Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I'm taking a break for the holiday and enjoying time away from the computer with our little one...

Happy holidays to you and your family! Cook, eat and be merry.

See you again in 2010.

Guten appetit.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mushroom Quiche

I love the holidays and I love traditions. When we lived in Germany, people always asked if we were homesick, especially during the holidays. I wasn't. I could tell you with utter happiness what my family would be doing on Christmas day, exactly what they would be doing, in order, hour by hour. It's the same, every year.

I'm so excited to be back and to share family, our traditions and the holidays with our Chef's Helper. His first Christmas! We've wrapped a couple of presents for him, and a couple of books he already owned. I think I'm going to wrap a couple extra empty boxes, as I hear kids at this age just love to unwrap. The present thing wont really be understood by him.

While we won't be celebrating with Tim's family, we will be thinking of them and sharing some of their family traditions. Every Christmas, for breakfast, Tim's mom made quiche (amongst other foods). I love, love, love quiche. I made this quiche for last years festivities (recognize the German kitchen in the background?), and have since made it at least 10 times. It's a solid recipe. Plus, I find most people like mushrooms. Not so with spinach or meat.

As I don't own pie weights, I improvised... dried beans create the same effect, and then I store those used beans in a ziploc for the next pie crust need. You can reuse them for... years?

I hope you are enjoying the holidays, surrounded by loved ones. And I hope you are feasting in delicious traditions.

Happy, happy days to you!

Mushroom Quiche
from Simply Recipes

1 recipe pie dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound assorted mushrooms, quartered or sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
Pinch nutmeg
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups) - I used emmentaler/swiss

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 10-by-1 1/2-inch round tart pan (with or without a removable bottom)(Note from Laura: I used a 9 inch pie plate, worked fine), pressing dough into corners. Transfer to freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line pastry with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil, pressing into the corners and edges. Fill at least two-thirds with baking weights - dried beans, rice, or aluminum pie weights. Bake first for 15 minutes, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pie pan with the tongs of a fork and return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes or until lightly golden. (Fork holes are for any air to escape.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool while making filling.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots, and cook, stirring, until translucent but not brown, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms first release their liquid and then liquid evaporates and mushrooms are dark golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Place tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any run-off there might be (especially if you are using a pan with a removable bottom.) Sprinkle half the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Spread mushrooms over the cheese and then top with remaining cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, and eggs. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6-8.

Can't get enough quiche? Try these:
- Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche
- Asparagus and Mushroom Quiche with Brown Rice Crust, from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
- Spinach and Feta Quiche, from A Veggie Venture
- Zucchini and Tomato Quiche, from Chez Megane

Guten appetit!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Classic Apple Pie

Surprisingly, I've had a hard time thinking of a traditional dessert for Christmas. I'm not talking about gingerbread houses or sugar cookies. Those are fun to make pre-Christmas, to get in the holiday spirit. I'm referring to the dessert for Christmas dinner. And I'm certainly not about to attempt a Buche de Noel!

I don't know why this is, but oddly enough, we have relatively local Granny Smith apples in the market right now. And oohhhh, how I love an apple pie!

The last time I made an apple pie, Elise's recipe caught my eye because of the sherry and vanilla. I hadn't seen or used either before in an apple pie recipe. Sounded delicious and worth a shot.

Needless to say, once I had my second layer of crust on the pie, I realized I'd forgotten the step of adding the sherry and vanilla! Classic. That's what I get for trying to speed through a recipe.

As you may have guessed though, I've chosen Apple Pie as my Christmas dessert, and so I will have a re-do of this recipe. If it's half as good as the recipe was before, without the sherry and vanilla, it will be a huge hit! Truly, this is grandma's apple pie (with or without the sherry and vanilla) and not a crumb was left on anyone's plate. I can't wait to make it again.

I hope you have something equally scrumptious planned for your dinner festivities. If you still need a dessert, consider Elise's apple pie.

TIP: To prevent a raw bottom crust, bake pies for 20 minutes on the bottom rack, then switch to the center rack for the remaining time. (this trick works perfectly with this recipe, as Elise has you turn down the heat after 20 min)

See the holly leaves cut out of the pie crust? I loved this pie.

Old Fashioned Apple Pie
from Simply Recipes

Crust Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour (can substitute 1/2 cup flour if you don't have almonds)
16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled in freezer for at least 15 minutes
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
3 to 6 Tbsp water, very cold

Filling Ingredients

2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pounds of 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices of peeled and cored good cooking apples such as Granny Smith, Pippin, or Golden Delicious
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Egg Wash
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp cream

In a food processor, combine flour, almonds, salt and brown sugar, pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again.

Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape into 2 discs. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F.

Combine sugar, flour and spices in large bowl. Use your hands and mix in the apples so they are well coated, then add brandy and vanilla extract.

Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, use a metal spatula to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

Spoon in apple filling, mounding slightly in center.

Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently turn over onto the top of the apples in the pie. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork.

Stir yolk and cream in small bowl to blend. Brush over top of pie. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pie until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Tent the rims with aluminum foil or a pie protector if the edges are browning too quickly. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, anywhere from an additional 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of apples you are using. Transfer to rack; let stand 1 hour. Serve pie warm or at room temperature.

More apple desserts:
- Apple Tart, from Orangette
- Cranberry Apple Pie, from A Full Belly
- Apple Crisp, from Joy the Baker

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Appalachian Trail Cookies

This recipe was written in the December 2008 Bicycling magazine, under the title "Super Foods Served Here". Good job marketing or editing or whoever makes up titles to articles. The words 'super' and 'food' together are being used (or overused?) like wildfire these days. But it works. That title would get my attention every time.

The article goes on to discuss a triathlete who's also a chef creating wonderful healthy foods for sports minded folks. It goes on and on, and at the end, they gave a recipe... for cookies! Um, now I'm really hooked on this article. I'm thinking 'healthy cookie'. Yes! Thank YOU mr. triathlete turned chef turned article writer.

And here we have them...

A healthy cookie. Mostly. A cookie is a cookie after all! But as cookies go, these are not only healthy, but super, super delicious.

They are a bit crumbly, but that may be because I cook the heck out of cookies, wanting them to be crunchy. And I'm willing to deal with the crumbly-ness, since it doesn't affect their tasty-ness.

For a take along snack on hikes, bike rides and car trips, these get two thumbs up from me!

* If feeding these to kids, beware: as you can see below, they do involve peanuts. But you can omit those and they would still be delicious.

Appalachian Trail Cookies
from Michael Pfab in Bicycling Magazine

1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I love this!)
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon pastry flour (I used all purpose flour)
pinch salt
pinch baking soda
pinch ground cinnamon
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup raisins (optional - I didn't use them)
1/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/3 cup M&M candies (plain)

Blend shortening, butter, brown sugar and sugar. Add egg and mix well.

Add coconut, flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix only until blended.

Fold in oats by hand, then mix in raisins, peanuts and M&Ms.

Spoon out in equal portions on parchment-lined baking pan. Bake at 360 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Makes two dozen.

Interested in the 'healthy' content of the cookies? 157 calories per serving, 7 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbs and 3 grams of protein. Sorry, they neglect to tell you how many cookies equals a serving.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pesto Pasta

Totally not Thanksgiving, totally not turkey or mashed potatoes or stuffing. But totally delicious, and totally authentic Italian. Totally.

My friend Michelle is Italian. As in, grandparents live outside of Lucca, Italy. (sigh) I wish!

Luckily for me though, I still get to benefit from the Italian grandma via Michelle. My lovely friend served us this recipe during the summer and I begged her (I will be the first to admit, I am not above begging) for the recipe. She served it over pasta with some grilled mahi-mahi, salad and bread on the side. However, you don't need a second main dish, the pasta can stand alone as well. Bread is a must for me though, especially since there's usually some olive oil in the bottom of the bowl to soak up.

Warning: This is not low-calorie. Look the other way, make it in the dark, promise not to eat anything bad the following day. Do whatever you must, just don't miss out on this recipe!!

And, I hope you totally enjoy this one. We love, love, love it.

Pesto Pasta
from Michelle. Recipe below is exactly as she emailed it to me.

To feed about 4 people and a pound of pasta...

2 cups of basil leaves
1/2 cup of olive oil (fyi- Michelle says 'any kind of olive oil is OK', but I know from the source that she uses Classic Olive Oil for dishes like this. EVOO has too much of a 'bite' she says)
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tbsp of pine nuts

Mix all that up in the food processor until pretty smooth, then put in pan with 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup of cheese until mixed together.

You can freeze from there or even refrigerate. Play around, and sometimes I put less
butter if i'm watching fat or whatever but it really does taste best with the full fat flavors in there.....the key is FRESH is wonderful on top of fish too or the kids like it spread on bread with crushed nuts on top.

Guten appetit! And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you.

* We'll be skipping Friday's post for the holiday. See you again on Tuesday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sweet Potatoes with Marshmellows ('Candied Yams')

Mmmm, yams. Mmmm, marshmallows.

Enough said for this post? I think so. We're keeping it short and sweet.

I love this dish. It came together quickly (use a can of yams to make it even faster), and is always a favorite at Thanksgiving. If you usually puree your yams, or you don't use marshmallows, I encourage you to try this recipe... delicious.

Wondering about the sad side with no marshmallows? That's Tim's end, he prefers the yams without marshmallow - crazy boy!

Candied Yams

from The Farm Journal Vegetable Cookbook

6 medium to large yams
1/4 cup margarine/butter, melted
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scrub/clean yams under water, then bake until tender - approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool, so you can handle them. Remove skins & slice or cube.

Grease 2 quart casserole (I used 'Pam').

Mix margarine, orange juice, ground cinnamon & yams. Pour into casserole dish.

Top with marshmallows & bake 15-20 min or until yams are hot & marshmallows are lightly browned. (After 20 minutes, my marshmallows weren't browned, but everything was warm. So I turned on the broiler for a couple minutes - done in a jiffy!)

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream

Mama mia, this was good!

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I would like to eat candied yams, dinner rolls (preferably my mom's bran muffins, but homemade potato rolls are also delicious) and pumpkin pie. Hold all other dishes please, I don't need them. I can sufficiently stuff myself silly on these 3 items.

Last year (yes, last year - I obviously made this for Thanksgiving, so it was too tardy to post for last year's Thanksgiving), we were without family for the big meal, but invited some friends over. I made all the usual suspects: mashed potatoes, candied yams, green beans, a vegetable pot pie, and pumpkin pie. Typically, I would have made the same pie my mom makes... Libbys. Straight from the can, no muss, no fuss, always good. But for some reason, I had it in my head that the recipe called for sweetened condensed milk. Wrong. It calls for evaporated milk. Being a thrifty girl, I couldn't throw out the sweetened condensed milk and knew there must be a pumpkin pie recipe that uses it. Google to the rescue!

Yes, I like plenty of whipped cream! The more the better.

After reading the reviews, this was easily the winning recipe. I liked that it had a bit of spice to it, also carried through in the whipped cream. We were not disappointed! It's crazy delicious. Our guests asked us what was in the pie and whipped cream, all wide-eyed and excited after the first bite. They cleaned their plates and wanted the recipe. Yep, a keeper! This is our new family pumpkin pie recipe, I just can't go back. Sorry Libby.

Happy Thanksgiving and pie eating to you and yours!

Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Whipped Cream

from Epicurious/Bon Appetit (Nov. 2003)

1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, pierced all over with fork (frozen is also ok)
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Bake crust until browned, pressing bottom and sides of crust occasionally with back of fork, about 14 minutes. Cool crust on rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Whisk pumpkin, condensed milk, sour cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, vanilla, and allspice in large bowl to blend. Whisk in eggs. Pour into crust (some filling may be left over).

Bake pie until filling is puffed around sides and set in center, about 55 minutes. (Do not fear, the puffiness settles down!)

Cool pie on rack. (Can be made ahead. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours, or cover and chill overnight.)

Beat whipping cream, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in bowl until peaks form. Spoon large dollops around edge of pie and serve.

Guten appetit!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh my...

Is it November?! Was my last post on October 27?! Goodness. I have been a lump on a log. Whoops!

What's new? (I'll go ahead and answer my own question, since this is for the most part a one sided conversation) First, we were fully wrapped up in Halloween:

Someone turned 9 months old. Amazing how time flies.

Then took a vacation to Hawaii (where our chef's helper started crawling!):

And now I've been procrastinating in getting back to cooking because what I want to cook is not what I should be cooking. I still have a couple recipes to make for our family cookbook (coming up on the deadline here, but I guess I've always worked better under pressure anyway), and I simply don't want to. They don't excite me. Plus, I'm still in post vacation bliss, where I want to continue to be a beach bum. Nothing wrong with that, right?

However, for your extra special holiday pleasure, I have a couple new recipes to share with you for Thanksgiving. And if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, that's ok. You should make the pie anyway, it was de-licious! Perfect for a fall family treat. Celebrate the cold mornings, the first fall of snow, or a day off from school.

Pie post coming on Tuesday!

Guten appetit, my friends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Uncle Mark's Chocolate Cake

Let's hear it for Uncle Mark! Another of his family-favorite recipes turned out fabulous. I practically ate this entire chocolate cake myself.

It was dense, so a couple of people I served it to asked whether it was flourless. The answer is 'no'. It has a wee bit of flour in it. I can't help it, I find flourless bakery items odd. Or at the very least, a mystery. I can't recall ever having tried one, so it's all a preconceived notion in my head. HOW does one make a cake flourless? I bet it's actually easy, and just one of those things you need to do once to understand. However, I'm sticking with this cake and it's flour. It's my new go-to chocolate adult party cake.

Why 'adult party cake'? As you can see above, it has no frosting. Kids like frosting. Don't deny them frosting.

However, the cake is rich, moist, dense and delicious. It does not need frosting. When serving to adults.

I dusted it with powdered sugar for better presentation, but it doesn't need that either. Just pure chocolate-y goodness.

Marie-Claude Gracia's Chocolate Cake
from Food & Wine, via Uncle Mark

1 stick (4 ounces) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt or Tobler, broken into pieces (I used Ghirardelli)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, generously grease a 9-inch springform pan.

In a double broiler*, combine the chocolate, remaining 10 tablespoons of butter, and the sugar. Cook over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, and about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

* Don't have a double broiler? Do what I do, and substitute a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. Voila. Your own home-made double broiler.

Let the chocolate mixture cool for 10 minutes; then whisk in the egg yolks. Stir in the flour just until blended.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites just until they form firm peaks; do not overbeat. Stir on-third of the egg whites into the chocolate batter until blended. Fold in the remaining egg whites until the mixture is well blended and no streaks of white remain. Spoon the batter into the springform pan.

Bake the cake in theh middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until firm and springy and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Let teh cake cool on a rack for 2 hours (I did not do this. Mine cooled for about 30 minutes), then remove the sides of the springform. Let the cake cool completely, about 1 hour longer. Invert the cake onto a platter and carefuly remove the springform bottom. This cake is traditionally serve without icing. To garnish, dust the top with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar.

Serves 8-10.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chili Rice

Did I mention that my dad's side of the family is making a cookbook of our favorite recipes? I bet you couldn't tell, since the last couple posts have been from my cousin and uncle.

The recipe book is quite the project, but something I have wanted to do forever. I don't want to miss my chance to know my nana's favorite recipes, or her mothers signature holiday dishes.

While this isn't from my Nana, nor a holiday dish, it was delish. Comming at ya from my Uncle Barrett, this is his family's favorite accompaniment to enchiladas... Chili Rice.

A nice combo meal idea. And one I expect to make often through the winter, as zucchinis stay well stocked in the market, causing me to make our favorite enchiladas on a regular basis.

This dish is fairly creamy, due to the sour cream (brilliant observation). But I wanted to mention it because that was why a couple of people said they really liked it (I served this at an informal gathering with a few of my sister's friends). Rice seems universally liked, so pair it with some cheese, sour cream and green chilis... and, ta da! A crowd pleaser.

Hope you like it too!

Chili Rice
from Uncle Barrett

2 cups of white rice
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large can diced green chilis
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Cook rice. You can use a rice cooker (like me), or stove top (Uncle B's directions below).

To make rice on the stove top, place rice in small to medium size pan. Rinse the rice in water 2-3 times, until the water is mostly clear. Add 3 cups of water to your rice pot and cover with a lid. Steam 20 minutes, then cool with the lid on.

Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread cooked rice evenly in baking dish.

Mix sour cream and diced green chilis in a small bowl, then spread on top of the rice. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese on top of the rice/sour cream mixture.

Bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly and brown. Serve hot.

* This dish can be refrigerated up to 1 day before cooking.

Guten appetit!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Uncle Mark's Tortellini (Tortellini with Herbs and Sun-Dried Tomatoes)

Our little chef's helper has finally fallen from grace... he has his first cold. Welcome to the great big world, little man. It's a germ ridden place.

Surprisingly, he's taking his cold in stride. Still happy, smiling and eager to eat. His only complaint is when I wipe his nose. But in all fairness, would you like someone to wipe your nose?! No thanks. If he had better hand-eye-nose coordination, I would let him do it himself. 8 months is a little young for that though (wink)!

For the road to recovery, I'm sharing an absolutely delicious, healthy dinner that everyone should make this weekend. Fresh herbs, some cheese protein, some pasta carbs... what's not to like?!

It's pretty darn fast to make, and it will be eaten even faster. If you start feeling a little run down, this should perk you right up! Might not cure a cold, but it works wonders in other ways. Your tummy will thank you.

Tortellini with Herbs and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
from Uncle Mark

1 cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, oregano, and parsley)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (drained)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces cheese tortellini
About 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large covered pot. Add 2 teaspoons salt, if you like. Add pasta, stir, and partially cover the pot until water returns to a boil. Immediately remove cover, stir again, and cook pasta just until al dente.

Just before draining the pasta, ladel out 1/4 cup pasta water and pour over herb mixture. Drain remaining water from pasta.

Add drained pasta to herb mixture. Toss well with tongs or large spoons to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese and toss again. Yields 4-6 servings.

Guten appetit!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Justin's Secret Broccoli

My cousin Justin started a food blog: Organic Recipes on a Budget. What a great idea! However, I don't mean to get you all excited, because he hasn't posted since August. Justin? Hello? Is the site defunct? Sad. I'm sure there's an audience for your recipes. Like, say... me.

Justin's wife is a veggie, like us, and apparently loves this recipe. Since I'm always looking for easy, delicious side dishes, thought I would give it a try.

Other than cooking it a bit too long, which I didn't mind (I like most things overdone, yikes!), it certainly was scrumptious. And for a minimal amount of extra effort, you get a bit more zing from your broccoli side dish. I give it two big thumbs up! Thanks for a delish new recipe J. I hope you return to your blog soon.

Justin's Secret Broccoli
from Organic Recipes on a Budget

Said to only cost $5! Pair it with lemongrass tofu and some rice. Mmmmm.


1 Big Bunch Organic Broccoli - Cut into big florets
1 Organic Lemon
From the cupboard - 1.5 Tbls Olive oil, 2 cloves garlic - peeled & pressed, 1 tsp Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, or preheat the grill for indirect heat.

Put the broccoli in a good sized bowl and pour the olive oil on top. Throw in the pressed garlic, salt & pepper and toss the broccoli to get the goodness spread around.

Pour the broccoli into a 13x9 inch pan or onto a foil lined baking sheet and put it in the oven for 20 minutes (I greased my pan with Pam, just to make sure it wouldn't stick).

Pull it out of the oven and squeeze the lemon juice onto the broccoli, making sure you get it onto all of the florets. Serve warm.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eggs in the Hole

This was one of my husband's favorite breakfasts growing up. Eggs in the hole... Simple. Fun. I like it.

Since we've been eating a lot of eggbeaters recently (I first tasted them while we stayed at Tim's mom's house, as that's all they eat these days), I made this on a day I was craving real eggs. Eggbeaters, if you haven't tried them, are very healthy (Tim's mom has high cholesterol), super fast (no cracking of shells, beating, etc) and taste great. I was a non-believer before, but I'm hooked now.

I can't say that I have a recipe for this dish... but I'll try to write one up. My only advice is not to make your hold too small. Otherwise, the egg wont fit and it spills out everywhere. No longer would you have eggs in the 'hole', you'd have eggs 'all over'. And that's no fun for the kids. Or you (we, big kids, like fun too).

Hope you enjoy!

Eggs in the Hole
from June

2 slices of whole wheat bread (we're trying to be healthy, remember!)
2 free-range, large eggs
Margarine (or butter, cause butter is not where I skimp to be healthy)
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Cut 1 large hold in the middle of each bread slice.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium, and add a dollop of margarine/butter (If you're using a non-stick pan, the butter is just for flavor. Although, my non-stick pans never seem to be TRULY non-stick, so I always grease 'em up).

Crack each egg into a ramekin and set aside.

Once the butter has melted, place 1 (or 2 if they fit) bread slice in the pan. Pour an egg into the hole.

At this point, your method may vary based on how you like your eggs cooked. Tim's mom likes runny yokes, where I like mine cooked all the way through. If you like your yokes cooked through, poke them so they break. If you like runny yokes, don't poke them.

Let the eggs cook on the first side until the majority of the white is opaque and cooked. You can also salt and pepper the egg at this point.

Flip the bread and egg, and cook on the other side, until the egg is fully cooked to your desire and the bread is browned (approx. 3 minutes).

Guten appetit!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Frozen Mocha Cheesecake

I'm tired. New moms are tired. And because I'm tired, I'm ditsy. Kristen at Dine and Dish had a great, very funny, post about a mom of 4 being called ditsy. I can't even imagine how someone holds everything together with 4 kids. More power to you!

But, back to my ditsy-ness. I made this 'cheesecake', which is a frozen pie, and somehow missed the part about it needing to freeze. I left it in the refrigerator overnight and was insanely perplexed as to why it was STILL incredibly runny the next day. Cursing the directions for not telling me to freeze the pie, I served it anyway. What a drippy mess. Only then, did I realized it was probably supposed to be frozen. So, I stuck it in the freezer, a couple slices missing, and sure enough, it hardened up nicely.

Luckily, even as runny goop, it tasted great. If you like coffee and chocolate, you're going to really, really like this pie. Just don't forget to freeze it.

Frozen Mocha Cheesecake
from Taste of Home

1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 ounces) low-fat sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon hot water
1 cup whipped cream

Combine crust ingredients. Press into the bottom of a 9-in. springform pan; set aside.

For filling, beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually add milk and syrup.

Dissolve coffee in water; add to mixing bowl. Fold in whipped cream.

Pour into crust and freeze at least 6 hours.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Potato Pie with Leeks and Feta

Are you seeing a theme here? I'm into leeks. Big time! They may be my new favorite vegetable. Nah, that's a false statement. Nothing can usurp the avocado.

But back to the recipe... I originally found this dish because I had some leftover feta to use. When I read this recipe, I realized I also had a forgotten leek in the fridge to use. Oh, how I love it when the stars align. The only thing I needed from the store for this recipe were the potatoes.

Know what else this recipe is good for... satisfying picky side dish eaters. Namely, my dad. Ahem, and me. Guess we know where I got it from! Every vegetable or side dish I liked, he seemed to dislike... zucchinis (actually, all squash), peas, fresh green beans (canned were OK, yuck), salad was OK if it had ranch dressing (I don't buy/eat ranch), and the list goes on. But this recipe, we both agreed was a winner! My dad even had seconds. Yay.

I'm telling you, there's something addictive about leeks. I hope you try this one. It's not only great for cleaning up a few odds and ends from your fridge, but it gives a pretty good bang in the presentation department for the limited effort you will put in.

Potato Pie with Leeks and Feta
from Cafe Chocolada

For the dough:
1 medium sized potato
1 cup flour
5 tbsp margarine, melted and cooled a bit
2 tsp baking powder
½ smaller leek, chopped up (optional)
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp black pepper

For the filling:
5-6 medium sized potatoes
½ leek chopped up
½ cup sour cream
3 eggs
½ cup crumbled feta cheese, or cubed
Pinch of salt

First wash, and cook potatoes with their skin. Peel, and mash one immediately, and let the rest (for the filling) cool down.

Preheat oven to 390 F.

In a bowl with mashed potato, add margarine, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and knead with hands to get a smooth dough. Add half of chopped up leek (I left this out and was great), knead it in, then transfer the dough to a medium sized spring form pan, spread it around to cover pan bottom with it.

Peel and slice the remaining potatoes, or chop them up, and place them on top of the dough, along with half of chopped up leek. Sprinkle with some salt (you be the judge as to how much), and pepper.

Mix eggs with sour cream, add a pinch of salt, and feta cheese. Pour this over the potatoes, and place the pie in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, depending on the oven. Cool a little, then remove the spring form, and serve. Best if eaten right away, as most potato dishes.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fettuccine with mushrooms and asparagus

This dish is so green and red, should have saved it for the holidays! Doesn't taste very 'holiday-esk' though. Tasted like pasta yummy-ness.

Hmmm.... I'd like to delete all of the above sentences I just wrote, because they're not very... descriptive? Interesting? Gramatically correct? All of the above. It was a brain fart that I actually typed and am allowing you to read. Go ahead, make fun. But, I'm posting late at night, with wine, so my synapses aren't firing as they should be.

In any case, this is a delicious, easy, and super healthy dish (except that I like to cover most pasta dishes in parmesan cheese). And it's holiday-esk. I mean, if costco can have their Christmas decorations out already, I can start thinking of holiday food.

Make the dish with spinach noodles. You wont regret it! I LOVE that this recipe gives you the option of fresh or dried herbs. On a random weeknight, who wants to A- go to the grocery store for special food items, B- spend $2.50 a pop per herb required, or C- I don't have a C. Use the dried herbs, people. Unless you have a fresh herb garden that's still producing for you. In which case, I'm sooooo jealous.

Mushroom and Asparagus Fettuccine
from Diabetic Living

8 ounces dried whole wheat fettuccine or linguine
8 ounces fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch-long pieces
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups sliced fresh crimini, shiitake, or button mushrooms (I used white button)
1 medium leek, thinly sliced, or 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used the leek)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional - Not in my book!)

Cook fettuccine or linguine according to package directions, adding asparagus for the last 1 to 2 minutes of the cooking time; drain. Return pasta mixture to saucepan; cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, leek or onion, and garlic to hot skillet. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in vegetable broth, evaporated milk, dried basil (if using), dried oregano (if using), salt, and pepper. Bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in tomatoes, fresh basil (if using), and fresh oregano (if using); heat through.

Spoon mushroom mixture over pasta mixture; gently toss to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts and, if desired, Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sesame Crusted Tofu

Last week was sweet, and now we're on to savory!

My food cravings/interests seem to be (slowly) changing back into my old self, pre-pregnancy. The sweet tooth is dropping off (although it's still more than I ever used to have), and my protein and veggie interests are up! Nevermind that Tim and I had ice cream for dinner the other night. Yikes!

I've been making tofu fairly regularly again, and I have to say that it's quite different from the brand I used to buy in Germany. Taste is the same, but it's much, much more watery. I've had to break down and start pressing the water out of the tofu before marinating or cooking with it. And frankly, I am a bit annoyed with the extra work. Give me easy food to prepare, or give me frozen pizza.

Does anyone know of a good tofu brand that isn't too watery out of the package? I usually buy and cook with extra firm. Silken is usually always more watery.

This recipe was a nice change-up from our 'usual' (lemongrass tofu). It's hard not to make the lemongrass tofu, it's soooo good. But, change is also good. My only complaint with this recipe is that the sesame seeds do not stay on the tofu very well. Created a bit of a mess, and presentation was hard to make *extra* pretty. Otherwise, a very tasty (and easy) weeknight supper. Served over a salad with a side of rice, yum. Oh, and the tahini dressing was just 'ok'. If you want to have a dressing for the tofu and salad, I recommend looking for different recipe, I bet there are tons. Maybe one with more of a kick (through garlic, chilis, etc).

Sesame Crusted Baked Tofu (serves 2)
from Fuss Free Flavors

1 block tofu
Juice one lemon
Same quantity of soy sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
2tbs sesame seeds
Salad to serve

Press the tofu for about 20mins by wrapping it in a clean tea towel under a chopping board with a couple of cans of beans on top (I use my fruit bowl), you will be amazed at how much water comes out. Slice the tofu into thinish slices (about 1cm) and then cut each slice diagonally to get 2 triangles.

Place in a container and pour the marinade over, leave for at least 20 mins, turning over half way through if the marinade does not completely cover the tofu.

When marinated roll each piece of tofu in the sesame seeds and place onto a greased baking tray (I use a silicone mat on a tray which does not need greasing). Bake for 20 to 30 mins at GM5/375F/190C until the edges are browned turning half way through cooking.

Serve on a bed of salad – I used baby spinach leaves with baby plum tomatoes and pepperdew peppers and garnished with chives, from my window box, and tahini dressing.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Creamy Fruit Dip

My friend Sonya finds some great recipes. She's the type of person where, when eating dinner at her house, I'm usually in awe. Never walking away without at least one of the recipes from the evening.

Sonya is generous with her recipes, and friendship. She hosted my baby shower months ago, and had the most beautiful food spread... I was in awe. Again.

The shower was a brunch, and one of the dishes she served was fresh fruit, accompanied by a creamy sweet dip. Sonya was very aware of my pregnancy sweet tooth. Since you can't serve ONLY sweet, sugary foods, you almost always want to (or feel obligated to, because personally, I could have only had sweets! ha) have some fruit to round out the meal. A token strawberry on my plate does make me feel healthier. I can't lie.

Since the shower, I've served this dip at almost all of my breakfast/brunch gatherings. This dip is so ridiculously easy (the hardest part is cutting up the fruit), and so good, I expect it will become a part of your morning party repertoire too. No more store bought overly pricey pre-made fruit dip for you! Enjoy.

Creamy Fruit Dip
from Sonya

1 1/2 cups Sour Cream
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar

+ Fruit for dipping (I like strawberries, apple and cantaloupe as constants. Then I usually add another fruit that the store is carrying and looks fresh/good, such as: kiwi, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries or blackberries)

In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and sugar until completely blended (1-2 minutes). Refrigerate up to 1 day in advance.

Cut and plate your fruit. Place fruit dip in a small serving bowl next to your fresh fruit.


Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fresh Fruit Coffeecake

Tim just told me I was NOT allowed to plan anything for the next couple of weekends. Why such a strict mandate? He's exhausted. (Me too)

Being home is wonderful. We keep talking about how happy we are to be home. Yet... it's also overwhelming. We've been jam-packed with house, move, family, friends, etc to-dos every weekend. When it was just us in Germany, we had a lot of mellow down-time. Having a full calendar isn't bad, and we WANT to do it all. We just have to remember to also schedule 'chill time' for ourselves. Otherwise, our first-time-sleep-deprived selves are going to crack. And it wont be pretty.

So, you will find both tim and I at home this weekend. Chillin'. Anyone know of anything good on TV?

This recipe is from my favorite bakery in Seattle, Macrina. They have a line out the door every morning. You can sign-up for their monthly newsletter which includes recipes from their shop. Divine!

I made it a couple weekends ago for a brunch. One of our many weekend activities of late. It was scrumptious, and only a couple pieces were left (which means some folks had more than 1 piece, always a good sign!). It was moist, light yet dense (How can that be?! But it was!), and the perfect hint of sweetness. The blackberries were great, and I can't wait to try it with blueberries or perhaps huckleberries (as the Macrina newsletter suggested).

Other things worth mentioning... my fruit still fell to the bottom, despite rolling it in some of the flour mix. But I didn't mind. I also halved the recipe, and that made enough for 8 people and baked perfectly in an 8 inch round spring-form pan. Aaaannnd, I finally graduated to the big-kids baking world, with my own kitchenaid mixer. This coffeecake was my first time using it. Isn't she pretty?

If you like the coffeecake, maybe you'll have to visit us here in Seattle and go to Macrina yourself. What? You live in timbuktu? Macrina is worth the trip.

Fresh Fruit Coffeecake

from Macrina Bakery

Makes 1 Bundt cake

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups ripe fruit (whole berries or fruit cut into 1/2 inch pieces) - I used self picked blackberries!
12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
Edible flowers and powdered sugar for garnish (optional) - I used powdered sugar and some of the leftover blackberries

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Oil a 12-cup Bundt pan.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and toss with your hands to combine. Remove 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and set bowl aside.

In a separate medium bowl, combine fruit and the reserved 1/4 cup of flour mixture. Toss until fruit is evenly coated and set aside. Tossing the fruit in flour helps keep it from sinking to the bottom of the coffeecake - a true disaster!

Combine butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the paddle attachment for 5 to 8 minutes on medium speed. The mixture will become smooth and pale in color. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure the first egg is fully mixed into the batter before adding the other. After the second egg is incorporated, add vanilla extract and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix for another 30 seconds to make sure all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Alternately add small amounts of flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter mixing with a wooden spoon just until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Gently fold in the flour coated fruit making sure the fruit is evenly distributed through the batter. Spoon batter into the prepared Bundt pan filling two-thirds of the pan.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown (my small cake only took about 50 minutes to cook and brown on top). Check the center of the coffeecake with a skewer. It will come out clean when the cake is done. Let cool in a pan for 45 minutes.

Loosen the sides of the cake with a sharp knife. Place a serving plate upside-down on top of the cooled Bundt pan and invert the pan to remove the cake.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bear's Peach Cobbler

Does life ever slow down? No?

No. I didn't think so.

I know this is a common theme of mine, falling behind, being in a hectic state, but I have to apologize to the Sweet Melissa Sunday folks. I joined this group, on an unrealistic whim, as I've always wanted to join a cookbook blogging group. Plus, I had that insatiable sweet tooth during my pregnancy and nursing months (the sweet tooth is still around, but I'm slowly getting it under control!). Pies, cookies, jams... yes, please!

After I received my book via the lovely, I was able to join the fray and made two weeks worth of recipes. But, I didn't ever seem to find the time to post them. A new recipe is chosen once a week to make on Sunday's, so as the third week of my membership rolled around, a new recipe came out and I bought all the ingredients... only I never made the dish. This is when I really started to fall behind (let's face it, I was always behind). At this point, the days kept clicking by. Then, I wasn't even checking the site anymore.

After about a month of being MIA, I just looked and found that I was quietly dropped from the group. I agree. I should have been. I'm sorry fellow bakers, I bit off more than I could chew during our move. While I had the best of intentions, I take my sweet tooth and leave you to bake without me!

Although, they have Orange Scented Scones coming up next week, and Carmelized Onions, Sage and Cheddar Muffins the next. Maybe I'll keep baking with them, informally. Only when I have the desire and time. Without the guilt of missing a week, or five.

Here was my first recipe, made in June!, from the Sweet Melissa Baking book. It was a hit at a friend's BBQ we went to. Canned, frozen or fresh peaches all seemed to work well for the Sweet Melissa bakers. Also, it was noted to lessen the sugar. I used 1/4 cup and found it to be perfect.

Was one of the easier cobblers I've made, and the bottom side of the biscuits cooked through (I hate when the cobbler topping has a gooey underside, yuck!).

Be sure to cut out fun shapes to top your cobbler. It's all about presentation!

Bear's Peach Cobbler
From the Sweet Melissa Baking book

Ingredients for the cobbler topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon whole milk or heavy cream, for glazing

Ingredients for the peach filling:
6 cups peeled, sliced, ripe peaches (bout 3 1/2 pounds)
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 tablespoons sugar, and zest. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles a coarse meal. Little by little stir in the heavy cream until dough starts to hold together (a bit more cream may be used if needed).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat dough together to form a round about 1/2-inch thick. Using a lightly floured 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter (I used a star cookie cutter) to cut the dough into 7 to 8 biscuits.

Place biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or aluminum foil and refrigerate loosely covered with plastic wrap, while you make the filling or until you are ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and butter a 2-quart ovenproof deep-dish pan. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil.

To make the filling, stir together peach slices, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Pour peach mixture into prepared dish.

Place the biscuits evenly on top of the peach mixture and brush with milk. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Place dish on the lined cookie sheet (so nothing bubbles over and messes up your oven!) and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until biscuits are cooked through (to test this, I lightly pulled up on one of my star biscuits to make sure they were fully cooked).

Remove to a wire rack to cool before serving. This cobbler should be eaten the day it is baked. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves 6 to 8.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tomato Leek Tart

Oh my goodness, oh my GOOD-ness! We have a winner. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Yes, this recipe is THAT good.

Sometimes it's the random nights that become the unexpected happy surprise. I hadn't planned to make anything special this night. I simply had a pint of cherry tomatoes that needed to be used. For some reason, I've craved pies most of this summer. Preferably the kind with a lot of sugar and fruit, but that's off subject, as I had tomatoes to use. But, I think I originally chose this recipe because of it's pie crust. Seriously.

Yes, that's a foil wrapper I served off of. I'm classy. In my defense, I did warn you that this was not expected to be a special dinner. I was just trying to use up some tomatoes! And look what happened... pure deliciousness.

I hope you make this soon. The leek, the tomatoes, the cheese, the pie crust... it all works. It works so well, it dances on your tongue. Ok, not really. But it tastes good.

Tomato Leek Tart
from All Recipes

1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crust
4 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
1 pound leeks, white portion only, sliced
6 medium plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Place both pastry sheets on greased baking sheets. Sprinkle each with provolone cheese, leaving 1 in. around edges.

Arrange leeks and tomato slices over provolone cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and pepper. Top with mozzarella cheese. Fold edges over filling.

Bake at 425 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until crusts are lightly browned. Cut into wedges. Serve warm.

Guten appetit!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Chili-Cilantro Aioli

I would eat fish tacos year round, no doubt. But summertime seems like an extra appropriate time of year. Break open the barbie, enjoy a margarita or beer and invite some friends over for a perfect warm summer's evening.

We had such a good time with our friends at this dinner, I hope we can do it again soon. I love being back in Seattle and getting reacquainted with my girlfriends, their husbands AND the kids (oh my gosh... turn your back for a couple of years and everyone's babies are 'big kids', starting kindergarten and what not - crazy!). And all of my friends have such beautiful families. I probably don't say this enough (I'm not very gushy or sentimental normally), but I feel very lucky to have wonderful people in my life.

I used corn tortillas, delicious. I forgot to put out the cilantro and avocado, didn't matter. And I made a yummy aioli sauce, don't skip the aioli! The tacos were a hit.

I served the fish tacos with sweet potato fries.

Thanks for coming over, friends. It's good to be home.

Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Chili-Cilantro Aioli
adapted from Cooking Light

4 cups very thinly pre-sliced green cabbage
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded and minced (leave seeds in for more fire!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (depends on which cooking method used, see below)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound tilapia fillets (we used the frozen mahi-mahi fillets from Costco- 1 fillet per person)
1 teaspoon chili powder
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 15 ounce can black beans
1 ripe avocado, sliced
Salsa (optional)

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced (jalapeno OK)
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add juice, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss well to combine. Set aside.

To make the aioli: Combine all ingredients and mix well. Can be made up to 1 hour before, keep in refrigerator.

Heat beans on the stove or in the microwave, and put in a serving bowl. Peel and slice avocado, place on a serving plate.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish evenly with chili powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat, and place fish on a serving platter.
Heat grill. Rub/Brush fish with enough oil to keep it from sticking to your grill pan. Sprinkle fish evenly with chili powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill fish direct or in a grill pan, according to thickness of the fish (ours took 4-5 minutes on each side), and your desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat, and place fish on a serving platter.

Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon about 1/4 cup cabbage mixture down the center of each tortilla. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; fold in half. Serve tacos with remaining cabbage mixture, extra jarred salsa (or my cousin Skye's homemade salsa), aioli, avocado and black beans.

More side dishes that go well with fish tacos:
- Lime Quinoa Salad with Fresh Mint, from Karina's Kitchen
- Summer Green Bean Salad, from 101 Cookbooks
- Grilled Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs, from Andrea Meyers

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Loosen the belt buckles... this is a rich, delicious summertime food that will be feasted on. Have a large family picnic or friend's BBQ coming up? This coleslaw would be perfect. It goes soooo well with veggie burgers, or for the meat eaters, I bet it would be smashing with BBQ chicken.

You can adjust the richness based on how much blue cheese you put in it. And by how long you let it sit. The day I made it, I thought it was perfect. The next day, the richness had exploded and I could only eat a few bites.

I normally prefer a lighter 'salad' side, but I have to admit, this was really good the day-of. Really, really good. I also really liked the mix of veggies used (nothing out of the ordinary for coleslaw, but I don't use cabbage a lot and it was a nice change from the norm). Try some variations, based on what sounds good or what you have in the fridge. I bet this would be great with some green beans, cauliflower or broccoli added. I can also imagine the sauce used on things other than a traditional coleslaw, such as a broccoli, sunflower seed and carrot mix. Yum!

One last note: Because of the richness of the blue cheese, I think the serving sizes are a bit smaller than normal. This makes quite a bit of coleslaw, so for 5-6 adults, I would half the recipe. If you want leftovers, make the full amount.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw
adapted slightly from Deb (aka: Smitten Kitchen) on NPR

1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head red cabbage
1 10 oz. package shredded carrots
2 cups (16 ounces) mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard (I only used dijon)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar also works)
1 teaspoon celery salt (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) crumbled Roquefort blue cheese
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Cut the cabbages in half and then in quarters and cut out the cores. Slice the cabbage into long strands, then chop a bit more until you have reasonable sized pieces (for me, that means 'bite sized'). Add carrots to cabbage.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, both mustards (see my note above), vinegar, celery salt, kosher salt and pepper. Pour enough mayonnaise dressing over the grated vegetables and toss to moisten well. Add crumbled blue cheese and parsley and toss with vegetables.

At this point, the original recipe says to: "Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more to allow the flavors to meld." However, we ate ours within a half hour of making it, and it was perfect. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Guten appetit!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Zuchinni and Chickpea Ratatouille

For breakfast, lunch or dinner, I could eat Zucchini and Chickpea Ratatouille. (True, I prefer blueberry pancakes for breakfast, soooo delish. But this was beyond good, to where I actually though I could eat it for breakfast.)

Since we're on the subject, I will make a confession. Aside from the very occasional blueberry pancakes, I've been making Eggos a lot for breakfast. And quite often, frozen pizza for dinner. Hey, I told you that I have been tired! I wasn't exaggerating.

This recipe really did help pull me out of my recent cooking funk. After I made it for the first time about 2 months ago, I sent it to some friends as a 'must try' recipe. When I decided to make it again this week, I got excited. Excited to cook, and excited to share it on the blog. Yay, maybe my old self really is coming back!

This recipe is olive oil, tangy goodness. A delectible mix of tomatoes, zucchini and rice. The chickpeas are a great addition, and help add depth and protein.

Rice helps soak up the sauce, mmmm.

One of my new favorite summertime dinners. I don't even make a side dish for this one! Treat yourself to dessert instead. This recipe has the veggies, protein and starch, all rolled into one. Love it.

Zucchini and Chickpea Ratatouille
from Family Circle

2 med zucchini, about 1 1/4 lb, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes
1 can (15 1/2 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 t salt
1/8 t black pepper
1/8 t red pepper flakes
3 cups cooked brown rice

Heat oven to 425.

Coat baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Add zucchini and red pepper; toss with 1 T olive oil. Bake at 425 for 30 min or until tender.

Heat remaining 1 T oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic, cook 30 seconds to 1 min. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 5 min. stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, peppers, chickpeas, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook an additional 5 min, stirring occasionally. Serve with cooked brown rice. Makes 4 servings.

Another rat-a-tat-touille:
- Pasta with Halibut and Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

Have a bumper crop of zucchini? Make enchiladas:
- Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baked Penne with (Faux) Sausage and Spinach

Folks, I feel bad. Last week, I left you with a food dish I can't recommend and a cook book (although, the cook book I'm pretty excited about). Where are all the delicious dinners?! I know, I know. I hear you.

I'm pulling out all stops today... this is a winner! And I've got more coming up. Honestly, I probably could have gotten back into regular blog posting and more on track sooner, just with regard to the time I have. But it's not just about having the time to post, or cook. I simply haven't been motivated to cook. I've been tired (mentally and physically). I see the light at the end of our tunnel though. In addition to our big move, we've been readying our rental house for new tenants who move-in later this week (yay!). With that additional project done, I'm starting to get my groove back and have been doing my usual drooling over yummy recipes online. Doesn't this peach pie look divine?!

Dinner before dessert though... and this Baked Penne with (Faux) Sausage and Spinach recipe is a delish dish for your next main meal. It originally called for chicken or sausage, and I swapped that out for the soy crumbles found at the grocery store next to the tofu and pre-packaged lettuce. Worked like a charm! My meat eating dinner guests didn't have any problems with it and all gave it a thumbs up. The pasta sauce had such a nice flavor (mixing pesto and tomato, genius!) and was so easy, I plan to use it on spaghetti when I want something with more pizazz.

More, please!

Even my 'greens hater' husband liked the spinach in this dish. You can lessen or increase the spinach amount as you see fit. I used the recipe amount and found it perfect. Remember, spinach wilts A LOT when cooked, so you'll end up with 1/4 (or less) of what you see fresh.

Enjoy my friends. I'm back!

Baked Penne with (Faux) Sausage and Spinach
adapted from In Good Taste

Canola or olive oil, to cook with
3/4 cup Smart Choice soy crumbles (aka - Faux Sausage)
1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 28 oz. (540 mL) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup pesto (out of a jar)
3 cups uncooked penne, rigatoni or rotini pasta (preferably a whole wheat or brown rice variety)
1 10 oz. bag baby spinach leaves
1 ½ cups grated part-skim mozzarella
1/2 - 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Getting ready for the oven

In a large saucepan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and cook the soy crumbles, onion and garlic until heated through and onion begins to turn translucent (approx. 4-5 minutes). Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the pesto and some salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain it well and toss it with the spinach (coarsely tear the spinach up with your hands as you add it), mozzarella and about half the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Stir in the hot tomato sauce, which will slightly wilt the spinach.

Divide among portion size baking dishes (you could eat half and freeze half*), aluminum containers (to gift a serving size, nice folks that we are - ha), or one 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

*At this point the dish can be cooled completely, covered with foil (I also like to add a layer of saran wrap on top, pressed directly onto the pasta to avoid freezer burn. But don't forget to remove it before you bake the dish!) and frozen for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen.

Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes (40 if frozen - so the recipe says. I usually find frozen pasta takes at least 30 minutes extra to cook through, but test it yourself after 15 minutes and keep going until it's done) until bubbly and golden. Serves 6-8.

Guten appetit!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fix, Freeze, Feast

Even before we had the little chef's helper, I had my lazy nights, where I did NOT want to cook. Or maybe I was just busy, and/or got home late. Cooking can be the last thing I want to do on certain days.

I've learned ways to get around cooking on those nights. I love to double our pasta casserole recipe and freeze half for later. Sometimes I'll make 'brinner' (breakfast for dinner - french toast is usually my favorite). Or we have (gasp) a frozen pizza at all times in the freezer.

But here's a cookbook devoted to making large portions of a dish, freezing it in smaller dinner portion amounts, and then feasting on your hard work at a later date! I love it. (Wish I'd thought of it, actually)

Fix Freeze Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik

AND, they have sample recipes! Wish they had a vegetarian sample recipe, but that's ok. Most of the book looks to be meat related, but there's a whole section for vegetarian MAIN DISHES. That's key, as a lot of cookbooks have vegetarian meals, but they're pretty much side dishes. Um, that's not enough peeps. We like to eat a full meal, thanks.

If you don't want to buy the whole book though for one section of recipes, perhaps you can peruse the book at Barnes and Noble and take your iphone with you to copy a few of the veggie recipes. Shhh, did I say that?

Since my sister bought the book, I've already perused it (and plan to use it. ha, that rhymes!) Here are some of the recipes included that I'm excited about: Asparagus and Potato Frittata, Thai Red Curry with Vegetables, Teriyaki Sauce, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Cheese Biscuit Mix, Five-Spice Cookies, and Ginger Cookies. There were a number of portobello mushroom recipes, but as you may know, I'm not a fan. However, I do realize, you might be.

Aaaaand, get ready for another gasp... I might as well tell you now, we are going to feed our chef's helper meat (no, this wont change the blog to a meat blog!). However, we happen to think that he should make his own choice in being vegetarian, or not. So, in the meantime (as he's only able to drool and coo right now, and not hold a conversation about vegetarianism), we'll give him meat so that he gets acquainted with it and knows the taste. When he's old enough, we can talk to him about why mommy and daddy don't eat meat.

Have a great weekend, and guten appetit!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Fast, easy, and... not worth making again. Darn. Don't you just hate when you try a new recipe and you're excited at how simple and delicious it sounds, and then, it doesn't deliver? Double darn.

The owner of these potatoes raved about them, so I hate to say otherwise. Maybe if I used a different Parmesan or added some extra herbs (but then it wouldn't be the fast, easy side dish I was hoping for). Darn, darn, darn.

I'm still going to post the recipe, and I'm not telling you to never make these. Maybe they will strike one of you as a tasty side dish, who knows. Maybe my taste buds were simply on strike. Yeah, maybe that was it.

What went wrong?! You LOOK so good....

Ho hum. My quest for a simple, yummy roast potato recipe continues. (Not that I'm searching in earnest, mind you)

Although the potatoes were not my fav, I have many, many more recipes to try from For the Love of Cooking. She has some great dishes posted and 106 vegetarian recipes! Go check her out.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes
from For the Love of Cooking

9-10 small baby Dutch yellow potatoes
3-4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
Garlic powder, to taste
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (Notice I didn't use parsley! Maybe that was my downfall)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil a large pot of water and boil the potatoes for 4-5 minutes. Remove from water and let cool. Once cooled, slice into quarters and combine with olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper as well as the Parmesan. Mix thoroughly and place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.

Place into the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and taste, re season with sea salt, cracked pepper, or garlic powder if needed. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Guten appetit!