Monday, June 30, 2008

Vanilla Ice Cream with Grilled Pineapple, Honey and Lime


One of my favorite things on the grill is pineapple. I know, it may sound strange, but you can’t judge until you’ve tried it. It’s amazing! It caramelizes so well, and it’s so fresh and juicy…there’s nothing like it! I remember back in the day watching a Rachael Ray episode where she put honey and lime zest on pineapple, and it looked so good. I had some limes around, and JJ and I have been on a honey kick lately, so I decided to make some vanilla ice cream and eat it with the grilled pineapple. The mix of hot and cold and sweet and tart was outstanding! It might be my new favorite summer dessert.




Vanilla Ice Cream with Grilled Pineapple, Honey and Lime

2 c. vanilla ice cream

6 pineapple spears

Zest of 1 lime

2 tbsp. honey

Grill pineapple for 2 mins. Per side on a well oiled grill or nonstick grill pan.

Scoop in ice cream, drizzle with honey and lime. Serve immediately.

Baked Farfalle Florentine


This weekend, JJ had to work 7am-10pm both days. Being the lovely wife I am, I brought lunch and dinner up to him both days (I also wanted to see him). He's the camp manager at the schools, and this weekend was men's basketball. Now, many people won't care, but we ate out meals in a press box in Assembly Hall both days!
For one night's dinner, I decided to make him baked ziti - but not really. Baked ziti is a perfect meal to bring to a pot luck or to give to someone who is sick or just had a baby, it freezes well, bakes off well, and is very easy to transport! I baked it off, packed up the casserole dish in a heat pack, and it tasted great!
I'm always trying to find ways to get more veggies in, so I made this florentine by adding a box of frozen chopped spinach. I also use lots of veggies in my marinara. You could easily add meatballs or sliced sausage to make this a full meal. We like ours extra saucy, if you plan to bake it longer or it's going to sit, make it extra saucy!


Baked Farfalle Florentine



1/2 lb. Farfalle or any other shot cut pasta
2 c. marinara (homemade or jarred)
1 c. part skim ricotta
1 box defrosted, drained spinach
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 c. parmesan cheese, shredded
Chopped fresh herbs of choice (oregano, basil, parsley)
Crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop in pasta and cook to al dente.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Drain the pasta, pour back into the pot. Add the sauce, ricotta, half the cheeses, herbs, red pepper, salt and pepper. Taste for seasonings. Pour into casserole, top with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 30+ minutes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rice and Garbanzo Beans

Tonight we had another Cuban dish for dinner. I've had many variations of rice and beans, but never with garbanzo beans. They were really good! They have a much different texture than a black bean or kidney, they have a nice bite to them. I used a poblano instead of a green bell pepper, and smoked paprika instead of Spanish, so this dish had a nice bit of spice to it. Next time, I might add some sour cream or monterey jack cheese on top just for a little something extra. It was very warm and comforting, definitely something i'll make again.


Rice and Garbanzo Beans

1 lb. garbanzo beans
2 c. diced onions
1 c. diced red pepper
1 c. diced green pepper
½ c. EVOO
6 garlic cloves
2 c. parboiled rice (I used fair trade organic brown basmati)
½ tsp. Bijol powder
3 c. chicken stock
½ c. white wine
1 chorizo link, diced (omitted)
½ c. tomato puree
1 tsp. Spanish paprika
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 c. diced roma tomatoes

Sautee onion, red and green peppers in EVOO over low until onions are translucent.
Add garlic and chorizo, cook a few more minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, except fresh roma tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce to low, simmer for 20-30 minutes until rice is cooked.
Fluff rice, top with tomatoes.

Kris and Padma!



My sister was at a work conference in NYC last week, and Padma Lakshmi did a book signing! She got her new cookbook for me, signed and all, but I have to wait until Christmas to get it!!! Everyone comment on her blog - www.greenkristine.blogspot.com, and tell her to give it to me now!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Angie's Famous Strawberry Cupcakes!


Today is one of my co-worker's birthdays. I wanted to make something for her out of ingredients I had on hand. One of my other co-workers suggested strawberry cupcakes. Luckily, I had some strawberries that weren't very ripe, so baking with them didn't bother me!
I'd been meaning to try out this recipe from Katie because she raves about it! I didn't make the icing because I had some leftover buttercream in the freezer, but next time I'll for sure try hers out. These little cupcakes were a big hit!


Angie's Famous Strawberry Cupcakes

Ingredients:
2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sugar (or a little less)
2 eggs
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c. chopped strawberries

1/4 c. strawberries
1 Tbsp. strawberry liquor
1/2 tsp lemon juice
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 cupcake pans.
-Sift flour, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl.
-In bowl of mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
-Add eggs one at a time until combined.
-Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla until combined.
-Add flour mixture and stir until just combined.
-Fold in berries.
-Fill cupcake pans 3/4 way.
-Bake for 20 minutes.
-For frosting, put berries, liquor, and juice in saucepan.
-Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce to a simmer for 5 mins.
-Let cool then blend until smooth.
-In bowl of mixer mix cream cheese and butter until creamy.
-Add sugar, then vanilla.
-Add berry puree until smooth.
-Frost cupcakes when they are completely cooled.



While slicing the strawberries last night, I though to myself there's got to be an easier way to slice a ton of strawberries... then I though - egg slicer!!! It worked perfectly! The slices all came out even and equal! I sliced once, then rotated and sliced again and they were the perfect little chunks!




My Green Thumb!

Living in a townhouse puts a damper on my gardening plans! I thought I'd at least give it a try though! I bought some pots, organic potting soil, and organic plants, and planted them a few weeks ago. Yesterday afternoon when I watered them, I found a few baby veggies growing! I am so excited to see that I actually might have a harvest :)
I always thought my dad, grandpa, and now my sister, were all a little weird because they're constantly watching over their gardens... but no judgement anymore. I sat outside and looked at my 10 little plants for half an hour yesterday!
Now if only I could get Pumpkin to stop knocking them over!
I can't wait to start cooking with the plants I grew...
2 mr. stripey tomatoes
2 grape tomatoes
2 jalapenos
2 okra
1 poblano pepper
1 green bell pepper



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mixed Berry Cobbler




This week's TWD recipe is Mixed Berry Cobbler, chosen by Beth. I really enjoyed this cobbler. I thought it really showcased the fruit. Since berries are still a bit pricey here, I used peaches to help bulk up the fruit. I also used half whole wheat and half AP flour for the biscuit topper.



Monday, June 23, 2008

Pizza Cubana Blanca


When I saw this pizza, I knew for sure it was going to be on the menu. I love cilantro pesto, which is the base for this pizza. I also love poblanos and gouda. There was nothing about this pizza I didn't love! The only thing I did differently was use less cheese, only gouda, and I made a mixed whole wheat crust rather than white flour.

Pizza Cubana Blanca

Pesto Sauce:
1 tbsp. lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
¾ c. EVOO (I used 2 tbsp. EVOO and veggie stock)
¼ c. pine nuts
1 ½ c. cilantro
1 c. Parmesan cheese (I used 1/2 c.)
Ground black pepper


Toppings:
4 poblanos (I used 3)
6 roma tomatoes (I used 2)
1 c. gouda
1 c. mozzarella (omitted)


Dough:
1 tbsp. sugar (I used organic light brown)
1 package yeast
3/4 c. warm water
2 ½ c. flour (I used 1 c. whole wheat, 1 c. AP)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. EVOO

In a stand mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Let it sit 10 minutes until yeast blooms. Using the dough hook, begin to mix. Add salt, EVOO and flours. Knead for 5-10 minutes, until elastic. If dough it sticky, add more flour 1 tbsp. at a time.
Cover loosely with a damp towel and let it rise for an hour.

Turn broiler on high.
Punch down dough and set aside.
Cut poblanos in half, lay skin side up on a cookie sheet. Broil for 6-8 minutes, until skin is charred black. Remove from the oven, place in a tight sealing container and let sit for 10 minutes.
Turn oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare pesto by mixing all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Shred gouda, set aside.
Slice tomatoes, set aside.
Stretch dough out all over pizza pan. Spread pesto over dough.
Take poblanos out of container, strip off skin. Slice and place over pesto. Top with tomatoes and gouda.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Avocado Salad



I love to eat a salad with pizza to help balance the meal. I was browsing through the Cuban cook book and found this salad. I decided to serve it over a bed of mixed greens to bulk it up. I also added some cilantro to the dressing to tie in the flavors. It was very simple, yet refreshing!


Avocado Salad

4 c. mixed greens (added by me)
2 c. diced red pepper
2 c. avocado, sliced
½ c. red onion
Salt and pepper


Dressing:
½ c. EVOO
½ c. lime juice
½ tsp. cumin
Pepper
1/4 c. cilantro (added by me)

Blend dressing ingredients. Set aside.
Arrange salad, pour on dressing.

Three Guys from Miami Celebrate Cuban, Glenn Lindgren. Gibbs Smith, Layton, 2006.

California Treats!

Today's NASCAR race is in Sonoma, CA. I had already decided to make pasta, but I wanted to make a little platter to snack on during the day. I went to the market and looked for some items that were all from California, and that would be great with a glass of red wine (also from Napa). I found dried figs from San Diego, Real California Cheese - Stilton with Blueberries, some Olives and Almonds. I served it on a beautiful cutting board that was handmade for us, given to us for our wedding. It's simple, delicious, and very California!

Fresh Chive Pasta

I have been wanting to make fresh pasta for a long time. It's something that is very easy to do, but makes a huge impression! The taste is also out of this world! I'm very excited that I know how, because I plan to make different kinds weekly from now on!
This week I decided to make it with chives because they were growing nicely in my aerogarden.


The basic recipe is 3/4 c. flour to every egg you use. If vegetable puree is used to flavor the pasta, more flour will be needed. It can be made eggless with EVOO, and I plan to try subbing in whole wheat pasta next week.


First, make a well in the center of the flour. Add eggs and any add-ins. Whisk the eggs and pull in flour until it's incorporated, then knead with hands until mixed. If dry, add water, if wet, add more flour. Let the pasta sit for 15 minutes covered by a damp towel. Next, divide the dough into a few pieces. Flatten it a bit, and run it through the pasta roller on the largest setting, fold over, and run through again, getting smaller and smaller as you go.


Run pasta through the cutter.


Lay pasta out and toss with flour. Let it dry out for another 15 minutes. Cook right away in boiling water for 3 minutes, or refrigerate for no more than a day.

If refrigerated, be sure to seperate the pasta before cooking. Also, toss with a bit of extra flour before placing in a tupperware dish.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chilie Rubbed Grilled Sweet Potato Lollipops


This was another of Bobby Flay's creations in the Throwdown battle. I love mixing spicy with sweet, so I knew these would be delicious! The original recipe is found here, with a viniagrette, but we are ours dry (JJ put on a little butter).

Chilie Rubbed Grilled Sweet Potato Lollipops

6 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon
fresh ground black pepper
4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, par-cooked and slice into 1-inch thick slices, skin left on
Canola oil (omitted)
Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish (omitted)
Special equipment: 6-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes


Steam the potato slices for 15 minutes, until tender. Skewer and lay on a plate.
Whisk seasonings in a small bowl, sprinkle all over the potatoes, flip and sprinkle over the other side.
Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until seasonings form a crust.

Grilled Corn with Cilantro Butter


I saw Bobby Flay make corn lollipops on Throwdown a few weeks ago, and JJ's been begging for grilled corn ever since. I looked up his recipe, and found that his butter contained cilantro and chipotles in adobo, so I didn't make exactly his recipe, which can be found here. I also didn't want to cut the corn, so I grilled it whole. At first I wasn't sure about the cilantro butter, but it was great on the corn!

Grilled Corn with Cilantro Butter

4 ears of corn
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Steam the corn for 10 minutes. Remove from steamer, season with salt and pepper. Lay on the grill and turn every 2 minutes until browned on all sides.
While corn steams, put butter in a small microwave safe dish, melt for 15 seconds in the microwave, add cilantro, spread on the corn with a pastry brush.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Vegetable and Bean Enchiladas Verde



I used to be an avid coupon and circular shopper. Because I plan my meals ahead of time, and try to cook from each country, it gets harder to only buy what's on sale. Also, I try to buy no processed and pre-packaged food.
This week, though, I had a few great coupons and hit some sales to get refried beans, green enchilada sauce, and tortillas almost for free! I haven't had green enchilada sauce before, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm not overly impressed, it's tastes pretty watery (maybe it was just the brand), but I definitely like my homemade red sauce much better!
These enchiladas were otherwise great, the refried beans added some bulk, and there are tons of fresh veggies. I had lots of leftover veggies that wouldn't fit in the tortillas, so I had those on the side.


Vegetable and Bean Enchiladas Verde


1 8 oz. package of mushrooms, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 zucchini, julienned
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 package of whole wheat tortillas
1 can of green enchilada sauce
1 can of vegetarian refried beans
1 c. organic shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. light organic sour cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet on medium high, sautee mushrooms for 2 minutes, add peppers, onions, and zucchini. Add the spices, and toss. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until softened.
Pour1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish. Spread tortillas out, spread refried beans on the tortilla, add a bit of cheese, and vegetables. Roll up and put seam side down into casserole. Repeat until finished.
Top the enchiladas with remaining sauce and cheese.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown on top.



Thursday, June 19, 2008

Curried Peas and Potatoes

This week I am cooking 2 traditional Indian meals. I found a cookbook in the library, Vegetarian Nirvana, A Passage To North Indian Cuisine, and I fell in love with it. One of my problems with cooking Indian food is putting a whole meal together. This cookbook has 25 menus, each containing a few dishes to make a complete meal. This dish was very good, I loved the spice mixture. It was very comforting and warm, more of a wintery dish.
I was lucky to find garam masala in the bulk spice bins, so I could get 2 tsp. for 50 cents. I don't use garam masala often, so it's a great buy for me!


Tariwale Alu Matar
(Curried Peas and Potatoes)

4 tbsp. EVOO (I used 1)
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. corriander
1 c. tomatoes (I used canned organic diced)
3-4 medium potatoes, diced
3 c. peas
2 c. water
1/2 c. yogurt
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped

Heat pan to medium, add oil, ginger, and onions. Cook for 1 minute, add turmeric, cayenne, paprika, cumin, corriander, and tomatoes. Heat through for about 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, stir, and add the water. When it boils, turn to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the frozen peas, heat through.
Stir in the yogurt until creamy, add the garam masala, stir and serve with cilantro.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Frittata


JJ and I don't often have breakfast for dinner, so he was surprised when I told him we were having eggs and pancakes. Since we're eating mostly vegetarian now, eggs are a great substitute for meat dishes. I buy organic cage-free eggs.
To keep this meal very healthy, I used only 2 egg yolks, and used 2 whole peppers. I also subbed in fat free feta, which I think tastes just as good as regular.
Tip: When roasting red peppers, the more charred and black they look, the easier it is to peel off the skin layer.


Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Frittata

2 red peppers, roasted and peeled, sliced
1/4 c. crumbled fat free feta
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 tbsp. fat free half and half
Salt
Pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp. oregano

Preheat broiler to high.
Roast red peppers, steam, slice and set aside.
Mix eggs, egg whites, salt, pepper, cayenne, and oregano.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high. Spray with nonstick spray generously.
Sprinkle red pepper strips around the pan, pour in the egg mixture, and crumble the feta on top.
Cook on the stovetop for 4-5 minutes, until the bottom is set.
Put pan in the oven under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, it will brown and get very puffy. The sides will pull away from the pan.
Remove from the broiler and let it sit for a few minutes. Loosen the edges and slide onto cutting board, slice and serve.
(The puffy frittata)

Blueberry Oat Pancakes


Tonight I decided to tackle making really healthy pancakes. They were a great success, delicious, light, and very healthy. The wild blueberries made these pancakes especially delicious! I made up this recipe as I went along, so the water addition is a judgement call, I think I added about 1/4-1/2 c. It should look like average pancake batter.


Blueberry Oat Pancakes

½ c. oat flour
½ c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 egg white
½ c. skim milk
¼ - ½ c. water
½ c. wild blueberries, plus extra for topping

Turn a griddle on medium heat.
In a bowl, whisk oat flour (I use oatmeal ground in the food processor), whole wheat flour, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the egg white, milk, and 1/4 c. water. Whisk for 20 seconds, if it's thick, add some water. When it reaches desired consistency, add 1/2 c. blueberries and fold in with a spatula.
Drop onto griddle about 1/4 c. at a time. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side, flip and cook for 3 minutes. This should make about 8-10 pancakes.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vegetable and Tofu Pad Thai


After seeing Katie’s post about Pad Thai last week, I’ve been craving it. I’ve also been staring at the half used box of rice noodles in the pantry for weeks, trying to think creatively….but the creativity wasn’t there, and a craving for pad thai was!
Pad thai can be a very unhealthy meal, loaded with calories and fat. I like to make mine a little healthier by using less noodles, and more veggies. The secret to the perfect pad thai is having everything prepped and sitting on your cutting board, because the meal takes no time to come together! The vegetables should not cook for a long time, or the dish will get soupy, they should just be heated through. I like to use marinated tofu in mine, but chicken or shrimp are good substitutes.
I have tried many pad thai recipes over the years, and never found one that was perfect. This is a mixture of Alton Brown’s, Bobby Flay’s, and a few others I’ve tried.

Tofu and Vegetable Pad Thai

6 oz. rice noodles
1 tbsp. tamarind paste
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg, beaten
1 shallot, sliced
2 c. bean sprouts
1 c. shredded carrots
1 c. sugar snap peas
1 red bell pepper, sliced
½ c. sliced scallions
1 block of thai peanut marinated tofu, cubed
Peanuts, Cilantro, Lime wedges (all optional garnishes)

Bring a few cups of water to a boil, pour into a dish with noodles and let them sit for 15 minutes, until soft.
Prep all veggies, set aside.
In a small bowl, mix fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, peanut butter, and vinegar.
Heat a wok over medium-high. Add 1 tbsp. EVOO, shallot and garlic, stir fry for 30 seconds, add the beaten egg, stir until cooked. Turn to high, add the drained noodles and the sauce mixture, heat through, toss in the tofu, bean sprouts, carrots, and snap peas. Toss to heat through for no more than 3 minutes. Plate, garnish with peanuts, scallions, cilantro and lime wedges.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lowfat Cherry Mint Ice Cream


I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, and I love cherry, so I thought I'd combine the two since mint is a major Michigan product. I wasn't sure if I wanted to mince the mint and put it right in the ice cream for textural reasons, but it was actually really good!
Next time I might put in whole leaves and pull them out at the end, or steep the mint in the cream for flavor, but it was good how it was!


Low Fat Cherry Mint Ice Cream


2 c. skim milk
1/4 c. non fat 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 c. nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp. minced mint leaves
1/2 c. frozen black cherries, chopped
1/4 c. sugar or 2 tbsp. splenda sugar blend.


Mix all ingredients, add to ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes.

Cherry Balsamic Spinach Salad


I love cherries! I am so happy it's cherry season now, even though they're still a bit pricey. I love cranberry balsamic dressing, so I figured cherry would be a great substitute. This salad was simple and very delicious!


Cherry Balsamic Spinach Salad


4 cups baby spinach leaves
15 cherries, 10 halved
1/4 c . walnuts, toasted
1/4 red onion, sliced


dressing:
1/4 c. aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. EVOO
5 cherries
1/2 tsp. fresh oregano
salt and pepper


Add dressing ingredients to a blender and blend for 30 seconds until well incorporated.
Arrange salad, pour dressing over.

Whole Wheat Pita



After hearing Chelley rave about the homemade pita bread she had, I decided it would be the perfect pocket for my chicken salad. I saw she got her recipe for here, which I used because I like a mixture of whole wheat flour (1 c.), and I like using regular yeast, not instant rise.

The pita came out wonderfully, and they really are so easy to make! Please check out those 2 sites for the recipe!




Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weekly Menu 6.13-6.19

Due to major flooding in the area, power outages, and computer problems, my blog hasn't been updated much lately... However, it looks like I'm in the clear weather-wise, and the laptop is back in business! Posting should be back to normal for now!


This week's country challenge winner is: India
This week's NASCAR race is in: Michigan


On the Menu:
Michigan Apple and Chicken Salad in Homemade Wheat Pitas, Cherry Balsamic Spinach Salad, and Minty Cherry Low-fat Ice Cream
Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Frittata, Blueberry Oat Waffles
Vegetable and Bean Enchiladas Verde
Pink Lentils with Tomatoes, Green Beans with Mustard and Ginger, Naan
Tofu Pad Thai with Sugar Snap Peas
Curried Peas and Potatoes, Cabbage with Fennel and Sesame, Chapatis

Baklava


For my final Greek dish, I decided to make Baklava. This is one of my favorite desserts because I love honey! Unfortunately, I loved it so much I started hacking into the dish before it cooled, and my pieces didn't come out so beautifully - but mini muffin cups saved the day! I brought these into work and they were gone in no time!


Baklava


For the syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 (1-inch) strip lemon zest
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground cardamom


For the filling and dough:
1 pound of a combination of walnuts, pistachios and almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 pound phyllo, thawed according to package instructions


To make the syrup: Combine the sugar, honey, water, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest, cloves and cardamom in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the syrup is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and lemon zest and set syrup aside to cool.
Using a Chef's knife, finely chop the nuts. (Alternatively, if you have a food processor, pulse the nuts until finely chopped.) In a medium mixing bowl, combine the nuts, cinnamon, and salt and stir well to combine.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan.
Using a brush, lightly coat a 13 by 9-inch or 15 by 10-inch dish with some of the melted butter.
Open the package of thawed phyllo and lay the thin sheets on a clean work surface. Measure the phyllo sheets; if the type you have purchased measures approximately the same size as the baking dish you are using, then proceed from here. If they are larger than your baking dish, use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo sheets approximately the same size as your baking dish. Discard any scraps. Cover the sheets with a piece of plastic wrap and a lightly damp kitchen towel, as the sheets of phyllo dry out very quickly if left uncovered.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place 1 of the sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the buttered baking dish and lightly brush with some of the melted butter. Repeat this procedure with 6 more sheets of phyllo, for a total of 7 layers. Measure about 3/4 cup of the nut mixture and spread the nut mixture evenly over the buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat with 7 more sheets of phyllo, buttering each layer as before, and top these sheets with another 3/4 cup of the nut mixture. Continue this layering process, buttering 7 sheets of phyllo and topping each 7 sheets with 3/4 cup of the nuts, until you have used all of the nut mixture. Layer any remaining sheets of phyllo on top, buttering between each layer, until all of the phyllo sheets have been used.
Use a sharp knife to make 4 cuts lengthwise through the layered phyllo at 1 1/2 inch intervals. (You should end up with 5 lengthwise strips 1 1/2 inches wide.) Now use your knife to cut diagonally across the strips at 1 1/2-inch intervals to form diamond shapes. You should end up with approximately 36 diamond-shaped pieces of baklava in the baking dish.
Bake the baklava until golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Using oven mitts or pot holders, remove the baklava from the oven and set aside on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Using a ladle or small measuring cup, slowly drizzle the cooled syrup over the warm baklava. Allow to stand several hours before serving.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Parmesan Garlic Knots


These are one of my favorite foods to eat when I reminisce about living on Long Island when I was a child. I grew up with tons of Italian food living there, and my family often went out for pizza dinners, and of course garlic knots. These are very easy to make, and super delicious! I made a quick rise pizza dough, it was pretty good for a weeknight dinner, but I usually prefer to use regular yeast and let dough rise for an hour or so.

Parmesan Garlic Knots

1 recipe of pizza dough, stretched, and cut into strips
2 tbps. EVOO
1/4 c. shredded parmesan
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. italian seasoning mix

Prehteat oven to 400 degrees
Form dough strips into knots, brush with EVOO, sprinkle with garlic salt and spices, top with parmesan.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until brown.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Zucchini Fritters, Take 1



I wasn't thrilled with the way these turned out, so I'm going to tweak them a bit and come up with a better recipe. They were a bit mushy in the middle, next time I might add more flour or cornstarch (which is supposed to make them fluffier), and I'd be sure to let the zucchini drain for a while. I modeled these after the Keftedes we had at Lolita, which were deep fried, but much better tasting. I suppose that's why Chef Michael Symon is IRON Chef Michael Symon...ahhh so dreamy :) He'll be on Iron Chef this weekend, by the way...

I'll be sure to repost this when I figure out my changes!

Stuffed Grape Leaves

I made Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves tonight with dinner. My recipe was not so good. It was a lenten recipe, containing no animal products, and was a bit bland (even with fresh mint and oregano!), so I'll recommend you try Katie's recipe, which I'm sure is much better than the cookbook I found!

TWD #14

This week's TWD recipes is LaPalette's Strawberry Tart. I made tartelettes because they're cuter and I only wanted to make 1/4 of the recipe! I love how simple and delish this is, really highlighting the strawberry.
TWD founders have been in contact with Dorie, and it's been decided that since we have over 200 members, we won't be posting the recipes anymore. We all feel strongly that everyone should buy the cookbook. I believe that it is truly a reference tool that is timeless. There are so many classic recipes, as well as innovative recipes that Dorie should be getting monetary credit for.
In the future, if you're only looking for once recipe here or there, I can give it to you via email, but they will not be posted for Dorie's sake!


The recipe calls for creme fraiche or whipped cream, but i subbed yogurt, and it was delish!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Spanikopita, Chickpea Patties, Tzatziki


For tonight's Greek dinner, I combined 2 items that can be used as appetizers, or dinner. I used my version of my mom's Spanikopita filling recipe, and made triangles instead of a pie. I paired it with Chickpea patties, a recipe I found in a Greek cookbook. I made a few changes to speed up the cook time, like using canned not dried beans. I also dry pan fried them instead of frying them in 1" of oil. I served the patties with Tzatziki, one of my favorite condiments to eat with pita or falafel, similar to these patties. I finished this meal off with some leftover okra, not pictured.

Spanikopita Triangles, Revithokeftedes (Chickpea Patties) and Tzatziki (Yogurt Dip)

Spanikopita:
1 roll of phyllo dough, thawed, rolled out and covered with a damp towel
½ stick butter, melted or butter nonstick cooking spray
2 c. chopped spinach, drained well
1 c. cottage cheese, drained
½ c. crumbled feta
1 egg
½ tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. onion powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix spinach, cottage cheese, feta, egg and spices in a bowl.Lay phyllo out on a cutting board. Brush 1 layer with butter, add another, brush, repeat 4 times. Slice each sheet lengthwise 3 times, making 3 long strips. Plate a spoonful of spinach mixture into the end, fold over to form a triangle, continue folding until you reach the end of the dough.
Place seam side down on a baking sheet. Continue until you’ve made all the triangles.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Revithokeftedes:
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained, mashed in the can
1 yellow onion, minced
3 sprigs of green onion, minced
salt and pepper
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 tbsp. fresh chopped mint
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Olive oil or nonstick spray

In a large nonstick skillet over medium low, sautee' onions and scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
While onions cook, add mashed chickpeas, cornstarch, mint, and oregano to a bowl. Add onion mixture, toss.
Heat the same nonstick skillet to medium-high. Spray with nonstick spray or drizzle with EVOO. Drop mixture into 4 patties in the pan. Cook for 6 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
Serve with Tzatziki
Recipe derived from The Foods of the Greek Islands, Aglaia Kremezi. Houghlin Mifflin: NY, 2003.


Tzatziki:
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. minced cucumber
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. minced dill
1 tbsp. minced parsley
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix all ingredients, taste for seasoning. Serve with Chickpea patties.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Antipasto, Mom's Way


Today's NASCAR race is in Pocono, PA. I did some research, and found no specific dishes from Pocono, PA. I asked my friend Trish if PA had any specific dishes, and she couldn't come up with anything either! So I did a little research and found out Stromboli is a PA favorite. I love pairing Italian dishes with Antipasto. I've seen antipasto made many ways, some as just meat and cheese, some with salad, some inbetween. I decided to make it the way my mom makes hers, mainly as a salad, with some pickled veggies on top, and meat and cheese.

Antipasto, Mom's Way

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
1/4 english cucumber, sliced
mozzarella balls
assorted olives
assorted mini pickled veggies
roasted peppers
italian meats

Greece #1 - Moussaka & Okra




So it's not so pretty, but it's DELICIOUS!!!
This week I am cooking from Greece, which was voted #1 for June!
When I was in college, I watched Take Home Chef every day before my night class. I remember Curtis made Moussaka once, and it looked amazing. I kept it in the back of my mind, but never got around to making it. Then, Greece was voted #1 and I knew it was my chance! This is a delicious dish to make, like a cross between lasagna and eggplant parm. The sauce is delish, spiced with a few things that make you wonder...
I was too lazy to type up the recipe from the cookbook I used, however it's pretty much the same as FN Kitchen's recipe found here.
While reading my cookbooks, I also found many recipes with okra. One that caught my eye was simple okra with a tomato sauce, similar to the one in Moussaka. I decided to make the okra and just top it with a little of the moussaka sauce rather than make another sauce.
I served this with polenta because I've been on a polenta kick lately, and I like how the softness of the polenta pairs with the eggplant.
Please enjoy my first night of Greek food!

Moussaka, Okra and Polenta

EGGPLANT
2 large eggplants (about 2 3/4 pounds), unpeeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

MEAT SAUCE
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef (I used Morningstar farms Crumbles)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf

CUSTARD SAUCE
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano

Bake the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the oil and lay on 2 small or 1 large foil-lined bakeing sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake until the eggplant is soft, about 25 minutes. Set aside covered.
Make the meat sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beef, oregano, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon. Break the meat up into small pieces and season with the 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until just cooked but still slightly pink inside, about 1 minute more. Add the tomato and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook until the sauce is thickened and fragrant, about 20 minutes.
Make the custard sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk, salt, and nutmeg. Return to the heat and while whisking constantly, bring to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and stir to cool. When the sauce is cool, whisk in the egg and yolks.
Assemble the moussaka. Lower the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a 9 x 13 x 2-inch casserole dish with the oil. Scatter the breadcrumbs over the bottom of the pan. Lay half of the eggplant in the pan, overlapping the slices if needed. Cover with half of the meat sauce and smooth with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining eggplant and meat sauce. Pour the custard sauce over the layered mixture and smooth with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with the Pecorino Romano and bake, uncovered, until lightly browned and the custard is set, about 1 hour.
Remove the moussaka from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to serve.

Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese, BBQ Succotash


Tonight I had planned on making rice bowls, but I was not at all in the mood for rice. I was, however, in the mood for mac and cheese, but I also needed to use up all my veggies! We had some goat cheese and cheddar cheese in the fridge, so I settled on that for the mac and cheese. I asked JJ if he wanted tex-mex succotash, or bbq succotash, and he said BBQ. So, here's what I came up with.

Creamy Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese
BBQ Succotash

Mac and Cheese:
1/3 lb. whole wheat penne
Salt
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese
2 oz. goat cheese
Salt and Pepper
Thyme

Bring pot of water to a boil, drop pasta and cook to al dente.
In a medium saucepot, melt butter, add flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in milk, bring to a gentle bubble, add cheese and season.
Drain pasta, add to cheese sauce, mix and serve.

BBQ Succotash:
1 red bell pepper
2 small zucchini
1 red onion
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1/2 15 oz. can black beans
1/4 c. Stick Fingers Carolina Style BBQ Sauce

In a large nonstick skillet on medium, cook bell pepper, zucchini and onion. Season with salt and pepper, and sweat out veggies for 10 minutes. Add corn, black beans and sauce, gently fold in, heat through and serve.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Creamy Spinach Stuffed Portabellos


This week's dinner schedule got changed around a bit due to some flooding, power outages, and having to eat out. I had to combine 2 nights dinners and use as much produce as possible before it went bad. I made sour cream and chive baked potatoes, garlic parmesan broccoli, and stuffed portabellos for tonight. The sides are basic and don't need recipes, just the porabella does.


Creamy Spinach Stuffed Portabellos

2 portabello caps
1 large sack of spinach, wilted and drained
1 tbsp. light butter
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 c. bread crumbs
Garlic salt and pepper

Turn oven to broil, high.
Scoop gills and stem out of portabellas. Place gill side down into a skillet on medium high.
In another skillet, melt butter, add flour, cook until no longer raw, whisk in milk. Bring to a bubble, add most of the cheese, gently stir in spinach. Turn heat off.
Place portabellas gill side up on a baking sheet. Spoon in spinach mixture, top with bread crumbs and cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes.

Raspberry Chip Fro Yo


One of Cincinnati's claims to fame is Graeter's Ice Cream. They have an amazing flavor, Rasberry Chip, Chocolate Ice cream with giant chocolate chunks and raspberries. I love it, but it's very high in fat and calories. I decided to give it a try in my frozen yogurt maker. I might tweak it a bit next time, but it was very good!

Raspberry Chip Frozen Yogurt

1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 c. splenda-sugar blend
1/2 c. skim milk
1 1/2 c. nonfat vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp. mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. frozen raspberries

Whisk cocoa powder, sugar, and milk in a bowl until combined. Add yogurt, fold in to combine. Add to ice cream maker, churn for 25 minutes. Add raspberries and chocolate chips. Gently fold in, serve.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt


My husband and I have become Fro Yo snobs, because we only like fresh. Almost every night, I churn out a batch for us. Organic Raspberries were on sale, so I went with them. Also, the mint in my Aerogarden is harvestable, so I added a few leaves for a pop of freshness.

Raspberry Frozen Yogurt
(Serves 2)

2 tsp. sugar or splenda
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. skim milk
1 1/2 c. fat free vanilla yogurt
1//4 c. raspberries
Mint and extra berries, for garnish

Whisk sugar, vanilla and milk for a minute until sugar is dissolved. Add yogurt, stir well. Pour into ice cream maker. Add in raspberries while it churns, about 20 minutes. Garnish with extra raspberries and mint.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Gorgonzola Penne with Asparagus


For dinner tonight, I wanted to use up some gorgonzola cheese. I wanted to also use some up some pasta, as well as the onions in my pantry. I thought asparagus would pair well, and a some cannelini beans for protein. Everything married perfectly and this dinner was a big hit with JJ!

Gorgonzola Penne with Asparagus and Cannelini Beans

1/2 lb. whole wheat penne
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can cannelini beans, drained
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 oz. gorgonzola

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in pasta, cook 7 minutes, drop in asparagus for the last 2-3 minutes. Drain, turn off heat, return to pot.
In another skillet over medium, add EVOO, onions, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until onions are soft, add beans, turn to high and add white wine. Reduce wine, turn heat off. Add half the gorgonzola and thyme, lightly mix.
Pour wine mixture into pot with drained pasta and asparagus, stir gently to combine, plate.
Sprinkle the remaining gorgonzola on top.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tea Party!

In her true competitive fashion, my mom kicked breast cancer butt! In order to thank the many ladies in our church, neighborhood, and her bible study that assisted her while my sisters and I have been living out of town, we hosted a tea party! We had a lovely afternoon with wonderful food and lots of laughs.
I had a fun time planning the menu to center around some of my mom's favorites, as well as some new ideas I had brewing in my mind.
A big thanks to Kristine, who was a wonderful co-planner, Becky who helped out with some logistics and entertained, and Dawn and Big Ken for allowing us to host the party at their house!
We love you, Mom!



Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Reduction

I absolutely love Caprese Salad. I've made it a million ways and incorporated it into a million dishes. I racked my brain to come up with a party pleaser, and I think I hit the nail on the head with these! They stood up perfectly, and were a nice little bite of deliciousness!


Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Reduction

3 pints grape tomatoes
2 1 lb. containers fresh mozzarella balls
10 basil leaves, chiffonaded
1 c. balsamic vinegar
50 toothpicks

In a small saucepan, boil balsamic vinegar for 10 minutes, until reduced to a syrup. Cool, pour into a container.
Cut 25 tomatoes in half.
Place a tomato on the toothpick, followed by a mozzarella ball, then use half a tomato as a foot.
Place on a plate. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with basil confetti.

Caramelized Pear and Walnut Profiteroles

I absolutely love profiteroles. They're so light and airy, yet rich and delicious. I wanted to make something different, not the normal cream puff. I wanted it to be a little sweet and a little savory, not a dessert. I have recently fell in love with pears, so I wanted to make these with pears, and I thought mascarpone would be a nice change from cream cheese.

Caramelized Pear and Walnut Profiteroles

2 batches of profiteroles, recipe below
8 pears, diced
¼ c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
2 8 oz. tubs mascarpone cheese

Profiteroles (from Emeril):
1 c. milk
1 stick butter
1 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
5 eggs

Bring butter and milk to a gentle boil in a saucepot, add flour, salt and baking powder and stir until it comes away from the sides of the pot. Pour into a mixer bowl with paddle attachment, beat in eggs one at a time. Spoon onto a baking sheet, about 1 tbsp. blobs.
Cook for 10 min. at 425, then another 15 at 375.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter.
Add pears, salt, and brown sugar. Cook on medium high for 15 minutes, until syrupy.
Remove from heat, cool to room temp, add mascarpone.
Spoon into a pastry bag with hole the size of your thumb (large enough for pears to get out)
Slice into profiteroles with a knife, insert pastry bag and squeeze a bit of the filling in.
Refrigerate until serving. Do not cover or profiteroles will get soggy.