Monday, June 30, 2008

Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies

In lieu of a cake for my birthday this year, I decided to make a recipe so decadent, so horribly unhealthy, that I've been desperately wanting to try but just couldn't make myself do it. Yes, that's right. I made the Barefoot Contessa's famous brownie recipe. And not just the regular brownies: I made the OREO brownies.

I halved the recipe simply because I think if I had seen four sticks of butter go into a bowl I might have thrown up. I also used Trader Joe's Joe-joe cookies instead of Oreos so there were no trans fats.

These were everything I had wanted them to be and more. They are delicious and have a great texture and are just the best brownies ever, and we can never make them again.

brownies

Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies
Ina Garten, as posted on Joe's blog

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
7 large eggs
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chopped Oreo cookies about 50 cookies

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Butter and flour an 12" x 18" x 1" baking pan. I like to use foil for ease of getting them out. In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, heat butter, chopped semisweet and unsweetened chocolate until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Blend chocolate mixture into egg mixture; cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together one cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. In a small bowl, stir Oreos and remaining 1/4 cup flour. Add Oreo mixture to chocolate mixture. Pour batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.

Bake 28-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 3 inches from center comes out clean with some crumbs attached; do not overbake. Allow to cool. Refrigerate to get clean cuts.

Broccoli Mac & Cheese Gratin

Tonight for dinner we had Broccoli Mac & Cheese Gratin and it was delicious. We are both excited to take it in our lunches tomorrow.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

BBC

While we were in St. Lucia, we drank a lot of BBC's. We didn't know what they were, but other guests at the resort told us we must try them, so we did. And they were amazing and we drank a lot of them while we were there. When we got back, I located the recipe off of TripAdvisor so we can try to replicate them someday. I will share the recipe with you now!

Here I am, dying of heat and drinking one of many BBCs:
bbc

BBC (Bailey's Banana Colada)
c/o Sandals Grande St. Lucian

Bailey's Irish Cream®
Banana
Banana Liqueur
Ice
Piña Colada Mix
Dark Rum

Put banana and liqueur into blender until it is a thick paste then add bailey's to taste and pina colada mix and rum. Blend well then add ice blend until smooth and enjoy!

Korean-Spiced "Beef" and Cabbage Rolls

So tonight I finally got around to making the Korean Spiced "Beef" (Soy crumbles) & Cabbage Rolls. They were delicious and were a very nice way to celebrate the first day spent with our new puppy, Emma :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sautéed Tuna and Green Onion Stalks on Romaine

This was my birthday dinner, and it was delicious. It is light, easy, and healthy. I have never cooked tuna before so that was an experience, but it turned out so wonderfully. We would definitely make this again and it was a great birthday meal.

tuna

Sautéed Tuna and Green Onion Stalks on Romaine
CL, May 2008

Carrot contributes the antioxidant beta-carotene, while bok choy, a unique and hearty choice for a salad, is rich in potential cancer-fighting indoles. And tuna is a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats.

1 large carrot
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
4 (6-ounce) yellowfin tuna steaks
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
16 green onions, cut into 5-inch pieces (about 2 bunches)
4 cups torn romaine lettuce
2 cups shredded bok choy
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. Cut carrot lengthwise into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Curl ribbons around fingers, and place carrot curls in a bowl of ice water.

2. Combine vinegar, juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, chili garlic sauce, and mustard. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil, stirring with a whisk.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan.

4. Heat remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and remaining 1/2 teaspoon canola oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally.

5. Combine lettuce, bok choy, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Drain carrot curls; add carrot curls to lettuce mixture. Drizzle vinegar mixture over lettuce mixture; toss gently to coat. Arrange 1 1/2 cups lettuce mixture onto each of 4 plates. Cut each tuna steak into thin slices. Arrange 1 tuna steak and 4 onions on each serving; sprinkle each serving with 3/4 teaspoon sesame seeds.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, June 27, 2008

Birthday Dinner from My Family

Tonight I had planned to make Korean Spiced "Beef" & Cabbage Rolls, but when I got home, I had a package waiting for me from my family. It was a frozen gourmet meal, mailed to our house in a cooling package! It was from Gourmet Station, and it's a really neat concept. She ordered an Asian-themed meal for us: salmon with sesame vegetables, coconut curry rice with vegetables, "asian" baguettes, spicy Thai soup, and cheesecake! With some extremely easy prep (pop it in the oven for 40 minutes and wait), we had a whole meal. We haven't eaten the soup yet, as we're going to have it tomorrow for my actual birthday along with the Korean buns. We also haven't eaten the cheesecake yet because we are letting it refrigerate a little longer.

The meal also came with two packets of green tea, two linen napkins, a lotus-shaped candle, and some caramels.

It turns out salmon doesn't really travel that well, but the rest of the meal was yummy. We can reuse the candle and the napkins, too. It was a neat gift, and it was nice not to a) have to cook, and b) have to find a place for more "stuff."

Thanks Mom, Dad, and Marc!

dinner

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice

Tonight we had Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice again, and they turned out the yummiest they have ever been. Why? Because we used our new cast iron skillet from Steven. I did burn one, and they definitely didn't stay in patty form because I've never really used a cast iron and I didn't expect things to heat up so fast. But it was wonderful and dinner was delicious.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Black Bean Soft Tacos

These were really easy and came together in about 10 minutes. They were good but not really anything special.

No photo!

Black Bean Soft Tacos
Light & Tasty magazine

1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 (6 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and sliced

In a nonstick skillet, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 3-5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Spoon about 1/2 cup off center on each tortilla; sprinkle with cheese. Fold one side of tortilla over filling. Garnish with avocado.

Yield: 8 servings

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cheese Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts

Tonight's dinner was quick and simple and tasty. We jazzed it up by using some mushroom-mascarpone ravioli from Trader Joe's, but they tasted kind of processed so I'd make it again with cheese ravioli instead. I also reduced the amount of olive oil, which was a good idea. Thanks to Mrs. Rowland for the pasta strainer and to Mr. & Mrs. Ackley for the new cooking utensils :)

ravioli

Cheese Ravioli with Toasted Walnuts
Real Simple, 11/07

1 14- to 16-ounce package cheese ravioli (frozen or fresh)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cup (2 ounces) walnuts, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and walnuts. Cook, stirring, until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the parsley, and the reserved cooking water. Add the ravioli and toss to coat. Divide among individual plates and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Substitution: For a hit of vegetables and a change of pace, use pumpkin or butternut-squash ravioli instead of cheese-filled. You can also replace the walnuts with pecans or almonds.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Goody Girl Championship Potatoes

Tonight we kept things low-key and had some Tofu Pups and these delicious potatoes as a side dish. It was the perfect thing for a stressful day of getting things unpacked and realizing how little space we have in our apartment. We loved these potatoes and would definitely make them again.

I used Old Bay Blackening Spice instead of the crab boil, and I used Bac'os instead of the slab bacon. I also significantly reduced the amount of butter, and that was just fine.

tatos

Goody Girl Championship Potatoes
Guy's Big Bite on the Food Network

1 package dry form crab boil (recommended: Zatarain's)
3 pounds red potatoes
1 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
1 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 pound butter, at room temperature
1/4 pound finely shredded Cheddar
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup sour cream

Fill a 6-quart pot 2/3 full of water; add the crab boil and mix until blended. Cut the potatoes in half and slice into 3/8-inch thick pieces. (This can be done ahead of time; cover the potatoes with ice water until ready to cook.) Add the potatoes to the pot. Bring water to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork-tender.

While the potatoes are cooking: in a medium saute pan on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy; remove and drain on a paper towel. Add red onion to bacon grease; cook until caramelized. Just before onions are done, add garlic and cook until lightly brown.

In a bowl, place butter, 1/2 the cheese, 1/2 the bacon bits, 1/2 the green onions, the cooked red onions and garlic, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and sour cream; mix together thoroughly.

Strain potatoes and add to bowl; let stand for a few minutes or until cheese starts to melt. Fold ingredients together, trying not to break up the potatoes excessively. Top with remaining cheese, bacon, and green onions.

Check seasonings and adjust to taste.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Friday, June 20, 2008

Yay!

We're currently stuck in Miami waiting for our connecting flight to New York, but we are married and back from our honeymoon!

Food related updates:
-The food at our wedding was good. We haven't eaten any cake yet but my mom has some saved for us to eat tomorrow.
-The food in St. Lucia was good. "Real" bananas taste totally different from bananas here. It's more like the fake-banana flavor of things. Fresh pineapples, mangoes, and coconuts are also awesome.
-The Miami airport sucks and has horrible food and I hate it.

More tomorrow!
-Mr. and Mrs. Chris & Lauren Gibson

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wedding Hiatus!

Hello people!

Gibby and I are currently in Connecticut to get married! The big day is finally here! Tomorrow is our joint bachelor/ette party, Friday is our rehearsal dinner, and Saturday at 4:30 we'll be getting married! Then we go to St. Lucia for 6 days. We'll be back in Maryland on June 21, so check back at that time! And next time I post, we will be Mr. & Mrs. Christopher and Lauren Gibson!!!

Love Lauren

Monday, June 09, 2008

Grilled Asparagus Rafts

In theory this is good, but I screwed it up. First, I used a grill pan instead of a real grill and apparently that wasn't a good idea because the asparagus didn't cook through evenly. Second, I couldn't make "rafts" because the asparagus was too thin to take a bamboo skewer. It was lame. So I just doused them in sauce and put them on the grill pan.

It would have been yummier if it had cooked through. I would not make this again, or I would make it on a real grill.

raft

Grilled Asparagus Rafts
Cooking Light, August 2003

Pinning asparagus spears together with skewers makes them easier to flip and grill evenly on both sides.

16 thick asparagus spears (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of salt

Prepare grill to high heat.

Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Arrange 4 asparagus spears on a flat surface. Thread 2 (3-inch) skewers or toothpicks horizontally through spears 1 inch from each end to form a raft. Repeat procedure with remaining asparagus spears.

Combine soy sauce, oil, and garlic; brush evenly over asparagus rafts. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds, pepper, and salt.

Yield: 4 servings

Golden Tofu Triangles with Rich Peanut Sauce

We're really getting down to the wire here... on Wednesday we leave for Connecticut to begin the wedding festivities! So we really needed a quick and easy dinner because we are getting very stressed and tired. This tofu dish is from The Vegan Express and is super-easy to make, and has a pretty presentation because the little triangles get so golden brown. The peanut sauce is very reminiscent of the one from the Red Lentil-Chickpea Burgers we've made in the past, except it has Thai red curry paste in it, making it spicier.

I really liked it a lot. He felt the tofu was too thick or soft and thought there was something weird about the sauce. That's too bad because I would have made this again if he had liked it. I think it's a nice way to have some tofu. So I'd recommend it to others who really enjoy tofu.

triangles

Golden Tofu Triangles with Rich Peanut Sauce
Vegan Express, as posted on CLBB

Tofu:
two 16-ounce tubs extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt

Sauce:
3/4 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons natural granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste

Cut each block of tofu into 6 slabs crosswise. (Reviewer note: Make it 8 slabs. The texture is much better with thinner pieces.) Blot well with tea towels or paper towels, then cut each slab in half to make 2 squares. Finally, cut each square on the diagonal to make triangles.

Spread the oil evenly over the surface of a wide skillet and heat. Add the tofu and saute over medium-high heat until golden on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Whisk together and heat to a gentle simmer.

Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a bit more water if too thick.

To serve, arrange some of the tofu triangles on each plate and drizzle with the sauce. Or, for a fun effect, thread the triangles onto skewers, then spoon the sauce over them.

Menu suggestion: Serve with cooked rice, bean thread noodles, rice vermicelli, or soba.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Eggplant Mezzaluna Ravioli

Ah, Giada, you have redeemed yourself. This "ravioli" (made with wonton wrappers) is simple and delicious. We've been eating a lot of spicy or complex dishes lately so it was nice to have something simple and fresh. We liked this a lot and would make it again.

Notes: We lightened it by using part-skim ricotta, low-fat cheese, and reduced the amount of olive oil.

ravioli

Eggplant Mezzaluna Ravioli
Everyday Pasta by Giada de Laurentiis

1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs), diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano, plus 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, for garnish
1/2 cup grated fontina cheese (about 2 oz)
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
1 package square wonton wrappers (about 50-60 wrappers)
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the eggplant, garlic, and chopped oregano, and continue to cook until the eggplant is soft and starting to fall apart, about 12 minutes. Transfer the eggplant mixture to a medium bowl and let cool.

Once the eggplant mixture is cool, add the cheeses, salt, and pepper. Place 6 wonton squares on a dry work surface. Place 1 tsp of the eggplant mixture on each square. Dip a pastry brush in water and wet around the edges of the square. Fold the square in half to form a rectangle. Using a 3 inch diameter scalloped-edged cookie cutter, press around the filling to make a half-moon shape. Place the finished ravioli on a dry baking sheet. Continue with the remaining filling. You should be able to make about 60 ravioli.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli (you may want to cook them in two batches) and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Drain the ravioli. Drizzle a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil on individual plates or on a large serving platter and top with the ravioli. Drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with fresh oregano leaves and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Key Lime Brulees

I finally have butane for my kitchen torch, and I finally have ramekins (thanks, Molly!) so I decided we should try out some creme brulee. I picked this key lime one because I don't have any vanilla beans and I wanted a "lighter" recipe that doesn't require 7 eggs. It didn't really turn out so well. Even though I followed the directions, the insides didn't quite cook as much as they should have, so they were liquidy, and they tasted very strongly of egg. No lime flavor could be detected. He said it reminded him of a "breakfast version of creme brulee." That's never a good thing.

This recipe will not be repeated, but we will keep trying the brulees. This was only our first try!

brulee

Key Lime Brulees
Cooking Light, 12/05

Petite Key limes are more tart than the standard limes you'll find in the grocery store, although those can be substituted. Either way, it's a refreshing dessert.

3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice or lime juice
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325°.

Combine milk, sugar, and half-and-half in a small, heavy saucepan. Heat mixture over medium heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Combine lime juice, egg yolks, and egg in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add the hot milk mixture to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.

Divide the mixture evenly among 6 (4-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, and add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until center barely moves when the ramekin is touched. Remove ramekins from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill 4 hours to overnight.

Carefully sift 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar over each custard. Holding a kitchen blowtorch about 2 inches from the top of each custard, heat the sugar, moving the torch back and forth, until the sugar is completely melted and caramelized (about 1 minute). Serve the custards immediately.

Note: You can buy a kitchen blowtorch at most cookware stores. But if you don't have one on hand, you can make the sugar topping on the stovetop instead. Place 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat 5 to 8 minutes or until mixture is golden. (Resist the urge to stir, since doing so may cause the sugar to crystallize.) Immediately pour the sugar mixture evenly over the cold custards, spreading to form a thin layer on top.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip

This is from the Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook, and it's always been very highly praised by others who have made it.

I don't know what they were smoking, but this was just plain awful. The shrimp didn't absorb the marinade (which itself was rather flavorless despite all the ingredients), "basting" it was a joke, the pan burned, and the shrimp were overcooked even though I took them out earlier than the recipe said to. The dip was good, but worthless without the shrimp. We threw it in the trash and are on our way to pick up a pizza from our favorite Italian restaurant. I guess we we've been having so many awesome meals lately, we were due for a disaster.

No pictures because it went into the trash so quickly.

Buffalo Shrimp with Blue Cheese Dip
CL Holiday Cookbook

48 large shrimp (about 2 lbs)
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped onion
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 to 4 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
3/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
3 Tbsp skim milk
2 Tbsp (1/2 oz) crumbled blue cheese
1/8 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray
Celery sticks and leaves (optional)

1. Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails intact. Place shrimp in a shallow dish; cover and chill.

2. Combine sugar and next 8 ingredients in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Pour sugar mixture into a small saucepan. Place over medium-low heat; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and pour over shrimp. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning shrimp occasionally.

3. Combine cottage cheese, milk, blue cheese, and 1/8 tsp pepper in a blender; cover and process until mixture is smooth. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill.

4. Preheat broiler. Remove shrimp from marinade, reserving marinade. Arrange shrimp in a single layer on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 3 minutes. Turn shrimp over; baste with marinade. Broil 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Serve with cheese dip; garnish with celery sticks and leaves, if desired.

Yield: 16 appetizer servings

Friday, June 06, 2008

Pepper Jack Stuffed Potatoes

Potatoes? Check. Green onions? Check. Cheese? Check. Pepper Jack cheese? Perfect.

This is great, we love it, it's easy even though it has a long baking time, and we would definitely make it again.

tatos

Pepper Jack Stuffed Potatoes
Cabot Cheese advertisement

4 medium baking potatoes
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
2 teaspoons 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon “lite” salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup grated Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Pepper Jack
Paprika to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.

2. Scrub potatoes, pierce in several places with fork and arrange in baking dish.

3. Bake for 1 hour, or until tender when pierced with knife. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. Meanwhile, combine green onions and oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook stirring, until tender. Transfer to bowl.

5. Cut potatoes lengthwise in half and scoop out as much softened potato as possible,leaving skins intact. Add potato to green onions in bowl. Stir in cottage cheese,
milk, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese.

6. Spoon mixture back into potato skins. Arrange in 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle tops with paprika.

7. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes are heated through and cheese is melted.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pan-grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Ricotta, Arugula and Balsamic

Tonight we made Pan-Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Ricotta, Arugula, and Balsamic and it was still very yummy. When I got home (late due to all the power outages at street lights), I didn't feel well so I plunked down on the couch for about half an hour. And then I got up and had dinner on the table in under 10 minutes. Magical? I think so.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Orange-Glazed Tofu Triangles with Sesame Rice

Even though we used some delicious Valencia orange juice, we could not taste any orange in these tofu triangles. This was disappointing. However, it was still really yummy from the sesame and the sriracha. I also loved how the tofu so beautifully acquired grill marks. I love it.

We really liked this but didn't feel like it was anything special - it's very similar to so many Asian tofu dishes we make. It's worth keeping the recipe, but I don't know if we'll make it again. Although I do like that it's specifically for two people. It's so rare to find servings for one or two people. Usually it's for 4.

Side note: We're under a tornado watch. We got hit by a mini-tornado earlier that destroyed all of the trees in our apartment complex (yet did not damage any property or buildings) and now the storm has returned and we're under another tornado watch. Fun times to be in Maryland!

triangles

Orange-Glazed Tofu Triangles with Sesame Rice
Cooking Light, June 2007

1 (12.3-ounce) package water-packed extrafirm light tofu
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee), divided
1/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup hot cooked long-grain rice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Cut tofu in half crosswise; reserve one tofu half for another use. Cut tofu half lengthwise into 3 (3/4-inch-thick) slices; cut each slice in half diagonally. Arrange tofu pieces in a single layer on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels. Cover tofu with additional paper towels; place a cutting board on top of tofu, and let stand 15 minutes.

Combine orange juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, 1/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, and ginger in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Remove cutting board and paper towels from tofu; sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over tofu. Add the tofu slices to the orange juice mixture in dish, turning to coat. Cover and marinate at room temperature 30 minutes, turning tofu slices after 15 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Drain tofu; discard marinade. Add tofu to pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn tofu over; cook 2 minutes. Set aside; keep warm.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add peas, carrot, and onions; cook 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, remaining 1/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add cooked rice; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in sesame seeds. Place 1 cup rice mixture on each of 2 plates, and arrange 3 tofu pieces on top of rice.

Yield: 2 servings

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Stuffed Vegetables with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts

This is maybe one of the yummiest things we've made in a very long time. We made it with zucchini, and that is how we would make it again. Maybe yellow squash if we need to vary it a bit. But DO NOT make any changes to the recipe - everything is there for a reason! And it is all delicious! DELICIOUS!

zucchini

Stuffed Vegetables with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts
www.moosewoodrestaurant.com

This is a delicious, unusual entrée or side dish. Moosewood's customers simply love it when they see this on the menu.

10 ounces fresh spinach, cleaned and stemmed
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
120ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (about 1½ cups)
½ cup minced scallions
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 medium firm ripe tomatoes (or 2 large zucchini or summer squash, about 7 inches in length)

Steam and drain the spinach. Chop it well and place it in a large bowl. Stir in the cream cheese and allow it to soften in the heat from the spinach. Stir in the artichoke hearts, scallions, cheddar cheese, pecans, salt, and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Prepare the vegetables. If you're going to stuff tomatoes, core them and scoop out the insides, leaving a shell. If you are using squash, scrub them and slice them lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, leaving a shell ¼ to ½ inch thick.

Stuff the vegetables with the filling and place them in a buttered baking dish. Pour ½ inch of water in the bottom of the pan to help steam the vegetables.

Bake, covered, for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the filling is firm on top. Uncover the dish and bake a few minutes more to lightly brown the filling.

Serve on a bed of rice with collard greens or cornbread.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hominy Chili with Beans

We've experimented with hominy before, but it's been awhile so I decided we should try it again. And what better way to try it out than to put it in a chili? This is maybe the easiest chili ever. Dump it all in a pan, simmer for 15 minutes, voila! Perfect for a weeknight. And very yummy! We would make this again.

hominy

Hominy Chili with Beans
Cooking Light, March 2000

Hominy is made of dried corn kernels from which the hulls and germs have been removed. You can find it in the canned-vegetable section of the supermarket near the corn.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15.5-ounce) can white hominy, drained
1 (15-ounce) can red beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
4 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in chili powder and next 5 ingredients (chili powder through stewed tomatoes); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Spoon 1 1/4 cups chili into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 tablespoon cheese, and 1 teaspoon cilantro.

Note: If hominy is not available, you can substitute 1 (11-ounce) can vacuum-packed white corn or 1 (15.25-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained. Hominy imparts a distinctive flavor remarkabley different from that of corn, so if you use corn, know that the dish will be more like a basic chili with beans.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Magnolia Bakery Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I've made some stuff from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook before (such as these cupcakes), and they're always yummy, so I decided to try out these butterscotch blondies.

They are AMAZING.

blondies

Instead of having chunks of butterscotch from the chips, the chips are melted down and become part of the glorious batter. It's beautiful. The cream cheese mixture seems really thin when you glop it onto the blondie batter, but it will thicken as it cooks.

I halved the recipe and made them in an 11x7 pan, as per a review I read. It took about 26 minutes to cook through.

We absolutely love these and would definitely make them again!!!!

blondie

Magnolia Bakery Butterscotch Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, as found on the internet

Cream Cheese Swirl:
8 ounces cream cheese -- softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg -- at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Brownie:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups butterscotch chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs -- at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12 x 18 inch jelly roll pan. To
prepare the cream cheese filling: In a medium-size bowl, beat the cream cheese
and the sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour and beat
until incorporated. Set aside.

In a medium-size saucepan over low heat, melt the butterscotch chips and the
butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in the
brown sugar until well blended. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Beat the eggs one at a time into the butterscotch mixture. Add the vanilla
extract. Add the dry ingredients, beating until well combined. Stir in the
walnuts. Pour the batter into prepared pan.

Drop the cream cheese mixture by teaspoonfuls over the batter. Using a
small knife, swirl the cream cheese into the batter, forming a decorative
pattern. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the
center of pan comes out with moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Allow to
cool to room temperature, or overnight, before cutting and serving.

Yield: 24 big squares

Quinoa-Spinach Bake

I decided to healthy things up by making this quinoa-spinach casserole from my Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2002 cookbook. It's easy to whip together, and it only needed 45 minutes to bake (versus the 60-70 the recipe calls for). It was pretty good, but I feel like it was missing something. I had tossed around the idea of topping it with some Parmesan cheese before baking, but I didn't... I think that would have made it yummier. I also think I should have cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water because that tends to give it more flavor.

All in all, this was OK but it was not amazing and we are not likely to make it again.

quinoa

Quinoa-Spinach Bake
MSL Annual Recipes 2002

1 pound spinach, leaves picked and washed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1 cup uncooked quinoa), made according to package directions
1 cup nonfat cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Olive-oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with olive-oil spray. Coat with breadcrumbs; set aside.

2. Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add spinach; blanch until bright green, about 10 seconds. Transfer to ice bath. When spinach is cold, remove from ice bath, squeeze out all water, and finely chop; set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and red-pepper flakes, and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer to a medium bowl.

4. Add spinach, quinoa, cottage cheese, pepper, and eggs to the onion mixture, and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, and place in the oven. Bake until set and edges are brown, 60 to 70 minutes. Slice, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 as a side dish, 4 as a main dish