Friday, September 30, 2011

Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

I mentioned a couple of days ago that sweet potatoes are not my favorite thing to eat. Well, this stew almost changed that for me. This stew was spectacular. It really is a simple recipe, but the lentils and veggies just really taste so good together. My 4 year old was really excited to eat this and gave 2 thumbs up for this one. It fits this time of year and tastes great re-warmed the next day.

Here is the recipe for Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew

Thursday, September 29, 2011

S'mores Whoopie Pies

About a month ago, I was making some desserts for a luncheon and decided it would be the perfect time to make these S'mores Whoopie Pies that I had spotted a few months ago. I always hesitate to make dessert recipes that yield so much unless I am sure that I have a way to share them.
I was excited about this particular recipe because it uses graham flavor in the cookie/cake part of the s'more, which I think adds a really nice flavor. These are a little bit labor intensive, because there are 3 different components- the graham cake/cookie, the marshmallow frosting, and the chocolate ganache filling- but, they were worth every minute. I made these late at night and that is why there is such a horrible light in the picture. I saved one for the kids to try after they got home from school and we cut it into 5 pieces so everyone could taste it. The consensus was that these were very delicious! The tray returned from the luncheon empty, so I am assuming that the people who ate them felt the same way. A really fun take on S'mores!

Here is the recipe for S'mores Whoopie Pies

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Creamy Cauliflower Mac

Macaroni and cheese doesn't ever happen at our house. Mostly because my son doesn't like cheese and it's kind of hard to hide the cheese in mac n' cheese. Plus, I don't think I ever ate it growing up, so it really isn't something that I think about very often.

I came across this recipe and remembered seeing things like this before, where cauliflower puree is used in the sauce and replaces almost all of the milk/cream/cheese, or whatever people usually use in their mac n' cheese. I had 2 heads of cauliflower in my fridge and decided I would try this one out. I used whole wheat shells for the pasta because I couldn't find whole wheat elbows. You cook the cauliflower in boiling water and then the pasta. The cauliflower is pureed with a little bit of cheese and some other ingredients that add flavor, like dijon mustard. I added more cheese than called for because I tasted the sauce and it was a little bland, so I added more cheese and tasted it again.

My family liked this recipe. My daughter whose favorite food is cheese, absolutely loved it. I thought it was really good and a nice way to use cauliflower.

Here is the recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Mac from Mark Bittman
* I used whole wheat pasta
* I added about 1/3 cup more cheese than called for because I pureed the sauce and tasted it and decided I wanted it to have a little bit more cheese flavor
* I would add less Dijon mustard next time

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Hummus

I have been looking for new ways to enjoy sweet potatoes since we have received so many in our produce co-op. Sweet potatoes aren't something that I really love, so I was looking for creative ways to eat them, that didn't included making them sweeter (like some dishes do around the holidays with marshmallows and brown sugar). I found a couple of really great recipes and this was one of the first ones I wanted to try out.

I love hummus and have made many variations
of it over the years. I wasn't sure how adding sweet potatoes to chickpeas and tahini would taste, but it turned out that this Sweet Potato Hummus was really delicious. It did have a sweeter aftertaste than usual hummus, but it was a really nice variation that we enjoyed. I made some whole wheat pita chips in the oven and we also used fresh veggies as dippers.

Here is the recipe for Sweet Potato Hummus
* I roasted and pureed 3 large sweet potatoes on the day I made this hummus, before I read the instructions, so I just used an estimated amount of that puree when mixing up the hummus

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bread

When I saw this Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bread recently, I thought it would make a great after school snack. I decided to make mini loaves because they bake up a little bit faster and also because then everyone can have their own little loaf- no fighting over the end pieces or the one with the most chocolate.

My kids absolutely loved these. I would say that it tastes more like a muffin than a cookie, but it really didn't matter. I liked this bread because it wasn't overly sweet and it felt like a healthier option than a cookie.

My son declared that this was the best snack ever. That means it will reappear sometime in the near future.

Here is the recipe for Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Bread
* I used low-fat buttermilk because that is what I keep in my fridge
* I forgot the sugar sprinkle on top

I also made these from the same blog, on a Sunday afternoon when we all wanted a treat and have no photo as proof because we gobbled them up quickly.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hearty Vegetable Stew

It has cooled down a little bit around here the past week or so, and that means it is okay for me to make soup and/or stew more often. My husband doesn't really enjoy either of these, but he really doesn't like them in the heat of summer. Now that it is September, it is officially soup/stew season. Even though it will probably warm back up soon. (Fine with me!) The calendar says September and Fall, so soup and stews are on the menu.

As soon as I saw this stew in Everyday Food Magazine, I knew I would make it. It is easy. It is quick. And it is full of veggies. I loved this even though it was so simple. It had great flavor and my family really liked it too.

Hearty Vegetable Stew
Everyday Food Magazine September 2011

2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced medium
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 sprigs thyme

In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add carrots, celery and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots soften, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, kale, beans, thyme and 2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until slightly reduced, 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

I wanted to do something different with the last batch of summer corn that we had a couple of weeks ago and I remembered this chowder recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. I decided to give it a try, even thought I don't really like creamy based soups or chowders- I prefer broth based soups/stews. But, I'm always up for giving things, especially foods, another chance.

I really felt like potatoes might have been a better building block for this chowder, rather than summer squash, because there really wasn't anything to give this chowder a hearty bite. Chowder seems like it should have a hearty component. (Maybe I am wrong?)
We ate this, but it definitely wasn't a favorite. I share it simply because I know that not everyone has the same taste buds as we do, so maybe somebody out there will give it a try and love it. It has lots of really good reviews, so there are lots of people out there who liked it more than we did.

Here is the recipe for Summer Squash and Corn Chowder
* I used cubed pancetta instead of bacon, but I think this was a mistake- I think it changed the way the flavors would have melded together

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BLT (Bacon, Lemon & Tomato) Quinoa Salad and Lemon-Cornmeal Cookies

This recipe popped up on facebook the other day and I figured it would be a good meal for dinner on a Monday night. I happened to have everything on hand that I needed for the recipe and that made it a lot less stressful to get dinner on the table.

My dad loves a good BLT sandwich and he grows tomatoes in his garden, so BLT's were always a lunch staple of his in the summer. I personally didn't really like bacon or mayo (I still don't) back then, so I always just watched my dad put these sandwiches together and remember hearing about how good they were.

This salad is really good and the interesting thing is that it really tastes like a BLT. Somehow, the combination of the ingredients, makes you feel like you are eating a sandwich. I know that is crazy, but it's true. In this salad, the lettuce has been switched out to lemon, which adds a brightness to the salad, in color and flavor. I added black beans for fun and roasted some broccoli in the oven to round out our dinner.

That same night we still had lots of lemons and the kids wanted me to make a quick cookie. I found this one on myrecipes and decided it would be easy to throw them together at the last minute. My kids really liked these. They reminded us of these Cornmeal Lime Cookies in taste and texture.

Here is the recipe for BLT Quinoa Salad
* I cooked my quinoa in chicken broth to add more flavor
* I added drained, rinsed black beans
* I tossed my salad with a little bit of olive oil, along with the lemon juice and vinegar

Here is the recipe for Lemon-Cornmeal Cookies
* I added the juice of 1 lemon to the cookie dough, after mixing in the flour mixture

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lemon Chicken Soup & Pea Pesto Crostini

Every once in a while I will watch a cooking show and one of my children with beg me to make the dishes that are being showcased. Or, one of them will say, "I bet you can't make that!"

I don't remember if this meal fell into either of those categories, but I do remember seeing this meal being made and really wanting to try the cake that went along with it. I didn't end up making the cake (mostly because we don't eat dessert every day, so I don't let myself bake everyday), but the rest of the meal came together quickly. I used some chicken that I had poached myself a few days earlier and also used celery and peas, since I was out of carrots. I used whole wheat thin spaghetti for the noodles and my kids really liked this dinner. Nothing too spectacular, but an easy, quick meal that was simple enough to prepare using things that I had on hand.

Here is the recipe for Lemon Chicken Soup with Spaghetti
* I kinda did my own thing with this recipe just because it was so basic I didn't really feel like I needed directions
* I used celery and peas instead of carrots (simply because I ran out of carrots)
* I used poached chicken that I had cooked myself

Here is the recipe for Pea Pesto Crostini
* I used a little less olive oil than called for

Monday, September 19, 2011

Colorful Lentil Salad with Rainbow Chard

The swiss chard in my garden is still doing really well and I wanted to make something really delicious with the bunch I picked recently. I wanted to use lentils and found a beautiful picture of a dish that combined the 2 ingredients I had been thinking about. I served this on the same night that we had the Panko Crusted Salmon. I think that salmon and lentils really compliment each other and these 2 dishes definitely made for a great dinner. We also had a fennel/celery salad.

If you can't find Pomegranate Molasses anywhere or it is too expensive, don't forget that you can make it yourself- Here is the post when I first made it a couple of years ago.

Here is the recipe for Colorful Lentil Salad
* I didn't use the sundried tomatoes
* I sauteed my swiss chard (stems included) with the onions and bell peppers, adding it after the onions and bell peppers had softened a bit
* I used less olive oil for the dressing and the sauteing
* I used a little bit of red wine vinegar instead of steeping liquid in the dressing

Friday, September 16, 2011

Panko Crusted Salmon

My husband came home from work the other night with wild caught salmon from Alaska. He explained that one of his patients had gone on a fishing trip and decided to share the catch. He handed me a bag that contained vacuum packed servings of the beautiful salmon and I tried to keep from jumping up and down with excitement.
Salmon can get a little bit pricey sometimes, so I was more than grateful for this lovely gift.

I have been wanting to try this particular recipe for quite a while, but salmon has been too expensive. This recipe is so easy, but so delicious. A few ingredients really gave this salmon great flavor. You mix panko crumbs, lemon zest, fresh parsley, and a little salt and pepper and then brush the salmon with dijon mustard. The panko mixture is pressed onto the salmon and it is cooked for a few minutes in a little bit of hot oil. The salmon is than transferred to the oven where finishes cooking to perfection. My entire family loved this dish. It was soo good.

Panko Crusted Salmon from The Barefoot Contessa's How East Is That?
2/3 cup panko
2 tbsp. finely minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
3-4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 (6-8 oz.) salmon fillets, skin on
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. In a small bowl, combine the panko, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly coated; set aside.

Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a work surface. Generously brush the top of each fillet with the mustard and then season with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each fillet to help the panko adhere.

Heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet. When the oil is hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3-4 minutes without turning to brown the skin.

Transfer the pan to the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until the salmon is almost cooked through and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes. Serve warm with fresh lemon wedges.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recipes from The Help Book Club Meeting

I'm guessing that a large number of people out there have read The Help. And maybe you have also seen the movie. My sister bought me a copy of the book over a year ago and I read it from front to back in a little less than 6 hours. It was a great read and a very enjoyable book.

Our local Book Club recently discussed this book and I was hosting, so I was in charge of the refreshments. I am not a Southerner and I don't claim to know how to cook like one, but I chose recipes that were "traditional" Southern recipes and used them to help with our evening. I tried to choose food that had at least been mentioned in the book and most of these were also shown in the movie.

Chocolate Pie was an absolute must. I found a recipe from the author online and used that. It was one that her maid, Demetrie used to make for her. The recipe stated that you could use a graham cracker crust or a pie crust, so I made both. I used Dorie's recipe for the pie crust because it is the easiest and best one I have ever made. This filling reminded me of a mild chocolate pudding. I topped both of them with sweetened whipped cream.

These cheese crackers are originally from the Lee Brothers and I have made them before, but in a different shape.
A basic chicken salad that I served in little phyllo cups and also with crackers.
I made a caramel cake, but as you can see from the plate it is on, it was a messy experience, and I wasn't really sure if I was going to share these recipes or not, so I didn't get a great picture of it. Fun frosting. Very fun. (I have an alternate caramel frosting recipe linked up below if the original one scares you).

And of course, deviled eggs.

It was a great night!

Here is the recipe for Demetrie's Chocolate Pie

Here is the recipe for Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans
* I used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
* I used fat free mayo

Here is the recipe for Traditional Southern Deviled Eggs
*I used fat free mayo

Here is the recipe for Caramel Cake
and here is an optional quick Caramel Frosting

Here is the recipe for Cheese Crackers
* I used all white whole wheat flour

Dorie Greenspan's Good for Almost Anything pie crust

for a 9-inch single crust:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 T) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 T very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening care cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing — what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water — add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)

To roll out the dough: Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand.
You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. (I usually roll this dough out on the floured counter.) If you’re working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to life the paper, plastic or cover frequently so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases.

If you’ve got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 mins to rest and firm up.

Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.

To partially or fully bake: Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Better the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 25 mins. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. To fully bake the crust, bake until golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

S'mores Popcorn

The other day, I thought that S'mores Popcorn sounded like a fun treat and of course, if I thought of it, that definitely means someone else out there has thought of it too. I googled the idea and found a recipe/idea that I wanted to try. I decided to pop my own popcorn on the stove (because that is what I do these days) and buy a box of Golden Grahams, so that we could try this yummy treat.

I decided to make ours kinda like Rice Krispy Treats, but with popcorn instead of rice krispies. I melted the marshmallows with a tiny bit of butter and then mixed in the popcorn and Golden Grahams. I spread that mixture out on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and then spread melted chocolate on top. The result was a very interesting, chewy, chocolate-y, popcorn treat. Fun for kids and adults!

Here is the recipe for S'mores Popcorn
* I popped my own popcorn on the stove
*I melted my marshmallows with 2 Tbls of butter and then mixed in the golden grahams and popcorn

Monday, September 12, 2011

Grilled Baby Bok Choy

I saw these cute little Baby Bok Choy's at Trader Joes a couple of weeks ago and remembered a fun recipe I had seen recently, so I bought these little guys immediately. I have an indoor grill that I can use anytime of year and that is what I used to grill these. They only take a few minutes on each side to become nice and tender and then you drizzle a delicious vinaigrette over top. My kids decided this was a dish that did not require silverware and happily ate these with their fingers. If you spot Baby Bok Choy at a local farmers market or grocery store, buy them and give this recipe a try!

Here is the recipe for Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Asian Sesame Vinaigrette from Aggie's Kitchen

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club- Fig Swirl Coffee Cake

I'm late! I'm late! Better late than never though, so I present to you the Fig Swirl Coffee Cake that I made for this month's Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club.
Jamie was our host this month and she chose the theme Breakfast for Dinner. We were able to choose any breakfast food from Cooking Light and here is what everyone came up with.

Jerry started us off with Fig and Nut Breakfast Cookies,
Roz added a wonderful Hash Brown Casserole with Bacon, Onions, and Cheese,
Sandi brought Grits Souffle,

Val decided on Blueberry and Maple-Pecan Granola Parfaits.

I have had my eye on this Fig-Swirl Coffeecake for quite some time and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to make this beautiful creation. A yeast dough is filled with a fig/orange juice combination and then it is rolled up and cut and carefully placed in a beautiful shape. It is a delightful combination. Because it is a yeast dough, it does have to rest and rise a couple of times, so be sure to plan that time in if you want to serve this for breakfast.

Make sure you check out all the delicious recipes that were made for this Breakfast for Dinner!

Here is the recipe for Fig Swirl Coffee Cake

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Giada's Pizza Pot Pie

A couple of weeks ago, my kids helped me make a variation of these Mini Chicken Pot Pies.
I don't think they have ever really had chicken pot pie or any kind of pot pie that they could remember, so it got them interested in the whole idea of a pot pie.

When I was asking my family members for suggestions for the weekly menu, someone of course wanted pizza, so I found this recipe and thought it would be a fun twist. The sauce starts out with some pancetta and fresh rosemary and the filling contains cubes of mozzarella cheese, chicken, and broccoli. It was fun for us to eat these for dinner because everyone had their own individual little ramekin to enjoy. The one pictured above was the one that we made for Dad, so it was bigger than the others.

Here is the recipe for Pizza Pot Pies

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Mustard Vinaigrette

I first made this salad a few years ago and it was an absolute hit. I made it for my family, made it for potluck dinners, made it for company, and shared the recipe with friends. It takes everything that is delicious about a cheeseburger and makes it even more delicious.

You make little burgers, along with a delicious mustard vinaigrette and they are layered on a bed of romaine, cherry tomatoes (I still have some growing in my garden!), and sliced dill pickles. My whole family loves this one, even me.

Here is the recipe for Mini Cheeseburger Salad with Yellow Mustard Vinaigrette
* I used mild cheddar to top my mini cheeseburgers
* I used ground sirloin for the burgers