Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fattet Hummus (Tahini Yogurt Chickpea Bread Pudding) from Food52

This "bread pudding" is really delicious. Depending on how much torn-up toasted, baked or fried pita you add, it can range from a dip to a much heartier entree-level dish. Either way, it's delicious. 

I added more tahini than the recipe calls for, and also more mint - about 1/4 cup of each. I also saved time and effort by just breaking some Stacy's Multigrain Pita Chips into the dish rather than dealing with prepping the pita myself. Also, if you don't have pine nuts, try walnuts, pecans, or something else (and tell me what you think!). The crunch is nice. 

You can really knock this dish out of the park if you use high quality, flavorful chickpeas. Arrowhead Mills Organic Chickpeas, soaked overnight then brought to a boil and simmered until tender in fresh salted water, are amazing.  They are a whole different animal than any canned variety I've used. Frying about half a cup to garnish is also key for the texture and beauty of this dish.

I usually serve it with still more pita chips for dipping. Another important note, if you make this to bring somewhere and want it to look gorgeous, transport the dip in one container, the fried nuts and chickpeas with their oil in another, and bring the paprika and some extra mint leaves to garnish on-site. Assemble the dish right before serving so everything looks all drizzly, fresh and perky.  

Click here for the recipe

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Crock Pot/Dutch Oven Fragrant Braised Beef with Allspice and Cinnamon over Whole Wheat Shells

It's been harder and harder to find the time to post these days with the little one napping less and less and playing more and more. Here's an easy recipe for a fragrant, delicious pot roast from my friend Stacie that, I promise you, will make up for my absence. It can be served over noodles or rice, in a sandwich, or simply along-side a loaf of crusty bread and butter. It's also a great recipe for the summer because it makes a lot and the crockpot won't heat up your whole kitchen. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Braised Beef with Allspice and Cinnamon 
* If you don't have a cock pot, see my dutch oven instructions below.
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
4 whole cloves 
(or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
3 allspice berries (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
6 black peppercorns 
(or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
olive oil
about 3.5 lbs beef (chuck, round, or shank/brisket) trimmed of excess fat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup hearty dry wine (any red you have on-hand is fine, just use one that's drinkable)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and peppercorns to a fine powder. Just use ground spices if you don't have whole ones on hand.

Prep all your veggies and get your wine and canned tomatoes ready.

Heat some olive oil in a large 
sauté pan or cast iron skillet over high heat. While its heating, dry the beef well with some paper towels and salt and pepper it liberally on all sides. When the pan is smoking hot, brown each side of the beef for about 5 minutes each, so the entire surface is seared and crusty. Transfer the beef to your crock pot.

In the same pan you browned the meat in, sauté the onions over medium heat until they're lightly browned. Add in the celery, carrots and garlic and sauté for about 4 more minutes (reduce the heat if needed so you don't burn the garlic). Add in the spice mixture and sauté everything for another minute. Pour in the red wine and cook it down for about 10 minutes or so. Be sure to deglaze your pan here, aka scrape all the yummy bits up off the bottom of the pan. 

Pour the contents of the pan over the meat in your crock pot. Add the crushed tomatoes a good pinch of salt to taste. The liquid should cover at least 3/4 of the meat. Add a cup or two of water if it doesn't. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, turning the meat over at the halfway point if you're around to do that. You can cut the cooking time down by a third to a half depending on the power of your crock pot by cooking it on high.

*If you are short on time, just toss the veggies, spices and crushed tomatoes into your crockpot and stir well. Brown the beef well on all sides and then nestle that in there. Deglaze the pan you cooked the beef in with the red wine and then add that to your crock pot and power it up. 

Serve over pasta, creamy polenta, or with roasted potatoes. It's also amazing with just some crusty bread drizzled with olive oil or slathered with butter. A dollop of crème fraîche or a grating of hard, aged cheese like Grana Padano, Parmiggian Reggiano, or Pecorino really sends it over the edge. 

*If you don't have a crock pot or prefer to use a dutch oven. Preheat your oven to 325 at the start of the recipe and set the racks so the dutch oven will sit roughly in the center of the oven. On your stovetop, heat some olive oil in the dutch oven and sear your meat then remove it to a plate. After you remove the beef, sauté the veggies and spices as described above. Add the wine, scrapping up all the good bits from the pan, then add the crushed tomatoes and season to taste. Put the meat in, again making sure it's 3/4 covered by the braising liquid (add just enough water or extra crushed tomatoes to accomplish this if it's isn't), cover and roast in your oven until the meat can be easily puled apart with a fork (about 6 hours or so). 

Monday, June 2, 2014

My take on Joanne Chang's Vegan Vanilla Mixed Berry Muffins from Flour, Too

Light and fluffy, these muffins have a moist center and perfectly crisp, sugared top. They are divine. 

This recipe is a slight adaptation the Vegan Vanilla Mixed Berry Muffin in Joanne Chang's second cookbook, Flour, too (an excellent cookbook!). 

I digressed a bit from Chang's original recipe here in order to add some whole grain goodness and cut back the sugar and oil just a smidgen. You can also use all whole wheat flour and/or make this as a cake (8 or 9 in cake pan, greased and parchment lined) with wonderful results. Another fun note, these are made with vegan "buttermilk", which gives them a light tanginess and tenderness that really sets them apart.  

I ate 6 of these the day I made them. Now for the recipe!

Vegan Vanilla Blueberry Muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for sprinkling on the muffin tops before baking)
zest of one lemon or one orange (optional)
2/3 cup coconut or vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup nondairy milk (I use almond)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (distilled is fine too)
1 Tablespoon good vanilla extract (it's a lot of vanilla, so using the good stuff is worth it)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries (I use frozen blueberries but Chang calls for raspberries and blueberries. Use what you got.)

Preheat your oven to 350 and line muffin tins (12) with liners (or grease them well). 

Combine the dry ingredients, sugar, and zest and set aside. Combine the wet ingredients and pour them into the dry. Mix until just combined then fold in the berries. I try not to mix too much at this point so my muffins don't turn entirely blue/purple. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, almost to the top of each, and sprinkle the tops with some sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden and the muffins are springy to the touch. Let them set up in the pan for a few minutes before taking them out to finish cooling on racks.  Joanne Chang suggests refreshing them in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes if you don't eat them all the day of baking, when they are best, that is.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crazy Delicious Farro and French Lentils with Parmesan

This is an incredibly simple, flavorful, and satisfying dish. You can throw it together in just a minute and after that, it only takes about 30-40 minutes total, largely unattended. I made this for the first time a few weeks ago and have made it weekly since then because it's so tasty, filling, and easy to whip-up while my lil' one is napping. 
The ratio is 2:1 water to dried goods and you don't need any spices, although you can certainly play around with them in this dish. Garnish with a little parsley and grated Parmesan and, presto, your nourishing and delicious dinner is served!

Farro and French Lentils with Parmesan
1/2 cup dried 10 minute/quick cooking farro (I like the one from Trader Joe's best)
1/2 cup dried french lentils (picked over for stones)
1 generous teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Toss everything into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 12-15 minutes. They should be just short of al dente before you cut off the heat.

*NOTE: I've found that the farro doesn't get too mushy with this method, even though it's meant to cook up in just 10 minutes. I've been using the Trader Joe's quick cooking farro so other farro brands may work out better if cooked separately.

Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit covered for another 10 minutes. The grains and lentils will absorb any remaining liquid and soften during this time. 

Toss with a fork and garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese. Serve alone or tossed in a Spinach Salad with Orange Zest, Sunflower Seeds and Dried Cranberries.

Here's that lil' one I mentioned earlier in her Tye Dye Mary hat from Nashville. 

Thanks, Peggy and Craig!!!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spinach Salad with Orange Zest, Sunflower Seeds and Dried Cranberries

Hey Y'all. 

Long time no post. We recently moved and have taken a few trips to Nashville to visit the grandparents, so life has been super hectic lately. Freya will be four months old in just two-days and I am astounded by how much she's changed and grown already. She's begun to roll over like a champ and is making so many noises (her screeching is amazing!). She's my little pterodactyl and being her mother is a constant joy. 

In an effort to cleanse a bit for the summer, get ready to chase the little one once she starts crawling, and work on this crazy sugar addiction of mine, I'm trying to blog more healthy dishes these days. This whole baking cookies every week thing just ain't gonna fly no more. So here's a lovely, fragrant, easy salad for you...

It's versatile and tastes wonderful with a few heaping spoonfuls of al dente cooked farro and lentils (recipe forthcoming), which wilt it a bit and give it great texture and lots of protein. It's great on it's own too though.

Spinach Salad with Orange Zest, Sunflower Seeds and Dried Cranberries 
roughly 6 cups baby spinach
2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted
1/4 cup (or handful) dried cranberries
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 scant Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
zest of an orange
salt and pepper to taste

Toss everything together and enjoy!

Here's the pterodactyl...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Red Cabbage Slaw with Cloves and Dried Cranberries

This slaw is a unique and satisfying alternative to a plain old dinner salad and it comes together in a flash. It's very hearty and healthy and it can be made a few days in advance, so it's great to bring to a potluck. What more could you ask for?! 

*I also love this slaw with cumin and pepitas, so I included them in the recipe below.

For the slaw...
1 small red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raw pepitas (optional)

For the dressing...
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Chop the veggies and toss them together in a large bowl. Mix up the vinaigrette and taste for seasoning. Add it to the veggies and toss everything together. If serving immediately, taste and adjust the spices and salt as needed. If you're making this in advance (up to three days ahead works great) taste and adjust the seasoning again just before serving.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pillowy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Vanilla Pudding Mix

This recipe is from the blog Chew Out Loud. I halved it and still got about 45 delicious little cookies (using about a tablespoon of dough per cookie). 

I wanted to try this recipe because it calls for vanilla pudding mix. I've seen a bunch of similar recipes and was intrigued as to how that would effect the dough/cookies. The bloggers at Chew Out Loud describe these as soft, chewy and not at all cakey. Mine where definitely very soft but I did find them to be just a tad cakey and not really chewy at all. I could also feel the texture of the vanilla pudding mix in the baked cookies, which was not at all unpleasant but slightly sandy. I like these cookies a lot although they aren't my favorite. I would be very interested to hear how they come out for you.

Pillowy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Vanilla Pudding Mix

From the blog, Chew Out Loud
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened 
3/4 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding (I used Jell-O brand)
2 large organic eggs
1/2 Tablespoon real vanilla extract
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips 
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, optional but recommended (I didn't add any but wish I had)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. 

In a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy (let it go for 4-5 minutes). Then add in the pudding mix, then the eggs and vanilla.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low briefly until just combined. 

Pulse in the chips and chopped walnuts. 

Cover the bowl and chill the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

Once you're ready to start shaping your cookies, preheat your oven to 350F. 

Scoop out about a tablespoon of dough per cookie, rolling each up between your palms then flattening slightly. I got about 45 cookies total, which, besides the small batch I baked right away, I froze flat on a cookie sheet then transferred to a baggie in the freezer for later baking. 

Place the cookies an inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake, one sheet at a time, for 7-8 minutes. Allow the cookies to set up for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.