October 29, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

I wanted to make a fun treat today to take to a friend's house who invited us over for dinner.  My first choice was candy corn sugar cookies, but unfortunately after reading the recipe I realized that the dough needed to chill for several hours.

So instead, I headed to Cake & Bake and purchased white and milk chocolate to dip pretzel rods in.  I decorated with cashews, and two different Halloween-themed sprinkles. 


For dipping, I prefer the way milk chocolate looks, but I like the white chocolate for drizzling.  I love white chocolate, but hate normal chocolate, so I did dip a few in white chocolate for me to eat :)


I packaged each pretzel in a Wilton Pretzel Bag.  I found them on sale for $1.37 at Jo-Ann's and am glad I bought them because I'm not sure how else I would have packaged the pretzels.

October 25, 2011

Lentil Pilaf with Carrots & Greens

I love when I discover a recipe that's easy to make, nutritious and tastes great.  Chris and I both double-checked the back of the lentil pilaf box to ensure we were reading the nutrition stats correctly.  A generous portion that filled us each up contained 300 calories and 18 grams of protein.


I followed a Garlic Braised Greens recipe from Kashi's website, and would have used Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf as called for, but I couldn't find it at the store. Instead, I used Casbah's Lentil Pilaf mix, which we both really liked!


Although this recipe does take 35-40 minutes to cook, there's very little hands-on time which I love! The greens and carrots cook in about 5 minutes, so you cook them just before the lentil pilaf mix has fully absorbed all the water. Then mix the two together and enjoy!



Lentil Pilaf with Carrots & Greens

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes


Ingredients (2 main dish servings)
  • 7oz lentil pilaf mix
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 6 cups braising greens (collard greens, kale, Asian greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, or beet greens)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  • Cook lentil pilaf according to package directions.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Add garlic, carrots and braising greens. Stir quickly until vegetables are evenly coated with the oil.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add water, salt, pepper and mix well. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and mix with hot cooked lentil pilaf.
Recipe adapted from: Kashi.com
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October 23, 2011

Apple Pie Cookies

I immediately loved the look of an apple pie cookie recipe I saw on Smitten Kitchen today.  However, as I read through the directions, I started wondering if I could take a few shortcuts.  It turns out that you can...and the result is still delicious!


It took me approximately 15 minutes to make 6 apple apple pie cookies, including pie dough from scratch.  A 20 minute bake time means you can enjoy these delicious treats in just 35 minutes! 


I used my grandma's pie crust recipe, one Jonagold apple, and a few sprinkles of cinnamon & sugar.  You'll also need biscuit cutters...I used a 3" cutter (for the pie dough) and a 1.5" cutter (for the apple) from my Pampered Chef set

your favorite pie crust recipe
1 apple (a baking variety)
cinnamon & sugar

As Deb, of Smitten Kitchen, said "Let me make this clear before we go any further that this is pie for crust lovers as the crust-to-filling ratio is off the charts."  I love pie crust and I love these cookies, however I do wish there was a bit more apple flavor. 

October 12, 2011

Apple Confit with Vanilla Ice Cream

This week, I am diligently using the apples we picked on Sunday.  I've been having one for lunch each day, and researching apple recipes as well.  I came across one recipe last night that appealed to me based on the sheer simplicity of it.

All you need are apples, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla extract and a crockpot.  It's a recipe for apple confit that comes from Eating Well.  In a small crockpot, I added 3 Jonagold apples, 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar, a 1/4 tsp cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, then cooked on high for 2 hours.


I've been not-so-patiently waiting for a plumber to arrive today between the very vague hours of "late morning to early afternoon," and decided to make a layered sundae with walnuts and my favorite Breyers vanilla ice cream, while I waited.  The combination tasted just like apple pie, minus the crust.


By the way, if you don't own a small crockpot I highly recommend purchasing one....and then making this recipe :)  I bought one, ok actually three, last year at Walmart when they were on sale for $9 each.  The type I have is the Proctor Silex 1 1/2 quart slow cooker, which has 3 settings: warm, low and high.

October 11, 2011

How to Roast Vegetables

The process of roasting brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables and intensifies their natural flavors.  Roasting is great for many vegetables including: asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, onions, potatoes, and squash.

Tonight, I roasted acorn squash, beets and brussels sprouts.  My acorn squash came in back-to-back CSA boxes, and I simply cut each squash in half, scraped out the seeds, cut into uniform pieces and baked for 30 minutes.


I picked up beets and brussels sprouts at the farm stand near my house last night.  It was my first time buying a proper stalk of brussels sprouts, which Chris used as a cat back scratcher after I removed all the brussels sprouts...yeah, he's weird like that.


After removing the brussels sprouts from the stalk, I trimmed the ends, halved them lengthwise, and then roasted for 15 minutes.  You're not suppose to peel beets before you roast them, but I have a heck of a time peeling them hot out of the oven, so I disregard the rules and peel ahead of time.  After cutting them into uniform chunks, I roasted the beets for 25 minutes.


Step-by-Step Guide to Roasting Vegetables:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jellyroll pan with foil, and coat the foil with cooking spray. 
  • Cut the vegetables in a uniform size so they cook at the same rate. Add vegetables in a single layer to the foil-lined pan.
  • In a large Ziploc bag add approximately a tablespoon of olive oil per pound of vegetables (enough to coat lightly) along with any desired seasoning (salt and pepper are often enough).  Add vegetables to the bag, making sure the pieces are coated on all sides.
  • Remove vegetables from bag and arrange in a single layer on the foil-lined pan, leaving space between the pieces.
  • Roast for 10-60 minutes, depending on the vegetable. About halfway through the roasting time, give the vegetables a quick toss, redistributing the pieces. After that, check and toss every five minutes or so, until they’re done.
  • Check if the vegetables are done, by piercing with a knife. When the tip goes in easily, they're done!

The brussels sprouts were fantastic!  I had the beets as part of my favorite roasted beet salad, and the squash was great but I wish I hadn't cut it into small pieces, as it ended up being difficult to eat.  Just chopping each squash in half would have been sufficient.

October 10, 2011

Thai Red Curry

Have you heard of Pinterest?  I saw lots of bloggers joining, but resisted because I was worried that yet another website would suck up my free time.  However, recently I realized that it would be a great way to keep track of recipes I want to try, so I finally joined.

I only have a few recipes pinned so far, but it was still helpful tonight as I tried to decide what to make for dinner...someday I will get back to menu planning in advance.  From my "Main Dish Recipes" board, I chose Thai Red Curry from Kitchen Runway.


Chris and I both loved this recipe!  I made a few changes based on what I had on hand, and of course omitted the chicken.  You'll see sweet potatoes in the photo below, but I didn't end up adding them because I cooked them too long :(

Printer-Friendly Recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch half moons
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
11oz Thai Red Curry Sauce (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup frozen green peas
1 red bell pepper, julienne
shredded coconut for garnish
1 cup jasmati rice
2 cups water


This recipe was spicier than I anticipated but it wasn't too killer, and that's coming from someone who really dislikes spicy food.  A glass of milk with dinner helped immensely.  I only have two main dishes left to try on Pinterest, so I'd better post this blog entry and start browsing for more recipes :)

October 09, 2011

French Apple Tart

I was chomping at the bit to make something with our newly picked apples, so I turned to my trusty friend google.  I settled on a tart recipe from The Barefoot Contessa.  It was fairly easy to make, and while I loved the apple topping, I did not like tart base.


Below is the apple version I made, which I've written out to help me remember what I liked about this recipe.  I intend to try it again, most likely on my favorite tart base.

4 Jonagold apples
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly
2 tablespoons water
a drop of almond extract

This recipe finally convinced me to try the mandoline that I received as a birthday gift last month.  I figured it was time I got over my fear of slicing a finger off.  No blood was shed, but unfortunately I had a hard time slicing the apples, so I ended up just cutting them with a knife...I'll have to try again, with something other than apples.

October 07, 2011

Buttered Noodles & Broccoli...Noodles & Company-style

Noodles & Company, better known as just Noodles, is the only fast food restaurant that I like. 

I've been ordering buttered noodles & broccoli since 1996 when the first Noodles & Company opened in Madison.  It was only the second in the nation, after the first opened in Denver in 1995. 

Tonight, I was craving Noodles, however I have a self-imposed 5-day quarantine to avoid giving anyone else the flu, so I'm stuck at home...and Chris is working late, so I couldn't send him.  Why oh why can't Noodles deliver?

There was nothing left to do but make it myself...I mean, how hard can buttered noodles be, right?  Not only was it easy to make, but also very quick.  Within 15 minutes, I was enjoying a dinner that tasted remarkably like Noodles' own version.


And now a comparison to my last to-go container from Noodles.  While the taste was very similar, I'm certain there's oil in addition to butter in Noodles' version because mine tonight was not nearly as greasy...and not quite as delicious :)


After a quick google search, I found the following description on Noodles' menu "An ounce of melted butter tossed with wavy egg noodles. Topped with Parmesan cheese and Italian seasonings." 

By the way, I would not recommend seeking out menus with your favorite dishes because you might end up heartbroken if you discover that it has 930 calories.  Totally hypothetical.


Tonight's dish was absolutely perfect for the cute little head of broccoli I received in yesterday's CSA box.  It also worked out well that Chris wasn't home for dinner this evening, as it was only enough for one person.  Not that I would ever in a million years convince him to eat carb-loaded buttered noodles :)