Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spring Semester

With the spring semester upon us, I will now have class on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Tuesday isn't so bad because it's only until 6:30, so (as you can see from this past week), I am still able to make dinner on Tuesdays. But Thursdays I have class until 8:45, so I will not be posting recipes on Thursdays for awhile.

However, we're going to stop having our 'date night' out on Friday nights in order to save some money and spend more quality time together that isn't centered around fattening foods, so I will hopefully be posting recipes on Fridays now, starting tomorrow.

Just a little switch until May.

P.S. Lost was super-awesome tonight.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Eggplant Pasta Salad

Tonight's dinner was not very good. I think it might appeal to some people, but it was too vinegary for us, with the white wine vinegar and the capers and everything. It just didn't do it for us at all. Not a make-again.

While I was cooking though, I did have a little friend watching:
ladybug

Anyway, we were pretty disappointed with dinner. This marks yet another failure from Real Simple magazine, which used to provide such solid, delicious recipes. I'm not sure what's been going on, but the last few things we've made from it have been sub-par.

eggplant

Eggplant Pasta Salad
Real Simple, July 2007

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 pound dried penne

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the celery and cook, 3 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and tomatoes.

In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, vinegar, 1/4 cup water, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the sugar. Stir into the eggplant. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the capers, pine nuts (if using), and parsley.

Meanwhile, cook the penne according to the package directions. Toss with the remaining oil, let cool, and cover. Combine the eggplant with the pasta before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

West Indian Vegetable Curry

In keeping with our goal of trying 'new cuisines,' tonight I made a West Indian curry. It has so few spices and flavorings, yet managed to be incredibly flavorful. The recipe has you poke a habanero with a fork and then toss it in to steep with the rest of the vegetables, then discard it before eating. That was fantastic because it allowed everything to be spicy without getting an accidental spoonful of habanero. This was very good. We used acorn squash instead of calabaza but otherwise followed the recipe. We would make this again.

west indian

West Indian Vegetable Curry
From Cooking Light, October 2007

Hindu immigrant workers brought wet and dry curry mixtures to Trinidad and Tobago. Here a habanero pepper is added for a brief time while the mixture simmers to impart subtle heat without overpowering the dish. Calabaza, also called West Indian pumpkin, has a brilliant orange, firm, sweet flesh, much like acorn or butternut squash. This vegetable dish is often served over rice or with coo-coo, the Caribbean rendition of soft polenta.

1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic), divided
1 1/3 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
1 habanero pepper
3 cups cubed peeled calabaza or hubbard squash (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomato
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 3 cups)

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add yellow onion and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add 1 cup broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add remaining 1 cup broth and carrot; sauté 5 minutes.

Pierce habanero with a fork; add to pan. Stir in squash, tomato, and zucchini; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Discard habanero; simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Yield: 7 servings

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ecuadorian Potato Soup

I realized a couple of weeks ago, though, that although I make a variety of foods and a lot of different cuisines, there are nationalities that have not yet been represented in my kitchen. So when I saw this recipe for Ecuadorian Potato Soup in the Jan/Feb 08 issue of Cooking Light, it caught my attention. It has somewhat bizarre ingredients - lots of egg, avocado, annatto seed?? What is annatto seed? I was intrigued, so I decided we would have it.

First things first: Where do you get annatto seed? I stopped by Penzeys to get a small jar of it, along with some other spices and herbs we needed, but if you don't live near a Penzey's store, you can order it through their website. It was not ground, so I had to grind it in my mortar and pestle that I got for Christmas. Annatto seed is a red seed that is frequently used in processed foods to create orange coloring. So I nearly cried when my beautiful marble pestle got stained orange after I used it - the first time I've ever used it. But I looked online for how to clean it, and even though it is still orange, I have realized that it is normal for a mortar and pestle to turn colors as you use it. But I am still sad.

Now, how was the soup? It was delicious!!! We were really surprised. It really is an entirely different flavor than I have had before. I can't compare it to anything - it's not like Mexican food or Caribbean food or anything. It's just its own unique flavor. We liked it a lot. And even though there is egg on top, it works really well. We would definitely make this again.

ecuador

Ecuadorian Potato Soup
Cooking spray
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground annatto
4 cups fat-free milk, divided
1 large egg yolk
4 cups (3-inch) cubed peeled baking potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 hard-cooked large eggs
1/2 cup sliced peeled avocado
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
Hot pepper sauce (optional)

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in cumin and annatto; sauté 30 seconds.

Combine 2 tablespoons milk and egg yolk. Chill. Add remaining milk, potato, cilantro, and jalapeño to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Partially mash potato mixture with potato masher.

Stir 1/4 cup potato mixture into egg yolk mixture. Return potato mixture to pan; stir in salt and black pepper. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove egg yolk from 2 hard-cooked eggs; coarsely chop egg whites and whole hard-cooked egg. Ladle about 1 cup soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 2 teaspoons chopped egg mixture, about 1 tablespoon avocado, 2 teaspoons cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon jalapeño. Garnish each serving with hot pepper sauce, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blackened Shrimp with Pomegranate-Orange Salsa

Since we still had some blood oranges to use up, I made sure our dinner incorporated oranges as well. Blood oranges are beautiful because the inside of them is a deep, deep red. In the photo we took, it almost looks like there are tomatoes in the salsa because the blood oranges are so red. They taste the same as regular oranges though.

Unfortunately, we could not find any pomegranates.Instead, I bought some pomegranate juice and added about 1/2 tsp to the salsa, just to coat it and add a little flavor.

We really enjoyed this dinner a lot. The orange salsa is a welcome twist, and the blackening spices on the shrimp are fantastic. The shrimp were absolutely delicious. We had it over some whole wheat couscous, which was a good idea because it helped the dish to become a real meal (I think the original recipe is meant to be an appetizer, since a serving size is 3 shrimp). We would definitely make the shrimp again, with or without the salsa. Yum!

shrimp

Blackened Shrimp with Pomegranate-Orange Salsa
Cooking Light, December 2004

The jewel-toned salsa features fresh seasonal fruit and serves as a fitting complement to the shrimp, which is heavily seasoned. It also makes a nice accompaniment to grilled chicken breasts.

Salsa:
2 cups pomegranate seeds (about 4 pomegranates)
1 cup finely chopped orange sections (about 2 oranges)
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt

Shrimp:
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
36 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds)
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided

To prepare salsa, combine the first 6 ingredients.

To prepare shrimp, combine paprika and the next 7 ingredients (through allspice) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add shrimp to bag; seal and shake well to coat. Remove shrimp from bag.

Heat 2 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of shrimp mixture; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining shrimp mixture. Serve warm with salsa.

Yield: 12 servings

Strawberry-Orange Muffins

It's almost February, which means it's been about 8 months since we picked strawberries from the farm... that means it's time to start using up the rest of them from the freezer! We also had some beautiful blood oranges that are nearing their peak, so I specifically picked a muffin that incorporated both of these ingredients.

Except for one incident where my food processor decided to explode batter all over me (I have no idea how), these were very easy to make. They're yummy, with a subtle strawberry flavor and a stronger orange flavor. They are very dense, though. They were good, but I'm not sure we'll make them again.

muffin

Strawberry-Orange Muffins
Cooking Light, May 1999

1 1/4 cups halved strawberries
3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender, and process just until blended. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pan immediately.

Yield: 1 dozen

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Swiss-Style Cheese Bake

I was going to make this on Thursday, but - yet again - my potatoes from Trader Joe's had gone bad. We resolved never to buy potatoes from TJs anymore. And then we went to Red Robin for dinner.

Last night we went out for Thai food and it was lovely.

Tonight I had some fresh potatoes from today's grocery shopping adventure, so I was finally able to make this recipe.

It is outstanding. It's comfort food at its finest. We used Yukon gold potatoes, broccoli, and cheddar cheese, but it's extremely versatile. Use whatever vegetables and whatever cheeses you want. I used frozen broccoli, but you could use fresh or leftover or whatever. It's wonderful.

In case you're wondering why you toss the cheese in cornstarch, it helps prevent the cheese from becoming a solid sheet of melted cheese (which is appreciated and loved at times, but not for this meal) and allows it to remain gooey. Oh and I highly recommend using the walnuts, because they add a really nice touch. This is a definite make-again.

cheese

Swiss-Style Cheese Bake
From Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, via CLBB

When you don’t have time for full-on fondue or want something to pop into the oven after a day outside in the cold, this dish – essentially melted cheese with potatoes and vegetable – is perfect. Like fondue, it hails from the Alps.

Try layering the ingredients into small individual crocks if you have them – the kind you use for onion soup. And consider that you can use any kind of cooked vegetables for layering here, which makes it a great use for leftovers.


Butter or extra virgin olive oil for greasing the baking dish(es)
2 cups grated Fontina, Emmenthal, Gruyere, Chantal, Cheddar or Jack cheese
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cups cooked potato cubes (boiled or roasted, peeled or not)
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cups roughly chopped cooked asparagus, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

1. If you’re baking immediately, preheat the oven to 375. Grease and 8 inch square baking pan with a little butter or olive oil. Toss the grated cheese with the cornstarch until it is coated evenly.

2. Spread the potatoes evenly in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and half the cheese mixture. Top with the vegetable, a little more salt and pepper, and the remaining cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the walnuts if you like and the Parmesan. Cover tightly with foil. (The dish may be assembled up to this point and refrigerated for up to a day. Bring to room temperature and preheat the oven before proceeding.)

3. Put the pan in the oven and bake, covered, until the cheese melts and the vegetables are hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is golden and bubbly, another ten minutes or so. Sprinkle with parsley if you’re using it and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hot Tamale Burgers

Tonight's dinner was very disappointing. I'd had high hopes for it, as it had gotten a pretty good review on Joe's Blog. It's interesting, because in his review he mentioned how surprisingly well the patties stayed together. Not for us! I couldn't get them to stay together no matter how much I tried. It ended up being basically a Mexican stir-fry of rice and corn, with a chipotle kick to it. Not that that's a bad thing; in fact, it was pretty good. We rolled it up in chili-flavored tortillas with some sour cream. But I hate that I put in so much effort and bought special ingredients (like masa harina - what am I going to do with a 5 lb bag of masa harina?) for something that ended up being such a simple little failure. I don't know what went wrong and why it wouldn't bind, and I am disappointed with the result.

Here is the mess:
hot tamale

Hot Tamale Burgers
desertculinary.blogspot.com, originally from Vegetarian Times

1 cup short-grain brown rice
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, plus 2 teaspoons sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup instant masa harina
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
olive oil for brushing

In a medium saucepan, add rice and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion, bell pepper, corn, chipotle, adobo sauce, garlic, cumin and salt - cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring a couple times, about 12-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together masa harina and broth - stir into the vegetable mixture in the skillet, recover and continue to cook over low for 10 more minutes. Stir the mixture once or twice during this time.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked rice, cilantro, lime juice and zest. Let cool for about 20 minutes. Using wet hands, evenly divide the mixture into 8 portions and form each into a burger shape. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill (or you can use something like The Griddler). Lightly brush the patties with olive oil - place on the grill and cook until golden and crusty on each side, about 7 minutes per.

Yield: 8 patties

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Three-Bean Chili with Vegetables

Tonight I made this recipe for Three-Bean Chili, from Cooking Light's October 2006 issue. It's somewhat similar to my favorite Cheesy Vegetable Chili, but it has more beans and is super-spicy from the chipotle.

I reduced the recipe significantly (it must have been in an article about potluck dinners or something, because 16 servings is a lot!), and I omitted the onion (ran out) and cilantro (lazy). I added the chipotle chili at the beginning of the simmering process instead of waiting until the end because we like chipotle and I wanted to make sure it was nice and spicy. I also added green onions as garnish, along with the cheese and sour cream.

If you decide to make all 16 servings, this would reheat very well. It would probably also freeze pretty well.

We both agreed that it was excellent, and we really enjoyed it. It was spicy, but it had a lot of substance from the beans and vegetables. The sour cream was important to help balance things out. We would definitely make this again.

chili

Three-Bean Chili with Vegetables
Chipotle chiles add a subtle smokiness and a touch of spicy heat. Cook this hearty, kid-friendly dish up to two days ahead. Thin it with a little water when reheating, if necessary.

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped carrot
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped zucchini
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (16-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 (16-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (6-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in 4 cups water and next 12 ingredients (through tomato paste); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until carrot is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and chipotle. Top with fresh cilantro, cheese, and sour cream.

Yield: 16 servings

Monday, January 21, 2008

Garlic and Herb Three Cheese Pizza

We'll start this out on a positive note:
My friend Carrie sent me this article about making good choices at the supermarket. We already generally follow these guidelines, but I thought I would pass it on for anyone reading this who wants to learn how to shop smart and make healthy choices.

OK on to dinner.

Seriously, Rachael Ray has no more chances. As soon as I post this, I am going through my recipe program and deleting every single Rachael Ray recipe. There is no use in keeping them if they ALWAYS SUCK.

This one didn't suck too much, but it wasn't great. Hello! White Pizza! It is supposed to be awesome. Look at the ingredient list! How can it be wrong? And yet Ms. Ray somehow manages to screw it up into a soggy, liquidy disappointment.

You suck, Rachael Ray.

At least the pizza looked cool when it came out of the oven:
poop

Garlic and Herb Three Cheese Pizza
Rachael Ray

1 ball fresh pizza dough, store bought or from your favorite pizzeria
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 (5-ounce) round soft cheese with herbs, crumbled (recommended: Boursin)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, eyeball it
2 cups shredded sharp provolone cheese
Few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Stretch dough out and form a thin round. Use a little flour or cornmeal on your hands if dough sticks. Mix the garlic, parsley, ricotta, herb cheese and lemon zest. Spread the soft cheese mixture across the pizza dough to the edges then top with an even layer of provolone. Scatter thyme over the cheese mixture. Bake until crisp and bubbly-brown on top, 18 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Demerara Sugar Peanut Butter Brownies

I saw these posted on the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards and thought they sounded delicious! This is how the poster described them:

I slightly altered a recipe found on the back of a Domino Demerara Sugar (new product) bag to come up with these. I think they are delicious. They are not cakey at all and they don't even have much of a crumb (except on the edges). They are quite dense and "fudgy." They have a great PB taste. I love the "crunchy" demerara topping and the brownies themselves probably also benefitted by a boost from the demerara.

They are nothing fancy. I didn't even use the optional chocolate chips. I guess I just liked the simpleness of them along with their bold taste and unusual crunchy top.


I agree completely. They are deliciously peanut-buttery and have a fantastic texture. I used turbinado sugar instead of demerara since they are similar, and I did not use chocolate chips. Just pure peanut butter bars. They are super-easy, very yummy, and I would definitely make them again.

pb brownies

Demerara Sugar Peanut Butter Brownies
CLBB - Valchemist

1/2 c peanut butter -- not natural PB
1/4 c butter -- at room temperature
1 1/4 c Domino Demerara Washed Raw Sugar
1 1/2 egg -- see directions*
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
1 c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
chocolate chips or chunks, to taste -- optional
3 tbsps Domino Demerara Washed Raw Sugar -- for topping

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 8x8 pan with release foil or grease the pan. Cream peanut butter, butter, and sugar until light in color. Add 1 egg and blend to combine. Add half and egg and vanilla and blend well. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, soda, and salt. Add to PB mixture and blend until just combined. Stir in chips, if using. Scoop batter into prepared pan and smooth it out. Sprinkle 3 tbsp demerara over the top. Bake 28-30 minutes. Brownies will sink slightly in the center while cooling. Cool completely before cutting.

*To measure half an egg, beat 1 egg in a small bowl with a fork until fairly uniform. measure out slightly less than 2 tbsp of the egg to get half an egg. (1 3/4 tbsp)

Yield: 12 bars

Harvest Pot Pies

For dinner tonight I decided to make these cheater-versions of vegetable pot pies, from Vegetarian Times. I am calling them cheater-versions because you make the filling, then you top it with some pre-baked puff pastry. But that's OK. It looks really pretty, and it is easy to make. Unfortunately, it is also pretty bland. I figured the garlic, white wine, and thyme would help flavor the vegetable mixture, but I was wrong. It was kind of disappointing. We would not make this again, but if you want to, I would suggest trying various seasonings to give it more depth.

pot pie

Harvest Pot Pies
Vegetarian Times, 11/06

To turn this tasty dish into an even more elegant entrée, decorate it with delicate leaves made with scraps of puff pastry.

* 2 Tbs. olive oil
* 12 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
* 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
* 3 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
* 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
* 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1 lb. butternut squash, cubed
* 5 small red potatoes, sliced
* 1/2 lb. green beans, halved
* 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
* 3 Tbs. cornstarch
* 1 17.3-oz pkg. frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

1. Heat oil in pot over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic and thyme. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes more, or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add wine; simmer 2 minutes, or until liquid evaporates.

2. Add squash, potatoes, green beans, corn and 5 cups water. Cover, and simmer 7 minutes.

3. Whisk cornstarch with 1/2 cup liquid from vegetable mixture. Stir cornstarch mixture into vegetables. Simmer 1 minute, or until thickened. If making ahead, cool, and refrigerate up to 2 days.

4. Preheat oven to 425F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Cut 4 circles from one puff pastry sheet. Repeat with remaining sheet. Cut 1-inch hole in center of each circle. Cut leaves from dough scraps, then chill tops and leaves 15 minutes. Adhere leaves to tops by brushing with water. Bake 15 minutes, or until brown and puffy. Store cooled tops up to 2 days in airtight container.

5. Reheat filling, and warm tops in oven, if needed. Ladle filling into small pie dishes or ramekins. Top with crusts, and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vegetable Bibimbap

We've made this a ton of times, and I've linked to the original post from the first time I made it, but it was from The Time Before Gibby, so I decided that I will now re-post it. Plus now we have a photo.

It's one of our favorite things. It's been one of my favorite things since the time I lived in Japan because we used to get it at this great Korean restaurant. It's a very versatile recipe and you can change it up however you want.

bibimbap

Vegetable Bibimbap
From a post on Something Awful.com

Cooked rice. (I used the boil-in-bag instant rice and it was perfect)
Salt/Pepper
Bean Sprouts.
Spinach
Carrots
1 egg
Garlic (chopped or crushed)
Vegetable oil
Sesame Oil
Red Chili paste/Sriracha Sauce. See note at end.

Directions, as written by the original poster:
First prepare your veggies. For carrots and other veggies cut them julienne style - really really thin.

First comes the spinach. On a hot skillet/pan poor some veggie oil. Heat to medium high. Throw your spinach in there with some garlic. Toss about. You are looking to WILT the spinach leaves, not cook it. When the spinach leaves have wilted, remove from heat (Lauren's Note: This takes about 5-7 minutes). Put in a bowl. Pour a little bit of sesame seed oil in and toss to coat. Let this sit for a while.

Next the rest of the veggies. Throw in your veggies, lets say carrots. Saute until they are limp but don't over cook it! Season with salt/pepper as you please. Remove from heat, let it sit in its own plate. Move onto the next vegetable until they're all cooked.

Next fry the egg. You can do any style you want except scrambled. Sunny side up is preferred.

Put your steamed rice into a big bowl. If you go small, you will regret it. On top of the rice put the vegetables (Lauren's Note: Put each vegetable into its own separate section, for the traditional presentation of it). On top of it all put the egg. Drizzle some sesame seed oil on top to finish.

Serve with the chili paste on the side. Scoop in as much chili paste as you can handle and with your spoon mix the whole thing until everything is a delicious red color. It is important to break up the egg and make sure that everything gets distributed evenly.
Time to eat!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Baked Ravioli

I don't know what I was thinking when I made this week's meal plan - I guess I was really craving baked Italian food? Tonight's dinner, Baked Ravioli, is very, very similar to the Eggplant Parmesan we had on Tuesday night (I did not make dinner last night because I had a meeting for school until late). They both consist of something covered in a home-made tomato sauce, topped with a thick layer of cheese, and baked. This is not a bad thing. We enjoyed both meals. But I think it was kind of overkill.

Tonight's tomato sauce was not as good as the one with the eggplant parmesan, but it was good enough. We used Trader Joe's mushroom-and-cheese ravioli, which was a good choice. The meal was good but not great. We probably would not make it again. I am not sure how much of this decision is based on the recipe itself and how much is based on the comparison between this one and the eggplant dish. Regardless, it was a good dinner.

ravioli

Baked Ravioli
From Everyday Food magazine, 11/03

Baking pasta with cheese on top creates a chewy and crispy topping kids will love. You can assemble the dish ahead and refrigerate it, then bake it right before dinner. Try this recipe with 1 pound of spaghetti (cook a few minutes less than the package instructions direct). Don't worry if it seems like there's too much sauce; it will be absorbed as the pasta bakes.

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano
* 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
* 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
* 2 pounds store-bought ravioli
* 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Drain pasta; return to pot.

3. Toss sauce with pasta. Pour pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan

I love eggplant parmesan. Do you love it? I love it with pasta, and I love it in sandwich form. It is delicious.

So I decided to make some for dinner tonight. For some reason I didn't write down where this came from, but because of the ingredients list I'm about 99.9% sure it came from Cooking Light. Regardless, it is excellent. I loved it. Baking the eggplant slices beforehand gives them a nice texture, the sauce is simple and good, and the cheesy top is amazing. I love it. I would make it every day if I could.

parm parm parm

Eggplant Parmesan

1 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 6 (1/2-inch) rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and then minced
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
2 (15-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place bread crumbs on a shallow plate. Pour egg substitute onto another shallow plate. Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Take a round of eggplant, dip it into the egg substitute until fully covered, and then drag through the bread crumbs until completely coated; transfer to a wire rack. Repeat for each round of eggplant and then bake in oven for 15 minutes.

While eggplant is baking, heat olive oil in a 5-quart nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chili flakes and stir to incorporate. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to blend completely. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the basil, and remove from heat.

Remove eggplant from oven and leave oven at 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish (about 13 by 11 inches) with the eggplant rounds. Pour the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Top with the cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is soft and bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, January 14, 2008

Smoky Black Bean & Cheddar Burrito with Baby Spinach

We decided to change up our regular burritos and try this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine. We liked it a lot. While it naturally has a lot of similarities to our other burritos (beans, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese...tortillas), it's different in that it doesn't have rice and it is much spicier from the chipotle. The spinach is a nice addition as well. We both agreed that we would make this again when we want a change from the other burrito recipe and when we're wanting something spicy.

We did not use pepitas because I didn't think it was worth it, and I subbed green onions for the cilantro (which was a good decision). We also used chile-flavored tortillas from Trader Joe's, which are awesome.

This picture sucks. I should have cut one of the burritos in half or something. We're still trying to figure out how to take good pictures of food. Sorry!!
taco flavored kisses

Smoky Black Bean & Cheddar Burrito with Baby Spinach
Fine Cooking, April 2007

4 burrito sized (9 to 10 inch) flour tortillas
15 grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise (from 1 pint)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice; more as needed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raw pepitas (optional)
1 teaspoon seeded and minced chipotle plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from can of chipotles en adobo)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 19-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1-1/2 ounces baby spinach (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/4 to ½ cup sour cream (optional)

Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and warm in the oven.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the cilantro, and a generous pinch of salt. Set aside.

If using the pepitas, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and the pepitas over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until they are puffed and some are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pepitas to a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and toss.

Return the pan to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or if not using the pepitas, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.) Add the chipotle, adobo sauce, and cumin. Stir to blend into the oil, and then add the beans and 2 tablespoons water to the pan, stirring to blend. Simmer until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Mash about half the beans with a fork. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and the remaining 2-1/2 tablespoons cilantro and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Season to taste with salt. If the beans seem too thick, add a tablespoon of water to thin to a soft, spreadable consistency.

Working with one tortilla at a time, spread about 1/4 of the beans along the bottom third of a tortilla. Top with 1/4 of the spinach, and sprinkle with about 1/4 of the tomatoes and pepitas (if using). If you like, add a little lime juice and sour cream on top. Fold the bottom edge over the filling, fold in the sides and roll up the burrito.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Potato-Leek Gratin

I'd meant to make this last week but all my potatoes had eyes so I couldn't make it. But now I have a new bag of potatoes, so I was finally able to make this recipe. And it was definitely worth the wait. This has such simple flavors and simple preparation, but is extremely delicious. It tastes like it's super-fattening but it isn't. I have no idea how this has happened. It even seemed buttery, but there was no butter. We both loved it and would definitely make it again.

One of the benefits is that it is so versatile: lunch, dinner, brunch, side dish, main dish, whatever. We had it as a main dish and it was perfectly substantial.

gratin

Potato-Leek Gratin
Cooking Light, Sept. 2007

"This is the simplest way I know to make a potato gratin. Simmering the vegetables in the milk precooks them somewhat, shortening time in the oven and flavoring the milk, as well. You can easily vary this gratin by substituting some of the potatoes with other root vegetables, such as celery root, turnips, rutabagas, or parsnips. Yukon golds make a beautiful golden gratin, but I also like russets, and sometimes I mix varieties. There will be some leftover gratin, which is always welcome reheated the next day for a simple lunch served with a tossed salad." --Deborah Madison

4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, minced
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place milk, leek, salt, pepper, potato, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Discard thyme and bay leaf.

Spoon half of the potato mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining potato mixture and remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Doughnut Muffins

I am a fan of cake doughnuts and crullers and all those thicker types of doughnuts, so I thought these muffins would be super-awesome. They were very easy to make and came out looking quite lovely. However, they are not really that great, and they definitely don't taste like doughnuts. I don't get it. They tasted ok when they were warm, but now that they've cooled off, they are just meh. I'm pretty disappointed.

blah

Doughnut Muffins
©2004 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This basic muffin is not your stir-it-gently, dense, fruit-and-nut-filled health muffin. Instead, it's a beat-it-up, cake-type muffin, high-crowned and very "vanilla-looking." This is a great muffin for kids (young or old) who don't want a lot of "stuff" in their muffins—with its basic sugar-cinnamon-nutmeg flavor, it's more reminiscent of a plain doughnut (without the deep-fat frying) than anything else. As plain as it is (which is just the way some people like things), it's a good candidate for additions of dried fruit and/or nuts to the batter, as well as a garnish of flavorful jam or preserves when serving time rolls around.

Batter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk

Topping
1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted*
2 to 4 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar*

*Use the greater amount for an extra-sugary top.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till smooth. Add the eggs, beating for several minutes and scraping the bowl, till the mixture is smooth and light colored. Beat in the baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.

Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Spoon the batter evenly into 12 lightly greased muffin cups.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, or until they're a pale golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. While they're cooling, melt the butter (this is easily done in the microwave).

Use a pastry brush to paint the top of each muffin with the butter, then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Repeat the process, if desired. Allow the muffins to cool on a rack.

Yield: 12 muffins

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Finger-Licking Good French Toast

We cook very healthy most of the time, and I lighten everything I possibly can. Tonight's recipe just could not be lightened, and I am OK with that. It was so incredibly delicious that its utter lack of nutritional value can be overlooked. I can't say this is a make-again specifically for that reason, but this is excellent and I highly recommend it.

It originally came from an article in the now-defunct Jane magazine about how to turn your one-night-stand into something more permanent. Apparently by serving up this delicious french toast the morning after, your partner would be so impressed that he or she would want to continue dating you forever and ever, probably just for the sex and french toast.

If you don't know what Nutella is, it's a chocolate-hazelnut spread that has the consistency of peanut butter and is one of the world's most delicious condiments. It's usually by the peanut butter and marshmallow Fluff in grocery stores.

yum

Finger-Licking Good French Toast
Adapted from Jane magazine

1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1-2 Tbsp butter
4 slices of bread (we used French bread)
Nutella

Whisk the egg, milk, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl. Heat a pat of butter in a frying pan until it starts to sizzle. Dip both sides of bread into the batter and toss into pan. Cook bread for two to three minutes on each side before removing it. Spread Nutella on bread. Sprinkle some powered sugar on top if you have time.

Yield: 2 servings

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Spinach Balls

Tonight I was going to make a potato-leek gratin, but the potatoes all had eyes on them and I was pissed off so we ordered Chinese food.

But then I felt bad that I hadn't baked anything today, so I whipped up a batch of Lindrusso's Spinach Balls and stuck them in the freezer for us to eat as snacks in the next few days. Yum yum yum.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Cheesy Polenta

Last night I was going to make dinner but then I decided I wanted Taco Bell instead. So we had some Taco Bell.

Tonight I made real food - roasted vegetables on polenta. I've never made homemade polenta, but it turns out it's super-easy. It turned out very nicely and was very yummy. For the vegetables, I used a pre-cut mix of winter vegetables - turnips, butternut squash, and yams, and I threw in some frozen cauliflower. I liked the way the vegetables roasted but I wish they had been a little more flavorful.

We liked this dish and ate all of it happily but agreed it probably isn't a make-again. However, I will keep it on hand in case I just want some cheesy polenta!

polenta

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Cheesy Polenta
From Eating Well

Roasting vegetables brings out their sweetness—served over cheesy polenta, they become the star of this meal. Buy prepeeled and cubed squash and cauliflower florets to cut down on prep time. Make it a meal: Round out the meal with a crisp romaine or escarole salad with red-wine vinaigrette.

4 cups cauliflower florets
4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (1 1/2-inch chunks)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Preheat oven to 500°F.

2. Toss cauliflower, squash and onion in a large bowl with oil, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, until tender and browned in spots, 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine broth and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in cornmeal, rosemary and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very thick and creamy, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in cheese; remove the polenta from the heat. Serve the vegetables over the polenta.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, January 07, 2008

Crappy Egg Sandwiches

I came home and took some headache medicine and fell asleep because I'd had a migraine all day. But when I woke up, I pulled our dinner together in about 5 minutes. It was the 'Prosciutto' & Egg Panini that we so enjoy. It's really just morphed into an egg and cheese sandwich that is smushed. But we like it and it was perfect for a night like tonight. And now I am headache free!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Petits Pains au Chocolat

My boss gave me a bar of high-quality Venezuelan chocolate a couple of weeks ago and I've been waiting for a good recipe to use it. I found this extremely simple recipe from Bon Appetit that also functioned to help use up the leftover puff pastry from last night's dinner.

These are SUPER DELICIOUS. They are very, very hot coming out of the oven, so I'd recommend trying your hardest to wait until they are room temperature. I think they taste better at room temperature. These very closely resemble the chocolate-filled pastries at Panera, which we are huge fans of. So these are definitely make-agains. Yum yum.

oui oui

Petits Pains au Chocolat
Bon Appetit, April 2004

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (one 17.3-ounce package), thawed, each sheet cut into 12 squares
1 large egg beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water (for glaze)
4 3.5-ounce bars imported bittersweet or milk chocolate, each cut into six 2x3/4-inch pieces

Sugar

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush top of each puff pastry square with egg glaze. Place 1 chocolate piece on edge of 1 pastry square. Roll up dough tightly, enclosing chocolate. Repeat with remaining pastry and chocolate. Place pastry rolls on baking sheet, seam side down. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover pastries with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate remaining egg glaze.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush tops of pastry rolls with remaining egg glaze. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake until pastries are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 2 dozen (we only made 8 though)

Sage Dinner Rolls

To go with our Vegetable Noodle Soup, I decided we should have these homemade dinner rolls. I happened to have some sage on hand, so it worked out nicely. I can't take credit for the pairing - the entire meal is yoinked straight from DesertCulinary. But it's a good combination - the dinner rolls pair complement the soup very well.

The rolls are super-easy to make and only take a couple of hours. I love that I'm comfortable enough with baking now that I can wake up and say, "Hmm I would like some rolls with dinner. I will just whip up a batch." It's fun! They are yummy, albeit a bit dense, and we would make it again.

looks like a butt
I apologize for the fact that the rolls in this photo look like little butts.

Sage Dinner Rolls
DesertCulinary, originally from Cooking Light

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, wheat flour, yeast, sage, salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine warm water, oil and honey. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir together until a soft dough forms. Scoop the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic - add enough of the remaining flour to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down - cover and let rest 5 minutes.

Evenly divide the dough into 12 pieces - shape each piece into a tight ball, covering them to prevent drying. Place the dough balls on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut a 1/4" deep X in the top of each roll. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.

Bake until puffed and beginning to brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer rolls to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: 12 rolls

Vegetable Noodle Soup

I saw this posted on DesertCulinary recently and HAD to make it. Homemade alphabet soup? Yum! I cheated a little - I bought mirepoix from Trader Joe's (a finely chopped combination of celery, carrots, and onions) so I could skip all the chopping. I also used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. And we're still using our frozen peas that we picked at the local farm last summer! That was such a wonderful investment, seriously.

Anyway this soup was pretty good, but probably not a make-again. We both agreed that it is a recipe worth keeping, however, because making home-made alphabet soup is fun.

abc

Vegetable Noodle Soup
DesertCulinary; Originally from Food & Wine

2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup diced onions
3 celery ribs, diced
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon chopped thyme
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup dry alphabet pasta
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons snipped chives

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onions, celery and carrots - cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme - cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, water and bay leaf - simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the pasta and simmer until tender, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the peas and chives. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Salmon with Puff Pastry and Pesto

To continue our fancy Giada de Laurentiis meal, I decided we should try her super-popular Salmon with Puff Pastry and Pesto. I've heard nothing but wonderful reviews about it. However, until I actually sat down and read the recipe to prepare the grocery list, I had always envisioned the salmon inside the puff pastry. Instead, it is bizarrely placed on top of it. However, the entire dish is amazingly delicious. Yes, delicious! A salmon recipe I enjoyed! I also didn't screw up the fish - I cooked it perfectly all the way through and it was wonderful. The puff pastry was very interesting and it all fit together really nicely. We were big fans of this and would probably make it again.

For those concerned about the trans fat in puff pastry, Trader Joe's just started carrying a trans-fat-free puff pastry in their freezer section. That's why it's taken me so long to make this!

puff

Salmon with Puff Pastry and Pesto
From Giada de Laurentiis

4 pieces of purchased puff pastry, each cut to be just larger than a piece of salmon
4 (4 to 6-ounce) pieces salmon
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup purchased pesto
2 tomatoes, sliced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a foil-lined baking sheet, place the 4 pieces of puff pastry. Also place the 4 pieces of salmon, being careful to make sure they are not touching. Sprinkle each piece of salmon with 1 tablespoon of the sliced almonds. Bake for 10 minutes.

To serve, place each piece of puff pastry on a plate. Top each puff pastry with 1 tablespoon of pesto. Top the pesto with 2 slices of tomatoes each. Top the tomatoes with the salmon and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Broccoli Puree

I've been eyeing this recipe for awhile because it's simple and sounded so good, so I decided to try it tonight. It came together very quickly and was really easy to make. I cooked the broccoli in the microwave while the potatoes were steaming. It was very tasty and we would definitely make it again. However, it gets cold surprisingly quickly so maybe you should eat it faster than we did.

On a sad side note, while I was steaming my potatoes, something went wrong and the water burned off (I don't know how, I didn't see any steam escaping through the lid) and when the potatoes were done, the entire bottom of my pot was singed. I burned off all the nonstick coating and my pot is destroyed :( Goodbye Calphalon large saucepan :( I will miss you :( I will try to get you replaced by warranty but I think they're going to tell me it's my fault and not cover it, even though I steamed them like I've always done and had more than enough water in the pot. Oh well.

Substitutes: 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, veggie broth for chicken broth, yukon gold for russet.

broccoli

Broccoli Puree
From Giada de Laurentiis

1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound broccoli florets
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large pot with enough water to come 2 inches up the sides of the pot. Set a steamer rack in the pot, cover, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the potato chunks and cook until they are very tender, about 18 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl and mash until smooth.

Place broccoli into steamer rack and steam over medium heat until the broccoli is very tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to the bowl of a food processor. Add the broth, cream cheese, and Parmesan. Process until the broccoli is pureed and almost smooth.

Stir the broccoli puree into the mashed potato and blend well. Season the puree to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chana Masala - CL version

I wanted to repeat this recipe for Chana Masala that we made about a year ago, but I didn't want to deal with the simmering and whatnot. I wanted something quicker. So I decided to try a similar recipe for chana masala from Cooking Light (July 2007 issue). It only cooks for a few minutes. And to add to the quickness, I used canned chickpeas and canned tomatoes, eliminating the first step entirely. Sweet.

It was admittedly not nearly as good as the first recipe we'd made, but it was still decent. It's not a make-again but it served its purpose and I am happy.

No picture today because it was ugly.

Chana Masala

1 1/2 cups fresh chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3/4 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/8 teaspoon garam masala

Sort and wash the chickpeas, and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2 inches above chickpeas; bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, cumin, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Add chickpeas, broth, and tomato; cook 5 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in chopped cilantro and garam masala.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Cheese and Bean Enchiladas

Tonight I made Cheese and Bean Enchiladas. For some reason it didn't heat through very well in the oven so I need to make a note to cook it for a longer amount of time next time I make it. Or maybe my oven was mad at me for neglecting it while we were out of town.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Recipes

In 2007, I made 228 new recipes (not counting repeats), up from 157 last year. Holy crap.

Also don't ask me how I know this.

Vegetable Fried Rice

We made this Vegetable Fried Rice back in April, but I had some complaints about it. Tonight I tried it again with less sauce (as per my recommendations) and it turned out much better. We had frozen peas, frozen broccoli, and carrots as the vegetables. It was very good!

rice

Blackberry Brandy

Finally an update on the Blackberry Brandy!

We made it in a big jar in the closet and decanted it into flasks right before we went up to Connecticut. I printed out some pretty labels from the Martha Stewart website and wrote that it would be "Best after January 23" since technically it was supposed to sit in the jar for another month to complete the flavor-making process.

brandy

brandy

Of course, our friends are unwilling to wait when it comes to alcohol and drank some of it anyway. Apparently it is surprisingly good. Success!