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Monday, May 31, 2010

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

When I saw the recipe for Blue Cheese Cole Slaw on Closet Cooking, I immediately knew how I'd use up some more of my farmer's market blue cheese. The thing is, I don't even like cole slaw. I'd choose no side over a side of cole slaw and yet something about this recipe enticed me.

It was a wise decision. This slaw may not look all that different from your typical mayo-cabbage mixture, but its flavor is vastly different. Its full of moisture without being heavy and full of that tangy blue cheese flavor. I found myself sneaking bites of this when I prepared it the night before we planned to eat it. Leftovers keep well, so don't be afraid to make a larger batch of this and enjoy for several days. We ate this plain, and also on some sandwich wraps also inspired by Closet Cooking (that I'll post tomorrow).

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw
*recipe for 2 side dish servings or 4 sandwich filling servings

-2 cups cabbage (shredded)
-1 carrot (shredded)
-1/4 cup mayonnaise
-1/4 cup sour cream
-2 tbsp grainy mustard
-1 lemon (juice)
-salt & pepper, to taste
-1/4 cup blue cheese (crumbled)
-1 handful parsley (chopped)

1. Mix the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mustard.
3. Mix wet ingredients in with the cabbage. Add parsley and blue cheese. Mix well.
4. Cover and refrigerate until serving (make at least a few hours in advance).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Grilled Fattoush

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this salad, but I'm thrilled I did. This may be my new favorite salad and will definitely be popping up multiple times this summer. I couldn't get enough of it--the grilled vegetables mixed with the fresh, the tangy lemon dressing, the blends of fresh herbs, the chunks of bread spread throughout. This was absolutely fabulous!

Ryan and I tag-teamed this salad one night when we were in a huge rush after work. Working together, we managed to make it start-to-finish in twenty minutes! We modified the amounts of the ingredients since it was only for two of us and I wasn't sure how leftovers would fare, but I posted the full recipe below. I also used leftover focaccia bread (and didn't grill it), rather than the pita bread, but next time I'll go the pita bread route.

I can't say enough good things about this dish. It's colorful, flavorful, and will make you full! Make it, and make it soon!

Grilled Fattoush
*serves 4-6

-Olive oil
-4 zucchini
-2 peppers, red and/or yellow
-3 pita breads
-1 1/2 cups cucumber, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
-1 large tomato, chopped (I used grape tomatoes, sliced in half)
-3/4 cup green onions, chopped
-1 cup pitted or halved kalamata olives
-1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
-1/4 cup chopped parsley
-3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 lemon, squeezed
-1 tsp cumin
-salt & pepper

1. Heat grill to high. Cut the zucchinis in half (length-wise) and cut the peppers in large chunks. Separate pita layers so that there are 6 totals. Brush everything with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Grill the vegetables for 2-3 minutes, until they are slightly tender. Grill pitas for approximately 1 minute.
2. Mix remaining vegetables and herbs in a large bowl.
3. Cut vegetables and pita bread into bite-sized pieces. Toss grilled vegetables and pita with everything else in the large bowl. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Pour over salad and mix well. Serve immediately.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Brownie Cups

My friend recently graduated with her Master's in Social Work and her parents graciously hosted a very fun graduation party. I wanted to bring Steph a little treat to celebrate and deciding what to bring wasn't a difficult choice. If there's something Stephanie loves, it's the chocolate peanut butter combination! Give this girl a Reese's peanut butter cup and she's one happy camper. Rather than buying a bag of Reese's though, I opted to make these peanut butter cup brownies.

These took all of 30 minutes to make, bake time included, and were a hit at the party. I managed to steal a bite of someone's and had to agree with the general consensus, peanut butter filled anything is bound to be good!

Peanut Butter Brownie Cups
adapted from Cristine Cooks

-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
-1 tbsp water
-3/4 cup chocolate chips
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 cup peanut butter chips
-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips plus about 1/3 cup more for garnishing
-3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Fill 12 muffin cups with liners.
2. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine sugar, butter, and water. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, until butter is melted.
3. Stir in 3/4 cup chocolate chips until melted. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add flour and baking soda, stirring until blended (batter will be thick).
4. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in 1/2 cup each of peanut butter chips and mini chocolate chips. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.
5. Bake for 13-15 minutes (until toothpick inserted in center comes out slightly wet). Place pan on wire rack. Use a spoon to tap the center of each brownie and make a hole.
6. Microwave peanut butter in a small bowl for 45 seconds until smooth and runny. Spoon a tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each brownie. Top with mini chocolate chips and allow to cool before removing from pan.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Baked Pear & Gorgonzola Salad

I really like the pear and blue cheese combination, as evidenced by this salad. I found myself with both pears and blue cheese on hand, but wanted to try something a little different. Baked fruit is a little bit of a foreign concept to me. Obviously I'm all about baked fruit when it comes to desserts (apple crisp anyone?), but had never thought to add it to a salad. This baked pear salad has convinced me that baked fruit + salad is an excellent combo! I loved the soft pear filled with the tangy blue cheese. My only complaint? MORE cheese! I didn't measure it out and don't think I put a full tbsp in each pear as the recipe called for. Don't be afraid to be a bit heavy-handed with the cheese, it's definitely the best part!

Baked Pear & Gorgonzola Salad
recipe from sippitysup.com

-2 large pears
-4 tbsp gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
-1/2 cup walnuts
-1/2 head bibb lettuce (I used mixed spring greens)
-vinaigrette to taste
-black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cut pears in half lengthwise and remove core. Cut a slice off of the bottom of each pear so that they will lay flat. Lay each half on baking sheet.
2. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of cheese on each half and bake until cheese is browned and pears are soft (approximately 12 minutes).
3. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in a pan over the stove for 3 minutes, tossing frequently.
4. Toss lettuce in vinaigrette and divide among plates. Divide walnuts among each plate and top with a pear. Add more vinaigrette and black pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives & Tomatoes

I had an inspiration for some focaccia with olives and tomatoes, but it was a Sunday afternoon and spending the afternoon baking bread did not sound appealing. I'm all about homemade bread, but this particular day I just wasn't feeling it. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful husband who agreed to make us some focaccia. I searched for a recipe that we could adapt to our tastes and emailed it to him before kissing him goodbye and heading to my kickboxing class. I returned home to a large pan of bread rising on the stove. Sigh. How excellent!

Now here's where the trouble started. I set about making the rest of our dinner which Ryan took to mean I was now taking over in the kitchen. It was a fair assumption, but one I wasn't aware of...and in that miscommunication the focaccia came out slightly burnt. It didn't stop us from digging in, but the bottoms were definitely a little crispier than anticipated. Still, another successful homemade bread, and one I can't wait to continue to improve and experiment with. We both decided that next time we'll add the herbs to the dough rather than just sprinkling on top. I'd also like to try different toppings.

I could eat pizza every day, but Ryan wouldn't be a fan. So now I can sneak focaccia into the mix, which I consider sauceless pizza ;)

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives & Tomatoes
recipe inspired by Whole Foods

-1 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
-1 package active dry yeast
-2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 tsp salt, divided
-1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup onion, sliced
-1/2 can olives, sliced
-1 large tomato, sliced
-dried oregano, dried basil, parmesan cheese, as desired

1. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup warm water with maple syrup. Add yeast and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.
2. Stir in flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 cup warm water.
3. Using a stand mixer and a dough hook (or your hands), knead dough until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, making sure dough is coated. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.
4. Saute onions in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent.
5. Punch down dough before transferring to a large baking sheet and patting dough out into a large rectangle. Allow to rise for 45 minutes.
6. Press onions, olives, and tomatoes into the dough. Sprinkle with herbs and parmesan cheese. Allow to rise for 30 minutes (we were hungry & skipped this step and just put it in the oven here with no problems)
7. Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown (start checking after 15 minutes!) Slice & serve.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cereal Mix-Ins Cookies

I found the recipe for these cookies in the recipe binder my mom gave me. I have no idea where the recipe came from, nor do I ever remember my mom making them. However, they sounded yummy to me so I made a half batch (with lots of changes to the original recipe). I call these cereal mix-in cookies because there's a lot of flexibility as to what you add to them. I went with m&ms and cherry raisinets, but the original recipe called for dried berries and nuts. Chocolate or butterscotch chips would also work. If you find yourself with some cornflakes on hand, scrounge in your cabinets for bits and pieces of other mix-ins and make these. These cereal mix-in cookies are soft & chewy with a slight crunch from the cereal. Don't omit the cinnamon, I thought it was a brilliant addition. With cereal and oats, these are practically breakfast food!

Cereal Mix-Ins Cookies

-1/2 cup flour
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup wheat cereal flakes
-1 cup oats
-1 package cherry raisinettes
-1/4 cup milk chocolate m&ms

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease baking sheets.
2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds before adding sugars. Beat until combined. Add eggs & vanilla, beat until combined.
4. Add in flour mixture and mix well. Stir in cereal, oats, and additional mix-ins.
5. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Italian Pasta Salad

This is a great meal for your summer picnics or potlucks. The ingredients and their amounts can easily be altered according to tastes and preferences and the dish can be made up to a day in advance (and in fact tastes better when you do so). I've made this to serve a crowd when volunteering at the Ronald McDonald house and, most recently, for our friends who just had a baby (remember when I made these cupcakes for her shower??). Aside from the chopping, it's a pretty quick recipe to throw together...my favorite kind!

Italian Pasta Salad
amounts according to your preference

-pasta (I've used bowtie, rotini, and this time spaghetti, broken into thirds)
-Italian dressing
-black olives
-shredded cheese

1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and allow to cool.
2. Chop all meats, vegetables, and herbs. Toss with cooled pasta.
3. Add Italian dressing and mix to combine. Stir in cheese just before serving.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Caramel Brownies

Two years ago this May, my sister came to visit me for the first time in St. Louis. I was living alone, engaged to Ryan, and eating a lot of cereal for dinner. My how things have changed! I'm still in St. Louis, but Julia is too! I'm married and rarely eating cereal, unless it's mixed in with yogurt and packed in my lunch. Though a lot has happened in that passage of time, I haven't forgotten these brownies. Julia showed up on my doorstep with a large bag (we're notorious overpackers in our family!) and a plateful of these brownies.

I cannot believe I haven't made these brownies since then, although it's probably because I have memories of chowing down on brownie after brownie :) I was surprised to find out these use a cake mix and while I typically shy away from boxed mixes, these aren't worth trying to alter! They are rich and gooey, with a pretty even ratio of caramel to chocolate. A pan of these will feed a crowd...I cut my 9 x 13 pan into 40 small pieces. I left the pecans out this time, but plan to include next time...turtle brownies anyone?

Caramel Brownies

-1 package German Chocolate Cake Mix
-3/4 cup melted butter
-2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided
-1 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)
-1 bag individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
-1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.
2. Combine cake mix, melted butter, and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Mix well and pour 1/2 the batter into the pan. If including pecans, press into the batter. Bake for 8 minutes and remove from oven.
3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and pour over cake.
4. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the caramel. Top with spoonfuls of remaining batter and carefully spread to cover caramel. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least half an hour before cutting.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quinoa Salad with Shrimp, Cucumber, Mango, & Mint

Quinoa seems to be all the rage lately, and with good reason. It's a complete protein that also full of other nutrients including magnesium and iron. I'd had it once, on New Year's Eve, and loved it (Thanks Maggie!), yet, for some reason, I kept neglecting to buy some. I finally picked some up in the bulk foods section one day, and had some fun googling quinoa recipes. Of all the ones I looked at, I'm glad this is the one I settled on. For starters, it made a TON of food. I'm a leftover lover so I never complain about this! Furthermore, this dish was light and full of crazy flavors. I never would've thought to put all of these ingredients together, but they worked. If you make this, don't omit the mint or the hot sauce--in my opinion they're essential to the dish. In fact, I liked the hot sauce so much that when I ate it the 2nd day, I added a healthy dose of extra hot sauce.

Ryan was actually the one who made this for us, I just found the recipe :) While he liked it as well, he thought it needed more dressing. You be the judge, it's easy to add more if you love a heavily soaked salad. Me? I'll just take more hot sauce please!

Quinoa Salad with Shrimp, Cucumber, Mango, and Mint
recipe from Hedonia

-2 cups quinoa
-4 cups chicken broth
-1 lb shrimp, shelled and veined
-1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
-1 mango
-1 small red onion
-1 jalapeño pepper
-bunch of mint
-juice of 3 limes
-tabasco sauce
-olive oil
-pinch of sugar
-salt & pepper

1. Rinse the quinoa well and allow to drain.
2. Bring the broth to a boil and cook the shrimp until pink, just a few minutes.
(we just used pre-cooked shrimp and skipped this step)
3. With broth boiling, add the quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and
cook until liquid is absorbed (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer
to a large bowl to cool.
4. Dive the cucumber, mango, and shrimp into half inch pieces and add to a bowl. Remove the seeds
and ribs from the jalapeno and finely mince before adding it to the bowl. Finely mince the red onion
and add to the bowl.
5. Add the cooled quinoa and toss.
6. In a small container, combine lime juice, tabasco, salt, pepper, sugar, and olive oil (amounts
to your preference) and whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and mix.
7. Chop the mint and add to the salad. Refrigerate at least one hour, serving cold or at room temperature.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Creamy Caper Sauce

This was another great recipe from Simple Suppers. The book's cover doesn't lie: "fresh ideas for the weeknight table". I made this sauce on an evening when we worked late, grocery shopped, and arrived home just in time for me to get dinner on the table before Ryan had to run out the door to take a final. While I served this sauce over tilapia (and liked it enough to sop up the sauce remaining on my plate with some bread), the book also suggests serving it atop pasta or vegetables...all of which would work nicely. This sauce was creamy and tangy with the addition of both lemon juice and capers. A full recipe makes a LOT of sauce, but the recipe is easily halved.

Creamy Caper Sauce
*I halved to yield 1 cup, the original recipe is below

-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup unbleached white flour
-2 1/2 cups hot milk
-1/3 cup dry white wine (optional)
-2 tbsp drained capers
-1/2 tsp dried tarragon or dill
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp black pepper
-1 tbsp lemon juice

1. In a heavy saucepan on low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
2. Whisk in the hot milk, adding it in a slow, steady stream. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened (4-5 minutes).
3. Stir in the wine, capers, tarragon or dill, salt, and pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the lemon juice and add more salt pepper to taste (may need to add extra milk if wine wasn't used).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poppyseed Bread

For whatever reason, this recipe and I do not get along. Don't let that dissuade you from making this; I assure you that you will not regret making it. This is another "mom" recipe that our family always welcomes. Who's going to complain about eating cake for breakfast? And yet each time I make it I inevitably find a way to screw it up. There was the time I forgot to stir the poppyseeds into the batter and added them AFTER the loaves were well into their baking cycle. [Shudder] The bread looked bug-infested, enough said.

This time I made it, I was chatting away in the kitchen and tossing ingredients into the bowl. Suddenly I did a double-take and realized I had added baking SODA instead of baking POWDER. Oops. I then added baking powder for good measure and while the bread suffered no adverse effects, I recommend just following the original recipe!

Silly mistakes aside, this bread is well-loved. Serve it for breakfast or serve it for dessert, you won't find anyone complaining. Whatever you do, don't skip out on the glaze...its what puts this bread over the top!

Poppyseed Bread

-3 cups flour
-2 1/2 cups sugar
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/2 tsp almond extract
-1 1/2 cups milk
-1 1/2 cups oil
-1 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
-3 eggs

For the glaze:
-2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
-1/4 cup frozen orange juice (thawed and undiluted)
-1/2 tsp almond extract
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl for two minutes.
2. Pour into greased loaf pans (either 2 regular, 3 medium, or 6 mini).
3. Bake at 325F for 1 hr 15 min.
4. Remove bread from oven and mix glaze ingredients together in a small bowl. While bread is still warm, pour on glaze.

This post is linked to Eat at Home.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Carrot Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

I've mentioned my friend Katie on the blog before. She's good for lots of things: long walks, honest advice, food inspiration, and most recently, cookbook introductions! While at her house recently, I began to flip through her copy of Simple Suppers which she praised up and down for its, well, simple suppers! As my eyes scanned each page, I knew I had to get my hands on that book and I immediately checked my library's catalogue to see if it I could find it there. It was my lucky day! Since then, I've been hanging onto Simple Suppers, mentally making a list of recipes I want to try before its looming due date.

I was drawn to this carrot salad because of its use of raspberry wine vinegar. I had purchased a large bottle of it to make this salad and wasn't sure how else to use it. This side salad was a snap to throw together; I made it first and let it chill while I prepared the rest of dinner. While it only contained a few ingredients, its simplicity allowed the few flavors to shine through. I'll keep this salad in mind when we're looking for a change from the usual green salads.

Carrot Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

-1-2 tbsp raspberry wine vinegar
-2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tbsp vegetable oil
-3 or 4 carrots
-1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, and oil.
2. Peel and grate the carrots. Add the carrots and parsley to the bowl and mix well.
3. Serve at room temperature or chilled (can also be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in the fridge. If you do this, use less vinegar originally and add a little bit before serving)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Babe Ruth Bars

I'm a sucker for anything with cereal and chocolate. Case in point. Thankfully, I wisely decided to share and took the entire batch of these with me to church as my contribution to after-service refreshments. Okay, I admit, I ate a few for breakfast...but the rest were gobbled up by everyone else, I promise! While I don't quite see the resemblance between these and a baby ruth candy bar, these were delicious in their own right. If you too love cereal and chocolate, I suggest you make these sooner than later...and don't feel like you have to share ;)

Babe Ruth Bars
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

-1 cup peanut butter
-3/4 cup white corn syrup
-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-6 cups cornflakes cereal
-1 cup chocolate chips
-2/3 cup peanuts

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt peanut butter, corn syrup, and sugars. Cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, combine cornflakes, chocolate chips, and peanuts. Pour peanut butter mixture over dry ingredients.
3. Mix with a large spoon until evenly coated. Press cornflake mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Open Faced Veggie Sandwiches

Sandwiches are a great meal for this time of year. They're usually fast and easy, but depending on the ingredients you use, can be as simple or as complex as your tastes demand. For these, I knew I wanted to spread some goat cheese on my sandwiches (our continued obsession), but wasn't sure what sounded good beyond that. So I headed to our local farmer's market and decided to let the freshest looking produce guide me.

In retrospect, these sandwiches are quite similar to our portabella pita pizzas , so maybe it was my palate guiding me and not the produce ;) I originally intended to serve these as regular sandwiches, but upon assembling them realized they would be much easier to eat open-faced...and therefore allowed for more toppings, the best part!

Open Faced Veggie Sandwiches
makes 6 open faced sandwiches

-6 slices whole wheat bread (I used this)
-1-3 tbsp olive oil
-2 small red peppers
-1/2 sweet onion
-1 portabello mushroom
-3-4 cups fresh spinach
-approximately 2 oz goat cheese

1. Slice onions, red peppers, and mushrooms into strips.
2. Saute onions in a skillet over medium heat in a small amount of olive oil until translucent. Add red pepper and mushroom (and additional olive oil if needed) to pan and saute for approximately 5 minutes.
3. Add spinach and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
4. Toast slices of bread. Spread goat cheese on each slice. Top with sauteed vegetables.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Pancakes

Ever since I nabbed a banana muffin that someone brought in for a birthday treat at work last week, I haven't been able to shake banana flavored things from my head. Thus, I was greatly relieved when I suggested banana nut pancakes to Ryan for our Saturday morning breakfast and he was all for it. This recipe made a pretty large batch of pancakes but Ryan, Paige (our breakfast companion), and I made a good dent in them. These pancakes were thin and surprisingly light considering they were 100% whole wheat. Even better, they were filling! Paige and I powered through a few hours of shopping without any twinge of hunger. The pancakes had a noticeable banana flavor, but next time I might add a third banana for an extra boost of banana. Pecans or almonds could easily be substituted for the walnuts, though I liked the flavor contrast of the toasted walnuts.

Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Pancakes
*makes approximately 15-20 pancakes
recipe adapted from here

-2 cups skim milk
-2 eggs
-2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 tbsp brown sugar
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp salt
-2 ripe bananas, mashed
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1. Combine milk and eggs in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour through salt) and add to wet ingredients. Stir just to combine.
3. Add mashed bananas and mix until well combined. Stir in toasted walnuts.
4. Cook pancakes over a greased griddle over medium heat, about 2 minutes a side.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring Greens Dinner Salad

This was a quick dinner salad I threw together one night when we needed an accompaniment to our main dish. This wasn't anything elaborate, just a few of our favorite ingredients tossed together which made for a pleasing dish. The vinaigrette was particularly tart, so I recommend starting with 1 tbsp of the raspberry wine vinegar and adding a bit more to taste.

Spring Greens Dinner Salad
adjust amounts according to number of people serving

-spring greens salad mix
-dried cranberries
-pumpkin seeds
-goat cheese
-raspberry vinaigrette

Raspberry Vinaigrette Ingredients (for 2-3 individual portions)
-2 tbsp raspberry wine vinegar
-1-2 tbsp worchestershire
-2 tbsp olive oil
-pepper, to taste
-1 tsp sugar

1. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. On each plate, place salad greens topped with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese.
3. Dress with vinaigrette.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Peach Amaretto Upside Down Cake

I promise this is my last peach recipe for awhile. While buying a box full of peaches for $2 at the Farmer's Market was a steal, it was way too hard to use them all up before they went bad, and sadly they weren't at their peak. I'll wait til later in the summer and then I'll be back in full force...peach cobbler, peach baked oatmeal, you name it..it's coming! :)

This was my first time making an upside down cake of any sort and I was a little skeptical when I flipped the pan over. Thankfully the cake came right out, and in one piece! I only snuck a tiny corner bite of this before I pawned it off on friends (Thanks Dan and Alex!), but I assure you it was quite tasty warm from the oven...and got good reviews from the boys, who were pleasantly surprised to discover the amaretto (or, boozy, as they classified it) flavor.

Peach Amaretto Upside Down Cake
recipe from allrecipes.com

-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup butter, melted
-3 tbsp amaretto liqueur
-2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
-1/2 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)
-1/4 cup butter
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 medium eggs
-1 tsp almond extract
-1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Stir the brown sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and amaretto liqueur in a 9-inch pie pan (no need to grease!) until the sugar has dissolved. Arrange the peach slices in the pan and sprinkle with the pecans. Set aside.
3. Beat 1/4 cup butter and the granulated sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in each egg separately, adding the almond extract with the 2nd egg.
4. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until just incorporated. Gently pour the batter over the peaches and pecans.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife along the edges and invert onto a serving plate.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Broccoli Spinach Strata

I'm pretty good about making a grocery list each week and sticking to it. But sometimes life gets the best of me and I only manage to jot down the things I'm certain I need for upcoming meals. It's on those trips to the grocery store that I start second-guessing the "pantry" ingredients I have at home. Did I just run out of brown sugar or do I need more? Will we run out of milk before I head to the store again? How many eggs are left in the carton?

It's the eggs that got me this time, and I found myself with two full egg-cartons in the fridge. I've slowly but surely been working my way through them, using them for lots of baking and then for this strawberry french toast. But I still found myself with an overwhelming number of eggs on hand and thus decided to work them into our dinner one night. I grabbed everything from my fridge that sounded like it would work well in an egg dish, started dicing up leftover homemade bread, and before I knew it this strata was formed. I put it together one weeknight after dinner, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and cooked it up the next evening. For an impromptu meal, it was quite a hit. I love it when that happens! Next time you find yourself with extra eggs and veggies, go for a frittata or a strata!

Broccoli Spinach Strata

-2 cups whole wheat bread, cut into cubes (I used this)
-1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
-1-2 cups spinach
-1 cup shredded cheese
-4 eggs
-2 1/4 cups skim milk
-1 tsp dried mustard
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-salt & pepper

1. In a 9 x 9 inch pan, place bread cubes, spinach, broccoli, and cheese. Mix to combine.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk milk & eggs. Stir in dried mustard, garlic powder, and salt & pepper.
3. Pour egg mixture over the pan. Refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight.
4. Bake at 375F for 35 minutes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Twelve in Ten Challenge: Peach Pie

I didn't have any intention of baking a pie for this month's Twelve in Ten challenge. But I found myself with a crate full of peaches and a free evening and decided to go for it. I admit, this was a nerve-wracking task. Yes, because of all the horror stories I've read about the terrors of pie crust. Yes because I've seen pies bubble over or ooze out from the top. All valid concerns. But my biggest? My grandma. You see, my grandma is quite possibly (and my opinion obviously isn't biased one bit) the world's greatest pie maker. I've grown up enjoying slices of her pie, whether it be apple, pumpkin, strawberry rhubarb, and yes, peach. So I've spent twenty-three years spoiled by grandma's pie. I'll be honest, I scoff at store-bought pie. I refused to eat the pie that my college dining hall served. Why bother?

So you can see the conundrum I found myself in when I added "making a pie from scratch" to my challenge list. Without my grandma here to teach me one by one each step in her pie-making process, I was essentially setting myself up for disappointment. But alas, I had added this task to my Twelve in Ten list and I was not about to let one month slip by!

And so I begin, first selecting a few recipes to work from (I'm saving grandma's recipe for a time when she's with me to show me, no messing around!). My food processor came in handy as I prepped my crust and before I knew it I had two large mounds of crumbly dough awaiting me. Nervousness taunted me. I was convinced I'd wasted butter and flour and would soon be tossing it all in the trash. Yet I pressed on (no pun intended!), rolling and shaping my dough, mending the inevitable cracks as I went along. Carefully I transferred my crust to the dish and went about preparing the filling, an easy task compared to the beast formerly known as pie crust.

I snuck a few bites of sugary peaches and found myself getting optimistic. Maybe, just maybe, this pie would work out. I crossed my fingers before adding the top crust and carefully pinching the edges together. Before putting the pie in the oven I breathed a sigh of relief. If nothing else, at least it looked like a pie should.

Forty-five minutes later my kitchen was thick with the smell of cinnamon and peaches. I peeked into the oven to find a perfectly cooked pie. Giddy with excitement, I removed the pie and made my way to the couch, where I twiddled my thumbs until Ryan came home from class. A short while later I heard the garage door open and immediately returned to the kitchen to cut pieces of the still-warm pie. Accompanied by scoops of ice cream, we sat down and dug into what would be my first 100% homemade pie.

The verdict? Success! No, it isn't grandma's pie. But that's to be expected. And really, I wouldn't want it to be. Grandma's pie is grandma's pie. Yet my pie, my peach pie, with its flaky crust and thick peach filling, is nothing to complain about!

Double Pie Crust
recipe from Simply Recipes (great step by step pictures here!)

-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
-2 sticks unsalted butter, cold into 1/2 inch cubes
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp sugar
-4-8 tbsp ice water

1. Cut the sticks of butter into 1/2 inch cubes and place in the freezer for 15 min-1 hr until thoroughly chilled.
2. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6-8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea siz pieces of butter.
3. Add ice water 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again (mine took the full 8 tbsp).
4. Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs. Knead the dough, just enough to form the discs, do no over-knead (you should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough).
5. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
6. When ready to bake, remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
7. Add filling to pie (see below for peach pie filling)
8. Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently place onto the top of the filling. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears. Score the top of the pie with a few cuts, to let steam escape.
9. Bake at 375F for 45-60 minutes, until pie crust is lightly browned.

Peach Pie Filling
recipe adapted from several found online

-5 cups peeled & sliced peaches
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup flour
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-sprinkle of nutmeg

1. Toss sliced peaches with sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle peach mixture with nutmeg.
2. Lay peaches in pie crust. Dot with butter before adding top crust. Bake as directed above.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Strawberry French Toast

How yummy does that look? This wasn't anything outrageously difficult or unique, but it made for a special weekend breakfast. I simply took some of my homemade whole wheat bread, sliced it up and made basic french toast (just 3 eggs and a splash of half and half to dip the bread in before cooking on a hot skillet), then topped it with leftover strawberry glaze from this dessert that I warmed in the microwave for a few minutes.

It made for a decadent breakfast that kept me full for hours! I'm tempted to make the strawberry glaze again, simply so we can have this dish for breakfast once more...and you probably should too...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fresh Peach Salsa

On Cinco de Mayo our community group from church came to our house, as they do every Wednesday. But this week, in "celebration" of the holiday (I say "celebration" because we laughed about the American tendency to make big hoopla out of any excuse to have a holiday), I decided to serve something other than dessert and we spent the night just hanging out and catching up.

Ryan whipped up some of his fabulous guacamole and together we made this peach salsa, a fun change from the usual tomato-based salsas. These snacks, served with lots and lots of scoops tortilla chips, went perfectly with our margaritas. You can't go wrong with Mexican, so I won't complain about this country's affinity for celebrating Cindo de Mayo!

We ate the leftover peach salsa over tilapia, and I imagine it'd also be good as a burger or grilled chicken topping!

Peach Salsa

-4 peaches, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
-3 small tomatoes, chopped
-1 cup cilantro, chopped
-1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and diced
-1/2 cup red onion, diced
-1 oz lime juice

1. Chop and dice ingredients to desired sizes.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Squeeze with lime juice and taste. Add more lime juice if needed.
3. Serve with tortilla chips, or atop fish, chicken, or burgers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

I've mentioned before that I've acquired a fondness for baking my own bread. Call me a nerd, but it's one feat in the kitchen I find so satisfying! This was my first attempt at a regular 'ol wheat bread, but it was anything but regular! I found this whole wheat bread dense, but not overly so, and sweet, but again, not overly so. Because it made two loaves, I stuck one in the freezer and we used the other in a few different ways, which I'll be posting over the next few days.

This bread was a piece of cake to make, I actually did it while cooking another dinner...multi-tasking is my friend :) After the success of this bread, I picked up several more packets of instant yeast, and intend to continue my bread-making adventures in the weeks to come!

Whole Wheat Bread

-2 cups warm water
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 packet active dry yeast
-1/2 cup shortening
-1 tbsp salt
-5 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1. Add sugar to warm water, stir in yeast, and add shortening by the spoonful (to allow it to soften). Cover until yeast is dissolved.
2. Add flour and salt and knead for 5 minutes (I used the dough hook with my kitchen-aid mixer)
3. Cover and allow to rise for 10 minutes. Punch down and allow to rise for another 10 minutes. Repeat twice.
4. Shape into two loaves and place in greased loaf pans.
5. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Asparagus Soup

If you're an asparagus lover like me, you'll love this soup. If not, er, I wouldn't suggest trying it...because this soup basically tastes like asparagus in liquid form! I was looking for a way to use up a bunch of asparagus sitting in our fridge, and wanted to try something aside from roasting or grilling it. While soup season has pretty much come and gone, this made for a light Spring dinner paired with AMAZING bread my friend Katie made and dropped off for us (Katie you were right, that bread toasted + goat cheese = heaven!).

Asparagus Soup
recipe slightly adapted from here
*makes 4 servings

-1 onion diced
-1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
-3 cups chicken broth
-1 lb asparagus, chopped
-2 small potatoes, peeled & diced
-1/2 tsp ground mustard
-salt & pepper, to taste
-parmesan cheese, for garnish

1. Saute onions and garlic in 1/4 cup chicken broth in a large stock pot.
2. Add asparagus, potatoes, and remaining chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Remove soup from heat and puree in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Return to pot (if using blender or food processor) and stir in ground mustard. Season with salt & pepper.
4. Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

30-Minute Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

When preparing to make the Green Pizza I posted yesterday, I was hungry and feeling impatient. Thus, I knew I needed a quick pizza dough recipe. I settled on this 30-minute recipe from Steph Chows which really did take only 30 minutes! I quickly threw this together and then went about preparing the rest of the pizza. By the time everything was ready to go, the crust was ready to be rolled out.

Not only was this ready in a flash, it ended up being delicious. Ryan and I decided this will be our go-to pizza dough from now on. The whole wheat flavor was apparent without tasting like cardboard, and I loved how thinly I was able to roll it. It make for a perfectly crispy crust!

Unfortunately I don't have a picture, as I was too focused on pizza-making to stop and snap a picture of my rolled-out crusts. However, I've placed a picture below of our pizza in its preparation stages to give you an idea of how thinly it was rolled.

30-Minute Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

-1 cup whole wheat flour
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 package quick-rising yeast
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp sugar
-3/4 cup hot water
-1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix.
2. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. With the motor running, gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. (If too dry, add 1-2 tbsp warm water; if too sticky, add 1-2 tbsp flour)
3. Process until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.
4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap that's been coated with cooking spray (spray side down). Let dough rest for 10-20 minutes before rolling.
5. Roll out pizza dough into 1 thicker or 2 thin crusts. Cook as desired.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Green Pizza (aka Pesto Pizza with Broccoli, Asparagus, & Potato)

Ryan and I spent an awesome day last Saturday downtown, beginning with breakfast with my delightful friend Katie. We then continued to Busch Stadium where we watched the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds. Before heading home, we made a stop at Soulard Farmers Market, a large and impressive farmers market in St. Louis. Because it was the end of the day and many vendors and patrons had already made their way home, the few vendors remaining were practically giving away their unsold produce. We went home with a bunch of goodies for mere dollars! While we had originally planned to just snack on wine and cheese for dinner, our market purchases got us brainstorming and we decided to get creative with some of what we'd bought as well as some ingredients we had sitting at home.

On our drive back to our house, we created this pizza in our minds and immediately set to work making it when we stepped in the door. Less than an hour later, we were cutting into this pizza. While eating, we proudly proclaimed to one another that pizzas this good are hard to find even in restaurants! Humble, aren't we? :) We couldn't help it though...made with completely fresh ingredients, including homemade dough and pesto, this pizza really was better than what you'll find on many menus. The various flavors worked together even better than we imagined. If you've never had potato on a pizza, you must try it! It's not as weird as it sounds, I promise!

Grilled pizza will make many appearances on our table in the next few months...and I have a feeling this exact combination will be made again and again!

Green Pizza (aka Pesto Pizza with Broccoli, Asparagus, & Potato)

-1 lb Pizza Dough
-3/4-1 cup pesto
-1 potato, peeled and sliced
-3/4 pound asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
-2 cups broccoli, chopped
-shredded cheese (we used havarti dill)

1. Toss vegetables with salt, pepper, and a splash of olive oil. Add to skillet and cook over medium heat until desired crispness is reached.
2. Roll out pizza dough (1 lb of dough will make 2 thin pizzas). Place on pre-heated grill and cook for 1-2 minutes, until bottom is lightly browned.
3. Remove pizza dough from grill and flip so cooked side is on the top. Brush pesto on. Top with vegetables and cheese.
4. Return to grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is melted & crust is lightly browned.
5. Slice & eat immediately!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Homemade Pesto

Wasting food is one of my biggest pet peeves, I am very intentional about only buying what I think we can eat and trying to use up every ingredients. So when I found myself with an abundance of basil that was on its last few days, I made the decision to whip up my first batch of homemade pesto. This took only a few minutes to make, all thanks to my food processor. Ryan and I were both impressed by how fresh this tasted, and I like having the option to make it more or less oily, more or less cheesy, etc. You won't find me buying jars of pesto anymore, that's for sure!

Pesto is great on or with so many things, and can even be frozen and thawed for later uses. We've enjoyed it with sweet potato gnocchi and tuna salad in the past, but opted for a different use this time. Come back tomorrow to see how we used our pesto...it was in one of my favorite dinners ever!

Homemade Pesto
*makes 1 cup

-2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I only used 1/3 cup to get it to the consistency we wanted)
-1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I used walnuts)
-3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
-salt & freshly ground pepper

1. Place the basil and pine nuts in the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the garlic and pulse a few more times.
2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is running. Stop the processor to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
3. Add the cheese and continue to pulse until blended.
4. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fresh Peach Muffins

My friend Lauren was incredibly sweet and helped Ryan and I out transportation-wise recently when our car was in the shop. Though I know Lauren does it without anything expected in return, I wanted to show our appreciation and offered to make her something. She insisted she wasn't picky and so with my abundance of peaches from the Farmers Market, I decided to make her some peach muffins. Do peach muffins scream THANK YOU? I hope so. If not, I know Lauren's reading and so once again, THANK YOU!

I hadn't made muffins in awhile and was surprised by how thick this batter was. I made twelve large muffins from the batter, though I could've easily stretched it out to make smaller, or even mini, muffins. However, they looked so pretty popping out of my muffin tin! And, according to Lauren, they didn't taste too bad either ;)

Fresh Peach Muffins
recipe adapted from Group Recipes

-1 1/2 cups brown sugar
-2/3 cup oil
-1 egg
-1 cup sour cream
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp baking soda
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat and 2 cups all-purpose)
-2 cups fresh peaches, peeled & chopped
-cinnamon sugar, for sprinking atop muffins (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, oil, and egg.
2. Add sour cream, salt, vanilla, and baking soda to the bowl, mixing to combine.
3. Slowly blend in flour; do not over-mix. Fold in peaches.
4. Pour batter into greased muffin cups and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
5. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Strawberry Cream Tart

I saw this in my most recent issue of Cooking Light magazine and immediately added the ingredients to my shopping list. Then, I started seeing it pop up on a couple of food blogs, all with rave reviews. I made it last week for our weekly community group, in particular for my friend Maggie, who's a huge strawberry lover. The original recipe is called Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart, but I accidentally forgot to add the almonds after work (I made the tart the night before)...and thus it became the Strawberry Cream Tart. With or without almonds, this tart is a great dessert! It has several steps, but the recipe is easy to follow. I chose to lay my strawberries flat rather than standing them upright as the recipe suggests. This might not have been as visually appealing, but my strawberries were CRAZY in terms of shape and size so I opted for this method instead.

This would be a great addition to a Mother's Day meal or a dinner party! Try it and let me know what you think!

Note: I made this a day ahead of time and it was fine when I served it. Ryan and I ate the leftovers 2 nights later and they were definitely not as delicious...so be sure to serve the day you make it or the day after! Also, the strawberry glaze you make is yummy! I have the other half saved in my fridge waiting for something else...stay tuned...

Strawberry Cream Tart
from Cooking Light May 2010

-36 honey graham crackers (9 sheets)
-2 tbsp sugar
-2 tbsp butter, melted
-4 tsp water
-cooking spray
-8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese (original recipe called for 5 oz...but definitely spring for the 8!)
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/4 tsp almond extract
-6 cups small fresh strawberries, hulled and divided
-2/3 cup sugar
-1 tbsp cornstarcch
-1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
-2 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. To prepare crust: place graham crackers in a food processor and process until crumbly. Add 2 tbsp sugar, butter, and 4 tsp water; pulse until just moist. Place cracker mixture in a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of pan to 3/4 an inch. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

3. To prepare filling: combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and extracts in a medium bowl. Stir until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart shell.

4. To prepare topping: place 2 cups strawberries in food processor and process until smooth. Combine strawberry puree, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

5. Combine the remaining 4 cups of strawberries with the lemon juice and toss to coat. Arrange berries, bottoms up (or sliced & flattened!) in a circular pattern over filling. Spoon half of glaze evenly over berries (save remaining glaze for something else. Sprinkle nuts around edge. Cover and chill for 3 hours (or overnight)