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Friday, December 31, 2010

Maple Nut Granola

The other night, my dad was talking about how he didn't have much to eat in the morning besides packaged cereal. He said he wanted something healthy and asked me if I would make granola. So I came up with this granola. There is no processed sugar or even honey in it, just pure maple. I got kudos for it from Leah and dad, so that's a sign that it must be pretty darn delicious :)

Maple Nut Granola 
6 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped pecans (you can use any type of nut)

1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds

1 teaspoon fine ground sea salt (use a tad less if using iodized salt)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil+3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, salt, vanilla, oil, applesauce, spices, and maple syrup. Spread mixture evenly in 2 large shallow baking pans (1 inch deep) and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, stirring and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden brown, about 30-40 minutes total. Cool granola completely in pans on racks, then stir in dried fruit.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Black Bean Salsa

This salsa is wonderful. It is full of black beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. It is also really versatile, you can adjust the spices according to your taste. I made some homemade baked tortilla chips to go with it. Delish!

Black Bean Salsa
3 (15 ounce) cans black beans
16 ounce package frozen corn, thawed
2-3 large tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Combine all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours or so (this allows all the flavors to mingle together). Serve with tortilla chips and guacamole.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving: Maple Pumpkin Pie

This Thanksgiving was a small one. There was only Leah, Isaac, and I at home...oh, and the parents too :) Mom, being the angel that she is, decided to invite over an elderly woman by the name of Elizabeth. She was a character to say the least. We were glad to share our Thanksgiving dinner with her.
Once again, we ate like kings. Leah and I did most of the cooking, but mom did make her traditional stuffing and pumpkin pie.
I was determined to make a healthier pumpkin pie this year and to my surprise, I succeeded :)  While mom made her traditional pumpkin pie, I made a maple pumpkin pie (no sugar added, just simply pure maple syrup). It is amazing what a bit of maple flavor can do to any ordinary recipe! Sweet and creamy, this pie bursts with that "little extra" flavor.

 
Maple Pumpkin Pie
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup real maple syrup (feel free to add in more, sweeten to your liking)
  • 1 cup milk (I used almond milk, but you can even use half & half)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt. Stir in maple syrup, milk, flour, and cornstarch. Mix in eggs one at a time. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, or until center is set.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Butternut Squash Pizza

Butternut squash on a pizza? Wha? Don't let this odd topping freak you out. It is surprisingly delicious, trust me. The caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar make this yummy pizza even better.
And for a side dish, whole wheat pita chips and hummus. It doesn't get much better than this :)

Butternut Squash Pizza

  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1/2 butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 (16 ounce) package refrigerated pizza crust dough (I use pita bread)
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sliced onion and squash in a roasting pan. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil; toss to coat.
  2. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until onions are lightly browned and squash is tender; set aside.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll each ball of dough into an 8 inch round. Place the rounds on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal (you may need 2 baking sheets depending on their size). Distribute squash mixture over the two rounds and continue baking for 10 minutes, checking occasionally, or until the crust is firm. Sprinkle with cheese, remaining tablespoon olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Cut into quarters, and serve.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread
 
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Flour for dusting

Directions
Pour water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer with dough hook attached. Add yeast, olive oil and honey. Allow yeast to bloom until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Add flour, then salt. Mix on medium speed for one minute. Turn the mixer down to low and mix for 2 minutes longer. Increase speed to medium and continue to mix 2 minutes longer. If at any point the dough wraps completely around the hook and is no longer kneading, turn off the machine, scrape the dough off the hook back into the bowl and return to mixing. Transfer dough to a clean work surface and knead by hand for one minute longer or until you have a round, smooth, elastic dough. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a medium sized bowl. Place dough into bowl and coat with the oil by turning over. Cover with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a moderately warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, usually about 2 hours.
Position an up-side down 18 x 13 aluminum sheet pan or a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Transfer the proofed dough to a clean work surface and knead it by hand until it is round, smooth and elastic, about one minute. Divide the dough into 16 pieces, (2 ounces each) and shape into balls. Cover with a clean towel and allow to proof until expanded slightly in size, about 20 minutes.
Dust a clean work surface with all-purpose flour (I like to use cornmeal). Roll dough into 6-inch circles. You may stack them between parchment paper or clean towels. Carefully and quickly place them in the oven directly on the baking sheet or stone. You may bake 2 or 3 at a time. Cook pitas for 2 minutes or until puffed. Remove with a metal spatula. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve hot or at room temperature. Once cooled, pitas may be stored in a re-sealable plastic storage bag for up to 2 days, they may also be frozen for a few months. (To keep them soft, put them in a towel or plastic bag right after you remove them from the oven.)


Hummus

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more, for drizzling
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini paste, and garlic. Process until smooth. With the machine running, add 1/4 cup olive oil, a little at a time. Season with salt and pepper. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fish and Chips

 Fish and Chips is your popular eat 'n run food that originated in the United Kingdom. Usually, it consists of deep-fried fish (cod) and deep-fried potatoes. Well as you know, I am a health nut, so I decided to "healthify" this classic dish. Instead of deep-frying, I marinated the fish and cooked it in a pan. For the fries, I swapped the normal starchy russets for vitamin-packed sweet potatoes, which I baked in the oven. The result: a super duper tasty meal :)

Delish Fish
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (6 ounce) fish fillets (salmon, tilapia, halibut, etc.)

Directions

  1. Combine the black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to make a paste. Spread the paste all over the fish fillets, and set aside to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook the fillets in the hot pan until golden brown on each side, and no longer translucent in the center, about 4 minutes per side.
 
 
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into French fries
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, cinnamon, cumin

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a plastic bag, combine the sweet potatoes, olive oil, and seasonings. Close and shake the bag until the fries are evenly coated. Spread the fries out in a single layer on one large baking sheet (sprayed with oil).
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until crispy and brown on one side. Turn the fries over using a spatula halfway during cooking. Thinner fries may not take as long.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Panang Curry

Panang curry is a type of Thai curry. It is much different than the ordinary red, yellow, green, and brown curries. It is both spicy and sweet...and absolutely mouthwatering. You can either buy panang curry paste from the store or you can make it from scratch. I have included a recipe for the paste and a recipe for the dish. Feel free to add any type of meat or vegetables.


Panang Curry
 
Panang Curry Paste

  • 5 large Chilly peppers (red, dried, seeded and soaked)
  • 1 teaspoon Galangal (a root), sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Lemongrass, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 clove Garlic, chopped
  • 5 Shallots, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts (optional)
  • 12 tablespoons Kaffir Lime (the rind), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Shrimp paste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (sea salt)
  • 2 teaspoons Pepper (white)
Preparation:
 To make the panang curry paste, simply combine all the ingredients and blend them together in a food processor or blender.
The ingredients for the Panang curry recipe are as follows:

 

Panang Curry (Main Dish)

  • Your choice of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or any other meat (or none)
  • Your choice of vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, onion, eggplant, carrot, etc.)
  • 1-2 cans Coconut milk (use light coconut milk if you prefer)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Panang Curry Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Peas
  • 4-6 Kaffir lime leaves
  • Sweet basil leaves (for garnish)
  • Some water (to thin out and make more soupy, less thick)

Making your Panang Curry:

Making the curry: Bring the coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, and fish sauce together in a pot, bring to a boil. Next, add your meat and/or vegetables. When almost cooked, add kaffir lime leaves and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Before you remove from heat, make sure the meat or fish is cooked all the way! If you find that you've boiled down your curry too much - and it tastes too thick, salty and concentrated, add some water to thin it out.
Serving the curry: When you're all done, remove everything from the heat, and fill a bowl about halfway with rice, then top with curry. Or, for a more traditional approach, stuff all the rice in a small bowl, then turn the bowl upside down on a plate and tap it until the rice ball falls out (this is an easy way to make a fancy looking rice ball, like the ones you're served in Thai restaurants). Next, pour a good portion of curry into a medium sized bowl, and place it next to the rice ball and serve. You may want to garnish it with sweet basil leaves before serving.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pumpkin Corn Chowder

Okay, I admit...I am obsessed with soup. But I promise that this one is also very good. It is thick and has a fantastic autumn flavor. Yum :)

Pumpkin Corn Chowder
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced leeks or 8 large green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2  cloves  garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 2  cups  1-inch cubes sweet potatoes (about 12 ounces)
  • 1  14-ounce can  vegetable broth
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • 1  15-ounce can  pumpkin
  • 1  14.75-ounce can  cream-style corn
  • 1  10.75-ounce can  reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed cream of celery or onion soup
  • 1  cup  milk (or omit soup and milk and simply add coconut milk to taste)
  • 1  tablespoon  snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 2  tablespoons  pumpkin seeds, toasted
  •     Dairy sour cream (optional)
  •     Assorted crackers (optional)

Directions

1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven or pot, melt butter. Add leeks and garlic. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in cumin and stir for 30 seconds. Add sweet potatoes, broth, salt and black pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. Stir pumpkin, corn, celery soup, milk and thyme into potato mixture. Cook over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. To serve, sprinkle soup with pumpkin seeds. If you like, garnish soup with sour cream and serve with crackers. Makes 6 servings (8 cups).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

A butternut squash soup with carrots, celery, and fresh chopped sage. This soup is both vegetarian and vegan. It is one of my favorite recipes.
 

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 small or one large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup soy or almond milk, or milk of choice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • curry powder to taste (optional, but the curry makes it divine)
Directions:
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until onions turn soft, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the squash and stir just to coat, then add the vegetable broth and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer. Allow to cook for at least 25 minutes, or until squash is soft.
Using a potato masher or a large fork, mash the squash until smooth, or, you can puree the soup in a food processor or blender.
Stir in the soy milk and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

Som Tum, or Green Papaya Salad, is a very common dish eaten throughout Thailand. It originated from Laos, but is now enjoyed by many in the United States. This spicy Thai salad is made from shredded unripened papaya. It is sour, hot, salty, and sweet...and absolutely delicious!


Som Tum (Som Tam)

1 teaspoon whole garlic cloves, minced
2-10 small Thai chilies (to taste), minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 long bean, broken into pieces
1 tomato
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 cup shredded green papaya
3 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts
1 cup chopped green cabbage

Directions:
  1. First prepare the papaya by peeling the dark green skin. Then, hold the papaya in your hand, and smack the fruit lengthwise with a good sized knife. You want to create 1/2″ or so deep cuts into the fruit. Do this over and over until you’ve created a good amount of cuts. Watch your fingers! Then, cut the papaya lengthwise to produce long strips. You can also buy tools which can create long shreds. But I recommend using a cheese grater (the big holes), it is much easier. Thai people use the knife method though.
  2. In a bowl, add the whole garlic cloves and chilies. Pound with a spoon a few times to mash, then add the long beans. (If you want to be really authentic, mix ingredients together with a ceramic mortar & pestle.)
  3. Pound a few more times, and add a pinch of papaya. This helps mix the garlic & chilies. Pound some more.
  4. Add the sugar, fish sauce and pound more. Make sure everything is well mixed.
  5. Add the tomato, chopped into large pieces. Stir with a spoon. Add the lime juice and the rest of the papaya. You want to evenly coat the papaya with the juices while pounding the flavor into the papaya, but don’t pound so hard that the papaya disintegrates. Add the peanuts, mix and serve over a bed of chopped cabbage.
  6. Note: Don't pound the papaya too hard. You want to gently bruise the fruit, not smash it into bits or make it soggy. The papaya should be crunchy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Barbie Cake

Yesterday was my client's birthday. She LOVES barbies and LOVES the Little Mermaid. Months ago, I promised her that I would make an Ariel Barbie Cake for her birthday. When I walked into the door with it, she was thrilled. Isn't food such a wonderful thing when you have the opportunity to make it for other people?

Barbie Cake

2 boxes cake mix, any flavor you desire
Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large ovenproof glass mixing bowl with shortening and dust with flour. Also grease and flour two round cake pans. Prepare the cakes as directed on the boxes. Pour one cake mix batter into the prepared bowl and the other cake mix batter into the two prepared round pans. Bake the bowl cake for 50-60 minutes (or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean). Bake the round cakes as directed on the box. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from bowl and pans, and allow to sit on a wire rack until completely cooled. Gently trim the cake tops with a serrated knife if they are uneven, so stacking will be easier.
Frosting: Whip together the butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Blend in the vanilla. Gradually add in the powdered sugar. Add in milk until you reach a desired consistency.

Okay, here's the first step: On your serving plate, stack the two round cakes on top of one another, using the frosting as a glue. Make sure they are even. Now flip over the bowl-shaped cake so that the narrow end is on the top, and place this on the stacked round cakes; again, using the frosting as glue for the stacking. Insert the barbie into the center of the cake. In order to form a well-shaped skirt for the barbie doll, glue on random pieces of cake with frosting around the doll's waist. Cover the doll's upper body with plastic wrap, so frosting does not ruin her hair. See picture below.
Alright, step two: Put the barbie cake into the freezer for about an hour, more or less. This part is important because it prevents the cake from getting crumbs into the frosting. Next, make more frosting (I made a double batch at this point). Make your frosting any color you desire. (I did three bowls, one purple, one aquamarine, and one plain white.) Remove the cake from the freezer. Cover the cake with your base frosting, using a butter knife or a spatula. (I chose to do purple.) In order to make the frosting smooth, curve a piece of paper (hamburger style) into a semi-circle; gently glide the paper from the bottom of the skirt to the waist, smoothing the frosting as you go. See picture below.
Last step: This is the fun part! Decorate the cake however you like. I decided to make a break-front skirt, using the aquamarine color for the top layer. I used an icing tube with a flower tip to ornament the trim of the skirt. I also lined the skirt with white to give it a more prominent edge. For the finishing touch, I covered the top layer with edible pearls. See picture below.
Voila! The finished product. Thank you Leah, Ira, and Mom for helping me out :) I know I have a bazillion pictures on here, but one more I must show you...
Here is my client. As you can see, she was very excited :) Isn't she adorable?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup

The other day, my friend and I went "midnight tomato-picking" in his grandpa's garden. I got a huge sack of delicious tender tomatoes. I wasn't quite sure what to do with these, so I made Roasted Tomato Soup...and it was divine. Try this, you'll love it!

Roasted Tomato Soup
12 large (about 4 pounds) tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
salt
pepper
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups chopped fresh basil, or 1-2 tablespoon dried basil
2 cups cold water, or veggie broth
+ additional balsamic vinegar, salt/pepper, a bay leaf, and a touch of cinnamon
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place the tomatoes and garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper, to taste. Mix with hands, and spread out mixture evenly. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until dark spots appear, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions in a bit of olive oil. Cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and saute with the onions for about 1 minute. Add the roasted tomato mixture to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and throw in a bay leaf & some cinnamon. (I highly recommend adding in more balsamic vinegar for additional flavor.) Puree the tomato mixture in a blender, until very smooth. If serving right away, pour the soup back into the saucepan and bring it to a slow simmer over medium heat. If saving for later, simply store it in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Cookie Monster!

COOKIES! So I decided to make cookies the other day. I made 3 types: Oatmeal White Chocolate Chunk, Double Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter. After laboring in the kitchen for a ridiculous amount of time, I delivered the cookies to people in my apartment complex. They were a big hit! And according to my friend, I am now official "Cookie Monster."

Oatmeal White Chocolate Chunk Cookies 
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and cinnamon, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the rolled oats, and white chocolate chips. REFRIGERATE DOUGH. Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts. REFRIGERATE DOUGH. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 
Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (18 ounce) jar peanut butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, yolks, and vanilla; mix until fluffy. Stir in peanut butter. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, stir in the peanuts. REFRIGERATE DOUGH. (Can I stress this enough? Haha.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  3. Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookies should look dry on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to cool completely on a rack. These cookies taste great when slightly undercooked.
 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blackened Tilapia Salad

Out of the many things I love in life, I duly and truly love fish and salad. I ate at a place called Rubio's and ordered their blackened mahi-mahi salad, and loved it. So I decided to make my own blackened fish salad. The tilapia is soft and flaky, and keeps all the nice flavors of the spices. Top the salad off with a nice vinaigrette, or simply de-glaze the pan with wine and oil to drizzle over the salad--delish!

Blackened Tilapia Salad
 
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon celery salt, or to taste
 
4 tilapia fillets
1 lemon, cut into wedges
olive oil

DIRECTIONS: 
In a small bowl, mix together all the spices. Coat the fillets with the spice mixture, and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Heat a skillet over high heat. Add olive oil, and heat until it is almost smoking. Place fillets in the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until fish is opaque and can be flaked with a fork. Remove fillets from pan and slice. Place fillets on a bed of salad greens and various vegetables. Pour pan juices over salad, and squeeze lemon juice all over. For a tasty dressing, de-glaze the pan with wine and olive oil, and simply pour over salad.
Yummy tip: corn is so delicious in salad--place either fresh or frozen corn in the same pan, and throw in some thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper with water or oil. Cook until tender. Throw it on the salad...yum.
Another yummy tip: these blackened tilapia fillets are not only scrumptious on salad, but on a sandwich too! The bread will soak up all the yummy flavors of the pan juices. A kaiser roll  or white bread is recommended.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Acai Bowls!

Acai: this "superfood" is an organically grown palm berry from the rainforests of Brazil. It’s packed with protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. In a bowl and mixed with fruit juices, honey, fresh fruits and crunchy granola, it is simply heavenly. I tried my first Acai bowl in Hawaii, and I fell in love. Try these, I know you'll love them.

Acai Bowls
2 packs of frozen pure Acai (I like the Sambazon pure/unsweetened smoothie packs)
8 to 12 ounces of frozen mixed berries
8 ounces apple juice (or a mixed berry juice)
1 banana
honey
Toppings: sliced banana, sliced strawberries, granola, honey
*Combine Acai, berries, and juice in a blender and blend well. Blend in a banana. Mix in honey until you acquire the sweet taste you prefer. (I use about 2 tablespoons.) The mixture should be thick. Serve in a bowl topped with granola and sliced bananas/strawberries. Drizzle with honey. Devour.
(Note: this recipe makes 4-6 bowls)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lentil Soup

 

This Lentil Soup is delicious. High in vitamins and flavor, and low in calories...I think yes!


Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound (1 1/4 cup) lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise (curry powder or garam masala also work well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • A touch of cinnamon

Directions

Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart Dutch oven (or simply a large pot) and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin, grains of paradise, garlic powder, and cinnamon and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. If you prefer a smooth soup, you can puree the soup.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Granola Bars

Step 1: Make granola bars.
Step 2: Wrap individually.
Step 3: Package granola bars and watch them disappear.

Alright folks, here it is! These granola bars are super easy to make and even easier to eat. Plus, they are probably the healthiest granola bars who will ever have. (Note: these recipes are completely different: the Oatmeal Raisin type is baked, and the Peanut Butter type is chewier.)

Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or flax seed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or 1/4 cup oil + 1/4 cup applesauce)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, wheat germ (or flax seed), walnuts, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (or raisins or dried cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup flax seed
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (use "real" peanut butter, not that Skippy or Jif crap)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the rice cereal, oats, flax seed, and chocolate chips. Set aside. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium size bowl, heat the honey in the microwave (just until boiling), then remove from microwave and stir in softened peanut butter, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon until smooth. Pour over the cereal and oat mixture, and mix well.
  3. Press into the prepared pan using the back of a large spoon. Allow to cool, then cut into squares.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fish Tacos with Zucchini Corn Salsa

Ugh...it's been a month since my last post. I am horrible...ha. Okay, so I am back at college and enjoying life. This is one of the dishes that I made this first week. I had never eaten a fish taco before, let alone make one. I guess improvisation pays off, because these fish tacos were yummo! The Zucchini Corn Salsa is a new twist that I really enjoyed.

Fish Tacos with Zucchini Corn Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • about 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • about 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • a spice mixture of: cumin, cinnamon, salt/pepper, garlic powder + a dash of chili powder (all these are to your taste)
  • 2 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia
  • 4 corn tortillas, warmed
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes and lettuce

Directions

  1. Preheat grill at high heat, or oven at 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together corn, red onion, red bell pepper, red cabbage, zucchini, carrot, and cilantro. Stir in lime juice, vinegar, and the spice mixture.
  3. Rub the tilapia fillets with more of the spice mixture (you will have to make more of this).
  4. Arrange fillets on an oiled grill grate, and cook for 3 minutes per side. For the oven, cook fish in an oiled glass dish for about 10 minutes.
  5. To assemble: in a warm tortilla, place 1/2 of a fish fillet inside (you can chop the fish if you like). Cover fish with chopped tomatoes & lettuce and the Zucchini Corn salsa. You may also add in sour cream too. I particularly like drizzling some hot sauce on my fish taco. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fantastic Freezer Pie

Creamy, Tangy, Sweet, and Fruity. This pie is scrumpdiliumptious! I made this for Sunday dinner, when some family members came to see Leah. This dessert is easy and a definite crowd-pleaser. You can use any type of sherbert...be creative.

INGREDIENTS:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
softened
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
2 cups raspberry sherbet, softened
2 cups whipped topping
1 cup raspberries
1 (9 inch) graham cracker crust
DIRECTIONS:
1. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and marshmallow creme until smooth. Stir in sherbet. Fold in whipped topping. Stir in the raspberries. Pour into crust. Freeze until firm. remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. The pie may be frozen for up to 3 months.



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I opened some pumpkin puree a while ago and it has been staring me in the face. I finally decided to do something with it and made a pumpkin cheesecake. I topped it with cranberry sauce and some candied walnuts.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.
Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.




Cranberry Sauce


I cup craisins
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of cinnamon
Directions:
Combine the craisins and water in a medium saucepan. Turn on medium-high and boil for a few minutes to rehydrate the cranberries. Stir in the sugar. Simmer until mixture is the consistency like that of cherry pie filling. (You may need more or less water.) Turn off the heat, and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Cool and spread on top of cheesecake.


Candied Walnuts


1 cup walnuts, coarsely crushed
drizzle of vegetable oil
1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture
Directions:
Lay the walnuts on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Stir with hands. Bake for about 10-15 minutes in a 300 degree oven, or until toasted. Check and stir several times during baking. Cool and sprinkle on top of cheesecake.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wedding Cater...wahoo!

So I just did my first official cater for a wedding...and I got paid too! Yay! I was very excited to finally get money for my services. The wedding reception was outside, so that posed a number of challenges: how to keep my food cold, where to put all my coolers, how to keep my area clean without running water, etc. But I managed and although it was a TON of work, it was fun too. The food I made included Lemon Poundcake Mini-Cupcakes, Fruit Tarts, Pita Chips with Hummus, and Cream Cheese Pinwheels.

The food turned out really well. It was all yummy and the food received many compliments. The question most frequently asked was: "What is hummus?" I tried to explain it to people, but they had no idea what I was talking about. Haha, what do you expect from a town full of cowboys?


Lemon Poundcake

1 cup margarine (or butter)
2 3/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
Directions:
Cream the margarine and sugar together. Add the eggs and lemon extract, mixing well. Stir in the 1 cup flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the sour cream. Stir in the last 2 cups of flour. Bake in a sprayed and floured bundt pan at 325 degrees for 70-90 minutes. For the mini-cupcakes, bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Frost with the Raspberry Sauce (recipe below). --This recipe makes 115 mini-cupcakes.

Raspberry Sauce

1 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Directions:
Stir and smash the raspberries with the sugar in a saucepan. Heat until it starts to boil. Remove from stove and spread on cake.

Tip: when making the mini-cupcakes, pour the batter into a icing-tube to distribute the cake batter quickly and easily. This also keeps the area less messy. I used this awesome cooking spray for my mini-cupcakes. It is called Baker's Joy. It is a non-stick cooking spray that has both oil and flour in it. It works like a charm; I highly recommend it those who love to bake.


Fresh Fruit Tart

Crust:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and sliced
Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Topping:
Fresh strawberries, kiwi slices, blueberries, raspberries
Glaze:
1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipped cream, for garnish
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust: In a food processor, combine the confectioners' sugar, flour, and butter, and process until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, taking care to push the crust into the indentations in the sides. Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
For the filling and topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Add another circle of strawberries, filling in any spaces with blueberries. Cluster the raspberries in the center of the tart.
For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart. You will not use all of the glaze.
Keep the tart in the refrigerator. Remove about 15 minutes before serving. Slice into 8 wedges and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
*To make mini-fruit tarts: roll out your tart dough until thin, cover mini-cupcake liners with the dough. Bake in a mini-cupcake pan at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Use the icing-tube to distribute the cream cheese filling into the mini-tarts.


Hummus

4 garlic cloves, minced and then mashed
2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2/3 cup of tahini (roasted, not raw) --use real peanut butter if you cannot find tahini
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Pine nuts (toasted) and parsley (chopped) for garnish
Directions:
In a food processor, combine the mashed garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt, starting at a half a teaspoon, to taste. Mix in cumin to taste.
Spoon into serving dish and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.
Serve with crackers, raw dip vegetables such as carrots or celery, or with pita bread. You can cut the pita bread into thin triangles, brush with olive oil and toast for 10 minutes in a 400°F oven to make pita chips with which to serve the hummus.
Makes about 3 cups.


Herbed Cream Cheese

1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped chives
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely shopped
2 1/2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 pounds cream cheese
Directions
Mix all the ingredients together in a food processor or mixer.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

2 cups pumpkin puree
8 ounces cream cheese (or more)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Directions: 
Whip all the ingredients in a mixer very well.


For the cream cheese pinwheels: spread the cream cheese over a wrap. Cover with one layer of deli meat. Fill with assorted vegetables. Roll and cut into one-inch slices. For the reception, I made 2 types of pinwheels: Pumpkin Cream Cheese with turkey, cranberries, and walnuts & Herbed Cream Cheese with ham, red peppers, cucumbers, and grated carrots. These cream cheeses are really yummy; you can use them for sandwiches, dips, etc.





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