Monday, November 1, 2010

Fig and Ricotta Flatbread

This is so simple, with just a few ingredients, but it is delicious!  The ricotta, rosemary, and figs are a heavenly (if not unlikely) combination).  I served this for dinner with an egg and bacon salad, and it was both comforting and elegant at the end of the day. 

With so few ingredients, get the best you can.  I used store-bought pizza dough.  And fat-free ricotta.  And dried figs (they are no longer easy to find fresh here).  My husband did not complain about any of the above.  But, I implore you to at least use fresh rosemary!  This is one of my most helpful strategies in cooking...when using some less than fresh (i.e., canned) ingredients, use fresh herbs and feel altogether less guilty.  Or don't feel guilty at all.  You still cooked dinner, right?

Fig and Ricotta Flatbread
serves 4-6 as a main-dish, more an an appetizer
adapted from 5 Ingredient Fix: Easy, Elegant, and Irresistible Recipes, by Claire Robinson

Ingredients:

1 lb pizza dough -- it stretches better if you let it hang out on the counter a half hour before you are going to work with it.
2 Tbsp garlic flavored oil (or 2 Tbsp olive oil and a few shakes of, ahem, garlic powder)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, preferably fresh
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
12-16 fresh or dried figs, sliced

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Coat an 11 x 17 jelly roll pan with a little extra oil or cooking spray.  Stretch the dough to fit the pan -- you want it to be quite thin.
3. Sprinkle the garlic oil (or olive oil and garlic powder) over the dough.
4. Combine the ricotta and chopped rosemary.  Spread over the dough.
5. Sprinkle the fig slices on top.
6. Pop in the oven, and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Sprinkle with a little more garlic oil and rosemary, if desired, and cut into rectangles before serving.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brown Butter Banana Muffins

Hello, hello!  I still exist!  Things have been wild here, chez The Cook and The Dishwasher.  We may be buying a house...as in we have a real, life, accepted offer.  Hopefully the rest of the process will continue to go smoothly, because I am really excited about tripling my kitchen space so I can churn out my yummy things!

So these muffins are among the best I've ever made, and maybe you've noticed...I make a lot of muffins.  And they are very simple and quick as a jiff to get into the oven.  The nutty brown butter flavor is a perfect complement for the sweet bananas and honey and agave nectar.  I used my mini-muffin pan to keep the portion size under control., but to tell you the truth...these make me want to go out and buy a jumbo muffin pan.  And just maybe I will soon have the cabinet space to justify such a purchase!

Brown Butter Banana Muffins
yeilds 12 regular sized muffins, or 23 mini-muffins
from 5 Ingredient Fix, by Claire Robinson

Ingredients:
1 stick butter
4 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup raw agave syrup or honey (I used a blend)
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup self-rising flour

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Meanwhile, put the stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt.  Continue cooking, stirring occaisonally, until the milk solids turn a golden brown and smell nutty.  Remove from the heat and cool.
2. Mash the four bananas with a potato masher until they liquifiy (or leave a few chunks, if you like chunks like I do!).  Add in the egg and agavey syrup (or honey) and stir until well-blended.  Pour in the butter, and whisk until thoroughly combined. 
3. Add in the self-rising flour, and stir until just combined.  Do not over mix. 
4. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.  Pour the batter evenly into the cups.  Bake for 25 minutes for regular sized muffins, and 18-20 minutes for mini-muffins.  The tops should be slightly golden and should spring back to the touch.
5.  Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan, and then remove to a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Classic Sticky Buns


Um, remember last month when I made the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls?  And remember how they were really, really, really good?  And remember how I do not actually wrangle cattle all day long, and do not burn off a zillion calories a day?

Yeah.  And remember how I wanted to make more and more cinnamon rolls?  Well, you probably don't remember.  I didn't tell you.  I just went ahead and made this Weight Watchers' recipe for sticky buns. 

Ok, if we're going to be brutally honest with each other, I should tell you that these have more in common with a cinnamon raisin bagel than those dreamy, gooey cinnamon rolls.  But, in their defense, they are most fabulous warm, with delightful hints of cinnamon and brown sugar and just the right amount of icing.  And they will not leave you racing to the fridge to chug the milk straight from the container to cut the sweetness, which, on some days, can be a plus. 

Classic Sticky Buns
yields 8 buns
adapted from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook


Ingredients:
1 envelope dry yeast
2 Tbsp lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm skim milk (microwave for 20 seconds)
1 large egg
2 tsp sweet butter, melted
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark raisins
2 tsp skim milk
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp warm water

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water.  Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, measure out the lukewarm milk and butter.  Combine with the egg and lightly beat.  In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  With the machine running, add the yeast mixture and the milk mixture through the feed tube until the dough forms a ball.  Knead the dough by pulsing the food processor about 30 times, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
3. Coat a large bowl with non-stick spray.  Put the dough in the bowl, and cover loosely with saran wrap or a slightly damp towel.  Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes, until it doubles in size.
4. Spray an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray.  Punch down the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.
5. Knead the raisins into the dough.  Divide into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into an 8 inch rope, and then coil the ropes into buns.  Place the buns in the pan.  Cover loosely again with plastic wrap or a damp towel.  Let rise for another 35-40 minutes, until doubled in volume.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush the tops of the buns with the 2 tsp skim milk.  Bake on the center of the oven rack for about 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned.
7. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by combining the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and warm water.  Glaze the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.  Serve warm.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sneak Peek at Next Week

This weekend is flying by!  Don't you wish that they were all three-day weekends?

Here's what we'll be eating in the week to come...if we ever get to the grocery store!

-- Slow Cooker Thai Chili Chicken and Noodles
-- Fusilli with Spicy Pesto
-- Arugula Salad with Roasted Fruit and Challah Croutons
-- Turkey and Cheese Waffle Sandwiches with Stewed Apples

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fast French Onion Soup

People, people, have I got news for you!  This version of French onion Soup can be on your table in 30 minutes, and it tastes like it's been cooking all day.  French onion soup is one of my husband's favorite dishes, which makes him more of a connoisseur than me, and he pronounced this to be great.  As for me, I love finding recipes like this: ones that taste like they have been cooked for hours, and that can be prepared in a jiff after work. 

I have made a more traditional recipe for french onion soup in the past, in which the onions are slowly caramelized, and then the broth is added and slowly simmered.  To tell you the truth...I like this version better.  The broth had much more flavor, and I didn't have to cope with the smell of pounds of onions oh-so-slowly cooking down in my kitchen for an hour. 

So I just had to share this with you!  Does anyone else have any great, fast recipes for traditionally slow-cooking dishes to share?  I'd love to know your secrets!

Fast French Onion Soup
serve 3-4 as a main course, 6 as a starter
adapted from Desperation Dinners, by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp margarine (I used Land of Lakes Light Butter, made with canola oil)
3 extra-large onions (to yield about 4 cups sliced)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cans (or 4 cups) reduced fat, low-sodium beef broth
1 can (2 cups) fat-free low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried chopped onion
1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups shredded low-fat mozzarella
3 cups garlic and onion fat-free croutons
6 Tbsp shredded Parmesan

Directions:
1. Turn on the broiler.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the 2 Tbsp of margarine.  Slice the onions into 1/4 inch sliced, and add to the pan as you slice.  Turn the heat up to high once you begin to add the onions.  Once all of the onions are added, add the brown sugar.  Turn the heat down to medium once the onions begin to brown.  Stir the onions from time to time, but not too frequently.
3. While the onions are cooking, bring the beef and chicken broth to a boil in a covered Dutch oven.  Once the broth reaches a boil, uncover quickly to add the wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, dried onion, onion powder, and thyme.  No need to be very precise about measurements here -- your hands will work fine to measure the spices.
4. While the soup is coming to a boil, place 6 (or fewer for a main-course portion) oven-proof bowls on baking sheets.  If you are not serving all of the soup, just use as many bowls as you need, and prepare the rest of the soup through step 5 before refrigerating for leftovers.
5. When the broth is boiling, add the onions to the soup pot and cover it.  Reduce the heat to medium-high and bring back to a boil for 2-5 minutes to incorporate onion flavor.  Remove from the heat.
6. Ladle soup into the bowls, and sprinkle each bowl with 1/2 cup croutons.  Place 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella over the top of the croutons, followed by 1 Tbsp of Parmesan for each serving.  Carefully place the baking sheet under the boiler for 1 minute, or until the cheese melts and slightly browns.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

African Chicken Stew over Couscous

Sometimes, ahem, there is nothing better than a quickie.  And this stew is a quickie!  The warmth from the North African spices (cinnamon, turmeric, and cumin) is the perfect thing to fill your belly on a chilly fall evening.  The chicken here comes out perfectly moist.  I think the raisins are my favorite part of this...they balance out the spices and the savory vegetables well.  But I imagine some of you are raisin-haters, so feel free to leave them out!

African Chicken Stew over Couscous
adapted from Desperation Dinners, by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross
serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 can fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 box (about 10oz) couscous
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion
10-12 peeled baby carrots (to yield about 1/2 cup sliced)
2 medium zucchini or summer squash
2 tsp minced garlic (fresh or bottled, I won't tell if you don't)
1 can no salt-added stewed tomatoes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
black pepper
1 tsp honey
1 generous cup frozen tri-color pepper stir-fry blend
1/2 cup raisins
1 small can (7 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:
1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a small sauce pan.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil over medium heat.  Meanwhile, slice the carrots and add to the large saucepan as you slice.  Slice the onion and then add that as well.  Follow with the summer squash, adding to the pan as you slice.
3. Once the broth comes to a boil, add the box of couscous.  Cover, and remove from the heat.  Let it steam for 5 minutes and the fluff with a fork.  Cover to keep warm while the stew is cooking.
4. Pound the chicken breast with a meat mallet to about 1/2 inch thickness.  This step is optional, but I prefer my chicken pounded for one reason or another!  Cut the chicken into 1 inch chunks.
5. Add the chicken and the garlic to the large sauce pan.  Stir.  Turn the heat up to high and cover and cook for 2 minutes.
6. Add the stewed tomatoes, the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and honey.  Follow with a generous sprinkling of black pepper.  Add the frozen pepper blend and the raisins.  Bring the mixture up to a boil, and stir thoroughly. 
7. Cover the pot and adjust the heat to maintain an active simmer.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
8. Serve the stew over generous helpings of couscous.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Roasted Pear, Cheddar, and Walnut Salad in Apple Cider Dressing

Did you all have a nice long weekend?  My husband and I had a great trip to Upstate New York!  The drive was beautiful, with all of the leaves changing color.  We had plenty of time to relax and be away from computers and work, and also plenty to do! 
We stopped by Indian Ladder Farm, in Altamont, NY, where I used to go apple picking as a child.  Sadly, they weren't doing pick-your-own yesterday, so I didn't bring back any apples.  But they did have loads of beautiful squash.  I bought a white pumpkin, my very first!  It looks great in the apartment.  Can you cook with white pumpkin just the same as you do with orange one?  I am getting a little attached to this guy; he's rather cute.  Nevertheless, I am curious.  You can't save a pumpkin forever!
Once we got home this afternoon, it was great to have a salad as a light supper, especially after indulging a little more than usual (cider doughnuts were involved).  This one packs in many of my favorite fall flavors: sweet roasted pears, sharp cheddar, toasted walnuts, and fresh greens, under a sweet and tangy cider dressing.  I rounded this out for a meal with some garlic-Parmesan biscuits.  It would be a great starter salad too, though.

Roasted Pear, Cheddar, and Walnut Salad in Apple Cider Dressing
adapted from The Way We Cook by Julie Riven and Sheryl Julian
serves 3 as a main course, 6 as a starter

Ingredients:

2 firm pears, such as Bosc
1 head red- or green-leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and chopped
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
2-4 ounces sharp Cheddar (to taste), cut into 1/4 inch cube
1/4 cup apple cider
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 Tbsp honey.

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Slice the pears (not peeled) in half.  Use a paring knife to remove the core and stem.  Cut into 1/8 inch slices.  Spread out on a baking sheet, prepared with Pam spray.  Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, until slightly browned on the edges.
3. To prepare the dressing, combine the cider, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oil well.  Add in the honey, and whisk thoroughly to emulsify.
4. Arrange the greens in shallow bowls, topped with the nuts.  Arrange a few slices of roasted pears on each salad.  Drizzle a little dressing over the top, and then scatter the cheddar to taste over each salad.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sneak Peek at Next Week

One more work day till the long weekend!  Anyone doing anything fun?  We are staying at a B&B in Saratoga, and hanging out in both Saratoga and the Albany, NY area, which is, coincidentally, where I grew up.  I am so excited!  It is beautiful there this time of year.  I am hoping to get a little more apple picking in -- at Indian Ladder Farms, where I went growing up.  They have the best cider doughnuts.  My husband has never had a cider doughnot, can you believe that?  So I am taking him to get the best of the best!

Here's what we'll be eating when we get back...along with a lot of apples, I hope!

-- Spaghetti alla Carbonara
-- Fast French Onion Soup
-- African Chicken Stew with Couscous
-- Roasted Pears, Walnut, and Goat Cheese on a Green Salad

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Southwestern Bean Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

This is a GREAT soup to warm your belly with on, say, the third cold, rainy day in a row.  It is mildly spicy, with tender beans and vegetables in a warm, flavorful broth.  The cornmeal dumplings made us think of a cross between cornbread and matzo balls, a great combination if you ask me!

This is a slow-cooker recipe.  Can you tell that I love my slow-cooker?  Since I run out of the door in the mornings, I usually prep my slow-cooker meals the night before, and refrigerate them in a large Tupperware.  That means that in the morning all I have to do is dump everything into the slow-cooker and program it.  This turned out to be a great strategy today, as I ended up being home sick with a cold.  It was great to have hot soup that cooked itself while I pretty much slept on the couch all day.

This soup makes for a great filling, healthy one-dish meal.  I topped ours with a little shredded cheese and cold sour cream.  I think you could have a lot of fun with garnishes here -- scallions, olives, avocado, diced tomatoes, and other traditional taco toppings would work well.

Southwestern Bean Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings
serves 6

Ingredients:
Soup
3 cups water
1 15oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can black beans, pinto beans, or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 10z package frozen corn
1 cup sliced carrot
1 large onion, chopped
1 4oz can diced green chili peppers, undrained
2 Tbsp instant beef or chicken bouillon
2 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

Dumplings:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
a little fresh ground pepper
1 beaten egg white
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp canola oil

Garnishes (optional, and to taste):
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded Montery Jack cheese
scallions
sliced black olives
sour cream
avocado
diced tomatoes

Directions:
1. Mix all of the soup ingredients in a slow-cooker.  cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours, or on HIGH for 5-6 hours.
2. For the dumplings, mix the dry ingredients (flour through pepper) in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, beat together the wet ingredients (egg white, milk, and oil).  Combine the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly, but do not over-mix.
3. Drop the dumplings into the slow-cooker in 6 mounds, right atop the bubbling soup.  Cook for an additional 30 minutes on LOW, or 20 minutes on HIGH.  Do not open the lid during this time!  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a dumpling -- it should come out dry.
4. Ladle into bowls, and top each serving with a dumpling.  Garnish to taste.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

I get so excited for fall flavors every year!  Apples, pears, cranberries, cinnamon, squash, pumpkin...I love them all.  Really, I can't get enough!  This pumpkin bread is a great way to get your pumpkin in.  It is very light, but you wouldn't know that from tasting it!  It has a great moist texture, and the pumpkin and spices blend perfectly.  This is perfect with a nice cup of Rooibos tea -- my favorite. 
(Look carefully at the background there, and you can see how cookbook and magazine crazy I am!  And that's not even half of it!)

Spiced Pumpkin Bread
(yields 1 9X5 loaf, 12-18 slices)
source: Cook Healthy Cook Quick

Ingredients:

2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat a 9x5 baking pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine the first 8 ingredients (flour through cloves) in a medium bowl.
3. Combine pumpkin and next 4 ingredients (through eggs).  Add to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.
4. Spoon batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, than turn out to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pizza Burgers Parmesan with Spinach Salad with Bacon and Eggs

Speaking of pizza, we like to eat it other ways too...such as in burger form!  My husband and I agreed that this was our favorite new recipe from this past week.  These burgers pack in so much flavor!  I thought they tasted like a great cross between burgers, chicken parmesan, and pizza.  Really, how can you go wrong there?  The spinach salad, with smoky bacon, hard-boiled eggs, and sauteed onions served in an apple cider vinaigrette is a perfect complement.

I adapted this recipe from Robin Miller's latest cookbook, Robin Rescues Dinner.  I've always loved Robin Miller's recipes because they are quick, creative, and very flavorful.  What's more, they generally lean on the healthy side.  I like this latest cookbook because each recipe comes with a side dish suggestion.  I think I've mentioned this before, but I live for recipes with side dish suggestions!  Without those suggestions...my meals tend to become one-dish meals, or, are accompanied by my standard green salad.  That can get, well, a little dull.  So I am always seeking out cookbooks like this one, that provide a recipe and suggest a full menu.  It makes my life much easier!  Just a note -- I basically prepared the salad first, and then the burgers.

My adaptations here were the same as always -- intended to make the meal more economical and healthier for us.  I used 95% lean ground beef because it was on sale last week.  I think ground chicken would be great here, however, and really yield a burger that tastes like chicken parm!  Also, did you see how we used English muffins?  In a family of two, it really doesn't pay for us to buy hamburger rolls and English muffins most weeks.  So I often just serve burgers right on English muffins, which we buy anyway for breakfasts.

Pizza Burgers Parmesan
adapted from Robin Rescues Dinner, by Robin Miller
serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup prepared pizza sauce
1 lb lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs (I used homemade, but you can obviously use store bought)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
4 hamburger buns or English muffins, preferably whole wheat, toasted

Directions:
1. Preheat a non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat.
2. Place the pizza sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat to warm.
3. Mix together the ground meat, the Parmesan cheese, the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Shape into 4 patties, about 1 inch thick.
4. Cook the burgers in the skillet or grill pan, for about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through.  Top with the mozzarella cheese (about 2 Tbsp on each burger), and tent with foil for 1 minute, until the cheese is melted.  Place each patty on the bottom of a toasted bun or English muffin, and cover with 1/4 cup of warm pizza sauce.  Place the top of the roll on the burger and serve.

Spinach Salad with Bacon and Eggs
adapted from Robin Rescues Dinner, by Robin Miller
serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 10oz bag baby spinach leaves
1/2 red onion
4 slices bacon or turkey bacon
4 eggs, hard-boiled, sliced
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp apple cider
1 Tbsp canola oil
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Thinly slice red-onion.
2. Cook bacon according to package directions on a large griddle or non-stick skillet.  Place bacon strips on one side of the pan, and add the onion slices to the other half to cook both at once.
3. While the bacon and onions are cooking, combine the vinegar, cider, and oil well in a small bowl.  Season generously with salt and pepper.
4. When the bacon strips are cooked through, remove from the pan.  Spread out the onion.
5. Add the dressing and cook for 1 minute.
6. Toss the hot dressing and onions over the spinach.  Toss through to slightly wilt the spinach. 
7. Sprinkle the salad with the sliced eggs. Chop the bacon and sprinkle over the salad as well.

For more great recipes from great cookbooks, check out Cookbook Sundays at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pesto, Broccoli, and Spinach Pizza

My husband and I are both big fans of pizza.  Really, who isn't?  Last year, I did a whole unit on pizza with my pre-K class!  We cooked, graphed, did pizza fractions...even pizza art!  (And my husband enjoyed multiple trips to Bertucci's so that we could stock on pizza boxes and take-out menus for the dramatic play area in my classroom!)

There are so many fun, easy ways to make pizza at home, and we love them all!  Naan pizza, pita pizza, refrigerated crust...we like all of these.  For this pizza, I had some dough in the freezer from a month or so ago.  I've made the Barefoot Contessa's recipe and the Pioneer Woman's recipe in the past, and I have to say that I am partial to the Pioneer Woman's recipe.  (My regrets, Ina.)  The PW's dough yields a very thin crust that is full of flavor, and makes any pizza shine.  I love that the recipe yields enough for 2 pizzas.  It freezes and defrosts so easily -- why not make a little extra ahead?

This is a very simple pizza recipe -- and it's very green, literally!  Loaded up with spinach and broccoli, it is easy to convince yourself that pizza is a health food.  This recipe uses pesto instead of a traditional pizza sauce.  While pesto can be dense in calories, it packs in a lot of flavor, and you really don't need much.  I used a reduced-fat mozzarella (but not fat-free, yuck!) and I do think that I completely convinced myself that this is quite healthy -- lots of veggies and calcium! 

Pesto, Broccoli, and Spinach Pizza
serves 4-6
adapted from Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meals for Kids

Ingredients:

1 box frozen chopped spinach
2 small crowns broccoli
1 batch pizza dough (store-bought or homemade, your choice)
1/2 cup pesto sauce (mine came from the jar, I won't tell if you don't tell)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, preferably low-fat
2 cloves garlic, pushed through a press

Directions:

1. Prepare pizza dough according to package directions or recipe.  (Alternately, you can use a pre-cooked pizza dough or naan bread for the crush, and bake the pizza in a cooler oven, about 375 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Defrost spinach in the microwave, about 5 minutes on high, breaking it up after 3 minutes with a fork.  Meanwhile, wash broccoli and chop finely. 
4. Use paper towels to press down on the spinach to absorb the excess water.  Be careful, because it will be hot.  This will take you a few paper towels -- you want to wring most of the moisture out of the spinach. 
5. Meanwhile, steam the broccoli in the microwave.  Place it in a glass bowl with a tablespoon of water, and cook on high for about 5 minutes.
6. Spread the pesto over the pizza dough.  Top with the spinach, broccoli, and cheese.  Sprinkle the pressed garlic over the top.
7. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden.

For more fun Rachael Ray recipes, check out one of my most FAVORITE blogs -- Taste and Tell for Saturdays with Rachael Ray!  This is one of the blogs that I check even on nights when I'm way too exhausted and full to think about food.  It's a great source of cookbook reviews and fun, tasty recipes!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sneak Peek at Next Week

Can you believe it's the weekend again?  Well, I'm not complaining! 
Here's our plan for next week:

-- Pasta with Chilli, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella
-- Chilli Cashew Chicken Noodles
-- Pizza Napoli (on French Bread!)
-- Southwestern Bean Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

Think of this post as a public service announcement.  I am going to just take a minute here to highly recommend, that, on your next rainy Sunday morning, you click on over to the Pioneer Woman's website and get to work on these cinnamon rolls.  You and your family will be very, very happy.  We were!
If, like me, you only have two people in your family, this recipe halves very well.  This was a relief, since I think that even though it's just the two of us...we could have easily polished off the 50 of these that the entire recipe makes!  I made half the recipe, which yielded just about 20 cinnamon rolls.  I baked them all, but froze one tray.  We had unexpected guests that afternoon, and polished off the first tray.  With mulled apple cider (boozed up with some Butterscotch Schnapps, thanks mom!) and a little early Halloween candy, it was, I have to say, my best party ever.  And completely unplanned.
I daresay, Martha would have been proud.  And maybe even the Pioneer Woman.  I am lucky enough to have her cookbook, and have definitely gotten a lot of use out of it.  But the rest of you can just follow this link.  I will say this though -- I am pretty sure I have never used so much butter and sugar at once!  Nor made such a mess of my tiny kitchen.  All totally worth it. I am now considering using that much butter and sugar in everything!  Turns out...fat and sugar taste very, very, very good indeed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Apple Cranberry Torte

As far as recipes go, Marian Burros' Plum Torte is pretty darn famous, having appeared in the New York Time something like 15 times.  Growing up, however, I thought of it as my mom's famous plum torte.  A big fan of Elegant But Easy (by Marian Burros and Lois Levine), my mom made this torte often and it was requested even more often. 

So imagine my surprise, as an adult, when I discovered that other people knew about my mom's plum torte!  Although, if you ask me, not enough people know about Elegant But Easy!  I myself cook from The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, the second edition that came out in the `90's.   As a fickle owner of many cookbooks, I am quite loyal to this one, and turn to it when I need to bring along a dish to a potluck or am entertaining.  The dessert chapters, in particular, have never let me down.  There is a Chocolate Angel Food Cake recipe in there that is a favorite of mine!   My only complaint about this book is that the brownie recipe is all gussied up, not the simple Barbara's Brownie recipe in the original book.  That was our classic family brownie recipe growing up, and my sister even made it to a state fair on that recipe!  I have to confess that I am keeping an eye out for an old copy of the original book, even though it is pretty out of date.

This Apple Cranberry Torte recipe appears in the new edition of the book, alongside the original plum torte.  And, for those of us who like to keep things healthy, there is even a healthier version.  I've yet to try that one, but I will let you know if I do soon!  I have a full basket of apple from apple picking on the kitchen table, so you never know.

This torte, like the original plum torte, is easy peasy.  And moist and delicious and very impressive when you arrive to a party with it in hand.  Really, can you ask for anything more?

Apple Cranberry Torte
from The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, by Marian Burros and Lois Levine
serves at least 8

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 medium-large tart, firm apples
1/2 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2-3 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 cup currant jelly or apricot jam

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 10-inch springform pan.
2. Bring 1 and 1/2 cups water to a simmer and then remove from the heat.  Add the dried cranberries and soak for about 15-20 minutes, until the berries become plump.  Drain well.  Meanwhile, peel and core the apples.  Cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges.  Squeeze the lemon juice from the 1/2 lemon over the apples so that they do not brown.  Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and the sugar using an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add the flour, eggs, and baking powder.  Stir until well-combined.  Stir in the cranberries, reserving a small handful to sprinkle on top. 
4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
5. Starting from the outside, place the apple wedges in concentric circles, pointed edges facing towards the center. 
6. Combine the 2-3 Tbsp sugar with 1-2 tsp cinnamon (to taste).  Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture liberally over the apple wedges.   Toss the remaining cranberries over the top.
7. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake about 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown, the apples are tender (but not mushy), and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out dry.
8. This cake refrigerates and freezes well when carefully wrapped. 
9. Before serving, melt the jelly over the stove top.  Use a pasty brush to glaze the cake with the melted jelly.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spicy Honey-Nut Chicken with Barbecued Succotash


So, the Dishwasher here (aka, my husband) is a little picky about his chicken, in that, he professes an extreme dislike to "boring chicken."  This made planning our wedding menu pretty hard!  Have you noticed how most reception sites serve, well, a slab of chicken and a few sides?  That was so not going to fly with the groom!  At any rate, it leaves me, when planning our weekly menus, constantly trying to come up with ways to make chicken more interesting.  Dredged in a hot sauce mixture and coated in bread crumbs and honey-nut peanuts, this chicken, in my humble opinion, was certainly interesting enough!  I served it with a simple succotash of beans, corn, and red pepper, combined with barbecue sauce.  Succotash generally doesn't appeal to me (still traumatized by frozen lima beans), but this one, with its smoky barbecue flavor and soft pinto beans, was delish!

This is another recipe that I adapted from Rachael Ray's book for kids.  Childless though we may be, we've loved every recipe that we've tried from this book.  And since it's written for kids, the recipes have all actually taken me 30 minutes or less.  So I am here to whole-heartedly recommend Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids to people of ALL ages!

Just a quick note before I get the recipe up here -- I used chicken cutlets in this recipe, which were fabulous.  You could use breasts though, and if you were ambitious, you could pound them out nice and thin.  I think chicken tenders would also be great here!

Spicy Honey-Nut Chicken with Barbecued Succotash
serves 4

Spicy Honey-Nut Chicken

Ingredients:
4-5 chicken cutlets (or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 16 chicken tenders)
1/2 to 2/3 cup honey-roasted peanuts
1/2 cup bread crumbs (fresh or store-bought)
1 Tbsp grill seasoning blend, such as Montreal Grill Seasoning by McCormick
1 egg
a splash of half-and-half (fat-free works fine)
2 tsp (or more to taste) hot sauce
1/2 cup flour
cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
2. Put the peanuts, breadcrumbs, and grill seasoning blend in a food-processor and grind to combine.  (A mini-food processor is great here!)
3. Beat the egg with the half-and-half and hot sauce.  Preheat a non-stick skillet on the stove, set at medium-high.
4. Set up your dredging stations.   On the far left, in a shallow dish, put the 1/2 cup of flour.  In the middle, in a shallow dish, place the egg mixture.  On the right, in a shallow dish, place the nut-bread crumb mixture.  Spray the non-stick skillet with cooking spray.
5. Coat the chicken pieces, first in the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the bread crumb mixture.  Tongs work great for this!  Place the chicken in the skillet.  Cook for two minutes on each side, coating with cooking spray on top before turning.  Place the browned chicken on a baking sheet, and place it in the oven for 10-12 minutes (less for cutlets or tenders) until the chicken is cooked through.

Barbecued Succotash
Ingredients:

1 Tbsp canola oil or olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 box frozen corn (defrosted if you want to move a little quicker, frozen if you are lazy like me)
salt and ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
a few Tbsp chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

1.  In a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, heat the oil through.  Then add the onion and red bell pepper.
2. Once the vegetables are softened (about 5 minutes), add the beans and corn, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Once the beans and corn have heated through, add the barbecue sauce.  Serve with cilantro to garnish.


For more recipes from great cookbooks (you know me and the cookbooks), check out Cookbook Sundays over at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sneak Peek at Next Week

TGIF!  We are going to a potluck tonight, and I'm bringing along a fall version of Marion Burros' famous plum torte, with apples and cranberries instead of plums.  I can't wait to try it!  My mom made that plum torte a lot when I was growing up, and I have VERY fond memories of it.  I'll let you know how it goes.

So, here's what else we're looking forward to eating around here!
- Breakfast for Dinner: Egg McMuffin sandwiches
- Bacon and Cheese Panini
- Hearty Minestrone Soup with Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks
- Parmesan Burgers served with Spinach, Bacon, and Egg Salad

Anyone else have any good plans?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Double Panini Night: Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Panini AND Pizza Panini

This is another quick, simple, and fast dinner that went over BIG with the taste-tester (and by taste-tester, I mean my husband).  This is actually two recipes in one...a Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella panini and a Pizza panini.  Both are made on garlic bread, and both are delicious!  I like the Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella myself -- I love tomato and basil together.  But my husband loved the Pizza panini.  My Pizza panini were very simple, just pizza sauce and cheese.  But you could add pepperoni or roasted peppers or any of your favorite pizza toppings!  I used a small loaf of Italian bread here, and made tiny little sandwiches so we could sample both.  But you could go ahead and use a larger loaf of bread and just slice the sandwiches in half to mix and match.   I served these with a quick green salad, which balanced out the meal perfectly.
Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Panini AND Pizza Panini
serves 3-4
adapted from Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids

Ingredients:
1 small loaf Italian bread, in 16slices, or 1 large loaf Italian bread, in 8 slices and then sliced in half
4 tsp canola or olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1-2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup pesto (store-bought or homemade, I won't tell)
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella (sliced), or 1 cup cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/4 cup pizza sauce, any kind
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Crush and peel the cloves of garlic by smashing with the side of a knife.  Place them in a very small bowl with the 4 tsp of oil.  Microwave on HIGH for 25 seconds, or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
2. Using a pastry brush, brush the garlic oil on each slice of bread. 
3. Place the sliced bread, oil side down, on a large cutting board.  Begin assembling the sandwiches.
4. For the four Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella panini, begin by spreading 8 of the slices of bread with pesto (about 1 tsp on each slice).  Then, sprinkle four slices of bread with the diced plum tomatoes.  Cover with the sliced or shredded mozzarella.  Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place another pesto-smothered slice of bread on top and close.
5. For the pizza panini, spread four of the remaining slices of bread with pizza sauce.  Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese, and close with the remaining bread.
6.  Use a panini press to press and toast for 5-8 minutes.  Alternately, you can use a non-stick skillet or grill pan.  Just use a second pan topped with a few cans to weight the sandwiches.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cold Sesame Soy Noodles and Potstickers with Dipping Sauce

This little dinner packs in a lot of flavor and a lot of (mostly hidden) vegetables...and can be on your table in 30 minutes!  I adapted this from a Rachael Ray recipe...and frankly, I love Rachael Ray, but her 30-minute meals usually take me more like 45+ minutes.  I know that that is a frequent complaint about her recipes, and so, let me tell you, from a slow cook, this dinner really takes only 30 minutes!

Now, two confessions here...first, those potstickers...well..um...they came from the frozen!  I've made potstickers before a little more from scratch.  Those are great for days when I have a little more time.  But I found these Joyce Chen dumplings in the freezer section of my supermarket on sale, and I was very pleasantly surprised by how low in fat and sodium they were.  So, in the cart and onto the plate they went!  Also, my other confession...I adapted this recipe from Rachael Ray's cookbook for kids: Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals For Kids.  Lest my relatives reading this get all excited, let me just assure you that there are no kids here.  But, well, some of us have kiddie taste buds around here!

My adaptations here were to make this recipe a little lighter.  I used less oil, and added in a little brown sugar to the dressing.  When you add less oil to a dressing, you need a way to balance the acidity of the vinegar.  A tablespoon of brown sugar actually packs in fewer calories than the equivalent in oil, and it rounds the flavor out nicely.  I also packed in many more veggies than Rachael Ray suggested.  The shredded cabbage and bean sprouts blend so nicely into the noodles that you don't even realize how many veggies you are getting!  This recipe calls for one of my favorite quick fixes -- the shredded cabbage/carrot blend that you can find near the bagged salads in your grocery section.  I can usually find this at a very reasonable price (usually $1.50 or so).  It is great not just to make slaws with, but also to add to stir-fries and other Asian style dishes such as this one. 

Cold Sesame Soy Noodles and Potstickers with Dipping Sauce
serves 4-6
adapted from Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids

Ingredients:
1 package frozen store-bought potstickers, dumplings, or spring rolls (vegetable, chicken, pork, or shrimp)
1/2 cup plum sauce or duck sauce
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 scallion, finely chopped

Noodles:
6oz thin whole-grain spaghetti
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
3 Tbsp reduced fat peanut butter
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional, and to taste)
2 cups shredded cabbage and carrot mix (coleslaw mix)
2 cups mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
1 1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped.
3 scallions, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Prepare the dumplings/potstickers/spring rolls according to the package directions.  (I used potstickers and boiled them as opposed to frying to make the dish light and healthy.)
2. Meanwhile, prepare the dipping sauce by mixing together the 1/2 cup plum or duck sauce, the 2 Tbsp soy sauce, the 2 tsp sesame oil, the 1 tsp red-pepper flakes, and the 1 finely chopped scallion.  Set aside.
3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions so that it is slightly al dente.  During the last five minutes of cooking, add the chopped broccoli to the boiling water.  Once the noodles are done to your liking, drain them with the broccoli and rinse with cold water.  Drain again, quite well.
4. In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the 1/2 cup soy sauce, the 3 Tbsp peanut butter, the 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, the 1 Tbsp sesame oil, the cayenne pepper (to taste), the brown sugar, and the water.  Whisk well.
5.  Add the shredded cabbage and carrots, the bean sprouts, the water chestnuts, the scallions, the broccoli, and the noodles.  Toss well.
6. Serve a mound of noodles with the potstickers/dumplings/spring rolls on the side, along with dipping sauce in a small bowl.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Slow-Cooker Cuban Red Beans and Rice

Can you tell how much we love beans around here?  They are a great way to get protein and fiber, and very inexpensive!  Lately, I am really loving making them in my slow-cooker.  That enables me to use dried beans and avoid the sodium that is added in canned beans.  I used red kidney beans in this recipe, but you could also try using black beans.  It's a delicious recipe -- lots of flavor from the smoky cumin and sweet fennel seeds.  There is just a little bit of heat to this, but feel free to top it with lots of hot sauce, the way that we did!  Best of all, this is really easy to throw together!  I soaked my beans the night before, and I put together the broth, water, peppers, and seasonings at the same time.  I put them in a large Tupperware container in the fridge, and then just threw everything into the slow-cooker before I left the house in the morning.  I came home, just made a little quick-cooking brown rice, and had a yummy, warm dinner to fill my belly on a chilly fall evening.

As I mention, I served this with a little hot sauce on top (actually, I used a Chinese chile-garlic sauce).  This would also be cooked topped with cilantro, a few bacon crumbles, or sour cream.  We ate this as a one-dish dinner, but a few sauteed plantains or a green salad would make a great side dish!

Slow-Cooker Cuban Red Beans and Rice
serves 10
adapted from The Best of Cooking Light Everyday Favorites

Ingredients:

1 pound dried red kidney beans
2 cups water
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (to make this vegetarian, you can use vegetable broth)
2 cup chopped onion (about 2 small white onions)
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 chopped Cubanelle pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fennel seeds
4 tsp cumin (or you can use 2 tsp cumin + 2 tsp coriander)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (drained if you prefer)
5 cups hot cooked rice (I used brown minute rice)
Hot sauce, cilantro, bacon, sour cream to garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Sort and wash beans and place in a large bowl.  Cover with water by 2 inches, and leave overnight (or at least 8 hours).  Drain.
2. Combine beans, 2 cups water, and next 10 ingredients (through oregano).  You can do this ahead of time and refrigerate in a container, or you can do this right into your slow-cooker before cooking.  Place in an electric slow-cooker.  Cover, and cook on HIGH for 5 and 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender.  Add the vinegar and tomatoes before serving.  (I cooked mine an addition 30 minutes on HIGH at this point to to heat through the tomatoes, but you do not have to.)  Serve over hot cooked rice.  A serving is 1 cup of the bean mixture and 1/2 cup of rice.
3. Garnish to taste with hot sauce, bacon crumbles, cilantro, or sour cream.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sneak Peek at Next Week

Well, I am still here and I still exist!  I teach pre-kindergarten, and the kids started up at school this week.  Every year, I am surprised how much energy it takes to settle them in!  But I have a great slow-cooker recipe from this past week to share with you, so check back in tomorrow.

As for the week coming up...here's what we have planned!

-- Panini Night: Tomato, Cheese, and Basil Panini AND Pizza Panini
-- Pesto, Spinach, and Broccoli Pizza
-- Cold Soy Sesame Noodles and Spring Rolls
-- Spicy Honey-Nut Chicken with Barbecued Succotash

Anyone have any exciting recipes planned for next week?  Do share!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sloppy Bombay Joes

Well, well, well.  All of my rooting for Aarti Sequeira on the Next Food Network Star really paid off.  Last night, I made my first recipe from her show, and people, believe me when I tell you that this was fabulous.  My husband went back for seconds, and I think even thirds...and we're not big on seconds around here!  These sloppy joes have a deep, warm flavor from the garam masala spice mix, and a wonderful crunch and sweetness from the toasted nuts and raisins.  I cannot imagine how I will ever like a different sloppy joe as much! 

This recipe went quicker for me than the website indicated -- it took just 45 minutes.  The orignal recipe called for ground turkey....but my grocery store never got in their shipment of ground turkey.  So, to keep this healthy and economical, I used a mixture of 90% lean beef and 1 can of cannellini beans.  It turned out great, and I'd go ahead with that mix again!  I also think this would be tasty with some lentils cooked right in the sauce, and could even be made that way to be completely vegetarian.  I served this on whole-wheat English muffins, but if you want a bigger sandwich, by all means, get a good hamburger bun or sandwich roll!  Just promise me you'll try this one...it's that good.

Bombay Sloppy Joes
serves 4-6
adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aarti-sequeira/sloppy-bombay-joes-recipe/index.html

Ingredients:

Sauce:
2 tsp canola oil
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, pushed through a press
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and well minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water

Meat Filling:
2 tsp canola oil, divided
1/4 cup peanuts, pistachios, or cashews
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 serrano chile, seeds intact (for more heat, you can finely dice the second half of the pepper)
salt
1/2 pound 90% lean ground beef
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup fat-free half-and-half
a few Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
4-5 hamburger buns or whole wheat English muffins, buttered (if desired) and toasted

Directions:
1. Begin by making the sauce.  Heat 2 tsp canola oil over medium heat and a medium saucepan.  Add the garlic, ginger, and minced serrano chile, and cook a couple of minutes, until the garlic and ginger become fragrant and take on a slight hint of color.
2. Add the 1 tsp garam masala and the 1/2 tsp paprika, and cook for 30 seconds, until the spices become fragrant.
3. Add the tomato sauce and 1 cup of water.  Bring to boil, and then reduce the heat so the sauce just simmers.  Cook for 15 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.
4. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tsp canola oil over medium heat.  When the oil is good and hot, add in the nuts and raisins and 1 Tbsp of water.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until the water has evaporated, the nuts have toasted, and the raisins have plumped up.  Set the nut and raisin mixture aside.
5. Add a second teaspoon of oil to the skillet.  When it has heated, add the cumin seeds.  Allow them to sizzle for 1 minutes, and then add the minced onion and red bell pepper.
6. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and just started to take on color.
7. Add the ground beef, and cook for 5 minutes, until the meat becomes opaque.
8.  At this point, the sauce should be ready.  Add the sauce and the beans to the skillet, and bring to a boil.  Then reduce the heat so the mixture just simmers.  Cook for another 10 minutes, to allow the mixture to become quite thick.
9. Remove from the heat, and add in the honey.  Gradually add in the half-and-half.  Stir through and taste, and then salt as necessary.
10. Serve on English muffins or buns, topped with a bit of finely topped cilantro.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Honey-Spice Cake

Honey cake is a traditional dessert served on Rosh Hashanah, as the sweetness of the honey represent the sweetness of the new year ahead.  This year I made us a Weight Watcher's recipe.  The flavor is this cake is great -- the honey and spices blend together so well.  I found the texture slightly dry at the end pieces.  Next year I might try adding a little yogurt for moisture, or grabbing it out of the oven slightly sooner.  Nevertheless, we are enjoying the left overs!  I think it would also be a great candidate for a little vanilla ice cream topping, or perhaps even a glaze. 

I had some cinnamon flavored artisanal honey from Jansal Valley on hand that I used in here.  It was a great complement to the spices!  Because my cinnamon honey is quite spacey, I reduced the ground cinnamon in the recipe from 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp.  If you are just using regular honey, use a whole teaspoon of ground cinnamon!

Does anyone else have a great honey cake recipe?  I considered making this one again, but I wanted to try something different!

Honey-Spice Cake
adapted from Weight Watchers
serves 12

Ingredients:
1 spray cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground allspice
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup cinnamon honey (if you do not have this, just use 1/2 cup regular honey)
1/4 cup regular honey, preferably dark
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp chopped walnuts

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.  Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with 1 spray of cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine well the dry ingredients (flour through allspice).  Set aside.
3. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs.  Add in the sugar, oil, and honey.  Beat until fluffy.  Add in the applesauce and vanilla and stir well.
4. Slowly combine the flour mixture with the wet ingredients.  Mix well, but not too much.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the 3 Tbsp chopped walnuts on top.  Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out dry.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes, and then on a wire rack until at room temperature.
6. Slice into 12 slices.
(Each slice is 3 Weight Watchers Points.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Broccoli-Egg-Cheese Burritos

Now, do you believe me that we like to eat eggs for dinner?  Yup, here we go again.  Actually, to tell you the truth, this is so simple that it is barely a recipe.  I wasn't even going to blog it...but then my husband announced that it was his favorite meal all week!  Yes.  After I slaved around making homemade sausages and made pretty little make-ahead sandwich wedges...his favorite was the burrito!  And, I definitely want to save this recipe for myself, since it is cheap AND healthy AND super-fast.  These are tasty, but simple.  I served them with barbecue sauce for dipping, which was a great combo with all that gooey, melted cheese.  But you could have a lot of fun messing around with condiments here.  There would also be good dipped in marinara or pizza sauce, or salsa, or even pesto. 

And I won't blame you if you eat this burrito for breakfast! 

Broccoli-Egg-Cheese-Burritos
serves 4
adapted from Yum-O, by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

2 small crowns broccoli
Italian herb blend (I like McCormick's Perfect in a Pinch Herb Garlic blend)
4 tsp canola oil
8 eggs, or 4 egg white and 4 yolks, or all egg whites (I just used the whites)
pinch of milk
salt and pepper
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese (or use a Mexican or Italian cheese blend)
4 large flour tortillas, preferably whole wheat.
barbecue sauce, marinara, pizza sauce, pesto, or salsa for dipping

Directions:
1. Chop the broccoli fairly finely (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks...it has to fit in a burrito!).
2. Preheat the 4 tsp canola oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chopped broccoli and a pinch or two of an herb blend.  Saute about five to seven minutes, until the broccoli is cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, beat the eggs (or egg whites) and add a pinch of milk.  Season with salt and pepper. 
4. Once the broccoli is cooked, add the eggs to the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Scramble the eggs with the broccoli.
5. Meanwhile, heat up each tortilla by placing it on a dry, non-stick griddle for a minute on each side.  The tortilla should bubble up a little.  On the second side, place 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese in the center and lightly spread out.  This coaxes the cheese into melting.
6. Once the eggs are scrambled, place 1/4 of the egg mixture on each tortilla.  Roll up, and serve with your choice of sauces for dipping. 

For more yummy Rachael Ray recipes, check out Saturdays with Rachael Ray over at Taste and Tell!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sneak Peek at Next Week

Whew, it is finally Friday!  Thank goodness for that!  I am enjoying a sneak preview of fall weather these few days here in the Boston area -- it is cooling down a little.

So here's what up on the roster for next week.  Looks like it will be a busy week for me, as the kids at school are finally starting, and I have a few appointments after school.  So I tried to find some good, quick dinner solutions!  This is what we're having:

-- Sloppy Bombay Joes
-- Hot Dog night!  Baked Beans and a slaw on the side
-- Egg Foo Yung, with a side of rice
-- Salad Nicoise in Pita Pockets
-- Cuban Beans and Rice

Anyone trying any interesting new recipes next week?  Or have fun weekend plans?