Friday, March 29, 2013

Zucchini Chips with Dill Tzatziki

Have you had your fill of zucchini yet after reading this blog for the past few months?  Sarah has a total zucchini addiction and I think I understand why after making these zucchini chips.  This squash is completely versatile.   Usually it’s in season from May to August (which is why it is called summer squash).  However, when it’s not in season, it’s a good time to combine it with other ingredients and make fritters, hand pies, or chips.

I got the idea for these chips from a restaurant we went to called Waterside.  They served fried zucchini chips with tzatziki sauce and it was delicious!  So I decided to try and make a healthier version for myself.  For this recipe, I used a combination of panko and regular breadcrumbs.  It allows for both even coating and crispy texture.  Flavored bread crumbs make these a little more exciting and the cayenne gives it a little kick that pairs very well with the cool tzatziki sauce.

Zucchini Chips with Dill Tzatziki Sauce

1 zucchini, sliced (3/8” – 1/4” thick)
¼ c milk
¼ c panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp garlic & herb breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425F.

Pour the milk in a large ramekin.  Pour remaining ingredients in a separate large ramekin.  Dip the zucchini slices in the milk and then the crumb mixture.  Press crumbs into slices so they adhere. 

Place zucchini slices on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet.  Spray slices with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes or until breadcrumbs brown and are crispy.

1c plain Greek non-fat yogurt
½ c cucumber, seeded and cut into small cubes
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp chopped dill
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Serve with zucchini chips.

These zucchini chips are a great healthy snack.  Serve them at your next party and watch them get devoured!  Keep in mind that they are best hot out of the oven so serve promptly after cooking. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chewy Homemade Granola Bars

A friend of mine just had a beautiful, amazing, gorgeous baby boy. We got to meet him today and hold all 9 pounds of him. I'm used to swinging around all 26 pounds of my not-so-little boy and 9 pounds feels like holding a box of tissues! Tiny babies are amazing. Anyway - I took the mama these dense, chewy, peanut buttery, chocolaty granola bars so she has something to eat while wandering the house in the wee hours holding that beautiful, amazing, gorgeous, AWAKE baby! New mamas and papas NEED energy food.

Chewy Granola Bars - slightly adapted from Frugal NW
Makes 24 bars, or you know, one serving.
Preheat the oven to 350

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (regular flour would be fine)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup corn syrup (rice syrup or maple would work too)
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped dried cherries

To begin, grease the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Then lay a layer of parchment paper in the bottom so the edges hang out. Grease the parchment paper. You're going to pull the bars out of the dish using these flaps so make sure you have enough to grab.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, mix together softened butter, peanut butter, corn syrup, honey and vanilla.

Mix wet ingredients into dry and then fold in cherries and chocolate chips. Put all of the granola into the baking dish and with damp hands, pack it down as firmly as possible. (You can also spray your hands with baking spray to help keep them from sticking to the gooey ingredients.)

Bake 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Let the granola bars cool completely before trying to cut them. As with brownies, I think it would be a good idea to refrigerate these before cutting to get a nice, clean edge. 

As you can see, I rushed things a bit and didn't let these cool enough before I cut them. Boooo!! 

A few things about this recipe...

I think shredded coconut would be a wonderful addition. 
I didn't have a lot of dried cherries on hand, I think I'd up the cherries and drop the chocolate ratio a bit. (What did that say?? Drop the chocolate??)
Apricots and white chocolate would be amazing substitutes!!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Faux Pho

Grammy is in town and she let the grown ups out on a date night!! We rocked and rolled; we ate well, we drank better; we quickly caught a cold. We are so out of practice. Enter Faux Pho. Pho is a total cure-all in our house - spicy, gingery, brothy, clean... but you have to - oh-goodness-no - leave the house for it and sometimes that's a deal-breaker. I've started making this Faux Pho to fill the gap when we need the good stuff, but cant face getting out of our jammies.

Faux Pho - inspired by lots of fave pho spots
Serves 4

6 cups chicken broth (I use "Better Than Broth" soup starter)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound chicken - chopped into 1 inch pieces (I used boneless, skinless thighs)
4 ounces firm tofu cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup sliced celery (3 medium ribs)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup sliced green onions (3 large green onions - whites and greens)
1 serano chili
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli
1 package rice noodles
bean sprouts

In a large pot, start the broth to simmer. Add chicken broth, fish sauce, soy sauce, half the green onion and minced ginger. In a frying pan over high heat (or wok if you're lucky enough to have one!) start chicken, celery and chili pepper.

When the chicken is about half way cooked through, add the broccoli to the broth. I wanted it to cook through, but not be limp. About the same time, add the tofu to the chicken pan. 

When the chicken is cooked through, add the cooked chicken, half of the cilantro and the rice noodles to the broth. Turn the simmering broth down even farther - just keep it hot. The rice noodle need to sit for at least 5 minutes in the hot broth. Test occasionally.

Add bean spouts to four serving bowls and top with hot soup. Sprinkle on the remaining cilantro, green onions and garnish with lime slices. Add Sriracha if you like things spicy. We do!

A few things about this recipe...

I don't always use tofu, but I think this soup would be good with just tofu and no chicken. Use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth for a meat-free meal. 

Rice noodles can get gummy. I think whole-wheat spaghetti noodles cooked and rinsed would be delicious added to this soup.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Irish Car-bomb Cupcakes

St. Patrick's Day is up there on my list of fave holidays. I mean really, it's awesome - green is my favorite color and I like beer, so done and done! And then there are the Irish Car-bombs. Now these are seriously fun. You drop a split shot of Jameson whiskey and Irish cream liqueur into a half pint of Guinness. And then you drink it fast. It's a once a year deal in our house and I look forward to it all year. Here is an Irish Car-bomb that I can have at least once more a year and stretch out the joy a bit!

Irish Carbomb Cupcakes - recipe by Smitten Kitchen
Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake tins with 24 regular-sized liners. 

For the cupcakes
1 cup of Guinness
1 cup of butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

I made the cupcakes a few hours before I started any frosting. I'll list the instructions in the order of steps I took.
  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. Combine eggs and sour cream in a stand mixer. Don't mix just set. Set aside.
  3. Measure out cocoa powder and then simmer Guinness and butter in a saucepan until butter melts and mixture is simmering. It needs to get hot, but not boiling.
  4. Whisk cocoa into butter and Guinness mixture. Pour into a new bowl to cool the mixture.
  5. In the stand mixer, mix sour cream and eggs. Add in cooled chocolate and Guinness mixture. Stir to just combine.
  6. Add flour and sugar mixture to chocolate mixture and mix very briefly with the stand mixer. Fold with a spatula if it needs a bit more stirring. Batter will be VERY loose and thin. It's OK, it cooks just fine!

Let the cupcakes cool completely. Then start in on the frosting and filling.

For the Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used "Bakers" brand semi-sweet chocolate and it was great!)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter (room temp and cut into 4 pieces)
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)
  1. Chop up all of the chocolate - the smaller the pieces, the easier it will be to melt everything.
  2. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over low heat. Heat to just simmering. (Look for little bubbles or froth around the edges of the pan.)
  3. Add the chocolate to the simmering cream and let it sit for a full minute. You'll see the chocolate become melty. Stir to combine - the chocolate should stir in easily.
  4. Stir in the whiskey and the butter and stir until everything is combined and smooth.
Set the ganache aside. Stir it occasionally as it cools to room temp. It took mine about 30 minutes to cool off completely. I then let it sit for about an hour and it was fine. No, it was lovely - I dipped a strawberry in it to test it.

Last but not least...
For the Irish Cream Frosting
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick softened butter
4 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
  1. In a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, whip the butter until it's light and fluffy. 
  2. Start adding in the powdered sugar about 1/4 cup at a time.
  3. Add the Irish cream a tablespoon at a time when the butter and sugar mixture begins to form clumps.
  4. Keep adding sugar and Irish cream until the frosting is the consistency you like it. I used 3 1/2 cups of sugar and all of the liqueur.
Now you can finally start making your cupcakes!! I have a fancy stocking-stuffer-gift tool that specifically cores out cupcakes, but a small knife or an apple corer would work just as well. 

Core out cupcakes, making sure not to cut through the bottom of the cupcakes. Pipe in ganache and pack it down with a butter knife. I used a ziplock back with a hole cut in the corner to do my piping. It worked great, except that I only have "snack size" ziplocks and re-filling a frosting filled ziplock baggie is messy. 

Pipe Irish cream frosting on top of the ganache filling. I used the same ziplock baggie technique. Sprinkle on sanding sugar and devour! 


A few things about this recipe...

The frosting tastes pretty boozy the day you make it. I made these Sunday and took them to work on Monday. By Monday the frosting had totally mellowed out and was amazing!

The beer is adds depth to the chocolate cupcakes, but they do not taste beery at all.

The ganache is just a tad spicy from the whiskey and it's just wonderful!

If you're not a beer or booze fan, I think the alcohol cooks out of the cupcakes and the ganache doesn't need the whiskey at all to get the right consistency. And you could substitute milk for the Irish whiskey in the buttercream frosting to make the whole recipe suitable for non-drinkers.

Here's a cute way to package up single cupcakes... it's just a plastic punch cup and a cellophane bag. 

Here are Car-bomb drinks going down... all the ingredients were open... can you blame us for jumping the gun on St. Patrick's Day?


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cabbage Soup

It’s still really cold outside in New York.  Actually, we just got like 3 inches of snow…ugh.  Yet, St. Patty’s Day is right around the corner.  So what better to eat than a hot bowl of flavorful cabbage soup???  Here’s a recipe you are sure to love and is perfect for this time of year.

I saw Rachael Ray make this on Food Network a couple of years ago.  She made it look so delicious!  I felt like I could smell all of those wonderful ethnic seasonings (allspice, smoked paprika, and coriander) through the TV!  I have made this many times.  It’s always delicious and is one of my go-to soups.  The best part about it is you get tons of veggies but it’s thick and hearty due to using less stock and adding meat.  Rachael Ray actually calls it “stoup” because it is somewhere between a soup and a stew, which speaks to its heartiness. 

Cabbage Soup

1c raw white rice
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
½ tsp allspice
1 ½ tsp coriander
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 bay leafs
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot (or 2 small) , thinly sliced w/ vegetable peeler
1 head of savoy cabbage, sliced
~40oz chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1c tomato sauce
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper
Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 tbsp dill, finely chopped

Cook rice in rice cooker per directions.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat.  Add the oil.  Once hot, add meat and begin to brown (2-3 mins).  Season the turkey with allspice, coriander, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.  Add bay leafs, onions, garlic and carrots.  Cook veggies 2-3 mins to begin to soften them, then add cabbage and cover to wilt it down a bit.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock.  Stir and cover.

Note: Rachael Ray uses ground meatloaf mix (beef, pork, and veal) for her cabbage stoup.  I chose to use ground turkey to reduce the saturated fat.

Add onion powder, garlic salt, and crushed red pepper.  Stir to combine.  Raise the heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 mins.  Reduce heat to low and cook on low until near ready to serve.  Stir in parsley and dill once it is removed from the heat.

Top with a scoop of rice.  Garnish with extra dill.

I served this with roasted garlic bread and it makes a complete meal.  It’s great to make on the weekends and have soup for lunch all week.  And…as with any soup or stew, it’s even better the next day :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Rhubarb is in season!! It has a short season and I can only find it in the market for a few weeks. A bit longer at farmer's markets, but the gorgeous, pink celery-looking goodness goes quickly. I am sort of obsessed with rhubarb, the color, the flavor, the fact it looks like pink celery, everything! A few years ago I found this recipe, made it with a dear friend, I fell in love with it and now I look forward to it every year! This coffee cake is wild - it has a huge crumb topping and the rhubarb melts into the cake. It's not overly sweet, but it's very rich and really delicious. The original recipe only makes an 8x8 pan, but given the complexity, steps involved and fleeting nature of rhubarb, I have doubled things up to make a 9x13 pan.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake - from Smitten Kitchen
Preheat the oven to 325 and grease a 9x13 glass baking pan

For the Rhubarb Filling
1 pound of rhubarb - about 3 very large stalks
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the Crumbs
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup melted butter
3 1/2 cups flour

For the Cake
2/3 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons softened butter cut into pieces

I had a cake helper! Cut rhubarb into 1/2 inch chunks. In a mixing bowl, combine with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make the crumb topping, in another mixing bowl combine the sugars, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Then mix in the melted butter. After that, mix in the flour with a spatula until a thick dough is formed. It will be REALLY thick, don't worry. Set aside.

To make the cake, in another mixing bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, yolk and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a last and final bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

This is a recipe you have to commit to. I was using ALL of these dishes. (Please excuse our mismatched drawers - we are doing some construction.)

I used a stand mixer to finish up the cake... mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt until all combined. Mix in the softened butter and a spoonful of the sour cream mixture and mix on medium until the flour is moistened. Add the remaining sour cream mixture in two batches. Beat for 20 seconds after each time you add the mixture. Set aside 1/2 a cup of batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan (except for the 1/2 cup you have reserved.) Layer on the rhubarb that has been marinating, scrape all of the juices out of the bowl. Dollop on the remaining batter - it won't be even, but that's OK. Break up the crumb topping and spread over the cake batter. Leave big crumbs - there will be a ton of crumb topping!!

Bake for 45-55 minutes at 325. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out with just a few small crumbs sticking to it, it may look really moist, but that might be the rhubarb. The cake shouldn't look wobbly in the middle when its done. Once cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

A few things about this recipe...

Smitten Kitchen says that this recipe would be good with a variety of other fruits - I plan to try it this summer with blueberries and/or cherries!

Next time I make this, I will not reserve the 1/2 cup of batter to dollop over the top. Instead I will put all of the batter on the bottom of the pan, and then I'll lightly press the rhubarb into the batter so that it "sticks" before I put on the crumb topping.

I made this coffee cake on Sunday evening and brought it to work with me on Monday morning. It kept really well and was nice and moist everyone at worked seemed to like it. Since it is a bit involved to make, I would definitely make this the night before for a brunch.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Banana Bread

What do you do with old, brown, leftover bananas???  I have the perfect answer to that question.  I know brown bananas may not look appetizing, but wow do they pack a punch when adding to a baked good.  I typically make muffins or banana bread.  This time, I made banana bread. 

Banana bread is considered a “quick bread” because it doesn’t contain yeast.  It uses baking soda and baking powder for the leavening process.  This significantly quickens the preparation of the bread – hence, the name “quick bread”.  This recipe is also lightened because it utilizes egg whites in place of some of the whole eggs and less butter than other recipes.  The amount of milk used is minimal so you can use any type of milk you have.

This recipe is easy and yummy.  Banana bread can make for a great addition to a weekend breakfast, or it can act alone as breakfast during the week.  It also lasts a while in the fridge.  Warm it up, top with a little butter and…voila!  A yummy and healthy breakfast! 

Banana Bread

5 tbsp butter, at room temperature
½ c granulated sugar
½ c firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ c mashed, very ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 ¾ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp milk
1/3 c chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray bottom of 9x5x3” loaf pan w/ nonstick cooking spray.
Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer set to medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well until creamed.  Add egg, egg whites, and vanilla; beat well until blended.  Add mashed banana, and beat high speed 30 secs.

Tip: Ensuring the butter is at room temperature makes for good creaming and lighter (fluffier) baked goods. 

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in medium bowl.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture.  Mix in milk.  Add walnuts to batter; mix well.

Pour batter evenly into prepared loaf pan.  Bake until browned and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean, about 55-60 mins.  Cool bread in pan on wire rack 10 mins.