Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eggplant-Ricotta Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This was pretty easy and I didn't mind making it, even after a long day of a seminar course in Columbia. I think our mini food-processor that I use to make sauces and pestos may have seen better days and may need to be replaced soon. Oh well, it's been good to us for like 5 years. Anyhow, I thought this was yummy.


Eggplant-Ricotta Rolls with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Shape magazine, March 2009

Roasted peppers give red sauce a new spin—and it takes just 5 minutes to whip up. Subsitute low-sodium jarred marinara sauce in a pinch.

For the sauce
1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the eggplant
2–3 large Italian eggplant, tops and bottoms trimmed
Cooking spray
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 packed cups spinach leaves, chopped
1 ½ cups part-skim ricotta
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons pine nuts

To make the sauce, combine tomato sauce, peppers, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt in a blender; add pepper to taste. Process until smooth.

To make the eggplant rolls, position oven rack about 6 inches from heat source and preheat broiler. Place an eggplant on a cutting board so the bottom end faces you. Cut a thin slice lengthwise off two opposite sides to remove skin, then discard. Cut the rest lengthwise into 1?2-inch-thick slices. Repeat with other eggplant to make 12 slices total. Coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper.

Working in two batches, place slices on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 2 to 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn off broiler and preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add spinach. Season with salt and cook about 2 minutes or until wilted. Transfer spinach to a bowl and mix with ricotta, basil, and oregano; add pepper to taste.

Place a rounded tablespoon of ricotta mixture near one end of an eggplant slice and roll eggplant up. Place in a baking dish, seam side down; repeat with remaining slices. Pour sauce over rolls and bake for 20 minutes.

Heat a skillet on medium low, add pine nuts, and toast for 4 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle over eggplant rolls and serve on individual plates or family-style.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, March 28, 2009

All-American Potato Salad

To go with our shrimp po'boys, I decided I wanted some potato salad. I picked this recipe from Cooking Light because we already had a lot of the ingredients on hand. I did not use the sugar snap peas because I thought that was a stupid idea. This is really yummy and is a good mayonnaise-based potato salad that isn't cloyingly sweet. I would definitely make this again, especially in the summer.


All-American Potato Salad
CL, July 2006

Dressing the hot potatoes with a splash of vinegar ensures the salad has flavor throughout. Sweet red bell peppers and sugar snap peas lend color and improve the nutritional profile. This dish can be made eight hours ahead and chilled.

3 pounds red potatoes (or baking potatoes), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
8 teaspoons white wine vinegar, divided
3 hard-cooked large eggs
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup chopped red onion
2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped sweet pickles
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 2 bunches)
6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, blanched, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until tender; drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, and toss gently. Cool completely.

Chop egg whites (reserve yolks for another use); set aside.

Combine remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, mayonnaise, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add vinegar mixture, egg whites, red onion, and remaining ingredients to potato mixture, stirring gently to coat.

Yield: 10 servings

Shrimp Po'Boys

Tonight I made Shrimp Po'Boys, which I love. I made the same changes I've made in the past - storebought fried shrimp, a little extra to the sauce, toasted bread, etc. Still excellent and delicious.


Chocolate and Peanut-Butter Filled Blondies

Yum yum. I haven't made these for a really long time but Gibby was craving peanut butter (he can't have nuts at work) so I decided to make Chocolate & Peanut-Butter Filled Blondies. They are mushy and seem undercoooked even when they're fully cooked because of the peanut butter and the melty chocolate bits. I like it a lot. Very yummy.

This time we took a picture!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini

When I saw this recipe, I knew it was going to be awesome. And it is. It is awesome. It is very, very delicious. It smells yummy while it's cooking, it tastes wonderful, and I would definitely make it again. I would even make it for guests. And it's healthy because it's baked, not fried like it typically is. It is a perfect little meal.


Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini
Vegetarian Times, 2/07

If you can shape a snowball, then you can make a batch of these arancini (pronounced ah-rahn-CHEE-nee)—oven-baked Italian rice balls—filled with fresh mozzarella.

1 1/2 cups instant brown rice
4 green onions, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 cups whole-grain breadcrumbs
16 marinated fresh mozzarella balls, drained, oil reserved (1 12-oz. container)
1 28-oz. jar marinara sauce

1. Combine rice, 1 whole green onion, garlic and 3 1/2 cups water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is soft and slightly sticky. Remove from heat, transfer to bowl, and cool. Remove green onion, and discard.

2. Preheat oven to 425F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, or coat with cooking spray. Chop remaining green onions finely. Fold eggs, parsley, cheese and onions into rice. Spread breadcrumbs on large plate.

3. Place 1/4 cup rice mixture in palm of hand. Shape into tangerine-sized ball around one mozzarella ball. Roll in breadcrumbs, and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rice, mozzarella and breadcrumbs. Drizzle arancini with reserved oil, and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until outsides are crisp and browned.

4. Warm marinara sauce, and ladle into bottom of large serving dish. Place arancini on top of sauce, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 servings

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter

I had some asparagus left over from last night so I decided at the last minute to throw together this asparagus recipe that we liked very much last time we made it. It is still delicious, and this time we took a picture.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Vegetable Frittata

This would have been really good if it weren't for the horrible cooking instructions. I don't know what was wrong with the people at Woman's Day magazine, but this is horrible. The eggs would NOT cook through, the potatoes mushed into this bizarre mess and we couldn't even notice them through all the liquidy egg anyway. I tried everything - cooking longer, turning up the heat, I even broiled it. The cheese was good, and the edges were good, but I absolutely refuse to eat eggs that aren't cooked 100% through. I won't eat fried eggs unless the yolk has been punctured and cooked through, for example. Yuck! No liquid. So this is a big thumbs down. However! I think that if you were to prepare it with the instructions from our favorite Hash Brown Quiche recipe, it would be AMAZING! I might experiment with that, actually. The smoked gouda is nice and would make a nice addition. Just don't use these instructions!


Spring Vegetable Frittata
Woman's Day magazine

3 medium carrots, shredded
1 lb asparagus, bottoms trimmed
1 Tbsp oil, preferably olive
6 cups frozen country-style hash brown potatoes
1 tsp salt
8 large eggs, beaten with a fork
6 oz (1 1/2 cups) smoked Gouda or mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup sliced scallions

1. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a large nonstick skillet. Add carrots and asparagus; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5-6 minutes until asparagus are crisp-tender. Drain well; wipe out skillet.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes; sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and cook 5 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Turn with a spatula and press down, pushing some potatoes up the sides of the skillet.

3. Mix remaining 1/2 tsp salt with the eggs; pour mixture over potatoes. Top with the carrots and asparagus. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 10 minutes, or until eggs are almost set.

4. Sprinkle with cheese and scallions, cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes to melt cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Broccoli Alfredo

Oh I didn't realize I'd posted this before. I made Broccoli Alfredo for dinner last night, it took like 10 minutes, and we had a tasty meal. Always a good go-to recipe when you are tired and do not feel like cooking.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Melancauli Baby

Tonight we had Melancauli Baby soup again, which was delicious and came together very quickly with the help of some microwave rice, frozen cauliflower, and a microwaved sweet potato (just scoop out the inside! don't even worry about peeling and dicing!). Yum!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brownie Bites

I've been making baked goods for coworkers' birthdays, and I think everyone is born in March. Whoever's birthday it is this week is a big fan of chocolate, so I took the opportunity to make this very fattening recipe for brownie bites. It involves making a big sheet of brownies and then using a circular cookie cutter to cut out little rounds. They're really cute and then you can eat the scraps. It also works out well because my brownies burned around the edge of the pan but I was able to leave out the edges because of the cookie-cutting. So everyone will have their soft little circles of brownie. I am not bothering with the garnishes. I think the coworkers can handle not having little chocolate shavings on top of their brownies.

I would not make this again due to the tons of butter and sugar in it, but it certainly is yummy and it's very cute.


Brownie Bites
King Arthur Flour

1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10" x 15" jelly roll pan or a 9" x 13" pan. For guaranteed easy removal of the brownies, line the greased pan with parchment, and grease the parchment.

1) In a microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter.

2) Add the sugar, stirring to combine.

3) Stir in the cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.

4) Whisk in the eggs, stirring until smooth.

5) Add the flour, chips, and optional nuts, again stirring until smooth.

6) Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

7) Bake the brownies for 28 to 34 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and barely set in the center.

8) Remove the brownies from the oven, and cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

9) Use a 1 1/2" round cutter to cut as many circles as possible (about 46) out of the brownies in a 10" x 15" pan. You'll get about 38 from a 9" x 13" pan. Wrap well; enjoy the leftover scraps.

10) Just before serving, garnish the brownies with whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and a dusting of espresso powder.

Yield: 40 (I got 27)

Curry-Spiced Samosas with Plum and Tomato Marmalade

This is like a billion steps and took forever and I have all kinds of pots and pans and food processor pieces drying on the counter now, but I think it was worth it because dinner was delicious. It sounds absolutely bizarre, and it is, but it is very good. It's a combination of African, Indian, Thai, and Italian flavors to make a very unique, delicious dinner. Technically it's supposed to be an appetizer but 3 or 4 per person works well as a main dish. I was terrified of the marmalade but it's amazing and gave me yet another reason to use my harissa. I probably wouldn't make this again just because of the time it took to make it, but I definitely would eat it again.

Notes: The samosas burn quickly so they might not need as much cooking time. This may also be because I used olive oil and not peanut oil. I also used a little bit of vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, because the beans are expensive.


Curry-Spiced Samosas with Plum and Tomato Marmalade
Cooking Light, 12/08

Samosas have long been present throughout Eastern Africa due to the Indian trading routes. This sautéed version of the typically deep-fried Indian snack is best served with the marmalade to temper the curry paste's heat. Plums from South America, which may be easier to find during winter, will work fine in this recipe.

2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups coarsely chopped plum (about 3)
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
2 medium tomatoes, quartered (about 1 pound)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon harissa
1 thyme sprig
1 (2-inch) piece vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup water
1/3 cup light coconut milk
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
7 teaspoons peanut oil, divided

1. To prepare marmalade, place pine nuts in a saucepan over medium heat; cook 2 minutes or until fragrant and golden, stirring often. Add plum, shallots, olive oil, butter, tomatoes, and garlic; bring to a simmer, and cook 30 minutes, stirring often. Stir in sugar, harissa, thyme, and vanilla bean. Simmer 20 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Discard thyme sprig and vanilla bean; stir in basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

2. To prepare filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and potatoes to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Reduce heat to low. Add carrot, curry paste, and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 cup water and coconut milk; bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates and potatoes are tender. Stir in lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a bowl; cool. Partially mash potato mixture with a fork.

3. To prepare dough, combine turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Transfer to a plate; cool.

4. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flour, toasted spices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a food processor; pulse to combine. Combine 1/4 cup hot water, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a bowl. Add the hot water mixture through food chute with food processor on, and process until dough forms a ball. Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

5. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll on a lightly floured surface to a 4-inch circle. Place 2 tablespoons filling in the center of each dough circle. Moisten edges of dough with water; fold dough over filling to make a half moon. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Repeat with remaining 11 dough portions and filling to form 12 samosas.

6. Heat 2 teaspoons peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 6 samosas to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and cook 3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 teaspoons peanut oil and remaining 6 samosas. Serve with Plum and Tomato Marmalade.

Yield: 12

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Roasted Potatoes

This is one of my favorite side dishes and I was going to link to it on another post but then I realized I've never posted it. I have no idea how this has happened. It's one of the easiest ways to make good potatoes. You can also make these on the grill (oil and herb them and then wrap up in foil). Tonight my herb combination was garlic salt, oregano, rosemary, and paprika. Kind of randomly chosen but delicious!

No picture because seriously I thought I posted this before.

Edited to add: Oh! I found where I mentioned it one time: on this post! But it needs its own post, so here you go.

Roasted Potatoes
Found somewhere on internet many years ago

Fingerlings or cut up redskin potatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper and maybe another herb or spice if you want (cumin, dill, basil, oregano, rosemary...whatever)

Mix it all up and pop it in a 350F oven for 1 hour.

Steakhouse Grillers Prime Patty Melt

Ah, the patty melt. A staple of diners, Jewish delis, and Johnny Rocket's. I never pondered making a vegetarian one until I saw this recipe printed in an ad for Morningstar Farms veggie burgers. We like onions and cheese, and I like mushrooms, and thus I decided to make it for dinner. It was very good! We used Boca Burgers instead of Morningstar Farms because a) we had some in the freezer, and b) I like them better. I didn't have steak sauce (why would I?) so I tossed on some Worcestershire instead. We've decided it's just shy of being a make-again. Maybe if we're craving patty melts sometime.

We had this with some herb-roasted potatoes. It would also be yummy with potato chips.

patty melt

Steakhouse Grillers Prime Patty Melt
Morningstar Farms advertisement

2 teaspoons butter or margarine
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 Morningstar Farms® Grillers Prime® Veggie Burgers
2 teaspoons butter or margarine, softened
4 slices marble rye bread
1 tablespoon steak sauce
2 slices Swiss cheese (2 ounces total)

1. In large nonstick skillet melt 2 teaspoons butter. Add onion. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat about 10 minutes or until onion is tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally.

2. Add mushrooms to onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from skillet. Keep warm.

3. Add burgers to same skillet. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 7 to 8 minutes or until heated through, turning once. Remove from skillet. Keep warm.

4. Remove skillet from heat. Carefully wipe out skillet with paper towel. Lightly spread 2 teaspoons softened butter on one side of bread slices. Place two bread slices, butter side down, in skillet. Top with burgers, steak sauce, onion mixture and cheese. Place remaining bread slices, butter side up, on top. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 2 to 4 minutes or until golden brown on bottoms. Turn. Cook, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes more or until cheese melts and bread is golden brown. Cut in half. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 sandwiches

Friday, March 20, 2009

Inside-Out California Rolls

Pretty much the same as the other California Rolls we made awhile ago, except the sushi rice is on the outside instead of the inside! I thought it looked pretty cool and I am proud of myself for making it look nice. Our avocado was not ripe so we couldn't include it. I used the same Alton Brown sushi rice recipe that we used in the other recipe.


Inside-Out California Rolls
from Sushi cookbook

1 quantity freshly cooked Sushi Rice
6 small sheets of toasted nori
1/4 ripe avocado, cut into strips
2-inch piece of cucumber, peeled and cut into thin sticks
6 crab sticks, split in half lengthwise
3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Divide the rice into 6 equal portions. Line a rolling mat with plastic wrap to prevent the rice sticking to it. Put a sheet of nori shiny-side down on the mat with the longest end toward you. Using wet hands, spread 1 portion of the rice in an even layer on the nori, leaving no gaps, then turn the nori over so that the mat is against the rice.

Put some avocado in a layer at one end of the roll, keeping it parallel to the edge nearest you and lay 2 pieces of crab in a line beside it. Put a line of cucumber next to them.

To roll the sushi, fold the mat over, starting at the end where the ingredients are, and tucking in the end of the nori to start the roll. Keep rolling, lifting up the mat as you go and keeping the pressure even but gentle until you have finished the roll. Put the sesame seeds on a plate and roll the sushi in them to coat the rice.

Remove the roll from the mat and cut it into 4 even-size pieces with a wet, very sharp knife. If you don't use a sharp knife the roll will squash as you cut it. Turn the pieces on end and arrange them on a plate. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Yield: 24 pieces

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Smoky White Bean Soup

We always love reasons to use smoked gouda because it's such a yummy cheese. Unfortunately I couldn't get to Trader Joe's this week to get their inexpensive low-fat smoked gouda so I had to buy the expensive one at Giant (seriously it's like $3 for 8 oz, versus the $7 I paid today for 5 oz). So this soup was quick and easy to make. It took probably about 20 minutes from start to finish. It was very good, especially with the gouda, but I think I added too much cumin. Oh and we used veggie bacon in place of the regular bacon. I think now I want to buy the cookbook this came from. It looks awesome.

Edited to add: we cubed the cheese, and it didn't really melt. If you shred it, it might melt. But it's yummy with the little cubes.


Smoky White Bean Soup
Vegetarian Times Low-Fat & Fast: 150 Easy Meatless Recipes
posted on the CLBB by zackaboo

1 lb russet potatoes -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes(about 3 cups)
3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 medium onion -- chopped
2 cans great northern beans -- (15 1/2 oz) rinsed and drained
1 cup lowfat 1% (or skim) milk
1 package frozen chopped spinach -- thawed and drained
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper -- (1/8 to 1/4)
2 strips smoked bacon -- cooked
3 oz smoked gouda cheese (1 cup)
salt and fresh ground pepper -- to taste
minced red and green peppers or tomatoes -- to garnish

In a 6-quart pot, combine potatoes, 2 cups broth (or water) and onion. Cover; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Process potatoes, onions and cooking liquid in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Stir in remaining 1 cup of broth, beans, milk, spinach, cumin and cayenne pepper. Simmer over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Stir in cheese and bacon (tornm into pieces). Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual servings with chopped bell peppers or tomato, if desired.

Greek-Style Quinoa Salad

This was quick and was pretty good.I had almost all the ingredients on hand already so I figured it would be good to make. Instead of tomatoes and kalamata olives I tossed in some sun-dried tomato tapenade and that sufficed. This was good but not the best so we won't make it again.

Notes: I definitely didn't use sheep's milk feta because ew (get it, it's a pun. Ew, ewe?). I used regular cow milk feta instead. Also this says it serves 6 but there's no way. Maybe as a side dish? But as a main dish, 2 or 3 servings.


Greek-Style Quinoa Salad
Shape magazine

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
3 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed in a garlic press
¼ cup kalamata olives
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
7 ounces sheep's milk feta cheese, cubed
¼ cup diced red onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Place quinoa in a strainer and rinse under cold running water. Add water and quinoa to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes until quinoa is almost translucent.

Spread cooked quinoa on a large dinner plate and place in freezer for 15 minutes to chill. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, and garlic. Toss with quinoa.

Add olives, scallions, grape tomatoes, feta cheese, and red onion; gently mix ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spicy Cheese Crisps

Today was one of his coworker's birthdays, so he decided to bake something. The coworker doesn't like sweet things and LOVES Cheez-Its. So we picked out this recipe, and he made it. I helped him with some things like rolling it into a log and with the timing in the oven (it takes less time than stated - maybe about 14 minutes - but they're good burned, too). They were yummy and spicy and cheesy and would be a good little snack food for a party.

No picture because we didn't have a chance to take one, but reports from the party indicate that they were delicious.

Spicy Cheese Crisps
Everyday Food

Since this dough keeps well, you can slice and bake just what you need. To store, cover wrapped log in plastic wrap; refrigerate up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month. Do not thaw before baking.

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Add 8 oz finely grated cheddar cheese (2 cups) and 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter; work with hands until a dough forms.

2. Transfer to a sheet of waxed paper. Form into a 1 1/2-inch diameter log; roll up tightly in paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (discard ends, if desired); arrange 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden, 16 to 18 minutes; transfer crisps to a rack to cool.

Yield: 3 dozen

Vegetable Bibimbap

Over the weekend I went to a little Korean place in Baltimore and got some bibimbap, and it made me want more so I made some tonight. Turns out our recipe is very authentic-tasting. Awesome.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dark Irish Soda Bread

Usually I made our tried and true Brown Butter Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day, but I thought I'd try something new this year. So I picked this dark bread with caraway seeds in it (I love caraway seeds - they are what makes rye bread taste the way it does). It was super fast to make, as most soda breads are, and was very yummy. I missed the brown butter bread though. It was nice to try something new but I think we'll stick with our regular recipe from now on.


Dark Irish Soda Bread
Washington Post, March 5, 2008

This soda bread gets its appealing brown color from molasses and whole wheat flour. The flour used here is the traditional whole-wheat flour that is made from red-wheat berries.

It's best eaten on the same day it is made, but it tastes great toasted the next day. The bread can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost with the wrapping on so that any condensation will form on the foil and/or plastic, and not on the bread itself.

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (plus softened butter for greasing the baking sheet)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus more for the baking sheet
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup low-fat or regular buttermilk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with softened butter, then sprinkle lightly with whole-wheat flour; tap to discard any excess flour.

Combine both flours, brown sugar, caraway seeds, baking soda and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Mix to combine on low speed; add the melted butter.

Combine the molasses and the buttermilk, then add to the mixer bowl, on low speed; beat for a minute or two, until a soft dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball and roll it around in the palms of your hands to smooth it; the dough will not be perfectly smooth. Form into an 8-inch long oval and place on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smooth-edge knife to cut a slash about 5 inches long and about 1 inch deep along the length of the loaf.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bread feels firm and crisp and you can see that the bottom has browned when you lift it carefully. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: 1 loaf

Boston Baked Beans

Usually I made an Irish themed meal on St. Patrick's Day, but I won't be able to cook on Tuesday so I did it tonight. I didn't have a whole lot of Irish recipes to pull from though so as the main part of our meal I picked this main-dish vegetarian baked bean recipe from Boston. Not Irish, but close enough!

I got the recipe from my boss's spiritual CSA newsletter and decided to try it. I didn't bother cooking dried beans, even though I do have a lot of dried white beans from them. Instead I got some canned white beans to save time. I had some traditional molasses but figured I'd try blackstrap, not knowing what it even is. Here is an article about the difference. It'll be nice to have both in the house. I also reduced the amount of butter by a lot, which made no difference, and I used vegetable stock instead of the bean water + bouillon cube mixture.

This was quick to put together and baked for forever. It never really thickened but that was ok. I liked it a lot. I've missed baked beans because most recipes require bacon. It was a yummy little meal. Not one we'll make again though.


Boston Baked Beans
from Bean Banquets by Patricia R. Gregory via Spiritual Foods CSA

This traditional early American dish originated in Boston, but its
popularity spread throughout the land. The meatless version is delicious.

1 lb navy or pea beans
2 onions chopped
1/4 lb butter
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
3 tablespoons fructose sugar (or any sugar)
1/4 c blackstrap molasses
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp white pepper

Cook beans according to basic directions. Drain and reserve broth.

In large saucepan, sauté onions in butter over med heat until soft and
golden, about 10 minutes.

Dissolve bouillon in 1 cup of the hot bean broth and add to saucepan with
all remaining ingredients including drained beans.

Mix well, bring to a boil, and pour into 1 1/2 to 2 qt bean pot or ceramic
ovenproof dish.

Bake, uncovered, in 325 oven about 1 1/2 hours. Stir every 20 minutes and
add more bean broth if it becomes too dry. Beans should remain moist.

Serves 6.

Suggested to serve with good brown bread and cole slaw.

Central Michel Richard

Last night G, his mom, his grandmother, and I went out to dinner at Central Michel Richard in downtown DC, winner of the 2008 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, and sister restaurant to Citronelle, where we went last year. The differences between Central and Citronelle are many: Citronelle is quieter, Central is expensive but still MUCH less expensive than Citronelle, Central does not do prix fixe menus, and Central is much more straightforward and doesn't do the artsy presentations like Citronelle. Oh and of course both are Michel Richard's restaurants. Food quality of the two is quite equal, however. Delicious delicious delicious.

If you would like to see the full menu, it is here, but I will just talk about what we ate.


Also it should be noted that when we went to Citronelle last year, we met Michel Richard and that was super exciting but I didn't get a picture. This year, even though he isn't the head chef at Central, for some reason he popped in to check on things! And I STILL didn't get a picture of him because Nancy moved her head at exactly the wrong time. Oh well. Two for two in terms of seeing the master chef in person!

OK so we started with the best bread and butter ever. Then we got appetizers. G's grandmother got a half-dozen fresh oysters. N got ceviche, which smelled wonderful but I am terrified of fish being cooked by citric acid so I didn't try it. G got frog legs, one of his favorite things of all time and something that disgusts me by the very thought. I got some fried oysters with tartar sauce. They were very lightly breaded and tasty. I decided to try them because I am not so familiar with oysters so I figured frying them is a good way to introduce me to them!

Then the main dishes! N ordered sea bass with mushrooms and consumed the entire plate so I assume it was good. G's grandmother got "duck rillettes and fois gras terrine," which was pretty much fois gras and pate with some bread. She was not a fan, but I don't think she knew what she was ordering. Yuck anyway. What did G and I get?

We both ordered this glorious lobster burger, which came with some amazingly good fries. I had been dreaming of this lobster burger ever since I first read about it in a magazine review. It did not disappoint.

Here is another picture, with N's sea bass in the background.

For dessert G ordered a "chocolate bar," which was a very soft chocolate, like a mousse, and crushed up hazelnuts, shaped into a big candy bar shape. It had some homemade hazelnut ice cream with it and was yummy. N had creme brulee, which was very thick and exactly how creme brulee should be, yet rarely is. And I had...


Hell yes. This deconstructed banana split. In the bottom part we've got some bananas covered in whipped cream, chocolate nibs, pineapple, chocolate syrup, and caramel. Then at the top there was a very thick chocolate ice cream topped with chocolate syrup and more chocolate nibs, strawberry sorbet with strawberry sauce and a strawberry, and the most amazing vanilla ice cream of all time topped with caramel. Amazing.

We had a lot of fun and had some deliciously tasty food. A rare treat for us, but always enjoyable! I think I'm eyeing Bobby Flay's Bar Americain in NYC for my birthday in June... maybe we'll be able to go there!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ace of Cakes

Today I had a class in Baltimore (it's all day tomorrow, too), so I went to the Baltimore Johns Hopkins campus for the first time in all 2 1/2 years I've been in grad school. I just go to the Hopkins' Rockville campus so I never had reason to go to the Baltimore one! So I went this morning, and got there very early, and decided to find out where Charm City Cakes, home of Duff and the Ace of Cakes crew, was located. Turns out, it was VERY close to where my class was going to be held! I went for a little walk and after a series of humorous mishaps managed to find the building.


I was there early in the morning so I doubt anyone was there, but there would be no way of knowing because the windows are blacked out and there is a sign on the door that says that no one is allowed to go in unless you have an appointment. So. Also, the building is not free-standing or welcoming and charming as it appears on the show. It is actually attached to other buildings, and it is in kind of a ghetto neighborhood. Oh well. It was still exciting to see it in person! I would have taken a picture of myself in front of it but I did not trust my camera with a homeless person or crackhead and therefore decided against it.


Tasty Dinner

Tonight we had Bean 'n Bello Burgers and Denise's Corn Casserole, both yummy repeats. The corn casserole was made with an organic whole-grain lard-free corn muffin mix so that was cool.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Tonight we had an old standby, Pepperoni, Provolone, and Pesto Stromboli. It is always good, even on days like today when we couldn't find vegetarian pepperoni anywhere and had to do without. It was still yummy!


Layered Refried Bean Salad

This took 5 minutes to make. I microwaved the beans for a couple minutes to heat them up because I figured that would be yummier, and I was right. The sour cream mixture is yummy. This whole thing was yummy with tortilla chips and was a nice, quick meal. I omitted the olives, reduced the amount of mayonnaise, and forgot to use the salsa. I would make it again.


Layered Refried Bean Salad
Lazy Gourmet

16 oz. refried beans
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 (1.25 ounce) pkg. taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 head lettuce; chopped
1 large tomato; chopped
2 green onions; chopped
4 large pitted black olives; sliced
1/4 cup salsa
14.5 oz. pkg. tortilla chips

Spread refried beans on a large flat platter. Wisk together sour cream, maynonnaise and taco seasoning mix. Spread over beans and follow with a layer of cheese, lettuce, tomato, green onions and olives.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, March 09, 2009

Easy Baked Ziti

This took about 10 minutes of prep work, baked for 20 minutes, and then was ready to eat. Super, super super easy. But the best part about it is that it tastes like an Italian mother has been baking it all day long. It's a great baked ziti. I love it. Perfect to set the mood for Sopranos tonight. I would definitely make this again.


Easy Baked Ziti
CLBB (ErinM)

8 ounces ziti
15 ounce container ricotta cheese
3 cups (about 12 ounces) shredded mozzarella,
3 cups spaghetti sauce, divided (homemade or
bottled, whatever you prefer)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, cook ziti in boiling water until just barely tender; drain and place in large bowl.
Mix ricotta cheese and 1/2 the mozzarella with the ziti. Cover the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray and spread 1/2 the sauce over the bottom. Put ziti with cheeses in pan; top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese melts and is lightly golden.

Yield: about 6-8 servings (Lauren's estimate)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Italian Cream Cake

His 23rd birthday is on Tuesday, but I am at my internship from 8-8 on Tuesday. Therefore, today was cake day. Now, he didn't even want a cake. I said, "What kind of cake do you want?" and he said, "I don't want a cake." So I interpreted that as, "Lauren, pick out an awesome cake that you've been wanting to make for awhile!" I picked this Italian Cream Cake because it's been consistently highly reviewed, and also because his father's side of the family is Italian. Represent, yo.

This took awhile but it was delicious and it smelled wonderful while it was cooling. I panicked when I started making it because I have never heard of butter extract in my life (turns out you can buy it here) and the Internet said you can't really properly substitute anything for it. So I just sucked it up, added some extra vanilla, and baked the cake anyway. And I totally skipped all this sugared kumquat crap because I hate random garnishes. I thought it was very yummy, and the cream cheese frosting was very tasty too. Not overpowering at all. The coconut flavor is in the background to enhance the cake, so it isn't a coconut-flavored cake. He enjoyed his birthday cake as well. I'm not sure I'd rank it up there as a "best cake ever," but it was definitely yummy and we'll be taking it for lunch all week!



Italian Cream Cake
Cooking Light, November 1995

Cream Cheese Icing (Recipe Follows)
Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light butter
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon butter extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites (at room temperature)
Sugared kumquats (optional)
Orange rind strips (optional)
Kumquat leaves (optional)

Prepare Cream Cheese Icing; cover and chill.

Coat bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with flour; set aside.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine 2 cups flour and baking soda; stir well. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in pecans and extracts.

Beat egg whites at high speed of a mixer until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes. Let cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans using a narrow metal spatula, and turn out onto wire racks. Peel off wax paper, and let cool completely.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate, and spread with 2/3 cup Cream Cheese Icing; top with another cake layer. Repeat with 2/3 cup icing and remaining layer, ending with cake. Spread remaining icing over cake. Garnish with kumquats, orange rind, and kumquat leaves, if desired.

Note: To make sugared kumquats, dip kumquats into lightly beaten egg whites, and drain; roll in sugar.

Cream Cheese Icing:
1 tablespoon light butter
1 (8-ounce) package Neufchâtel cheese
1 (1-pound) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and cheese at high speed of a mixer until fluffy. Add sugar; beat at low speed until well-blended. Add vanilla; beat well.

Chili & Cheddar Bowtie Casserole

Tonight we had Chili and Cheddar Bowtie Casserole. Gibby specifically requested a spicy pasta, and when I made this two years ago he really liked it. I used veggie bacon again. I don't think it's as exciting as we thought it was originally, but it was yummy.


Hershey's Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal with Bananas, Pecans, and Orange-Blossom Honey

Indulgent? Definitely. I got another huge bag of oats from my boss's spiritual farm, so I figured we should have some traditional oatmeal (rather than the instant packets). Not just any oatmeal though - chocolatey delicious oatmeal that is not so breakfasty and is mostly just delicious. This was a very nice breakfast. We probably would not make it again but if someone were to make it for me, I certainly would eat it again!


Hershey's Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal with Bananas, Pecans, and Orange-Blossom Honey
Hershey's, via AAA Magazine

3 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 Tbsp instant oats
1 Tbsp Hershey's cocoa powder
2 oz brown sugar
1 tsp butter, softened
1 banana, fresh, cut in half lengthwise, then quartered and diced
4 tsp pecans, toasted
4 tsp Hershey's chocolate chips
2 tsp orange blossom honey

1. Bring water and salt to boil over high heat.

2. Add oats and mix well. Bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Add cocoa and brown sugar. Mix well and bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook for 5 more minutes.

4. Add butter. Mix well to fully incorporate.

5. Remove from heat and evenly portion into warm bowls.

6. Garnish each bowl with 1/4 chopped fresh banana, 1 tsp chopped pecans, 1 tsp chocolate chips, and 1/2 tsp honey.

7. Serve hot and enjoy.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Grilled Swordfish with White Bean Relish and Potato Skordalia

This is a "wow" dish. It's very good. The only reason we made it is because swordfish went on sale at the grocery store, and I don't hate swordfish. I don't love it - and I still didn't eat all of it in my dinner, despite it being yummy - but I like it better than some of the other fish types. Anyhow. This dinner is very good. The fish is blackened with Emeril's spice mix (note: if you have an outdoor grill, grill it outside because when you use a grill pan everyone starts coughing from the spices in the air), the white bean relish is not overpowering, and the potatoes are soooooo amazingly garlicky from the raw, mashed garlic. YUM. I had a lot of fun mashing the garlic in my mortar & pestle, too. I don't use that enough.

I can't say I'd definitely make it again because I'm so finicky with fish, but maybe for company? I'd definitely make the potatoes a jillion times though. Oh my goodness.

Notes: Grill pan instead of outdoor grill (bad move). Fresh red bell pepper in the relish instead of roasted. Dried parsley, but I did use fresh cilantro! And I reduced the amount of oil in everything.


Grilled Swordfish with White Bean Relish and Potato Skordalia
Emeril Lagasse

1 recipe Potato Skordalia, recipe follows
4 (6-ounce) swordfish fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Essence, for seasoning fish, recipe follows
3 cups cooked white beans
1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
1 small red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Prepare Potato Skordalia, cover, and set aside until ready to serve.

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Brush the swordfish fillets with the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Season both sides with Essence. When the grill is hot grill the fish until medium, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove from the grill and cover to keep warm.

Combine the white beans with red onions, roasted red peppers, lemon zest, cilantro, parsley, extra-virgin olive oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Adjust seasonings with the salt and pepper, and toss well.

To serve place a grilled fillet on each of 4 dinner plates. Top each with the white bean relish and desired amount of the Potato Skordalia. Garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro sprigs.

Yield: 4 servings

Potato Skordalia:
1 pound boiling (such as red bliss) potatoes, halved with the skin on
5 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and cool. Peel the potatoes, discarding the skins. Push them through a ricer into a medium bowl and set aside.

Pound the garlic with the salt in a mortar and pestle until smooth. Add the garlic mixture to the potatoes and stir well. Gradually add the vinegar, lemon juice, and the oil, pounding or stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Adjust seasonings with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add more oil if desired.

Yield: about 3 cups

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup (I halved it and had enough for two swordfish steaks)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, Provolone, and Sun-Dried Tomato-Pesto Sandwich

This was yummy but was not as good as some of the other eggplant dishes we've had. Also, even though the cheese isn't melted onto the bread, when you add the hot vegetables, the cheese melts. This is pretty good, but we probably wouldn't make it again.

Note: I used storebought pesto, so the meal took me about 6 minutes total.


We had it with some broccoli.
sandwich and broccoli

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, Provolone, and Sun-Dried Tomato-Pesto Sandwich
Cooking Light, July 1999

You'll have leftover pesto, which is great with pasta or as a dip.

1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices yellow tomato (about 10 ounces)
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices red tomato (about 10 ounces)
Cooking spray
8 (1 1/2-ounce) slices French bread
1/2 cup Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
2 (1 1/2-ounce) slices provolone cheese, each cut in half
1 cup gourmet salad greens

Prepare grill or broiler.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over eggplant and tomato slices.

Place eggplant on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; cook 5 minutes on each side or until eggplant is tender and browned. Place tomato on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray, and cook 2 minutes on each side or until tomato is done. Place bread on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; cook 1 minute on each side or until bread is lightly toasted.

Spread 1 tablespoon Sun-dried Tomato Pesto on each bread slice, and place 1/2 slice of cheese on each of 4 bread slices. Arrange greens, eggplant, and tomato evenly over cheese, and top with 4 bread slices.

Yield: 4 servings

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup chopped seeded plum tomato
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves

Combine sun-dried tomatoes and boiling water in a bowl, and let stand 4 minutes. Drain and chop.

Combine tomatoes, plum tomato, and remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process 20 seconds or until a paste forms.

Note: Pesto can be stored in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Broccoli with Balsamic-Butter Sauce

This was a tasty side dish. It's very similar to the asparagus with balsamic browned butter that we enjoyed, but I think the broccoli absorbed the buttery sauce better than the asparagus did. This was super fast and tasty and we would definitely make it again.


Broccoli with Balsamic-Butter Sauce
Cooking Light

Place 1 lb broccoli spears in a microwave-safe dish; add 1 tbsp water. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave at HIGH 4 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp finely chopped shallots; saute 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper; drizzle over broccoli.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cakey Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

I was attracted to this recipe because the batter could be made 12 hours in advance. So this morning before work I made the batter and threw it in the refrigerator. The syrup is super-easy to make too - I used some frozen blueberries, syrup, cook for 2 minutes, strain, ta-da! Tastes just like my favorite blueberry syrup at IHOP.

Now, the pancakes. I Hated the pancakes. They're very eggy. They have a significant egg taste. And as you probably know by now, I like eggs, but I do not like when things that are not eggs taste like eggs. Oh also I didn't cook them in butter (just nonstick cooking spray) but that wasn't the issue. I would not make these again (I'll defer to my mom's recipe), but I would definitely make the syrup again!


Cakey Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup
Ask Aida on Food Network

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Blueberry Maple Syrup, recipe follows

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except 2 tablespoons butter until evenly combined and moistened thoroughly (some small lumps will remain). Set mixture aside to rest while griddle heats or cover and store in the refrigerator to rest up to 12 hours before using. (If batter rests, stir briefly before using.)

Heat a large seasoned cast iron skillet, frying pan, or griddle over medium heat. To check that the pan's properly heated, sprinkle a few drops of water on pan or griddle and water will "dance" around before evaporating.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan. When it foams, ladle 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bubbles cover the top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, another 1 minute. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately topped with Blueberry Maple Syrup.

Yield: 16 small pancakes

Blueberry Maple Syrup:

3 cups blueberries
1 cup maple syrup

Combine 1 1/2 cups berries and syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until berries are slightly softened, about 2 minutes, then mash using the back of a spoon. Simmer until mixture foams up a bit, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

Remove from heat, strain to remove blueberry solids, stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups berries, and use to top pancakes, waffles, or French toast.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chiles

On the plus side: quick prep in the morning, crockpot all day, ready to eat after 30 seconds spent with an immersion blender, pretty good.

Negatives: Not spicy, kind of thick and mushy like refried beans, fell victim to crockpot syndrome (where everything blends together and becomes the same flavor).

Not a make again for us!

bean soup

Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chiles
Bon Appetit

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-size red onions, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles*
7 cups hot water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup chopped seeded plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 6 hours. Transfer 2 cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Spoon dollop of yogurt into each bowl. Sprinkle with tomatoes and cilantro and serve.

*Chipotle chiles canned in a spicy tomato sauce, sometimes called adobo, are available at Latin American markets and many supermarkets.

Test-kitchen tip: Add richness to slow-cooker soups by using a mixture of half broth and half water instead of only water.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, March 02, 2009

Santa Fe Wraps

I had a bunch of ingredients around the house that I wanted to use up, and they all fit into this recipe, so voila. We have party food for dinner. This was a bad idea because, while the little roll-ups are delicious, they're best consumed from an appetizer platter one or two at a time, maybe with some crudites and potato chips or something. Not alone with some Mexican Kashi for dinner. They are good though. I would make them for a party. I will never make them again as a meal. At least I used some stuff up though!

santa fe

Santa Fe Wraps
Cooking with Paula Deen, Jan/Feb 2006

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 1/2-ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 (4 1/4-ounce) can chopped olives
1 cup (4-ounce) shredded pepper jack cheese
2 tablespoons salsa, plus salsa for dipping, optional
1/2 cup green onion tops, sliced
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
2 packages flour tortillas

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy. Then add sour cream, green chiles, olives, pepper jack cheese, salsa, and onion tops. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer. Stir in spinach. Spread mixture evenly over the surface of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas tightly and cut each tortilla crosswise into 6 slices. Skewer each wrap with a wooden toothpick. Serve immediately or chill. Serve with salsa for dipping, if desired.

Yield: 12-15 servings

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Banh Mi Chay

Tonight I made Banh Mi Chay sandwiches and they were good. They were quite forgiving considering I forgot to add the soy sauce and sugar to the tofu, and we didn't even notice.