December 30, 2010

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Waffles

More waffles! I jotted down this recipe from a magazine a few years ago and have no idea from which one. As you can see in the photo, the waffles appear like regular waffles, but have hearty whole wheat flour and peanut butter. The peanut butter flavor isn't overwhelming, but can be tasted.

Break extra waffles into sections and freeze. Stick frozen sections in the toaster for a quick breakfast or snack.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Waffles

2 ¼ c. whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ c. creamy natural peanut butter
1 ½ Tbsp. sugar or 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten
2 ¼ c. whole milk, or almond milk, or half whole yogurt and half water
¼ c. oil or melted coconut oil
¼ tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and cook on waffle iron.

December 29, 2010

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Another excellent ice cream recipe from the ice cream master, David Lebovitz. I recommend using canned pumpkin puree. I used homemade puree and ended up with tiny strands of pumpkin in the ice cream, which made for an odd texture. Actually, in looking at the recipe again, I see that one of the last steps is to strain the ice cream, which I probably didn't do. I'm sometimes a sloppy cook; don't follow in my footsteps.

Pumpkin Ice Cream
adapted by David Lebovitz from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco

5 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks: set aside.

Warm the milk, cream, sugar, spices and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the edges begin to bubble. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by placing a medium-sized metal bowl in a larger bowl filled with some ice and a little water. Set a mesh strainer on top.

Gradually add half of the milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Turn the heat to low and scrape the yolks back in to the saucepan. Stir constantly, scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (between 160˚ – 170˚F).

Working quickly, pour mixture through the strainer and into the bowl with the ice bath. Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved and cooled. Chill thoroughly in the fridge, preferably overnight.

Once chilled, add the vanilla and pumpkin puree. Whisk until incorporated, then press through a fine-mesh strainer. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for at least one hour before serving.

December 20, 2010

Upside-Down Cranberry-Caramel Cake

I made this cake a few weeks ago and brought it to an event with friends.
It was still warm, and the first person to cut into it probably thought it was a pudding-filled cake. The center was not all the way baked! How embarassing. But my gracious friends ate the edges of the cake, which were fully baked and still said the cake tasted good.

This weekend I attempted this cake again, with great results! I don't think there's anything inherently difficult about this recipe; I must have unknowingly done something weird the first time.

A perfect Christmas cake, I love the tart cranberries. For the optional flavorings, I added almond extract and nutmeg. Delicious!

Upside-Down Cranberry-Caramel Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

Unsalted butter or cooking spray for the baking pan
2/3 cup (5 ounces) packed light brown sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (8 1/2 ounces) sour cream
2 cups (8 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
Optional flavorings: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, 1 tablespoon orange or lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon zest, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, few gratings of fresh nutmeg or a combination thereof
Whipped cream, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter and cover the bottom with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of the melted butter, molasses and 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Stir well and pour into prepared cake pan. Set pan aside.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together into a bowl or onto a sheet of waxed paper and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sour cream together at medium speed until well blended. Add optional flavorings of your choice. Scrape down the bowl and add remaining melted butter (1/2 cup) and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.

Add the cranberries to the prepared baking pan and gently press the fruit into an even layer. Dollop the batter on top and use an offset spatula to gently nudge it into place without disturbing the cranberries underneath. Bake on the center rack (with a tray underneath to catch drips) until golden and a tester inserted into just the cake comes out clean, 35 - 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan then insert over a flat platter that is larger than your cake pan, to catch any puddling or jumping cranberries. Remove the parchment paper.

Serve warm, with freshly whipped cream. The cake will keep for two to three days covered at room temperature.

December 19, 2010

Sparkling Egg Nog

My grandpa was kind of quirky (aren't all grandpas?). He had several of his own concoctions that I still enjoy. One of my favorite is adding ginger ale to egg nog. It's quite delightful, and I much prefer sparkling egg nog than plain.

Here's how to do it - the method is important:
Fill a glass a little less than halfway with ginger ale, then fill the rest of the glass with egg nog.

December 18, 2010

Failproof Candy

Candy making is fun, but sometimes frustrating. These two candy recipes don't require any special skill, so if you want something easy, but really yummy, try either or both of these: peppermint bark and buckeyes.

Peppermint Bark

12 oz. dark chocolate
12 oz. white chocolate
4 - 6 candy canes, crushed

Prepare pan by lining it in wax paper. I used 8x8 square pan, but the bark was on the thick side. Also try a cookie sheet, but don't spread the chocolate all the way to the edge. Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave (on high for 1 minute, stir, then short bursts of 10-20 seconds until melted. Stir after each burst). Spread the dark chocolate in the prepared pan. Let set. Repeat melting process with the white chocolate. Spread evenly over dark chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes, pressing the candy slightly into the chocolate. Let set. Remove the bark from the pan. Peel the paper away from the bark. Break or cut into pieces.

As many non-midwesterns may not know, buckeyes are a nut-like fruit that grows on trees. Candy buckeyes resemble the fruit. Ever wonder what the Ohio State Buckeyes are? Nuts (or fruits)!

Many buckeye recipes have a peanut butter center containing only peanut butter,powdered sugar, and butter. I tried this recipe with graham cracker crumbs and cream cheese in the center, and thought the consistency and taste were perfect.

I used a toothpick to dip the buckeyes in chocolate. After the buckeyes were set, I pushed the exposed peanut butter center around a little to get rid of the toothpick hole.

from Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 14 graham crackers)
dash of salt
3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped

Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat for 10 seconds. Add the sugar and butter, and mix on the lowest speed until it stops floating off everywhere, then increase the speed until the ingredients are combined. Scrape down the whole bowl well, then mix again. The mixture will be quite sturdy and a little dry — perfect for shaping. Set it aside while you prepare the coating.

Make the coating: Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler, stirring until it is completely smooth or in a microwave in 30 then 10 second increments, stirring before you start it again until it is completely smooth. Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degrees), while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Assemble the candies: Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than one tablespoon’s worth of filling, and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet and repeat the process until all of the candies have been shaped. They can sit close to each other but make sure they are not touching.

Using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate and roll it about so that almost the entire candy is coating, leaving a small circle uncoated.

Chill the buckeyes until they are set, about 30 minutes.

December 15, 2010

Meatball Soup

Cold weather is soup season! Here's another hearty, scrumptious soup to warm you up on a cold day.

Meatball Soup
from Heather W

1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
¼ c. bread crumbs or quick oats
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
1 tsp. basil
½ tsp. parsley
½ c. grated onion
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

3 cans chicken broth
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning (or combo of basil, oregano, and thyme)
2 c. fresh spinach, thinly sliced
1/2 c. uncooked orzo pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine all meatball ingredients. Form into meatballs – less than an inch in diameter. Broil in the oven until lightly browned. Heat oil in a large pot. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add the broth, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Add meatballs, carrots, and spinach. Cover and simmer at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Add to soup.

December 14, 2010

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Crumble

This is my last Thanksgiving recipe for this year - now you can use it for Christmas! This was a recipe I found online and took a gamble they'd be good. I won the gamble! Smooth and creamy, the potatoes are slightly sweet; the cardamom (one of my favorite spices) gave the dish an extra kick.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Crumble
from Blissful Bite

3 to 3-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 large potatoes), peeled
1 egg
1-1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into small dice (keep in fridge until needed)

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 1-1/2 quart baking dish and set aside.
Cut the sweet potatoes into 1-1/2 inch pieces. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, the potatoes will take about 10 minutes to become sufficiently tender. (Test one to confirm.) Strain and allow to sit in the colander for about 15 minutes.

Puree in a food processor, stopping to swipe the sides 2 or 3 times. You want the mixture to be quite smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, syrup, vanilla, lemon, salt, and cardamom. Scrape in the sweet potatoes and stir with a wooden spoon until well-combined.

Transfer the potato mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth the top.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans, and diced butter. Rub with your fingertips until it forms small clumps. Scatter over the potatoes.

Set the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the hot oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, keeping an eye on it in the last 10 minutes to make sure the nuts don't burn. (If they get too dark, tent with foil.) Serve hot.

December 11, 2010

Homemade Oreos with Candy Cane Frosting

Homemade oreos - chocolate sandwich cookies with frosting - are a little less crunchy but way more tasty than store-bought. I went for a holiday option and added crushed candy canes to the frosting. The mint flavor works really well here.

I went all out with these cookies and also dipped them in chocolate and sprinkled crushed candy canes on top. While visually this is a plus, the extra chocolate doesn't add too much to the taste and is probably not worth the extra effort. This is the type of cookie that everyone will gobble down, so who cares what they look like?

Homemade Oreos with Candy Cane Frosting
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
optional: about 6 candy canes, finely ground in food processor

Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.

In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream filling, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy. Add ground candy canes, mix, and taste. Add more candy canes as necessary for desired mint taste.

To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Optional: Melt dark chocolate and dip sandwiched cookies halfway. Shake off excess chocolate and let set on wax paper. While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle crushed candy canes on top.

December 10, 2010

Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies for a cookie exchange with women from church. I thought they were festive and unique. These cookies are quite delightful - the tart pomegranate arils complement the sweet white chocolate. The pomegranate arils lose most of their crunch while baking.

It turns out there were a few awards at the cookie exchange, based on appearance only. I was awarded most creative!

If you are unfamiliar with how to work with a fresh pomegranate, check out this tutorial. This method saves many arils from being cut open and juice spilling everywhere.

Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Two Peas and Their Pod

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned or quick oats
1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup pomegranate arils

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.

4. Stir in the oats and white chocolate chunks. Make dough balls-about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie. Tuck about 6-8 pomegranate arils in each cookie dough ball. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for two minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 2 ½ dozen cookies.

December 9, 2010

Pulled Pork

My brother found this recipe online. It's called Mean Chef's Pulled Pork. It's divine and super easy. Basically you rub a pork shoulder with a rub, let it sit overnight, and then slow cook it in the oven for 8 hours. The result is this:

Are you convinced yet? Probably not. After roasting for 8 hours, the rub forms a crunchy, burnt-looking crust. Don't be fooled - that crust is the secret. Next you shred the pork up, and the tasty crust is mixed in with the rest of the tender pork and the fat. Like this:

Then you can do whatever you'd like with the pork. Add barbeque sauce and eat it on buns, add it to tortillas with some cheese and salsa, or eat it plain. Here's mine served on homemade buns with barbeque sauce. So yummy...

Some tips: pork butt and pork shoulder are supposedly different names for the same cut of meat. It doesn't really make sense, but just go with it. I've used bone-in and boneless, and both work. Use your favorite barbeque sauce (homemade or store-bought). Since pork butt is a large piece of meat, feel free to cook it, shred it, and then freeze some for later. For me this amount of rub is enough for two pork butts. My mom claims she uses the whole amount on one.

Mean Chef's Pulled Pork
from Food

1 whole pork butt or pork shoulder
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne

For rub: mix all ingredients except pork in a small bowl. Rub pork with rub. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

Take out pork and re-rub. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Roast on rack uncovered in oven at 250-275 degrees until falling apart tender. It will take 7-8 hours; the internal temperature of the pork when done should be between 195 and 200 degrees. Shred pork into pieces with two forks. Toss with barbeque sauce, if desired.

December 8, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar

I've recently discovered I like brussels sprouts! Especially fresh, they only need simple preparation to be quite scrumptious. The winter farmer's market has one farmer still selling them, and I get some each week.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar
from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 pound brussels sprouts, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Cut off the ends of the brussels sprouts. If the brussel sprouts are large, cut in half. Otherwise, leave sprouts whole.

3. Place sprouts in a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Pour sprouts on a baking sheet and roast 30-35 minutes or until sprouts are tender. Stir them a couple of times while they are roasting. Serve warm.

December 6, 2010

Flour Tortillas and Chicken Chimichungas

I like to buy tortillas from Whole Foods. Here's the list of ingredients for their whole wheat tortillas: flour, water, oil, salt, baking powder. However, the other day I was at the regular grocery store and needed some tortillas. Every single package of tortillas I picked up had a list of ingredients that was way too long. I got mad.

So, instead, I tried making my own flour tortillas. I've done it before, but I don't remember having much success. I found this recipe online (of course) and loved that it didn't require lard, and, in fact, almost matches exactly the ingredients found in the Whole Foods tortillas. This recipe worked out quite well. Warning: warm, freshly made tortillas may disappear faster than you can use them in your intended recipe.

Homemade Flour Tortillas
from Alexandra's Kitchen

Makes about 10 small tortillas or 6 large (burrito size) tortillas

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (or sub one cup with whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. table salt (not kosher)
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 c. unsalted butter
2/3 cup warm water
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in warm water with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead 3-4 minutes until smooth, soft, and not sticky, adding more flour if necessary.

Cut the dough into 2-oz. pieces for taco-sized tortillas or 3-oz pieces for burrito-sized tortillas. Shape pieces into a ball. Cover with a very light kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Be careful that your room isn’t too hot. Let the dough rest 30 minutes and up to two hours.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each ball to about 9 to 10 inches (taco) or 11 to 12 inches (burrito) in diameter, or until you can see the counter start to come through.

Heat a 12 inch non-stick or cast-iron pan (do not add any oil) on medium-high. Lay the tortilla in the pan and cook until it puffs and little brown spots on the underside appear. Turn with tongs and cook. Each tortilla takes about 45 seconds. Stack tortillas on a plate covered with a towel to keep them pliable.

Now what did I need these flour tortillas for? My favorite meal growing up (or at least the meal I'd always request on my birthday): chicken chimichungas.

These chimichungas are baked, not fried, and turn golden brown and crispy. They are perfect for using up leftover chicken.

Chicken Chimichungas
from my mother

2 ½ c. shredded cooked chicken
1 c. salsa
¾ tsp. cumin
¾- 1 tsp. salt
¼ c. melted butter
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 c. green onions
½ tsp. crushed oregano leaves
8 flour tortillas

Simmer the chicken, salsa, cumin, salt, and onions, and oregano leaves for 5 minutes. Brush one side of each of the tortillas with the melted butter. Spoon ¼ c. chicken mixture and some cheese onto unbuttered side of tortilla. Roll up and place in 9x13 pan. Bake at 475˚ for 13 minutes or until golden brown.

December 1, 2010

Beef Stew

I know beef stew does not sound that interesting.  But can I say this could possibly be the best stew you'll ever taste?  The base is highly flavored and the beef very tender.  I love this stew, and so does my entire family.  My mom's been making it for years, to everyone's delight.

A couple years ago I put together a printed cookbook with many of my mom's classic recipes and gave it to family members.  I have two sisters-in-law.  When the second joined the family, the first said to her "All you need to make your new husband happy is in the cookbook."  I laughed a lot when I heard that.  This is definitely one of those recipes.  Right, bros?

Hearty Beef Stew
from Ann D

2 lb. beef chuck, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp. oil
4 c. water
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. paprika
2 bay leaves
dash of allspice
6 carrots, cut in quarters
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
¼ c. flour

In heavy Dutch oven, slowly brown beef cubes in shortening. Turn often to brown meat on all sides. This should take about 15 minutes. Then add water, onion, garlic, salt, lemon juice, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, paprika, bay leaves, and allspice. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat (do not boil) for 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. When meat is almost done, add carrots, onions, and potatoes, and simmer for 30 minutes more. Discard bay leaves. Pour ½ c. water in shaker and add ¼ c. flour, shake to blend. Either remove meat and vegetables from stock or move to one side in pan; stir in flour mixture. Cook and stir till gravy thickens and boils.

November 28, 2010

Lion House Crescent Rolls

My mom has been making these rolls for special dinners like Thanksgiving ever since I can remember. They are very good - light, fluffy, and buttery.

I actually made these the day after Thanksgiving and stuck most of them in the freezer to eat later.

Lion House Crescent Rolls
from Lion House Recipes

2 Tbsp. yeast
2 c. warm water
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
2/3 c. dry milk
2 tsp. salt
1 egg
5-6 c. flour
melted butter

Mix yeast and water; let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, butter, dry milk, salt, egg, and 2 c. of flour. Beat together till smooth. Gradually add remaining flour till soft dough is formed. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead till smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl; cover and let rise till double in bulk. Punch down; divide into thirds. Roll out 1/3 or dough in circle; cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Starting at wide end, roll up each piece into a crescent. Place on greased baking sheet with point on bottom. Repeat with remainder of dough. Brush tops with melted butter. Let rise till double. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until tops and bottoms are golden brown. Makes 3 dozen.

Mashed Potato Pancakes

An easy way to use up leftover mashed potatoes is to make pancakes. Make sure you use a non-stick pan; I used cast-iron.

Mashed Potato Pancakes

mashed potatoes
olive oil or canola oil

Form hamburger-sized patties with mashed potatoes - the thinner the better. Heat a swirl of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add two or three patties to the pan at a time. Cook until golden brown. Carefully flip over and cook the second side until golden brown. Remove from pan and serve immediately with ketchup or sour cream.

November 27, 2010

Creamy Mexican Turkey Soup

It's probably a little late, but if you need to use up leftover turkey, try this soup. It's creamy (but no cream) and spicy. Actually, this would work with chicken instead of turkey.

I've been really enjoying my time off of work and doing some activities I haven't done in a long time. Some of the activities have been fun, and some have been chores. But it's great to break the rut and do something new, even if it meant not blogging. I have several recipes to share with you soon, once I get back in the swing of things.

Creamy Mexican Turkey Soup
from Recipe Girl

1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped (I omitted)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken or turkey stock or broth
1 can diced green chilies, drained
2 cups milk
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
2 cups shredded turkey
¾ cup corn, fresh or frozen
3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

1. In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Add chiles.

2. In a bowl, whisk together milk, flour, salt, chili powder and cumin. Increase heat to high and whisk milk mixture into soup. Stir until thick and bubbly, about five minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add turkey, corn, cilantro and cheese; stir until cheese is melted and soup is hot, 5 to 10 minutes.

November 22, 2010

Tin Roof Chocolate Pie

It would probably be helpful to somebody if I posted Thanksgiving recipes BEFORE Thanksgiving, but I'm not that organized. Here's the only one you'll get: Tin Roof Chocolate Pie, nicknamed Snickers Pie by my family. I made this for last Thanksgiving, which is where I got the photo. It's the pie in the middle.

I'm going to make this again for this Thanksgiving, so I'll have to get another photo of a cut piece so you can see the caramel and peanuts that are hiding under the chocolate mousse layer. This is a recipe that was a reader submission to Better Homes and Gardens about eight years ago. Since then it's become a family favorite!

The recipe calls for a deep-dish pie crust, but I just make a regular one and it all fits.

Tin Roof Chocolate Pie (Snickers Pie)
from Better Homes and Gardens

1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter
1 baked deep-dish 9-inch pastry shell
20 vanilla caramels
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1 ½ c. lightly salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
½ c. milk
1 1/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
15 large marshmallows
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 c. heavy whipping cream

Optional topping ingredients
3 vanilla caramels
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. butter
1/3 c. whipped cream
semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small heavy saucepan, combine the 1/3 c. chocolate chips and 1 Tbsp. butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Spread chocolate mixture around bottom and sides of the baked pastry shell; refrigerate about 15 minutes or until chocolate is set.

In another small saucepan, combine 20 caramels and the 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until the caramels are melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in the peanuts. Spoon peanut mixture into pie shell, cover and refrigerate while preparing chocolate mixture.

For chocolate mixture; in a medium saucepan combine milk, 1 1/3 c. chocolate chips and the marshmallows. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate and marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla; set aside until cool.

When chocolate mixture is cool, beat the 1 c. heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon chocolate mixture over peanut layer in pie shell. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.

Before serving, in a small saucepan, melt 3 caramels, 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat. Let cool slightly. Top each serving with caramel mixture, whipped cream, and remaining chocolate chips. Serve immediately.

November 20, 2010

Easy Pork Enchiladas

I love how simple these enchiladas are, yet they are still very tasty.  I have to admit I've not followed the amounts for the ingredients listed in the recipe.  I just add how ever much looks right.  I also have used pork tenderloin, not pork loin.  Tenderloin is less fatty and always very moist. I've used both whole wheat and corn tortillas with success.

UPDATE 1/31/16: I added one can of white kidney beans since my pork loin was on the small side.

Pork Enchiladas
Recipe found on the internet, not sure where

1 pound pork loin, quartered lengthwise and halved crosswise
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
coarse salt
2 tsp. olive oil
2 c. mild green salsa (try making your own)
8 corn tortillas (6-inch)
3/4 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 plum tomato, diced, for garnish
sour cream, for garnish

Dust pork with cumin and oregano and salt.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; swirl to coat bottom of pan.  Add pork; cook until browned on all sides and slightly pink in the middle, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a cutting board; let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.  Set skillet aside.

Preheat oven to 450.

Warm tortillas according to package instructions.  Place on work surface.  Evenly divide sliced pork, half the salsa, and half the cheese among the tortillas.  Roll each tortilla into a cylinder; place seam side down in a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Top with salsa and remaining cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted, 8-10 minutes.  Serve garnished with tomato and sour cream.

November 19, 2010

Maple-Oatmeal Scones

This recipe was recommended to me by a friend. While it's time to express thanks, let me say how grateful I am for this friend. Not only is she a wonderful friend, but she is also an expert baker! She shares recipes and baked goods with me on a regular basis.

The maple and oatmeal flavors are subtle, but definitely detectable. I am still working on my mastery of scones - getting the dough to be the right texture and shaping them is somewhat of a mystery to me. As this happens a lot to me with scones, I think it's me, not faulty recipes. Actually these scones turned out better than most I've attempted.

Maple-Oatmeal Scones
from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

For the Scones:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash

For the Glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add quickly to the flour-and-butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough may be sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and be sure it is combined. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4 to 1 inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough. Cut into 3-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.

To make the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. When the scones are done, cool for 5 minutes and drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. Sprinkle some uncooked oats on the top, for garnish. The warmer the scones are when you glaze them, the thinner the glaze will be.

November 17, 2010


Mostaccioli is a cheesy baked pasta dish, similar to lasagne, but not quite as labor intensive. My mom made it often when I was growing up.  And every time she would her eyes would get wide and she'd rub her hands together in delight as she said "I'm making mostaccioli tonight!"

For some reason, I really like using cheddar cheese in this dish instead of mozzarella. Isn't the orange pretty?

Mostaccioli pasta are very similar to penne; the only difference is that they may not be ridged.  But if you look close, you'll see that my pasta have ridges, even though they were marked as mostaccioli.  So use whatever!

from my mother

½ c. chopped green pepper
½ c. chopped onion
1 lb. ground Italian sausage
16 oz. tomato sauce
½ lb. grated sharp cheddar or mozzarella
½ c. Parmesan cheese
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarse pepper
2 14-oz. cans diced or whole tomatoes
16 oz. Mostaccioli noodles

Sauté the pepper, onions, and sausage. Chop and add tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Cook noodles according to package. Place 1/3 meat sauce in bottom of greased 2-qt. pan. Cover with half of noodles, 1/3 remaining meat sauce, and half of cheese. Layer with the rest of noodles, sauce, and cheese; cover the top with all the Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes uncovered.

November 15, 2010

Apple Pudding Cake with Butter Sauce

At my bridal shower at college thrown by my roommates, all the guests brought a recipe written on a cute recipe card. This was the perfect gift! I still have all the recipe cards from the shower, but this recipe definitely has been made the most.

This cake rocks - it's super easy, super delicious, and super comforting. It really requires very little expertise, and served warm with an amazing sinful sauce and aromatic spices, it's perfect for a cold night.

You'll never have too much of this sauce. But, if you'd like to limit the amount of melted butter, cream and sugar you consume, I've successfully halved the sauce recipe and still felt there was enough to go around.

Apple Pudding Cake with Butter Sauce
from Melissa B

1 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. flour
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 apples, peeled and grated

Mix all cake ingredients with electric mixer, just until blended. Put in greased 8x8 glass pan. Bake at 350˚ for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

½ c. butter
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. sugar
½ c. cream
2 dashes nutmeg

Combine sauce ingredients in saucepan until melted. Serve cake warm with sauce.

November 13, 2010

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Kale Recipe #2 from Heidi Swanson. I wasn't sure if raw kale would be edible. Plain, it has a rather unique taste. But doused in lemon, Pecorino cheese, and garlic, kale shines. This salad reminds me of a caesar salad.

Kale is nutritionally a powerhouse, so I'm glad I've found some delicious ways to eat it.

Raw Tuscan Kale Salad
from 101 Cookbooks

1 bunch Tuscan kale (cavalo nero or lacinato kale)
2 thin slices country bread, or two handfuls good, homemade coarse breadcrumbs
1/2 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/4 cup (or small handful) grated pecorino cheese, plus additional for garnish (or use Parmesan)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for garnish
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon (scant 1/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Trim the bottom few inches off the kale stems and discard. Slice the kale into 3/4-inch ribbons. You should have 4 to 5 cups. Place the kale in a large bowl.

If using the bread, toast it until golden brown on both sides and dry throughout. Tear into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until the mixture forms coarse crumbs, or crumbs to your liking.

Using a mortar and pestle or a knife, pound or mince the garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into a paste. Transfer the garlic to a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss very well (the dressing will be thick and need lots of tossing to coat the leaves). Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, then serve topped with the bread crumbs, additional cheese, and a drizzle of oil.

Adapted from the Raw Tuscan Kale Salad with Chiles and Pecorino recipe in Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.

November 11, 2010


There was some gorgeous Tuscan kale at the farmer's market that I could not pass up. I made two scrumptious recipes with kale courtesy of Heidi Swanson. That girl knows something about flavor! Stay tuned for the second recipe.

This hearty, thick soup is a great way to use up stale bread. It's also meatless and super healthy. I really loved the lemon zest - it added, well, zestiness!

from 101 Cookbooks 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots or equiv. winter squash, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound cavolo nero (lacinato kale, Tuscan kale), stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped

4 cups cooked white beans or 2 14-oz. canned beans
1/2 pound crustless loaf of bread (whole wheat works well)
1 1/2+ teaspoons fine grain sea salt
zest of one lemon
lots of well-chopped oily black olives

In your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium heat combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion. Cook for 10 -15 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid any browning. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up a bit. Stir in the cavolo nero, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a generous splash of water - until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 - 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed. Stir in the lemon zest.

Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Serve reheated, or "ribollita" meaning reboiled, the next day ladled into bowls. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped olives.

Makes a large pot of soup - enough for 10 servings.

November 7, 2010

Mixed Greens with Pomegranate Lemon Dressing

This salad is the perfect combination of simple ingredients. Pomegranates are delightful - fresh, crunchy, and gorgeous.

Mixed Greens with Pomegranate Lemon Dressing
from Baked Bree

For the dressing:
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Put all of the ingredients into a blender. Give the blender a whirl.

Taste the dressing to make sure that the seasonings are balanced. Test the dressing on a lettuce leaf.

To make the salad:
mixed greens
1/4 cup pepita seeds, toasted
1 pomegranate
salt and pepper
Pomegranate Lemon Dressing

Slice the pomegranate in half. Give it a gentle squeeze to loosen up the seeds. Then turn it over, and beat it with the wooden spoon.

Arrange some greens on a plate and scatter some pomegranate seeds and pepita seeds on top of the greens. Drizzle some dressing on top and season with salt and pepper.

November 5, 2010

Buffalo Wings

I never knew the attraction of buffalo wings until my husband introduced them to me. He craves them at times, and I have to admit the cravings get me too now! We don't like them too hot. Frank's Red Hot Sauce (despite the name) really isn't too hot, in my opinion.

Traditional buffalo wings are deep-fried. I've tried several baked versions, but this one is my favorite. Buffalo wings are excellent dunked in bleu cheese dressing.

Spicy Buffalo Wings
from Mangio Da Sola

1.5 to 2 lb chicken drummettes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk
about 1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 c. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine flour, seasoning salt, pepper and granulated garlic in a one-gallon plastic bag.
In a bowl whisk together egg and milk. Put chicken wings in the egg wash first and coat. Transfer the wings to the plastic bag with flour. Seal the bag and shake to coat.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Lay wings in single layer. Drizzle with canola oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Wings should be golden brown and crispy. Prepare the wing sauce while your drummettes are cooking by combining the Red Hot Sauce with the melted butter. Toss the wings in a bowl with the sauce and serve.

November 2, 2010

German Chocolate Cake

This is a classic recipe - exactly what you expect: moist, chocolate cake with sweet coconut-pecan frosting. This recipe is one my mom has made for a long time, so it's tried and true.

German Chocolate Cake
from my mother

½ c. boiling water
2 ½ c. cake flour or 2 c. flour
1 4-oz. bar sweet cooking chocolate
1 c. butter, softened
½ tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
1 c. buttermilk
4 egg yolks (reserve whites)
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

Coconut-Pecan Frosting
1 c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. flaked coconut
3 egg yolks
1 c. chopped pecans
½ c. butter

Heat oven to 350˚. Grease two round pans. In small bowl, pour boiling water over chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted; set aside to cool.

In large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. On low speed, blend in chocolate and vanilla. Mix in flour, soda, and salt alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition until batter is smooth. Fold in egg whites. Bake approximately 40 minutes. Frost with Coconut-Pecan Frosting.

For frosting: Combine evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla in small saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick, about 12 minutes. Stir in coconut and pecans. Beat until thick enough to spread.

November 1, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

I found this recipe for Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans) and bookmarked it, wondering where to find borlotti beans (also known as cranberry beans). Then a week or two later, I found them at the farmer's market! The pods and the beans themselves are white or green with red speckles.

I loved this soup. It's another classic example of fresh, Italian cooking where simple preparation becomes fabulous.

If you can't find borlotti beans, substitute canellini beans.

UPDATE 11/18/10: I found dried cranberry beans at the grocery store!  They are Bob's Red Mill brand.  I'm excited to make this again using the dried beans.

Pasta e Fagioli
from Rachel Eats
serves 4

4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium red onion very finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small chili very finely chopped
1 medium carrot very finely diced
1 stick celery with leaves very finely diced
a sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 cup of peeled, deseeded and chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
16 oz. shelled fresh or canned borlotti (cranberry beans) or 5 oz. dried beans
4 c. water
a parmesan rind
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. dried pasta (small shells work well)

If using dried beans, see note below. For fresh or canned beans, start the recipe here:

In a large heavy based pan warm the oil and add the onion and garlic; gently saute until soft and transparent. Add the celery, carrot, chili and rosemary. Stir once or twice to coat with oil, and then allow to cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, stir and leave to bubble away gently for another 10 minutes.

Add the beans, stir to coat them thoroughly and then add the water and parmesan rind. Cover the pan and bring to a gentle boil and then turn down the heat cook the soup at a lively simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes or until the beans are fully tender. Canned beans will only need about 20 minutes.

Remove the parmesan rind and the rosemary. Puree about half of the soup using an immersion blender. Season the soup with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Check the soup for density, it should be liquid enough to cook the pasta in, so you may need to add a little more water. Bring the soup to a steady, moderate boil and add the pasta. Check the pasta package for boiling time. Stir occasionally while pasta is cooking. Stop cooking once the pasta is tender but firm to the bite.

Allow the soup to sit and settle for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil and some freshly grated parmesan if you like.

If using dried beans: Soak them for 12 hours or overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water and cook for about 1 and a half hours or until they are nearly cooked (subtract 30 minutes from your usual cooking time), they will finish cooking in the soup. Drain and set aside.

October 30, 2010

Halloween Party Mix

It's Halloween, so you're bound to eat junk food, right? So why not make this candy mix? This combination of ingredients is very addicting, and this recipe makes a big bowl. So make sure you share some!

Halloween Party Mix

1 11-oz. pkg twist pretzels
1 7 oz. pkg. mini peanut butter filled butter-flavored crackers like Ritz)
1 c. dry roasted peanuts
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 10-oz. pkg. M&Ms
1 16-oz pkg. candy corn

In a large bowl, combine pretzels, crackers, and peanuts. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and soda (mixture will foam). Pour over pretzel mixture; stir until coated. Pour into greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 250 for 45 minutes; stirring every 15 minutes. Break apart while warm. Toss with M&Ms and candy corn. Cool completely. Store in airtight container.

October 26, 2010

CSA - Week 20

Last week of CSA: Pie pumpkin, lettuce, green pepper, squash, zucchini, green beans, assorted hot peppers, tomatoes, grape tomatoes, eggs, watermelon, and potatoes.

 I have a huge mound of potatoes leftover from weeks and weeks of CSA.  I needed something new to try,   and roasting potatoes on a bed of salt sounded interesting. These turned out simple but tasty.

Salt Roasted Potatoes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place 1-1/2 cups of coarse sea salt in an oven-proof pan that has a cover. Wash the potatoes and dry them with towels. Place the potatoes in a bowl and lightly cover them with olive oil. Place the potatoes, one by one, into the bed of salt, leaving room between them. Season them with another teaspoon or two of salt. Put the cover on the pan and roast them in the oven for 45 minutes. The potatoes are done when a knife slips into the potato with no resistance. Allow the potatoes to cool a bit and then remove them from the salt, brushing off the excess salt.

I found this great online article about lacto-fermentation as a preservation method. I thought I'd try it out. If it works, I'm definitely going to try and make kimchi. Instead of using whey, I opted to use the extra salt. But making whey is very easy, so try it if you want a guaranteed lacto-fermented end product.

note: Create whey by allowing plain yogurt to sit in a coffee filter or kitchen towel. The liquid that drains out is whey.

UPDATE 1/15/11: It's been several months since I made this salsa. I opened up the large jar of salsa the other day and it bubbled and fizzed! It worked! The salsa definitely has a tang, but inside a tortilla with other ingredients, I didn't notice. The big test: my husband didn't notice the difference in taste.

I will be trying out kimchi soon, now that I know lacto-fermentation is so easy.

Cultured Salsa
adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon via simplebites

4 medium tomatoes, about 2 pounds total
2 small onions, finely chopped
1-2 bell peppers, seeded
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded (or not if you prefer more spice)
1 bunch cilantro
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon salt)
1/4 cup filtered water

If you prefer peeled tomatoes: score the bottoms, drop into boiling water for about 15 seconds, remove and place in ice water. The peels should come off easily.

Chop all ingredients by hand or with a food processor to desired consistency. Mix and place in a very clean quart-sized, wide mouth mason jar. Press down with a wooden spoon, adding more water to cover the vegetables. Be sure to leave 1-2″ head space.

Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for 2-3 days before transferring to cold storage.

October 24, 2010

Fudgy Brownies

Back in the day I used to buy brownie and cake mixes. I think brownies were the first item I used to make from a mix that I realized I could just as easily make from scratch. This brownie recipe couldn't be easier. You can even mix everything up in the saucepan.

For a more decadent, special occasion brownie, try these.

Fudgy Brownies

½ c. butter
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ c. sugar
1 ¼ c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 c. coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Grease rectangular 13x9x2 pan. Heat butter and 1 c. of chocolate chips in 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted; remove from heat. Stir in sugar, flour, vanilla, baking powder, salt, and eggs until smooth. Stir in remaining chocolate chips. Spread in pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

Bake about 30 minutes or until center is set; cool completely. Cut into bars; store tightly covered at room temperature.

October 22, 2010

Cornbread Muffins with Flax

Neither my husband nor I care for cornbread. However, we both love these muffins. These are just slightly sweet and super moist. I love them with chili.

Cornbread Muffins with Flax
adapted from This Week for Dinner

1 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Mix together dry ingredients. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Fill 12 lined or greased muffin cups with batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

October 21, 2010

CSA - Week 19

Week 19: Eggs, watermelon, zucchini, butternut squash, grape tomatoes, tomatoes, assorted hot peppers, yellow beans, potatoes, ornamental corn, mini pumpkins, and a jack-o-lantern pumpkin.  I gave the jack-o-lantern pumpkin to my friend to carve with her children.

This week, instead of going to the farmer's market to pick up the CSA share, the farmer invited us to their farm.  I am amazed that one family can keep all of it going.  They hire some help, but mostly they do all the work themselves.

These are rows and rows of strawberry plants.  25,000 strawberry plants that were planted by hand.  They'll grow over the winter and be kept warm with blankets.  They have a cannon machine nearby that makes a loud noise every few minutes at night to keep away the deer, who like to munch on the plants. I was too busy looking at animals and supervising pony rides with my friends' children to explore the greenhouses where many of the plants are grown.

October 19, 2010

Ravioli with Five Cheeses

This is the last of my string of Italian pasta dishes, for now, anyway.

I've attempted ravioli several times, but was never proud of the end result. I finally figured out what I was doing wrong...rolling the dough too thin. Leaving the dough thicker makes forming the ravioli much easier, as the dough doesn't tear and the ravioli doesn't break when boiling. Also, I used plenty of flour to dust the dough when rolling and forming the ravioli, which helped out too.

As you can see, I don't have a ravioli mold, so my ravioli are crude and irregular. They still taste fabulous, though. I formed the ravioli by rolling out a wide strip of pasta, adding scoops of filling to one side of the pasta strip, then folding over the pasta, pressing to seal, and cutting it into individual ravioli. Another idea would be to use a biscuit cutter to cut the ravioli.

Semolina flour is not required to make successful pasta. Feel free to substitute any other fresh pasta recipe in place of the Semolina Pasta recipe below. This cheese filling is very tasty, despite that I left out the gorgonzola cheese.

I highly recommend freezing any ravioli you won't eat that day. Spread uncooked ravioli on a baking sheet and stick in the freezer for a half hour or so. Then transfer to a ziplock bag and store in the freezer.

UPDATE 2/5/2011: I made these ravioli again, this time with the gorgonzola cheese. I actually preferred them without the gorgonzola, which is a blue cheese. However, if you love blue cheese, then go ahead and add the gorgonzola.

Semolina Pasta
from Bob's Red Mill

2 cups semolina flour
1 large egg
1/2 cup to 1 cup water (as needed)
1 tb olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

On a flat work surface form a mound of the semolina, salt, add egg, 1/2 cup water and oil in center top. Mix to make a stiff dough. Add one tablespoon of water at a time while combining mixture, until desired consistency is achieved (moderately stiff dough). This is a very stiff dough due to the grainy texture of the semolina. If you find this dough too difficult for you to work with, wet your hands and continue kneading to the right consistency. Knead 10 minutes or until dough is elastic. Wrap dough in towel or place in plastic bag and let rest for 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out to desired thickness and cut as desired.

Ravioli with Five Cheeses
from The Italian Dish

makes 50-60 ravioli

helpful equipment: a pastry bag or gallon sized zip lock, a ravioli mold, a rolling pin, a spritz bottle of water, a fluted pastry wheel

1 batch Semolina Pasta dough
2 ounces or 2 c. Parmesan
1 c. or 1 ounce Pecorino Romano
1 c. or 3 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
3/4 c. or 2 ounces gorgonzola
1 c. or 8 ounces ricotta
1 egg
salt and pepper

Make the pasta dough. While the dough is resting, make the filling:

Place the Parmesan and Pecorino Romano in a food processor and process until fine. Add the other cheeses, the egg and a pinch of salt and pepper and process until smooth. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a large tip, with the mixture and refrigerate. (If you don't have a pastry bag, just use a gallon size zip-lock and snip off a little of one corner). You can also simply fill the ravioli with a spoon, without using a pastry bag.

Make the ravioli (see this link for a photo tutorial):

Cut the pasta dough into three pieces. Keep the dough you are not using wrapped. Make sure your pasta rollers are on the #1 setting, the widest. Flatten your piece of dough and run it through the rollers. Flour it, fold it into thirds, and run it through again. Do this three or four times. Set the rollers to #2 and run the dough through that setting. Do not fold dough. Keep running it through the rollers until you get to setting #4 or #5. Avoid rolling the dough too thin. If you like thinner dough, use #5. Keep in mind as you are making the pasta sheets, that you want them as wide as possible so that they cover your ravioli mold. (If you are not using a mold, don't worry about that.) Take the sheets of pasta and lay them on a floured countertop. Cover the pasta sheets with a towel or plastic wrap, so they don't dry out while you are forming the ravioli.

Repeat with remaining dough until you have made all your pasta sheets. If you have a ravioli mold, flour it well. Lay one sheet of pasta on the mold, making sure the entire mold is covered. Take your pastry bag and squeeze out about a tablespoon of filling into each well. Spritz the pasta sheet with a little water. Lay the second sheet on top and run a rolling pin over to seal. Turn the mold over and release the ravioli. They will not be separated. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut apart. Lay the ravioli on a floured baking pan and continue making ravioli until you've used all the pasta sheets.

You can store the ravioli on baking sheets in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Cover with plastic wrap. You can also freeze them on baking sheets and then stick them in zip locks. To cook after being frozen, do not defrost first.

To cook: Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli in batches of about a dozen at a time. Bring the water back to a gentle simmer and cook for about 3-4 minutes. (If ravioli is frozen, cook about a minute more). Remove with a slotted spoon or handled strainer to a serving dish. Continue cooking the remainder of ravioli. Serve with any sauce you like.

October 16, 2010

Zucchini Apple Spice Muffins

Today is a perfect fall day. PERFECT! The sun is shining, the skies are clear, the leaves are turning gorgeous colors (see below - this is across the street from my house), and I've got these muffins to snack on.

Zucchini Apple Spice Muffins
adapted from Simply Recipes

2 1/2 cups grated fresh zucchini
1/2 cup grated apple
6 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1 cups sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
couple dashes of ginger
Zest of half of a medium orange or lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. Mix in the grated zucchini and apple and then the melted butter. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Add these dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture. Fold in the zest.

Line muffin cups with paper liners. Divide batter evenly among cups – I used a scant 1/4 c per muffin. Bake on the middle rack until muffins are golden brown, and the top of the muffins bounce back when you press on them, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and let cool another 20 minutes.

Makes approximately 18 muffins.