Saturday, April 29, 2006

Walnut Coffee Cake

from Cooking Light

I typically have very bad luck with bundt cakes, but I bought some new spray (made by Crisco, with flour in it) and really coated the inside of my bundt cake pan. The cake came out perfectly, which has me rethinking the whole ban on bundt cakes.

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 14 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
10 tablespoon butter, softened
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups nonfat buttermilk
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well combined (about 3 minutes). Add egg substitute; beat 3 minutes or until combined. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating well after each addition and scraping sides of bowl. Spoon half of batter into a 10-inch Bundt pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle half of brown sugar mixture evenly over batter; spoon remaining half of batter into pan. Top with remaining brown sugar mixture.
Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Creamed spinach

I needed to use up a bunch of spinach. This worked nicely.

1 (10-ounce) bag fresh spinach
Cooking spray
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup tub-style light cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (1/4-inch-thick) sliced tomato
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
Remove large stems from spinach. Tear spinach into 1-inch pieces; place in a colander. Rinse spinach under cold water; drain. Set aside. Place a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add spinach; cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Add cream cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper. Uncover and cook an additional minute or until cream cheese melts. Spoon spinach mixture into a 1-quart gratin dish or shallow casserole coated with cooking spray. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on top of spinach,and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Tilapia Parmesan Saute

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, but we had it for dinner tonight and it was pretty good, and really easy to make.

4-6 Tilapia fillets
1 Tbls. olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbls. parsley flakes
2 Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. lemon juice
1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, parsley flakes; set aside. Heat a large saute pan and add olive oil, butter, and lemon. Saute fillets 2-3 minutes per side until white and flaky. Sprinkle cheese mixture on fillets and saute each side for another minute, then serve. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Roasted vegetable pasta

This came from the care2eatwell newsletter. I used asparagus, garlic scapes, baby squash and broccoli, and it was really, really good.

1 pound of your favorite pasta

For the Roasted Vegetables
4 cups total of any or all of the following (next time I think I'll use more like 6 c.)
Asparagus, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
Leek, white part only, cut into 1-inch rounds
Scallions, white and green parts, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
Baby patty pan squash or zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Broccoli florets
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

For the sauce:
1/2 cup white wine or good-quality vegetable broth (I used about 3/4 c. broth)
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon dried
(I also threw in some pea shoots right before I mixed the sauce and veggies, to wilt them a little.)

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Place the vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer in a deep-rimmed baking pan. Bake approximately 20 minutes, tossing once, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender. Remove from oven.
2. In a saucepan, heat the wine or broth along with the lemon juice and dill. Add roasted vegetables and stir to mix thoroughly.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to add to sauce if it is too thick.
4. Place cooked pasta in a large serving bowl. Top with roasted vegetable sauce and serve immediately.
Serves 6.

Monday, April 24, 2006

lemon pasta salad with arugula and pea shoots

I made this recipe up! I am tempted to name it something less descriptive and more awesome, such as "awesome awesome mega super pasta awesome," or "yeah pea shoots," or "Josephine."

Shannon has recently noted the coolness of pea shoots, aka parachutes, which she and I both bought at the farmers' market on Sunday. They're really good, a little sweet, a little bite-y. Yum. They are definitely random, though, and they're not vital to this recipe. Spinach or other greens would do just fine.

Clearly there is room for experimentation -- I didn't measure anything. It was about half greens and half pasta, which worked well. The greens are spicy and tangy, especially with the lemon dressing, so the pasta mellowed them out a bit.


Make pasta. I used about a third of a box of multi-grain rotini. (The recipe as a whole probably made four medium-sized servings.)

While it's boiling, take three or four big handfuls of arugula and pea shoots (or whatever). Tear into bite-sized bits, wash and set aside.

Mix viniagrette in small bowl:

equal parts fresh lemon juice and vinegar (I used white wine; others would be fine I am sure)
about 1 t sugar
a little rosemary, fresh or dried
black pepper
pinch of salt

Drain pasta, put back into pot and pour dressing over it. Toss and let cool slightly so it doesn't freak out the greens. I threw a little herbed goat cheese (that farmers market was excellent) in at this step too, which mixed together nicely with everything else, but I wouldn't say it's necessary.

When pasta is fairly cool, toss with greens and make sure everything's coated just a little. You really don't need a lot of dressing, because it's pretty strong.

Ta da! Eat it. Have other people tell you you're awesome.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Honey Nut Chicken Sticks

Source: Rachael Ray, "365: No Repeats"

Note: I'm re-doing the instructions a bit, because I think they could be written a little more clearly.

2 lbs chicken tenders
salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
splash of milk
2 cups Honey Nut Corn Flakes, crushed
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoon grill seasoning, e.g. Montreal Steak seasoning
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Season chicken with salt and pepper.

Line up 3 shallow bowls. Put flour in the first bowl. Put eggs and milk in second one, then beat. Put the remaining ingredients in the third bowl and combine well. Put a nonstick baking sheet after the third bowl.

Use an assembly line...put chicken in flour, then egg mixture, then breading mixture, and place in a single layer on the baking sheet.

When the tenders have been coated, bake for 15 minutes, or until evenly browned and cooked through.

Cool enough to serve or pack up for a picnic. Can be served hot or cold.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sour cream, lemon and herb deviled eggs

This is on our menu for Easter dinner tonight, along with lamb, asparagus, mashed potatoes, tomato and mozarella salad, rolls and chocolate cake. I figured this would be a good way to use up some of those eggs we colored earlier this week. My notes in parenthesis.

from Bon Appetit

6 hard-boiled eggs (I used 7)
3 tablespoons (fat free) sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (low-fat) mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (left this out)

Chopped fresh parsley or thyme
Shell eggs, then cut in half lengthwise. Transfer yolks to small bowl and mash with fork. Mix in sour cream, mayonnaise, and mustard. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Spoon yolk mixture into whites. Sprinkle generously with chopped parsley or thyme. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover loosely and refrigerate.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma. Geoff and I made these a couple of weeks ago, and they came out wonderfully.

2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat (or spray with cooking spray).

Sift together flour, baking soda, an salt. Set aside.

Beat butter until smooth. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat until slightly fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet, spacing them about 2" apart. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to the rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Makes 36 cookies.

- I modified the recipe to remove the references to a stand mixer, which W-S assumes all people have. Yeah, right. Anyway, Geoff and I don't have one -- we used lots of elbow grease while stirring things by hand -- and the cookies turned out ok.
- We didn't sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together, because we don't have a sifter. We just put those ingredients in a bowl and mixed them together really well.
- I don't think we actually got 36 cookies, we got less than that. But then again, we like our cookies a little bigger, so it was ok by us.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Middle Eastern Chickpeas with Spinach

From Moosewood Restauarant's Low-Fat Favorites

Gwen gave me a chickpea recipe 2 years ago that was almost exactly like this, minus the spinach, but when I asked for it again recently she had no recollection of it. I think this might actually be the same recipe, and maybe she just left out the spinach part? Either way, I liked her recipe, and I liked this one, too. The book recommends serving it over orzo, with the sauce on top. I just ate it by itself with the sauce.

2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tsp chopped fresh mint
dash of salt

1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of saffron
1 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, with liquid reserved (16 oz can)
10 oz fresh spinach, rinsed, stemmed, coarsely chopped (2 average-sized bags of the prewashed stuff from the grocery store)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Cooked orzo (optional)

Combine the yogurt, garlic, mint and salt in a bowl and set aside to blend the flavors.

In a large skillet, saute the onions in the oil on medium heat until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the bell pepper, coriander, cumin, and saffrom, and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the chickpeas and 1/4 cup of their liquid and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the peppers are just tender, adding more of the reserved liquid if necessary. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach is bright and wilted. Stir in the lemon juice and add salt and pepper.

Serve immediately over orzo, topped with the yogurt sauce.

Monday, April 03, 2006

G*nette's potato salad

This is from an old friend of Alissa's. She is French, I think; is this potato salad also French? I don't know, but I made it for a barbeque yesterday and was reminded how great it is...

Cook -- uh -- some potatoes, but make sure they're not too soft. (Or they can be too soft and it's still good, with a more mushy consistency I actually like a lot)

Make vinaigrette:

- 3 parts olive oil to one part vinegar (balsamic, white wine, etc.)
- salt and pepper
- fresh herbs -- oregano, parsley and/or whatever smells good
- 1 t. dry or dijon mustard for every 1 c oil
- green onions (regular onions or onion powder also works if you don't have any green)

Make enough dressing to cover potatoes, but not so much that it's leftover on the bottom of the bowl. After potatoes are cooked, let them cool just a little and pour the dressing over. If you wait too long, the dressing won't be absorbed.

simmered brussels sprouts

from How to Cook Everything, which has really good explanation of why this recipe works and is the best way to prepare a normally loathed vegetable. I never hated brussels sprouts, but these are seriously delicious...

1 to 1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 T butter or olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)
1 T plain bread crumbs
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 T minced fresh parsley (I didn't have this and substituted dried, and it was fine)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan (he thinks it's optional, but I tried it both ways and highly recommend using the cheese)

Bring large pot of water to boil and salt. Add sprouts and, keeping the heat high, boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook; drain and refresh in cold water.

Place butter or oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic. When the butter foam subsides or oil is hot, add sprouts and breadgrumbs. Stir until hot, about 3 minutes. Remove the garlic, toss the sprouts with lemon and parsley, top with cheese and serve.

smashed sweet potatoes with dried cranberries (crockpot)

from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

This is cooking right now -- I needed to use up a few sweet potatoes and also some butternut squash that was on its way out. I don't usually improvise much with the crockpot, but it's such a normal combination that hopefully it'll be alright...

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices (or maybe 2 sweet potatoes and a few handfuls of butternot squash)
1/2 c. apple juice (I used cranberry)
1/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. dried cranberries

Place sweet potatoes in the lightly oiled slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine juice and brown sugar and pour over potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, until potatoes are tender.

Just before serving, smash potatoes with a masher until smooth, then fold in cranberries. Serve hot.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Arborio Rice, Parmesan and Green Pea Pancakes

from Cooking Light 2006

Cooking spray
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
2 3/4 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 teaspoons canola oil
Thinly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add water and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in peas and grated cheese; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 15 minutes.
Combine egg whites and egg in a large bowl. Add rice mixture, stirring until blended.
Heat oil in a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spoon 1/2 cup rice mixture per pancake onto hot pan, spreading each to a 4-inch diameter. Cook 6 minutes on each side or until the bottoms are browned. Garnish with shaved cheese, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 pancakes)

CALORIES 224(31% from fat); FAT 7.8g (sat 2.7g,mono 3.2g,poly 1.2g); PROTEIN 11.7g; CHOLESTEROL 115mg; CALCIUM 142mg; SODIUM 677mg; FIBER 2.7g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.4g

Nutty Peanut Butter Caramel Bars

From Culinary in the Desert, which is a fantastic cooking site. I'm amazed at the number of new recipes he tries every week.
My bars, which are cooling right now, do not look as good as the ones in the picture, but they look pretty darn good. I'm taking his advice and not cutting into them until they're completely cooled. That, and it's still pretty early in the morning.

Nutty Peanut Butter Caramel Bars

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups pecan halves (I used walnuts, because that's what I had in the house)
14 ounces unwrapped caramels
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 ounces milk chocolate chips
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I just used semi-sweet for all the chocolate)

Preheat oven to 375
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat in egg until well combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into sugar mixture and beat until dough forms.
Scoop out dough into a 15x10" baking pan and press it out to fill the pan. Scatter pecans evenly over dough. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Set on a wire rack.
In a heavy small saucepan, add caramels and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Drizzle caramel mixture over pecans. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let cool completely and cut into bars

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins


I left the glaze off the tops of these, because it seemed sort of unnecessary. I've included it in the recipe, though, in case you like that sort of thing.

Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2004

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon, softened
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 mini muffin tins (each with 12 (1 3/4-inch) wells) with 1 tablespoon softened butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg and sugar and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the yogurt, remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, lemon juice, zest and vanilla until well incorporated, about 30 seconds. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry just until moistened and being careful not to over-mix. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins, filling each halfway.

Bake until the muffins are set and golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a toothpick to poke several holes in the top of each muffin. Brush each muffin generously with the lemon glaze. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
In a small bowl, combine ingredients and whisk to incorporate.

Broccoli with procuitto and parmesean

I found this recipe on a food blog that Gwen and I both read. It originally called for pancetta (I'm not even sure what that is), but we substitued procuitto. I think you could probably make it with bacon, or leave the meat out altogether, and it'd be good. Yum.

You can find the original here.

BROCCOLI with Procuitto and PARMESAN
1 ounce procuitto (worth the trip to Trader Joes)
1 pound broccoli
1 ounce Parmesan, grated (or, a couple big handfuls, which is what I used. I also used that 4 cheese blend -- Parm, Asiago, etc.)

Bring an inch of water to boil in a steaming pan. Cook the procuitto in a small skillet, breaking into pieces as it browns. Meanwhile, trim the broccoli and transfer it to the steamer basket. When the water boils, place the basket inside the pan, COVER and let steam for exactly five minutes. When the five minutes is up, drain the water, return the broccoli to the hot pan, stir in the procuitto and Parmesan (reserve some to sprinkle on top at the end), COVER the pan and let rest so the broccoli can continue to cook and the flavors meld. Sprinkle with reserved Parmesan.