Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maple Syrup Spice Cake

Do you ever find yourself saying "Hmm, I would love to make a lovely fall dessert but am all out of eggs and/or butter..."? Or "I just adore spice cake. I should make one right now!" Or "My vegan friend is coming for dinner, what shall I mae for dessert?" Then look no further. And this cake could not be easier to make.

Adapted from the Oct. 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times.

I made this cake 3 times before I adapted it the way I liked it. Recently I made it for my FIL's birthday b/c it seemed sturdy enough to ship. It fits quite well in the medium sized priority mail boxes offered by USPS. According to my MIL, it arrived intact and so delicious my FIL had eaten all of it within 2 days.

3.5 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese cin)
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t salt
1 C pure maple syrup
2/3 C canola oil
1 1/3 C water
2 T vanilla extract
1 T apple cider vinegar
1-2 t dark rum (or maple syrup extract if you have it)
10X sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray. You really do need to use a Bundt pan or tube pan for this or the middle will never fully cook. Believe me, I already tried. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in bowl. Whisk maple syrup, oil, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, rum/maple extract and 1 1/3 cups water in large separate bowl. Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes. Unmold onto rack, and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.* Serves 12.

*cake will absorb the sugar if you dust it too far in advance.

Friday, October 29, 2010

noodles with mushrooms and lemon-ginger dressing

I started having doubts that I should try this recipe only after I was past the point of no return, and realizing I didn't have two of the four ingredients in the title (mushrooms and ginger). I also was not sure I was liking it... the lemon and the sesame oil smelled weird together, and I was annoyed at having to get out the immersion blender.

Yeah, that was crazy. This is definitely a different taste than what I'm used to, but it's really good. Unusual and lemon-ly delicious.

Lemon Ginger Dressing

  • 3/4 teaspoon Asian chlli powder (or cayenne) [I threw in thai-garlic chili sauce]
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 inch section of ginger, peeled and grated [I used about 1 t dried]
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar [I didn't have this and just used a squirt of red-wine vinegar]
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

The Noodles

  • 9 ounces dried noodles (spaghetti, linguine, udon, soba) [I used some sort of unmarked Asian noodles that were delicious]
  • 7 ounces fresh mushrooms (enoki, shimeji, sliced button, sliced shitake) [I used chard instead, plus garlic]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter [omitted]
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs (parsley, green onion, cilantro or basil) [I used parsley and green onion]
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds [I used Kelly's black and white ones!]


1 Make the dressing by combining all ingredients, except for the sesame oil and olive oil in a food processor or hand blender. Run the blender for a few seconds, until all ingredients are combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

2 In a pot, cook the dried noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

3 Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add the butter and when the butter starts bubbling, add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms for 2 minutes. [Instead, in this step, I chopped the stems of the chard very fine and sliced the leaves into ribbons. I sauteed the stems with a ton of chopped garlic and olive oil for about 5 minutes, then added the leaves for another 5 minutes.]

4 In a large bowl, toss the cooked noodles with the mushrooms, fresh herbs, sesame seeds and some of the dressing (to taste.)

Serves 4.

pasta e fagioli a la bittman

We apparently have two other pasta e fagioli soup on this site, and it's interesting now not-similar both of those versions are to each other or to this one, which is from How to Cook Everything. It could definitely be modified in 8000 different ways.

5 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 t minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 t dried
3 c drained beans of any kind [I used one can of dark-red kidney and one can of cannelini]
2 c cored, peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes [Bittman says canned are fine and use the juice; I only had crused and used one big can, which made the soup have a tomato base, pretty much]
6 to 8 cups stock or water
1/2 lb tubettini or other small pasta
1/2 c minced fresh parsley
1/2 c Parmesan [however much you have is fine; this is just for on top]

Place 4 T of olive oil into a large, deep saucepan or casserole and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the onion and half the garlic [I threw it all in at this point]. Cok until the onion softens, stirring occaionsally, about 5 minutes.

Add the rosemary, beans and tomatoes and cook, stirring and mashing tomatoes with your spoon, until the mixture is warm and the tomatoes begin to break down, about 10 minutes.

Add 6 cups of stock or water and a good amount of salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the pasta, along with additional stock or water if necessary [will probably be necessary]. Simmer until pasta is nearly tender, 10 minutes or so. Add half the parsley and the remaining garlic and cook another 5 minutes, until pasta is done but not mushy.

Sprinkle with remaining parsley and drizzle with the remaining olive oil [not sure why one would do this...]. Serve, passing the cheese at the table.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teriyaki Pork Chops

Adapted from: Annie's Eats

I'll be honest - I didn't measure anything. I just opened a zip-lock bag, poured in all of the ingredients, zipped it up and let it marinate all day while I was at work. I cooked the pork chops in a skillet on the stovetop, but the original recipe calls for grilling them. At any rate, the marinate is really good and Todd told me 3 times that we have to remember this marinade because it was so good.

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cloves chopped garlic
dash of ground ginger (use fresh ginger if you have it)
pork chops

Mix all ingredients together in a plastic bag. Add pork chops. Marinate in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Remove pork chops from marinade and cook with your preferred cooking method. If you want to, you can pour the marinade into a saucepan and boil it for a few minutes and then use this to baste the pork chops as they cook, or reduce to a sauce for the chops. Or not, if you don't want to risk food-borne illness from the raw pork juices. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Linguine with clam sauce

I'm working all kinds of whacky, stressful hours at The Job right now, preparing for a presentation that will hopefully earn me the promotion they've been talking about and a nice hefty raise to go along with it.
At night, when I get home, I'm mush. Total mush. Which makes it especially nice that Ernie cooks dinner and it's waiting for me when I get home, to shovel in my face so I can go play with the girls for a few minutes.
He tells me this was super easy and took no time at all. The hardest part, he said, was boiling the pasta. And you know how easy that is. All I can verify is that it was darn tasty and I had seconds, and those delicious carbs propelled me to a tickle war with both girls (which I won, thanks very much).

from Annie's Eats

12 oz. linguine pasta
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams, juices reserved
½ cup heavy cream (or half-and-half) -- We used half and half
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is completely melted. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the reserved clam juice to the pan, bring to a simmer, and reduce by about half. With the heat on medium-low, stir in the clams and the heavy cream. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Portion the pasta into warmed serving bowls. Spoon some of the sauce over the pasta and top with grated Parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stuffed shells with meaty tomato sauce

Want to impress your family?
Make this. Seriously. When they come into the kitchen and see you painstakingly stuffing each pasta shell, it is really impressive.
And then your (older) kid will go to school and tell all her friends "my mom made these from scratch" and come home and tell you "all the kids were really impressed with your shells."
And the little one? She will just scowl at you, because she's almost 2, but will come home with an empty container from preschool.

So. You can make these as is, or you could substitute turkey sausage, or you could use your favorite marinara recipe. The real star is the pasta shells stuffed with all that lovely cheese.
Also, this makes a ton. So be prepared to have people over, or to eat a lot.

adapted slightly from Pioneer Woman

8 ounces, weight Jumbo Pasta Shells
30 ounces, weight Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1 c. Parmesan Cheese, Grated, Divided
½ cups Grated Romano Cheese
1 whole Egg
12 leaves Basil, Chiffonade
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
Salt And Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ whole Medium Onion, Chopped
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 pound Italian Sausage
½ cups Red Wine
1 whole 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 whole 15-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Sugar
½ teaspoons Salt

Cook pasta shells for half the cooking time; make sure not to overcook. Drain and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add Italian sausage and brown, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Pour in red wine and let it cook for a minute or two.
Pour in cans of crushed tomatoes and stir. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for seasonings; can add crushed red peppers if you like a little heat.
In a separate bowl, mix ricotta, half the Parmesan, Romano, egg, salt and pepper, basil, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Stir until combined.
To assemble, coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Fill each half-cooked shell with the cheese mixture. Place face down on the sauce. Repeat with shells until cheese mixture is gone. Top shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle on extra Parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mushroom & Sausage Ragu with Polenta

Adapted from the latest issue of Cooking Light.

We had some friends over for dinner tonight and managed to throw this together along with a spinach salad with herbed goat cheese, apples and sugared walnuts and chocolate pudding cake for dessert. Did I mention that I made this in my electric pressure cooker b/c my stove blew up yesterday and threw sparks at me whilst blowing every fuse in our house. 3 times. Seriously. That aside, this was really good and I can hardly wait to have leftovers tomorrow.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces hot Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
S&P to taste
2 cups evaporated milk (or 2 cans plus a little water)
3 cups water
1 cup uncooked polenta
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove sausage from casings. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan. (Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat--only necessary if you use turkey sausage--pork sausage will render more than enough fat). Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add S&P to taste.

In a small bowl, add one cup cold water to one cup polenta and set aside. Bring water and remaining water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta and water mixtue, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt and cheese. Serve with sausage mixture. Save room for dessert. Next time I plan to make a vegetarian version of this using eggplant in lieu of sausage. Soyrizo would be a reasonable substitute but I don't think it would be necessary here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Creamy Carrot Soup

Adapted from:

Use the freshest (and therefore most flavorful) carrots you can find for this. I used a mixture of regular carrots and purple carrots from our CSA, and ended up with an unattractive colored soup (paging Bridget Jones), but it still tasted yummy. :)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups Vidalia or other sweet onion, in large slices
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground ginger
2 cups water
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle oil over carrots and onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in oven until tender and browned, about 25 minutes.

2. Add water and broth to stockpot or Dutch oven; bring to a boil. When carrots and onions are browned, add them to the stockpot. Add cream.

3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup mixture (or use a foo processor or blender if you don't have an immersion blender.) Return mixture to pan; cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stuffed squash

We're back from the land of overindulgence (Vegas), and I'm trying to bring balance back to my poor, abused body.
Happy body, eating at Mario Batali's restaurant and consuming mass quantities of cured pork products and excellent cheese. And truffles (the fungus kind). And the best chocolate creation I've ever put in my mouth in my entire life. With edible gold on it. And many, many bottles of tasty red wine.
But my body, it took a beating and now I'm sick in retaliation.
So it's back to green tea and water by the gallon, to flush out all the fat/salt/alcohol and vegetarian meals, except for dinner.

Last night I was exhausted (red eye flights seem like a good idea, but not when you have to transfer halfway through the flight), so whipped up this stuffing and stuck it in some carnival squash I bought a few weeks ago that were taking up room in my fridge.

2 carnival or acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out

1 cup rice -- I used a wild rice blend. You could use brown, too.
2 c. apple cider
1 apple, peeled and chopped
raw pumpkin seeds (this would work with pistachios or pine nuts, too)

I cooked the rice in the apple cider, and just tossed in some nutmeg and cinnamon until it smelled good. Once the rice was cooked, I added the apple, as much pumpkin seeds as I thought looked good, and salted a little.
Then I stuffed the squash with the rice mixture, and put the halves in the slow cooker. Added about a cup of water to the bottom of the cooker (be careful, you don't want water in your squash), and cooked for 8 hours on low (while I slept very soundly).
This morning I drizzled all the halves with some maple syrup, and stuck one in tupperware to bring for my lunch today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

minty orzo, lentil & feta salad

This meets all my food-to-make-ahead-and-pack-for-lunch needs: healthy, has some protein, can be packed in a single container, easy to prepare, allows for adding a zillion leftover veggies. Also it is delicious.

It reminds me of Alissa's curry grain salad and Shannon's Greek orzo salad, both of which I often make for lunches, but this has a Middle Eastern sort of thing going on. A different FLAVOR PROFILE, if you will. Can you tell I've been watching Top Chef?

I changed the directions enough, mostly based on people's comments in the recipe, that I'll rewrite them; original directions here if you'd like to see them.

1 1/4 cups orzo pasta
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided [definitely do not need this much; I didn't measure but it was just a hefty splash]
3/4 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and drained [any color lentil would be fine]
1/3 cup red wine vinegar [I used more than this, probably about 2/3 cup]
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped [skipped. boo olives.]
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese [don't need quite this much]
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves [I used more than this]
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill [used less than this]
[I also added about half a bag of spinach, some leftover chopped scallions and a handful of diced grape tomatoes]
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Add the lentils and cook for 8 minutes.

After 8 minutes are up, add the orzo and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste. If the pasta is al dente and the lentils are done, remove them from heat and drain; if not, keep cooking until they are.

Put the lentil/pasta mixture in a bowl

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic and some ground black pepper in a small bowl and add the mixture to the lentils and pasta. Stir well.

Wait for it to cool for about half an hour. Then add the
feta, red onion, mint, and dill; stir until thoroughly blended. Season to taste.

Can be served hot or cold or in between.

cucumber raita

I make fake raita all the time by mixing lemon juice with yogurt and salt, but this is much better. It makes a ton, though -- I halved it and it still seems like a lot.

Original can be found here.

2 hot house cucumbers - peeled, seeded and thinly sliced [I didn't peel it]
2 cups Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Stir together the cucumber, yogurt, lemon juice, mint, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

charred tomatillo guacamole

I never know quite what to do with the tomatillos I scavenge from friends' gardens (unless there are enough to make tomatillo salsa, which is kind of a lot). This is delightful.

6 oz tomatillos (6 or 7), husked and rinsed
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 fresh serrano chiles, seeded [only if you want this to be very mild; we left some seeds in for some spiciness] and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large California avocados (1 lb total)

Preheat broiler.

Broil tomatillos in a flameproof shallow baking pan about 4 inches from heat until tops are charred, 7 to 10 minutes. Turn tomatillos over with tongs and broil until charred, about 5 minutes more.

Combine onion, chiles, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add tomatillos 2 at a time, mashing with a fork or pestle to form a coarse paste.

Pit and peel avocados. Add avocados to mixture and continue mashing until incorporated but still chunky.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sweet Potato-Pecan Pancakes

Adapted from Cooking Light.

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth but it sort of felt like it for a while there. I've spent the last 3 months doing a lot of quick dinners with fresh summer produce and didn't have the time to try very many new tasty recipes. This is one I tried a couple of weeks ago and is probably my new favorite pancake recipe. Would also make good waffles.

Note: I made this in the kitchen with Michael hollering out the ingredients to me from the living room. This was a mistake as the part about taking a 16 oz can of cut sweet potatoes, pureeing and then only using 3/4 C of puree was translated into 16 oz of sweet potato puree--hey, I only have a 15 oz can of puree so it'll have to do. Oops. But like most of my cooking mistakes, it turned out well and these pancakes are, dare I say it: moist (ick, that word sounds so gross) and truly delicious. So, feel free to add the whole damned can of puree, I say!

1 1/4 cups WW pastry flour (white whole wheat would be good or just regular AP)
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted and divided
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1/4 t each of ginger and cloves and 1/2 t cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C sweet potato puree (or use the whole 15 oz can!)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons pecans, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt in a large bowl. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (milk through eggs); add to flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Stir in sweet potatoes. Ladle out in 1/4 C measurements onto a hot and well-greased griddle. Serve with dollops of greek yogurt (FF Fage or Chobani are the best) and sprinkled with reserved pecans and a wee drizzle of maple syrup. Enjoy! Makes about 4-6 servings depending on how big you make your pancakes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Curried Sweet Potato and Rice Stew (or soup)

Adapted from: Everybody Likes Sandwiches

1 T olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 med onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 sweet potatoes (yellow fleshed) or yams (orange fleshed), diced
3/4 c rice (I used brown)
2 T curry paste (I used sweet curry powder)
pinch of salt & a good grind of black pepper
water or vegetable stock
1 t maple syrup (optional)

In a large pot, heat olive oil and add in carrots, onion and celery and saute until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the yam, sweet potato, rice and curry paste and let everything get coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour water or vegetable stock over everything so the liquid level is about 1-3 inches above the vegetables. Use less liquid if you want a stew, more liquid if you want soup. Turn down heat to a simmer, put on the pot lid and let it bubble away for 20-30 minutes. Does it need more liquid? Add it; otherwise it’s done when the vegetables are tender. Finish it off with a small glug of maple syrup, stirring it into the mixture before serving into bowls.

Cranberry Apple Baked Oatmeal

Hm. This is interesting. I have made baked oatmeal many times in the past, but my old recipe just has the standard apple-cinnamon-nutmeg flavor profile. This recipe, though it sounds similar, had a whole new flavor. Maybe it's the cardamom? I don't use cardamom often, so maybe that was it. Anyway, it smelled delicious while cooking, and did not disappoint out of the pan. I liked the combination of steel cut oats and old-fashioned. Adapted from Culinary in the Country.

1 cup apple cider (or juice, but cider is better)
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry steel-cut oats
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 medium apples, peeled, diced (try Granny Smith)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger (I didn't have it so added a bit of ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
extra milk, for serving, if desired

In a medium saucepan, add cider and water - bring to a boil, then pour into a large bowl. Stir in steel-cut oats and butter - cover and set aside for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add rolled oats, brown sugar, apple, dried cranberries, ginger, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg into the large bowl with steeped steel-cut oats.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk and vanilla. Pour into the large bowl, stirring until ingredients are well combined. Scoop mixture into an 8" baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.

Place pan into the oven and bake until the center is set, about 28 to 36 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before serving. Serve with additional milk poured over each serving, if desired.

Makes about 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

lighter chicken (or veggie) pot pie

I never joined the Cult of Martha (sorry, Kelly) but wow, this is amazing. The sauce gets incredibly thick really quickly without much fat at all, and the recipe really is pretty healthy.

Also, the chicken was good in here but not important; you could substitute mushrooms or more of some other vegetable and I think it would be just as good.

Also also, be aware that this doesn't make a ton. J and I ate the whole thing ourselves in one sitting.

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (12 to 14 ounces each) [I used a roasted ready-to-eat chicken I bought at the supermarket]
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves [I used about 2 T fresh rosemary and a sprinkling of oregano]
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups low-fat (1%) milk
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed [I used half peas and half broccoli]
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 phyllo sheets (each 12 by 17 inches), thawed

1. [Avoid this step by being lazy and buying a cooked chicken!] Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly; discard skin and bones. Shred meat, and set aside.

2. While chicken is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan # over medium. Add carrots, onion, and thyme; season with salt and pepper, and cook until carrots are crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer and thickens.

3. Remove from heat; stir in peas, lemon juice, and chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Pour filling into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. [We do not have one of those and did it in a round casserole dish instead.]

4. Stack phyllo on a work surface. Using a paring knife, cut out an 11-inch circle from the stack; discard trimmings. Stack 2 circles on work surface, and brush gently with 1 teaspoon oil; repeat with remaining circles and oil. Place phyllo stack over filling, and press down about 1/2 inch from the edge so phyllo fits inside rim of pie plate. Bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Let potpie cool 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

One of the first things I saw when I walked into Trder Joe's today was a pile of giant green stalks of brussels sprouts. I knew brussels sprouts grew on a stalk, and even tried to grow my own this year (which didn't work)... but to see it in person on the produce shelf was really funny. Of course, everyone else thought so, too, so they were selling faster than the produce guy could keep them stocked. Everyone I saw had a stalk. I used about half a stalk of sprouts for this recipe, and I'm going to try the recipe Shannon posted on here later in the week. These were delicious with pot roast and mashed potatoes. Mmm....

Adapted from: Simply Recipes

* 1 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed, ends trimmed, large ones halved
* 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice
* 2 Tbsp olive oil
* Salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place Brussels sprouts in a cast iron frying pan or a roasting pan. Sprinkle Brussels sprouts with lemon juice. Toss with oil so that the sprouts are well coated. Sprinkle generously with salt (at least a half teaspoon) and a few turns of black pepper.

2 Put Brussels sprouts in oven on top rack, cook for 20 minutes, then toss in the garlic and stir so that the sprouts get coated with the oil in the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes. Then sprinkle with Parmesan (if using) and cook for another 5 minutes.

The sprouts should be nicely browned, some of the outside leaves crunchy, the interior should be cooked through.

Add more salt to taste. (Salting sufficiently is the key to success with this recipe.)

Serves 4.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Chicken bruschetta bake

I love a good casserole. I love sticking everything into one pan and putting it in the oven, doing something else -- and then pulling out a perfectly wonderful dinner.
Ernie made this a couple of weeks ago, and it was really good. You should make it.

from Cheap Healthy Good (my new favorite cooking blog)

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken (they make a low sodium kind. buy that)
1/2 cup water
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 cup part-skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together tomatoes (with liquid), garlic, stuffing mix, and water until stuffing mix is just moist. Set aside.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in a 13x9 baking dish. Top evenly with basil and cheese. Top again with stuffing mixture. Bake about 30 minutes, until stuffing is browned and chicken is fully cooked. Serve.

Easy apple cake

The two other Mary Baldwin women who contribute to this blog will confirm the fact that Apple Day is a big deal at our college. As you get older, though, the inclination sort of wanes to drink mass amounts of apple pie shooters, no matter how much I might joke about it.
Instead, I spend my Apple Days these years making apple inspired desserts. (Apple Day was this past Tuesday)
When I saw the recipe for this cake, I knew it'd be this year's apple dessert. It didn't disappoint.
One note: when I read the recipe, it called for a glaze that is essentially brown sugar and butter. Yum, right? However, the cake has 2 cups of sugar on its own, plus the apples and dates. I opted to not make the glaze, and it was sweet enough without it. I'm afraid adding the glaze to it might make your teeth hurt when you eat it.

If you want the original recipe, you can go to Bakerella and get it. Here's how I did it:

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups diced apples
1 cup chopped dates rolled in flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon with a wire whisk and set aside.
Combine sugar and oil using a mixer until blended.
Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined.
Add flour mixture and mix well.
Stir in dates and apples. The batter will be very thick.
Pour into a greased and floured 9 X 13 pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until done.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Creamy Taco Mac

Or, Homemade Hamburger (turkey/soy crumbles) Helper

Adapted from: Annie's Eats

1¼ lbs. ground beef or turkey or veggie crumbles
12 oz. medium shells pasta (or another short pasta shape)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced (or one 14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained)
4 tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
shredded cheddar (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until almost cooked through. Drain off most of the grease. Add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the beef is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Mix in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit. Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Chicken with Parsley Pesto and Bean Salad

This recipe is all about the condiment and side dish. The chicken takes a back seat to the accompaniments. I think you could make the bean salad and pesto a day or two ahead, if you wanted to let the flavors meld even more.

We modified this recipe somewhat. I'm putting our variations in parentheses.

Source: Real Simple, September 2010 issue (find it here, with picture)

Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 30m
Total Time: 30m


1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 small clove garlic
2 1/4 cups fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
1/2 small head radicchio, thinly sliced (about 1 cup) (we couldn't find radicchio, so we used shredded red cabbage instead)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (we used red wine vinegar)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces (we didn't cut ours)


1. In a food processor, puree the yogurt, pine nuts, garlic, 2 cups parsley, 1/4 cup oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. Chop the remaining 1/4 cup parsley. In a medium bowl, toss with the beans, radicchio, vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Heat grill to medium-high. Thread the chicken onto 8 skewers, coat with the remaining tablespoon oil, and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. (We didn't coat with oil, we just used nonstick cooking spray.)

4. Grill the chicken, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Serve with the pesto and the bean salad.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Thick, chewy, triple-chocolate brownies

From: Annie's Eats (adapted from Baker's Illustrted)

If you like thick (tall) brownies that are somewhere between fudgy and cakey, these might be just the brownies for you. I actually would have preferred these to be a little thinner, but the people I made them for really enjoyed them. I thought the flavor was really good, and I would make them again, but I personally might try to find a pan that was a little larger, like 9x9 instead of 8x8. The texture of the brownie was really good, and apparently they went perfectly with the dark stout beer everyone else was drinking with them.

5 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1¼ cups (8¾ oz.) sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (5 oz.) all-purpose flour

Place an oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated. Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares as desired. Store in an air-tight container.

Friday, October 01, 2010

chicken paprikash-topped potatoes

This is from a Cooking Light cookbook we got for our wedding, and the best thing about it is that you get to do the "waiter, there is too much pepper in my paprikash" line from When Harry Met Sally over and over and over again.

Also, Shannon: potatoes! They're really delicious with the sauce.

4 baking potatoes
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (we used some mysterious baggies of chicken from the freezer... also a good way to use up frozen stuff)
2 T AP flour
2 t paprika (I think it could have used a little more)
3/4 t salt
1/4 t red pepper
1 T butter
1/2 c coarsely chopped onion
1 8-oz package of pre-sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas and am totally sold on them)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
2 T chopped fresh parsley

1. Bake potatoes however you like best.

2. Combine chicken, flour, paprika, salt, and red pepper in a large ziploc bag, and shake to coat.

3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture, onion, mushrooms, and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cook 6 minutes or until chicken is done and sauce thickens, stirring frequently. (I had to cook it longer to get the sauce to reduce, but it eventually did become pretty thick -- probably about 10 or 12 minutes.)

4. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream.

5. Split potatoes with a fork, fluff, divide up chicken, sprinkle parsley, and serve. (We also had roasted brussels sprouts with it, as the cookbook suggests.)

pear-ginger muffins

Another great recipe from Farmgirl Fare. The only thing I did differently was to add a second cup of whole wheat flour, because I didn't have any oat bran, and bake in a loaf pan because I was too lazy for muffins. They turned out great -- really light, and an excellent way to salvage three really pathetic pears.