Monday, February 28, 2011

This Dinner was THAT Good

You know a dinner is good when you repeat the entire meal within 7 days.

Last weekend we ran across one such rare recipe--it was so darn delicious, we decided to make it again this week.

So what's the famous dish with that Hungry Spoon one-week-repeat power?

Thai Curry Carrot Burgers. These little gems are loaded with carrot, fresh ginger, curry powder, and even some peanut butter and cinnamon. While I can claim craftsmanship of the burgers, Adam deserves all the credit for the guacamole we topped them with and, even better, the homemade corn bread buns we sandwiched them between.

This is another one of those vegetarian recipes that is perfect try on your carnivorous friends. It so full of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs goodness, your meat-eating buddies won't even know their dinner never had eyes or internal organs (Okay, I took it too far with that one. Sometimes I just get carried away, don't I?).

Bottom line: Make these burgers. They've got carrots. They've got peanut butter. And, as always, they've got plenty of love baked right in.

Thai Curry Carrot Burgers

The condiment of choice for these curried burgers is definitely a garlic-heavy guacamole. Sweet pickles make a great addition, too.

Ingredients:
  • a dash of olive oil
  • 1 bunch of green onions finely sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 - 1/2 TBSP freshly grated ginger
  • 4 cups grated carrot
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 TBSP natural peanut butter
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup Panko (bread crumbs)
  • Guacamole (for serving)
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a dash of olive oil (about 1 TBSP) in large pan. Add the scallions and cook for a couple minutes until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, carrots, salt, coriander, curry powder, and cinnamon. Cook for 6 - 8 minutes until the carrots are just softened.

2) In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, peanut butter, and lemon juice. Stir in the carrot mixture, cilantro, and Panko (bread crumbs). Allow to sit for about 5 - 10 minutes so the bread crumbs can absorb some of the liquid. Shape into 4 - 5 patties.

3) In a large skillet, heat another dash of olive oil. Cook patties until browned on one side (about 4 - 6 minutes). Flip and cook until the other side is nicely browned. Place the patties on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until the burgers are cooked through. Serve with guacamole

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Panna Cotta...The Fancy Lady's Dessert

The 2011 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Have you tried Panna Cotta before?

Not only had I never tried Panna Cotta prior to this month's Daring Baker's Challenge, but I wasn't even sure what it was. To be honest, I always assumed it was somehow related to Pannetone.

Unlike the massive culinary flop I produced for last month's Daring Bakers' Challenge, this cooking adventure went much smoother. And, I discovered that I love Panna Cotta. It reminds me of a smooth, honey-infused ice cream, which makes perfect sense since the Italian translation is literally "cooked cream."

I boiled my favorite aspects of this dessert down to three simple points:

1) It's super easy: With only 6 main ingredients, plus fruit for garnish, this recipe was a snap to make.

2) It's ridiculously elegant: Nothing says fancy-schmancy like dessert served in a wine glass.

3) It tastes fabulous: We all know I'm an ice cream fanatic, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Panna Cotta tastes like the sister food of my favorite cold, creamy treat.

The cookies were a fun addition to this recipe, and really round out the presentation nicely, although they were pretty butter-intense (but hey, what's a little butter between friends?)

Eat up, dear friends! Now you have something new to share at your next dinner party :)

Panna Cotta with Nestle Florentine Cookies

This dessert would fit perfectly at the end of an elegant dinner party, or a summer cook-out on your back porch.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • For garnish: strawberries and Nestle Florentine Cookies
Directions:

1) Pour cold milk into a bowl. Sprinkle gelatin in a thin, even layer on top of the milk and set aside for about 5 - 10 minutes.

2) Pour milk into a saucepan and heat gently on medium heat for about 5 minutes--the mixture should be hot but NOT boiling. Add the cream, honey, vanilla and sugar and continue heating and stirring for about 5 - 10 minutes until the sugar and honey have completely dissolved and the mixture is hot (but NOT boiling). Remove from heat.

3) Pour the mixture into wine glasses or ramekins and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Garnish with strawberries if desired, and Florentine Cookies.



Saturday, February 26, 2011

When You Leave a Man in Charge...


It seemed so simple.

I wanted to treat Adam to Cinnamon Buns for breakfast. He makes us pancakes every Saturday, and I thought he needed a well-deserved morning off.

I prepared the dough late Friday night. It was just beautiful. It over doubled in size, and the inside was slathered with a thick layer of buttery-cinnamon-sugary goodness, sprinkled with pecans. These babies were going to be good.

I woke up early and got into my walking gear. Set the oven to preheat and pulled the buns out of the fridge...they just needed to warm to room temperature.

"I'm going to walk Dora and then pick up some confectioner's sugar for the cinnamon bun icing. Can you stick the rolls in the oven when it's done preheating? Just keep them in for 30 minutes."

"No problem, Ky."

Easy as pie. I even wrote it down in case he forgot.

One hour later I return...to a dried out, nearly blackened pan of flat, lifeless, cinnamon buns. And a husband glued to his computer screen...listening to NPR's "Science Friday."

Seriously?

He happily ate his cinnamon buns anyway, slathered with a little extra icing.

Needless to say, there had better be some pancakes in my future, friends. And by future, I mean Sunday morning. It's a good thing he's so darn cute.

Perfect Cinnamon Buns

These cinnamon buns were SO easy, and they rose just beautifully. Just make sure you don't leave someone else in charge of the baking...

Dough Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup butter or non-hydrogenated vegan margarine, softened
  • 3 - 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 - 1/4 tsp. rapid rise yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or non-hydrogenated vegan margarine, softened
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Powdered Sugar Glaze
(these amounts are approximate, as--oops!--I didn't measure)
  • 1 - 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 - 3 TBSP almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 TBSP non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
Directions:
1) In a small saucepan, warm the milk and butter over medium-low heat until bubbles start to appear. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 - 1/4 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the water, egg, and milk mixture and beat until well-combined. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time. When the dough has just pulled together, turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a bowl, cover, and let rest for about 15 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon from the "filling ingredients" in a small bowl.

4) Roll dough out into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Spread the filling on the rectangle and sprinkle with pecans. Roll lengthwise and slice into 10 - 12 rolls. Place in a greased 13 x 9 inch pan, about an inch or two apart. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 - 2 hours.

5) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned (My guess is that it will be closer to 30 minutes, but only the heavens know the answer to this one since I wasn't around to find out how long they should have baked!).

6) Beat the frosting ingredients in a small bowl, adding more sugar or milk to reach your desired consistency. Frost rolls while they're still warm.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gingerbread Scones

Moms can be pretty great, right?

They mail you homemade treats when you're miles away. They listen to you ramble about your everyday, endless worries. They might even walk your dog when your day is too long and you don't see home 'til after dark.

For these reasons, among a million others, today's post is for
both of my moms. My mother-in-law Kathy, with a heart of gold and the baking skills of Ina Garten, and my own Mom who is always at the ready to lend her ear--and a helping hand--when I need it the most.

I set out to bake some treats for my mom last night, and, of course, I turned to one of Kathy's perfect recipes: Gingerbread Scones.

I know what you're thinking: Christmas is
long-gone and we're closer to Spring than we are to Winter. Gingerbread should packed away with the tree ornaments and the Santa Clause hand soap.

But I beg to differ. See, it's a rainy, gloomy day here. My heart is craving sweet, warm comfort to wrap up for mom, and I knew this recipe would do just the trick. Scones have such a lovely texture--they're dense and cakey--somewhere between a muffin, a biscuit, and a cookie. They pair perfectly with your morning cup of coffee or a glass of almond milk.

My results didn't turn out quite as perfect as Kathy's, but my heart was in the right place :)

To both my Moms: Thank you.

Gingerbread Scones
(recipe from Kathy)

I added a simple confectioner's sugar glaze and some toasted pecans to the tops of these gingery scones...per Adam's suggestion :)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar glazed
  • Chopped, toasted pecans
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat a baking pan with cooking spray.

2) Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture becomes crumbly.

3) In a small bowl, combine the molasses, milk, and egg yolk. Gently stir into the flour mixture--GENTLY! Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 6 to 7 times. Pat dough into an 8 inch circle and cut into 8 wedges.

4) Whisk the egg white until frothy. Brush onto tops of wedges and sprinkle with extra sugar.
Place about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until bottoms are browned.

4) To prepare confectioner's sugar glaze--mix powdered sugar (oops! I didn't measure) with a splash of vanilla extract and milk. Continue adding sugar or milk until glaze reaches desired consistency. Drizzle on scones and sprinkle with chopped, toasted pecans.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tempt Me, Smoky Tempeh

Liquid smoke is the best-kept dirty little secret of vegetarian cooking.

No, vege-heads don't eat meat. And no, most of us don't even miss meat.

But if you flash that smoky, meat-hungry seasoning in front of my nostrils, my olfactory glands go wild. I start salivating. My eyes might even bug out. Let's just say that you'd better not be standing between me and that tiny bottle of liquid smoke.

Tonight, we indulged in the best-kept dirty little secret of vegetarian sammies: Smoked Tempeh Sandwiches with Sauerkraut and veggies. It's no secret that I'm a freak for vege-head sandwiches. Better yet, I'm darn close to passionate about tempeh (who would have thought a girl could be passionate about fermented soybeans?)

But when my daring husband added liquid smoke into the mix, it was obvious that I would enter a food coma within 8 minutes of taking my last bite.

Adam seeped our sliced tempeh in a smoky marinade all day. Then, we topped homemade bread with the tempeh, sauteed onions and peppers, sour kraut, and some chopped bread n' butter pickles. While tonight's dish was vegan-licious for sure, you could certainly add some Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese crumbles if your dairy-loving heart desires.

Let me tempt you with tempeh tonight...

Smoked Tempeh & Sauerkraut Sammies
(Marinade recipe from Veganomicon)

For best results, be sure to let you tempeh marinade for at least 90 minutes. As mentioned above, you can keep it vegan-licious, or add some cheese if you're craving the dairy :)

Marinade Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. tempeh, sliced
  • 3/4 cup veggie broth
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
Sandwich ingredients:
  • Homemade bread or sandwich buns
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of sauerkraut, drained
  • optional: sweet pickles, finely chopped
Directions:

1) To prepare the marinade: Mix together marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place tempeh slices in a shallow dish and pour marinade over the top. Allow tempeh to soak in the marinade for 1 - 2 hours, turning tempeh occasionally to make sure both sides get soaked.

2) Heat a dash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place tempeh in the skillet in a single layer and pour half the marinade over top; saute until the bottom of the tempeh is lightly browned. Flip the tempeh and pour the remaining marinade over top. Cook until the liquid has evaporated and tempeh appears done (about 6 minutes per side). Remove tempeh from the skillet and set aside.

3) Using the same skillet (with the tempeh removed!), heat a dash of olive oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onions, and garlic and cook until nicely browned, about 7 - 8 minutes.

4) To assemble sandwiches: Pile your bread or bun high with tempeh, sauteed onions and peppers, sauerkraut, and pickles. Revel in the smoky goodness.




Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coconut Curry

I'm a sucker for coconut milk.

It's one of those fabulous ingredients that plays for both sides: the sweet team
and the savory team.

Although coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting will bring me to my knees in 3 seconds flat, that tiny impulse-control portion of my brain prevents me from baking them weekly. So, I've got to find alternative ways of getting my c-milk fix.

Enter curry powder, the match-made-in-heaven spice that was
designed to pair with the milk o' coconuts.

Tonight's recipe is loosely based on one I found in the most recent issue of
Vegetarian Times. This vegan stew highlights all the beautiful hallmark spices of a curry dish: cinnamon, turmeric, and curry. With a handful of cilantro and a dash of chili powder, my taste buds were throwing a good ol' vegan party. Bonus: it's super-fast to throw together, making it the perfect after-work meal to prep.

We paired our vegan curry stew with rolls made from Adam's sandwich bun recipe. Yum.

Curry it up, friends. And yes, I officially turned "currying" into a verb.

Coconut Curry Stew
(inspired by a recipe in the February issue of Vegetarian Times)

I made several substitutions in this recipe, so you may want to make your own based on the veggies you have on hand. Although we didn't have extra fresh spinach last night, the original recipe calls for 2 cups worth, which I imagine would be a delicious mix-in!

Ingredients:
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • a little olive oil
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • optional: additional veggie broth
Directions:

In a soup pot, heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Stir in spices and cook for 1 more minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil (if you prefer a thinner stew, you can add additional veggie broth to reach your desired thickness). Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Classic Birthday Cupcakes


When I think of a truly classic birthday cake combination, I immediately picture vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles.

To be honest, my vanilla cake/chocolate frosting/rainbow sprinkles birthday fantasy is also accompanied by other 1950s housewife-ish images. I would be lying if I said my imaginary birthday scenario didn't include a ruffled waist apron and a flaired-skirt dress with polka dots.

Half of this classic birthday scene unfolded this weekend. While I was able to create the ultimate vanilla cupcake, piled high with spoonfuls of chocolate buttercream, there were unfortunately no ruffled aprons or high heels involved. My friend Kate celebrated her 30th year, and sprinkled cupcakes were definitely in order.

The recipe for these sweet treats hails from my top-notch favorite dessert cookbook: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The cupcakes were so moist. I've officially declared this my new go-to vanilla cake recipe. And although I'm always one to lean towards chocolate buttercream, these mini-cakes would also go great with vanilla or lemon frosting, garnished with sliced strawberries.

Maybe in another life I'll get my chance at the 1950s housewife thing. In the meantime I'll keep rocking the whole feminist-of-the-millenium identity...which definitely involves cupcake-baking.

What's your favorite birthday cake?

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

These cupcakes are moist, light, and the just the right amount of sweetness. While chocolate buttercream goes perfectly, I'd encourage you to go wild with your frosting options. Experiment with lemon buttercream, orange cream cheese frosting, or even a rich chocolate ganache.

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup milk, any kind
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 - 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup real butter (or non-hydrogenated vegan margarine) at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 - 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 - 4 TBSP milk
Directions:
1) To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Use an electric mixer to beat together the milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients until well-blended and lumps are gone!

2) Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 -- 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20 - 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

3) To prepare frosting: Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and cocoa powder. Beat in the vanilla extract. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk until frosting is light and fluffy and has reached a desirable spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes liberally and top with rainbow sprinkles :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fiber-Lovin' Gal

It's no secret that I'm a fiber-loving freak.

Beans, grains, raw fruits and veggies.

If it's fiber-licious, I'm interested. I've been known to add ingredients to a meal for the sole purpose of increasing the fiber content. Sprinkle a little wheat germ here, add a few chopped nuts there. It's all in the spirit of a happy colon.

Today's recipe will make your fiber-needy colon very happy: Black Bean & Potato Soup. It's the ideal vegan delight for your workday lunch or weeknight dinner. It's pure veggies, beans, and spices. And plenty of fiber.

We enjoyed our soup with homemade biscuits and side salads for dinner, and I was eager to pack it for lunch the next morning. If you're not in the mood for a vegan-ized meal, I imagine a dollop of light sour cream would be a lovely accompaniment to this dish.

But enough talk. Let's get moving with some fiber-licious fun...

Black Bean and Potato Soup
(inspired by a recipe in the February issue of Vegetarian Times)

Black Bean Soup: Simple, healthy, and oh-so-good. Serve this bowl of goodness with some homemade biscuits or bread and a spinach salad on the side.

Ingredients:
  • 3 large carrots, finely diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a dash of oil
  • 3 cans (15 oz. each) of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • water or veggie broth
  • 2 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Directions:
1) In a soup pot, saute the onions, carrot, and garlic in a little olive oil until tender, about 3 - 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Add 2 cans of beans and about 3 cups (?) of water (I apologize--I didn't measure my water!). Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture (or, you can use a food processor or blender).

2) Return soup mixture to medium heat on the stove and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover the pot, and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Donut Muffin Homecoming


I survived!

The
trip to New Orleans was absolutely fantastic, and I managed all of the plane rides with only one minor incident (but what's a little hyperventilating in the grand scheme of life, right?).

The city was beautiful, vibrant,
warm (no jacket needed), and full of life. We experienced vegetarian versions of all the classic "Nawlins" foods: Po' Boy Sandwiches, jambalaya, red beans and rice, a Muffeleta, Pecan Pralines, and (my personal favorite) beignets.

I discovered that beignets are the must-have breakfast food when you're visiting New Orleans--they're supposedly the French version of a donut. Think: a small square of fried dough (hello, funnel cake!), covered in powdered sugar.

If you pay the city a visit definitely hit up Cafe Dumonde for the classic diner atmosphere and some perfect beignets.

Since there's always that readjustment phase when you get back from a trip (you mean I have to do laundry again?), I thought I'd ease us back into home life with a breakfast reminiscent of those New Orleans beignets: Donut Muffins.

That's right friends: Muffins. That taste like donuts. Big, cakey, cinnamon-sugar-covered donuts.

Adam devoured these babies so fast I almost didn't catch a picture. Since the weekend is coming up, I recommend you make them for Sunday morning breakfast. It just might be your new favorite morning treat.

With that being said, I'm off to do laundry. And un-pack. And get back to the real world.

Donut Muffins
(recipe found here at Allrecipes.com)

The original recipes calls for min-muffins, so if you're in the market for a bite-sized treat, proceed to the link above. If you're like me though, and you've got a hankerin' for a big, honkin' donut-tasting muffin, go with the full-sized muffies.

Muffin Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (or real butter), melted
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
Topping Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (or real butter), melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray (or use muffin liners if you have them).

2) In a mixing bowl combine the melted butter and sugar (from the muffin part of the ingredient list!). Stir in the nutmeg, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Gently stir in baking powder and flour.

3) Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly.

4) In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar from the topping ingredient list. Dip each muffin in the melted butter (from the "topping" ingredient list), and then in the cinnamon sugar. I dipped in the sugar multiple times, for the multiple the goodness :)


Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Big Easy...and Big Fears


Friends, I'm heading down to New Orleans for a few days. My job has been gracious enough to send me to a sweet training that will be immensely useful in my work with my students.

While I'm super excited about this training, my joy has been eclipsed by a bigger issue: I'm flat-out terrified of flying. I'm panicky about even being in an airport, let alone taking off.

And as anxious as I am about flying, I'm perhaps equally as scared of the whole transferring-to-a-connecting-flight situation. What if the first plane is running late and I miss my connecting flight? What if I get pulled over by a security guard for a pat-down? WHAT IF MY TOOTHPASTE TUBE IS TOO BIG?!

If you haven't noticed, your happy-go-lucky, food-lovin' Hungry Spoon disappeared momentarily. She's been replaced with a beady-eyed ball of nerves.

And speaking of food, my co-workers told me it's probably not a good idea to pack a jar of almond butter in my carry-on.

Someone. Send. Help.

But enough about me and my irrational flight-fear ramblings. You came for food, and I'm here to deliver.

Remember that carrot dip I raved about earlier this week? Today I'd like to share its dinner partner: Falafel Patties. These guys pack a punch of powerful flavor--they're heavy on lemon and garlic, which made me a happy lady. We topped our Falafel patties with caramelized onions, carrot dip, and a little spinach. Adam went sandwich style with his, and I took the bun-less option.

So friends, I'll leave you with this Falafel Fun until I return from The Big Easy. I'll be back in town by Wednesday evening...assuming I don't collapse in the airport and catatonically rock back and forth in the fetal position until security has me committed.

This should be interesting :)

Baked Falafel Patties
(adapted from a recipe in Veggie Burgers Every Which Way)

The lemon and garlic really shine in this awesome baked take on Falafel. As noted above, we served ours with caramelized onions and curried carrot dip. Make it as a sandwich, or crumble on top of a lunch salad!

Ingredients:
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2) Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. If the mixture is too dry to form patties, you can add a little water until they come together (not too much though! They'll fall apart in the oven if they are too liquidy)

3) Shape into 6 patties and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve with curried carrot dip and caramelized onions (as a sandwich or in a salad).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bakin' My Way to His Heart


I'm not afraid to admit it: I love Valentine's Day.

I spent the better part of my insanely awkward teenage years wishing I had a Valentine, and yet still celebrating the holiday with my equally awkward girlfriends. We embraced our glasses-wearing, brace-faced, frizzy-haired selves, and reveled in V-Day slumber parties that involved lots of raw cookie dough, prank phone calls, and late-night viewings of "Loveline with Dr. Drew."

I was the classic dorky teenager.

Today, I'm fortunate enough to have secured a somewhat permanent, and exceptionally stellar Valentine in my life. This guy draws me pictures of stick figures, cleans off my KitchenAid stand mixer, and warms up my car every morning. He also puts up with my hideous singing voice, my resistance to putting clean dishes back in the cabinet, and my minor obsession with Coldstone Creamery's Cake Batter ice cream.

To thank my sweet dude for all the ways he shows he cares, I baked my way to his heart. This year, it came in the form of Chocolate-Dipped Cherry Shortbread Cookies.

Buttery. Flaky. Pink. And chock full o' love.

These little cookies are subtly sweet and just plain precious. Semi-sweet chocolate was a perfect match, but I imagine that white chocolate or dark chocolate would go equally as well.

So, whether your Valentine is your significant other or your best friend, your mom or your favorite co-worker--there's always someone out there who could use a little lovin' from you.

Bake up some Cherry Heart Cookies for them this weekend. And be grateful you don't have braces anymore.

Chocolate-Dipped Cherry Shortbread Hearts
(recipe from
Taste of Home)

These cookies look like the essence of Valentine's Day. Pink + Chocolate + Hearts. Bonus: They taste awesome and buttery!

Ingredients:
  • 1 - 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
  • 1 TBSP cold water
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 TBSP butter
Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2) In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cut in butter and mix with a fork until crumbly. Gently add in cherries, water, and extract--be gentle! Shortbread can be tricky :) Feel free to add a dash more of water to hold the dough together if you need to.

3) On a lightly floured surface, gently roll/pat the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut using small heart cookie cutters and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

4) In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and 1 TBSP butter. Dip half of each cookie in the chocolate and place on wax paper to cool. Give to your Valentine.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Condiment Club


Yowza.

If it were the 1990's, and Full House was still relevant, I'd be channeling Uncle Jesse right now with a "Have Mercy."

Curried Carrot Dip rocked those fuzzy slipper socks right off my feet last night.

Have you ever made a dip...or a spread...or a condiment...that tasted so good, you just decided you'd rather eat it straight from the spoon?

If you haven't yet, you
will join the ranks of spoon-lickin' friends as soon as you make this carrot dip. When I initially stumbled upon the recipe, I was interested but slightly skeptical. How could I make a savory vegan dip that didn't include beans? Aren't beans the staple requirement of such spreads?

Holy delicious-ness did this recipe prove me wrong. The curry + garlic seasoning is potent (in the best possible way), and the toasted sunflower seeds add a nutty crunch and delectable flavor. We made the dip as a topping for our dinner of Falalfal patties, but it was all Adam could do to keep my spoon out of the serving bowl :)

Friends, it's time for you to join the spoon-lickin' condiment club. Welcome to the world of Curried Carrot Dip.

Curried Carrot Dip
(adapted from a recipe in
Veganomicon)

This dip is perfect as a veggie burger topping, vegetable dip, or sandwich spread. Or, as previously noted, it's great straight off the spoon as well.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. carrots, finely chopped and cooked until tender
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds (don't forget to toast 'em!)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
Directions:
Place 3 TBSP of the sunflower seeds in a food processor and processor until it turns into crumbs. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Stir in the remaining 1 TBSP sunflower seeds and season to taste. Have mercy it's good!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thinking Outside the Pizza Box

Tonight we we went outside the proverbial pizza box to create a one-of-a-kind pie.

Apple + Blue Cheese + Caramelized Onions + Apple Cider Vinaigrette + Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I'd been craving a pizza of this sort for about a month. I loved Ina's Roasted Pears so much, and I'm a huge fan of Apple Quesadillas, so a pizza variation on these meals seemed like the next logical step.

This pizza exceeded my expectations, friends. Blue cheese and apples were clearly cousins in another life, and caramelized onions make everything better, right? Not only did this dinner wake up my taste buds and put a smile on my face, but it definitely has a "sophisticated" feel to it. I'm already dreaming up ways it could be converted into a smaller, bite-sized appetizer or finger food at a party.

We served our pizza with spinach salad on the side. And possibly a chocolate muffin for dessert (Just because I don't eat them for breakfast doesn't mean I won't indulge later in the day. Nothing is off-limits after 5pm, friends. And yes, I know that defies everything Dr. Oz ever taught us.).

What's your most creative pizza creation?

Whole Wheat Pizza with Apples, Blue Cheese, and Caramelized Onions

Pizza Dough Ingredients:
(dough recipe from my trusty ol' Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
  • 1 - 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 - 1/4 to 1 - 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 - 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
Pizza Topping Ingredients:
Directions to Prepare the Pizza Dough:
1) In a large mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, yeast, and salt. Add warm water and oil and beat with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the whole wheat flour as you can.

2) Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead in as much of remaining flour as is needed to make a moderately stiff dough that's smooth and elastic (knead for about 6 - 8 minutes). Divide dough in half and place one half in the freezer for later. Place the other half in a bowl, cover, and allow it to rise in a warm place for about an hour.

3) Preheat oven to 425 degrees and coat a pizza pan with cooking spray. Roll out pizza dough onto a floured surface. Place on pizza pan and prick with a fork several times. Bake for 8 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, heat a dash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until nicely browned (about 8 - 10 minutes). Also, prepare the cider vinaigrette.

5) After the crust has baked, remove from the oven and top with onion, sliced apples, and blue cheese. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 8 - 10 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate for Breakfast

Chocolate muffins are really just an awesome excuse to eat cupcakes for breakfast, right?

When I saw Monet's recipe for double-chocolate muffins a couple weeks ago, I knew I had to give them a try. (Remember how good her chocolate bread was?)

And while I can't bring myself to indulge in chocolate for breakfast, I knew Adam's lab-mates would have no difficulties polishing off a dozen of these "morning" treats without a second thought. Every guy in that brainy bunch somehow manages to maintain the metabolism of a 14 year old boy.

Ultimately, they raved that these muffins are chocolate intense--in the best possible way. Moist and tender and oh-so-chocolatey, they'll make the perfect breakfast treat for your co-workers, your neighbor, or your warp-speed-metabolism self.

Eat up! You're having cupcakes...er, muffins...for breakfast.

Double-Chocolate Muffins
(recipe from Monet at "Anecdotes and Apple Cores")

These muffins would make a wonderful Valentine's Day breakfast treat for someone special. Or, you could top them with peanut butter frosting and disguise them as a cupcake. No one would know the difference :)

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 - 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 - 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with muffin liners (or coat with cooking spray).

2) In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla, vinegar, and butter. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients--don't over-mix! Fold in the chocolate chips.

3) Fill muffin cups (I filled mine pretty high!) and bake for 20 - 25 minutes. This made 12 muffins, plus 2 extra jumbo muffins.