Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Parsnip Risotto with Mascarpone and Sage

Last night I was scrolling through my recipes and realized I had ALL the ingredients needed for this recipe, which is bizarre since who ever has parsnips just sitting around? This girl. That's who. So I made this. My gentleman was out, so I had a nice, warm vegetarian risotto for dinner.

I think I've pretty much mastered risottos at this point. I think Gordon Ramsay would be happy with me. It takes a little patience and practice but eventually it'll cook properly. I followed the recipe exactly, but I didn't have fresh spinach so I threw in some frozen. That wasn't a great idea. It just isn't the same. So don't do that. Either use fresh spinach or skip it.

I really enjoyed this because the grated parsnips blend in with the risotto so it's smooth, not chunky or anything, but still has that unique parsnip taste. I love mascarpone so that's always a nice addition. I wish I'd used a stronger white wine because the flavor cooked off really quickly. And make sure you use a good-quality vegetable broth because it's a very prominent flavor.

I'm not sure I'd make this again, but it was great for a cold winter night.

risotto

Parsnip Risotto with Mascarpone and Sage
From Delicious Every Day, edited from metric
Originally adapted from Vegetarian: A Delicious Celebration of Fresh Ingredients

32 ounces vegetable stock
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large or 3 medium parsnips, peeled and coarsely grated
6 sage leaves, finely shredded
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons of mascarpone, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cup baby spinach

Start by placing the vegetable stock in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low to keep warm.

In a large pot, melt the butter over a medium heat and add the onion, parsnips and sage and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is softened but not browned.

Add the rice and stir well to coat before cooking for a few minutes until they begin to turn translucent.

Add the white wine and cook until the wine has all but evaporated.

Use a ladle to add a spoonful of stock to the risotto and stir until the stock almost disappears before adding the next ladle of stock. Continue until all of the stock is used, or the rice is plump but retains a bit of bite.

Remove the risotto from the heat and add the grated parmesan, baby spinach and mascarpone and stir to combine. Cover with a lid and set aside for 5 minutes.

Serve with extra mascarpone and fried or fresh sage leaves.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

THE RETURN OF COOKIE MONDAY!

Maybe. For now. Sporadically, I think.

But we had a Cookie Monday this week!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and immediately decided I must make it and feed it to everyone. This turned out to be an excellent idea. I ran out of cookies by lunch time. This is crazy! And a lot of people have asked for the recipe. It's fantastic.

I didn't use the chopped up candy canes because I find that they get a weird texture when baked, and I don't particularly like it. So I used Andes Peppermint Baking Chips, which worked wonderfully. They pass well for candy canes but don't get weirdly chewy. I loved these cookies. I plan to make them again for my family over Christmas. We are planning to make little ice cream sandwiches out of them. Amazing.

crinkle

Peppermint Crinkle Cookies
Lauren's Latest {not me}

3 whole candy canes, crushed
1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non stick cooking spray, line with parchment paper or use silicone baking mat and set aside.

Place candy canes into a plastic food storage bag and crush using a rolling pin. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla and egg. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir all dry ingredients together in a small bowl and then in pour into mixer and slowly mix until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Stir in crushed candy canes. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Yield: 2 dozen (I doubled it and got 5 dozen total)

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Chickpea Tomato Minestrone

It is cold and has been kind of snowy, which means it is soup season. I have a whole bunch of kale in the refrigerator so I'm trying to use it up (I've made a lot of kale chips, for example). I decided to make this soup, but I changed a few things. Instead of chickpeas, I used cannelini beans. I used mafalda pasta instead of bowties because that is what I had already opened. I used kale instead of swiss chard. And I added fresh rosemary sprigs that I dried from our summer garden to infuse the soup from the start. These were all excellent ideas.

The not-so-excellent idea was to add extra red pepper, and early on, so it would have time to really spice up the soup. The result of this was a very, very spicy but deliciously autumny minestrone soup. My gentleman liked it a lot but did have issues with the amount of spice. I liked it but I did wish I'd reduced the red pepper. Oh well! Next time.

soup

Chickpea Tomato Minestrone
Kitchen Daily

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks -- diced medium
2 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup small pasta (such as Barilla Mini Farfalle)
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 bunch swiss chard or kale, chopped, discard hard stems
Salt and pepper
Dash red pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften. Next, add in the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Then add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes (with the juices from the can), and oregano. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.

Add in the stems of swiss chard, chickpeas, and pasta. Let cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add the swiss chard leaves and let cook for 30 seconds or just until the leaves start to wilt. Remove from heat.

Add salt / pepper / red pepper flakes to taste and top with Parmesan.

Servings: 6

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bananas Foster Bread

I had some bananas that were beginning to brown so naturally I decided to make banana bread. I had all the ingredients available to make this bread, though I used some coconut rum from the Bahamas instead of dark rum (and it turned out fine). This was super quick, super easy, and super tasty. I probably would bake it for a little less time because the bottom of my bread was pretty dark by the time it was ready, but otherwise this is a good way to use up some bananas. And rum, of course.

Oh! Also, I didn't have flaxseed, because who does? so I used 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour. Totally the same thing, right?

cake

Bananas Foster Bread
Cooking Light, October 2010

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1 cup packed brown sugar -- divided
6 tablespoons butter -- melted and divided
1/4 cup cognac or dark rum -- divided
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 large eggs
6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour -- (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Cooking spray
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine banana, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 5 tablespoons butter, and 3 tablespoons cognac in a nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat; cool. Place banana mixture in a large bowl. Add yogurt, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, and eggs. Beat with a mixer at medium speed.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; place on wire rack.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter, remaining 1 tablespoon cognac, and powdered sugar; stir until well blended. Drizzle over the warm bread.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Restaurant-Style Hummus

I've been meaning to make a batch of hummus for weeks now. I even special-ordered tahini from the internet because goddamned if I can find any in my area of Pennsylvania (not even at Wegmans!). But I had a feeling that there's something out there that's better than recipes I've tried before, and I WAS RIGHT.

It should come as no shock that the recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated - a magazine known for its rigorous testing of different methods and ingredients to make the best possible recipe for a simple dish. And this really is great. You know how the hummus you order in restaurants is perfect and silky and smooth? This is that. It's wonderful.

I did double the amount of garlic because I wanted a garlicky hummus, and I reduced the amount of cumin because my gentleman hates cumin (but it needs at least some to taste authentic). I didn't bother with the fancy presentation and instead just dumped it in a bowl to eat all day, but if I were making this for a party I would garnish it as recommended. I just love this. I will make this again and it shall become my standard hummus recipe from now on. I'm going to have to buy a lot more tahini at this rate!

hummus

Restaurant Style Hummus
Cook's Illustrated, 5/2008 via What Did You Eat

1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 15 oz. can drained and rinsed chickpeas
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of cayenne
About 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the water and lemon juice in one bowl, and the tahini and oil in another. Set aside about 12 of the whole chickpeas for a garnish.

Put the chickpeas, salt, garlic, cumin, and cayenne in a food processor and process for about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Then add the lemon water mix through the feed tube with the processor running for about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides several times. Then add the oil and tahini, with the processor running, until the hummus is fluffy.

Put the hummus in a bowl, garnish with the cilantro and whole chickpeas, and drizzle with some olive oil if you want.

Thanksgiving #1

I think this year we finally embraced the fact that the holidays are terrible. I lack motivation to cook, and my family recently had the tragedy of putting one of our dogs down (Ramone, the chihuahua). Thanksgiving sucks. So my gentleman and I are not "celebrating" today. We will drink beer and watch football. I did make onion dip to eat while watching the parade, because some things can't be changed, but that's the extent of it.

But! This past weekend we went up to visit my family and had our traditional dinner. The only thing I contributed was a batch of Cheesecake Thumbprint Cookies at Erica's request. I've made those a bunch of times before and they were delicious as usual. We ate some food, it was good, and then the dog had a stroke. Bah-bah-baaaah.

food
{Here is my plate.}

Sorry this isn't an uplifting post. We're doing Second Thanksgiving at my gentleman's family's house on Sunday so perhaps I will have more to report at that time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Bibimbappy

There are just so many weird grilled cheese sandwiches in the world, and I want to eat all of them. Forever. And I likely will continue to make a lot of them throughout the winter. So be prepared.

Continuing with my Korean food obsession lately, last night I made this sandwich adaptation of one of my favorite meals (Bibimbap). I got to use my gochujang and kimchi, so that was good. I added a little extra layer of cheese on top to help bind everything together, which worked well. I used a microwave packet of coconut rice, which was a bad idea because it was kind of gross on its own, but I wouldn't leave it out. Next time I would just make my own rice.

I didn't love this as much as the ramen-Kimchi one I made the other night, but this was still pretty awesome. It's so much fun!

sandwich

The Bibimbappy
Grilled Cheese Social (The best website ever for grilled cheese)

3 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese -- grated
1 1/2 tablespoon kimchi
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 green onion
2 tablespoons coconut rice
1 fried egg
2 pats salted butter
2 slices sourdough bread

Spread some gochujang on the bread.

Add on some of the cheddar cheese. After that, add some coconut rice. (To make it yourself, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to rice before cooking.)

Next, add kimchi and diced green onion.

Add the rest of the cheese and the top piece of bread. Butter the bread.

Heat up a pan or panini press to medium-high and cook for a few minutes on each side.

Take it off the heat and let it sit for a minute or two. After the cheese has thickened a bit, gently open the sandwich up and add the fried egg.

Servings: 1

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Apple Cider Baked Donuts with Maple Glaze

We bought this amazing apple cider from Grimm's Orchard around Halloween and have been obsessed with cider ever since, but the cider I bought last week from the local grocery store sucked. Instead of tossing it, I used it to make these donuts on Sunday morning.

THEY ARE SO GREAT. Similar in taste to the Apple Cider Donuts I've made in the past, but much better, and with a MUCH better texture. Loved them so much. I didn't go overboard with the glaze, just kind of drizzling it over each donut, which I think was the right thing to do. The maple flavor was SO subtle because I didn't have any maple extract, so if you have access to maple extract (or even maple sugar, probably!) I would definitely use that. Otherwise it's just a syrupy sugar glaze. Which is fine.

So we loved these. I made six in my donut pan and had a little bit of batter left over. And we ate all of them.

donuts

Apple Cider Baked Donuts with Maple Glaze
From Brazil To You

For the Doughnuts:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon. In a small separate bowl, whisk the egg. Set both aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the apple cider, sugar and butter, stirring continuously until butter has just melted. Remove from heat, let cool for 2 minutes, and stir in the apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and whisked egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry; stir well with a whisker until combined and almost no lumps are visible.

Using a tablespoon or a cookie scooper, spoon/scoop batter into a donut pan (3/4 full). Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes (standard-size baked donuts) or for 6-7 minutes (mini baked donuts), or until light brown and cooked through. Let cool for 2-3 minutes on a rack. Then, remove baked donuts from pan and place them directly on a rack to cool completely before dipping into glaze.

For the Maple Glaze: Whisk everything together in a small bowl until smooth. Set rack of donuts over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dip the top of the baked donuts into the maple glaze, turning to coat well. Let baked donuts rest on rack until glaze sets.

Yield: 6-7 standard-size or 24-26 mini donuts

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Kimchi Ramen Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I'm on this big Korean food kick right now. I recently procured some gochujang (Korean chile paste) and gochugaru (Korean chili powder, basically) and have been going ham with it. I always have kimchi in the refrigerator now, for some reason. I also have been making a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches. This sandwich, obviously found on Pinterest, was perfect because it's a combination of everything I love the most right now.

It was pretty epic. I do have to say this. It was amazing. I added in some of the gochujang and gochujaru. I used "Oriental"-flavored ramen. If you're feeling like getting a little weird for dinner, this is the sandwich for you.

kimchi

Kimchi Ramen Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Tastespotting

1/2 package ramen, any “flavor”
1/2 ramen seasoning packet
Handful of kimchi, chopped and squeezed of excess liquid
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 thick slices very sturdy bread
Handful of mozzarella or jack cheese
Handful of American or cheddar cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Drop the ramen noodles in and cook until the ramen noodles are soft, about 5-8 minutes.

Drain the ramen noodles, then put the noodles back into the pot or into a bowl. Pour the contents of half the seasoning packet over the noodles. Toss the noodles to combine. Set aside to prepare sandwich.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over low heat.

Spread the outside of both slices of bread with softened butter. Place both slices of bread buttered-side down in the oil in the pan. Pile one slice with mozzarella/jack cheese; pile the other slice of bread with American/Cheddar cheese. Cook until bread is toasted and cheese has melted.

Remove the grilled bread with cheese to a plate or cutting board. Pile as much ramen noodles on one slice of the bread as you’d like. Add chopped kimchi on top. Close the sandwich with the other slice of grilled bread and cheese. Press together firmly.

Yield: 1 sandwich

Thursday, November 06, 2014

White Chocolate Funfetti Bundt Cake

This week is "Patient Transporter Week" at the hospital, which honors the brave ladies and gentlemen of the transport department, who faithfully push our patients around the hospital to tests, other rooms, ICUs, the lobby, etc. They are ignored, berated, and quite literally shat upon at times. They are the unsung heroes and I love all of them, so I wanted to contribute to their Week. And how better to celebrate than with a cake?!

After doing a brief study of approximately two people, I determined that the majority of transporters would like a Funfetti cake. Not wanting to stick to something normal, I found this Funfetti-ish bundt cake. While it starts with a cake mix, it is unique and interesting and fun.

The only real change I made was that I used coconut oil instead of shortening in the icing. I thought this actually worked really nicely because it gave the cake a subtle coconut flavor. I liked it. I also didn't bother putting the icing in bags and instead just drizzled it with a spoon. Lazy, but effective.

So how do I know I liked it, if I brought an intact bundt cake for their department? Because I found some mini bundt silicone molds in my cabinet so I made a few of those, for myself, my gentleman, and a couple of friends. If you do this, please note that they only required about 25 minutes to bake instead of 55. I liked this a LOT. I would make it again.

bundt

White Chocolate Funfetti Chip Cake
Inside BruCrew

1 white cake mix
1 box instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 cup plain greek yogurt
4 eggs
1/ cup oil
1 cup milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening, divided

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, yogurt, eggs, oil, and milk. Beat on low for 1 minute, then beat on medium for 2 minutes. Stir in the sprinkles and mini chocolate chips by hand. Pour batter into a greased 10 inch bundt cake pan. Bake at 350* for 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate to cool completely.

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl with 1/2 teaspoon shortening. Heat for 30 seconds. Stir until melted and creamy. Place in a plastic baggie with one tip cut off and drizzle over the top of the cake. Repeat with the white chocolate chips. Top with the extra sprinkles. Let set before serving. Keep covered on the counter for 4-5 days.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pumpkin Cake Roll

Pumpkin Roll is a big thing here in Pennsylvania. It's everywhere this time of year. It's a spongy pumpkin sheet cake, rolled up around a cream cheese filling. I decided to try it last weekend because I felt inspired and I had all the ingredients available. It turned out surprisingly well and didn't fall apart! I was pretty proud of that. I did have some feelings though: the spices just weren't right, and the nuts did not belong at ALL. I had asked my gentleman prior to baking it if he wanted me to add nuts, and even though he'd never seen a pumpkin roll with nuts, he said we should try it out. Well, don't. Why mess with a good thing? It isn't that the nuts didn't taste good. They were just really odd and out of place. I'd love to try making another pumpkin roll but it will need to be a different recipe.

roll

Pumpkin Cake Roll
Better Homes & Gardens

3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with waxed paper or parchment paper; grease paper. Set pan aside. In a small bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon color. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. Beat in flour mixture on low to medium speed just until combined. Spread batter evenly in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake about 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately loosen edges of cake from pan and turn cake out onto a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove waxed paper. Roll towel and cake into a spiral, starting from a short side of the cake. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, for filling, in a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cake with filling to within 1 inch of the edges. Roll up cake; trim ends. Cover and chill for 2 to 48 hours.

Yield: 8 servings

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sweet Potato Bowl with Chimichurri

This week, I again felt inspired to make myself dinner. This didn't take as long as I'd expected it to, which was nice. It was a good way to use up the last of my parsley from the garden (SO SAD). The chimichurri was a little strong, but that's likely my own fault. And my sad attempt to toast the quinoa did result in it being stuck to the pan, but it was still edible and tasty. Otherwise this was a very simple, yummy meal.

bowl

Sweet Potato Bowl with Chimichurri
Vegetarian Times (Still one of my favorite magazines!)

Chimichurri has its roots in Argentina, where it is usually slathered over grilled meat. Here, it lends spicy, garlicky goodness to a hearty bowl of sweet potatoes and quinoa.

2 large sweet potatoes, finely diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 small ripe avocados, sliced

Chimichurri:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups loosely packed torn fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

To make Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa: Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss sweet potatoes with oil on large baking sheet, and spread in single layer. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and roast 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook
15 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt, if desired.

To make Chimichurri: Warm oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Blend parsley, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped. Pour in warm oil, and pulse quickly until blended.

Divide sweet potatoes and quinoa among 4 bowls. Top each serving with 3 Tbs. Chimichurri, and garnish with sliced avocado, if using. Drizzle with extra Chimichurri, if desired.

Servings: 4

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpea Tacos

I actually planned and put forethought into making dinner for myself last night. Hooray! I made a couple of changes: I ignored the lime crema and subbed in some feta, because that's what I had available. I kind of regret that decision because it needed something saucier to make it less dry. I also used flour tortillas instead of corn because I dislike corn tortillas. These were okay but they weren't the greatest thing I've ever made. It was a nice change for taco filling, though.

tacos

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos
Two Peas & Their Pod

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small head cauliflower, separated into bite-sized florets
Corn tortillas
1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
1 large avocado, diced
Chopped-up cilantro

For the Lime Crema
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, lime juice, olive oil, and water. Stir in chickpeas and cauliflower florets. Place seasoned chickpeas and cauliflower on a greased baking sheet. Roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally during cooking, until chickpeas are slightly crispy and cauliflower is tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

To make the lime crema, place the Greek yogurt or sour cream in a small bowl. Add fresh lime juice and cilantro. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Take a corn tortilla and place roasted cauliflower and chickpeas on top. Top with red cabbage, jalapeño slices, avocado, and cilantro. Drizzle lime crema over the tacos and serve!

Servings: 4

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Oh Hello There - Jalapeno Popper Dip

To answer the question my friend Denise has asked me a million times since August, no, I really haven't made anything recipe-ish since then. Nothing. I haven't cooked. You don't need to know how many bagels or packets of ramen I have eaten. I did go on a cruise at the beginning of the month but I barely took pictures of the food. I know. This is shocking.

BUT! Last weekend my jalapeno plant went crazy and I had a million jalapenos and Anaheim peppers that I needed to find a use for. I combined them all into this Jalapeno Popper Dip I made a few years ago, completely omitting the pickled jalapenos. And you know what? It's WAY better with fresh peppers. The pickled jalapenos only added an acidity and liquidized the dip a little bit, in a unpleasant way. I really liked it a lot better this time around.

We originally started eating it with tortilla chips, because that is convenient while watching football. I used some pretzels at one point, and that wasn't as great. But the real winning use of this is: I used it as a bagel spread. Oh my goodness. It's lovely. I added some sliced tomatoes (that I also grew!!) on top and it was wonderful.

So! Make the jalapeno dip, but make it without pickled jalapenos. Ok?

And as a side note: I'm currently on hiatus from Cookie Monday. I'm just too tired to do it right now. Maybe later on in the winter.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Peach Streusel Crisp

The first peaches appeared at the farmers' market this past weekend so I stocked up with the goal of making a nice cobbler. My gentleman is particularly fond of streusel toppings on these things, so I found this peach streusel crisp recipe from Penzeys. I used THIS TUTORIAL from KAF to peel the peaches, and discovered in the process that several of my peaches were not yet fully ripe. Oh well. Eventually I got them all in the baking dish.

I normally don't say things like this, but there was WAY too much topping. The peaches were covered up with floury crisp and it wasn't as bubbly or juicy as the recipe suggests. I poured a little bit of cream on top before serving so it wouldn't be so dry. With the cream, it was quite lovely, but the leftovers have thickened even more and it isn't as great as I'd hoped. I will have to try out a different recipe in the future.

peach

Peach Streusel Crisp
Penzeys

9 good-sized ripe peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon china cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flour (for juicy peaches; 1 tablespoon for firm peaches)
Topping:
1 stick cold butter
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon china cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom only of an 8x8 glass pan or medium casserole dish. Peel and pit the peaches, slice and place in a large bowl. Top with sugar, flour, CINNAMON and VANILLA, toss to coat. Set aside while preparing topping. Make the streusel by cutting the cold butter into a bowl, adding flour, sugar and CINNAMON, and rubbing it through your fingers until the streusel is a coarse, sandy/pebbly texture. Put the seasoned peaches into the pan, top generously with the streusel, and bake at 350° about 30 minutes, until the streusel is golden brown and the peach juice is starting to bubble up through the topping.

Yield: 3-4 servings (Enough for an 8x8 pan, double the recipe for a 9x13 pan.)

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Baked Eggplant Parm

My coworker came in the other day and said, "Lauren. You have to make this. You don't understand. It's perfect." Right, right. I LOVE eggplant parm so I figured I'd try it out, but my expectations were low. Homemade eggplant parm is so temperamental. The eggplant gets bitter. The eggplant gets soggy. The breading comes off and separates from the eggplant entirely once you've put it on your plate. It just never is quite right.

Well, this one is. This is the best parm recipe I've ever made and I don't plan to make any other one ever again. This involves roasting the eggplants, layering with cheese and sauce, and then adding a panko breadcrumb topping towards the end. Oh my gosh. No, seriously. It's perfect. I will absolutely make this again.

parm

Baked Eggplant Parm
Lick My Spoon

1/2 cup olive oil
3 pounds eggplant
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
5 teaspoons minced garlic -- divided
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and brush the parchment with olive oil.

Cut the eggplant into ¼-inch slices and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Flip the slices over and repeat, so now both sides of the eggplant are oiled and salted. Roast until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes, flipping the eggplant halfway through. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F.

In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with 3 teaspoons of the garlic over medium heat. Let cook until the garlic is fragrant and starting to toast. Add the tomatoes to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the sugar. Simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, then add the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, 1 cup of parmigiano, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Assemble the Eggplant Parm: spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, followed by half of the roasted eggplant, 1 cup more tomato sauce, half of the ricotta mixture and half of the mozzarella. Repeat: eggplant, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, remaining 2 teaspoons garlic, 1/4 cup parmigiano and panko. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once the filling is bubbling, take the casserole out of the oven, remove the foil and sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top. Continue baking, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown and crisp, about 20-25 more minutes. If the topping is not browning, drizzle a little olive oil over the top and place under the broiler (keep an eye on it, it'll brown quickly under there). Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6

Make Ahead: This is a great dish to make ahead. Make everything through Step 5. Cover the assembled Eggplant Parm with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to two days before serving. I usually prep the panko topping as well and keep this in an airtight container in the fridge. When you're ready to bake the dish, bring it to room temperature and continue with Steps 6 and 7.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Margarita-Lime Cookies with Tequila Glaze

Cookie Monday turned into Margarita Monday this week! How? Magic.

Also because my friend Lisa challenged me to make something utilizing "Salgar," a combination of salt & sugar invented by Leslie Knope, a character portrayed by Amy Poehler on the television situation comedy Parks & Recreation.

salgar
{Image from Tumblr}

When I first thought of salt/sugar, I thought of salted caramel. But that's so overdone. My next thought was, shockingly, booze. There MUST be some kind of margarita cookie out there, right? So I did some searching and found this recipe. It's an icebox cookie so you could easily make the dough ahead of time. Mix up the lime dough, roll the log in some "salgar," slice it, bake it, drizzle it with tequila glaze.

Seriously though, these were amazing and they made my coworkers VERY happy.

cookies

Margarita Cookies with Tequila Glaze
Love from the Oven

Cookies:
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
Green food coloring (optional)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup sanding sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon tequila

Mix flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, lime peel, extract and food coloring if using; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a log about 9 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven 350°F. Mix sanding sugar and kosher salt. Roll each cold dough log in mixture to coat evenly. Cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place on ungreased baking sheets. If desired sprinkle a bit of additional sugar and salt mixture on tops.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Drizzle Glaze over cooled cookies. If desired sprinkle lightly with salt/sugar mixture. Let stand until glaze is set.

To make the glaze: Mix 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 1 tablespoon each water and tequila in small bowl until smooth. (Or omit tequila and use 2 tablespoons water.)

Yield: I doubled the recipe and got about 6 dozen

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies

Um, these are beyond amazing, and that's pretty much all I need to say.

I added some extra Nutella. Make sure you refrigerate it, seriously, because the Nutella needs to harden a little bit or it will melt everywhere.

I got six dozen of these magic discs of deliciousness.

nutella

Peanut Butter & Nutella Cookies
The Sisters Cafe

2 sticks butter, room temperature
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 2/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Heaping 1/3 cup Nutella

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla together until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda and salt and add to butter mixture. Add Nutella in dollops over the top of the dough. Use a butter knife to swirl the Nutella through the dough. Do not over mix. Chill the dough in fridge for 15 minutes before spooning onto cookie sheet to firm the nutella. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Bake until slightly brown at edges. Let cool a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring.

Yield: 3-6 dozen depending on how big you make the cookie

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Whole Wheat S'Mores Cookies

I thought making a s'mores-themed cookie would be appropriate since we're in the middle of summer. I did this last summer, with the S'mores nipple cookies, but I forgot about that recipe and picked out this recipe from an old issue of Bon Appetit. I used some excellent buttermilk from a local farm, and I used semisweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I think that was a mistake. The cookies are not sweet at all, despite the marshmallows, so I think they would have been better with the milk chocolate. I also omitted the walnuts - too many people with allergies. When the cookies came out of the oven, they were very crunchy. I added some extra marshmallows on top before they cooled, just because. This turned out to be an excellent idea because, while they rested in the cookie box overnight, the marshmallows helped soften all the cookies to a much better texture. I didn't really like them but a lot of people did, which surprised me! I guess I just wish they had been sweeter. So American of me.

cookies

Whole Wheat S'more Cookies
Bon Appetit, February 2008

Whole wheat flour gives these clever cookie S'mores a graham-cracker flavor. Leave the marshmallows out for a day or two on a plate to get stale—they'll hold their shape better during baking.

3 cups whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups golden brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon robust-flavored, dark molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (about 9 ounces)
1 cup mini marshmallows
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and vanilla extract in medium bowl; whisk in butter. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until dough is evenly moistened. Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart (about 12 cookies per sheet). Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until golden brown, dry to touch, but still slightly soft, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool (cookies will firm up). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Yield: 3 dozen

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stuffed Shells

Last night I felt inspired to make dinner and discovered we had some large shell pasta in the back of the pantry. I had a huge tub of locally-made cottage cheese from the farmer's market, but it's a very fine curd, more like a ricotta. I decided to use that. I threw this together pretty quickly. Good for a weeknight dinner!

I took a picture but it looked like someone threw up Italian food so I figured no photo is better than that photo.

Stuffed Shells I
AllRecipes

16 ounces jumbo pasta shells
4 cups large curd cottage cheese
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pinch garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
26 ounces spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook shells according to package directions. Place in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.

Mix together cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, and garlic powder. Rub the dried herbs in the palms of your hands to pulverize them, and stir into the cheese mixture. Stuff mixture into the shells.

Spread 1/3 of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 15 x 10 inch pan. Place shells open side up, and close together in pan. Spread remaining sauce over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Servings: 8

Ozark Mountain Berry Crumble Pie

We bought a ton of berries for a Fourth of July picnic because they were on sale, but then no one ended up eating them. What to do with a million pints of assorted berries? I decided to make a mixed-berry pie and found a great recipe on Taste of Home for Ozark Mountain Berry Pie. But it is a double-crust recipe and I only had one disc of pie dough left in the freezer, so I looked through my recipes until I found a berry crumble-topped pie. I used a recipe for Blueberry Crumble Pie from Bon Appetit and adapted it for the topping.

So I hacked together the two recipes. I will type up what I did. I linked to the originals above, so if you want to see them, go to those links. It was pretty phenomenal, I must say. I used two pints of blueberries, 2 quarts of strawberries, and half a pint of raspberries. So good! Sorry for the crappy photos.

berry pie

pie
{Even Emmadog loved it!}

Ozark Mountain Berry Crumble Pie
Adapted from Taste of Home and Bon Appetit, as linked above

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
dash salt
1/3 cup water
4-5 cups of berries (we used blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Topping:
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon if desired, salt and water until smooth; add the blueberries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool slightly.

Line a 9-in. pie plate with pie dough. Gently fold the rest of the berries and the lemon juice into the blueberry mixture. Pour into pastry.

For the topping, whisk flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Add melted butter; mix topping with fingertips to blend. Sprinkle evenly over pie.

Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chewies

I had some coconut leftover from last weekend's birthday cake, so it made sense to use it up in the cookies for Monday. I don't know what drew me to this recipe. It's just kind of unique. The funny thing about it, though, is that the cookies are not particularly "unique." They taste like a really, really, good sugar cookie with an interesting texture. You don't really taste the coconut, and you don't even really taste the oats. It's all just very subtle. This is another cookie that you need to UNDERbake in order to get the best texture. Nice and soft. These were surprisingly popular, even among people who usually avoid coconut (except the ones who are allergic to coconut, of course).

cookie

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Coconut Chewies
The Dough Will Rise Again via Pinterest

1 cup butter, slightly softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together butter and sugars until they are well-combined.

Add one egg and mix until it is fully incorporated. Then add the second egg and the vanilla, and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.

Add baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the wet mixture. Mix until well-distributed.

Add about half of the flour, and mix until the flour is JUST incorporated. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, and then add the second half of your flour, mixing until just incorporated. Don't overmix or else you'll end up with tough cookies.

Add oats and coconut, mixing until they’re JUST incorporated.

Roll dough into balls, or use a cookie scoop to evenly portion out the dough. If you are rolling the dough by hand, you’ll want a ball that is a little over an inch in diameter, and this should give you about 6 dozen cookies.

Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat liner, leaving about 2" between each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are very lightly brown but the center is still light in color and puffy. This will result in a very moist, very chewy cookie.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack. Once they’re fully cooled, they can be stored in a ziploc bag or airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: 6 dozen

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Coconut Layer Cake with Malibu Buttercream Frosting

I turned 30 yesterday. I am 30 years old. I was born in 1984, this is 2014, I am now 30.

The first thing I did to celebrate was to go skydiving. I did that, I survived, I threw up when I landed on the ground because the parachute floats like a gently rocking boat and I got extremely motion sick from it. But it was worth it, because I've been planning to skydive for my 30th birthday for at least 15 years now. (And yes, I'd do it again!)

I also have been planning for years to make Alton Brown's recipe for Coconut Cake. I saw him make it on an episode of Good Eats in 2007 and declared that I MUST HAVE IT for my birthday, but I never did. I was never around people for my birthday who would help me eat a cake made of coconut (because you have to LOVE coconut to love this cake). I never felt like I could make this cake and just eat it myself; I compromised and made other cakes that could be shared by everyone.

NOT THIS YEAR. I'm fucking 30. I can do whatever I want. SO I MADE THIS CAKE. (As it turns out, my gentleman likes coconut and my dad is visiting later this week so I don't have to eat it all alone after all - but I WOULD HAVE.)

So I start collecting the ingredients for Alton Brown's recipe and I discovered that the ingredients call for all home-made coconut products - coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut water, toasted coconut ... all coming from the initial instruction of cracking open a fresh coconut. Hell no. So I modified it! I used canned coconut milk, canned cream of coconut, and some coconut oil for greasing the cake pans. This all worked out fine. OH! And instead of the coconut water, I sprinkled the cake layers with some Malibu coconut rum. It didn't taste boozy AT ALL, but it was perfect.

The other thing is that Alton's recipe (and most of the others on the internet) call for "7-Minute Frosting," which a frosting cooked in a double-boiler and beaten with a hand-mixer. Of all the things I own in my house, I do not have a handheld mixer. I panicked and googled and eventually combined a couple of different recipes to create a buttercream frosting including coconut extract and Malibu. It was perfect. So the recipe I will include for the frosting is MINE! Wow!

So 30 is off to a good start.

cake

Coconut Cake with Malibu Buttercream Frosting
Cake adapted from Alton Brown

For the Cake:
Coconut oil, for cake pan
3 cups cake flour, plus extra for cake pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut cream
8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
4 egg whites
1/3 cup coconut water or about 1/4 cup Malibu coconut rum

For the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons Malibu coconut rum (or milk)
1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Oil the parchment paper and then flour the pan. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers. Sprinkle each layer with some of the rum (or coconut water) using a pastry brush or a spoon. Allow to sit while preparing the frosting.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the coconut extract. Add rum (or milk) as needed until frosting is at desired thickness.

Spread some of the frosting on the first layer of cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and top with the next layer. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu

The other day we wanted to grill, so I found this recipe for grilled tofu to try and got the tofu marinating. But then it started raining so my gentleman made his own dinner and I grilled my tofu on my little Le Creuset grill pan. It's been so long since I busted this beauty out. Maybe I didn't marinate the tofu long enough, but it didn't absorb much of the sauce and wasn't as spicy as I would have preferred. I had it with some rice and broccoli, and it was tasty, just not spicy. I'd like to try this again on the actual outdoor grill sometime to see how it differs.

tofu

Spicy Sriracha Grilled Tofu
Tablespoon via Pinterest

1 cup Sriracha
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

In a medium bowl, combine sriracha, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, black pepper and ginger. Whisk until combined.

Carefully stir a few pieces of tofu into the sauce mixture to coat, then thread tofu onto skewers and set aside. Repeat with remaining tofu and sauce. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours. (Reserve extra marinade for grilling.)

Heat grill or a grill pan to medium-high heat. Cook skewers for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until seared and cooked through, brushing with extra sauce while cooking if desired. Serve warm.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a very busy weekend so I wanted to stick with something easy and simple. I decided to go "back to basics" and make a standard chocolate chip cookie. I'm not sure what makes these cookies different. No white sugar? Maybe a different ratio of butter to flour? No idea, but these make perfectly soft, chewy, delicious cookies. I loved them a lot. I have some extras and I want to make ice cream sandwiches with them, because why not?

Of note: Based on a suggestion in a review, I reduced the oven temperature to 375 and I baked them for 8 minutes. They looked slightly underdone when I took them out, which was the correct thing to do. Slightly underbake them! It's the best!

cookie

Thick, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sunset

1 cup butter (1/2 lb.) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz.)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional, I omitted them)

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans, if using.

Drop dough in 2-tablespoon (1/8-cup) portions, 2 inches apart, onto buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake in a 400° oven until cookies are lightly browned and no longer wet in the center (break one open to check), 6 to 8 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.

With a wide spatula, transfer cookies to racks to cool. If hot cookies start to break, slide a thin spatula under them to release; let stand on pan to firm up, 2 to 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Yield: 28 cookies

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cookie Monday: Pink Lemonade Cookies

These are just so good. They're like a combination of these Strawberry Cookies and the LDS Lemon Cookies, creating what one of my coworkers described as "a little lemony pillow from heaven."

So, the secret is obviously cake mix. And Pillsbury just started making a pink lemonade flavor of cake. You add extra stuff to it - extra lemony flavor - to make it even better, but the cake mix is what makes it so pillowy. Another coworker told me she makes these with carrot cake mix, some grated carrot, and some raisins, which is just so genius it blows my mind. I will try that later this year in the fall, I think. It sounds delicious.

cookie

Pink Lemonade Cookies
Tasty Kitchen

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Zest of 1 whole lemon
1 package pink lemonade flavor cake mix, 18.25 oz size
Granulated sugar, for rolling
Confectioners' sugar, for rolling

Put the butter into a large mixing bowl. Cream the butter until soft and creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat until mixture is smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon extract and lemon zest until combined. Add the cake mix and beat just until well mixed.

If the dough is too soft to roll into balls, cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1-2 hours or until it's easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place some granulated sugar and confectioners' sugar into separate bowls.

Roll the dough into 1-inch to 1 1/4-inch balls.

Drop each dough ball into the bowl of granulated sugar and roll it in the sugar to coat completely.

Immediately drop the sugared dough ball into the confectioners' sugar and roll it to coat heavily with the sugar. Rolling the dough balls in the granulated sugar first helps the confectioners' sugar coating not sink into the baked cookies.

Place the dough balls 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets; flatten slightly. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. DO NOT overbake. Take the cookies out of the oven when they look a little underdone.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes, then remove them from the pans to wire racks and cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 2 1/2-3 dozen.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Campfire Cones

So first of all, I want to explained that I haven't done Cookie Monday in a couple weeks - first, it was Memorial Day. Then I was out of town. I will be making cookies this week. The butter is already softening on the counter.

Second, I want to show you this fancy cheese plate I made up on Friday, mostly out of stuff from the farmer's market - nice bread, berries, some stilton, some brie, some smoked gouda, some weird cheese rubbed with coffee (it was not good), olives, gherkins, honey, balsamic vinegar, and crackers. I put it all out on the porch Friday night and my gentleman and I just sat around eating it for awhile. It was lovely.

cheese

Now I will tell you about a "recipe" I tried recently. My gentleman and his bestie went camping a couple of weeks ago and I am a loser so I sent them with a tasty treat. My instructions were: Open the foil, squish in some banana pieces, rewrap the foil, throw into the campfire. They did that, and apparently the results were delicious.

cones

My gentleman got a little overzealous with the banana but whatever. These are little cones you fill up with magical goodness, enclose in foil, and cook in a campfire. What you end up with is a portable, self-contained snack that isn't as messy as a s'more. If we go camping in the near future, I will make these again. They're pretty cute. (Note: I left out the peanut butter because that wasn't conducive to me preparing them in advance, but if I took them camping again, I'd take some of those little individual PB packets with me.)

Campfire Cones
Come Together Kids
(LOL, yes, I got this from a parenting website)

Sugar cones
Peanut butter
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Bananas
Aluminum Foil

Chop up the bananas and get some marshmallows and chocolate chips ready.

Spread some peanut butter on the inside of the cone, then put in the bananas, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Wrap the whole cone in aluminum foil, then put in over the hot coals for 5-10 minutes or so, turning every so often.

Unwrap your cone to see that everything's ooey, gooey, and melted.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas, and Harissa

I think I've told you before about how sometimes I go grocery shopping and I'll come home with lettuce, milk, half-and-half, anchovy paste, a coconut, and some Kerrygold cheese, or some other random combination of practical foods and bizarre ingredients that don't fit into our usual meals. I have no idea why. I get excited when I see a jar of tapenade on sale and simply must purchase it. You never know.

So the other night I was making myself some dinner and was thrilled to discover I had all the ingredients to make this meal - including the harissa. Hooray! We have so many different types of hot sauce/spicy condiments (Frank's, sriracha, sambal oelek, garlic chile paste, and now harissa). Harissa is a Moroccan condiment that is similar to the chunkier spicy sauces, but it has almost a pickly type of flavor to it. I like it a lot. So it was fun to get to use it. Hah!

This was super simple and super delicious. I loved it. I used fresh parsley and cilantro that I grew in our garden (!!!!) and it was just simple and lovely. I would make this again.

cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Harissa
Familystyle Food via Pinterest

1 head cauliflower, separated into bite-sized florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 small sweet onion, like Maui or red onion; finely sliced
2-3 tablespoons harissa
1/2 bunch each Italian parsley and cilantro
1/2 lemon
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the cauliflower out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt and the cumin seeds. Roast 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and golden. Add the chickpeas and roast an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in an 8 – 10-inch sauté pan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the onions are very soft. Stir in the harissa along with 1 tablespoon water.

Pick the leaves off the parsely and cilantro and tear into rough pieces; throw them over the chickpeas. Squeeze the lemon over and toss together with the onion mixture.

Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the feta.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Homemade Tomato Soup

Things have been dark and rainy, so last night I felt inspired to make homemade tomato soup. This was indeed very easy, and it was very good, but it was much more watery than I had hoped. I added a little bit of cream to thicken it up and bind it together once it was blended, but that didn't really help. I also added some rice, because tomato soup with rice is one of my gentleman's comfort foods. That did help thicken it a little bit, but I definitely wouldn't say this was the greatest soup ever.

I understand this photo blows, but there was no other way to take a picture of it. I told you - it was watery.

soup

Homemade Tomato Soup
Vegetarian Times, January/February 2014

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 vegetable bouillon cube, optional
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and sugar, and cook 1 minute, or until tomato paste darkens. Stir in diced tomatoes, bouillon cube (if using), balsamic vinegar, thyme, and 4 cups water. Cover pan, bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, and blend soup with immersion blender or in blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Yield: 3-4 main course servings, or 8 appetizers

Monday, May 19, 2014

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies

These were probably one of the most popular Monday cookies I've made. Word spread of them quickly, even without Facebook, and people were showing up for them - I was nearly out of them by 11:00 AM. I also had a bunch of people asking for the recipe, which usually doesn't happen. I take all of this to mean that this is an excellent, wonderful recipe that must be added to the repertoire.

It's a take on a Texas Sheet Cake, which is basically a really big chocolate sheet cake with a chocolate-powdered-sugar icing on top. These cookies are soft, brownie-like cookies covered in the same icing as the cake, just poured on top. Some heathens add nuts to their texas sheet cake. I am not one of them. These were pretty easy to make. My oven has a tendency to overcook things, so I had to extra-under-bake the cookies to make sure they turned out right. I cooked them for 6 1/2 minutes and they turned out perfectly. You just have to guess. And I easily doubled it for about 5 dozen cookies and life was happy.

cookies

Texas Sheet Cake Cookies
Cookies & Cups

Cookies:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Icing:
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat, set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer beat butter and sugar together until light, scraping sides frequently. Add in egg and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated. Mix in baking powder and salt. Turn mixer to low and slowly add in flour. Dough will be thick.

In a microwave safe bowl heat chocolate chips on high in 30 second increments until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds.

Mix melted chocolate directly into cookie dough until evenly mixed.

Drop dough by a measured tablespoon sized mounds onto baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes until cookies just appear set. They will still be very soft on the inside. DO NOT overbake!!

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing: In a medium saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder and milk over medium heat, whisking until melted together. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar. Pour icing over cookies and allow icing to set before serving.

Yield: 2 dozen

Tips: Make sure not to overbake these cookies. The insides will remain soft and dense if baked correctly.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bruschetta

It's Farmer's Market season! This means lots more fresh produce and delicious opportunities to experiment with foods. This week I got a lovely baguette and decided to make a simple bruschetta recipe in order to take full advantage of the bread.

Time out. Have I talked about our container garden yet? No. So this year I decided to try my hand at Growing Things In The Backyard. But I don't trust myself to plant things in the ground, so instead I made a container garden on the porch. This is what we are growing: tomatoes, strawberries, butter lettuce, spinach, anaheim chiles, cilantro, basil, dill, parsley, and sage. And the lemon tree is finally maturing to a point where he's going to start making lemons, though it'll still be awhile before they're edible. Oh! And we just discovered a huge tangle of raspberry vines in the backyard, around a mangled tree. So this is very exciting.

The tomatoes have not yet grown, though the plant is enormous, but the basil is tall so I used some of that in this recipe. I can't wait until we can use our own tomatoes! I followed the recipe pretty closely but only added a tiny bit of balsamic to the tomatoes and then sprinkled the tops with a nice balsamic glaze (it's balsamic that's been reduced to a thick, syrupy sauce). I also added some toasted pine nuts. It was so beautiful and delicious. I will make this all summer.

bruschetta

Bruschetta
The Pioneer Woman

2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
16 whole basil leaves, chiffonaded
Salt And Pepper, to taste (don't oversalt!)
1 whole baguette
8 tablespoons Butter (I just used more olive oil)

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removing before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden.) Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Add tomatoes, balsamic, basil, and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil if needed, and more salt if needed (don't oversalt, though!) Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two if you have the time. (Lauren's Note: I mixed it up and served it warm on the bread - my preference)

Cut the baguette into diagonal slices to allow for the most surface area possible. Melt half the butter in a large skillet and grill half the bread on both sides, making sure they're nice and buttery. Cook till golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the other half of the butter and the other half of the bread.

To serve, give the tomato mixture a final stir, the spoon generously over the slices of bread. Serve on a big platter as a first course or appetizer.

Servings: 12

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Mocha Cookies

I've had a lot of mediocre cookies and candies lately that didn't meet my expectations, and while my amazing coworkers will eat pretty much anything I bring, I really wanted to make sure I found something that went above and beyond, and was super extra delicious. My friend Kelly sent me this recipe on Pinterest, though I'd already had it saved for awhile, and she was adamant that I make them for a Monday. She doesn't even live in Pennsylvania, let alone work with me. But I decided she was right, so I made these.

Well. There's nothing wrong with them. They're pretty perfect. I underbaked them by about 30 seconds and that left the texture nice and soft. I was nervous putting them into the oven because the dough is VERY dry (I really don't know why) but it turned out to be fine. Everyone really liked these. I ate three of them in the middle of the day yesterday, and normally I don't eat my own stuff at work because the point is to give them to other people. Sorry, people. I liked them too much!

cookies

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Mocha Cookies
Kevin & Amanda

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup caramel bits
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter starts to foam, begin whisking constantly. When the butter turns brown, fragrant, and you see little brown bits at the bottom of the pan, immediately remove from heat and and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, coffee, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

3. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until well combined, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until combined. Add the caramels and chocolate chunks and stir until just combined.

4. Use a medium (1.5 tbsp) cookie scoop to place dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes until edges just start to turn golden brown. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: I got about 60 cookies

Homemade Honeycomb Candy with Dark Chocolate

Crap, I wrote this and left it as a draft, and never remembered to post it.

So basically, I decided to try making candy for Cookie Monday. I recently joined Graze.Com, a subscription service - kind of like a BarkBox or a BirchBox, but with snacks. And I love it so much. I'm not even going to give you my referral code because I don't want you to think I'm pandering. I really do love it.

Anyway one of my first snacks was a chocolatey honeycomb mix. Honeycomb Candy, also known as seafoam candy, crack candy, or violet crumble, is like a weird hard caramel that is crispy. They sell violet crumble at the grocery store as an import (I think from Australia?) and it's lovely. I really like it. I saw a recipe for it on Pinterest and it seemed easy enough, so I tried it out.

I've made caramels in all the stages except the one this requires - the hard crack stage. So that was pretty exciting. Although I watched my thermometer with bated breath and timed everything perfectly, it probably needed another 30 seconds to get to exactly the right texture. It was still very good, but it was a little bit chewier than I wanted it to be. I don't have tips for you. You just have to try it out and see what happens.

honeycomb

Homemade Honeycomb Candy with Dark Chocolate
Joy the Baker

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
6 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, for topping


1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and lightly grease the foil. Set aside.

2. Fill an empty sink with about 2-inches of cold water Set up a whisk and the baking soda near the sink. Timing is everything.

3. In a medium, heavy bottom saucepan whisk together sugar, corn syrup, water, cream of tartar, and vinegar. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat. There’s no real need to stir the pan as it begins to boil. Swirl the pan if you’d like. Heat boiling sugar mixture to 300 degrees F.

4. When the mixture comes to 300 degrees F, quickly remove from heat and gently set the pan in the cool water in the sink. Immediately add baking soda and quickly whisk to combine. The mixture will become foamy and frothy and look pale. It will turn slightly golden as you whisk. Before the candy cools too much, quickly spread it into the prepared pan. It doesn’t have to fill the pan completely… just get it in there. It cools and hardens quickly.

5. Candy will set within 20 minutes. Crack into big pieces. Dip and/or sprinkle with melted dark chocolate. Allow to rest in the refrigerator until chocolate hardens. Place in an airtight container. I store my honeycomb in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: 2 cups of candy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yummy Slice-And-Bake Cookies

There's an effect I've talked about before regarding food bloggers and recipes on the internet, particularly in the land of Pinterest. Someone will post something. It will get rated 5s and there will be trillions of comments, lending the illusion that the recipe is literally the best thing ever to be made on earth. But upon further inspection, the comments are like, "Wow these sure do look great!" or "I LOVE YOUR TV SHOW, FOLLOW ME ON MY BLOG!" Rare are the comments that say, "I made these and they were good/bad/undercooked/etc."

So I made the mistake of assuming that since these cookies were popular they must be good. My inherent trust in The Pioneer Woman lent to that assumption. I doubled the recipe to make four huge logs of cookie dough, only used two of them for Monday, and froze the other two. Alas! I don't know when I'll make the cookies from the freezer because: I hated these.

People were nice and they ate them. But they overcooked VERY easily (even at 7 minutes, the bottoms were burning), they were too sweet without any substance (the Nutella and peanut butter disappear in the dough), and they were a crappy texture. I didn't use M&Ms, instead subbing chocolate chips and toffee bits, but I'm certain that wasn't the problem. This just was not a good cookie recipe.

Sorry, internet.

logs

Yummy Slice-and-Bake Cookies
The Pioneer Woman

2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Instant Coffee Granules
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Salted Butter -- (2 Sticks) Softened
1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
2 whole Eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla
2 tablespoons Creamy Peanut Butter
2 tablespoons Nutella
1/2 cup Very Finely Chopped Pecans
3/4 cup M&Ms -- Roughly Chopped

Combine flour, instant coffee, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together and set aside.

Cream together the butter with the sugars, scraping the bowl once while mixing. Add eggs, mixing one at a time, and vanilla. Add peanut butter and Nutella and mix. Add dry ingredients in increments, mixing gently after each addition. Scrape the bowl once and mix again.

Add chopped pecans and M&M's and mix gently to combine. Add more of either ingredient if needed.

Spoon dough on a long piece (or two shorter pieces) of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Carefully roll the dough inside the wrap, pressing gently to get it to form into a firm cylinder. Refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours or place into the freezer for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice off as many cookies as you'd like and lay the slices on a baking sheet. (The thicker the slices, the farther apart the cookies will need to be. They bake up flat.)

Bake for 10 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.

Yield: I got 64 cookies.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cadbury Mini-Egg Cookies

I was in Connecticut to visit my family this weekend because my best friend Erica and my brother just got engaged! TO EACH OTHER! That's completely crazy and so wonderful and I am so happy!

So while I was there, my mom and I baked the cookies for Monday. I've seen multiple recipes for chocolate-chip cookies made with chopped up Cadbury Mini-Eggs (like big candy-coated chocolates; not the creme-filled ones) on Pinterest but I decided the easiest thing to do would be to just make a half-batch of my standard Pudding Cookies and use the mini-Eggs as the mix-ins. Perfect! I thought the candy coating was a little weird in the cookies but everyone else liked them! Thanks, mom, for your help!

cookies

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spanish Rice

For dinner on Tuesday I decided to make tacos. I made fish tacos with frozen fish sticks (DON'T JUDGE ME) and my gentleman made some chicken. I chopped up some avocado, tomatoes, and purple cabbage, and made a chipotle crema to put on top. They were yummy and delicious, but needed a side dish. So! I found this recipe. It is supposed to be the best recipe ever. I was shocked that it actually is. It rivals the best rice I've had at any Tex-Mex restaurant. I used a can of Rotel tomatoes in place of the tomato paste on a recommendation from the comments on the original blog post, and it was an excellent idea. Also based on comments, I added a sprinkle of Adobo seasoning and a little saffron for color. This made some delicious, perfect rice. I would definitely make it again.

rice

Spanish Rice
Simply Recipes

Spanish rice is browned first with onions and garlic, then cooked in chicken stock with added tomato.

2 tablespoons olive oil -- (can use up to 1/4 cup)
1 onion -- chopped fine
1 garlic clove -- minced
2 cups medium or long-grain white rice
3 cups* chicken stock -- (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes -- strained
pinch oregano
1 teaspoon salt

*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice -- then for this recipe, use 4 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.

In a large skillet brown rice in olive oil, medium/high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook onion rice mixture, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes, or until onions are softened.

In a separate sauce pan bring stock to a simmer. Add tomato sauce, oregano, and salt. Add rice to broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower heat and cook 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Kimchi Noodles

I randomly found some kimchi (a Korean spicy fermented cabbage) at the grocery store the other day and had to buy it because I love it. Stinky but delicious. But what to do with it?

I found a recipe on Pinterest for kimchi noodles that utilized a kimchi paste in the noodle mixture. I skipped the kimchi paste and instead just threw the kimchi in, in place of the paste and the bok choy the recipe originally called for. I also added some chile-garlic paste to the final product because it wasn't spicy enough for me. Probably you won't need that.

Instead of spending $3.50 on a package of curly noodles, I spent $1 for 10 packages of ramen noodle. I made the noodles without the flavor packet, since it would just be flavored from the soup anyway.

So after everything, this was lovely. It was a really enjoyable dinner. I have a ton of ramen noodles now, so I will likely make this again very soon!

kimchi

Kimchi Noodles
Loosely adapted from Great Secret of Life

1 package ramen noodles
1/2 cup kimchi (or more, or less)
Cubed or sliced tofu, pan-fried
1/4 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 finely chopped onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon oil (I used coconut)
1-2 green chiles, sliced

Heat the oil in the pan. Pan-fry the tofu, set aside. Add the onion and saute until transparent. Add the garlic and ginger. Saute for about 30 seconds. Add the carrots and kimchi. Saute for about 1 minute. Then add 2 cups of water and the salt. Bring it to a boil. Add the fried tofu and let it boil for another minute.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Omit the flavor packet. Drain and place the noodles in your serving bowl.

Pour the hot soup over the top of the noodles. Garnish with sliced green chiles.

Yield: 1-2 servings

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Baby Shells with Spicy Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce & Fresh Ricotta

Despite this extremely long title, this is actually a very simple dish. Dump some tomatoes and garlic in a casserole dish with some other stuff, roast it until it's a nice consistency, mash it up, toss with pasta, top with cheese. Super easy. I used some really nice San Marzano tomatoes and thought they worked nicely. The butter adds a really nice flavor and consistency to the sauce. Yes, I am a weirdo who has anchovy paste "just lying around" so I did use that in the sauce. It was lovely. I might have the leftovers with some shrimp or scallops or something later tonight. Hopefully it's just as good warmed up?

Oh! And I used mini-farfalle and mafalda pasta because I did not have shells. Sorry.

shells

Baby Shells with Spicy Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce and Fresh Ricotta
Clara Persis via Pinterest

28 ounces whole peeled plum tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 cup salted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and black pepper
12 ounces small pasta shells
Finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil
Fresh ricotta

Preheat oven to 425°. Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes in a 13×9” baking dish; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is jammy, 35–40 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan, a dollop of ricotta, and fresh basil.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

I Want To Marry You Cookies

No one is getting married. I feel like I need to put that out there immediately to quell any confusion.

In fact, as these were coming out of the oven, I said to my gentleman, "I don't care how good these are, don't you get any ideas." This is funny pretty much only to us, because marriage is something that will never happen between us - and we are both perfectly happy with that.

So. Anyway. Apparently these cookies are so good that they make people want to marry you. I actually can't really disagree with it. They're good cookies, and they turned out a little bit harder than I wanted them to be, but people loved them. The addition of the cinnamon and the pecans makes these a little different than just a chocolate chip cookie. I also found a spring-colored mix of chocolate and baking chips (pink and yellow!) from Nestle so I used those for a little color. Don't skip the oats - they add a nice texture. Make sure to toast the pecans, because they really are a prominent ingredient. And keep in mind that the cookies generally keep the shape you dropped them in, so take your time and make 'em look nice.

cookies

I Want to Marry You Cookies
The Café Sucré Farine via Pinterest

1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped, toasted pecans

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until melted. Remove from the heat.

Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and stir until sugars are incorporated and smooth. Chill the mixture for 10 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and stir in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Add the flour, oats, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cinnamon and mix together.

Stir in the white chocolate chips, chocolate chips and pecans.

Roll by hand into medium-size balls or use a scoop, and place on sheet pans. If desired tuck extra chips and pecans over tops of dough mounds for a lovely appearance.

Chill, on sheet pan for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for several minutes on pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

Yield: 2-3 dozen depending on size

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sriracha Egg Salad Sandwiches

Last year I posted about my love of egg salad sandwiches. I eat them pretty frequently - at home, at least. I still stick to my general recipe but every once in awhile I do try things out, like adding horseradish, or curry powder, or caraway seeds. My friend Scott recently tried to recommend chopping up green olives but I told him to go back to 1950 and have his olivey egg salad with a side of tomato aspic, because that is just gross. Normally I don't bother to post about these sandwiches anymore, but the other night I tried a specific recipe I found on Pinterest so I feel the need to share it.

Sriracha! You know I love it. I had to add way more to this recipe than was called for because the mayonnaise kept tempering the spiciness to a level that I could barely detect with my high tolerance for heat. The addition of onion powder and garlic salt (a small change I added) gave it a full flavor, and the green onions were a nice surprise. I didn't have the fancy oatmeal walnut bread it calls for and instead used some country white bread, but it was still delicious. The recipe calls for a softer-boiled egg so its yolk mushes in with the sauce, but I hate liquidy yolks intensely so I cooked them all the way through. I really enjoyed this and will add it to my mental arsenal of egg salad recipes.

The blog post I stole this from on Parsley Sage & Sweet has a great tutorial on how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs. Also for soft-boiled if that's your thing. But if you need to learn about eggs, that's a great resource. In addition, they posted a recipe for the oatmeal walnut bread, which I'm sure would have been delicious. My bread-baking has been unsuccessful lately and I can't handle more failure at the moment so I'm going to bookmark it and come back to trying the bread later.

egg

Chunky Sriracha Egg Salad
Loosely adapted from Parsley Sage & Sweet

2 large hard boiled eggs, peeled, rinsed, dried, and coarsely chopped with a fork (my method)
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
2-3 tablespoons sriracha, to your spice level
1 scallion, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
More salt if the garlic salt is not enough to taste

Mix it all together in a bowl and put on toasted bread.

Yield: 1 big sandwich