Friday, July 30, 2010

Greek Rotini Pasta Salad


This recipe is perfect for summer, cool, light and easy.


1/2 cup Italian dressing
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped, peeled and seeded cucumber
1/2 cup slice black olives
1/4 cup red onion, diced
3 cups rotini pasta, cooked, drained and cooled

1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Combined the dressing, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and onion together in a bowl and allow to set for at least 15 minutes or until the flavors are well combined.
  2. Add the pasta and feta cheese, toss until well combined. Chill for 1 hour before serving.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rustic Italian Bread

This recipe is from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book and it is not what you would call an easy recipe. I debated for some time if I should post it. First you need a mixing stand or this is just not going to work out. I don't really like to post recipes that involve the investment in such a piece of equipment. But if you already have one then you might as well give this a whirl. Now, you do not need an expensive stand mixer. I have a $80 Sunbeam stand mixer and once you get past the constant shaking it works just fine. I do find that my mixer takes a bit longer so I have used the times that you would encounter for a more expensive type mixer.

This recipe also ideally takes two days to complete because it involves the creation of a sponge for your bread. The recipe also calls for rapid rise or instant yeast, but I used active dry yeast because I buy it in bulk at Costco. For most recipes it can be interchanged and I have never felt that it needed an thing to make it activate like honey or sugar. I am going to list rapid rise or instant in the ingredient list, because this is what is most likely to be available at your grocery store.

Sponge
2 cups bread flour
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 teaspoon rapid raise yeast or instant yeast.

Dough
3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon rapid rise or instant yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 teaspoons salt
  1. For the sponge: Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until the sponge has rise and fallen again, at least 6 hours, but up to 24 hours.
  2. For the dough: Combine 3 cups of the flour and the yeast in a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the water and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. You go rest, too.
  3. Remove the plastic wrap, add the sponge and salt. Knead the dough on medium-low speed (or the equivalent on your standing mixer) until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. If after 4 minutes more flour is needed add some of the remaining 1/2 cup, but add it 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl but still sticks to the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand to form a smooth ball. Place the dough in a large oil coated bowl and cover tightly. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  5. Once the dough has risen for 1 hour, turn the dough into itself with a large rubber spatula. Do this once moving it from left to the center, then once right to the center and then the top down to the center. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes more, then repeat the process again until the dough has doubled in size and let rise for another 30 minutes.
  6. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper ( at this point the recipe introduces a baking stone. I do not own a baking stone. SO, I left this out completely). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, press it into a 10-inch square without tearing it, and gently dimple it with your fingertips. Then gently take the top corners of the dough and fold into the middle of the dough (will look like an open envelope). Then gently turn, roll and pinch the dough until it is a torpedo shape. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, seem side down, and gently tuck into a taut loaf. Mist the loaf with cooking spray, cover loosely with cooking spray coated plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and dough barely springs back when poked with the knuckle. 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Meanwhile adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 500°.
  8. Score the top of the loaf of bread with a sharp knife and spray lightly with water. Bake the bread for 10 minutes.
  9. Reduce the oven temp to 400 ° and rotate the bread in the oven. Allow to bake for another 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 210 degrees.
  10. Allow to cool for 2 hours and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chunky Gazpacho

This is perfect recipe for a hot summer day. Refreshing and not one ounce of heat it need to create this tasty and filling soup.

4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2-3 medium orange or yellow tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1-3 sprigs fresh dill, diced
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves only
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into strips
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
several drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable broth
  1. Combine all ingredients, place in a non-metal, non-reactive storage container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. This allows the flavors to blend. This soup really gets better every day!
  2. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hummus Pita Sandwich

I used to have these for lunch when I worked at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. A version of this sandwich was what our kosher kitchen made as a vegetarian option for lunch functions at the Federation. I used the hummus recipe from The Grit Restaurant Cookbook, but I made some alterations.

2 (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained with the liquid reserved
2 teaspoons ground cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup tahini paste
coleslaw mix
10-12 pre-separated pita bread
  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a blender and puree. Gradually add the reserved chickpea liquid until the desired consistency is achieved. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Slice round pita in half and open them up like a pocket. Fill with hummus and cabbage.
  3. Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grilled Bread and Tomato Salad

This recipe is from weightwatchers.com. I have to admit that I have not had the greatest of luck with the recipes in their cookbooks, but the ones featured on their member site are usually home runs and this recipe is no exception. This is perfect for a hot summer night. Originally when I planned to prepare this meal I thought I would be using home grown tomatoes, but as of yet mine have not come in. The plants are in pots, which is often how I grow them, but this year they are taking their sweet time of it.

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cut into wedges, and then cut once again in half
3 1/2 ounces Italian bread, cut into four 3/4 inch-thick slices
Cooking spray
1 large garlic clove, cut in half
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into strips or coarsely chopped
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano. Add the tomatoes and toss. Let stand for at least 15 minutes for flavors to blend.
  2. Heat your grill. Coat the bread with cooking spray. Grill the bread until toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Keep an eye on the bread so that it does not burn. Remove from the grill when done and rub each piece of bread with the garlic. Cut the bread or break it into bite size chunks.
  3. Just before serving, add the bread to the tomato mixture, sprinkle with basil, and toss to mix and coat.

Yields 6, 3/4 cup servings which are 2 points each

Friday, July 23, 2010

Parma-Rosa Sauce


Using my Alfredo Sauce recipe as a base, I have attempted to recreate a sauce mix sold by Knorr. We love this sauce, but it is just too expensive. This was a pretty good remake and probably much better for us in the long run.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup of my basic marinara sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. With the mixture at a gentle boil, cook for 3-5 minutes or until it begins to thicken, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted.
  2. Return the sauce to a heat and add the marinara sauce. Bring to a simmer stirring constantly until the red sauce is fully incorporated into the Alfredo base

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sauteed Green Beans

I had some leftover green beans that I wanted to spruce up for further consumption. This is what I created. Enjoy!

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups Green beans, cooked
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Gyoza sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
  1. Warm the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add to this the green beans, and sauces. Continue to saute until well combined and all ingredients are heated through.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Roasted Corn Salad

This is my own creation. I am trying to get more veggies into our diets. Thus far my husband and I have eaten a lot more veggies. My youngest has eaten some more veggies. My oldest has simply added more things he hates about vegetable to his already very long list of things to hate about vegetables. I have to brag for the minute that I grew the pepper myself!

4 ears of fresh corn, husked, cleaned and grilled to your taste
1 small orange tomato, seeded and diced
1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Clean and husk the corn. Prepare your grill and grill the corn for about 15 minutes. I wanted the corn to be a bit charred as I wanted that look and flavor, but you can do as you wish with your corn.
  2. Mix the oil, lemon juice and vinegar together. Add to this the tomato and pepper. Set aside while you remove the corn from the cob.
  3. Once the corn has been removed from the cob add it to the vinegarette mixture and stir until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ruben Hot Dogs

My mom and dad have been making these for years. I have no idea where the recipe came from. My mom may have just made it up. Anyway, it is a cheap and easy way to replicate the tastes of a Ruben. This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using a tofu dog, which is what we do. Likewise it can be made vegan by using the tofu dog and replacing the cheese with a soy cheese. The dog above is on a whole wheat High Fructose Corn Syrup free bun. The Russian Dressing is my recipe and it also with out HFSC (the husband is doing an experiment...let that be warning to your ladies...this is life with a scientist). The quantities in this recipe are totally open as you can make as many and as few of these as your wish.

6 hot dog buns
1 to 2 tablespoons of Russian Dressing per dog
6 vegetarian hot dogs, cooked
4-6 cups of sauerkraut, warmed
6 slices of Swiss cheese (you can shred the cheese, but I just put the slices on top)
  1. Heat the hot dogs and the sauerkraut on the stove first. Depending on the vegetarian dog you are using adjust your cook time. Some are more solid than others.
  2. Spread each bun split side up on a foil covered cookie sheet. Spread about 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing onto each bun. Top that with a split open hot dog. Top that with sauerkraut and a slice of Swiss cheese.
  3. Place under a broiler for about 3 minutes...but keep an eye on it. You don't want a blackened Ruben hot dog.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Russian Dressing

My husband has decided to conduct and experiment of sorts. He has decided to cut High Fructose Corn Syrup from his diet to see if the addition of HFCS may be one of the reasons that people began to gain weight in the 80's. Ever the scientist he thinks that a food additive may be to blame for this problem. Anyway, we are learning that HFCS is in almost everything! Our bread selection has been greatly diminished. In preparing for the recipe which will post tomorrow I discovered that there is no such thing as a store bought Russian dressing without HFCS. This lead me to make one from scratch. Most that I found were made with mayonnaise, which did not work for my recipe. Finally I found one I liked on About.com: Southern Foods. I cut the recipe in half and left out a few things. It turned out great and I don't think I will be buying this stuff in the store anymore.

2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup ketchup (high fructose corn syrup free of course)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave no high for 30 seconds or until the sugar is completely melted into the water. Essentially you are making a syrup(but it neither corn nor high!). Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients and add the cooled syrup. Whisk together to combine completely. Chill and serve.
  3. This makes about 1 cup of dressing. For the full recipe please see the link above.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Kahlua Coffee Cooler

This is what happens in our house to leftover cold coffee!
1 ounce Kahlua
1 ounce vodka
2 ounces strong black coffee, cold
ice
milk
  1. Combine the Kahlua, vodka and coffee. Pour over ice into glass of choice and top with milk.
  2. Serve cool and enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Alfredo Sauce

This photo does not do justice to this recipe. It is so easy and so simple. I should have taken the time to put the sauce in another contain, but being a lazy I thought it would look okay in the pot. Ugh, not to so much. This recipe is not low calorie or low fat, but it is delicious. With a little portion control it is doable and it is probably better for you than a store bought sauce that contains high fructose corn syrup.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. With the mixture at a gentle boil, cook for 3-5 minutes or until it begins to thicken, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted.
  2. Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mounds Bar Cake


Last month my book club read the book, Fallen by Lauren Kate. Not going to go into details on the book, but it deal with sins, demons and angels. So as the host of the book club meeting I wanted to make a very sinfully delicious chocolate cake. During my searching I came across this recipe on Recipezaar.com. I liked that could adapt the cake to actually look like a Mounds Bar. I have to be honest and admit that the book club ladies did not like the book or the cake. One must be sure to always ask how people feel about coconut. I cannot imagine NOT liking coconut, but apparently the condition exists. I however had nothing do with picking that horrible book. Really it was awful.

Cake
1 (16 ounce) box of devil's food cake mix
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup water
3 eggs

Frosting
8 ounces dark chocolate ( I used a combination of 73% cacao and 80% cacao bars)
4 ounces heavy whipping cream

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pinch of salt
1 (13 1/2 ounce) coconut milk
4 1/4 ounces Cream de Coconut (like for a pina colada)
4 cups shredded coconut
  1. Move oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Mix all the cake ingredients in a bowl, mix on low for 1 minute to combine. Scrape the bowl and then mix on medium speed for a full 3 minutes to make it like and fluffy.
  3. Spray a tube pan or bundt pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and back for 45 minutes or until done.
  4. Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes and then turn out onto your serving platter. While the cake is cooling, make the filling and frosting. The cake must be completely cool before your proceed.
  5. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl.
  6. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to boil. As soon as it starts to bubble, take it off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir immediately with a whisk to incorporate the cream into the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and set aside to cool. It will need to set until it is a spreading consistency.
  7. For the topping: combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Add the coconut milk and cream de coconut. Heat on medium heat and stir until smooth and starting to boil. Continue stirring until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
  8. Take the pan off the heat and pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the shredded coconut. Stir to combine until the mixture resembles the filling in a Mounds Bar. Let this cool completely.
  9. Once everything has cooled completely. Use the coconut filling to fill the hole in the cake left by the bundt pan. Then add a layer to the top to even out peaks of the cake. Get this as smooth as possible.
  10. Cover the cake with the chocolate bar frosting. It will be a bit runny, but will smooth out nicely. Once the cake it topped with the chocolate, put it in the refrigerator of set up, so that it looks like a candy bar.
  11. Enjoy and be sure to ask your guest in advance how they feel about coconut.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Creamy Gorgonzola Fettuccine

This recipe is from the All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook. I have used this sauce as the base to other pastas and vegetables before, but this time I decided to do it originally written(almost).

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
3 cups (1-inch) diagonally sliced asparagus
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups low fat milk
2 ounces 1/3 less-fat cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 6 minutes. Add the asparagus, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 3 minutes stirring constantly. While still stirring constantly add the flour and cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in the cream cheese and salt, cook for about 3 minutes. DO NOT let this mixture come to a boil. Keep just at a low simmer. When the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the heat and add the Gorgonzola cheese mixing until melted.
  4. Drain the pasta and asparagus, place in a large bowl. Add the sauce, tossing to completely combine. Serve with toasted walnuts.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fava Bean: Boiled Peanut Style

Okay, they are not peanuts at all. They are fava beans. A friend of mine belongs to a produce delivery service and she as uncertain what to do with these beans. I offered to take them off her hands and I quickly became aware that I had no idea what to do with them either. The only thing I could think of was census taker and a nice dry Chianti. Fortunately for all involved I could not find any census takers in my neighborhood.


Instead I decided to simply blanch them in salt water in the hopes that they would taste something like edamame. Well, I lost track to time when they were in the boiling salt water and in the end I had something that reminded me very strongly of boiled peanuts. Now, those those not initiated boiled peanuts are green peanuts, boiled in very salty water and sold at roadside stands. They are usually cooked in large barrels and ladled out with old hole punch metal coffee can fastened to a stick. Trust me, they taste great.



about 2 pounds to beans, shelled
2 quarts of water
enough salt to make the water very salty (like seawater)
ice and water
  1. Bring the the 2 quarts of water to a boil in a saucepan, add the salt and allow to boil for a few minutes. Add the fava beans and allow to boil for about 5 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. Promptly remove them to a boil filled with ice and water. This stops the cooking process immediately.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Enchilada Sauce

This is my standard enchilada sauce. It can be used as an addition to soups or with enchiladas! It is simple and easy.

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon onion powder
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  1. Add the tomato sauce and water to a large skillet and combine well.  Add the remaining ingredients and combine with a whisk so as not to create lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes.