August 31, 2012

Pineapple and Apricot Crisp

I enjoyed the combination of pineapple with apricots, but overall it was not a great dessert. It may have been better with fresh pineapple and some ground ginger to help balance the tartness of the pineapple and the sweetness of the topping.  

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, drained and 1/2 cup juice reserved
1 cup (6 ounces) quartered dried apricots
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon arrowroot (or ¼ tsp cornstarch dissolved in the pineapple juice)

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cook oats
1/2 stick unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 1 ½ quart casserole dish with  cooking spray. Set aside.

For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the pineapple chunks, apricots, cinnamon, arrowroot, and reserved pineapple juice. Divide the mixture equally between the ramekins.

For the topping: In a food processor, combine the flour, oats, butter, sugar, pecans, and salt. Pulse together until the butter is the size of peas.

Spoon the topping over the filling mixture. Bake until golden and the filling is bubbling, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.

August 29, 2012

Low-Maintenance Risotto

Do you love risotto, but hate all that stirring?  Well, no more!  This recipe produces a rich and creamy risotto without all the work. If you prefer a bit more to your risotto add some fresh or frozen peas and/or arugula. Enjoy!

1 tablespoons  unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup  Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces), plus more for serving
2 tablespoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Melt 1 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until absorbed.
Add half the broth (1 ¾ cups) and simmer, stirring once, until absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the remaining broth and simmer, stirring once, until the rice is tender and creamy, 8 to 10 minutes. (If the rice is not cooked through and the mixture is dry, add more broth and continue to cook until tender.)

Stir in the Parmesan and sprinkle with the parsley and additional Parmesan, if desired.

Serves: 4
Total Time: 35 minutes

Original recipe from Real Simple

August 27, 2012

Baked Rigatoni with Spinach and Ricotta

I love baked pasta!  What can be better than cheesy pasta, baked till it is warm and bubbly??? This recipe is easy, quick, healthy (spinach and chicken count here, right?) and oh so tasty. Enjoy!


1/2 pound rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
1 cup ricotta (I used part-skim milk ricotta)
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 450°. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rigatoni until almost done, about 12 minutes. Drain. Put the pasta in the prepared baking dish and toss with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil.
Meanwhile, squeeze as much of the water as possible from the spinach. Stir together the spinach in with the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, the nutmeg, chicken, salt, and pepper.
Stir the spinach mixture into the pasta. Top with the remaining Parmesan. Drizzle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over the top. Bake the pasta until the top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. 
Serves: 3-4

August 23, 2012

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Who doesn't love the combination of chocolate and coffee??!! These cookies have a wonderfully balanced taste, are not heavy/greasy, and oh so chocolaty. Enjoy!

1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 TBS instant coffee (I used 1 packet of Starbuck Via)
2 TBS soy milk (cow's milk or water work fine as well)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. 

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg. Add the coffee and soy milk, mix until incorporated. In a separate bowl whisk together the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and flour. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. 

Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 

Yield: about 2 dozen

If I could remember where I found this recipe I would gladly give the creator credit, but for the life of me I can't find it again. 

August 21, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can never go wrong with chocolate chip cookies, especially the chewy kind. Enjoy!

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 stick butter, softened 
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (half a bag)

Preheat the over to 350 F. 

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, beating until incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix gently to combine.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat gently just until combined. Carefully stir in the chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for about twelve minutes, or until golden.

Make about 2 1/2 dozen (depending on how many you eat right out of the oven;-)

August 19, 2012

Asian Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa

This dish was a big hit with my family. We love the bold flavors - the hoisin and the 5 spice powder really liven up the pork. The mango salsa if super refreshing and is even great the next day in fish tacos. Enjoy! 

1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
salt and ground black pepper
2 TBS dark brown sugar
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder* 
2 1/2 TBS hoisin 
1/2 navel orange, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 ripe mango, peeled and pitted, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 ripe lime, juiced
Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Coat tenderloins with salt and pepper. Combine brown sugar and 5 spice powder; rub over pork. Brush baking dish or broiler pan with oil or cooking spray. Place pork in oven and bake 10 minutes. Combine the hoisin with the orange zest and juice and sesame oil. Once the meat has cooked 10 minutes, baste it liberally with the hoisin mixture and roast for about 20 minutes longer (or until desired doneness is reached). 

While the pork is cooking, prepare the salsa by combining the mango, bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, lime and basil in a bowl. Season with salt, to your taste. Serve over the pork. 

Serves 4 

*I made my own by combining 1 teaspoon each of the following: ground anise, fennel, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. 

August 17, 2012

Molasses Cookies

This simple, easy to make cookie has a great molasses flavor. They are not overly sweet or heavy. My only disappointment was that the molasses seemed to overpower the spices so if you want more of a molasses "spice" cookie I recommend doubling the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Enjoy!

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2  tsp  ground cinnamon
1/2  tsp  coarse salt
1/4  tsp  ground ginger
1/8  tsp  ground cloves
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves. Whisk in brown sugar. Stir in melted butter, molasses, milk, and egg. Fold in raisins.

Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. Scoop the dough by the tablespoon-full onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. 

Yield: approximately 2 dozen cookies

August 15, 2012

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

You can never go wrong with old fashioned beans and rice. This recipe kicks the flavor up a bit by using Cajun seasoning and adding smoked sausage. Enjoy!

1 lb bag dry small red beans
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 TBS minced garlic
2 large bay leaves
1 ham hock
2 TBS Cajun seasoning (I use Penzey's)
8 cups water
2 cups ham broth (or chicken broth)
1-2 tsp salt
8 oz smoked andouille sausage, roughly chopped
Hot, cooked brown rice for serving 

Pre-soak beans overnight or do a quick-soak* the day of. Drain the beans. Add the chopped yellow onion, chopped green pepper, celery, minced garlic, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves and ham hock in the same pot with the beans. Add water and ham broth to the beans.

Turn the heat to high and cover the pot with a lid, leaving about an inch open to let out steam. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

After an hour and a half, stir in the salt and chopped andouille sauce. Simmer slowly for another hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

When the beans are done, the liquid should have gotten very thick (almost like a gravy texture) and the beans will almost look mashed. Remove the ham hock and the bay leaves and serve over hot brown rice. 

*In a large soup pot cover dried beans with triple their volume of cold water. Bring water to a boil and cook beans, uncovered, over moderate heat 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and soak beans 1 hour.

August 13, 2012

Spiced Bulgur and Chickpea Salad

Quick, easy, delicious and super healthy, this salad is great as a vegetarian main dish or as a side to grilled chicken or pork. Enjoy!

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 TBS extravirgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground black pepper 
2 cups boiling water
1 1/3 cups uncooked bulgur
3/4 cup matchstick-cut (or diced) carrots 
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 tsp dried mint (or 2 TBS fresh mint, chopped)
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

Combine boiling water and bulgur in a large bowl. Cover and let stand 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; set aside. Add bulgur, carrots, and remaining ingredients to juice mixture, and toss well to coat. Cover and chill.

Makes approximately 4 Large (Main Dish) servings or 8 side dish servings. 

August 11, 2012

Enchilada Pizza

Craving pizza and Mexican food???...Well this might just be what you need - a pizza with Mexican flavors. Enjoy!

1 lb pizza dough
8 oz red enchilada sauce
1/4 lb chorizo, casing removed and cooked
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into thin strips
2 green onions, diced
8 oz shredded cheese (Mexican Blend or Jalapeno Jack work well)
fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the dough to the desired size on a silicone mat, parchment paper or pizza peel (if using a pizza stone). Spread the enchilada sauce over the dough leaving 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle on the cooked chorizo through the green onions. Top the veggies and meat with the shredded cheese. Place the pizza on the middle oven rack and bake for 12-18 minutes or until the cheese and crust are golden brown. 

August 9, 2012

Italian-Style Vegetable Casserole

I love the combination of vegetables in this dish. They are perfectly seasoned as to not overpower their individual flavors. Enjoy!

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 TBS olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
Salt and pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the potato, sweet potato, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini over the onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.

Stir the Asiago cheese and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the Asiago bread crumbs over the vegetables. Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. 

Adapted from "Tomato Vegetable Casserole" by Giada De Laurentiis. 

August 7, 2012

Hummus (aka Hummous)

I love Middle Eastern flavors and hummus is one of my favorite dishes - it is great as an appetizer with pita chips, spread on a vegetable sandwich or smeared on a bagel for a savory breakfast. Enjoy!

1 - 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
5 TBS lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup water

Combine the beans through the olive oil in a blender or food processor. Add the water as needed to adjust the consistency to your preference (I used about 1/2 cup). 

August 5, 2012

Zucchini and Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

I am usually not a fan of vegetable lasagnas so I was hoping this recipe would change my mind. While the flavor of the lasagna was very good (be sure to use a good marinara sauce such as I found there was not enough vegetables overall and not enough variety of vegetables. However, I liked the recipe enough that I would make it again, adding some summer squash, eggplant and more mushrooms. Get creative and enjoy!

2 tbsp of olive oil, divided
3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise thin (about 1/8")
2 portobello mushroom caps, "gills" scraped out and sliced into 1/4" pieces
1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
1 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
32-oz marinara sauce
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
8 oz grated Mozzarella cheese + 2 oz Asiago cheese
1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat about a teaspoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Add a single layer of sliced zucchini in the skillet and saute until well browned on both sides. Remove and place squash on paper towels while you saute the rest of the sliced zucchini. When all the zucchini has been browned, place the portobello mushrooms in the skillet and saute until tender. Place all vegetables in a large bowl and sprinkle generously with 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside. Add the remaining olive oil to the hot pan. Add the minced onion and garlic and saute for about 4 minutes. Add the pasta sauce and a little sea salt to taste. Stir well.

Combine the ricotta cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and the egg in a medium bowl. Whisk together until well combined.
Place about a cup of the pasta sauce at the bottom of a 9 x 9" dish. Then on top, lay three no-boil lasagna noodles flat. Follow this half of the veggie mixture, 3/4 cup of the ricotta mixture, 3/4 cup of marinara sauce and a sprinkle of the mozzarella and Asiago cheese blend. Lay another three noodles on top of that and repeat the process. On top, drizzle remaining marinara sauce and the rest of the mozzarella and Asiago cheese.

Cover pan loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let lasagna set for 15-20 minutes before serving.

August 3, 2012

Spicy Turkey Chili

This super spicy turkey chili is a really nice change from the traditional-style chili in that is uses cannellini beans and poblano chiles. Plus it is really easy to make. Enjoy!

2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 medium poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/3 - 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey 
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
2 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups low-salt chicken broth 
One 15 to 16-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
Fresh cilantro, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips for serving (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, poblanos and onions. Saute until the vegetables soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the turkey and saute until no longer pink, breaking up the turkey with the back of a spoon, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to blend. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, sugar, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cinnamon and cloves. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to blend. Add the broth, beans and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the flavors blend and the chili thickens to desired consistency, stirring often, 20 to 30 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper.

Adapted from "California Turkey Chili" by Giada De Laurentiis.

August 1, 2012

Applesauce Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

This cake is a super moist, mild spice cake studded with chocolate chips. It is quite good as it is, but if you prefer that the spices be more on the forefront I would recommend upping the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves half again or even try doubling them. Enjoy!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups semisweet-chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves and pepper. Whisk in the applesauce, eggs, oil and melted butter. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sift confectioners' sugar over the cake, slice and serve.

Original recipe from Food & Wine.