Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homemade Ciabatta Bread

On Thanksgiving Eve, my sister-in-law called and asked if I could bring rolls to dinner the next day. Not wanting to head to the store, I sorted through some previously bookmarked recipes and settled on three different yeast breads... that way we would have variety and a back-up in case one or more didn't turn out well. (I was working with yeast, after all, and while I've had success with it in the past, each time I approach it with a tiny bit of fear, and a smidgen of trepidation.)

Of the three that I made, these were the most work, but in some ways, the most rewarding. It starts out with a biga, or pre-ferment that is made the night before and used to create that beautiful texture found in ciabatta bread. Making the biga is easy as it is essentially combining yeast, flour, and water and allowing it become a big, soupy mess overnight.

The next morning, the biga is combined with more yeast and water, then flour and salt, allowed to rest, then kneaded in a stand mixture for 15-18 minutes. Here's where you have to really keep an eye on things, as my stand mixer tried to walk off my counter at about the 8 minute mark. Trust me, it's totally worth the extra attention.

After a rise, dough shaping, and another rise, and it's ready to bake. I elected to make the rolls instead of loaves, which were adorable, but the next time, I'm going to make the loaves. There was a lot of crunchy exterior to the soft, airy, chewy interior, and it made it harder for the kiddos to eat.

I wish I had taken a picture of the inside (it was beautiful), but you can check out a pretty amazing step-by-step here. They came out just as pictured. I love it when that happens.

A lot of work? Kinda. Worth it? Absolutely.

Homemade Ciabatta 
Yield: 2 loaves, or 16 rolls
Ingredients:

Biga
  • 4 ounce (1/2 cup) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 5 ounce (1 cup) all-purpose flour
Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the flour and stir to form a thick, gloppy paste. Give it a good fifty or so brisk stirs to build up the gluten. Cover and let sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.
By the next day, the biga will look soupy with many big bubbles dotting the surface.

Ciabatta
  • 17 ounces (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) water
  • 1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • Biga
  • 20 ounces (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Dissolve the yeast in the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Scrape the biga into the water and break it up with your spatula or squeeze it between your hands. You don't need to completely dissolve the biga; just loosen it up and break it into stringy blobs.

Add all of the flour and the salt. Stir to form a thick, very wet dough. Let this rest for 10-20 minutes to give the flour time to absorb the water.

Fit your standing mixer with a dough hook and knead at medium speed for 15-18 minutes (Level 5 or 6 on a KitchnAid). Keep a close eye on your mixer as it has a tendency to "walk" on the counter at this speed.
The dough will start off sticking to the bottom and sides of the bowl. Around the 7-minute mark, it will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl, collect around the dough hook, and regularly slap the sides of the bowl. If it doesn't, nudge your mixer speed up a notch. Also, if the dough starts climbing the dough hook, stop the mixer and scrape it down again. By the end of kneading, the dough will look smooth and creamy with a glossy shine. It will puddle back into the bowl once you turn off the mixer, and this is fine.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at 70° - 75° for 2-3 hours, until tripled in bulk.

Dust your work surface heavily with flour. Set two sheets of parchment near your work surface. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the flour, taking care not to deflate it too much. Dust the top of the dough with more flour. Using a pastry scraper or pizza wheel, cut the dough in two pieces for loaves or into 16 pieces for rolls.

Brush your hands with flour. Working gently but swiftly, scoop the the loaves (or the rolls) one at a time from the work surface to the parchment. Press your fingertips about halfway into the dough to dimple the surface and slightly flatten the loaves (or rolls). Let the loaves (or rolls) rise, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. When ready to bake, they should look pillowy with many big bubbles just beneath the surface.

Preheat the oven to 475°F while the loaves are rising. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven now.
When ready to bake, slide the loaves, still on the parchment, onto a pizza peel or baking sheet. Transfer them to the oven to cook, either on the baking stone or directly on the baking sheet if you don't have a stone. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Slip the parchment out from under the loaves and cool completely before eating.

Source: The Kitchn

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Apple Pie Cookies

Who doesn't love apple pie? Well, me, for one. It has never been one of my favorites. Give me a peach or cherry pie any day, but apple.... nah. That is, until more recently. It's been growing on me, and has encouraged the purchase of my fair share of Cortland, McIntosh, Granny Smith, and Honey Crisp apples this year.

When I saw these apple pie cookies on Smitten Kitchen, it was love at first sight. Pastry wrapped cinnamon and sugar apple slices, topped with coarse sugar.... Yes, please.

The crust is the star of this show, so I'd encourage you to make your own crust instead of going with store-bought. If you've not had success in the past or are fearful of failure, let me share with you the key to a flaky crust: cold everything. The butter, flour, water, your hands. Everything. You want to see the butter chunks in your crust. Also, having a beloved recipe helps, and I happen to have just that!

Sassafras Bakery's pies are delicious and their crusts are sublime. The owner of Sassafras Bakery, AJ Perry, recently shared her signature apple pie recipe with Food & Wine magazine, so I went with her crust on this instead of the one published on the original recipe. See those flaky layers above. Sweet, sweet, buttery, flaky layers.

Just out of the oven, they tasted just like an apple pie. As they cooled, the apple flavor was less dominate, so I think next time I will slice my apples just a little thicker than the original 1/8" the recipe calls for.

Smitten Kitchen has some great step-by-step photos showing how to put these beauties together. They are a little more complicated than your standard cookie recipe, but it's worth a little extra work for some extra flaky layers. Portable pie yumminess for the win.

Apple Pie Cookies
Yield: Approx. 20-24 cookies
Note from Smitten Kitchen: "Promise me that you won’t mess around with soft pie dough, here or anywhere. The single easiest way to master pie crusts is to decide at the outset that you won’t waste your energy on limp, stretchy dough. As soon as your dough softens, transfer whatever you’re doing to the freezer for two minutes to chill it again. Soft dough is hard to work with. It’s stretchy and doesn’t cut clean shapes, it gets sticky and you compensate by over-flouring it and that stickiness is those tiny bits of butter that will be your layers of flakes later disappearing, melting before they hit the oven and sealing into zillions of buttery pockets. It will also annoy you and make you think that you’re bad at working with pie dough but you’re not. You’re just warm-blooded and you need to put the pie dough back to chill for two minutes."
Ingredients:
Crust:

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled
  • 1/4 c. ice water (plus more as needed, added a tablespoon at a time)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar (optional) 
Filling:
  • 3 medium apples, whatever you like to bake with (I used Granny Smith)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Few gratings fresh nutmeg
To finish:
  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse or granulated sugar for garnish
Other items needed:
  • A couple baking sheets covered with parchment paper
  • Rolling pin, pastry brush (for egg wash), fork (for crimping and dipping) and sharp knife (to make slits)
  • Two round cookie cutters of different sizes. I used 2 1/2-inch and 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch rounds. You’ll want to make sure there’s at least a 3/4-inch different in the sizes, as you’ll need the extra margin to crimp your dough. 
For the pie dough:
In a food processor, combine the flour and salt (and sugar, if using). Add the butter and pulse in 1-second bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle the ice water over the dough and pulse in 1-second bursts until it just comes together. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather any crumbs and pat it into 2 disks. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour.

Meanwhile, get everything else together: Line up six small dishes. In the first one, pour some water. Leave the second one empty; you’ll use it for your apples in a bit. In the third one, mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and any other spices you like in your pie, such as a pinch of cloves. In the fourth one, place a little bit of flour to dust your surface and dip your fork for crimping. In the fifth one, whisk an egg with one teaspoon of water until smooth. In the last one, or in whatever container you keep it in, add some coarse or regular sugar for decorating the tops of the pies.

On a well-floured counter, roll out your pie dough pretty thin, a little shy of 1/8-inch thick. Lift and rotate your dough as you roll it, to ensure that it rolls out evenly and so you can be sure it’s not sticking in any place. Use the larger of your two cookie cutters [mine was 2 1/2-inch) to cut as many rounds as you can from the dough. Transfer them to parchment-lined baking sheets and keep them in the fridge until you need them. Once you’ve finished the first packet, repeat the process with the second packet of dough.

Prepare your apples: Peel your apples. Cut thin (about 1/8-inch thick) slices from one side of whole apple, stopping when you hit the core. Repeat on opposite side. I got about 10 usable slices from each side of my small-medium-ish apples. Use the smaller of your two cookie cutters (mine was about 1 2/3 inches) to cut the apples into cute little discs that will fit inside your pie cookies. Place them in your second bowl, covering them with a few drops of lemon juice if you find that they’re browning quickly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

And now, assemble away! Grab your first disc of chilled dough and lightly dampen it on one side with the water. This is to help it seal. Take your first disc of apple and toss it in the cinnamon spice sugar. Place it on the damp side of the bottom disk. Place a second disc of dough on top; I found it easiest to seal it by picking the whole thing up (this is when you’ll be glad that your dough is cold and semi-firm; if it’s soft and getting sticky, chill it until it’s easy to pick up) and press the tops and bottoms around the apple with your fingers.

Back on the floured counter, cut decorative slits in your “pies”. Dip your fork in the flour and use it to create a decorative crimp on the sealed edges. Brush your cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Replace on baking sheet and chill while you prepare the others.

Bake your apple pie cookies for 25 minutes, or until puffed and bronzed and very pie-like. (If this is your first batch, peer in at them at 20 minutes, to make sure your oven doesn’t run hot.) Transfer to a cooling rack to cool before eating them if you have that kind of willpower.

Do ahead: These will keep for a few days at room temperature. You could also make a larger batch of these, doing everything but brushing them with egg and sprinkling them with sugar, and keep them frozen until needed. Bake them directly from the freezer, just adding a couple minutes to the baking time.

Source: Crust slightly adapted from Sassafras Bakery's recipe. Filling and process from Smitten Kitchen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Simple Cookie Glaze

My youngest daughter just celebrated her fifth birthday. I would love to freeze time and keep her little forever, but since I can't, I'm trying to just enjoy it as much as I possibly can.
Since we've already established I am no good at stopping time, I can at least share with you a recipe for a cookie glaze that stops in it's own tracks. Really. It's nice and thick, spreads incredibly easy, but then stays where it's supposed to. To make it even more wonderful, it hardens into a pretty (and stackable!) finish.

The birthday girl insisted on a pink icing with sprinkles, but you can make it any color your heart desires. The King Arthur Flour site even shows pictures of cookies decorated with several colors, making it a quick fix for your Christmas sugar cookies.

I wanted a little citrus-y flavor in our icing, so I added some Fiori di Sicilia flavoring from King Arthur, but I would imagine that the sugary glaze would be good either by itself, or with a little vanilla/almond/random other flavor extract added. I found it super easy to just dip the cookie in, scrape the excess off, and let the glaze settle into itself on the cookie. The key is to follow the measurements below pretty close to exactly in order to ensure the consistency is thick enough not to run off the cookie, but thin enough to spread cleanly. It's kind of magical to watch, and totally rewarding after going through all the work of making cutouts.

Simple Cookie Glaze
Yield: 2/3 cup
Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 ½ to 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. milk
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp. Fiori di Sicilia extract or other extract (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the milk, and optional extract until smooth. Add food coloring, if desired.  

Spread one cookie with glaze, using a table knife or offset spatula. If it doesn't smooth out after 1 minute, dribble in additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the glaze reaches the right

Some notes for KAF:
  • Be sure you measure accurately here. Too little milk, and the glaze won't spread nicely. Too much milk, and it will be thin, spotty and develop splotches overnight. 
  • Once the glaze has hardened, you can color on it with food-safe markers, or you can pipe another color over the top with Royal Icing. You can sprinkle sugar on top of the wet royal icing for a sparkly effect.
Source: King Arthur Flour

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta

The buffalo + chicken + cheese combination is a real winner in my house. Those three in combination with about anything else is almost guaranteed to be a hit with my husband. It's his own personal trifecta, if you will. When I asked if this buffalo chicken pasta sounded good for dinner, I'm pretty sure he responded with something along the lines of "Good God, yes."

There is a bit of prep for this dinner, but it could actually be broken down a bit or done in advance. I had some leftover chicken breast that I was able to use, and I cooked both my pasta and the cheese sauce at the same time. I believe everything was ready to be put in the oven about 25 minutes after I started. While it was baking into a spicy, cheese-laden pan of deliciousness, my lovely husband cleaned up the pre-dinner dishes. I think it was his little way of telling me he would support the making of this dish whenever I decided to make it. I {heart} teamwork. ;)

The finished product was delicious, but was lacking that little extra oomph that we were hoping to have from the buffalo sauce. It may have been that I was just short of the 1/3 c. needed, but next time, I'll go a little more heavy handed on it. We added some extra to the leftovers and it was delicious. The cilantro, green onions, and blue cheese really finished the dish beautifully. Even our youngest enjoyed eating the "spicy macaroni and cheese." Maybe she's just a girl after her daddy's heart.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Serves: 4-6 main dish portions
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. pasta (I used orecchiette)
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into chunks
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 4 oz. grated monterey jack cheese (I used half a brick) + more for topping
  • 1/3 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese + more for topping
  • 1/3 c. buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/3 c. panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For garnish: 3/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, additional buffalo wing sauce
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color. Add milk, stir and turn down heat to low. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in grated cheeses and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in buffalo wing sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spray a baking dish (9 x 13 is fine) with non-stick spray. Add pasta and chicken, then pour cheese sauce over and mix throughly until everything is coated. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve with gorgonzola, green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce.

Source: How Sweet Eats

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mini Meatball Sliders with Basil Pesto

There are a lot of things pesto goes well with: pizza; pasta; as a dressing for salad; on a turkey sandwich. But adding it in addition to a marinara sauce was new to me. If it's a new concept for you as well, let me tell you, it's delicious.

The marinara sauce alone is a great reason to make this sandwich. It's honestly one of the best homemade sauces I've ever had. Whether it's the blend of ingredients, the length of time it simmers, or the fact that the meatballs are actually cooked in the sauce that make it so good, I'm not sure. All I know is that I want to eat it by the spoonful, find bread to dip in it, and may have done a mini happy dance when I realized there would be leftovers for another meal.

On to the meatballs: I was a bit skeptical of cooking the meatballs in the sauce. Would they be cooked all the way through? Would I miss the browning on the outside? I should not have worried. They turned out delicious, and were cooked all the way through. The only change I would make to the meatballs would be a bit more seasoning. They were good, but a little crushed red pepper flakes, or a little more of the garlic/basil combo would not have been a bad thing.

The total cook time on this is a little daunting as the sauce simmers for just under two hours, but it's a lot of inactive, hands off time. And trust me, totally worth it.

Two of these sandwiches with some chips and a salad made a great dinner, but I could just as easily see making these to snack on while watching some football, or having friends over. You can easily freeze any leftover sauce to pull out for a quick spaghetti dinner. It's really something special.


Mini Meatball Sliders with Basil Pesto 
Yield: Approx. 20 sliders

Ingredients:
For the sauce:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • Water (optional)

For the meatballs:
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs, divided (I like panko)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • ½ tsp. dried basil

For the pesto:
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 small cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the sliders:
  • About 2 dozen white dinner rolls
  • Spray olive oil
  • Sliced provolone cheese (about 12 slices, depending on size)

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and sauté until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for at least 2 hours.

To make the meatballs, combine ¼ cup of the breadcrumbs with the milk in a medium mixing bowl.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Add the remaining breadcrumbs, ground beef, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and basil to the bowl.  Mix well until thoroughly combined.  Form into meatballs, about 1¼ inches in diameter.  Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce is finished. Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 35-45 minutes.

To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube until well incorporated.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the sliders, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Slice the dinner rolls in half and lay open on a baking sheet.  Spray the rolls lightly with olive oil.  Bake for 5 minutes, just until lightly toasted.  Slice a cooked meatball in half and place both halves on the bottom portion of a roll, flat side down.  Spoon a small amount of sauce over the meatball.  Top with sliced provolone.  Repeat with the remaining rolls.  Bake again, 5 minutes more, just until the cheese is melted.  Spoon a small amount of additional sauce over the provolone, and finish small spoonful of the pesto on top.  Serve immediately.

Source:  Annie's Eats

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling


Fall is my favorite season: leaves changing, OSU football (though that hasn't been much to celebrate as of late. Geesh!), cooler nights, and all the tasty pumpkin and apple treats. It seem as though my Google Reader is overflowing with sumptuous treats to try, but this one practically begged to be tried.

A perfectly spiced pumpkin cake-like cookie, sandwiched with a smooth and beautiful cream cheese filling screams fall to me like nothing else. My friend Jo said they tasted a lot like a little pumpkin roll and I completely agree. As it turns out, I really needed some fall goodness in my life and promptly inhaled more of these than I care to admit in such a public forum. They are addictive. You've been warned.

If you need a little extra fall goodness in your life too, these are a great place to start. I used both my mini scoop and my cookie dough scoop to make several different sizes and it worked out perfectly. The recipe yielded a ton of these tasty treats (something close to 38-40 mini sandwiches and 10 regular sized) and was pretty simple to put together. All the cookie ingredients are mixed with a whisk, and a mixer is only needed for the icing. The icing included maple syrup to give it that extra little something-something, but mine got lost in there somewhere. Next time I make these, I'm pulling out the Grade B maple syrup and using that instead.

They seemed to keep fine for about two days in the fridge. After eating our fair share and sharing with friends, family, and neighbors, we didn't have any that lasted past two days. :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground fresh nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk to sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping TBSP (or smaller) of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling.

Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese an beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful no to over-beat the filling, or it will lose structure.

To assemble:
Turn half the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe filling (about a TBSP) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.

Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, who adapted it from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

What is there to say about these cookies? The title is alluring enough for me, but if you need more convincing, what if I told you that the edges are crispy while the middle is chewy; they are delicious both right out of the oven and after they've cooled down; and the dark brown sugar that is used adds a depth of flavor to these cookies that is really tasty. (I'm not gonna lie - using the dark brown sugar was a little scary and left me wondering if I had screwed everything up by not using good, old, reliable light brown sugar. Turns out, I was worrying needlessly.) If you don't have dark brown sugar, these cookies will still be delicious with light brown sugar substituted, I assure you.

I used a little package of mini peanut butter cups I picked up at Trader Joe's (what don't they carry?!), but this recipe would work splendidly with those new mini Reese's cups, or even the regular traditional sized, just cut into smaller chunks.

Serve warm or cold with a tall glass of milk. Sigh a happy sigh. Repeat.

Mini Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Yield: 18 large- / 36 regular-sized cookies
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 12 oz. package mini peanut butter cups (unwrapped, and chopped if not already bite-sized)
Preheat oven to 325°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silicon mat. Place butter and sugars in a mixer bowl, mix on medium high until well-combined, 2-3 minutes. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Stir in peanut butter cups until distributed. Chill dough 15 minutes.

Scoop 1/4-cup dough balls onto a lined baking sheet (if making large). Bake 11-15 minutes, until the edges brown and the center is still soft. Let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Source: Slightly adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally adapted from Cook's Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Easy Chocolate Marshmallow Fondue

My mom gave my husband and I this fun little fondue pot for our anniversary this year. Our daughters instantly wanted to break it in as they are no strangers to the deliciousness of chocolate fondue. Mama didn't raise no fools, if you know what I mean. :)

The girls helped me prep the ingredients and create our "dippers" list (I had our 7-yr. old write them down to encourage her to spell/sound them out). Then they watched in anticipation as we poured the chocolate-marshmallow fondue goodness into the bowl.
It was finger-licking good!

Easy Chocolate Marshmallow Fondue
Serves: 4
Ingredients:
  • 6 oz. milk chocolate, broken
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 5 large marshmallow, cut up
  • 2 Tbsp. whipping cream
  • Cubed fruit, cake, graham crackers, or marshmallows for dipping
Place the chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, add the marshmallows and milk, and microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each increment, until the chocolate and marshmallows are melted. Add whipping cream as needed until smooth. Re-warm an additional 15 seconds if needed, then place in fondue pot or bowl over a lit candle. 


Serve with fruit, angel food cake, graham crackers, marshmallow, cookies, etc. for dipping.

Source: Slightly adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Breakfast Sandwich Goodness

So this post isn't so much a recipe as it is a method: A very delicious and buttery method, at that. Think of it as a breakfast sandwich that puts others to shame. What's the secret? Simple. Tender, savory scones.

Prior to meeting AJ Perry, the creative and culinary genius behind Sassafras Bakery, I had only had a savory scone once before. It was delicious, but wasn't something I craved.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago: While talking with AJ about savory scones, she recommended warming the scone, and sandwiching a couple eggs in it. Intrigued, I tried it. It is not an understatement to say I was blown away. The tender scone was the perfect vehicle for transporting my fried egg white and cheesy goodness into my belly. The first scone I tried was a Sassafras's Roasted Corn and Jalapeno Scone, but my breakfast sandwich was equally delicious with the Butternut Squash and Spinach scone pictured above.

I would go so far as to say that about any savory combination would make a delicious egg sandwich: Ham and Gruyere (this one is a biscuit, but it's kinda like a scone), Bacon and Cheddar, Cheddar and Dill, and the list could go on. While I've never made any of the above, I've had them bookmarked to try for a long time.

Or, if baking one isn't your thing or you just want an amazing scone made for you, Sassafras Bakery usually has a savory option at the Worthington Farm Market every Saturday morning. Her scones are also sold at several retail locations around Columbus. You can check out her savory selection here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Corn Cakes with Tomato Relish

 
We've enjoyed so much farm-fresh produce through our farm market this year, and while I'm excited about fall being just around the corner, I'm really going to miss all the delicious local veggies we've been eating this summer.

These corn cakes are a tasty way to enjoy the last couple weeks of summer corn and tomatoes. The corn cakes are crispy, the tomato relish is very fresh and flavorful, and the ranch gives the dish the creamy finish it needs. We ate these as a light lunch, but they would also make a delicious side.

Summer won't be around for much longer, so enjoy this one while you can!
Corn Cakes
Yield: 12 Corn Cakes

Ingredients:
For the corn cakes:
  • 3 large ears of corn, shucked
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
For the relish:
  • 1 large tomato, cored and chopped
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1½ tsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced (I did not include)
  • Ranch dressing (optional)
Cut the corn kernels off of the cobs and  place in a large bowl. Place 2 cups of the corn kernels in the food  processor and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly pureed but  still chunky. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the remaining corn  kernels. Add the flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, and  baking soda to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to  mix well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and butter, and stir just to  combine.

To make the salsa, combine all of the  ingredients except the avocado in a medium bowl and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 days. Just before  serving, mix in the avocado.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan and heat  until sizzling hot. Scoop the batter into the skillet a heaping  tablespoon at a time, cooking the cakes in batches of 4 or 5 so that  they are not touching. Fry 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the cooked cakes to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining  batter.

Serve immediately topped with the relish and drizzled with ranch dressing, if desired.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Panzanella

    Annnndddd..... I'm back. I've been trying a bunch of new recipes, but a number of them have been so mediocre that I felt it would be a disservice to share. (Maybe I'll throw together an outtakes post...)

    Others have been placed in a "made, but not blogged" file, to remake, photograph, and share because they were delicious, but I just didn't get a chance to capture their loveliness with the camera.

    But this, my friends, was a lovely summer salad that I had to share immediately. This was dinner tonight and was the perfect way to use up some farm market veggies. Imagine this: Crusty ciabatta croutons infused with a Dijon and garlic champagne vinaigrette, tossed with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced red onions, yellow peppers and a sprinkling of fresh basil.

    Summer on a plate. Divine.

    Panzanella
    Serves 6
    Ingredients:
    • ½ loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1" cubes (approx. 3 cups)
    • 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
    • ½ tsp. kosher salt
    • ¼ tsp. black pepper
    • 2 medium, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1" cubes
    • 1 cucumber, unpeeled, and seeded, sliced ½" thick
    • 1 yellow pepper, seeded cut into 1" cubes
    • ¼ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
    • 10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped or julianned
    For the vinaigrette:
    • ½ tsp. finely minced garlic
    • ¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1½ Tbsp. champagne (or white wine) vinegar
    • ¼ c. good olive oil
    • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/8 tsp. pepper
    Preheat oven to 400º. Toss bread cubes with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper and bake for 8-9 minutes, stirring cubes halfway through baking. Set aside.

    For the vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together.

    In a large bowl, combine the vegetables and basil. Add bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about a half hour to allow the flavors to blend.

    Source: adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Harry Potter Inspired Recipes

    I'm so sad that I don't have the time today to whip up any themed-deliciousness to celebrate the last installment of the Harry Potter films, but these are the recipes I would make if I had time! If you have the time and are as excited to celebrate the culmination of a fantastic series, might I recommend:

    Butterbeer!

    This Butterbeer Recipe from Cherry Tea Cakes also looks delicious (and easy!):

    Butterbeer Cupcakes from Cooks Like a Champion. Seriously, how amazing do these look??

    Butterbeer Cookies from Bake at 350. I really wanted to make these today, but it just isn't in the cards. Soon, though!

    If Butterbeer isn't your cup of, well, buttery deliciousness, how about Pumpkin Pasties from Three Baking Sheets to the Wind? A pumpkin hand pie cannot be bad.

    Or maybe some Chocolate Frogs from Ezra Pound Cake. (Their insides are filled with peanut butter. Now that's a frog I can get behind eating.)

    Thank you to J.K. Rowling for a story that entranced, entertained, and enamored us to these characters from the beginning through to the end. I have loved every minute of the journey.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Sweet and Sour Chicken

    There is a great little Chinese restaurant that we've been going to for over 10 years. They make the most incredibly delicious egg rolls from scratch daily, and they use all white meat chicken in their dishes. The owners are also incredibly friendly and hospitable. I love this place so much that I'm pretty sure that if they ever close up shop, I might go into mourning.

    If that worse case scenario happens, at least I now have one yummy Chinese take out recipe I can fall back on. This chicken was sweet, glazed beautifully and turned out quite tasty. The only changes I may make next time would be to use a little less sugar in the sauce and add a little red pepper flakes to give the sauce a little kick.

    I will warn you that this recipe is a bit of a labor of love, but one that is well worth it if you have a craving for some Chinese take out. Now if anyone has tips for egg rolls, I'm all ears!

    Sweet and Sour Chicken
    Serves: 3-4
    Ingredients
    For the chicken:
    • 3-4 boneless,skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 3/4 cup cornstarch
    • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
    • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
    For the sauce:
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 4 tablespoons ketchup
    • ½ cup vinegar (preferably rice or white)
    • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    Preheat oven to 325°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

    Working in two batches, toss the chicken pieces in cornstarch and then coat with the egg. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and again in two batches, brown the chicken, turning it so that all sides are browned. Place the chicken in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish.

    Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour evenly over the chicken. Turn the chicken to ensure each piece is coated. Bake for 1 hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes.

    Source: Brown Eyed Baker

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Buttermilk Waffles

    I'm not sure why, but this morning just screamed "waffles". After a quick search in a fantastic cookbook that I was sure wouldn't let me down (America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book), I was ready to go. (Cookbook courtesy of the Westerville Public Library... Libraries are an awesome cooking resource. You can check out a book, make a couple recipes, and if you love them, you can support the author and pick up the book yourself. Or you can just re-check out the book. :) )

    Back to the waffles: They were crispy on the outside, chewy and delicious on the inside, and all had that beautiful, coveted golden-color. My kiddos all wanted seconds (and thirds), and they were filling enough that we only needed a very light lunch.

    This recipe is a little dish-intensive, but the end result made it more than worth it.
    Buttermilk Waffles
    Makes 6 - 8 waffles (depending on the waffle iron)
    Ingredients:
    • 2 c. (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
    • 2 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal (optional)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • ½ tsp. baking soda
    • 1 3/4 c. buttermilk
    • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • 2 large eggs, separated
    • Pinch cream of tartar
    Heat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside.

    Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal (if using), salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, and egg yolks together. In another medium bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip the whites to stiff peaks, 2 to 4 minutes.

    Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, and gently whisk together until just incorporated with a few lumps remaining (do not overmix.) Batter will be very thick. Carefully fold in the whipped whites using a rubber spatula until just combined with a few streaks.

    Spread the appropriate amount of batter onto the waffle iron and cook until golden brown, about 3½ minutes. Transfer the waffles to the wire rack (do not overlap), cover with a clean kitchen towel, and keep warm in the oven.

    Repeat with the remaining batter. Before serving, remove the towel and let the waffles crisp in the oven, about 3 minutes.

    Source: The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

    My oldest is not a fan of straight peanut butter. She'll take a thin layer of it on her PB&J's, thankyouverymuch, and don't even think about asking her to dip her apples in it. No way.

    Until today.

    My secret weapons for changing her mind? A little honey and vanilla yogurt added to the peanut butter. They both sweeten and smooth out the grainy natural peanut butter, and for my oldest, make it edible. My youngest (who loves peanut butter) naturally loved the dip because the peanut butter is still a predominate flavor. It's just tastier.

    *If you are making this with an already-sweetened peanut butter (like Jif), you may want to use a plain yogurt and reduce the amount of honey to taste.

    Peanut Butter Fruit Dip
    Ingredients:
    • ½ c. vanilla yogurt
    • ½ c. nut butter (peanut or almond)
    • ¼ c. honey
    • Fruit for dipping
    In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, nut butter, and honey. Serve with your choice of fruit for dipping.

    Source: This Homemade Life

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

    It's official. These pancakes are now our family's favorite pancake recipe.
    They are a quadruple threat: They have amazing taste, terrific texture, are easy to make, and turn out beautifully. They also happen to taste like a decadent morning treat, but without any of the work usually involved. The pancakes were ready to eat in less than 30 minutes.
    And the icing... How often do you get to eat pancakes with icing? Half of us enjoyed the icing, the other half thought maple syrup tasted the best. I would recommend trying both and deciding. The icing definitely thickened up a bit as the butter in it cooled, which I actually preferred, so next time I'll make the icing as I mix up the batter for the pancakes.

    It is an amazingly delicious splurge, and one that you should not put off any longer. I promise you'll love it, and I'm a woman of my word. Now what are you waiting for? The print-friendly button is below. ☺

    Cinnamon Bun Pancakes
    Yield: 12 3-inch pancakes
    Ingredients:
    • 1½ c. flour
    • 3 Tbsp. sugar
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 4 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 c. milk
    • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
    • 1/4 c. melted butter
    • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
    Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients and whisk together until well combined.

    Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Cook until brown on both sides. Serve with maple syrup or icing.

    Icing
    Ingredients:
    • 1 c. powdered sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
    • 2 Tbsp. milk
    Whisk the ingredients together until smooth and a pouring consistency. Icing will continue to thicken as it sits. If the icing is too thick, add more milk. If it's too thin, add more sugar.

    Source: Baked Bree

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Cilantro Lime Rice

    If the name conjured up images of a certain fast-casual restaurant (cough, Chipotle), this rice won't disappoint. My sister-in-law, Julie, shared this taste-a-like a couple weekends ago, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. The secret to imparting all that lime flavor into the rice is...

    (wait for it)

    Sauteing the rice in the lime juice before adding the water. Ingenious!

    Cilantro Lime Rice
    Serves: 4-6
    Ingredients:
    • 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
    • 2 medium limes, juiced
    • 1 & 1/3 c. water
    • 1½ c. basmati rice
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped (we increased this to closer to ¼ c., so plan to do this to taste)
    In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add lime juice and rice and stir for one minute. Add water and salt, and bring to a full rolling boil. Cover, reduce heat to low to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Stir in cilantro just before serving.

    *The cilantro can wilt/discolor in leftover rice, so if you are planning on having some leftover, I would suggest adding the cilantro to just the portion that you plan to use immediately.

    Source: My sister-in-law, Julie

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Easy Black Bean Burritos

    I love easy dinners, especially when they require little to no advanced planning. When they taste great and are pretty nutritious, even better. Take these burritos for example... They require almost all pantry staples, taste amazing with a nice cold beer, and are ready in 10 short minutes.

    Served with tortilla chips and cilantro-lime rice (recipe coming soon!), it's really a perfect dinner.

    Easy Black Bean Burritos 
    Serves: 3-4 Main Dish Servings
    Ingredients:
    • ½ tsp. dried minced onion (or substitute ¼ c. finely chopped onion, sauteed in ½ tsp. olive oil for 5 minutes to soften)
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic
    • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 tsp. ground coriander
    • ½ c. sour cream (plus additional for serving)
    • ½ c. purchased or homemade salsa (plus additional for serving)
    • 4 standard-sized flour tortillas (we use whole wheat tortillas)
    • 1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • ¼ c. chopped cilantro (for serving)
    In a large saucepan, combine onion, garlic, beans, coriander, sour cream, and salsa. Cook over medium heat, mashing beans a bit with the back of spoon, about 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Layer tortillas between paper towels and heat on high in microwave 30 seconds or until just warmend. Divide bean mixture among tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, and roll up. Top with additional salsa, sour cream, and/or cilantro and serve.

    Source: Colorado Collage

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Grownup "Dirt" Layered Dessert

    What do you get when you combine pulverized Oreo cookies, sweetened cream cheese, fresh sliced bananas, homemade chocolate pudding, and cool whip?

    Bliss.

    Rich, chocolatey bliss.

    Growing up, I always loved "Dirt": A chocolate pudding dessert with ground Oreos on top. The really yummy ones always had a gummy worm or two coming out of the pudding. Why did the gummy worms make it taste better? This dessert is similar, but just a bit fancier. Maybe a little healthier, too. I did mention there are bananas in the middle, right?
    Do kids still love it? Assuming they like pudding, it's a win. (My girls aren't really big on pudding.) You can even throw a gummy worm in, add a little extra dirt on the top and you'll be their hero.

    No need to make your own pudding. Instant pudding is actually used in the original recipe. But, if you want a super decadent chocolate pudding (with the added bonus of being gelatin-free), the recipe below is a winner.

    The recipe actually fills a 9"x13" pan (and would cut beautifully), but I halved it and made about 6 (large) individual servings. But if you're making it to bring to a Memorial Cookout (hint, hint), the 9"x13" would be perfect.

    Grownup "Dirt": No Bake Oreo Pudding Dessert
    Ingredients:
    • 30 (or about 2-1/2 cups) Oreo cookies, finely crushed
    • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
    • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
    • 2 Tbsp. cold milk
    • 1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip, thawed, divided
    • 4 bananas, sliced
    • *2 (3.9 oz.) pkg. chocolate instant pudding
    • *3-1/4 cups cold milk
    • 2 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
    *Omit these ingredients if making pudding from scratch. See recipe below.

    Mix cookie crumbs and butter, press onto the bottom of a 9"x13" dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    Beat cream cheese, sugar and 2 Tbsp. milk in medium bowl with whisk until well blended. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip and spread over crust. (I found starting in the middle and working out to the edges helped keep the crust crumbs in place.) Top with bananas.

    Beat pudding mixes and 3-1/4 cups milk with a whisk for 2 minutes. Spread over bananas. Let stand 5 minutes or until thickened. Cover with remaining cool whip. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Top with chocolate syrup just before serving.

    Source: Kraft Food and Family Magazine

    Chocolate Pudding
    Yield: 8 servings
    Ingredients: 
    • 4 c. whole milk
    • 1 c. sugar, divided
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1/3 c. Dutch process cocoa powder
    • 1/3 c. cornstarch
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (65%-75%), finely chopped
    • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    In a large saucepan, combine the milk, ½ c. sugar, and the salt, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

    In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ c. of sugar, the cocoa powder, and the cornstarch. Sprinkle this slowly into the milk, whisking constantly. Return to the heat and whisk constantly until thick and bubbling. Remove from the heat, make sure the mixture isn't boiling, and one at a time, whisk in the egg yolks, then the chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract. Whisk constantly until the chocolate has dissolved. Return to low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens again, being careful that it does not boil, then immediately remove from the heat and strain into a bowl.

    Spoon into desired serving bowls, and cover with plastic. If you don't want a skin to form on the pudding, place the plastic directly on top of the pudding. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

    Source: slightly adapted from New Classic Family Dinners

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Roasted Gobi Aloo (Cauliflower and Potatoes)

    I've shared with you all my love of roasted cauliflower, and I also love roasted potatoes, so imagine my delight when I saw that they were the star of this popular vegetarian Indian dish!

    Having never heard of Gobi Aloo before, I didn't know what to expect, but the finished product did not disappoint. Roasting the potatoes and cauliflower was sheer genius as it automatically elevated both of these ingredients. The spice blend added a nice flavor to the dish without making it "spicy". Nate actually felt that it could use a little more heat so I may add in some of our spicy paprika (thanks Laura and Paco!) or a teaspoon or two of hot curry powder just to kick it up a bit. The peas I could have taken or left, but Nate and I both agreed that the sprinkling of cilantro over the top was the perfect finish to this dish.

    The original recipe calls for something called asafetida (which I do not have), so a quick Google search provided me with an easy substitution which I've provided below. We served it on naan, a flatbread that I picked up from the freezer section of Trader Joe's, but it can also be served in roti or a tortilla, or even over rice. If you're in the mood to make your own naan, here's a well reviewed recipe from allrecipes.com: Homemade Naan.  आनंद लें! (Enjoy!)

    Roasted Gobi Aloo (Cauliflower and Potatoes)
    Yield: 3-4 Main Dish Servings
    Ingredients:
    • 1 head cauliflower (medium to small), cut into medium pieces
    • 2 large russet potatoes, cut into medium-sized pieces
    • Kosher salt
    • 2-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp. canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
    • Pinch of asafetida (Or substitute 1/3 c. finely diced onion and one clove minced garlic)
    • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
    • 2 medium or 1 large tomato, diced (seeds and juice reserved)
    • ½ c. frozen peas (optional)
    • 1 ½ tsp. crushed ginger
    • 2–3 Tbsp. low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt
    • 1 tsp. turmeric
    • 1 tsp. red chili powder
    • 1 tsp. coriander powder
    • ½ tsp. Garam Masala (optional)
    • Salt to taste
    • ½ c. chopped cilantro, to garnish
    Clean and the cut cauliflower into medium size pieces, being careful to not cut them too small. Peel, clean, and dice potatoes roughly the same size as the cauliflower. Line 1 half sheet pan or 2 baking sheets with foil. Place the cauliflower on one side (or one pan) and the potatoes on the other half/pan. Drizzle the cauliflower and potatoes with extra virgin olive oil and 1-2 tsp. of salt.  Toss gently to get oil on all the vegetables. Roast at 450°F for about 30 minutes, turning after 20 minutes. Vegetables are done when they are tender and golden brown.

    While the vegetables are roasting, start on the seasoning. In a 12" pan or skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium heat until it is hot.

    *If you are not using the asafetida, add the finely minced onion to the pan, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and saute an additional 30 seconds, then move the sauteed onion/garlic to one side of the pan, or remove from pan entirely. Add extra oil to pan to equal about 1 tsp. if needed.

    Add the cumin seeds. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until seeds splutter, then add asafetida (if using). Add the tomatoes (and seeds/juice), ginger, turmeric, red chili powder, Garam Masala, and coriander powder. Cover and cook until oil separates, or about 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

    Once the vegetables are done roasting, add 1-2 Tbsp. water to the pan to thin the mixture slightly. Add the sour cream or yogurt and stir to combine. Cook over low heat just until everything is combined well, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook this mixture. If it still appears too thick, add another 1-2 Tbsp. of water to the pan.

    If using peas, heat peas with some water in a microwave safe bowl for 45 seconds. Drain and add to pan.

    Add cauliflower and potatoes to the pan and mix well.   Almost all the liquid will be absorbed by vegetables.

    Serve with naan, tortillas, flatbread, or over rice. Scatter fresh cilantro over the top.

    Source: Jolly Vindaloo

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    White Sangria


    Some nights just call for sangria. My favorite is the classic red sangria (full of strawberries, apples, oranges, lemons, grapes and peaches), but without any red wine in the house, I had to search for an alternative.

    Enter White Sangria: Crisp, fruity, citrus-y, chilled deliciousness. It took just shy of 15 minutes to put together, then 2 hours in the fridge to allow the flavors to develop. We removed the lemon and orange rinds when we put the leftovers in the fridge overnight, and it tasted even better the next day.

    Want something bubbly? Add some club soda. Want more fruit? Throw in some fresh pineapple or peaches. This is a great alternative to the traditional red sangria and one we'll be enjoying throughout the summer. Cheers!
    White Sangria
    Serves: 4
    Ingredients:
    • 2 large oranges, 1 cut into ¼-inch-thick slices, the other 1 juiced
    • 1 large lemon, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
    • ¼ c. granulated sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier (or other orange-flavored liquor, i.e. Triple Sec or Cointreau)
    • 1 (750-mL) bottle white wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, preferably), chilled
    • 1 apple, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
    • 6 to 8 ice cubes
    Add orange and lemon slices and sugar to a large pitcher; mash gently with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves and the fruit releases some juice but is not completely crushed, about 1 minute. Stir in orange juice, liquor, apples, and wine. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (no more than 8 hours unless the rinds are removed).

    Before serving, add ice cubes and stir briskly to redistribute settled fruit and pulp; serve immediately.

    Source: Brown Eyed Baker

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Chicken Pot Pie

    Growing up, Stouffer's was our family's pot pie of choice. Then a number of years ago, our good friends Jo and Eric introduced us to the possibility of delicious, homemade pot pies made with extreme amounts of butter. This recipe, while different, is definitely not lacking in flavor or butter. Underneath the flaky, but tender crust is a creamy sauce loaded with chicken and veggies.

    While it takes a bit of time to put together, it blows boxed pot pie out of the water. The recipe makes a lot of pot pies, and that's a great thing because they can be frozen and reheated for an easy dinner at a later date. They would also make a great dinner for new parents, or a freezer meal for someone who has lost a loved one. And who doesn't love a flaky crust??

    Some notes about the recipe:
    • We doubled the filling and sauce, but only had to one-and-a-half times the crust.
    • I reduced the amount of flour in the sauce based on some reviews I read, but I won't do that again next time as the sauce thinned out while in the oven. The recipe below has the correct measurements.
    • I omitted the chopped red bell pepper from the filling.
    • Annie didn't include salt and pepper measurements, so I had to add to taste. Don't be afraid... you can do it without a measurement too. :)
    • For the crust, either use frozen unsalted butter, or cut the butter as the recipe indicates, but then place in the freezer to keep it super chilled. It helps make a really nice, flaky crust.
    Chicken Pot Pie
    Yield: 6-8 pot pies (depending on the size of the dishes you use)
    Ingredients:
    For the filling:
    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 large russett potato, peeled and diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced (I omitted this)
    • 8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
    • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 purchased rotisserie chicken, or 3 c. chopped / shredded chicken
    • 1-2 cups frozen peas and carrots
    For the sauce:
    • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2½ cups chicken broth
    • ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
    • Dash of hot sauce
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    For the crust:
    • 16 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 10 oz. cream cheese, chilled
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • ¼ tsp. pepper
    •  I lg. egg (for egg wash)
    To make the filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and potato to the pan, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic, bell pepper and mushrooms, and cook for about 15 minutes more, until the potatoes are tender. While the vegetables are cooking, remove the skin from the chicken, pull the meat off the bones and shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Once the vegetables are finished cooking, turn off the heat and mix in the chicken and the frozen peas and carrots. Stir in the red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    To make the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken broth and cook over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Mix in the cream (if using), the hot sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken and veggie mixture and stir to combine well. Spoon the mixture into 6-8 individual oven-safe dishes (such as ramekins).

    Preheat the oven to 375° F. To make the crust, cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt and pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut out dough rounds to be about 1½ inches larger than the diameter of your pot pie dishes. Lay the dough rounds on top of the individual dishes. Beat the egg with a whisk, and brush the tops of the dough rounds lightly with the beaten egg.

    Place the pot pie dishes on a baking sheet for easy transfer in and out of the oven. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

    The finished pies can be frozen after baking, and taste just as good as fresh. Simply thaw in the refrigerator during the day and then reheat in the the oven at 350° F for 30-40 minutes. If baking straight from the freezer, bake at 400˚ F for 45-60 minutes.

    Source: Annie's Eats

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    BACON!

    So bacon doesn't really need a recipe, right?! But then again, if you have only ever pan-fried bacon, I'm about to rock your world.

    I present you with the easiest, fastest, and even most versatile way to prepare bacon... Oven Roasted Bacon.

    There are a number of ways to oven roast bacon, and I've tried just about all of them. Here's what I've found works the best...
    Preheat the oven to 400°.

    For thick cut bacon, place directly on baking sheet in a single layer without overlapping bacon. We use foil to make the clean-up a bit easier. A half pound fits on one half sheet pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and serve warm.

    For thin cut bacon, place the bacon on non-stick foil in a single layer without overlapping bacon. Thin cut bacon can (and will) stick and crumble even on a non-stick baking sheet. A half pound fits on one half sheet pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and serve warm.

    For maple bacon, follow the either of the above methods depending on your bacon type, but just as bacon is beginning to brown (12-15 min.), brush the bacon with 1-2 Tbsp. real maple syrup and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until bacon is golden brown. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and serve warm.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    French Onion Soup

    I've wanted to share this recipe with you for several months now, but all the soup kept getting eaten before I could photograph it. To be honest, even the pictures I took don't do it any justice.

    This French Onion Soup rocks. I don't say that lightly. All those who have tried it have commented on how delicious it is and it's one that we've made three times since January which also says a lot as we don't have a ton of repeat recipes 'round these parts.

    I know soup season is just about (or completely) over, but please make an exception for this one. It tastes divine and would be perfect with a yummy spring salad and a piece of crusty farm market bread.
    French Onion Soup
    Servings: 4 Main Dish
    Ingredients:
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
    • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 (48 fluid ounce) can chicken broth
    • 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
    • 1/2 cup red wine
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 4 thick slices French or Italian bread
    • 8 slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese slices, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago or mozzarella cheese, room temperature
    • 4 pinches paprika
    Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in salt, red onions and sweet onions. Cook 35 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized and almost syrupy.

    Mix chicken broth, beef broth, red wine and Worcestershire sauce into pot. Bundle the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with twine and place in pot. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the herbs. Reduce the heat to low, mix in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep over low heat to stay hot while you prepare the bread. (The soup can be cooled and frozen at this point. It reheats beautifully!)

    Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and broil 3 minutes, turning once, until well toasted on both sides. Remove from heat; do not turn off broiler.

    Arrange 4 large oven safe bowls or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill each bowl 2/3 full with hot soup. Top each bowl with 1 slice toasted bread, 2 slice Gruyere cheese and 1/4 of the Asiago or mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle a little bit of paprika over the top of each one.

    Broil 5 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. As it softens, the cheese will cascade over the sides of the crock and form a beautifully melted crusty seal. Serve immediately!

    Source: allrecipes.com