Monthly Archives: October 2009
|October 21, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Desserts, Fruit, Special Occasions, Summer|
I love fall, but I’ve been a little bummed that summer seemed to come and go so quickly this year — it rained almost every day in July and we really only had about two weeks of really nice weather before it started to get cold outside. I decided that even though they aren’t exactly season-appropriate, I would bake some lemon and blackberry cupcakes to remind myself of the warmer days. I may have spent the past few weeks bundled up in a winter coat and eating apples and squash, but one bite of these cupcakes will transported me right back to summer.
There was some nice ricotta on sale buy one get one free last week, so I happened to have some on hand. The ricotta-based cake that I used for the cupcakes is one of my favorites — it has a nice texture that’s dense and light at the same time and a flavor that’s reminds me a little of cheesecake. It’s also really easy to make — I think it might be even easier than mixing up a cake from a box!
Using summer as my flavor inspiration, I decided on a lemon cupcake with blackberry icing. Nothing says summer more than juicy berries, and lemon gave them a nice brightness. I actually cheated a little by blending some berries into store-bought icing that I had in the fridge. It wasn’t as good as a homemade buttercream would have been, but it was a lot faster and easier! Its an easy way to dress up store-bought icing, and is a good trick to keep on hand.
Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes with Blackberry Icing
- 2 cups good-quality part-skim ricotta
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg + 1 egg white
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 dash salt
- 1 lemon, zested
- 6 Tbs prepared vanilla buttercream
- 1/4 cup blackberries
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine ricotta, sugar, 1 egg, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Gently fold in flour.
Use an electric mixer to beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold the egg white into the batter. Spoon mixture into a lined cupcake pan, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way. Bake 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when you touch them lightly and a toothpick inserted into the top comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, mash the berries with a fork. Mix into the icing. When cupcakes are cool, spread about 1 Tbs icing onto each of them.
Top with whole blackberries or candied lemon peel.
Approx. 165 calories, 5.8 grams fat, 0.5 grams fiber, 6.5 gram protein.
I’m excited to announce that I have partnered with the great site, Springpad. I’ve been looking for a site like this for a while – it’s a great way to save and organize recipes and inspiration that you come across while reading blogs so that you can access them from any computer. You’ll notice that below my recipes there is a “save it” button. Clicking this button will save the recipe to your Springpad account. You can even add your own notes! So if you don’t like the sound of the cupcake (I don’t know why you wouldn’t!) but are inspired by the blackberry-lemon combination, you can make a note of that on your account. You can also save a bookmark button that will allow you to easily save recipes from sites that don’t include the button in their post.
The site has lots of cool features. Like once you have a few favorites saved, you can even use the meal planner app to pick a few recipes, and it will generate a shopping list for you! Pretty cool! And like any other social networking application, of course you can follow me and make sure you never miss a recipe.
|October 20, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fruit, Italian, Quick Weeknight Meals|
Salad with pizza is a pretty standard combination, but have you ever had salad on your pizza? This is one of my favorite things to do – even when we get take-out, I’ll toss some lettuce in balsamic and throw it on top of my slice. The crisp bitterness of the greens and vinegar cuts through the richness of the cheese and makes the pizza seem less heavy. It also forces you to eat slower (you don’t want to make a mess by dropping lettuce everywhere!) which I find helps me to eat less, since it gives me stomach a chance to signal that it’s full. It’s also a great way to sneak in some extra veggies!
I haven’t made a pizza in a while, and we thought it was about time for one. When deciding on what toppings we wanted, I decided to make a pizza-version of one of my favorite summer salads – pear, gorgonzola, and bacon. I can’t stomach eating cold salad in the cold weather, so I thought this would be a fun way to have something salad-like in the fall and winter. It was! Caramelized pears, gorgonzola, and mozzarella melted beautifully on top of a whole wheat crust, and mache dressed in white balsamic prevented the dish from being too heavy or sweet. There’s not really much more to say about this, other than that it was delicious, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza
- 1 whole wheat pizza dough
- 2 Tbs cornmeal
- 2 strips bacon
- 1 pear, thinly sliced
- 4 oz. part-skim mozzarella, shopped
- 4 Tbs gorgonzola crumbles
- 3 cups mache
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 2 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
- cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400. If using a pizza stone (recommended), place it in the oven now.
Set dough in a bowl on the counter to allow it to rest and come to room temperature. While the dough rests, cook your bacon over low heat until very crispy. Remove from pan and crumble. Swirl the pan around so that it’s covered with bacon grease, then pour as much grease out as your can. Add pears to the greased pan and cook over low heat until the soften and begin to brown. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle a pizza peel or cookie sheet with cornmeal. Stretch the dough into a round the size of your pizza stone (or whatever size you desire) and place on top of the cornmeal. Top with mozzarella and pear slices. Sprinkle gorgonzola over pizza, breaking up the larger crumbles with your fingers so that it spreads over the entire thing. Transfer pizza to stone or place cookie sheet into oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is cooked.
While the pizza is baking, toss the mache with the oil and vinegar. Add black pepper to taste.
Remove pizza from oven and top the dressed greens on top. Cut into 6 slices.
Yields 6 slices.
Each slice: Approx 235 calories, 8.5 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 11 grams protein
|October 19, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Beef, Lamb, and Pork, Fall, Special Occasions, Winter|
I’ve wanted to try making my own gnocchi for a while now, but until now I hadn’t gotten around to doing it. I don’t know what took me so long! It really isn’t as time-consuming or tedious as I thought it would be and the resulting dumplings were soft, pillowy bites of deliciousness. I decided to make pumpkin gnocchi a few weeks ago but I was originally going to pair it with a béchamel sauce. I wasn’t’ really feeling it – it just seemed so heavy – so I kept putting it off. I never feel like cooking things that I don’t want to eat! Anyway, I saw that they had fresh, local chestnuts at the co-op and I wanted an excuse to buy them. I thought they would pair nicely with the pumpkin, and I decided that some mushrooms cooked in brown butter would lighten the plate a little as well as add another layer of flavor. While I was preparing the gnocchi, I remembered that I had some leftover prosciutto so I decided to throw that in too. The resulting dish was an amazing display of rich fall flavors that was extremely rich, without feeling too heavy.
Creating this recipe required me to learn to useful skills: how to make gnocchi and how to roast chestnuts. Lets start by talking about the gnocchi.
Like I said, it was a lot easier to make than I thought it would be. A few (surprisingly few) ingredients are mixed to form a soft dough, which is divided, rolled into long ropes and cut into pieces that are lightly smashed with a fork. Those are either boiled the same way you would boil store-bought gnocchi or frozen for later use. The entire process takes 15-20 minutes and can be done while you’re waiting for the water to boil. The process requires more hands-on activity than boiling prepared gnocchi, but it really doesn’t take any longer. It’s also cheaper – this batch resulted in just about a pound of gnocchi and used about $2 worth of ingredients.
Making your own also allows you to play around with flavors: for these, I used canned pumpkin instead of potato and used a blend of whole wheat and white flour. This resulted in gnocchi with fewer calories, more nutritive value, and a slightly sweet squashy flavor. Does this mean I won’t buy gnocchi at the store anymore? No, because I do like to have that on hand for nights when I just don’t feel like doing anything in the kitchen. But on nights that I want to make gnocchi and don’t hate the idea of cooking, I’ll make my own. And maybe someday soon I’ll mix up a huge batch to freeze.
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white flour (approx.), plus more for dusting
- 1 generous dash of nutmeg
- 2 slices prosciutto
- 6 crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 10 chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbs butter
- 4 sage leaves, chopped
- salt and pepper
To prepare gnocchi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the pumpkin puree, flours, and nutmeg to form a thick, soft dough (you may need to add a little more white flour – the dough she have the consistency of playdough). Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, use your hand to roll the dough into a long rope about 1-inch in diameter. Cut this rope into 1-inch segments. Roll each segment lightly between your hand to smooth rough edges and arrange them on a lightly floured cookie sheet. Lightly press the top of each dumpling with the tines of a fork to slightly flatten it and add some texture for the sauce to stick to. Repeat with remaining dough. Boil in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pot, for about 5 minutes or until gnocchi float. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, cut prosciutto into thin strips. Place in a frying pan set over medium heat, and cook until they begin to crisp. Remove prosciutto from pan. Add butter to the pan, and allow it to melt. Cook another minute or two until it turns a rich brown color. Immediately whisk in 1/4 cup water. Add mushrooms and chestnuts to the brown butter sauce. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until mushrooms soften. Stir in sage and crisped prosciutto. Pour sauce over gnocchi, and toss well to combine.
Approx 233 calories, 5.7 grams fat, 5.5 grams fiber, 7.4 grams protein
|October 16, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Fall, Light, One Pan, Sides, Winter|
I owe you all an apology – meat-free Fridays seems to have gotten away from me a little bit. I know that a lot of you really like that series and a few have asked where it’s gone. I didn’t mean for it to disappear, I just haven’t been good at remembering to plan a post for it. I PROMISE a new meat-free recipe will be posted next Friday – and it won’t be a dessert either.
This butternut squash hash was initially supposed to be my meat-free meal for this week. But you see, I had bacon. And when I have bacon, it seems to find it’s way into everything I make, until it’s gone. As I was chopping the vegetables for this, I thought to myself “you know what would make this better? Bacon.” And there went my meatless meal. BUT in its place I got an amazing meal that I will be making again as soon as possible. I really liked the bacon in this – the crispiness and saltiness contrasted really nicely with the soft, sweet squash. But if you really want, you can leave it out.
- 1/4 lb bacon, chopped
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
- 2 small red potatoes
- 6 ounces light beer (I used MGD 64)*
- 4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
- salt and pepper
- habanero hot sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) to taste
Set a large sautee pan over medium-low heat. Add bacon. Cook slowly, allowing fat to render off, until crispy.
While the bacon cooks, prepare vegetables by chopping the onions and cutting the squash and potatoes into a medium dice (about 1/2″). You should have about three cups of squash. Add the onion to the pan with the bacon and cook until softened. Add squash, potatoes, and beer. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and sauce and beer is evaporated. Add sage, salt and pepper, and hot sauce. Cook another minute or two.
* If you don’t want to use beer, substitute chicken or vegetable stock, or apple cider.
Approx. 156 calories, 4 grams fat, 5.5 grams fiber, 5 grams protein
|October 15, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Quick Weeknight Meals, Reviews, Sandwiches|
Today’s post was brought to you by Nature’s Pride, cheese, the letter “P”, and the number “7″. Ok, maybe not the letter “P” or the number “7.” Foodbuzz recently sent me two loaves of Nature’s Pride bread to try out. I used the 12 Grain to make these delicious open-faced sandwiches full of prosciutto, asparagus, and melty cheese.
I don’t generally eat a lot of sandwich bread. I don’t know… I think that’s kind of abnormal, since most people consider it a pantry staple and the grocery store devotes an entire aisle to it. But it’s generally just not my thing. I’ll occasionally pick up a loaf for a hot sandwich or for some french toast, but other than that it’s not really something that I think about. I do have to say though – this stuff is pretty good! It’s nice and dense, and the the grains give it a hearty texture. It’s all-natural and doesn’t contain and high-fructose corn syrup, which really sets it apart from most other sandwich bread.
These sandwiches are great for dinner along with a cup of soup. I’ve been making different variations for a few years now, but the general idea is based on a recipe from Rachel Ray’s 365: No Repeats – and the version here is actually a lot closer to the original than I usually make. You can play with the meat and cheese to make the sandwich your own – try cappicola and mozzzarella or prosciutto and gruyere. Toasting the bread first keeps it from getting soggy, and a light cream sauce takes the sandwich up a level.
I find that although the bread will get a little bit soggy, these do keep well and can be reheated nicely under the broiler or in a toaster oven.
- 1 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs flour
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- generous dash nutmeg
- 6 slices 12-grain bread, such as Nature’s Pride
- 6 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
- 1/2 lb asparagus, blanched
- 6 ounces brie, sliced
Heat a small pot over medium heat. Melt the butter. Whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute to make a light colored roux. Whisk in the milk, mustard, and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle boil, then immediately remove from heat.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450. Arrange the bread on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until it is lightly toasted. Spread each slice of bread with a little bit of the white sauce, then top with a slice of prosciutto. Divide the asparagus between the sandwiches. Top each portion with 1 ounce of brie.
Return the cookie sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the brie melts.
Approx 265 calories, 13 grams fat, 3 grams fiber, 13 grams protein
|October 14, 2009||Posted by Lauren Keating under Asian, Chicken and Poultry, Light, Quick Weeknight Meals, Soups and Stews, Special Occasions|
The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. I’ll be honest here – I wasn’t particularly excited about this challenge. I’ve made pho before, and I love it, but I didn’t want to do a second post on it. Plus, the main recipe presented to us was for chicken pho, and I don’t usually care for chicken soups. So I dragged my feet on completing this challenge and didn’t make it until last night. I’m glad I did though, because it was really good, and really EASY. Crazy easy! 90% of the ingredients are things that I generally have on hand (and the other 10% could be omitted or swapped) so this is a great recipe to keep in the back of your mind for when dinner hasn’t been planned. And the best part is that it makes very few dishes, so cleanup is a breeze!
- 2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- 8 cups chicken stock (store bought or homemade)
- 2 boneless chicken thighs
- ½ onion
- 1 3-inch chunk of ginger
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 1 to 2 Tbs fish sauce
- 8 oz udon noodles, prepared according to package
- 2 cups bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
- Fresh cilantro
- ½ cup shaved onion
- ½ lime, cut into wedges
- Sriracha chili sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Sliced fresh chili peppers
To make the Broth: Place onion and ginger under the broil to char it. Broil for about 10 minutes, or until the skin of the onion is dark and the ginger is soft. Peel the onion. Peel the ginger and cut it into several chunks. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add ginger, onion, spices, stock, chicken, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming occasionally. Remove chicken and shred with your fingers or with two forks. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Diving chicken and noodles into bowls and ladle the broth over them.
Serve the remaining ingredients at the table, so each diner can customize their own bowl.