October 28, 2014

Kefir Smoothies

Are you a fan of kefir?  I tried it for the first time last summer at a friend's house in Georgia and it's been a breakfast staple ever since.  Matt had us try Lifeway brand pomegranate kefir which is still my favorite.

However, recently I've been using plain kefir to create smoothies and loving the results.   The best combinations so far are raspberry-lime and orange-peach.

I created a raspberry-lime version with 1 cup frozen raspberries, 3/4 cup plain kefir and the zest and juice of one lime.  This one is definitely on the tart side, so if you prefer a sweeter smoothie, I recommend adding only the juice from half of a lime.

For the orange-peach version I added one orange (peeled and chopped), 1 cup frozen peaches and 3/4 cup plain kefir.  This is Chris' favorite and one that he now requests.  Each version makes a 12 ounce smoothie with 8 grams of protein.

October 22, 2014

Candy Corn Cookies

Looking for an easy Halloween treat to make?  These candy corn cookies definitely fit the bill.  The recipe comes from PBS Food and is one I've had pinned to my Halloween Pinterest board since 2011.  I love it when recipes actually turn out like the photo.

10 dozen cookies may seem like a lot but I promise that it doesn't take very long to cut all the candy corn triangles.  This sugar cookie recipe is much easier than rolling out dough and messing around with cookie cutters.

While cutting, I left half of the dough in the fridge because soft triangles aren't as easy to transfer from a cutting board to the cookie sheet.  However, when the dough is nicely chilled you can use your chef's knife to easily pick up an entire row to transfer.

Candy corn can be sickeningly sweet after a couple pieces but the same is not true of these cookies.  In fact, in my experience 10 dozen bite-size cookies can go fairly fast :)

Ingredients (10 dozen 1-inch cookies)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • yellow and orange food color (I use AmeriColor soft gel paste)
The Day Before
  • Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the stand mixer bowl and mix just until a soft dough forms.
  • Remove dough from mixer bowl and separate into three equal pieces (about 10 oz each). Knead orange food color into one piece, yellow into another and leave the third plain. I used a Silpat mat to knead the color into the dough.
  • Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to pull the dough out and cover it. Past down the white dough inside the loaf pan, spreading it evenly along the bottom of the pan. Then firmly pat the orange dough on top of it, followed by the yellow dough.
  • Use plastic wrap to remove the dough from the pan and then wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The Day Of
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut 1/4-inch slices down the width of the dough. Continue cutting each slice into triangles. Place triangles on a cookie sheet and bake for 6 minutes.

  • I recommend using a chef's knife to cut the slices. If you want crispy cookies, cut thin slices and if you want softer cookies, cut a tad bit wider slices.
  • Recipe Source: PBS Food
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October 19, 2014

Kale & Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

Baked risotto is a great shortcut version of the traditional stand-by-the-stove-stirring-for-20-minutes risotto.  In this case, you can use that time to cut up a butternut squash.  I love the taste of butternut squash but detest the process of chopping it into the cubes needed for recipes.  

Just three main ingredients are needed for this recipe.  Flat leaf kale (also known as lacinato, Tuscan or dinosaur kale), a butternut squash and arborio rice.  The recipe also calls for white wine, but if you don't have any on-hand feel free to omit it with no substitution needed.  On the other hand, I find that risotto recipes are a great excuse to buy a nice Pinot Grigio :)

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Meatless cookbook; a cookbook that is in heavy rotation in my kitchen.  Each recipe has a photo, which is much appreciated and the recipes don't rely on meat alternatives, although there are a few tempeh, seitan and tofu recipes.

Ingredients (serves 6 as a main dish)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ground thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch flat leaf kale, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a 5-quart dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Add thyme and cook, stirring, for another minute.
  • Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Add wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add squash and broth; bring mixture to a boil. Stir in kale.
  • Cover with lid; transfer to oven and bake until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Recipe Source: Martha Stewart's Meatless cookbook - page 172 (can also be found on marthastewart.com)
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