Monday, August 31, 2009

Baguette with Roasted Red Pepper Spread

This sandwich was AWESOME. This is probably because I did not make it with vegan cream cheese and instead used a nice block of 1/3-less-fat Philadelphia cream cheese. Everything was very tasty. We had it with Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob and it was fantastic.

I am ashamed (or proud?) to say that we ate this whole freaking thing. What can I say? We were hungry.


Baguette with Roasted Red Pepper Spread
Vegetarian Times, May 2009

This colorful spread is a fancy, vegan version of pimiento cheese. Slipping cucumber between the filling and the lettuce helps keep the greens from wilting en route to your destination.

1 8-oz. container vegan cream cheese, softened
17-oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained well, finely chopped
3 Tbs. finely minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
2 18-inch French baguettes
3/4 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
12 romaine lettuce leaves
2 cups thinly sliced radicchio

1. Combine roasted red peppers, cream cheese, onion, and garlic in bowl.

2. Cut each baguette into 3 6-inch pieces. Halve each piece lengthwise. Tear out some of center from bread to make space for fillings.

3. Spread cream cheese mixture on bottom halves of bread. Top with cucumber, lettuce, and radicchio, and cover with top half of bread.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two Repeats

This morning I woke up and made a big batch of Poppy Seed Doughnuts for our guests. They would NOT come out of the pan in one piece, so I gave them doughnut pieces. They were well-received though. It's such a yummy recipe!

I had planned to make a pie today but didn't have some ingredients, and then I was going to make pad thai for dinner but the bean sprouts were not good anymore, so I made our favorite Spinach-Artichoke Dip. So good! Always a favorite. And I can take it for lunches this week! Yum.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The 'Baked' Spicy Brownie

Since we have guests visiting this weekend, I thought it might be fun to try out this brownie recipe. It was super easy to make because instead of a double-boiler, I microwaved in 30 second increments and stirred as needed. Took like 4 minutes. It was great. The brownies turned out wonderfully with a perfect texture. As for the taste? The cinnamon is the strongest flavor besides the chocolate, which is really nice. The chili powder disappears into the background but adds a nice little surprise kick. All the boys seemed to really like them. They've been eating them all night! Even Vivian, who does not like spicy foods, found them to be tasty. I would make these again sometime. They were very unique and yummy.


The 'Baked' Spicy Brownie
Recipe Source: Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking via O Magazine

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp. Dutch cocoa powder
1 Tbs ancho chili powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
5 ounces dark (60%) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp freshly grated ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 8×8-inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cocoa powder, chili powder, and cinnamon.

3. Configure a double boiler (fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water and fit a metal bowl on top without letting it touch water; bring water to a boil). Place chocolate and butter in bowl and stir occasionally until both are completely melted and combined, about 6 minutes. Turn off heat, but keep bowl over water and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove bowl from pan. Let stand until room temperature, about 20 minutes.

4. Add eggs to chocolate-butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add vanilla and ginger; whisk to combine. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or the brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle flour-cocoa mixture over chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (do not use a whisk!), fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour-cocoa mix visible.

6. Pour batter into the greased pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes; brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

7. Cool brownies completely before cutting and serving.

Yield: 16 servings

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spaghetti Pie

Nothing says "let's de-stress and enjoy our evening" like a nice batch of Spaghetti Pie. Yum yum yum. Never fails to be comforting and delicious.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three Cheese Veggie Pizza

I needed something super quick and super easy, and this pizza definitely fit the bill. Hooray! I am taking leftovers for lunch tomorrow.


Three Cheese Veggie Pizza
Cooking Light, January 2005

Use this recipe as a template, and vary the cheeses and vegetables to make your own creations. Allow the pizza to stand five minutes before slicing to allow any liquid on top time to be reabsorbed into the toppings so the crust won't get soggy.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1 cup marinara sauce
1 (1-pound) Italian cheese-flavored pizza crust (such as Boboli)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup sliced bottled roasted red bell peppers
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
4 drained canned artichoke hearts, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 500°.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add black pepper, minced garlic, and mushrooms; sauté for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and most of liquid evaporates.

Spread sauce over the pizza crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border, and top with mushroom mixture. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella, fontina, and Parmesan cheeses. Top with roasted red bell peppers, 1 tablespoon capers, and artichokes. Bake at 500° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Let pizza stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Poppy Seed Doughnuts

I got a 6-well doughnut pan as a gift and haven't used it until now because I didn't have a recipe I wanted to make. But then I found this recipe and decided to make it for breakfast this morning. I ate three right out of the oven. Oops! They were just so yummy! I divided the recipe by 3 and only made 1 batch of six doughnuts. Absolutely fantastic. I would make these a bajillion times.


Poppy Seed Doughnuts
Eating Well, as posted on Joe's Blog

For the baking pans
nonstick spray
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the batter

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare the pans

Coat a 6-well doughnut pan and a 12-well doughnut pan with nonstick spray. In the 6-well pan, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sugar into each well, shaking out excess when all are done. Repeat with 12-well pan, using 1/4 teaspoon in each well. If you don't have a doughnut pan, you could also use 2 6-well mini bundt pans.

To prepare the batter

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg until frothy. Add sugar, yogurt, buttermilk, oil, zest and vanilla - whisk until well combined. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir together just until combined.

If using the 6-well pan, spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter into each prepared well, smoothing the surfaces with your finger dipped in water. If using the 12-well pan, you'll need about a tablespoon or so - fill it with enough batter to come up almost to the top. Place the pans into the oven and bake until the tops spring back when touched lightly, about 8 to 12 minutes - smaller pans should only take about 5 to 7. Loosen edges and turn the doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 12 large doughnuts or a couple dozen if using the smaller pan.

Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, And Cinammon Cookies

I wanted a cookie involving peanuts and chocolate, so I picked out this recipe. It is EXCELLENT. These make the most beautiful cookies. They look perfect. The peanut butter gives them a nice flavor, and the cinnamon adds a really nice backdrop. It kind of makes them taste more grown-up. I don't know how to explain it. Definitely very good. I would make these again for a party or bake sale or something.


Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, And Cinammon Cookies
Martha Stewart Living

You can also make bite-size cookies by rolling the dough into smaller balls.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chocolate or vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Put butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add sugars; mix 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts, and vanilla with a mixing spoon until well distributed. Refrigerate dough until it is slightly firm, 15 minutes.

2. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Space balls 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly. Bake until just golden, about 13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Serve with ice cream.

Yield: 5 dozen

Sweet Onion Pie

Something I love about Wegmans is that it has a wonderful produce section with lots of local produce. Another thing I love is that it has an excellent cheese selection. Last week I noticed some huge sweet onions from a local farm featured in the Wegmans produce section, so I planned for this pie for dinner. It's pretty easy and is very good. We got some excellent, stinky, tasty Gruyere as well. You may notice the blindingly red "bacon" on top of the pie... it's Morningstar Farms soy bacon that I threw on top. Shut up, it worked just fine! I'm sure real bacon would taste better for you meat-eaters, but I liked our soy bacon.

Listen to the recipe and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving. It really does make a difference. I did not listen, and our first slices were very soupy. Our second slices, however, were more solidified. We had this with some nice Caesar salad. I don't know if I would make this again but it is very yummy.


Sweet Onion Pie
Cottage Living magazine

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 tablespoon butter
1 large sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch tart pan with 1 piecrust; prick bottom of crust with fork. Line sides with foil, add pie weights (or dried beans), and place on bottom rack of oven. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until golden brown.

2. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onion 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Place onion in large bowl, and let cool. Add egg and next 4 ingredients; fold together, and pour mixture into crust. Top with bacon, and bake at 350° for 20 minutes or just until set. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Why My Bread Failed

I posted last night about all the issues I had with the Cheddar Jalapeno Bread and went to the hardcore bread-bakers on the Cooking Light forums. This is what one user posted, and I'm pretty sure this is what happened. It's good to know for the future:

Flour varies from batch to batch in its moisture content. If you make the dough by the recipe exactly and it is much too wet, then you can add flour, a little at a time when kneading, to get the consistency back to normal for your recipe (assuming you know what the normal texture should be).

If the dough was too wet to start with, and you allowed it to rise for the recommended time, then it likely "overproofed". This means the yeast, in the wetter environment, were more productive and made more bubbles of CO2 gas than the dough could support during baking.

When you bake it, these busy yeast make too much CO2 gas in the pan, giving you a big bubble at the top and dense bread at the bottom.

My Laurel's Kitchen cookbook says "Overproofed loaves will be holey at the top and dense on the bottom, and may even collapse."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cheddar Jalapeno Bread

We love this Cheddar Jalapeno Bread (which I started at like 6:00 tonight... I'm kind of crazy?) and I've made it a bunch of times, but today we had some issues with it. I'm not sure what happened. First it wouldn't solidify, let alone rise. It was very liquidy, even with the addition of more flour. So it couldn't be kneaded. I poured it into the pan with the hopes of it turning out like a dense quick-bread, which it DID turn out like... except the top half on the inside is completely hollow. It's like it formed a nice dome on top and then everything inside sunk. I have no idea what happened. It still tastes awesome, but I don't know why it turned out so weird. I didn't do anything different! Maybe the yeast failed? I don't know. So weird.

Seafood Risotto

When I posted my review of Seafood Risotto last year, I based my "delicious!" review solely on Gibby's opinion. I, at the time, had an upper respiratory infection and could barely breathe, let alone taste things. I felt it had a pleasing texture, but I had no idea what it tasted like.

I forgot this fact when I made the recipe tonight. So I was all excited, planning for a meal I knew would be delicious. We worked together making the risotto, and I couldn't help noticing it was rather seafoody-smelling, but I figured I'd be OK. Then we sat down to eat. Gibby, once again, gobbled it up. I took one bite and said, "Oh good god, why did you let me EAT this?!" I did NOT like it. It was like taking a big bite of ocean. Oh my gosh. Not yummy. I deleted the recipe from my program. Blah! (Ironically, I am just completing a round of antibiotics for another upper respiratory infection - this time, I am able to taste what I am eating, though!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Spicy Thai Fried Rice with Shrimp

Wow, I haven't posted since Tuesday?! I've had a terrible, busy week and haven't had time to breathe, let alone cook. I'm very sad about that and I hope that I can cook more. I think I'm going to need to get more crockpot recipes so on the nights I get home really late, we can still have delicious food. My schedule is crazy and I want to make sure we're eating healthy and not eating pizza every day (though pizza IS delicious...).

Today I made a quick dinner that uses some premade ingredients (microwave rice - we used Seeds of Change basmati rice; and pre-cooked frozen shrimp) and comes together very quickly. We bought a basil plant so I did use fresh basil - surprised? It was very yummy despite the simplicity of it all.


Spicy Thai Fried Rice with Shrimp

Day-old leftover rice gives Anne Biedel's fragrant fried rice the best texture, but you can also make it with rice cooked and cooled the same day. She thinks the fish sauce adds a barely detectable pungency, similar to anchovies in Caesar salad. It's available in most well-stocked supermarkets.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
4 teaspoons minced seeded fresh jalapeño chiles
3 cups cooked jasmine or long-grain white rice, cold
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 1/4 cups shelled, cooked tiny shrimp or diced cooked pork or chicken (about 8 oz.)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Pour olive oil into a 12-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat; add garlic, onions, and chiles and stir often until limp, 2 to 4 minutes.

2. Add rice, sugar to taste, soy sauce, and fish sauce; reduce heat to medium and stir often until ingredients are well coated and hot to touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Add shrimp, cilantro, basil, and sesame oil; stir often until shrimp are hot to touch, about 3 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Black Bean-and-Plantain Burritos

Plantains are interesting because they look like bananas and taste like potatoes. We've made stuff with them before and we like them. Plantains are cool. So this recipe sounded fun, plus we love Mexican food so it really just all worked. I highly recommend getting a good mango salsa (we got a pineapple-mango-chipotle salsa) because it just adds an extra level of yumminess. I used Goya adobo seasoning and Frank's Red Hot sauce and it all worked out nicely. We also used a big flour tortilla instead of two small corn tortillas. We would make this again.


Black Bean-and-Plantain Burritos
Vegetarian Times, January 2009

1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
2 very ripe plantains, peeled and diced
1 14-oz. can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. ground cumin
1 Tbs. hot sauce (habanero or cayenne is best)
1 1/2 tsp. adobo seasoning, such as Goya
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
8 corn tortillas
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
Prepared mango salsa, optional

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add red onion and garlic, and sauté until browned. Stir in plantains, and cook 5 minutes.

2. Add black beans, cilantro, green onion, cumin, hot sauce, adobo seasoning, coriander, and pepper; cook 5 more minutes.

3. Spoon filling into warmed corn tortillas; top with cheese and mango salsa, if desired; roll up; and serve.

Yield: 8 servings (Lauren's Note: No way! This is barely 4 servings.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Possibly The Best Ever Lemon Squares

That really is the title of this recipe. And I agree with it. I have never had such yummy lemon bars. I love lemon, but I often find lemon bars to be too eggy. This one is PERFECT. I would make this a bajillion times. I'm sure I'll try variations on lemon bars in the future, but for a good, standard, plain lemon bar, this is IT.

lemon bars

Possibly The Best Ever Lemon Squares
Cookie Madness

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (114 grams)
1/3 cup powdered sugar — plus extra for garnishing
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/8 teaspoon salt (just use ¼ tsp plus an extra pinch)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons half & half
1/8 teaspoon salt

Don’t preheat oven quite yet. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray

Pulse flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in food processor. Add butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then pulse until coarse. Pour what will seem like a very *dry* mixture into lined pan and press over pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. While it chills, you can make the filling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven is preheated, bake the pre-chilled crust (above) for 18-20 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned.

Filling: Lightly beat the eggs, sugar, and flour together in a bowl. I used a fork. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, half and half, and salt and mix well.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Stir filling again, then pour filling over **warm** crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until filling no longer appears wet and shaky.

Set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Lift from pan, place on cutting board, dust with extra powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Cut into a dozen squares.

Broccoli Risotto Torte

I meant to make this last weekend and didn't, so today I finally got around to it. It sounds super-complicated, but it's not so bad. And it bakes for a full hour so you can go fold some laundry or scrapbook or watch two episodes of House Hunters. We really liked it. I've portioned it out to take for lunches this week, which will be nice. It's been awhile since I've made something that has good leftovers to take.

The notes on the recipe are not my own, they are from the person who posted it on the recipe forum.

This is what it looked like when I dumped it out of the pan:

And this is what it looks like in a little wedge:

Broccoli Risotto Torte
CLBB (AndreaU)

Her notes: I usually use 2 cheeses (1/2 and 1/2)- Parmesan and cheddar or Parmesan and Monterey Jack work well for a creamier texture. I serve this hot, after letting it sit for a few mintues after taking it from the oven. I've never served it cold as in the recipe, but I'm sure it would be just as good. This makes for great leftovers!

8 oz. broccoli, cut into very small florets
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
2 T. olive oil
4 T. butter
1-1/4 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-1/2 cups stock/broth
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. fresh Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated
4 eggs, separated
Cooking spray

1. Blanch broccoli for 3 minutes then drain and reserve.

2. In a large saucepan, gently saute onion, garlic and yellow pepper in the oil and butter for 5 minutes until they are soft.

3. Stir in the rice, cook for a minute then pour in the wine. Cook, stirring the mixture until the liquid is absorbed.

4. Pour in the stock/broth, season well, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Meanwhile, spray a 10" round deep cake pan and line the base with a disc of waxed paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6. Stir the cheese into the rice, allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes, then beat in the egg yolks. Stir in broccoli.

7. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and carefully fold into the rice. Turn into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour until risen, golden brown and slightly wobbly in the center.

8. Allow the torte to cool in the pan, then chill if serving cold. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and shake out onto a serving plate.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Great Tostadas

My mom used to make these all the time when I was growing up. Like at least once every two weeks. It's super-easy to throw together and is always yummy. When you put the tortillas in the oven (recommended temp: 425F for about 5-7 minutes) they start to brown around the edges and get puffy in the middle. I have no idea where my mom got this recipe from, and she probably doesn't know either. But we like it and it's good. This was, oddly, the first time I've made it myself. I should make them more often.

If you are wondering why the recipe calls for "frozen tortillas," it is because my mom used to freeze tortillas. I did that for awhile when I first moved out, and then I decided it was weird so I started storing them in the pantry. Do what you will.


Great Tostadas
My Mom!

6-8 frozen tortillas
1 can refried beans
2 cups chopped lettuce
1 tomato, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground black pepper
Grated cheese
Sour cream
Salsa, mild or hot

Bake the tortillas until they are crisp.

Make the salad with the lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. You may need more salt and pepper.

Microwave the refried beans for 2 1/2 minutes.

Let each person cover his/her tortilla with the beans. Top with a little salsa and then cover with a spoonful or two of the salad.

Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and salsa.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mango & Black Bean Salad

I had another rough day so when I came home, I was very happy to throw together the Mango & Black Bean Salad that we love. I had everything chopped and in the mixing bowl by the time the rice was done microwaving (10 minutes). Perfect!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mediterranean Salad With Chickpea Patties

This is SUPER fast and is very good despite the simplicity of the meal. The patties are soft since there's nothing to bind them besides bean, so make sure you cook them all the way through. Easy on the "dressing" because it's a little thick, but delicious with the pita chips! I don't know if I would make this again but it really is a nice weeknight meal!


Mediterranean Salad With Chickpea Patties
Real Simple, April 2009

This recipe is a low-fat, low-maintenance twist on falafel, the deep-fried Middle Eastern classic made with spiced chickpea flour and garlic.

1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup low-fat yogurt (preferably Greek)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 cups mixed greens
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Pita chips (optional)

In a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, parsley, garlic, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper just until coarsely chopped and the mixture comes together when gently squeezed. Form into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties and coat with the flour, tapping off excess.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the patties, turning carefully, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Divide the greens, tomatoes, onion, and chickpea patties among plates. Drizzle with the dressing and serve with the pita chips, if using.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, August 10, 2009

Italian Strata

This was easy but just so mediocre. I even used a really good fontina for it. Disappointing! Not a make-again.


Italian Strata
Vegetarian & More! (2000) by Linda Rosensweig, pg. 34

2 cups cubed Italian bread
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup (4 oz) shredded fontina cheese
4 eggs
1/4 cup 1% milk
2 Tbsp (1/2 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Coat an 11x7" baking dish with nonstick spray.

Combine the bread cubes, broccoli, and tomato in the prepared dish.

In a small bowl, combine the fontina, eggs, milk, Parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper. Pour over the bread cubes.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until set and the top is golden.

Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine

Friday night we were at Musikfest eating all kinds of fried foods, and last night we went out to Porter's Pub because my brother was in town! It was a lot of fun. He never visited us when we lived in Maryland - not even once! - so it's exciting that he came to PA for the whole weekend.

Tonight I made this pasta dish. It is very easy to make, which is good because I am sickly, possibly with pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection? Not sure yet. Need to go to the doctor. I didn't sleep at all last night so I spent a large chunk of today sleeping on the couch. So that should give you some idea of how simple this food is if I'm capable of putting it all together. Technically I had planned to make something different, as well as some lemon bars, but that didn't happen. Hopefully later in the week!

Anywho, this was good. Very thick. I doubled the Cajun seasoning (we used an Emeril blend) because reviews suggested doing so. We would make it again.


Creamy Cajun Shrimp Linguine
Cooking Light, September 2006

Shrimp and pasta combine with a creamy sauce for a quick and delicious dish. Round out the meal with a Caesar salad.

1 cup water
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
6 ounces uncooked linguine
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1 large red bell pepper, cut into (1/4-inch-thick) slices
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Combine 1 cup water and broth in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Break pasta in half; add to pan. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add shrimp to pan. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until shrimp are done; drain.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and pepper to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until moisture evaporates. Add flour, seasoning, and salt to pan; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in half-and-half; cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add pasta mixture and parsley to pan; toss.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hot Dogs & Championship Potatoes

I found red potatoes in a bag that can be microwaved and takes 8 minutes to cook. It's perfect. I decided to use them in Goody Girl Championship Potatoes, which are always delicious. I've set some aside to take for work tomorrow!

We had them with hot dogs - tofu pups for me, real ones for Gibby. Yum yum yum. It was a good, super-fast meal that was good to make after a 10+ hour day at work!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Southwestern Cheese Panini

We just got a bunch of new clients so my schedule is PACKED. That means more meals that are quick during the week and more experimenting on the weekends! It'll be a minor change, I promise.

Tonight we made Southwestern Cheese Paninis again. I didn't bother busting out The Griddler and just made it in a pan like a regular grilled cheese (yes, I know we had grilled cheese last night - but this was on the meal plan!). This time I had the salsa and it really is what makes the sandwich fantastic. Still a make-again, and probably something we'll make a lot!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Down Days

When I make my meal plan for the week, I include meals for every day unless there is something planned (like grabbing dinner at Musikfest before the Blondie/Pat Benatar concert this Friday). But once a week or so, I have a stressful day or I do not feel well or we both get home way later than anticipated and we end up either ordering out or eating something simple. Today I came home from a long day with a pounding migraine and I immediately threw myself on the couch and slept for 2 hours until Gibby got home from class. He made some grilled cheese sandwiches and now I am eating Cheez-Its. Our favorite thing to do is order pizza. We found a local place that has a really long name so I can't remember what it's called (it's Italian and is like a million letters long) and they make delicious pizza. Grilled cheese or a fried egg sandwich are also staples for these days when I hate everything. When I have time I'm going to make up a batch of marinara sauce to freeze for days like today as well.

What do you like to eat when you are having a down day from cooking?

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

I have made cuban beans before (here) and did not love it. I described it as being nothing but beans on rice. Tonight's recipe for cuban beans was still just beans on rice, but much more flavorful than the previous one. I would, in theory, make this again but I probably won't.

It should be noted that I have a ginormous stockpile of dried beans from my former boss (still!) and never really knew how to use them. Thanks to this recipe, I now know to soak the beans while I am at work and then come home and use them. I will probably substitute dried for canned in future recipes when possible so I can use up the huge pile in my pantry!


Cuban Black Beans and Rice
Penzey's One Volume 3, Issue 5, 2009
Adapted on

1 pound dried black beans (about 2 cups)
12 cups water, divided
2/3 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red)
4 cloves garlic, minded
1 whole bay leaf
1 T. dried Mexican Oregano
1 T. epazote
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 T. salt
2 T. sugar
2 T. red wine vinegar
3-4 cups cooked rice

1. Rinse the beans well, discarding any debris or floaters. Put the beans and half of the water (6 cups) in a large stockpot and soak for at least 5 hours or overnight. Just before cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Place in a pot with the remaining water (6 cups).

2. Add the olive oil, wine, onion, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, epazote, cumin, pepper, salt and sugar to the pot. Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, for 45 minutes or until the beans are soft. Add the red wine vinegar and simmer, uncovered , to thicken the beans until ready to serve, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Optional: mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with a spoon.

3. Serve with rice

Yield: 6-8 servings

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

You know... carrot cake, zucchini bread... why not chocolate cupcakes with zucchini in it? The zucchini IS NOT NOTICEABLE so don't get all grossed out. If he hadn't seen the recipe beforehand he wouldn't have known that it even had a vegetable in it. This recipe uses more oil and butter than I typically like to use, but it makes more than 2 dozen cupcakes so I think it's OK. I figure the fact that it provides at least a partial serving of vegetables evens things out. Right? I like these a lot. I used a dark premium cocoa so the chocolate is very rich. I also used mini chocolate chips so that they would be more disbursed throughout. I think the flavors works nicely, but to each their own. I probably wouldn't make this again unless I get my vegetable garden up and running by next summer and end up with an abundance of zucchini. Good way to sneak it in!

The notes in the recipe are not my own, except the one regarding the yield. It's from a cookbook, posted on a blog, posted to a forum. Do with it what you will. I did not use coconut oil because oh my goodness it has a lot of fat in it and is very expensive. Canola works just fine, thank you. Also I have no idea what the frosting recipe is because someone left it out while posting it along the way, so who knows? If you buy the cookbook or do some research online, maybe you'll find out. I liked it without the frosting but it would be yummy with frosting too.


Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
Rebar cookbook

1 1/2 cups (360 mL) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil (hs note: I used unrefined, scented, all-natural coconut oil)
3 eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (120 mL) buttermilk
2 cups (480 mL) grated zucchini
1 cup (240 mL) chocolate chips
2 cups (480 mL) unbleached flour
1 cup (240 mL) cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) allspice
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease large muffin pans and line with muffin cups.

In a medium bowl mix together the sugar, butter and oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well Incorporated. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and mix until well combined. Spoon batter into large muffin pans. Bake in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, while preparing the icing (hs note: I made these without the icing, also - don't overcook them or you will lose all the moist goodness - you want them to look almost done in the oven - they will continue to cook for a few minutes after you pull them from the oven from the residual heat).

Yield: 20 (Lauren's Note: I got 2 dozen, with extra batter)

Frittata with Spinach, Potatoes, and Leeks

Tonight I made Frittata with Spinach, Potatoes, and Leeks. I heeded my notes from the last time I made it and used less basil, as well as Simply Potatoes. The potatoes had some onion in them, so that was a nice addition. I found a reduced-fat four-cheese Italian blend that had provolone, mozzarella, asiago, and fontina so I used that for the topping. Delicious! We've already portioned it out to take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow!


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Green Papaya and Mango Salad

To go with the awful Thai Bean Cakes, I thought I'd try out another Thai papaya salad. I've made one before (this one) that was delicious, but this one is slightly different so I figured I'd try. Bad move. This one was not very awesome, maybe from the fish sauce? I don't know. It was not good.


Green Papaya and Mango Salad
Cooking Light, 10/08

This is a streamlined version of a favorite Thai salad. Even though fish sauce is a high-sodium ingredient, a tablespoon adds ample body and flavor to the dressing. Serve the salad as a refreshing accompaniment to spicy grilled pork or chicken.

2 cups shredded green papaya (about 1/2 pound)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled ripe mango (about 1)
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
Fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine juice, fish sauce, honey, and jalapeño in a small bowl; pour juice mixture over papaya mixture. Toss gently to combine. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and mint, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Thai Bean Cakes

Last night I made a Thai-themed dinner. It didn't work out so well. This recipe sounded good but it was really, really not yummy. I've never had butter beans before so maybe they are the reason it sucked so much. I figured butter beans were like navy beans, but they're actually HUGE and taste kind of bitter. This is not a make again. It went right into the trash.

bean cakes

Thai Bean Cakes
Random internet post, apparently inspired by The Guardian newspaper (hence the metric measurements)

1 400g tin of butter beans
1 large spring onion (scallion), chopped
1 big handful fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper
lime wedges
olive oil

Drain the beans and place in a food processor (or large bowl) along with the spring onion, coriander, red curry paste, and coconut. Chop until you have a chunk puree. If you don't have a food processor, a stick blender or a potato masher will also work. Add the flour, season, and mix further until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Put a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a nonstick pan and turn flame to medium-high. When oil is hot, drop dollops onto the pan, making sure that the cakes dont touch.

Shallow-fry until golden brown, then flip and press down to flatten.

Cook another another few minutes until the other side is also golden brown, and serve with lime wedges or sweet chili or peanut sauce dips.