Monday, May 31, 2010

Chocolate Ice Cream

Adapted from: David Liebovitz, by way of Annie's Eats

I have been reading David Liebovitz's book "The Perfect Scoop" like a novel. I want to try everything, and try it immediately. I have to be patient as I methodically make room in my freezer for the canister of the ice cream maker before I can anything, but as soon as that happens, this is the first thing I'm going to try.

2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
½ tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder. Warm over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve the cocoa. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of cream. Transfer this mixture to a medium-large mixing bowl. Set a fine mesh sieve over the top.

In the same saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and salt and warm the mixture over medium-high heat. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. When the milk mixture is warm, gradually whisk into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Return the egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and continue heating over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula, until the mixture is slightly thickened and reads 170-175° F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat, pour through the mesh sieve into the chocolate-cream mixture and stir to blend. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. (Alternatively to speed chilling, stir the mixture frequently over an ice bath.) Once the mixture is well chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spicy Wehani Rice with Cashews and Arugula

Adapted from the recipe on the back of the Wehani Rice bag from Lundberg Family Farms.

I clipped out this recipe sometime last year and finally got around to making it. It's spicy but so delicious. You could certainly change around the veg here--I think zukes, eggplant and/or bell peppers would be good. Sub spinach for arugula? Mmmm...

3 T olive or canola oil
1 T cumin seeds
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 small onion, small dice
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 C cashews, chopped if whole
1 1/2 C prepared Wehani rice*
2 large handfuls of baby arugula, rinsed and spun dry

In a large non-stick skillet on medium heat, toast cashews until lightly browned and fragrant; set aside. Add 1 T oil and add mushrooms. Saute stirring occasionally until nicely browned. Add remaining 2 T oil and add cumin, cloves, pepper flakes, garlic and onions. Saute, stirring frequently until onions are translucent. Stir in rice, cashews and arugula and toss until well combined. Taste for seasoning. Depending on how salty your cashews are you will want to salt accordingly. Serve hot or at room temp.

*To prepare rice, preheat oven to 375. In an 8x8 baking dish, spray lightly with cooking spray and add 1 1/2 C wehani rice and 1 t salt. When oven is preheated, bring almost 3 C of water to boil in a tea kettle and when boiling, pour 2 1/2 C in the dish and stir. Cover tightly with a double layer of foil and bake on the middle rack for one hour. Remove foil carefully and fluff rice with a fork. Can be served immediately or chilled in the fridge and then kept frozen in a freezer bag. Serves 4-6.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

recipe card maker

I am very enamored of this cute little free thing: Skip to My Lou's recipe card maker.

I'm also very enamored of this spinach orzo salad that Shannon posted in 2007. I made it for dinner tonight and am a happy person (even though my adorable sublet still lacks many standard ingredients, such as pepper).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lemon Oat Squares

Adapted slightly from KAF Whole Grain Baking.

If you read PWs website, then you probably saw a recipe pretty similar to this one. This one is nice because you get to use oats and WW flour. While you can't say dessert is good for you, at least this recipe is made with less butter and healthy whole grains. And it still tastes amazing.

1/2 stick butter, very cold
2 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, very cold
1 C packed brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C rolled oats
2/3 rolled oats, ground 30 seconds in a food processor (or oat flour if you have it)
3/4 C WW flour
2 T orange juice

Lemon Filling:
1 can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free is fine)
2 T finely grated lemon zest
1/2 C lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking pan.

If you want to use your food processor, feel free but be very careful. Pulse judiciously. Beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl (or bowl of your food processor). Add oats, ground oats, flour and orange juice and mix until just combined and it starts to look cohesive. Avoid overmixing because you want something you can sprinkle. The mixture should be crumbly and easy to sprinkle. Sprinkle half the mixture (about 2 generous cups) into the baking pan and press it into an even layer; set aside.

Whisk milk, lemon juice and zest in a small bowl until smooth. Spread filling evenly over crust and then sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Bake squares until they're light and golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then run a small sharp knife around the edges of the pan. Cool completely and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before cutting. Don't skip this step or you'll end up with something that looks like the dog's breakfast. A great tip I recently read on the KAF website involves using your metal bench scraper to cut bar cookies. Just push down and pull straight up and repeat. It works fantastically and doesn't tear the cookies the way running a knife through them can do. It also helps ensure that the cookies get cut evenly.

Store bars in the refrigerator.

Snickerdoodle Bars

Do you like snickerdoodles but lack the time to make, chill, roll into balls and bake them? Then this is the cookie bar for you. I've really gotten into cookie bars of late and this one is a favorite I used a lot last year as thank you gifts for the nurses during my clinical rotations.

Inspired by Dine and Dish but using my mom's recipe (except for two minor changes).

1/2 C butter
1/2 C shortening (yes, I really said that. All butter snickerdoodles are inferior)
1 1/2 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 scant t vanilla extract
2 3/4 C AP flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

For topping:
2 T sugar
1 to 1 1/2 t cinnamon (use vietnamese cinnamon if you have it)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8x8 baking pan. Consider using a parchment sling but don't worry about it if you don't want to do it. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter, shortening and sugar until light an fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl before adding eggs. Add eggs and vanilla, beating to combine and scrape down sides of bowl before adding dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients and mix on lowest setting lest you send flour flying all over your kitchen. When ingredients are thoroughly combined, pat into an even layer in your baking pan. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and really, really consider buying yourself some vietnamese cinnamon. It really elevates the flavor of your baked goods and savory dishes. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over cookie dough and place baking pan in the oven for 14-18 minutes. If you use a 9x9 the baking time will be closer to 14 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before cutting. The dough will puff up and then sink as it cools, fyi, so if you want to keep the edges for yourself as chef's treat, by all means do so. Cut into squares or bars and enjoy.

Quinoa Pine Nut Pilaf

Do you stare at your pantry shelves and think "Hmm...what am I ever going to do with all this quinoa?" Okay, I have that thought but it's more like "What ever am I going to do with all of these whole grains, OMG, there's enough here to feed an army." That being said if you don't have or don't like quinoa, just substitute it for a different grain (cooking time may vary depending on the grain).

Adapted slightly from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. I really like this cookbook. You should get yourself a copy.

1 large onion, medium chop
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T canola oil
1 bell pepper or a combination, medium chop
1 medium zucchini, medium chop
2 t ground cumin
2 t ground coriander
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 C quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 2/3 C water
1/2 C fresh basil, sliced into ribbons
1 1/2 C fresh or frozen corn
S&P to taste
2 T toasted pine nuts (pepitas would also be good)

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, saute onions and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes or until softened. Add peppers, zucchini and spices and saute 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add quinoa and water, cover tightly and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in corn and taste for seasoning. Cook another 5 minutes if needed and add basil. Fluff pilaf with a fork and sprinkle pine nuts over top.

This is good served warm but I ate it cold for lunch today and it was just as tasty.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Refrigerator pickles

I also have a ton of dill, as Gwen and J witnessed first-hand last week. This uses a fair amount, and leaves me some leftover to use on salmon (and to keep growing, of course).

pickling cucumbers
4-9 cloves garlic, 2 to 3 per jar
1 head dill
2 quarts water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup salt
1/4 cup sugar

Use large canning jars or a really big glass bowl you can cover.
Place 2-3 cloves garlic, and a couple sprigs of dill on the bottom of each jar.
Boil together 2 quarts water, vinegar, salt, and sugar.
Stir, turn off and let cool.
Pack jars or bowl with cucumbers and pour cooled solution to completely cover cucumbers.
Refrigerate and ready in 3-4 days.

Mint green tea

My veg aren't even close to being ready to produce yet, but my herbs are going all kinds of crazy. I threw some thyme and rosemary in the short ribs I'm making for dinner tonight, and I made this iced tea to go with it.

3 green tea bags
1 quart boiling water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 large lemon, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1 bunch fresh mint, washed
2 cups cold water

Brew tea in boiling water, letting steep for 10 minutes. Pour brewed tea into a serving pitcher. Add sugar and lemon, and swirl in the mint, holding it by the stems and using it to stir and dissolve the sugar. When sugar is dissolved, drop mint into pitcher and add 2 cups cold water. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Strain mint out before serving and serve cold.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quick (and Easy) Thai Corn Chowder

Adapted from

I love corn soups and chowders and before my computer crashed in March I had bookmarked a thai-style corn soup. Sadly, my bookmarks are gone and I am slowly rebuilding my list of recipes to try. In my search for a thai-style recipe I found this one and adapted it to what I had on hand. Which reminds me, if you have a well-stocked pantry/freezer, you should already have most of these ingredients on hand anyway so it makes it ideal for throwing it together at the last minute. Use whatever veg you have on hand that you think would go well. Next time I'll plan to include some bok choy or other asian greens but it was still delicious as is.

1 can creamed corn
1/3 bag frozen corn
1 can lite coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 medium bell pepper, medium dice
1 small red onion, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
1 T olive oil
2 T red Thai curry paste (or to taste)
1 sweet potato, medium dice
chopped cilantro for garnish (had some and forgot to use it...again)

If you are in a hurry, chop the potato first and place it in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes or until just done. Set aside.

In a large pot on medium heat, add oil. Add onion, peppers and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes or until veg starts to soften. Add remaining ingredients, sweet potato and about a cup of water (but not cilantro) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 5 minutes. Serve with jasmine or basmati rice to make a more substantial meal or serve as is as a light first course.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I am visiting a friend on Saturday who recently had her first child. I offered to bring food packaged up to put in her freezer so she has easy meals to pull out when she doesn't feel like cooking. She gave me no suggestions or food items to stay away from. She is not breast-feeding, so there are no concerns about foods that might not agree with baby.

Any suggestions for foods that freeze and reheat well? I was going to stay away from soups because the weather was getting warmer, but now we've had a few cold and rainy days, so maybe soups would be good.

I think I will also make a batch of muffins, and maybe a batch of brown rice so that she can have a quick side or base for adding fresh foods to.

Any other ideas?


Monday, May 17, 2010

Salted Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

From Smitten Kitchen.

This may be the last rice krispie treats recipe you ever make. They are so good. They are beyond good. They are...transcendent. They are so good that I had Michael take the whole batch of them to the office or I would eat them all because they are that good. The best part is that they are made the same way with the same ingredients plus some salt. They take a bit more time because you're browning the butter first but it is so worth it.

6 C Rice Krispies
10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows
1 stick unsalted butter
heaping 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt*

In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Be sure to use a light-bottomed pot because you cannot see the browning process in a dark-colored teflon pot and will burn your butter without knowing it. Have everything at the ready while the butter melts. Swirl the pan and use a spatula to periodically push around the butter solids. Do NOT step away from the stove at any time or you could take your butter from browned to burnt very quickly. Continue stirring and swirling until butter is takes on a browned color and smells nutty. Pour in the marshmallows and salt and stir thoroughly until marshmallows are melted. Add cereal and stir until completely combined. Press into a buttered 13x9 (I always reserve my butter wrapper and use it to grease pans--quick, easy and a great use of a butter wrapper) pan and press down with your spatula. I also use a piece of waxed paper that has been greased on one side to help evenly press the krispies into the pan. Allow to cool before cutting. I cut mine into 24 squares but cut however you see fit. De.Lish.Us. Try not to eat them all at once. It's hard. Believe me, I know.

*You must use coarse sea salt here or use less of a more granular salt. I have a recently acquired jar of local sea salt so I used that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spinach pesto

I've seen arugula and basil pesto here, but not spinach pesto.
A friend sent me a recipe for spinach pesto a while back, and I've lost it. I haven't however, forgotten about it, and I'm craving pesto. My basil is not ready yet to be picked, so spinach pesto it is.
I didn't have a recipe, but we all know the basic pesto formula, right -- greens, parm cheese, garlic, nuts, olive oil.

I used:
Almost 2 full 9-oz bags of spinach.
Fresh grated Parm cheese
1 1/2 c. walnuts
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
olive oil

Whirl in the food processor or blender until the right consistency.
This made A LOT of pesto. We're going to eat it for dinner one night this week, and I'll use some for that tortellini salad Kelly posted a while back.

Fish gratin with tomatoes, capers and olives

I have a huge capers fan in the house -- Ernie -- so I always tend to bookmark capers recipes for later.
This is another one that Ernie made, so you know it was easy and quick. He adapted it to add many, many more capers than the recipe called for. So if you're not a huge capers fan, just reduce the amount.

adapted from "Food Network's Making it Easy"

5 Tbsp. olive oil
4 fillets of flounder, sole or tilapia (basically you just want a flaky white fish)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
black pepper
4 to 5 canned plum tomatoes, drained
1 small onion, sliced
4 to 5 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
a bunch of capers -- Ernie used the whole jar
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 c. dried bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly brush baking dish with olive oil. Lay fish on the work surface, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Fold the fillets in half and lay the pieces in the center of the dish.
Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into a small bowl. Stir in 3 Tbsp. olive oil, the onion, olives, capers, salt and apper. Stir in parsley and spoon mixture over the fish.
Toss the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil with the bread crumbs and scatter over the fish. Bake until the fish is cooked through and the crumbs get crispy and brown, about 25 minutes.

Shrimp and saffron risotto -- in the pressure cooker

Ernie cooks dinner every night. He's fairly adept in the kitchen and is pretty willing to do what needs to be done, but it's only now become his "thing," since I love cooking.
I try to keep it pretty simple and easy for him -- he's also worked a full day, and he goes and picks up both girls, who demand a lot of attention in the evening.
Cue the pressure cooker, something I always sort of figured was an old fashioned way to cook things. It's quick, and the food comes out tasting like you had hours to cook it. Best of all? Easy. And usually a one-pot meal.
This risotto doesn't taste entirely like it does if you stand in front of your stove and stir, stir, stir. But it's good, and on a weeknight? It's pretty darn impressive.

adapted from "Food Network Kitchen's Making it Easy"

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp. kosher salt
black pepper
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
pinch saffron
1/4 c. white wine
3 c. chicken broth or seafood stock
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, tomato paste, and saffron and stir until the grains are evenly colored. Stir in wine and broth/stock. Close the pressure cooker lid and bring up the pressure to high, then reduce the heat if necessary to maintain and even pressure for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and release the pressure.
Carefull remove the lid, stir in the shrimp and let the risotto stand, off the heat, until the shrimp are pale pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes.

Greek Orzo pasta

There has not been much experimentation in the kitchen lately, sadly.
In my quest to find food that doesn't need to be heated up (or refrigerated) for lunch, I made this salad. It's good, filling, and makes a ton. So, you know, only make it if you need lunch for a week -- or are having a bunch of people to dinner.

Adapted from Serious Eats

Greek Orzo Salad

5 cups cooked orzo
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 medium red onion, small diced
20 pitted kalamata olives, cut into quarters
2 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, cut into eighths
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large lemon, halved
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

To a large mixing bowl, add orzo, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, olives, artichoke hearts, and parsley. Stir to combine.
Pour olive oil into orzo mixture. Juice the entire lemon into the same bowl. Add salt and grind pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine. Add feta. Stir again. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Good for You Dark Chocolate Pudding

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

This is low-fat and easy to make and I don't know why I didn't make some sooner. Yum.

4 Tbs cornstarch
4 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dutched cocoa)
1/2 tsp espresso powder
3 C skim milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together. Slowly whisk in the milk in small amounts until a smooth paste is formed and then pour in remainder of milk while constantly whisking. Mixture should be smooth with no lumps. Turn on burner to medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and gently simmer for 3-4 minutes while you whisk constantly. Be sure to sweep the corners of your pan so that you don't end up with pudding lumps in the bottom. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Pour the pudding into freezer pop molds, a decorative bowl or into individual serving cups or ramekins. Serve warm or chill for 2 hours. Serves 4-6 depending on how generous you are with your spoon. I didn't use a garnish or anything but it would be good served with fresh berries and/or whipped cream. This was so good and tasted so decadent and chocolate-y that you wouldn't know it was low in fat. Mmmm...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Chana Masala

From: Smitten Kitchen, though she adapted from Madhur Jaffrey

Ugh. I totally screwed this up, and then tried to "fix" it by adding more of everything else, but in the end I have a giGANtic pot of something that still tastes not-right. BUT, it was tasting pretty darn good before I screwed it up, so I'm giving you the recipe with the instruction to don't pour spices directly over the pot. Basically, I almost always eyeball measurements, except when baking. I followed the recipe fairly closely (although, without measuring per se), and it tasted really good - except then I thought "oh, I'll just add a little more garam masala and then it will be great!" And then, when I intended to sprinkle just a bit more into the pot, a big lump of spice fell out of the container and into the pot (like, a 2 Tbsp clump). I should have tried to scoop it out, but I didn't, and it really wasn't good. Then I added more chickpeas and more tomatoes, and that still didn't help much. I added some spinach, some more cumin, more of this and that. But really, it still just tastes like "holy garam masala batman!" Sigh. Oh well. Prior to the garam masala incident, it was tasting really good. I should have stopped while I was ahead.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced (I didn't have this)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon amchoor powder (see Smitten's note) (I omitted)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala (sigh)
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small (I used a can of crushed tomatoes)
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced) (see note; Smitten used a whole lemon to swap for the amchoor powder, which I followed)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cumin seeds, amchoor (if using it), paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spiced for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

Eat up or put a lid on it and reheat it when needed. Curries such as this reheat very well, later or or in the days that follow, should it last that long.

Friday, May 07, 2010

rhubarb delight

When I saw this rhubarb-raspberry betty recipe, I decided I needed it immediately and I would buy rhubarb at the grocery store that afternoon (and hooray for Wegman's for selling locally grown rhubarb!). But by the time I was ready to make it the next day, J. had eaten the stale-ish leftover bread and I was out of luck...

... so I made Kate's rhubarb crumble instead, and it was probably even better. I loved that it had no measurements -- that always makes me feel like a "real" cook -- and it was insanely delicious. This further proves my theory that I never need to find new recipes again because Food Goodness has reached critical mass and everything I need is here. The end!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Mixed Grain Risotto with Vegetables

Just when you thought all I did was make dessert...

Risotto purists be damned, I say. This recipe came from my MIL but I don't remember where she said she got it. It makes a lot--probably 6-8 servings depending on who's coming to dinner. And it's full of healthy grains with lots of fiber which is good for your cholesterol and your GI tract. You could use different veg here but I think the squash is nice. Next time I will add asparagus as well.

1/2 each grains of your choice that have similar cook times (I used wehani rice, pearled barley and steel cut oats, my MIL uses brown rice, barley and wild rice)
2 T olive oil
1/4 C white wine (I omitted since I didn't have any)
6 C veg or low-sodium veg broth
1 medium onion, small chop
2 small to medium summer squash, small chop
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, seeded and small chop
1/2 C grated parm or low-fat feta or goat cheese
1/4 C fresh basil, thinly sliced into ribbons

In your favorite dutch oven, toast grains for 3 minutes over medium heat or until they smell toasty. Be sure to stir often lest they get burned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add olive oil, onion and garlic, stirring constantly until onion starts to soften, about 2-3 min. Watch garlic and turn down heat if it starts to brown too much. Add squash and saute 2-3 min.

Add wine (if using), broth and grains and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to med-low to medium and place lid on pot to partially cover. Stir occasionally. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until grains are cooked yet still have a bit of bite to them. Remove from heat and add basil, tomato and cheese. Serve with a nice green salad and crusty bread.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Black Bean Croquettes with Fresh Salsa

From: Eating Well, via

I made these for my lunches this week. It was easy to throw together, and makes enough to get me through most of the week on this. I didn't have an avocado, so my salsa is just the tomato-scallion mixture, but it's still good (I tasted it already!) I think the salsa would be even better with a splash of lime juice.

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup plain dry breadcrumbs, divided
2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
2 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder, hot if desired, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 avocado, diced

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray (I just used a silpat).

Mash black beans and cumin with a fork in a large bowl until no whole beans remain (I did it this way, but might try a food processor next time to make a smoother mixture). Stir in corn and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. Combine tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir 1 cup of the tomato mixture into the black bean mixture.

Mix the remaining 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder in a small bowl until the breadcrumbs are coated with oil. Divide the bean mixture into 8 scant 1/2-cup balls. Lightly press each bean ball into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the croquettes until heated through and the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir avocado into the remaining tomato mixture. Serve the salsa with the croquettes.

Cereal Pancakes

Adapted from Kellog's website of all places. I never even thought to go to a cereal website and it turns out they have a ton of stuff on there. Anyway, you an use whatever cereal you like but I used bran flakes. And not K's bran flakes but ones from Whole Foods. Doesn't matter; use what you like here.

1 C AP flour
2 T sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 C low-fat buttermilk plus extra on hand for later
2 T canola oil
1 C cereal of your choice (bran flakes really are good here)
1/2 C rolled oats

The night before, pour 2 C butter milk, cereal and oats into a bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, whisk egg and oil together and mix with the cereal mixture. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 C buttermilk. Mixture will be thick.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir well. Add to cereal mixture and stir just to combine. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cooking.

Cook pancakes on a hot greased griddle until golden brown and delicious. I think made 10-12 pancakes using about 1/4 C batter each. The batter is thick so it's hard to be sure. If you wanted, you could sub out the AP flour for WW pastry flour or white-whole wheat flour but then I would not recommend using bran flakes as your cereal of choice or else you will pay for it. These are little fiber bombs (if you know what I mean) so proceed with caution.

Spinach ravioli with artichokes

This is adapted loosely from a Whole Foods recipe, because the day I went shopping I couldn't find spinach fettuccine. It was pretty fantastic, and the kids loved it.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 (4-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 packages spinach ravioli, cooked and drained
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add artichokes, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook until artichokes are warmed through. Add wine and simmer until just thickened. Stir in tomatoes and thyme then add pasta and toss well. Transfer pasta to bowls, garnish with cheese and serve.

Slow cooker recipes -- lemon garlic chicken, pot roast

I get home from work between 5:30 and 6 p.m, and the kids are already clamoring for dinner. SuperDad Ernie has now taken on the task of finishing up whatever I start/plan for dinner, so that we can sit down to eat shortly after I walk in the door.
So we're using the slow cooker a lot, and I went and bought a new oval one that has a timer. Exciting!

Pot roast, slow cooker style
This was the best pot roast I've made to date, and the recipe I'll be using from now on. The kids devoured it.
adapted from The Kitchn

Throw all the following in your slow cooker, in the following order:

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2-4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2-4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2-4 cloves whole garlic, left in their skins
2-3 pounds beef - top round, bottom round, or shoulder (salt and peppered)
4 cups (32 ounces) stock - beef, chicken, or vegetable
Fresh herbs: marjoram, thyme, oregano, rosemary
bay leaf

I cooked mine on low for 10 hours, but you could do less time if you wanted. Mine, however, was frozen when I started so it needed all the time. It was fall-apart good when it was done, and Ernie took the leftovers to work one day for lunch.

Lemon garlic chicken
I don't typically like chicken cooked in the slow cooker because I feel like it gets dried out. This one, however, did not dry out and was really, really good. I froze the leftover chicken, to use for another recipe in a few weeks.

also adapted from The Kitchn

Throw in your slow cooker, in this order:

3-4 pound chicken, seasoned with granulated garlic, salt and pepper and stuffed with whole lemon
1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
Mix together: 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 c. chicken stock, 1 c. white wine, 2 T. soy sauce -- add to slow cooker
1 lemon, quartered
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary

Again, I cooked this for 10 hours on low because my chicken was frozen solid. (I should really remember to take it out the night before). The recipe suggests 6-8 hours on low.

Pressure cooker beef stew

This actually has a very French name, but when I presented it to Gaby, I just said "here's some beef stew." And then she gobbled it all up.
Best part? I made it in the pressure cooker, which means the whole thing took 30 minutes, from start to finish. If you have no pressure cooker (and I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't, I got one as a present a few years ago), you could easily adapt this to the slow cooker. I wouldn't even change the liquid amounts.

Adapted from Serious Eats

2 cups drinking-quality red wine
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
a couple teaspoons for anchovy paste (optional -- it's for saltyness)
2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck or round, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1/3 cup pitted olives, preferably oil-cured (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large carrots, peeled (leave whole)
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Combine the wine, thyme, bay tomato paste, and anchovy paste in a large nonaluminum bowl or storage container. Add the beef, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Heat the oil in the cooker. Add the onion and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Holding the beef cubes to one side, pour the wine marinade into the cooker and boil it over high heat until it reduces somewhat, about 5 minutes.
Add the beef and stir in the olives (if using) plus salt (you are likely to need more if you haven't used the olives and anchovies) and pepper to taste. Set the carrots on top.
Lock the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 16 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally, about 10 minutes. Do not use the quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to release.
Test the beef for doneness. If it is not sufficiently tender, lock the lid back into place and return to high pressure for a few more minutes. Again, let the pressure drop naturally.
Slash the carrots into chunks, Stir in the parsley. To thicken the sauce, dissolve the cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of water and stir it in. Boil gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning before serving.