Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sloppy Joes

Woohoo! I found a bag of soy crumbles in the freezer in the basement, and I happened to have picked up some burger buns on a whim at the store. Found a can of tomato paste hidden in the back of the pantry, stuck some sweet potato fries in the oven, and voila! Not-So-Sloppy Joes and sweet potato fries.

I think we're pretty much tapped out in the "Lauren creatively uses her stockpile to create her favorite recipes" department. After this weekend, it'll be back to normal, I hope.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fettuccine and Tofu with Peanut Sauce

Wow, it's been a long time since we made this Fettuccine and Tofu with Peanut Sauce. But guess what? I HAD ALL THE INGREDIENTS! So I made it tonight! Woohoo! Go me. I even had some bean sprouts so I tossed those in. Small mistake: I used some sambal oelek instead of the regular Sriracha and it was a little too spicy. Oh well! Yum!

Make-Agains

The past couple weeks have been tumultuous, at best, so I haven't had time to go grocery shopping or make meal plans or - on some nights - cook at all. So this explains the lack of posts. I have made a couple of repeat recipes with ingredients I had on hand. Last night was Cheesy Baked Tortellini, and later last week I made Vegetable Bibimbap.

Usually I make a meal plan every Friday and we grocery every Saturday. I am able to adjust this when we are out of town or whatever, but things have been too crazy to even stick to a plan. Therefore, my challenge this week is to use the ingredients we already have to make delicious food. Luckily we had some frozen tortellini, homemade marinara sauce in a jar, and half a tub of mascarpone, so I remembered the baked tortellini.

This should be an interesting week as I try to figure out what we will eat.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chipotle Bean Burritos

Tonight I made these burritos. They were quick, easy, and delicious. I would make them again.

burrito

Chipotle Bean Burritos
Cooking Light, January 2010

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 garlic clove -- minced
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
15 ounces organic black beans -- drained
15 ounces organic kidney beans -- drained
3 tablespoons refrigerated fresh salsa
6 (10-inch) reduced-fat flour tortillas -- (such as Mission)
1 cup preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese -- (4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomato -- (about 3)
1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
6 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
6 tablespoons light sour cream

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in chile powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork.

2. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon onions, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; roll up.

Servings: 6

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cocoa Tassies with Peppermint Creme Filling

I know I've been slacking on the updating. In fact, I've been slacking on the cooking! We've ordered out (there's a Mexican restaurant that delivers) and gone to holiday parties and, in general, avoided eating healthy food. I am trying to change that back. Last night we had Salmon with Puff Pastry and Pesto, and tonight we had Halushki. Baby steps.

Yesterday I prepared these tassies (little tartlets) for my holiday office party today. I thought they turned out wonderfully. Definitely not very pretty because I didn't even bother trying to pipe in the filling, but I thought they were quite delicious. So did the people at my office who ate them... but out of 2 dozen tassies, only 7 were eaten. Seven! Why did so few people take them? I assume because they were ugly, but maybe it was due to all the cake and pie.... I don't know. But I was excited to bring them back home, and then BAM they all fall out of my car when I got to the post office. Yeah. Really. What? So they are all gone. Sucks. I would make them again though! They are great for Christmas!

tassie

Cocoa Tassies with Peppermint Creme Filling
Joe's Blog

For the Tassies:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons icy cold water

For the creme filling:
4 tablespoons butter, softened
7 ounce jar marshmallow creme
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted and divided
1-2 tablespoons milk, divided

1. To make the tassies: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in cold butter cubes into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cold water.

3. Gradually stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. To help the dough along, lightly knead the dough just until it starts to form a ball. Scoop dough onto a piece of saran wrap and cover - refrigerate for about 60 minutes so it will be easier to handle.

4. Preheat the oven to 375

5. Evenly divide dough into 36 pieces - roll each into a ball. Press one dough ball into the bottom and up the sides of a miniature muffin cup. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

6. Bake until the shells are firm, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the shells and let them cool completely.

7. To make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, marshmallow creme and peppermint extract until smooth. Mix in 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk. Add in the next 1 cup confectioners' sugar and mix until combined. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the final cup of confectioners' sugar. If this mixture is too thick to easily pipe, mix in 1 teaspoon of milk at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

8. Pipe filling into the shells and scatter crushed peppermint candies on each.

Yield: 3 dozen

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Edamame

Tonight I made Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Edamame for maybe the zillionth time, but the first time for Gibby. He didn't love it as much as I do (even though I used couscous this time and not millet!), which just means that there are more delicious leftovers for me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegetable Jalfrezi

So remember how I froze some of the Vegetable Jalfrezi I made a couple weeks ago? We thawed it out, added some butternut squash, and had it for dinner tonight. Super fast and super healthy. Makes me feel good. I'm glad I'm making an effort to plan ahead with quick (if frozen) meals so we stop ordering so much Chinese food.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vegetarian Pot Pie

Ok. I can't lie. I didn't do a damn thing to lighten this recipe. Full-fat puff pastry, whole milk, butter, the whole 9. And I wouldn't change a single thing. It was absolutely phenomenal. I love love loved it. Perfect for a cold winter night. I would definitely make this again.

I only used one fennel bulb because I'm usually put off by the anise flavor, but it actually was very mild and unnoticeable. I probably would stick with just the one fennel next time though. Maybe I'd add an extra potato.

Seriously, though. YUM.

pie

Vegetarian Pot Pie
Food Network: Ask Aida

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 small heads fennel -- finely chopped (about 3 cups)
1/2 medium yellow onion -- finely chopped
2 medium carrots -- peeled and finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
12 ounces white button mushrooms -- sliced (about 5 cups)
1 small russet potato -- peeled and diced small (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium mushroom broth
1 cup whole milk
1 cup frozen baby green peas
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
1/4 cup parsley
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 large egg yolk
7 ounces store-bought puff pastry or pie dough -- defrosted if frozen

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.

2. Melt butter over medium heat in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add fennel, onions, and carrots, and cook until just soft and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and potato, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms have let off water and are shrunken, about 6 minutes.

3. Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir to coat, and cook until raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add broth and milk, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, add peas, herbs, and vinegar, and stir to coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

5. Whisk egg together with 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.

6. With kitchen shears, cut dough to fit over the baking dish. Place dough over filling and tuck into the edges of the dish. Brush dough with egg wash and cut slits in the top to vent. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8

Coconut Biscotti

At the risk of spoiling the surprise of Christmas gifts I've mailed to people, I relied on baking as a large portion of my Christmas gifts to relatives. I made three different things: M&M Cookie Bars, Snickerdoodle Blondies, and this Coconut Biscotti.

They all packaged up nicely, but I am nervous about whether they will all arrive to their destinations intact. Hopefully!

So this biscotti was very, very easy to make and very, very good. Very simple. Not overpoweringly coconut. It would be great with any sort of warm beverage. I'd make this again for gifts, definitely.

biscotti

Coconut Biscotti
Cooking Light, April 2005

Standing the cookies eliminates the traditional step of flipping them halfway through baking. Chocolate lovers can stir 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips into the batter or dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through nutmeg). Place sugar, vanilla, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until thick. Add flour mixture and coconut; stir to combine (dough will be very sticky). Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface; knead lightly 7 or 8 times. Shape dough into a 15 x 3-inch roll. Place roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and pat to 1-inch thickness. Bake at 300° for 40 minutes or until roll is golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.

3. Cut roll diagonally into 20 (1/2-inch-thick) slices; stand slices upright on baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.

Servings: 20

Monday, December 06, 2010

Farfalle with Asparagus and Mushrooms

This is simple and has some nice fresh vegetables (mixed with Wacky Mac farfalle) and is tasty and simple. Good dinner, but probably not a make-again.

farfalle

Farfalle with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Giada's Family Dinners, pg 149

An incredibly simple pasta - you can do the entire prep and cooking in the time it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. You could even omit the asparagus if it's notin season and add chopped parsley for a splash of color. It's the ultimate in everyday Italian cooking.

Salt
1 pound farfalle pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until they are tender and most of their juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute until it is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and nutmeg. Add the farfalle and toss until the cheese coats the pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time to moisten. Stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts. Serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Buttermilk Cinnamon Bars

I made these last week for my office and am happy to report that all but two squares were eaten by the time I brought the pan home. Now. I made a mistake when I made it. I had put out the extra butter for the icing so it could soften, so I could make the icing while the bars cooked. But I was bustling around and did not realize that I had tossed in that extra butter into the batter. OOPS. To balance out nutritional value, I skipped the icing. Sorry, office. But the extra butter made the bars super fluffy and rich. So it wasn't the way I'd make it if I made it again, but it wasn't a disaster either. But they are very yummy! I really love these cinnamon chips.

buttermilk

Buttermilk Cinnamon Bars
Joe's Blog

For The Bars
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup dry buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

For The Frosting
5 Tbsp butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugars, flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, dry buttermilk, softened butter, egg, water and vanilla. Mix for 30 seconds on low - scrape the bowl from the bottom up. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Fold in coconut and cinnamon chips.

3. Scoop batter into a 9 x 13" baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Bake until the center springs back when lightly touched in the center or a toothpick comes out mostly clean when placed near the center - about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

4. In large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla and enough milk until the mixture is smooth - continue beating on low until creamy. Scoop onto the cooled bars and use an off-set spatula to spread evenly over the bars.

Vegetable Jalfrezi

I made this on Friday night. It took awhile to cook, but not awhile to prepare. I found Seeds of Change organic Jalfrezi sauce, which was very yummy. At the last minute I discovered our butternut squash had gone bad so I threw in some peas instead. It still would have benefitted from some bigger vegetables (if only I had had some potatoes!). But it was very good. We would make it again. I've frozen two bags of it for some night later on!

jalfrezi

Vegetable Jalfrezi
Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food

The great thing about this curry is the slightly sweet and sour flavour from the peppers. Do experiment with other combinations of vegetables such as courgettes, aubergines or potatoes once you’ve mastered this version – bigger, chunkier veggies need longer cooking times, so add them at the start, and delicate veggies like peas and spinach need only minutes, so they can go in right at the end. This will serve 8 people – just halve the recipe if your pan isn’t large enough, or else freeze any leftovers.

1 medium onion
1 fresh red chili
A thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
2 cloves of garlic
A small bunch of coriander
2 red peppers
1 cauliflower
3 ripe tomatoes
1 small butternut squash
1 400g tin of chickpeas
Groundnut or vegetable oil
A knob of butter
1/2 a 283g jar of Patak’s jalfrezi curry paste
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons
200g natural yoghurt

1. To prepare your curry
• Peel, halve and roughly chop your onion
• Finely slice the chilli
• Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic
• Pick the coriander leaves and finely chop the stalks
• Halve, deseed and roughly chop the peppers
• Break the green leaves off the cauliflower and discard
• Break the cauliflower into florets and roughly chop the stem
• Quarter the tomatoes
• Carefully halve the butternut squash, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard
• Slice the squash into inch-size wedges, leaving the peel on but removing any thick skin, then roughly chop into smaller pieces
• Drain the chickpeas

2. To cook your curry
• Put a large casserole-type pan on a medium to high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil and the butter
• Add the onions, chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes, until softened and golden
• Add the peppers, butternut squash, drained chickpeas and jalfrezi curry paste
• Stir well to coat everything with the paste
• Add the cauliflower, the fresh and tinned tomatoes and the vinegar
• Fill 1 empty tin with water, pour into the pan and stir again
• Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on
• Check the curry after 30 minutes and, if it still looks too liquidy, leave the lid off for the rest of the cooking time
• When the veg are tender, taste and add salt and pepper – please season carefully – and a squeeze of lemon juice

3. To serve your curry
Delicious with poppadums or my fluffy rice recipe and with a few spoonfuls of natural yoghurt, a sprinkle of coriander leaves and a few lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Servings: 8

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Rice & Bean Burritos

Thursday night was our old standby, Rice & Bean Burritos. Always tasty, always easy. On the table in minutes. Yum.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Spinach Balls

We've been having a shortage of semi-healthy stuff in our freezer for nights that we aren't in the mood to cook, so tonight I made a big batch of Spinach Balls. I had some with some pasta and sauce and it was very yummy. I've frozen the rest and plan to eat them in the future.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Curried Lentil Soup

You guys, you guys, you guys! This is very exciting! Remember that time I went to Sweden and I had the best lentil-potato curry at Cafe Vurma in Stockholm? REMEMBER? Well. I found this recipe on Epicurious and thought it sounded pretty similar, minus the potatoes. So I tossed in some diced cooked potatoes at the end. And guess what?! IT'S THE SAME.

To complete the Stockholm-esque meal, I made some smörgås with rye bread spread with mascarpone and topped with some sliced red bell pepper. Oh my. All I need is some knackebrood and kardemummebullar and espresso and I'll be an exceptionally happy lady.

I'm so happy.

Compare photos! This is the one I ate in Sweden:
curry

And this is the one from tonight:
sweden

Curried Lentil Soup
Bon Appetit, December 2010

Curry powders vary in flavor and heat; begin with two tablespoons and add more according to your taste.

3 tablespoons olive oil -- divided
1 medium onion -- chopped
1 medium carrot -- finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves -- chopped, divided
2 tablespoons curry powder -- (or more)
1 cup French green lentils
4 1/4 cups water -- (or more) divided
1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas -- (garbanzo beans) drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter -- (1/4 stick)
2 green onions -- thinly sliced 1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges

Ingredient info: French green lentils are small -- dark green, and speckled with black; they can be found at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.

3. Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. DO AHEAD: soup can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Rewarm before continuing.

4. Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.

Servings: 6

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. Obviously we started the day with my mom's cheeseball and the onion dip recipe from the side of a Lipton Soup mix. This is just what we do.

My mom found directions for these little Oreo/Candy turkey sculptures online and instructed me to assemble them. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out. They were used as placecards on the table.
turkey

Other things we ate:
*Turkey (not by me, obviously)
*Mom's herb stuffing
*Brussels Sprouts with Buttered Pecans
*Rice/Zucchini casserole (picture below) from my mom
*Corn pudding from my mother-in-law
*Green Bean Casserole (the one everyone makes)
*Pennsylvania Dutch Tea Rolls
*Pecan Pie
*Harvest Sweet Potato-Pecan Pie Tarts
*Tastefully Simply Sangria Slushy
*Tastefully Simple Key Lime Cheeseball

squash

Pennsylvania Dutch Tea Rolls

These took awhile because of the multiple rising times, but it was worth it in the end. Very yummy! We all enjoyed them. I only put poppy seeds on half due to preference, but it's good either way.

dutch rolls

Pennsylvania Dutch Tea Rolls
Cooking Light, December 2002

These sweet, buttery rolls historically served with afternoon tea are just as at home with Sunday night's chicken dinner.

5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour -- divided
1 1/3 cups warm 1% low-fat milk -- (100° to 110°)
1 package quick-rise yeast -- (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter -- melted and cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, warm milk, and yeast in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 1 1/2 hours (batter should become very bubbly and almost triple in size).

2. Add 3 cups flour, sugar, butter, salt, and egg; stir with a wooden spoon 3 minutes or until well combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Lightly press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; lightly dust dough with flour and pat into an 10 x 8-inch rectangle. Divide dough by making 3 lengthwise cuts and 4 crosswise cuts to form 20 equal pieces; shape each piece into a ball. Place balls in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.

5. Lightly coat the dough with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 375°.

7. Brush 3 tablespoons milk lightly over dough; sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until browned. Cool rolls in pan 5 minutes. Serve warm, or cool completely on a wire rack.

Servings: 20

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bean Burgers with Spicy Guacamole

Well. This took about an hour, but it was worth it. And probably it wouldn't have taken so long if I had just overlapped steps (for example, making the onions while the quinoa cooks, making the guacamole while the patties refrigerate) but the Internet was calling to me and I got distracted. Regardless, it was absolutely fantastic. I did not make my own beans because I did not have the time. So I used canned. It all came together so perfectly and even though there was no egg binder or too much cornmeal, it stayed perfectly together. We both really, really liked this. The guacamole topping matched perfectly. This is definitely a make-again.

We had them with Alexia Sweet Potato Waffle Fries, which were quite tasty and matched the burger very well. See, most people talk about wine or beer pairings. With us, however, you get info on french fries.

quinoa

Bean Burgers with Spicy Guacamole
Eating Well

These bean burgers will even please carnivores. The cornmeal coating gives a pleasant crunch and smoked paprika, cumin, cilantro and guacamole add Southwestern flavor.

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quinoa -- rinsed (see Note)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil -- divided
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic -- minced
2 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans -- well drained
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin seeds
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1/3 cup for coating burgers
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper -- (to taste)
6 whole-wheat hamburger buns -- toasted
6 lettuce leaves
6 tomato slices

Guacamole
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic -- minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper -- or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Uncover and let stand.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add beans, paprika and ground cumin and mash the beans to a smooth paste with a potato masher or fork. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the quinoa, 3 tablespoons cilantro, 3 tablespoons cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; stir to combine.

3. Form the bean mash into 6 patties. Coat them evenly with the remaining 1/3 cup cornmeal and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

4. To prepare guacamole: Mash avocado with a potato masher or fork. Stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons onion, garlic, cayenne and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

5. Preheat oven to 200°F.

6. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron (or similar heavy) skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 burgers until heated through and brown and crisp on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven to keep warm. Cook the remaining 3 burgers with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, reducing the heat as necessary to prevent overbrowning. Serve the burgers on buns with lettuce, tomato and the guacamole.

Servings: 6

Tip: Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, 2 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Grind into a powder in a spice mill or blender.

Ingredient Note: Quinoa is a delicately flavored, protein-rich grain. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa’s natural, bitter protective covering. Find it in natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss Bars

So it's fall (into winter) and I enjoy the delicious treats Starbucks rolls out: gingerbread lattes, peppermint mocha, and the cranberry bliss bars. Yum! I've had this "copycat" recipe for years, so I decided to make some for my office.

It did not taste like the ones at Starbucks. I didn't think it would because the real bliss bars have kind of a citrusy orange undertone and this only has lemon juice in the frosting. But whatever. People at my office reported that they still enjoyed it and thought it was good. Personally, I was disappointed. But I didn't make them for myself, now did I? Oh and I omitted the shortening/sugar glaze. It's not really necessary.

bliss

Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars
CLBB (sarah_louise)

Cake:
1 cup butter -- softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
6 oz white chocolate, cut in chunks

Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Drizzled Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vegetable shortening

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Make cake by beating butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth. Mix 3/4 cup of diced cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand. Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13 pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges. Allow the cake to cool.

3. Make frosting by combining softened cream cheese, 3 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread frosting over the top of the cake.

4. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of diced dried cranberries over the top of the cake.

5. Whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. milk, and shortening. Drizzle icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion or use a pastry bag with a fine tip to drizzle frosting across the top of the cake.

6. Allow cake to sit for several hours before slicing.

Yield: 16 bars

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Veggie Panini

I had planned to make something different tonight but was saddened to discover I've run out of pinto beans. I'm a bit of a food hoarder; I stock up on canned goods when I have good coupons and sales. So I have a zillion cans of beans in the basement... and none are pinto.

So I switched nights. I'll make tonight's dinner tomorrow, and I made tomorrow's dinner tonight. It was super-easy and tasty. I made it on the Griddler. I would make it again.

panini

Veggie Panini
Shape magazine

Olive oil cooking-spray
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 16oz whole-grain baguette, cut into 4 equal pieces and halved crosswise
8 tsp prepared sun-dried tomato pesto
1 cup sliced roasted red peppers (from water-packed jar)
1 cup watercress leaves
8 oz thinly sliced or shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and cook 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Set aside.

Coat one side of each baguette piece with 2 tsp of the pesto. Top pesto with eggplant slices, red peppers, watercress, and cheese. Coat the same large skillet or griddle with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add sandwiches. Place a clean, heavy skillet on top of the sandwiches and cook 3-4 minutes, until sandwiches are golden on bottom. Remove the top skillet, flip sandwiches and repeat process, cooking 2-3 minutes, until second side is golden and cheese melts.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous

Well, I found some good, sustainable, wild-caught Alaskan Coho salmon at Wegmans today. I'd already planned to make this meal so I was pretty pumped. The whole meal was very quick. The sauce is great. The couscous is great too, even though I am not a fan of dried apricots (you could probably even use golden raisins for the same effect). The salmon was good, because Coho salmon is good, but... I found a pin bone. A couple of them, actually. And it freaked. Me. Out. You know we eat vegetarian food 90% of the time and that the fishy stuff is once a week or so. I don't love fish. And when I find things like skin or bones it reminds me that fish, indeed, used to be alive. And then I get grossed out and sad.

But that's just me. He said it was wonderful and he ate the whole thing. We've agreed to keep the recipe and potentially try it again, because it was good. It's just my own personal bias getting in the way!

salmon

Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous
Eating Well

Yogurt sauce flavored with lemon, cumin and cilantro tops this Indian-inspired grilled salmon.

1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3 scallions -- sliced, greens and whites separated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt -- divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper -- divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 pound salmon fillet -- preferably wild Pacific, skinned and cut into 4 portions
2 tablespoons chopped toasted cashews

1. Preheat grill to medium-high or position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.

2. Combine yogurt, scallion greens, lemon juice, cilantro, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add apricots, ginger, the scallion whites and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

4. Meanwhile, rub salmon with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. If grilling, oil the grill rack (see Tip). If broiling, coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. Grill or broil the salmon until browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with the couscous, topped with the yogurt sauce and cashews.

Servings: 4

Make-Agains

Woops! I forgot to post about this week's make-agains. Well, Wednesday I made my favorite Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Edamame, except I screwed up. You see, my pantry is chock-full of different grains and beans. I keep them all in clear OXO containers. So in my haste, I grabbed bulgur instead of couscous. Though similar, they have different cooking times and different textures and different sizes. So it wasn't fully cooked, didn't cook well with the tomatoes, and didn't work out as well as I would have liked. Fail. I'll still make it again a bazillion times.

Then last night I made Chili-Glazed Tofu Over Asparagus and Rice. I made it with Forbidden Rice because Gibby had requested to have some. It was excellent as usual. And although I usually burn it, now that I have my new awesome nothing-sticks-to-it Calphalon Green pan, it cooked beautifully.

I feel like this post is a big advertisement. I apologize. I just like to share things that make me happy :) Here is a picture of the tofu with the rice:

tofu

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roasted Ratatouille with Eggs & Cheese

I made this for dinnner last night. It was cool because I got home early, made the majority of it, and then left it on "warm" in the oven. Then when it was time for dinner, I cracked the eggs, sprinkled the cheese, and baked it for 10 minutes. It worked out beautifully! It was good but more "brunchy" than dinner-y. We both liked it a lot but probably wouldn't make it again. It's too much effort for the two of us, but not quite special enough for guests.

eggs

Roasted Ratatouille with Eggs & Cheese
Eating Well, Fall 2002

Served with plenty of crusty bread and a green salad, this is a perfect dish for brunch or a light supper. Roasting is an excellent technique for ratatouille because the vegetables retain a distinct texture, yet the flavors meld. Pay close attention while you are cooking the eggs in the oven; they turn from nicely set to hard as a rock in a flash.
Make Ahead Tip : Prepare through Step 4, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat before continuing.


1 small eggplant -- (about 12 ounces), trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion -- cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small zucchini -- cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper -- seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic -- minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper -- to taste
28 ounces plum tomatoes with juices
2 tablespoons torn fresh basil leaves -- plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
4 large eggs
4 ounces part-skim mozzarella -- thinly sliced and cut into 1/4-inch strips
4 1/2 -inch-thick slices Italian bread -- preferably whole-wheat

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Combine eggplant, onion, zucchini, bell pepper and garlic in a large bowl; drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil; toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the vegetables, uncovered, turning often, until lightly browned and tender, about 45 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cut tomatoes into chunks. Stir the tomatoes (and their juices), basil and parsley into the vegetables. Cover with foil.

4. Bake until the ratatouille is hot and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.

5. With a large spoon, make four evenly spaced indentations in the hot ratatouille. Carefully break an egg into each indentation. Sprinkle cheese over the vegetables and eggs. Bake, uncovered, until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

6. While the eggs are baking, toast bread and drizzle each slice with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Divide bread slices among 4 plates or shallow soup bowls.

7. To serve, lift an egg and ratatouille from the baking dish and place on top of a slice of toasted bread. Spoon the remaining vegetables and juices around the edges, distributing evenly. Garnish with more basil, if desired.

Servings: 4

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

Sunday night, we made stuffed acorn squash. I used vegetarian "Gimme Lean" sausage in place of the turkey sausage and it was great. The whole thing was very yummy. We would make this again.

acorn

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash
Eating Well, Sept/Oct 2007

Cumin and chili powder season a filling of turkey sausage, tomatoes, black beans and Swiss cheese for creamy acorn squash. Serve this stuffed squash with warmed corn tortillas for wrapping up bites of all the tasty ingredients.

3 acorn squash -- (3/4-1 pound each)
5 ounces bulk turkey sausage
1 small onion -- chopped
1/2 medium red bell pepper -- chopped
1 clove garlic -- minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
15 ounces black beans -- rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several dashes hot red pepper sauce -- to taste
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Cut squash in half horizontally. Scoop out and discard seeds. Place the squash cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, lightly coat a large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder and cumin; cook for 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, beans, salt and hot sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the tomatoes are broken down, 10 to 12 minutes.

4. When the squash are tender, reduce oven temperature to 325°. Fill the squash halves with the turkey mixture. Top with cheese. Place on the baking sheet and bake until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Servings: 6

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Today I took a course in Reiki, hosted at my home. In typical Lauren fashion, I welcomed my guests with homemade doughnuts. Since a few of my friends have been talking about cider doughnuts lately, I decided to try this recipe out. And oh, boy, is it good. Definitely a make-again. To make it even more awesome, I used Penzeys Vanilla Sugar to sprinkle in the pan instead of just regular sugar. Yum yum yum!

So now we know: if you visit me in the summer, I will make lemon poppyseed doughnuts. If you visit in the fall, you'll get apple cider doughnuts. All baked, of course! Awesome.

doughnuts

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
Joe's Blog, adapted from Eating Well

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Granulated sugar, for preparing pans

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, apple butter, maple syrup, cider, yogurt, oil, egg and vanilla. Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

4. Coat doughnut pans with nonstick spray, then sprinkle each individual well with granulated sugar, tapping out excess when coated. Fill doughnut wells about two-thirds full, then gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place into the oven and bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed or a toothpick placed in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 9 to 12 minutes for a regular sized pan, or 7 to 8 minutes in a miniature doughnut pan.

5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 or 3 minutes before turning the doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Clean pans and repeat process with remaining batter.

Joe's Note: Using one small and one large pan, we made 9 large plus 12 small doughnuts.

Pasta, Lentils, and Artichoke Hearts

I added this to the meal plan for the week, and as today came closer, I started regretting it. Lentils? With artichokes? And pasta? It just started sounding bland and icky. But Moosewood and I have a good relationship, so I figured I'd go ahead and make it.

And you know what? It wasn't icky. It was actually pretty good. I'm not goign to lie - it smelled horrid. The artichokes and lentils did not smell awesome. But with the cumin and the feta cheese and the tomatoes, it all came together. I wouldn't make it again, but we both did like it.

pasta

Pasta, Lentils, and Artichoke Hearts
Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites


1 cup dry red lentils (3 cups cooked)
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups diced onions
2 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 tsps ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups canned tomatoes (18oz can), chopped and liquid reserved
1 1/2 cups quartered artichokes (9oz package frozen or 15oz can)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb farfalle, rotini, or spirali
salt & pepper to taste
crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Bring the lentils, bay leaf, and water to a boil in a saucepan. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 mintues, until the lentils are tender.

While the lentils cook, heat the olive oil in a separate pan. Add the onions and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and crushed pepper and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Drain the cooked lentils, reserving the cooking liquid, and add the lentils to the tomatoe and artichoke heart mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes or more, adding about 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid if the sauce seems dry.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a serving bowl. Top it with the lentil and artichoke heart sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No-Beef Stroganoff

You know, this was pretty disappointing. It looked good, smelled great, but tasted blah. Neither of us finished our bowls. It was just not impressive. I would not make it again.

Note: I used vegetable stock in place of the beef broth. Maybe that made the difference?

stroganoff

Peggy's (No) Beef Stroganoff
CLBB (emily)

3 pounds of mushrooms, portabello, crimini and shitake, sliced in thick strips.
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons catsup
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (10-1/2 oz) condensed beef broth, undiluted
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary
1-1/2 cup nonfat sour cream

Add butter to skillet and saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms until onion is golden - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add flour, catsup and pepper; stir until smooth. Gradually add beef broth; bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Over low heat, add wine, rosemary and sour cream stirring until well combined. Simmer just until sauce is hot.

Serve stroganoff over hot, cooked egg noodles or rice. Sprinkle with dill or parsley.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Eggplant Tartines with Hummus & Arugula

Every time I make Eggplant Tartines with Hummus & Arugula, Gibby says, "Ew why are we eating this. Have I had it before?" Then he devours it and pronounces it "amazing." Why he cannot remember this between the times I make it, I will never know. But I do know it's a tried & true interesting weeknight meal!

Broiled Tilapia Gyros

I saw this and thought it sounded interesting, so we made it. It was definitely yummy, but I would not call it a gyro. As I started making the meal, I realized the fish is not seasoned other than with salt and pepper. What makes gyros so good? All the spices on the meat! Not that I eat meat. But you know. Gyros = spices and garlic and sauce. So it wasn't as good as it could have been. It was yummy, just not the greatest thing of all time. I don't know if I would make it again. If I did, I'd have to spice things up.

And PS, tzaziki sauce is NOT just yogurt and dill. Sigh. It involves cucumbers!

fish

Broiled Tilapia Gyros
Cooking Light, November 2010

Fish:
1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

Tzatziki:
3/4 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves -- minced

Remaining Ingredients:
11 ounces Mediterranean-style wheat flatbreads -- (such as Toufayan)
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion -- (about 1/2 small onion)
1 ripe avocado -- peeled and cut into 12 thin slices
1 medium tomato -- thinly sliced
1/2 small English cucumber -- thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

1. Preheat broiler.

2. To prepare fish, brush fish with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or desired degree of doneness.

3. To prepare tzatziki, combine yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor or blender; pulse until smooth.

4. Spread 2 tablespoons tzatziki in the center of each flatbread. Divide fish evenly among flatbreads. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons onion, 3 avocado slices, 2 tomato slices, and about 6 cucumber slices; fold in half.

Servings: 4

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Banana-Buttermilk Pancakes

Last night I made these super-simple pancakes. The secret is adding the bananas into the top of the batter after pouring it rather than mixing them in. This also creates a nice caramelization of the bananas. It was very good with maple syrup. I would make these again.

The serving size said 6-8, so I made the full recipe with the intention of making extras to freeze and eat another day. Imagine my surprise when I only managed to get 6 pancakes out of the recipe! I do not think Martha intended for people to only eat one pancake per person. So the full recipe was appropriate for 2 people.

pancakes

Banana-Buttermilk Pancakes
Everyday Food

Rather than stirring the banana slices into the batter, we added them to the pancakes in the pan; this way they are evenly distributed and hold their shape.

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour -- (spooned and leveled)
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg -- lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter -- melted
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 large ripe banana -- thinly sliced
Maple syrup -- for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in buttermilk, egg, and butter until batter is well combined and free of lumps.

2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirl oil to coat bottom of pan. Working in batches, add batter in 1/4-cup portions; cook until golden brown and tiny air bubbles form evenly on top, 2 to 5 minutes.

3. Top with banana slices, dividing evenly; flip pancakes, and continue cooking until slightly puffed, 2 to 5 minutes (reduce heat if browning too quickly). Transfer to a baking sheet; keep warm in oven while you cook remaining pancakes.

4. Serve pancakes with maple syrup and walnuts, if desired.

Servings: 8

Friday, November 05, 2010

Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini

Tonight I made Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini and it was good. I used a fantastic local Romano cheese that added some tasty extra goodness to it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Greek-Style Panini

Tonight I made Greek-Style Panini and it was delicious and quick, as usual. It's a great little dinner for a hectic weeknight!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bengali Fish Curry (Doi Maach)

Have I told you about our stand-freezer in the basement? I love it. We stock up once a month on frozen vegetables, breads, lunches, and other miscellaneous things, and I've developed a pretty good stash. I'm awesome with coupons so we get it for a great deal. Last week we did our monthly stock-up and saved $80 from coupons and bonus deals. PLUS I got 60 cents off per gallon on my gasoline purchase as a result, and we still have enough points for a free turkey (which we'll probably exchange for more gas. Hah!).

So I have a variety of sustainable fish filets in the freezer (since they're mostly all frozen when they hit the grocery store anyway), including some mahi mahi. So for tonight's dinner, the only ingredient I had to buy was an onion. Awesome. And even though it sounds kind of weird, I can assure you: it was fantastic. I added a little bit too much red pepper, so it was way too hot for us, but it was delicious. I used some Greek yogurt and it gave it amazing consistency. LOVED it. We would definitely make it again.

curry

Bengali Fish Curry (Doi Maach)
Cooking Light, June 2005

Thick, meaty fish like mahimahi works best in this dish. Slowly add the yogurt to the sauce for smooth results. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs. Serve with steamed basmati rice or Curd Rice.

Spice Mix:
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dried hot red chiles
2 whole cloves
2 green cardamom pods
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick

Fish:
2 1/4 pounds mahimahi -- cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil -- divided

Sauce:
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove -- minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1. To prepare spice mix, combine first 6 ingredients in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground.

2. To prepare fish, combine mahimahi, turmeric, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; toss well. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of fish; cook 5 minutes or until fish is lightly browned and flakes easily when tested with a fork (do not overcook). Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining fish and oil.

3. To prepare sauce, add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add ginger, garlic, and bay leaf; sauté 2 minutes. Add ground spice mix; cook 2 minutes. Stir in water, 1 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Remove pan from heat; gradually stir in yogurt. Cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Return fish and accumulated juices to pan. Cook over low heat 5 minutes or just until heated. Discard bay leaf.

Servings: 6

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sassy Cinnamon Cookies

You guys. Seriously. You have to try this.

I'd always heard of the elusive cinnamon chips, so when I found them I stocked up. Like, seven bags. They've been sitting in my pantry, just waiting for the perfect recipe. And oh boy, this was a great way to use up part of a bag.

Seriously. Delicious. They're like thick, chewy Snickerdoodles with extra shots of cinnamon and the lovely addition of pecans. I would make these again and again and again.

cinnamon

Sassy Cinnamon Cookies
Betty Crocker

Sweet and sassy super-size cookies are packed with cinnamon chips and coated with cinnamon and sugar.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cinnamon-flavored baking chips
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 375°F (if using dark or nonstick pan, heat oven to 350°F). In large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until creamy. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir in cinnamon chips and pecans.

2. In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Shape dough by 1/4 cupfuls into balls. Roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place balls 3 inches apart on ungreased large cookie sheet (do not flatten).

3. Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until set and light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Servings: 16

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Lobster. Did you know it used to be the food of the poor? Oh my. Well we got some delicious inexpensive lobster and I decided to indulge in this mac & cheese dish on Saturday night.

I am sad to say that we were disappointed. I mean, it was good. Don't get me wrong. I felt that the cheese was a little too strong for the lobster, but whatever. The real problem was the cheese & butter. I understand that a roux is necessary to make it thick enough, but it was just too much for us. Way too rich, even with the butter cut down. Hurt our tummies! Unfortunately not a make-again. But I do want to make lobster roll now.

lobstrosity

Lobster Mac and Cheese
Food Network: Ina Garten

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter -- (1 stick) divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese -- grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar -- grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs -- (5 slices, crusts removed)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.

4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Servings: 6

Weekend Make-Agains

Friday night, I made Golden Potato-Leek Soup, but skipped the cheddar toasts because the pumpkin roll was taking up the oven. We missed the toasts. Saturday I made something with lobster but haven't posted the recipe for it yet. And then last night I made Grilled Cheese with Onion Jam, Taleggio, and Escarole, a quick fix before trick or treaters started arriving. For the first time, we used actual taleggio (I usually sub fontina) and honestly, I kind of like the fontina better. Still yummy though!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Roll

I have only had pumpkin roll a few times. It is delicious and tasty, but it seems to be regional, as I had never heard of it before moving to PA - and here, it's everywhere. So when my friend was having her Halloween party, I decided to try making pumpkin roll. Now, like other roulades (rolled cakes), it was a little bit intimidating. I mean, rolling up a cake? So many things could go wrong there. I've never even made a roulade before. But the recipe was so easy-peasy and with the help of cheesecloth, I didn't break the cake. It turned out delicious and was enjoyed by all. I would make this again.

roll

roll

Pumpkin Rolls
Penzeys catalog

This recipe from Jacki is so pretty and sure to impress your family and friends. Plus, it is super delicious. As far as rolls go, this is a pretty easy recipe to start with if you’ve never done one.

3 large eggs
7 1/2 ounces canned pumpkin (half of a 15 oz. can)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Penzeys Cinnamon

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar + 2 TB. for topping
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a jelly roll pan with wax paper and spray with non-stick spray or rub with oil. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and pumpkin. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the batter in the pan and spread evenly using a flexible spatula. Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes. Gently turn the cake over and ease out onto a clean dish towel (not a terry one, a plain cloth), or cheesecloth, discard the wax paper and carefully roll the cake from the short end. Let cool for about 30 minutes. If it is left too long rolled up it is hard to unroll it without cracking. While the cake is cooling, beat together the filling ingredients. When the cake is cool, unroll, spread gently with the filling all the way to the edges, re-roll and place on a serving platter. Sift 2 TB. powdered sugar over the top. Admire, then cut into circles and serve.

Yield: 16-18 servings

Oatmeal Cookie Drink & Brain Hemorrhages

A few weeks ago my brother and I decided to try out a drink recipe I've had for a long time. It is purported to taste like an oatmeal cookie. Personally, I am very sensitive to alcohol so the Jaegermeister kind of made it a little too intense for me, although the oatmeal cookie-ishness was still there. My brother liked it, too. Then my brother had fun with endless variations of using the components, such as mixing it with milk. Obviously it was an exciting time. So here is the recipe for that:

The Oatmeal Cookie Drink
Food Network - Cookworks

1 ounce Jagermeister
1 ounce Irish Cream Liqueur
1 ounce Butterscotch Schnapps
1/2 ounce Cinnamon Schnapps
Raisins -- for garnish, optional

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass over ice.

Then Friday night at my friend's Halloween party, my coworker made shots from a recipe sent out in the weekly newsletter from Stone Cottage Gardens. You float the Bailey's on top, and when you add the grenadine, the Bailey's swirls down and starts looking like a brain. It's pretty cool and gross all at the same time. Everyone agreed it was not as tasty as they had hoped (I did not partake) but that the gross-out cool factor was good enough!

brains

Brain Hemorrhages

1 oz. Peach Schnapps
1 tsp. Bailey's Irish Cream
2 drops Grenadine

Pour the Peach Schnapps into a large shot glass. Slowly add the Bailey's and top with the grenadine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Enchilado de Camerones

I think this would have been a solid, tasty dish except our shrimp sucked. I used frozen Wegmans-brand shrimp, which I have used in the past with great success, but this batch just sort of tasted off. To me, at least. The saucy part was good, but not good enough to encourage me to try it again with fresh shrimp. It was just okay.

shrimp

Enchilado de Camerones (Deviled Shrimp)
Cooking Light, May 2002

This is one of the few dishes in Cuban cooking that is spicy. Finishing with a splash of coconut milk tempers the heat and rounds out the flavor.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add bell peppers, crushed red pepper, salt, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook 6 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

Stir in shrimp, and cook 4 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring frequently. Remove shrimp mixture from heat, and stir in coconut milk. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

Howlin' Candy Corn Cookie Bark

So this is what happened. I thought I'd be fun and make some candy corn bark for my office for Halloween. Except while I was melting the white chocolate, it started to solidify. Within seconds, it was like the consistency of an Oreo cookie filling. Crap. I tried my best to re-melt it but failed. So I did what any desperate cook would do: I attempted to mash it on top of the Oreos and pretzels by hand. Ouch! I burned myself. And it only sort of worked, because although I managed to get it to cover almost all of the pieces, it was crumbly. I didn't have any more white chocolate, but I did have half a package of milk chocolate. So I melted that and then poured it on top of the white chocolate, hoping it would bind it. And it kind of did! This certainly isn't bark, but it isn't inedible either. It's actually quite tasty. I'm sure it would be better - and look better - if it was made properly!

bark

Howlin' Candy Corn Cookie Bark
CLBB (Valchemist)

16 Halloween oreos -- chopped
1 1/2 cups mini pretzels broken in pieces
12 oz. white chocolate chips
2 c candy corn (or to taste)
brown and orange colored sprinkles

Spread cookies and pretzels into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle on lightly greased baking sheet; set aside.

Place chocolate in small heavy saucepan on very low heat; stir constantly just until melted.

Drizzle melted chocolate immediately over cookie mixture, spreading with spatula to coat evenly. Top with candy corn and colored sprinkles. Lightly press candy into mixture.

Cool until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Soft Polenta with Wild Mushroom Sauté

I'm working on a candy-bark thing for Halloween for my office but I screwed up the white chocolate and I think I might have just a big crumbly mess instead. I guess we'll see when I post about it tomorrow.

Tonight I made myself some polenta and mushrooms. I actually made two servings so I could take some to work, but didn't get the chance because about 10 minutes after I finished the first bowl, I ended up eating the other bowl. Oops.

It was very good. Very simple. Didn't realize how ridiculously simple homemade polenta is. I don't know if I'd make it again, but I really did like it a lot. It was a quick dinner that seemed like it should have taken more effort to create.

Terrible Blackberry photo:
polenta

Soft Polenta with Wild Mushroom Sauté
Cooking Light, November 2008

This is an easy and versatile side dish. The polenta is topped with a quick sauté of wild mushrooms (or use exotics, like shiitake and oyster, if wild are not available). If you replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth, this side dish can serve four as a vegetarian entrée. Garnish with sage sprigs.

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek
12 ounces wild mushrooms -- sliced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt -- divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper -- divided
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
14 ounces fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
2 tablespoons shredded fresh pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons shaved fresh pecorino Romano cheese

1. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek to pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; cook 7 minutes or until moisture evaporates, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley, sherry, sage, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook 1 minute.

2. Combine 2 cups water, bay leaves, and broth in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Gradually add polenta to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently with a whisk. Remove from heat; discard bay leaves. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and shredded cheese. Spoon 2/3 cup polenta onto each of 6 plates; top each serving with 1/2 cup mushroom mixture and 1 teaspoon shaved cheese.

Servings: 6

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some repeats

Last night I made Roasted Corn & Poblano Chowder, which continues to be amazing, even if it's made with canned corn versus fresh. While the stuff was roasting, I made tonight's dinner (Autumn Wild Rice Rissoles) through the patty-forming step and then refrigerated them. Tonight all I had to do was toss them in the pan and top them with cranberry sauce! Perfect. Two tasty dinners!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

morimoto

Since the early days of the Food Network when they began showing reruns of Iron Chef (the original Iron Chef, not Iron Chef America), I have been obsessed. I have an Iron Chef apron. I have seen every single episode of Iron Chef (Japan), including both of the battles against Bobby Flay - rather epic, those episodes. And although Masaharu Morimoto wasn't in the original set, he joined a few years in as Iron Chef Japan and instantly became my favorite. When he started opening up restaurants in the US, I got crazy excited.

So last night we went to morimoto in NYC.

It did not disappoint.

First of all, it's beautiful. It's so well-decorated and simple with glass and shiny things and mood lighting. And the bathrooms! I know that sounds stupid, but trust me. If you go to morimoto, you need to go to the bathrooms downstairs by the bar. If you are a guy, even if you just need to pee, make sure to visit the stalls. I tried to take a picture but it was too dark, but seriously trust me. Not only does it look cool, but there are buttons. That do things. With the toilet. PRESS THEM.

toilet

So the waitstaff is wonderful. We didn't get any drinks, only water. I'll try to remember what everyone else got (we were there with my mother-in-law and Gibby's aunt and cousin).

For starters, I got the tuna pizza (bluefin tuna, anchovy aioli, jalapenos). It had been highly recommended, and oh boy did it deserve it. Now, you have to like tuna. And raw fish. But it is the most beautiful cut of sashimi ever. Several thin slices on top of a crispy tortilla crust, topped with red onion, aioli, jalapenos, and greens. LOVED IT.

pizza

Gibby got the Kobe beef carpaccio (yuzu soy, ginger, sweet garlic), which kind of freaked him out a little but he just loves good beef so he had to go with it. Carpaccio is typically very thin slices of raw beef (or fish), but at morimoto it was lightly seared on one side. Kind of like getting a burger cooked rare. He loved it!

beef

Nancy and Carrie (MIL and aunt) both got a mixed green salad (kabosu vinaigrette, shaved bonito). They were not fans of the bonito but it had crispy shallots in it, too. Nancy also got the crispy rock shrimp tempura (spicy 'kochujan' sauce, wasabi aioli), which was definitely the table favorite. Oh my goodness. It was the lightest, most amazing tempura. Order it. Elsa (cousin) got tofu miso soup (white miso broth, silken tofu), which could have been ordinary except the tofu was freshly made and she said it was the best tofu ever created. Out of the appetizers we didn't order, I would have loved to have tried the yosedofu (fresh tofu prepared tableside, lobster ankake, dashi soy, fresh wasabi). If you eat meat, supposedly the Iron Chef Ramen Soup is fantastic.

Moving on to entrees, Gibby & I both ordered the same thing: ishi yaki buri bop (yellowtail on rice cooked at your table, in a hot stone bowl). Way cool. They brought big stone bowls of rice, seaweed, mushrooms, a raw egg, and raw fish. Then they pushed the fish on the side of the bowl to sear, stirred around the rice and egg, and when it was all said and done, we had some delicious seared fish and fried rice. We both LOVED it! And it was very neat. Be careful not to touch the bowl, though! It's hot!

bop

Carrie and Elsa got an assortment of sushi, including eel and spicy tuna and some other pieces that they very much enjoyed. Nancy got the line-caught halibut (black bean sauce, shaved ginger, hot oil) and devoured it pretty quickly. She also ordered a side of crispy green beans, which tasted deliciously like french fries. Haha!

And then, of course, dessert. We were all full, but Gibby & Elsa & I decided to split the Creme de Chocolate, which was chocolate mousse topped with hazelnut ice cream, vanilla foam, blood orange reduction, little chocolate nibs, candied hazelnuts, and chocolate strips. It was sooooooo good.

chocolate

It was a wonderful dining experience. I enjoyed every part of it. We were very happy! And for this caliber of restaurant, for five people, it was very reasonably priced (consider though that we did not order wine). I'm so happy to have finally experienced morimoto!

morimoto

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Loaded Spinach Salad

Yes, yes, we went to Morimoto for dinner tonight but I haven't loaded up my camera so you will just have to deal with my review of last night's crazy-easy salad. This is fantastic, by the way. Very easy, very tasty. My mom would love it. I will definitely keep this around.

So. Yummy salad. Easily tweaked. And if you don't like the salad but love blue cheese, what a seriously fantastic blue cheese dressing recipe!

salad

Loaded Spinach Salad
Eating Well

Like many spinach salads, this one features lots of chopped-up hard-boiled egg. But since most of the calories in an egg are in the yolk, we use just two whole eggs, plus the whites from six additional eggs. The result is a rich, eggy, satisfying spinach salad that keeps the calories in check.

Tip: To toast chopped nuts & seeds: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.


8 large eggs
6 cups baby spinach
4 tablespoons Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing -- divided (recipe follows)
8 ounces beets -- rinsed and sliced
1 cup carrots -- shredded
2 tablespoons chopped pecans -- toasted (see Tip)

1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook at the lowest simmer for 10 minutes. Pour off the hot water and run cold water over the eggs until they are completely cooled. Peel the eggs, discard 6 of the yolks, chop the remaining yolks and whites.

2. Toss spinach and 2 tablespoons dressing in a large bowl. Divide between 2 plates. Top with chopped eggs, beets, carrots and pecans. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons dressing.

Servings: 2

Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

Creamy blue cheese dressing is still rich and delicious when you make it with low-fat dairy products and reduced-fat mayonnaise. Choose the tangiest aged blue cheese you can find; its flavor will go a long way.
Make Ahead Tip : Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir before using.


1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk -- or nonfat milk
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar -- or white vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard -- mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese -- (1 ounce)

Whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk (or milk), yogurt, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Add cheese and stir, mashing with a spoon until the cheese is incorporated.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our Homemade Quick Black Bean Burgers

Last night I made Quick Black Bean Burgers again. They were yummy, even though I didn't add any toppings other than cheese. Always yummy! I shall continue to make these again.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tomato Pizza with Garlic and Smoked Gouda

Tonight I made Tomato Pizza with Garlic and Smoked Gouda. It was a stressful day and I was on a stressful work-related phone call when I walked in the door at 7:00, but I managed to put this entire pizza together and pop it in the oven by the time the phone call ended. It was easy (the pizza). It is yummy. I forgot to reduce the cooking time again. Seriously, you need to reduce the cooking time or else it will burn.

Smoked gouda is delicious.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Harvest Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Tarts

Well, we have our first contender for Thanksgiving dessert this year! I thought I'd make these today just because they were ridiculously simple and took about 10 minutes to prepare before popping them in the oven thanks to the incredibly convenient phyllo cups. How did I not know about these before? They are amazing time-savers.

So these are delicious. They taste like what you'd expect - sweet potato pie and pecan pie all jumbled up into one delicious little tart. I love it! I've already eaten 4. I am so ashamed. They are great. I do hope to make them again in a month!

PS despite the recipe note, I just poked the potato with a fork, wrapped it in a paper towel, and microwaved for 10 minutes. Then I cut it in half and squished it out. No need to even mash it! Ultimate in lazy.

tart

Harvest Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Tarts
Cooking Light, November 2005

Pierce each sweet potato a few times with a fork, place in a pie plate with two tablespoons water, cover loosely with wax paper, and microwave at high five minutes or until tender.

1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
4 1/5 ounces mini phyllo shells -- (such as Athens)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine sweet potato, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt, stirring well.

3. Combine pecans, brown sugar, syrup, vanilla, and egg white, stirring well.

4. Spoon about 1 teaspoon sweet potato mixture into each phyllo shell, spreading to edges. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon pecan mixture over sweet potato mixture. Place filled shells on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Servings: 15

Two-Bean Soup with Kale

This was good, simple, and hearty. It was a solid recipe, especially for fall. I used pre-chopped mirepoix (celery, onions, and carrot) to save time, and I tossed in some vegetarian kielbasa for some extra protein. It was a little too simple and rustic for s, though. I wouldn't make it again.

soup

Two-Bean Soup with Kale
Cooking Light, October 2009

This hearty vegetarian soup warms up chilly nights. Use any type of canned beans you happen to have on hand, and add rotisserie chicken or Italian sausage for a heftier dish, if you prefer.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt -- divided
2 garlic cloves -- minced
4 cups organic vegetable broth -- (such as Emeril's) divided
7 cups stemmed -- chopped kale (about 1 bunch)
30 ounces no-salt-added cannellini beans -- rinsed, drained, and divided
15 ounces no-salt-added black beans -- rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in 3 cups vegetable broth and kale. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes or until kale is crisp-tender.

2. Place half of cannellini beans and remaining 1 cup vegetable broth in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Add pureed bean mixture, remaining cannellini beans, black beans, and pepper to soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, vinegar, and rosemary.

Servings: 6

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Towne Stove & Spirits

Friday night we went to Boston. I went to school in Boston but haven't been back since I graduated, and when I lived there, I was poor and did not make the best of the excellent restaurants around the city. So I was determined that we should go to a delicious restaurant for a delicious meal. After poring over websites, Zagat scores, and menus, I finally decided on Towne Stove & Spirits on Boylston Street in Back Bay.

towne

To drink, we both got sangrias - I got white, Gibby got red. We were also served water in these adorable little beakers (which we would like to copy!) and an array of bread and dip. There was an eggplant dip that was a little bit strong, some excellent Vermont butter, and an unidentifiable white dip that was delicious. We tried to figure out what it was, and nothing could have prepared us. Ready for this? Bread soaked in milk, whipped with cod roe and potatoes. WHAT? What a bizarre concoction. But oh my gosh, it was so good.

For an appetizer, Gibby got razorback clams a la plancha (with a pimento pepper aioli) and I got beet carpaccio (yes, beet, not beef). He loved his clams but had never seen razorbacks before so he was a little surprised. I don't like bivalves unless they are in chowder so I just dipped some bread in the sauce and declared it tasty. I loved my little salad of thin-shaved beets, squares of watermelon and creamy feta, and a little sprinkling of herbs. It was wonderful and simple.

As a main course, Gibby got wagyu skirt steak with wasabi and hot green garlic and absolutely loved it. He loves high-quality beef to begin with, and loves spicy things. It came with little potato crisps. I also got the potato crisps, along with some fried sweet potato and turnip because I ordered the lobster roll with frites. Holy crap. So simple - just a toasted, buttered roll with buttery lobster - but incredible. If it weren't for the fact that the bread got soggy from the butter, I would have given this the title of Best Lobster Ever. Instead that title still belongs to the lobster burger at Central in DC! But this was certainly a close second.

And what was for dessert? This may shock you: nothing. We were both really full so we skipped dessert. That is probably the only time that is ever going to happen in life, ever.

We really enjoyed Towne and would definitely recommend it!