Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wild Cream of Mushroom Soup

Though this is another successful meal from the Hunger Games Cookbook, it isn't as extraordinary as the other things I've made from it, so far. Unsure if I picked some randomly amazing things to start with or whether this one is just not quite excellent because it's a boring idea to begin with, but whatever. Don't get me wrong! It wasn't bad AT ALL. It was actually one of the better homemade mushroom soups I've ever had. I just don't think I would make it again. Probably. I don't know. Aah! I'm seriously in love with this cookbook though.

Must point out that this recipe involves a roux. Roux = RUE? :) (//Hunger Games Reference)

This looks terrible, I'm sorry:
soup

Wild Cream of Mushroom Soup
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, page 53

1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms such as cremini
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
5 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, choppped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon apple cider

1. Brush mushrooms clean. Thinly slice the mushroom caps. Discard the stalks.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add onions, garlic, lemon, and thyme, stirring for 1 minute, or until the garlic and onions are golden brown. Add the mushrooms, and then salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms just barely soften. Add flour and stir for 1 minute.

3. Remove from heat. Add the stock, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and bring mixture to a boil, still stirring. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Whisk the heavy cream into the soup, then reheat gently, stirring the whole time. Do not allow the soup to boil. Add cider. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Lovely Bunch of Repeats

Something that is fun right now is being able to revisit old recipes that I really enjoyed but that my husband did not. Now I have food freedom! No one is reliant on me! I can make anything! So tonight I made Lasagna in a Bun, and I repeated the broccoletti from a couple weeks ago (this time with an anchovy! scary! but good!). It was a delicious and tasty dinner and it brought me great joy. Hoorah!

Yesterday I was in Connecticut to visit my family and my best friend, and my mom wanted me to make Peeta's Sugar Cookies. She only ever has margarine in the house, and I was nervous that might affect the consistency of the cookies... and I was right. They tasted great, but they weren't as crisp and chewy as the regular recipe. Instead, they did this:

puffballs

SO PUFFY! And that's AFTER they'd cooled! I was so angry! Everyone said they were very, very good, but I'm too much of a perfectionist sometimes and I was really unhappy with the texture. I will bring butter and make it again for my family sometime so they can have the real version :)

Moroccan Lentils with Chickpea Soup

Wegmans is my favorite grocery store (minus Trader Joe's, which Eastern PA does not yet have) and lately they have been really impressing with recipes that they serve as samples. A couple weeks ago was the sauteed broccoletti (which I am making tonight as well), and this past weekend they served this. I made it on Tuesday night and it was delicious. It is absolutely not a soup - definitely more of a curry or a stew. I really liked it though. I had it with some naan and it was wonderful. I would make this again.

lentil

Moroccan Lentil with Chick Peas Soup
Adapted from Wegmans

2 tablespoons Wegmans Basting Oil
1 package (8 oz) mirepoix
4 cloves (2 Tbsp) garlic, chopped
1 package (16 oz) green lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 can (28 oz) roma tomatoes with basil
2 cartons (32 oz each) vegetable stock
1 teaspoon coriander seed or ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper
1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

1. Add basting oil to stockpot on MEDIUM. Add mirepoix and garlic; cook, stirring, 5-6 min, until soft but not browned. Stir in lentils, tomatoes, stock, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.

2. Cook, covered, 20-25 min.

3. Puree briefly (about 15 seconds) with handheld blender, just to thicken (don't puree all the lentils).

4. Stir in garbanzo beans and cilantro. Season to taste with salt. Simmer about 5 min on MEDIUM until heated through.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unicorn Poop Cookies

As I will reiterate from similar posts, people who know me well know that I love the following: pie, Journey, rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. While this is not a "recipe," per se, and more of a tutorial, this combines the last three of that list. Rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. It is quite possibly one of the great achievements of my life. I give you...

UNICORN POOP.
poop

Now, before you freak out, I will assure you that these are INSANELY GOOD. I used THIS TUTORIAL but instead of their sugar cookie recipe, I subbed in my Peeta's Sugar Cookie recipe (since it is the best sugar cookie recipe in the whole world). And you know what? Despite their frighteningly joyous appearance, the cookies taste great. Just don't roll them in sugar like the recipe says. Instead, follow the tutorial and cover them in sparkle gel.

So to sum up how to make the cookies:
1) Make cookie dough (if you're using my recipe, stop before the "refrigerate dough" part).

2) Divide cookie dough into four or five groups and color them with food dye. I used Wilton Gel Icing Colors in teal, pink, yellow, and violet. (Side note: I love these food colorings. My mom uses them to dye the icing for her famous cookies, and they're wonderful.) Refrigerate the dough per the recipe.

3) Take little pieces of each color of dough and roll them into "snakes," then combine them into piles. Roll them all together in a swirly pattern and mush, making sure to keep a little point here and there. Here are my cookies before they went into the oven:

poop

4) Bake per the recipe. They don't really spread. Cool completely.

5) NOW IT IS TIME TO DECORATE and this is where the real magic begins. I used the following:

poop
-Wilton Sparkle Gel in White
-Flower/star sprinkles
-White sanding sugar

The tutorial calls for Disco Dust, an "edible" glitter dust, but the reviews of it online make it sound kinda toxic and not something I want to put on my cookies, hence the sanding sugar instead. So I painted the glitter gel on with a pastry brush (squirt on the cookie and then brush), stuck on some stars and flowers, and then sprinkled the whole thing with the sanding sugar.

Ta-da! Magic cookies. And the best part? They're beautiful AND DELICIOUS.

poop

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spinach Salad with Grilled Red Onion Rings & Sesame Vinaigrette

I wanted something to accompany my Sriracha Mac & Cheese, and I had a bunch of spinach left over from the other night. I decided to make this salad, which was crazy-easy. I grilled the onion on a grill pan. And you know what? It was delicious. It was the perfect accompaniment, and it was very good. I would consider making it again if I needed a side for an Asian-inspired meal.

salad

Spinach Salad with Grilled Red Onion Rings and Sesame Vinaigrette
Cooking Light, July 2007

1 large red onion -- cut crosswise into 12 (1/4-inch-thick) rings (about 10 ounces)
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil -- divided
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
10 cups baby spinach leaves -- (about 10 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds -- toasted

1. Prepare grill.

2. Combine onion and 1/2 teaspoon oil, tossing to coat. Arrange onion on a grill rack; grill 9 minutes or until browned and tender, turning frequently.

3. Combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, juice, soy sauce, and honey in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

4. Place spinach in a large bowl; sprinkle with pepper and salt. Add onions. Drizzle oil mixture over spinach, tossing gently to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Servings: 6

Baked Sriracha Mac 'N' Cheese

You may remember that awhile ago I bought a cookbook devoted to my obsessive love of all things Sriracha, and that so far the stuff I've made from it has been disappointing. I was really worried this macaroni & cheese recipe would be like pasta with an add in of Sriracha, since it seems to be an afterthought in a lot of the recipes. But this was REALLY good! I can't gauge the spiciness level, obviously, but for me it was not spicy at all and was just delicious. I really liked it. I did reduce the butter, I didn't toss the panko with butter (the panko didn't need it) and I used light cream instead of full-fat. Small changes! I am taking it for lunch today so we'll see how that goes. I would make this again.

pasta

Baked Mac 'N' Cheese (Sriracha)
The Sriracha Cookbook

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 small sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup Sriracha
1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spritz a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the bread crumbs, stirring gently. Turn off the heat, allow the bread crumbs to absorb the butter, and reserve.

3. In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the macaroni noodles and stir. Cook until the noodles are just slightly undercooked, 7 to 8 minutes.

4. While the pasta is cooking, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to sweat, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add 1/2 cup of the milk while whisking. Once the milk has been absorbed by the flour and thickened slightly, add the remainder of the milk, followed by the cream. Add the salt, dried mustard, pepper, and nutmeg. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Stir in the Sriracha. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the Cheddar while slowly whisking, one handful at a time. Once all the cheese has melted, toss in the cooked macaroni, coating the noodles with the cheese sauce. Transfer the noodles and sauce to the baking dish. Top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Cover with an even layer of the buttered bread crumbs.

6. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 18 t 22 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes so that the molten cheese lava can cool just a touch. Divide into squares, place, and garnish with the parsley.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Parmesan Risotto-Stuffed Portobellos

For some reason tonight, I decided that I was going to make myself a big fancy dinner. It was just me, Emmadog, and "The Ides of March," but I determined that I should have an excellent dinner. Therefore, I made this stuffed mushroom recipe that I've had forever but still hadn't tried, along with some Smashed Parsnips with Mascarpone. It was a delicious dinner and I was very happy. I think I've had better stuffed mushroom recipes before, but this one worked very well with my whole meal. I enjoyed my dinner. Good job, self!

feast

Parmesan Risotto-Stuffed Portobellos
Cooking Light, July 1997

14 1/2 ounces vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil -- divided
1 cup minced fresh onion
1 cup minced celery
1 cup minced carrot
1 cup uncooked Arborio or other short-grain rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced green onions or chives
20 ounces portobello mushrooms -- (about 6 inches wide)
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese -- (1 ounce)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped onion
3 garlic cloves -- minced
10 ounces fresh spinach -- trimmed

1. Bring broth and 2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add minced onion, celery, and carrot; sauté 1 minute. Add rice; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in wine; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Remove from heat; stir in Parmesan cheese and green onions.

3. Preheat oven to 375°.

4. Remove stems from mushroom caps; discard. Place mushroom caps, gill sides up, in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Spoon 1 1/4 cups risotto mixture into each cap; top each with 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese. Pour 1/2 cup water into dish. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until mushroom caps are tender.

5. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot. Add chopped onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Arrange 1/2 cup spinach mixture on each plate. Remove stuffed mushrooms from baking dish with a slotted spoon; place on spinach mixture.

Servings: 4

Peeta's Cinnamon Bakery Bread

I made this Monday night and kept avoiding posting about it because then I have to transcribe it out of the book and that is tedious. Translation: I am lazy.

So this is cinnamon bread (actually more of a cake) based off of bread Peeta makes in the Hunger Games at his father's bakery. In Catching Fire, Peeta is described as smelling like cinnamon and dill from the bakery. Is there anything more appealing? No. Except maybe this actual cinnamon bread. Seriously, related to the book or not, this cookbook is great. I'm 4 for 4 so far with recipes from it. They aren't just "good," they've been "amazeballs." This is no exception. It was delicious warm and delicious the next day. I brought it in to work and it was enjoyed by the masses. This is great. I would make this again, especially considering how little effort it takes to prepare.

bread

bread

bread


Peeta's Cinnamon Bakery Bread
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, page 32

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease one regular-sized bundt pan.

2. Mix flour, 1 cup white sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly by hand fr at least 3 minutes.

3. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons white sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Mix until crumbly.

4. Pour half of the wet flour mixture into prepared bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar/butter mixture evenly on top of flour mixture; pour rest of flour mixture over topping. Smooth batter and remaining topping ver it. Using a knife, swirl topping for a marbled effect.

5. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Bread is finished when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to rack to finish cooling.

Yield: 1 large bundt loaf

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pan-Steamed Broccoletti

This was a sample they were serving at Wegmans this past weekend. The recipe was on the bag of broccoletti (supposedly "baby broccoli." Whatever). It was so delicious that I bought a bag and have made this for myself a couple of times so far this week. I don't have anchovies but I can vouch that they did add a delicious taste, which I have replicated by just adding extra salt. This is really good.

broccolini

Pan-Steamed Broccoletti
Wegmans

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, 1 anchovy fillet [if using] on MEDIUM-LOW. Cook, stirring 2-3 minutes until anchovy is dissolved. Raise heat to HIGH. Add sliced or whole broccoletti, 1/2 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt; stir. Bring to a simmer; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes or until water is evaporated. Season to taste with black pepper.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Greek Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Feta

This is a super, super, super simple recipe that was just kind of okay. I'd probably make it again if I had the ingredients but it was nothing special. I even used some Penzeys Greek Seasoning in hopes that it would be a little more exciting, but alas. It was good though!

pasta

Greek Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Feta
Cooking Light, September 1995

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large garlic clove -- minced
3 cups diced tomato
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley -- divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups hot cooked thin spaghetti -- (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese -- (4 ounces) divided
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon slices -- (optional)
Green onions -- (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oregano and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, green onions, 2 tablespoons parsley, and lemon juice; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

2. Combine tomato mixture, spaghetti, and 3/4 cup cheese; toss gently. Top with remaining cheese and parsley, and serve with pepper. Garnish with lemon slices and green onions, if desired.

Servings: 4

Ultimate Nachos

I think the special thing about this recipe is HOW the nachos are prepared - so that each individual chip has stuff on it and is cooked evenly, versus lumping everything on top and the ones on the bottom are all neglected. However, I was only making enough for myself so I didn't even follow the instructions and just lumped it all on top anyway. I think the method would have been great if I was making it for a large group of people... the recipe itself was okay. Pretty good. I didn't like the oregano on it. That was not a good choice. And I don't know what my deal is but I did NOT feel well after eating this. I'd keep the method in mind but I wouldn't make the recipe itself again.

nachos

Ultimate Nachos
Food Network: Alton Brown

80 corn tortilla chips -- approximately 8 ounces
3 jalapenos -- (3 to 4) thinly sliced
4 1/2 ounces diced red onion -- approximately 1 cup
6 ounces finely grated Cheddar -- approximately 2 1/4 cups
6 ounces finely grated Oaxaca cheese -- approximately 2 1/4 cups
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 cups fresh salsa
2 cups sour cream
2 cups guacamole

1. Set 1 of the oven racks on the lowest shelf and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Make 8 (2-inch) balls out of aluminum foil. Spray 3 wire cooling racks with non-stick cooking spray and place 1 of the aluminum balls in each of the corners of 2 of the racks.

3. Lay 1/3 of the chips on one of the racks. Top each chip with a jalapeno slice and sprinkle the chips with 1/3 of the red onions, and 1/3 of both the Cheddar and Oaxaca cheeses. Repeat with the remaining chips and the other 2 racks. Stack the racks on top of one another and set into the parchment lined baking pan. Bake in the oven on the bottom rack for 7 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble. Sprinkle with fresh oregano . Serve immediately with the salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

Servings: 6

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mushroom & Artichoke French Bread Pizza

I made this Saturday night because I'd had a long day and I was tired. This was easy. It was okay. I'm not going to pretend it was insanely good, but it was okay. The suggestion says you could add sausage to make it not-vegetarian, which actually maybe would make it more exciting if any of you carnivorous readers want to try that. I personally wouldn't make it again.

pizza

Mushroom and Artichoke French Bread Pizza
Vegetarian & More! (2000) by Linda Rosensweig, p. 124

2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large loaf French bread, split lengthwise
1 jar (4 1/2 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) diced Italian-style tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Warm the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, scallions, and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.

3. Place the bread halves on a large ungreased baking sheet. Top each with the mushroom mixture, artichokes, tomatoes, and cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the pizza is heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into 4 pieces.

Servings: 4

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hearty Ham & Egg Tart

Another recipe from The Hunger Games Cookbook, another winner. This is super delicious. I did skip the homemade crust and used crescent rolls because it was a weeknight, and I used vegetarian sausage instead of ham. It was wonderful! And you know what's bizarre? It passed the lunchbox test. It was great heated up the next day. Awesome. I would consider making this for overnight guests. It was very tasty.

breakfast

Hearty Ham & Egg Tart
The Hunger Games Cookbook, page 2

In a time crunch? Never fear! You can skip steps 1-3 by using a premade tart shell or, for a more buttery and flaky crust, use one 8-ounce package of refrigerated crescent rolls. Unroll the crescent roll dough into one long rectangle and press into the tart pan. You will likely have to patchwork the dough into the pan, so be sure to seal the seams and perforations before adding filling.

Crust:
2 tablespoons ice water
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups fully cooked ham, cubed or shredded
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Combine ice water, chilled whipping cream, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Scatter butter pieces over dry ingredients. Using your fingertips, quickly pinch butter with flour mixture until butter is coarsely mixed in (you'll have pieces f dough in varying small sizes; you should aim for the size of peas).

3. Add the ice water and cream mixture t dough. Mix in with hands or a wooden spoon until moist clumps form. Add more ice water if dough is still too dry. Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic; chill for at least 1 hour. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out into tart pan.

4. Butter a 9" tart or springform pan with a removable bottom. Place softened dough in middle of pan and, using floured fingertips, spread out evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, pressing lightly with your fingertips to ensure an even crust. Use your thumbs to press dough to the side of the pan. Make sure dough on the side of the pan is evenly thick (otherwise you will have uneven baking).

5. Preheat oven to 375.

6. In a skillet, saute onion and bell peppers in butter until tender and slightly browned. Add ham and let sit for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; pour evenly over dough in pan.

7. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, cream, salt, and pepper. Stir in Cheddar cheese. Pour evenly over ham mixture. Be wary of overflow.

8. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top of tart. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Fearfully Fried Potatoes

I made some "breakfast for supper" earlier this week, solely from the Hunger Games Cookbook as I continue my way through it. I made these potatoes and a quiche-like tart.

I have to say, out of the 3 recipes I have tried, all 3 have been amazingly good. This cookbook is fantastic.

So this is a very basic hash brown recipe, and the thing that makes it amazing is really the castiron pan. If you have a well-seasoned pan, it will make it even more delicious. My potatoes were wonderful and tasted like they came from a diner. I was so happy! Yum yum yum. Would make again.

potatoes

Fearfully Fried Potatoes
The Hunger Games Cookbook, page 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 cups potatoes, peeled and boiled
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Saute onions until they are translucent. Add potatoes and cook until golden brown and warmed through.

2. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Servings: 3

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Curried Rice Noodles in Lettuce Wraps

Look guys, I've been taking better care of myself this week. I've cooked every night so far. I don't know if I will cook tonight or tomorrow. I will try. But at least so far I've been doing a good job. I'm just a little bit behind in posting about it!

Soooooo....

Monday night I made these lettuce wraps. Absolutely delicious. Not too hard to eat. One lettuce wrap as a serving size? No freaking way. I think I had 6 or 7. But I had it as a main dish and maybe they meant it as an appetizer. I don't even care. My lettuce leaves were small and I'm going to eat as many as I want. This is a great recipe. I would definitely keep it around.

lettuce

Curried Rice Noodles In Lettuce Wraps
Cooking Light, May 2008

Madras curry powder works well in this dish because it adds just a bit of spicy flavor.

4 ounces uncooked rice sticks
2 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups thinly vertically sliced onion
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
4 garlic cloves -- minced
1 cup grated carrot
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage -- (Chinese)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 1/2 tablespoons sake or sherry -- (rice wine)
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh bean sprouts
8 Boston lettuce leaves

1. Place noodles in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water; let stand 20 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain.

2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, curry powder, and garlic to pan; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add carrot; stir-fry 1 1/2 minutes. Add cabbage and 1 1/2 tablespoons water; cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat.

3. Combine cilantro and next 5 ingredients (through pepper) in a bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the noodles, cilantro mixture, and 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts to pan; toss to combine. Spoon 1/3 cup noodle mixture on each lettuce leaf; roll up.

Servings: 8

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Peeta's Sugar Cookies

THE LONG VERSION:
(I have another header further down if you feel like skipping all this)
If you know me off this blog at all, you know that I am obsessed with The Hunger Games book series (and soon-to-be movie). I read all three books last year and my love for it has not waned. Another Twilight, it is not. It is absolutely amazing. Friends who have argued with me that it's a "young adult series" and therefore is stupid have eaten their words when they eventually read the books. I have not yet had a single person tell me they did not like them.

So. I saw a Hunger Games Cookbook for sale. It is unofficial and some of the recipes are kind of a stretch to relate to the book (although the ones for "tree rat" and "squirrel" are pretty relatable - though not at all pallatable) but the idea is wonderful. You would be surprised how much they actually talk about food in that book. I have decided that in honor of the movie coming out (March 23!) I am going to cook a whole bunch of recipes from it. And since my favorite character is Peeta, it made sense for me to start with a Peeta recipe.

I am not going to give anything away. At all. I never even tell people what the plot of the series is; I just tell them to read it. So my explanations for these recipes are going to be vague so as not to spoil it, but I will tell you that these are an imagining of the butter cookies the baker gives the girl before she gets on the thing to go to that place.

START READING HERE IF YOU DID NOT READ THE REST:
This is the best recipe for sugar cookies ever. I mean, my mom's are good but my mom's are made with almond extract and they're roll-out cookies. This is a great, delicious, perfectly-textured straight-up sugar cookie. And it has immediately taken the spot as Favorite Sugar Cookie. This will be my go-to. They are just so perfect. Everyone at work agreed, which was exciting. So. Make some now.

cookie

Sweet Sugar Cookies from a Sweetie
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, pg 175

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar

1. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and vanilla.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, 1 cup white sugar, and the turbinado sugar. Cream until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla mixture, mixing completely. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.

3. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Fifteen minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375.

4. Pour 3 tablespoons of white sugar into a small bowl. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into small balls. Roll balls in sugar, then place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just barely golden brown at the edges. If the cookies don't look completely done, that's okay. let cookies stand on sheet for 5 minutes before removing to cool on wire rack.

Yield: 1 dozen
(Note: I was easily able to get 2 dozen out of this, and those were even BIG cookies.)

Homage to Spaghetti Pie

When I was little, my mom was not the best cook - she agrees with this statement - but she had a whole bunch of really great recipes she'd make from time to time. I've made several of them on this blog over the years. One of her recipes, though, was for chicken enchiladas. I can't post the recipe because a) I've never made it, b) I don't think she makes it anymore, and c) it's all chickeny and stuff. But the point is, when people came to our house for dinner - whether it be my dad's friends, relatives, or coworkers - the requested dish was always her chicken enchiladas.

Spaghetti Pie is quite possibly my chicken enchilada. When I need to show someone that vegetarian food can be amazing, this is what I make. When I need to make something for guests that I'm positive will be well-received, this is what I make. Spaghetti Pie is the kind of thing you can make on a Sunday and warm up for lunch all week long. I've never frozen it and I'm pretty sure that would be gross, but you could always try.

It also is easy to substitute. Don't have regular tomato sauce? Use marinara. Don't want to use soy crumbles? For the love of god, use real meat. No sour cream? I ran out of sour cream the other day when I made this (for the billionth time) so I doubled the amount of cream cheese and added in some plain yogurt to help it smooth out. And guess what? You can't even tell the difference. I also didn't have spaghetti so I threw in a random assortment of rotini, macaroni, and shells. Who cares? Works fine.

This is definitely one of the best things in life. I suggest everyone make it and let me know how it goes. Have you made it before and loved it? Have you eaten it at my house and loved it? Let's discuss the wonders of Spaghetti Pie.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Brown Butter-Roasted Cauliflower, Sauteed Plantains, and Parsley Root Puree

Alright. This is one of those dishes with a million different flavors, and it sounds weird, but I promise you - this is wonderful. I used celery root instead of parsley root, and I added a little too much water so be frugal with the water. Also, when cooking the plantains remember that plantains are not bananas and therefore cook differently than sauteed bananas. And finally, do not skimp on the almonds and raisins because they are so wonderful.

This was also incredibly easy to eyeball into a one-person recipe (especially using a small celery root and small plantain). I would definitely make this again.

plantains

Brown Butter-Roasted Cauliflower, Sauteed Plantains, and Parsley Root Puree
Vegetarian Times, October 2011

Karen and Quinn Hatfield created this recipe for Hatfield's vegetarian prix-fixe menu. "It's pretty easy to find gluten-free dishes on our menu because we highlight so many vegetarian dishes," says Quinn. "This dish appeals to everyone." Parsley root is one of his favorite ingredients, but you could substitute celery root.

1 cup sliced, blanched almonds
1 cup golden raisins
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
1 pound parsley root or celery root, peeled and finely diced
2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into baseball-size floret clusters
2 large large, ripe plantains, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 cup Italian parsley leaves

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spread almonds on baking sheet, and toast 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cool.

2. Place raisins in 2-qt. container. Add 1 cup boiling water, cover container with plastic wrap, and cool. Drain.

3. Heat 2 Tbs. butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add parsley root, and season with salt, if desired. Reduce heat to medium-low, and sautée 15 to 20 minutes, or until very tender. Transfer to blender, and blend with 1 1/2 cups hot water until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and keep warm.

4. Place large baking dish in oven, and preheat to 425ºF. When hot, remove dish, and add 4 Tbs. butter. Add cauliflower, and season with salt, if desired. Turn cauliflower to coat with butter. Bake 30 minutes, or until cauliflower is golden-brown.

5. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbs. butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot and starting to foam. Spread plantains in single layer in skillet, and season with salt, if desired. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Stir, and cook 5 minutes more, or until plantains are browned. Stir in almonds and chives.

6. To serve: Spoon 1 1/4 cups parsley root purée in center of each serving plate. Top with 2 pieces cauliflower. Spoon plantain mixture over top; sprinkle with raisins and parsley.

Servings: 6

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Make-Agains

I did have a couple of make-agains this week! Look, I'm getting better at making food for myself on a regular basis. I even pushed past my desire to order delivery from Taco Express (seriously I have delicious Mexican food that can be delivered to my house - aah!) and instead made food.

So earlier this week I made Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Edamame. I didn't have any more edamame so I used peas instead. Not the same, but still good. This is just SO FAST and tasty. And it reheats so well for lunches. I love it.

Then last night I thawed out and heated up some of the Marinara Magnifica I had prepared a few months ago. So much love for this. I am pretty sure I will never look for another marinara sauce recipe. This one is just too perfect.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Philadelphia Oreo No-Bake Cheesecake

While at my parents' house for Thanksgiving, I stocked up on stuff from Trader Joe's, since I do not have a TJ's near me in Pennsylvania. One of the items I picked up was my beloved Candy Cane Joe's O's, which are basically candy cane Oreos. They are SO GOOD. I thought they would be perfect in this recipe for a no-bake cheesecake for New Year's. In theory I was right, because the cookies were delicious. For some reason though, the "cheesecake" was off. I don't know what the problem was. Something about it just wasn't very good. A little too tangy, not sweet enough? That doesn't even make sense. I don't know. I have a bunch of these from the Kraft Foods website but I don't think I would make their no-bakes anymore. It was just kind of weird. Maybe I'd try one more just to be sure. I don't know.

cake

Philadelphia-Oreo No-Bake Cheesecake
Kraft Foods

Variation: Prepare as directed, using 1 pkg. (18 oz.) Golden Uh Oh! OREO Cookies or 1 pkg. (17 oz.) DOUBLE STUF OREO Cool Mint Creme Sandwich Cookies.

1 package OREO Cookies -- (1 lb. 2 oz.) divided
1/4 cup butter -- (1/2 stick) melted
4 packages PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese -- (8 oz. each) softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping -- (8 oz.) thawed

1. COARSELY chop 15 of the cookies; set aside. Finely crush remaining cookies; mix with butter. Press firmly onto bottom of 13x9-inch pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling.

2. BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping and chopped cookies. Spoon over crust; cover.

3. REFRIGERATE 4 hours or until firm. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Servings: 16

Monday, January 02, 2012

Bite-Sized Ginger Cupcakes

So I had a big new year's eve party (happy 2012 everyone!) and thus a lot of food. I already posted about the Parmesan-Scallion Pastry Pinwheels. I had a fruit tray, a cheese plate, a cheesecake we forgot to eat so I will eat it later today and post about it at that point, and a bunch of things like chips and stuff. I also made S'Mores Cookie Bars.

Then I wanted to try something new so I made these ginger cupcakes. I made them in a mini-muffin pan, but I'm sure you could make full-size cupcakes if you adjust the cooking time. The frosting was great too. I used mascarpone because I love any excuse to use mascarpone. I didn't use crystallized ginger, but I did sprinkle with some finely grated orange zest. And these were great! The cupcakes are like little pieces of gingerbread. They were really good. I loved having them be bite-size, too, because it made them easier to eat as a party food. I would definitely keep this recipe around. It's great for holiday parties!

cupcake

Bite-Sized Ginger Cupcakes
Vegetarian Times, Jan/Feb 2011

These miniature desserts get a touch of flavorful bling from crystallized ginger sprinkled over the creamy frosting.

Cupcakes:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsulphered molasses
5 tablespoons margarine or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup skim buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:
4 ounces low-fat cream cheese or mascarpone, softened
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat 2 12-cup mini-muffin pans with cooking spray.

2. To make cupcakes: Combine sugar, molasses, and margarine in saucepan. heat over medium-low heat 3-4 minutes, or until margarine is melted and mixture is smooth. remove from heat, and cool 15 minutes.

3. Whisk together buttermilk and egg in bowl. Whisk in molasses mixture.

4. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl. Whisk buttermilk mixture into flour mixture.

5. Fill muffin cups to within 1/8 inch of rims. Bake 12 minutes or until cupcakes are puffed and set. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.

6. To make topping: whip cream cheese, honey, and orange zest with fork in bowl until smooth. Dollop one teaspoon topping mixture onto cupcakes and sprinkle with crystallized ginger, if using.

Yield: 24 mini-cupcakes

Parmesan-Scallion Pastry Pinwheels

This is similar to the pastry pinwheels I made a few weeks ago except it is even easier to make and just as delicious. This is the kind of recipe you want to keep around in case you need to make a last minute appetizer/snacky food. It takes like 4 seconds to prepare and then you pop it in the oven. SO EASY. And, most importantly, really tasty! I completely forgot to take a picture because I made them on New Year's after I'd already started drinking wine, so I apologize. But hey! An easy appetizer you can make while drinking wine? Who doesn't want that, really? Make again.

Parmesan-Scallion Pastry Pinwheels
Real Simple, November 2010

1 sheet frozen puff pastry -- (from a 17.25-ounce box) thawed
1 large egg -- beaten
3 scallions -- thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan -- (1 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan -- (1 1/2 ounces)
kosher salt and black pepper

1. Heat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. Unfold the pastry and brush with the egg. Sprinkle with the scallions, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Roll tightly into a log. Freeze until firm but still sliceable, about 20 minutes.

3. Slice the log into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Servings: 8