 oz coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 cup)
1 large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Special equipment: a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment

Stir together yeast and 1 tablespoon warm water in a small bowl; let mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If it doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Mix together flour, salt, oil, yeast mixture, and remaining 1x cups warm water in bowl of mixer at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more. Add jalapeño, 1 1/2 cups Cheddar, and 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and mix until combined.

Scrape dough down side of bowl (all around) into center, then sprinkle lightly with flour. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) to keep a crust from forming and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.)

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and gently form into a roughly 11- by 8-inch rectangle with floured hands.

Fold dough in thirds (like a letter) with floured hands (dough will be sticky), pressing along seam of each fold to seal.

Put dough, seam side down, in an oiled 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Cover pan with same clean kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough completely fills pan and rises above it slightly, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Brush loaf with egg, then sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Cheddar and remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano down center of loaf.

Bake until bread is golden and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen loaf, then remove from pan to test for doneness.

Return bread (not in pan) to oven and turn on its side, then bake 10 minutes more to crisp crust. Cool completely on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Yield: 1 loaf

Our bread:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Banh Mi Chay

Tonight for dinner we had a vegetarian Banh Mi. A banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich. You can read more about its origins here. According to Wikipedia, our version is called a Banh Mi Chay, which means it involves tofu. I based our sandwich on this recipe from for Banh Mi Thit Hoi An, aka a sandwich with pork in the style of Hoi An (a fishing village in central Vietnam). Maybe that means ours is now called Banh Mi Chay Hoi An? I have no idea. I am not Vietnamese.

Regardless of its name, the sandwich was delicious. I've never made anything Vietnamese before, and it was my first time using five-spice powder. I was intrigued though because we always like things that involve our Sriracha sauce. Yum yum. I followed the original recipe (linked above) except that I used tofu instead of the meat. I also used dried basil in place of fresh, because that is what I do. We really liked this a lot and would make it again.

Here is my recipe, adapted from

Banh Mi Chay

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice (or 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and anise seeds)
1 tablespoon salad oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 block of tofu, drained and pressed, and cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 baguettes (8 oz. each)
About 2 tablespoons Asian red chili paste or sauce
2 cups thinly sliced English cucumbers
3 cups salad mix, rinsed and crisped
1/2 cup fresh Thai or regular basil leaves, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1. In an 8- to 10-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, stir five-spice until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in oil, shallots, and garlic. Add tofu and stir often until tofu is browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Add soy sauce, sugar, and salt to taste.

2. Cut baguettes in half crosswise, then split lengthwise almost all the way through, leaving halves attached at one side. Spread about 1 teaspoon chili paste on one cut side of each baguette section. Spoon the warm tofu mixture over chili paste, dividing equally between each baguette section. Set sandwiches slightly apart on a 12- by 15-inch baking sheet.

3. Bake in a 375° regular or convection oven just until filling is warm and crust is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove sandwiches from oven and fill each with 1/6 of the cucumbers, salad mix, and basil. Add more chili paste and salt to taste.

Yield: 6 servings

Photo added retroactively on February 6, 2008:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Moroccan Vegetables

Tonight's dinner comes to us from page 115 of Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking. It's not really anything more than vegetables and raisins (and, in my variation, pine nuts) sauteed with some garlic and curry powder and served over couscous. Very simple, and it took about 15 minutes from start to finish. It was very tasty indeed, especially since I used some exceptionally juicy raisins (TJ's Chilean Flame Raisins). We liked it a lot. I'm not sure if I would make it again, but I probably will since it was so quick and produced such a tasty result.

Moroccan Vegetables
You can use 1 1/2 tsp of curry powder in place of the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and pepper. there are two types of commercial curry powder available: standard and a hotter version knon as "Madras."

2 tsp vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, sliced (1 cup)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced (1 cup)
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Hot cooked couscous or rice, if desired

1. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in oil about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients except parsley and couscous. cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until zucchini is tender. sprinkle with parsley. Serve over couscous.

Yield: 4 servings

Photo added retroactively on February 2, 2008:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Vodka Cream Pasta

As any long-term reader of my blog is aware, I despise Rachael Ray and wish death upon her. However, I decided to use her recipe that she so idiotically entitled "You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta." I've shortened the title to Vodka Cream Pasta for my own sanity.

The recipe is extremely quick and easy, which is excellent. It's very tasty as well. We had it with some whole-wheat spaghetti and whole grain rolls (Pepperidge Farm Artisanal breads are delicious AND healthy!). We agreed it would definitely be a make again. I would also make this in bulk and freeze it for days when we don't have time to cook (which, from the looks of next year's graduate school schedule, will be quite often).

Vodka Cream Pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn (Note: I used dried, as usual)

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Yield: 4 servings

Photo added retroactively on February 24, 2008:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mango Ginger Tofu

This is another recipe I found on The Post-Punk Kitchen vegan website. I was hoping it would be similar to a mango tofu dish I ate a long time ago at a restaurant called Wild Ginger in downtown Ridgefield, CT. Unfortunately, it was not similar. However, it was very tasty. We had it with some basmati rice. We're undecided as to whether we would make it again, but there are no leftovers, so that is a good sign.

Mango Ginger Tofu
2 9x13 baking pans or 1 huge baking pan
a blender
medium sauce pot with a cover that fits

Ingredients for the marinade:
3 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons peanut oil or veg oil
2 large mangos, roughly chopped (note: you will need one more mango when cooking the tofu, see below)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup white cooking wine (or vegetable broth)
fresh black pepper to taste
dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoon rice vinegar (use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar if you dont have rice)
juice of two limes
1 cup orange juice

Ingredients for the tofu:
2 blocks tofu extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 mango, sliced in long thin slices
1 red pepper, seeded and cut in long thin slices

Make the marinade
In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil, add garlic, ginger and jalepeno, saute on medium heat 7 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add 2 chopped mangos and saute 5 minutes

Add pure maple syrup and wine, cover and simmer 35 minutes; Uncover and simmer 5 more minutes.

Add orange juice, vinegar, lime, black pepper, allspice and salt; Add mixture to blender, puree until smooth.

Prepare the tofu
Cut tofu blocks into 8 slabs each. Place tofu in marinade in a sealable plastic bag or tupperware. Marinate in the fridge for an hour and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375

Reserve about half of the marinate. Lay marinated tofu in a single layer in baking pan. Cook for 20 minutes. Flip tofu over and add more marinade. Dredge peppers and sliced mangos in marinade and add them to pan. Cook another 15 minutes.

Heat up remaining marinade in a sauce pan and put in a bowl on the table (or floor, where ever you're eating) so guests (or room mates, or who ever is eating) can pour it over the tofu. Serve over jasmine rice, with a steamed vegetable, such as aspararus or broccoli.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Day!

Today for St. Patrick's Day I decided to have a lovely vegetarian dinner to celebrate. Growing up I always enjoyed my mom's corned beef & cabbage, but I don't eat meat now so I've had to adapt. This was our menu.

First I found a recipe for Potato and Cabbage Bundles from the March 2004 issue of Gourmet. It was definitely tasty but was quite time consuming. I didn't have a muffin tin with big cups, so I made mini-bundles. This worked out well. I would make these again for a special occasion but won't make them on a regular day since it takes so long. We really enjoyed them though.

Of course we had to have some Irish soda bread, so I made the same recipe I made last year for Brown Butter Soda Bread. It still remains my favorite recipe for soda bread. I will probably make this every year.

To round out the meal we had some Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash from an issue of Cooking Light. The recipe was very easy and simple, and we enjoyed it. I'd use real maple syrup next time though, instead of my Mrs. Butterworths.

And finally, for dessert, we had some Irish Cream Brownies from the October 2006 issue of Cooking Light. These were delicious!! You can taste the Bailey's Irish Cream in it, but it's not overpowering. The recipe is so easy to make, and they are not too cakey like most CL brownie variations tend to be. I did use 2 regular eggs instead of the egg substitute, which may be why it turned out less cakey. I will definitely make these again.


Potato & Cabbage Bundles

1 medium onion, halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise (1 cup)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large head leafy green cabbage (3 lb)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup water
2 lb large boiling potatoes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
3 oz extra-sharp white Cheddar, coarsely grated (1 cup)
2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs from a country-style loaf

Special equipment: a nonstick muffin tin with 6 (1-cup) muffin cups; 12 (10- by 2-inch) strips of parchment paper

Cook onion in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes.

Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Discard any discolored or damaged tough outer leaves from cabbage, then core cabbage and carefully lower into boiling water using a slotted spoon.

Boil cabbage, pulling off 6 large leaves (to be used as decorative wrappers and eaten if desired) with tongs as they soften and leaving them with remaining cabbage, 5 minutes. Transfer large leaves to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Transfer remaining cabbage to a colander to drain. Transfer large leaves to paper towels to drain, then pat dry.

Lightly butter muffin cups, then put 2 parchment strips in a crisscross pattern in each cup. (You will have a 2-inch overhang.) Line each cup with a large cabbage leaf. Coarsely chop enough remaining cabbage to measure 3 cups, then add to onion along with garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and water and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender and browned, about 10 minutes.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes, then cover with cold salted water by 1 inch in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then set potatoes in colander over saucepan to steam-dry, uncovered, 5 minutes. Mash potatoes in a large bowl, then stir in buttermilk, cheese, horseradish, 1/2 stick butter, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until combined well.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook bread crumbs, stirring frequently, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Fill each cabbage leaf with about 1/2 cup potato mixture, then divide cabbage mixture among leaves. Top with remaining potato mixture, then sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Fold edges of cabbage in toward filling (do not completely cover).

Bake until heated through and edges of cabbage are well browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Transfer stuffed leaves to plates using parchment overhangs.

Cooks' note:
Stuffed cabbage leaves can be assembled, but not baked, 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash
6 acorn squash (about 1 pound each)
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°.

Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes. Cut each half crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices; peel. Combine syrup, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring well. Add squash; toss to coat.

Place squash in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until tender, stirring every 10 minutes.

Yield: 9 servings

Irish Cream Brownies
For truly fudgy treats, be sure to cook the brownies until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. If you wait until the pick is clean, the brownies will be overcooked. Garnish the plate with a sprig of mint.

1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Place the chocolate chips and the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until the chocolate chips and butter melt, stirring every 30 seconds. Cool slightly. Add sugar and next 3 ingredients (through vanilla extract), stirring well with a whisk. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until sugar dissolves, stirring every 30 seconds. Fold in the flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spread batter in a thin layer into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 16 brownies

Last Night's Dinner

Last night Blogspot was down so I couldn't update about our delicious and quick meal! We made Sweet Corn and Hominy Quesadillas, with a side of Black Beans with Chipotle and Tomatoes. Both were delicious and both are make-agains!

I was nervous about the quesadillas because I had no idea what hominy was or what it would taste like. But we were adventurous and explored the world that is Hominy. It turns out it looks like weird, white, fluffy corn kernels and has the consistency of a bean. But they are actually really good!!! The hominy was especially yummy in the quesadilla, mixed with corn and cheese and stuff. We were very surprised and pleased.

The black beans were also delicious and extremely easy to prepare. I would make them again as a taco filling or serve it over rice, as the recipe note suggested.

Sweet Corn & Hominy Quesadillas
from Cooking Light, March 2006
This quesadilla has plenty of cheese and vegetables, so eat it with a knife and fork.

1 (10-ounce) package frozen cream-style corn, thawed
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1 (15.5-ounce) can white hominy, rinsed and drained
6 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles
Cooking spray

Spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons corn over each of 6 tortillas. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over each; top each with 1/4 cup hominy, 1 tablespoon onions, 2 teaspoons cilantro, 1 teaspoon chiles, and 1 tortilla. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until tortillas are lightly browned. Set aside, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.

Yield: 6 servings

Black Beans with Chipotle and Tomatoes
Posted on the CLBB
Originally from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

1 Tablespoon Safflower Oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
Basic Black Beans, or 28 ounce can rinsed
1 teaspoon chipotle chile in adobo sauce or ground chipotle chile to taste
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 cilantro sprigs
For Garnish: crumbled feta cheese, chopped cilantro, and diced serrano or jalepeno chile

Heat the oil in a roomy skillet or saucepan over fairly high heat. Add onoin and saute until soft. Add beans, chiles, tomatoes, and cilantro, lower the heat, and simmer for 15-30 minutes. If the beans are dry add 1 cup or so of water. Taste for salt. Garnish and serve.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sesame Noodles with Napa Cabbage

This recipe was apparently adapted from a recipe in Vegetarian Times, but I found it posted on Desert Culinary, my favorite food blog. This recipe seemed super-simple and quick, and it was indeed. However, it was also incredibly delicious and Gibby and I are both big fans of it. We think it would be good even with other ingredients added in, like tofu. It's kind of similar to the Fettuccine and Tofu with Peanut Sauce I've made before, but is different and delicious in its own way. We will definitely make this again.

Sesame Noodles with Napa Cabbage
10 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups shredded napa cabbage
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to the directions on the package.

In a small saucepan, whisk together peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar and crushed red pepper. Warm sauce over medium-low heat while you wait for the noodles to cook.

Place cabbage in a colander in the sink - when the noodles are ready, drain them over the cabbage so the hot water can wilt the cabbage.

Place the noodles and cabbage in a large bowl, add warmed peanut sauce and toss well to coat. Sprinkle each plate with a portion of the chopped cilantro before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chipotle Cheddar Chard Quesadillas

This recipe from Eating Well is technically a side dish, but a note along with the recipe suggested using it as a quesadilla filling. So that is exactly what we did! I made the chard and then piled it between chili-flavored tortillas from Trader Joe's. Then I toasted them in a skillet for a couple minutes on each side, and voila! We had them topped with sour cream, and served with TJ's Spanish rice.

Our reactions were mixed. We both thought they were very good, but he was a little turned off by the dominance of the chard. He still liked them, but we decided we probably won't make it again. And I would never make it as a side dish - it just doesn't seem like it would be a good side dish. It belongs in a quesadilla!

Chipotle Cheddar Chard Quesadillas
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 pound chard, stems and leaves separated, chopped (see Note)
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and chard stems and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomato, broth (or water), chipotle to taste and salt; bring to a simmer. Add chard leaves and cook, covered, stirring once, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Scatter cheese evenly over the chard and cook, uncovered, until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Veggie Nachos

Tonight we made Veggie Nachos. The recipe came from Bon Appetit, but technically it's another of those non-recipe recipes. We subbed sliced jalapenos for green chiles and Mexican-blend cheese instead of Monterey Jack. And, instead of using regular nacho chips, we took an idea from this post on DesertCulinary and used Tostitos Scoops to make little individual nachos. It was awesome. They were really good. We will make these again, definitely.

Veggie Nachos

16 baked (no oil) tortilla chips (about 1 ounce)
1 1/2 ounces reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/3 cup drained rinsed black beans
1/3 cup drained Mexican-style canned corn kernels
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 large plum tomato, seeded, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 generous tablespoon canned mild green chilies
3 tablespoons purchased chunky mild salsa

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange tortilla chips closely together on ovenproof plate. Combine 1/3 of cheese, beans, corn, cilantro, tomato, green onion and chilies in medium bowl. Add salsa and toss to distribute evenly. Spoon vegetable mixture over chips. Sprinkle remaining cheese over. Bake until heated through and cheeses on top is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 serving

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Crunchy Shrimp with Toasted Couscous and Ginger-Orange Sauce

Tonight for dinner I thought we'd make this award-winning recipe from Cooking Light's Jan/Feb 2006 issue. It was going to be a simple, fun dinner but it turned out to be stressful because we'd already had a series of disasters in the house (the washing machine broke and nearly ruined all of our clothes; I am still drying them 9 hours later). Then while I was making dinner I ruined the sauce so I had to re-do it, I spilled panko crumbs into the burners on the stove, and our shrimp did not look too happy.

Changes made: veggie broth instead of chicken broth, small shrimp instead of jumbo, and omitted the watercress.

However! The recipe was really good. The sauce, despite my efforts, disappeared and was completely unnoticeable. Maybe I did something wrong the second time too? I don't know. But the shrimp were yummy. We like panko. And the couscous was fantastic. I loved the combination of orange, almond, and green onions. It was very tasty. I would make this again, but on a day when I am not already so spastic and flustered!

Crunchy Shrimp with Toasted Couscous and Ginger-Orange Sauce

1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

20 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 3/4 pound)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups trimmed watercress

To prepare sauce, bring 1 cup orange juice to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat; cool completely. Stir in 1 tablespoon cilantro and next 7 ingredients (through red pepper); set aside.

To prepare couscous, place couscous in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring constantly. Add 1 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; add onions, almonds, and butter, stirring until butter melts. Keep warm.

To prepare shrimp, combine shrimp and egg white in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Combine the panko, 1 teaspoon cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and black pepper in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp to the bag, and seal and shake to coat.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; arrange shrimp in a single layer in pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.

Place 3/4 cup couscous on each of 4 plates; top each with 1/2 cup watercress and 5 shrimp. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Picture added April 4, 2009:

Gibby's Birthday Cake

Yesterday he turned 21, and I celebrated by baking him this cake. It has a lot of components and was time consuming (it has to be started the day before), but wow it was worth it! We took it over to his grandmother's house in DC for birthday dinner and stuff. His mom, who doesn't eat sugar, even ate a bite and liked it! Yay! This was a great cake - not healthy at all though - and I would definitely highly recommend it to others.

I didn't really make any changes, other than using creamy peanut butter versus chunky, and using like a million more Butterfingers than were called for. We have a ton left over and I have no idea how we will eat it all. :)

from Bon Appetit, March 2005

2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup old-fashioned (natural) chunky peanut butter

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup old-fashioned (natural) chunky peanut butter
1 pound golden brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Butterfinger candy bars, coarsely chopped
Glazed peanuts

For filling:
Bring cream and sugar to simmer in saucepan, whisking to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in peanut butter. Chill uncovered overnight.

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions.

Divide batter among pans and spread evenly. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes 5 minutes. Turn out onto racks; peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Whisk whipping cream and 3/4 cup powdered sugar in bowl until mixture holds medium-firm peaks. Fold into cream cheese mixture in 3 additions; chill until firm but spreadable, about 1 hour.

Place 1 cake layer, bottom side up, on 9-inch tart pan bottom. Spread with half of filling. Place another layer, bottom side up, on work surface. Spread with remaining filling; place atop first layer. Top with remaining cake layer, bottom side up.

Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.) Press candy and peanuts onto top of cake.

Yield: 12 servings

Picture of our cake:

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Smoked Cheese

I got home late from class but still felt like cooking, so I went ahead and threw together this dish from the May 2001 issue of Cooking Light. We used mini-shells instead of orecchiette, and I substituted baby broccoli for broccoli rabe. I'm fully aware that rabe is a green, more like kale or spinach than actual broccoli, but the baby broccoli just looked so appealing at the grocery store. And it turned out to be a good choice. It worked well in this dish. I enjoyed the simplicity and quickness of the meal, and it was tasty. I am not sure if we would make it again but it was very good. Always a fan of the smoked cheese. :) I am taking the rest of it for lunch tomorrow.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Smoked Cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped broccoli rabe
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups hot cooked orecchiette (about 8 ounces uncooked small ear-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella or smoked gouda cheese

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown. Stir in broccoli rabe; cook for 1 minute. Add broth and salt; cover and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in pasta and cheese. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Red Lentil-Chickpea Burgers

This recipe was reviewed very highly on the CLBB. It was originally from a cookbook called The Healthy Hedonist, which I might need to consider purchasing! I have been looking for a way to use up the rest of the bag of red lentils that I'd bought for the Curried Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew a long time ago, so this seemed like a good recipe to use them up.

I didn't make any changes to the recipe, though I did heed two pieces of advice that were posted on the boards along with the recipe, which were: mash the chickpeas a little bit before adding the lentils, and cook the patties for longer than 4 minutes because they won't cook through that quickly.

I LOVED this recipe!!! The peanut sauce is phenomenal and really makes the dish. It is a time consuming recipe, but it's worth it because it's so tasty. I will definitely try to make this again.

Red Lentil-Chickpea Burgers

3/4 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 3/4 cups water
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for sautéing
1/2 cup minced shallots
3/4 pound carrots, cut into small dice (1 cup)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
6 whole wheat pita breads
Shredded romaine lettuce
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

Combine the lentils and the water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. The lentils should lose their individual shape and cook into one mass. Cook them as dry as possible as they can go without sticking. Stir the cooked lentils with a spoon to break them up, and pour them into a medium bowl. Stir in the chickpeas.

Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, carrots, and 1/4 tsp salt, and cook until the carrots are tender, about 3 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, and peas, and cook until the peas are tender, 2 minutes. Stir the vegetables into the lentils along with the parsley, lemon juice, and cayenne. Stir in the bread crumbs. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or until it is cool enought to handle.

Using your hands, form the lentils into 6 tight patties and place them on a plate. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until very firm, at least 30 minutes.

Sauté the burgers: Warm a Tbsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers (these burgers are a bit delicate so do not crowd the pan). Sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn the burgers over and sauté on the other side until golden, 2 minutes. Serve each burger in a pita with Spicy Peanut Sauce, topped with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Yield: 6 burgers

Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes 3/4 cup

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions or chives

Combine everything except the scallions in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the scallions. Store covered and refrigerated.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Stuffed Red Peppers

Usually I try to avoid vegan recipes because I associate veganism with the icky version of vegetarianism (i.e. lack of flavor, weird texture, and no cheese). However, I was referred to this website, The Post Punk Kitchen and was intrigued. It has a lot of palatable-sounding vegan recipes. I found this recipe for stuffed red peppers, which was highly rated and sounded good. Obviously I cheated and used real Parmesan cheese, but otherwise I stuck to the recipe. It was pretty good! We liked the use of greens and soy crumbles and pine nuts in the filling. I'm undecided as to whether I would make it again. I probably would because it was fairly quick to get together and had a yummy result.

Of note is that the recipe didn't include a baking time or degree. I baked it at 300 degrees for 45 minutes, which worked out well. You could probably up it to 350 for 35 minutes or so and have similar results. Who knows. Play around and let me know what happens.

Stuffed Red Peppers
1 non-stick sauce pan
1 non-stick baking dish- 9x13

Boca Crumbles - 2 pouches ( each box comes with 3)
4 medium red peppers- cut top off, remove seeds
2 bunches Swiss Chard - chopped, disgard hard stems
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup vegan parmesan/romano "cheese" shreds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 jar marinara sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick sauce pan at medium-high heat. Saute the garlic until soft, add crushed red pepper. Add chopped Swiss chard, saute until wilted. Add 2 packs of the Boca crumbles along with one cup of marinara sauce. Heat through, approx 5 mins and remove from stove. Toast pine nuts for 3 minutes @ 300 degrees. Add the lightly toasted pine nuts. Put 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom a baking dish, divide the Swiss chard/Boca crumble mixture equally among the 4 red peppers, filling them completely. Top each stuffed pepper with 1/8th cup of the vegan "cheese", spoon additional marinara sauce over the peppers and bake until the peppers are soft. Any remaining sauce can be heated and served with the stuffed peppers if desired. May be served over pasta with a tossed green salad.

Yield: 4 servings