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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

These fries are a great, satisfying-fried-crunch-from-a-baked-recipe treat!

They are not complicated, and once you do them this way, you'll be hooked.  I want to try these on regular potatoes too!  I would suggest dipping them in the comme ca burger sauce.

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato fries

adapted from The Art of Doing Stuff

start with 2 large sweet potatoes.

Cut your fries in standard fry shape.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Soak fries in cold water for 30 minutes.

Transfer the fries after draining water and drying lazily (you don't want them bone dry) into a zip top bag.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1-2 tbsp cornstarch into bag, seal, and shake until lightly coated.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and shake to coat.  Lay onto a cookie sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes  until golden brown and crispy, but soft on the inside.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip muffins

Mmmmmm.  Coffee, banana, chocolate.  What's not to love?  It was all I could do to keep my son from eating 2 in a row.  He actually asked to have one for dessert!  These muffins are from Baked, which should let you know immediately that they are perfect.  The coffee flavor is subtle.  These are better several hours after they are made, and they freeze like a dream.

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Baked

1-1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean and top springs back. Move the muffin pan to a cooling rack, and let cool  for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Four Step Chicken

This is a very straight forward but yummy dinner.  The lemon is a pretty light hint, and the onions taste great paired with both the spinach and the chicken.  I have used fresh and frozen spinach, but I definitely prefer fresh.  Pair it with a nice salad, and you've got dinner.

Four Step Chicken
Adapted form Melissa D'Arabian

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced in half crossways
1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus 1 small bunch fresh thyme, leaves chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine, optional
1 cup chicken broth
3 lemons, juiced
1 to 2 tablespoons butter

Spinach "bed"

Season chicken with dried thyme and salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and add the oil. Dredge the chicken in flour, add to the hot oil and saute until cooked through. Set chicken aside to rest on plate tented with foil, or pop in a 200 degree oven.

In same saute pan, over low heat, add onions and fresh thyme and cook until aromatic and soft.

In a measuring cup, measure out wine, if using, and broth, and add the lemon juice. Turn the heat up to high, and deglaze the pan with the broth mixture until starting to reduce.

Remove the pan from the heat and finish the sauce by whisking in butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place a bed of cooked spinach on a serving platter, top with the chicken. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Spinach "bed":

1 bag pre-washed fresh spinach
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Microwave spinach in a microwave-proof dish with a few tablespoons of water on high for 5 to 6 minutes, or until hot. Drain, and toss with butter, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Granola with Coconut, Cherries, & Chocolate

When I made this, I was out of enough bar chocolate, so I had half chips.  I loved the bar chocolate bits!!!  This was a breakfast I looked forward to every morning until it was gone.  Chocolate????  For breakfast.  Sold.  It's a great combination.

Granola with Coconut, Cherries, & Chocolate
Adapted from Annie's Eats

2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened is fine)
1 1/3 cup sliced almonds
6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
6 tbsp. coconut or canola oil
1 cup honey
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups dried cherries
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the coconut to the pan in an even layer and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and toasted.  Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the pan.  Return the pan to the heat and add the chopped walnuts and almonds.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the oats and canola or coconut oil and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the oat mixture to a large bowl and stir in the honey, cinnamon, and salt.  Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake, stirring twice, until the granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the toasted coconut and dried cherries.  Move the granola to one side of the baking sheet and press gently into a thick slab.  Let cool to room temperature.  Break the dried and cooled granola into small clusters, mix in the chopped chocolate, and store in an airtight container

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vegetarian Cassoluet

It's not often that we find a vegetarian meal that we both really love.  I used chicken stock, but vegetable stock is a natural choice.  This meal is really hearty, and freezes perfectly.  My favorite part is the bread crumbs!  An easy thing to do is to make it in your pot, top with breadcrumb, cool in fridge, then cover.  The next day, bake at 350F for about 30-40 minutes uncovered.  Nice tomato flavor, creamy beans crispy breadcrumbs-- really good!

Vegetarian Cassoulet
Adapted from smitten kitchen and Gourmet, March 2008

For cassoulet
3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved
lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish bay leaf
3 (19-ounce) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 19-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart stock (I used chicken)

For garlic crumbs
4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Make cassoulet:
Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, then wash well and pat dry.

Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, then stock, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.

Make garlic crumbs while cassoulet simmers:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated. Spread in a skillet, and toast over medium high heat. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.

Finish cassoulet:
Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth, or give a quick blend with the immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stuffed Mushrooms

I think stuffed mushrooms should always be vegetarian.  These have a nice kick to them with the garlic and cayenne.  They are straightforward to make, and once in the freezer, make a fast appetizer on the fly.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Adapted from Annie's Eats

24 whole fresh button mushrooms
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. vegetable oil
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Clean mushrooms with a dry paper towel. Carefully remove the stems from the mushroom caps, setting the caps aside for later.  Add about 20 of the stems to the bowl of a food processor.  Add the garlic to the food processor as well, and pulse in brief bursts until them mushroom stems and garlic are finely chopped.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the chopped mushroom stems and garlic and cook on medium high heat until all the moisture has disappeared, about 5-7 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spices.  Stir together until the mixture is smooth and creamy; remove from the heat.  Don't linger or it will get too dry.  Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling.  Arrange the mushroom caps on the prepared baking sheet.  Place about 1/2 of cup of breadcrumbs on a plate, and pick the mushrooms up and dunk the filling in the breadcrumbs.  You can freeze them at this point if you like- freeze on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then put in a ziplock bag.   Bake for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are hot and liquid starts to form under the caps.  Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fresh herbs if using and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breakfast pizza

We had this when we were in disney, and the kids couldn't get enough of it.  It was really tasty, and amazingly simple.  You could adapt this any number of ways- a little crumbled sausage, a little crumbled bacon, some scallions, some mushrooms- whatever you like.

Breakfast Pizza

5 large eggs, scrambled
8 oz cheddar cheese

Dough adapted from Annie's Eats

½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp. salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.  Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil.  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.

Punch down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  Put one piece of dough in the freezer.  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil.

Top with 5 eggs, scrambled, and 8 oz cheddar cheese.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tomato-Basil Mozarella Tart

File this under appetizers from my sister.  She had given me the recipe, but I lost it.  Lucky for me, because searching for that recipe was how I found Annie's Eats, which has given me sooooo many great recipes.  This is a favorite of my mother-in-law too, and I'm looking forward to making it again!

Tomato Mozarella Basil Tarte
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the dough:
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces
4-5 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Ripe cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil

To make the dough, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until finely and uniformly minced.  Add the flour and salt; pulse briefly to combine.  Add in the chunks of butter and pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.  Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate.  Add 1 more tablespoon and process for several seconds to see if the dough forms a ball.  If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water and process until a ball of dough forms.  Remove the dough, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap well in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 425° F.  Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 12-inch circle.  Lay the dough over a 9-inch (11 inch is ok, too) round tart pan and press it into the sides.  Trim the excess dough as needed.   Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads or, dried beans of any sort.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and remove the foil or parchment and baking beads.  Return the empty tart shell to the oven to bake for 5 minutes more.  Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 375° F.

Layer the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell with the sliced or chopped mozzarella.  Arrange the cherry tomato slices on top of the cheese in a single even layer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan and minced fresh basil.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in places.  About halfway through baking, rotate the tart 180° and blot off any excess moisture that has collected on top with a paper towel if necessary. Allow the tart to rest  about 5 minutes before slicing and serv

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Butternut Squash, Red Pepper, & Jack cheese quesadilla

I have had these on my list forever, because my sister makes them for family gatherings.  I love them.  The squash gets so sweet, and they are very filling.  They are great as an appetizer or a meatless dinner with a nice salad.

Butternut Squash, Red Pepper, & Jack Cheese Quesadilla
Adapted from Gourmet

a 3/4-pound seedless piece butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 5 cups)
1 medium onion, unpeeled, cut into eighths
1 large garlic clove, unpeeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
eight 5- to 6-inch flour tortillas
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 cup coarsely grated jack cheese
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Accompaniment: chipotle lime sour cream dip

For the dip:
1 canned chipotle chili in adobo*, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup sour cream

To make the quesadillas:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a shallow baking pan arrange squash, onion, and garlic in one layer and drizzle with oil, tossing to coat. Roast mixture in middle of oven 15 minutes, or until garlic is tender and transfer garlic to a work surface. Roast squash and onion until tender, about 15 minutes more. Throw out the peels from squash, onion, and garlic.
In a food processor purée squash, onion and garlic with salt and pepper to taste until very smooth. Squash purée may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Spread about one fourth squash purée on each of 4 tortillas and sprinkle each with about one fourth bell pepper and about one fourth cheese. Top each quesadilla with a plain tortilla, pressing gently together. Spread each side of quesadillas with 1/2 tablespoon butter.
Heat a griddle or 7-inch non-stick skillet over moderately high heat until hot and cook quesadillas, 1 at a time, until golden, about 3 minutes on each side, moving to a cutting board.

Cut each quesadilla into 6 to 8 wedges and serve warm with chipotle dip.

To make the dip:
In a small bowl stir chili and lime juice into sour cram until combined well. Dip may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Makes about 1 cup.