Friday, May 29, 2009

Dutch Babies, the 'Big Pancake'

This is another delicious breakfast recipe from my friend Sonya. While we stayed at her house, she made 'big pancake' one morning. Her kids loved it, and so did I!

It was so easy. No messing around with watching the pancakes, flipping the pancakes, making multiple batches because they don't all fit on the pan at once, etc. Heat oven, melt butter, stir 3 ingredients together and bake. Easy, easy, easy.

And what's more, this recipe would be fun to play with. Add a pinch of nutmeg or an 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla. Do as you please! But the basic recipe is so easy and tasty, it's hard to find the desire to change it. It's greatness is it's simplicity.

Toppings are the same, do as you please... fresh fruit with whipped cream in summer, organic maple syrup in winter, a light dusting of powdered sugar for those who prefer just a little sweet, or perhaps some strawberry jam. Yum! All of it. Yum.

Enjoy this one, it's one of our favorites.

Big Pancake
from Sonya

1/2 stick butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place butter in 9x13 (or equivalent size) oven-safe baking dish. Put in oven, then remove once butter has melted.

In a large bowl, beat (use a hand mixer or whisk) the eggs until light. Add milk and mix, then flour and mix until well combined.

Pour batter into baking dish (no need to stir or mix with the butter), and place in the oven.

Cook for 20 minutes, or until browned and puffed up the sides. Serves 4-5 people.

Very easy to half the recipe, or to make slightly less: use 1/3 stick butter, 3 eggs, 3/4 milk and 3/4 flour and use an 8 inch pan.

More pancake recipes:
- Dee's Oatmeal Pancakes, from Simply Recipes
- Swedish Pancakes, from Anne's Food
- Buckwheat Crepes, from David Lebovitz
- Chocolate filled Crepes with Cinnamon Crusts, from 80 Breakfasts

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Garlic Brandy Prawns

There are so many things I liked about this recipe - quick and easy, tasty, very healthy... but, I don't think it turned out quite right. Or maybe it did?

When you look at the picture, the prawns look dry. They weren't dry, they had a yummy flavor and were quite tender. But they had no sauce. Based on the original recipe picture, I expected at least a small amount of sticky, brandy sauce. Not so.

But again, it is really good recipe and the prawns tasted great. So I'm torn. I usually like a bit of sauce, to go with the rice (which due to no sauce, did seem dry).

Perhaps the answer to this recipe is to not serve the prawns over rice. Other options I am going to try in the future: Serve them along side some wok fried vegetables, in a mandarine orange/spinach leaf salad with the soy ginger salad dressing, or on skewers as an appetizer. Delicious!

Either way, this is a solid prawn recipe. I just think you need to give some thought on how to best serve them.

Yikes, what a dark photo! But, no time for photoshop...

Garlic Brandy Prawns
from Steamy Kitchen

1 pound tail-on shrimp/prawns, deveined
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 stalks green onion, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons cooking oil

Rinse prawns, pat completely dry and marinate in cornstarch and 1/2 tsp kosher salt for 5 minutes. Heat your wok or large skillet over high heat. When wok is hot, add 2 tablespoons cooking oil. When oil is hot and just starting to smoke, add prawns. Fry until they are half-done, approximately 1-2 minutes. Remove from wok, leaving the oil in the wok.

Turn heat to medium-high. Add the garlic, fry for 10 seconds. Add the brandy, salt, sugar, butter. Cook sauce for 1 minute to thicken slightly. Add the half-cooked prawns and green onion. Fry until prawns are cooked through, about 2 minutes (depends on size of your prawns).

Plenty of prawns to go around, more recipes:
- Sweet Chili Prawn Skewers, from Fig & Cherry
- Pan-fried Soy & Honey Prawns, from Greedy Gourmet
- Creamy Butter Prawns, from Food 4 Tots

Guten appetit!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pasta Fagioli

I know we're getting into warmer weather, but I love soup year round.

This was a ridiculously easy, super healthy soup and tasted realllly good. Tim immediately declared it 'a winner'. Sometimes, the simple things are most enjoyed.

It's not a heavy soup, so a side salad and some crusty whole wheat bread are a perfect accompaniment.

My only commentary on the recipe is to warn you not to overdo the peas. A 1/2 cup is the perfect amount. I love peas, so I deviated from the recipe and added about 3/4 cup, and gosh darn it if it wasn't slightly too much. Reason being, the peas give the savory soup just a hint of sweetness. With too many peas, it can overpower the soup. I know, who would have thought a few extra peas could do that?! But it was still delicious and Tim ate the leftovers the next day for lunch.

It doesn't make a lot, so I recommend doubling the recipe for leftovers or to freeze a couple portions for later. We got 2 dinners, and 1 lunch out of 1 recipe batch. Mm, mm, good.

Pasta Fagioli (pasta and bean soup)
from Walgreens Health Corner & ChefMD

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 carrots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
One-quarter teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups low-salt vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) uncooked whole wheat gemelli (small twisted pasta), or small shell pasta
1 can (14.5 ounces) seasoned diced tomatoes, undrained - such as Muir Glen brand (I used diced tomatoes with basil)
1 can (15 to 16 ounces) kidney beans or red beans, rinsed and drained (I used cannellini beans, kidney beans seem too much like a chili bean to me)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
One-quarter cup chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley (I didn't have this, and was fine)
1/4 cup grated Romano or Asiago cheese (We used parmesan)

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and carrots; cook 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook 1 minute. Add broth and pasta; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beans; return to a simmer and cook 5 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir in peas; heat through. Ladle into shallow bowls; top with basil and cheese.

Substitutions: Freshly shelled peas may be substituted for frozen peas; stir them into the soup with the tomatoes and beans. Great Northern or cannellini beans may replace the kidney or red beans.

Tips: Leftover soup will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. For extra flavor, drizzle a small amount of rosemary-infused olive oil over the soup just before serving.

More pasta soup recipes from the blogosphere:
- Garden Pasta Soup, from Cooked from the Heart
- Tortellini Pasta Soup with Blue Cheese, from Foodie by Nature
- Vegetable Soup with Orzo, from Cook Almost Anything at least Once

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Perfect Pie Crust (Savory or Sweet)

This crust truly lives up to it's name. Easy to make, and portions great into freezer friendly crusts for future. If you're going to make a pie crust, why not have some left over to make a future pie faster and easier to whip up? Make life easy on yourself.

I suppose, if it's a perfect crust, it also needs to taste great, right? It does. I've used it on both sweet (apple and pumpkin) pies, as well as savory pies (pot pie and quiche). They all tasted delicious!

The only trick I found, is giving yourself enough time to dethaw the crust, if you are using a frozen portion. Fresh is obviously no problem.

If using a frozen portion: Simply unwrap all but one of the saran wrap layers and lay it out on your counter to dethaw for approximately 20 minutes. If it's too hard, it will crack and be difficult to work with. It doesn't have to be completely thaw though, as it will still be malleable and small cracks can be pinched back together.

I got 3 crusts from the recipe, but should have been able to make 4. The crusts were a little thick. Tammy says you can get 6 (3 pies, with tops), but I don't see that. You'd have to roll really thin.

It's great if you are hosting a party where you need multiple crusts for your dishes. For example, you're hosting wedding shower and wanting to serve a couple quiches and a strawberry pie for dessert. Or you are making a quiche for Christmas morning, and an apple pie for Christmas dessert. Or, you're making a quiche, and want to make life easy on yourself down the road, next time you're making a pie or quiche. You wont regret using this crust.

Perfect Pie Crust

from Tammy's Recipes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup butter or shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg
1/2 cup cold water

In a mixing bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar. Cut in butter until pea-sized lumps remain. In a separate bowl, beat vinegar, egg, and water. Add to flour/butter mixture and stir/mix just enough to make a dough. Mixture will be sticky still. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (I usually refrigerate for an hour or more). Roll into shape (on floured surface) and use with fruit, pumpkin, or any pie requiring an unbaked crust. For pies requiring a pre-baked crust, bake at 425 degrees until slightly browned.

This recipe will make three medium-thickness 9-inch pie crusts (including tops). If you like a thicker crust, it will do 2 pies with tops. If you roll really thin, you can get 4!

Dough can be refrigerated up to three days or frozen until ready to use.

Delicious sweet pies you can make with this crust:
- Vegetable Pot Pie
- Blueberry Pie, from Andrea's Recipes
- Cindy Crawford's Strawberry Pie, from Not Quite Nigella
- Blackberry Pie, from Alpineberry

Guten appetit!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Best Bran Muffins

You may think my mom created this recipe, as I call them 'moms bran muffins', but don't be fooled. My mom is a smart, busy woman, and likes fast, easy, delicious recipes as much as I do. And we get them from wherever we can. We don't discriminate.

This recipe came from a cereal box. Yes, a cereal box. I'm not sure if she had some extra bran cereal she wanted to get rid of one day, or if she just had a hankering when she saw the recipe one morning. Whatever caused her to make this recipe though, I am forever grateful. We love it and it's a staple for our family. The added bonus? It's easy, and it's ridiculously healthy.

You can still find the recipe on Kellogg's website, but no longer does it grace the side of the cereal box. I should write a letter and tell them what a huge mistake that is. Maybe another day.

Tim's opinion: These rival Morning Glory Muffins. It's hard to know which is the true top muffin though, both are so good.

Hope you enjoy!

Moms Bran Muffins

from Kellogg's

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups "all-bran original" cereal
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine all-bran cereal and milk. Let stand about 2 minutes or until cereal softens. Add egg and oil. Beat well. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined.

Portion evenly into twelve 2 1/2 inch muffin pan cups coated with cooking spray, or use muffin liners (much less messy!).

Bake at 400 degrees 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

They are also great the next day, and freeze well (up to 2 months). If frozen, reheat in the microwave (no need to dethaw) for one to one and a half minutes, and it's ready to eat!

A bran muffin is not just a bran muffin:
- Whole Grain Ginger Pear Bran Muffins, from Farmgirl Fare
- Raisin Bran Muffins, from Cooking with Amy
- Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins, from Eat Me Delicious

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sesame Marinated Tofu

First and foremost, Happy Birthday Butter! Tomorrow is Tim's birthday, and I couldn't be happier or more proud of the amazing husband and father he is. We sing, we laugh, we love - we have a wonderful life. I love you, so very much.

Secondly, because of the picture, I'm just now noticing a particular habit with marinated tofu... I always serve it with rice. Anyone else pick up on that? Don't be boring (or lazy?) like me, use noodles or a mix of stir-fried veggies to accompany the tofu. I'm going to try noodles next time, really. Although, I have to admit, it tasted great with rice.

However, back to the recipe. This was another great tofu marinade that Tim and I eagerly gobbled up! Most tofu marinades I've found have 3 things in common: soy sauce, ginger and sesame. Well, there's a reason for that - it's good. Really good.

Bursting with flavor, the only thing I would adapt in this recipe is the soy sauce. If you are not a big salt fan, go easy with it. Especially when you press the tofu. Our pressed tofu (...which I usually never do. Again, I'm lazy) really did pick up a lot more of the marinade, and the major flavor of this recipe is soy sauce.

Also, skip the pressing of tofu if you're in a hurry (or lazy), but let it marinate for as long as you can. For example, make the tofu marinade before work, and by the time you are home, you only have to make a side and pan fry the tofu for a wonderful dinner.

Sesame Marinated Tofu
adapted by Tofu for Two, from Epicurious

1 14 ounce block firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup soy sauce (use low sodium soy sauce, if possible)
2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
3 teaspoons grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green chili pepper, diced (I used hot chili pepper flakes)
3 tablespoons canola oil
3 teaspoons raw cane sugar (I used 5 teaspoons regular sugar)
1-2 teaspoons of lime juice

First, drain and press the tofu: Cut the tofu into slices 1-2 cm thick, then wrap a kitchen towel between the slices, and put a weight on top of the slices, or press them with your hands. Take care not to use too much strength, so the texture of the tofu stays intact. Once the towel is wet, replace it, and repeat the procedure a couple of times. This dramatically improves the ability of tofu to absorb tastes.

Next, cut the tofu into desired shape (I made triangles, or you can make cubes, etc). Place the tofu in a container with a tightly sealed lid.

Combine the ginger, garlic and chili, and add the rest of the ingredients. Pour the marinade over the tofu, close the container, and shake it thoroughly. Place tofu in the refrigerator, ideally overnight, but at least for a couple of hours, shaking it every now and then.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, place the tofu in the pan. No oil is necessary, since the tofu has some in it from the marinade. Cook the tofu until browned on each side, stirring or flipping as necessary.

Or try these alternate ways of cooking the tofu: Grilled kabobs, spreading the rest of the marinade on the vegetables before barbecuing. Or in stir-fries.

More recipes for marinated tofu:
- Grilled Marinated Tofu Wraps, from Fun & Food Blog
- Marinated Tofu and Cucumber Skewers, from Raspberry Eggplant
- Ginger Sesame Tofu, from The Book of Yum
- Maple Roasted Tofu with Asparagus, from Veggie Meal Plans (this is definitely on my to-try list!)

Guten appetit!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pamper Mom

This is for the boys. Print and give this to the man in your life.

Some men are blessed with the interest and ability to whip up a fantastic meal. Others avoid the kitchen like the plague. Either way, this list gives any guy the opportunity to shine! I love these super easy, simple directions.

For the dads, make mom's day special, outside of the kitchen. Or maybe you know of a teenage boy, living with his mom. Hand him this list, and give him a nudge in the right direction - to stop and remind his mom how much he appreciates her.

I can't wait to celebrate my first Mother's Day! How very lucky I feel, to have my amazing husband and son in my life.

Make Mom breakfast:

adapted from WebMd

* Bake reduced-fat cinnamon rolls (in the pop-fresh can from Pillsbury, found in the refrigerated section).
* Use reduced-fat Bisquick and follow the directions on the box to make pancakes or waffles. If you are making pancakes, jazz them up by stirring in some frozen blueberries. If you are making waffles, top them with sliced strawberries and serve with a dollop of Light Cool Whip or light whipped cream (from the pressurized can, also in the refrigerated section of the grocery store).
* Blend up a strawberry smoothie: 5 large strawberries (frozen are OK), one container light or fat-free strawberry yogurt, and a banana. Put all ingredients into blender, and blend. Add milk as needed, to reach desired consistency. Serves 1.
* Layer up a beautiful yogurt parfait in a tall glass. Use flavored yogurt, top with berries or sliced fruit, then low-fat granola. Repeat the layers, if there's room in the glass.
* Start with multi-grain toaster waffles. Top with fresh fruit, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and a dollop of Light Cool Whip or light whipped cream.
* Make an egg-and-cheese bagel open-faced in a toaster oven: Fry 1 egg in a pan coated with cooking spray (best to fry both sides, or be very careful not to break the yoke as you transfer it to the toaster oven). Place a whole-grain bagel half in the toaster for about 30 seconds (enough to get the top crispy, without toasting too much; you still need to leave it in longer and melt the cheese! Place the egg on top of the bagel half, and sprinkle with sliced or shredded cheese of your choice. Continue to broil or toast until cheese is nicely melted. If you're worried about the cheese melting and making a mess, place the bagel on a toaster safe tray or piece of aluminum foil.
* Serve any of the above breakfast items with a fresh fruit kabob (just line up fruit chunks on a skewer) or a melon slice topped with grapes or fresh berries.


Make Mom lunch:

* Whip up a batch of albacore tuna salad with a can of water-packed solid white albacore tuna, drained; 1-2 tablespoons of light mayo; and some pickle relish (optional). Mix together in a bowl, with a dash of black pepper. Serve on her favorite bread with lettuce and tomato.
* Make a quick pasta salad by tossing cooked, cooled pasta; a handful of canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (also called Chickpeas); cubes of mozzarella or cheddar cheese; diced red pepper and/or broccoli florets; and bottled light Italian salad dressing.
* Bake up some nachos by layering reduced-fat tortilla chips; canned, vegetarian refried beans; shredded reduced-fat jack or cheddar cheese; and chopped green onions. Bake in 400-degree oven until cheese melts (10-15 minutes). Top with fat-free sour cream and salsa. You can add sliced ripe avocado, to be really fancy.
* Grill or pan-fry a Gardenburger (you'll find several flavors in the frozen food section) with a slice of cheese melted on top. Serve on a toasted multi-grain bun with grilled onions (Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat, and add a handful of sliced onions. Cook, stirring often, approximately 8-10 minutes, until the onions are starting to brown and look opaque) or sliced tomato and lettuce.

Make Mom dinner:

* Make a quesadilla by sandwiching shredded Jack or cheddar cheese inside two flour tortillas (use the higher-fiber ones if you can find them). Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a nonstick frying pan, and add the quesadilla. Fry on both sides, until the cheese melts; serve with sliced avocado, salsa, and fat-free sour cream.
* Grill some salmon teriyaki. Coat salmon filets with bottled teriyaki sauce, then broil or grill them until cooked throughout. Serve with cooked brown rice (follow the directions on the box or bag) and steamed veggies.
* Serve up soup in a bread bowl! Hollow out a small sourdough bread round (usually around 6 inches wide, and found in the bakery section) and fill with gourmet canned soup that you've heated in a saucepan over the stove (Wolfgang Puck has tasty soup options with 6 grams of fat or less per serving). Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese.
* Shrimp cocktail can be quickly put together with defrosted pre-cooked shrimp (from the frozen fish section) served in a pretty glass or bowl with bottled cocktail sauce.
* For quickie pasta, boil fresh packaged tortellini or ravioli, drain, then serve with bottled marinara sauce or pesto. Serve with cooked veggies.
* Make designer pizza! Start with a Boboli pizza crust and top with bottled pizza sauce. Add shredded cheese of choice and whatever toppings you desire (sun-dried tomatoes, mushroom slices, artichoke hearts, black olives, green or red pepper slices, etc.).

Don't forget the wine.

Guten appetit, and a very happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tangy Black Bean and Corn Salad - Dud!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

While I can't say that Tim and I celebrate Cinco de Mayo very often (or ever, unless a friend is throwing a party), I always think about it. Probably has to do with my love... obsession... desires... for mexican food. If I could have just one food for the rest of my life, it would definitely be something Mexican. A veggie burrito, fish tacos or perhaps enchiladas. It would be a tough choice to choose the specific dish, but it would be Mexican.

A party is definitely not happening this year, but maybe next year, when we're back in the states and resettled. A girl can dream - margaritas, guacamole and enchiladas, anyone?? Mmm.

As for today's recipe, I hope you've liked the last couple Mexican inspired dishes I've offered, cause this one was a dud. Sorry, they do come up on occasion. I whole heartedly can not recommend this recipe or dish. Sad, since it had such potential. And perhaps if I was more inspired, I could play with it to make it better. But when there are so many other yummy recipes out there, why fiddle with mediocrity?

Looks good, right?

The basics were good, but the dressing was very bland. All you taste is the olive oil. If you want to give this recipe a go, perhaps double, or triple, the spices. Or make the salad, and use a different dressing.

I made this salad as the recipe states, but added lettuce. I wanted it a bit more 'salady'.

Tangy Black Bean and Corn Salad
from VegCooking

2 15.5-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
6 green onions, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a salad bowl, combine the beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro, if desired.

Place the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper into a small jar. Cover with a lid and shake to mix thoroughly. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad ingredients and stir gently to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later, stirring again before serving.

As opposed to this salad, I would much prefer a delicious bowl of guacamole and plenty of corn chips for dipping.

Guten appetit!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tofu Tamale Pie

Although this is a vegetarian blog, I don't feel like I post a lot of tofu recipes. It's certainly not because we don't eat it, or even because we don't eat it often, we do. Oddly enough, when it comes to tofu, I just have a habit of making the same dishes we already like.

This was a welcome new addition to my tofu repertoire though. It had a similar consistency to a hash, with a slightly crispy top. Tasted wonderful and was thrown together in 10 minutes, then left to bake. Love that.

It's not a traditional 'tamale pie', as most have a cornbread topping. But it wasn't missed and the simplicity of making this dish was a very likable quality.

We ate it plain, adding salsa at the table. Next time, I would consider using this as a taco stuffing - with warm corn tortillas, lettuce and salsa. Or serve along side mexican rice and refried beans.

Tofu Tamale Pie
from VegCooking

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup water
1 (16-ounces) can tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 cup frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup corn meal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the oil and saute the onion, green pepper, and garlic until soft. Puree the tofu and water. Add the tofu puree and the remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour into a lightly oiled casserole dish or large iron skillet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.

More tamale pies, yum!
- Meatless Tamale Pie, from What Did You Eat?
- Crockpot Tamale Pie, from A Year of CrockPotting
- Black Bean Tamale Pie, from Eggs on Sunday

Guten appetit!