July 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

These bars whip up and bake in a jiffy and are delicious. The original recipe says do not use natural peanut butter. So many recipes say that, and I'm beginning to doubt that it's a problem. I've made these several times with natural peanut butter (the kind where the oil separates), and they are totally fine.

Another ingredient swap I make now - I no longer buy brown sugar. Brown sugar literally is granulated white sugar with molasses added back in. I buy organic sugar from Costco for a decent price, so when I'm not using a better sugar, like maple syrup or sucanat, I feel good about this brand of organic sugar. It's slightly less processed (larger granules and a little brown in color), and it's not GMO. Did you know sugar is one of the common GMO crops?

In a recipe like this, where the brown sugar gets mixing time, I just add the sugar and molasses separately. If you need brown sugar and don't have a mixing step in the recipe, go ahead and mix the sugar and molasses together with a mixer or food processor. I don't usually measure the molasses, but you should add anywhere from 1 1/2 Tbsp. to 1/4 cup molasses per cup of sugar.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
adapted from Averie Cooks

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
1 large egg
1 c. organic sugar (or try 1 c. sucanat and omit the molasses)
2 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy, natural peanut butter
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt, to taste (depends on the salt content of the peanut butter)
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with some butter; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. Allow the butter to cool for a few minutes. Add the egg, sugar, molasses, vanilla, and stir vigorously to combine, for about 1 minute.

Stir in the peanut butter. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until center is just set and golden. Bars will firm up more in pan as they cool.

Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Store extra bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

July 23, 2013

Indian Dry Rub Chicken

This is a fabulous recipe with lots of flavor for chicken thighs. I like serving it with rice and an easy vegetable, like sauteed greens.

Indian Dry Rub Chicken
adapted from Maya Adam

8-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder (mild)
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
Less then 1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
juice of 1 small lemon
2 tsp fresh ginger
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 green serrano chili
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil for searing
cilantro for garnish (optional)

Place chicken thighs in a large mixing bowl. Add in ground coriander, chili powder, cumin, dry mustard powder, ground turmeric, salt, sugar, and lemon juice.

Use a garlic press on the cloves of garlic (or just mince finely), adding them to the bowl of chicken. Use garlic press on a small knob of ginger (or grate or mince it finely) and add it to the bowl. Lastly, use the garlic press on the serrano chile (or mince it finely) and add to the bowl.

Mix everything together with your hands to evenly distribute all the spices. Cover and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours, or up to 24 hours.

Heat up a skillet on medium-high, add olive oil and lay the chicken on the pan in a single layer (may need to do several batches). Cook until the chicken is golden brown, and then flip over. Cook this side until golden brown. Test if it is done by cutting into one to make sure there is no pink meat. If chicken is browning too fast, turn down the heat. Serve with rice and vegetables.

July 19, 2013

Black Bean, Rice, Guacamole, and Salsa Burritos

I've found an easy, delicious combination that I keep returning to - black beans, rice, guacamole, and salsa.  Pictured below are these items gathered for a simple lunch with a friend for assemble your own.  I also had sour cream, but I really think these burritos taste better without the sour cream.

When I plan my menu for the week I purposely plan at least one meal around beans, and this one is quick and yummy, so we have it a lot.  In the winter I like to use grape tomatoes, but in summer use any kind that are ripe.  Also, I've worked in cooking up a large pot of beans and then freezing them in smaller quantities for later use to my routine.

Black Bean, Rice, Guacamole, and Salsa Burritos

2 cups home-cooked black beans or 1 can black beans
olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper
cooked brown rice
guacamole (1 avocado, lime juice, salt, cilantro)
salsa (tomatoes, lime juice, salt, cilantro, green onions)
shredded cheddar cheese
flour tortillas

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large skillet.  Heat over medium heat and add onions and garlic.  Saute until onions are translucent.  Add beans (drained, but can leave some liquid), cumin, chili powder,  and salt and pepper to taste.  Use more salt if using home-cooked beans.  Stir to combine and cook until beans are heated through.

Make guacamole by peeling and removing the pit of one avocado.  Mash with a fork in a bowl.  Add freshly squeezed lime juice, salt, and chopped cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Make salsa by chopping 1 large or a couple small tomatoes.  Chop cilantro and green onions and add to tomatoes.  Add freshly squeezed lime juice, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Stir to combine.

Assemble burritos: Over one tortilla, layer cheese, a scoop of beans, rice, salsa, and guacamole.  Roll up or fold in half like a taco.

July 18, 2013

Fried Green Tomato Salad

Anything breaded and fried (in this case, just pan-fried) usually tastes amazing. These fried green tomatoes are no exception. The original recipe said to fry them in a half inch of oil, but I find that just a generous coating of oil is good enough to get a crunchy crust and to soften the inside. Also warm, breaded tomatoes over salad is the perfect combination.

Fried Green Tomato Salad

2 large green tomatoes
1 egg
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
lettuce, washed and chopped
cucumbers, peeled and sliced
blue cheese or ranch salad dressing

Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends. Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat. In a large skillet, pour olive oil and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels. Serve Fried Green Tomatoes over a bed of lettuce and cucumbers with blue cheese or ranch dressing.

July 16, 2013

CSA Week 4 and Garlic Scape Pesto

Week 4 of my CSA: kale, baby bok choy, lettuce, cucumber, scallions, garlic scapes, green tomato, and a tomato plant. (tomato and tomato plant not pictured)  I'm a little behind on posting, so I actually can't quite remember how I used up all these delicious veggies.  I will share a fried green tomato salad later.

I overheard someone at the farmer's market talking about garlic scape pesto and decided I would try it. Um, delicious! It's very garlicy, but different than regular garlic cloves. It's strong, but possibly a little more mellow. I ate the pesto over pasta and gobbled it down. The next day I put on top of salmon.

Garlic Scape Pesto
adapted from Food 52

1 cup garlic scapes, thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste

Add the scapes and pine nuts (or walnuts) to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until everything is broken up a bit. Then turn the processor back on, and with it running, add the oil a little at a time until it's fully incorporated. Add cheese, pulse, then season with salt and pepper to taste. This won't brown like basil pesto will, so if you're not using immediately, just store in a container in the fridge for up to a week.

July 11, 2013

Chicken, Bell Pepper, and Kale Stir Fry

A good stir fry is hard to beat. I wish I could just throw something together, but when I do, it's never very good. So when I make an amazing stir fry recipe, I have to keep it around. This one was so tasty. The kale cooks down enough that my husband didn't mind it.

Chicken, Bell Pepper, and Kale Stir Fry
adapted from I Food Real
serves 4

3 bell peppers, medium (any color), thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced in rounds
5 cups kale, roughly chopped
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, medium, crushed
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
Splash of water
Sesame seeds and chopped green onions for garnish (optional)

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp hot pepper flakes, crushed

2 cups cooked brown rice

Preheat wok or large skillet on medium high and add 1 tbsp sesame seed oil. Add 1/3 of crushed garlic and 1/2 of grated ginger. Stir fry for 10 seconds. Add chicken and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally; draining the liquid. Remove from wok and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tbsp of sesame seed oil, 2/3 of crushed garlic and 1/2 of grated ginger. Stir fry for 10 seconds. Add kale, bell peppers, carrots and water. Cover and cook until vegetables are crisp tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small bowl whisk with a fork all ingredients and set aside.

Add the sauce to the wok. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately with sesame seeds and green onions over half cup rice per serving.

July 10, 2013

Barley Crepes with Bananas

L-O-V-E my grain mill and all the possibilities it opens up for different flours. Freshly ground flour is more healthful and usually lower cost as well. I have made baked goods with spelt, rye, barley, and buckwheat flours that I ground, and I have always been pleasantly surprised at the end product - lighter than I expect and very tasty. I enjoy trying different flours because of the variety - in taste, but also nutrition.

I've recently been following the blog Naturally Ella, and she loves different flours and recently announced she will be a releasing a cookbook focusing on various grains/flours! These crepes are amazing. The topping is almost too sweet, but the yogurt balances it out.

Barley Crepes with Bananas
adapted from Naturally Ella

1/4 cup barley flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

1 cup whole milk greek or regular yogurt

2 medium bananas
4 teaspoons honey
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk together barley flour, salt, eggs, milk, and oil until smooth. Heat 8″ skillet and lightly grease with oil. Place a scant fourth-cup of batter in pan. Quickly tilt the pan so that the batter covers the entire pan and cook for about 30 seconds. Flip and cook for another 15 seconds. Remove to a plate and repeat until all batter is used up.

Peel and cut banana into half-inch slices. Combine with honey and cinnamon in a skillet over medium heat. Let simmer, turning bananas at least once, until bananas are tender, 3-4 minutes.

To assemble crepes, spread a fourth-cup of yogurt on one side of the crepe, layer a few bananas, and fold in half. Repeat with remaining crepes. Drizzle remaining banana mixture over top.

July 9, 2013

CSA Week 3 and Quinoa Patties

Green vegetables all around!  Two bunches curly kale, red spring onions, bok choy, cucumber, swiss chard, two lettuce heads, and a bunch of basil.

This week's recipes have left my memory.  I know I made a frittata that used potatoes, red onion, chard, and blue cheese.  Other than that I made these quinoa patties from 101 Cookbooks.  I made another version of these from her cookbook, Super Natural Every Day, that I've been meaning to share, but this version wins because of the added kale.  I eat them with a little sriracha, but they would probably taste good on top of a simple salad as well.

Kale Quinoa Patties
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, at room temperature
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill or 2 tsp. dried dill
1 cup finely chopped kale
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon (toasted) cumin
1 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
water or a bit of flour, if needed

1/3 cup crumbled feta

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, dill, kale, onion, garlic, and cumin. Stir well.

Add the baking powder and bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture.

Gently stir in the feta.

At this point, you should have a mixture you can easily form into twelve 1-inch / 2.5cm thick patties. If needed, add more bread crumbs for if the mixture is too moist, or if too dry, add a bit more beaten egg or water. If you're still having trouble getting the mixture to hold - mix in flour, a couple tablespoons at a time.

Oil a baking sheet, and arrange the patties with a bit of space between each. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown. Flip and bake for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy hot, or allow to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.

Makes about a dozen patties.