Monthly Archives: October 2011
|October 30, 2011||Posted by Lauren Keating under Desserts, Fall, Indulge, Winter|
Have you ever made chocolate bark? It’s super easy and you can customize it in an almost endless number of ways. I’ve been snacking on this dark chocolate bark studded with candied ginger, coconut flakes, and macadamias nuts all week and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, I’ve barely even touched the big bowl full of Halloween candy that we bought for trick-or-treaters (usually by this point I’ve eaten so much that we’ve had to buy more… please tell me I’m not the only one with this problem!)
The idea for this bark actually came to me while I was sitting in a class on gluten-free holiday baking. One of the treats that they made was chocolate bark with walnuts and dried cranberries. I don’t love walnuts and the bark I samples at that class seemed kind of generic, so I couldn’t wait to make a jazzed up version for myself. (They also made some stellar pumpkin whoopie pies that I’ve been dying to recreate at home. More on those another time!)
This ginger-coconut bark would be perfect for holiday entertaining, or just to have around to snack on with a mid-afternoon cup of coffee or tea. Tied up with a pretty ribbon, it would also make a great gift for unexpected guests or last-minute get togethers. Let the kids have all the Halloween candy – it will just mean the grown-ups will be able to keep this all to themselves.
Ginger-Coconut-Dark Chocolate Bark
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
This ginger-coconut-dark chocolate bark is bitter, spicy, and sweet so a little goes a long way. Along with a cup of tea or coffee, it makes the perfect mid afternoon pick-me-up or evening treat. This bark can be kept refrigerated for several weeks.
Unsweetened shaved coconut and candied ginger can often be found in bulk bins in the natural foods section of your grocery store. Shredded coconut can be substituted for shaved, but it’s softer and doesn’t have the same “crunch” that shaved coconut provides.
- 1 bag (6 ounces) good quality Bittersweet Baking Chips (I used Scharffen Berger 70%)
- 1/4 cup Candied Ginger, chopped
- 1/4 cup Unsweetened Shaved Coconut
- 2 ounces Macadamia Nuts, chopped
- Line a sheet pan with either a a silpat or a 9×11 piece of parchment paper sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
- Create a double boiler by setting a bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Add the chocolate to the bowl and stir until fully melted.
- Working quickly, spread the chocolate in a 1/4-inch layer over the prepared baking pan. Scatter the ginger, coconut, and macadamia nuts evenly over the chocolate – be careful not to leave any big gaps!
- Transfer the baking sheet to the fridge for 1 hour to allow the chocolate to set. Once the chocolate is firm, use your hands or a sharp knife to break the bark into roughly shaped pieces.
|October 23, 2011||Posted by Lauren Keating under Light, Mexican and Southwestern, One Pan, Soups and Stews, Vegetarian or Vegan|
I’ve recently developed a dinnertime problem that will surprise friends and family that I have known me for a long time: I haven’t had time to cook as much as I’d like to because I’m too busy exercising. I know.
I’m the girl who grew up hating gym so much that she joined the tennis team just to get out of it; the girl who managed to fall in love with a form of dance where you only move half of your body. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I’m suddenly obsessed with yoga and hulafit. Which means that, two nights a week for the past few months, I haven’t gotten home until 8:30. And when I do get home, I’m starving and don’t want to spend time actually cooking.
After a few weeks of alternating between pizza, Chipotle, and Chinese take out after my classes, I realized I needed to come up with a better solution.
Remembering my mom’s dinner solution for nights when I hate late dance practices through out high school, I dragged out the ole’ crockpot and made a hearty vegetarian chili. Then I spooned it over baked waffle fries and topped it with cheese.
After all, an hour of hula hooping can burn upwards of 500 calories. After that, I deserve a few fries.
Three Bean Crockpot Chili
Yields 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
With only three steps this may be one of the easiest chilis that I’ve made, but it isn’t lacking in flavor: Crimini mushrooms add an earthy note, chipotles in adobo and fire roasted tomatoes add a smokey complexity, and carrots add a touch of unexpected sweetness. It makes delicious chili cheese fries, but it’s also great over rice, scooped up with baked tortilla chips, or on its own.
Like most chilis, this one is best after it’s had a chance for the flavors to meld in the fridge. I cook it in the crock pot overnight (it thickens while I get ready for work) and then reheat it at dinner time.
- 1 can (15.5 oz) Black Beans, drained
- 1 can (15.5 oz) Pinto Beans, drained
- 1 can (15.5 oz) Kidney Beans, drained
- 1 can (15.5 oz) diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 2 ounces Crimini Mushrooms, chopped
- 3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 Green Bell Peppers, chopped
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup Red Wine
- 1 Chipotle Pepper plus 1 Tablespoon Adobo
- 2 Anaheim Peppers, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
- Combine all ingredients except corn starch in crock pot.
- Cook covered on low heat for 8 hours.
- Spoon about a quarter cup of cooking liquid into a measuring cup. Whisk the cornstarch into the reserved cooking liquid until it is smooth, then stir it back into the pot. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the chili has thickened.
|October 19, 2011||Posted by Lauren Keating under Reviews|
I can’t believe it’s already been almost three weeks since the NYC Wine and Food Festival! I really hate when bloggers say that they’re going to post about something another time and then never do, so I’m really sorry that it’s taken me so long to post about it. It’s just that the event was so big and so amazing that I really didn’t know where to start. So I guess I’ll just dive right in…
Saturday started bright and early with a presentation by Alton Brown, one of my favorite Food Network personalities. He definitely didn’t disappoint! His presentation focused on wine and molecular gastronomy, and it was interesting to see how easy some of the fancy tricks you see on TV really are to do at home. The first thing he made was little caviar-like port spheres, which he served over steak. It really didn’t look difficult to do at all, and I might try to replicate them some time when I’m feeling adventurous. He also made frozen bellinis using a stand mixer and liquid nitrogen that was fun but a little less friendly for the home cook. Alton has a great sense of humor and had a fun Q+A session following the demo where he let us in on a few secrets like that he doesn’t actually have a sister named Marsha and that he does in fact know who the next Iron Chef is (but he’s not telling).
The main draw for the Food and Wine festival is the tasting hall, where there were tables and tables of samples from restaurants, wineries, and brands. I spent some time helping out at the ShopRite booth (there’s a picture of me wearing a hideous tee shirt and apron that you will never ever see) before setting out to taste everything I possibly could.
My absolute favorite sample of the day was the lobster scrambled eggs with trout roe, creme fraiche, and brioche from High Point Bistro. The eggs were creamy and custardy and every bite was infused with rich lobster. (The woman working at the table told me the eggs are a regular feature on their menu. I’ve definitely made a mental note to eat there sometime.)
Other tastes that I really enjoyed included Braised Short Ribs with Star Anis and Curried Squash from 21 Club and Biscoff Tiramisu from the Shop Right Pavilion. (Don’t tell anyone, but I actually went back for seconds of the tiramisu.) I also tried more variations on cupcake flavored vodka than I ever knew existed.
(This post is long and image heavy, so please click through to continue reading)
|October 16, 2011||Posted by Lauren Keating under Breads, Breakfast, Fall|
Last weekend, a few friends and I went out to Ithaca to visit with Julie. I hadn’t been to Ithaca in years, and it was so nice to go back and spend the day there. We went to lunch, visited the annual library sale (where I bought a few fun new cookbooks for a song), walked around the commons, and ate cheese fondue.
It was pretty much a perfect day except that I didn’t get a pumpkin bagel. We had gone to the Ithaca Bakery for lunch and although my pear and blue cheese sandwich with thyme-infused balsamic was amazing, I was jealous of Julie’s toasted pumpkin bagel slathered with Nutella. We went back a little later to get drinks for our walk back to Julie’s (their Fall chai, which involves apple cider, still haunts me) and I attempted to buy a few bagels to bring home, but they unfortunately had none left. It didn’t take me very long to decide that I’d just have to make my own, the very next day.
Luckily I’ve made bagels before so I had a general idea of what I was getting into with this project. Bagels are surprisingly easy to make, but they do take a while to rise so you’ll need to make them on a day where you dont’ have much planned. They’re the perfect project for a lazy Sunday!
Since I love my original bagel recipe, I used that as a jumping off point for these. The only substantial difference that I really made was to replace most of the water with pumpkin puree. Even though it was a pretty simple swap, the effect that they had on the final product was pretty dramatic. In addition to having the subtle pumpkin flavor that I was hoping for, the puree improved the texture of the bagels as well. Their soft, fluffy interior made them some of the lightest bagels I’ve ever eaten, but with a perfectly chewy crust. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Homemade Pumpkin Bagels
Yields 9 bagels
Prep Time: 30 minutesTotal Time: 3 hours
These light and chewy bagels have a subtle pumpkin flavor that goes great with Nutella, cream cheese, or cinnamon-sugar butter. I left the flavor simple to maxmize their versatility – try them untoasted, dipped into a hearty vegetable soup! If you prefer a pumpkin spice bagel, mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger and a dash each of cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice in with the flour.
- 2 teaspoons Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cups Warm Water
- 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup Whole White Wheat Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
- Add yeast and sugar to 1/4 cup warm water, without stirring. Let sit for five minutes, then stir until dissolved.
- Combine flours and salt into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir in the yeast mixture and the pumpkin puree.
- Knead until dough is smooth and elastic – about 20 minutes by hand or 10 in a mixer. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Gently punch down the dough to deflate it, then divide into 9 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then poke your finger through the center to form the hole. Gently stretch the dough to form a ring. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
- Arrange the rings on a cookie sheet, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.
- While the bagels rise, add the baking soda to a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Drop the risen bagels into the boiling water a few at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Boil for 2 minutes on each side. Replace on cookie sheet.
- Bake at 450F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the bagels are a light, golden color.
|October 9, 2011||Posted by Lauren Keating under Chicken and Poultry, Cooking For One, Fall, Light, Mexican and Southwestern, One Pan, Sides|
A few weeks ago I didn’t feel like cooking dinner so I unearthed a bag of Alexia chipotle roast sweet potatoes and a veggie corn dog from the depths of the freezer and called it a night. (I know.)
It was good, but considering both elements of the meal were already prepared it was awfully fussy. The potatoes required me to stand over the stove for longer than I would have liked to and by the time they were done, my corn dog was cold. It also made me feel lazy – especially considering this meal of sweet potatoes, black beans, and roast chicken with a honey-chipotle glaze requires less energy, tastes fresher, and is cheaper to make. You don’t even have to stand over the stove while it cooks.
Roast Honey-Chipotle Chicken with Sweet Potatoes & Black Beans
Serves 1, with leftovers
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
This recipe follows the same basic formula as my easy herb-roast chicken with vegetables but is updated with spicy, smokey, and sweet Southwestern flavors. The potatoes and beans make the dish pretty filling, so I find that it’s enough for one dinner and one lunch. Add another potato and some more chicken if you want to serve two people!
Save the extra chipotles in adobo for another use – they’ll keep in the refrigerator for a few days and can also be frozen. I’m planning to use mine to make chili later this week.
- 1 Sweet Potato, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup Black Beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup Corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper, minced
- 1 Tablespoon cold Butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 Tablespoon Adobo (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
- 1 teaspoon Honey
- 1 boneless, skinless Chicken Breast
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Place the sweet potatoes, black beans, corn and jalapeno in a 9×11 baking dish. Scatter the butter over the top.
- Whisk together the adobo and honey. Spread the sauce over both sides of the chicken breast. Toss any remaining sauce with the vegetables, then place the chicken on top.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
|October 3, 2011||Posted by Lauren Keating under Chicken and Poultry, Italian, Pasta and Noodles, Quick Weeknight Meals, Shawn's Favorites|
Have you ever had Chicken Riggies? It’s a dish that originated around Utica, New York (about an hour away from us here in the Capital Region) and I’ve never met a person who tried it and didn’t love it.
In it’s simplest form, Chicken Riggies is composed of rigatoni, chicken, spicy and sweet peppers, and a tomato cream sauce. It’s quick and easy to make and is a terrific weeknight alternative to more traditional pasta and red sauce. My favorite version includes lots of mushrooms and is lightened up with fat free half and half. It’s also one of the first recipes that I’ve shared as a blogger for ShopRite, so if you want my recipe pop on over to their blog, Potluck.
If you were expecting a recipe in my Cooking for One series today, I apologize. I spent the weekend at the New York City Wine and Food Festival, and I’m totally wiped out. I’ll be back with a new recipe for that series and with a full recap of my weekend soon.
In the meantime, let’s just say there was lots food that looked like this:
Celebrity chefs that looked like this:
Until then, I leave you with this video of Alton Brown opening a wine bottle with a drill: