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Jan. 29th, 2011

hard at work

Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Scones


Chocolate Chip Scones
1/2 cup currants, chopped (I used dried currants)
2 tablespoons water
3 cups low-fat baking mix (eg Bisquick)
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, chilled & cut into small pieces
2/3 cup fat-free half&half
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate mini-chips
1 large egg, separated
1 tablespoon fat-free half&half
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine 1/2 cup currants and 2 tablespoons water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds. Cool 10 minutes (do not drain). Combine baking mix, 1/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut in butter with 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add currants, 2/3 cup half-and-half, chips, and egg white; stir until just moist. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto a foil-lined baking sheet; place pan in freezer 5 minutes. Combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon half-and-half; brush over tops and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on a rack. Combine powdered sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons water; drizzle over scones.

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011 issue, recipe can be found here.
hard at work

Appetizer: Spicy Goat Chese Dip


Spicy Goat Cheese Dip
1/2 cup (4 ounces) goat cheese
1/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (I used Cayenne)
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
Veggies, bread, or crackers to accompany dip

Combine first 5 ingredients and 1 teaspoon paprika in a medium bowl; mash with a fork until smooth. Top each endive leaf with about 1 teaspoon cheese mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon paprika evenly over cheese mixture.

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011 issue

Jan. 28th, 2011

baker boy

Snack or Breakfast: Granola

When attempting to find a granola recipe online, if you're like me, you'll be daunted by the unlimited variations. I've made several different recipes, and when it comes down to it, there are 5 things are incorporated into every recipe, but will vary from one type of granola to the next::
1. the base: oats. sometimes supplemented with flour, ground seeds, etc
2. your choice of nuts and/or seeds (although it can be omitted to your liking)
3 your choice of dried fruits (although it can be omitted to your liking)
4. "binding": in the way of syrup, oil, honey, etc
5. the appropriate cooking temperature and time

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashew pieces
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup mixed dried berries (cherries, cranberries, apricot)
3/4 cup ground flax seed

In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts, coconut and flax seed. In small bowl, mix syrup, oil, salt, and vanilla. Slowly blend wet and dry mixture. Spread evenly among 2 large pans. Bake at 250 for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to avoid burning.
Remove from oven, add berries, and mix thoroughly. Let cool.

Recipe adapted from the food network's Alton Brown recipe. I forgot the brown sugar, but didn't even notice until right now, so it's really not necessary. I added ground flax seed just for the heck of it :)

How I like to enjoy my granola, with Brown Cow yogurt & fresh fruit:

i love crab so much

Special Ingredient: Nutritional Yeast

Believe it or not, I used to be a vegan hippie. One of the lesser known ingredients that vegans often consume is nutritional yeast. Somewhere along the years, I dropped veganism and never purchased n. yeast again. Until the other night, when I had an awesome dream about spreading nutritional yeast on a slice of toast, just as I did in my poor college days.  So, today when I was at the supermarket I picked up some nutritional yeast, to see if I would still love it. And, I do.

According to wikipedia: Nutritional yeast, similar to brewer's yeast, is a deactivated yeast. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment. It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium. Some brands of nutritional yeast, though not all, are fortified with vitamin B12. The vitamin B12 is produced separately from bacteria and then added to the yeast. Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes.

This is how I enjoy my nutritional yeast:::


left: the yeast as it comes from the store
back right: olive oil
front right: mixture of oil:yeast at about 1:1

Whisk together yeast & olive oil to your liking, then spread on freshly toasted bread.

How do you enjoy your yeast?

Jan. 27th, 2011


Dessert: Chocolate Almond Cookies


Almond Butter Cookies with Miniature Chocolate Chips
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 c brown sugar
1 c granulated sugar
1 c almond butter
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup chocolate chip minis
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Beat butter until creamy. Add sugars beating until fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Scrap the bowl as necessary. Beat in almond butter until incorporated. Beat in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. Gently stir in the dry ingredients (I switched to the paddle on my kitchen aid mixer). Add chocolate chips and almonds and stir until just incorporated.
Roll cookies into 2 Tbs sized balls. Place on baking sheets and press each ball twice with a fork to make a crisscross design. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Edges should be slightly browned and the cookies puffed. Cool on sheets for 4 minutes before transferring to a cookie cooling rack.

Adapted from a goodlifeeats.com recipe.

hard at work

Dinner: Ethiopian Stew


Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew
2 tsp canola oil
2 cups chopped red onion (I used one medium sized onion)
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons Berbere spice** (recipe below)
3 cups organic vegetable broth (I ended up using closer to 6 cups)
1 cup dried small red lentils
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro for garnish
hot cooked basmati rice

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, cook 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add ginger and garlic, cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and Berbere spice; cook 1 minute, stirring to combine. Gradually add broth, stirring with a wisk until blended. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer.
Rinse lentils in cold water & drain. Add lentils to broth mixture; simmer, partially covered, 35 minutes or until lentisl are tender, stirring occaionally (this is where I ended up adding extra water, this will vary depending on how thick you want your stew). Stir in salt, sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup lentils + 1 cup of rice); calories per serving 454, fat 3.9g

**Berbere spice recipe
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp all spice
1 tsp corriandor
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp black peper
4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Add ingredients together, if any are whole, grind in spice grinder. Mix thoroughly, store air tight.

Ethiopian Stew from Cooking Light, May 2010
Berbere spice recipe adapted from cyber-kitchen.com


Jan. 25th, 2011

apple pie

Dessert: Graham Cracker Cookies

Maple Graham Crisps
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 1/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs (about 20 squares)
1 cup all-purpose flour

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy; then beat in egg and syrup. Gradually add graham cracker crumbs and flour, blending thoroughly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour).
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart. (Keep any remaining dough refrigerated until you're ready to use it). Bake at 325 for 16-18 minutes or until firm when lightly touched. Let cool on baking sheets for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to racks and let cook completely.

Alternative: add mini chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or chopped nuts to batter. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls and bake for 16-18 minutes at 325. (no pics provided, but I did chocolate & peanut butter chips and they were a hit!).

From Sunset Cookie Cookbook, 1985

Jan. 22nd, 2011

hard at work

Dinner: Home-Made Noodles with Salmon


Home-made noodles with all-purpose flour
2 cups flour
2 large eggs
3-6 tablespoons flour
additional flour for kneading, rolling, and cutting

Mound flour on a work station (bowl, or cutting board is fine) & make a deep well in the center. Break eggs into well. With a fork, beat eggs lightly and stir in 2 tablespoons of the water. Using a circular motion, begin to draw flour from sides of well. Add 1 more tablespoon of water and continue mixing until flour is moistened. If necessary, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. When dough becomes stiff, use your hands to finish mixing. Pat dough into a ball and knead a few times to hep flour absorb liquid. (Note: when I did this, I had trouble getting all of the flour to incorporate. I ended up using probably 3/4 of the original 2 cups of flour, because I wasn't sure if I could keep adding water after it was a ball. My noodles came out great, but they may have been denser than if I had used all the flour. I guess, practice will make perfect!)
Clean & lightly flour the work surface. Sprinkle dough with flour, if needed. Knead by hand for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Cover and let dough rest for 20 minutes.
Roll out 1/4 of the dough at a time to desired thinness. Keep unrolled portion covered. When all dough is rolled, cut strips into desired shapes (to do this, fold dough several times like a jelly roll, cut). Yield of hand-rolled noodles may vary, but about 4 cups is usual.

Noodles with Cabbage

1 recipe all-purpose pasta or 8 ounces packaged wide noodles
1 tsp salt
4 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 a head--I would recommend doubling this, in hindsight)
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cut fresh pasta into wide noodle.
Sprinkle salt over cabbage, toss lightly, and let stand for 30 minutes. Squeeze cabbage to release liquid; discard liquid. Melt butter in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, caraway seeds, sugar, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender (about 5 minutes). Keep warm.
Cook noodles in a large kettle of boiling salted water until al dente (1-2 minutes for fresh noodles). Drain, then toss with cabbage mixture before serving. Makes 6 servings

Pan-roasted salmon fillets

5 oz salmon fillets (however many you'd like)
lemon juice

Lay salmon fillets in a baking dish in a single layer, skin side up. Squeeze fresh lemon juice evenly over them & salt to your liking. Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450. In a large ovenproof nonstick sate pan, heat olive oil over high heat. Add the fillets, skin side down. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the skin is very crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the saute pan to the oven and bake the fillets until the flesh is opaque on he outside by still slightly translucent in the center. Remove from the oven and transfer to a warm platter. Serve with fresh lemon to taste.

Home-made noodle recipe & noodles with cabbage recipe taken from the Sunset Pasta Cookbook, copyright 1980
Pan-roasted salmon fillet recipe adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Fish Cookbook, copyright 2002
Both cookbooks highly recommended!!


Dessert: Fruit Tart

(I'm aware these pictures don't do it justice, I'm sorry... but this dessert got rave reviews & I highly recommend it!)

Strawberry-Almond Cream Tart
9 sheets of honey graham crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 teaspoons water
cooking spray
2/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
6 cups fresh strawberries --> I used I pint fresh (about 1.25 cups) and 1 bag frozen (about 4 cups) because strawberries are expensive right now!
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350.
To prepare crust, place crackers in food processor and process until crumbly. Add sugar, butter and water, pulse until just moist. Put in 9-inch tart pan that has been lightly coated with cooking pray, pressing into bottom and up sides of pan to 3/4 inch. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla & almond extracts in a bowl; stir until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of tart shell. To prepare topping, place 2 cups of thawed (previously frozen) strawberries in a food processor, process until smooth. Combine strawberry puree, sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan over medium heat; stir with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to low; cook 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Combine the remaining strawberries and juice; toss to coat. Arrange berries, bottoms up, in a circular pattern over filling. Spoon half of glaze evenly over berries (reserve remaining glaze for topping after serving pie). Cover and chill 3 hours.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size, 1 wedge). Calories per serving: 235, fat: 7.8g

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, May 2010 edition


Jan. 17th, 2011

hard at work

Dessert: Cookies


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup mini peanut butter cups (from Sprouts, see note below)

Cream butter & peanut butter. Add sugars, then eggs & vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine four, cocoa, and soda. Slowly bend flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in chips and peanut butter cups. Either drop by rounded tablespoons or roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. You may roll the balls into granulated sugar, to your liking (I did this for some of the ones pictured). Bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes, let cool on cooking sheet for at least 2 minutes after taking them out of the oven. Makes about 3 dozen.

I found mini chocolate peanut butter cups at Sprouts grocery & thought they would be fun to use in cookies. To my dismay, you really couldn't even tell the cups were in these cookies, so I don't recommend you go out and find them. You can use regular sized peanut butter cups, freeze them for about 10 minutes, and then chop them into chunks as used in the recipe I adapted this from.

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