Monday, January 31, 2011

Cold Noodles With Peanut Sauce

When I made this peanut sauce for the Thai Tempeh Wraps last week, I had plenty of leftover and wanted to use it up.  So, I decided to make David's cold noodle recipe that goes with the peanut sauce.  

Pretty good stuff!  We liked this noodle dish and, of course, the peanut sauce.  The highlight, surprisingly, was the chicken!  This is a genius way of poaching a chicken breast.  The meat was so tender and perfectly cooked.  After all this time of going on and on about how much I don't like chicken breasts...I have finally found a satisfying method to cook the stuff.  

Cold Noodles With Peanut Sauce

This recipe makes about 2 cups (500ml) of peanut sauce, which is more than you’ll need for four servings. But it’s pretty great on white rice as an afternoon snack or French fries.

The chicken needs to be hand-shredded since the uneven surface makes it easier for the peanut sauce to adhere to the meat. Toast the peanuts in a 350ºF (180ºC) oven on a baking sheet for about twelve minutes, stirring a few times during baking, until they’re well-toasted.

2 cups (300g) dark roasted unsalted peanuts
1/2 to 3/4 cup (125-180ml) hot black tea
1/2 cup (125ml) oil, preferably peanut or coconut milk
1 tablespoon (10g) peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 small chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper (if available)
1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste or chili oil
1/3 cup (15g) packed cilantro sprigs or chives
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 pound (450g) wide Chinese noodles, often called Shanghai noodles
2 chicken breasts, boneless or on the bone
1 large cucumber
sprigs of cilantro

Make Peanut Sauce: Put the peanuts, 1/2 cup (125ml) of hot tea, and the oil or coconut milk in a blender. Turn the machine on and let it run for a few minutes until the peanuts are almost smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and let the machine run until the sauce is pureed. Check the consistency. If it’s too thick for your liking, add up to another 1/4 cup (55ml) of tea.

Cook the noodles in a pot of boiling salted water according to the time on the package. (I usually cook them a little less, since I like them chewy.) Once done, drain and immediately run cold water over the noodles in the colander, turning them with tongs to cool them as rapidly as possible. Toss the noodles in a drizzle of oil and set aside.

Put the chicken breasts in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and add enough salt to estimate the saltiness of sea water. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and leave the chicken breasts in the water for twenty minutes, covered. After twenty minutes, remove the chicken breasts from the liquid and let sit until cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken breasts by hand into bite-size strips.

Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half lengthwise then remove the seeds with a spoon. Slice the cucumber diagonally.

Divide the noodles between the four bowls, top with chicken and cucumbers, then add a few generous, heaping spoonfuls of peanut sauce. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and encourage guests to mix everything together in their own bowls.

Storage Tips: The peanut sauce can be made up to one week in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for up to two months. The chicken breasts and the noodles can be cooked and refrigerated up to one day ahead.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes with Raspberry Curd Filling

Happy Birthday to everyone born in January!  

Like ME!

Here is my birthday cake this year.  It is a lemon poppy seed cake with a raspberry curd filling and almond cream cheese frosting.

I thought the flavors were interesting and enjoyed this cake, but there were a few things that bothered me.  First, due to the cream cheese frosting, I needed to refrigerate the cake and I didn't like it as much after it was cold (even if it had come back to room temp).  Second, frosting is lame and I can never find one that I like.  I am sure the one I will like is one that takes about 10 hours to make.  Annie originally made these as mini cakes.  So, she had recommended doubling the cake batter to make two 9 inch round cakes.  Doubling the batter made way too much cake.  I think you could probably make two thin layers using the recipe below.  I also think two thin round cakes would be better than what I had.

The raspberry curd is delicious.  And I like it with the lemon poppy seed cake.  Annie originally made this with a lemon buttercream, but said she would have preferred a lemon cream cheese frosting.  I thought there was plenty of lemon, so I went with an almond cream cheese frosting.  I liked the almond flavor in the frosting but just thought it was too sweet.  

Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes with Raspberry Curd Filling
adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the cake:
2 1/3 cups cake flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. poppy seeds
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
12 tsbp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk

For the raspberry curd:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pint ripe raspberries or
1 12-oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For garnish:
fresh raspberries (optional)

To make the cake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9Å~13″ cake pan. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a bowl; set aside. In the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high. Beat just until stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl, clean the mixer bowl and reattach it with the paddle attachment.

Add the butter to the mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until incorporated. Mix in the lemon zest. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and beat until just blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the remaining milk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat until just blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold one quarter of the egg whites into the batter, being careful not to deflate the mixture. Once incorporated, add in the rest of the whites and gently fold in until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 24-26 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the outside of pan and gently turn the cake out. Allow to cool completely.

To make the raspberry curd, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the raspberries, egg yolks, sugar and salt, and cook, mashing the berries. Stir frequently at first and then constantly at the end, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through a coarse strainer set over a bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Cool to room temperature; the curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in lemon juice to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cut the cake into rounds as desired. Layer the rounds with the cooled raspberry curd. Once layered, allow the assembled cakes to cool in the refrigerator to help them set.

In the meantime, make the frosting. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla and almond extracts. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Frost the chilled cakes with the frosting. Garnish with fresh raspberries as desired.

(Servings: 8-10, Time: about 4 hours, Difficulty: Intermediate)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  6/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  5/5
Dishwashing Effort:  5/5

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuna and Caper Tomato Pasta

I know this isn't a meal that 80% of the people in the world would like.  

I used to think that I invented putting tuna and olives in tomato sauce.  And then putting it over pasta.  This is a pantry meal I used to make all the time.  Then, I saw Giada do it (no tuna).  Then, I went to Switzerland and had it in a restaurant.  THEN, I made it like everyday we were in Switzerland because everything else there was too expensive.  And finally, I saw this recipe on Closet Cooking.  And I thought, "you know Kev, you put a lot more thought into your pasta dish than I ever have...I am just going to make yours!"  (Kevin doesn't know me...or that I call him Kev.)

Anyways, I love this pasta.  And I am sorry if you hate olives and canned tuna and capers and anchovies.  I am guessing if that is the case, you might not like this pasta.  

But if there was such a way for brine to flow out my pores, I am sure it would.  

Love you. 

I give you a 9/10 for convenience, love, ease of execution and flavor burst.  

Tuna and Caper Tomato Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 (28 ounce) can plum tomatoes (crushed)
2 tablespoons capers (drained)
1/4 cup kalamata olives (pitted and diced)
2 anchovies (minced, optional)
1 can tuna (drained)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound spaghetti
1 handful parsley (chopped)

Heat the oil in the pan at medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and chili pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add the white wine, deglaze the pan and then simmer until it has almost all evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and capers and simmer until the sauce just starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the olives, anchovies and tuna and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta as directed.

Season the tomato sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the tomato sauce from the heat and mix in the parsley. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thai Tempeh Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

For breakfast and lunch, we have a routine.  I hate routines, but they do make life easier.  For breakfast, we do cereal and OJ.  And I have never been a cereal person.  But Scot's life and happiness depends on cereal.  When he is working out a lot, I can't even tell you how many bowls he eats (we both sit and eat breakfast each least 20 minutes).  So, basically, I became a cereal person.  We do switch it up, have bagels, oatmeal or something special, but 90% of the time it is the standard.  

Oh, and we secretly eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Sometimes.  Yeah, yeah, it has a lot of sugar.  But you brush your teeth right after breakfast, so it all goes away.  We eat other cereal that literally looks like gerbil food, therefore, it all evens out in the end.  

For lunch, we eat yogurt, fruit, and a main dish.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I swear!  Are we lame?  The main dish is usually some leftovers.  Back up is often PB&J (which I could really live without, but I can choke it down).  Sometimes I do cheese sandwiches (my favorite, not Scot's).  But every once in awhile, I like to spice things up.  Actually MAKE something for lunch.  And a wrap is always a great lunch item. 

This particular wrap is made up of some tempeh marinated in soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and red pepper flakes with some fresh veggies and spicy peanut sauce.  Tempeh goes really well with Asian flavors.  And these wraps hold up nicely with time and taste great cold.  

Notes on the peanut sauce:  I would recommend using the oil instead of the coconut milk if you want a looser, wetter sauce.  I liked having a thicker sauce for the wraps because it keeps it from getting too drippy.  And also, you can use the rest of the sauce to make the noodle dish on David Lebovitz's website, which is where the peanut sauce recipe is from.  

Thai Tempeh Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

8 ounces of tempeh
2 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of rice vinegar
1 tbsp of honey
1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
light cooking oil
4 large leaves of green leaf lettuce
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 small cucumber, seeds removed, julienned
1 package of bean sprouts
1 handful of cilantro, big stems removed.
1 lime
salt and pepper
1 cup of peanut sauce (recipe below)
4 large wraps or burrito sized tortillas

Mix together marinade for the tempeh: soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, crushed red pepper flakes. Thinly slice tempeh, toss in marinade and let sit for about 20 minutes.

Heat a nonstick pan or griddle over medium high heat. Drizzle light cooking oil over the pan. Cook each slice of tempeh (drained, marinade discarded) until golden brown and crispy.

To assemble wrap, lay out a tortilla. Smear some peanut sauce on the tortilla (if it is thin enough, you can simply drizzle it over the top in the end). Top with one piece of lettuce and place all the veggies and cilantro on top. Season with salt and pepper and a fresh squeeze of lime. Place tempeh pieces on last. Wrap and roll. Repeat for other three.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 10 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Peanut Sauce

2 cups (300g) dark roasted unsalted peanuts
1/2 to 3/4 cup (125-180ml) hot black tea
1/2 cup (125ml) oil, preferably peanut or coconut milk
1 tablespoon (10g) peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 small chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper (if available)
1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lime or lemon juice
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste or chili oil
1/3 cup (15g) packed cilantro sprigs or chives
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Put the peanuts, 1/2 cup (125ml) of hot tea, and the oil or coconut milk in a blender. Turn the machine on and let it run for a few minutes until the peanuts are almost smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and let the machine run until the sauce is pureed.

Check the consistency. If it’s too thick for your liking, add up to another 1/4 cup (55ml) of tea.

Storage Tips: The peanut sauce can be made up to one week in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for up to two months. The chicken breasts and the noodles can be cooked and refrigerated up to one day ahead.

(Makes 2 cups, Prep time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sizzling Haloumi with Roasted Asparagus & Tomatoes over Israeli Couscous

I have been wanting to try haloumi forever!  Finally!  I have tasted it!

First, this is a delicious dish.  Some of my favorite things including roasted asparagus and grape tomatoes with a lemon caper vinaigrette over the top.  I also made some Israeli couscous to go with it all.  

Now, the haloumi?  If you aren't familiar, it is a cheese made from a combo of goat's and sheep milk.  It is popular in Greece and in the Middle East, but originated in the country of Cyprus (little island guy south of Turkey in the Med Sea).  I have never been to any of these places, but would very happy to go!  Anyways, haloumi has a very high melting point, so it often grilled.  Grilling it gives it a nice crispy texture on the outside.  For some reason I was imagining it would be crispy on the outside and creamy, melty cheese on the inside.  But, remember, this stuff doesn't really melt.  So the texture on the inside is quite firm. It has tons of flavor...and a nice saltiness.  I enjoyed it, especially with the other flavors of this dish.  But since it is a little pricey, I might not be eating it on a regular basis.  

Sizzling Haloumi with Roasted Asparagus & Tomatoes over Israeli Couscous
slightly adapted from Cara’s Cravings

1 box Israeli couscous (about 8 ounces)
1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
3 tbsp of finely chopped parsley, divided
1 lb asparagus
8 oz grape tomatoes, halved
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons capers
1 package Haloumi cheese, 8.8oz
olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Boil water in a tea kettle (I needed two cups, check package for exact amount). In a small pot with tight fitting lid, sauté onion until slightly caramelized. Add Israeli couscous, stir and slightly toast (about 3 minutes). Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, salt, pepper and boiling water. Simmer, covered, for 8-10 minutes (or according to package instructions).

Preheat oven to 350F. Trim the asparagus by snapping off the tough, woody ends. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, and season with salt & pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for 10 minutes. Pull pan out of oven, add halved grape tomatoes, and toss all to combine. Put back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until tomatoes have broken down a bit and asparagus is golden brown.  Meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, capers, pepper and 1 tablespoon of parsley.

Heat a griddle over medium heat and drizzle pan with olive oil. Cook the Haloumi slices for several minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven if necessary.

Place a healthy scoop of the Israeli couscous on the plate. Arrange the asparagus and tomatoes on top, and top each with a slice of the seared Haloumi. Drizzle with the lemon-caper vinaigrette and serve immediately. 

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup

I guess we eat a lot of soup.  I really appreciate dishes that can be made in under an hour for week night meals.  Although I cook a lot and it is really important to me, we struggle just as much as the next fam to find time during the week to cook AND eat dinner (especially consecutively).  It seems that no matter how hard we try, we always have things scheduled between 6 and 7 pm.  I always cringe when I have to commit to those times because that usually means I have to wait until after it all to cook and eat.  

For this soup, I threw it all the together right when I got home and let it cook pretty much all the way.  Then, I turned off the stove but left the pot on the stove, we left for an hour or so, came back, turned back on the heat, and dinner was ready in about five minutes.  I like that kind of flexibility.  

Plus, this is a simple, but interesting, set of flavors.  Most notably, there is a whole spoonful of cinnamon.  I thought it was very fragrant and pleasant, but couldn't actually taste the cinnamon.  Scot said he could taste it and really liked it.  Leftovers were even better!

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup
by Dave Lieberman via Food Network

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 large onion, medium diced
6 to 8 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
3 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1 quart vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (5-ounce) package pre-washed baby spinach

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent; lower heat if browning starts to occur. Add spices and saute a minute or so. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and sugar. Season with a couple pinches of salt and 10 grinds fresh pepper. Stir well. Chickpeas should be just covered with liquid. If level is shy, add some water so the chickpeas are just covered.

Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to low and gently simmer for 45 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Use a potato masher to mash up some of the chickpeas right in the pot. Stir in the spinach and let heat through until wilted, just a couple minutes.

Season again, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Serve soup, drizzled lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 5 min., Cook time: 50 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spaghetti Squash with Kale-Tomato Sauce and Crispy Tempeh

I actually really dig tempeh.  If you have never had it/heard of is a soy product.  But much, much different from tofu.  Tempeh is made from the whole soybean through some fermentation process, where tofu is soy milk curds pressed into a block.  As a result, tempeh has a much firmer texture (which I prefer).  I think it tastes kind of nutty.  Bonus:  it is stocked full of protein and fiber and other good stuff.

You may ask:  "Shanon, you aren't a health nut...why even bother with crazy things like tempeh?"

First, I am a health nut.  Second, I generally hate chicken breasts, lean pork, or pretty much any other healthy, low fat meat.  For me to like meat, it generally needs to be a pretty fatty cut.  So, I eat it less and get my protein elsewhere more.  And for me, tempeh is a great option because:  (1) it is cheap, (2) it is easy, (3) it is good.  

Now, tempeh from a package looks (and smells) a little gnarly.  But don't be scared.  Think of all the chickens you are saving.  Soy beans don't have hearts.  I am kidding.  I didn't really say that.

Anyways, this dish is a little something I threw together.  I wanted to make something kind of different with spaghetti squash.  And I love kale so much I drink it.  And marinated tempeh is delicious.  This is a great, healthy meal.  

Spaghetti Squash with Kale-Tomato Sauce and Crispy Tempeh

1 medium spaghetti squash
8 ounce block of tempeh
1 tsp Dijon mustard
drizzle of honey
juice of two lemons, divided
2 tbsp of white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp ground oregano
4 tbsp of olive oil, divided
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
6 green olives, finely chopped
1 tbsp of butter
1-3 tbsps of parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
more olive oil for sautéing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil baking sheet, cut spaghetti squash in half, and lay each half flat side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until fork tender.

Make marinade for tempeh by combining Dijon, honey, juice of one lemon, white wine vinegar, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Whisk quickly and slowly drizzle in 3 tbsp of olive oil. Cut tempeh block into bite sized pieces and add to marinade. Let marinate for about 30 minutes.

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a large deep skillet, add shallots and cook for about 3-4 minutes until soft. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until broke down slightly and hot, about 3-4 minutes. Add kale, water
and juice of half a lemon. Let cook 10-15 minutes until kale has wilted and flavors have combined. Add chopped green olives. Taste and adjust seasonings. Keep warm on stove.

Once the spaghetti squash is cooked and cooled, use a spoon to scoop out stringy pulp. Heat another large skillet over medium high heat and add just a drizzle of olive oil. Add marinated tempeh (drained) and cook until crispy on both sides. Remove from pan, set aside, and wipe pan clean of excess marinade.

In the same pan over medium high heat, add butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Once butter is melted, add spaghetti squash to pan and toss around to coat. Cook for several minutes to dry out the spaghetti squash a bit. Season with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

To serve, place a big scoop of spaghetti squash on plate. Top with the kaletomato sauce. Top that with crispy tempeh. Sprinkle with more parmesan and serve with remaining lemon slices.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 1.5 hrs., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  6/10
Scot (taste):  6/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Green Smoothie

I remember in middle school learning hallway etiquette.  Always stay to the right!

Have you ever been walking down a walking path or in a hallway and did the awkward dance with the person approaching you?  

I am sure this has happened to are walking a path and and two people are coming towards you?  Do you believe with all your heart that regardless of the size of your party, you are granted half of the path?  

What about this...ever been walking on a path only big enough for ONE person and someone else was walking from the opposite way on that path?  Who moves?  NBD.

I had a friend in college who was a strong believer that whoever was smaller was responsible for moving aside for the bigger person.  Yeah, he was big.  

Well none of that really matters.  What matters is that I have joined the green smoothie lovers of the world.  You can call it an energy shake.  Or a smoothie.  Or dinner.  

This smoothie is healthy in the sense that it isn't unhealthy.  It is packed with spinach and kale.  Ok, it isn't packed, but each serving has about a cup of raw greens.  Which won't change your life, but it will give you a little boost.  The important thing is  that this smoothie is good.  I loved it.  We tried it also with orange juice instead of almond milk, which I also really enjoyed.  But the almond milk is nice and thick and gives it a great texture and creaminess (cow's milk would be a fairly lame substitute because it has no flavor or texture).  

How do they milk almonds?  Actually, almonds are kind of milky if you think about it.  

Almond milk is good for you, though.  Has some good fat in it, with few calories (unless it is sweetened) and some bonus fiber and protein.  I have been into using milk substitutes a lot lately because I so often prefer whole milk in drinks.  The skim just doesn't do it for me.  So, the milk substitutes like soy and almond have all the creaminess without the fat.  

Really, just try this!  Tastes nothing like kale and spinach.  It is so pretty.  And in the very least, it will make you feel like you are doing something right.  

I was inspired by Joy and Bon Appetit.  

Green Smoothie

1 heaping cup of fresh spinach
1 heaping cup of coarsely chopped raw kale
2 cups almond milk (vanilla flavor)
1 banana, cut into several pieces and frozen
1 pear, cut into several pieces and frozen
2 kiwis, skins removed, cut into several pieces and frozen

Place spinach, kale and almond milk in blender and blend until greens are broken up into tiny pieces. Add frozen fruit and blend until smooth.

(Servings: 2, Prep time: 10 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  1/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Monday, January 17, 2011

Raspberry Walnut French Toast

Ever seen a quick bread made into french toast?  It is a great way to fancy up french toast.  

I don't make french toast all that often, but we had it growing up every once and a while.  Scot and I made some for breakfast for (I think) the first time half a year or so ago.  It was fun for Scot because it is something he grew up eating a lot.  While I was helping him make it, he was shocked at how easy it was.  He kept going on and on about it.  "Why don't we make this everyday?"

Now, this french toast involved baking a raspberry and walnut quick bread first (we also tried a blueberry bread, no nuts).  We made the bread the night before so that it would be completely cooled in time to make the french toast.   

This french toast is pretty sweet, no need for syrup.  However, I do like the taste of the maple with it so I like a little syrup on it.  It would be great with some slightly sweetened freshly whipped cream.  I am on a cream-free diet right now.  Like this week.  So, I skipped it.  

I have to say that Scot and I saw this idea a while back and he was especially excited about it.  He really liked this breakfast.  I probably preferred the no nut version but Scot liked this version best.  

Raspberry Walnut French Toast
bread recipe adapted from Allrecipes

For bread:
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

For french toast:
Butter, for pan and to serve
2 eggs
a splash of milk
a pinch of cinnamon
powdered sugar
maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, juice and eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk. Fold in nuts, and raspberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let cool completely on cooling rack.

Preheat griddle pan and butter pan. Slice bread into thick, one inch slices. Prepare egg mixture by whisking together egg, milk and cinnamon. Dip each slice of bread quickly in the egg mixture to coat and place on griddle. Cook on all sides until golden brown. Serve with a tiny bit of powdered sugar and maple syrup (the toast is sweet enough to eat on its own!)

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 1.5 hrs, Cook time: Cook time: 20 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  6/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spinoccoli Pizza

Girl Pizza!!!  Pizza topped with a garlic parmesan cream sauce, broccoli, spinach and two types of cheeses.  Pretty girly, huh?

This is the kind of pizza my roommates in college would order for pizza night.  This is a pizza I know my mom would love.  For some reason, broccoli is woman food.  And when combined with a cream sauce and cheese, it is even better.  

I spent most of my life being a cream-sauce-on-pizza hater.  It was a combination of it being unhealthy and me thinking cream sauce just did not belong on pizza.  Since then, I have embraced all things cream.  And while it is still true, I would never order something like this if I could choose a good red sauce or a California style pizza or even deep is a simple and delicious combination of flavors and I am not so much of a hater.  

May I also note that I have tried the recipe for the pizza dough from Baking Illustrated a few times now (the one Annie posted a tutorial on).  It calls for bread flour, which I have always ignored and just used regular AP flour (lazy)...always liked the results.  This time, I tried it with bread flour and it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.  Gives it a good chew.  The dough itself is beautiful and perfectly elastic.  Very easy to work with.  I felt like I was a pizzeria man, rolling out my dough with such ease.  And the bottom is so crispy.  If I were rating the dough recipe, it would definitely be a 10/10 for at home pizza crust.  Below are the ratings for this particular combination of toppings!

Spinoccoli Pizza

For the white sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the pizza:
Pizza dough (1/2 this recipe) 
Olive oil, for brushing
1/2 cup packed baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup very small broccoli florets
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Grated Parmesan

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the heavy cream and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth. Discard the garlic clove. (Note: This will make a bit more sauce than you need for the pizza, but with a little extra cheese it makes a great dipping sauce for crust.)

To make the pizza, preheat the oven and a pizza stone at 500° F for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round. Lightly brush the perimeter of the dough with olive oil. Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust. Sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the white sauce. Evenly distribute the broccoli florets over the dough. Layer evenly with the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired. Transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

(Servings: 3, Prep time: 2.5 hours, Cook time: 12 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crème Brûlée

Sometimes I make dessert.  And sometimes I choose desserts that have 10 egg yolks and 1 quart of heavy cream in them.  

Scot gets kind of annoyed that I will only eat the fattiest ice cream on the planet.  He wants a less guilty ice cream.  So he can eat more than a tablespoon.  So, I kept the ingredients list of this creme brulee on the DL.  Actually, for real, I told him.  And told him I saved him all the egg whites so he can enjoy egg white omelets.  That helped.  

These were real good.  And I have a secret.  So, I only have 4 of the dishes pictured above (totally should have halved the recipe btw).   After filling my four regular creme brulee dishes, I put the rest in three deeper, not as ideal ramekins.  These deeper dishes had more in them, but also weren't as submerged in the water and basically seemed to break all the rules.  I didn't worry about it because I figured four was more than enough and if those three were ruined, it might be for the better. Anyways, they weren't set when I took the regular four out of the oven...but I took them all out anyways.  Then, I had to turn  the oven down to 275 for the beef tacos I was making.  I just threw the three big ones in the oven with the beef, no water bath, no nothing.  And I kept them in there for about an hour (!!!).  They turned out just as creamy and delicious (don't worry, we didn't eat them all).  So, even though creme brulee seems intimidating, I think it isn't as straight laced as you might think.  

Crème Brûlée
from Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
10 egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

First, pour the cream into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Bring almost to a boil, then turn off the heat.

Place egg yolks in a large bowl and add the 3/4 cup sugar. With a whisk, mix the eggs and sugar together. Now, break out your elbow grease and take a deep breath. You’re going to need to whisk the mixture like crazy for a good 3 or 4 minutes, until it’s very light yellow in color. This kills my arm every time, and I usually have to stop and take a few breathers along the way. Consider this your exercise for the day.

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the hot cream into the bowl through the strainer. This will filter out the tiny bits of vanilla bean. To temper the egg mixture, very slowly drizzle 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg/sugar mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously to prevent the eggs from cooking. Continue adding the rest of the hot cream to the bowl very slowly, whisking constantly. You can add the cream a little more rapidly as the mixture warms.

Place 6 ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and ladle in the custard until the ramekins are three-quarters full. Place the pan inside the oven, then pour water into the baking sheet until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard is set but not brown. Watch carefully to avoid browning.

Remove the ramekins from the pan and allow to cool. Refrigerate the custards, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve dessert, sprinkle the top of each custard generously with 1 tablespoon superfine sugar. Use a kitchen torch to burn the sugar to a crisp, working quickly to avoid cooking the custard below. Serve immediately with spoons. Prepare yourself for moans and groans.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 40 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  4/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Potato Leek Soup

Remember back when I posted a recipe for Baked Potato Soup?  It was delicious.  And I love the warm feeling potato soup leaves in your stomach.  As I said before, it actually warms your soul.  You can feel it in your heart's center.  

I loved it but I hated it.  I hated it because it had some ridiculous amount of sour cream in it and I couldn't eat it again without feeling guilty.  It is a party soup.  But how will I warm my soul?  

This potato and leek soup has all the warming qualities without the additional fat.  And it is equally as delicious.  I topped mine with some goat cheese, chives and plenty of black pepper (instead of parsley).  We ate this up before our game of broomball tonight, which was played outdoors in 3 degree weather.  And don't worry, my soul stayed plenty warm.  


Potato Leek Soup

2 tbsps (1 oz.) butter or vegetable oil
4 leeks, trimmed of the roots and dark green parts, split, washed, and diced
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tbsps fresh parsley, minced

Heat the oil or butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until they wilt. This takes about 6 minutes or so. Season the leeks with salt and pepper to your liking. Add the potatoes, broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender. When the potatoes are soft, use an immersion blender or a regular blender to purée the soup. You can leave chunks if you like by blendering only half of the soup. It’s a matter of preference. Stir in the parsley and serve hot.

(Servings: 4-6, Prep time: 20 min., Cook time: 25 min., Difficulty: Easy)

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5