Sunday, September 30, 2007

Butternut Squash and Noodles with Coconut, Lime, and Cilantro Sauce

In keeping with my new outlook on fall (which is that it has, indeed, begun), I decided to make something with butternut squash. I found this recipe from Bon Appetit which isn't a traditional butternut squash recipe. Instead, it mixes it with Thai flavors like coconut milk, red curry paste, and cilantro to create a spicy curry. We really liked it and thought it was a delicious and different way to make butternut squash. We would make this again.

Note: we used linguine because we had some and I didn't feel like looking for asian noodles.

Butternut Squash and Noodles with Coconut, Lime, and Cilantro Sauce
Bon Appetit, May 1998

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces (about 4 1/2 cups)
1 cup canned vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup canned light unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
12 ounces dried futonaga udon noodles (oriental-style spaghetti) or linguine
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add squash; sauté 4 minutes. Add broth, jalapeño and garlic; bring to boil. Cover; cook until squash is almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice and curry paste. Simmer uncovered until squash is tender and liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain noodles. Return to pot. Add squash mixture and cilantro to noodles; toss to blend. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Molasses Spice Crackles

OK I gave in and finally admitted it is fall. I didn't want summer to be over because I didn't want it to start getting cold, but oh well. So today I pulled out all the fall decorations, put out my autumn wreath on the door, and made some spice cookies.

These look a lot like wagon wheel cookies because you coat them in sugar (rolling in water first helps it create a crispy outside) and then as they bake the sugary crust cracks and looks cool. The cookies were pretty easy to make, as long as you have a food processor. They were also very yummy. I did not get anywhere near 40 cookies - I think we only got 26, but that's ok. I'm happy!

Molasses Spice Crackles
From Cooking Light, October 1996

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup stick margarine, softened
2 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl, and stir well. Set aside. Place brown sugar, margarine, molasses, and egg white in a food processor, and process until blended. Add dry ingredients to food processor, and process until blended, scraping sides of processor bowl once. Gently press mixture into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Shape dough into 40 (3/4-inch) balls. Place granulated sugar in a bowl. Dip balls in cold water; shake to remove excess moisture. Roll wet balls in sugar. Place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool on a wire rack.

Yield: Recipe says 40, I got 26, so it's anyone's guess

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Marañón

Tonight we went to the mall food court for dinner (classy, I know) before grocery shopping, and got dinner at Pollo Campero, a Latin American fast food restaurant. I didn't eat much because I don't eat chicken and yet chicken appeared in everything - including the "vegetarian" burrito - but I did get to sample a tasty interesting drink called Marañón.

I ordered it because we'd seen it on the Food Network a little while ago. It's a drink made of the fruit of a cashew. Yes, that's right, cashews aren't actually nuts. They're seeds of bizarre fruits.

Read more here.

So I had a drink made of these fruits. It tasted very weird but I kind of liked it. Gibby did not like it at all. It's weird. It kind of tastes like a combination of mangoes and cashews all at once.

Anyway, it was very interesting and I had fun trying something new. Hooray!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Eli's Asian Salmon

Hooray, I finally found another fish recipe that I like! I guess the secret is sriracha sauce. I like fish dishes when they are spicy and covered in sriracha sauce or other spiciness. It makes sense - my favorite sushi is spicy tuna.

Tonight's dinner is from an episode of Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. It sounds like it takes awhile to make, but it doesn't. It was done in 30 minutes!

It was very good. We omitted the fish sauce because I don't like it, and added some extra sriracha (chile paste). If you are expecting crispy panko, you will be disappointed. The panko merges with the sauce to create a soft crust on the fish, which is very nice but not what I expected. So don't be surprised. But all in all it was yummy, I ate my whole piece of fish (which doesn't usually happen) and therefore it is a make-again.

Eli's Asian Salmon

2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste
1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 large cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Line an 8 by 12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.
In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. The internal temperature will be 120 degrees F on a meat thermometer when it's done. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 5 servings

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Corn Cake Breakfast Stacks with Maple Butter

I think I scheduled too many things that use veggie bacon this week. Damn cravings. Once we got to tonight's meal, I think I was veggie-baconed-out. I ended up picking it out. Our dinner was ok. Nothing special. The apples did not add anything, though the maple butter was very yummy (I reduced it HUGELY to about 2 Tbsp of butter and 2 Tbsp of maple syrup. 1/2 lb, are you kidding?!). The corn cakes were good (I reduced the butter in that, too) but weren't anything special. I didn't burn them though so that wins me points. This is not a make again. We were kind of disappointed. Maybe it tastes better with real bacon or with a half pound of butter. Who knows?

Other changes: Obviously I subbed veggie bacon, and I skipped the extra butter at the end. I also didn't sprinkle it with sugar or berries or any of that extra crap.

Corn Cake Breakfast Stacks with Maple Butter
From $40 A Day on the Food Network

Corncakes:
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Maple Butter:
1/2 pound softened butter
1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup

8 strips thick-cut smoked bacon
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced
Ground cinnamon to taste
Salt
1/2 cup dark amber maple syrup, warmed
1/4 cup melted butter
Mint, confectioners' sugar and blueberries for garnish, if desired

For the corncakes, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in corn kernels. Sift together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the buttermilk-corn mixture and stir until just combined. Let stand for 20 minutes in a cool place.

For the maple butter: blend the softened butter with 1/2 cup maple syrup in a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, brown the bacon strips. Drain them on paper towels and transfer to a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the apple slices with cinnamon and salt to taste. Sear them in bacon renderings until golden brown and place them on the sheet pan with the bacon. Wipe out your skillet and return to medium heat. Add just enough butter to coat the bottom of the skillet and ladle 1/4 cup corn batter. Let cook until the edges of the pancake start to brown and bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 minutes. Flip, cook another 2 minutes, then transfer to the cookie sheet with the apples and the bacon. Repeat until you have a dozen corncakes.

Place the cookie sheet and your serving plates in the oven until everything is warm, about 4 minutes. On each plate, place 1 corn cake, top that with 2 strips of bacon, another corn cake, 2 slices of apple and another corn cake. Top with maple butter and drizzle the plate with some of the warmed maple syrup. Garnish with a sprig of mint, powdered sugar and a few fresh berries if you desire.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini

Here's another recipe I've dug up from The Time Before Gibby, and it is delicious as usual. But I am going to go ahead and just repost it here. I've been making it for a couple years now but this is the first time I made it for Gibby because a)he is wary of pastas that don't have sauce, and b)he doesn't like stuffed pastas like ravioli.

I remedied this by substituting some small cheese tortellini for the ravioli, which went over very well for him. He liked the tortellini. He also ended up really liking the dish even though there was no sauce. It's such a simple recipe but is just so tasty! It was so quick to make and I enjoyed that.

Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini
From Real Simple, April 2005

4 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
2/3 cup freshly and finely grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb fresh cheese ravioli
3 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the zucchini in a large baking dish in a single layer and drizzle with the oil, chili flakes, and 3 Tbsp of the Parmesan, then season with the pepper and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Add the garlic and roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through, until tender and golden brown. Meanwhile, add the ravioli and remaining salt to the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent the ravioli from sticking. Cook the ravioli for 3 minutes after they begin to float. Drain and place in a large bowl. Toss gently with the roasted zucchini, half the parsley, and half the remaining Parmesan. Serve immediately with the remaining parsley and Parmesan.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Caramel Apple Muffins

One of my coworkers, Abigail, did something really nice for me on Friday so I told her I would repay her with baked goods, since that is what I do. I was nervous because I have not baked anything for anyone at my workplace since I started in May and I didn't want to screw it up. She said she likes apples and she wanted something healthy. So I went to work sifting through my recipe collection for something with apples that was healthy and extremely delicious.

I found this recipe that was from The Flax Cookbook, which I do not own but the recipe had been posted on the CLBB awhile back. It uses low-fat ingredients, super-healthy stuff (whole wheat flour, oats, flax seed), and lots and lots of apples! (I cut down a little on the amount of caramel, oil, and sour cream as well.) Plus it sounded delicious. I figured this would be a good way to say thank you to Abigail.

I made enough so I can keep some, and thank god I made that choice because they are VERY VERY GOOD. They are very moist (sorry to everyone who hates that word) and delicious and apply and autumny. The taste of the caramel comes through, but there's not a ton of it in the batter so there's not a lot of calories from it. They are really yummy muffins. I hope she likes them! I will probably make them again for us sometime!

Caramel Apple Muffins

1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free or light sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup caramel topping (from jar)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons egg substitute or 1 egg white
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely chopped apples, packed - peeled or not peeled depending on preference

Preheat oven to 350F. Thickly coat muffin pan with canola cooking spray, or use muffin papers.

Combine oil, sour cream, sugar, and caramel topping in mixing bowl. Beat until well blended. Add egg and egg substitute or egg white, and beat until the mixture thickens slightly.

Add dry ingredients (white and whole wheat flour, oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt) to food processor and pulse for about eight seconds until mixture is blended and oats have been processed into smaller pieces. Add dry mixture to the batter in mixer and beat on low just until blended. Stir chopped apples gently into batter with a spoon.

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup and bake in center of oven until center of muffin springs back when gently pressed, about 15 minutes.

Yield: 1 dozen (we got 20)

Spinach, Caramelized Onion, and "Bacon" Pizza

For some reason I have been craving soy bacon a lot in the past few days. Last night we watched the movie Syriana, and they were making fun of soy bacon, and it made me want it even more. So tonight for dinner we had some pizza that traditionally would use normal bacon but I used soy bacon. Because, unlike what my dad thinks, I do not eat meat (which includes bacon).

I did follow the recipe as written, including making the dough from scratch. It's a simple recipe and I had no problems with it. With the bacon, instead of sauteeing the bacon and then the spinach, I just started with the spinach and carried on with the recipe. Later on, I microwaved the veggie bacon and added it to the pizza when it was needed.

We really liked this a LOT. It made me happy and satisfied my craving. The garlicky sauce is delicious. I plan to try to take the leftovers for lunch/dinner tomorrow. We'll see how well that turns out! This is a definite make-again though. It's time consuming, but worth it!

I will put the original meaty recipe in but you can sub soy bacon like we did if you so desire.

Spinach, Caramelized Onion, and Bacon Pizza
Cooking Light, April 2003

Dough:
1 cup bread flour, divided
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

Topping:
4 bacon slices, chopped
1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach
2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) sliced onion
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

To prepare dough, lightly spoon the bread flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine 1/2 cup bread flour, warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, and yeast, stirring with a whisk. Let stand 15 minutes.
Lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup bread flour, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Make a well in center of mixture. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture; stir well. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 20 minutes.

To prepare topping, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings. Set bacon aside. Add spinach to drippings in pan; sauté 2 minutes or until wilted. Place spinach in a colander, pressing until barely moist. Add onion and 2 teaspoons sugar to pan; cook 12 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 3 tablespoons flour and pepper, stirring with a whisk; cook 30 seconds. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Preheat oven to 475º.

Roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Place dough on a (12-inch) pizza pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray adn sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Spread milk mixture evenly over dough; top with spinach and onion.

Bake at 475° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with bacon and cheese; bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden brown. Cut pizza into 8 wedges.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vegetarian Chipotle Chili

After watching an episode of Paula's Party on the Food Network where she makes this amazing-looking chili, I am now on a quest to find a great vegetarian chili. I have made lots of recipes for good ones, but I want a GREAT one. So tonight we tried this recipe from the Colorado Collage cookbook.

I can't remember if I've made anything from this cookbook before, but it's a funny story. He saw this random cookbook lying in a pile of free books at his school, beckoning to him, so he picked it up and brought it home for me. And I happened to find a lot of intriguing recipes in it. So this recipe comes from that book.

I didn't add any carrots because ours were not as fresh as I thought they were, but otherwise I followed the recipe as written. We were not really impressed. It had a nice spicy factor but didn't really taste special. It would be a good vegan chili I guess. But it is not a make-again for us.

Vegetarian Chipotle Chili
Colorado Collage, 1995, pg. 52

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped carrot
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green bell peppeer
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground chili
1 28 oz can Italian-style plum tomatoes with juice, chopped
1 15 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 tsp chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrot, bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, cannelini beans, black beans, and chipotle peppers. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add water if mixture is very thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Eggs Benedict Florentine with Creamy Butter Sauce

Tonight we made Eggs Benedict Florentine with Creamy Butter Sauce. Basically it's a lower-fat version of eggs benedict, with a lower-fat hollandaise-ish sauce, and some spinach to fancy it up. And it worked very nicely. We liked it a lot. Changes: didn't bother with the clarified butter (ghee) because we were making such a small quantity of it anyway, used veggie bacon instead of Canadian, and I got tired of measuring the temperature of the sauce so I just guessed. It worked out fine, but I think you're supposed to measure it for health reasons. Oh well.

If you care about the clarified butter recipe, look it up on cookinglight.com. Otherwise, just sub some regular butter.

Oh and this is a make-again. Good for brunches and Saturdays and weeknights.

Eggs Benedict Florentine with Creamy Butter Sauce
from Cooking Light, January 2007

Sauce:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Clarified Butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Eggs:
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 large egg whites
4 large eggs

Remaining ingredients:
6 cups fresh spinach, trimmed
8 English muffins, split and toasted
8 (1/2-ounce) slices Canadian bacon, each cut in half
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To prepare sauce, place cornstarch in the top of a double boiler. Combine 1/2 cup water, buttermilk, and 2 eggs, stirring well with a whisk. Add egg mixture to cornstarch; stir well. Cook over simmering water until thick and mixture reaches 160° (about 7 minutes), stirring constantly. Stir in Clarified Butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove from heat. Cover and keep warm.

To prepare eggs, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, egg whites, and 4 eggs, stirring well with a whisk. Add egg mixture to pan; cook 5 minutes or until set, stirring occasionally.

Place spinach in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook 4 minutes or just until slightly wilted, stirring frequently. Place 2 muffin halves, cut sides up, on each of 8 plates. Place half a Canadian bacon slice on each muffin half, and top each serving with about 1/4 cup spinach. Place about 1/4 cup egg mixture on each serving, and top each serving with about 2 tablespoons sauce. Sprinkle evenly with chopped fresh chives and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quesadillas Santa Fe

I thought tonight's dinner would be a no-fail meal - we love quesadillas, we love chipotle, we love cream cheese, etc. I got the recipe from a weekly email newsletter I get called The Splendid Table. I skipped all the crap about lettuce leaves and homemade pico di gallo and just served it with some sour cream and salsa on the side (in bowls, not lettuce leaves). It came together very very quickly, since it's basically just sauteeing some onions, tossing it all in a food processor, spreading it on some tortillas, and making quesadillas.

Well. I loved mine. I thought it was really yummy and a nice change from a typical quesadilla.

Quesadillas Santa Fe
Lynne Rossetto Kasper - The Splendid Table email

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons (generous) minced onion
19 ounces cream cheese, cut into pieces
1 to 2 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 jalapeno chili, minced
6 8-inch flour tortillas
2 medium tomatoes, cut lengthwise into 9 slices each
24 fresh spinach leaves, stems removed

12 Boston lettuce leaves
2 cups of your favorite guacamole
2 cups sour cream
Vegetable oil
Pico de Gallo (recipe follows)

Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in heavy small skillet over low heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer to processor. Add cream cheese, 1 chipotle chili with 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from the can, and jalapeno. Purée until smooth. Taste, blending in remaining chipotle chili if spicier flavor is desired. Spread 1/3 cup filling over each tortilla, leaving 1/4-inch border. Top each with 3 tomato slices, then 4 spinach leaves. Fold tortillas in half.

Place 2 lettuce leaves on each plate. Spoon 1/3 cup guacamole in 1 lettuce "cup" and 1/3 cup sour cream in second lettuce cup on each plate. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add quesadillas in batches and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to cutting board. Cut each into 6 wedges. Place on plates. Serve with Pico de Gallo.

Yield: 3 servings

Pico de Gallo
Makes about 4 cups

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 medium red onion, finely diced
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 serrano chilies, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons tomato juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Baked Crab Rangoon

I like crab rangoon from Chinese restaurants. And I'm trying to like crab in general. Plus this is a wicked quick recipe, and I needed a quick recipe since I have class on Tuesday evenings. It took about 5 minutes to prepare and pop in the oven, and another 15 to bake. It didn't need the whole 18-20. We also made some frozen fried rice from Trader Joe's to go with it.

Unfortunately, it was too "crabby" for me. Not a make-again for us. Other people who enjoy crab more than I do might like it as a fun appetizer for a party or something. They're visually appealing (like little tarts) and quick to make. I just don't like crab.

Baked Crab Rangoon
From Kraft Foods

1 can (6 oz.) white crabmeat, drained, flaked
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup KRAFT Mayo Light Mayonnaise
12 won ton wrappers

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Mix crabmeat, Neufchatel cheese, onions and mayo.

SPRAY 12 medium muffin cups with cooking spray. Gently place 1 won ton wrapper in each cup, allowing edges of wrappers to extend above sides of cups. Fill evenly with crabmeat mixture.

BAKE 18 to 20 min. or until edges are golden brown and filling is heated through. Serve warm. Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired.

Yield: 1 dozen

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chili Cheese Casserole

First of all, thanks to Jamie for his overtly drunken comment on my Egyptian stew post last night. Eloquent as always, Mr. Odone.

Tonight we made this Mexican casserole from a really old issue of Cooking Light (August 1997!). One of the main ingredients is bulgur, which I haven't had great success with before because it tasted kind of licorice-y and I didn't like it much. But I figured that if I made it with something that had lots of other flavors, then it would taste better. And I was very right. We didn't even notice the bulgur and the whole thing was very yummy.

The recipe is technically for like a potluck dinner so it makes a huge amount of food, so we quartered the recipe and it was just enough. We liked it a lot and would make it again.

Chili-Cheese Casserole for a Crowd

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (Note: This is not as weird as it seems)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked bulgur or cracked wheat
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
2 drained canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 cups baked tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 7 ingredients (onion through garlic); sauté 5 minutes. Add water and next 7 ingredients (water through chiles); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon half of bean mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Top with remaining bean mixture. Cover and bake at 375° for 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Press chips into casserole.

Yield: 12 servings

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Egyptian Edamame Stew

Tonight's dinner, from Eating Well, can be summed up by a statement he made after a few bites: "The Egyptians should have spent less time building the pyramids and more time developing better food." I'm sure that Egyptian cuisine is delicious, but as this disappointing stew was our first foray into it, we are a little put off for now.

We had it with some whole grain couscous from TJ's though, which was delicious as usual. And then we went to Panera for some bread and pastries.

Egyptian Edamame Stew

A riff on the Egyptian classic ful medames, a highly seasoned fava bean mash, this version is made with easier-to-find edamame and the ingredients are kept whole. Make it a meal: Soak up the delicious sauce with couscous, bulgur or warm whole-wheat pita bread and serve Aromatic Rice Pudding for dessert.

1 1/2 10-ounce packages frozen shelled edamame (about 3 cups), thawed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or mint
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add edamame and cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions. Drain. (Note: We skipped this step since the TJs frozen edamame is already cooked)

2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini and cook, covered, until the onions are starting to brown, about 3 minutes more. Add garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the edamame and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro (or mint) and lemon juice.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread

Tonight I made Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread, which I haven't made in well over a year - possibly closer to two. It tastes better now. I think I am a better cook now. I did a better job with the avocado spread this time. It's better if you mash the avocado with a potato masher and really get it all smooth. Gibby even really liked it, even though he usually has issues with avocado and hates tomatoes. Progress continues to be made.

By the way, this recipe was recently named one of Cooking Light's top recipes of the past 20 years in their 20th anniversary edition. I don't know if I agree with that, but it is very yummy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Banh Mi Chay

Why didn't I update Monday? I have class til 8:45 on Mondays. Why didn't I update last night? I got home and was lazy, so I ate chocolate cake and hummus instead of making dinner. Gibby was not happy about that but he survived.

Tonight I made up for it by making some Banh Mi Chay and we were happy. Such tasty sandwiches. This has definitely become one of our favorite meals.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Toasted Quinoa, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella Salad

I'm a fan of quinoa, especially when lots of things are mixed into it. Not only is it healthy and delicious, but it makes for a good lunch the next day. This recipe from the June 2007 Cooking Light was quick and tasty, though probably not a make-again. I look forward to it being in my lunchbox tomorrow (and dinner-box, since I have night class on Mondays, sigh).

Substitutions: Dried basil instead of fresh (but we did use fresh mint!), bottled lemon juice instead of all the lemon zest and juice, and tiny perlini mozzarella from Trader Joe's instead of diced mozzarella (use this if you can find it! it was cool!)

Toasted Quinoa, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella Salad

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
3 cups water
1 cup diagonally cut snow peas
3/4 cup (3 ounces) diced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add quinoa to pan; cook 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Add 3 cups water to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes or until tender. Fluff with a fork; cool. Place quinoa in a large bowl. Add peas and next 6 ingredients (through tomatoes).

Combine rind and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add juice mixture to quinoa mixture; toss gently to coat.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Asian Hot Pot

Tired, so speedy review.

Recipe from: Real Simple, February 2007
Difficulty: Easy and quick
Tasty?: Pretty good, nothing special. Wished it had sesame oil in it.
Make again?: Nah.

Asian Hot Pot

1 3.75-ounce package cellophane (bean thread) or thin rice noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces shiitake or other mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chili sauce or hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)
4 scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

Prepare the noodles according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the broth, soy sauce, ginger, and chili sauce (if using) and combine. Bring to a boil. Add the scallions, carrots, and green beans. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

Drain the noodles and cut into 3-inch lengths. Divide the noodles among individual bowls and ladle the soup over the top.

Tip: You can find cellophane and rice noodles in the Asian-food aisle of most supermarkets. If you prefer a more substantial soup, substitute 8 ounces of angel-hair pasta or whole-wheat spaghetti, breaking the strands into pieces before cooking.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sesame Noodles with Napa Cabbage

Tonight was Sesame Noodles with Napa Cabbage - thank goodness, because that's all I had the energy for. I'm so glad such a yummy dish takes so little effort.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Baked Risotto with Asparagus, Spinach, and Parmesan

Last time I made risotto, I undercooked it. Risotto is really hard to make properly because you have to keep stirring it and stirring it to make sure it absorbs the liquid perfectly so it will be nice and soft. That's why I was drawn to this recipe - the footnote said it was a foolproof way to make perfectly cooked, effortless risotto. And they were right!!!!

I just stirred it in the pot, poured it into a casserole dish (damn not having a Dutch oven!) and baked it, and voila! It really did create perfectly cooked, soft risotto. It was very creamy from the Parmesan and tasty. We agreed it would be good to make again when we need something to make ahead of time (the magazine said it reheats well and freezes well, and we always need recipes that fit that criteria), but that we wouldn't make it again on a regular weeknight. I liked it a lot though. :)

Substitutions: I used vegetable stock, and I used some frozen spinach that I had thawed and drained.

Baked Risotto with Asparagus, Spinach, and Parmesan
Cooking Light, May 2002

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
8 cups spinach leaves (about 4 ounces)
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups (1-inch) diagonally sliced asparagus

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes or until tender. Add rice; stir well. Stir in spinach, broth, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer; cook 7 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese.

Cover and bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Stir in asparagus; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Leftovers

Last night's Buttercrust Corn Pie passed the Lunchbox Test, as it was excellent even cold as my lunch today. It was kind of like a quiche. I really enjoyed it.

Tonight I started my fall classes, so we wanted a quick dinner until I get into the swing of things. We had the last bag of my frozen batch of Marinara Magnifica (time to make some more!), and some of our frozen Garlic and Rosemary Cloverleaf Rolls. All in all, an excellent meal thrown together very quickly!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Buttercrust Corn Pie with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Since summer is almost over, I wanted to make a recipe that showcased fresh corn. Plus it was on sale at Giant. It was a win-win situation. So I picked this recipe from the June 2001 Cooking Light.I did not anticipate the salsa being very popular, and I was right. However, I did not realize the extent to which it would be so wholly unnecessary to our dinner. It's not just that people hate tomatoes, it was that even I (a tomato lover) found it to be completely stupid and unrelated to the corn pie. I kept looking at it on my plate and thinking, "Why are you there? I am not going to eat you. You take away from the flavor of my pie and would taste better on chips at another time."

We LOVED the corn pie. It is absolutely delicious and is a definite make-again. The salsa, however, will be skipped next time.

Buttercrust Corn Pie with Fresh Tomato Salsa

Salsa:
2 1/2 cups chopped tomato
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Pie:
1 1/4 cups crushed fat-free saltine crackers (about 35 crackers)
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk, divided
2 3/4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons chopped ripe olives (Note: I left these out)
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 400°.
To prepare the salsa, combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl.

To prepare the pie, combine crackers, cheese, butter, and 1 egg white in a medium bowl. Toss with a fork until moist; reserve 2 tablespoons. Press the remaining cracker mixture into bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

Combine 1 cup milk, corn, sugar, and onion salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl; gradually add to corn mixture. Cook until thick (about 1 minute); remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup onions and olives. Combine 2 egg whites and the egg in a small bowl; gradually add to corn mixture. Pour into prepared crust, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cracker mixture and paprika.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until the center is set.

Yield: 6 servings

Photo added May 17, 2008:
buttercrust

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Vegetarian Gyoza with Spicy Dipping Sauce

These were similar to the garlicky greens dumplings we made awhile ago but have a different filling: mushrooms! And until recently, he didn't like mushrooms! I'm working them into recipes, and he LOVED them in this one! He said he appreciated their "meatiness" and how they made these dumplings taste kind of like pork dumplings. Yay! He loved the recipe, and said it is a definite make again. Success!

I skipped the homemade dough and used wonton wrappers, I subbed coleslaw mix for cutting up the cabbage, and I made the wontons in a standard steamer over a double-boiler instead of a bamboo steamer with lettuce leaves.

Vegetarian Gyoza with Spicy Dipping Sauce
From CL, April 2004

Originating in China, where they are known as jai-ozi, or pot stickers, these ravioli-like dumplings are now equally popular in Japan. The traditional filling is pork and cabbage, but they're often stuffed with chicken, seafood, or vegetables. This recipe includes directions to make the wrappers, but in a pinch, you can use refrigerated wonton wrappers from the produce section.

Sauce:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Wrappers:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup water

Filling:
Cooking spray
4 cups diced shiitake mushroom caps (about 3/4 pound)
4 cups finely chopped green cabbage
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced

Remaining ingredients:
24 lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided

To prepare sauce, combine first 4 ingredients; set aside.

To prepare wrapper, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and water in a bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; knead 5 minutes. Cover dough; let rest 30 minutes.

To prepare filling, heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook 3 minutes or until moisture evaporates, stirring frequently. Add cabbage; cook 3 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 tablespoons green onions and next 6 ingredients (2 tablespoons green onions through garlic); simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 1-inch-thick rope. Cut each rope into 12 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball. Roll each ball into a 4-inch circle on a floured surface (cover circles with a damp towel to prevent drying).

Working with 1 wrapper at a time, spoon 2 teaspoons mushroom mixture into center of wrapper. Fold in half. Fold top edge of wrapper at 1/2-inch intervals to form pleats, pressing against bottom edge to seal. Place dumplings, pleated sides down, on a large baking sheet dusted with flour; cover loosely with towel to prevent drying.

Line each tier of a 2-tiered (10-inch) bamboo steamer with 3 lettuce leaves. Arrange 6 dumplings, 1-inch apart, in each steamer basket. Stack tiers; cover with steamer lid. Add water to a large skillet to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil. Place steamer in pan, and steam dumplings 5 minutes. Remove dumplings from steamer. Repeat procedure with remaining lettuce and dumplings.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 12 dumplings; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure 3 times with remaining oil and dumplings. Serve with sauce.

Yield: 12 servings