Saturday, October 31, 2009

Golden Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts

Tonight I rushed around making potato-leek soup while we were getting ready for all the trick-or-treaters to arrive. I ended up setting it on the table to eat and then forgetting about it for 15-20 minutes while I was getting dressed and sorting out the candy and such. Still delicious! And a very nice fall meal.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Braised Sesame Noodles

Technically the real title is "Braised Sesame Chicken Noodles" but it was recommended to sub vegetable stock and tofu for the chicken stock and chicken. This was ok. I did not really like it. I browned the tofu beforehand to crisp it up and dry it out a little, which was nice. But the noodles didn't work well for me and now my tummy is hurting, which I am attributing to the food. I wouldn't make this again.

Note: I used 12 oz of tofu, like the chicken it called for.


Braised Sesame Chicken Noodles

Strips of chicken breast, noodles, broccoli, carrot and scallion braised in a luscious sesame-hoisin sauce and sprinkled with freshly toasted sesame seeds.

12 oz (360g) uncooked skinless chicken breast fillets—cut into strips
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons Chinese soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic—minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 carrot—cut into diagonal slices
1 head broccoli—cut into florets
1 scallion (spring onion) thinly sliced on diagonal
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
6 oz (180g) precooked wheat noodles
1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour) mixed to a paste with 1 tablespoon water

HEAT a frying pan over medium heat and toast the sesame seeds lightly (about 1 minute) stirring constantly. HEAT the chicken stock, hoisin and sesame oil in a large saucepan to boiling. ADD garlic, ginger and chicken and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. ADD the broccoli and carrot and cook for 4 minutes, then add the precooked noodles and scallions and cook for a further minute. STIR through the cornstarch paste until the sauce thickens, and serve sprinkled with the toasted sesame seeds.

Yield: 2 servings

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Portobello Provolone Sandwiches

I often complain that there aren't any good vegetarian deli-type sandwiches, but this one is very good! Though the mushrooms are sauteed, everything else is pretty much just stacked onto the bread. I used a little bit of mayonnaise and mustard and did not use a red onion. I also used a small multigrain "petite loaf" of Italian bread. It made for a ginormous sandwich that I only ate about 2/3 of, but I loved every bit of it!


Portobello Provolone Sandwiches
Sargento advertisement

2 Tbsp. butter
1 yellow or red bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips
1 lb. portobello mushrooms, trimmed, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 loaf (12-inch) French or Italian bread
Mustard, mayonnaise and/or horseradish sauce
4 large romaine or red leaf lettuce leaves
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
6 slices Sargento® Deli Style Sliced Provolone Cheese
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, sliced

1. Melt butter over medium heat in large skillet. Add bell pepper, cook 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and garlic, cook 6 minutes or until pepper is tender and liquid from mushrooms evaporates. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Meanwhile, spread bread with mustard, mayonnaise and/or horseradish sauce to taste.

3. Layer lettuce, tomato and onion, if desired, over bottom half of loaf. Top with mushroom mixture, cheese and avocado. Cut crosswise into fourths and serve.
Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vegetarian Bibimbap

It was fun to spend a nice rainy night eating bibimbap and watching last night's episode of Castle.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Autumn Harvest Red Lentil Soup

This was good. The texture was weird but it tasted yummy. I didn't have any red lentils so I used some yellow split-peas that I have on the dried bean shelf in the pantry. I probably won't make this again. I didn't puree the peas/lentils because they get mushy anyway so there isn't really a reason to do so.


Autumn Harvest Red Lentil Soup
Healthy Hedonist via CLBB (gaja)

1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
5 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, cut into small dice (2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 pound butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
1 parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/2 cup)
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 pound spinach, stemmed, washed, and torn into bite-size pieces or one 5-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed
Cayenne pepper

Combine the lentils, 4 cups of the water, the bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Discard the bay leaf, and purée the lentils with an immersion blender or in a standing blender. (If you want a little texture, you can simply whisk the lentils until creamy.) Set the lentils aside.

Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, and coriander, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the squash, parsnips, carrots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Stir the lemon juice and spinach into the lentils. The heat will immediately wilt the spinach. Add the vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes to marry the flavors. Season with a generous pinch of cayenne. Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

To go along with the Frightening Fingers, I made these super-chewy cupcakes that look like candy apples. They were very yummy and very pretty. I liked them a lot. Definitely chewy though, from the caramel, which I think was a little bit off-putting to some. I think these would be a lot of fun for a kids' birthday party.



Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Joe's Blog, adapted from Woman's Day

For the batter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
scant 1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg

For the glaze
25 caramel cubes
1 tablespoon heavy cream

For assembly
10 popsicle sticks
sprinkes, nuts or chopped candies for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the batter
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, clove and salt.

In another medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, sugars, butter, sour cream and eggs. Add into the dry ingredient and stir just until combined.

Evenly divide the batter between 10 wells of a 12 cup muffin tin lined with paper liners - add a little water to the empty wells. Place into the oven and bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed in the center or a toothpick placed into the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 16 to 22 minutes. Remove and place pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before turning the cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare the glaze
In a small saucepan, melt caramels over low heat, stirring often. Add heavy cream and stir until smooth and combined - remove from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Quickly spread the tops of each cupcake with about 2 teaspoons of the caramel mixture.

To assemble
Place a popsicle stick into center and top with your favorite sprinkles or chopped candies. Set into the freezer for 5 minutes to set the caramel - remove and store at room temperature.

Yield: 12

Frightening Fingers

We went to a Halloween party last night so, being Lauren, I made some food. One of the things I chose to make was this recipe for finger-shaped cookies. I have to admit, they were pretty freaky looking. Tasted pretty good, like almond shortbread. I used 2 cups of regular flour and then 3/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour. This version, using chocolate chips, is an adaptation from a Taste of Home recipe by someone on the Cooking Light boards. The original uses decorative red gel to stick the almonds on. I did not dust the fingers with cocoa because they did not look good when I tried on a small sample of them. These would definitely be fun to make again for Halloween sometime.

NOTE: The notes in the recipe are NOT MINE, they are from the original poster.


Frightening Fingers
CLBB (dneilson), adapted from Taste of Home

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (12. 75 oz ww pastry flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Red decorating gel (I used a chocolate chip, see below)
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Divide dough into fourths. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

2. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into 1-in. balls. Shape balls into 3-in. x 1/2-in. fingers. Using the flat tip of a table knife, make an indentation on one end of each for fingernail. With a knife, make three slashes in the middle of each finger for knuckle.

3. Place 2 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 325? for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 3 minutes. Squeeze a small amount of red gel on nail bed; press a sliced almond over gel for nail, allowing gel to ooze around nail. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Dneilson's Notes: I found .35 oz was perfect weight for shaping fingers. Since we don't do HFCS, instead of the red gel; I placed a chocolate chip on the "nail bed" - returned cookies to oven to melt chocolate chip (20 seconds?). Removed from oven and pressed an almond slice over the chocolate chip to adhere while it was still soft. A chocolate chip was perfect size and compatible with almond flavor of the cookie. Cool. After cooling, I brushed the fingers with a brush and alkalized cocoa to enhance the "wrinkles".

Yield: about 5 dozen cookies.

Thai Tomato Soup

Tonight we went to a friend's Halloween party. I made some tasty baked goods but I'm going to wait til tomorrow to post them because the pictures aren't up yet. Tonight we had Thai Tomato Soup and some grilled cheese sandwiches before heading out and it was yummy as usual.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Garlic Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Hazelnuts

Tonight I used one of our delicious Honeycrisp apples to make some Apple Sandwiches. Always perfect for the fall!

To with them, I used some frozen green beans to make this quick and tasty side dish. The recipe doesn't say how long the green beans should cook for. It took ours about 10-15 minutes to cook through properly. It might be quicker with fresh green beans, but I don't know. We thought this was very yummy. I would make it again.


Garlic Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Hazelnuts
Bobby Flay

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss together green beans, shallots, garlic, oil and salt and pepper in a medium roasting pan. Roast in the oven until the beans are cooked through and light golden brown. Remove from the oven and stir in the lemon zest and hazelnuts. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Chocolate-Marshmallow Brownies

I made these on Sunday and forgot to post about them. I had hoped they would be s'mores-like, with marshmallowy goodness swirled throughout. I was wrong! The marshmallows ended up disintegrating into the brownies and it was stupid. Don't get me wrong - they are delicious brownies. But there is no marshmallow to be found and that sucks because that's what I was hoping for. I would not make this again.


Chocolate-Marshmallow Brownies
Southern Living, November 2001

Although these brownies can be eaten just after they cool, we find them at their best if you let them stand overnight.

4 (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate squares
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Heat chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Stir in sugar, and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar melts. Cool 15 minutes.

Add eggs; stir until blended. Add flour, salt, and vanilla, stirring until blended. Stir in chocolate morsels and marshmallows, and pour into a greased 13- x 9-inch pan.

Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes; cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover brownies, and let stand at room temperature 8 hours.

Yield: 2 dozen

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins

When we go to the gma's house, we frequently order in from an Italian restaurant in NW DC called Listrani's. They serve one of my favorite things ever: Linguine with seasoned greens sauteed in olive oil with fresh garlic, hot peppers, raisins & toasted pine nuts. I thought tonight's recipe might be similar, but it isn't really. And the pepper doesn't fit in. I think the secret to Listrani's wonderful pasta is an abundance of olive oil, but I'm not positive. Anyway, I'll stick to the real deal. Not a make-again!


Pasta with Beet Greens and Raisins
Cooking Light, November 2004

Use the green, leafy tops from beets to make this quick pasta dish.

8 ounces uncooked pennette (mini penne)
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed beet greens
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

While pasta cooks, place raisins in a small bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain.

While pasta cooks and raisins soak, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add greens and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until greens are tender. Stir in pasta, raisins, almonds, salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash

This meal is SUPER easy (halve the squash, put in oven, mix corn and stuff, spoon into the squash, put back in oven) but it looks super fancy. Great presentation. And my goodness, it is delicious. And adaptable. I didn't have any milk so I used half-and-half in a moment of desperation, and I didn't have any anise so I used some Chinese 5-spice powder (contains anise, cloves, etc so I also omitted the nutmeg). I also used frozen corn. This was excellent. It is a definite make-again, and maybe even a make-for-company type recipe.


Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash
The Vegetarian Compass written by Karen Hubert Allison, published in 1998
Adapted by

1 small (2 lb.) acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 tablespoon clarified butter or olive oil
1 cup milk
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (or more if you like)
1/4 teaspoon anise seed, chopped
1/2 cup chopped scallions
a tiny pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup grated white cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees with a rack in the middle.

Rub the orange flesh of the squash with the butter/oil. Place cut side up on a baking sheet. You will want it to sit flat (and not tip), if you are having trouble just level out the bottom using a knife. If the squash is tilting on the pan, the filling will run out - bad news. Cover the squash with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the squash starts to get tender.

In a bowl combine the milk, eggs, corn, anise seed, half of the scallions, nutmeg, and salt. Fill each of the squash bowls 3/4 full (see head notes about using leftovers). Carefully transfer the squash back to the oven without spilling (tricky!). Continue baking uncovered for another 30 - 50 minutes, or until the squash is fully cooked through, and the pudding has set. The amount of time it takes can vary wildly depending on the squash and oven. At the last minute sprinkle with cheese and finish with a flash under the broiler to brown the cheese. Keep and eye on things, you can go from melted cheese to burnt and inedible in a flash. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining scallions.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Banh Mi Chay

Tonight I made some tasty Banh Mi Chay sandwiches. Then we went to a haunted hotel in Saylorsburg, which was fun, and now we're about to head out again to go to see Where the Wild Things Are. Good times.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil

Yeah that's right, I made vegan cheese. And it was AMAZING. I sort of made it just out of curiosity, but it turns out it's AWESOME. It tastes more like a hummus than a cheese. It is spreadable but also has a crumbly consistency like real feta. And it's not very hard to make. You just need enough time to do it. I started the almonds yesterday morning, pureed it and stuck it into cheesecloth this morning, and by dinner time it was all set. We had it with some slices of French bread. I didn't bother with the herb oil because it was yummy enough on its own. But don't be surprised if you come to my house someday and I feed this to you. And I won't even tell you it's vegan.


Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil
Vegetarian Times, April 2009

Blanched almonds give this creamy-crumbly cheese a rich texture. Unbaked, it will be smooth and spreadable. Baking will make it a bit more crumbly, like traditional feta cheese.

1 cup whole blanched almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves

1. Place almonds in medium bowl, and cover with 3 inches cold water. Let soak 24 hours. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water, and drain again.

2. Purée almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs. oil, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water in food processor 6 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy.

3. Place large strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon almond mixture into cheesecloth. Bring corners and sides of cloth together, and twist around cheese, forming into orange-size ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Chill 12 hours, or overnight. Discard excess liquid.

4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer from cheesecloth to prepared baking sheet. Flatten to form 6-inch round about 3/4-inch thick. Bake 40 minutes, or until top is slightly firm. Cool, then chill. (Cheese can be made up to this point 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.)

5. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, thyme, and rosemary in small saucepan. Warm oil over medium-low heat 2 minutes, or until very hot but not simmering. Cool to room temperature. Drizzle herb oil over cheese just before serving.

Yield: 10 oz round

Parmesan Zucchini Sticks with Smoky Roasted Romesco Sauce

This is a lot of steps but the process isn't so bad, actually. We had them as part of a little tapas-like meal tonight. I think it's supposed to be a side dish. The romesco sauce is delicious and would be really yummy as a spread/dip for bread or something. Very good. We would make this again.


Parmesan Zucchini Sticks with Smoky Roasted Romesco Sauce
Cooking Light, July 2008

Crunchy breaded zucchini spears are delicious dipped in a summery sauce of roasted red peppers. The sauce is a zesty embellishment for grilled meats, too.

3 medium red bell peppers
2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup (1/2-inch) cubed French bread baguette, crusts removed
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked almonds
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 large garlic clove

3 large zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup egg substitute
Cooking spray

1. Preheat broiler.

2. To prepare sauce, cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place bell pepper halves and tomatoes, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten bell peppers with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop, reserving any liquid.

3. Combine bell peppers, reserved liquid, tomatoes, and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

4. Preheat oven to 400°.

5. To prepare zucchini, cut 1 zucchini in half crosswise; cut each half lengthwise into 8 wedges. Repeat procedure with remaining zucchini. Combine breadcrumbs, panko, cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish. Dip zucchini in egg substitute; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place zucchini on a wire rack coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat zucchini with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with sauce.

Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jalapeño Popper Mac 'n' Cheese

Seriously, what's not to love? Cheese? Good. Pasta? Good. Jalapenos? Good. We decided it could benefit from a panko topping but otherwise was delicious. We would make this again.


Jalapeño Popper Mac 'n' Cheese
Joe's Blog

16 ounces dry cavatappi pasta
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles, seeded, ribs removed and thinly sliced
2 serrano chiles, seeded, ribs removed and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups milk
8 ounces cream cheese, sliced into cubes
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded Mexican-blend cheese

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and place back into the pot off heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Stir in jalapeños, serranos and garlic - cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add to the pot with the drained pasta.

Preheat the broiler.

In the same saucepan, add milk, cream cheese and onion - heat over medium-low, stirring, until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour in to the pot with the pasta and add the cheese - season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, tossing well to coat. Scoop mixture into a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Place under the broiler and bake until lightly browned on top, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Poblano-and-Cheddar-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

These were pretty easy to make and pretty good. I think they would have been better if my poblanos had actually been remotely spicy. But they weren't. Maybe I accidentally got an Anaheim??? I don't know!! It was like a bell pepper. But this was pretty good. I don't think I'd make it again since I have other stuffed portobello recipes that are better.


Poblano-and-Cheddar-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Food and Wine

MAKE AHEAD The cooked stuffed mushrooms can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature, cover and bake in a 325° oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are heated through.

2 poblano chiles
4 jumbo portobello mushrooms (about 6 ounces each), stemmed
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

1. Light a grill or preheat the broiler. Roast the poblanos over the grill or under the broiler, turning, until blackened, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, core and seed the poblanos then finely chop them.

2. Brush the portobello mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the mushrooms over high heat, turning, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate, stem side down; let drain and cool.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the baby spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and press out the liquid. In a bowl, mix the spinach with the rice, cheese, cilantro and poblanos. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Preheat the oven to 325°. Season the mushroom caps with salt and pepper. Spoon the rice mixture into the mushrooms, mounding it slightly. Transfer the mushrooms to a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 2 servings

Monday, October 12, 2009

Smashed Parsnips with Mascarpone

Tonight we had Grilled Cheese with Onion Jam & Taleggio, but I couldn't find the onion jam or the taleggio. So we had jalapeno jam and fontina. It was good but didn't work as well as the onion-garlic jam we used before. This will not be a make-again UNLESS we find the onion jam, in which case we'll probably eat it every day.

To go with the sandwiches, I wanted to try out this parsnip recipe. This was deemed Thanksgiving-worthy! I do agree it was very good. Definitely the best preparation of parsnips I've had. Yum! We would make this again. Maybe even for Thanksgiving, apparently!


Smashed Parsnips with Mascarpone
Food Network - Big Daddy's House

1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the parsnips. Cook until the parsnips are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Heat a pot over medium-high heat and add the butter and sugar. Allow to melt together. Add onions and saute until caramelized, 6 minutes.

Add parsnips to pot. Turn heat off and add the mascarpone. Stir together and mash, adding parsley, salt and pepper.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

Oh my goodness gracious. I saw this posted on Joe's Blog a couple days ago and immediately decided we must have it. And it did not disappoint. This is quite possibly my favorite dessert I've made all year. Certainly a fall staple. I've already called my mom and it's in the running to be made on Thanksgiving instead of a traditional apple pie. It is DELICIOUS.

Our picture doesn't show the apples as much. For a fancier picture, check out Joe's photos here.


Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake
Joe's Blog
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

For the crust

scant 2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 30 whole cookies, depending on size)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the apples

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided

For the filling

24 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

To prepare the crust

In a medium bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Drizzle in butter and stir to moisten the crumbs. Scoop crumbs into a 10" springform pan coated with nonstick spray and firmly press them over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place pan into the freezer and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Transfer pan from the freezer into the oven and bake until the crust is set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To prepare the apples

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high. Stir in half of the apples and cook, turning once, until they are golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scatter the apples with 1 tablespoon sugar and cook, tossing to coat, for 1 minute. Scrape apple mixture onto a plate and repeat with remaining apples, butter and sugar. When done, set aside to cool.

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil.

To prepare the filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until very smooth. Add brown and granulated sugar and beat until combined. Mix in the cider, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until combined after each. Mix in sour cream and heavy cream just until mixture is smooth.

Scoop about one-third of the batter into the baked gingersnap crust. Using a slotted spoon to let the excess juices drain away, lift apples off the plate and arrange them on top of the batter in the pan. Pour remaining batter over the top and smooth with an off-set spatula.

When water is boiling, pour water into an oven-safe casserole dish and place it on the bottom rack in the oven. Set springform pan on a rack set in the middle of the oven, above the casserole dish filled with water.

Bake cheesecake until it looks mostly set, but about a 2 to 3" ring in the center is still a bit jiggly, about 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, cover the cake loosely with foil to prevent over-browning. Gently remove pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool completely. Place pan into the refrigerator and let chill overnight before serving.

Yield: 16 servings

Layered Tortilla & Tomato Casserole With Butternut Squash Hash and Melted Cheese

Tonight's dinner took awhile to make! First I had to roast the peppers and the garlic, then make the sauce and the butternut squash hash, then assemble the casserole, and then bake it! But it was definitely worth it! We really liked it a LOT. I'd definitely make it again, but it would have to be on a day when I have time! We discussed possible ways to reduce the time and effort, like using Rotel tomatoes, which already have chiles in them, but agreed it wouldn't be as smooth or tasty as the sauce in this recipe. Very good. We would make this again.

A note: I got this recipe from someone else's blog and they included their notes throughout the recipe. So. THE NOTES ARE NOT MINE.


Layered Tortilla & Tomato Casserole With Butternut Squash Hash and Melted Cheese via CLBB(ljt2r)
Adapted from Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless

For the sauce:
6 poblanos, roasted until charred and then stems and seeds removed
1 head of garlic, roasted
3 28 oz cans of tomatoes in juice, a good brand like Muir Glen (I was out of their roasted tomatoes but they would shine here)
1/2 t smoked Spanish paprika
2 T vegetable oil
salt, if needed

For layers:
1 10 oz box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry and broken into small clumps
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen or cut from1 ears of corn)
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 small (1 1/2 lb) butternut squash, peeled and roughly cubed
1 large red onion, diced
1 T vegetable oil
2 t ancho chili powder
1 t ground cumin
a few splashes of red wine vinegar
1 lb shredded Monterey Jack cheese, about 4 cups (I did not measure but just layered)
24 corn tortillas, preferably stale and factory-made
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Cilantro, chipotle powder and sour cream for garnish

For the sauce: using a blender, puree the tomatoes with the roasted poblanos (including the skins) and roasted and peeled garlic. Add some chipotles to taste if you like the heat, otherwise add some smoked Spanish paprika. When smooth-ish (I blended on low and in batches) set aside. Heat a large skillet on medium high and add the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil when hot. When it shimmers, carefully pour the tomato puree into the pan. Stir nearly constantly for 8-10 minutes, until it thickens. Taste and season with salt--with canned tomatoes it may need none. Set aside.

For the hash: Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. When it is hot, add the 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. When it shimmers, add the red onion and sprinkle with salt. Stir occasionally, turning down the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Let cook for 10 minutes. Then add the butternut squash. Cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low and let cook another 5-10 minutes. It is ready when the butternut squash is tender. Then add the corn and beans with the ancho and cumin and mix together. Splash with the red wine vinegar to deglaze and brighten the flavors. The hash is done when the vinegar completely evaporates. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the tortillas: Heat the 1/2 cup oil in a large pot or skillet, preferably heavy. It is ready when a wooden spoon sizzles when dipped into it. Fry each tortilla for about 5 seconds per side and then let drain in a single layer on layered paper towels (I pressed on top of the tortillas with additional paper towels). Set aside.

For layering the casserole: Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of a greased 9X13 casserole dish. Spread a layer of 6 tortillas over it. Cover that with 1 1/2 cups of the sauce, a layer of cheese, the crumbled spinach, and another layer of cheese, totaling a bit over a cup of cheese. Layer another 6 tortillas. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the sauce over the tortillas, spread half of the hash of the sauce and finish with 1 cup of the cheese. Repeat this layer, using the rest of the hash. Layer the final 6 tortillas over that layer, pour the rest of the sauce over the tortillas and finish with the rest of the shredded cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover the casserole with foil and cook for 25 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, until it is bubbling and the cheese is browning.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Korean Sesame-Crusted Tofu

I meant to make this last night but we went to a diner instead because I was tired and did not feel like cooking. Today I whipped this up and we had it with some sesame rice and mandarin oranges. Yum yum. The Thai bird chiles were AWESOME in this. I like trying out new chile peppers. We would make this again.


Korean Sesame-Crusted Tofu
Vegetarian Times, July 2009

Serve this dish with steamed rice and kimchee, spicy pickled cabbage found in the refrigerator section of Asian grocery stores and well-stocked supermarkets.

1 16-oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
4 tsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
1 lb. bok choy, coarsely chopped (4 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced (1 cup)
1 15-oz. can baby corn, rinsed and drained
8 green onions, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
2 bird’s eye chiles or other small chile peppers, seeded and minced
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce

1. Place tofu between two cutting boards, tip boards over sink edge; drain 10 minutes. Cut tofu into bite-size cubes.

2. Coat tofu with sesame seeds in small bowl. Heat 2 tsp. oil in wok or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add tofu, and sauté 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove tofu to plate.

3. Heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in wok over high heat. Add bok choy and bell pepper; stir-fry 4 minutes. Stir in corn, green onions, garlic, and chiles; stir-fry 2 minutes more. Stir in soy sauce, then fold in tofu.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread

To go along with our artichokes, I made this lovely little pseudo-pizza. It is very easy and very yummy. We would definitely make this again.


Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread
Bon Appetit, August 2006

10 oz tube refrigerated pizza dough
3/4 cup garlic and herb cheese spread (such as Alouette), divided
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, divided
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 small red onion
1 7- to 8-inch long zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch thick rounds
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Line baking sheet with parchment. Unroll dough onto parchment. Spread half of herb cheese over one long half of dough, leaving 1/2 inch plain border. Sprinkle with half of parmesan and 2 tbsp parsley. Using parchment as an aid, fold plain half of dough over filled half (don't seal edges). Spread remaining herb cheese over top; sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Remove enough outer layers of onion to yield a 2-inch diameter core; cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Arrange one row of zucchini down one long side of dough. Arrange onion rounds in row alongside zucchini. Arrange one more row of zucchini alongside onion. Brush vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until puffed and deep brown at edges, about 24 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Steamed Fresh Artichokes

This recipe uses lemon and garlic to infuse the artichokes with a very subtle flavor. It's very nice. I didn't serve it with their magic sauce or anything, just with some simple melted butter. I'd make them this way again.


Steamed Fresh Artichokes
Southern Living

We tested a fancy steaming mixture that had about 10 ingredients, including wine, but found this simple mixture that calls for lemon and garlic imparts great flavor for a lower cost.

1 lemon, thinly sliced
5 fresh parsley sprigs
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
4 fresh artichokes (about 3/4 lb. each)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Combine lemon, next 3 ingredients, and 2 1/2 cups water in large Dutch oven. Place a steamer basket in Dutch oven.

2. Wash artichokes by plunging up and down in cold water. Cut off stem ends, and trim about 1 inch from top of each artichoke, using a serrated knife. Remove any loose bottom leaves. Trim one-fourth off top from each outer leaf, using kitchen shears.

3. Arrange artichokes in steamer basket. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 to 40 minutes or until stem end is easily pierced with a long wooden pick. Remove artichokes from Dutch oven.

4. Carefully pull open center leaves of artichokes. Remove and discard choke using a long spoon. Serve with Buttery Dipping Sauces or Mayo Mixtures. (OR NOT)

Yield: 4-8 servings

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

'Pizza' Sandwiches

I didn't read the recipe through all the way and figured it was a warm sandwich, so then I was disappointed that it wasn't. So I made it hot by throwing it on the panini press. Actually, I didn't really stick to the recipe at all. I used some leftover pizza sauce from the other day, put pepperoni on his, and pressed them til they were warm and melty. The sandwiches were very yummy and easy. I don't know if I would make them again, but we did enjoy them.


"Pizza" Sandwiches
Bon Appetit, September 2009

You'll have enough tomato spread for leftovers.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
4 ciabatta rolls or other Italian bread rolls, split horizontally
2 8-ounce balls mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced, drained on several layers of paper towels
2 cups arugula or mixed greens (optional)

Place 4 tablespoons oil and garlic in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until garlic is golden, about 1 minute.

Remove pan from heat; stir in tomato paste. Stir in sugar, oregano, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Return pan to heat; cook until tomato spread is bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Spread 1 teaspoon tomato spread on top and bottom halves of rolls. Divide cheese slices among bottom halves of rolls. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with arugula, if using. Cover with roll tops. Cut sandwiches in half; wrap. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, October 05, 2009

Lemony Shrimp with White Beans and Couscous

Quick recap of the past couple days:

1) Lunch at Chevy Chase Club in Chevy Chase, MD with the grandma on Saturday.
2) Catered Greek food at friend's wedding in Potomac, MD on Saturday.
3) Brunch made by my friend/former coworker on Sunday.
4) PIZZA last night because after such a busy weekend I was NOT in the mood to cook.

Also just want to throw in that I am very sad about Gourmet magazine shutting down :( You may know from reading my blog that I often make recipes from Gourmet and they're usually pretty good. Granted, I don't subscribe anymore because I cut down on subscriptions to magazines a few years ago and never started that one back up, so I get my recipes from their website, but it still makes me sad. It's an excellent magazine.

That being said, switching from super-foodie Gourmet over to easy weeknight Real Simple, I made this super-easy dinner in about 10 minutes. Most stuff is on-hand (at least in my kitchen), especially with super-convenient frozen shrimp. Lately I've found that having shrimp in the freezer at all times is a good idea. We didn't love this - it is NOT lemony at all - but it was still pretty good. I used a pine nut couscous that was very yummy and added to it all.


Lemony Shrimp with White Beans and Couscous
Real Simple, Feb 09

1 10-ounce box couscous (1 1/2 cups)
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 15.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Stir in the couscous and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and let sit off heat for 5 minutes; fluff with a fork before serving.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and scallions and cook for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they begin to turn pink, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the beans, parsley, lemon juice, the remaining butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with the couscous.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, October 02, 2009

Potato Pizza with Fresh Rosemary, Thyme and Mozzarella

Another pizza! Hooray! This was okay but nothing super-awesome. Potatoes and pizza are a nice combination. I wouldn't make this again though.


Potato Pizza with Fresh Rosemary, Thyme and Mozzarella
Joe's Blog

8 ounces baby Yukon Gold potatoes
cornmeal, for dusting
12 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup pizza or marinara sauce
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone placed on the lowest rack.

In a medium saucepan, add potatoes and enough water to cover - season with salt. Bring to a boil - reduce heat and simmer just until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain well, then set aside to cool. When cool, slice potatoes about 1/4" thick.

Sprinkle enough cornmeal to lightly cover a pizza peel. Stretch and roll out dough to a rough 12" to 13" circle and transfer to the cornmeal-dusted peel. Slide the crust onto the stone and cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and place the crust, uncooked-side down, onto a wire rack.

Add pizza sauce on top, then spread evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2" border around the edges.

In a medium bowl, stir together oil, rosemary and thyme - season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add potato slices and gently toss to coat. Arrange potato slices over the crust. Place sliced mozzarella in the open spots between the potatoes, then scatter any leftover cheese on top.

Slide pizza back onto the stone and bake until the cheese has melted and the crust is crisp, about 7 to 12 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

Yield: 4 servings