Monday, December 31, 2012

Cranberry Cornbread

I generally don't take samples in grocery stores. I can't remember the exact news program, but it was one of those scare tactic types that tell you how many germs are found on sample tongs, leaving them as clean as a toilet in a gas station. However, when I was at Whole Foods a few months ago and saw the baker cutting samples and putting them out first thing in the morning, my breakfast-less stomach grumbled and I had to give the blueberry cornbread a try. My life hasn't been the same since.
Seriously, if you haven't tried WF cornbread, RUN to the nearest store and try it! They have a few varieties, and they're all phenomenal  The blueberry is my favorite, but it's not blueberry season so I went with cranberry. While I'd call Whole Foods' a cornbread-cake, not a bread, this is somewhere in the middle. It's not quite as sweet or tender, but I think that's due to much less sugar and oil. We'll be enjoying this with some black eye peas and greens tomorrow for the New Year. Happy 2013 to everyone!

Cranberry Cornbread
inspired by Whole Foods, Veggie by Season original

2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour, separated
1 c. cornmeal (I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Corn Meal - it's very fine)
2 c. fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350*
Line a pan with parchment (I used a springform pan, any will do) and coat with nonstick spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and oil. 
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 c. flour and cornmeal.
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, gently whisk until dry ingredients are almost incorporated.
Toss cranberries with 1/4 c. flour, add to batter.
Using a spatula, gently fold in cranberries, then spoon batter into pan.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden and puffed in the center.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, serve.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Lemon Raspberry Thumbprints

How has it been a whole year since I strapped a little baby on my chest and baked cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve with her? I had hoped it would be the beginning of a small tradition, and luckily we're now 2 for 2! It's so fun to begin traditions and keep them going. My husband and I were married December 1, 2007, and just celebrated our 5th anniversary. We've kept up the tradition of buying each other an ornament for our tree every year, and now we've even added picking one out for Violet! I was a little worried about the tree this year with a toddler in full force (she's got the nickname Hurricane Violet), but so far it's still standing!

I found this children's apron for her at World Market, it's a little big, but over the years she'll grow into it nicely! She did get a little distracted during the making of the cookies, but she happily ate the final product.

The final cookies we made this year were these raspberry lemon thumbprints. I've made many variations of thumbprints, and was looking for something new. I already had some raspberry jam on hand, and thought a fun way to make them pop would be lemon based cookie. On a whim, I decided to google the result and see what I could find (google is always the answer.) Sure enough, Emeril had a recipe that looked like a winner - and these were!

Raspberry Lemon Thumbprints
slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse  

1/2 c. raspberry jam (seedless)
2 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour (I added an extra 1/4 c.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter (1 c.) at room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar, mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla, beat until incorporated. Scrape down sides.
Add flour, baking powder and salt, mix until flour is absorbed and dough pulls from sides.
Scrape down and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350*
Line a cookie sheet with parchment. 
Scoop tablespoons full of dough into palms, roll into a ball, place on cookie sheet about 3" apart.
Press down center.
Bake for 16-20 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.
Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.
Re-press center if necessary, then add 1/2 tsp. of jam to each center. 
Cool to room temperature, allow jam to set. 
Store in a cookie jar.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Colors Salad

In my CSA share last week was a green with red speckles all over it, and I thought to myself, how fitting to get a Christmas color lettuce this week! It inspired me to create a salad full of red and green ingredients, and a little white 'snow' on top. I love eating fun, restaurant like salads at home, but never plan them out enough to make sure they have a variety of toppings. This salad would be a great first course for a dinner party this holiday season, or for any time of year!

Christmas Colors Salad
Veggie by Season original

1 head of lettuce, washed well and torn
2 small red beets, roasted, peeled and cut into wedges
1 granny smith apple, cored and sliced
1/2 c. pomegranate arils
1 avocado, diced
1/4 c. toasted nuts (pistachios would be great, but I had walnuts)
1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese

1/4 c. pomegranate balsamic (or any aged balsamic)
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

Arrange lettuce in a salad bowl, top with apples, beets and avocado.
Sprinkle pomegranate arils, nuts and goat cheese on top.
Whisk together dressing ingredients, drizzle half of dressing over salad, serve the rest on the side.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oatmeal Scotchies

A few weeks ago, butterscotch baking chips were on sale so I picked up two bags. I didn't have any idea what to use them for, but knew it needed to be a cookie. I looked on the back of the bag and sure enough, the recipe for Oatmeal Scotchies. I've heard of these cookies before, but never realized 'scotchies' was short for butterscotch. My husband loves oatmeal based cookies, so I decided to give them a try.

Wow, if you have a sweet tooth, you are going to love this cookie! It's a simple oatmeal cookie, but the butterscotch chips take it over the top in sweetness. They don't look like anything out of the ordinary, but these chewy, caramel flavored cookies are a crowd pleaser.

Oatmeal Scotchies

1 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. old fashioned oats
1 2/3 c. butterscotch chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Scrape down sides, add the vanilla and eggs, one at at time, beating on low until incorporated.
Scrape down the sides.
Add baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, beat until combined.
Add flour and oats, beat for 30 seconds, or until combined.
Add butterscotch chips, mix until just incorporated, about 10 seconds, do not over-mix dough.
Place in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour to overnight.
Preheat oven to 375*
Line a cookie sheet with parchment, scoop heaping tablespoons full of dough onto parchment about 3" apart.
Bake for 18 minutes, until lightly browned and set.
Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
Store in a cookie jar or airtight container. 

Yield 30-36 cookies

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gold Rush Tempeh Sandwiches

Sunday mornings with a baby tend to be pretty hectic, and we often find ourselves sitting in church with grumbling stomachs because we forgot to eat breakfast. One Sunday I was a bit more dramatic than normal, and we stopped at the first place I saw, Hurricane Grill and Wings. I had a veggie burger that was average, and JJ got fish tacos that came with a side of their "Gold Rush Sauce". The sauce was delicious, and we sat there and tried to decipher it. I finally did some googling when I got home and discovered it's basically a combination of honey mustard and buffalo sauce - duh!

Buffalo tofu, tempeh, chick pea patties, and many other variations are always on our weekly menu, so this week I decided to make the Gold Rush Sauce instead. Tempeh is my favorite product to use in place of meat, it's easy to marinade, slice, grill, and pile on a sandwich. The sauce was perfect with the tempeh, I can't wait to try it with some other combinations!

Gold Rush Tempeh Sandwiches
adapted from Hurricane Grill and Wings sauce

1 package of plain tempeh
1/4 c. buffalo wing sauce
1-2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. coarse ground mustard
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
Sandwich bread
Romaine lettuce
Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing

Slice the tempeh into 1/4" pieces.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together wing sauce, honey and mustards. Taste and adjust ratios as desired.
Carefully place tempeh into maridnate, covering all sides.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat, spray with non-stick spray.
Place tempeh strips in a single layer, cook 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown.
Toast bread, layer with lettuce and tomato.
Add tempeh slices to sandwiches, top with ranch or blue cheese and more sauce (use leftover marinade, it's not contaminated! But discard leftover sauce).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Peppermint Mocha Kiss Cookies

I really try not to cook like I bake, but it just happens. I know baking is science and you need to measure ingredients down to the ounce, but I've found that I have much more success with baking when I pay attention to things like humidity, temperature, and ingredients. About 99% of the time when I bake cookies, I add 1/2 c. or more flour to the recipe as written to keep my cookies from falling flat. I guess it's personal opinion, but I like fluffy, chewy, yet not buttery/greasy, cookies.

When I wrote this recipe, I tried to note the exact amount of each ingredient, but when I added the flour last, it was a bit more, then a bit more, to keep the dough soft and tender, but stiff enough to not fall flat around the kiss. Basically, you want to add 3.5 c. of flour, then if your dough is still stuck to the sides of the mixing bowl, add more flour as it's absorbed, until the dough can be pinched up in your fingers without leaving sticky bits behind. I know, not scientific like some bakers I know (and they're probably rolling their eyes at me!), but it works for me, and these cookies were SO good.

To make these with a stronger coffee/mocha flavor, go with the instant espresso, if you want mild coffee flavor, add the instant coffee, and for just chocolate peppermint, leave them both out. I prefer a strong coffee flavor, but made an additional batch without that was just as good.

Peppermint Mocha Kiss Cookies
Veggie by Season original

1 1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. cocoa powder
3 1/2-4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
Optional: 1 tsp. instant espresso powder or 1 tsp. instant coffee
1 package of peppermint kisses

Yield: About 40 cookies

Preheat oven to 350*
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla, mix until incorporated, scrape down sides of the mixer.
Add espresso, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder, mix until incorporated.
Add 3 1/2 c. of flour to mixer, beat until absorbed, if dough is still sticking to sides of the mixer and wet, add up to another 1/2 c. of flour.
Pinch off walnut sized pieces of dough and roll into a ball, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet 3" apart.
Bake for 12 minutes, until puffed and set.
Remove and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
Using your thumb, or the bottom of a wooden spoon (or anything to substitute), press indentations into cookies, then place a kiss in the center.
Cool cookies until kisses have re-set (they will melt a bit), you can refrigerate cookies to re-harden kisses, or just leave out until they firm up on their own, which takes a few hours. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chewy Banana Cookies with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

For the past few years that I've spent Christmas away from family, I typically make my mother's Banana Spritz Cookies. They remind me of my family, of my childhood when mom would let me pour the multicolored sprinkles on the green tree shaped cookies, but my cookie press didn't survive prior years bake-a-thons, so I had to pass on my beloved spritz cookies.

Violet has been so hot and cold with bananas lately, some days she'll eat two, and some days she'll immediately throw them to the dogs. This week has been an anti-banana week, so on Friday night I had a bowl of browning bananas to use. I thought back to reading a recipe in the morning on Kelly's blog, The Pink Apron. I was intrigued by her cookies, and decided I had to have some kind of banana cookie for Christmas! I didn't have nuts or dried bananas on hand, so I modified the recipe a bit. I also used molasses in place of the glucose.

These cookies are absolutely delicious, I never thought a chewy banana cookie could exist, but these most definitely are. The cream of tartar adds to that as well as the crinkle top and crisp edges. And you can't ever go wrong when you pair chocolate and banana!

Chewy Banana Cookies with Dark Chocolate Drizzle
adaped from The Pink Apron

1 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 large egg
1/2 c. mashed ripe banana 
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 oz. melted semisweet chocolate chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and molasses until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Scrape down sides, turn mixer on low, add egg, vanilla and banana. 
Beat for another 2 minutes, until fluffy.
Turn mixer off, add cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, mix on low until incorporated.
Turn mixer off, add flour, turn on lox and mix until the dough comes together, about 20-30 seconds.
Place mixing bowl into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or place dough into a tupperware with a sealed lid and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350*
Portion dough into heaping tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets about 3" apart.
Place in the oven, bake for 18 minutes.
Remove and cool on sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
Continue until all cookies are baked.
Drizzle cooled cookies with melted chocolate, and cool until chocolate sets. 
Transfer to a cookie jar or airtight container for storage.

Yield 30-36 cookies

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Each Christmas, I spend months thinking about what cookies I'm going to bake. I scour my favorite recipe banks for interesting yet mass-appealing cookies. Often times I'll find a recipe and know I have to include it in my packages based on certain tastes: JJ loves oatmeal and molasses, Kris loves chocolate, Dad loves shortbread, Grandma loves jam, etc. As for me, I love spice! I had nine recipes on my list, and only one was a chocolate cookie, so it seemed a second was necessary (yes, necessary, ask 7-months pregnant Kris). I was a little selfish and thought of how I could make a spicy chocolate cookie. I browsed a bit and finally it hit me, Mexican Hot Chocolate! Sure enough, the cooking channel website had the exact recipe I was looking for.

Because I knew children (and my mom) would be eating these, I left out the cayenne and added half the amount of chili powder the recipe calls for. I also added an additional 1/2 c. flour as I felt the dough was a bit too wet. These cookies were on the more labor intensive side, they start out like a brownie with melting unsweetened chocolate and butter, then incorporating it into the batter. However, they were more than worth it! And the very next day after receiving her cookie package, my husband's boss asked for the recipe! If that's not the sign of a great cookie, what is?

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

1 stick (4 oz.) butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325*
Over a double boiler, melt together butter and unsweetened chocolate, once completely melted, remove from heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and eggs on low speed until combined.
Add chocolate/butter mixture and beat until combined. 
Stop mixer, add cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder, salt, baking soda and cayenne.
Beat until just incorporated, stop mixer.
Add flour, beat until all flour is absorbed, about 15 seconds, then add chocolate chips and beat until distributed, about 10 seconds. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, scoop dough in heaping tablespoons full onto cookie sheet about 2" apart. 
Bake in the center rack, one sheet at a time, for 14 minutes.
Cookies should be puffy and soft, but set. 
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Yield 2 dozen cookies

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grilled Bok Choy Salad

Without having joined a CSA, I don't think I would have ever made this recipe. Each week when I get my box of produce, I do recipe searches for some of the items I don't use on a normal basis. I've only cooked with bok choy two or three times, so I wanted to try something new. When I found this recipe, I knew it would be a huge hit! Whenever I can find a recipe or make a dish that uses multiple CSA items, it's even better, so seeing scallions on the ingredient list was a bonus.

It also seemed fateful that another ingredient this recipe called for was orange juice and segments, which we've got plenty of these days! Last weekend, my husband, Violet and I went down to his grandparents to pick some fruit from their trees. I may have a love-hate relationship with Florida, but this was definitely a "love" day! Violet loved helping harvest the fruit, and I was able to bring it to friends and family.

The red cabbage was also already on hand because when we were in Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, my dad harvested the last of his fall garden, which included several heads of broccoli and red and green cabbage. I came home with bags full of cabbage! 
Finally, this salad is topped with wasabi peas, one of my absolute favorite snacks. I never have to worry about my husband eating them, or the baby and dogs begging for some!

This salad was so flavorful and fresh, slightly warm (in both temperature and heat!) and perfect for winter. I served pan fried tofu on the side topped with a little of the extra vinaigrette to complete the meal.

Grilled Bok Choy Salad

1 head of bok choy
1 small red cabbage
2 large scallions
1 orange
1 package ramen noodles
1/4 c. cilantro leaves
1/2 c. wasabi peas
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

1 orange, juiced (1/4 c.)
1/4 c. aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. sriracha
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
Quarter the bok choy and cabbage heads, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place cut side down on the grill, cook for 2 minutes, then rotate and cook each additional side for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the grill pan and set aside.
Slice scallions in half and place cut side down on the grill, cook for 1 minute, remove and set aside.
Prepare dressing by mixing all ingredients and whisking well, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Slice cabbage and bok choy into 1/4" strips, add to a large serving bowl.
Chop scallions, add to cabbage and toss well.
Segment the orange and arrange on top, sprinkle with cilantro and wasabi peas, for garnish.
Pour half of the dressing onto the salad, and serve with the remainder on the side.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cherry Almond Cookies & Pistachio Spice Shortbread

Let's not act surprised that my first blog post in months is my Christmas Cookie post! I couldn't let December pass by without it, could I? This is actually round 1 of 2 or 3 cookie baking sessions. This year, I wised up and brought my Cincinnati cookie packages with me at Thanksgiving rather than spend the big bucks to mail them later in December. Who doesn't want a giant box of cookies the day after Thanksgiving?! 

I used some of my traditional favorites, and added two new ones! The lovely people at Oh! Nuts are always so kind to send bloggers (even the semi-retired bloggers) a few items each Christmas to try out in our baking. I chose dried cherries and pistachios, and made two different cookies with them. The  blue arrow is pointing to the Cherry Almond, and the lavender arrow is pointing to the Pistachio Spice Shortbread. They were both phenomenal, and I recommend them! 

I made them exactly as written, so I'll just link you to the original.

There is one other juicy bit to share with you! I have felt a bit uninspired to blog over the past few months, but I finally have my cooking muse! I joined a CSA here in Jacksonville (KYV Farm) and I am so excited to start making and creating recipes with the beautiful produce! I will also be sharing a few more cookie recipes with you as the month goes on because we have to balance all of the kale and squash out with something, right? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola

I try so hard to love all vegetables equally, but acorn squash is probably my least favorite of all the squash out there. So now that we've had it three weeks in a row in the CSA basket, I figured I should find a way to love it. It's not fair to compare it to sweet and versatile butternut, easy to prep delicata, new and exciting kobocha, or pasta-sub spaghetti. It's small, hard to prep, it's earthy, the skin is tough, and it doesn't naturally scream 'use me in this recipe' unless it's stuffed - though it does make for a pretty presentation - but it's hard to eat that way.

So I did some googling and recipe searching. I came across a recipe for Acorn Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza, which sounded interesting, and used my CSA arugula! However, when the time came I just didn't get around to making pizza dough, so a salad sounded like the next easiest thing. This salad was perfect, and I absolutely loved the squash. I even found a bonus, acorn squash holds up really well to roasting, it doesn't get too soft or crumble like others can. The finishing touch to this salad, however, was a thick, syrupy pomegranate balsamic vinegar I recently was gifted. It balanced out the bitter and earthy tastes from the other ingredients perfectly!

Roasted Acorn Squash and Arugula Salad with Gorgonzola

2 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1" cubes
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 large bunch of arugula
1/2 c. crumbled gorgonzola
Aged balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400*
Toss squash in syrup, 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, then arrange on a baking sheet.
Roast for 20 minutes, toss squash, and roast another 10-20 minutes, until caramelized and tender.
Arrange arugula in a salad bowl, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Remove squash from oven, cool for 5 minutes, then arrange atop arugula, sprinkle with gorgonzola and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Serve immediately or arugula will wilt.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Maple-Mustard Glazed Carrots

If you searched the archives of this blog, you'd find a hard time locating recipes that called for butter. While I was working really hard to lose weight, I cut calories everywhere I could. Butter and olive oil seemed like wasted calorie bombs. All I saw was 190 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving. However, as I entered more of a maintenance mode, I began to embrace things like butter, sugar, and healthy fats in small doses.

As I began cooking with butter, I realized a little goes a long way in regard to flavoring the dish and helping to caramelize vegetables. That 1 tablespoon of butter wasn't so scary when it was divided up into 4 portions, and certain vegetables became much more palatable!

When I received a bunch of gorgeous bi-colored carrots in my CSA bag, I searched one of my favorite recipe banks, the Williams-Sonoma website! I found this recipe, but swapped out maple syrup for brown sugar because I love the maple-mustard combo! These carrots were delicious, they had a great balance of flavors and are a really simple side for any meal!

Maple-Mustard Glazed Carrots
adapted from Williams-Sonoma

2 c. peeled and sliced carrots
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. whole grain dijon mustard
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
salt and pepper, to taste
Herb garnish, if desired (parsley, chives, scallions)

Add carrots to a saucepan, cover with water.
Boil over high heat until water is evaporated (about 5 minutes), turn heat to low.
Add butter, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper. 
Stir well to combine.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Pour into a serving dish and garnish, if desired.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Goat Cheese Mashed Turnips

Every Thanksgiving when my mom starts delegating dishes, we all smirk when Popie volunteers his mashed turnips. On any average day, most people aren't going to want mashed turnips, so when they're on the table at Thanksgiving along with a dozen other delicious sides, it's just sad. Popie ends up taking home 90% of the turnips, he and Grandma being the only ones who took a small scoop. 
When I got turnips three weeks in a row in my CSA share, I felt like I should take it upon myself to make an honorable mashed turnip recipe. After browsing some websites and finding 5-star recipes, I learned the secret to liking turnips... 1 pound of butter! While I did recently profess my love of (a small pat) butter in dishes, I couldn't stomach a stick or two, so I decided to make something up on the fly. 
I pulled out the cheese drawer - because that's how you make any vegetable desirable - and settled on goat cheese! I also had a few small new potatoes left over from another recipe, so I took a shot with this and it came out really well! We enjoyed these turnips with lentil-loaf and green beans. 

Goat Cheese Mashed Turnips
Veggie by Season original

2 lbs. turnips, peeled and quartered 
1/2 lb. new potatoes, peeled and quartered
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 oz. goat cheese
2 tbsp. butter
Fresh herbs, chopped (like rosemary, thyme, basil or tarragon)

Place turnips and potatoes in a pot, fill with cold water until vegetables are covered.
Heat over high, bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt, then turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until turnips are very tender.
Drain well, place back in the pot, add goat cheese, butter and a hearty grind of black pepper.
Using a potato masher or hand mixer, begin mashing until turnips reach desired consistency.
Taste, adjust salt and pepper.
Pour into a dish and garnish with herbs and another grind of pepper.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Roasted Zucchini, Black Bean and Goat Cheese Enchilada Stacks

Back when I first learned how to make tamales, I bought a bag of masa. After using a few cups to make the tamales, I had a giant bag left over, and no idea what to do with it. That was when I discovered that corn tortillas are made with masa. It was one of those "wow, ash...." moments I'd rather not admit happened. My bag of masa was about $3, and could make hundreds of fresh tortillas, so I did a little cost analysis and figured that it was no longer worth it to spend $1 on a bag of corn tortillas, I just HAD to buy a tortilla press and make them from now on. I also had another ulterior motive, my husband doesn't love corn tortillas, but tolerates them. I think they're so much better than flour, they have more substance to them, and hold up much better when baked. So now there is no reason to buy flour tortillas when we have pounds of masa on hand. 

When I saw this recipe on Bridget's blog, I immediately starred it for future dinner use. But as I do with any enchilada recipe these days, I knew I'd be converting it to a stack. Our tortillas press makes tiny little tortillas, and after we are close to perfecting them, but not just yet so sometimes they're not malleable enough for rolling. Rather than end up crying over split enchilada rolls, I make stacks. Some things just aren't worth fighting!

These stacks were absolutely delicious. Roasting the zucchini ahead of time ensures a non-watery end product, the goat cheese is creamy and cuts some of the heat and spice from the sauce. And no dinner is complete these days without a CSA veggie, so I used a bunch of chopped cilantro in place of the avocado Bridget served her enchiladas with. I also used a mole sauce rather than an enchilada sauce, you can find the enchilada sauce at Briget's blog, or the mole sauce here, from my blog (it's a bit more labor intensive, but I had been wanting to make a big batch anyway).

Roasted Zucchini, Black Bean and Goat Cheese Enchilada Stacks

3 zucchini, cut into 1/4" dice
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 c. cooked black beans (I cook dried black beans, you can use canned)
5 oz. goat cheese, divided
12 corn tortillas 

Sauce recipes:

Heat oven to 450*
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss zucchini, onion, olive oil, zest and salt.
Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 350*
Combine zucchini, black beans and 4 oz. goat cheese in a mixing bowl, carefully mix.
Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
Layer in tortillas, filling and sauce.
Crumble remaining goat cheese on the top, bake for 20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
Serve with chopped cilantro.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chard, Sweet Potato and White Bean Gratin

Have you ever felt like you've met your food soul mate? Someone eats all of the same things as you, and whose preferences and favorites are also yours? I swear, whenever I read Joanne's blog, whether it be a dinner entree, a dessert, baked good, or mention of a favorite ingredient, I'm like, yes!! Me too!! Sometimes I wish we were neighbors so we could take turns cooking for each other.... or just have her cook for me every night!

So with that said, my google reader is full of starred posts from Joanne. I've had this gratin in my 'to make' list for the longest time (a year, in fact!), and after receiving a bunch of kale and a bunch of Swiss chard last week in my CSA box, it seemed like the perfect time to make this! I have a baby sweet potato lover, so she was excited about this dish. It was warm, comforting, and hearty, yet relatively healthy.

Chard, White Bean and Sweet Potato Gratin

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch of kale
1 bunch of swiss chard
1 tbsp. butter
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic
2 c. 2% milk
2 tbsp. corn starch
1 large sweet potato
2 cups cooked white beans (I cook dried, you can use 1 15 oz. can, rinsed)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 c. shredded Gruyere

Preheat oven to 400* 
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Tear kale and swiss chard from the stem and chop leaves in 1/2" ribbons.
Add to skillet, sprinkle with kosher salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted and there is no moisture left in pan, remove skillet from heat and set aside.
Add butter to a saute pan, add onion and garlic, sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, cook for 3-5 minutes, until softened.
Pour milk into a measuring cup, add cornstarch and whisk to form a slurry, pour into onions and garlic.
Whisk occasionally, and bring to a simmer, cook until thickened, add fresh grated nutmeg and half of the cheese, whisk to melt and combine, turn heat off. 
Butter a baking dish, add a layer of sweet potatoes, a layer of beans, a layer of swiss chard, and a layer of the sauce.
Continue with layers as desired (I made 3 layers), cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake 15 more minutes, until golden on top.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Deep Dish Apple Bourbon Streusel Pie

Last weekend I invited some friends over for dinner, but they weren't just any friends. They were the one and only couple I've ever set up on a blind date, and they're still together 18 months later! I'm really proud, obviously. They like to cook, so during the week before dinner, we threw around ideas and had a few dishes we each could make. We ended up with quite an eclectic menu, but it was all so delicious. 

For dessert, I went to the Williams-Sonoma website for some ideas, and the recipe on the front of the 'desserts' tab looked perfect. This pie is meant to feed a crowd, but it was just the four of us, so I cut the recipe in half. I also added some old fashioned oats to the crumbly topping because I think all streusel toppings need it! The only difficult part of making this pie was choosing a bourbon from my husbands collection. For the record, I went with Maker's Mark because he has 2 bottles, and wouldn't miss a few tablespoons! 

Deep-Dish Apple Bourbon Streusel Pie
just slightly adapted from this Williams-Sonoma recipe

1 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. butter, very cold (or frozen)
1 egg yolk
1/4 c. ice water

3 lbs. baking apples (I used 1.5 lbs. Golden Delicious, 1.5 lbs. Gala)
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
2 tbsp. bourbon

1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1/4  c. packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped pecans
4 tbsp. very cold butter (or frozen)

To make dough:
Add flour, sugar and salt to a mixing bowl.
Using a box grater, grate butter into the flour mixture, toss with a fork to distribute.
Add egg yolk and 1 tbsp. water, toss dough with a fork, when it begins to come together, quickly mix with fingertips, be careful to keep butter pieces in tact. 
Add water by the tbsp. to moisten flour just until dough comes together.
Form into a disc and wrap in saran wrap.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes to a day in advance.

Prepare filling:
Add all ingredients except apples to a large mixing bowl.
Peel apples, core and slice into 1/4" slices.
Toss apples with sugar mixture, coat pieces evenly.

Prepare streusel:
Add all ingredients except butter and nuts to a mixing bowl.
Grate butter into streusel, use a fork to distribute evenly.
Add nuts, stir with a fork.
Place streusel in the refrigerator while preparing pie.

Preheat oven to 350*
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into shape of your baking dish (I used a deep pie dish).
Place pie crust into baking dish, flute edges by pinching.
Pour apple mixture into pie crust, scrape out all of the syrup and drizzle over apples evenly. 
Crumble streusel mixture on top.
Place pie in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
Check to see if top has browned too much, if so, cover with aluminum foil.
When crust is golden, top is browned and apples ooze up the sides, remove from the oven (timing depends on shape of your baking dish)
Cool and serve warm to room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

I'm probably breaking some sort of rule by posting a fall-ish recipe in August, but isn't it what bloggers do? Or better yet, isn't it what Floridians do? By August, I am so sick of the 90*+ days that all I can do is dream of cool fall days back in the midwest with Football, crisp apples, and my favorite sweater...

I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes and black beans, but it can get awfully starchy. Butternut squash and pumpkin make nice substitutes while lowering the carb and calorie count of a dish. This chili combines a few of the best late summer veggies with the best fall has to offer, pumpkin and pumpkin beer!

As you northerners start to feel fall creeping in, enjoy this dish while I stubbornly sweat in eternal summer eating my chili!

Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili
adapted from Crumb blog

2 tbsp. EVOO
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cumin
8 oz. pumpkin beer, such as Harvest Moon
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 15 oz. can solid packed pumpkin
1 28 oz. can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
2 c. vegetable stock
2 beans (canned or dried and cooked)
1 c. frozen corn kernels

Heat a soup pot over medium-low, add EVOO and bring to temperature.
Chop and add onions, garlic and bell peppers, season with salt and pepper. 
When veggies have softened, add spices, pour in beer and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up bits with a wooden spoon. 
Turn heat to high, add maple syrup, pumpkin, tomatoes and stock.
Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low and add black beans and corn.
Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings.
Top with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, or any of your favorite chili toppings. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

When it comes to food blogging, I see it as 4 parts. First, recipe creation or selection. This part is always fun, dreaming up combinations of food, or spotting a recipe in a magazine or on a blog that you just can't stop thinking about. Next up, cooking. I love the cooking part, definitely the best part. Next, the photography... we'll get back to that. And finally, blogging the recipe. I love the blogging portion because I get to tell stories about the dish, or talk about why I thought it was so delicious, or how I came up with the combination of ingredients. It's effortless to me.

But the photography. Oh do I struggle. I try, I really do... it's just not a strength of mine. You give me my dogs or my baby and I can take photos all day long! They give me funny faces, movement and life. My food, well it's all up to me. To style it, to get the right light, to pick the prettiest plates and silverware. To angle it correctly, cut a perfect slice or portion a scoop that is aesthetically pleasing. It's a lot of pressure! It's also why my blog has been quieter lately. When I can't get the perfect photo, or even something semi decent, I just move on with eating my dinner.

So since my dirty little secret is out, I'll get to the silver lining. What I can continue to do is try to show a decent photo, but bring the dish to life with my words, and use them to make you crave it! And this dish really has it all! It can be hard to find a one pot, comforting vegetarian casserole. You know, the kind of thing you take to a friends house who just had a baby, or to a pot luck at church. The kind of dish that you can make ahead of time and not worry it will turn to vegetable mush. It's also great for when you're in the mood for classic stuffed peppers, but don't have the time to fidget around with making the rice filling, then stuffing the peppers and roasting them.

I have made this dish three times since I came up with it, each time with a different cooking method. They all work as well as the next. There's the "20 Minute Speed Faux-Casserole", the crockpot "Set It and Forget It" method, or the somewhere in between where I precooked the rice, "Throw it all in a casserole dish and let it cook while you work out/put the kids to bed/catch up on some work" method.The "20 minute speed casserole" is my method of choice. 

Stuffed Pepper Casserole 
Veggie by Season original

1 cup short grain brown rice
4 cups water
1 tbsp. EVOO
2 bell peppers (I use 1 green, one yellow)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
2-3 cups prepared marinara (I make a big batch of this and freeze in 2-4 c. portions)
1 block of tempeh (I've been loving Lightlife's 5 Grain Tempeh)
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring the water to a boil in a small pot, add the brown rice, cover and turn to medium-low. 
Stir every 2-3 minutes, and continue to cook for 20 minutes.
Preheat broiler to high.
In a deep skillet over medium, heat olive oil.
Add peppers, onions, garlic, salt and pepper. 
Saute' for 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.
Turn heat to low, add oregano, marinara, and crumble in tempeh.
Stir to combine ingredients, and cover to heat through.
Drain any water off rice once it's finished cooking, then pour into skillet with vegetable mixture, mix well.
Pour into a casserole dish, cover with mozzarella cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is golden brown.
Serve immediately. 

*Also makes for delicious leftovers and this casserole can be frozen (before broiling) and reheated at a later time.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tex-Mex Pizza with Poblano Ricotta

Like most people, pizza is one of my absolute favorite foods. I could eat it cold for breakfast and lunch, and hot and crispy for dinner every day. My only dilemma with pizza is finding vegetarian proteins to add. I tend to make an awful lot of tempeh-bacon and pineapple pizza, but occasionally I'm in the mood to switch it up. 

As I sorted through my fridge last Friday night (the eve of grocery shopping), I had just a few options for dinner vegetables: poblanos and cherry tomatoes. I though about making a poblano pesto pizza, but found some ricotta and decided to whirl it up as the base. I love the occasional white pizza with gobs of creamy ricotta! I thought the creamy ricotta paired with the spicy peppers, acidic tomatoes, and earthy beans would make for an interesting (and hopefully delicious!) pizza. 

While it's incredibly nontraditional, it was so delicious. I was eating spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture while I made the dough, something I'll have to revisit for another recipe soon! 

Tex-Mex Pizza with Poblano Ricotta

Whole wheat pizza crust:
1 packet fast acting yeast
1 tbsp. honey
3/4 cup warm water
2 c. white wheat flour (or 1 c. whole wheat pastry and 1 c. unbleached all purpose)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. EVOO

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a standing mixer with the dough hook on, add water, honey and yeast, stir to combine, set aside for 10 minutes.
Add flour, salt, and EVOO.
Turn on low and begin to mix. Add more flour as necessary if dough is too sticky, or 1 tsp. water if it's too dry. 
Knead for 5 minutes, roll into a ball, set into the bottom of the mixing bowl and cover with a damp towel.

Poblano Ricotta:
3 large poblano peppers
1 c. part skim ricotta
1 tbsp. cilantro
Salt and pepper

Halve poblanos and place on a lined sheet pan. 
Place under the broiler, and broil until skin is black and charred, about 8-10 minutes.
Cool, peel off charred skin.
Add poblanos, ricotta, cilantro, salt and pepper to a blender and blend on high until mixture is creamy and smooth.

Prepare remaining pizza ingredients:
1 c. black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 c. halved cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 425* and warm pizza stone (or place a metal pizza sheet pan in the oven to get very hot)
Roll out pizza dough into a circle, place on a piece of parchment.
Slather on ricotta mixture, top with cheese, beans, onions and tomatoes.
Place in the oven on stone or cookie sheet, bake for 20-25 minutes, until crisp on the bottom and cheese is melted and browning on top.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

One of my coworkers recently told me she was tired of coming to my blog and seeing green beans. While they were delicious, I've decided to post something new, just for her. And you all get to reap the benefits, because this cake is delicious! 

In case you didn't know, the best week of the year is going on right now. Not only is it the week leading up to my birthday, but it's the week before my 1st Mother's Day as a mom, and, best of all, It's Frappy Hour week! The lovely people at Starbucks bless us with a week of half-price Frappuccinos from 3-5pm each year. And I have to admit that I've been each day since the promo began. Since everyone else and their mom is also going, the drive-thru line is a mile long, and I'm forced to go get my coffee inside, where I'm tempted by the pastry case. Specifically, the Reduced-Fat Banana Chocolate Chip Cake. 

Back in the days of my barista service, this cake was introduced (along with the banana mocha frappuccino, which was actually delicious!) and I took my job of cutting up samples for patrons (okay, myself) very seriously! I loved this cake then, and I love it now. But rather than spend $3 on one slice, I decided to use up the browning bananas at home and make this cake for free with pantry staples. It was moist, chocolatey, and subtly flavored with banana. It goes perfectly with my 4 o'clock coffee frappuccino pick-me-up! 

For the recipe, I went to a trusty source, Dorie Greenspan! I used her Banana Bundt Cake and simply added a handful of chocolate chips!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
a few slight changes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2+ cups)
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*
Butter a 12 c. bundt pan and set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time until mixed well, then add vanilla and bananas.
Turn mixer off, scrape down sides.
Add the baking soda and sift in half the flour.
Beat until absorbed. 
Add the sour cream, then the rest of the flour and beat until just absorbed and batter is no longer curdled.
Turn the mixer off, fold in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into bundt pan and smooth out top with a spatula. 
Bake 60-75 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes, invert on a place and cool to room temperature. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole

I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's of 2010 quite sick due to my pregnancy, and was unable to enjoy the delicious meals and treats throughout the season. That was my reasoning for pigging out this past holiday season. However, I tried to keep it semi-healthy, beginning with this dish! I'm a huge green bean casserole fan. The canned beans and condensed soup version just don't cut it though, fresh beans, a quick cream sauce, and a sprinkle of fresh onions are a million times tastier! 

I used Alton Brown's "Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole" as my starting point, but green bean casserole really isn't rocket science. This side dish will definitely be gracing our table all year long, not just at the holidays. Here's an extra tip - make double, or triple the onions - you won't be able to stop snacking on them while making the rest of the dish! 

Not Your Mama's Green Bean Casserole
from Alton Brown (slightly adapted from link above)

2 yellow onions, sliced 1/4" thick, separated into rings
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs

2 lbs. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" segments
1 tbsp. butter
8 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp. flour
1-2 c. 2% milk

Preheat oven to 450*
Add onions to a bowl, toss in flour, remove and place in another bowl, toss in buttermilk, remove and place in a final bowl of breadcrumbs, toss gently to coat.
Spread out on a lined cookie sheet, bake for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes to ensure even crisping.
Remove from the oven, set aside.

Bring 1" of water to a boil, place a steamer basket over water and steam beans for 7-10 minutes, until tender and still bright green.

In a deep saute' pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add mushrooms, onions and garlic.
Saute' for 5 minutes, until onions are translucent and mushrooms are soft.
Sprinkle with flour, stir to coat, add 1 c. milk and nutmeg, whisk and bring to a bubble, cook to desired thickness of sauce, adding more milk as necessary.
Add green beans, toss to coat in sauce, taste and adjust seasonings.
Remove from heat, pour into a dish, top with onions and serve immediately.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Butternut Squash Gratin with Poblanos and Cream

When I first saw this recipe on Elly's blog months ago, I starred it in my Google reader. Then, when she had it listed in her Favorites from 2011 post, I decided it was about time I make it! It's an unusual combination, poblanos and butternut, but it's a match made in heaven. Coincidentally, butternut squash is one of my absolute favorite foods, and poblanos are one of my husbands. Not so surprisingly, we both absolute loved this, and it will be a staple in our "what do you want for dinner this week...?" conversations.

When it comes to poblanos, in my opinion, it's a crap shoot. Sometimes they're pretty spicy, like an overgrown jalapeno, and sometimes they're really mild and almost sweet. Just as I had hoped, JJ picked out 2 of each, so our dish was a little spicy, a little sweet, and super cheesy. I made this dish pretty much as written, but didn't have any farmer's cheese (Elly used queso fresco) so I used goat cheese. I also omitted the cream completely, so the dish actually wasn't exceptionally rich, and the vegetables really were the star of the show. 

Butternut Squash Gratin with Poblanos and Cream
adapted from Elly Says Opa and Food and Wine

4 poblano peppers
1 large butternut squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. light sour cream
1 c. shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1/4 c. crumbled goat cheese

Heat broiler to high. Slice poblanos in half, seed and place skin side up on a lined cookie sheet.
Broil for 5-10 minutes, until entire skin is charred and blistered. 
Remove from the broiler, turn broiler off and oven on to 400*
Place poblanos in a tupperware container and set aside. 
Place butternut squash slices on another lined cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper, roast for 25 minutes, or until edges begin to crisp.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, add EVOO, onion and garlic, saute' for 5 minutes.
Peel skin off poblanos, slice and add to the onions and garlic. 
Turn heat off, season with salt and pepper. 
Add sour cream, use a spatula to fold it in the vegetable mixture.
Remove squash from the oven.
Grease a casserole dish. 
Place a layer of squash, followed by 1/2 the poblano mixture, and a sprinkle of the cheeses.
Top with another layer of squash, poblanos and cheese.
Finish with one final layer of squash and the remaining cheese.
Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and brown.