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Recent Recipes

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles

Comments (2) | Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recently in our house we have started making our own butter.  It isn't anything all that exciting or difficult, but it is so nice to have fresh butter.  Just pour some cream in the Kitchenaid, turn it on and let it go for awhile.  It really can't get a whole lot easier.  Also if you want to add stuff like salt or honey you can really customize it to your dish.  Besides the awesome outcome of fresh butter you also get the bonus of fresh buttermilk!  We have had an abundance of buttermilk in our house recently and I must say we are loving having nice weekend breakfasts of buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk biscuits.  We decided last weekend to give buttermilk waffles a go and a quick Google search landed us with this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  It was just what we were looking for and the result were light and fluffy waffles with an excellent flavor.

 
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 4 generous servings

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t. salt
2 T. evaporated cane juice or sucanat
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, seperated
4 T. butter, melted and cooled
1/2 t. vanilla extract
canola spray

1) Preheat your waffle iron.  In a medium bowl whisk together your whole wheat pastry flour, salt, cane juice or sucanat and baking soda.

2) In a separate bowl mix together the butter milk, egg yolks, melted and cooled butter and the vanilla.  Combine the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients. 

3) Either by hand or with an electric mixer (recommended) whisk the egg yolks until they hold soft peaks.  Gently fold them into the batter.

4) Spray the waffle iron generously with canola spray and then ladle the batter onto the preheated waffle iron.  Bake until the waffle is done.  It took about 6 minutes in our machine, but it varies machine to machine.  Serve warm with whatever topping you choose.   


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Mini frittatas

Comments (0) | Thursday, April 28, 2011

For Passover this year Cassie decided to make a big batch of mini frittatas for our breakfasts.  She got the idea from an old Clean Eating magazine recipe, but when the time came to make them she couldn't find to old issue with the recipe so we decided to wing it and make our own recipe.  These turned out great and froze very well to last us the entire span of Passover. 

These were made for Passover, but the recipe makes a great breakfast year round and would be great on your next brunch menu.


Mini Frittatas
A Jason and Cassie Original
Makes 9 servings (2 frittatas per serving)

2 c. grated potatoes
1 large egg
1/4 c. unsalted matzo meal (or breadcrumbs)
1 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 c. chopped broccoli florets
2 cloves garlic minced
12 large eggs
6 oz. jack cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste or Pepperman to taste

1) Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 18 muffin pan wells with non-stick cooking spray making sure to fully coat them. 

2)  In a clean tea towel place grated potatoes and wring out any excess moisture from the potatoes.  In a medium bowl mix potatoes with 1 egg and the matzo meal.  Place a small amount of potato mixture in the bottom of each muffin well.  Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften and brown at the edges.

3) Meanwhile heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.  Add the onion, bell pepper and broccoli to the pan and saute for about 3 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool somewhat.

4)  When the vegetables have cooled beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Mix in the cooled vegetables, cheese and salt and pepper or Pepperman.  Fill muffin wells mostly full (but not all the way to the top) with the egg mixture.  Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the eggs are set and the tops of the mini fritattas begin to brown.  Let cool and either serve warm or freeze the frittatas in freezer bags for individual breakfast portions.  To reheat let the fritattas defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then place them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes until heated through.   


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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Comments (0) | Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This past weekend Cassie's parents came to our house so Cassie's dad could help us with a little work on the house.  A fringe benefit of having a carpenter in the family is that you get professional work done for minimal payment.  As payment we knew we needed to make a great meal that wouldn't be easily forgotten.  Since it was during Passover dessert posed a slight challenge, but when Cassie found the recipe for Lighter Air Chocolate Cake from Smitten Kitchen she knew that was our dessert.  We found the recipe originally through the Chocolate Cake Roll post this past week, but since we don't have the right pan for a roll cake we decided to go with the stacked round cake version instead. 

What resulted was a total winner.  It was so light and moist and had a wonderful rich chocolate flavor.  We used coffee flavored whipped cream filling and chocolate ganache to finish it off.  While Jason and Cassie's dad did the work on the house, Cassie set about assembling the cake.  She made the cake in two batches since we only had 2 9-inch round cake pans.  You can't let the batter sit for long since it consists of mostly beaten eggs.  Also she practically had to fight her mom off with a stick so she could get a picture of the cake before she started sticking her fingers in the ganache and the coffee filling. 


Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the Cake:
8 oz. good quality organic dark chocolate, chopped
4 oz. good quality organic semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
6 T. water
12 large eggs, separated, at room temperature. 
1 1/3 c. evaporated cane juice
1/2 t. salt

For the filling:
2 c. heavy cream
6 T. organic powdered sugar
4 t. water
3 t. instant coffee
1 t. vanilla

1 batch chocolate ganache (recipe follows)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep 4 9-inch round cake pans by greasing and then lining the bottoms with parchment paper.  In a small sauce pan heat chocolate and water over medium heat.  When the chocolate is all melted remove from heat and let cool till it is lukewarm.

2) While the chocolate is cooling beat together the egg yolks and 2/3 c. of evaporated cane juice and salt for about 5 minutes in a medium bowl.  The egg yolk mixture will get pale and very thick.  When chocolate is cooled to lukewarm fold it into the egg yolk mixture until it is completely combined.

3)  In a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment beat the egg whites until they begin to form soft peaks.  Add the remaining 2/3 c. evaporated cane juice a little at a time and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks. 

4) Fold in 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk and chocolate mixture.  Then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until it is fully combined.  Divide the batter amongst the 4 prepared 9-inch cake pans and bake for 15-18 minutes until the cake is set and the tops are dry to the touch.  Let the cake layers cool completely before assembling the cake.  To make the layers easier to handle it is best to place them in the freezer for about 20 minutes to an hour.

5)  Just before assembling the cake make the filling.  In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment beat the cream until soft peaks form.  Add in the organic powdered sugar and beat until well combined.  Meanwhile also combine the water, instant coffee and vanilla in a small bowl.  Add the coffee mixture to the cream and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

6) To assemble the cake place a layer of cake on a platter or cake stand.  Top with 1/4 of the filling mixture spreading it to the edges of the layer.  Add another layer of cake and another 1/4 of the filling until all layers of the cake are on.  Top with the remaining 1/4 of the filling mixture and the drizzle with chocolate ganache (recipe follows).

Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Allrecipes
2/3 c. heavy cream
6 oz. good quality organic chocolate (dark or semi-sweet), chopped. 


1)  In a medium saucepan heat cream over medium heat until just boiling.  Remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl with the chocolate pieces.  Stir the mixture until well combined and smooth. 


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Literary Lunch: Billy's Pan Pizza

Comments (0) | Friday, April 15, 2011

For our Literary Lunch this month we chose to focus on a series that we both just finished listening to on audiobook—The Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, which is comprised of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  Stieg Larsson’s eye for detail, skill at creating believable characters, and intriguing plot lines have a way of completely immersing the reader in a world that is familiar because of its extremely realistic feel, but also driven by larger than life characters.  The protagonists of the series are Lisbeth Salander, an oft-persecuted and socially awkward computer hacker, and Mikail Blomkvist, a moralistic journalist with whom Lisbeth gets entangled in the course of the first novel.   
The series is as much a critique as it is a thriller, exploring how easily modern society, when unaccompanied by a sense of equality, can be set loose against women in a nightmarish barrage of bureaucratically-sanctioned and medically-backed physical and mental torture, a veritable hell of misogynists and sadists administering what they dub as justice under the pretext of reason but ultimately driven by the need for dominance over women, very often in the form of sexual violence.  And this would all be too much to take if not for the clearly delineated good characters, who go to unheard of lengths before the series concludes to fight back against a conspiracy designed to keep the systems of control firmly in place. 
Along the way we watch this cast of mainly Swedes (Larsson was Swedish, the series itself was written in Swedish and then translated into English by Reg Keeland) doing a lot of normal, everyday things.  Larsson especially likes describing what the characters are eating and drinking, which is what gave us the idea to include this in our Literary Lunch. 
If you’ve read any of the books, you might think we’d post about some sort of sandwich, as Swedes, according to the books at least, seem to eat sandwiches morning, noon, and night, along with a fresh brewed cup of coffee.  It’s conceivable that the series could be cut down to a single book if Larsson had simply not included coffee breaks in the narrative flow.  But these details are exactly what make the books so compelling, and each time a new pot is brewed and a sandwich is prepared, we get to sit back along with the character and dwell on recent developments in the story.   
But as far as blogging goes, sandwiches are pretty boring fare, so we decided to go  with something that pops up almost as often as sandwiches in the story—pan pizza.  Specifically, Billy’s Pan Pizza, one of the foods Lisbeth Salander is so fond of buying from the convenience store (she has a horrible diet!).  Although we’ve never tried Billy’s Pan Pizza (yes, it’s apparently a real product), we imagine that it’s similar to other frozen pizzas, and so decided to honor one of our favorite literary characters by making a pan pizza worthy of writing home about, although Lisbeth would probably just shrug if we served it to her and say it was ok.  

We decided to make a sausage pizza since most of Lisbeth's choices usually included some sort of meat.  You can choose your own toppings, but we wanted to share the whole wheat pan pizza dough recipe because it really turned out great.  We used to be fans of thin crust pizzas, but I think from now on we will be making pan pizzas instead.   

Whole Wheat Pan Pizza Dough
Makes 1-2 medium pan pizzas (depending on how thick you want the crust). 
1 c. warm water, divided
1 t. evaporated cane juice
2 1/4 t. yeast (1 packet)
3 c. whole wheat flour (white wheat works best)
1 t. salt
3 T. olive oil, plus more for greasing

1) Combine 1/4 c. of the warm water and the evaporated cane juice.  Stir until the cane juice is dissolved.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let it sit for 1 minute.  Stir the yeast in and let it proof for 10 minutes.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook add the flour, salt, remaining 3/4 c. water, olive oil and yeast mixture.  Knead on medium for 10 minutes.  Remove the dough and set aside for a moment.  If needed clean out the bowl of the stand mixer.  Oil the bowl and press the dough into the bottom.  Flip the dough over and so both sides are covering in the oil.  Let rise for 30 minutes.  
3) Roll dough out to desired thickness.  For our pizza above we used about 2/3 of the dough for the 1 pan pizza and made a small thin crust pizza with the rest.  Place the dough in a well oiled large cast iron skillet.  Cover the pan with a tea towel and let rise another 30 minutes.  

4) Bake dough in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes.  Top with desired toppings and then bake for an additional 8-12 minutes until your cheese is brown and bubbly.  Slice and enjoy. 


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Baked Lemon Pasta

Comments (1) | Thursday, April 14, 2011

We have both enjoyed cooking for a long time, but to be honest our cooking wasn't exactly the healthiest.  It consisted of carbs, cheese, fat, more cheese and more carbs.  In the last 4 years we have really worked hard to clean up our diets and work to make some significant changes to the way we eat.  One of the biggest things that spurred this change was Cassie's health.  She was only 25 years old and found out that because of her weight she had high blood pressure.  That was the kick in the butt that we needed to really make some significant changes to our diets.  These changes didn't happen overnight and in some instance we still have more changes to make, but little by little it has added up to a huge difference and meant a significant amount of weight lost for Cassie and blood pressure that is now maintained at a healthy level.

One of the challenges of going to a new way of eating is feeling like you have to give up your old favorite staple meals that you used to always eat.  We really enjoy taking a lot of those recipes and really working to cut out significant portions of unnecessary calories and bad fats without sacrificing  flavor (It helps to really like spicy food).  Some previous posts where we have done just that are our Huevos Rancheros and Pizza along with many others.

We participated in yet another recipe swap this week.  The theme of this week's swap was side dishes and once again we were given another great recipe.  We received this recipe from the blogger over at Lemons & Love.  Definitely check out the blog lots of other great recipes.  We really enjoyed the pasta and it really made a great side dish.  If you are interested we shared browned onion kugel as our entry into the swap.

 

Baked Lemon Pasta
Adapted from Lemons & Love
Makes 4 Servings
6 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
1.5 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 a medium lemon
zest of 1/2 a medium lemon
1/2 c. non-fat Greek yogurt (we recommend Fage 0% yogurt)
1-2 T. chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-1 oz. shredded Parmesan

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.  Cook spaghetti until al dente.

2) Meanwhile in a separate bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, Greek yogurt, parsley, salt and pepper.  Toss spaghetti with this mixture and put into a oven proof dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Sprinkle on top with Parmesan and then bake for 15-17 minutes.     


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Italian Eggs over Spinach and Polenta

Comments (1) | Monday, April 11, 2011

Since we used to be vegetarians (and Jason was even vegan for awhile) we are not afraid to eat a lot of meals that don't center around meat.  A lot of people have recently started trying to have meatless Mondays or are trying to give up meal for 1 meal a week.  We think that is a really great effort and really applaud anyone who is willing to try it.  There are so many really delicious meatless meals out there too many people are missing because they think it HAS to have meat to be a "real" meal.  We really recommend to everyone to really give it a fair chance and you may find that you actually like (possibly even love) plenty of vegetarian dishes.  Just remember that not every dish is suited for every palate and not every cooking technique will be liked by every person.  So if you try something and aren't thrilled with the results don't give up.  Keep trying!

While perusing the Cooking Light website not to long ago we came across this wonderful looking dish that we knew we just had to try.  It looked super easy and really tasty.  Plus we just love to use eggs in our dinners.  They are a very healthy and really cheap source of protein.  Even if you buy pasture raised eggs and a dozen runs you closer to $4 than to $2 you can still get a lot of good meals out of that dozen eggs.


Italian Eggs over Spinach and Polenta
Adapted from Cooking Light 
Makes 4 servings
1 16 oz. tube of polenta, cut into 12 slices
cooking spray
2 c. tomato basil pasta sauce (fresh or store bought)
1 5 oz. package of Fresh baby spinach, washed
4-8 eggs (depending on if you want 1 or 2 per person)
2 oz. Parmesan
Fresh basil, shredded for garnish

1) Preheat your broiler to high.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray polenta rounds with cooking spray and place them on the baking sheet.  Broil for about 3-5 minutes until heated through and begin to get crispy on top.  Set aside.

2) Meanwhile bring your sauce to a simmer in a large skillet.  Add the spinach.  Cover and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach has wilted.  Make 4-8 (depending on how many eggs you are using) indentations in the spinach mixture with the back of a spoon.  Carefully crack an egg into each indentation.  Reduce heat a little and cover.  Let eggs cook about 5-7 minutes till they are the desired doneness.  Serve by placing 3 polenta rounds in a dish.  Spoon the spinach mixture over each round and top with one or two eggs.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and basil and serve.


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Southwestern Egg & Black Bean Skillet

Comments (0) | Friday, April 8, 2011

We have to say that we were pretty shocked that we had yet to blog about this recipe yet.  It is one of our favorite weeknight meals.  It is easy, healthy, and inexpensive to make.  We usually end up making it about once a month, which for us is quite frequent. 

We found this dish on one of our favorite food blogs Cara's Cravings.  We have eaten a ton of her recipes and enjoyed every one we made.  We definitely recommend it as a great source for new eats.  One of the things that originally sold us on the dish was the giant fan of avocado across the top of the dish.  You can almost always guarantee that if a dish uses avocado (even if just for garnish) we will end up trying it.  It did not disappoint and while the avocado may look like garnish we would definitely recommend that you NOT skip it.  It really adds a nice creaminess and great flavor to the rest of the dish.  It is pretty integral in our opinion.  Along those same lines don't skip the cilantro garnish either.  We are also of the mind that cilantro makes many things better.  

Southwestern Egg & Black Bean Skillet
Adapted from Cara's Cravings
Makes 2 Servings
1 t. olive oil
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 c. frozen corn
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1 10 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (we use Rotell Original or with habanero) 
2 large eggs
1-2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
chopped cilantro and sliced avocado for garnish

1) In a skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until it begins to be translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, corn and black beans and cook another 2 or so minutes until the garlic is fragrant.  Season with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. 

2)  Add the diced tomatoes with green chilies to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and make two small indents into the beans.  Carefully break an egg into each indent and then replace the cover.  Continue to cook covered for another 5 minutes until eggs are set and depending on your desired results (runny yolks or fully cooked).  Serve with feta cheese, avocado and cilantro.


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Pasta with Swiss Chard and Italian Sausage

Comments (0) | Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Once again this week we were part of another great recipe swap that Cassie signed us up for.  The theme for this week's swap was a pasta dish.  We, once again, really enjoyed the recipe we got and although we may have done quite a bit of adapting of the recipe, so much so that we couldn't use the original title, we feel that the spirit of the dish was upheld and it was still full of the flavors intended.  The recipe was a Martha Stewart recipe, but it was recommended to us by a the blogger Lisa from Lisa's Cooking Adventures.  Thanks Lisa!  We loved every minute of this dish!

As mentioned above we did quite a bit of adapting of this recipe.  It was originally called Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe.  We shop at a pretty small natural grocery store so quite a few of the title ingredients weren't available to us, but the substitutes we definitely close ones.  First we chose to use a different whole wheat shape pasta to eat more whole grains and because orcchiette was not available.  We didn't have time to make the pasta homemade either so we just stuck with the store bought and it was great.  Second there was no broccoli rabe to be found so we subbed out Swiss chard that also gave the dish a little bit of a pinkish color. 


Pasta with Swiss Chard and Italian Sausage
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 4 Servings
12 oz. whole wheat pasta
4 hot Italian sausages, removed from casings
7 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch fresh Swiss Chard, well washed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. Parmesan

1) Over high heat bring a pot of well salted water to a boil.  Prepare Pasta to Al-dente and then drain and set aside.

2) In a skillet over medium heat crumble Italian sausages and cook fully.  Remove the sausages from the pan and drain off any excess fat from the pan.  Add in the olive oil, the garlic, and the red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 30 seconds.  Add in the Swiss chard and cook about 5 minutes until wilted.  Return the sausage to the pan.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

3) Toss the sausage and chard mixture with the pasta and the Parmesan.  Serve immediately.


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Greek Chicken Mini Burgers

Comments (0) | Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We are big burger fans.  There is nothing more satisfying on a summer evening than eating a juicy and delicious burger.  We don't discriminate either.  We will try almost any type of burger be it traditional or out there.  We'll eat beef, chicken, vegetarian, bison, etc. when it comes to burgers.  Also with toppings the sky is the limit.

With that said whenever we find a new burger recipe that intrigues us we know that we are going to have to give it a try.  We saw this recipe for Greek turkey burgers on The Novice Chef Blog and knew that these would be on our menu the next week.  They certainly did not disappoint.  We did a little tweaking to the recipe and turned the burgers in to chicken burgers rather than turkey just for personal preference.  We also decided that we would rather eat them in a pita than on a bun so there came the idea for mini burger patties much like falafel patties.


Greek Chicken Mini Burgers
Adapted from The Novice Chef Blog
Makes 4 Servings
12 oz. lean ground chicken
2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. sundried tomatoes, chopped (not packed in oil)
1/2 c. chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
4 whole wheat pitas
tzatziki sauce (recipe to follow)

1) In a medium bowl mix together the all the ingredients excluding the last two.  Form the mixture into 16 mini patties about 1-2 inches in diameter.

2)  Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Cook the mini burger patties about 2-3 minutes per side until cooked all the way through.

3) Meanwhile warm pitas in the oven for a few minutes.  Cut the pitas in half.  Fill each pita half with 2 mini burger patties, some tzatziki sauce and any other burger toppings you want (onion and some more spinach would be great).  Enjoy!

Tzatziki sauce
1 medium cucumber, peeled
6 oz. fat free Greek yogurt
juice of half a medium lemon
1 t. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

1) Using a grater grate the cucumber fully.  Place the shredded cucumber in a clean tea towel or paper towels and wring out as much excess moisture as you can.

2) Mix the cucumber together with the remaining ingredients and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.


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Root Beer Bundt Cake

Comments (0) | Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today is a very special day!  It is Jason's 32nd birthday!  For his birthday Cassie knew that she needed to make him a special treat.  She looked around and found some stuff that looked pretty good, but when she finally found this recipe for a root beer bundt cake she knew she has found her cake.  Jason is a big fan of root beer so she knew he would totally love this cake.  We made it to bring to a family birthday celebration because Cassie's family has 4 birthdays all in the same week.  The cake was a huge hit with Jason and with the rest of the family...Well everyone except Cassie's mom who is weird and doesn't like root beer.  If you like root beer then we definitely recommend this recipe.

One thing we do recommend when making this cake is to purchase a good quality all natural root beer.  Don't go for one that is full of just chemicals, coloring and high fructose corn syrup.  Get the stuff made with actual sugar and real ingredients that you can recognize to flavor it.  It really does make a world of difference.  We used Hansen's brand Natural Soda, but Blue Sky also makes a really good all natural root beer.  


Root Beer Bundt Cake
Adapted from Pink Parsley
2 cups root beer
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/4 c. evaporated cane juice
3/4 c. sucanat
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 large eggs

for the frosting:
2 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 t. salt
1/3 c. root beer, plus more as needed
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 c. organic powdered sugar

1) In a small sauce pan combine the root beer, cocoa powder and butter.  Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Stir in the evaporated cane juice and the sucanat and mix until dissolved.  Remove from heat, pour the mix into a mixing bowl and let them cool for about 10-15 minutes.  While this is cooling preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2) In a medium bowl whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt. 

3) Whisk the eggs until just beaten and then add them in to the cooled root beer mixture.  Mix until well combined.  Gently fold in the flour mix.  It is ok if it is still somewhat lumpy.  You don't want to over mix.

4) Pour the batter into a 10 inch bundt cake pan that has been liberally sprayed with non-stick spray and then dusted with cocoa powder.  Bake the cake for about 35-45 minutes until a small knife inserted into it comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely.  Invert the cake to remove it from the pan.

5) To make the frosting place the dark chocolate in a double boiler over medium low heat.  Stir until the chocolate is melted.  Let the chocolate cool slightly before using it in the frosting.  In a mixing bowl cream together the butter, salt, organic powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.  Slowly add in the root beer and the melted chocolate to the mix.  Beat until the mixture comes together adding more root beer if necessary.  The finished frosting should thick enough to spread and shiny. 

6)  Spread a thick layer of frosting over the crown of the cake and let it set before serving.


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Spaghetti al Limone with Shrimp

Comments (1) | Friday, March 25, 2011

Recently Cassie signed us up for a recipe swap on a message board she frequents.  The theme of the swap was an easy weeknight meal.  We thought it would be a fun challenge as well as a great way to try a new recipe.  Plus we figured we could doctor up just about any bad recipe if need be.  Well fortunately for us that was not the case.  In the swap we received this great recipe from Giada deLaurentis adapted by Lisa from Lisa's Cooking Adventures.  It was so good.  We really enjoyed the flavors of the dish it DEFINITELY fell under the "easy" category for the night.  Also just in case you are wondering this is the recipe we shared in the swap.

When we got the email for the dish we automatically knew it would be a winner for our house.  You see Jason is a sour fanatic.  He is one of those weird people that likes to eat lemons plain or with a little salt.  He even buys pure citric acid (sour salt) and mixes it with water for a "treat".  In fact he would probably rather eat a lemon than a cookie most nights.  Not right, huh?  Well this recipe uses three lemons.  It had a great lemon flavor and immediately Jason said that we need to make it again soon.



Spaghetti al Limone with Shrimp
Adapted from Lisa's Cooking Adventures
Makes 4 Servings
12oz. whole wheat spaghetti

1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
4 cloves garlic, minced

salt to taste
3 medium lemons
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. milk or heavy cream
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan
ground black pepper to taste
small handful of fresh basil shredded
red pepper flakes


1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook the spaghetti until it is al dente.  Reserve 1 c. of the pasta water and then drain pasta and set aside.  

2)  Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and the shrimp and saute about a minute on each side until the shrimp are pink and fully cooked.  Salt to taste and set aside.

3)  Also while the pasta is cooking zest and juice the three lemons.  When the pasta is done in a large pot add 3/4 c. of the reserved pasta water, milk or cream, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil.  Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 2-3 minutes.  Return the pasta to the pan and toss well to coat with the sauce.  Toss in the Parmesan and black pepper to taste.  Serve with basil and red pepper flakes sprinkled on top of the pasta.  


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Hamentaschen

Comments (3) | Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just this past weekend we celebrated the Jewish holiday of Purim.  For those that don't know what Purim is can read about it here.  Purim is a very fun holiday with lots of joyful celebrations, costumes, good food, and you are supposed to get a little drunk.  You heard us right.  Overindulging in wine is a good thing on Purim.  Of course you don't want to get totally wasted, but a decent buzz is A-okay.  As part of our celebration this year we made Hamentaschen.  Hamentaschen are little triangle cookies filled with various fruit preserves.  They are a favorite treat of Cassie's and if you are going to make 1 cookie recipe from this blog then we definitely recommend that this be the recipe you use!  Everyone who had them absolutely raved about them.  They were soft and moist and fruity.  They were perfect.

A quick note on this recipe...We use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all purpose flour a lot in this blog.  Usually can easily just switch it back to all purpose if you prefer with no real harm, but in this recipe it is important to stick with the whole wheat pastry flour or at the very least only sub half of the flour for all purpose flour.  The texture will be all wrong if you use all purpose flour for 100% of the recipe.  Also for this recipe we used both raspberry and blue berry preserves.  You can use any flavor you want. 


Hamentaschen
Adapted from Judaism 101
Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

2/3 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. evaporated cane juice
1 egg
1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
your favorite preserves, pie filling or fruit butter

1) In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and the evaporated cane juice.  Add the egg and then the orange juice beating each until fully incorporated.

2) In a separate bowl whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Slowly add the flower mixture to the wet ingredients 1/2 c. at a time.  When all the flour is incorporated turn the dough out onto plastic wrap.  Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

3) Remove the dough from the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On a well floured surface roll the dough out at thin as you can get it.  Using a circle cutter cut circles approximately 3-4 inches in diameter.  Place the cut out circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  In the center of each circle add a small dollop of your filling (about 1/2-1 t. worth).  Fold the circle into a triangle by folding 1 edge over the filling.  Then fold the second edge over.  With the third edge you want to tuck the corner under the corner of the first edge (clear as mud?).  You want each of the three edges to have 1 corner on top and 1 corner underneath.  This will keep the dough from opening up and spilling out your filling while baking.

4)  Place baking sheet in the oven on the center rack and bake about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.   Cool completely and enjoy.


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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Comments (0) | Monday, March 21, 2011

Recently there have been a lot of brown butter recipes out there.  You find it in sauces, savory dishes and desserts.  Browning butter before you use it gives it a rich nutty flavor that is really satisfying.  We decided after we have seen so many great recipes out there with browned butter that we needed to go ahead and jump on the band wagon as well.  We made these brown butter chocolate chip cookies and they were amazing.  The flavors were great and everyone who had some just raved about them.  The cookies were definitely more of a crispy cookie than a soft chocolate chip cookie.  They all have their place, right?  We hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Christie's Corner
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies
3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sucanat
1/2 c. evaporated cane juice
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small saucepan heat butter over medium high heat till it becomes amber colored and smells nutty.  Remove from heat and let the butter cool for about 5-10 minutes.  

2) Meanwhile whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  
3) Once the butter has cooled whisk the butter in with the sucanat and the evaporated cane juice until they have mostly dissolved.   Beat in the eggs and the vanilla until they are well combined.  Slowly begin to add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in batches.  Let each batch mix in completely before adding the next batch.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

4) Place 1 heaping tablespoon sized dollops on a cookies sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool completely before serving.


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Literary Lunch: Gunslinger Burritos

Comments (1) | Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We cannot tell you how excited we are to share this meal and this series of books.  The meal was delicious and the books are some of the best we have ever read.  We are talking about the Dark Tower Series by Stephen King.  These books are Stephen King's Magnum Opus, and if you like any of his works you will love these.  In fact, you will find some very familiar scenes and characters from King's other books within the pages of this series.

The story chronicles the journey of Roland of Gilead.  He is the last gunslinger and is on a quest to travel to and climb to the top of the Dark Tower.  The world has moved on since he was young and things such as time, distance or direction no longer are quite so measurable or trustworthy anymore.  Roland, along with his new found Ka-tet (group of friends brought together by fate aka Ka), must fight against the forces of the Crimson King that wish to destroy the Dark Tower and with it all existence.  This journey traverses different worlds, times, and many miles (or wheels).  It also spurs many emotions within the reader and leaves you with a sense of longing after you have finished.  The main characters Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, Oy, and Pere Callahan will all strike a nerve because they are all so human and so real.   

The meal we planned for this story is actually drawn from the third book "The Wastelands."  After traveling a great distance across a fairly desolate beach Roland and his Ka-tet come to a wooded area.  There they are able to hunt deer and find vegetation to eat.  One of the things they make is deer meat wrapped in leaves.  These concoctions are dubbed Gunslinger burritos by Eddie at one point and we felt that they would be an excellent addition to our literary lunch.  We didn't have deer meat available to us so we used beef, but feel free to use any meat or game that you want.  Also we embellished on the contents of the burritos a bit and made them more into a lettuce wrap style meal.  We hope you enjoy both the books and the meal. 


Gunslinger Burritos
A Jason and Cassie Original
Makes 4 servings
For Steaks: 
1 lb. sirloin steak (preferably grass-fed)
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

For Beans and Rice:
1 t. olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno diced (with or without seeds)
1 c. cooked brown rice
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. water
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 small lime
1 handful cilantro leaves, rinsed and chopped

For Vegetables
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion sliced
1 red bell pepper sliced

1 Head lettuce

1)  To prepare the steaks:  Season sirloin steak with the chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper.  Grill steaks about 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat until medium.  Set aside and let rest a few minutes before slicing.

2) To prepare the beans and rice:  heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and jalapeno and stir fry for about 30 seconds.  Add the rice, beans, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Simmer and let heat through for about 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the lime juice and cilantro.

3) To prepare the vegetables:  Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and peppers and let saute about 10 minutes until they soften and begin to brown.

4) Separate all the leaves on the head of lettuce.  Wash each leaf well and then dry.  To serve place a small amount of each of the steak, beans and rice and vegetables on top of each lettuce leaf.  Wrap up and enjoy.


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Jalapeno Cheese Bread

Comments (0) | Monday, March 14, 2011

Recently we have been on a homemade bread kick.  It is so satisfying to eat fresh bread and this bread was no exception.  We made it to go with some soup we were making one Sunday night and it turned out so wonderful.  It is lightly cheesy, spicy and fluffy.  We will definitely be making this again.

One thing about homemade bread is that in ever recipe the last step includes the instruction to let the finished bread cool at least 1 hour before slicing.  Does anyone actually do that?  In our household the bread comes out of the oven and all bets are off.  In fact it was almost a miracle that we managed to get this photo taken before we ripped into it.  We are of the opinion that there is nothing better than hot straight from the oven bread with a generous dollop of butter melting all over it.  Pretty much heaven! 


Jalapeno Cheese Bread
Adapted from  Allrecipes.com
Makes 1 loaf
1 c. all purpose flour
1 1/3 c. whole white wheat flour
4 oz. jack cheese, shredded + a little more for the top of the bread
1/4 c. picked jalapenos, minced + a few more whole for the top of the bread
2 T. + 2 t. evaporated cane juice
1/2 t salt
2/3 c. warm water
2 1/4 t. (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 T. + 1t. vegetable oil
1) Whisk together the all purpose flour and whole white wheat flour.  Toss well with the jalapenos and cheese till they are well coated.

2)  In a separate bowl mix together the evaporated cane juice, salt and water until dissolved.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water mixture and let sit 1 minutes.  Stir the yeast into the water well and then let rise 10 minutes.  Add the vegetable oil to the yeast mixture and stir well.

3) Slowly add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well until just combined.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed the dough for about 10 minutes.  Add more whole white wheat flour if necessary, but the dough should be sticky.  Place the dough back into an oiled bowl pressing it into the bottom of the bowl and then turning over so both sides are oiled.  Place the dough in a warm dry place, cover with a clean towel and let rise approximately 1 hour until doubled in size.  

4) Punch dough down and then turn the dough out onto a clean and floured work surface.  Press the dough out till it is in a rectangle and all air bubbles have been popped.  Form dough into loaf shape and place in a greased loaf pan.  Cover with the towel and let rise again approximately another 45 minutes to an hour when the dough has nearly doubled in size again.  

5) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Sprinkle the extra jalapenos and cheese on top of the bread and then bake for about 50 minutes until the dough is brown on the outside and and fully cooked on the inside.  Let the dough cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then turn it out onto a baking rack and let cool another hour before slicing (if you can resist that long). 


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Chicken Vindaloo

Comments (1) | Sunday, March 6, 2011

We're always excited to make Indian dishes.  That having been said, for some reason it's never the first thing that comes to mind when we're deciding on meals for the week.  Cassie found this and we decided to give it a shot.  This quick and fairly easy recipe is all about the preparation.  Once everything is peeled and chopped up, there's nothing to it.  The tangy flavor from the vinegar is almost overwhelming at first bite, but then your mouth knows what to expect and you realize how well balanced the dish is.  If you enjoy this, you might also take a look at Doro Wet.


Chicken Vindaloo 

Adapted From the Feb/Mar 2011 issue of Fine Cooking found via Oishii


1-1/2 TBS. curry powder
2 tsp. hot paprika (or 2 tsp. paprika + 1/8 tsp. cayenne)
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
8 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 TBS. red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
2 TBS. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 TBS. grated fresh ginger
1 (14-1/2-oz). can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/3 cup juice reserved
3 TBS. chopped fresh cilantro

1. Combine curry powder, paprika, and 3/4 tsp. black pepper in a small bowl.

2. Place the chicken in a medium glass bowl, sprinkle with 1 TBS. of the curry powder mixture, half of the garlic, 2 TBS. of the vinegar, and 3/4 tsp. salt; toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature.

3. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Add the onion and a 1/4 tsp. salt and cook until starting to brown.

4. Reduce heat to medium high. Add the ginger, the remainder of the garlic and curry powder mixture.  Cook for about 45 seconds, stirring the mixture.

5. Add the tomatoes to the pan and mix.  Stir in the chicken, reserved tomato juice, remaining 1 TBS. vinegar, and 2/3 cup water.

6. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, partially covered, until chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over brown rice.


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Green Chile and Hominy Casserole

Comments (1) | Friday, March 4, 2011

Months and months ago we were having some people over for dinner and were raking our brains with what to make.  Jason suggested we try our hand at Pozole so we did.  Before that point in time Cassie has never had hominy.  Sure she had heard of hominy and had a sketchy idea of what it was, but had never tasted it.  From that Pozole on though Cassie can officially declare herself a hominy fan.  When we found this recipe we knew we were going to have to give it a try.  It did not disappoint.  It was definitely a lot better tasting than our photo shows and we urge you to give it a try. 

Green Chile and Hominy Casserole
Adapted from Elly Says Opa
Serves 4-6
2 Poblano chiles
1 T. canola oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 jalapenos (1 seeded), chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz. can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped 
2 t. lime juice
2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
salt and pepper to taste
sliced scallions

1) Place the Poblanos under a preheated broiler till their skin begins to blister and blacken.  Turn to make sure all sides are blackened.  Place the poblanos in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let them sit about 10-15 minutes.  When the poblanos are cool enough to touch begin to rub the skin off of them.  Once you have all the skin removed, remove the seeds and dice them. 

2)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a cast iron (or other oven safe) skillet heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and let cook 3-5 minutes until it begins to soften.  Add in the jalapeno and cook another minute or two.  Add the garlic and let cook 30 seconds. 

3)  Remove the skillet from heat and add the diced poblanos, black beans, hominy, sour cream, Greek yogurt, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, lime juice, half of the cheddar cheese and salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine.

4) Top with the remaining cheese and place in the oven.  Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling.  Top with the scallions and serve.


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Chicken Pot Pie with Whole Wheat Biscuit Topping

Comments (0) | Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We all have those favorite recipes from when we were growing up that just scream of childhood and the comforts of home cooking.  Then (at least if you are like Cassie) there are those dishes that you were served that used to fill you with dread and you just knew you were going to be sitting at that kitchen table forever, holding your nose and trying to choke down the prescribed number of bites left that your mom told you to eat....Wait, that didn't happen to you? 

Ok so we will admit it...Cassie was a weird kid.  She had some very strong food aversions and basically only really liked to eat tuna, fruit, cottage cheese and sprouts covered in blue cheese dressing.  There were things that she didn't hate and would eat, but that list is basically what she liked (minus desserts).  There were frequent battles around the kitchen table in her youth and many attempts at disposing of foods she was required to eat.  Chicken Pot Pie was definitely one of those "this is going to be a struggle" meals.  

Jason on the other hand was a far less picky eater than Cassie.  He pretty much ate what was made for him and didn't complain too much.  Even with that consideration Jason has never been much of fan of pot pies.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either.  So why did we decide to make this then?   

Chicken pot pie is one of those dishes that just screams comfort food.  It is rich, creamy, warm and usually either has some flaky pie crust or some other yummy breaded topping.  With all that going for it we saw the Eating Well recipe and decided to give it another try.  We made this for a comforting Sunday lunch and enjoyed it over and over through the week.  It will definitely be made again. 


Chicken Pot Pie with Whole Wheat Biscuit Topping
Adapted from  Eating Well
Serves 6
Filling:
3 t. canola oil, divided
1 c. onions, chopped
1 c. carrots, peeled and diced
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 c. butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 1/2 c. reduced sodium chicken broth, divided
1/4 c. corn starch
2 c. chicken, cooked and diced
1 c. frozen peas
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2-1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt
black pepper to taste

For biscuit topping:
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. evaporated cane juice or sucanat
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. dried thyme
1 1/2 T. cold butter cut into small pieces
1 c. milk +1 T. vinegar
1 T. canola oil

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat one teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and carrots and cook until they begin to soften and brown a bit, about 3 minutes.  Add in the mushrooms and squash and cook, stirring often, for another 5-7 minutes.

2)  Add in 2 cups broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer a few minutes.  Mix the remaining 1/2 c. of broth with the cornstarch.  Add this mix into the pan and cook stirring until it begins to thicken.  Add in the chicken, peas, sour cream, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Transfer this mixture to a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray.

3) Whisk the flour, evaporated cane juice, baking powder, baking soda, salt and thyme together in a medium bowl.  Using either a pastry mixer or your fingers mix the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine meal.  Add in the milk mixture and the oil and stir until combined.

4) Drop the biscuit mixture on top of the filling mix in the casserole dish in 6 good sized lumps.  Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet (to avoid any overflow in the oven) and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the biscuit topping is browned.  Let cool about 5 minutes, serve and enjoy. 


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Hungarian Beef Goulash

Comments (1) | Sunday, February 20, 2011

Goulash is really a very unattractive sounding dish.  It doesn't sound fancy or pretty or even very appetizing.  It is a very guttural word.  To be honest the dish doesn't look all that beautiful either, but let's get one thing straight...this dish is wonderful.  It is hearty, filling, comforting and delicious all wrapped up into one little package.  Add to that the fact that the dish is extremely easy and you definitely have a winner in our book. 

Hungarian Beef Goulash
Adapted from Eating Well
Makes 4 Servings
1 lb. beef stew meat
2 t. caraway seeds
1 T. Hungarian Paprika
1/4 t. salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 c. diced tomatoes
1 c. low sodium beef broth
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 T. corn starch mixed with 2 T. water 
parsley, chopped (optional)

1) Using the bottom of a sauce pan, crush the caraway seeds.  Add the beef to your slow cooker and season with the caraway seeds, paprika, salt and pepper.  Toss well to coat.  Add the remaining ingredients up through the bay leaf to a slow cooker.  Mix thoroughly and cook on low for 8 hours.

2) Discard the bay leaf and skim any visible fat from the top of the broth.   Add the cornstarch mixture and cook on high for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened somewhat.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve over whole wheat pasta.


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Kung Pao Tofu

Comments (0) |

As reformed vegetarians there are certain dishes that you can get either vegetarian or not, but you liked them so much in the vegetarian state that you feel like there is no need to eat them with meat in them.  Kung Pao Tofu is one of those dishes.  We realize that they make Kung Pao with beef, chicken and seafood as well as with tofu, but we just really like it with tofu and just don't see the point of adding meat.  Sure meat can be tasty, but tofu really can be as well.  Plus tofu is a LOT cheaper than ethical meat. 


Kung Pao Tofu
Adapted from Jaime Cooks
Makes 4 Servings
1 c. brown rice
1 12 oz. package Extra Firm Tofu, well drained and diced
3 T. sesame oil, divided
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. water
4 T. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. corn starch
1 t. sucanat
1 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 t. fresh ginger, minced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
1 c. snow peas
1/8 c. roasted unsalted peanuts

1) Bring 2 c. water to a boil and add rice.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes until rice is tender.  When done fluff with a fork before serving.

2) Meanwhile heat a wok or a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 T. of the sesame oil.  Add the tofu to the pan and cook turing occasionally until tofu begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove tofu from the wok and set aside. 

3) Add the onion to the pan and let saute about 4 minutes until the onions begin to soften.  Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the tofu back to the pan. 

4) Combine water with the soy sauce, corn starch, sucanat, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Add this mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil.  Add the red bell pepper and the snow peas and toss to coat with the sauce in the pan.  Let the vegetable cook for about 2-3 minutes until they are beginning to be tender, but still crisp.  Toss in the peanuts and serve over brown rice. 


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Black Bean and Avocado Fudge

Comments (2) | Thursday, February 17, 2011

When one hears of fudge made with black beans and avocados one will usually wonder how good that is going to taste.  Surprisingly it is pretty darn good.  We found this recipe and since Cassie will immediately go for anything that has avocado in it we knew we were going to have to give it a try.  The results were great.  It is a very tasty and pretty darn healthy treat that is great for a chocolaty dessert of even guilt free enough for a weekday snack.  We have actually taken to making these on a weekly basis as a snack to take with us to work.  Delicious, pretty healthy, full of protein, and easy to make.  Can't get much better than that.  These are very tasty fresh, but honestly they get even better when you let them sit overnight.

To make these you would usually use an 8x8 pan.  We used a round 9 inch cake pan since we don't currently have an 8x8 pan.  What can we say?  We just don't make very many brownies.  Since we found this recipe we will definitely be buying an 8x8 pan soon.  You can use either pan.  They both work great, but a square pan makes it easier to cut into uniform servings.    


Black Bean and Avocado Fudge
Adapted from  Branny Boils Over
Makes 12 Servings
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 egg whites
1/4 c. agave nectar
1 small ripe avocado
6 T. cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla extract
6 t. evaporated cane juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your baking pan with parchment paper (8x8 or 9 in round)

2) In a food processor combine black beans, egg white, agave, and the avocado.  Puree until smooth making sure there are no chunks of beans or avocado.

3) Add in the cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and evaporated cane juice and blend until everything is well mixed.  Scrape down the sides of the food processor if necessary.

4) Pour into your parchment lined pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool, slice and enjoy


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Literary Lunch: A Confederacy of Dunces Hot Dogs

Comments (2) | Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Books are pretty important part of our daily lives in the Barber home.  We read a lot of books in various genres and both of us actually went to school to become librarians.  I am sure you can only imagine that with 2 librarian types in the house we have quite a number of books and this with Jason's constant weeding of our collection.  In fact we just realized that we have three problems.  1) We are totally out of space on our current bookshelves.  2) We have been on a bit of a book buying spree lately so we have quite a few homeless books at the moment.  3) We can't bring ourselves to get rid of any more books to make room.  We have already weeded as much as we dare to.  Those three things brought us to the realization that we need a new book case...and soon.

So what does this have to do with our blog?  Well our love of books and our love of food have somehow combined to create a monthly series that we will call Literary Lunch.  As we have both realized recently a lot of books discuss food quite a bit amongst their pages.  That got us thinking that we could use the books we read as inspiration for some of the meals we eat.  These posts may or may not include a recipe, but we will discuss the book briefly and how the food fits into the picture.  You can look for meals posted on the 15th of every month.

So on to our first book/meal of choice.  We chose the book A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  This is a pretty odd and amazing book and we definitely thoroughly enjoyed it.  The book is about Ignatius Jacques Reilly and his exploits.  Ignatius is an adult male that lives at home with his widowed mother and basically sponges off her as he takes time to critique modern society.  He has biting commentary for almost anything and everything.  His favorite pastimes include going to the movies to yell at the screen, eating, and spending time alone in his room or in the bathroom.  Along the way his mother begins to stand up for herself and makes Ignatius go out to find a job.  Ignatius manages to get a job as a hot dog vendor.  So without telling you any more of the story we present the A Confederacy of Dunces Hot Dog.


There is no recipe here this month, because honestly it isn't difficult to make a hot dog, but we thought it would be a great first for our Literary Lunch Series.  It certainly makes for a satisfying Saturday lunch just as the book A Confederacy of Dunces makes for a truly entertaining read.  Enjoy!


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Cocoa-Infused Black Bean Soup

Comments (0) | Sunday, February 13, 2011

We have mentioned before how much we like our grocery store, Natural Grocers.  They sell really quality products and always have tons of great meal ideas in there store.  This meal came from their magazine they were giving away Delicious Living.  In the February 2011 issue they have a section on cooking with cocoa.  This instantly drew our attention and when we saw the black bean soup we knew we had to make it.  It just sounded way too good. 


Cocoa-Infused Black Bean Soup
Adapted from February 2011 Delicious Living
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 bay leaves
1/2 t. salt
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 c. tomato puree
1 t. chili powder
1/4-1/2 t. cayenne pepper
4 c. low sodium vegetable broth
1 25 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. paprika
1 c. cilantro, coarsely chopped 

1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, bay leaves and salt.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes until the onion begin to soften.  Add the celery, carrots, and bell pepper.  Continue cooking for another 7-8 minutes.  Add the chili powder and cayenne pepper and stir to coat.  Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.  Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

2) Stir in beans, cocoa powder, pepper and paprika.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.  Stir in the cilantro and serve. 


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Swiss Chard Lasagna Roll Ups

Comments (0) | Monday, February 7, 2011

A trendy food ingredient has emerged in recent years.  This ingredient has caused some concern on our part and we could even go as far to say that we are disturbed by this trend.  Pine nuts are taking over food.  You see them topping salads, mixed in sauces, pesto is everywhere...Wait...Why is this disturbing?

Well it is only really disturbing if you are like Cassie and have severe allergy to pine nuts.  One bite or drop of cross contamination sparks a pretty nasty reaction that can last for days and often leads to a trip to the Emergency Room.  It also makes eating out at restaurants that use pine nuts slightly dangerous.  Cross contamination is a big issue in those busy kitchens for people with severe food allergies.  Plus there are so many really yummy looking recipes out there that call for pine nuts!  At least with those recipes we aren't afraid to take them on and either omit the pine nuts completely or sub them out for another nut.  That is the case with these really yummy Swiss Chard Lasagna Roll-ups that we made.  We used walnuts in place of the pine nuts and it made for a really satisfying meal.


Swiss Chard Lasagna Roll-ups
Adapted from Leslie Sarna
Serves 4-6
12 oz. ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped

12 Swiss Chard Leaves, washed and the stalks removed
3 c. prepared tomato sauce (jarred or homemade)
15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
1/3 c. golden rasins
1/3 c. walnuts
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a casserole for your oven by spraying it with olive oil cooking spray.  Spoon about 1/2 a c. of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish to cover it. 

2) Brown ground chicken in a medium skillet over medium heat with the onion and the 2 minced garlic cloves.  When it is cooked through, drain the meat and set aside to cool slightly.

3) In a medium to large bowl combine the ricotta, raisins, walnuts, 1/4 c. of the Parmesan and 1/4 c. of the Mozzarella.  Once the chicken has cooled a little mix it in with the cheese mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

4)  To prepare the roll-ups take 1 chard leaf and spoon about 1/3 c. of the mixture on to one end of the leaves.  Roll it up in the leaves tucking the sides in (like a burrito) to keep the filling inside the chard leaves and then place into the casserole dish.  Do this to all 12 leaves.  You may have some filling leftover.  Pour the remaining sauce over the roll-ups and then sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella on top.

5) Bake in the oven about 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.


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Mexican Hot Chocolate with Spicy Dulce De Leche Whipped Cream

Comments (0) | Thursday, January 27, 2011

Right off the bat, let's just get one thing straight...In no way shape or form is this recipe healthy.  I mean I guess it is made of whole/real ingredients and not some powder full of corn derivatives.  So it is better than those in a way, but it sure as heck isn't healthy.  Not at all.  Not even a smidge...BUT is is pretty darn amazing.  We bought all the stuff for this meal for Christmas Eve night, but didn't make it.  We had all the stuff sitting around for awhile till finally we got around to whipping up a glass.  Oh My God!  This stuff was amazing.  It was so incredibly rich and so very tasty.  The whipped cream was our favorite part.  We will be using this whipped cream over and over and over again.  Plus when it says it is spicy whipped cream...it means it!  If you don't like spicy then you should probably omit the all or part of the cayenne and maybe even some of the red pepper flakes.  


Mexican Hot Chocolate
Adapted from Babble
Makes 4-6 servings
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 c. milk
2 c. organic vanilla bean ice cream
3/4 c. sucanat
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
3 t. vanilla extract
1 batch spicy dulce de leche whipped cream (recipe below)

1) Grate the chocolate with a fine grater or a microplane.

2) Heat a medium sauce pan on low.  Add the milk, ice cream and sugar.  Mix well until just before it simmers.  Whisk in the grated chocolate.  Keep whisking until it begins to melt and be incorporated.  Whisk in the cinnamon vanilla and water.  Heat until just before it simmers.  Serve with spicy whipped cream. 

Spicy Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/3 c. sucanat
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cayenne
1/4 t. red pepper flakes

1) About 1 hour to 30 minutes before you make the whipped cream freeze the bowl you plan to whip it in and the whisk.

2) In the cold bowl add the whipping cream and beat until it begins to form soft peaks.  Slowly add the sucanat until it is well incorporated.  Beat in the cinnamon and cayenne.  Spoon or pipe onto hot chocolate and then top with red pepper flakes.   


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Whole Wheat Pancakes

Comments (0) | Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mitch Hedberg was a very hilarious comedian.  He took some of the simplest jokes and made them amazing through his laid back delivery.  One joke of Mitch Hedberg that comes to mind is when he was talking about how you have to "start a show strong and end the show strong.  You can't be like pancakes.  They are all exciting at first, but by the end your f*cking sick of them."  Well Mitch...We can assure you that you won't be sick of these pancakes when you are done with them.  They are not only delicious and easy to whip together, but they are packed with whole grains so you don't feel a huge carb crash after eating them.


Whole Wheat Pancakes
Adapted from Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin
Makes 4 very generous servings

2 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c. evaporated cane juice or sucanat
2 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 large eggs
2 1/4 c. milk
4 T. butter, melted and slightly cooled
vegetable oil spray or a non stick pan
maple syrup

1) Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  In a large bowl whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, evaporate cane juice, baking powder and salt. 

2) Whisk eggs in a medium bowl.  Add in milk and melted butter.

3)  Pour the egg mixture in with the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. 

4)  If you are not using a non stick pan spray pan with oil spray.  Pour about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup on batter into the pan for each pancake depending on how large you like your pancakes. 

5) Flip pancakes when bubbles begin to form in the top of the pancake and don't disappear after they have burst.  Cook for another few minutes until both sides are nice and golden brown.  Serve immediately with maple syrup and butter. 


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Kale and Pinto Bean Enchiladas

Comments (2) | Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mexican food is serious comfort food around our house.  We both grew up in areas with lots and lots of good Mexican food (Texas and Southern California).  In fact the debate about what is better, Tex Mex or more authentic Mexican food, is a pretty common around our household.  Jason being the Texan of course thinks Tex Mex is better while Cassie holds that authentic Mexican food beats out Tex Mex any day.  We will probably never reach an agreement on this subject.  One thing we do know is that we both love enchiladas and were very excited to find this healthy enchilada recipe that can be a made anytime rather than just waiting for a special occasion.  Also the sauce from this recipe was wonderful.  It will now be our go to recipe for enchilada sauce.  


Kale and Pinto Bean Enchiladas
Adapted from Cate's World Kitchen
Serves 4

1 t. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, with or without seeds, diced
1 t. cumin
2 small zucchinis, finely diced
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. cilantro, minced
1 recipe enchilada sauce, below
12 corn tortillas
1 c. grated jack cheese
salt and pepper

1) Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and jalapeno.  Cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.  Add the cumin, zucchini and salt to taste.  Cook for another 3 minutes and then add the kale.  Stir until the kale has wilted.

2) Remove from heat and stir in the pinto beans, some black pepper, the cilantro, and a few spoon fulls of the enchilada sauce.

3) To assemble the enchiladas heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Warm each tortilla in the skillet for about 30-60 seconds per side until soft and pliable.  Fill the warmed tortilla with the kale and pinto bean mixture and then form into a roll.  Place in a oven proof dish with a layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom.  Repeat this step until you have 12 enchiladas.  Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and then sprinkle the cheese on top. 

4) Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted and begins to bubble.  Serve warm.

Enchilada Sauce
1 large poblano pepper
2 T. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can of whole fire roasted tomatoes and their juice.
1 t. agave nectar
1 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
1-2 t. lime juice

1) Cut the chili in half and place it cut side down in a pan.  Place the chili under the broiler in your oven for about 10 minutes until the skin is charred and bubbly.  Cover with cold water and soak for 15 minutes.  Dice the chili finely. 

2) Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chili, onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, stirring.  When the onion has softened add the tomatoes, agave, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.  Use a spoon to mash up the tomatoes as they soften.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.
3) Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.  Using an immersion blender puree mixture until it is smooth.  This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.  The sauce is best when it has sat for a few hours to let the flavors really meld. 


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Chicken, Pea and Pasta Salad

Comments (0) | Friday, January 14, 2011

One of the things we are trying to do in 2011 is to shop our pantry before we plan meals and make a grocery list so we can use items we already have and avoid buying items that we didn't really need to begin with.  When searching through our pantry this particular week we came across 1/2 a package of whole wheat macaroni and some frozen peas.  We set to work thinking about what we could make with these and in our brains blossomed this idea for a pasta salad with chicken and peas.  What resulted from this little idea was a great weeknight meal that was quick to throw together and very delicious.


Chicken, Pea and Pasta Salad
A Jason and Cassie Original
Makes 4 servings


8 oz. dried whole wheat pasta, preferably a small pasta like macaroni
5 oz. frozen peas
2 slices whole grain bread (we used sprouted multigrain bread
5 T. olive oil, divided
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. basil
1/2-1 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, baked and cubed. 
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook till al dente.  When the pasta is just done, throw the peas into the pot with the pasta.  Let sit for about 30 seconds and then drain.  Place in a large serving bowl.

2)  Take slices of bread and cut into small cubes.  Toss with 1 T. olive oil and salt and pepper.  Line bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 5 minutes until golden and crunchy.

3) Meanwhile make the dressing by combining 4 T. of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Let this sit together for at least 10 minutes so the flavors can combine.

4) In the bowl with the pasta and peas add the chicken, dressing and Parmesan cheese.  Refrigerate until cool.  This can be made ahead of time up to this point.  The salad is actually better when it has sat together for a few hours.  Just before serving toss the croutons in with the rest of the salad.  Enjoy. 



 


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