Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Colorful Ribbon Pasta

This is super tasty. And yes, I made up the title of this recipe. The original recipe is called Crab-and-Corn Ribbon Pasta. But I realized part of the way through prepping the vegetables that I hadn't gotten any crab yet. So I'll definitely be trying it again. When I can actually remember to get the crab, of course.

Colorful Ribbon Pasta
A variation on this recipe from Rachael Ray

Salt and pepper
12 ounces dried egg fettuccine, tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ears corn, kernels scraped off, or 1 cup frozen kernels
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
4 sprigs tarragon, leaves chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the corn, bell pepper, shallots and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, then add the peas and cook for 1 minute; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes and toss. Stir in the butter and Old Bay seasoning, then stir in the reserved pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and tarragon and toss.

Crunchy Broccoli Slaw

I could have eaten the entire bowl of this myself. While I was making it, I was a little afraid that it would be overly sweet with all of the sweeter components, but the smoky salty bacon and sharp red onion flavors really helped balance the sweetness.

Crunchy Broccoli Slaw
Courtesy of All You


8 slices bacon
1 large head broccoli
1 small red onion, minced (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and pepper

Cook bacon in a large skillet or on a griddle over medium heat until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Crumble into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.

Cut florets from broccoli stems and chop into small pieces. Transfer to a salad bowl and toss with minced onion and raisins.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and vinegar until smooth. Add honey, salt and pepper, whisking to combine. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss to coat evenly. Crumble bacon pieces over broccoli slaw and serve immediately.

Flag Cupcakes

Yummy treat for a summer picnic. The original recipe is for a sheet cake, but since I didn't have a pan that was big enough to accommodate the recipe, I made cupcakes instead. I also decided to cut strawberries into star shapes since I couldn't do the whole flag thing. It was fun!

Flag Cupcakes
A variation on this recipe from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)


For the cupcakes:
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the icing:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To assemble:

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Line 2 muffin pans with muffin liners or grease with cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Use ice cream scoop or spoons to fill muffin pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.

Put icing in piping bag with a star tip attached, and ice cupcakes in swirl pattern. You can also spread icing on with a spatula. Place blueberries and strawberries on top and enjoy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spinach-Black Bean Lasagna

This is incredibly delicious. Seriously awesome. I love the flavor the black beans, cumin, and pepper jack give the dish. I also love that I've found that cottage cheese is a delightful substitution for the ricotta cheese that I just can't seem to ever enjoy. Woot!

Please excuse my messy picture. I'm no good at getting a pretty lasagna picture.

Spinach-Black Bean Lasagna
A variation on this recipe from Southern Living


2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15-ounce) container cottage cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
2 (16-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (2-pound, 13-ounce) jar pasta sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
9 precooked lasagna noodles
Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro

Stir together first 5 ingredients and 1 cup pepper jack cheese; set aside.

Mash beans with a potato masher or fork in a large bowl; stir in pasta sauce and cumin. Spread one-third of bean mixture on bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Layer with 3 noodles, half of spinach mixture, and 1 cup pepper jack cheese; repeat layers. Spread with one-third bean mixture; top with remaining 3 noodles and remaining bean mixture.

Bake, covered, at 350°F for 1 hour; uncover and top with remaining pepper jack cheese. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish, if desired.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

In my continuing efforts to snack on homemade goodies and use the lovely fresh strawberries in the market, I made these for this week. Yum yum yum. I didn't have any orange extract and didn't want to add almonds, so I used almond extract instead. I also used mini semisweet chocolate chips because that's what I had on hand. Yum yum yum yum.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins
A variation on this recipe from The Budding Cook


1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
½ cup oil
¾ cup milk
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
½ cup chocolate chips
1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well until the whole batter comes together. (Too much stirring/mixing will result in muffins that are too dense/heavy.)

Fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips. Spoon the batter and place in each paper-lined muffin cup till it is two-thirds full.

Bake for 25 minutes or so till the tops are nice and brown or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spicy Tofu, Mushrooms and Tomato Brown Rice Bowl

Very tasty and satisfying dish. I think Rachael Ray's portions are a bit flawed though. I had way too much rice, so I edited the recipe accordingly.

Spicy Tofu, Mushrooms and Tomato Brown Rice Bowl
A variation on this recipe from Rachael Ray

1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts separated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Salt and black pepper
One 14-ounce container firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons oyster sauce

In a medium saucepan, cook rice according to package directions. Fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, scallion whites and crushed red pepper and stir until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and black pepper. Cook until the mushroom liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the tofu to the pan and cook until golden on one side, then toss to brown throughout, about 3 minutes. Push the tofu to the side of the pan and add the tomatoes and oyster sauce. Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 1 minute. Return the mushrooms to the pan and stir in the scallion greens. Serve with the rice

Monday, May 16, 2011

Combination Butter and Shortening Crust

I felt like this crust deserved its own post since I use and refer to it constantly. It's my favorite crust that I've tried so far in my crust-making adventures.

Combination Butter and Shortening Crust
Courtesy of Simply Recipes

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening (8 tablespoons)
6-8 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse 4 times. Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks, and pulse 4 more times. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Pulse a couple times. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once after each addition, until the mixture just begins to clump together.

Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4-inch wide disks. Do not over-knead the dough! Dust the disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 2 days before rolling out.

After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for an hour, you can take it out to roll. If it is too stiff, you may need to let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat, clean work surface and on top of the disk of dough you intend to roll out. Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure while rolling outwards from the center of the dough. Every once in a while you may need to gently lift under the dough (a pastry scraper works great for this) to make sure it is not sticking. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie tin or pie dish upside down on the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all around.

When the dough has reached the right size, gently fold it in half. Lift up the dough and place it so that the folded edge is along the center line of the pie dish. Gently unfold. Do not stretch the dough.

Peach-Blueberry Pie

Meh. Not my favorite pie. I don't know if maybe it was because I had to use frozen fruit. Peaches aren't in season, and the blueberries I saw at the market looked pretty sad, so I went with frozen. It was also soupier than I like, and I think that's because of the addition of quick-cooking tapioca rather than cornstarch. I also made this strawberry-rhubarb pie this weekend, it uses cornstarch, and it held together so much better. So I've learned that if you like soupy pie, then go with quick-cooking tapioca. If you're into a more solid pie that holds together better when you cut it, then cornstarch is the way to go.

This was my first try doing a lattice crust. I really enjoyed it! I used this site to help me figure it out.

Peach-Blueberry Pie
Courtesy of Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine


1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 pounds peaches, peeled and sliced (6 cups)
12 ounces blueberries (2 cups)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
All-purpose flour for rolling
1 homemade or store-bought double-crust pie dough (I used this)
1 large egg, separated, white lightly beaten
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, tapioca, and salt. Add peaches, blueberries, and lemon juice and toss to combine; let sit 15 minutes. Lightly flour a rolling rolling pin and work surface and roll out half the dough to a 12-inch round. Place in a 9-inch glass pie plate and brush with egg white. Pour in fruit filling and dot with butter.

Roll out remaining dough to a 12-inch round and place over fruit filling (or do a lattice top). Trim excess and crimp edges to seal. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with 1 tablespoon cold water. Brush top of dough with egg yolk mixture. With a paring knife, cut several small slits on top to vent. Set on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 50 minutes. (Tent loosely with foil if crust browns too quickly.) Let pie cool completely on a wire rack, about 3 hours. (Store, covered, up to overnight.)

Strawberry Streusel Muffins

These were an interesting endeavor. I mixed up the batter ingredients from the original recipes and found that the batter was way too dry. So I looked through some other muffin recipes I've tried before and decided to add 1/4 cup milk. It worked! The end result was tasty and exactly the right consistency. I actually wrote a review on the website where I found the recipe, adding my alteration, but it was erased. Oh well, I tried.

Strawberry Streusel Muffins
A variation on this recipe from Taste of Home


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup strawberry yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

Streusel topping:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, yogurt, sour cream and milk; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in strawberries. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

For topping, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.
Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Banana Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache

For Benjamin's 6th birthday, he requested a banana cake, but he also wanted a chocolate element to it. So I tweaked some recipes and came up with this:


Despite some droopy stars on the sides (darn gravity), it came out really. And I think it would have been just as fabulous without the ganache. I love making cakes.

Banana Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache


For cake layers:
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large)
1/4 cup plain yogurt or well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

For ganache:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream

For frosting:
1 pound confectioners' sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla

For layers:
2 to 3 large firm-ripe bananas

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans, knocking out excess flour.

Into a bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl whisk together mashed banana, yogurt or buttermilk, and vanilla. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy and beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour and banana mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture and stirring after each addition until just combined. (Do not overmix.)

Divide batter evenly among pans, smoothing tops, and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, about 18 minutes total, or until layers are springy to the touch and a tester comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on racks 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks to cool completely. (Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.)

Make ganache:
Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.

Allow the ganache to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.

Make frosting:
Into a large bowl sift confectioners' sugar. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy and beat in vanilla and a pinch salt. Beat in confectioners' sugar, a little at a time, and beat frosting until smooth.

Assemble cake:
Cut 2 firm-ripe bananas diagonally into thin slices. Put a cake layer on a serving plate and spread with a thin coating of frosting. Arrange one layer of banana slices on frosting, overlapping them slightly. Spread with a thin coating of ganache, and top with second cake layer. Spread cake layer with another thin coating of frosting and arrange 1 more layer of banana slices in same manner, cutting and using slices from third banana if necessary. Top bananas with remaining ganache and cake layer, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Cake may be made 8 hours ahead and kept in a cake keeper at cool room temperature.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Monterey Jack and Smoky Aioli

This was an interesting adventure in grilling. I thought I had started the grill with enough time to finish cooking everything before having to go get Jonathan at the train station, but as the time got closer, it became obvious that the burgers were nowhere near done. So I had to leave, and I decided to leave them on the grill in the hopes that if I left the vent in the cover open, I would come home to relatively well-cooked turkey burgers.

Jonathan's train was late, which made for a stressful ride home. But in the end, it worked! They were a little more done than I probably would have had them be if I hadn't had to leave, but they tasted great. The smokiness of the aioli paired so beautifully with the charcoal flavor of the grill. I'm looking forward to doing this again... with a little less stress next time.

I didn't toast the seeds for the aioli because I didn't have cumin seeds on hand, so I just used the ground version of each spice. I also didn't feel like having chunks of garlic in the aioli, so I used garlic powder instead.

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli
Courtesy of Bon Appétit


1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 pound ground dark-meat turkey
4 1/3 -inch-thick red onion slices
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers, quartered
4 slices white cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese
4 sesame-seed hamburger buns
Pickle wedges
Corn chips

Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until aromatic and slightly darker in color, shaking skillet often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool. Finely grind toasted seeds in spice grinder or in mortar with pestle. Whisk mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, smoked paprika, garlic, and ground spices in small bowl. Season aioli to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Place turkey in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons aioli; mix gently. Using damp hands, divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, then form each into scant 3/4-inch thick patty, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Using thumb, make small indentation in center of each burger. DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle burgers with salt and pepper. Brush onion slices and bell pepper pieces with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill onions and bell peppers until soft and charred, about 4 minutes per side.

Grill turkey burgers 5 minutes. Turn over; grill until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. Top each burger with 1 cheese slice and grill until meat is cooked through and cheese melts, about 1 minute longer. Place 1 turkey burger on each of 4 bun bottoms. Arrange grilled red pepper pieces, then grilled red onion slices over. Top each with dollop of aioli and some arugula. Cover burgers with bun tops and serve with pickle wedges and corn chips.

Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread

I've been on a sugar binge recently, so while this isn't sugar-free by any means, it's at least homemade, which makes me feel better about eating it rather than the tons of candy I've been ingesting recently (stupid candy-driven holidays).

Marbled-Chocolate Banana Bread
Courtesy of Cooking Light


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute (I used 2 eggs)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute (or eggs), and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.

Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cappuccino Bundt Cake

I love the cinnamon in this recipe. It, along with the espresso powder, brings such a wonderful depth of flavor to the chocolate. While I'm not usually a huge fan of white chocolate, I did think it added a little oomph to the glaze that was lovely.

I ended up using plain yogurt instead of sour cream because I had it in my fridge. And, as you can see in the picture, I used some confetti sprinkles rather than the cocoa mixture called for in the recipe.

Cappuccino Bundt Cake
Courtesy of All You


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 tsp. unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. In a pan, whisk oil, butter, 2 tablespoons cocoa, 3 tablespoons espresso powder, 2 tablespoons cinnamon and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring. In a bowl, whisk eggs, sour cream and vanilla.

Stir cocoa mixture into flour mixture. Fold in egg mixture. Pour into Bundt pan, smoothing top. Bake until a skewer inserted in cake's center comes out clean, 25 to 33 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan. Let cool completely.

Make glaze: Whisk 1/4 teaspoon each cocoa, espresso powder and cinnamon. In a heatproof bowl set over 1 inch of simmering water, melt chocolate with butter. Remove from heat; let cool. In a bowl, whisk confectioners' sugar and milk. Stir in chocolate mixture. Drizzle glaze over cake. Sift cocoa mixture over top; let stand until glaze is set.