Thursday, May 28, 2009

Round 2 of IU Cookies

So IU made it to Regionals!!! They're headed to Louisville this weekend to play another double-elimination round. I told JJ I wanted to make the guys cookies again b/c they're doing so great. I asked him to think of some naturally red and white cookes (like, I didn't want to use tons of red food coloring and add them to peanut butter cookies or something)... and he was like, "you need to make the same ones." And I said, "JJ, I don't like making the same things again and again for the same people.... I need to be creative!" And he said, "No, really. You NEED to make the SAME ONES!" And I started to argue, then he gave me that look, you know, the "We're really superstitious baseball players, we'll be wearing the same socks and we'll tie our shoes the same way, we'll listen to the same songs, and we will have THE SAME COOKIES" look.

So I conceeded. I made the SAME cookies. But then I also added another kind, oatmeal craisin - crimson craberries, perfect! He said I could make more, but had to make the same basic ones. I didn't know there were rules like this....
So anyway, I made the same sugar cookie baseballs and red M&M cookies. It was interesting to see how using the same recipes only a week apart yielded such different results. I attribute this to the weather. Last week it was around 70 and sunny, this week it was 85 and humid... which made my chocolate chip cookies flatten a bit more, and made my royal icing runny! It took a lot more time for them to dry, and the red seams bled a bit into the white.
He said no one complained :)

So once again, please wish the Hoosiers tons of luck! They have the talent and especially the heart, and if they make it past this round it will be the first time in school history!!!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tamale Pie

When planning my weekly menu, I take a good hour or two to see what we've got on hand, see what's on sale, browse some cookbooks, magazines and blogs, and then evaluate what I'm in the mood for. It can be a long process! Usually I do my food shopping Saturday morning, however I was out of town... which tends to screw with my brain and weekly menu! For weekends when I don't have time to do a long menu planning session and food shop, I have a few go-tos! One is the Moosewood cookbooks, and the other is cooking light.

Ever since I got Moosewood's Lowfat Favorites I'd had my eye on this recipe. It sounded like something I'd enjoy, somewhat of a southwest spiced vegetarian pot pie. It has many of the same flavors of my favorite creation, fajita pasta. I have to say it didn't really live up to the expectations. The cornbread topping was not very flavorful, and it was a bit dry. I did play with the recipe, but just a tiny bit and not enough to change the integrity of the dish.

Moosewood Tamale Pie

1 tsp. EVOO

1 medium red onion, chopped

3 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 small zucchini, diced

2 chipotles in adobo, minced

1 15 oz. can organic diced tomatoes

1 c. dark red kidney beans, rinsed

1 c. black beans, rinsed

salt & pepper

grated cheddar

¾ cup cornmeal

1 tbsp unbleached white flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

2 egg whites, beaten

½ cup nonfat buttermilk

2 tsp canola oil

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the EVOO, onions and garlic.

Sautee until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add cumin, coriander, oregano, peppers, zucchini and chipotles.

Cook for another 5 minutes, add tomatoes and beans, and cook for another 5 minutes, until much of the liquid is evaporated.

Taste, season with salt and peper.

Spoon into a casserole dish.

Top with cheese.

In a small dish, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.

In another combine egg whites, milk and oil.

Fold wet into dry, spoon over the vegetable mixture.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, scallions, cilantro, etc.

A Year Ago: Memorial Day BBQ, Peanut Butter Dog Treats!

Monday, May 25, 2009

White Wine Summer Pasta

Ever see a recipe, mean to make it, and it just keeps getting postphoned? That's what happened with this dinner for the past year! My buddy Liv, who used to have an awesome blog (but since has gotten a house and is pregnant, good reasons to take a blogging break!) made this dinner last spring. I am so glad I remembered it because it was delicious. I made a few changes, additions, etc, but the concept of meal is the same. I made my own pasta, I ran the dough through the pasta roller but then cut it freehand to get wider ribbons. I also added a pinch of minced rosemary to the dough.

White Wine Summer Pasta

Fresh Pasta:
1 c. organic unbleached flour
1 egg
1/4-1/2 c. water
pinch of salt

1 red onion, sliced
1 carrot peeled thinly with a vegetable peeler
1 zucchini peeled thinly with a vegetable peeler
1 yellow squash peeled thinly with a vegetable peeler
10 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. vegetable stock
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cubed

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and drop in pasta.
Cook for 5 minutes, or as packaged directs.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium, add 1 tbsp. EVOOl.
Add onions, carrots, zucchini and squash.
Season with salt and pepper, saute' for 5 minutes.
Turn heat to high, add wine, stock and tomatoes.
Reduce liquids by half, add Italian seasoning and pasta.
Toss to combine, add the cheese, toss.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

IU Baseball - Big 10 Champions!

You might have noticed I haven't posted much in the past week. I have good reasons! I was in Columbus, Ohio at the Big 10 Baseball tourney! My husband is the Athletic Trainer, and I had to go support the team and him. I have had such a fantastic time this year attending all of their home games (not to mention the awesome tan I've developed...)! They have just been a phenomenal team, the guys are great, and I am so happy for them. They were the #3 seed, and proceeded to win every single game, keeping themselves in the winners bracket (it was double elimination), outscored their opponents 47-9 in 4 games, and basically kicked ass.
They will find out tomorrow what Regional Bracket they're in and where they'll go, but for now, we're going to celebrate! I'll recap a bit more on Ash is Fit, but here are some photos of the team and of JJ, I've never seen him so happy (except our wedding day, of couse...haha)

To see the baseball cookies I made for the team (which I'm sure gave them the strength to win the game...haha) click HERE!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tofu and Vegetable Curry Stewpot

Last Friday, I went out to lunch with the accounting department at work for my birthday. I got to choose where we went, and I picked FARM bloomington, which describes itself as Real Food, uses local ingredients, organic products, and is clean and simple food, but truly delicious. I ordered a Tofu and Vegetable Curry Stewpot, which was outstanding. I've been craving it ever since! I remembered I just got a new bottle of curry, so I decided to make a giant pot of vegetables. The curry powder I used had corriander, turmeric, fenugreek, anise, fennel, and cayenne, but I added a few more spices to get the flavor I wanted. This makes a ton of food, and contains so many veggies that you can definitely delete some from the list and it will still make a delicious curry.
I'm so excited to go there again, this time with JJ. One of my co-workers got the BLT and loved it, and their brunch menu looks delicious as well!

Tofu and Vegetable Curry Stewpot
Makes 4-6 servings

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 c.)
1 russet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 c.)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped in 1" rounds
1 eggplant, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 small butternut squash, diced (about 2 c.)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 15 oz. cans light coconut milk
salt and pepper
4 tbsp. curry powder, or any combination of corriander, turmeric, fenugreek, anise, fennel, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin and ginger
1 block extra firm tofu, diced
4 c. prepared brown basmati rice
1/2 c. slivered almonds

Heat 2 tbsp. EVOO in a large soup pot over medium heat.
Add sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic.
Season with salt and pepper, saute' for 10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients (except tofu, rice and almonds).
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, vegetables should give off liquid to almost cover.
Taste and season, pierce potato or carrots to see if they're cooked thru.
When vegetables are ready, add tofu, gently mix through.
Plate rice in a shallow bowl, ladle in vegetables, top with almonds.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Let's Go Hoosiers!!!

This week/end is the Big 10 Conference Baseball Tournament. IU is ranked 3rd this year, which is awesome for the team as their baseball program hasn't been very strong in the past.
JJ absolutely loves the guys on the team, and has had such a great season, so I decided to make some cookies to send with them on the bus to Columbus, OH, where the tourney is.
I have had so much fun going to all of the home games this year, and hope to make it to the tournament this weekend if they're still in it and going strong. If you're in the Big 10 Network viewing area, be sure to check it out! Their first game is tomorrow at 3:30.

Baseball Sugar Cookies: My Famous Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing (I was going to pipe IU's on them, but ran out of red!). I made a double recipe and got 100 baseballs. I used a 3" biscuit cutter to cut them out.

I wanted to make them another kind of cookie that would be a crowd pleaser and I could make IU colors (cream and crimson). I thought automatically to make M&M cookies, but I didn't want to go to the candy store and buy the red M&M's because they're $19.99/lb, a little ridiculous! However, I was at Michaels (craft store) and saw they now carry single colored M&M's in little bags, and you can use the 40% off coupon, so I was able to buy just red. I almost got the cream too, but they were more white, and I decided to put in white chocolate chips instead. I'm pretty sure I was a little heavy on the baking powder because these puffed up, but they were still great! Here's the recipe!

And here's the only photo I have of JJ on the field. The ump got hit by a wild pitch and he went out to check on him. He's such a star... haha.

Quinoa Salad with Kidney Beans and Baby Spinach

When I was at the library last week, I found a cookbook that sounded perfect - Eating Well's Healthy in a Hurry. It's full of clean, healthy, veggie filled and flavorful recipes. Since JJ wasn't home for dinner, I decided to do a vegetarian meal. I found two recipes back to back, Quinoa Salad with Edamame and Tarragon and Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricots and Spinach. I decided to kind of combine them and use what I had on hand to make a really light and healthy dinner. The combination of flavors was unexpected, but very interesting and delicious! My spinach was a tiny bit bitter, so I made sure to get a piece of super sweet tomato in each bite. Since I've switched to solely organic veggies and fruit, I've noticed that organic tomatoes and peppers especially seem to be so much sweeter! The tomatoes were like candy!

Quinoa Salad with Kidney Beans and Baby Spinach

1 c. Quinoa
2 tsp. EVOO
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 c. vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
2/3 c. Moroccan Spiced Lemon Dressing
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, minced
1/2 c. kidney beans, rinsed
8 c. baby spinach

Moroccan Spiced Lemon Dressing:
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 tbsp. plain nonfat yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
salt and pepper

In a small dish, whisk dressing ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Toast quinoa in a dry skillet over medium, stir often, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a mesh colander and rinse in cold water for a minute.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add garlic and quinoa, cook 4 minutes, add stock and salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes.
Turn heat off, bring salad to room temperature.
While salad cools, wilt spinach in a dry skillet, season with salt and pepper.
Plate spinach.
Add tomatoes, beans and onions to quinoa.
Add the dressing mix well. Plate and serve.

A Year Ago: TWD Madeleines

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vegetable Filo Roll Extravaganza

I found this recipe in my Moosewood Lowfat Favorites cookbook a few months ago. I made it, but forgot to photograph it. It was so good though, I knew I'd have to make it again. This week I was able to get tons of produce from the local co-op prettycheap, so I stocked up and happened to get all of the ingredients I needed to make this.
Again, it was delicious, a great combo starch/vegetable side with some chicken sausage, meatloaf, grilled chicken breasts, or pork tenderloin.

Vegetable Filo Roll Extravaganza
from Moosewood Lowfat Favorites

1 c. diced chopped red onion
1 c. julienned carrot
1 c. thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 c. julienned zucchini
2 c. sliced mushrooms
1 tsp. minced tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
salt & fresh ground pepper

Seasoned Bread Crumbs:
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
12 sheets phyllo dough
1 tablespoon sesame seed

In a nonstick saucepan saute the onions and carrots on medium heat for 5 minutes.
Stir in the bell peppers and squash or zucchini, and continue to cook for another minute.
Add the mushrooms, tarragon, and basil and cook until the mushrooms release their juices and become tender, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the seasoned bread crumb ingredients in a bowl.
Melt togerher the oil and butter on very low heat.
Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray or a light coating of oil.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Place the bread crumbs and melted butter-oil mixture near the baking sheet and have a pastry brush or small clean paintbrush handy.
Work quickly in a draft-free setting because the unoiled filo becomes brittle once exposed to the air.
Unfold the stack of filo sheets next to the baking sheet.
To assemble the roll, take 3 sheets of filo from the stack and, in one smooth motion, lift all 3 together and lay the stack, unwrinkled, on the baking sheeet.
Lightly brush the top sheet with the melted butter-oil mixture.
Sprinkle about 1/4 of the seasoned bread crumbs over the filo sheet.
Repeat the layers: 3 sheets of filo, melted butter mixture, bread crumbs, until the filo and bread crumbs are completely used.
Spread the vegetables evenly on the filo to within an inch of all four edges.
Starting at one of the long sides, roll up the filo like a jelly roll, place the finished roll, seam side down, on the baking tray, and tuck in the ends.
Brush with the remaining butter mixture and sprinkle with fennel, poppy, or sesame seeds.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden and puffed.
Serve hot or warm.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Greek Pasta Salad

I had Allison over for dinner Saturday night because our husbands were both working. Cooking for Allison is great because she pretty much eats anything. I love cooking for people like that (I know, I'm one of the pain in the neck people who I'd hate cooking for...haha). So anyway, I had some feta in the fridge that I needed to use, and the weather has been so summery, so I went with a pasta salad and turkey burgers. She loves artichokes, and I had some other Greek-ish ingredients on hand, so this pasta salad came together no problem! I wish I had some bell peppers to throw in, but I forgot to get one...

Greek Pasta Salad

8 oz. tri color rotini
1/2 english cucumber, diced
10 olives, halved (any variety)
10 sun dried tomatoes, minced
1 15 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 c. crumbled feta
1 bell pepper, diced

Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. EVOO
1 tbsp. minced fresh oregano (1/2 tsp. dried)
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta, drain and rinse with cold water.
Add dressing ingredients to a large bowl, whisk well.
Add all salad ingredients, toss and serve chilled.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Morning Glory Muffins

Finally, the last post from Mother's Day weekend! I made these muffins the morning of graduation. They're pretty filling and full of ingredients, so I thought they'd keep us full until we went to the party later on in the afternoon. I made a few substitutions, but for the most part stuck with Dorie's recipe. This made 8 Jumbo muffins.

Carrot Spice Muffins by Dorie Greenspan
(or Morning Glories)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup canola oil (I used 1/3 c. oil, 1/3 c. plain yogurt)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins (I used cranberries)
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, brown sugar and canola oil.
Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
Add in the dry ingredients in two additions, alternately with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated.
Mix in the shredded carrot.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the coconut, cranberries, and nuts.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lime Curd Creme Tart with Raspberries

For dessert with our Mother's Day/Birthday dinner, I decided to make something light and springy. I love lemon curd in tarts, but since we had lemon cake the previous night, I decided to try out lime curd. It was absolutely delicious! I made it the same way as lemon, just with lime juice. For the tart I simply used a layer of pastry cream then a layer of lime curd/whipped cream and topped it with raspberries. Very simple, and all of the components can be made ahead of time.

Key Lime Curd Creme Tart with Raspberries

Tart Shell:
2 cups flour
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 stick of cold salted butter, grated
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsp. ice water

Combine flour and sugar in a bowl.
Grate in butter, add egg yolk.
Stir together with a fork, add water until it forms a loose ball.
Knead quickly for a minute, press dough into a 10" tart shell pan.
Place in the fridge until ready to bake.
Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until just browned on the edges.

Pastry Cream (Dorie Greenspan):
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended.
Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle.
Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk.
Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil.
Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla extract.
Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky.
Scrape the cream into a bowl.
You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly--as I always do--put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Lime Curd (from southern living):
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp lime zest
1 c. fresh lime juice
4 eggs yolks
1/2 stick of butter, diced

Bring sugar, zest, and juice to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
Remove from heat, and gradually whisk about one-fourth hot juice mixture into egg yolks; add egg yolk mixture to remaining hot juice mixture, whisking constantly until well blended.
Place saucepan over medium heat, and cook, whisking constantly, at least 10 or up to 12 minutes.
Add butter a piece at a time, whisking constantly until butter melts and mixture is well blended after each addition.
Remove from heat, pour into a bowl.
Place plastic wrap directly on warm curd, chill 3 hours.

Whipped Cream:
1 c. heavy cream, very cold
2 tbsp. powdered sugar

Place mixing bowl and attachment in the freezer for a minute.
Pour cream into bowl, whisk on medium for a minute until it gets frothy.
Add powdered sugar while mixing, turn speed to high, beat until it forms stiff peaks.

To assemble tart:

Place tart shell on a platter.
Spread the pastry cream over the bottom.
Fold lime curd into whipped cream, spread over the pastry cream layer.
Top with fresh or frozen raspberries and lime wedges.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, ME!

Well, if I postdated this post correctly, it's my birthday!!! I'm the big 2-4 today! Sometimes I forget how old I am... not a good sign :) However, I'm feeling better this year than any other year I can remember! I feel so lucky and fortunate to have the husband, dog, family and friends that I do.
I've got lots of big plans this week/end that I'm so excited for. Last night, JJ and I baked my traditional birthday pumpkin pie together, but this year I used a chocolate graham cracker crust... we'll see how that goes! Basically, since I had to make my own cake (pie) I didn't feel like making crust from scratch, plus I love graham cracker crust!

Out of EVERY birthday wish I've ever had, I REALLY hope this year's comes true :) :) :)

A Year Ago: My Birthday Dinner! made by JJ

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Parmesan and Roasted Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

For dinner Sunday night, I wanted to make a few variations of my favorite meals from Carrabbas. One of the best things on their menu is the roasted garlic mashed potatoes. I think they use new potatoes, but I love yukon golds. I also love the rustic feel of leaving the skins on and mixed throughout the potatoes. These potatoes are full of flavor, and not too bad for you!

Parmesan and Roasted Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-2" chunks
4 tbsp. butter
1 c. whole milk
1 head of garlic, roasted
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water.
Bring to a boil, salt heavily.
Simmer until fork tender, about 25 minutes.
Drain, put back in the pot over low heat.
Add butter, milk, salt, pepper and garlic.
Mash or use a hand mixer and whip to desired consistency (add more milk if necessary).
Add parmesan cheese, fold in with a spatula.
Scoop into a serving bowl, serve with extra parmesan.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fruity Spinach Salad with Creamy Poppy Dressing

I made this spinach salad as a side dish to the casserole. I was originally going to make a veggie filled spinach salad and amaretto baked peaches, but I could not find peaches anywhere! So I decided to add lots of fruit to the spinach salad, and make a poppy seed dressing, common on fruit and spinach salads. It was light, flavorful, and perfect with the creamy, rich casserole.

Fruity Spinach Salad with Creamy Poppy Dressing

1 large sack of triple washed baby spinach
1 mango, cubed
2 grapefruits, segmented
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pecan halves

1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
2 tbsp. EVOO
2 tbsp. champage vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. poppy seeds

In a small dish, whisk together dressing ingredients.
Add spinach to a bowl, toss with half the dressing.
Top with remaining ingredients.
Serve leftover dressing in a dish with the salad.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I have CHINA!!! (sort of)

JJ's mom offered his paternal Grandmother's China to me! I am so excited! We registered for some when we got engaged, but decided to un-register because we needed everyday housewares more than China. We also knew we'd be moving around and didn't want it to break. I always was a silver banded China girl, but this is just so pretty.

I asked her to bring one piece here this weekend so I could show my mom the pattern, and she brought the tea pot! I didn't even know it had a teapot! I love it!!! She's going to hold on to the rest for me until we get a house (and hopefully a China hutch), but I'm elated!

I also remembered that my Grandma gave me silver passed down to her, but it was in an old case, so I got a nice mahogany case and my mom said she'd polish the silver and put it in the new case for me so I'll have that when we get a house, too!

Is getting China and Silver a motivating factor for most people to get a house, or just me? :)

Lemon Yogurt Cake

At my bridal shower 2 and a half years ago, I got a lemon shaped loaf cake pan from Williams Sonoma. I had never used it because I don't make pound cake often. Then I saw Ina make this Lemon Yogurt Cake and I knew it would be perfect for my cake pan! I served the cake for dessert with some fresh whipped cream and macerated strawberries. The cake is very moist and not heavy at all!

Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used 1 1/4 c. lowfat Stonyfield Farms)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/4 c.)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan.
Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.
While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

A Year Ago: Watermellon Sorbet

Coco-Peanut Noodle Salad

I absolutely love Asian flavored Peanut noodle salads. Since I was not going to be eating the 2 other dishes, I decided to make one of my favorite and fill my plate! I added a few different things, like coconut milk and lime. It was delicious as always, full of veggies and very filling!

Coco-Peanut Noodle Salad

12 oz. wide rice noodles
8 oz. snow peas, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 c. shredded cabbage
1 c. shredded carrots
4 scallions, sliced
Sesame seeds, for garnish

1/2 c. light coconut milk
1/2 c. creamy organic peanut butter
1/3 c. light soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. Thai chile paste
Juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, grated

In a large bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients.
Cook noodles accoring to package.
Add noodles, snap peas, bell pepper, carrots and cabbage to mixing bowl.
Toss to coat everything in sauce.
Top with sesame seeds and scallions.

Graduation Cupcakes!

Over the weekend, the GA's had a joint graduation party. It was pot luck style, so I brought over 3 variations of appetizer deli rolls (forgot to photograph...but will definitely make again) and these cupcakes! I used my favorite red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting recipes, and topped them with these little graduation candy hats, as seen on Bakerella! I used corn syrup to press on the Twizzlers and cinnamon candies, but they were a little runny. Next time I'd just make some red Royal icing. I used Red Velvet because IU's colors are Cream and Crimson, but you can definitely personalize these to any school colors!
They were a huge hit, if you have any graduations coming up, I'd definitely make these!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Caprese Polenta Stacks

I absolute love caprese salad. I also love to play around with the flavors and try them out in different dishes, like in pizza and burgers. I also like to take the actual salad and deconstruct it, make it in a different form, or add an element or two to make it new and fun.
I have been craving polenta, and I love when it's cut into rounds. I thought I could make everything the same size, and make little stacks of caprese salad and polenta.
Well, this dish was an absolute hit, the polenta was delicious, and the salad was cool and refresing. It was a vegetable and starch side in one! I served it with some TJ's roasted garlic sausage for a complete dinner.
Note: Rather than buying premade polenta rolls, make your own polenta, chill and cut into rounds (see photo below!) Also, the smoked mozzarella is pretty strong, next time I might just sub fresh mozzarella so it's doesn't overpower the other flavors.

Caprese Polenta Stacks
with Heirloom Tomatoes and Smoked Mozzarella

1 1/2 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. skim milk
2/3 c. organic polenta
salt and pepper

2-3 heirloom tomatoes (I got red and green)
1 8 oz. ball of smoked or plain fresh mozzarella
10 basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2 c. aged balsamic vinegar

In a medium sauce pot, bring stock and milk to a boil.
Slowly whisk in polenta, turn heat to low.
Season with salt and pepper, continue to occasionally whisk for 20 minutes.
Line a pan with parchment, smear polenta over parchment, refrigerate for an hour.

In a small saucepan, heat vinegar over medium heat, reduce by 3/4 until it becomes a thick syrup.
Slice tomatoes into 1/4" rounds.
Slice mozzarella into 1/4" rounds.
Use a biscuit cutter and cut polenta into rounds, about 2.5", or the size of the tomatoes and mozzarella.
Place down the rounds, top with a slice of tomato, mozzarella, another slice of tomato, and another polenta round.
When ready to serve, drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle with basil.

A Year Ago: Authentic Mexican - Achiote Pork Torta and Poblano Bisque

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pasta with Lentils and Artichoke

For dinner tonight, I went back to my favorite cookbook, Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites. I haven't had a single thing from that cookbook that I haven't enjoyed! I had a can of artichokes on hand, so I flipped to the index and found this recipes using them. I don't think I've ever seen a dish that combined lentils and pasta, so I was intrigued. As I read the ingredient list, I was surprised at the combination of flavors. I was expecting an Italian style dish with the pasta, tomatoes, artichokes, onions and garlic, but then I got to cumin, corriander, lemon, feta... much different that what I expected!
The overall dish, however, was a HUGE success! Though it's a tomato based sauce, the lentils add a creamy texture. The lemon, corriander and cumin brighten up the dish, but aren't over powering. The feta adds a nice bite, but is also very creamy when warmed. Overall this was a seriously delicious meal and Moosewood did not let me down!
Note - the original recipe uses farfalle, but the only short cut pasta I could find that was both organic and whole wheat was fusilli.
Also, I halved the lentils and pasta amounts, but kept the sauce and veggies the same.

Pasta with Lentils and Artichoke
Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites

1 cup dry red lentils
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
2 cups diced onions
2 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups canned tomatoes (I used 1 15 oz. can organic unsalted diced tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups artichoke hearts (I used 1 15 oz. can whole hearts, halved
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound farfalle
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with crumbled feta cheese

Combine the water, lentils, and bay leaf, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and pasta. Cook to al dente.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add 1 tbsp. EVOO, saute onions until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, cumin, and coriander, stir frequently.
Add the lemon juice, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and crushed red pepper and simmer for 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add lentils and pasta to the tomato mixture.
Toss, plate and serve with crumbled feta.

Spring Pea Soup

This past weekend is JJ's last weekend away with the baseball team, so it was my last opportunity to cook for just myself. It's been rough with him gone all season, but it's been nice to cook lots of vegetarian meals and some of my favorites. I decided to make pea soup, but I wanted to use fresh peas, not split peas. I wanted it to be light and brothy, not heavy and starchy. It came out just like I wanted. If you want it thicker, reduce it further or use less stock and double the veggies!
I served this with a version of my favorite beet and spinach salad!
I garnished this soup with a dollop of sour cream and some whole peas, but they sunk!

Spring Pea Soup
(makes 1 dinner portion or 2 starters)

1/2 c. diced potato
1/2 c. sliced leeks, well rinsed
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
salt and pepper
2 c. vegetable stock
1/2 c. fresh or frozen peas
1 tsp. minced mint
1 tsp. minced basil
pinch of cayenne

sour cream
chiffonade basil and mint

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp. EVOO, potato, leeks, onion and garlic.
Season with salt and pepper, stir and cook for 10 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
Add stock, bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes.
Add peas, turn heat to low.
Add contents to a blender or use an immersion blender, blend well.
Pour back in the pot, add minced bail and mint, stir and ladle into a bowl.
Serve with garnishes.

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