Sunday, September 27, 2009

raisin challah

I brought this sweet honey-raisin challah to my parents' Rosh Hashanah dinner last week. I'm not going to recopy the recipe, because it's long (although the bread isn't complicated to make at all), but I wanted to share it with all of you because it is sweet and tasty and pretty much foolproof.

Woo, happy (Jewish) new year!

Fried Green Tomatoes

adapted from: Simply Recipes

We got a bag of green tomatoes in the CSA share this week, and if I had any tomatoes growing on my plants I might even consider pulling some off early to use in this recipe. Also, as the weather gets colder you might have extra tomatoes that won't have time to ripen on the vine, which would be good candidates for this recipe. I added a little more seasoning to the recipe, but it would probably be good as written, too. It had a lot of flavor. We ate them for lunch, but they would also be a good side dish.


3 medium, firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt, pepper, a little chili powder
1/4 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cornmeal (I used seasoned bread crumbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
ranch dressing for dipping, opt


1 Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Let tomato slices stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes. (I added a bit of salt, pepper and chili powder to the flour to season it).

2 Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 4-6 minutes on each side or until brown. As you cook the rest of the tomatoes, add olive oil as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zucchini Pancakes with Yogurt Sauce

Adapted from Ina Garten and the NY Times.

For the pancakes:
3 medium zucchini, shredded
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
6 tbs flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used reduced-fat from Trader Joe's)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (or anything oniony)
1/3 cup finely chopped dill (I used dried)
1 teaspoon baking powder
4-6 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed for frying

For the yogurt sauce:
2/3 cup plain yogurt (fat free)
2 medium or 1 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste

Shred the zucchini with a box grater or food processor and set aside in a bowl. You can sprinkle with salt and drain off the liquid but I skipped this step to save time. The batter might turn a bit watery but you can add a smidge more flour if need be and the pancakes still taste just as good. Combine remanining ingredients with zucchini and mix to combine. In a skillet over med-high heat, add oil and drop in 2 Tbs of batter at a time. I used my cookie scoop for this and got 12 pancakes. Cook on one side until edges begin to look done and bubbles have formed on the surface and then flip. Place pancakes on an oven-safe platter in a warm oven until remainder of batter is used up. While pancakes cook, make yogurt sauce and set aside. We ate these with hummus and pita and cherry tomatoes tossed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, basil and oregano.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eastern European red lentil soup

From Veg Times (thanks, Kel!) I am not sure exactly what's Eastern European about this -- it seems more Indian to me with the curry and the cumin, but whatever. It's savory and tangy and a little sweet. It also let me pretend it was fall for a night, even though it's almost 80 degrees here at the moment, which is hotter than it was during most of the summer. Again, whatever.

Also, I like thick soups and cut down on the amount of water -- I probably used 6 cups instead of 7, and my tomato didn't have as much liquid as a whole can of chopped tomatoes would. I didn't need to thin it out in the final step, either, although I probably will when we reheat the leftovers.

2 T olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 T)
1 1/2 red lentils
2 T ground cumin (I added some curry powder; the recipe notes say you can replace the supplement with curry, thyme or paprika)
1 15-oz can chopped tomatoes with liquid (I just chopped a leftover tomato from the garden)
1 T honey
3 bay leaves (I omitted)
1 T red wine vinegar
yogurt for garnish

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in red lentils and spices, and cook 1 minute or until spices are fragrant and lentils are coated in oil. Stir in tomatoes with liquid, honey, bay leaves and 7 c water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

2. Cover pan, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until lentils are soft and falling apart and soup is thick. Add a little water to thin soup, if necessary. Remove bay leaves, stir in vinegar, and serve with dollops of yogurt.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd

I'm trying out recipes for cupcakes for Gaby and Katie's birthday party in November, and this one definitely made my short list of ones to make for the party. Light, lemony, pretty, and easy to make.

from Baking Bites

Lemon Cupcakes Filled with Lemon Curd
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest (or 1 tsp lemon extract)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
approx 1 1/2 cups lemon curd

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Adding the lemon zest early helps release more of its flavor. Blend in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Add another 1/3 of the flour and the remaining milk, then stir in the remaining flour, mixing only until no streaks of flour remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each approx 2/3 to 3/4 full.
Bake for 16-19 minutes (mine too 21 minutes), until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

Here's how the blogger says to fill the cupcakes: use a melon baller to scoop a small hole in the top of each muffin. Alternatively, you can use a small knife to carve a small cone of cake out. Fill the depression with 2 tsp lemon curd.
Here's how I did it: I put the lemon curd in a piping bag, then cut a small bit out of the top of each cupcake (like she suggests). I stuck the piping bag tip into the cupcake and filled a bit, before filling the top dent. I didn't bother to measure how much I used. :)

Serve shortly after filling. Unfilled cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container until ready to fill and serve.

Lemon curd

You know, for some reason I thought lemon curd was really hard to make. It's not. And is so, so tasty.

adapted (doubled, really) from Baking Bites

2/3 cup strained, fresh lemon juice
4 tsp fresh lemon zest
10 tbsp sugar
2 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice. Add zest and stir until sugar is dissolved completely.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a strainer.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the fridge.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Slow cooker black bean soup

So, yeah. I was feeling all productive and virtuous because this soup is really good for you, and super easy to make, and then Gaby came home last night and asked for pizza. And Ernie's away on business, and I totally caved.
So. I did finish making the soup, and tasted it, and it's really good. Some in the fridge for lunch, some in the freezer for later.
You can make this with canned beans and stock, or you can make your own vegetable stock and black beans. I made my own.

adapted from "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow cooker"

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. cumin
4 c. veg stock
3 c. cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained

Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion, carrot and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
Put vegetable mixture in slow cooker. Add beans, vegetable broth, tomatoes and spices. Cook on low for 8 hours.
If desired, puree half the soup mixture (after removing bay leaves) and add back to pot. (this thickens the soup a little)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Basic slow cooker beans

I am really trying to stay away from canned foods as much as possible. Since I'm home, it's often easier and cheaper to make completely from scratch.
Dried beans are one of those things cheaper...a bag of beans is really cheap, and cooking them isn't that hard. Especially if you do it in the slow cooker.
The directions for this were taken from "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker," but I think it's probably pretty intuitive. I went with as basic as it comes, because I wanted to use my beans in soups and other recipes.
Beans freeze well, thankfully, so I think my slow cooker will be getting a lot of use making beans.

1 pound dried beans, picked over and rinsed
1 large onion, quartered (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed (optional)
2 bay leaves (optional)

Soak the beans overnight.
Drain the beans and place them in a slow cooker. Add onion, garlic, and bay leaves if using, and enough water to cover the beans. Cover and cook on high for 8 to 12 hours or longer, depending on the type of beans.

I made black beans this time, but also good in the slow cooker are: adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini beans, chick peas, great northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans and pinot beans.

Vegetable super-stock

Canned vegetable stock has too much salt in it for me to be eating these days, so I set out to make my own. I don't really have time to watch the pot, but I do have time to throw everything in the slow cooker and let it sit all day. You may want to add 1 tsp. of salt, like the recipe originally called for; I left it out.

Adapted from "Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker"

1 large onion, thickly sliced
2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks (don't bother peeling)
1 large potato, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 celery rib, cut into i-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, left unpeeled and crushed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
7 c. water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the onions, carrots, potato, celery and garlic in a raosting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and roast about 30 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables to a slow cooker. Add bay leaves, peppercorns, soy sauce and water. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
Let the stock cool, then strain into a large bowl or pot, pressing against the solids to release the liquid. The stock will last in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lime & Honey-Glazed Salmon with Rice and Broccoli

Adapted from Serves 4.

* 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
* 2 tablespoons finely grated lime peel
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for sprinkling
* 4 teaspoons soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 3/4 cup sliced shallots (about 3 large)
* 1 1/2 cups basmati rice (9 to 10 ounces)
* 3 1/4 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth (I used water since I didn't have broth but I added a clove of garlic for a bit more flavor)
* 4 5-to 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
* 1 bunch broccoli, bottom inch trimmed, stalks separated if necessary

Whisk to combine lime juice through soy sauce in a small bowl and set aside. In a brazier or other vessel with a tight fitting lid, heat oil over medium high heat and add shallots (onions are fine, too). Cook for about5 minutes or until onion is soft. Stir in rice and cook for a minute or two before added stock/water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly with lid and place into oven for 10 minutes.*

Remove pan and add a bit more stock if rice looks too dry. Add salmon fillets and place broccoli stalks around fish. Pour 1 tbs of lime mixture per fillet over salmon, close lid and return to oven for 8-12 minutes. I like my salmon done but not dried out so check your fillets at about 10 minutes. Pour over remaining sauce and serve.

*My rice was not close to being "mostly done" the way the recipe said so I cooked mine on the stove top until almost all liquid was absorbed and rice started to look a bit "dry." I added a bit more water and then put in my salmon and broccoli. Also, be sure to use broccoli not broccolini as the recipe originally calls for as the reviewers noted that the broccolini was so bitter as to be inedible. This recipe is 687 kcals with 5 g fiber assuming that you used 4-5 oz. fillets of salmon.

Peach & Blueberry Kuchen

I don't know about you, but even here in sunny CA, it's starting to feel a bit like fall and I started to panic about the fact that I still haven't made any of my summertime favorites. You know, caprese salads and proper desserts made with stone fruit (baked peaches served with yogurt hardly count in my book). I found this recipe in a book called "Simply in Season" and it breaks down recipes by season and category. Thanks to Alissa for this great gift; I find myself consulting it often.

Also, this recipe is only 232 kcals and 3 grams of fiber per serving. Serves 8.

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup AP flour
2 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup ground walnuts (optional--I didn't do it)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups peach slices (or halves, I did slices and I didn't bother to peel them)
1 cup blueberries (can substitute all the peaches for 3 cups blueberries)
3 tbs sugar (I used brown sugar here)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup yogurt or sour cream (fat-free greek worked well here)
1 egg, beaten
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish or pie plate or iron skillet (that's what I used) by spraying just the sides with cooking spray.

In a bowl, combine ingredients from flour to butter and cut in butter until mixture resembles sand. Press into baking dish and layer peach slices on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture and top with blueberries. Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine remaining ingredients from yogurt to vanilla. After peaches have baked for 15 minutes, pour over and return to oven for 30 minutes or until set. Next time I make this I will try to cut back on the sugar a bit. I used really ripe white nectarines and they probably didn't need the added sweetness. I don't think I would eliminate any from the crust, tho.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Spaghetti with pinot grigio and seafood

Um yeah. You know how I'm supposed to be good now and limit carbs and salt and cholesterol?
Sometimes that's just fine, and sometimes I need a big bowl of pasta. Tonight I needed a big bowl of pasta.
Although, I did eat oatmeal for breakfast and a veggie burger on a low-carb bread for lunch, so I guess I had the carbs to spare.

adapted from Giada

1 pound spaghetti pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/2 cup Pinot Grigio (or other white wine)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds clams, washed
2 cups arugula

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until tender but not brown. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another minute. Add the wine, shrimp, and clams. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the shrimp are pink and the clams have opened, about 7 minutes.
Add the spaghetti to the seafood mixture. Add the arugula. Stir gently and place on a serving platter. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Green bean and mushroom stroganoff

We had this for dinner tonight and it was tasty. My only problem with the slow cooker recipes in this cookbook is that you have to do prep work on the stove ahead of time, but it was worth the little bit of extra effort.
And...low cholesterol and low sodium. Not low carb, only because I served this over cholesterol-free egg noodles. Although, I didn't use many egg noodles in my bowl, so maybe it really was low-carb...just not no-carb.

Adapted from "Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker"

3 Tbsp. olive oil
16 oz white mushrooms, washed and quartered (all that business about not washing your mushrooms? Alton Brown, my go-to guy about kitchen chemistry, says to wash your mushrooms. So I wash them.)
2 Tbsp. tomato paste (I used the kind that comes in the tube)
2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth (or make your own)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large bell pepper (I used yellow), diced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
8 oz green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 c. low-fat sour cream (or tofu sour cream)

Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat and cook mushrooms 4 minutes, until browned. Put mushrooms aside and add last tbps. of olive oil, then onions and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add flour, cook for 1 minute more.
In a separate bowl, combine tomato paste and 1/4 c. broth until smooth.
Put onion and pepper mixture in slow cooker. Add tomato paste mixture, then the rest of the broth, green beans and paprika.
Cook on slow for 6-8 hours. (I did mine for about 7)
About 20 minutes before serving, add mushrooms to the slow cooker. Right before serving, add sour cream.
Serve over rice or egg noodles.

Indian Summer Turkey Chili

This is adapted from Rachel Ray's "30 Minute Get Real Meals," which I've had for years and clearly paid no attention. Since I now am supposed to watch salt, carbs and cholesterol, I pulled it out.
We all liked this, even Gaby, and it made enough for us to each have dinner, put one portion away for lunches, and then freeze enough for another dinner in a few weeks. Ernie and Gaby ate theirs over rice, and topped with a ton of cheese. I had mine with a little bit of low-fat cheddar cheese, and a small bag of Fritos (no cholesterol in Fritos).
Again, this is low-carb, not no carb. And if you are concerned about salt, etc., read the back of the cans for salt content. It took me an hour and a half to shop the other day because I read all the labels.

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 package ground turkey
2 Tbsp. chili powder (original recipe called for 3, I toned it down for Gaby)
1 Tbsp. no-salt grill seasoning
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
omitted: 2 Tbsp. hot sauce
1 large onion, minced
2 bell peppers (any coler), diced
1 bottle of beer
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 c. smoky bbq sauce (make sure you don't use the "honey" kind or it'll be too sweet)
1 c. frozen corn

Heat olive oil in large pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add ground turkey, chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using). Brown the meat for 5 minutes, add onion and bell peppers and cook for 10 more. Add the beer and deglaze the pan. Then add tomato sauce, bbq sauce and corn. Bring to a bubble and smimmer for 10 minutes.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

sundried tomato pasta salad

This is the first Pioneer Woman recipe I've ever made -- her stuff always looks amazing, with that unbelievable step-by-step photography that makes me want to lick the screen, but it often has a lot of butter etc. in it. But this has nothing but olive oil (your friend and mine), and it's simple and delicious. And I got to make it for Hefk when she was visiting and that was happy.

adapted from Ina Garten

Dressing (makes more than enough; spoon leftovers over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers) [mm, good idea! we also put it on top of hummus]
1 7-oz jar sundried tomatoes, drained [if you get it packed in olive oil, save it]
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil [can use the stuff you drained from the jar!]

16 ounces corkscrew pasta
1 jar Kalamata or assorted olives [I skipped]
1 pint rip cherry tomatoes, halved
Several (10 to 15) basil leaves, chopped or julienne [I did more of this and added some parsley too]
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese [I used Grana Parano]

Prepare dressing by blending sundried tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar until tomatoes are chopped. Blend while drizzling in olive oil; continue blending until mixed together.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and rinse with cold water until no longer hot. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the pasta, add olives, and toss together. Add remaining ingredients, tossing together and adding more dressing until the salad is coated to your liking. Serve on a big platter with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Chicken pesto pizza

This pizza was sort of a labor of love for me. I was looking for something to do with all the basil in my garden, and really wanted to make pesto, but didn't just want to eat pesto on pasta. So I went looking, and, again, found a recipe I adapted off of allrecipes.
Obviously, you don't have to make your own pesto or pizza crust, but I sort of recommend that you do. It's nice to see something through from start to finish, and it'd be a good weekend or slow afternoon project.

First I made pesto, sort of free-handing it but based off of the recipe I posted here.
Then I sauteed some chicken I had in the freezer, while the pizza dough was rising. I used this recipe.

Okay, once everything was made and it was dinner time, I assembled.

1/2 cup pesto basil sauce
1 (12 inch) pre-baked (or not) pizza crust
2 cups cooked chicken breast strips
1 (6 ounce) jar artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Spread pesto sauce over the pizza crust. Arrange chicken pieces and artichoke hearts over the sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (or 12, if needed) in the preheated oven, until cheese is melted and lightly browned at the edges.

Broccoli-stuffed sole

I had some sole in the freezer I wanted to use and get out of there, so I went looking for recipes.
I adapted this recipe from one found an allrecipes.
Gaby eats fish when I make it, usually with a little bit of complaining, but last night she devoured this. I guess that makes it a good recipe.
I only had 4 fillets, so I took the extra stuffing and added more cheese and rice to it, and Gaby and Ernie ate it with the fish last night. (I'm on a quasi-diet, so I just had salad with mine).

3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 c. panko flakes
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
8 (4 ounce) sole or whitefish fillets

In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, salt, granulated garlic and pepper. In another bowl, combine the broccoli, rice, panko, cheese and half of the butter mixture. Spoon 1/2 cup onto each fillet. Roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Pour remaining butter mixture over roll-ups.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Baste with pan drippings; sprinkle with paprika.