Sunday, November 12, 2006

a spot of tea

even though these scones did not turn out entirely as expected (they did not rise very much), i still found myself looking forward to a nibble or two. perhaps i didn't handle them quickly enough (being low-fat, they must be touched as little as possible to retain their light texture), maybe the whole-wheat flour was a bit too bulky to be light and fluffy, or maybe i was expecting the steroidal hulks of scones i see at coffee shops and such. these are tender little biscuits; not too sweet. and as reputed, they are perfect with tea.

Simple Scones
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 T. grated citrus zest (i used oranges, anything would be delightful)
2 T. butter, kept cold until use
1 T. vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking sheet. Combine sugar, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Stir in the zest. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and add it to the flour. Blend it with your fingertips until it forms tiny balls in the flour.

Stir in the oil and buttermilk until a sticky dough forms. Put the dough on a floured surface. Quickly knead into a ball. Flatten into a 1/2 inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 12 pieces, place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a rack.

sunday night chili

sunday nights i generally make a large pot of something. this means that monday dinner is set with some left over to freeze or eat tuesday for lunch. our hero enjoyed this healthy chili recipe for days in a bowl, over spaghetti noodles, and as a nacho topping. it also freezes wonderfully. i've made this a few times since i clipped it from a Cooking Light last fall. i like that the seasonings mainly flavor the sausage, so when you go to assemble it all it's not too difficult. keep in mind; if you decide to make this, make the sausage the night before to get the maximum amount of flavor.

Mexican Black Bean Sausage Chili
1 1/2 T. paprika
2 T. minced garlic
3 T. dry red wine
2 T. sherry vinegar
1 T. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. black pepper
Dash kosher salt
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey (not breast)
2 T. olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 T. ground cumin
1 T. minced garlic
2 t. dried oregano
3 canned chipotles in adobo, minced
4 (14.5-oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
3 cups chicken broth, divided
3 cups water
1 (28-0z.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Low-fat sour cream (optional)

Combine sausage ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage mixture; cook 7 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, cumin, garlic, oregano, and chiles; cook until onion is tender. Place 1 1/2 cups black beans and 1 cup broth in food processor or blender; process until smooth. Add pureed beans, remaining beans, remaining 2 cups broth, water, and tomatoes to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 45 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in juice and cilantro. Garnish with sour cream and more cilantro, if desired.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

quick and easy

i clipped this recipe from some magazine, not sure which one - perhaps a fitness magazine? in any case, it's quite filling and is low in calories (one was more than plenty for me). i made some sweet potato fries with a horseradish-yogurt dip and set out some grapes on the side. no-cook recipes are my bread-and-butter in the summertime, since our apartment gets so hot that even boiling water is intolerable. i'm glad i saved this recipe - it proved tasty even when winds blow cold.

Thai Beef Rolls

1 1/2 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. dark sesame oil
1 T. fresh grated ginger
1 T. grated garlic (microplaned or minced)
2 t. fish sauce
3/4 t. sugar
4 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas
2 cups torn boston lettuce
12 oz. thinly sliced deli roast beef
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk. Brush tortillas with 2 t. juice mixture. Arrange 1/2 cup lettuce on eah tortilla; top with 3 oz. beef. Combine carrots and mint; arrange 3 T. carrot mixture over each serving. Drizzle each serving with 1 T. remaining juice mixture; roll up.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

more than a feeling

i am going to disturb the sanctity of this food blog to say something:

oh what a beautiful morning,
oh what a beautiful day,
i've got a beautiful feeling,
rummy is in his last days!

no victory is perfect, but damn it feels good! i'm just going to kick back and enjoy this extra spring in my step for a while. finally, a raise in minimum wage in sight! hallelujah!

Monday, November 06, 2006

The New American Plate Cookbook

last christmas, i put this cookbook on my wish list, and (lucky me!) my mom and dad made my wish come true . . . the American Institute for Cancer Research compiled the recipes for this healthy cookbook with the philosophy that americans should increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that they consume, while reducing the amount of meat.

following research showing the cancer-fighting benefits of fancy-sounding scientific terms like phytochemicals and lignans, the recipes are bright and colorful, combining reds, greens, yellows, and oranges in a way that is both visually pleasing and tasty. i've made lots of recipes from this book, from delicious little steamed packets of whitefish seasoned with orange and topped with spinach, tomato, and kalamata olives; mini falafel patties; southwestern red pepper dip; a variety of muffins and breads; and lots more. recipes are not difficult and are explained clearly and concisely. i also like the introductions, which detail why these particular ingredients are cancer-fighters. nutrition information is included with each recipe.

the food in this book is healthy, but doesn't taste or look boring. recipes are fun to make and generally quite beautiful. i don't know if i like the term "foodie," but i consider food and cooking a healthy and exciting hobby. this book fits my lifestyle perfectly. (drea - perhaps a christmas gift for barb?)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

best meal in months

my parents had planned to come for a visit this weekend, but decided to forgo the possibly treacherous drive due to forecasted snow squalls, which i totally understood. a while back, my brother and his friend totalled a car driving through that mess on their way here for a visit. however, i was a bit blue. i missed them! i wanted to see them! a welcome distraction, then, this:

thanks to a generous benefactress (thank you, benefactress!), our hero and i enjoyed a wonderful "splurge" of a meal last night. i made some fresh sea scallops in a wonderful sauce served over baby arugula with a side of roasted cauliflower. we enjoyed this with a lovely bottle of rosé and a freshly baked whole-wheat baguette. who needs dessert with a dinner like that? it was an excellent way to spend a saturday night.

Greek-Style Scallops
From The New American Plate Cookbook

4 t. olive oil, divided
1 lb. sea scallops
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms (3 oz. - i used oyster, which are wonderfully mild)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, loosely packed
1 t. chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup feta cheese (i used the delectable israeli feta, made from sheep's milk)
2 T. pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup white wine (optional)

In a skillet, heat 2 t. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes, until opaque throughout and tender in the center. Put in a bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, add remaining 2 t. of olive oil. Add the onion and saute, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and saute, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, parsely, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. (here's where i added white wine.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the scallops with their liquid and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Top with the feta cheese and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

cooking light's clam chowder

i enjoy a good chowder when it's cold and windy, so i whipped this one up last weekend. i would definitely recommend making it ahead of time, letting it cool in your fridge, and then reheating - the flavors develop nicely that way.

i had brought leftover chowder to work for lunch this week, which made me very excited. unfortunately, as i was taking the tupperware from my office to our mini-fridge, i dropped the container. the tupperware actually broke (who knew this was possible?), and i was left to cry over spilt chowder. luckily, i come in to the office earlier than everyone else, so there was no audience for this performance. consider all tears shed a testament to how delicious this healthy chowder is!

Plum Island Sound Clam Chowder
From Cooking Light

4 (6 1/2-oz.) cans chopped clams
2 (8-oz.) bottles clam juice
5 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (i used uncured bacon)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 t. butter
2 cups cubed red potato
1 T. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 1/4 cups evaporated fat-free milk
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 1/2 T. dry sherry (i used sherry vinegar because i had it lying around)
1 T. chopped fresh parsley

Drain clams in a colander over a bowl, reserving juice. Add bottled juice to reserved juice to equal 3 1/2 cups. Set aside.

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving only 2 t. of bacon fat in pan (remove the rest). Return bacon to the pan, increse heat to medium-high. Add onion, celery, and butter; saute 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add clam juice mixture, potato, and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaf), bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in clams, evaporated milk, 1% milk, and sherry. Cook 5 minutes or until heated, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.

our hero's favorite pizza

so i've mentioned that i make pizza on a regular basis. it's easy, fun to come up with new topping combinations, and always pleases our hero (spouse of wellunderstood). Cooking Light strikes again! i made this pizza for "movie night" last weekend, and our hero raved.

i used my own crust recipe, adapted from Terry Blonder Golson's 1,000 Low-Fat Recipes.

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-120 degrees)
1 t. honey
3 t. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
2-3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Combine yeast, water, and honey. Let sit until foamy (i love watching this part). Stir in the oil, salt, and whole wheat flour. Add the pastry flour a little at a time until a dough ball forms. Knead on a floured surface, adding flour little by little if necessary, until smooth and springy. (i test this by pinching the dough and seeing how much it springs back. it will be less springy than if you used white flour.) Put in a lightly oiled bowl (flip to coat the dough), and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place as long as you want, but at least 30 minutes. (in my drafty kitchen, i pre-heat the oven and let the dough rise on top of the stove.)

now's the time when i would slide my pizza stone in the oven to pre-heat. if you don't have a pizza stone, don't fret! a pre-heated baking sheet will work just fine!

Cooking Light's Wild Mushroom Pizza
1 t. butter
1 t. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. wild mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (they recommend Monterey Jack, i used Cabot's 50% Light Pepper Jack)
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into short strips
Coarse cornmeal

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Melt butter in skillet over medium-high. Add 1 t. olive oil. Add mushrooms; saute 10 minutes or until moisture evaporates. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; stir.

Take dough from oiled bowl; stretch or roll it to fit your pan. Remove preheated pan from oven; sprinkle well with coarse cornmeal. Put dough on baking pan (or stone), slide into lower oven rack. Bake 8 minutes. Remove.

Spread mushroom mixture evenly over crust. Top with cheese. Sprinkle prosciutto over pizza. Bake on middle rack an additional 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese melts.

Friday, November 03, 2006

hellooooo out there?

i'm feeling a bit lonely . . . are you enjoying the recipes? have you attempted any yourself or do you have one to share? does something look delicious or totally disgusting? please, leave me some comments - let's start some discussion!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


a buddy of mine gave me this recipe several years ago when we were on a recipe listserv, and i've made it about once a year since then. i don't know why i don't make it more often; it really is remarkable.

i don't think j reads this blog, but i'll post his recipe here as it was given to me, with his comments. thanks, j.

My first soup post is of the best soup I have ever, ever had. It came from the New Vegetarian Epicure and everyone who has had it loves it. I made it two weeks in a row and almost ate a whole pot of it myself in about 6 hours because it was so delicious. Please do yourself a favor and make it as soon as possible!!!! A few things: definitely use butter for the sautéing rather than olive oil - it needs the extra richness. Part of what makes this soup so much fun to make, as well as eat, is using wine. I feel very special and French when I cook with wine. I used a pinot grigio, which worked very well, but I'm sure you can use whatever is at hand. Bon appetit!

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
1 lb. butternut squash
1 large yam
2 cups veg. broth
1.5 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
2 med onions, sliced
3 lg. pears
1/3 cup dry white wine
cup half and half (I used skim milk) (wellunderstood used whole milk)
white pepper to taste (don't use black pepper!)
optional: cilantro or chopped chives

Peel, seed, and dice the squash. Peel and dice the yam. Put them in the pot with vegetable broth, water, cinnamon stick and salt and simmer until tender, about 40 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick. Melt the butter and gently cook the onions in it, stirring occasionally until it begins to caramelize. Peel, core, and thinly slice the pears and add them to the onions. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add wine, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Puree. Add cream and pepper and salt if needed. Heat to a simmer but don’t boil.

cooking ahead

something i absolutely cherish is my freezer - and not just because we were without it for a bit. there's little more satisfying on a particularly stressful evening than defrosting a meal you prepared yourself and sitting down to a home-cooked meal with little-to-no effort.

my friends (especially you, duffpower) may remember when the freezer obsession began last year. okay. it got out of control. this year will be different, i promise. soups are always wonderful to freeze, and frozen homemade burritos were a big hit for lunches last year. prepared pasta sauces (butternut squash, pestos, roasted tomato) are also oft-frozen items. the wonderful magazine Everyday Food (the most beautiful food photography i've seen) always has a "Freeze It" recipe, and last month's issue had several. the recipe i chose was wonderful, though i think i'd substitute panko for the saltine cracker crumbs next time.

Everyday Food's Lemon-Horseradish Fish Cakes
3 T. olive oil
2 lbs. tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup light (or better, reduced-fat) mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 T. bottled white horseradish (i just used the wasabi i had)
1 1/2 cups coarse saltine cracker crumbs (crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin)
tartar sauce, for serving (optional - i made my own low-fat version)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a baking sheet lined with foil with 1/2 t. oil. Place fillets on sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely; pat dry with paper towels. With a fork, flake fish into small pieces.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, mayo, parsley, lemon juice, and horseradish. Fold in fish and 1/2 cup cracker crumbs; season with salt and pepper. Place remaining 1 cup crumbs on a plate. Form 16 cakes using about 1/4 cup fish mixture for each. Gently dredge each cake in crumbs, pressing to help adhere. (To freeze - i froze half - place uncooked cakes on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Wrap each in plastic and put in freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in fridge before cooking.)

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 1 T. oil. Place 8 cakes in skillet; cook until golden brown, 4-6 minutes per side.

i served these with sauteed greens and our favorite baked sweet potato "fries". to make these, just preheat oven to 425 degrees, cut 2-3 sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch steak fries. brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast 45-60 minutes, turning occasionally until crispy all over.

let there be light!

when our power returned, the first thing i wanted to do was eat a meal that i cooked myself, not including peanut butter and jelly. we invited some friends over for dinner and our hero's hometown team's football game. both of the friends were alumni of said hometown school, so it was quite lively.

i love cooking with mushrooms, and had wanted to try this tempting recipe from Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook for quite a while. the recipe made a lot of food, and the leftovers were even better the next day.

Baked Penne with Wild Mushroom Ragu and Ricotta Salata
From A New Way to Cook

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms, preferably porcini or morel
2 dry-packed sun-dried tomato halves
1 lb. fresh wild mushrooms (any kinds you like)
1 1/2 t. olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 t. dried thyme
1 28-oz can italian-style peeled tomatoes, chopped with juice
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t. olive oil or unsalted butter
1 lb. tubular pasta (like penne)
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
5 oz. ricotta salata cheese, thinly sliced or shaved

To make the ragu, pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and tomatoes in a bowl, cover, and soak until softened, at least 15 minutes.

Wipe the fresh mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel. Trim off any tough stems and discard. Cut larger shrooms into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Leave smaller mushrooms whole.

In a medium saucepan, combine oil, onions, and garlic. Cover and cook over medium heat until onions begin to wilt, about 5 minutes. Uncover and saute until they are just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

Remove dried mushrooms and tomatoes from soaking liquid (reserve liquid) and rinse under cool water. Coarsely chop.

Spoon about 3/4 cup of the soaking liquid into the saucepan with the onions, leaving behind any grit. Add the wine and thyme and boil 1 minute. Add the fresh shrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and juice, chopped dried shrooms and tomato, sugar, and salt. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until shrooms are tender and ragu is thick, about 15 minutes. Pepper generously.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole with the oil and set aside. Cook pasta until slightly underdone (it will cook in the oven). Drain the pasta and plunge it into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again. Add ragu to the pasta and toss until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and pepper to taste and toss again. Pour half the mixture into the casserole. Arrange the ricotta salata shavings over the top, cover with the remaining pasta, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake the pasta until heated through and the top is lightly brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

the recipe says this can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen up to 2 months. it really has a wonderful, earthy flavor and could easily feed a hungry crowd.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

comfort food

our power didn’t conk out until last sunday morning, so we had just enough time last weekend to believe we were through the woods, buy a fridge full of groceries, and have powerless friends over for dinner saturday night. i thought comfort food would fit the bill considering the snowy, dark, cold circumstances, so i tried cooking a roast. this was my second-ever experiment with pork. you may remember the first time. the food was a huge hit, and even i had to admit it was delicious. i served the roast with a side of sautéed swiss chard with garlic.

a friend with no power had come over to work on a presentation for school (and plug in his laptop), and he walked into the kitchen as i was preparing dinner. i was listening to the classic melancholy sinatra album “in the wee small hours of the morning”, tears STREAMING down my cheeks from the shallots. A bit of an awkward moment until he made the connection between the shallots and my teary eyes . . .

CL’s Pork Roast with White Beans and Cranberries

1 lb. dried navy beans (about 2 cups)
1 5-lb. pork shoulder blade roast, trimmed of fat
1 ½ t. kosher salt, divided
¼ t. ground black pepper
2 t. minced fresh sage, divided (I used dried)
1 ½ cups sliced shallots (about 8 medium)
5 cups water
3 fresh sage sprigs (dried)
½ cups dried cranberries

Sort and wash beans, place in a large dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans, cover and let stand 8 hours. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle pork roast with salt and pepper. Rub surface of roast with dried sage. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Lightly coat bottom of pan with cooking spray or oil. Add roast to pan, cooking for 15 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove roast from pan. Add shallots to pan, saute 3 minutes or until tender. Return rast to pan. Add salt, beans, water, and sage to pan, bring to a simmer. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Add dried cranberries to pan; bake an additional 30 minutes or until roast is tender. Remove roast from pan, shred pork with 2 forks.

Serve roast with bean mixture.

the leftover shredded pork, mixed in with the leftover beans and a little water made a great next-day stew!

cooking light's roasted chicken with dried plums and shallots

2 t. olive oil
4 bone-in chicken breast halves (2 lbs.)
¾ t. salt, divided
½ t. black pepper, divided
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 large shallots, peeled and halved (8 oz.)
2 thyme sprigs (I used dried
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 8 wedges
16 pitted dried plums (prunes)
¾ cup fat-free less-sodium chicken broth, divided (I used – gasp! – bouillon)
¼ cup dry white wine
1 T. all-purpose flour
2 t. chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle oil in a small roasting pan or the bottom of a broiler pan. Place pan in oven 5 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle chicken with ¼ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. Place chicken, skin side down, in pan. Arrange garlic, shallots, thyme sprigs, and fennel around chicken. Season veggies with salt and pepper. Bake 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Turn chicken over and stir vegetables. Add plums. Bake 15 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken and vegetables from pan. Discard skin. Loosely cover chicken and veggies to keep warm.

Place pan over medium-high heat. Add ½ cup broth and wine, stirring to loosen browned bits. Combine flour and ¼ cup broth, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to pan, stir until well-blended. Bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute or until slightly thick. Stir in chopped thyme, remaining ¼ t. salt, and remaining pepper. Serve sauce with chicken and veggies.

i served this with whole-wheat couscous and cl’s brussels sprouts with garlic and honey. (which i tried to sell to our hero as mini-cabbages, but he saw right through me. he ended up surprising himself and liking them!)

CL’s Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Honey

1 T. butter
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, quartered and trimmed
¼ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 T. honey

Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper. Sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic, sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Add 3 T. of water, cover and cook 3 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are tender. Drizzle with honey, toss well to coat.

a big bite of winter

here in mytown, there was a freak snowstorm that paralyzed the city and knocked out power, initially, to almost 400,000 “customers”. our hero and i included. soooo needless to say, without refrigeration, without a place to store leftovers, without light or heat, it was a dark, cold, icky week. six days into our outage, power was restored. for some of our neighbors it took nine or ten! i’m happy to be back in the light, and ecstatic to be able to really cook again. i’m a little behind in posting recipes, but because not much was made this past week, i should be able to catch up.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

a big bite of fall

aaaand continuing with our theme, a delightful, very moist quickbread with great fall flavors . . .

Cranberry-Pumpkin Bread with Flaxseed
From the New American Plate Cookbook

Canola oil or spray for pan
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apple juice (i used cider)
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a loaf pan with canola oil or spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, flaxseed, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the pumpkin, oil, applesauce, juice, and spices. Stir in the cranberries. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack 10 minutes, then remove bread from pan and continue cooling on rack.

cl's fontina, olive, and tomato pizza

okay, so usually i'm pretty loyal to my whole-wheat pizza dough recipe. and usually i don't follow recipes to top my pizzas. however, i made an exception for this tempting treat right out of last month's Cooking Light. the dough was nice, even if there was a bit too much of it for just one pizza. the toppings were delish as well. to anyone who's scared of making your own dough or anything that you must "let rise," get over it. this is easy to do and much healthier than carry-out. i ask, who doesn't love pizza??

Cooking Light's Fontina, Olive, and Tomato Pizza with Basil Whole-Wheat Crust

1 T. honey
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (i used whole-wheat pastry flour)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 T. stone-ground yellow cornmeal

2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded fontina
3 T. chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 T. chopped pine nuts, coarsely chopped

To make dough, combine honey and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes to proof. Add 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat pastry flour), whole wheat flour, salt, and pepper to yeast mixture, stir until a soft dough forms.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Turn dough onto a floured surface, and knead until soft and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, a little at a time, to keep dough from sticking to hands (it will feel slightly sticky). Knead in fresh basil until incorporated. Place dough in large oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size (i just sit it on the preheating stove and it usually does the trick).
Roll or stretch dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Place on rimless baking sheet or preheated pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal.

Position one oven rack in the middle of the oven, another at the bottom. Slide pizza crust onto bottom rack. Bake 8 minutes.

Arrange tomato slices between two paper towels; let stand 5 minutes.

Sprinkle fontina over crust, leaving a small border. Arrange tomato slices and olives over fontina; sprinkle with mozzarella and top with pine nuts. Bake on middle rack an additional 8 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese melts.

new favorite muffins

i don't like my muffins, breads, or desserts too sweet. in fact, as i become more confident in this whole baking process, i'll probably start cutting sugar in the recipes i've already posted here. i made these muffins last weekend, and i must say they are my favorites of the "quick bread-muffin fall", as they are not too sweet and stuffed with goodies. with just about the same number of calories as a granola bar, they make a great morning snack.

oh, and i invested in some paper liners for my muffin tins. they really cutdown on the headache of getting all the little guys out unscathed.

Banana-Orange Bran Muffins with Pecans
From the New American Plate Cookbook

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups bran flake cereal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. salt
1/2 cup diced dried cherries or dried apricots (you could really use anything you like here)
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the bananas, o.j. concentrate, egg, and canola oil. Stir in the bran flakes, and let stand for about 15 minutes to soften the cereal. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the cereal mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the dried fruit and nuts. Divide batter among cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and continue to cool on the rack.

best snack ever

after a hectic schedule and a 48-hour bug, i didn't have much time to post lately. fear not! i'll provide a few recipes to hang onto . . .

a favorite recipe of mine, sent to me by mc (thanks!) shared with friends (ahem, duffpower), and now on to you all . . . i've made this as a side dish, as an appetizer, and as movie-watching "junk" food! even if you think you don't like cauliflower, give it a spin. the high heat carmelizes the sugars in the florets and makes them nutty and tasty.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower
1-2 T. olive oil (depending on the size of the head)
Coarse salt
Red pepper flakes (i'll say optional, but you're crazy to omit these)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Brush or toss cauliflower on sheet with olive oil to lightly coat. Season generously with salt and red pepper flakes. Roast for one hour, stirring florets every 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Leftovers are good tossed with a peanut sauce over couscous for lunch or pureed into a "mash" side dish.

Monday, September 25, 2006

cooking light's beef carnitas

wow. i rarely cook red meat. usually we eat one poultry meal a week, one fish, and the rest vegetarian (eggs, cheese, beans, etc.). maybe it's the shift in the weather or my healing muscle tissue (i've been suffering from a running injury for the past several months, have finally found a doctor that is diagnosing and treating it correctly, and am on the mend!), but i've been eating lots of meat-based protein in the past few days!

in addition, the lovely t has a big day on tuesday, defending his topical (pre-dissertation), so i wanted to make it a good week for him. meat seems to do the trick. i made the carnitas on sunday night, and threw it into tortillas for tacos tonight. i would have loved to serve them with a salad, but i'm still freaked out by greens. instead, i served them with fruit.

Cooking Light's Beef Carnitas
Cooking oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (i used extra-lean)
1 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 t. sugar
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. crushed red pepper (i used much more)
1 large unpeeled orange wedge

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; saute 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Add beef (a bit at a time, so as not to crowd the pan); saute 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Stir in broth, sugar, salt, and pepper. Nestle orange section into beef mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Remove and discard orange. Continue simmering, uncovered, 8 minutes, or until liquid almost evaporates (much longer than 8 minutes for me), stirring frequently.

Cooking Light's Beef Carnitas Tacos
2 cups chopped plum tomato
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup diced peeled avocado
2 T. minced fresh cilantro
1 T. fresh lime juice
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
8 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups Beef Carnitas
1 lime, cut into wedges

Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl; toss well. Warm tortillas. Spoon 1/4 cup beef onto each tortilla; top with 3 T. avocado mixture. Fold in half; serve with lime wedges.

irish brown bread

my mother's irish soda bread is legendary. not wanting to compete with her, i went a different route this weekend. i adapted a recipe from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider (thanks, ODP!) to be 100% whole grain, and even added some flax meal for omega-3s. you could easily use oat bran or wheat germ in place of the flax meal.

the bread was flavorful, tender, and delicious - a bit crumbly, but perfect for breakfast with a bit of blackberry jam. next time i would make the slashes on the tops of the loaves much deeper for more even rising.

Irish Brown Bread
(from A New Way to Cook)
About 2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour, if you must)
1/3 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/3 cup flax meal (or oat bran, or wheat germ)
2 t. dark brown sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 T. unsalted butter, melted
about 1/2 t. canola oil to grease baking sheet

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/4 cups of the whole wheat flour, the pastry flour, rolled oats, flax meal, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and paking soda. With a fork, stir in 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk and the melted butter. Add more buttermilk, little by little, just until a soft but not too wet dough forms. Knead the dough in the bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. If the dough is too wet, knead in up to 4 t. more whole wheat flour, 1 t. at a time.

Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and place 4 inches apart on an oiled baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Using a sharp knive, make 2 crisscrossing slashes on top of each loaf.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Place on a rack to cool.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

first day of fall

sorry for the lack of recent posts; i was out of town from this past monday through thursday for work. unfortunately, no food of note on the trip out of town. having very little non-work time to explore denver, more meals than i’d like to admit were provided by the hotel where i stayed. hence, the food was boring, criminally overpriced, and the “healthful” alternatives included a yawn-inducing salad bar and $9 fruit plate with a container of yoplait strawberry yogurt. ech.

thursday night, after a buddy picked me up from the airport, was spent at a rehearsal dinner for two dear friends’ wedding. friday, of course, was the wedding itself. it was a whirlwind week, and last night i was thrilled to prepare and eat my own cooking for the first time since monday lunch (leftover black beans and rice).

though it’s still comfortably warm here in mytown, fall is certainly in the air and in the market. to celebrate the first day of autumn, i decided to cook a quintessential early fall meal. i didn’t grow up eating pork. in fact, believe it or not, i can probably count the numbers of times i’ve eaten pork chops, roasts, or loins on one hand. after many encouraging remarks from fellow “foodies” regarding the beauty of the pork tenderloin, i decided to take a chance on it (for t’s sake). i prepared a lovely dinner of pork tenderloin with roasted apples and onions (thanks Everyday Food) and mashed sweet potatoes (my own recipe). i must admit it was tasty.

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples and Onions
(From Everyday Food)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 T. maple syrup
3 medium red apples, halved, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
1 large red onion, halved and sliced into ½ inch-thick pieces
1 T. olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 pork tenderloins (12 oz. each)

Place one oven rack in the top third of oven, and another rack in bottom third. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Make glaze: in a small saucepan, bring vinegar and maple syrup to a boil over high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has reduced to ¼ cup, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat; transfer 1 T. to a small bowl for drizzling and set aside. Reserve the rest of the glaze in saucepan.

On a large rimmed baking sheet (or roasting pan) toss apples and onion and oil. Season with salt and pepper; arrange in a single layer, and roast until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss.

Meanwhile, line another rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place pork on foil. Season generously with salt and pepper; brush with glaze from saucepan. Return apples and onions to oven, on bottom rack. Place pork on top rack; roast 10 minutes. Remove pork from oven; brush with remaining glaze in saucepan. Roast until pork registers 150 degrees internal temperature, and apples and onions are tender, about 10 minutes more.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Slice ¼ inch thick; drizzle with reserved T. glaze. Serve with apples and onion.

Wellunderstood's Best Sweet Potato Mash
(you can make this ahead and reheat – it’s actually better)

3 large sweet potatoes
½ cup lowfat buttermilk
2 T. light sour cream
1 T. butter or trans-fat free margarine
Salt and pepper
3 T. chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub potatoes and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake one hour and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove skin and discard. Combine potato flesh, buttermilk, sour cream, margarine, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mash together with a fork or puree with an immersion blender if desired. Stir in chives.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

granola morning

didn't feel like i had the time for muffins this morning (and as i am leaving town for work on monday i won't be around to eat them), so i whipped up some maple-pecan granola, courtesy of Cooking Light.

Maple-Pecan Granola
2 cups oats (i used scottish because they are what i like for breakfast)
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 T. canola oil
1/8 t. salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients on a large jellyroll pan lined in foil. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely. Makes 4 cups, serving size 1/4 cup. Keeps for a week. For those of you freaked out by granola, this has 129 calories per serving and 5.2 grams of fat. Not too shabby for a bit of crunch over yogurt. I will probably stir in some craisins and chopped dried apricots.


for those of you who know me, you know i've been a busy bee this past week, leaving me little enough time to cook, let alone post. tonight is the "bachlorette" party for a good friend getting married next weekend. we're beginning the evening with cocktails and potluck snacks at her sister's apartment.

i have an unabashed love for dips and spreads of all kinds, so naturally i pulled out a couple of favorite recipes as my contribution to the evening's nosh.

Southwestern Red Pepper Dip
(adapted from The New American Plate Cookbook)
1 3-oz. package of sun-dried tomato halves (not in oil)
2 12-oz. jars roasted red peppers
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
cayenne pepper to taste
1 T. lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped scallion
4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

Soak tomatoes in a bowl of very hot water to cover about 5 minutes. Blitz first eight ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add cream cheese and puree. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let sit for 6-24 hours for flavors to meld. Serve at room temperature. (I like it with baked tortilla chips).

Fig-Rosemary Spread
10 oz. log of soft goat cheese
1/4 cup milk
2 T. minced fresh rosemary
2 t. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup finely chopped black mission figs
Black pepper

Combine goat cheese, milk, rosemary, and vinegar in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Add figs and stir to combine. Season with black pepper to taste. Best served with toasted baguette slices.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

pantry pasta

i hadn’t planned on making dinner last night. i thought we’d grab something that was around, maybe pb&j or a salad for me, mac and cheese or a frozen pizza for our hero. but when i got home from the gym, i really felt like cooking. i’d bought a beautiful lacy savoy cabbage at the farmer’s market this weekend with no official plans to use it, so i made a quick pasta sauce from low-fat yogurt and lemon, adding some pecorino romano (which compliments the cabbage beautifully). threw in some shelled edamame for protein and voila! t liked it enough to eat approximately ¾ of the batch for dinner. seriously. in his defense, he’d just returned from a merciless racquetball match. this was easy to whip up and tasty. I’m a sucker for pasta dishes and a sucker for cabbage, so i’m really looking forward to leftovers for lunch.

Whole-Wheat Penne with Cabbage and Edamame
1 lb. bag good whole-wheat penne pasta (I use Bionaturae religiously)
½ T. unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ head savoy cabbage, cut into half again and sliced very thinly
Handful of fresh basil, sliced thinly (mint would also be delicious)
¾ cup low-fat plain yogurt
Zest and juice of one lemon
¼ cup pecorino romano cheese (plus more for serving)
1-1½ cups shelled frozen edamame or frozen green peas

Put a kettle to the boil on the stove. Spoon yogurt into a small bowl, and use a whisk to combine with lemon zest, juice, and cheese. Set aside. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. When melted, add cabbage and cover until reduced a bit in bulk (and until it becomes manageable to flip it about in the pan). Add salt and pepper to taste. When cabbage is tender, remove from heat and stir in yogurt sauce and basil. Cover. Cook pasta and edamame or peas in the boiling water according to package directions. If you use edamame, you might want to cook it first, then the pasta, as it takes a bit of time to shell the beans. If you use peas, just throw them in during the last few minutes of the pasta’s cooking time.

Drain, toss together, and serve with a sprinkling of cheese.

flaxseed-raisin muffins

adapted from The New American Plate.

every fall, i am torn. i painfully say goodbye to playing outside, to enjoying outdoor weather--but i can again turn on my oven, cook slow stews, and otherwise heat up the kitchen in ways that would be intolerable during summer in our steamy upper flat.

last weekend i decided that this fall would be the fall of quickbreads and muffins--treats i enjoy but seldom make, due to the science-y preconceptions i have about baking. don't get me wrong, i've baked my own bread, pizza crusts, cakes, but i always prefer the freedom of cooking that allows for impulsive additions and substitutions. in any event, these are healthy and delicious, though i might cut back on the sugar next time.

Flaxseed-Raisin Muffins
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground flaxseed/flaxseed meal
2/3 cup sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs
2 T. canola oil
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray a 12-cup muffin tin. In a large bowl, blend flours, flaxseed, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, applesauce, buttermilk, and raisins. Add wet to dry ingredients, mix until just combined. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.Bake 25-35 minutes, or until cooked through. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins to rack to cool completely.

would be incredible with spicy autumnal butters--apple, pear, or pumpkin.

chicken with fresh plum chutney

veggies could use the chutney on any number of non-meat dishes. this recipe is from the latest issue of Everyday Food. i made it this week for dinner, and it was quick and delicious.

Chicken with Plum Chutney
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno chile (i used the whole dang thing)
4 red plums (about 1 lb.) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 T. cider vinegar
3/4 t. curry powder
1/4 t. ground ginger

Season chicken with salt and pepper, heat skillet with 1 T. oil over medium. Add chicken and cook until opaque, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To make the chutney, add the remaining T. of oil to the skillet, onion, and jalapeno. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to med-high. add plums sugar, vinegar, curry powder, ginger and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until fruit is soft and liquid is a bit syrupy, about 8 minutes.

Add chicken and juices back to the pan. Simmer until heated through, about 4 minutes. Serve with chutney.