Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 Round-Up

Alright, I've posted the new recipes individually but here's the big round-up. I also posted links to recipes my mom made prior to us arriving in Connecticut since I can't take credit for them.

So. Here is the table.

Here is what happened on Thanksgiving. We cooked a lot of things, and then 30 minutes before we were going to eat, the ovens broke. Both of them.

Everything cooked properly though so it was OK. My parents fried their turkey, which people seem to enjoy.


Obviously since I don't eat turkey, I needed lots of other food! So on we go to the side dishes.

Baby Brussels Sprouts with Buttered Pecans

Orange Cornmeal Bread

Green Bean Casserole

Steamed Carrots with Garlic-Ginger Butter - not delicious; too gingery and limey and we used baby carrots so it was just disappointing.

Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan

Cranberry-Pineapple Minis - not great either but I'm not a fan of Jello

This is some kind of cranberry relish my mom made but I don't know where it came from.

Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola, Pistachios, and Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette

Gibby's mom, Nancy, made sweet potato balls.

She also made sweet potato casserole.

My mom's herb stuffing which I think is loosely based on a Betty Crocker recipe

My mom's mashed potatoes

And then of course there are the desserts!
Pumpkin Caramel Toffee Pie

Pecan Squares

My mom also made our Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars and her cheeseball but we didn't take pictures of those.

And then of course we have the day-after Thanksgiving Magic Bowl.

So what did we learn this Thanksgiving? Our tried-and-true recipes were the best. Interesting.

Pecan Squares

Paula Deen gets a lot of crap for making buttery, fat-laden desserts, but I really think people are overlooking Ina Garten. Granted, she does not make turducken or deep fry a pumpkin cake, but she still cooks with a LOT of butter and cream. Case in point: these amazingly delicious pecan squares. I've seen her make them on her show several times and they always look great and I took advantage of the holiday to make them because I knew I could never justify making them ever again.

Guess how much butter is in this. Before you even look at the recipe. Guess.

Two and a quarter pounds. Of butter. That's 9 sticks.

So obviously these were wonderfully delicious. For some sick reason, Ina Garten says you will get 20 squares out of this, which just adds to the unhealthiness. I easily got about 60 squares. I will show you.

pecan pan

So since I got so many, the portion size was smaller so that made us all feel better about consuming so much butter. Good god. Definitely delicious (and no we did not dip them in chocolate, that is just wrong) but I doubt I will ever make these again due to the horrific nutritional content.


Pecan Squares
Barefoot Contessa

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Yield: A huge pan, how many squares depends on how you cut them

Pumpkin Caramel Toffee Pie

This was super-highly reviewed on the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, so naturally we added it to our Thanksgiving menu. My mom made her own dulce de leche by cooking sweetened condensed milk in a double-boiler for a couple hours. This pie was very good. But ultimately, it really wasn't anything other than a pumpkin pie with some Heath Bar bits sprinkled on top. The "caramel" didn't do a whole lot, and the toffee sprinkled on top was just kind of an added touch that we could do with any regular pumpkin pie recipe. Kind of pointless and, as with the theme of Thanksgiving, somewhat disappointing. It was good, it just wasn't as exciting as it was supposed to be!


Pumpkin Caramel Toffee Pie
Christmas with Southern Living, 2008

1 refrigerated piecrust
¾ cup canned dulce de leche
2 large eggs
1 15oz can of pumpkin
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 TB flour
1 TB vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 12oz can evaporated milk
Garnishes: whipped cream and toffee bits

Prepare piecrust in a deep-dish pie pan. Spoon dollops of dulce de leche into the piecrust. Evenly spread the caramel all the way to the edges.

Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in pumpkin and next 7 ingredients until smooth. Whisk in milk. Pour filling into the prepared crust and place the pan on a baking sheet to catch any caramel that may bubble out. Bake at 375 on the bottom oven rack for 50 minutes (center should still jiggle just slightly). Cool completely. Garnish with whipped cream and toffee bits.

Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola, Pistachios, and Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette

I thought this salad might be nice for Thanksgiving because it's not heavy, but it has interesting ingredients. I was wrong. This was not delicious at all. It was thick dressing that was too overpowering and it was just not very good. We used almonds instead of pistachios but I do not think that was the problem. No one really liked this. We will not make it again.


Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola, Pistachios, and Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette
CL, November 2008

Red pepper jelly adds a snappy note to the vinaigrette that makes this simple salad memorable. You can prepare the vinaigrette (step 1) earlier in the day and refrigerate; let it come to room temperature before tossing it with the spinach.

1/4 cup red pepper jelly
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup dry-roasted pistachios

1. Place jelly in a 1-cup glass measure. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds. Add cider vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cool to room temperature.

2. Combine spinach and cheese in a large bowl. Drizzle vinegar mixture over spinach mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan

I've been meaning to try this for a long time so I decided to throw it onto our Thanksgiving menu this year. It was okay, but I was fairly disappointed. We used fresh herbs and nice-quality cheese and everything. I felt like it was mushy and got cold really quickly. Maybe I'll try cooking it at a higher temperature to crisp it up. I don't know. I don't want to be disappointed with this recipe. Maybe I'll try it again. Everyone else seemed to like it though.


Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan
CL, November 2005

Use any fresh herbs you have on hand for this holiday recipe. While parsley, tarragon, and thyme make a nice combination, you can also try sage, chives, and rosemary.

12 cups cauliflower florets (about 2 heads)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place cauliflower in a large roasting pan or jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with oil; toss well to coat. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring every 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, thyme, tarragon, and garlic. Bake 5 minutes. Combine cauliflower mixture, cheese, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well to combine.

Yield: 8 servings

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chocolate Buttercrunch Coffeecake

Yesterday at my internship, we had a little "Thanksgiving Dinner" for lunch (it's a special-needs high school). As I mentioned on Sunday, I made two desserts to bring in, since I am Lauren and I like to bake.

I have to go off on a tangent here for a moment. I ate so much at our "dinner" that when I got home, I never wanted to eat again. So I abandoned making what I had planned for dinner, and then I headed out to co-lead a family therapy group. So he was unfed. And so he made his own dinner, which was an egg and cheese bagel sandwich. He wants me to tell you that he put stuff like onion powder and cayenne pepper in his eggs and they were delicious. He also took a picture.


OK back to the desserts.

The Mandarin Cream Delight went over very well. I expected it to be more popular with staff since it involves fruit, but the kids seemed to like it. One student ate FOUR pieces and then asked for the recipe. That was cute.

The other thing I made was this bundt cake. It is a vanilla-based cake with swirls of chocolate chips, toffee pieces, pecans, and brown sugar. It is topped with a maple-sugar glaze. It is not as healthy as the orange dessert. But it came out beautifully and people said they liked it a lot, and that made me happy. I thought it was delicious as well. I am taking the leftovers to my family today! We're driving up to CT for Thanksgiving, so posts will be sporadic! Look for a big huge Thanksgiving post with things we make for Thanksgiving though! There will be some delicious new pies and side dishes and I am very excited.


Chocolate Buttercrunch Coffeecake

1 pkg SKOR®* Toffee Bits
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp brown sugar, packed

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

PREHEAT oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 10” (25 cm) bundt pan.

COMBINE toffee bits, semi-sweet chocolate chips, pecans and brown sugar in bowl. Set aside.

BEAT butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of buttermilk.

SPREAD 1/3 of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of toffee bits mixture. Continue with two more layers of batter and filling, ending with filling.

BAKE in centre of preheated oven for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 16-18 servings

Optional Icing

For a quick-and-easy glaze; whisk together ½ cup (125 mL) icing sugar, 3 tbsp (45 mL) maple syrup and 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla. Pour over cake, letting excess drip down sides of cake.


The darker your pan, the quicker your cake (or cookies or scones) will bake, so always check to see if ready at the first indicated time if there is a range, or 5 minutes before the specified time.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Southwestern Cheese Panini

This sandwich is super simple, full of vegetables, spicy, and tasty. We really liked it and we liked the simplicity of it, especially since we used our Griddler. We didn't have salsa but I think it would taste even better with the salsa. We had it with some chipotle fries from Trader Joe's. We definitely will make this again.


Southwestern Cheese Panini
Eating Well via Joe's Blog

3 ounces shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/4 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons salsa
1/2 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño pepper
softened butter
4 slices whole-wheat bread

Preheat grill press or panini maker.

In a medium bowl, toss together cheese, zucchini, carrot, onion, salsa and jalapeño. Spread a thin layer of softened butter on one side of each piece of bread. Evenly divide mixture between 2 unbuttered slices of bread - top each with the remaining bread, buttered side up.

Place both sandwiches on the grill press and close the top - cook until the cheese has melted and the bread has toasted, about 2 to 5 minutes depending on your machine. Alternatively, you can prepare this in a skillet heated with a bit of oil - just weigh the assembled sandwiches down with a plate and a couple heavy cans to mimic the "pressed sandwich" effect.

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Spaghetti Squash with Jalapeño Cream

Tonight I decided to try some spaghetti squash for dinner. This recipe has been highly reviewed so I figured it would be a good one to try out. Despite some minor setbacks - my squash exploded in the microwave, but only a little bit - it came together pretty smoothly. I didn't trust the jalapenos to make it spicy enough so I used pepper-jack cheese instead of regular monterey jack. It was really yummy and we really liked it. We had it with some breadsticks and salad. It would work well as a main dish or a side dish. We're unsure as to whether we'd make it again, but it has at least piqued our curiosity in spaghetti squash!


Spaghetti Squash with Jalapeño Cream
Sunset, October 2008
via CLBB (LaurieLee)

We've tossed spaghetti squash with a spicy cream sauce and baked it, mac-'n'-cheese-style, for a warming, hearty side dish that doubles easily and reheats beautifully. Keep this one in mind for Thanksgiving.

1 spaghetti squash (about 3 lbs.)
2 cups milk
2 to 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for pans
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cut squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to remove seeds and surrounding fiber. Put squash, cut side down, on a lightly buttered baking sheet and bake until tender when flesh is pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes. Or poke several holes in skin of squash with a fork and microwave it on high 10 minutes. Squash should be tender when pierced with a fork; if it isn't, microwave on high in 1-minute intervals until tender. Let sit until cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm milk and jalapeños until bubbles form along the edge of the pan. Remove mixture from heat and let sit 15 minutes. Strain and discard jalapeños.

3. When squash is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scrape the strands out of the skin and into a large bowl.

4. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp. butter. Whisk in flour and salt and cook, whisking, until flour smells cooked (like piecrust), about 3 minutes. Slowly pour in jalapeño-infused milk while whisking. Reduce heat to medium and continue whisking until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour mixture over squash and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a buttered 2-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with jack cheese and bake until bubbling and brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Mandarin Cream Delight & More

Today was a big baking day because we are having a Thanksgiving meal at my internship on Tuesday and I wanted to bring some desserts, because I am Lauren and that is what I like to do.

The first thing I made was our favorite Mandarin Cream Delight that we LOVE. I figured it's sweet, tasty, and delicious but much healthier than some other options. Plus it was a good excuse to make it again because it is so good.

The other thing I made is a bundt cake with the bundt cake pan I got at my bridal shower. The flavor will have to be a surprise for now! I haven't made the glaze for it (I want to add it on Tuesday right before I head out to work) so there isn't a picture yet. You'll have to wait til Tuesday to find out what it is! But it is BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Red Snapper Cakes with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce

We were watching the Food Network the other day and saw someone make fish cakes (probably on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, since we watch that show way too much). So we decided to make some fish cakes for dinner this weekend. I busted out this recipe which was very highly reviewed online.

Our grocery store doesn't carry snapper (fishmonger says it is "too expensive so no one would buy it" - love my town) so we subbed cod instead at his suggestion. I didn't feel like cleaning the food processor after making the sauce for the sole purpose of making bread crumbs so I just used storebought breadcrumbs. I also left out the capers. One of the reviewers for this recipe said something that I agree with wholeheartedly, so I will quote it: "And remember: any recipe that tastes good with capers will taste even better without capers."

It was pretty easy to make and was yummy. I can't say I loved the fish cakes, because I am so stupidly picky with fish, but he loved it. The tomatillo sauce was just freaking fantastic though. I would eat it with chips. I ate the leftover sauce with a spoon so maybe I don't even need chips. This is pretty good and we might make it again... maybe with a different fish. Cod doesn't do it for me.

fish cake

Red Snapper Cakes with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce
Cooking Light, May 2006

4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tomatillo, husked and quartered (about 3 ounces)
1/2 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, quartered
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded
Cooking spray
9 tablespoons chopped ripe peeled avocado
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 (1-ounce) slices bread
1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces finely chopped skinless red snapper
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon butter

Preheat broiler.

To prepare sauce, combine the first 4 ingredients on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened, stirring once. Cool slightly. Place tomatillo mixture in a blender; add avocado, 1/4 cup cilantro, juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare cakes, place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 2 cups. Combine 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup onion, and next 9 ingredients (through egg whites) in a large bowl; stir until well blended. Divide snapper mixture into 12 equal portions (about 1/4 cup each), shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Dredge patties in remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add cakes; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Wrap handle of pan with foil; place in oven. Bake cakes at 400° for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce on each of 6 plates; top sauce with 2 cakes.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Cheese Calzones

I tried making calzones once a couple years ago and even though it was a ridiculous non-recipe, I wasn't impressed with it. I don't know what really makes tonight's dinner much different, but this time it turned out really yummy. We omitted the salami, obviously, so we just used spinach, but in the future I might add in some veggie pepperoni or something like that. We used pizza dough from Trader Joe's, and (this is the best part) we dipped our calzones in some of the Marinara sauce I froze a couple weeks ago! It was delicious. We would definitely make this again.

Three Cheese Calzones
Real Simple, November 2008

1 pound refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup fresh ricotta
1 cup grated mozzarella (4 ounces)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
1 bunch spinach, thick stems removed and roughly chopped (5 cups)
Black pepper
1/4 pound thinly sliced salami
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup jarred marinara sauce, warmed

Heat oven to 400° F. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll and stretch them into 8-inch rounds.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Layer the salami on one side of each round of dough and top with the cheese mixture. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges to seal.

Brush the tops of the calzones with the oil. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with the sauce.

Tip: If the dough is too elastic and shrinks back when you roll it flat into full rounds, let it rest for 15 minutes before trying again.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thai Coconut Corn Soup

Tonight's soup was tasty, quick to make, and yet came from a vegan cookbook. Could vegan cooking be moving along to be more tasty? It's looking like it. We really liked this soup. We speculated that it might taste yummy with some red potatoes cubed up and added, but it's still delicious as-is. This is a definite make-again.


Thai Coconut Corn Soup
Vegan Express by Nava Atlas
via CLBB - LMcKay

1 tablespoon light olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 5 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into short, narrow strips
Two 15-ounce cans light coconut milk
1½ cups rice milk
One 16-ounce bag frozen corn
2 teaspoons good quality curry powder
¼ teaspoon Thai red curry paste (I use a heaping tsp)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ cup minced fresh cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a small soup pot. Add the garlic, the white parts
of the scallions, and the bell pepper. Sauté over medium-low heat
until softened and golden, about 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the coconut milk, rice milk, corn, curry powder, the green
parts of the scallions. If using the curry paste, dissolve it in a
small amount of water before adding to the soup.

3. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer
gently for 5 minutes. Season with salt and remove from the heat.

4. Serve, passing around the cilantro for topping.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chickpea Curry with Yogurt

First of all, this is a really ugly dish so I apologize. Second, I wouldn't really classify it as a curry. It's more of like a spiced chickpea stew type thing. It's flavorful but not spicy-hot, and the yogurt gives it a nice tangy taste. It was yummy with some fresh naan from Whole Foods. We decided that it wasn't great so we wouldn't make it again, but it made for a nice, if ugly, dinner.

Note: I didn't have whole cardamom or cumin seeds, so I just used the ground versions I had. I also didn't have cilantro. And we used fat-free Greek yogurt instead of the whole-milk yogurt the recipe called for.


Chickpea Curry with Yogurt
Cooking Light, April 2005

Whole milk yogurt contributes a silky, creamy texture to this mild vegetarian stew from India. Serve with steamed or sautéed spinach and Indian bread. Replicate naan, the Indian flatbread, by cooking flour tortillas in a grill pan or cast-iron skillet until blackened in spots. The cinnamon sticks and bay leaves are removed before the dish is served, but the cardamom pods are more difficult to fish out. Be careful as you eat not to bite into one.

2 teaspoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped plum tomato (about 1 large)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cumin, coriander, cardamom, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Add onion, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add ginger and garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in garam masala, and cook 10 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup water, tomato, salt, and chickpeas; bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Stir in yogurt and cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, November 17, 2008

Black Bean Cakes with Chipotle Cream

This is a pretty easy dish to make, and it was definitely yummy. I don't like it as much as some of the other bean patties I've made, but it is good and we would make it again.

black beans

Black Bean Cakes with Chipotle Cream
Southern Living, 3/06

1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs, divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 large egg, beaten

Chipotle Cream:
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo

Saute the first 4 ingredients bell pepper through garlic) in 2 teaspoons
hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or
until tender. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Mash 1 1/2 cup black beans in a large bowl. Stir in remaining black
beans, red bell pepper mixture, cumin, and next 3 ingredients. Add 1/2
cup breadcrumbs, cilantro, mayonnaise, and egg, stirring until well

Shape black bean mixture into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Place patties
on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill 1 hour. Lightly
dredge chilled patties in remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs.

Cook 4 patties in 2 teaspoons hot oil in a large nonstick skillet over
medium heat 5 minutes on each side or until brown. Remove from skillet;
keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 4 patties and 2 teaspoons oil.
Serve with Chipotle Cream.

For Chipotle Cream- Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl.

Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm Back

Tonight we had frozen pizza and roasted broccoli because we flew back from Florida today and I didn't feel like making dinner. We went to Denise's wedding and it was a lot of fun.

Can't have a food post without food, so here's a picture of Denise's cake. It was chocolate and Bavarian cream, and was from Publix.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes

I am so ashamed. I needed a quick, easy dinner to make tonight because I had class and now we're hurriedly packing for our trip to Florida this weekend for Denise's wedding, and I decided to make this recipe. Why am I ashamed? It is a Sandra Lee recipe. You know by now how much I hate Rachael Ray.... I hate Sandra Lee even more. Not only does she not know how to cook, but it's barely cooking at all. She has a recipe for Kung Pao Edamame that basically says "Heat up a jar of Kung Pao sauce and pour it over some edamame." Really.

But pumpkin pancakes sounded good, so here we go. It definitely was crazy-easy to make (what a surprise) and took about 10 minutes (again, surprise!) but it wasn't that great (SURPRISE TIMES THREE). They're kind of wet and not the best flavor. The topping was kind of odd. Not a make-again. I hate you, Sandra Lee.


Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes
Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee

Pecan Syrup:
1 cup maple-flavored pancake syrup
5 tablespoons pecans, toasted and chopped

1 cup buttermilk pancake mix
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
Butter, room temperature

Pecan Syrup Preparation:
Combine maple syrup and pecans in small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high until hot, about 25 seconds. Set pecan syrup aside and keep warm.

Pancake Preparation:
In a medium bowl, whisk pancake mix, water, pumpkin, cinnamon, and ginger until just blended (do not over mix; mixture should be lumpy).

Spray a heavy griddle with nonstick spray and heat griddle over medium heat. Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter onto griddle to form each pancake. Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles appear, then turn pancakes over and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer pancakes to plates. Top with butter and serve with warm pecan syrup.

Yield: 2 servings

Couscous-Garbanzo Salad

Didn't have time to post this last night so you're getting an early-morning post.

We did add hardboiled eggs as per the suggestion, although we felt they were not necessary and didn't fit in very well. It turned out colder than I had anticipated. I, however, really liked it and would consider making it on a Sunday to take for lunches during the week.


Couscous-Garbanzo Salad
Cooking Light, June 2007

This delicious salad is a great side dish for grilled fish or chicken. Or you can add some sliced hard-boiled eggs for a vegetarian main dish.

1 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 cup uncooked couscous
2 cups chopped seeded tomato (about 2 medium)
1 cup diced cucumber (about 1)
1 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 6)
1/2 cup grated carrot (1 medium)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, and gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Place couscous in a large bowl, and cool completely. Fluff with a fork. Stir in tomato, cucumber, and next 4 ingredients (through chickpeas); toss well. Combine oil and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add vinegar mixture to couscous mixture just before serving; toss gently.

Yield: 10 servings

Monday, November 10, 2008

Grilled Vegetable Salad

I mixed up tonight's dinner, Grilled Vegetable Salad, with this recipe for Mexican Zucchini Tacos, so I thought we needed tortilla chips to make our dinner better because that's what I had written in my notes for the second recipe. But it turns out that we liked the Grilled Vegetable Salad just fine on its own, without chips, and so I had bought chips for nothing. So we ate the chips anyway. The salad was still good. Having it a second time, I'm not so sure I'd make it again, but it's yummy.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars

In my quest to find nut-free desserts, I saw this recipe in the most recent Cooking Light and had to make it! It looked so yummy. So I whipped it up pretty quickly this afternoon. It is very simple and doesn't take much time to prepare. The crust isn't pre-baked so that cuts down on the time. We used fat-free sour cream and Trader Joe's unsweetened dried cranberries. These were absolutely delicious!!! One of our favorite bar cookies we've made. This is yet another Thanksgiving contender because it has complex flavors but the cinnamon and orange make it very comforting. This is a definite make-again.


Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars
CL, November 2008

These bar cookies strike a nice flavor balance: not too sweet and not too tart. Be sure to zest the orange before you squeeze the juice.

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons orange juice
Cooking spray

1 1/3 cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve 1/2 cup oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. To prepare filling, combine cranberries, sour cream, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Yield: 24 servings

Cherry-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute dried cherries for the dried cranberries and lemon rind for the orange rind in filling.

Maple-Date-Oatmeal Bars: Substitute chopped pitted dates for the dried cranberries. Omit granulated sugar from filling, and add 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

Marinara Magnifica

I spent a large portion of today cooking up a big batch of Marinara Magnifica. We had a little bit for dinner tonight, and the rest of it is going to be portioned out to freeze for future quick dinners. We really love this sauce. It's very flavorful and thick and tastes homemade rather than processed like the stuff at the grocery store.

We remembered to take a photo this time.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Orange Cornmeal Bread

Oh my god, this is so good. I want to eat it forever. It is so delicious. I had been looking for just a basic cornbread to go with our soup for dinner, and I found this recipe, which also uses orange juice. I figured it would be a very orangey bread, but I was wrong. It's delicious because the orange flavor is very muted and enhances all of the other flavors. It is wonderful. I want to go eat another piece. We will definitely make this again. This may even be a Thanksgiving contender.

Note: For some reason, Giant was sold out of buttermilk, so I bought some fat-free Fage Greek Yogurt and used that instead. I think this was the best choice of all time and will continue to make it that way.


Orange Cornmeal Bread
Cooking Light Bulletin Boards

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 navel orange
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 400. Heavily grease and flour an 8x8 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and the juice of the orange. Add the buttermilk and the melted butter and whisk together.

Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, using a wooden spoon to combine.
Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for 27-30 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Cool and slice.

Mexican Butternut Squash Soup

I thought this would be a nice, simple dinner tonight. Something about it really bothered me. I still haven't been able to figure it out. Something smelled weird to me, and tasted weird to me... I don't know. I didn't like it. I wouldn't make this again.

The only changes were that I used the corn instead of hominy, and I added a little shot of cayenne pepper along with the chili powder.


Mexican Butternut Squash Soup
Cooking Light, 11/97

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 3/4 pound)
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced seeded poblano chile or 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups Fresh Vegetable Broth or water
1 (15.5-ounce) can white hominy or whole-kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add squash and next 6 ingredients (squash through chili powder); sauté minutes. Add broth and hominy; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, November 07, 2008

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Seriously, our go-to pad thai recipe is the best pad thai recipe ever. Love it. Perfect for a Friday night dinner.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Cream Cheese Lemon Bars with Kit Kat Crust

I had a lot of Halloween candy left over because no children ever come to our house. I used a lot of the mini Butterfingers to make the Butterfinger truffles, so then we needed to find a use for the Kit-Kats. Today just happened to be a coworker's birthday, so yesterday we whipped up these bars. They are interesting because they use ground-up Kit-Kats as the crust, yet the chocolate flavor is not pronounced. Which is a good thing since chocolate and lemon don't really go very well together. The Kit-Kats make a very nice crust and the lemon-cheesecake filling is very yummy. I think I added a little too much lemon extract because it was crazy lemony, but it was good (I had to try them before taking them to work!). The coworkers seemed to like them too. Probably not a make-again, but a great way to use up candy!!


Cream Cheese Lemon Bars with Kit Kat Crust
RecipeGirl via Cookie Madness

Five 1.5oz. Kit Kat Bars (or about 14 mini-sized Kit Kat Bars)

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, measure then sift
1 large egg
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
1½ tsp lemon zest

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp additional lemon extract
2 Tbsp butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Prepare the crust: In the food processor, finely chop the Kit Kat Bars. Spread evenly in the bottom of a greased 8x8-inch square pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Set aside.

Prepare filling: In a large bowl with electric mixer, blend cream cheese on high. Add powdered sugar and egg and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add lemon juice, lemon extract and lemon zest, and mix well. Pour filling evenly over Kit Kat crust.

Prepare topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, lemon extract, and softened butter, and blend with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over lemon bar filling.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until topping is lightly browned.

RecipeGirl Notes: I lined my pan w/ parchment paper with the hope that I would be able to lift it cleanly out of the pan and place it on a cutting board for slicing. After an overnight chill in the fridge, I had a slight bit of trouble getting the whole thing out without breaking it apart. Next time I would grease the pan, then put parchment in and grease the parchment and sides too. I still think that would work better than just greasing the pan and then trying to get nice, clean slices out of the pan.

Yield: 16-20 bars

Avocado and Cheddar Sandwich

I've made this before but I guess I never posted about it. From my program, it looks like we made it in July of 2007. It's a good vegetarian sandwich and the chipotle mayo is a nice touch. I made ours from mixing some pureed chipotle in adobo sauce with some mayonnaise but you can buy store-bought chipotle mayonnaise too. This is a super-quick non-recipe and it worked nicely for our dinner tonight since I got home late and had to rush out to class.

Avocado and Cheddar Sandwich
Woman's Day magazine

Sandwich sliced tomato, avocado, Cheddar cheese, red onion, and alfalfa sprouts between slices of whole-grain bread spread with chipotle mayonnaise.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Collard Greens

This seemed like good comfort food so I decided to make it today. The black-eyed pea cakes come together really nicely and hold together much better than many of the bean patties from Cooking Light. They tasted yummy and cooked well. The collard greens were yummy too... I'd never had collard greens before so that was interesting. All in all it was pretty good but it isn't something we would make again.


Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Collard Greens
Cooking Light, March 2007

This novel approach to a classic Southern combination calls for a good sturdy skillet to sauté the cakes. To make this a vegetarian meal, cook the greens in vegetable broth.

1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chopped collard greens (about 12 ounces)
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pea cakes:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 cups canned black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained, and divided
1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon canola oil

To prepare greens, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onion and 2 garlic cloves; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add greens and next 5 ingredients (through salt); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes or until greens are tender, stirring occasionally.

To prepare pea cakes, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup green onions, rind, thyme, and 1 garlic clove to pan; sauté 1 minute or until garlic is golden brown. Place garlic mixture, 1 1/4 cups peas, breadcrumbs, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper) in a food processor; pulse until well blended. Combine pea mixture and remaining 1 1/4 cups peas in a bowl, stirring well. Divide pea mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish; carefully dredge pea cakes in cornmeal. Place pea cakes on baking sheet; refrigerate 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add pea cakes; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden and thoroughly heated. Serve over collard greens.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, November 03, 2008

Vegetable and Brown Rice Paella

I'm not sure if this really counts as a paella since it doesn't have any meat or shellfish in it, but it's excellent regardless so I don't really care. We really liked this a lot. It's very flavorful and has yummy vegetables and is just a really good meal. We would definitely make this again.


Vegetable and Brown Rice Paella
Shape magazine

6 cups vegetable broth
1/8 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
6 canned artichoke hearts, halved
1 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and stir in saffron, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Remove from heat; set aside.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add tomatoes and rice; stir to combine. Pour in reserved broth and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven, uncover, and place asparagus and artichokes on top, pushing vegetables into the rice. Scatter peas over the top. Cover and return to oven for 10 minutes.

Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more, or until all the broth is absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Great Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches

Even Rachael Ray can't screw up 100% of the time, right? I took a risk and tried this recipe for dinner, because it's grilled vegetables and mayonnaise on bread. How could she screw that up? Thankfully, our risk paid off and dinner was tasty. It was hard to eat since it was piled so high, but it was definitely good. We might make this again, but we'll probably stick to some other easier-to-eat grilled veggie sandwiches.

We had this with some Crash Hot Potatoes and it was good.


Great Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches
Rachael Ray

1 Japanese eggplant sliced on an angle in half-inch thick slices
1 small zucchini sliced on an angle in half-inch thick slices
1 red pepper cut in quarter's lengthwise
1 small red onion cut into 4 slices
2 portobello mushroom caps
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 slices crusty peasant style bread cut 1/2-inch thick
4 pieces red leaf lettuce

Herbed Mayonnaise, recipe follows

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lemon, juiced
A few drops hot sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed and skin removed
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Using a pastry brush, brush olive oil on the vegetable slices and the portobello mushrooms. Season them with salt and pepper. Place vegetables on a hot grill and cook until they are tender. Once vegetables are done brush sliced bread with olive oil and grill on both sides. To assemble, slice portobellos into 1/4-inch slices, spread both sides of the grilled bread with herbed mayonnaise and then top with 1 slice each of grilled vegetables and a quarter of the mushrooms, and finish off with lettuce and top with remaining piece of bread.

Herbed Mayonnaise:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse.

Yield: 4 servings

Dutch Apple Bread

We're planning to move to Pennsylvania (Bethlehem area) next year after I graduate, and I am fascinated by everything PA related at this point. So for our baked good this weekend I decided to try a Mennonite recipe for Dutch Apple Bread. It has very little sugar and is not very sweet, but is very yummy and is so nice with the apples. We used Granny Smith apples because those are his favorites. We really liked this and I would make it again.



Dutch Apple Bread
Mennonite Community Cookbook

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
5 tart apples, pared and sliced

Sift flour, measure and add baking powder, salt and sugar. Sift again. Cut shortening [they mean the butter] into dry ingredients as for pastry. Add beaten egg and milk. Beat thoroughly until well blended. Spread in a greased shallow pan, 8x12 inches. Press apple slices over the top and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes. Serve with milk. (Mrs. P. L. Buckwalter, Atglen, Pennsylvania)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Seafood Risotto

We wanted some seafood tonight so I pulled out this recipe for a seafood risotto. The wonderful thing about it, besides it being delicious, is that it is specifically for two people. It's so hard to find recipes that are only for two people. I always enjoy it when I find recipes that I don't have to cut in half. Because it is a small dish, it only has two kinds of seafood in it: shrimp and scallops. Nothing fancy like squid or clams or anything. Just shrimp and scallops. I couldn't find bay scallops so I got a few larger scallops and just cut them up before I tossed them in the pot.

To go with our risotto (which we would definitely make again!), we had roasted broccoli and lemon-parsley bruschetta. I love the lemon bruschetta recipe, but I've only made it once since Gibby even moved in - November of 2006 - and he hated it! So I tried it again and this time he liked it much better.


Seafood Risotto
Cooking Light, 10/08

Risotto must be served immediately so you can best savor its rich creaminess. With this version, there's just enough for two healthful portions. Complete the meal with a salad, bread, and crisp white wine.

2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces bay scallops
2 tablespoons whipping cream
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1. Bring broth and clam juice to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots to pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add rice and saffron to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add lemon juice to pan; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 cup hot broth mixture; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 18 minutes total).

3. Stir in tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Stir in shrimp and scallops; cook for 4 minutes or until shrimp and scallops are done, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cream. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Yield: 2 servings