Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blackened catfish

Alright, so I think this falls under both technique and really good fish recipe. I think you could easily use this for chicken, if you wanted blackened chicken, you just might want to increase the cooking time in the oven until the chicken is done.
Another product of having too much time on my hands, and Food Network almost constantly on my television.

From Guy Fieri

2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 lemon wedges

On a plate, mix together the paprika, cayenne, thyme, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper for the blackened spice mixture. Dredge the catfish fillets in the spice mixture and set aside.
Heat a large cast iron fry pan or saute pan over high heat until it is "white hot."
Add oil to pan. When oil begins to slightly smoke, add catfish fillets and cook on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cook in batches, if necessary, and transfer cooked fillets to a preheated 200 degree F oven while cooking remaining fillets.
To serve, top each fillet with 1/2 tablespoon of butter and serve with lemon wedges.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cake

From: Annie's Eats

I made this cake for a friend's birthday this past weekend, and it was a big hit with everyone. I had to take lots of pictures of it, because it was the most impressive-looking cake I think I've ever made.

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)

For decorating:
1 ½ - 2 batches peanut butter frosting (below) (I made a double batch and had about 1.5 cups leftover)
miniature Reese’s cups, halved and/or chopped

For the cake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 9×2” round cake pans, dust the insides with flour (I used cocoa powder), tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper (don’t skip the parchment paper. I only used parchment in one pan, and that layer came out of the pan ok. The one without parchment stuck to the bottom and I end up with an uneven cake as a result). Place the pans on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients). Mix each addition only until it is blended into the batter. Scrape down the bowl and add the melted chocolate, if using, folding it in with a spatula. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 26-30 minutes or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans (One of my layers needed about 32 minutes, and the other needed closer to 40 minutes, but definitely check periodically because all ovens have their own quirks). Transfer to wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on the serving dish, or cover a cardboard circle with foil to use as a serving tray. Spread peanut butter frosting on top of the cake layer. (If desired, sprinkle with chopped Reese’s cups.) Place the second cake layer on top of the frosting. Frost the top and outside of the cake with remaining peanut butter frosting. Decorate with halved and chopped Reese’s cups as desired.

Peanut Butter Frosting
From Ina Garten

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Monday, October 27, 2008

White Bean Dip

I made this to bring to a World Series party tonight, and served with pita chips. I guess it's the same basic recipe as hummus, but with different beans. It was nice to have something just a little different. I'm sure you could play around with it and add other flavors as well, such as sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, different herbs, etc.

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic (I just used one large clove)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil (I used less than this)
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper


Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl. Serve with pita chips or veggies.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes

These are also known as Black-Bottom Cupcakes, from David Liebovitz's "The Great Book of Chocolate." Smitten Kitchen and Annie's Eats have also posted this recipe with nice photos. See my notes at the bottom regarding the debate between regular-size muffins and mini-muffins, paper cups versus no paper cups, and filling to the brim versus filling to 90%.

Yield: 12 full-size or approximately 48 mini cupcakes

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
1. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Butter muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups. (See notes at bottom)
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons* of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely,** which is fine.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

* I made these into mini-muffins. It was just the right amount of batter for 2 full trays, or 48 mini-muffins. On the first batch, I used paper muffin cups and cooked them for about 17 minutes. This was too long, as the muffins were a bit dry and totally stuck to the muffin cups. Since they're so small anyway, when half of the muffin gets stuck to the paper, it's just not worth even trying. On the second batch, I sprayed the muffin tin and did not use muffin cups. I took them out after approximately 14 minutes and they were perfect. I used a toothpick to pop them out of the cups, and they were moist and delicious, with no paper to fiddle with. If I make these again, I will definitely skip the papers and use the shorter cook time.

* The recipe says for full-size muffins you can fill the cups to the brim with batter. I would not recommend this for the mini muffins. See Smitten Kitchen's post where she talks about her mini-muffins spilling over. She recommends filling the mini cups with 1 Tbsp of batter. This is exactly what I did and it was the perfect amount. I used a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon to dole out the chocolate batter, and a 1/2 tsp spoon for the cheesecake filling.

pasta e fagioli soup

This is from Recipes from the Night Kitchen, another great cookbook I got from the library. Sally Nirenberg opened a soup restaurant (the Night Kitchen, duh) in the early 80s in Brookline, MA, and then collected her recipes into this book. She tells little stories in the margins and has photos and drawings and I love it... I think I need to buy this one.

Anyway, this soup was delicious. Here are her margin notes:

There are many versions of Pasta e Fagioli, Italian Pasta and Beans. Southern Italians make it differently than Northern Italians, and Italians in America make it yet another way. This is the American-in-America version, a synthesis of them all. Feel free to experiment with different kinds of beans and different shapes of pasta, but don't leave out the rosemary, it is especially wonderful here. [I totally left out the rosemary... somehow we don't have any! I quadrupled the basil, though, using one of the pre-pesto cubes I froze in the ice-cube tray during basil season in the garden.]

And here's the recipe:
1 T olive or safflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced or sliced
1 c kidney or white cannellini beans [I used 1 can cannellini]
1/2 c tomato puree, or 1 tomato, chopped
10 c low-salt chicken stock [I used vegetable Better than Bullion]
1/2 c dry white wine [I skipped]
1 bay leaf
1 t dried rosemary or 1 T chopped fresh
1/4 t dried thyme, or 1 t chopped fresh
1/4 t dried basil, or 1 t chopped fresh
1/3 c orzo
1 T chopped fresh parsley
freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1. Heat oil over low flame in a 6-quart soup pot. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Add beans, tomato, chicken stock, wine, and herbs, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 2 hours. [I shortchanged this and it was fine]

3. Remove half the vegetables and place in a food processor or blender. Process briefly. [I just stuck the immersion blender in] Return to soup and bring to a boil.

4. Add orzo and parsley, and cook until orzo is done, about 20 minutes.

5. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes

From Allrecipes.com

I was in the mood for pancakes and pumpkin and this is a great way to have both.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice (I didn't have any--all I had were cloves and cinnamon so used a 1/4 t of cloves and an additional 1/4 t of cinnamon)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I was out so I used fresh ginger)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
*I also added a dash of vanilla

In one large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a second bowl, mix the wet ingredients and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix just enough to combine. Grease a hot griddle with oil or butter and pour 1/4 C of batter per pancake. Use more if you like larger pancakes. I sprinkled some toasted walnuts on top of the pancakes while they cooked and they were yummy. The batter is a little thick so I spread it around with a rubber scraper. I could have added more milk but didn't want to dilute the yummy pumpkin flavor. Serve with butter and warmed maple syrup.

p.s. Gwen, this is a great recipe for your iron skillet (even if you're more of a waffle person:>)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chicken and spinach lasagna

I saw this recipe a long time ago and stuck it on the back burner because it was still so hot outside.
It's not hot anymore, and this smells really good baking in my oven right now. And easy to make.

From Annie's Eats

1 chicken breast
salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 (24-oz.) jar pasta sauce
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
9-12 lasagna noodles, uncooked (depending on size of dish)
2 cups spinach, chopped
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Place the chicken breast in a large non-stick skillet and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until cooked through. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Add 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until onion is tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the pasta sauce and the chicken to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 5 minutes while making the ricotta layer.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, egg and Italian seasoning. Stir until well combined.
In a baking dish, spoon a thin layer of the pasta sauce mixture so that it just coats the bottom of the dish. Top with one layer of lasagna noodles so that they cover the sauce completely. Spread one half of the ricotta mixture over the noodles and sprinkle with one cup of chopped spinach. Layer with one third of the pasta sauce mixture. Repeat the layers again with noodles, ricotta mixture with spinach, and pasta sauce. The last layer will be noodles, the remaining pasta sauce and shredded mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese and Pecans

From Nigella Lawson (I can't remember which cookbook). I remember she cooked this recipe on Rachel Ray last year around Thanksgiving. I made myself watch the show b/c I love Nigella but Ms. Ray's t.v. persona makes me nutty. We were strolling through the farmer's market this weekend and lots of vendors were selling squash and this recipe came to mind. Yum-o. (Seriously? Did I just write that?)

4.5 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 T o.o.
1/4 C. maple syrup (my addition)
1 C blue cheese, crumbled
1C pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (I used walnuts this time but both are good)

Preheat oven to 450. Toss butternut squash cubes with o.o. and maple syrup and dump into a baking dish. Roast for 30 - 40 minutes until done. Toss with chopped nuts and blue cheese crumbles and serve. We ate it as a main course but it would be a lovely side dish with pork or chicken.

lentils and yellow mung beans

The dal obsession escalates: I took "The Indian Vegetarian" out of the library, and this is the first one I've tried. The topping, specifically the browned onions -- made easy by my new birthday iron skillet from Kelly, hooray! is beautiful! -- is what made this flavorful, and even more might have been better; the beans are kind of bland. But it's good. The author says this dal is "considered light and easy to digest" and was one of her family's favorites. It was good topped with plain yogurt and would be better topped with raita.

1 c dried pink lentils (I used red; are those the same?), picked over and washed
1 c dried yellow mung beans (I used split), picked over and washed
6 c water (this is what I used, but I had to boil it for a long time -- next time, I'll do less)
5 fresh serrano or dried red peppers (I used crushed red pepper)
1 t salt, or to taste
1 T peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/2 c loosely packed finely chopped cilantro (I used mint, which is still magically growing in the freezing garden)

for the tarka topping:
3 T vegetable oil or clarified butter (I used olive)
1/2 c finely chopped onion
2 t cumin seeds
1 T ground coriander
1/2 t paprika
2 small tomatoes, cut into 6 ot 8 wedges
3 T chopped cilantro for garnish (I used mint)

Place the beans, water, peppers, turmeric and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan partially (thi sisessential because this dal produces a froth that rises to the top and spills over if covered, creating a mess that has to be cleaned), and simmer until creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir a few times during the simmering process.

Transfer to serving dish, gently stir in the ginger and cilantro, and keep hot.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat and cook the onion, stirring, until medium brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add cumin seeds, coriander and paprika, then add the tomato wedges, and cook until they become slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour over the hot dal and mix lightly with the back of a spoon.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve as a main dish with any vegetable side dish, yogurt raita, and rice or bread. (I served with my old roommate D's Indian potatoes -- also made in the new skillet!)

Potatoes with bacon and onions

Okay, so I made this to go with the steak. And mine didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the ones on the television, but they were really good so I didn't care.

Adapted from this recipe on Food Network.

3 pounds baby Yukon potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3/4 pound bacon, diced
2 yellow onions, diced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Parmesan

In large stock pot add potatoes, cover with water and add salt. Set heat on high and boil until fork tender.
In a large saute pan over medium heat cook bacon and saute onions until caramelized. Remove bacon and onions from pan on to a paper towel to absorb grease, keep warm on platter, and leave remaining fat in pan.
When potatoes are fork tender, drain, and with a clean kitchen towel, palm smash the hot potatoes to approximately 1/3-inch thick.
Reheat fat in saute pan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat to oil medium heat and place potatoes in oil. Season with salt and pepper and brown on both sides, then transfer to onion and bacon platter. Repeat until all potatoes are cooked crispy.
Top potatoes with Parmesan.

Peppered Steak with Cabernet Balsamic Sauce

I turned on the television the other day randomly and watched the chef on the screen make this steak. I usually could take steak or leave it, but this one looked good.
The steak is easy to put together, and so is the sauce. I didn't actually have any sauce, because it had a lot of garlic and I was afraid of exacerbating the ever-present heartburn. But Ernie said it was really good, so I trust him.

This recipe can be found on Food Network.

2 pounds flank steak or tri-tip, cut into 8-ounce pieces
4 tablespoons black peppercorns, lightly cracked
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Cut flank steak into 8-ounce portions and lightly tenderize with mallet. Dust with crushed black pepper and kosher salt. Press salt and pepper into steak with the palm of hand. Transfer steaks to a baking dish and place in the refrigerator. Let marinate for 4 to 8 hours.
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add extra-virgin olive oil and onions and lightly saute until onions are caramelized. Add garlic and cook until garlic begins to turn brown. Deglaze with wine and balsamic vinegar. Add sugar and let simmer and reduce for 20 to 30 minutes until mixture reduces to 3/4 cup.
Place steaks over a hot grill. Move once on first side to mark the steaks, cook for 5 minutes and flip, again only moving once to mark steak, cook for 4 minutes. When desired doneness is achieved, remove steaks from grill and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes.
Strain wine mixture and return to heat to reduce for 5 more minutes or until thick syrup is created. Serve with the steaks.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spaghetti and meatballs

After a brief hiatus of eating a lot of random stuff, I'm cooking again.
I've been craving spaghetti and meatballs since Wednesday, so I got off my rather large behind today and actually made it. This is bubbling away on the stove right now, and I've tasted both the sauce and the meatballs and they are GOOD. The recipe calls for beef and sausage...I think you could substitute turkey and it'd be just fine.

From the ever-wonderful Simply Recipes, which always has the recipe I need when I'm craving something.


2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves chopped garlic
½ chopped sweet yellow onion
1 cup very finely chopped carrots
1 cup chopped crimini brown mushrooms
2 28-oz cans Italian plum tomatoes (get San Marzano brand if possible)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 Tbsp tomato paste concentrate in tube
¼ cup grated parmesan-romano cheese blend
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)
¼ cup red wine


1 lb ground beef (USDA prime is best)
½ lb fresh bulk Italian style pork sausage
2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ cup finely chopped crimini brown mushrooms
2 eggs
¾ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan-romano cheese blend
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
Red wine

Prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil in 4-5 quart pot on medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add carrots and mushrooms, blend together for 2 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, stir together. Add basil and parsley, stir tomatoes with a potato masher until sauce starts to thicken about 5 minutes over medium high heat. Add tomato paste concentrate, stir to blend. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing meat balls, stirring occasionally.
Prepare the meatballs. Mix by hand in a large bowl beef, Italian sausage, basil, parsley, mushrooms, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbed salt, and pepper until well mixed. Use small melon baller, or teaspoons to form 1-inch round meat balls. Roll and compress into tight balls.
Heat frying pan on high heat. Add olive oil. Sear and brown meat balls on all sides. About 2-3 minutes. Depending on pan size you may need to brown two batches of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan by stacking the meatballs. Cook in a single layer. Do not over-cook. As meatballs are finishing, add a little bit of red wine to de-glaze pan.
Add ¼ cup red wine to the sauce. Then stir in ¼ cup cheese. Add salt to taste. Add meatballs, gently stir. Simmer sauce and meatballs for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce is cooking, bring to a boil a large pot with 4 quarts of water in it. Once the water is boiling, salt it with 1 Tbsp of salt. Once the water returns to a boil add the pasta to the pot. Leave uncovered, cook on high heat with a vigorous boil. Put the timer on for 8-10 minutes, or whatever your pasta package says is appropriate for al dente (cooked but still a little firm). Drain.
To serve, place thin layer of sauce on plate, add pasta, add sauce and meatballs, sprinkle with grated parmesan-romano cheese.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spinach and Cheese Squares

I made this for a pot-luck dinner tonight. It was intended to be an appetizer, to be cut in squares. However, the dish I used was a tad bit smaller than the dish called for, so they ended up fairly thick. (I used an 8x8" instead of 9x9", which doesn't seem like much but does make a difference.) I ended up just serving the dish as a side, and people used a large spoon to scoop out portions. It went over well. I would recommend using a larger pan if you want to cut into clean squares for apps. Otherwise, I could also see making this again as a side dish, or even serving larger pieces as a main dish, with soup or a salad.

16 oz. cottage cheese
2 large eggs
4 egg whites
1/4 c. chopped green onion
2 oz shredded sharp cheddar
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
20 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 oz. fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, whisk together cottage cheese, eggs, egg whites and green onions until well combined. Mix in cheddar, butter, flour, salt, garlic, and peppers until thoroughly mixed. Fold in the spinach.
Scoop mixture into a 9" square baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with parmesan. Bake until set and the top is golden, about 45-55 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature to cut clean squares.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spinach & Blue Cheese Stuffed Portobellos

If I tell you where I got this recipe they might send their mafia after me b/c I changed some of the ingredients.

Serves 4

6 portobello mushrooms (4-5")
olive oil
1 pkg baby spinach (or thawed frozen chopped spinach)
3 T bread crumbs
1 T butter
1 medium onion (small dice)
2 medium garlic cloves (minced or pressed)
2 oz crumbled blue cheese (or goat cheese)
1/2 C toasted pine nuts (or walnuts)
cooking spray

Place rimmed baking sheet inside oven and preheat oven to 400. Prepare mushrooms by wiping caps clean and scraping gills out. Cut off stems and reserve. Turn 4 mushrooms cap side up and score cap in a crosshatch pattern 1/2" apart. Brush olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt. Place mushrooms gill side up on preheated baking sheet and roast in oven about 8-12 minutes. Turn caps over and roast an additional 8-12 minutes until caps are golden brown and liquid has evaporated. Once mushrooms are done, set aside and set oven to broil.

While mushrooms are in the oven, dice remaining 2 mushroom caps and reserved stems. Set aside. Place spinach and a splash of water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave 3-4 minutes until spinach is wilted and decreased in volume by half. Strain spinach in a colander and press with the backside of a spoon to remove excess moisture. Once cool, roughly chop and set aside.

Heat 1 T oil and 1 T butter in a skillet and add mushrooms. After 2 minutes, add onions and stir occasionally until onions are lightly browned. Add spinach, cheese and pine nuts. Cook until cheese is melted and vegetables are well coated. Remove from heat and add S&P to taste.

Turn caps gill side up and distribute filling evenly. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and spritz with cooking spray (or use melted butter). Place mushrooms under broiler for 1-3 minutes until breadcrumbs are browned. Serve immediately.

*I'm not sure how well these would reheat so I only made enough for one meal.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Broiled Tomato and Blue Cheese Salad

Courtesy of Mark Bittman and Gwen who gave me one of his cookbook's for my birthday (additional thanks to Alissa who got me a subscription to Cook's Illus--yummy portobello recipe to come next week)

Okay, this is not so much a recipe as it is a way to use up some yummy late summer tomatoes from the farmer's market.

EVOO for brushing and spraying
6 plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise (I used heirloom)
6 oz blue cheese of your choice
1 large head of Bibb or Boston lettuce, leaved pulled from core intact (I used mixed greens)
1/4 C vinaigrette (make your own or from a bottle - I used light bals. vin. by Newman's Own)
1/4 C chopped fresh chives or parsley for garnish (I didn't have any and it still tasted good)

Adjust oven rack so it is 4" from broiler. Turn oven on to broil. Brush/spray baking sheet with EVOO and put tomatoes cut side UP on sheet. Smoosh a little if they don't stay level. Sprinkle withh S&P and crumble blue cheese and flatten on top of the tomatoes. Broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is golden brown and delicious. Remove from oven and allow to rest to set. Divide lettuce among plates and top with 3 tomatoe halves. Drizzle with dressing and serve. Yum!

Breakfast casserole

I found this recipe on Mandajuice, and adapted it slightly based on what we had in the house. I think it'd be good with turkey sausage, if that's what you wanted to use. And you could certainly add more veggies -- if I make this again, I'll add green peppers, and maybe even tomatoes.
This fed four of us for two days in a row, and there's still some in the fridge that will probably feed me for a few more days. So it makes a lot. But it was easy and then I didn't have to cook breakfast on Sunday when we had Richie and Sylvia here.

One 2-pound bag of thawed hash brown potatoes (the cubes, not the strips)
1 lb of breakfast sausage
1 onion
1 package mushrooms
2 cups of cheese
1 dozen eggs
1/2 a stick of butter

Combine chopped onions, mushrooms, potatoes and half a stick of butter in a large nonstick skillet and cook until brown, turning as infrequently as possible so as to avoid smushing the potatoes.
Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Brown one pound of breakfast sausage. Grate two cups of cheese. Beat one dozen eggs.
Layer your casserole as follows: vegetables, sausage, cheese then eggs.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until set.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pumpkin cream cheese muffins

Yesterday I swung through Starbucks for some hot apple cider and a muffin on my way in to do some freelance copy editing. They had pumpkin cream cheese muffins, and I snagged one of those -- because it's fall and now I want to eat pumpkin all the time.
Or maybe I'm pregnant and that's why I want to eat pumpkin all the time. In any case, today I made these muffins. They're fantastic. The recipe makes a whole lot of muffins, but you won't mind.

from Annie's Eats

For the muffins:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree

For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

For the streusel topping:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour
4 tbsp. butter, cubed
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a log on plastic wrap or foil, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours.

To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.

To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

Sour cream coffee cake with chocolate and nuts

I needed a cake to take to a coffee I'm going to tomorrow (even though I'm not drinking coffee) and this one, which I stumbled upon a few days ago, fit the bill.
This cake is not quick, I have to say. It requires a lot of bowls, and has a lot of different steps. It's worth it, though.

Recipe from Bake or Break

Chocolate mixture
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Break chocolate into 1-inch pieces. Place in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until chocolate is finely chopped.
Add nuts, sugars, and cinnamon. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped.

Cake batter
1 & 1/4 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 & 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 & 1/4 cups superfine sugar, divided into 1 cup and 1/4 cup
4 large eggs, separated
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 10-inch Bundt pan and dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
Stir together sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cut butter into 1-inch pieces. Mix on medium speed with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of sugar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, taking 4-6 minutes. Add egg yolks, two at a time, and beat for 30 seconds after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
Stir the milk into the sour cream mixture. Reduce mixer speed to low. Alternate adding the flour mixture (in 3 parts) and the sour cream mixture (in 2 parts), mixing just until blended after each addition.
In another bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and whip until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time, taking about 15 seconds. Beat for another 15 seconds.
Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter, taking about 20 turns. Then, fold in remaining whites, taking about 40 more turns.
Spoon about one-third of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle about one-third of the chocolate mixture evenly over the batter. Cover with half of remaining batter, and smooth evenly without disturbing the chocolate layer. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Marbleize batter using a table knife cutting almost to the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until top is golden brown and springy to the touch. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Cover with a wire rack, invert the cake, and lift off the pan.
Store in an airtight container for 5 days. May be frozen.

Note: If you can't find superfine sugar, you can always just run your regular old granulated sugar through the food processor a few times. That's what I did.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This isn't much of a recipe, but I've finally figured out a good combination of flavors, so I thought I'd share.

I've been making smoothies with my immersion blender, trying different combinations of ingredients. I make them right in the container that came with my immersion blender.

Start with vanilla soy milk (about a cup or so, depending on how much smoothie you want)
Add a few chunks of frozen banana.
Add a few chunks of frozen mango (Trader Joe's has bags of frozen mango chunks year-round)
Add a few spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt.

Blend. Add more soy milk if it's too thick.

I like the vanilla soy milk for the smooth texture and the sweetness of the vanilla. I don't drink soy milk, but I like it for smoothies. I also found the the yogurt makes a big difference. The smoothies taste a little bland without it - it adds a nice tangy-ness.

I've also tried frozen raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, etc, but the mango and banana is my favorite combination.

that's it. :)