Sunday, July 29, 2007

Spicy Grilled Romaine Salad Pizza

...Or something like that. Follow me on this. All the links lead to other posts I made with the individual recipes for each component.

I decided I wanted to make pizza for dinner. A fancy pizza. I started with the recipe for Figs Pizza Dough. I have eaten at Figs before, and their pizza is fantastic. So I decided to make the dough from there. OK. What would go on it?

Continuing with my Todd English obsession (he is the executive chef for the Figs chain), I decided to try his Pizza Bianco. Simple white pizza (I don't like pizza sauce very much), topped with mozzarella rounds and a salad. OK, sounds good. But wait, what did he write in the authors' note? It's not traditional, but what's really great on top is a Caesar salad. Oh my goodness. Of course!

But since I'm Lauren, I didn't decide on just any Caesar salad. Instead, I chose a recipe by Mr. English's friend Bobby Flay for Grilled Romaine with Spicy Caesar Dressing. This would be fantastic on its own, but I decided to put it on the pizza instead of Todd English's Pizza Bianco salad.

I won! It was the best pizza ever. Despite my troubles with the pizza dough (which I will continue to make and eventually will master), the pizzas turned out amazing. We had no complaints, other than that they had to be eaten with a fork and knife, and that I have no idea how to clean my pizza stone. All three are definite make-agains!!!!

Grilled Romaine with Spicy Caesar Dressing

I omitted the anchovies and just added some extra salt. Even with halving the dressing recipe, it still yielded a huge amount of dressing. We loved this recipe and would eat it plain as a salad. I bet it would be great with some grilled shrimp.

Also refer to this post to see how I used it as a pizza topping.

Grilled Romaine with Spicy Caesar Dressing
Bobby Flay (from his TV show "Boy Meets Grill")

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 small red onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves roasted garlic
3 anchovies
1 chipotle in adobo
2 dashes hot sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for brushing on the romaine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus shaved Parmesan, for garnish
1 large head romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, cut in half from tip to root

Place mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, vinegar, onion, garlic, anchovies, chipotle, hot sauce, honey and salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified. Add the Parmesan and blend a few seconds longer.
Heat grill to high.

Brush romaine with oil and season with salt and pepper; place on the grill cut-side down and grill for 30 to 40 seconds or until slightly charred. Arrange lettuce on large platter, drizzle with the dressing and garnish with shaved Parmesan.

Pizza Bianco

I used this recipe as a starting point and modified it. You can see my changes here.

Pizza Bianco
From Todd English

If you want to test the true quality of a crust, make a Pizza Bianco. If you are feeling creative, make up you own salad. It's not traditional, but what's really great on top is a Caesar salad.

I wish I could say I invented this, but it has been popular in parts of Italy for years If you are going to make the salad with arugala, buy the best organic greens you can find; it will have an even more intense peppery quality.

Be careful not to overdo the caramelized onions and be sure you use all the oil. The onions need to get between the oil and the cheese, or the pizza will burn easily.

2 pizza rounds (see 'Figs Pizza Dough')
Cornmeal for sprinkling
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches black pepper
3 cups arugula (2 to 3 bunches), well washed and torn apart
4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 slices mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup caramelized onions

• One hour prior to cooking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees.

• Roll out 1 pizza dough as thinly as possible. Place it on a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover the surface with 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1 pinch each salt and pepper. Be sure to leave an outer lip of 1 inch all the way around.

• Place the arugula, tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, and 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese in a bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.

• Evenly distribute 3 slices of mozzarella cheese on the pizza. It is not necessary to cover the bottom completely Top with 1/4 cup caramelized onions and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese.

• Shake the paddle lightly and slide the pizza onto the baking stone. Bake until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes. Evenly distribute half the reserved arugula salad on the pizza, transfer to a firm surface, and cut into slices.

• Serve immediately.

• Repeat with the remaining dough.

Figs' Pizza Dough

I followed the directions as well as I could, but the dough is very, very sticky. You need a lot of extra flour when you're rolling the dough. But it turned out amazing. We will use this as our standard homemade pizza dough from now on.

Refer to this post to see how I used it.

Figs' Pizza Dough
The Figs Table by Todd English

With a little bit of time and effort, Figs pizza dough can easily be mastered. However, if you dont have the time or are intimidated by working with yeast, call your local pizza place and see if they'll sell you some of their dough. In some areas you can buy refrigerated dough (not the kind in a tube); this would also work well. If you use a heavy, bready, prebaked, vacuum-packed pizza crust, it just wont be the same. Our dough is far wetter than you'd ever believe; it makes a light, crisp crust. It may take you a few tries before you get it right. Be patient and err on the side of underworking the dough; if you overwork it, the crust will be tough and dry. This recipe makes four rounds of pizza, though the topping recipes make 2 pizzas. We figure that this way you only have to make the dough every other time. Simply wrap the remaining two balls of dough in plastic wrap and freeze for up to two weeks.

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
2 tsp ( 1/4 ounce) fresh yeast
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp olive oil
1 2/3 cup lukewarm water

1 Place the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. While the mixer is running, gradually add the oil and water. Knead on low speed until the dough is firm and smooth, about 10 minutes.

2 Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 7 1/2 ounces each. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place 2 balls on a sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let them rise in a warm spot until they have doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

3 To roll out the dough: Dab your fingers in flour and then place 1 ball on a generously floured work surface and press down in the center with the tips of your fingers, spreading the dough with your hand. When the dough has doubled in width, use a floured rolling pin and roll out until it is very thin, like flat bread. The outer border should be a little thicker than the inner circle. Pick the dough up with a spatula or the back of a knife, allowing it to fold up almost like an umbrella, and transfer it to a paddle. Don't worry that the pizza is not round; you are looking for an 8- to 10-inch shape, a cross between an oval and a rectangle. If you get a hole, pinch the edges back together. Repeat with the remaining balls.

Yield: dough for 4 individual pizzas

Maple Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Blondies

I have two versions of this same recipe, which originated from Whole Foods. One is from the CLBB, and one is from DesertCulinary. I decided to print out and follow the one from DesertCulinary since the changes appeared to be minor.

Except the cooking time.

The original recipe said to bake for 50-60 minutes. The DesertCulinary version said 25-35 minutes. We baked our cookies for a total of 45 minutes and the middle was still very jiggly, though the sides were done and browned. We figured since we'd already cooked it for 20 minutes more than the recipe said, we should just take it out and let it cool and maybe it would solidify. It kind of did, but not really. I wish I'd realized the cooking times were different (though the rest of the recipe is exactly the same).

So we don't have bar cookies, but we do have a dessert-y type cookie thing. It has to be eaten with a fork, but it's absolutely amazing. I will definitely make these again - I will just cook them for a longer time!!

Maple Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Blondies
Originally from Whole Foods

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract (Note: I used Mrs. Butterworth's because I couldn't find extract)
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined. Mix in the maple extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined. Fold in the butterscotch chips and toasted macadamias.

Scoop the batter into a 9" baking pan coated with nonstick spray - use an off-set spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick placed near the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Siam Stir-Fry Wraps

On first look, this recipe is very similar to Stir-Fried Moo Shu Vegetable Wraps. They both involve coleslaw mix, they both have Asian flavors, and they're both in tortillas. However, while the Moo Shu wraps have a distinctly Chinese flavor, these Siam Stir-Fry Wraps have a Siam flavor.

I did not know where Siam was or what a Siam flavor would be, so I Wiki-ed it and discovered that it used to be the name for Thailand. Or is a city in Thailand. Something Thai. Regardless, this recipe has those flavors - Madras curry powder, sriracha sauce, ginger, lime juice, yum! Though it's similar to the other recipe, it's very good in its own right and will likely be made again.

Siam Stir-Fry Wraps
CL Annual Cookbook: 1999

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16-ounce) bag cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw mix
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 (12.3-ounce) package reduced fat extra-firm tofu, diced
1 (3.75-ounce) package uncooked bean threads (cellophane noodles)
4 curly leaf lettuce leaves
4 (10-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients; saute 4 minutes or until the cabbage wilts. Stir in soy sauce and next 4 ingredients; remove from heat.

2. Cook bean threads in boiling water 1 minute; drain. Place 1 lettuce leaf on each tortilla; arrange bean threads over lettuce. Place 1 1/4 cups tofu mixture over bean threads; top each with 2 tablespoons Peanut Sauce. Roll up. Cut each wrap diagonally in half. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 halves).

Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic
4 garlic cloves, minced

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Yield: 1/2 cup

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Peachy Keen Sandwiches

Another thing I've been taking for lunch this week is a Peachy Keen Sandwich. This is not really a recipe so much as just a small list of sandwich ingredients, but I read about it in KraftFoods magazine. It has been very yummy and easily transportable. I just may continue to take these for lunches.

Peachy Keen Sandwiches
1 peach, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp raspberry jam
1/4 cup Philadelphia cream cheese spread
4 slices honey wheat bread

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chickpea and Hearts of Palm Salad

For dinners for this week, I made myself this salad from the August 2005 issue of Cooking Light. I have always liked hearts of palm because they kind of taste like baby corn, which I love. The salad came together quickly on Sunday night and has held up well in my tupperware as I take it with me to work and class. I would make this again.

Chickpea and Hearts of Palm Salad

1 cup drained canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) diced provolone cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.

Combine parsley, vinegar, and oil, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad; toss well to combine.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thai Dragon Bowl

This was posted on the CLBB but is originally from the Rebar cookbook. I'd never heard of that cookbook before, but I may need to get it because our dinner was delicious!!!!

Let's see, I made a lot of changes, but it's a very versatile recipe (as shown by the recipe's suggested variations). I didn't use the basil, cilantro, or kaffir lime leaves (I just added extra lime juice to compensate for the latter), but I did use fresh lemongrass! Haha. I did use the coconut milk, which was an excellent choice. I used TJ's vegetable stock but I might consider making this with their sesame-ginger vegetable stock next time and save myself the step of infusing it with the ginger and lemongrass. I subbed normal sugar for the palm sugar, hoisin sauce for the fish sauce, and I added bean sprouts to our bowls. It was delicious.

Oh and P.S. I halved the recipe for two servings, but it made more like 6 even cut in half. It made a LOT of food!!

Thai Dragon Bowl
with rice noodles, vegetables, and red curry-coconut broth

8 cups (2 L) asian or vegetable stock
3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and minced
3 tablespoons 945 mL)minced ginger or galangal
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) red curry paste
1 oz (30 g) palm sugar
3 tablespoons 945 mL) soy sauce
1/4 cup (60 mL) fish sauce
1 cup (240 mL) coconut milk (optional)
juice of 1 lime
1/3 lb (150 g) rice noodles, medium width
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut in small cubes
4 kaffir lime leaves, stems removed & finely shredded
6 oz (180g) snow peas, trimmed
1 bunch scallions, minced
4 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup (60 mL) minced cilantro
1/2 cup (120mL) thai basil leaves, torn
sambal oelek, on the side

1. Heat the stock ot a simmer and add the minced lemongrass, ginger and garlic; simmer 15 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve to remove to remove the solids and return the liquid to the pot.

2. Stir curry paste, sugar, soy and fish sauces into the broth and simmer 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, if using, and lime juice. Taste and correct the seasoning to your liking.

3. While the broth is simmering, add the rice noodles, tofu, and kaffir lime leaves; cook until the noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Halfway through this time, add the snow peas, When the noodles are cooked, add all of the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately in large bowls with lime wedges, sambal oelek, fish and soy sauce on the side.

dragon bowl additions
*replace thai basil with fresh mint
*add chopped bok choy or baby bok choy leaves
*top with a stack of bean sprouts
*replace red with home-made green curry paste
*sprinkle with finely sliced thai bird chile rounds
*add sliced oyster or shiitake mushrooms
*garnish with fried shallots, garlic, or lotus root rounds
*add whole prawns or scallops

Yield: 4 servings

Strawberry Muffins

I took a break from Harry Potter to make these simple, delicious muffins from Southern Living magazine. They are SO easy to make. I used up some of the strawberries we'd picked and frozen a month or two ago. We did not bother with the strawberry butter. The muffins are very yummy and I would definitely make them again.

Strawberry Muffins

1 (10-ounce) package frozen sliced strawberries, thawed and undrained
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Strawberry Butter (recipe follows)

Reserve 2 tablespoons sliced strawberries for Strawberry Butter.

Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Stir together remaining strawberries, milk, eggs, and oil until blended; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Remove from pans immediately, and serve with Strawberry Butter.

Strawberry Butter:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons reserved strawberries

Stir together butter and reserved strawberries until well blended.

Yield: 14 muffins

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Seared Sea Scallops with Mango-Melon Salsa

I found this recipe this morning so I decided to make it tonight. We got the scallops at the ill-fated Bloom, and much to our chagrin (yet not to our surprise), the scallops turned out not to be great quality at all. We proceeded with the recipe, but it was just awful. The scallops were cooked perfectly (yay for us! we've never cooked them before!), but they just had a horrible fishy flavor. I'm positive scallops are not supposed to taste the way these did. We tossed the whole thing. We did eat some of the leftover salsa with chips though, because it was quite delicious. I would try this again, but obviously with higher quality seafood. This was definitely an error on my part, for not knowing that I was buying crappy scallops.

Seared Sea Scallops with Mango-melon Salsa
Posted on CLBB, originally posted on Jaden's Steamy Kitchen

Use as much chili powder as you want - I love the tingling sensation after the initial sweetness of the fruit. If you don’t care for spice, use a pinch of smoked paprika instead. Mint is so refreshing. Make sure you use fresh mint leaves, the dried flakes won’t do. You can substitute with fresh basil, parsley or cilantro. The Mango-Melon Salsa is also great with tortilla chips, as a topping to grilled chicken, to serve alongside your favorite fish or shrimp skewers.

20 large, dry-packed scallops, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated powder-fine with rasp grater

Mango-Melon Salsa
¾ cup finely diced mango (1 mango should do)
½ cup finely diced cantaloupe
¼ cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons finely minced mint leaves
big pinch of chili powder (or substitute smoked paprika)
½ lime, squeezed
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Assemble the salsa and set aside to let the flavors meld and mingle while you prepare the scallops.

2. Tap the top and bottom of each scallop gently on the parmesan cheese, shake excess off. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the scallops. Make sure the scallops do not touch each other. Fry 2 minutes on each side, timing depends on size of your scallops. They should have a golden brown crust. If you take a peek in the interior, they should be rare-ish. They’ll finish cooking on their own from residual heat after you remove them from the pan. Overcooked scallops are a sin!

Yield: 4 servings


We've been splitting our grocery shopping between Trader Joe's and Bloom in Montgomery Village, MD. For anyone in our area, I would advise you to NOT SHOP AT BLOOM. We've been regulars there since February, but have consistently been treated like crap. I've complained several times about various things, and every time, they have been hostile and rude to me. Today was the final straw and we will not be shopping there again. I would advise anyone who shops at Bloom in this location to find somewhere else to shop, lest you be subjected to the treatment we received.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kung Pao Tofu Rice Salad

I am very tired because I woke up very early to register for Fall classes, so bear with me.

I made this for lunch AND dinner yesterday (and will do so again on Thursday). It was very good and quick to assemble in the morning. I used organic baked Thai tofu from Trader Joe's, which was a good choice since it was spicy. It held up well to being eaten cold, and it traveled well.

Kung Pao Tofu Rice Salad
From a post on the CLBB

To save on cleanup, microwave the rice in the same container in which you will store your lunch. Carry the dressing in a separate container, and stir it in right before you eat. Packaged grilled tofu can be found in most supermarkets in the refrigerated case along with the other soy and organic products.

1 cup water
1/2 cup instant brown rice
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced bok choy
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 ounces packaged grilled tofu, cut into (1/2-inch) cubes (such as Marjon; about 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
1/8 teaspoon salt

To prepare salad, combine 1 cup water and rice in a medium microwave-safe bowl; cover. Microwave at high 4 minutes. Microwave at medium 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Let cool to room temperature. Add carrot and next 4 ingredients (through tofu); toss gently to combine.

To prepare dressing, combine vinegar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Add dressing to salad; toss gently to combine.

Yield: 1 serving

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sweet Potato Samosas

For my last fancy cooking adventure before the seven week summer course begins, I chose these sweet potato samosas from the October 2006 issue of Cooking Light. This was partially because it is a time consuming recipe that I won't have a chance to make for awhile, and partially because my coworker Michelle randomly gave me some sweet potatoes last week.

The cornmeal dough is very crumbly. I had to add some extra water to the dough, and then keep my hands wet while forming the "circles." I put circles in quotations because mine in no way resembled circles. They were kind of just blobs. But they served their purpose.

The samosas looked beautiful and cooked wonderfully. The filling is very, very good - better than many samosas I have had at Indian restaurants. It's a good way to introduce someone to sweet potatoes, too. The dough encasing it is good, but we both got tired of it after awhile (it's very floury) and just started eating the filling out of them. Haha. I would definitely make this again, but I might tweak around with the dough.

Sweet Potato Samosas

3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen petite green peas
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
12 Savory Cornmeal-Whole Wheat Dough circles (recipe follows)

Combine sweet potato and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe pie plate or bowl; lightly cover with wax paper. Microwave at high 8 minutes or until tender, stirring every 3 minutes. Drain; coarsely mash sweet potato. Stir in peas.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add mustard seeds and curry powder; sauté 2 minutes. Add onion mixture, salt, and pepper to potato mixture; stir well. Cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place Savory Cornmeal-Whole Wheat Dough circles on a lightly floured surface. Spoon 1/4 cup potato mixture into center of each dough circle. Fold dough over filling; press edges together with a fork or fingers to seal. Place samosas on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pierce top of each samosa once with a fork. Bake at 425° for 19 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Savory Cornmeal-Whole Wheat Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, and garlic salt in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until combined. Add 1/2 cup water, butter, and egg; pulse 3 times or just until combined (do not form a ball). Place the dough on a lightly floured surface; knead gently 4 to 5 times. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each dough portion into a 5 1/2-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Stack the dough circles between single layers of wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent sticking; chill the dough until ready to use.

Yield: 12 samosas

Lauren's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Despite the fact that my name is in the title of these cookies, I had nothing to do with creating this recipe. I clipped it from the March 2005 issue of Cooking Light. As we all are aware, I am not good at creating recipes and therefore don't even try.

I picked this recipe because it is a little healthier than our favorite recipe (The Chewy) or than Tollhouse cookies, since it uses whole wheat flour and no butter.

They turned out pretty yummy. Definitely not as sweet as normal ones, but it was a nice change. I used regular chocolate chips, versus the hippie "grain-sweetened" ones called for in the recipe. They don't need the full 8 minutes to bake though. Our batches burned very quickly. I'd bake them for only 6 or 7 minutes, instead. I also got nowhere near 4 dozen cookies - more like 2 dozen. And my cookies are smallish. I don't know what bite-size cookie the recipe is meant to make that would create 4 dozen, but I like my cookies to be bigger than a quarter. We probably won't make these again but it was a nice change.

Lauren's Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips (such as Sunspire)
Cooking spray

Combine oil and syrup in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add sugars; stir with a whisk until well blended. Stir in vanilla and egg whites.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking soda, and salt; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, stirring until well combined. Stir in chips; cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pan 2 minutes or until firm. Remove from pan; cool on wire racks.

Yield: 4 dozen (HAH, more like 2)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bean Burritos

I saved this recipe in November 2005 when I was still subscribing to Everyday Food because it sounded like a good recipe, AND I liked the fact that it could be frozen. While the crappy 99 cent frozen burritos are good during college, I require a more delectable frozen burrito nowadays. :)

Why do I need frozen burritos? Well...beginning on Monday, I will be starting the second summer session for grad school. And my schedule is going to be horrendous for the next 7 weeks. Monday through Thursday I will have class until 9:20 PM, meaning I won't be cooking dinner on those days. And Fridays are, and always have been, Date Night, so I won't cook on those days. It's only for seven weeks though. I will still make meals on Saturdays and Sundays, and probably will update a couple times during the week if we bake cookies or if I make something to take with me to class to eat for dinner (sigh). Seven weeks.

Anyway, so these burritos are to hold us over with no home-made food. We had two of them for dinner tonight, and they are very delicious!!!! The recipe sounds very basic, but it's really good. I added a little extra cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper. Definite make again.

Bean Burritos

3/4 cup rice (brown or white)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño chile, chopped (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 box frozen corn kernels (10 ounces)
6 scallions, thinly sliced
8 burrito-size (10-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces)
Salsa and sour cream (optional)

1. Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onions, garlic, jalapeño, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. Add beans and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in scallions.

4. Heat tortillas according to package instructions; fill with rice, bean mixture, and cheese.

5. Assemble: Mound 1/4 cup rice, 3/4 cup bean mixture, and 1/4 cup cheese on one side of tortilla. Fold, and hold in sides. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos.

6. Serve immediately, with salsa and sour cream, if using, or wrap individually in plastic and freeze up to 3 months.

Yield: 8 burritos

Before wrapping individually, freeze burritos on a baking sheet so they don’t come apart in the process; then put back in freezer.

Reheating From Frozen:
1. Microwave and oven: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate; microwave on high for 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet; bake at 450° until crispy, about 10 minutes. This is our favorite quick method.

2. Oven only: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap; rewrap individually in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 450°, 40 minutes; remove foil, and bake to crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. (To reheat defrosted burritos, remove any wrapping, and bake for 10 minutes.)

3. Microwave only: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate, covered with a microwave-safe bowl, and defrost at high power for 3 to 4 minutes; uncover, and microwave on high, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sesame Asparagus

I had some leftover asparagus from the pasta primavera last night, so I used it as a side dish for the tofu tonight. I pulled the recipe from Martha Stewart Living. It was simple and tasty, but nothing mind-blowing. It did its job and we happily consumed our asparagus.

Sesame Asparagus

1 pound asparagus
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Dash of toasted sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim tough ends from asparagus spears. Set spears aside.

2. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil and half of the asparagus in a single layer.

3. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes without turning. Shake pan occasionally. Turn, and cook 3 minutes more. Asparagus should be bright green with brown spots.

4. Add 1 tablespoon shallots and half the sesame seeds, and cook, shaking the pan to toss asparagus, for 1 to 2 minutes or until shallots are transparent. Do not let them burn.

5. Add half the soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper, and cook 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate, and keep warm. Repeat with remaining asparagus. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Braised Tofu in Caramel Sauce (Tau Hu Kho)

We decided to try a new Vietnamese dish, so I picked this one from It had been highly reviewed on the CLBB, so I figured it was worth a shot. I served it with some rice and some asparagus (recipe to follow).

We liked it, but I think I should have cut the slabs of tofu thinner. When they were thin, they got crispier and absorbed more of the flavor, which was very yummy. The thicker slabs tasted like, well, tofu. It's possible that I'll make this again, and if I do, I will cut thinner pieces of tofu.

Braised Tofu in Caramel Sauce (Tau Hu Kho)

Caramelized sugar infuses the sauce with sweetness and gives it a deep mahogany shine.

1 pound firm tofu
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (including tops)
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Cut tofu into 2- by 3-inch, 1/2-inch-thick slices and pat dry.

2. Place sugar in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat; shake pan often until sugar is melted and amber colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot water (mixture will bubble vigorously) and stir over medium heat until caramelized sugar is dissolved.

3. Stir in soy sauce, shallots, ginger, and garlic; stir often over high heat until boiling. Lay tofu pieces in a single layer in sauce. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. With a wide spatula, turn pieces over; simmer until hot and coated with sauce, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

4. Transfer tofu and sauce to a serving dish and sprinkle with green onions and pepper.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pasta Primavera

I decided I wanted to make a quick meal that would use a lot of the yummy summer produce that is around, so I picked this recipe from the May 2007 issue of Cooking Light. It was pretty quick - under 30 minutes - and is very yummy. Surprisingly, in fact. I really wasn't expecting it to be very good because CL is not known for its creamy pastas. But this one was really tasty and I would definitely make it again.

Pasta Primavera

2 cups green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup (1-inch) slices asparagus (about 2 ounces)
6 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook green beans in boiling water 1 minute. Add broccoli and asparagus; cook 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl. Return water to a boil. Add pasta; cook 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and add to vegetable mixture.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onion, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper; sauté 3 minutes or until onion begins to brown. Add peas, and sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Combine half-and-half and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat to medium. Add half-and-half mixture and salt to pan; cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Pour sauce over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with basil and cheese. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

First off, I think this recipe is totally mis-titled. It in no way resembles eggplant parm, and is more of a pizza that happens to have eggplant on it. That being said, it is a very yummy pizza and we enjoyed it. We especially liked the spicy crushed red pepper on top (always a favorite on our pizza). It would be a good way to sneak vegetables to people who have trouble eating enough veggies. We will probably stick to my standard pizza (boboli with random things tossed on it), but it's fun to try new things every once in awhile. :)

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza
from Cooking Light, October 2004

cup (1/2 inch thick) slices zucchini
1 (1 lb) eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Cooking spray
1 (14 oz) Italian cheese-flavored pizza crust (such as Boboli)
1 1/2 cups fat-free marinara sauce (such as Muir Glen Organic)
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup turkey pepperoni (about 2 oz) [Note: We used veggie pepperoni]
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Place zucchini and eggplant in a single layer on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray; lightly coat eggplant and zucchini with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes on each side or until tender and lightly browned.

3. Increase oven temperature to 425°.

4. Place crust on a baking sheet. Spread marinara over crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Layer the zucchini and eggplant evenly over sauce; top with mozzarella, pepperoni, grated Parmesan, pepper and oregano. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sweet Pea Risotto with Corn Broth

Tonight's dinner was inspired by two things: Gordon Ramsey, and the fresh peas we picked a few weeks ago. The peas are obvious, and Gordon Ramsey was an inspiration because we like the show Hell's Kitchen and he is always yelling about the risotto being bad/cold/tasteless/etc.

I've wanted to make this recipe since it came out in the August 2006 issue of Cooking Light. It was very good, but took a long time to prepare. I doubt I would make it again because of the amount of time (an hour and a half!). If I did make it again, I would skip the 'dressing' because it has no purpose and adds nothing, and I'd add garlic to the risotto. I also omitted the fennel, which I would do again. It was really good. It did a great job showcasing the fresh flavors of the corn and peas. Yum!

Sweet Pea Risotto with Corn Broth

Corn Broth:
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1/2 cup diced onion
3 tablespoons minced carrot
3 tablespoons minced celery
2 cups fresh green peas
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup diced fresh fennel
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Remaining ingredients:
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

To prepare corn broth, combine 2 1/2 cups water and 2 cups corn kernels in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place corn mixture in blender; process until smooth. Strain corn mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Set aside; keep warm.

To prepare risotto, bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil); keep warm over low heat. Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add onion, carrot, and celery; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add warm broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes). Add peas, 1 cup corn kernels, fennel, 2 tablespoons cheese, and thyme, stirring until blended and hot. Keep warm.

Combine vinegar, oil, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Place about 1/3 cup corn broth in each of 6 bowls. Top each serving with about 1 1/2 cups risotto; drizzle with 1 teaspoon vinaigrette. Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon cheese, 1/2 teaspoon parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon chives. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Captain Kidd's Hawk-Crushing Shrimp Rolls

We watched a lot of The Next Food Network Star tv show on the Food Network on the 4th of July, so I went to the website to collect some recipes. Although we didn't see the episode this recipe appeared in, I thought it sounded yummy.

It is actually pretty bland and lemony. We weren't impressed at all and I felt it was a waste of shrimp. I'm wondering if Mr. Michael Salmon will be winning the Food Network competition with recipes like this one... Oh well. We won't make this again.

Captain Kidd's Hawk-Crushing Shrimp Rolls

1 (8-bun) package potato bread hot dog rolls
Crab boil (recommended: Old Bay), to taste
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 ribs celery, sliced
About 1 cup mayonnaise, to taste
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives, plus more for garnish
1 red bell pepper, diced small, divided
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon dry mustard (recommended: Coleman's)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Baby greens, for serving

Open each bun and cut in half. Lay buns out on sheet pan. Cover sheet pan with plastic wrap and lay another sheet pan on top of the buns to flatten the buns.

Bring a large pot of water to poaching temperature. Add salt, crab boil and carefully add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Once cooled, slice each shrimp in half.

In a large bowl, add the celery, mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon chives, 3/4 red bell pepper (reserve remaining for garnish), lemon juice, mustard and salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to combine.

Place the baby greens into the base of the buns. Top with the shrimp and garnish with chives and remaining red bell pepper.

Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Curried Noodle Patties

Someone gave me a link to this recipe - I think it was Laura W from Florida. It originally came from I didn't have a small round metal thing to shape the patties into a patty shape, so instead I made little noodle piles in the pan. It worked sort-of alright. Not great. But it tasted very, very yummy. We really liked the noodles and tofu mixed with the red curry paste. I probably wouldn't make the patties themselves again, but we may tweak the recipe to make a Thai pasta dish.

Curried Noodle Patties

1-2 teaspoons (red) Thai curry paste
4 eggs
6 ounces tofu, diced (roughly 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups noodles, cold
2 tablespoons sesame or olive oil
peanuts, green onions and cilantro for garnish

Smash and spread the curry paste around the bottom of a medium bowl. Add one of the eggs and stir until the curry paste is well incorporated. Whisk in the rest of the eggs. Stir in the tofu, cilantro, green onions, and salt. Add the noodles. I've found it is easiest to work the egg evenly through the noodles if you use your hands and you don't get any noodle breakage.

Heat a well-seasoned skillet over medium heat. Place 1/3 cup of the noodle mixture into egg rings or handle-less, metal biscuit cutters and cook in batches for 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden. If the little bits of tofu and onions are escaping the noodles in the mixing bowl, just toss them into the egg ring on top of the noodles, those will end up on the bottom of the patty - nice and golden. To serve, season with salt and garnish with a sprinkling of green onion, cilantro, and peanuts.

Yield: 8-12 patties

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mexican-Style Rice Casserole with Corn, Sour Cream, and Cheese

Tonight I resurrected an old recipe and threw together Mexican-Style Rice Casserole with Corn, Sour Cream, and Cheese. It doesn't seem as impressive or tasty as it once was. We are spoiled now, I think. :) Gibby wondered if it should have been a side dish for something. I agreed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Banh Mi Chay

Tonight we made Banh Mi Chay sandwiches again, and they were delicious. We really, really like this recipe. I upped the yumminess by baking the tofu for about 12 minutes before sauteeing it with the garlic and shallots. That helped give the tofu a nice texture and made it nice and browned. Yum yum.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon

Tonight I figured we would try this simple salmon recipe from the May 2006 Cooking Light. I figured teriyaki would be a safe bet. I was wrong! I didn't like it at all - way too fishy tasting. It was disappointing. I won't give up on fish though! I guess I'm just picking crappy recipes to try. Oh well.

Pineapple Teriyaki Salmon

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 (6-ounce) can pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grated orange rind (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 15 minutes). Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of salmon with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes. Turn fish over and place in oven; bake at 400° for 3 minutes. Remove from oven; brush 1 tablespoon sauce over each fillet. Return to oven, and cook 1 minute or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle with orange rind, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings