Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ceviche, B*ylis style

Ceviche is a raw fish salad, but can also be made with shrimp or scallops. I prefer shrimp (which is cooked), but I also very much like it with white fish.
Tonight we're having shrimp, because I had 2 pounds of frozen, cooked shrimp in the freezer.
Recipe from my parents. My father's very funny notes in parenthesis.

White fish or shrimp
Lemon juice to cover fish overnight
Drain lemon juice

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup white wine (no whining)
1 tbs olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 red onion diced
1 fresh tomato (check expiration date)
Coriander to taste
3 or 4 jalapeño slices (or whole jalapeño diced if you’re not a wimp) and some jalapeño juice to taste (if you don’t use whole jalapeño)
Hot sauce to taste

Mix it all together, serve with tortillas or tortilla chips

Marinated mushrooms, B*ylis style

This is how my parents always make their marinated mushrooms. I'm guessing the recipe probably originated from my grandparents, but no clue where it came from before that.
All I know is that Ernie loves mushrooms, and he loves it when I marinate them like this.

1 pound mushrooms
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 shallot or scallion, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 dash pepper
1 cup red wine
2 garlic cloves, smashed

Combine all ingredients. Heat in a saucepan, but do not boil, for about 15 minutes. Remove and cool. Place the mushrooms and the marinade in the fridge for several hours before serving.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spritz Cookies (butter cookies)

Adapted from: Allrecipes

My mom and I made spritz cookies every year at Christmas, using our electric cookie press. Every year the first batch came flying out of the cookie press like the chocolates in that I L0ve Lucy episode in the chocolate factory. We had to scoop up the dough and start again. I now have a manual cookie press, and this was the first cookie I made with it. If you don't have a cookie press you could also use this dough to make thumbprint cookies filled with raspberry or apricot jam. I used almond extract instead of the orange zest called for. You could play around with the flavors or even add food coloring to make green Christmas trees, etc.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup butter
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest (or 1 1/2 tsp almond extract)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and egg yolk; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and orange zest (or almond extract). Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Fill a cookie press or pastry bag with dough, and form cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cookies are golden brown on the peaks and on the bottoms. Remove from cookie sheets at once to cool on wire racks.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Caramelized onion and gruyere tart appetizers

I just made this up, based on the full-sized Rustic Onion Tart recipe that I posted here awhile back. I wanted to turn that delicious main dish into an appetizer, so I just adapted it this way. I don't have exact measurements, sizes or times, but there should be enough info here for you to get the point. I'll try to pay more attention next time.

3 large red onions, halved cross-wise and sliced thinly
splash of balsamic vinegar
gruyere cheese, shredded or sliced into small, thin squares
pie crust dough (store-bought or homemade

Saute the onions over medium heat until well browned. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Unroll your pie dough onto a flat surface. Using a small round cookie cutter (or the mouth of a small drinking glass), cut the pie dough into circles that will fit nicely into a mini-muffin pan. I have a water glass that makes the perfect sized circles for my muffin pan. Press the dough into the muffin tin. Place a small amount of cheese in the bottom of each cup. Fill to the top of each cup with onions. Add additional cheese on top of the onions. Bake at 350 until lightly golden brown. (I don't remember how long they took - somewhere in the 20 min vicinity?)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Low-Fat Spinach and Gruyere Quiche with Brown Rice Crust

Adapted from Weight Watchers and Closet Cooking.

Here we are, about to leave for Hawaii and the last thing I want to do is bring home fresh produce with the possibility of not being able to eat it all before we leave. Also, I've been on a mission to eat up the goodies in my freezer and this is a good way to it.

For the crust:
2 cups cooked brown rice (I cook a whole bunch at a time and then freeze left overs)
1 egg
1/4 C finely grated cheese

For the quiche-y goodness:
4 whole eggs
12 oz fat free evaporated milk
1/2 C fat free cottage cheese
1/2 C (or so) finely grated gruyere cheese
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry (or 8 C fresh spinach, cooked, squeezed dry and chopped)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Combine ingredients for crust and press into a pie pan. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Whisk together remaining ingredients except spinach. Scatter spinach in bottom of crust and pour over egg mixture. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then turn down the heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes or until set. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 9-10 servings. Calorie count for 10 servings is 245 kcals, 1.9 g fiber, 12.9 g protein.

cake pops

I wish I'd taken a photo of these before I distributed them at work... they are sort of ridiculously cute. My friend Amanda showed me how to do this, based on Bakerella's recipe except a bit simpler, and it's pretty fun. She prefers chocolate cake mix with cream cheese frosting, but I'm sure it would be good in other ways.

We also dipped the pops into white chocolate and put shiny white sprinkles on them, so they looked like snowballs, and then did some more traditional ones with regular chocolate and different colors of sprinkles. Cute and good.

1. Make a store-bought cake according to the directions on the box. Make sure you don't overcook at all so that the edges are not crispy at all -- it should all be as soft as possible.

2. Crumble up the cake into crumbs, basically. There can be some chunks but the more uniform the better.

3. Mix in most a tub of store-bought frosting, leaving maybe 6 T or so still in the container. Form the mixture into balls with your hands. They don't have to be a uniform size, but they shouldn't be bigger than a ping-pong ball or smaller than a quarter.

4. Get some of those candy melts -- the ones that look like wafers and are available at JoAnn's or Michael's -- and pop them in the microwave until it's melted evenly through but not runny.

5. Take a lollipop stick and dip about half an inch into the melted chocolate, and stick it in about 3/4 of the way through each pop.

6. Put all of them in the fridge or freezer until they feel solid.

7. Re-melt the chocolate (it's OK to microwave it multiple times) and then dip the pop in, coating it the whole way around. This is the only tricky part -- Amanda sort of puts the ball in and then pulls it up to get it to coat the sides... you might just have to figure out how it works best for you with the consistency of your chocolate.

8. Before the chocolate dries, throw on some sprinkles.

9. Stick the pop somewhere upright to dry -- Amanda has a styrofoam brick-type thing, but any way you can think to do this is fine.

10. Once it's dry, put a baggie or plastic around the top and secure with a twist tie.

11. Ta da!

Monday, December 21, 2009

better-than-from-a-bakery granola

From Everybody Likes Sandwiches, with some fairly major modifications in the ingredients but not the technique.

The author gets very excited about the fact that this granola clumps successfully, and she is right -- it is totally excitement-worthy. Also, I don't think I've ever made anything in my life (not cookies, not fresh bread, nothing) that's made our apartment smell this good. It got J. out of bed this morning, seeking the source of the amazingness.

2 c organic large-flake rolled oats
1 t cinnamon (I used more than this)
pinch of nutmeg (I added a pinch of cloves too)
1/2 t salt
3 T plus 1 t canola oil
1/4 c honey (I did half maple syrup)
1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1 t pure vanilla extract
2/3 c whole almonds (I skipped)
2/3 c raisins (I substituted a handful of chopped mixed fruit and some chopped crystallized ginger)

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, toss oats with cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, brown sugar and vanilla until blended. Pour the wet mixture in with the dry and use your hands to combine the two until everything is well coated and your hands are gooey. Lick them if you must, but wash your hands right after.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the mixture over top. Spread it out evenly, but also keep in mind clumping is a good, good thing. Bake for 10 minutes and then use a spatula to gently flip the granola over. Sprinkle with almonds and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Add raisins and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan. Use your hands to break up the granola...but again, don't go overboard (remember the clumps!). Place in a tightly lidded container.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rocky road brownies

Know what makes from a mix brownies even better? More chocolate. And marshmallows.

adapted from Cookie Madness

1 box “Family Style” brownies
eggs, water, oil, in the proportions your mix calls for
2 cups mini marshmallows
2/3 cups toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts or toasted walnut “nuggets” (I used hazlenuts, they were good, too)
1 1/3 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray.
Mix the brownie mix, eggs, oil, and water together in a mixing bowl and beat for 50-60 strokes or until mixed. Pour into pan and set timer for 5 minutes less than total baking time on box.
While brownies cook, mix together the marshmallows, walnuts and a little less than a cup of the chocolate chips (you’ll be saving some for the end).
Pull brownies from the oven, quickly sprinkle with marshmallow mixture, then return to oven for last 5 minutes so that marshmallows can melt.
Remove from oven. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over top of hot brownies and if you’d like, sprinkle on some more walnuts so that everything appears balanced. Let cool at room temperature for about an hour. Transfer to the refrigerator for another hour to set the chips.
Lift the brownies from the pan and cut into 16 large squares.

**The marshmallows get puffy and melt, but they don’t really brown after 5 minutes. It’s important not to keep the brownies in the oven too long because you don’t want to overcook them. If you really want brown marshmallows you can throw them under the broiler for about a minute after the 5 minutes of oven cooking.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mint meringues

More cookies! These are so incredibly easy and take so little time that I don't know why I haven't made them before. I am not atwitter with all the possibilities, because really, the base is the same and it's just the extract/add-ins that would change.
And look -- no fat! It's positively a cookie that's healthy for you. Sort of.

from Serious Eats

Meringue Cookies

2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional) I used 1/4 and they were perfect, I thought.
4 drops green food coloring (optional)

Heat oven to 225°F and line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil.
Using a StandMixer or good hand mixer, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and keep beating until stiff peaks form. (DO NOT underbeat.) If using extract and food coloring, add at the end and beat for another 2 or 3 minutes.
Spoon mixture into a plastic bag (or piping press, which I --ridiculously -- own and use all the time) and squeeze out most of the air. Cut off one small corner of the bag and pipe cookie-sized dollops of meringue on to cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies for 90 minutes, making sure they don't brown. When done baking, kill the heat, open the oven door slightly, and let everything cool down completely, about 45 to 60 minutes. Serve.

Really good steak marinade

I'm not sure if you could use this marinade for anything else, because I've only ever used it for steak (flank steak, to be specific), but I bet it works well for chicken, too.

1/4 c. soy sauce
3/4 c. oil (use whatever kind you like. I use a blend of olive, sesame and corn oils, usually)
2 Tbsp. honey (or a couple of really good squirts from the honey bottle)
1 clove garlic, mashed (I used 3 cloves roasted garlic today)
1 green onion, chopped
1 tsp. ginger powder
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger (or more)

Mix everything together, pour over meat. Marinate for at least 8 hours, up to 12. (probably less than 8 if you're using chicken)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

spicy pumpkin pecan raisin muffins

I don't usually bake with nuts, because J. can't eat them, but I have a bag and a half of leftover pecans and they were way too expensive to waste. These will be coming to a potluck with me tomorrow, provided that I don't eat them all first... they really are quite nicely spiced, as the name implies, and very delicious. (I would have used Sundry's insanely good recipe but we are inexplicably out of white sugar, and also I probably wouldn't have been able to keep the chocolate out, and for once, I'm glad I did.)

Also, Farmgirl Susan points out that filling the cups really full gives nice big muffins without spilling out into the oven, and she's right.

Makes about 18 large muffins

1 cup raisins [I used currants, because I like how they're small and get into every bite. also I didn't have any raisins. I should go grocery shopping sometime this month...]
3/4 cup orange juice [I used apple cider]

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (a little less if freshly grated)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces) trans-fat free vegetable oil sticks
(I use Earth Balance) or butter, melted* [I used one of butter and one of no-cholesterol stuff, but did not go for the lower-fat option]
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup honey
3 eggs
1 15-ounce can packed pumpkin (or 1 pound fresh pumpkin purée)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired

Heat oven to 350°. Place raisins and orange juice in a small bowl and microwave for 2 minutes; set aside. Grease muffin tins.

Combine flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl and set aside. Combine margarine, brown sugar, honey, and eggs in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in pumpkin. Gently fold in dry ingredients, alternating with the raisin/juice mixture. Stir in the pecans.

Generously fill muffin tins. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. (Bake baby muffins about 15 minutes.) Cool muffins in tins for 15 minutes, then remove from tins and serve warm, or let cool on wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to three days or freeze.

*Lower fat version: Simply omit 1/2 cup (1 stick) of the margarine or butter.

Garlic scallion noodles

Oh my word, these are so good. We all devoured them tonight, and if there'd been more, we would have eaten them, too. My advice? Makes twice what the recipe calls for, because you'll want them.
This is my adaptation, based on what I had in the house.
For the original recipe, go to the amazing Steamy Kitchen.

half a package rice noodles
1/4 cup chopped scallions
5 roasted garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3-4 tablespoons butter

Soak noodles in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain.
Fry the aromatics: In wok or large sauté pan, heat about 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Before the butter gets too hot, add the scallions and garlic. Fry until fragrant, but careful not to let it burn. Slowly frying on med-low heat will flavor the butter. Add brown sugar, fish sauce and oyster sauce. Stir.
Fry the noodles: Add the drained noodles. Fry for 2 minutes until the noodles are done.

Apple caramel pie

Oh hi. Look, it's me with another dessert recipe.
Are you surprised? You really shouldn't be.
In any case, I promise to post something non-desserty soon. It's just's winter...and it's cold...and there's nothing (in my opinion) nicer than curling up with a cup of hot tea and something sweet.
Like maybe this apple pie.

adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 whole Pie Crust
6 cups (to 7 Cups) Peeled And Sliced Granny Smith Apples
½ whole (juice Of) Lemon
½ cups Sugar
4 Tablespoons Flour
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 1/2 tsp. apple pie spice (Penzey's makes a really good one, FYI)
½ cups Flour
1-½ stick Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
½ cups Quick Oats
¼ teaspoons Salt
½ cups Pecans, Chopped
1 jar Caramel Topping

In a bowl mix peeled apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, apple pie spice and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside. For crumb topping, cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter, then add in brown sugar, oats, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
Add apples to prepared pie shell and top with crumb topping. Cover crust edges with aluminum foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil from crust and place back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Chop pecans, and when five minutes remain, sprinkle them over the pie.
Remove the pie from the oven and pour caramel topping (PW recommends 1/2 jar, I used more like 3/4) over the top. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini

Liberally adapted from Vegetarian Times.

2 large zucchini (mine weighed 14.5 oz each!)
1 medium tomato, finely diced
1/2 large onion, finely diced
3 oz feta, crumbled
small handful of oil-cured olives, chopped
1/2 C panko
2 cloves garlic, minced
big pinch of red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375. Wash zucchinis and halve lengthwise. If your zukes are unstable, peel off a very thin slice from tip to end so that they don't rock about in the pan. Scrape out flesh to make a long, narrow channel down each half and reserve. I left about 1/4" of flesh all around. Finely chop about 2/3 of scooped out flesh and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, saute onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Add chopped zucchini flesh to pan. Saute until cooked through. Pour into a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. I added a pinch of dried basil but would have preferred oregano.

In a 9 x 13 dish, spray with cooking spray and place zuke halves inside. Sprinkle with S&P before filling with stuffing mixture. Evenly distribute mixture and pour in 1/2 C water into bottom of baking dish before placing in the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 45-50 minutes or until zuke halves are cooked through and tender when pierced with a knife. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. I served these with a tossed salad but had planned to serve with garlicky sauteed chard. Except I forgot to prepare the chard. Oops. Either way, it turned out well and made for tasty leftovers today.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Crystal's pretzel sandwiches

My good friend Crystal made these lovely pretzel sandwiches, and I immediately had to ask her how she did it. If you're looking for something easy to make this holiday season, this fits the bill.

Square pretzels
1 bag rolos
chocolate for dipping (I used both white and milk)

Preheat the oven to 350.
Arrange the pretzels on a baking sheet, and remove wrappers from all of the rolos. Place one candy on top of each pretzel.
Place in oven for 3-6 minutes, until the chocolate gets shiny. (watch them close, you don't want them to melt)
Take out of oven, place another pretzel on top of candy and press down to squish slightly. Let cool.
Then melt chocolate, and dip the whole pretzel sandwich. Decorate as you see fit.

Chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies

No bake cookies are a hit in our house, because it frees up the oven for other baking cookies.
Because seriously, when this time of year rolls around? I get a little obsessive about the baking.

This is a Food Network recipe

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.