Veggie Bowl with Tahini & Lemon Dressing

Veggie  Bowl with Tahini Dressing

roasted veggies with a zing of tahini dressing

Dang! I totally forgot about that bundle of kale I bought last week. I discovered it languishing in the back of the fridge this morning. I managed to salvage 5 leaves from it, though, to add to the veggie bowl I had in mind when I originally bought it.

A couple of weeks ago, I lunched with a pal of mine at VeggieGrill, a healthy-style fast food place. I ordered and devoured a Harvest Bowl, which included vegetarian sausage, roasted cauliflower, steamed kale, and some kind of creamy sauce. Rather yummy, I wanted to somewhat replicate it. Not sure how close I came to imitating it, but I’m very satisfied with this version.

Best of all, this dish is highly versatile. You can use rice of your choice or quinoa or any other grain or seed. Hot or cold. As for the veggies, add your favorites. Roast ‘em, like I did, or steam them or add them fresh. See what I mean about versatility? Also, you can serve it as a meal on its own or as a side dish.

I roasted my kale along with the other veggies simply because my hunger pains were making me rush (that’s just a fancy way of saying I was lazy). However, the roasted kale added a slightly charred taste, which I enjoyed. I also wanted to add grated carrots, but in my rush of hunger I forgot. And, thankfully, I had cooked the rice the night before so I would have some on hand for the week. I often do that with rice or quinoa. Anyhow, that quickened the process as well as lessened the work load.

And the dressing? The best part! Lots of tang from both the tahini and the lemon, and then lots of pungency from the garlic. It’s a zinger of a dressing that makes the nutty rice and earthy veggies totally pop with flavor.

All in all, a bowl loaded with healthy goodies = happy belly.

Veggie Bowl with TahiniDressing2

a bowl of healthy goodies: veggies & tahini dressing

Veggie Bowl with Tahini & Lemon Dressing

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Note: use your favorite veggies and favorite seasonings as well as your choice of grains for this dish; the ingredients below are just a starting point

INGREDIENTS

Rice/Veggies

  • 3 cups cooked rice (brown or white) or quinoa (I used short grain brown rice which cooks up plump and chewy and nutty…I sometimes buy Lundberg brand or buy from bulk bins at Whole Foods)
  • 1 small crown of broccoli
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 5 leaves curly kale
  • olive oil
  • seasoning (I used Penzey’s Shallot Pepper, which is fantastic of all veggies, corn on the cob, and baked potatoes)

Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. tahini (which is sesame paste…I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon zest (I actually left this out)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook rice or quinoa, following directions on package. For the short grain brown rice I purchased from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, I rinsed the rice thoroughly using a strainer, then added it to a pan with 2 cups chicken broth (water or vegetable broth works, too). I brought it to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and cooked covered for 25 minutes. Keep it covered for 10 more minutes after cooking, then fluff with a fork. This makes about 3 cups cooked grains. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days. Just microwave when ready to use after refrigerating if you want hot rice.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Chop broccoli and squash into bite-sized pieces; place in roasting dish. Separate kale leaves from stem, then tear into small pieces; add to dish. FYI: If you don’t want your kale charred, I suggest adding it after 10 minutes of baking. Or massage it instead to tenderize it (yep, it really works!). Or steam it.
  4. Generously drizzle olive oil over vegetables, then give a hearty sprinkling of your favorite seasoning (or I bet skipping the seasoning would be fine because the dressing gives a powerful punch of flavor). Toss to mix. Roast veggies for 15-20 minutes, until done to your desired tenderness.
  5. For Tahini Dressing: While veggies are roasting, place lemon juice, tahini, minced garlic, zest, salt, and pepper in a small food processor and pulse until mixed. Alternatively, you can just whisk with a fork until it’s all mixed. Or even easier, shake it in a container. If the dressing needs thinning, use a bit of water.
  6. When veggies finish roasting, toss with dressing, then add to rice and mix.

SOURCES: inspired by the Harvest Bowl at VeggieGrill; dressing from A Full Measure of Happiness

Balsamic Reduction for Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

fresh garden tomatoes graced with mozzarella and sweet basil and drizzled with sweet balsamic reduction dressing

A few years ago at a night out to dinner with friends, one gal ordered a caprese salad. I had never heard of that before, nor did I find it very appealing when layers of mozzarella cheese and basil and tomato slices came to the table. To me, a salad equals greens smothered in dressing, not slices of tomato and cheese.

Well, I’ve come a long way in my food experiences since then. Truth be told, it was only last summer when I finally found thick slices of tomatoes from our garden sprinkled with salt and pepper to taste utterly satisfying and refreshing. I finally understood the appeal of adding some equally thick slices of soft mozzarella and basil leaves picked straight from the garden, adding another dimension of freshness and summer splash to the mix.

However, creating a balsamic reduction dressing eluded me. I think last summer I simply tried reducing the balsamic vinegar. This summer, I added a bit of sweetener and other flavorings, and I hit the jackpot.

This makes about 1/3 cup balsamic reduction, and unless you make a ton of caprese salads, it will last awhile in the fridge. I store my dressing in a condiment bottle with a little spout, which makes it very easy to dress the salad (I found a 6-pack at Smart and Final, or you can find mini ones at Micheal’s).

So, if you are a fan of Caprese Salad and like your dressing on the sweet side, this balsamic reduction will likely satisfy your taste buds.

Balsamic Reduction for Caprese Salad

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey (use less to reduce the sweetness level)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  2. Simmer for about 10-20 minutes, until reduced to about 1/3 cup. Reduction will be thick but will thicken even more when refrigerated.

Note: Allow dressing to sit at room temperature for a few minutes if it’s too thick right out of the refrigerator. You can speed up this process by placing it in a bowl of hot water or even microwaving it for 15-20 seconds.

SOURCE: adapted from Allrecipes.com

 

 

 

 

Cream Cheese Brownies

Cream Cheese Brownies

Decadent brownies with swirls of tangy cream cheese filling

Want something beyond the ordinary brownie? Try these Cream Cheese Swirl versions. Not only do they look gorgeous with that swirl effect, but every bite awards you a taste of tangy cream cheese flavor to complement the rich chocolatey brownie. Furthermore, not only will you impress with the flavor combo, but you will impress with the attractive swirl design. And you know what? It’s really a simple technique!

Cream Cheese Brownies

Cream Cheese Brownies

Cream Cheese Brownies

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INGREDIENTS

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Brownie Batter

  • 2/3 cup (3 1/3 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and set oven rack to middle position. Make foil sling for 8-inch square baking pan by pulling off two 14-inch pieces of aluminum foil from roll and folding each to 8-inch widths. Lay sheets perpendicularly in pan, with extra foil hanging over edges. Smooth foil against pan. Finally, grease the foil in the pan.
  2. Cream Cheese Filling: In a small bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and flour until combined.
  3. Brownie Batter: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter. Do this by microwaving in 1 minute increments, stirring occasionally. (Alternatively, you can use the double boiler method, if preferred.)
  5. In medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add melted chocolate/butter (do not clean bowl yet); whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and fold to combine.
  6. Transfer 1/2 cup of brownie batter to bowl that had melted chocolate in it. With remaining batter, spread it into the 8”x8” pan.
  7. Spread cream cheese filling evenly over batter in pan.
  8. Microwave bowl of reserved batter until warm and pourable, 10-20 seconds. Using spoon, place 6-9 dollops of softened batter over cream cheese filling, spacing them evenly. Use a knife to swirl the brownie batter through the cream cheese filling, creating a marbled pattern, about 10-12 strokes. Leave a 1/2-inch border around the edges.
  9. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached (test in brownie portion rather than cream cheese portion), 35-40 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through baking.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Use foil overhang to lift brownies from pan, returning to wire rack until completely cool, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares. Refrigerate leftover brownies, but allow to come to room temperature for 1 hour before serving. The brownies also freeze well when wrapped in plastic wrap and then place in resealable bag.

SOURCE: Cook’s Illustrated, July/August 2014 issue

Red Velvet Berry Trifles

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

Ever eaten red velvet cake? Sounds so elegant, doesn’t it? It has a vibrantly rich red color, a subtle chocolate flavor, and a stunningly contrasting and tangy white cream cheese frosting layer. Elegant indeed!

I’ve tried to bake red velvet a few times. No luck. Too dry. Too oily. Too bland.

Then Todd and Diane of the blog White on Rice Couple posted the most lovely rustic-looking layered Red Velvet Berry Cake. I have found their recipes reliably yummy, so I thought I’d give red velvet another attempt.

Score! Their cake has the moistness that has eluded me. And it uses a bit more chocolate flavoring than other recipes I’ve tried, so that deepens the flavor profile.

Rather than make a layered cake, though, I made individual trifles, mainly because I have these adorable trifle cups I bought a few years back and don’t use as often as I’d like to. I baked my batter in a half-sheet pan and froze the baked cake, then used a cookie cutter to cut mini cake rounds to fit into the trifle cups. I took all the leftovers and chopped them up into small bits and also used those for trifles in the tall glasses. You could even make one giant trifle, which would look stunning in a large glass dish.

Anyhow, I made these for a book club meeting, and they received rave reviews. Not too cloyingly sweet, the berries with the cake make a light summer dessert.You can lighten this dessert even more by using the heavy cream and cream cheese frosting from the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes recipes. I may try that next time I whip these up. (FYI: I made both the cake and frosting ahead of time, freezing the cake after cutting for the trifles and refrigerating the frosting. Wrap cake in plastic wrap, then place in resealable bag. It was a snap, then, to put these together a few hours before I needed them.)

Finally, the red, white, and blue colors of the cake, frosting, and blueberries make this a perfect Fourth of July dessert!

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

 

Red Velvet Berry Trifles

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INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 2 cups (275 g) cake flour (cake flour is lighter than all purpose)
  • 1/4 cup (22 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Penzey’s Dutch-processed Natural Cocoa Powder)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk (or substitute with 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar; let sit for 5-10 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. (30 ml) liquid red food coloring or about 1 tbsp. (15 ml) Americolor #119 Red Red color gel
  • 1 tsp. white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs

Layers: Frosting & Fruit

  • 2 (8 oz/225 g) pkgs. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups (270 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • mix of fresh berries (about 1 1/2 lbs./680 g): sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter your baking vessels (two 9-inch rounds, a 9×13 inch pan, or a half-sheet pan) (you can also make cupcakes from the batter). If you want to make sure your cake comes out of the pan easily, consider lining with parchment paper. TIP: Grease pan first, then parchment paper will stick to it. Follow by greasing parchment paper, too.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (I always sift my cocoa powder to break up any lumps.)
  3. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, red food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla until well blended.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter until creamy, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, to sugar/butter until blended.
  6. Add 1/2 of the dry mixture and 1/2 of the wet mixture; beat until smooth. Repeat with remaining wet and dry mixtures.
  7. Pour the batter into baking vessels. For cake rounds, bake about 25-30 minutes. For half sheet pan, bake about 15-18 minutes. Since I haven’t used 9×13 or cupcake pans for this recipe, start at 15 minutes and check every few minutes for doneness: when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, cake is done.
  8. When finished baking, transfer pans to wire racks to cool cakes.
  9. For frosting, cream together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. If your frosting seems too loose, chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours; it will thicken. You can make the frosting a day or two ahead of time and just store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.
  10. To make trifles or layered cake, start with a cake layer, add a frosting layer, then add a fruit layer. Make as many layers as you desire…or that your trifle dish will hold.
  11. You can assemble trifles a few hours in advance and store, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until ready to serve. If making a layered cake, be careful so plastic wrap won’t squish your lovely creation.

SOURCE: White on Rice Couple

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Hello and pardon my long hiatus. Reasons? Busy at work, rebalancing dinner responsibilities now that hubby is back to work, adding gym workouts to my life, gardening, etc. Nothing serious. Getting out of the habit of blogging just happened so easily, and I’ve had a hard time finding the motivation to start again.

My love of cooking and baking, though, haven’t waned. So let’s see if I can get back into the habit of sharing the kitchen delights, starting with these Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. Bursting with refreshing citrus flavor and the crunch of poppyseeds, these sweet treats disappear in a flash (and reappear on the thighs!), so beware. I fool myself by making them in mini form, thinking I’m not eating as many. Yah, right. I end up popping mini muffins all day until the entire batch disappears, which has occurred numerous times.

I’ve made these bunches of times in the past few months, but I cannot stop myself from eating them, so they’ve vanished before I could ever take a photo. It took a lot of willpower to save these last few for photos, but I finally did it. And now I can finally share a stellar muffin recipe with you. Enjoy!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

 

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

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Yield: 12

INGREDIENTS

Muffins

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp. poppyseeds

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing with fingers to distribute lemon zest.
  3. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, blend yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients, stirring gently to blend but not overmixing.
  5. Stir in poppyseeds.
  6. Divide batter evenly amongst muffin tins.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes (about 15 if using mini muffin pan), until thin knife or toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.Transfer muffin pan to cooling rack, and after 5 minutes, remove muffins from pan and continue to cool.
  8. When muffins cool completely, drizzle icing over tops (using spouted container or just drizzling with spoon or fork). To make icing, combine powdered sugar with lemon juice. Begin with 1 1/2 tbsp. and add more until desired consistency is reached.

SOURCE: adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod via Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

 

Bok Choy & Red Pepper Stir Fry

Bok Choy Stir Fry

Bok choy & red peppers star in this simple, quick stir fry

Tomorrow I return to work after a much-needed spring break from teaching, putting me in boo hoo mode, but at least I finally finished grading the essays I brought home. (Oh, the joys of teaching English.)

I did manage to set up the spring veggie plantings, trim a few trees in the backyard, and write a few letters to my nephew who recently headed off to Marine Boot Camp. 

However, I didn’t manage to read any novels, which I’m bummed about, and I didn’t take care of spring purging around the house. Honestly, I don’t know where the days have gone considering I got so little done.

Speaking of where the days have gone, I really don’t know how two months have passed and I’ve only blogged once! Somehow I lost my motivation and energy. The muses left me high and dry. Sinus infection and allergies contributed to the absence as well as a heavy work load of essay correcting (all my own fault for assigning so much work, I know).

Plus, hubby has returned to work after a couple years of schooling for a career change, and now our balance needs readjusting. He used to take responsibility for dinner since I was the one gone all day. Now I get home before him, so I find my evenings filled with kitchen duty, leaving little time and energy for blogging. 

Despite my absence the past couple months, I have experimented with and collected a few recipes to share, one of them this Red Pepper Bok Choy Stir Fry side dish. 

This dish cooks up quickly, uses few ingredients, has crispiness and crunchiness, and contains oodles of nutritional value. Plus, it’s pretty to look at with the bright red and green colors and the sprinkling of sesame seeds. And for us, at least, it adds a new veggie–the bok choy–to our lives, creating a nice break from the heavy doses of broccoli we consume.

It pairs well with brown or white rice for a veggie rice bowl, complements chicken and beef, and tastes especially yummy with Asian meatballs. Or, just eat it all on its own for a filling meal.

Bok Choy & Red Pepper Stir Fry

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. dark sesame oil (don’t skip, for this adds a rich nutty flavor)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (I omit this)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bunches bok choy, sliced any size you prefer (I got about 8 loosely packed cups from a bag of baby bok choy from the Asian store; I’ve used less, too, as well as used “grown-up” bok choy)
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1-2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • toasted sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add vegetable oil and sesame oil to a wok, heating over medium-high heat (use a large pan if you don’t have a wok). When the oil begins to shimmer, add the peppers, onion, and garlic; toss/stir constantly.
  2. After 3-4 minutes, when the onions turn translucent and golden, add the bok choy, stirring/tossing often. Cook for 1 minute, then add the soy sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, just until the green leaves on the bok choy begin to wilt. 
  3. Garnish with sesame seeds. 

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Cook for Your Life

Chocolate Babka

Back in December 2009, I clipped a recipe from Cooking Light magazine for a chocolate-laced bread called babka. Since then, I have attempted that particular recipe on several occasions, only to face undercooked bread, issues with the dough not rising, and bread with HUGE air pockets.

Babka

Chocolate Babka: bread laced with chocolate filling

I have persevered, though, because the swirls of chocolate filling enticed me. I finally tried another sweet bread recipe from Lindsey at Pinch of Yum and combined it with the filling method from Cook’s Illustrated cinnamon swirl bread. Finally, success!

Babka

Aren’t those swirls of chocolate and cinnamon filling gorgeous!

Wondering about the origins of the name babka, I googled it to learn that babka is a Ukrainian sweet bread made for Easter. In my Croatian heritage, my mom and aunt always make Easter bread, which is a tad sweet and dry. Theirs bakes up lighter than this one, but the breads share the same level of mild sweetness. I prefer this one due to the chocolate spirals inside, though. I took it to work (to prevent myself from devouring it all), and my coworkers loved it.

So, I present to you a version of babka that took me five years to perfect.

Babka

Utterly delicious sweet bread

Chocolate Babka

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INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 1 package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 8-9 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • optional: zest of one orange

Filling

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 4 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate (or dark chocolate, if you prefer)
  • 3 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tsp. milk (or you can use orange juice to enhance the orange flavor if you used orange zest in the dough)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make dough: In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, allow the yeast to dissolve in the warm water until it reaches a frothy state.
  2. Add the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, orange zest (if using) and 2 cups of flour; using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, mix on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Switch to dough hook and add 3 more cups of flour; mix at a slightly higher speed. The dough should appear smooth and glossy.
  4. Add the melted butter; mix until dough appears glossy again.
  5. Stir in remaining 3-4 cups of flour a little at a time until a stiff dough forms. You will probably use closer to 3 cups of flour rather than 4.
  6. Transfer dough to a generously flour-coated surface, gently rolling dough around to coat it with flour. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Using mixer, knead dough at low speed until smooth and satiny, about 4 minutes. Place dough into a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size (my dough took almost 2 hours to rise).
  8. To make filling: Whisk together powdered sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt until well combined.
  9. Grease two loaf pans (I used shortening).
  10. Rolling dough and adding filling: After dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half (at this point, you can wrap one half in plastic wrap, place in resealable bag, and freeze for another time; to use, allow to thaw overnight in refrigerator and to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or so). Working with one half at a time, roll dough into a large rectangle, roughly 14×16 inches and about 1/4-inch thick.
  11. Using a spray bottle, lightly spray the dough with water. Sprinkle half of the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border on sides. Spray filling lightly with water (FYI: the powdered sugar absorbs water, forming a sticky paste that helps to hold the layers together, eliminating pesky air pockets).
  12. Starting from the longer side of the dough, roll dough away from you into a firm cylinder. Pinch ends closed. Holding dough by ends, gently twist the cylinder 4 times, as if wringing out a towel (this creates a spiral effect with the filling). Place the dough into the prepared pan, squeezing it into an S-shape to fit. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  13. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  14. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg so bread will bake with a golden crust. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.
  15. Remove from oven, place bread pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow bread to cool completely on wire rack before icing and slicing.
  16. To make icing: Combine icing ingredients and mix well. Drizzle over cooled bread.

SOURCES: inspired by Cooking Light; adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cinnamon Swirl Bread and Pinch of Yum

Lemon Garlic White Bean Dip & Pita Chips

Need an appetizer idea for Superbowl Sunday? This smooth Lemon Garlic White Bean dip whips up quickly in the food processor (or blender) and packs a whollop of flavor due to the soft cannelli beans, the garlic and lemon, and of course the hot peppers.

Lemon Garlic White Bean Dip

White bean dip flavored with garlic, lemon, and a kick from pimientos (or jalapenos)

You can serve the dip with chips or crackers, but I prefer to use pita crisps, which you can make easily and for far less than the cost of a bag of chips. Just cut pitas into wedges, brush with a bit of oil, and season with your choice of flavors. Bake for a few minutes. That’s it! Easy peasy.

Oh, one more tidbit about the dip: it tastes fantastic spread onto toast and suffices quite nicely as a quick snack between meals.

Lemon Garlic White Bean Dip

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannelli beans, drained and rinsed (cannelli beans also go by Northern Beans or white beans)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest (from one medium-large lemon)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimiento (I used 1/2 of a pickled jalapeno instead, finely diced + 1/2 tsp. of the jalapeno pickling juice)
  • 2 tbsp. minced parsley leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I used Himalayan Pink salt)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, combine beans, garlic, zest, lemon juice, and oil; blend until very smooth.
  2. Place in a small bowl, then stir in pimientos, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  3. Serve at room temperature with pita crisps, tortilla chips, or crackers.

SOURCE: 200 Appetizers by Donna Kelly and Sandra Hoopes

Pita Chips

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package pita bread (about 8 pitas), white or wheat
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Stir to thoroughly  mix. Using pastry brush, spread mixture onto both sides of each pita.
  2. Stack pita bread, then use a large knife to cut pitas into 6-8 wedges. Arrange wedges in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, though!

Honey Mustard Pretzel Crunch

Superbowl mania–not my thing. Food? Yes. So allow me to share a superb Superbowl munchie with you: Honey Mustard Pretzel Crunch.

Honey Mustard Pretzel Snack Mix

Honey Mustard Pretzel Snack Mix with a touch of heat from chile powder

Last summer I attended a food fest to launch the Hatch Chile Cookbook from Melissa’s Produce, and this snack mix graced the tables laden with bowls and platters of goodies that each included some form of Hatch chiles. It scores big points for yum factor and even more points for its addictive quality. It contains honey mustard pretzels, smoked almonds, and the not-so-overpowering surprise kick of chile. Somehow it all works, and it works amazingly well.

Butter and honey both flavor and bind all those yum factors together along with a quick bake in the oven. Don’t fret about the sticky state after you pull it out of the oven; once it cools, the initial stickiness disappears. Do fret, though, about making enough as your guests will gobble it down very quickly (as did the guests at a recent book club meeting)!

Since this snack mix requires both honey mustard pretzels (did you know you can buy those at the bulk bins at Sprouts?) and smoked almonds, it amounts to a splurge but a deliciously worthy one.

Honey Mustard Pretzel Snack Mix

Honey Mustard Pretzel Crunch

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 (12-ounce) packages honey mustard and onion flavor pretzel pieces (I used 18 ounces and reduced the amount of almonds to compensate)
  • 3 (6-ounce) cans smoked almonds (I used 12 ounces rather than 18 ounces)
  • 2 tbsp. chile powder (I used Melissa’s Hatch Chile Powder)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a couple baking sheets (I used two 10X15 inch sheets) with parchment paper (or lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking oil).
  2. Combine honey and butter in a small saucepan; heat over low flame until butter melts, stirring to blend. Alternatively, combine butter and honey in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 15-30 second increments until butter melts, then stir between each microwave heating interval.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, almonds, and chile powder. Add honey and butter mixture; mix well. Spread the pretzels/almonds in a single layer on the baking sheets; bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Allow snack mix to cool completely. Break into chunks and transfer to a serving bowl.

SOURCE: Hatch Chile Cookbook from Melissa’s Produce

Mashed Cauliflower (truly imitates Mashed Potatoes!)

In addition to taking longer than I thought to get this Mashed Cauliflower post up, it has also taken me awhile to get around to trying this recipe in the first place…like several years!

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower mimics mashed potatoes in flavor and appearance–really!

So glad I did finally try it, though. It tastes as great as everyone has said. Truly, it tastes like mashed potatoes, its claim to fame.

You can dress it simply, with just a pat of butter and some salt and pepper. Or you can add yummy ingredients such as cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, assorted herbs and spices… I added a touch of parsley to jazz up the appearance. If I’d had chives, I would have tried that instead.

Upon first bite, I didn’t think it paralleled mashed potatoes. However, after keeping it warm in the oven for about an hour and then tasting it again with the Beef Wellington dinner extravaganza, I forgot that cauliflower served as the star of the dish. And hubby thought it was mashed taters until I told him it was actually cauliflower!

So, if you haven’t tried these yet, please do! If you love smooth and buttery mashed taters, this mashed cauliflower will surprise the heck out of you because it genuinely resembles mashed potatoes, both in appearance and flavor.

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (probably about 1 cup)
  • 2-3 ounces (about 1/4 cup) cream cheese (depends on how much tangy flavor you like)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut cauliflower into florets, rinse under cold water, then steam them, along with garlic cloves, using your favorite steaming method (steam basket in a saucepan over heat, microwave, or steam in about an inch of water or broth). Steam until tender.
  2. After draining cauliflower and while the florets are still hot, place in the bowl of a food processor along with garlic cloves. Puree until smooth.
  3. Add Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, butter, and parsley. Puree until all ingredients are blended.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Note: If not serving immediately, you can either store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for a couple days and heat in the oven when ready to eat. Or, cover with foil and place in the oven at low temperature to keep warm for about an hour.

SOURCE: Maria’s compilation