Monday, December 6, 2010

Apple Cranberry Cake

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it right away and, I thought I had everything I needed at home but that wasn't the case. To my dismay I only had 3 apples instead of 4- so I decided to add an apple's worth of cranberries to the cake instead. I think the cranberries were a great addition as they added a bit of tang and color. You could definitely make the cake either way, or try adding a pear to the mix instead. You can serve the cake with whipped cream or all by its delicious self.  Oh, and I've already made this cake three times this month which may give you a good idea of how good I think it is...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lamb Burgers with Figs, Blue Cheese, and Caramelized Onions

It was bound to happen at some point...  especially since I've had a few requests for carne recipes. Time for my first blog post about a dish with MEAT. I don't eat a lot of meat, but this recipe looked too good to pass by. 

Now, it isn't the most symmetrical burger (pictured above), but it makes up for what it lacks in beauty in flavor. If you like figs, lamb, and blue cheese, this is the burger for you. Even those of you who are lamb-wary may find this burger tasty- it's not overly lamby. I cheated a bit and served this with frozen (gasp!) criss-cut fries.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Creamy Butternut Squash

Welcome to Sage Sprout's first guest post- thank you, Seychelle!

Butternut squash is a versatile winter vegetable that can easily
stand-alone or act as part of a delectable veggie smorgasbord.
Desserts are often laden with processed sugars and fats, which makes
them super tasty but not so healthy. In this simple recipe, butternut
squash becomes a tasty, nutritious dessert requiring little time.

Creamy Butternut Squash
-serves 4-6

1 butternut squash (medium size)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
cinnamon (to taste, 1-2vtsp)
1 ½ tsps vanilla
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1tsp nutmeg (to taste)
½ tsp cloves (to tastel)
½ C walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted

-Preheat oven to 350˚F.
-Cut butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub olive
oil on both halves of the squash innards. Place halves face down on a
cookie sheet.
-Cook in oven for 1hr-1hr 15 min until the flesh becomes very soft.
-Once cooked, scoop flesh into a medium sized bowl. Use a spoon or
food processor to break up the flesh further. For a smoother
consistency use a food processer.
-While stirring add cinnamon, vanilla, and maple syrup. Nutmeg and
cloves can also be added depending on personal preference.
-Serve into pudding cups, sprinkle walnuts on top.

Prep time: 10 min. Cooking time: ~1hour Total time: 1.25-1.5 hrs

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup with Curry

I have made plenty of puréed soups this month, but I think this is the smoothest puréed soup I've made to date. The combination of the butternut squash and sweet potatoes gives the soup a balanced sweetness that is complimented by the curry powder. Once again, the ingredient amounts I mention below are only what I used and can be easily altered to suit your personal taste or your pantry contents. For instance, I am making this soup again later this week, but will use roasted carrots and fennel in addition to the vegetables below.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crostata Invertita with Rhubarb

Rhubarb is delicious- and you can even enjoy it in other ways besides a strawberry rhubarb pie. Nevertheless, this inverted cake is somewhat similar to pie as it combines tender cake, which is similar to pound cake, with sweet and tart rhubarb that you marinate overnight in sugar.

Although you can bake this cake in a metal cake pan, I recommend a glass pie dish since you can easily monitor the fruit cake during baking and the sloped pan sides create a pretty inverted cake.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Red Pepper, Tomato, Carrot Purée Soup

Purée Soup number 2, and certainly not the last. My apologies if you're not a fan. I've been taking them to work for lunch or as an afternoon snack/pick me up. These soups are hard to beat- super simple, quick, and crazy nutritious. Win, win, win. Once again, I'm sure you can vary the vegetable ratios in this recipe, but this is just what I used.

The evening I cooked this soup I made it into a meal by serving it with a grilled sandwich on whole grain bread with havarti cheese, hot coppa salami, and a touch of grainy mustard.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Green Vegetable Purée Soup

Leaves are turning, days are shortening, and I've started to crave apples, roasted root vegetables, and stew. Alas, the weather has not cooperated with my cravings (ninety degree heat waves are not stew friendly) and has forced me to compromise, for now. Enter veggie purée. Quick, convenient, versatile, pantry friendly, and incredibly nutritious- I blended several vegetables together on a whim and created a smooth and silky soup. The amounts I listed below were mostly out of convenience. I happened to have half a bag of peas in the freezer and one zucchini in the fridge when I constructed this recipe. Go wild. Use two zucchinis if you have them.

A few examples of other Purée friendly vegetables:
-Celery Root
-Fennel Root
-Sweet potato

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

If you happen to have premade Spicy Black Beans in the fridge ready to go, this breakfast can be prepared in a snap. That fact alone is what inspired this meal. I had just returned from a long run and was several miles past hungry. I needed food, and needed it fast. I've written the exact way I made this recipe the first time which cuts corners (ie cooking the eggs and beans in the same pan) in order decrease cooking time and dishes.

Breakfast Burritos
-Makes 2-4 burritos, depending on tortilla size

2 eggs
soft tortillas (I used green chile corn tortillas)
2 cups Spicy Black Beans
cheddar cheese, grated
sour cream
fresh cilantro, stems removed
hot sauce
extra virgin olive oil

-Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add spicy black beans and stir occasionally. Meanwhile, crack eggs into a small bowl, add a splash of cold water, salt, and pepper, and whisk well. When the beans are heated through, pour the egg mixture into the skillet and toss/scramble with the beans using a spatula. When the eggs have cooked through remove pan from the heat and divide the eggs & beans between each tortilla. (If you have extra time, you can wrap the tortillas in a damp cloth and preheat them in a warm oven) Garnish with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, and hot sauce. Serve.

Spicy Black Beans

This dish is hearty, healthy, spicy, versatile, fast, and reheats well. Use as a side dish, in taco salad, in tacos, in breakfast burritos, and much more. You can add different peppers (sweet bell peppers instead of anaheims) or include other vegetables that you enjoy or have around. I've substituted leeks for onions in the past as well. If you have the time, you could also use dried beans.

Spicy Black Beans

2 14.5 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large green anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobo), minced (add to taste)
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
kosher salt

-Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add garlic and chipotle pepper. Add onion and pepper, season with salt, and sautée until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add black beans and continue to cook until the beans are cooked through, about 2-4 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cucumber, Mango, and Radish Salad

As varied in flavors as it is in colors, this salad combines sweet, tart, spice, bitter and is finished with a satisfying crunch. I cut all the salad components in small pieces so each bite would contain a bit of each element, but left the pieces big enough so each was recognizable. You can peel the cucumber if you please, but I used an English cucumber which tend to have a more tender and thin skin and less seeds. Serve with Mexican food, grilled fish, grilled chicken, or pan-seared scallops-

Cucumber, Mango, and Radish Salad
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 bunch of radishes, diced
1-2 mangoes, diced
1/4 cup of cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lime

-Combine cucumber, red onion, radishes, mango, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Toss with salt, chili powder, rice vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice. Let salad stand for ~30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.

Freezing Rosemary

I wouldn't consider excess rosemary a problem, but you still have to store it. If you've bought a bunch of rosemary and only needed a sprig or your rosemary plant is in major need of a prune, freeze it. Simply wash, pat or spin dry, and place the rosemary in airtight bag in the freezer. Once frozen, the rosemary leaves will fall from the stems which you can keep frozen in a small jar. Washed, picked, and ready for any recipe, your frozen rosemary will keep its flavor for at least a year.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chipotle Hummus

Chipotle peppers are not to be taken lightly. I have a reasonably high spice tolerance and love the smokey flavor that Chipotle peppers bring to any dish, but they pack a punch. I've certainly underestimated their spiciness in the past which yielded tasty but painful meals. Be careful!
This recipe is easily adjusted to suit not only your preferred spice level but also your preferred hummus consistency. I use a combination of tahini, olive oil, and the garbanzo bean can liquid to prepare my hummus until it's the consistency I like. Want creamy hummus? Add more tahini and olive oil. Want a healthier/diet friendly hummus? Use a bit more of the can liquid. Adding each liquid slowly will allow you to adjust accordingly without over-adding and ending up with hummus soup. This hummus is not only great with veggies and pita chips, but also is a great addition to any pita sandwich or as a replacement for mayonnaise in bread sandwiches. 

Chipotle Hummus
2 15.5 ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained with liquid reserved
1 chipotle pepper (canned & packed in adobo sauce)*
1 teaspoon adobo sauce *
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil*
1/3 cup tahini*
1 tablespoon lemon juice*
3 teaspoons kosher salt*

* ingredients that are added to taste.

-Combine beans, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, and tahini in a food processor work bowl. Blend and slowly add in olive oil/garbanzo bean liquid until the mixture starts to form a consistent, smooth paste. Adjust consistency with additional oil, bean liquid, and tahini until the hummus reaches the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice, (and additional chipotle, if desired).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Orecchiette with Marinated Eggplant, Burrata, and Chiles

Smoky grilled Japanese eggplant, spicy chiles, creamy burrata, and fragrant marjoram work beautifully together in this dish. The eggplant is marinated in red wine vinegar and herb-infused olive oil after it is grilled and is delicious on its own. To speed up the recipe you can grill and marinate the eggplant in advance, just refrigerate until you reheat prior to serving.

Orecchiette with Marniated Eggplant, Burrata, and Chiles

4 large Asian eggplants,  halved lengthwise (quartered lengthwise if they're huge) (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, pressed or very thinly sliced
1 pound orecchiette
2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 pound burrata cheese, halved, creamy filling scooped out *
Zest of 1 lemon
2 oil-packed red chiles, cut into thin strips or chopped (seed the peppers to reduce spice level)
3 marjoram sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

*I scooped out the creamy filling for the main meal but topped the leftover pasta with the outer shell

-Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the cut sides of the halved eggplants with olive oil and season with salt. Grill the eggplants cut side down over moderate heat until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until just browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

-Let the eggplant cool. Dice and transfer to a bowl. Pour vinegar over the eggplant and toss well.

-In a small saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil with garlic, marjoram sprigs, crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Bring the oil to a simmer, then pour it over the eggplant and toss. Let stand for 1 hour. Discard the marjoram sprigs.

-In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.

-Add the eggplant to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring lightly, until hot, about 1 minute.

-Add the orecchiette and the reserved cooking water and cook, tossing, for about 30 seconds. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pecorino and parsley.

-Serve pasta and dot with the creamy burrata filling. Garnish with the lemon zest, chile strips and marjoram leaves and serve.

Adapted from Missy Robbins, Food & Wine Magazine

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cannellini Beans and Basil Chiffonade

Creamy cannellini beans, spicy basil, and juicy heirloom tomatoes. Simple is good. Heirloom tomatoes don't need any help, just a little salt and pepper to enhance their unique flavors. Toss it together with some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to add a little pop! The weather may be heading towards fall in this neck of the woods, but dishes like this remind me that summer is still here for a bit longer.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Cannellini Beans and Basil Chiffonade

3-4 cups of sliced heirloom tomatoes
generous portions of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8-10 large basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced

-Combine beans, tomatoes, and basil in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar. Gently toss with your hands and serve.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese

Can a recipe that calls for one pound of cheese not be delicious? Relatively quick to make, the most time consuming steps are grating said pound of cheese and making the béchamel base. The cheese sauce could be used many ways, perhaps spooned over poached eggs, broccoli, or for fondue.


Beecher's Flagship Cheese Sauce
1/2 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
14 ounces semihard cheese, grated, about 3 1/2 cups (I used aged sharp cheddar)
2 ounces semisoft cheese, about 1/2 cup (I've used Gruyère and Havarti)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

-Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking to evenly cook flour for 2 minutes. The flour/butter mixture will begin to brown lightly and smell nutty.
-Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
-Remove pan from the heat and add cheeses, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for ~3 days.


Macaroni and Cheese
16 ounces penne
4 cups Beecher's Flagship Cheese Sauce (below)
1 ounce cheddar, grated (1/4 cup)
1 ounce Gruyère cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder (to taste)

-Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 9x13 glass baking dish.
-Cook penne two minutes shy of package directions, drain, and rinse with cool water.
-Combine pasta and sauce in a large bowl, mixing carefully. Scrape pasta into baking dish and top with cheeses and chili powder.
-Bake uncovered for 20-40 minutes, or until the dish is bubbling and the top has started to brown lightly. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

-Adapted from Pure Flavor, by Kurt Beecher Dammeier

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you just need chocolate chip cookies. Bad. And, you need a simple recipe that is conveniently located on the bag of the chocolate chips... There are so many cliché things I could say here. "Don't fix it if it ain't broke." "Why reinvent the wheel?" In this case, the wheel was fine-tuned with whole wheat flour. Have your cookie and eat it too! I'm going to stop before this gets worse.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

To hot to turn on the stove? Grill! Grilled portobello mushrooms can be added to many dishes: salads, pasta, crostini, sandwiches, or even eaten straight. This recipe uses a grilled portobello as a base for sautéed vegetables which you can modify to suit your personal tastes or what you have on hand. Bottom line- it's all about the foil pouch. You may not get grill lines or as much smokey flavor, but your portobellos won't dry out, toughen, or burn.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

4 medium portobello mushrooms
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

1 sweet red onion, sliced thinly
2 bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow) diced
1/2 -1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped (to taste)
goat cheese

-Clean and de-stem portobellos and place gill side up on a large sheet of lightly oiled aluminum foil.
-Drizzle the portobellos with olive oil and season well with garlic, pepper, and salt.
-Form a pouch around the mushrooms with the aluminum foil leaving a few small openings to serve as vents.
-Grill over medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked through, tender, and bubbly.

-Over medium heat, sautée onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a large pinch of salt until softened. Add the peppers, chili, and another pinch of salt and continue to sautée until the vegetables have all softened and lost their excess moisture.
-Note: You can make this before you grill the mushrooms and keep it warm until serving.
-Divide mixture between the portobellos and top with large crumbles of goat cheese and freshly ground pepper.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peanut Barbecue Tofu

I found this recipe just in time to post it for the upcoming 4th of July picnics, potlucks, and parties. A hearty and satisfying meat free bbq option, the peanut butter really shines and compliments the barbecue sauce well. Use your favorite store bought or homemade barbecue sauce as I believe the tangy/spicy and sweet/smokey sauces will both work well. Serve with greens, in a sandwich, or in a salad.

2 lb. extra firm tofu, frozen and thawed, cut into 1/3 inch slices
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
barbecue sauce (Nancy's or Stubbs works well)

-Preheat oven to 350° F.
-Mix peanut butter, paprika, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and vegetable oil in the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish using a spatula. Gently toss the tofu with the peanut butter sauce. If the peanut sauce doesn't spread easily, bake the tofu for ~10 minutes and toss again.  Bake for about 1 hour, tossing halfway through baking. Coat the tofu with barbecue sauce and toss to coat. Bake for another 30 minutes. 

Adapted from: Bark & Grass Number 2, 1994

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Arugula, Tomato, Chickpea Salad

 We've all been there. You're about to head out of town, you're trying to finish what's left in your fridge so it doesn't spoil while you're away, and you feel like you've landed on an episode of iron chef. . . This also happens to me on any given weekday, particularly later in the week when I'm due to visit the grocery store. So starts this miniseries of posts- Kitchen Sink Salads. I'll post the hodgepodge salads that turn out well and hopefully help you when you're left with half of this, a cup of that, one of this, two of that, etc. The amounts I list are totally arbitrary- take what you've got and make it your own!

Arugula, Tomato, and Chickpea Salad

4 cups of arugula
1 slicing tomato cut into eighths
1 cup of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of pecorino romano cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp vinegar (I used balsamic)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

-In a large bowl, toss tomatoes in olive oil, vinegar, kosher salt, and pepper. Fold in arugula, chickpeas, pecorino romano, and season to taste.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blueberry Mint Arnold Palmer

We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave and the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. I am willing to turn on the stove, briefly, to make iced tea and enjoy one of the best perks of my new apartment. Ice cubes!!! As simple as ice may be, my shoebox freezer in my old apartment did not have space for ice cube trays hence my current joy for crisp, cool, beverages on a hot day. Here's a new twist on the classic Iced Tea/Lemonade Arnold Palmer. Lightly crush or bruise the mint before adding it to the glass to infuse the drink with more mint flavor.

Blueberry Mint Arnold Palmer

2 heaping tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea
4 cups boiling water
lemonade (or lemon juice and simple syrup to add to taste)
blueberries - fresh are best as they won't stain your drink
fresh mint
ice cubes

-Boil water, pour into a heat-safe container and steep tea leaves until the mixture cools to approximately room temp.
-In a large glass filled with ice, mix 1 part lemonade with 3 parts iced tea (or to taste). Garnish with mint and blueberries.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mango Avocado Salsa

I hiked the Arch Rock trail at Pt. Reyes last weekend and it was a beautiful trip. The marine layer burned off early leaving many hours of gorgeous sun and sights-

My first taste of summer, my hike left me craving more and I made the following salsa to curb my Pt. Reyes cravings. Try to use avocados that aren't too ripe and will maintain their shape. Light, fresh, and sweet, serve this salsa with tacos, tortilla chips, or on top of grilled fish.

Mango Avocado Salsa

1/2 cup diced sweet red onion
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 large avocado cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large mango cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 lime, juiced
1 ts kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
~ 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)

- In a medium bowl, combine red onion, vinegar, lime juice, avocado, mango, jalapeño, and salt. Let mixture rest for 20-30 minutes
-Add cilantro and cayenne pepper. Gently toss and serve.

Adapted from: Everyday Greens, Annie Somerville

Friday, June 4, 2010

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Some recipes are worth blogging about in multiple places. I found this recipe here, a great food blog I visit frequently. A light, refreshing pizza, my dinner guest mentioned this would make a great summer meal if you're willing to heat up your house with the oven. One suggestion: buy thicker asparagus as they are easier to shave with vegetable peeler.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza
-makes 2 12 inch pizzas

1/2 batch of pizza dough
1 bunch of large asparagus
1 cup mozzarella, grated
extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt
black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
fresh minced herbs (I used Italian Parsley)
lemon zest

-Set oven to 480° F.
-Peel asparagus with a vegetable peeler using the tough end as a handle. You'll need ~1-1.5 cups per pizza. Toss asparagus peels in one tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
-Prepare pizza dough and spread one tablespoon of olive oil over the pizza crust. Divide mozzarella cheese between the two pizzas, layer on the asparagus peels, sprinkle red pepper flakes, and bake the pizzas for 10-15 minutes until the crust is crisp and golden brown.
-Remove pizza from oven, top with lemon zest, herbs, and pecorino romano cheese.

-Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

A tomato pasta sauce without olive oil??

Before you scoff in disgust, try this recipe. Dreadfully simple, you don't even have to dice the onion and it tastes fabulous. If you're trying to eat less butter I would only replace a few tablespoons of butter for olive oil as the butter is what makes the dish.
The recipe calls for whole, peeled tomatoes but I cheated and bought the diced ones. Although whole tomatoes may be better, I figured that diced would work just as well and require less mashing and cutting while cooking. San Marzano tomatoes are a heirloom tomato variety that is similar to the well-known Roma tomato, but is thought to have a stronger and sweeter flavor. If you can find them at your local market I highly recommend that you give them a shot for this sauce.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can, or diced if you'd like (preferably San Marzano)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved

-Put the tomatoes, onion, and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer for 30-40 minutes and stir occasionally (for diced tomatoes, longer for whole tomatoes) until the sauce thickens and softens. If you use whole tomatoes, press them into smaller pieces while the sauce simmers. 
-Remove from heat and discard the onion. Season to taste, if necessary, and keep warm until pasta is ready. Serve with parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan

Friday, May 28, 2010

Black Bean Cakes

This dish earns major points in my book as it requires little time, dirties few dishes, reheats well for lunches, boasts great nutritional benefits, and is versatile. I served the black bean cakes atop a green salad adorned with avocado, cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese, jicama, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges. Before building the salad I tossed the greens in olive oil and lime juice. You could also use the black bean cakes as a taco or burrito filling, a soup accompaniment, or a veggie burger if you made the patties bigger. 

Black Bean Cakes

2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
6 scallions, white parts removed, green parts thinly sliced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup grated sweet potato
1 small onion, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
vegetable oil

- In a large bowl, coarsely mash the black beans with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Add scallions, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, sweet potato, onion, salt, cumin, and mix to combine. Add the egg and just enough whole wheat flour to help the mixture stick together. Roll the mixture into balls and press into patties. The patties will still be very delicate but will start mostly hold their form when cooked. Place the patties on an oiled cookie sheet and broil* 5-7 minutes per side depending on patty size.
* The patties can also be pan-fried if a broiler is not available.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chili Lime Edamame

This recipe was inspired by a recent trip to my favorite sushi restaurant where I ordered their edamame trio. The standout of the bunch was their 'togarashi lime' flavor which I've recreated below using kosher salt, crushed red chili flakes, and lime juice. A quick and easy spin on a classic healthy snack, I would use the recipe below as a guide and season to your own personal taste.

Chili Lime Edamame

1 package frozen edamame, in shell
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (preferably crushed into small pieces)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds (optional)

-Heat edamame according to package instructions. In a large bowl, toss edamame in lime juice, pepper flakes, salt, and sesame seeds. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thai Red Coconut Curry

It's hard for me to choose my favorite aspect of this recipe as it is quick to make and accommodates many seasonal vegetables that you enjoy or have on hand. The amounts of seasonings I've listed make a medium spicy curry but can be adapted to suit your own personal taste preferences. If you use different vegetables add them based on length of time needed to cook and use the separation of sweet potatoes and bell pepper as your guide. Here are a few other curry addition suggestions- shrimp, bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, thai eggplant, etc.

Thai Red Coconut Curry

1 lemongrass stalk-  remove ends and roughly cut into 1 inch pieces (do not eat!)
1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (I use Mae Ploy Curry Paste)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves- pressed or minced
2 inches of ginger- peeled and finely grated (~2 tablespoons)
2 sweet potatoes- peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 package extra firm tofu- cut into ~1/2 inch cubes
2-3 bell peppers- diced into 1 inch cubes
1 bunch of asparagus- ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch stalks
1 bunch of thai basil- 1+ cup of leaves

Place coconut milk, stock, lemongrass, curry paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, and ginger in a large saucepan and whisk until it is well combined. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and add the sweet potatoes. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, add the tofu, bell peppers, and asparagus and simmer. Gently stir occassionally until the vegetables are tender but still slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Taste curry sauce and adjust flavors as necessary. Remove from heat and add the thai basil leaves. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kale and Black Bean Tacos

 Lighter than classic taco fillings, black beans and kale are a great alternative taco filling that is packed with nutritional benefits. This dish requires little time and stove prep which makes it optimal for the summer evenings when the last thing you want to do is stand over the stove. I'd like to thank Kevin J. as I was inspired to write this post after hearing about his kale burritos.


Kale and Black Bean Tacos

makes 10-12 tacos

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1-2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp cumin
kosher salt
2 small bunches of kale, destemmed and torn into 1 inch pieces
1 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed

small tortillas
grated cheese
diced tomatoes
sour cream
hot sauce or salsa
limes, quartered

-Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, chili flakes, and cumin. Sautée until the onions soften, about 2 minutes.
-Add the kale, toss with the onion mixture, and season with kosher salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender, about 6 minutes. When kale is almost ready, stir in the black beans and cook until the beans are heated through.
-Pour the kale mixture into a large bowl and serve with your favorite taco additions.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Panna Cotta with Mango Purée

After a visit to my favorite Thai restaurant where I enjoyed their panna cotta with mango purée, I decided to recreate the dessert at home. Light, creamy, and slightly sweet you could serve this panna cotta with many toppings besides a fruit purée- fresh fruit, chocolate, caramel, mint, syrups, etc. If you don't have ceramic ramekins don't despair. I made this batch, pictured below, with small juice glasses. Granted, I'm sure the ramekins are easier to use and probably release the panna cotta more easily before serving, but a bowl of hot water and some shaking encouragement also does the trick.

Panna Cotta with Mango Purée

-Panna Cotta
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups whipping cream
1 1/4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

-In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the few tablespoons of water and let it sit for ~10 minutes.
-In a medium bowl combine 1 cup of the whipping cream with the yogurt and vanilla
-Heat remaining cream and sugar in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar until the cream just begins to simmer. Remove the saucepan from heat and add the gelatin mixture and stir until it dissolves. Mix hot cream-gelatin mixture into yogurt mixture in bowl. Divide mixture among six 3/4-cup ramekins, using about 1/2 cup for each. Refrigerate desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
-To serve invert ramekin onto a plate to release the panna cotta. If the panna cotta does not release easily, briefly soak the ramekin in hot water and try again.
-Mango Purée
2 small mangoes (I used Manila mangoes)
granulated sugar (to taste)
~1 tablespoon lemon juice

-Peel and cube the mango. Blend only adding enough water to allow a smooth purée to form.
-Add lemon juice and sugar to taste, depending on the sweetness of the mangoes.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

I'm not a fan of dry baked goods and I think this draws me to recipes that promise chewy cookies, moist cake, and fudgy brownies.  This cookie recipe stands up to its promise, but be sure to pull them from the oven when only the edges of the cookie are golden brown. You can omit the nuts and cranberries or substitute them for raisins if you'd like.

Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

-Makes about 30 cookies

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups rolled oats
1-1 1/2 cups cranberries
3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

-Set oven to 350° F and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.
-Combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
-Cream butter until creamy, add sugars and beat until creamy, and add eggs one at a time.
-Stir dry ingredients into the butter mixture using a wooden spoon or spatula. Stir in oats, cranberries, and nuts.
-Spoon generous 1 tablespoon balls of dough on to each cookie sheet. Lightly flatten each ball if you'd like a flatter cookie, as these cookies maintain their shape during baking.
-Bake until the cookie edges are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Rotate cookies sheets halfway through cooking time to ensure even baking.

Adapted from The Best Recipe, Cook's Illustrated

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pea Pesto Crostini

Ground up peas on toast? Really?
Yes! Although I was skeptical about this crostini topping, it greatly exceeded my expectations. Serve as a light appetizer or bring to a potluck as an alternative to hummus and pita chips. Originally called pea pesto crostini, I kept the name but would personally describe it as a pea hummus because of the topping's texture and oomph.

Pea Pesto Crostini

16 ounce package frozen peas, defrosted
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled (to personal taste)
3/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2+ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for crostini toasts
1 baguette, cut into 1/3 inch slices (day old bread toasts best)
cherry tomatoes (or, use thin slices of oven roasted tomatoes when cherry tomatoes aren't in season)

-Add peas, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper to a food processor work bowl and pulse until just combined. With machine running, slowly add a 1/2 cup of olive oil and continue to mix until well combined, but slightly textured. Season to taste. (note: you can start with whole romano cheese and 'grate' it in the food processor by adding it first in 1 inch chunks and processing until grated.)
-For the crostini toasts: heat a stove top griddle or grill pan over medium high heat. Brush 1/3 inch baguette slices with olive oil and grill until lightly brown on both sides.
-Top each crostini with about a tablespoon of the pea pesto and garnish with slices/wedges of cherry tomatoes.

Adapted from Giada at Home, Giada De Laurentiis 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pizza

It only makes sense that you'd like to make a few different pizzas when you make four pizzas worth of dough. So, as I tested the frozen and refrigerated dough to see how it fared (see original pizza dough post for results) I also tried a new topping combinations. This recipe is best suite for the fall in winter months since it features butternut squash and, when seared, it makes a great pizza topping that will liven your spirit during the winter months. If you cannot find a small enough butternut squash don't worry, simply sear it all and use the rest in future dishes or eat it as a snack with a bit of left over goat cheese like I did.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pizza

1 small butternut squash- peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
4-6 tablespoons of goat cheese (a small package will be more than sufficient)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 cup (or less) of your favorite basic marinara or tomato sauce
1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
1-2 teaspoons of fresh herbs, finely minced (I used rosemary and lemon thyme)
1 teaspoon lemon zest

-Prepare pizza dough.
-Set oven to 480° F. 
-While the dough is resting, heat olive oil or butter over medium-high to hight heat in a medium skillet. When the oil is hot (smells nutty but not smokey) add the squash and toss it briefly to coat with the oil. Season with salt and pepper and let the squash brown, only tossing occasionally to encourage browning on all sides. When the squash is fork tender, about 5-10 minutes, take the pan off the heat and add the brown sugar. Toss to incorporate using the residual heat and set aside.
-Top the pizza round with the tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, squash, and small dollops of goat cheese.
-Bake the pizza for 8-12 minutes until the crust is crisp, golden brown, and puffy.
-Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Top the pizza with your choice of fresh herbs, and lemon zest. Slice and serve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

Sweet, tart, creamy, chocolaty, velvety, and delicious. My go to frosting, it's very convenient that it freezes so beautifully. Try it on cupcakes, brownies, cakes, or as a cookie filling. I prefer my cream cheese frosting to not be overly sweet, so depending on your tastes you may want to add more powdered sugar than I listed below.

Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 2 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, chilled
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
~1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
5 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons espresso

-Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. When the chocolate has just melted, add the espresso and let the mixture cool to lukewarm, but do not allow the chocolate to harden.
-Blend the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add the powdered sugar a half cup at a time to taste and until the frosting is smooth. Blend in melted chocolate mixture. Do not over mix.
-Keeps refrigerated for ~1 week or freezes well for 3 months. Thaw completely and remix before using.

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer