Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shakshuka

Okay. You know I love eggs. And lately I've been really loving baked- and poached-egg things (see: this, this, this, etc). Obviously I had to try this one, too. I thought the recipe seemed really boring, but it wasn't! The tomatoes cooked down and almost kind of caramelized. It was really great. I poke the yolk and bake the whole thing until it's not liquidy anymore because I HATE RUNNY YOLKS SO MUCH but it still worked so well with everything. I really liked this a lot and I would make it again.

shakshuka

Shakshuka
Vegetarian Times, June 2012

This poached egg dish is an Israeli favorite in restaurants and home kitchens. You can prepare the sauce in advance, and then reheat just before cooking the eggs.

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/3 cups)
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 1/3 cups)
1 jalapeno chile, chopped (3 tablespoons)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
8 Roma tomatoes, diced (4 1/2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and saute 7 to 9 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and cumin and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and cook 2 minutes. Uncover, and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute more.

2. Reduce heat to low. Make 4 cavities in mixture with spoon. Break 1 egg into small dish and slip into cavity. Repeat with remaining eggs. Cover, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until egg whites are set. Sprinkle with parsley, if using.

Servings: 4

Creamed-Spinach Gratin

To go with my dinner on Friday, I also made this creamed spinach. Spinach is a powerhouse green, full of lots of vitamins and important things, so it fits in well with my attempts at eating better things again. Cream cheese, not so much. I know! But at least this is from Cooking Light. It adds tomato on top to make it more "holiday"-ish, since it's from one of their holiday cookbooks, but the tomato is a nice addition. I didn't love this. I wish I'd thought to add garlic to it, and it had kind of an odd texture, but it was alright. It's been nice warmed up. I still don't think I'd make it again though.

spinach

Creamed-Spinach Gratin
Cooking Light, November 1997
Also in Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook

10 ounces fresh spinach
Cooking spray
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup tub-style light cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sliced tomato -- (1/4-inch-thick)
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Remove large stems from spinach. Tear spinach into 1-inch pieces; place in a colander. Rinse spinach under cold water; drain. Set aside.

3. Place a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add spinach; cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Add cream cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Uncover and cook an additional minute or until cream cheese melts. Spoon spinach mixture into a 1-quart gratin dish or shallow casserole coated with cooking spray. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on top of spinach,and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Servings: 6

Sandy's Eggplant Patties

In an attempt to eat more produce last week, I arbitrarily picked this recipe as a main dish to make myself on Friday. I had it with Creamed Spinach Gratin. It was also a excuse for me to buy a box of Ritz crackers, which are delicious but not nutritious. This came together really quickly, but the proportion of eggplant to cheese seemed off. Not in a bad way necessarily, because the cheese toasted on the pan which was wonderful, but it was just odd. I ate these but didn't love them, and I wouldn't make them again.

eggplant

Sandy's Eggplant Patties
Penzeys catalog

Sandy was a friend of Mary's mother who was well known for this recipe. Mary reminisces, "When my sister began making eggplant patties when her kids were little, she convinced them the patties were made of meat so they would eat them, knowing they wouldn't touch them if they knew they were made of eggplant!"

1 medium eggplant -- (about 11/2 lbs.) ends removed, peeled and cubed
3 1/4 cups round butter crackers -- (about 48) crushed, divided
2 3/4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg -- lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh parsley -- (or 2 tsp. PARSLEY FLAKES)
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
1 garlic clove -- minced (or 1/4 tsp. PENZEYS MINCED GARLIC)
1/2 teaspoon KOSHER-STYLE FLAKE SALT
1/4 teaspoon PENZEYS FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the eggplant and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well. Place in a mixing bowl and mash until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the cracker crumbs, the cheese, egg, PARSLEY, green onion, GARLIC, SALT and PEPPER. Shape into patties. Place the remaining cracker crumbs on a rimmed plate. Coat the eggplant patties in crumbs on both sides. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. The oil should sizzle when a small amount of batter is dropped into the skillet. Add the patties, 3-4 at a time; don't crowd the pan. Shake the pan a bit to keep the patties from sticking. Carefully turn after about 2-3 minutes, when the bottoms are golden. Cook the other sides until golden, about 2-3 minutes.

Yield: 8-12 patties depending on size

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Irish Creamy Fudge

Yesterday we threw my coworker an elopement shower, pot-luck style. I know she loves Bailey's Irish Cream - one of her cats is even named Bailey - so I wanted to do something with that. There was already going to be a cake and a pie, and I didn't want to duplicate that, so I picked something totally different: fudge.

It isn't really fudge because there isn't any chocolate in it, but I don't know what else to call it because it still sets up like a fudge. All you really have to know is that it is the consistency of fudge but tastes like a nice shot of Baileys. It's pretty magical. I barely got a photo of it before it was gone. Everyone said it's amazing. I think I will have to make this again for holiday gifts!

fudge

Irish Creamy Fudge
Anna Olson: Sugar on Food Network Canada

1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup light brown sugar -- packed
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Irish Cream liqueur
2 1/4 cups icing sugar -- sifted

Grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides. Stir evaporated milk, brown sugar, white sugar, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, and cook until 238 °F (use a candy thermometer to gauge). Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and Irish Cream and scrape into a bowl or mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed or electric beaters, add in the icing sugar in three additions, mixing well after each addition. Scrape fudge into prepared pan and let cool completely before slicing.

Yield: 2 dozen

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chickpea, Spinach & Squash Gnocchi

I'm usually pretty hesitant about cooking with gnocchi. Something about the texture often doesn't work for me, so I tend to avoid it. But this recipe called for sauteeing the gnocchi prior to cooking it, so that intrigued me. Oh, what a difference! It was actually really enjoyable and delicious. The whole thing reminds me a little bit of the butternut squash thing I made for Thanksgiving a few years ago. It's really good. I invested in some "balsamic glaze," which came in a squeezy bottle to make decorative patterns and flourishes on food. Hah. I used Craisins instead of currants, but that was the only real change I made. I really liked this a lot. It also reheated very well. I would definitely make this again.

gnocchi

Chickpea, Spinach & Squash Gnocchi
Eating Well, Sept/Oct 2010

Currants add a surprising touch of sweetness to this simple sauté of chickpeas, spinach, squash and gnocchi. We prefer the texture of shelf-stable gnocchi, but if sodium is an issue for you, opt for frozen instead. Serve with a glass of chardonnay.
Note: Balsamic vinegar reduction, simply balsamic vinegar that is cooked down until thick and syrupy, is sometimes called balsamic glaze or balsamic drizzle. Look for it with other vinegars in well-stocked supermarkets. Or make it yourself: Bring 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 14 minutes. (Watch the syrup carefully in the last few minutes of reducing to prevent burning.)


1 pound frozen or shelf-stable gnocchi
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced peeled butternut squash or unpeeled delicata squash -- (1- to 2-inch-long slices)
1/2 cup sliced shallots -- (1-2 medium)
2 cloves garlic -- minced
14 ounces vegetable broth
2 tablespoons currants
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups fresh spinach -- coarsely chopped
15 ounces chickpeas -- rinsed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar reduction or 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar -- (see Note)

1. If using frozen gnocchi, cook in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain, rinse and pat dry. (If using shelf-stable gnocchi, skip this step.)

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, squash, shallots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in broth, currants, sage and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the squash is almost cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add spinach, chickpeas and the gnocchi and cook, gently stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes more. Serve drizzled with balsamic reduction (or balsamic vinegar).

Servings: 4

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cookie Monday: Big Softie Ginger Cookies

Cookie Monday is turning out to be very successful! It makes me happy. It is one of the most precious things in the world, like a tiny little lamb smiling, to see a super-angry doctor suddenly smile when given a cookie. I pondered today with a colleague what the collective weight gain of the hospital will be after a few months of this. I don't care. Cookies are delicious, baking is fun, and it's a win-win for everyone. Cookie Monday 4EVER.

So while making this, naturally I doubled the recipe again. However, I ran out of flour. I had about 4 cups of white flour, and then I added 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Fine. There was absolutely no difference in anything. What did I gauge it against, you ask? Well, the cookies are from The Hunger Games Cookbook, which shockingly continues to produce the best recipes of all time. They are very similar to my super-famous sugar cookies from the same cookbook. The cookies baked exactly the same way. They look like they are still very soft and underbaked, but they're done. Trust me. And they didn't spread, even though it seems like they should. Regardless, this recipe produces delicious, soft, lightly spicy cookies that are not oversweet, even though they're rolled in sugar. Everyone seemed to really like them! These were excellent for October! I would definitely make these again.

ginger cookies

Big Softie Ginger Cookies
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, page 178

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup molasses
4 tablespoons white sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

3. In a separate large bowl, cream together the butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, and the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then stir in the orange juice and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Chill dough for 1 hour in refrigerator.

4. Place the 4 tablespoons white sugar in a small bowl. Shape chilled dough into gumball-sized balls, and roll them in the sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 2 dozen

Sunday, October 21, 2012

French Lentil Soup

I've fallen back into the trap of candy and coffee for dinner, with Cali Burrito thrown in every once in awhile, and this has to stop. My refrigerator is now filled with fresh produce. I must get back into this habit. It's hard though. Anyone who reads this who lives nearby and wants a home-cooked meal, I now have an open-door policy for dinners. You are welcome to come eat food any time. Ever. Just let me know before you show up. OK? Maybe this will help me cook every night. And cook healthy things that aren't Nutty Bars. I'm in my new house. I have no excuse.

Last night I made this French Lentil Soup, and my house still smells amazing from it. It smells like warm kitchens and autumn and rosemary. I ate an entire loaf of garlic bread with it. That's not a healthy decision, but it was a delicious one. The soup itself is not as good as the cookbook indicates that it is, but part of that is probably due to the fact that I could not freaking find lentils de puy. I no longer live that close to a Wegmans and was too lazy to drive to the closest one (I know they have them there) so I just used basic browns. It was alright. A little watery. The wine was a good addition. My grocery store sells pre-made bouquet garnis so that was a nice time-saver. This was good for an October night but I doubt I would make it again.

lentils

French Lentil Soup
The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld

This is not just a regular lentil soup. The lentils may be small, but the flavor is big. It's easy to make, and the fresh herbs and reduced red wine scent your kitchen most deliciously as it cooks. It's an absolute favorite in my household. You can substitute brown lentils, but the French lentilles de Puy make this hearty soup surprisingly light.

1 cup French lentils, sorted and washed
Bouquet garni of 5 fresh thyme sprigs, 3 rosemary sprigs, 1 bay leaf, and 5 flat-leaf parsley stems
6 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into small dice (2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, drained, or 2 medium-size fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups thinly sliced chard leaves (half the leaves of a 1-pound bunch)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

1. Place the lentils in a medium pot. Add the bouquet garni and water. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Discard the bouquet garni.

2. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions are softened and begin to brown.

3. Add the red wine, turn up the heat, and cook for a few minutes, uncovered, until the wine is reduced by about half. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Cook a few minutes more, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.

4. Add the tomato mixture to the pot with the lentils along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer a few minutes to marry the flavors. Adjust the salt to taste.

5. Add the chard leaves, rosemary, and thyme and turn off heat. Let the chard leaves sit in the soup for five minutes before serving. The hot soup will wilt the leaves sufficiently.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rumpledethumps

Last night I really did not feel like cooking, but I made myself do it anyway. I made a big casserole dish full of Rumpledethumps (ye olden recipe for rumbledethumps is here). I'm glad I did because now I can take it for lunches this week and not have to think about it. Hooray!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peanut Butter Reese's Pieces Cookies

Working in healthcare, I have discovered the following fact: people work better when they are happy. And cookies are one of the easiest ways to make someone happy (for the most part). The past few weeks I've brought in a lot of goodies, which not only is fun for the people who eat them but also gives me a reason to bake the hell out of my kitchen. Cooking is one of my favorite things in the world! But what am I going to do with 4 dozen cookies?

Take them to work. Obviously. And thus I've decreed that Mondays are now Cookie Mondays.

So for today's cookie, I did a little poll on Facebook and determined that something peanut buttery would be a good idea. These cookies have shown up on Pinterest a bunch of times and seemed intriguing. Plus, the cookie batter involved pudding mix, which I've never used before. Might as well try!

So I increased the recipe, made a bazillion cookies, and brought them into work. As usual, I came home with zero. They got a very good response. I'm super happy.

Of note with this recipe: the original called for dried banana chips to be thrown into the batter, which sounds disgusting and totally unappealing. I left those out. I used sugar-free vanilla pudding mix, because really you don't need more sugar. Also, make sure that your cookies are in some sort of round shape when you bake them because they do NOT spread and just sort of stay in whatever weird lumpy ball you've created on the pan. Anyway: I loved these. Everyone else seemed to love these. Definitely hanging on to this recipe!

cookies

Peanut Butter Reese's Pieces Cookies
Adapted from BruCrewLife and Pinterest

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup Reese's Pieces

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and pudding mix and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and honey and beat again. Slowly add the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Stir in the chocolate chips, and Reese's Pieces by hand.

Drop by tablespoon onto a baking sheet, leaving 2 inches in between each cookie. Bake at 350* for 10 minutes. Cool on pan for 3-4 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Store in a tightly covered container. Makes about 36 cookies.

Egg and Potato Sandwiches

I love eggs. I love potatoes. Cheese is wonderful. This basically cooks kind of like a frittata. I managed to make the whole thing while I was simultaneously baking cookies for work (to be posted in a moment). Delicious, simple, would make again.

tato

Egg and Potato Sandwiches
Food Network Magazine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium russet potato -- peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large Italian frying pepper -- (Cubanelle) seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium onion -- thinly sliced
Kosher salt
6 large eggs
4 cups baby arugula
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
4 seeded semolina rolls -- split and toasted
4 slices sharp provolone cheese -- (optional)

1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potato and cook, tossing, until browned and beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced pepper and onion and season with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the potato is cooked through and the pepper and onion are browned but not completely soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt. Reduce the heat to low and give the pan a moment to cool. Pour in the eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until just set, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. Toss the arugula with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and the vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt. Fill each roll with the scrambled eggs, cheese, if desired, and the arugula.

Servings: 4

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Homemade Crunchwrap Supremes

Over the years, I have really improved my eating habits (aware that my current candy obsession does not support this claim). I used to eat a lot of fast food, and I don't do that anymore. It's very, very rare. I also try to avoid chain restaurants and instead eat at smaller local restaurants, but that's more for economic purposes rather than health (Pennsylvanians love butter).

Taco Bell is my downfall. If I think of all the fast food I've eaten in the past year, besides the one time when I ate Mcdonalds' fries (I was very, very drunk), Taco Bell is probably the only one I've actually eaten at willingly. And Sonic but that doesn't count. But HOW could I NOT try their Doritos taco - avoiding that is impossible. (It was actually pretty gross. Oh well.) People often ask me, "How do you eat food from Taco Bell? You are a vegetarian." The answer is that they will make nearly anything in a vegetarian fashion. When I discovered this, I started getting the crunchwrap supreme, one of their amazing inventions, made with beans instead of meat, and life was wonderful. IN MODERATION OF COURSE.

It's been a long time, though. I don't eat there much. When I found this recipe on Pinterest, I had to try it. I expected it to be the worst. I used jarred chile con queso (cheese sauce, but NOT the Tostitos brand - use one that doesn't have trans fat in it) because that's closest to the weird gloppy cheese they use in the Taco Bell version. And I had to bake the corn tortillas for closer to 10 minutes before they got crispy. But OH MY GOSH, these were so good. So, so good.

I will definitely make these again. Sorry, Taco Bell. I never have to go to you again.

crunchwrap

Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme
Culinary Couture via Pinterest

6 large flour tortillas
6 small corn tortillas
1 pound ground beef, or refried beans
1 package taco seasoning
Sour cream
Nacho cheese, or shredded Mexican blend
Shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet (or heat up the beans), then add taco seasoning (according to package directions). Set aside.

2. Bake the corn tortillas in the oven at 400 degrees for a couple of minutes, until they are golden and crunchy.

3. Microwave the flour tortillas, one at a time (because they cool off quickly), for about 10 seconds to warm them up; this will make wrapping easier. You could also warm them up in the oven; just wrap them in aluminum foil and heat them up for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

4. Lay out the flour tortilla. Spoon some of the seasoned beef into the center of the tortilla. Top with some nacho cheese, or shredded cheese. Place the crunchy corn tortilla on top of the cheese/beef; spread a dollop of sour cream on top of it, then toss on some diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce.

5. Starting with the bottom of the tortilla, fold the edge up to the center. Continue doing this in a clockwise or counter-clockwise movement until all of the tortilla is folded over, and the filling is entirely enclosed. If your filling isn't entirely enclosed and you have an open spot, simply cut out a circle from another flour tortilla and place it on the exposed area, then wrap the tortilla again.

6. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray. Carefully place the Crunchwrap, seam-side down, in the pan. Press with a spatula and cook on medium-low heat, for about 3 minutes, until the bottom is nice and brown. Flip it over and cook for another 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chickpea and Greens Curry Soup

I really expected this to be super boring and really only picked it because I already had most of the ingredients available. I'd brought a ton of cans of beans and coconut milk and vegetable broth, because they never seem to expire and I had a stockpile in my basement before the move.

So with the lowest of expectations, I set this on the stove and went about the rest of my day. An hour later, I had some delicious, delicious soup. I was really surprised. Don't skip the yogurt, because it really is nice on top of it all. I enjoyed this and actually took some with me for lunch today, though I didn't get a chance to eat it (oh, work). I would make this again.

soup

Chickpea and Greens Curry Soup
Vegetarian Times, March 2011

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups chopped fresh spinach, beet greens, mustard greens, or kale
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
1 15 oz. can low-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
8 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek yogurt, divided, for garnish

Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, chili powder, nutmeg, and onion, and gently stir. Add spinach, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Stir in chickpeas, tomato, broth, and coconut milk. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1 hour, skimming as necessary. Add cilantro, and garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Yield: 8

Veggie Gyros

I'm not going to pretend to be a Middle Eastern food aficionado, because I'm not. But the truth is that this is NOT a gyro. Just because you put something in a flatbread does not make it a gyro. This is, in fact, a fancified serving of falafel. Which is fine. I like falafel. But let's not pretend this is anything other than what it is.

So I was intrigued by the suggestions of toppings, including the "secret sauce." One of my favorite restaurants in the whole world is Amsterdam Falafelshop in DC, so this sounded fun. As it turns out, this was kind of meh. The secret sauce, despite the harissa, was not very exciting. I enjoyed my sandwiches but I wouldn't make this again.

Sorry this picture is so horrible. I couldn't find a good angle for it so you're left with this crappy one.
gyro

Veggie Gyros
Babble via Pinterest
All notes are from the original posting

2 pieces of white or wheat round flat-bread
Olive oil
6 falafel balls (you could also use seitan, tempeh or veggie burgers)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
Pepper
1 small tomato, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced – tossed in lemon juice
2 dill pickles
Tahini sauce

Secret Sauce:
2 teaspoons harissa OR non-spicy option: 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegan mayo
Pepper

1. Thinly slice the onions and toss in rice vinegar. I like to let mine chill over night in the fridge to pickle a bit – but this step is optional.

2. Brush your flat-bread with olive oil and grill on until charred – I used a panini press.

3. Mix up your secret sauce

4. Prep your veggies: tomato, avocado, pickles.

5. Grill to warm your falafel balls – I pressed mine on the panini press with the flat-bread.

6. Assemble! Lay out a square sheet of tinfoil. Add the avocado, onions, falafel, pickles, tomato – drizzle some secret sauce over the filling as well as some tahini (or serve tahini on side) and close the flat-bread – wrap tightly in foil to secure. Serve!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells

I made these Sunday night but I waited to post about them because I wanted to see how they fared when faced with the Lunchbox Test. Definitely passed. These are great warmed up. You could easily make these in advance and warm them up the next day.

There are a bunch of different steps to making it, but I promise it's worth it. If you like spinach-artichoke dip, and you like pasta, you will like these shells. It's also interesting to make a stuffed shells recipe that doesn't involve ricotta. I really liked this a lot, though I would use less provolone next time. It definitely would be good for dinner guests! I would make this again.

shells

Artichoke, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Shells
Cooking Light, December 2006

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers
28 ounces fire-roasted crushed tomatoes with added puree
8 ounces no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup shredded provolone cheese -- (4 ounces) divided
1 cup crumbled feta cheese -- (4 ounces)
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese -- (4 ounces) softened
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
9 ounces frozen artichoke hearts -- thawed and chopped
5 ounces frozen chopped spinach -- thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
2 garlic cloves -- minced
20 cooked jumbo shell pasta -- (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat; cook 12 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.

3. Combine 1/2 cup provolone and the next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl. Spoon or pipe about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pasta shell; place stuffed shells in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon tomato mixture over shells; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup provolone. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese melts.

Servings: 4

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

OK, I'm officially back in the swing of things with cooking. Baking on a Sunday? Check! Back to normal. I'm so happy.

So I had some overripe bananas and seriously considered making some banana bread... until I saw this recipe in my file. It's almost like banana bread with chocolate chips, but in cookie form. These are easy to make, difficult to screw up, and wonderfully delicious. Because they contain bananas (a fruit! potassium!), whole wheat flour, and oats, it is also easy to pretend that they are healthy. For that reason, I rate them excellent. I would definitely make these again.

cookie

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Martha Stewart Living, September 2006

Use a ripe banana, which has more concentrated flavor than an unripe one. In one batch of hearty cookies, find the flavors of two bakery classics: chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. Chopped walnuts and rolled oats add texture and more layers of taste.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter -- (1 1/2 sticks) softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana -- (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate -- coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts -- (about 2 ounces) toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Yield: 3 dozen

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Return of the Unicorn Poop

Yesterday I was supposed to go to a party in Jersey at the home of the lovely JHL of A Half-Baked Life. I did not. Why? Because I locked myself out of my house, and by the time a locksmith came to let me back in (...2 1/2 hours later), there was no way I'd make it in any sort of decent time. Boo!

In my disappointment and frustration, I turned on Torchwood on Netflix and spent the rest of the day baking my now-infamous Unicorn Poop Cookies. That's right: the very first thing I've made in my house besides poptarts and bagels is Unicorn Poop.

I didn't just make a batch, either. I ended up with 4 dozen of these little turds. I gave some to friends who helped me out yesterday, some to my pregnant coworker who (oddly enough) has been craving these exact cookies, and dispersed the rest to other people throughout the day at work. Guess how many I came home with? One. And I just ate it.

Best cookies ever.