Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rosemary-Apple Bread

For a yeast-raised bread, this is super-simple. I used frozen apples that I'd frozen from the farmer's market over the summer. Superduper. It was REALLY good. I would consider making it again.


Rosemary-Apple Bread
Cooking Light, November 2003

3 cups all-purpose flour -- divided
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 package quick-rise yeast -- (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water -- (100° to 110°)
1 cup diced peeled Granny Smith apple -- (about 1 small)
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons butter -- melted

1. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 3/4 cups flour, salt, rosemary, and yeast in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add water, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a 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. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Knead in apple. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375°.

3. Shape dough into a loaf; place dough in an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Gently press dough into pan; cover. Let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until bread is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Brush top with butter. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Servings: 16

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tony's Breakfast Couscous

When I got home from Connecticut, I have had a rough couple of days so I internally refused to go grocery shopping. Thus, this week is one of those Super Exciting Weeks where I randomly make things based on what I have in the house (SHOCKING, I know right?!). So tonight I had a breakfast-for-dinner that uses couscous as the base of a breakfasty thing that is kind of similar to oatmeal. It was interesting and not at all what I expected. I liked it a lot. I would actually perhaps consider making it for breakfasts in the morning, should I ever run out of bagels. I would definitely keep this recipe around.


Tony's Breakfast Couscous
Cooking Light, May 2006

Latimer received this recipe from the husband of one of her guides, and it quickly became a favorite way to start the day. You can prepare it the night before and serve warm or cold. The recipe is easy to double to serve more people. Use any combination of dried fruits you like--cherries, apples, blueberries, or raspberries. You can substitute one cup fat-free milk for dry, and decrease the water to 1/4 cup.

1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup uncooked couscous
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts -- toasted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan; stir in milk and remaining ingredients. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 10 minutes. (Mixture will thicken as it cools.)

Servings: 3

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011 and Pecan Pie

Our Christmas can be summed up by my mom, who provided the toast on Christmas Eve as we ate at a diner in Carmel NY: "Cheers to another Christmas full of death and sadness." *Clink*

Because once again our holiday season was fraught with death of relatives and friends, it was still a melancholy occasion in which no one really felt like doing anything. I did bring my caramel corn, which my dad ate obsessively. And we made some Spinach-Artichoke Dip to eat on Christmas day, which was nice. I also made a pecan pie.

Now, when I bake for myself and for friends, I am so snobby and need my pie crust to be homemade and need the pie to have quality ingredients. Not so when I cook for my family because they just do not care at all. Pillsbury roll-out crusts and corn syrup abound! And so I made a super-basic pecan pie which is super-easy and at this point doesn't even require a recipe since I've made it so often, but it's on the back of a Karo Syrup bottle.

Pecan Pie
Karo Syrup

1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.

Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Lasagna

First I should state that if you are coming to my blog because of my caramel corn recipe from the holiday party yesterday, the recipe is HERE. I made a huge batch of it, and ended up with just enough left over for one holiday tin of it. Hoorah!

I actually made this lasagna Monday night and am just getting around to posting it. I had never heard of cooking lasagna in a crockpot before so I was definitely intrigued. I made the full recipe so I could cut it up and have it for lunches this week, which I did. I'm not going to pretend it was incredible-amazing, but it certainly was better than I expected for lasagna made in a crockpot. I mostly just wanted to make it because I could. Good enough, right? It was okay but I probably wouldn't make this again.


Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna
Eating Well

1 large egg
1 15- to 16-ounce container part-skim ricotta
5 ounces baby spinach -- coarsely chopped
3 large or 4 small portobello mushroom caps -- gills removed (see Tip), halved and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini -- quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
28 ounces diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic -- minced
pinch crushed red pepper -- (optional)
15 whole-wheat lasagna noodles -- (about 12 ounces) uncooked
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella -- divided

1. Combine egg, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and zucchini in a large bowl.

2. Combine crushed and diced tomatoes and their juice, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using) in a medium bowl.

3. Generously coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture in the slow cooker. Arrange 5 noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly and breaking into pieces to cover as much of the sauce as possible. Spread half of the ricotta-vegetable mixture over the noodles and firmly pat down, then spoon on 1 1/2 cups sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat the layering one more time, starting with noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles. Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles. Set aside the remaining 1 cup mozzarella in the refrigerator.

4. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 2 hours or on Low for 4 hours. Turn off the slow cooker, sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on the lasagna, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.

Servings: 8

Cabbage Sausage Supper

I've gotten grain-sausage (not soy, but vegetarian) chorizo before and loved it, so when I saw a new variety of grain sausage at Wegmans I immediately picked it up: smoked apple-sage! TO ME, it sounded delicious. But then I didn't know what to do with it. Suddenly I remembered that my friend Laura had posted a super-simple recipe on her blog awhile back. It's like five ingredients, toss in a Dutch oven, and eat. Voila. And it sounded like it would go very well with the fake sausage.

And it did! It was very tasty! It was very similar to the Ethiopian Cabbage Dish I made awhile ago, just minus the spices and with fake-sausage instead. I would make this again if I had this sausage on hand to make it. I don't think I would go seeking it out. If you eat meat, I'm pretty sure this would be great with any smoked sausage so you might as well try it with the weird sausages you'll inevitably get in holiday gift baskets.


Cabbage Sausage Supper
Quick Cooking, January/February 2004 via Laura

2 pounds smoked sausage -- halved and cut into 3/4-inch slices
1 large onion -- cut into eighths
1 medium head cabbage -- chopped
1/2 cup water
1 pound carrots -- cut into 1/2-inch slices
5 medium potatoes -- peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until sausage is lightly browned and onion is tender; drain. Add the cabbage and water. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes. Stir in the carrots and potatoes. Cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Servings: 12

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spinach-Mushroom Melts

I wasn't really in the mood for cooking last night anyway but I made myself do it, and I was oddly disappointed. This seems pretty straightforward and I thought the pine nuts and green onions and smoked cheese would make it exciting, but I was wrong. It wasn't bad, it was just way more boring than I'd hoped. I would not make this again.


Spinach-Mushroom Melts
Vegetarian Times, January 2006

8 ounces portobello mushroom caps -- (about 4 medium) stemmed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 green onions -- (white and pale green parts) thinly sliced
1 clove garlic -- minced (1 tsp.)
1/2 pound fresh spinach -- stemmed and coarsely chopped
4 slices country bread -- 1/2-inch thick, lightly toasted
3/4 cup shredded smoked mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Wipe tops of mushroom caps. Using spoon, remove gills from inside caps, and discard. Cut caps in quarters, and thinly slice.

3. Toast pine nuts in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, until golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer pine nuts to bowl.

4. Heat 1/2 Tbs. oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and green onions, and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mushroom mixture to large bowl.

5. Add remaining 1/2 Tbs. oil to skillet, and heat over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, 15 seconds. Add spinach, and toss until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and add to mushroom mixture; toss to combine. Stir in pine nuts.

6. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet; top with spinach-mushroom mixture, dividing equally, and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Serve sandwiches warm.

Servings: 4

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nutty Sweet Potato Soup with Harissa and Spinach

At the hospital where I work, we have a great cafeteria. It has its share of crappy food, but it also has some delicious food. And for awhile (until a couple weeks ago, actually), it had some wonderful soups. (It changed because the soup dude left.) A couple of my coworkers developed a rule of thumb when it came to choosing the Most Delicious Soups: the more it looks like baby poop/vomit, the more delicious it will be.

The same is not true in Lauren's Kitchen, however. I know I was making a weird combination to begin with so it's my fault for choosing the recipe, but I have SO MUCH harissa and just want to use it up in recipes. Therefore, I chose this one. And it certainly did look like baby poop/vomit (both, really) but it was not a delicious soup. It was just weird. There's no other way to describe it other than being weird. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't delicious. I would not make this again. Booooooo, this week has not been a successful week in terms of cooking!


Nutty Sweet Potato Soup with Harissa and Spinach
Vegetarian Times, October 2011

Harissa is a smoky North African chili paste made from smoked chiles, olive oil, spices, and sometimes tomatoes. Heat and flavor vary from brand to brand. This recipe was made with a French-produced harissa with a mild heat and extra sweetness from tomatoes.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced (2 cups)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons harissa paste
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick (5 cups)
3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 ounces spinach leaves, thinly sliced (2 packed cups)
Lemon wedges, for garnish

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leeks, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, peanut butter, harissa, garlic, turmeric, and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sweet potatoes, broth, and 1 1/2 cups water, and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, 20 to 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.

2. Blend mixture with immersion blender, adding more water if soup is too thick. Bring soup back to a simmer, and stir in spinach leaves. Serve with lemon wedges.

Servings: 8

Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry (Vambotu Curry)

When I talk about eating vegetarian food with people, I am frequently told how many people dislike tofu and eggplant, two common staples in a vegetarian diet. The reason is always texture. I'm not a very texture-sensitive person in general, so it's never bothered me and I enjoy tofu and eggplant all the time. But this eggplant curry made me see. Oh, did it. You can kind of tell by the picture that the eggplant got soggy and weird, and it turned almost into more of a shiitake mushroom-like texture, which is not really okay when it's an eggplant. But most importantly, this just wasn't very good. I was really disappointed because it came from a cookbook I respect, but it was not awesome. I would not make this again. It's recipes like this one that cause people to think they hate eggplant!


Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry (Vambotu Curry)
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian

Serve this with plain rice. You may make it as hot as you like. The original recipe called for 2 tsp of cayenne! Normally the eggplant is fried. I have tried to cut down on oil by broiling it instead.

1 pound eggplant
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more as desired
4 teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice
1 small cinnamon stick
15 fresh curry leaves (use basil leaves as an interesting substitute)
1 small onion, peeled and cut into fine half rings
3/4 cup coconut milk from a well-stirred can
2 teaspoons ground brown mustard seeds

1. Preheat the broiler, placing a shelf about 6 inches away from the source of heat.

2. Cut the eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick round slices and put the slices in a broiling tray. Rub 1 Tbsp of the oil on both sides of the slices and then sprinkle both sides lightly with salt and pepper. Place the tray under the broiler and cook one side for about 4 minutes and the other side for about 3 minutes, or until both sides are a pretty, reddish color. Remove and quarter each slice. Put the sections in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, the cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel, cayenne, and lime juice. Toss gently to mix.

3. Put the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a large, preferably nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon stick and a second later, the curry leaves. Stir once and put in the onion. Stir and fry for about 2 minutes, or until the onion has browned a bit. Put in the seasoned eggplant. Stir and toss for 4 minutes. Combine the coconut milk and the mustard seeds and pour the mixture over the eggplant. As soon as it starts bubbling, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes, stirring gently now and then. Check for the balance of salt, cayenne, and lime, adding more of whatever you need. Serve hot.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Monday, December 12, 2011

William Shatner's Cappuccino Chip Muffins

Yup. You read that right. Shatner.


This was listed on a celebrity recipe series one time on and, being the super-geek that I am, I immediately saved it. I forgt about it for a long time (as usually happens) but last night I was inspired to bake muffins and already had all of the ingredients. It only took about 5 minutes from start to oven. This is why I love muffins and quickbreads! So easy just to make out of the blue.

So these do not taste at all like cappuccinos. I'm not sure why. There isn't nearly enough espresso powder in it. You can't taste it at all. You can kind of taste the cinnamon, but it's mostly just a really nice chocolate chip muffin. I would make it again probably, but not if I want something with a coffee flavor.


William Shatner's Cappuccino Chip Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk gently to mix.

3. In a medium bowl, beat egg lightly. Whisk in milk, melted butter and vanilla extract. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and pour in milk mixture. Stir just until evenly blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Divide batter among 12 greased muffin cups. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.

Yield: 12 servings

Autumn Vegetable Roast with Orzo

I thought this would be fun and exciting because it has a lot of vegetables I do not usually cook with. In fact, I have never used celery root before. It was scary while I was preparing it - it reeks of celery (for obvious reasons). But once it was cooked, it had a different flavor. Everything went together really nicely. I used bouquet garni instead of herbes de provence because I am not a fan of the lavender that is usually in herbes de provence. And, since I'm Lauren and I never use the right pasta shape for anything, I used shells instead of orzo.

I thought this was really good. It also passed the lunchbox test. I think I should have added a little bit more balsamic, but ultimately this was really nice. I would consider making this again.


Autumn Vegetable Roast with Orzo
Vegetarian Times, October 2011

Fingerling potatoes, cauliflower, celery root, fennel, and kale are roasted and served with orzo that’s studded with parsley and chickpeas.

1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved
1 pound cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2 medium onions, thickly sliced (3 cups)
8 ounces celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 small fennel bulbs, cut into 1-inch pieces (8 oz.)
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 12 oz bunch kale, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
3/4 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

1. Place 1 oven rack in bottom one-third of oven and 1 rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

2. Toss potatoes, cauliflower, onions, celery root, fennel, garlic, and herbes de Provence with 3 Tbs. oil in bowl. Arrange vegetables on prepared baking sheets. Roast 1 hour, stirring occasionally and reversing positions of baking sheets halfway through.

3. Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes. Drain, and stir kale into vegetable mixture. Roast 5 minutes more.

4. Cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes. Add chickpeas, and cook 2 minutes. Drain, and transfer to bowl. Stir in parsley and remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve orzo with vegetables, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Servings: 6

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mediterranean Couscous Cabbage Rolls

I've never made stuffed cabbage before so this was very exciting for me. It was definitely yummy although I think I'd like other cabbage roll recipes more. But at least now I feel confident to pursue those! This was yummy and enjoyable. I probably wouldn't make it again, but if you're looking for something different than a traditional cabbage roll then this one is a good bet.


Mediterranean Couscous Cabbage Rolls
Eating Well

We love the subtle flavor of cinnamon with fresh mint in these vegetarian cabbage rolls stuffed with couscous, olives and feta cheese. Don’t worry if your cabbage leaves tear a little when you pull them off the head; they will wrap up just fine. As a precaution you can cook a couple extra leaves and roll two partly overlapping if needed. Serve with roasted butternut squash tossed with olive oil, cinnamon and garlic. To double this recipe, use 2 large skillets and prepare one 4-serving recipe in each.

4 1/4 cups water -- divided
8 large Savoy or green cabbage leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt -- divided
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic -- minced
4 cups chopped plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint -- plus more for garnish

1. Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large skillet. Add cabbage leaves, cover, reduce heat to medium-high and simmer until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the cabbage leaves to a clean work surface to cool. Discard the water and dry the pan.

4. Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the remaining 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are mostly broken down, 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile stir feta, olives and 2 tablespoons mint into the couscous. Mound about 1/2 cup of the couscous mixture at the stem end of each cabbage leaf. Roll into a bundle, tucking in the sides.

6. When the tomato sauce is ready, add the cabbage rolls seam-side down. Cover and cook until the rolls are hot all the way through and the cabbage is very tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve the cabbage rolls topped with the sauce. Garnish with mint, if desired.

Servings: 4

Friday, December 09, 2011

Portobello Mushroom Fajitas

This was a really quick, nice little dinner. Nothing special. I didn't have queso fresco so I just threw in some feta instead, like the tip suggested. It worked nicely and was yummy. I probably wouldn't make this again, but it was fine.


Portobello Mushroom Fajitas
Cooking Light, January 2005

Portobello mushrooms and red onions make a meaty fajita filling with satisfying, pungent flavors. If you can't find queso fresco, crumbled feta cheese is a good substitute.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups slices portobello mushrooms -- (1/2-inch-thick) (about 8 ounces)
1 cup vertically sliced red onion
1 cup green bell pepper strips -- (1/4-inch-thick)
2 garlic cloves -- minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 serrano chile -- minced
12 (6-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup crumbled queso fresco -- (4 ounces)
3/4 cup salsa verde

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until almost tender. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes or until bell pepper is crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro, lime juice, salt, black pepper, and chile.

2. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/4 cup mushroom mixture down center of each tortilla; top each tortilla with 4 teaspoons cheese and 1 tablespoon salsa. Roll up.

Servings: 4

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pies

It is a truth in life that lentils are ugly and do not photograph well. They never look appetizing.

I made this on Tuesday night and forgot to post about it. It sounds time-consuming but it really isn't. It heats up alright the next day, but I'm not a huge fan of it. I wouldn't make this again. And not just because it's ugly.



Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pies
Eating Well

These mini vegetarian shepherd’s pies feature lentils, carrot and corn, crowned with a velvety mashed potato topping. The recipe can also be made in a broiler-safe casserole dish.

1 pound Yukon Gold or white potatoes -- peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon salt -- divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper -- divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion -- finely diced
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels -- thawed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
14 ounces vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned lentils -- (rinsed)

1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Add buttermilk, butter and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Coat four 10- to 12-ounce broiler-safe ramekins (or an 8-inch-square broiler-safe baking dish) with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a broiler-safe baking sheet.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in corn, thyme and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat. Stir in broth. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in lentils and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

4. Divide the hot lentil mixture among the prepared ramekins (or spread in the baking dish). Top with the mashed potatoes. Broil, rotating halfway through, until the potato is lightly browned in spots, 6 to 10 minutes.

Servings: 4

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cheese Soup

I didn't realize I hadn't posted about this, but I guess I haven't made it in a really long time. I have a folder in my Living Cookbook that is for recipes that I've had, that I've made, but that it's been so long since I made them that it's time to re-evaluate if they need to be kept at all. So if this didn't make it on the blog, then it means it was at least six+ years ago. I remember when I got this recipe: I was 21 and went to a beer and cheese tasting at the Sam Adams Brewery outside of Boston. I had never had a beer I liked, other than Guinness, and discovered that I absolutely adored Sam Adams. That is still my beer of choice!! Delicious.

Wait I have a picture of myself at the beer tasting. Gosh that feels like forever ago.

{Lauren, circa 2005? Age 21. Boston MA}

So one of the things I got from that was a recipe for this soup. I made it a couple of times but I wasn't a good cook at all back then. But I kept the recipe, and I am glad I did. Whereas the other Beer-Cheddar Soup I made recently was delicious, this one is delicious in another way. It has vegetables and potatoes in it which makes it thicker and more substantial, which is excellent. I would keep both of these beer-cheese soup recipes on hand depending on the occasion, because this one is great. Nice work, Samuel.


Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cheese Soup
Sam Adams Brewery

4 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups diced carrots
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1/3 cup flour
1 12oz bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Lager
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups diced red potatoes
2 cups milk
3 cups Cabot Sharp Cheddar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions or scallions

In a heavy 4-quart pot or Dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, coating the vegetables well with the roux. Whisk in the Boston Lager and stock, bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer until the soup thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook 10-15 minutes until tender. Stir in the milk, grated cheese, thyme, Worcestershire, paprika, and tomato paste. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the soup is smooth. Taste of salt and pepper and tabasco if desired. Serve in large bowls and garnish with the onions or scallions.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spinach & Artichokes In Puff Pastry

Tonight I went to a sangria social with my women's group and we all needed to bring an appetizer or dessert (no sangria on an empty stomach!). It was at 6:30 and I clearly do not have time to make anything from scratch between work and that, so I found this genius recipe for a fancy little appetizer that can mostly be made ahead of time. I made it last night at like 10pm but according to the recipe you could make it three months ahead of time. It's super quick and super simple, freeze it into a log, then slice it up and bake it. Delicious. And guess how many I brought home with me today? Zero. Because people ate all of them. Score. I'd definitely recommend this for your upcoming holiday parties!


Spinach and Artichokes In Puff Pastry
Southern Living: Top-Rated Recipe, November 2000

You can make them ahead, slice them, freeze in a single layer, then transfer to a freezer ziploc bag. Just bake them right before serving.

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach -- thawed
14 ounces artichoke hearts -- drained and chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
17 3/10 ounces frozen puff pastry

1. Drain spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels.

2. Stir together spinach, artichoke hearts, and next 5 ingredients.

3. Thaw puff pastry at room temperature 30 minutes. Unfold pastry, and place on a lightly floured surface or heavy-duty plastic wrap. Spread one-fourth spinach mixture evenly over pastry sheet, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Roll up pastry, jellyroll fashion, pressing to seal seam; wrap in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Repeat procedure with remaining pastry and spinach mixture. Freeze 30 minutes; cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. (Rolls may be frozen up to 3 months.)

4. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 4 dozen

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gruyere, Apple, and Sage on Rye

In my quest for fancy grilled cheeses, this was the next on my list to try. Honestly, I did not love it at all. I don't know why. It just didn't do it for me. Sad.

Martha says:
Crisp apple combined with a creamy, nutty Gruyere balances the earthiness of sage and rye.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

S'Mores Cookie Bars

So as if I don't have enough to do in life, I'm in love with Pinterest. I avoid recipes more often than not, because I am a snob, but I do take food ideas (especially ideas for shots and cocktails!). However, a friend pinned this the other day and I simply couldn't ignore it. Not only did I save it, but I made it. Already. Today.

And I will make it again because OH MY GOD. These are incredible. I would make them for guests and for parties and for any occasion I can think of. BEST BEST BEST. Directly into the favorites folder.



S'more Cookie Bars
Baked Perfection via Pinterest

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (approximately 7 full graham crackers)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 super-sized (5 oz.) dark chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. Two 5 oz. Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread marshmallow fluff evenly over the chocolate layer.

4. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. This is most easily done by putting the second half of the dough in a gallon size freezer bag. Use your palms to flatten it out, and then use scissors to cut down both long sides of the bag, so it will open up book-style. Open it up carefully, and the dough will stick on one side of the bag. Then place the bag, dough side down, on the other three layers. From there peel the bag up ad spread the dough where it is uneven.

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars

Yield: 16 cookie bars

Toasted Millet with Harissa and Sweet Potatoes

I got a pressure cooker as a wedding gift and was so excited when I got it, because I'd used one in an Indian cooking course I took with my mom and was so excited to be able to cook rice and beans quickly. But then I got scared of it. I was suddenly terrified that it would explode and beans and rice would go everywhere or I would get burned with scalding water or what have you. I know, I know. It happens, but rarely. And not with newer models so much. But still! Terrified. So it remained in my basement.

Well, I'm on a whole kick of making myself conquer fears and try new things as much as possible, so I decided that Tonight Is The Night I would try the pressure cooker. And you know what? Ridiculously easy. Ridiculous. This is wonderful because it means I can use it more. Hoorah! And it was exciting especially because the millet and sweet potatoes took all of 8 minutes to cook. Eight! Beautiful.


So on to the food. This was pretty good. Nothing special. More of just an exciting vehicle to try out the pressure cooker. I already had everything on hand so it made sense. Yes, I have harissa in the refrigerator, and yes, I have millet:


I wouldn't make it again, but I enjoyed eating it. So there.


Toasted Millet with Harissa and Sweet Potatoes
Vegetarian Times, Jan/Feb 2011

Harissa is a spicy red chile paste used to season North African dishes, such as couscous and tagines. Here, it adds gentle heat to a stew of millet, sweet potatoes, and spinach.

2 teaspoons olive oil
10 ounce container diced onions -- or 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
1 1/2 cups millet
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 large sweet potato -- peeled and cubed (3 cups)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons harissa paste
5 ounce bag baby spinach -- leaves thinly sliced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. To make Stew: Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Stir in millet, cumin, turmeric, and coriander, and cook 3 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add sweet potato, broth, and harissa.

2. Close pressure cooker, and bring up to high pressure. Cook 9 minutes.

3. Release pressure with quick-release button, or transfer pressure cooker to sink, and run cool water over rim to release pressure.

4. To make Vinaigrette: whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, maple syrup, and lemon zest in small bowl. Stir spinach and Vinaigrette ?into millet mixture until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Servings: 6

Vermont Maple Syrup Muffins

I was really excited for these muffins because maple syrup is delicious, and I was really disappointed with these muffins because they were not at all what I was expecting. They looked and tasted like I had made them with Bisquick. In fact, they actually just tasted like a muffin-pancake. This is not necessarily a bad thing and probably would be great for a quick breakfast in the morning, but I was expecting something cakier and less biscuity. I wouldn't make these again.


Vermont Maple Syrup Muffins
Joy of Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup melted butter

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, syrup, and butter. Gradually pour this egg mixture into a well in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir quickly. Batter will be lumpy. Do not overbeat or muffins will be tough. Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake at 400F until brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 1 dozen

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Breakfast

What to do with leftover stuffing? Have an amazing day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast, obviously. Smush the stuffing up into little patties, pan fry in some olive oil, top with fried egg. Best thing ever.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Chinese Orzo Vegetable Salad

I've had this recipe forever and never bothered to try it. I made it tonight. Super easy-peasy. I skipped the celery because I didn't want any, and that's that. Good choice all-around. I liked this. It would make a great lunch. I would make this again.


Chinese Orzo Vegetable Salad

1 1/2 cups orzo
2 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 cups asparagus, sliced on the diagonal
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup canned baby corn, cut in half
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 scallions, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Cook the orzo in a large pot of boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes, until al dente, sitrring frequently. Drain the orzo in a colander with small holes or with a strainer, rinse with cold water, and transfer to a serving bowl. Toss the orzo with the sesame oil and set aside.

2. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water to cover for 3 minutes, until just tender, then briefly submerge in cold water to help maintain their bright green color. Add the bell peppers, baby corns, celery, scallions, and asparagus to the orzo.

3. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and pour it over the orzo and vegetables. Gently toss to coat everything evenly with the dressing and serve.

Servings: 6

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and Stuffing

Well, here's the situation with Thanksgiving: my family is in chaos right now. We are dealing with a lot of family emergencies all at one time, so it ended up just being me and my mom. We ate in front of the TV and watched Arrested Development. That was not so bad. As a result of the chaos, though, we only made a few things. All the standards that are the true definition of Comfort Food in my household. Except pie. I didn't make pie. I know, shock, right? And since it was just two of us and I don't eat meat, we nixed the turkey. So this is what we had:

*My mom's cheeseball
*Lipton soup onion dip
*Mashed potatoes
*Green Bean Casserole
*Roasted Brussels Sprouts
*Rolls from Trader Joe's


We also had stuffing. And I've decided I might as well share that recipe here now. My mom has made this super-simple stuffing my entire life, and she got the recipe from her mom. The closest I've found is this Betty Crocker recipe. The night before Thanksgiving, my mom tears up the bread (standard white bread from the store), chops up the onion (Vidalia) and celery, pours on the pepper and sage (no thyme), and mixes it up in this huge tupperware container that is at least 10 years older than me. She doesn't cook the onion or celery, just tosses them in. Then she melts 2 sticks of butter and pours that over everything, stirring it in. And then she covers it up and leaves it overnight so all the flavors mush together. She used to put it all into the turkey, but then I stopped eating turkey so she'd make a smaller pan of stuffing just for me, and then she just started making a huge pan of stuffing for everyone. So, since it doesn't get moisture from The Bird, she pours vegetable stock over it before baking so it doesn't get all dried out. And thus our perfect herb stuffing comes to fruition. Here is the Betty Crocker recipe that I found that is close to it.

The other secret with this stuffing is the Morning After Thanksgiving amazing breakfast: smush the stuffing into a little patty, pan-fry it in a little bit of butter or olive oil, and top with a fried egg. Oh my gosh. Heaven.

Bread Stuffing
Betty Crocker

3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
9 cups soft bread cubes (15 slices)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Melt butter in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook celery and onion in butter 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove Dutch oven from the heat.

2. Gently toss celery mixture and remaining ingredients, using spoon, until bread cubes are evenly coated.

3. Use to stuff one 10- to 12-pound turkey. Or to bake stuffing separately, grease 3-quart casserole or rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Place stuffing in casserole or baking dish. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

Yield: 10 servings

Greek Pizzettes

Monday I did cook! Monday I made Greek Pizzettes. I had found some great locally-made onion-fig jam and wanted to use it. It was delicious. I didn't have fresh figs, but dried ones actually worked just fine. So that was nice. I give myself a pat on the back for that.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagna

Look! I made a very intricate dinner. It makes up for the lack of cooking. This really was very involved and I have half my kitchen in my dishwasher now as a result. It took about 2 hours from start to finish. But I didn't skip any steps! I even used my little aerator to whip the cream (I swear, that was a genius idea on my part awhile back - whipped cream or egg whites in less than 2 minutes? Best.).

This was wonderful. It's one of these recipes I've had for a long time and always want to make but it's too complicated to make on a weekday so I always put it off. And as I was making it, I was very nervous because it occurred to me that it's really just noodles, squash, and a LOT of milk. But it was great! It was really, really good. I would make it for guests; that's how good it was. I had it with some rosemary ciabatta. Delicious!


Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagna
Cooking Light, November 2004

This dish is easy to divide into make-ahead steps. Roast squash and prepare white sauce the night before, then layer lasagna up to six hours before the party. Just before guests arrive, top with cream and the last layering of Parmesan cheese, then bake.

8 1/4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash -- (1/2-inch) (about 3 pounds)
Cooking spray
4 cups fat-free milk -- divided
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt -- divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces precooked lasagna noodles
3/4 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano -- (3 ounces) divided
1/2 cup whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Arrange butternut squash in a single layer in a large roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Coat squash with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until squash is just tender, stirring once. Set aside.

3. Lower oven temperature to 350°.

4. Combine 3 1/2 cups milk and rosemary in a 1-quart glass measuring cup, and microwave at high 5 minutes or until mixture begins to boil. Let stand 10 minutes. Strain milk through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard rosemary.

5. Lightly spoon all-purpose flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and remaining 1/2 cup milk, stirring flour mixture with a whisk until well blended to form a slurry.

6. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until tender, stirring constantly. Stir in steeped milk, and increase heat to medium-high. Gradually add slurry to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Combine milk mixture and squash, tossing gently.

7. Spread about 1 1/2 cups squash mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over squash mixture; top with 2 cups squash mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers once with 3 noodles, 2 cups of squash, and 1/4 cup of cheese. Top with 3 noodles.

8. Beat whipping cream and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt with mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Spread the whipping cream mixture over noodles; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes.

Servings: 8

Vegetarian Reubens

I KNOW. I KNOW I DID NOT COOK ALL WEEK. I made my black bean soup and then I ate that all week long. So it's not like I ate frozen meals or take-out, I just didn't feel like making anything new. Gosh.

Last night I did made Vegetarian Reubens, which are one of my favorite vegetarian sandwiches. So yummy. And the fun part is that I had them with Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs, which are sweet potato tater tots. There is absolutely nothing that is not awesome about that sentence. It was a nice dinner. And I swear to you I am trying really hard this week. Plus this week is Thanksgiving so that's a day when I definitely will be cooking!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Bean Soup

I still have a ridiculous amount of dried beans from my old boss in Maryland. That means they are about 3 years old. How long do dried beans survive for? The internet tells me that they can last for years but may require longer cooking time to soften. I did not find this to be the case, but I also soaked the beans for like 10 hours because I started them right when I woke up this morning. So by about 6:00 my 3-year-old beans were ready to make into a soup. This came together easily and, although it cooks for an hour, it was relatively hands-off. I did make the crema (using sour cream instead of actual crema) and the hard boiled egg. I know it's weird, but this is not the first time I have put hard-boiled egg into soup. And it worked very well and was very tasty. I must be lacking in protein lately to be constantly craving beans and eggs. Weird, right? Oh well. This was really good. It's a nice, solid black bean soup recipe. I'd keep it around but I have a feeling there are better recipes out there, and when I find them, my dried beans will still be waiting.


Black Bean Soup
Cooking Light, October 2009

1 cup dried black beans
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil -- divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
7 garlic cloves -- minced and divided
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 ounces chopped green chiles
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeño pepper -- seeded
1/4 cup crema Mexicana
3 hard-cooked large eggs -- peeled and finely chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves

1. Sort and wash beans, and place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water; cover and let stand for 8 hours. Drain beans.

2. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes, stirring often. Add 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beans, broth, and next 7 ingredients (through chiles); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until beans are tender. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid; secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid. Process until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining mixture. Return soup to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Finely chop 1 cup cilantro and jalapeño. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro, jalapeño, and crema. Ladle 1 1/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each with 2 tablespoons crema. Sprinkle soup with eggs. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

Servings: 4

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For Future Reference

First of all, I just got a tattoo on my right shoulder and my right (dominant) arm is killing me so my guess is I will be eating leftovers tonight. Hell no am I going to cut up butternut squash to make a very involved lasagna that I'd had planned. I'll go for something easy instead. Sorry.

I felt it was important though to post an addendum to yesterday's Ancho-Coffee Chili. I wanted to eat a hearty breakfast before going for the tattoo because otherwise I'd get light-headed and no one needs that. Feeling somewhat inspired, I warmed up the chili from last night, topped with a fried egg, and served myself with toast and coffee. It was The Best Breakfast. And I am about 99.9% certain it would be massively amazing after a night of heavy drinking. This automatically bumps the recipe from a "maybe" to a "make again." And this, my friends, is one of the reasons why I do the lunchbox test. Sometimes things work out better the next day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ancho-Coffee Red Bean Chili

When I mentioned this on twitter, a few people reacted with a "ew, coffee? in chili?" type of response. Just like how sometimes chocolate is a secret ingredient in Mexican food, so too is coffee. I promise, you don't even notice it. It makes the chili have a stronger, deeper flavor but not in a coffee-like way. This was very simple but was really good. I enjoyed it. I would keep the recipe around, though I don't know if I'll make it again. I saved some in tupperware so we'll have to see how it does tomorrow. If it passes the lunchbox test, it may turn out to be a make-again after all!


Ancho-Coffee Red Bean Chili

Recipe loosely adapted from "Red Bean Chili with Ancho Chiles and Coffee" from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop, p. 368. Measurements are approximate.

This chili always brings me nice memories of our trip to Alaska last year. I made a double batch the week before we drove up and froze it in two-serving portions to pack along for a couple of dinners around the campfire at night. It was such a warm and comforting meal, and even though everything seems to taste good when you're camping and you're cold, damp and hungry, I can assure you this chili tastes just as good when we're in the comfort of our cozy home - and it's even tastier leftover.

1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups of diced canned tomatoes, including the juice
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo, or to taste (optional)
2 1/2 cups cooked red beans, drained
Handful of chopped, fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until softened and lightly browned. Stir in garlic, chile and cumin and cook one minute. Add the tomatoes, coffee, water, bay leaf, chipotle (if using) and beans. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the lid and simmer chili to desired thickness. Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in cilantro.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Fudge Brownies

I jinxed myself. When I started making this, I was SURE that it was going to be The Perfect Brownie Recipe. But I was wrong! It was really good, but I think it hyped itself up too much. I suppose I'm still on the quest for the perfect brownie. Good thing I have a bazillion recipes to try!


Fudge Brownies
King Arthur Flour

Fudgy, cakey, fudgy, cakey... can't make up your mind? If you're looking for a brownie that's right in between those two styles, you've found it. These brownies combine a fudge brownie's ultra-moist texture with a subtle cake-like rise, for the best of both worlds.

Our guarantee: These brownies, deep chocolate brown inside with a lighter-colored top crust, will be about 3/4" to 1" tall when cut. They'll be ultra-moist without crossing the line into gooey/underbaked.

8 ounces unsalted butter -- (2 sticks)
15 3/4 ounces sugar
4 large eggs
3 3/4 ounces Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-Process Cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
12 ounces chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

2. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it's hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

3. While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

4. Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

5. Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

6. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

7. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spicy Korean Tofu with Pear Slaw

I could not freaking find gochugaru. But I did find a sauce in the Asian aisle of the grocery store that had gochugaru in it. So I used that instead and just reduced the amount of soy sauce to balance it out. This turned out pretty well. The pear slaw was a little pointless and meh, but the tofu was very good. I don't think I would make it again though, since I have a better Korean Tofu recipe already. Oh well!


Spicy Korean Tofu with Pear Slaw
Vegetarian Times, September 2011

Gochugaru, a Korean red pepper powder with a distinctly sweet heat, is used to season this braised tofu dish. It’s worth seeking out and having in your spice pantry, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute red pepper flakes.

1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
1 14 oz package firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 8 rectangular slices
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon gochugaru or 11/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 green onions, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)

Pear Slaw
1 Bartlett pear, sliced into matchsticks (11/2 cups)
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds

1. To make Tofu: Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium heat. ?Add tofu, and cook 7 to 9 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together soy sauce, gochugaru, maple syrup, vinegar, and 3 Tbs. water in small bowl. Stir in green onions and garlic.

3. Pour sauce around tofu, reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until most of sauce is absorbed. Flip tofu halfway through cooking.

4. To make Pear Slaw: toss pear matchsticks with vinegar and sesame seeds.

5. Arrange 2 Tofu rectangles on each of 4 plates, and top each with Pear Slaw.

Servings: 4

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Curried Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries

Tomorrow is a coworker's baby shower and I signed up to bring something "magical and delicious," and I forgot to plan ahead. Luckily I had everything on hand to make White Chocolate-Cashew Coffee Biscotti. Except the cashews. I substituted some toffee bits for the cashews, which I think was genius. Hopefully they go over well at the 8am baby shower.

Last night for dinner I made this couscous dish. I swear, couscous is one of the best things in the whole world. Boil some water, pour it on top, wait five minutes. How is that not amazing? And then with this, you pour the water over the couscous and rehydrate some cranberries in the process. It's insane.

So how was the food? Fantastic. I've made a lot of things like this before but I think this one is my favorite! It's wonderful. I did change the dressing a little bit - I used some regular orange juice in place of the orange zest and concentrate, which I think was a great idea. I ate it for lunch today (it passes the lunchbox test!), and for dinner tonight (and it was still amazing). I'm glad I made the full recipe. It's great left over. I would definitely make this again.


Curried Couscous Salad with Dried Cranberries
Cooking Light, July 2001

1 1/2 cups uncooked couscous -- (about 1 [10-ounce] box)
1 cup dried cranberries -- (about 4 ounces)
1 cup frozen green peas -- thawed
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
15 1/2 ounces chickpeas -- (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thawed orange juice concentrate
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves -- crushed

1. To prepare salad, combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the couscous mixture; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; cool. Stir in onions, basil, and chickpeas.

2. To prepare dressing, combine lemon juice and the remaining ingredients in a jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Pour over couscous mixture, and toss well to combine. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Servings: 8

Monday, November 07, 2011

Mediterranean Pitas with Muffaletta Relish

Last week I DID cook, despite what the blog implies. I just didn't make recipe type stuff. Well, Wednesday night I made my best Spinach-Artichoke Dip and then I ate that again on Thursday, and then Friday through last night I was in Florida for my uncle's wedding. So that's that. Here we go though as I attempt to cook most days this week. Hooray!

Tonight I made this little sandwich that has a quick hummus-like spread (it IS NOT hummus despite calling itself that) and olive spread. I may have cheated there - I used a pre-made olive relish from the olive bar at Wegmans. I'm sorry but it was SO MUCH cheaper just to buy a scoop full of that than all the different ingredients for the relish. So... keep that in mind. Also I added feta to the sandwich because I think everything is delicious with feta. I really liked this a lot. It's simple and filling. It kind of made me wish I'd made Greek Paninis, but I was still very happy. I'm not sure if I would make this again. I probably would. Yum!


Mediterranean Pitas with Muffaletta Relish
Vegetarian Times, June 2011

Julie DeMatteo, a retired school teacher from Clementon, N.J., modeled the relish in her colorful pita pocket after that from muffaletta—a classic New Orleans sandwich piled high with a marinated olive salad. She added a sprinkling of wheat germ for “nutrition and crunch.”

1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped, marinade reserved
1/2 cup diced plum tomato
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1/4 cup chopped stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 6-inch pita rounds, cut in half crosswise
1/2 cup wheat germ

1. To make Relish: combine all ingredients, including reserved marinade, in medium bowl.

2. To make Hummus: blend all ingredients and 2 Tbs. water in blender until smooth.

3. To assemble Pitas: Spread 3 Tbs. Hummus into each pita half, and sprinkle with 1 Tbs. wheat germ. Top with Relish, dividing evenly among Pitas. Serve immediately.

Servings: 8

Monday, October 31, 2011

Curried Lentil Soup

I decided it's time to revisit some of the recipes that I loved but Gibby did not, just to see if I still like them. Tonight I made Curried Lentil Soup. I forgot my addition of potatoes but it still worked out very well. I added a little bit too much curry powder so it was really hot, but it was still very good. Verdict: still delicious.

Sugar Cream Pie

Last Friday someone asked me: what pie are you craving? For some bizarre reason, all I could think about was sugar cream pie. I'd never even had it before. I'd seen it at the farmer's market at the Mennonite stand, but I've never actually bought it. But I decided I MUST HAVE IT. Thus, I found Martha Stewart's recipe and made some.

I thought it was excellent. My taste-testers thought it was good and meh, respectively. I didn't make the raspberry whipped cream because I am lazy, but I did throw some raspberries on the plate with it. But I really liked it. It cuts beautifully, too. I don't think I would make it again but I did really enjoy it.

If anything, I did learn that Martha's pate brisee recipe is phenomenal and I plan to use it forever whenever any flaky pie crust is needed. I made an extra disc of dough to freeze, which is very exciting to me. It's just so easy and delicious. Yum!


Sugar Cream Pie
Martha Stewart Living

1/2 recipe Pate Brisee (see below)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Raspberries, for serving
Raspberry Whipped Cream, for serving (recipe follows)

1. Roll out dough to an 11-inch circle (1/8 inch thick). Fit into a 9-inch pie plate; crimp edges. Refrigerate. Preheat oven to 425°. Sift sugar, flour, and salt together into a stainless-steel bowl; set aside.

2. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until hot but not boiling. Whisk into sugar mixture; whisk until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Set in an ice-water bath; let cool completely.

3. Pour filling into pie shell. Dot with butter; sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°. Cover edges of crust with a foil band. Bake until a thin knife inserted in center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with berries and raspberry whipped cream.

Raspberry Whipped Cream:
2 tsp sugar
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

Sprinkle sugar over raspberries in a bowl. Let stand until juices are released, about 30 minutes. Mash gently with a fork until saucy but still chunky. Beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold raspberry mixture into whipped cream, leaving it slightly swirled.


Pate Brisee (Pie Dough)
The Complete Martha Stewart Living Cookbook (2000), p.12

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter -- (2 sticks) chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water -- (1/4 to 1/2)

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Yield: 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pie

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spaghetti with Savoy Cabbage and Breadcrumbs

You guys, you're so sweet. A lot of times when I post I don't think about the fact that people actually read this. So on my last post I was surprised - well, shocked actually - by the number of people who commented or emailed me who've been reading from the sidelines. You guys kick ass.

So last night at like 8:00 I finally decided to make dinner. I had found this recipe in Martha Stewart and decided to try it out since it combines aspects of a couple of my favorite dishes: Halushki, and Creamed Leeks, as well as a recent recipe I tried, Garlic & Leek Ditalini. It was really very tasty. I cheated and just used panko instead of making my own bread crumbs, but I can see how homemade bread crumbs would make it even more tasty. I also discovered mid-cooking that I didn't have any more Parmesan, so I subbed in Asiago (who has shredded asiago but no Parmesan? Me, apparently). It was absolutely wonderful. I really liked this. I will definitely keep this around, though I think I will still usually default to the halushki. Loved this though! And I am intrigued by the bizarre idea of a fried egg on top. I love eggs. I might try that out sometime.


Spaghetti with Savoy Cabbage and Breadcrumbs
Martha Stewart Living

The butter does a nice job of coaxing the sweetness from the cabbage. Serve a platter of this pasta family-style, with grated cheese; top with poached or fried eggs; or scatter with crumbled bacon.

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces spaghetti or angel hair pasta
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove -- very thinly sliced or minced
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs -- (not dried) (from a rustic loaf)
9 cups thinly sliced savoy cabbage -- (from 1 medium head)
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese -- (1 ounce) plus more for garnish

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in breadcrumbs. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring, until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat. Cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water. Cook, covered, until tender, about 4 minutes. Uncover, and let any water in the skillet evaporate. Stir in cream. Cook until sauce is reduced and thick enough to coat cabbage, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add pasta and reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid to cabbage. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in cheese. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top, and garnish with more cheese.

Servings: 4

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Food Blog: A Retrospective

So the situation is this: Gibby & I filed for divorce and now it's just been me reviewing the food. Hence the terrible terrible phone pictures. I have had my share of nights lately where my dinner consisted of coffee and cheesy poufs, and I'm sure I will have more nights like that, but I'm really going to be trying hard to get back into the swing of cooking things regularly. I have a lot of parties coming up and holidays and events and times to cook food, so hopefully that will help things out.

The crazy thing about nearly hitting this food blog's 6th birthday is that this blog has followed me through some seriously pivotal times in my life. I started this when I was 21 years old! I was still in an apartment in Boston in college! This blog has been with me through a broken engagement, a marriage (and now divorce), graduation of college, graduation from graduate school, in vitro fertilization, and living in three different states (MA, MD, PA). We'll be hitting our sixth Thanksgiving post, our sixth Christmas post. You've followed me on vacations to Sweden and to St. Lucia and to Texas. And at almost 1800 posts, we've certainly traveled through the world of food together.

When I look back at the posts from 2005, it astounds me, my lack of cooking ability and the crappy food I ate that I thought was rockin' at the time. I've gone from eating fish sticks wrapped in a tortilla and calling it a fish taco to making my own pate brisee! Not only have I grown as a person throughout this time, I have grown as an amateur chef.

So while I wish this new life event was not occurring, it is, and we have to deal with it. There will be minor changes to the blog simply because everything will be a biased opinion (my own) and everything will have terrible pictures (thanks, Droid), but it makes sense. Food is such an important part of my life, and therefore it makes sense that my life would be reflected in my food. So. Welcome to the new leg of my journey!

Chorizo y Papas Breakfast Burritos

For reasons I will explain in another post, it took me a huge amount of effort to make this dinner. It's actually really easy, I just lacked the motivation. I used that grain sausage I've used before in "chorizo" recipes, and it was good but I honestly think this would have been a much stronger recipe without the fake chorizo. I added cheese because I'm Lauren and I love cheese, and if I'd had sour cream I would have added that too. But the chorizo just was a little too much. I would have liked just the potatoes and egg.


Chorizo y Papas Breakfast Burritos
Vegetarian Times, June 2011

3 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium russet potato, diced
1 8-ounce package soy chorizo
4 extra-large eggs
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas, warmed
2 green onions, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)

1. Heat 2 tsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange diced potato in single layer in pan. Cook 7 minutes, or until golden, turning once. Move potato to side of pan. Add remaining 1 tsp. oil to opposite side of pan, then add soy chorizo; cook 1 minute, crumbling with spatula. Stir potato and chorizo together; cook 2 minutes more, or until potato is tender. Transfer to bowl, and cover.

2. Wipe out skillet, spray with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Crack eggs in pan, and cook 2 minutes, or until whites are set, turning once for over easy.

3. Lay eggs in centers of warmed tortillas. Divide potato mixture among tortillas, and top with green onions. Roll up tortillas, leaving one end open.

Servings: 4

Monday, October 24, 2011

Artichokes, Mushrooms, and Potatoes with Whole Wheat Pasta

Boooo. I thought this was going to be great so I made the full recipe so I'd have leftovers. It was not great. It was pretty boring. I feel like it was a waste of time. It was an okay dinner but definitely nothing special. I'm glad I used canned artichoke hearts so I at least didn't waste time on that step. I would not make this again.


Artichokes, Mushrooms, and Potatoes with Whole Wheat Pasta
Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Shaw, p. 288

4 medium artichokes, trimmed, quartered, and pared; or 1 10oz package frozen artichokes, thawed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
4 scallions, white part plus 2 inches of greens, chopped
2 cups loosely packed sliced white button, cremini, or portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups canned chopped tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons capers
2 medium potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and sliced 1/3 inch thick
12 ounces dried whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, for garnish

1. If you're using fresh artichokes, bring enough water to cover the artichokes to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the artichokes, and let the water return to a boil. Cver the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium0low, and simmer until the artichokes are tender enough to pieces with a fork, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the shallots and scallions. Reduce the heat to medium and saute, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they color and begin to give up liquid, about 6 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, tomatoes, capers, potatoes, and cooked fresh or thawed frozen artichokes, and bring to a simmer.

3. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until the potatoes have cooked through, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain.

4. Serve the sauce over the hot whole-wheat spaghetti, sprinkled with the cheese.

Servings: 4

Baba Ghanoush

Our CSA is over for the year. Sadface :-( I really liked the surprise of getting new vegetables every week. This past week, in the last bounty of vegetables, I got two medium eggplants. I decided that was a sign that I should try out some baba ghanoush. Now, I love middle eastern food. Love love love. And I've found my perfect hummus recipe. So now it's time to explore and search for the perfect baba ghanoush recipe.

This, unfortunately, was not it. It was very good, yes. It was not perfect though, which was sad. I had high hopes for it. Oh well. It was tasty with some pita bread, olives, couscous, and dolmades. I had myself a little feast from the olive bar at Wegmans! Woo woo.


Baba Ghanoush
Vegetarian Times, July/August 2011

This version of baba ghanoush is blended to creamy smoothness so that it can be served like hummus, for dipping pita, veggies, and crackers.

4 medium eggplants (2 1/2 lb.)
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to broil. Prick eggplants all over with fork. Place on baking sheet, and broil 15 to 20 minutes, or until skin is blistered and eggplants feel soft to the touch, turning occasionally. Transfer to large bowl, cover with lid; cool 1 hour.

2. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise, and scoop out flesh with spoon into bowl of food processor, adding any juice that accumulated at bottom of large bowl. Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin, and purée 2 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Chill 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

3. To serve: Spread Baba Ghanoush onto shallow plate. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley.

Servings: 8

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cheesy Stuffed Peppers

I'm not going to pretend this was the most delicious meal of all time, because it wasn't. But there's something to be appreciated about a recipe that includes a main dish, side dish, sauce, and wine (for 1 serving!) all in one simple little set of ingredients and directions. It was easy to make, done in 20 minutes, and definitely tasty. I don't think I would make it again, but it was perfect for my Friday night!


Cheesy Stuffed Peppers
Self, August 2011

1 large poblano pepper -- seeded
2 teaspoons olive oil -- divided
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 teaspoons chopped garlic -- divided
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons marinara sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 ounce chopped dark chocolate
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 cups baby spinach
3/4 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup sliced portobellos
1/2 cup black beans -- rinsed and drained
4 ounces red wine

Heat oven to 375°F. Brush poblano with 1 teaspoon oil. Mix quinoa with cheese; stuff inside poblano; cook in a baking dish 20 minutes. In a pan, sauté chopped onion, 2 teaspoons garlic, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, cinnamon and cumin over medium heat 5 minutes. Stir in broth, marinara and chili powder; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add chocolate; stir until melted, 2 minutes. In a second pan coated with cooking spray, sauté spinach, sliced onion, portobellos, beans and remaining 1 teaspoon garlic. Pour sauce over poblano; serve with spinach and glass of wine.

Servings: 1

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

One of my coworkers is pregnant and was craving pie, so we all made her pie. Today was pie day. There also were two cakes and some ice cream. SO MANY PIES. It was glorious. My contribution was a banana cream pie. Similar to my favorite Banana Pudding, this was a super-easy pie and was WONDERFUL. Don't cheat and use a premade pie crust - the homemade crust is what really makes it fantastic. The whole pie was gone by the end of the day and several people told me it was their favorite. YAY! I'd still stick with the banana pudding as a basic banana dessert, but if I need to make a pie, this will certainly be my go-to recipe.

No photo! It was gone too quickly!

Banana Cream Pie
Food Network: Throwdown With Bobby Flay

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine -- melted

1 (4 serving size) package vanilla pudding mix -- prepared
3 medium bananas -- sliced

To serve: Whipped cream or whipped topping

1. For the crust: Mix all the ingredients well and press firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate . Chill 1 hour.

2. For the filling: Prepare the pudding mix as directed on the package. Place the sliced bananas over the entire bottom of the crust. Pour the pudding over the bananas. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more. When ready to serve, top with whipped cream or whipped topping. Serve chilled.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Leaves Over Quinoa

Another pretentious recipe title for something super-simple.

I LOVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS. I don't know why they get such a bad rap. They're delicious and wonderful. They're like tiny cabbages. They go really well with the quinoa and feta and made me super happy. I used a red quinoa because that's what I had in my house. This was very good and very simple. I would make this again!


Sautéed Brussels Sprouts Leaves over Quinoa
Vegetarian Times

Separating Brussels sprouts leaves from the heads, then lightly sautéing the leaves in a little oil eliminates any risk of overcooking the sprouts.

2 tablespoons blanched hazelnuts, chopped
3/4 cup quinoa
8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, optional
2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast hazelnuts 5 to 6 minutes, or until light brown, shaking pan occasionally. Set aside.

2. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add quinoa and salt, if desired; cover; and cook 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, peel leaves off Brussels sprouts halves, and discard inner core.

4. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté Brussels sprouts leaves 5 minutes. Add 3 Tbs. water, cover, and cook 1 minute more, or until leaves are tender. Stir in garlic. Toss with quinoa; hazelnuts; feta, if using; and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Servings: 2

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Waldorf Blue Cheese Cascadian Couscous Salad

What a pretentious title for such a simple recipe! It's just a bunch of ingredients typically found in a Waldorf salad, tossed in with some couscous with a little vinaigrette. It's the kind of recipe where the quality of the ingredients really matters because it's so simple that you taste all of it. I had some local blue cheese, local apples, and local celery, so that was nice. This wasn't particularly great, though. I wouldn't make it again.


Waldorf Blue Cheese Cascadian Couscous Salad
Vegetarian Times, July 2011

1 cup whole-wheat or plain couscous
1/4 cup toasted hazelnut oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup diced Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup dried tart cherries or dried sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

1. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in medium saucepan. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 8 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Fluff with fork, and transfer to large bowl to cool.

2. Whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper in small bowl.

3. Stir apples, celery, cherries, hazelnuts, and dressing into couscous. Top with blue cheese.

Servings: 6

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta Salad

Yay! Fall! A nice cool day today warrants a nice sweet potato dinner. I am excited to break out the recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta Salad for the first time this season. My sweet potato took FOREVER to cook, and I wish I had just microwaved it, but whatever. I'm still so happy!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Black Bean Nacho Pizza

Is it a nacho? Is it a pizza? No, it's Nacho Pizza! I have no idea where my black beans went so I just used a storebought pizza crust, and refried beans. Still very tasty! A good and quick dinner on a day where all I ate otherwise were donuts.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Frosted Apple-Cinnamon Bars

Today I spent a huge amount of time simmering and jarring my favorite marinara sauce. I have two jars for the pantry, and five smaller freezer-jars for the chest freezer in the basement. I'm set for awhile!

Then I made these apple-cinnamon bars. I love cinnamon chips. I loved using them in the sassy cinnamon cookies I made last year. I love that we have them here, since I could never find them in Maryland. So with some fresh local apples, I went ahead and made these.

Per the Land O' Lakes website, the cream cheese frosting isn't necessary, and you could just do a dusting of powdered sugar instead. BUT, the cream cheese frosting is so freaking good, you might as well make it! These bars are wonderful and bring me great joy. They are so good for the autumn. I am so happy with them. Yay!


Frosted Apple Cinnamon Bars
Land O' Lakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups uncooked old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup butter -- softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 ounces cinnamon-flavored baking chips
1 medium apple -- (1 cup) chopped

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Ground cinnamon, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in medium bowl; stir in oats.

2. Combine butter, brown sugar and sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture. Beat until well mixed. Stir in cinnamon chips and apple.

3. Spread batter into greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake for 33 to 38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

4. Combine all frosting ingredients in small bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Spread over cooled bars. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


It is fall. I love that can make all my favorite cold-weather recipes (even though it's still in the 70s outside, but shhh). So tonight I made Potato, Turnip, & Spinach Baeckeoffe. Yum yum. Local ingredients: potatoes, turnips, spinach. Hoorah!

Sorry I've been slacking on the posting. I've been slacking on the cooking, too. There are some major changes afoot in this household, and I haven't exactly been interested in cooking at the moment. I am hoping it will pick up again soon! I would like to get back into cooking/posting every night like I used to do!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna

I had planned to make some apple-cinnamon bars today but I discovered my Quaker Oats expired in JANUARY. Normally I would ignore the expiration for a little while because it's just oats, but that's like... almost a year ago. Oops. So hopefully sometime this week I'll make them.

For dinner tonight I made this lasagna filled with vegetables from the farmer's market, ricotta from the dairy, and fresh sheets of lasagna (from the store - I still do not know how to make pasta). It was wonderful! I mean, nothing special or new, but definitely comforting and tasty. It was a good way to use up some of the last of the dwindling summer produce. I'm going to take this all week for lunch.

I'm sorry about the photo. We're back to my photos, not fancy-camera photos, so nothing is going to look good anymore. Just prepare yourself.

Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna
Vegetarian and More! (2000) by Linda Rosensweig, p. 228

After baking, this dish can be frozen up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

1 small eggplant, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 zucchini and/or yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 container (16 oz) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1 jar (25 1/2 oz) basil-flavored spaghetti sauce
6 oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 cup (4 oz) shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Coat a roasting pan with nonstick spray.

2. Combine the eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini or yellow squash, oil and garlic in the roasting pan. Season with the salt and black pepper. Toss to combine. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once, or just until the vegetables are tender.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and roasted red peppers. Spread 1/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce in a 13x9" baking dish .Top with 3 lasagna noodles. Layer half of the vegetable mixture and half the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with 1 cup of the sauce. Repeat the layering with the 3 remaining noodles, vegetables, ricotta, and sauce.

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Cover the lasagna with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes longer, or until the cheese melts. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8