Monday, November 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares




1 and 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 banana
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cup flour
1 and 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line an 11″- x 7″-inch pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, banana, eggs and oil until smooth.
  • In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and brown sugar.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. 
 
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rustic Italian Breadsticks

 

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp honey
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
olive oil
1-2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves of garlic
Parmesan cheese

*makes at least 8 large breadsticks*
  • In a mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and stir in the honey
  • Let this sit for about 5 minutes for the yeast to activate (it should get a little bubbly/frothy looking) 
    • if it does not activate, your water was probably not warm enough
  • Add the flour and salt, and mix with a dough hook on high speed for about 5 minutes (or knead by hand), until the dough is smooth and tacky, but not sticking to your hands
  • Coat the mixing bowl with some olive oil, and place the dough back in the bowl 
  • Cover with plastic wrap or a dish cloth and let it rise for at least 1 hour 
  • Press the air out of the dough and lay it out on a cutting board in a rectangular shape
  • Let it sit for another 20 minutes, and then slice it into sticks
  • Place the breadsticks on a nonstick cookie sheet: brush with garlic butter*, and sprinkle with Kosher salt and Parmesan cheese
    • *melt garlic and butter in the microwave or on the stove...ta-da*
  • Bake at 425 (F) for about 12 minutes (if you want a little extra golden brown color, turn on the broiler for just 1 minute at the end of the baking time)

Enjoy!

(The soup is my favorite Butternut Squash Soup recipe- let me know if you want it!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Creamy Orzo with Pesto and Asparagus

 This is my new take on "pasta pesto and peas", since my husband doesn't like peas, and since I love the creamy goodness of orzo.

1 cup orzo
butter, olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
asparagus
1 cup white wine
2-4 cups chicken broth
pesto (recipe follows)
Parmesan cheese

1~heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat, and add the diced onion, cooking til almost soft
2~add the orzo, and let it get very slightly toasted-
3~then add your wine (delicious smells occur immediately)


4~turn heat to medium/low, and stir frequently.
5~when the wine is evaporated, add enough chicken broth to just cover the orzo.


6~stir frequently, and repeat this simmering process until the orzo is al dente (this may take about 15 minutes)

7~toss in your asparagus along with the last addition of broth- that should be just long enough for it to get tender



8~gently stir in pesto, and top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some extra Parmesan cheese



PESTO
(these are approximations- make the pesto to your taste!)...(or just buy it in a jar.)

       
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/8 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

~Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Drizzle in olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency you like! The end.~
*Be careful adding salt- remember that the Parmesan cheese is already very salty.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cobbler LOVE

Another recipe review!

Guess who? Another Pioneer Woman masterpiece!  Follow this recipe exactly, and it will be amazing. 

Or, follow my few tiny changes if you are feeling crazy.

The only changes I made were: 1.) mix blackberries with a big squeeze of lemon juice and the zest of a half a lemon.  2.) dump the berries in the dish first, and pour the batter all over the top of them.  3) When you sprinkle the top with sugar, also sprinkle it with a little kosher salt.  YUM!

See how BEAUTIFUL it is??



Friday, October 7, 2011

Food Blog Comeback!

I have been completely out of it for the past 2 months with the arrival of our new baby boy. It has been wonderful and exhausting, and I have finally gotten back in the kitchen recently.  Confession: I am slightly obsessed with the Pioneer Woman.  I have been testing out some of her recipes, and I am here to let you know that they REALLY DO come out as amazingly delicious as she says they do.

Here is the play-by-play.  It is a pretty basic pot roast, but the addition of fresh rosemary is wonderful. For a detailed recipe, visit her website :)

(Mostly) Pioneer Woman's Pot Roast:

I used a london broil, because that's what I had.  Start by covering it in salt and pepper, and giving it a good sear on both sides in olive oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven.




Then grab some red wine, pour it in, and whisk away to get up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Lay the roast back in, and add onions, carrots, potatoes, and fresh rosemary. (I also threw in a few whole cloves of garlic!)

Pour a little beef broth in (just enough to go half way up the piece of meat).

Place the whole thing in the oven for 3-4 hours at 275f.

 I forgo to take a picture of the finished product because we were so hungry, but I promise, it is lovely!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spending Money on Organic Foods

This is an ongoing dilemma I've posted a little bit about before over at The Graduate Wife.  Eating organic, local, or "natural" foods is very important to me for the long term health of my family- but it is so expensive!
At least once a week, my husband and I will be out for a walk and see someones beautiful vegetable garden, full of summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries...and the green produce monster of envy overcomes me.

One day, I say, I will have a beautiful vegetable garden full of goodies, and a little chicken coop so that I can have fresh eggs. I picture all my future kids, dirt under their fingernails, happy smiles on their faces, carrying baskets of beans, zucchini and basil, and collecting eggs from the hen house every morning...ah... :) Maybe some day.

Until then, I try to take advantage of grocery store sales matched with coupons for as much of my shopping as possible, but I have to weigh what is worth couponing for, and what is worth buying organic. Most of the time, I will only buy organic apples, berries, lettuces, other soft-skinned fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, chicken, and beef.  If the "organic" chicken or beef is just too outrageous (which it often is), I will buy the "natural" version- which, while not USDA certified organic, contains no hormones, steroids, or antibiotics.

With the fruit and vegetables, it's clearly the pesticides that concern me- especially if it's an apple or head of lettuce that you won't be peeling.  Rinsing your fruits and veggies in the sink when you get home is always a good idea in order to wash away general dirt and grime from being handled in the store, but doesn't do anything for the chemical residue.  Pineapples and bananas, for instance, I don't stress as much about.

When it's milk and meat, the big fear is the nasty hormones and antibiotics that have been pumped into the product in order for mass production.  My hormones are already messed up enough as it is; I don't need a boost of fake chicken hormones too, thank you.

Great! But what about the cost?  It is definitely more expensive to buy higher quality food, but fear not: coupons do exist!  Just this week, my grocery store sent me a "natural and organic foods" coupon booklet, which, while only about 6 coupons, was a very fun surprise. Websites like Money Saving Mom feature weekly organic coupon deals.  Many organic or natural companies offer coupons on their website or Facebook page, just for signing up or "liking" them (I have a second email address that I use to register for things like this).  Try Muir Glen, Seventh Generation, Stoneyfield, Udi's, Athenos, Silk, Cascadian Farms, and Kashi, for starters. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, you know that often times their prices are amazing and they have great organic foods- but did you know that they also accept coupons?  Check out Healthy Life Deals for their weekly coupon match-ups!  Also, Whole Foods offers a printable coupon section on their website.

Don't forget about the farmers market, either!

Let me know if you have any other great tips for buying healthy foods!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Upcoming Posts

  • Homemade pasta recipe
  • Perfect risotto
  • Spending money on organic foods
Don't forget to submit any questions!  They will be answered every Friday.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A New Adventure: Pickling and Jarring

I have been curious about jarring (canning, whatever you want to call it) for a while now.  I don't own a pressure cooker, so I did it the old fashioned way: with a pot of boiling water.  I read up about the sanitation process (boiling the jars and lids), and settled on a recipe: Pickled Okra.  I love pickles, I love okra...so I went for it.  The end result turned out well - good flavor, but the okra became a little softer than I wanted it to.  I wanted it crisp enough to snap in half, but the final boiling process (to seal the jars) cooked it slightly.  No worries, I will still eat it all eventually :)

I bought a little starter kit which included a jar grabber (I am very technical with my terminology), a lid magnet, a funnel, and a bubble-popping/measuring device, which I didn't feel the need to use.

Here is the recipe for the brine (taken straight from epicurious.com):
  • 1 pound okra (3 1/2 to 4 inches long)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 cups cider vinegar (24 fluid ounces) *I used Braggs Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar- I love vinegar, but others may think this is too strong*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dill seeds *Next time I'd make it 2 Tbsp
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds *Next time I'd make it 1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Special equipment: 6 (1/2-pt) canning jars with screw bands and lids; an instant-read or candy thermometer
After some more reading, I found that you can just put the jars in the dishwasher on the "sanitize" setting if you don't want to boil them.

 Supplies

 Adding the brine

Filled jars

 Finished!

 A few tips I have recently read on keeping the okra crispy:
*Add a grape leaf to each jar
*Add alum to each jar
*Before adding the brine, soak the okra in an ice bath for about an hour

Here is a great step-by-step to follow, with a slightly different brine recipe.

Anyone with canning experience- please feel free to leave comments!

Friday, July 15, 2011