Saturday, May 7, 2011

Basil Thai Chicken Pizza

Confession: I don't particularly enjoy writing recipes. I love cooking food. I love photographing food. I really, sincerely highly dislike methodically measuring and recording the components of my creations. Doing so cramps my style. It ruins my rhythm and flow the kitchen, and takes the joy out of cooking.

Having said that, I present to you a recipe that is a compilation of educated guesses. Proceed with caution, but know that it can't be ruined if you decide to take my lead and forgo the measuring cups. This freedom can feel liberating.

Oh, and I guess I should introduce the meal itself. It's a "middle ground" meal that appeals to Jay's obsession with pizza and my obsession with making sure he eats his vegetables. It's a portion-controlled, Asian-inspired meal that happens to be a nice change from the tomato-based, cheese heavy American favorite.

The Edibles:
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1/3 c. orange juice
  • 2 T. sake
  • 3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. dried cilantro (or a small handful of fresh cilantro)
  • 2 whole wheat pitas
  • 2 c. fresh spinach
  • 10 baby carrots, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 c. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • small handful of basil leaves, sliced into strips (optional)
The Making:
  1. Place chicken breast in a gallon size plastic bag with orange juice, sake, low-sodium soy sauce, ginger, garlic, red pepper, and cilantro. Massage the meat in the bag to ensure marinade is evenly dispersed. Place on a plate and refrigerate at least 30 minutes up to overnight.
  2. Once marinaded, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Coat sauté pan lightly with olive oil cooking spray and place over medium heat. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the bag and place in the pan, reserving the marinade. Cook about 5 to 10 minutes on each side, until chicken is no longer pink and has a bit of brown color. Remove from pan and slice into thin strips.
  4. Using the chicken pan, sauce spinach and carrot sticks with a little olive oil spray and a sprinkle of garlic powder. Cook until wilty, about 3 minutes.
  5. While the chicken cooks, pour marinade into small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and allow the liquid to reduce. This will take about 5 minutes.
  6. If you want to extend your pitas, carefully tear each into two round pieces. Otherwise, you can use a whole pita as a crust. Either way, toast each pita in oven for 3-5 minutes, until cripsy. Remove from oven. Top with chicken, spinach and carrot mixture, and a light sprinkling of mozzerella cheese. Drizzle marinade over the top of the pizza.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve topped with basil.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Double Kale Quinoa Pesto

Let me set the scene:

It's Sunday.

I know that dinner won't make itself.

I know that if Jay makes dinner we'll be eating Target brand pizza.

I know that Jay's diet on Saturday consisted of Taco Bell for lunch and McDonalds for dinner.

Knowing all this it sounded like the perfect day to make the most vegetable-centric dish I could find. The boy was due for some greens.

Enter... Double Kale Quinoa Pesto, also known as the Fast Food Detox.

Quinoa is a great grain for vegetarians because it is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids (an anomaly of vegetarian protein sources).

The addition of a leafy green like kale (known for its wealth of Vitamin K, of which each cup contains 1327% of the RDV) really kicks up the healthfulness of this recipe.

In fact, I just can't get over the surplus of heath-benefiting ingredients in this recipe. Lemon juice, olive oil, almonds... all help to keep you strong, healthy and functioning at your best! Should I mention that it is delicious? Much more so than any McNugget or Quad Steak Burrito. But maybe I'm biased by my love for vitamins...

The Stuff:
  • large saute pan
  • food processor
The Edibles:
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa*
  • 1 medium vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large bunch kale, washed and trimmed, sliced into strips (about 5 cups uncooked)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced (or the equivalent of jarred or powdered garlic)
  • 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pinch salt (more to taste)
  • hearty amount of fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Optional toppings and additions:
  • slivered basil
  • sliced avocado
  • crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • white beans
The Making:
  1. Heat the quinoa and set aside.
  2. Spray a large sauté pan with non-stick olive oil cooking spray and place over medium heat. Dump the equivalent of 1 clove minced or powdered garlic in pan, pushing it around with your wooden spoon or spatula for about 30 seconds.
  3. Place onion in pan and stir around so as to ensure it is completely covered with oil. Cook for about 2-4 minutes on medium, then turn down to medium low. Add the colored peppers. Stir frequently; cook until the onion turns somewhat translucent and is caramelized (really juicy looking).
  4. Remove the cooked diced onion and peppers from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
  5. Using the same pan, Spritz it with another round of non-stick olive oil cooking spray and place over medium heat. Cook 1 clove garlic, pushing it around with your wooden spoon or spatula for about 30 seconds. Add kale by the handful, stirring frequently so as to ensure oil is distributed over its surface. The green will cook down significantly, so if you feel you cannot fit it all in at once, wait until some has cooked down and add more at that point. Once all the kale is looking really wilty, turn stove off.
  6. To make the kale pesto: puree two cups of the cooked kale, 3 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup of the almonds, Parmesan, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until smooth.
  7. Just before serving, toss the quinoa, reserved onion and pepper mixture and remaining cooked kale with about 1/2 of the kale pesto. Taste and adjust if needed, you might want to add more of the pesto a bit at a time, or you might want a bit more salt or an added squeeze of lemon juice. Turn out onto a serving platter and top with the remaining almonds and some fresh basil. Some great additions include sliced avocado and feta cheese.
Serves 4 - 6.

*To cook quinoa: rinse one cup of quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa, two cups of water (or broth if you like), and a few big pinches of salt until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Calamari Bruschetta

It has been more than 2 months since I've posted my last recipe, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up a storm! The many weeks of my absence have been full of small life changes such as moving across the country, starting a new job, and getting acclimated to a new apartment in a new city with a new culture. The shock hasn't really set in yet, but to say I've been feeling mildly disoriented would be putting it lightly. Couple my disorientation with the fact that my computer has 15 gigs of photos and videos slowing it down, the thought of adding some more is just downright daunting. Before you start getting all "an external hard drive would solve your problem and relieve your agony" on me, let me tell you that it's on my radar but ugg, could all of these moving costs just go away already?

Alright. Enough whining. More recipe-ing.

Being so close to the ocean, Philadelphia grocery stores and markets offer an array of sea creatures for purchase. I've been eying the crab, drooling at the shrimp, and swooning at the salmon, but all just seem to be a little pricey for a budget-conscious gal like myself. My solution? Calamari! At just $4 per pound, I selected two from a street market and it only ended up setting me back $1.67.

Today I'm featuring a dish that was inspired by a favorite appetizer of mine at Angelina's in Chicago. Squid is usually cooked rapidly so as to prevent the rubber band effect that can occur when overcooked. Interestingly, my research informed me that when calamari is cooked slowly, it becomes increasingly tender over time.

This is a very simple recipe that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It's full of tomatoey goodness (so if your boyfriend has heartburn issues like mine, it's best enjoyed with a glass of milk and some antacids). Feel free to add more mild, cooked vegetables (like diced carrots or sauteed spinach) to up the vitamin count. In a nutshell: this is low-calorie and protein-packed dish that happens to be down-right, unarguably, very delicious.
The Stuff:
  • non-stick olive oil cooking spray
  • medium-sized skillet

The Edibles:
  • 2 hand-length calamari, or about 1/4 to 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen calamari rings
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch (or two) of dried cayenne pepper
  • hearty shake of dried oregano and basil (or fresh basil, if you're lucky and didn't kill your plant like I did)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

The Making:
  1. Prepare fresh calamari by slicing into rings. (Follow these instructions if you're feeling uneasy about it.)
  2. Spray a skillet with olive oil non-stick spray; place skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent.
  3. Add the squid and saute for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, cayenne pepper, spices, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down low and cover. Cook uncovered on low heat for 15 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Remove bay leaf. Serve hot with fresh bread as an appetizer for 3-4 people; alternatively, serve over pasta (such as linguine) as an entree.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Favorite Gingersnaps

It's probably the cold weather that has caused me to want to hole up in my hole of an apartment and bake for hours. Really, I've been quite a baking machine these days. Between several varieties of scones, cookies, muffins, and cupcakes, I enjoy standing near our oven, mixing together my flours, sweeteners, leaveners, and fatteners, knowing that what I'm making will bring a smile to someone's face. I intend to wholeheartedly use this as justification for what will likely be a shocker of a gas bill this month. Because really, I just like to make people smile, and who can't help but smile when they're offered a freshly baked cookie?!

As a child I enjoyed these gingersnaps at tea parties with my bears and dolls in the beautiful, woodsy backyard of my grandparent's home. These cookies were prepared meticulously by my grandma, who undoubtedly spent quite some time rolling out tiny balls of dough to create dozens of identically-sized cookies just larger than a quarter. Having made several batches of these over the past few weeks, I have grown to love the cathartic, mind-numbing feeling of dough between my hands, rolling out ball after ball, while dancing a bit to some Beatles tunes. It helps that the end result is a well-received, soft (yet snappy) cookie that is a subtle blend of sweet ginger, cinnamon, and molasses. To prevent burning, watch these cookies carefully, especially if they're small. They can easily be stored in the freezer, but watch out, because I've found that they are just as tasty frozen!
The Stuff:
  • Mixing bowl(s)
  • Flour sifter (recommended, but I don't own one, so I just shake my flour around a bit :-)
  • Baking sheet
  • Oven
  • Cooling rack (again, I don't own one, so it's not totally necessary)
The Edibles:
  • 1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sifted white wheat flour
  • 1 T. ground ginger (slightly more if you're using a generic brand)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon (slightly more if you're using a generic brand)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. ground flax seed
  • 3 T. water
  • 3/4 c. shortening (I used Crisco!)
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. dark molasses
  • 1/3 c. cinnamon sugar (1/3 c. sugar with a few hearty shakes of cinnamon mixed in well)
The Making:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Sift the flours, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to blend evenly, and if you're feeling ambitious, sift a second time into another bowl.
  3. Mix flax seed and water in a small bowl or cup, and let it sit for at least 3 minutes.
  4. Place the shortening into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the white sugar. Beat in the flax seed water mixture and dark molasses. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the shortening mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Sift in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms. Pinch off small amounts of dough and roll into 1 inch diameter balls between your hands. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Bake in preheated oven until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Larger cookies may take longer. I would recommend checking every minute or so around the 10 minute mark.
  6. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.
Recipe makes about 60 cookies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cranberry Apple Nut Yogurt Scones

Burr! It's cooooold here in Chicago! Slightly sweet, not too heavy, these scones are a great little treat for a cold winter morning... and considering they're nutritionally enhanced through the incorporation of whole grains, fruit, and healthy fats from the nuts, you shouldn't feel guilty if you have more than one!

If you're averse to cranberries (ahem Momo), fear not! This recipe is merely a base that can be adapted to your preferences and ingredients on hand. For the cranberries and apple you can substitute anything from raisins to blueberries, raspberries to snozberries... And your favorite nut variety can can stand in for the hazelnuts! Play around!
The Edibles:
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. dried apple, chopped
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 T. baking powder
  • 3/4 c. (1 & 1/2 sticks) cold butter or margarine
  • 1 c. chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 c. vanilla nonfat yogurt
  • 1 c. fat free half-and-half
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
The Making:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add water to cranberries; stir. Let stand 10 min. to plump cranberries. Meanwhile, mix flours, sugar and baking powder in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add walnuts and drained cranberries; mix well. Add yogurt and half-and-half; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Pat each piece into 6-inch round on floured surface; cut each into 8 wedges. Place wedges, 2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets; brush with egg.
  3. Bake 15 to 18 min. or until lightly browned. Serve warm.
The original recipe that inspired this interpretation said that this makes 24 scones... I made 28. I'm special like that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No Worry Crock Pot Curry

Curry powder. You may not have guessed it by looking at it, but it can pack a potentially life-altering, health-improving punch. It's a complex combination of herbs and spices that generally includes coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper, but will sometimes be supplemented with additional ingredients such as ginger, garlic, asafoetida, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, green cardamom, black cardamom, mace, nutmeg, long pepper, and black pepper.

So what makes curry powder so great? Well, many of its ingredients have been linked to improvements in health indicators. What am I talking about? Let's look at an example...

Why tumeric rocks:
  • It may help relieve joint pain experienced by people living with arthritis because tumeric contains more than 24 compounds that fight inflammation in the body.
  • It may help those living with digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), because tumeric can aid digestion and reduce disturbances such as heartburn, bloating and gas.
  • It may help those with high cholesterol, because studies have shown that tumeric may assist in the reduction of LDL levels (bad cholesterol), thereby helping prevent atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the artery walls)
(For more information about the benefits of curry powder and tumeric, visit here and here.)

Fueled by my love for easily prepared, tasty, nutrition-packed meals, I set out to create a healthy crock pot curry recipe. The challenge for me was creating a recipe that resembled the classic coconut curry my mom used to make, but was a bit lighter in that it didn't use coconut milk.* I wanted to develop a curry dish that was well-balanced and allowed me to recognize the veggies, chicken, and grain because they weren't completely smothered in sauce. Go ahead, call me a purist. (For a vegetarian version, omit chicken and substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth.)

Speaking of veggies, feel free to add whatever you may have on hand. Some bell pepper strips or cauliflower would be great additions both flavor and health-wise. Serve over a mini grain like rice, quinoa, or cous cous, and top your curry with one, two, or all of my suggestions below. (Before you judge my vanilla yogurt idea, I'd recommend giving it a whirl because I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be just as surprised as I was by its yum factor! Try it!)
The Stuff:
  • non-stick olive oil cooking spray
  • medium sauté pan
  • crockpot
The Edibles:
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium potatoes, chopped into pieces the same size as your chicken
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots (about 1 & ½ c.), sliced (can use frozen)
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
    *Of course you could use coconut milk in this recipe if that's what your heart desires; substitute 1 cup milk for one cup of broth; omit extract and honey
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 T. flour
  • 2 T. curry powder
  • hearty shake of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, and coriander
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 c. frozen peas, thawed
Optional Toppings:
  • 2 T. vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 2 -3 tsp. toasted flaked coconut
  • 1 T. slivered almonds
The Making:
  1. Spray a medium-sized saute pan with non-stick olive oil cooking spray. Place pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and on all sides.
  2. Doing this quick cook will help seal in the moisture of the chicken and prevent your meat from disintegrating in the crock pot.
  3. Place potatoes and onion in crock pot. If using fresh carrots, add at this time. Top with seared chicken.
  4. Whisk together chicken broth, coconut extract, honey, flour, curry powder, dashes of spices, and a pinch of salt and pepper (you can add more after cooking). Pour over chicken and vegetables.
  5. Cover; cook on high for 3 to 3 & ½ hours or LOW 6 to 7 hours.
  6. Add peas and carrots (if you’re using frozen) at this time. Allow the curry to cook for 30-45 minutes on high with the cover removed in order to thicken the sauce.
  7. Serve over rice, quinoa, cous cous or whatever else you may have on hand!
Optional topping ideas: a dollop of vanilla yogurt, hot sauce, flaked coconut, slivered almonds.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Slimmed Down Red Velvet Cupcakes with Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting

I love having an actual purpose when I’m in the kitchen. Yesterday, it was Mission: Birthday Cupcakes, Kelly O-Style. What did that mean? Well, I wasn’t sure when I started, but I knew I wanted to create a pint-sized sweet treat that we could enjoy with little guilt. What did that mean? It was Operation Healthy Baking.

Because I’m kind of lazy, and my pantry is not nearly as well-stocked as one might assume, I chose to start with a boxed cake mix. Simple changes to the added ingredients helped shave off quite a bit of fat grams while still offering up a moist, flavorful cake for my lovely lady friend!

Though you will see that I used cupcake liners, I would advise against doing so, as these mini cakes are very low fat, so they have a tendency to really stick to the paper baking cups. As much as it is a pain to clean my cupcake tin, I would prefer an easier time unwrapping this sweet cake!

You’ll also see that I made my own, somewhat eclectic cream cheese frosting fabricated from my randomly stocked pantry and finds at the 7-11 down the street. The result was well received; it’s not too sweet and clearly not as thick as the typical, butter-containing frosting, but it pairs well with the sweet cupcakes because it doesn’t make you feel like you’re going into sugar-overload. Of course, you could substitute vanilla extract for the coconut, and the creamer could be replaced by some half-and-half, mile, or completely omitted.
Red Velvet Cake... The Edibles:
  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 c. Coke Zero (or Diet Coke)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 egg
Red Velvet Cake... The Making:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your baking pan of choice by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and flouring lightly.
  2. In a large mixing bowl gently blend all of the ingredients until moistened (about 30 seconds). Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour batter in pans and bake immediately according to the time instructions on the cake box.
  4. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting, The Edibles:
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 T. vanilla-flavored coffee creamer
Cream Cheese Frosting, The Making:
  1. In a medium bowl, blend together the cream cheese, yogurt and creamer until smooth. (Note: I used my food processor, which worked wonderfully.)
  2. Mix in the coconut extract then gradually stir in the powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Store in the refrigerator in a air-tight container after use.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Teriyaki Tofu

I feel like everyone has their own favorite way to cook tofu. I know tofu may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I'm a big advocate of trying everything three times, perhaps in various forms. Whether it's a vegetarian protein, yoga class, sushi roll, or tv show, I've found that by the third try I'll have a good idea of whether or not something's for me. (Side note: I both love and hate the fact that Jay avoids all things tofu... love because it means that there's more for me... and hate because I want him to enjoy its deliciousness and health benefits with me. For me it has become a challenge to try cooking tofu various ways in hopes that one way will tickle his taste buds! I rarely cook it the same way twice!)

Enough rambling. Let's get down to business.
The Stuff:
  • cutting board
  • clean cloth towels or a stack of paper towels
  • several large heavy books
  • shallow baking dish
  • medium to large sauté pan
  • olive oil non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 package firm or extra-firm water, drained
  • 1/4 c. teriyaki sauce (and more to taste)
The Making:
  1. Place the block on a cutting board and cut the tofu into 4 even rectangles. (See diagram below.)
  2. Take the blocks and lay them out on an absorbent towel or a few layers of paper towels. Cover with another clean cloth towel or more paper towels. Place a heavy book or two atop the tofu and allow the weight to press the water out of the tofu for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Once pressed, place on a baking tray lined with wax or parchment paper. Place in the freezer for about 1 hour.
  4. Remove tofu from the freezer. Pour about 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce in the bottom of a shallow bowl or baking pan that is large enough to allow for a single layer of tofu blocks. Lay frozen tofu atop the sauce and drizzle an additional 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce over the tofu. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can refrigerate the marinating blocks while you go to work (up to 8 hours) or leave out on the counter for 1 hour. Flip tofu blocks carefully if you are available to do so.
  5. After marinating, tofu is ready to sauté. Place a medium to large saute pan over medium heat. Generously spritz your pan with olive oil non-stick cooking spray. If desired, cut tofu into smaller pieces. Place tofu onto hot pan and do not touch, check, or move for at least 5 minutes. The key to a good crust is not to fiddle with your 'fu! Once at least 5 minutes have passed, check for a dark crust and flip each peice if it's ready.
Serve with stir fry vegetables, noodles (or spaghetti squash for a vitamin-punch) and a drizzle of more teryiaki sauce.

Pumpkin Scones stolen from Starbucks

Despite the doom and gloom that may be around the corner as we move into fall and prepare for another frigid winter in Chicago, fall may be one of the top four seasons in my book (see what I did there...? Ha!). From cozy fleeces to crunchy leaves, vibrant trees and pumpkin pie spices, autumn is like a warm blanket that I just want to lounge around in for a while.

Among the many joys of this time of year, Starbucks caters to our love for pumpkin with its lattes and scones. Though I am averse to the lattes (I know, I was suprised as well), the scones... well, I just can't get enough! Luckily, I am not alone in my love for these semi-sweet, perfectly spiced treats. A quick Google search provided me with the following recipe. I followed it (mostly) and wowee! These are moist and DELICIOUS. You'll see that I didn't glaze them (my cupboards failed to magically produce powdered sugar), but I think these scones hold their own without any added glaze!

I'll admit that I didn't measure the amount of pumpkin I added, and I think I may have added too much, because my dough was a little thin and not very dough-like. I also used skim milk in lieu of half-and-half (it's all I had), but yes, I did use an ENTIRE stick of butter. I knew that this scone would not be truly my Starbucks clone if I didn't pump it up Paula Deen style!

The recipe says it makes 6 scones. I made 11, half tennis ball-sized scones. They were perfect.
The Scones... The Edibles:
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour (I replaced 1/2 c. flour with whole wheat flour)
  • 7 T. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 6 T. cold butter
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 3 T. half-and-half
  • 1 large egg
The Scones... The Making:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  4. Form the dough into a ball.
  5. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
  6. Place on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.
Plain Glaze... The Edibles:
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 T. whole milk
Spiced Glaze... The Edibles:
  • 1 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 T.s whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
Plain Glaze... The Making:
  1. Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth.
  2. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.
  3. As the plain glaze firms up, prepare the Spiced Glaze.
Spiced Glaze... The Making:
  1. Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Carrot Hummus

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the best mom... at least when it comes to hiding vegetables in the food I feed my kids. Now, hummus is undeniably a staple in my diet, and there's no questioning its power food status, but I'm always looking for a way to amp things up a few notches in the vitamin/mineral components of any dish. Adding canned or frozen carrots provides some additional vitamin A; these carrot forms are softer and therefore blend quite a bit easier into the hummus. By all means one could boil fresh carrots and achieve the same effect. Further amping up the hummus with a scoop of unflavored protein powder gives each serving a gram or two more of satiating protein. Adding protein powder to meals can be especially important if one's diet is primarily vegetarian. At least I think it is... supposedly Americans get more than enough protein...

Anywho, this hummus is tasty and packed with nutritional benefits. Lately, when I'm not experimenting with edamame, spinach, or red pepper versions, this is my go-to recipe. It's pretty straight-forward, and (as you may have guessed by my use of approximate amounts) extremely forgivable.
The Edibles:
  • 1 16-oz. can of garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas), rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 of a 16 oz. can of carrots (or about 1 c. frozen carrots, thawed), drained
  • 1 T. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic (or the equivalent in jarred or powdered)
  • generous sprinkling of fresh or dried parsely
  • generous shake of ground coriander
  • light sprinkle of onion salt (alternatively you could use onion powder generously)
  • 1 scoop natural, unflavored protein powder
  • enough water to get the blender/processor blade a-movin' (add 1 T. at a time)
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
The Making:
  1. Whir together all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  2. If you're patient, chill hummus for at least 30 minutes. (You'll be amazed by how much more intense the flavors become in such a short amount of time!)
  3. Store in a sealed container for maximum one week.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with pita chips, pretzels, cucumber slices, bagel chips, or (gasp!) carrots!

Kick-off Chicken Bites

It's football season, so what's more appropriate than some buffalo chicken bites? Getting their crunch from an oven bake, rather than deep fry, these babies are a healthy take on the classic fried chicken wing.

Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to spicy foods, so these are a tamed-down version. Of course more hot sauce could be added if you happen to have a stronger palate. With the addition of honey mustard, these nuggets are slightly sweet, but they still have a bit of a kick, so they are a good middle ground that will please a crowd. I served our nugs with some good ol' fashioned corn bread, because I'm fancy like that.
The Edibles:
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 T. parsley
  • 10 chicken wings (or 3 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks)
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 3 T. hot pepper sauce (such as Frank's RedHot®)
  • 3 T. barbecue sauce
  • 1 T. ketchup
  • 4 T. honey mustard
  • 2 T. worcheschire sauce
  • 1/4 c. water
The Making:
  1. Place the flour through parsely into a resealable plastic bag; shake to mix. Add the chicken, seal, and toss until well coated with the flour mixture. Refrigerate for an hour if you have the time.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag and place on prepared baking sheet, allowing space in between the pieces.
  4. Bake until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and appears golden on the outside, about 45 minutes (time will be less if you have small cuts of the chicken). Turn over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.
  5. While the chicken cooks, wisk together the butter and remaining ingredients overhot sauce in a small saucepan placed over low heat.
  6. Once cooked, carefully dip the wings into the sauce mixture, and serve!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Avocado & Tempeh Cheese Sandwich

It seems like "green" is the theme for my cuisine these days. This sandwich is a simple, delicious, vegetarian option that lends itself to interpretation based on the veggies and other toppings you have on hand.

This "recipe" uses tempeh right from the package. I love tempeh in all forms; I think it can be great sautéed but just as good un-cooked. In fact, I've found its straight-from-the-package form to be a lovely addition to the traditional PB&J! I know that it may be an acquired taste, but I particularly enjoy the nuttiness and bit of crunch it offers in its beany, protein- and fiber-packed little block!
The Edibles:
  • 2 slices of your favorite multi-grain braid
  • honey mustard
  • several slices of tempeh, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 of an avocado, sliced
  • 1 wedge of Laughing Cow spreadable cheese
  • several basil leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
The Making:
  1. If you prefer, toast your bread. Spread one slice of bread (or toast) with honey mustard to your liking.
  2. Layer tempeh, avocado, cheese, and basil on the mustard slice. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and salt (or omit for a lower-sodium option).
  3. Top with second slice of bread, and dig in!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Zucchini Pasta with Light Basil Cream Sauce

Barry the Basil plant has been whining for weeks, pleading with me to feature him on the blog once again. "But I've grown so big!" he said on Tuesday. "My leaves can offer so much to enhance your cooking!" he asserted on Thursday. By Saturday he'd grown tired of my snubs. "If you don't, I'll wilt!!!" he threatened. Now that got my attention.

So without further ado, please try your hand at this delectable dish where basil stands center stage. I have to respect the hard work devoted by Barry and my devoted botanist (Jay) in the deliverance of extremely flagrant leaves, as there is no arguing that this meal would not compare in awesomeness if dried basil were to be substituted. A zing of lemon juice and slight cheesiness in the light cream sauce stand in as secondary supporting flavors that provide perfect contrast and support for the basil essence.
The Stuff:
  • small saucepan
  • large saucepan
The Edibles:
  • 3/4 c. skim milk
  • ½ c. cottage cheese
  • 1 Laughing Cow wedge
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or the equivalent in powdered or fresh
  • ¼ c. fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • ½ c. water
  • ½ T. whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ c. shredded mozzarella (or Italian blend) cheese
  • ½ grated parmesan cheese (or a blend with Romano cheese)
  • 1 zucchini squash, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
  • 6 oz. whole wheat thin spaghetti, cooked al dente
The Making:
  1. Drizzle 1 T. of extra virgin olive oil into a large saucepan. Place over medium heat. Add zucchini matchsticks. Cook until they are soft and slightly yellowed in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, whirl together first 6 ingredients for 10-20 seconds.
  3. Pour the blended sauce into a small saucepan. Pour in ½ c. water, flour, and egg white. Place pan over medium heat. Slowly bring sauce to a rolling boil; stir with a whisk constantly. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, add shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheeses. Keep stirring over heat for 5 minutes, until cheeses have melted and sauce has thickened.
  4. Place large saucepan with zucchini over medium heat once again. Add shredded chicken and sauce. Stir well. Heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until all foods are warmed and sauce begins to boil. Add pasta and stir to incorporate. Heat for another minute or two. Serve warm, topped parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil.
For us, this made 2 sizeable dinners and one small lunch, but I would say that this serves 2. The servings are dependent on the amount of pasta you use and the size of your zucchini squash.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Almond Banana Muffins

For months now, I have had a box of Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking Mix sitting in my cupboard, unopened. Though I’ve had inspirations for its use, I haven’t acted on any… until now.

I’ve mentioned before how I take after my grandma (hi, Mommom!) who will go to extremes not to waste a morsel of any food. Leftover dip? Use it as a bagel spread for the next 3 days. A loaf of marble rye looking like it will go uneaten? Not if she can help it! Thick slices of that loaf will be reincarnated as French toast for breakfast… for 5 days. Oh memories...

When I spotted a banana in our fruit basket, enveloped in brown peel, it signaled to me that its days were numbered. What else was I to do but put it out of its misery? It was the humane thing to do... and it satisfied the Mommom in me, because I ensured it did not go to waste.

And waste it most definitely did not become! Behold! A moist muffin rich in whole grain goodness, full of ingredients that can lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. And should I add that it is boy-approved? Right on.
Makes 6 normal-sized muffins.

The Edibles:
  • 1 T. milled flax seed
  • 2 T. + ¼ c. water
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract
  • ¼ c. agave nectar
  • 4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. baking mix (such as Trader Joe’s or Bisquick)
  • ½ c. oat bran
  • hearty shake of cinnamon
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 10 raw almonds, crushed or coarsely chopped
The Making:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together first 6 ingredients; set aside.
  3. Mix together the baking mix, oat bran, and cinnamon. Add in banana and flax seed liquid from step 2. Mix well, but don’t worry if you see chunks of banana hiding in your batter. They will become delicious morsels in your muffins. Fold in almonds and ensure they are evenly dispersed in your batter.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, using a toothpick to ensure they are fully cooked.
Umm yeah. Definitely boy-approved.