Thursday, July 30, 2009

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've become a big fan of interesting oatmeal cookies over the last few years. I love the Great Pumpkin Cookies I've made in the past (and will make during the fall, so recipe to come...), so when I came across this recipe for Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies, I had to give them a try.

Wow. They're super tasty. And they're very easy to put together. I highly highly recommend giving them a try.

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Courtesy of Cooking Light


1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
5.6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add egg; beat well.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to banana mixture in bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until golden. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Calzone

Yes, I'm tooting my own horn a bit... But I'm tooting my horn more for Cooking Light. These calzones freaking rock. And yes, it matters that all the components are homemade. I don't think it would be nearly as good with store-bought dough and sauce. Though I worry that I'll have to go back to making my dough in the breadmaker. My stand mixer was not happy while I was trying to mix the dough in there. I hope it'll turn on for me the next time I need it... Eek.

The original recipe calls for grilled peppers, onions, and sausage, but since I don't have a grill, I sautéed everything. And I have enough of everything to make two batches of it all, so if you only want to use one portion of the pizza dough, half the filling recipe.

Try it. As soon as possible.

Homemade Pizza Dough
Courtesy of Cooking Light

1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 1/4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
26.1 ounces (about 5 1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour, divided
Cooking spray

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine 1 1/4 cups cold water, oil, sugar, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Weigh or lightly spoon 24.9 ounces (about 5 1/4 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, yeast mixture, and cold water mixture in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low 8 minutes or until dough begins to form. Let rest 2 minutes; mix on low 6 minutes or until dough is smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 2 minutes); add enough of the remaining 1.19 ounces (about 1/4 cup) flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

Divide the dough in half, and place each portion in a large zip-top bag coated with cooking spray. Seal and chill overnight or up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Note: You can freeze the dough in heavy-duty, freezer-safe zip-top plastic bags for up to 2 months; thaw dough overnight in the refrigerator.


New York-Style Pizza Sauce
Courtesy of Cooking Light

7 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite-cut diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.


Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Calzones
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

Homemade Pizza Dough
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, cut into thin slices
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
New York-Style Pizza Sauce, divided
1 1/3 cup (about 5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Remove Homemade Pizza Dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat deep skillet to medium-high heat. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and then add sausage. Break up sausage using back of wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink.

Reduce heat to medium. Add another tablespoon olive oil, onions, and peppers. Cook until tender. Add salt and pepper. Take off heat and add sausage back to pan to mix.

Preheat oven to 500ºF.

Place one portion of dough on a lightly floured surface; divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 9 x 5-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup New York-Style Pizza Sauce evenly over each rectangle, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Arrange sausage evenly over half of each rectangle; top evenly with onion and bell peppers. Sprinkle each calzone with 1/3 cup cheese. Fold other half of dough over filling; press edges together with a fork to seal. Repeat with second portion of dough.

Place calzones on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush calzones with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake at 500° for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ashley's Basil Gnocchi

Yeah, so I don't know Ashley. I just found her really yummy recipe in the Food Network Magazine. She makes making gnocchi a lot simpler by having you use instant mashed potato instead of real potatoes. Though having never made gnocchi before, I'm now curious about making it from real potatoes. Maybe that'll be my next adventure... For now though, I'm very happy to have a whole pile of this recipe in my refrigerator. It's such a tasty dish. And it's made even more tasty by some homegrown tomatoes I received from a friend and my in-laws. Woohoo, sustainable food sources!

Ashley's Basil Gnocchi
Courtesy of Ashley Archer for Food Network Magazine

For the Gnocchi:
1 1/2 cups instant mashed potatoes
1 cup packed fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
Kosher salt
3 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cut into pieces
Freshly ground pepper

Make the gnocchi: Mix the instant potatoes with 1 cup hot water in a bowl using a fork; set aside until the potatoes absorb the liquid, 3 minutes. Meanwhile, puree the basil and 1/4 cup cold water in a blender until smooth. Stir the basil puree, egg, pecorino and 1 tablespoon salt into the potato mixture.

Mound 3/4 cup flour on a surface; add the potato mixture and knead together until smooth, gradually adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour. Divide the dough into 3 portions; roll each into a 1-inch-diameter log (dust with flour, if needed). Cut each log into 1/2-inch pieces; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while making the sauce (or freeze up to 1 month).

Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts; fry until toasted, swirling the pan. Transfer the nuts with a slotted spoon to paper towels and season with salt. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and toss; cook until the tomatoes are just soft, 2 more minutes.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 1 minute after they float to the surface. Drain and toss with the sauce. Top with the toasted pine nuts and more basil and pecorino.

Baked Spring Rolls (or Wontons)

I've decided to start trying appetizers well before we're even planning a party, so that I'll have some tricks up my sleeve and won't be trying anything new when it comes time to throw the actual party. So I tried this recipe for Baked Spring Rolls that I found in Food Network Magazine. Though I accidentally doubled up on the spring roll wrappers for most of the batch, they were very good. The single-wrapper ones were much better, and when I had run out of the roll wrappers, I used some leftover wonton wrappers that I had in the refrigerator. And I actually liked those better! The edges were a little crispy, so I would probably tweak the cooking time a bit, but otherwise, I really preferred them as wontons. You could taste the flavors so much more with less dough.

...I'm only just realizing now too that I didn't bake them as long as the recipe calls far (ack!). I missed the whole step of turning them over, so mine were actually a lot less crispy than they should have been. Oh well. They were still tasty.

See! Isn't it good that I tried out this recipe before I served it at a party? Haha!

Edited to add: I did it right this time (12/27/2011), and the photo is from this successful attempt. They were really good.

Baked Spring Rolls (or Wontons)
Courtesy of Lauren Kempees for Food Network Magazine


For the Spring Rolls (or Wontons):
1 2-ounce piece deli ham, finely diced
4 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic paste
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Square spring roll wrappers (or wonton wrappers)
1 large egg white

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 teaspoon chopped peeled ginger
1 scallion, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.

Make the spring roll or wonton filling: Cook the ham in 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and scallions; cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute.

Toss the cabbage and carrot with the hot ham mixture in a large bowl. Add the crab, cilantro, chili-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, the soy sauce and vinegar; toss.

To wrap the spring rolls: Mound 1/3 cup filling in the lower third of each wrapper, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on the left and right. Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon water; brush onto the wrapper edges, then fold in the two sides slightly. Starting from the bottom, roll up the wrapper to enclose the filling; gently press along the edges to seal.

To make the wontons: Put 1 tablespoon filling in the middle of each wonton wrapper. Brush egg white mixture onto the wrapper edges, then fold opposite corners of wrapper to form a triangle. Gently press along the edges to seal.

Pierce each roll or wonton with a skewer in a few places to prevent bursting.

Place a rack in a baking dish and brush with vegetable oil. Mix the remaining 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil; lightly brush on rolls. Place the rolls on the rack; bake until golden on top, about 15 minutes. Turn the rolls; bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 more minutes.

Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with the warm spring rolls or wontons.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vegetable Bulgar (or Couscous) with Moroccan Pesto

I've never done Moroccan fare before. But man, was I glad I tried it today when the browned butter, onion, and cinnamon started cooking together. I'm usually hesitant to use "traditionally" sweet flavors in a savory dish. I'm not usually a big fan of the mixture. But I'm learning more and more that it's not a hard and fast rule for me. There are definitely some combinations of sweet and savory that I really like and am glad that I'm starting to try more.

I've also never used bulgar, but since the original recipe called for couscous, and I just read in the most recent Cooking Light Magazine that bulgar packs more of a fiber punch and is a good substitution for couscous, I thought I'd try it in this recipe. It's hearty and really tasty! And now that I have a big package of it in my refrigerator, I'm sure I'll be using it for often.

The original recipe calls for zucchini and/or Swiss chard. I was planning on putting in both, but the Swiss chard looked kind of sad this week, so I just went with zucchini. I think this dish would have done well with spinach as a substitute for the chard though, so that could easily be wilted in at the end.

This is definitely more of a heated cooking experience than some of the other more summery meals that I've been making lately, but it's worth the little bit of extra heat in the kitchen. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, this is it!

Edited to add: I'm currently eating a full bowl (instead of just a taste, like I had earlier)... Watch the amount of salt you add. Each layer of flavor has some salt, and I know I didn't measure every bit I added. I'm right on the edge of having a little too much salt, so try to avoid eyeballing.

Edited to add again: I used couscous this last time I made it (which is what is pictured below), and I measured the salt this time around rather than eye-balling it... It made a lot of difference! It was much less salty. And it may have been even tastier with the couscous. I also used Swiss chard instead of zucchini, and I think I liked it better that way too.

Vegetable Bulgar (or Couscous) with Moroccan Pesto
A variation on this recipe from Food Network Magazine


1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons whole almonds
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
1 cinnamon stick
1 14-ounce can peeled tomatoes, halved
2 small carrots, cut into chunks
1 zucchini and/or 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
1/3 cup raisins
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups bulgar (or couscous)

Make the pesto: Combine the cilantro, parsley leaves, almonds and garlic in a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt; process until smooth.

Prepare the vegetables for the couscous: Heat a wide heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the butter begins to brown. Add the onion and cinnamon stick to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, carrots, zucchini and/or Swiss chard, raisins, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon.

Meanwhile, cook the bulgar as the label directs. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, season with salt and pepper and fluff with a fork. Top the bulgar with the vegetables and pesto.

Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil, and Tomatoes

Another wonderful summer meal. A little oven time, but a really light and delicious meal.

I found this recipe in the Cooking Light Magazine, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and there was a wine note next to the recipe that said that this pizza goes very well with Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva from the Casablanca Valley of Chile. We didn't try it, but I can only imagine how well a white wine would go with this pizza. Yum!

Phyllo Pizza with Feta, Basil, and Tomatoes
Courtesy of Cooking Light


1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 (18 x 14–inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray
2 cups thinly sliced plum tomato
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl.

Cut phyllo sheets in half crosswise. Working with 1 phyllo sheet half at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), place phyllo sheet on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat phyllo sheet with cooking spray. Repeat with 2 more layers of phyllo. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Repeat layers 5 times, ending with 2 phyllo sheets. Coat top phyllo sheet with cooking spray; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. Pat tomato slices with a paper towel. Arrange tomato slices on top of cheese, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle with onions and the remaining 6 tablespoons cheese mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with basil leaves.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Crunchy Turkey Salad Sandwich

So I've only had a small bite of this to taste-test it, but even that was enough to be able to tell that this is delicious. I'm actually more of a chicken/turkey salad purist and don't really enjoy it as much on bread, but I think this would be a good one on bread, if that's your preference. Definitely a good summer meal with the whole no cooking thing...

Edited to add: I found the turkey and cheese chunks to be a little overwhelming at the size I had cut them, so I'm going to make sure to cut them much smaller next time. This is also definitely better after it's sat a bit and the flavors were allowed to blend a little more.

Crunchy Turkey Salad Sandwich
Courtesy of Pat and Gina Neely

1 1/4 pounds smoked turkey breast, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped scallions
3/4 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
8 ounces provolone cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
Soft whole-grain sandwich bread, for serving

Place the turkey in a medium mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining ingredients (except the bread) and combine. Serve on sandwich bread.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Easy Meatless Manicotti

Okay, so I'm a little weird... I'd never had cottage cheese until I had this dish. I always thought it looked vaguely like vomit, so the consistency wasn't really something I wanted to ingest willingly. However, having it mixed with other tasty things and hidden in pasta seemed like something I could do. And I'm so glad I did. This dish is really delicious. Definitely for the Italian food lovers out there.

Easy Meatless Manicotti
Courtesy of Cooking Light


2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package manicotti (14 shells)
1 (26-ounce) jar fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
Cooking spray
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, and the next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons cheese mixture into each uncooked manicotti. Pour half of tomato-basil pasta sauce into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer over sauce, and top with the remaining sauce. Pour 1 cup water into dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella evenly over sauce. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until shells are tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Pasta Primavera

Fresh and very tasty. A perfect and light summer meal.

Pasta Primavera
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

1/2 pound uncooked fusilli (short twisted spaghetti)
2 cups (1-inch) diagonally cut thin asparagus (about 3/4 pound)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Cooking spray
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add asparagus during the last minute of cooking. Drain; place in a large bowl.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth, whipping cream, salt, red pepper, and peas; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Add tomato mixture to pasta mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and basil. Serve immediately.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tortellini Soup

Yum. Yum. Yum. I usually use sun-dried tomatoes that come dry, but I ended up misreading the recipe and thought that it said to use the kind packed in oil. Though I'm sure it added some calories to the recipe, I'm glad I made the mistake... Wow! What amazing flavor it added to the broth!

While the leftovers weren't bad by any means, this soup is best served fresh since the tortellini are nice and firm that way. But fresh or leftover, I highly recommend trying this soup.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tortellini Soup
Courtesy of Cooking Light

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot
2/3 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sun-dried tomato halves, packed without oil, chopped (about 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups fresh cheese tortellini (about 12 ounces)
1 cup chopped bok choy

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes. Add pasta and bok choy; simmer 7 minutes or until pasta is done. Discard bay leaf.