Monday, January 30, 2012

White Bean Spread and Artichoke Tapenade

My favorite thing about watching football is hanging out with my friends and eating food. I'm not much of a sports fan, but I love to be around everyone else as they cheer for their favorite team. It usually gets me excited about the game. We went over to or friends house to watch the first championship game last weekend and I decided to bring over some dips and homemade pita bread. I had seen a recipe for White Bean Spread in "Super Natural Everyday" and I knew I had to try it. I also had some artichoke hearts, olives, and capers and thought that if I threw them in the food processor I could probably make something delicious. It was great! These are both something I want to have in my fridge at all times. I made a double batch of the white bean spread and have been putting it on sandwiches all week.

White Bean Spread
Adapted from Super Natural Everyday

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans (white beans)
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 to 3/4 cup hot water
Zest of 1/2 lemon

1) In  small saucepan combine olive oil and rosemary and cook until it starts to sizzle, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, then strain to remove rosemary

2) In food processor, combine beans 2/3 of the almonds, salt, garlic, lemon juice, some of the lemon lemon zest, and 2/3 of rosemary oil and blend until combined, adding the hot water until desired consistency. Add more salt or other ingredients to taste

3) Spoon into dish and top with remaining rosemary oil, lemon zest, and almonds and enjoy!

Artichoke Tapenade
Note: these measurements can be adapted to whatever you like, adding more to suit your tastes

1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup of kalamata olives

1) Place ingredients in food processor and process until finely chopped

2) Pour into bowl or refrigerate until ready to eat and enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tilapia Baked in Couscous

While trying to figure out an easy, but delicious meal for dinner I came across a recipe for tilapia baked in couscous. Perfect! I usually have Tilapia in the freezer and a box of whole wheat couscous in the pantry. There were a few things missing from the original recipe, but I knew I could tweak it a little and add a side dish to serve it with to make it a more complete meal. It is an easily adaptable recipe and comes out delicious! If you don't like tilapia, I'm sure this recipe would work well with similar types of fish, maybe even salmon. Experiment! I served these with green beans sauteed in garlic and olive oil.

Tilapia Baked in Couscous
Adapted from Rachael Ray

10 oz. of couscous
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup of of olive oil plus 2 tbsp
1 tbsp lemon juice, plus 1 lemon thinly sliced
4 tilapia filets
2 1/2 cups water

1) Preheat oven to 375 F
2) In a large bowl mix together couscous with almonds, salt and pepper, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil

3) In a baking dish coat the bottom with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and place the fish in and coat them with olive oil and salt and pepper

4) Pour couscous mixture on top of fish, then top with lemon slices, and pour 2 1/2 cups water fish, being careful not to wash the cous cous off the fish

5) Bake in oven for 25 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Baking cookies is one of my favorite things to do. Well, besides eat them. Especially anything with chocolate in them. You add pistachios and I can't really ask for much more. Luckily, I had a giant bag of pistachios in the kitchen and was in a baking mood. So I decided to experiment with a cookie recipe.

If you are a chocolate and pistachio fan you are going to love these cookies. This is an adaptation of your regular chocolate chip cookies, but for the chocoholic. Delicious chocolatey cookie with rich chunks of chocolate and the added salty crunch of pistachios. YUM!  This recipe is really adaptable and would be great with any nut, or say dried cranberries. I love recipes like this because they are constantly being adapted and made even better!

Pistachio Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 (11.5 oz) bag of chocolate chunks or chips
1 1/2 cup chopped pistachios

1) Preheat oven to 350 F
2) Cream butter and sugars, then add in vanilla and eggs

3) Mix in dry ingredients then fold in chocolate and pistachios
4) Drop desired size of cookie dough onto baking sheets and bake for 8-11 minutes

5) Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Norwegian Cinnamon Rolls

My new baking adventure for the weekend included making cinnamon rolls for the first time. I chose this recipe for a couple reasons: I'm Norwegian and the name appealed to me; I wanted to try a recipe from "How to be a Domestic Goddess"; and the recipe didn't seem to make sickly sweet cinnamon rolls, which don't get me wrong I love, but sometimes my sweet tooth isn't awake early in the morning.

Fair warning to anyone who tries to make this recipe, you are going to need a lot of extra flour. This dough is STICKY! Frustratingly so. But if you can accept that you are going to need to adjust the recipe a bit and sort of make it up as you go along the results are great. How can you really go wrong with bread, butter, cinnamon, and sugar? In my mind you can't. I think next time I will add more cinnamon and maybe a little orange zest. My dad always bought the cinnamon rolls with the orange icing, so I'm always a little nostalgic for a hint of orange in my cinnamon rolls.

Norwegian Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess
Note: I halved this recipe 

For the dough:
4 cups flour, reserve a lot to dust with (dough is sticky!)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
scant 3 tbsp yeast
scant 1/2 cup butter
1 2/3 cups milk
2 eggs

For the filling:
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp softened butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1) Melt butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs then mix in the dry ingredients

2) Knead with a mixer or by hand until smooth, then place in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 25 minutes

3) Preheat oven to 450 F
4) Take 1/3 of the dough and place in bottom of baking pan lined with parchment paper
5) Roll out the rest of the dough to form a rectangle about 20 x 10 inches

6) Mix filling ingredients in a bowl then spread evenly over the dough, roll the dough from longest sides until a log is formed, then cut that log into 20 pieces

7) Place rolls in baking pan and let them rise for another 15 minutes then bake for 20-25 minutes

8) Remove from oven and enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Peanut Butter and Oat Dog Treats

This year I received the best birthday present EVER! A sweet and loving lab/hound mix named Maddie. She is full of excitement and curiosity and she loves to hang out with me in the kitchen while I bake. So I decided that something from the kitchen should be just for her. She was so happy to be able to sample one of my homemade treats, finally something I made that she could eat! And eat them she does. Since she is part lab she has a BIG appetite and she loves these treats. They are crispy and crunchy and the perfect size. They are simple to make and your dog will love them!

Peanut Butter and Oat Dog Treats
Adapted from Casa Cullen

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/3 cup of smooth, natural peanut butter (no sugar, no salt, and no added fat)
1 1/4 cups hot water

1) Preheat oven to 350 F
2) Mix together the ingredients and knead to form a stiff dough

3) Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters: I used a dog bone, squirrel, dinosaur, goose, and pig

4) Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 minutes

5) Turn oven off and let sit in oven for 1 hour then let cool completely on cooling racks

6) Give them as a treat for your four-legged friend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Robot, Star, and Football Cookies

I've been making a lot of cookies lately. They're easy to make and fun to decorate. Plus, who doesn't love cookies? It's a win win for everyone involved. I found these fun craft stencils the other day which must have been made with me in mind. They came in a pack of 5, which included robots and dinosaurs. Awesome! So I decided to make my usual sugar cookies and stencil on some cocoa powder to give them some character. You can use any stencil you have laying around or even make your own using a decorative whole punch or cut out your own design. You just place the stencil over the pre-baked cookie (if using cocoa powder, already baked if using powdered sugar) and sift cocoa powder and fill in the stencil. They make cookies that look time intensive, but are really easy.

I also made some star cookies with brightly colored icing. You just need to mix confectioners sugar with some almost boiling water. The measurements really depend on the thickness of the icing you want. Just add a little water at a time. I made the same frosting for the football cookies. They were for the National Championship game. A slow and bummer of a game, but at least there was plenty of food to keep me happy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rosemary Lemon Cream Sauce with Chicken

My refrigerator was screaming at me to make a meal out of these ingredients. I had made pasta a week earlier and as per usual had stashed some away in the freezer to use at a later date. There were beautiful lemons in the fridge, chicken breasts, and heavy cream. A few peas in the freezer. The combination of all of these ingredients gave us a warm, almost Spring-time meal. I added in some dried rosemary because rosemary adds a rich flavor and really compliments lemons. This dish is really easy to make and can be made in under 30 minutes. Perfect for a week day meal.

Rosemary Lemon Cream Sauce with Chicken

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
5 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsp butter
Garlic powder
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tbs dried rosemary
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
2) Saute shallots in 2 tbsp of butter until softened then add chicken and cook until browned

3) Deglaze pan with chicken broth and add rosemary, lemon zest, and cayenne and reduce liquid slightly

4) Add heavy cream, peas, and Parmesan and let thicken until desired consistency

5) Season with salt and pepper and serve over fettuccine or linguine and enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cowboy Boot Cookies

I decided to have some fun with my new cookie cutter set. It included some cowboy boot shapes and since I'm in Nashville, I couldn't resist making a few. And so continues my adventure with royal icing. I am getting better, although I need to steady my hand a bit and practice technique. But practice makes perfect! I used Martha Stewart's basic sugar cookie dough. I've posted the recipe before, but here it is again. This is the best sugar cookie dough recipe I have found. It is easy to work with and tastes like butter.

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2004

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour

1) Cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs, vanilla, and salt. Add flour mixture a cup at a time until incorporated
2) Divide dough into disks and wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 2 hours
3) Save until ready to use

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pork Vindaloo with Naan Bread

As I've probably mentioned or made clear, Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines. But the term Indian food has many meanings, the country has a rich and complex past, and its cuisine reflects the diversity. I chose to make Pork Vindaloo mainly because I had a huge pork loin that needed to be cooked. I was craving Indian food and thought of Pork Vindaloo. One of the few dishes that contains pork from India. It was a dish that was popular among Portuguese traders who inhabited the city of Goa. It can also be made with chicken or lamb. The dish is rich in flavor and almost addicting. It is great eaten with Naan bread and rice. The recipe calls for tamarind pulp, but I couldn't find this either, so I omitted it and the recipe came out great, although I'm sure it would have been better with it. I wanted to make a Cilantro and Mint Chutney, but the store did not have any mint. I'll save that for next time.

Pork Vindaloo
Adapted from "Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni

2 lb. pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes

For the marinade:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chopped, fresh ginger
2 tbsp cider vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove

For cooking:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp Kosher salt

1) To make the marinade toast the cumin seeds and brown mustard seeds in a pan for about 3 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Grind them in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle then add to a food processor
2) In food processor blend together the remaining ingredients for the marinade until it forms a thick paste, then place in a large ziploc bag with pork and marinade for at least 4 hours, although longer is better, up to 48 hours in refrigerator
3) Heat oil in pan and add onions and cook until browned, about 10 minutes, then add in spices and let brown for about 1 minute
4) Add marinated pork, reserving juices, let cook for about 10 minutes

5) Add remaining juices and and bring to a boil, then reduce temperature to low and let cook, slightly uncovered for 30 minutes, or until pork is tender
6) Season with salt to taste, serve, and enjoy!

Naan Bread
Adapted from Aarti Sequeira

1 tsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Melted butter for brushing finished naans
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

1) Dissolve yeast with 1 tsp of the sugar in 3/4 cup warm water and let set 10 minutes, until frothy
2) Sift together the remaining sugar with salt, baking powder, and flour
3) Add yogurt and oil into yeast mixture then pour into flour and mix

4) Place in large bowl and let rise, covered with plastic wrap, for 2 to 4 hourse
5) Flour work space and divide dough into 6 pieces, and roll out into tear-drop/oblong shapes, stretch with hands if necessary

6) Heat oven to 450 F with pizza stone on bottom rack
7) Add naan to pizza stone and cook on each side for about 2 minutes, check and add more time if necessary
8) Melt butter and brush cooked naans and sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy!

Chicken Marsala with Homemade Pasta

Whenever we go to St. Louis I stock up on wine from Trader Joe's. Thanks to Tennessee's bizarre liquor laws, grocery stores cannot sell wine or liquor meaning that my favorite place to buy wine, Trader Joe's, can't in TN. On our last trip I remembered to pick up a bottle of Marsala wine so that I could try to make this dish at home. I love the sweet Marsala sauce and the way that it gets soaked into the pan-fried pieces of chicken and fresh homemade pasta. Yum! I even enjoyed the mushrooms, the only food I really dislike. This is an elegant dish that is simple and delightful!

Chicken Marsala
Adapted from Tyler Florence

4 skinless, boneless, chicken breast, pounded thin (1/4 inch)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced very thin
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp butter

Angel hair or similar this pasta

1) Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick, then dredge them in flour seasoned well with salt and pepper
2) Heat oil in pan, when hot add chicken breasts and fry on both sides until done in the center and crispy and browned
3) Keep chicken warm in oven
4) Add onions to the pan and cook until softened, then add mushrooms and cook until done
5) Deglaze pan with Marsala wine and cook for about 3 minutes, then add chicken broth and reduce, then add butter

6) Serve over chicken and pasta end enjoy!