Monday, April 29, 2013

Orange Ricotta Chocolate Chip Muffins

I haven't made muffins in awhile.  When I saw this recipe I first thought of the kids (who are often the first I think of when deciding to try out a recipe!).   They love citrus and chocolate....but aren't huge fans of ricotta.  However, in these muffins, the ricotta adds moisture to them, not ricotta flavor.  The original recipe included an orange glaze.  Since we eat muffins in the morning for breakfast and I usually serve them with yogurt and fruit for the kids, I decided not to add glaze.  Even without the glaze, the muffins were flavorful and tasty and the kids didn't miss the extra sugar!  I'm not a big citrus fan so these weren't my favorite but the rest of the family really enjoyed them.

Orange Ricotta Chocolate Chip Muffins
recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 cup muffin tin.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the sugar and orange zest. Rub the orange zest and sugar together with your fingers.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and orange zest mixture together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, orange juice, and vanilla extract.

4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups.

5. Bake muffins for about 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Let muffins cool completely.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Strawberries & Cream French Toast Casserole

I think this is finally the last of my Easter posts!  I'm slowly catching up on posts but am continuing to try lots of new recipes!  Knowing that we were going to be super busy getting Easter dinner ready I had wanted to make something easy for breakfast.  (We had our traditional Polish Easter breakfast with hard-boiled eggs, kielbasa, and my mom's home made Easter bread with honey the day before.)  I saw this recipe and thought the kids would love it.  I liked that I was able to prepare this the night before and just had to bake it in the morning.  The kids love strawberries and enjoyed this, just like I thought they would. 

Strawberries & Cream French Toast Casserole
recipe slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

8 cups cubed French bread
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries, divided
1 Tbs sugar, for sprinkling

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch square baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix in the bread and the strawberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, cover, and refrigerate several hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries over the top.

Bake 35-45 minutes, or until the custard has set. During the last 10 minutes of baking time, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top.

Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone, & Parmesan

This week is the April Potluck at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  Even though the featured chef is Yotam Ottolenghi, for the potluck participants are able to choose a recipe from any of the eight previously featured chefs that the club has cooked.   Since Ottolenghi is the first chef that I've been cooking with for the club I wanted to branch out and try cooking something from one of the past chefs.  I decided to cook something from Jamie Oliver.  I saw this recipe and it looked so simple and easy, just the kind of recipe I needed this week!  This was so easy to make.  Taste-wise it was okay.  The kids ate it without complaint and my daughter even asked to take some for lunch the next day.  I felt it was kind of plain and needed something.  I have a bunch of Italian sausage in the freezer that I think when crumbled and browned would have gone really well in this dish.  Although I wasn't wowed by this dish, I was glad to have made something by Jamie Oliver and will be trying some of his other recipes out!

Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone, & Parmesan
recipe adapted from

1 lb. fettuccini
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
baby spinach, washed thoroughly
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
2 handfuls Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Boil a large pot of water,  add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, the butter, and garlic. When the butter melts, add the spinach and heat until wilted, approximately five minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste then add the heavy cream, mascarpone and a little ladle of cooking water from the pasta. Let this come to a simmer and then season again.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, then stir it into the spinach sauce. Add the Parmesan and toss everything together.  

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lemon Cream Crumb Bars

My mom volunteered to bring dessert for Easter.  She saw a recipe for an Eclair Pie that she wanted to try (which by the way was really good!).  I saw lots of lemon flavored desserts on the blogosphere and thought it would be fitting to have some type of citrus dessert too.  My kids love lemon (they can both eat them like you would an orange slice!) so I figured they would enjoy these.  These were really quick and easy to put together and my daughter helped me make them.  This is an egg-free recipe so the kids had fun licking the bowl clean.  I'm not a big lemon/citrus fan but found these bars tasty enough.  The kids really liked them!

Lemon Cream Crumb Bars
recipe from Dessert Now, Dinner Later via The Pioneer Woman

1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup oats
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar.

Sift flour, salt, & baking powder.

Add oats & flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture & combine. Make sure there are no butter chunks.

Press 1/2-3/4 mixture on the bottom of an 8x8 pan.
Mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice, & zest. Spread onto the bottom layer of the crumb mixture.

Knead the remaining crumb mixture with hands, & crumble on the top of the lemon layer, but don't press down or you can ruin your lemon filling.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow pan to rest for 30 minutes before cutting/serving.  These can be chilled in the refrigerator and served cold, which is how I served them.  

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is shared at:
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch
One Project at a Time @ A Bowl Full of Lemons

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Roasted Broccoli and Aged Cheddar Gratin

This was the last veggie side that I made for our Easter dinner.  I think broccoli is one of the only vegetables that BOTH of my kids will eat without complaint.  I wanted to do something besides steam it.  I saw a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Gratin on Closet Cooking.  I didn't want to use cauliflower, but used that recipe for the inspiration for this dish.  I substituted broccoli and omitted/added various ingredients until I had this dish.  It was tasty and the kids enjoyed it. 

Roasted Broccoli and Aged Cheddar Gratin
recipe inspired by Closet Cooking

1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup aged cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the broccoli florets in the oil along with the salt and pepper and arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.

2.Roast the broccoli in until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.  Once broccoli is roasted, reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.

3.Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, mix in the flour and let cook until it just starts to brown a little.

4.Mix in the milk, salt, pepper, dijon mustard, and cheese and heat until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens.

5.Mix broccoli into the sauce, pour into a baking dish and top with the bread crumbs.

6.Bake in oven until it is bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 15-20 minutes.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is shared at:
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch
One Project at a Time @ A Bowl Full of Lemons

Monday, April 22, 2013

Roasted Asparagus

This was another vegetable side dish that I made for our Easter dinner.  We always have asparagus at Easter.  They are in season at this time of year and usually on sale.  This dish is super easy to make and so simple, yet very tasty!  This is definitely going to be our go-to asparagus recipe.

Roasted Asparagus
recipe adapted from, courtesy of Tyler Florence, How to Boil Water

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches medium asparagus
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated or shaved Parmesan, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus, usually about 1 1/2 inches. Spread the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with t tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and roll to coat thoroughly.

Roast the asparagus until lightly browned and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, giving the pan a good shake about halfway through to turn the asparagus.

While asparagus are cooking heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in small saute pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.  Mix into roasted asparagus on baking sheet.

 Arrange the roasted asparagus on a serving platter and top with some Parmesan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Family Rating:  2 thumbs up.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ottolenghi's Sweet Potato Cakes

I am continuing my cooking adventures with the I Heart Cooking Clubs as we get to know Yotam Ottolenghi.  This week's theme was "Get Back to Your Roots."  I had bought a 5 lb. box of sweet potatoes that was on sale from the grocery store a couple of weeks ago.  I knew this week's Ottolenghi theme would be a perfect opportunity to use them up.  A couple of other participants had already made these and given them good reviews.  I didn't end up making the dipping sauce that goes with these and just served with some sour cream that I had.  I know the other reviewers said the sauce made the recipe.  So, I'm not sure if I missed out on anything by not making it.  However, I enjoyed these with just the sour cream.  You must like sweet potatoes though if you're thinking of making these.  The sweet potato flavor really stands out with a little heat from the pepper (though I only used a jalapeno, not the red chile the original recipe called for!).  Instead of steaming the potatoes like the original recipe called for, I ended up boiling, draining, and mashing them like I would if I was making mashed sweet potatoes.  This definitely cut down on the cooking and prep time that the original recipe needed.  Unfortunately, my son who enjoys sweet potatoes wasn't a big fan of these.  I knew my daughter, who doesn't like sweet potatoes to begin with wouldn't like these, so I halved the recipe, as shown in the amounts below.  But my husband I enjoyed them.  These are best eaten the day they are made.  The leftovers didn't taste as good!
Sweet Potato Cakes
recipe adapted from Plenty:  Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

Yield: 2 servings as posted (original recipe yields 4)

1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp scallions, chopped
1 tsp jalapeno pepper finely choped
lots of butter, for frying
sour cream for topping

Fill large sauce pan with water and bring to boil over high heat.  Once boiling, add potato chunks and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain and let cool for about fifteen minutes. Place in a large mixing bowl and mash with fork.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the butter.  Mix the ingredients by hand - it should be sticky, so if it's a little runny, add some flour. Do not over-mix.

Melt some butter in a nonstick pan.  Add spoonfuls of batter to pan and flatten with a spatula into discs that are approximately 2 inches in diameter and 3/8 inch think.  Fry on moderate heat until you get a nice, brown crust, about six minutes on each sode. Place between two sheets of kitchen towel, to soak up the excess butter. Serve warm, topping with sour cream if desired.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Green Bean Casserole

I mentioned in yesterday's post that my sister is a vegetarian.  She eats a lot of vegetables and requested green beans.  I thought a green bean casserole would be a nice addition to our meal.  However, my husband doesn't like canned, condensed cream of (fill in the____ ) soup.  I was happy to find this recipe for a green bean casserole that doesn't use condensed soup but still has the crunchy onions on top, which I love!  Blanching the beans kept them from getting soggy.  This was a tasty veggie side that we all enjoyed.

Green Bean Casserole
recipe adapted from I Thee Cook

 2 pounds Fresh Green Beans, Ends Cut Off
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 whole Large Onion, Chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
2-1/2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Half-and-half
1-1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup crispy onions

Cut green beans in half if you like pieces to be a little smaller.

Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they're cool and set aside.

In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper, then add the grated cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.

Add onion mixture and stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with crispy onions.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and onions are golden.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Asian Barbequed Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Okay, these next few days I will be posting and catching up on recipes that I made for Easter. Yes, as usual, I'm behind on my posts! I hosted Easter dinner for my family, including my sister and her husband and children, who traveled up from Maryland.  My husband and I love lamb but we rarely make it. We decided to make it for our Easter dinner since my brother and brother-in-law also really like it.  I tend to lean more towards asian flavors when marinating, as I did when choosing this recipe.  This recipe was super easy.  We put the marinade together and marinated the lamb overnight.  Another plus of this recipe is that it is grilled.  My husband took care of the cooking of this while I was inside cooking up all the side dishes.  This was one of those rare occasions when a double oven would come in really handy!  We all enjoyed this lamb! It was really flavorful and well-cooked.  My husband cooked it perfectly where the ends were more cooked for those, like me, who prefer their meat a little more well done, and the middle was rare, like the way he enjoys it. 

BTW:  My sister is a vegetarian.  Although she's fine eating a meal of side dishes, I try to have a main dish type protein for her.  We ended up doubling this sauce and marinating a block of firm tofu in some of it overnight.  We then quick-fried it in a pan over high heat for a couple minutes on each side.  It was a tasty dish that even us non-vegetarians were eating.  Sadly enough, I did not get a pic of the dish before it was eaten up. 

Asian Barbequed Butterflied Leg of Lamb
recipe adapted from, courtesy of Cindy

2/3 cup hoisin sauce
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (5 pound) boneless butterflied leg of lamb

1.In a large resealable plastic bag, mix hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, honey, sesame oil, and black pepper. Place lamb in bag, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight.

2.Preheat grill for high heat.

3.Oil the grill grate. Place lamb on the grill, and discard marinade. Cook 15 minutes on each side, to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C), or to desired doneness. Transfer meat to a serving platter, and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Foodtastic Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

I made this pizza almost a month ago and haven't had a chance to post it until now.  Just thinking about it though is making my mouth water.  I rarely repeat recipes but this pizza features some of my favorite things....goat cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms! This was definitely a more time-consuming pizza to make, just in caramelizing the onions and sauteing the mushrooms.  But it is well worth it if you have the time!  My husband and I fnished this pizza off in one sitting, though I could probably have eaten the whole thing myself, or vice versa!  I always make the kids a plain cheese pizza to go with whatever specialty pizza I end up making.  My daughter eats none of the ingredients on this pizza and I snuck my son some goat cheese crumbles, since that's all he enjoys from this! 

Goat Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms
recipe adapted from Meatless Mediterranean

1 Pizza dough 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced into 1/2 rings
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper

Preheat pizza stone in oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare the pizza crust to roughly form a 12-inch circle.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium to medium-low heat, and saute the onion for 2 or 3 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Turn the heat down to low, season with salt and pepper, and cook for another 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to caramelize. Remove the onion from the skillet set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and the garlic, along with salt and pepper to taste. Saute for 4-6 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Remove the mushroom mixture from the heat and set aside.

Spread the ricotta cheese in a thin layer over pizza crust. Next spread the caramelized onions evenly over the ricotta. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella and the grated Parmesan. Top with the mushrooms and then the goat cheese. Top it off with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, until golden.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Foodtastic Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sauteed Eggplant with Honey and Thyme

It's that time again for Eating the Alphabet Recipe Challenge hosted by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic.  This month's letters were E/F and I had to make a recipe using a fruit, vegetable, grain, or legume that begins with one of those letters.  Although I make eggplant often because I like it, the kids don't.  I really try to embrace this challenge each month and try cooking with a new veggie or legume. But when I saw this recipe at A Spicy Perspective and Sommer said, " This my friends… is how to cook eggplant. This is how to get the reluctant eggplant-eater on board" I had to try this.  I really want my kids to like eggplant!  Unfortunately, this recipe did not make them like eggplant.  I was sure it would since they love honey!  But they ate 4 bites each for me and called it quits.  I liked the taste of the eggplant after soaking in milk overnight and then dredged in flour and fried.  I actually preferred the eggplant without the honey and thyme.  I was eating pieces of this eggplant topped with some sliced mozzerella on italian bread and it was delicious!  If you have a reluctant eggplant eater you may want to give this recipe a try. 

Sauteed Eggplant with Honey and Thyme
recipe from A Spicy Perspective

1 large eggplant
2 cups milk
½ cup flour
3-5 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. honey
2 Tb. fresh thyme leaves
Sea Salt

Peel the eggplant and slice it into thin 1/8 inch rounds.

Place the eggplant slices in an airtight container and pour the milk over it. Cover and refrigerate over night.

In a small pie pan, mix the flour with 1 tsp. salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Line a plate with paper towels.

When the oil is hot, dredge a few slices of eggplant in the flour and tap off the excess. Gently place them in the skillet and pan fry for 2 minutes per side. Remove and place on the plate to drain.

Repeat with the rest of the eggplant, adding oil to the skillet as needed. Sprinkle the slices with a little more sea salt as they come out of the skillet.

Serve warm, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with thyme.

Family Rating: So-so.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hawaiian Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I made these sandwiches to go with the Green Gazpacho.  The kids didn't enjoy the soup but they loved these sandwiches.  That wasn't hard to predict!  I hadn't made grilled cheese in a loooong time and needed something quick and easy to go with the gazpacho.  These were definitely quick and easy.  My kids love all of these ingredients on their own, so I knew they'd enjoy them in a sandwich form.  As you can see from my photo, I wasn't patient enough to let the cheese get all gooey.  But this was tasty as is!  My husband told me he could go for another one, after he ate his first.  I told him that I unfortunately used up all of the bread in making these. 

Hawaiian Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich
recipe slightly adapted from Cheese Curd In Paradise, inspired by Healthy Food for Living

(for 4 sandwiches)

8 slices bread of your choice
2 cup tomato sauce
8 slices of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
8 slices of deli ham (2 slices per sandwich)
4 pineapple rings

In a skillet heat about one Tablespoon of butter over medium heat. On 8 slices of bread dab a small amount of butter on each side. Place 2 slices butter side down in skillet. Spread 1 Tbsp of tomato sauce onto each slice of bread in the skillet. Next, layer 2 slices of mozzarella, 1 pineapple ring, and  2 slices of ham.  Top with remaining 2 slices of bread. 

Cook sandwiches until golden brown on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and cook until golden brown on the other side and the cheese has fully melted, about 3-4 remaining minutes. If the bread turns golden brown before the cheese has fully melted, reduced stove heat to low. Remove from heat and repeat for next two sandwiches.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

IHCC: Green Gazpacho

This week the I Heart Cooking Clubs theme was "Loving the Leaf."  Participants had to cook an Ottolenghi recipe featuring or using a leafy green.  I again referred to his cookbook Plenty and found this recipe for Green Gazpacho.  This soup has many green veggies in it including baby spinach!  To be honest, I'm not a huge soup eater.  I don't mind a cup of soup, but something has to be served with it.  To me, soup is not a meal!  I also knew that my kids would most likely not enjoy this, so I had to have a back-up.  I ended up making Hawaiian Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwiches to go with this (see tomorrow's post!).  Yes, the two don't really compliment each other.  But I saw the sandwich recipe and knew it would be quick and easy to put together.  This recipe wasn't difficult to make, it just requires a lot of chopping.  I ended up adapting the recipe a bit, mainly in amounts of ingredients, substitutions (sherry and cider vinegar in place of sherry vinegar, and I didn't make the homemade croutons).  I probably should have used the immersion blender because I was really pushing the limits with my regular blender.  I had to spoon some of the soup out to add the rest of the ice and water!  I made the kids have 5 bites of the soup (to get in their veggies!) but they didn't like it.  Honestly, I have to admit that my husband and I weren't huge fans of this soup either.  He said it tasted more like a sauce than a soup.  I kind of felt like I was drinking a more liqueified pesto!  The original recipe called for 4 cloves of garlic!  I like garlic, but cut it down to two cloves.  Still, the garlic seemed to overwhelm the soup.  I should have used the whole jalapeno to add a little more heat and next time (although I won't be making this again!) I would use less walnuts.  I thought 1 1/2 cups was a bit much when I was pouring them into the blender!  They added a funny texture to the soup that I didn't enjoy.  Well, I can't expect all of Ottolenghi's recipes to be winners.  There's always next week!   

Green Gazpacho
recipe slightly adapted from Plenty:  Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi

1 green pepper, deseeded
1 1/2 cucumbers, peeled
3 slices stale white bread, crusts removed
1/2 jalapeno pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups walnuts, lightly toasted
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup basil leaves
2 Tbsp parsley
2 Tbsp sherry
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp Greek yogurt
about 2 cups water
6 ice cubes
2 tsp salt

Roughly chop up the pepper, cucumbers, bread, jalapeno, and garlic. Place in a blender and add the sugar, walnuts, spinach, basil, parsley, sherry, vinegar, oil, yogurt, most of the water, half the ice cubes, the salt and some white pepper. Blitz the soup until smooth. Add more water, if needed, to get your preferred consistency. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.

Lastly, add the remaining ice and pulse once or twice, just to crush it a little.

Family Rating: So-so.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cornbread Pancakes

Sometimes I meet old co-worker friends for dinner.  When I do this, my husband drives to a different train station, I drive down with the kids and we do a kid pass-off.  However, even on these nights I am nice enough to make everyone a home-cooked dinner!  In this most recent case it was a breakfast for dinner meal that's easy transportable because I don't think I mentioned that the kids end up eating their dinner in the car.  The drive is about thirty minutes and coincides with "normal" dinner time.  They had these pancakes, sausage links, and an apple (my daughter) or a banana (my son).  Of course, I should have realized what a mess my son would make with syrup in the car......yeah, the syrup ended up all over his jacket and the car seat.  I was wondering why the buckle kept getting stuck! Luckily, it was nothing that some cleaning wipes couldn't take care of!  Back to these pancakes though.....we all loved them.  (I ended up having the leftovers for breakfast!).  The cornmeal and sugar gave these pancakes the flavor of cornbread (which we all love!).   We will definitely be making these again soon! 

Cornbread Pancakes
recipe from courtesy of CocoBean

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1.Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and butter in a separate large bowl. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry mixture until blended and smooth.

2.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter on griddle and cook until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute. Continue with remaining batter.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The SRC Reveal: Braised Country Style Pork Ribs in Ginger Ale & Hoisin Sauce

Secret Recipe Club

It's once again time for The Secret Recipe Club reveal.  This month I was assigned The Keenan Cookbook.  The blog is run by couple Chris and Rachel.  They use their blog as a way to archive their family recipes, old and new.  While perusing the blog I bookmarked these Peach-Upside Down Muffins and this Caramelized Onion & Spinach Olive Oil Quick Bread to make at a later time.  However, I wanted to cook a dinner and ended up making this Braised Country Style Pork Ribs in Ginger Ale & Hoisin Sauce.  I wanted to fit in another cool weather, comfort food type dish while I'm waiting for the warmer weather to arrive.  (Yes, it's technically spring, but it's still feeling pretty chilly here in NY!)  I've braised ribs before in the Dutch Oven and I've cooked with hoisin sauce.  I thought that the ginger ale sounded like an interesting addition to this recipe.  Being a stay-at-home mom I had the luxury of being able to make this meal for a weeknight dinner for us.  However, Chris and Rachel left make-ahead directions, which I've also included.  Otherwise, this would be perfect meal to make when you have a nice, relaxing weekend.  This was super easy to put together.  The longest time was spent shredding the pork (I didn't use boneless ribs!).  I doubled the sauce, as suggested, because we also are a sauce-loving family!  We all enjoyed this dish a lot!  When my son eats all of his dinner and asks for extra sauce on his rice, it's a winner! 

Braised Country Style Pork Ribs in Ginger Ale & Hoisin Sauce
Recipe from The Keenan Cookbook via The Cookin' Canuck

2 lbs. country-style (boneless) pork ribs
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup good-quality ginger ale
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp water

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2.Season pork ribs with kosher salt and black pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch Oven pan over medium-high heat. Brown the pork, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the pork to a plate and set aside.

3.Turn the heat to medium and remove all but 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add chopped ginger and garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add ginger ale, chicken broth, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce. Stir with a whisk until the hoisin sauce dissolves. Add the pork ribs to the pan and turn to coat. Put the lid on the Dutch Oven and cook in the oven until the meat is very tender, turning occasionally, about 2 hours.

4.Lower the oven heat to 200 degrees F. Remove the ribs from the braising liquid, place in an oven-proof dish, and keep warm in the oven.

5.Skim fat off the surface of the liquid. Set the saucepan with the braising liquid over medium heat and boil until the sauce reduces by half. In a small bowl, stir together arrowroot or cornstarch and water. Whisk into the sacue and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

6.With two forks, shred the pork into bite-sized pieces and stir into the sauce. Serve over rice. Garnish with sliced green onions.

7.Make-ahead: Once the ribs are cooked, let cool completely. Cover the Dutch Oven and store in the fridge for up to two days. When ready to use, uncover and skim off the fat. Reheat the ribs over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs from the pan, keep warm, and follow the directions above for finishing the sauce.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Leek Fritters: IHCC

I am very excited to be participating in my very first post for the I Heart Cooking Clubs.  I have been eyeing the group from afar, having joined the e-mail list but never participating until now.  The group features two chefs a year.  Yes, only two chefs. By the end of the six months, you will really get to know the featured chef.   There are weekly themes and you are free to choose any recipe by the featured chef to make, that fits the theme.  This week is the first week featuring chef Yotam Ottolenghi.  Therefore, I found it a fitting time to "jump in and get my feet wet."  I will admit that I had never heard of this chef before joining this group.  From I Heart Cooking Clubs:

"Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born chef, cookbook writer, and restaurant owner who specializes in marrying his native Middle Eastern cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian flavors. He is also known as a champion of vegetables, or rather as 'the man who sexed up vegetables'. His innovative vegetarian recipes delight the palate with fresh bold flavors. Ottolenghi has three best-selling cookbooks: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, Plenty, and Jerusalem."

I borrowed Plenty from my local library and thought that for this week's theme "Anything Goes" I'd start with some Leek Fritters.  The only change I made was using 1/2 of a jalapeno pepper in place of the red chile pepper that the recipe calls for.  One, because my grocery store did not have any red chiles and second, because I thought that my kids might eat these and didn't want them to be too spicy.  Well, I shouldn't have worried about that!  They did have a bite, but they weren't digging the leeks.  My husband and I found these to be really tasty though!  These definitely took some time to make but I purposefully chose to make them today when I knew that I'd have plenty of time.  These were really flavorful in themeselves but the sauce added another layer of deliciousness!  I'm looking forward to cooking more with the I Heart Cooking Club and exploring more of Ottolenghi's recipes!

Leek Fritters
recipe from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi.

3 leeks,(1 lb in total, trimmed weight)
5  shallots, finely chopped
2/3 cup olive oil
1 fresh red chile, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. self-rising flour
4 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
1 egg

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

First make your sauce. Blitz all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor or blender until a uniform green. Set aside for later.

Slice the leeks into 1-inch thick pieces, then rinse and drain in a colander. Pour half the olive oil in a medium pan and cook the shallots and leeks over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until they have softened. Place the mixture in a large bowl, add the pepper, parsley, spices, sugar and salt, then leave to cool.

Whisk the egg white to soft peaks in a medium bowl, then gently fold into the cooled leek mixture.

In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, egg, milk and butter to form a batter. Spoon in the vegetable mixture and gently stir to combine.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan on a medium flame. Once hot spoon in half the batter to form four large fritters. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Remove, drain on kitchen towels and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve the fritters warm with the sauce. Any leftover fritters will be delicious eaten cold the next day.

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tofu Ramen Soup with Spinach

This past month's supper club theme was "Asian."  We've previously done Korean and Thai themed dinners.  But "Asian" is so broad!  I wasn't sure what I was making until I saw this recipe in the latest edition of Every Day with Rachael Ray.  I thought an appetizer soup would fit nicely.  Ramen is definitely asian and I love tofu.  This dish was soooo easy to put together.  And cost-wise, this dish was super cheap to make as well.  This was a tasty soup but you MUST make and add the chili oil to really get a great depth of flavor!  This is super-easy to make a vegetarian soup by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth.  We all enjoyed this soup and it was a great start to a really tasty meal!

 BTW, the awesome picture shown below was photographed by fellow supper club member Ashley (I forgot my camera!).  She also writes a food blog Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen.  She has been writing her blog for years and has tasty recipes and beautiful photographs!  Definitely take a minute and check it out! 

Tofu Ramen Soup with Spinach
recipe from Every Day with Rachael Ray

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
6 cups sodium-free chicken broth
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems discarded and caps chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 ounce unpeeled fresh ginger, cut into 2 or 3 large slices
4 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 pound firm silken tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 3 ounce packages instant ramen (noodles only)

1.In a small saucepan, heat the oil, crushed red pepper and garlic over medium-high heat until the garlic sizzles. Lower the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the garlic turns golden, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes. Strain the chile oil into a bowl, discarding the solids.

2.Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. In another medium pot, mix the chicken broth, mushrooms, scallions, soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Cover and simmer over high heat for 8 minutes. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat; discard the ginger. Stir in the spinach, then the tofu. Cover to keep warm.

3.Add the ramen to the boiling water, breaking up the noodles. Cook until tender, 3 minutes. Drain, then stir the noodles into the soup. Season with salt.

4.Divide the soup among bowls. Drizzle each with some of the chili oil.

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is being shared at:
Foodtastic Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes
Tasty Thursdays @ The Mandatory Mooch
Showcase Your Talent Thursday @ What's Cooking Love?
Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Fabulous Fridays @ Real Housemoms
Saturday Show and Tell @ Cheerios and Lattes
Strut Your Stuff Saturday @ Six Sisters' Stuff

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baked Chicken Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce

When I first found this recipe I was hesitant to make it because the sauce didn't seem kid-friendly with the poblanos and all.  However, it looked so good that I decided that I could make it and serve the kids theirs without sauce.  BTW:  even though the kids didn't have the sauce, the poblanos didn't make it too spicy at all.  They could have eaten it but had plain sour cream instead.  Because the original recipe only served two I doubled everything.  I was able to fill 8 burrito sized tortillas (which were definitely on the smaller side, compared to some of the larger tortillas that I saw) with a little extra filling left over.  I didn't end up doubling the sauce, knowing the kids weren't going to eat it, but I should have!   The burrito filling was really flavorful and tasty but the sauce definitely took it to another level!  I served these with some yellow rice and some veggies to complete the meal.  Although a bit time-consuming to make, with the filling preparation, the rolling of the burritos, and the baking time, they are definitely worth it!

Baked Chicken Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce
Recipe adapted from Kate's Recipe Box, originally from Smells Like Home


For the burritos:
1 1/2 t. vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 lb. ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 t. tomato paste
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. oregano
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. brown sugar
Kosher salt
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
8 burrito-sized tortillas
Cooking spray

For the sour cream-poblano sauce:
1 poblano pepper
1 T. butter
1 T. flour
1/3 c. chicken broth at room temperature
1/4 c. light sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and then add the oil. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Place the ground chicken in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and drain any excess grease. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 30-60 seconds before adding in the beans. Add the water, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, brown sugar and salt to taste. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Place 2 tablespoons of the cheese at the end of each tortilla and then spoon some of the chicken and bean mixture over the top. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla in, and then roll the tortilla up, from the end closest to you, to the top. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet and lightly spray the tops of the burritos with cooking spray. Bake for about 20 minutes, until tortillas are golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Roast the peppers under the broiler until all sides are well-charred. Peel the peppers, remove the stems and seeds, and dice them.

Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat and melt the butter; stir in the flour and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and then the diced poblano; continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Stir in the sour cream and warm through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce over the baked burritos.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Time to Sparkle @ The Recipe Critic
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green
Back for Seconds Social Link Party @ Back for Seconds

Monday, April 1, 2013

Baked Maple Cinnamon Donuts

Happy April Fool's Day!  I don't have any tricks for you, but I do have a treat. Recently I've seen lots of recipes for donuts being posted in the blogosphere.  I asked (and received) donut pans from my parents for Christmas.  Only this past month did I finally break them out and use them.  These were the first donuts I made in said pans.  This recipe came from a blog titled Cooking with My Kid and I did indeed make these donuts with my son.  He helped with the measuring, pouring, and stirring of ingredients.  These are cake donuts that have a sponge-like texture.  It wasn't a bad thing but definitely a noticeable thing, if that makes sense.  Of course I think adding cinnamon and sugar on anything will make it tasty.  These were a great first donut that we all enjoyed as a nice breakfast treat!

Baked Maple Cinnamon Donuts
recipe adapted from Cooking with My Kid

Yield:  6 donuts

non-stick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 6 oz container plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter (melted)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Toss the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. In another bowl stir together oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, egg, yogurt, and vanilla. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole. Gently fold everything together until combined. Spoon batter into a ziploc baggie and snip off a corner with scissors.  Pipe batter into donut molds in pan.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few moments and then flip over onto a cooling rack while still warm. Use a pastry brush to butter your donuts and then dip each donut in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.