Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
for the pitas
- 3 cups of flour (I used all-purpose, but plan on using at least half wheat next time)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) yeast. (regular or instant is fine, just dissolve your yeast in the water and sugar for about 5 minutes if you use regular active dry yeast)
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 C warm water
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
for the falafel
- 1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained (you can also soak 1 cup dried chickpeas in water overnight, but who keeps dried chickpeas on hand?)
- 1 C chopped onion
- 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2-4 Tbsp flour (any kind will do)
2. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Shape the mixture into 12 balls, pressing each one flat into a patty a touch less than 1/2" thick. Place on baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes, flipping the patties halfway through, till brown on both sides. Serve warm.
for the tzatziki sauce, and no, I have no idea how to pronounce it properly
- 1 1/2 C non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
- salt for the cucumber, plus salt and pepper to taste
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. (I have a little 2 cup mini food processor/chopper thingy I used for this. It wasn't big enough for the falafel. A hand blender would work too.) Process until well blended. Chill for a couple hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend. (This I did do. I thought it was too lemony at first, but it mellowed out and was really tasty after some time in the fridge.)
These are all delicious on their own, but together make one tasty sandwich. Use a sharp knife to cut the pitas in half, and use a sharp pointy knife to help open the pocket, if necessary. I just added some spinach, but you could add anything you want; sliced red onion, sliced cucumber, hummus, lettuce, tomato...
Friday, March 11, 2011
- 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
- 1 C sugar (I used half white, half brown sugar)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 C mashed ripe banana
- 1/4 C sour cream
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment. (This is to place the loaf pan on to prevent the bottom from cooking too much. Works great.) Generously spray a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
2. In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, banana, sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients, scraping sides of bowl often. Fold in 1 C each chocolate chips and nuts, if you want.
3. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until bread springs back when gently pressed with fingertips. (You can do the toothpick thing, too.) It may be cracked a bit on top, that's ok. If it doesn't seem done after 55 minutes, reduce temp to 325 and bake another 10-15 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Friday, March 4, 2011
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C chicken broth, give or take
2 Cans Nestle Creme (found in the Mexican aisle) or cream (I used half-and-half, about 2 C)
1 small can tomato paste
Spices to taste (I sauteed onion and garlic, seasoned with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and oregano)
Hot cooked rice
This is supposedly a copycat recipe of the giant chocolate chip cookies at Levain Bakery in New York. Never having tasted one of their cookies -or heard of the bakery before- I have no idea how close they are, but these are pretty darn tasty.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
- 4oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 boiling water
- 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 C firmly packed brown sugar
- 2/3 C white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 C sour cream
- 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 C (40z) cream cheese, room temperature
- 3-4 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 6 oz (by weight, not volume) fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed and divided
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds only, or 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
So if you learn only one thing from me, let it be USE PARCHMENT PAPER!
Friday, February 11, 2011
- 1 pkg Oreos (I like mint), finely crushed
- 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
- 16 oz chocolate, melted
2. When firm, drop into melted chocolate and roll around using a couple forks, then place back on paper-lined baking sheet. Top with sprinkles. Chill again until chocolate has set. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Are you a twister, or a dunker?
for the chocolate wafers:
- 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1/2 C Dutch process cocoa
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 to 1 1/2 C sugar
- 1/2 C plus 2 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 C (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 C all vegetable shortening (the white kind, not butter flavored)
- 2 C sifted powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
2. Preheat oven to 375. Take rounded teaspoons of batter, roll into a ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart, and flatten each ball slightly. Bake for 9 minutes. Either place baking sheets on a wire rack to cool, or slide the parchment off the baking sheet and onto the rack to cool, being careful not to disturb the cookies until they have cooled.
3. To make the filling, place the butter and shortening in a mixing bowl. Cream together. At low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Turn mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes or until filling is light and fluffy.
4. To assemble the cookies, fit a pastry bag with a 1/2 round tip and pipe a teaspoon-sized blob of cream onto half of the cookies (flip over so the flat bottom is facing up). Place another cookie relatively equal in size on top and press lightly to work the filling to the edges. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk!
I've seen recipes for homemade Oreos several times, and all the recipes are pretty much the same, but I used the one from My Baking Addiction.
In case your not familiar with it, Dutch process, or alkalized cocoa has been treated to soften the cocoa flavor a little bit, which can sometimes come across tasting a little bitter. My unrefined palate had never noticed that before, so you'll probably be fine using regular cocoa powder. I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, which is a combination of Dutch process and regular cocoa. I think the Dutch process portion must be black cocoa, which is cocoa that has been very alkalized, producing a very dark, nearly black color. I chose My Baking Addiction's recipe because she used the Hershey's Special Dark cocoa, which produces a much nicer looking chocolate wafer. They are very dark, nearly black and look more like a real Oreo. All the other recipes I've seen were definitely brown. While I'm sure they still tasted good, they just didn't look as good.
As far as the sugar goes for the wafer, you can use anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 C. Because the cream filling is quite sweet, I used 1 C of sugar in the cookie. The cookie part of an Oreo really isn't very sweet. If you really have a sweet tooth or are using the wafer for another use, go ahead and add that half cup of sugar back in.
This chocolate wafer recipe is a good one to keep around. Get creative with them. Make ice cream sandwiches, keep some on hand to crush and use as a crust for cheesecake, crumble them for an ice cream topping. And think of the things you can do with the filling. Mint Oreos, anyone? You could easily use a little gel food coloring to dye the centers pink for Valentine's day, or pastel colors for Easter, green for St. Patrick's day... You get the idea. I used clear vanilla extract to keep the filling a nice pure white, but regular vanilla extract would be fine.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I grew up on homemade whole wheat bread. Still to this day one of my favorite things to eat is fresh bread, still warm from the oven, with butter and honey. Mmmmm. But then, the bread cooled and it became dry and crumbly. Not so mmmm. Store bought bread was a treat that I relished. Now that I'm a grown up... well, of an adult age at least... I don't like store bought bread so much anymore. Even the supposed 100% natural stuff still has stabilizers and preservatives to extend the shelf life. I don't want to eat that. So I've been searching for a while for a great 100% whole wheat bread recipe.
Almost all recipes I came across were at best only half wheat. I know that I could use all wheat flour, but then it wouldn't be soft. I also wanted a good, moist bread that didn't have a ton of added oil, butter or eggs. Those do make a nice, soft, moist bread, but it adds a lot of fat and calories that I don't want. I'm not necessarily dieting, but I am striving to make healthier choices in an effort to lose some weight and really just become healthier overall. I had nearly given my quest for the perfect whole wheat bread up as impossible, when I found this wonderful gem of a recipe:
Honey Yogurt Whole Wheat Bread
- 3 1/2-4 C whole wheat flour
- 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) instant or quick-rise yeast
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp vital wheat gluten
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 C warm water (about 110-115 degrees)
- 3/4 C plain yogurt; regular, non-fat, or Greek
2. Using the dough hook, knead for 5-10 minutes, adding additional flour or water, 1 Tbsp at a time, to form a soft and moist dough. (not sticky, though)
3. Transfer dough to a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place, about 1 hour, til dough has doubled.
4. Shape dough into a loaf. Place in an greased loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again til dough crests about 1" over the pan.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes. Bread is done if it sounds hollow when thumped, or when internal temperature reads 190 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from pan immediately and cool on a wire rack.
Sorry I don't have a picture for you of this beautiful bread; it hasn't stayed around long enough for me to snap one!
I've made this twice. The first time I actually thought that I had undercooked it, it is that soft and moist. It's a nice and dense bread with a very tender crumb.
If you don't have instant yeast, don't feel like you have to go out and buy some. I used regular active dry yeast and it came out fine. It definitely didn't rise as high as I think it could have, but it was fine. The first time I followed the recipe exactly, mixing all the ingredients together. The second time I proofed the yeast first by dissolving it in the warm water for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. It did rise a little bit higher this way, but not much. I don't know how much of a difference using instant yeast might make. Instant yeast doesn't have as much oomph as active dry, so if you use it, be careful not to punch the dough down much when you put it in the pan or it might not rise enough.
I used non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular plain yogurt. I would imagine that using regular plain yogurt with fat would impart even more moisture to this bread, but I have no complaints with how it turns out using non-fat.
Vital wheat gluten is easily found at any grocery store. It will probably be right next to the yeast. Adding it to your bread dough helps give your bread a higher rise and gives it a bit of togetherness, preventing it from being crumbly.
By the way, this makes amazing French toast.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
These are such delicious cookies! And they're totally healthy because they have banana in them. Really. They have a super soft, almost muffin-like texture. Perhaps I should call them mookies.... I like that.
This is a high altitude recipe that I got from allrecipes.com. Click here to see the regular recipe if you don't need the high altitude version.
High Altitude Chocolate Chip Banana Mookies
- 3 1/2 C flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 C unsalted butter, softened
- 1 C white sugar
- 1/2 C brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 C mashed ripe banana
- 2 C chocolate chips
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the vanilla and banana. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined (like you would for a muffin batter). Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
To get the greatest banana flavor, use very ripe bananas. 2-3 medium will get you 1 cup of mashed. I love the banana flavor, but I don't like having chunks so I puree my bananas. Make sure you do not make these cookies too big, or your edges will be done but the mookie will be doughy in the middle. A medium sized cookie scoop works well, but you definitely don't want to go any bigger than that.
Monday, January 17, 2011
2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 C half-and-half or milk
1 large egg
1 C frozen berries of choice
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture, squeezing and pinching until the mixture resembles a course meal and there are no butter lumps bigger than a pea. Add the lemon zest and sugar, and whisk to combine
2. In a small bowl, combing the milk and egg. Whisk or beat with a fork until well combined. Add to flour mixture along with the berries and stir until just combined.
3. Turn dough out and any unincorporated flour onto a board or counter top. Press and gather and gently knead the dough until it just comes together. Be very careful not to overwork the dough or the scones will turn out tough and chewy.
4. As soon as the dough holds together, pat it into a circle about 1" thick. It doesn't need to look perfect. Cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
5. Bake at 425 for 10-14 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Frozen berries really work the best in this recipe. I used a mixture of blueberries and raspberries because that's what I had, but I'm not much of a blueberry fan. These are absolutely amazing when still warm from the oven. If you need to reheat them it's best done at 300 in the oven, but I'm too lazy and impatient for that so I just do it in the microwave.
I've made these with half-and-half and with 1% milk, and I truly don't notice a difference in taste or texture... but then I don't exactly have a very refined palate. So if you're looking to cut calories, use milk.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
- 1 pkg (19oz) frozen cheese tortellini
- 1/2 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 small onion, chopped or thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp butter
- 2/3 C skim milk
- 1 pkg (8oz) fat-free or reduced fat cream cheese, cubed
- 1 pkg (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic in butter until tender. Stir in milk; heat through. Stir in cream cheese until blended. Add spinach and Italian seasoning; heat through.
2. Drain the tortellini; toss with the sauce and tomato. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
So, I've made this a couple times and haven't ever followed the recipe exactly. Here's what I did and why:
I hate mushrooms, so I leave them out. Nasty. I think this would be really delicious with tomato, but tomatoes at this time of year are gross. A dish like this is so adaptable. I like to use a red bell pepper. I've used edamame. Frozen peas would be good. Asparagus would be fantastic. I also don't use a 10oz box of spinach. I think it would overwhelm the dish with spinachyness. In fact, for pretty much any recipe I don't use the 10oz box of spinach, it's just too much. I buy frozen chopped spinach in a bag, then just toss in a handful or two.
I have yet to find a good frozen tortellini. Frankly, of all the kinds I've tried, which isn't really that many, I like the dried kind from Bertolli the best that's found in the pasta aisle instead of the freezer. Someday I want to make my own, but I don't have a pasta roller and I don't know if I'm up to the challenge of rolling pasta dough thin enough by hand. If you really want to cut calories, use regular pasta instead of tortellini. I think farfalle or fusilli would be perfect. I think part of my problem with the frozen tortellini is that I don't like white pasta anymore. I've grown accustomed to whole grain, and now I prefer it. Which is probably a good thing because I adore pasta and eat way too much of it.
You could add some grilled chicken, but really, it's so good and hearty, that I really don't miss having meat in it. Enjoy!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
- 1 package active dry yeast (1/4oz or 2 1/2 tsp)
- 5 C all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
- 1/4 C plus 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 Tsp course salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt
1. Stir together 1 2/3 C lukewarm water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the flour, 1/4 C of the oil, and the table salt, and beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead at low speed until the dough is soft, smooth, and sticky, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in 1-2 Tbsp more flour. Knead the dough 1 more minute-it will still be slightly sticky- then transfer to the bowl and turn the dough to coat it with the oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
4. Generously oil a 15"x10" baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan and cover it completely with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a war corner of the room until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
5. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425. Stir together the rosemary and remaining 3 Tbsp of olive oil. Make shallow indentations all over the dough with your fingertips, then brush with the rosemary oil, letting it pool in the indentations. Sprinkle salt evenly over the focaccia and bake in the middle of the oven until golden, 20-25 minutes.
6. Immediately remove from the pan and place on a rack to cool.
I got this recipe from the book Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado (yes, she's Sandra Bullock's sister). It was by far the best food memoir I've read to date. I highly recommend it, and I can't wait to try more recipes from it.
It's really good focaccia; as good, if not better, than what you get in an Italian restaurant. I may have lost count when measuring the flour and added an extra cup because it definitely wasn't a sticky dough for me, but it seemed to turn out fine. I've got some ideas for a bit of flavor modification such as mixing the rosemary into the dough or using a different herb, adding some thinly sliced red onion or roasted garlic. I liked it the next day warmed in the microwave, it got really chewy.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
- 2 envelopes yeast
- 1/4 C warm water mixed with a pinch of sugar
- 1 C scalded milk, cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 C sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 1/4 vegetable shortening
- 3 1/2 C flour
- 2 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 5 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
When it comes to guacamole, I am a bit of a minimalist. Too many people ruin the beautiful taste of the avocado by putting too much crap in it; sour cream or cream cheese, jalapeno, tomato, then they puree it to death. It should still be a little chunky. Sometimes I will put a little finely diced onion or tomato it, or maybe a little cilantro, but not very often. Here's my recipe:
- 3-4 ripe avocados
- 1-2 tsp lime juice
- 2-3 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
The variances in the seasoning ingredients is because avocados are different sizes and will depend on how many you use. Start with the smaller amounts first, and then add more if needed. If you're just going to be using it as a dip for chips, you may want to decrease the amount of salt since the chips will lend their saltiness to the guacamole. The lime juice not only adds flavor, but helps protect against browning. A trick I discovered one night after adding too much lime juice, (I don't often measure) add more cumin. It covers up the overpowering lime flavor, but doesn't add an overpowering cumin flavor. Browning doesn't affect the flavor, but it looks a little like... never mind. It's just gross. If you have leftovers, (we rarely do) rather than store in an air tight container, cover with plastic, pushing the plastic all the way down on top of the guacamole so that there is no air left.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
- 2 C uncooked quinoa
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/3-1/2 C diced red onion
- 1/2 -1 C fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 1/4 C lemon juice
- 1-2 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1-2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 6 oz feta cheese
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Chill completely.
2. Combine veggies & cilantro with quinoa in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and salt. Pour over quinoa, add feta and toss to coat.
I could eat this salad nearly every day. I first heard of quinoa a few years ago, but never tried it till this summer. Quinoa is and ancient grain (well, technically a seed) eaten by the Incas. It is highly nutricious, gluten-free, high in fiber, and a complete protein. And have I mention it's delicious?
The seeds are naturally covered with saponins which are very bitter. Most packaged quinoa is pre-rinsed, but if you buy it in bulk you'll need to give it a good rinsing to get all that nasty stuff off. You can either put it in a fine mesh strainer-the quinoa seeds are very small-and run cold water over them while swishing it aroud, or place the quinoa in a large bowl, cover with water and let it sit for an hour or so. The water will become very cloudy. Carefully drain the water off and refill with clean water, drain, and repeat a few times till the water remains fairly clear. It's a bit of a pain, but it's better than havin inedible quinoa. Don't be turned off by the way it smells while it's cooking, it's a little stinky. It tastes way better than it smells. Very mild, slightly nutty.
Quinoa is a bit expensive. Buying it in bulk at a health food store will probably be your cheapest bet, but here it is actually cheapest at Costco, a 4 lb bag is only about $9.50, and it's the pre-rinsed kind.
Quinoa is really versatile. Add it to soup, or use it in pretty much any recipe that calls for rice. Make a basic salad like this but create your own dressing. Add some to a regular lettuce salad. Throw a little bit (cooked) into your muffin batter to boost the nutrition. Get creative, go crazy. It's some pretty good stuff.