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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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 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.

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 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!


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.