Monday, March 29, 2010

Coconut and Cashew Quinoa

This is one of those recipes that isn't really...that is, I knew what I wanted to serve with our caribbean-seasoned halibut but couldn't find an exact recipe for it anywhere, so I threw this together. Therefore, I have no idea what actual amounts of spices, etc, were used so just do it to taste and make it what you want it to be. The overall combo of flavors was delicious, so hopefully I can re-create it the same way next time!

1 cup dry whole wheat quinoa + 1 1/4 cups water, cooked according to directions

1/4 yellow onion, cut into thin slices
1 - 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash
sea salt
red pepper flakes
cinnamon (just a dash)
chili powder (just a dash)

~1/4 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted
~1/4-1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews

1. Make quinoa according to package instructions
2. Saute squash, onion, and spices over medium heat, adding water/pam/oil to keep from sticking if necessary. Cook til onions are translucent. (Can add some bits of spinach to wilt at the end too, if desired).
3. Toast coconut and cashews in the oven for a few minutes.
4. Top quinoa with squash mixture, then top both with the coconut and cashews

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Bacon Cookies

Quick recipe I just threw together with some leftovers from other baking projects:

Favorite chocolate chip cookie dough
candied bacon
1 bacon chocolate bar, crushed into chunks
sea salt

Prepare batter as directed, stir in desired amount of bacon chocolate and candied bacon. Sprinkle with small amount of sea salt.
Bake until golden brown on edges.

Butterscotch Cashew Bars

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 ¼ tsp salt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
11 ounces butterscotch chips
¾ cup light corn syrup*
1 TBSP plus 1 tsp water
2 cups roasted salted whole cashews

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x 13″ pan with cooking spray.
Using two sheets of parchment paper, line the pan’s width and length, creating a parchment “sling.” Spray parchment paper with cooking spray.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and salt for 1 to 1 & 1/2 minutes. Decrease mixer speed to low and add the flour. Mix just until combined. Lightly press dough evenly into the prepared pan. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a golden color. Remove to wire rack to cool.
In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir together butterscotch chips, corn syrup, and water. Stir until mixture comes to a simmer and butterscotch chips are melted. Pour over crust.
Sprinkle cashews over the butterscotch caramel. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. After cooling, remove from pan and use a very sharp knife to cut into bars.Makes 2 dozen 2-inch bars.
Source:The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
* I was out of corn syrup and instead substituted 3/4 cup light brown sugar + a little less than 1/4 cup water + ~1/8 cup honey...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crab and Avocado Crostini

I made this recipe for a Happy Hour gathering we hosted at our house a few weeks ago. It is based on a Food Network recipe (by Brian Boitano...?!) but I tweaked it some. I thought it turned out pretty well and it got good reviews from guests.

1 loaf ficelle or thin French baguette
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
Those thick deep fried amazing tortilla chips from Whole Foods...

1 Meyer lemon, juiced (or a couple Tbsp of lemon juice work too)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and diced
1 avocado, halved, pitted and flesh diced
1 shallot, finely diced
1/4 - 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
8 ounces lump crabmeat

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Lightly brush the bread slices with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet fitted with a rack and bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before topping with the crab mixture.
[Or just use pre-made crostini or those delicious tortilla chips mentioned above...]

In a large bowl whisk together the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
Add the yellow pepper, the avocado, shallot, onion and the crabmeat to the lemon vinaigrette and toss gently, so as to not break up the crabmeat. Top the bread slices with about a tablespoon of the crab mixture and arrange on a serving platter

Mudslide Cupcakes

I modeled this recipe loosely after the Tiramisu cake recipe, tweaking some things and changing the flavors. They turned out surprising well -- definitely one I'll make again!

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 - 2/3 cup Kahlua (depending how strong of a flavor you prefer)
1/4 cup dark cocoa

Preheat oven to 350, line cupcake pans with paper liners
1. Combine cupcake ingredients as above, incorporating the dry after the wet until just combined.
2. Divide batter in half; add Kahlua and cocoa to one half of the batter.
3. Fill cups up about 1/2 way, with half and half vanilla and chocolate batter
4. Bake until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs, let cool.

Kahlua Mascarpone Frosting
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
4-oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat at medium-high speed until very smooth and fluffy. Use a butter knife or spatula to apply the frosting each cupcake in a thick, even layer. Roll in chocolate sprinkles if desired.

Dairy-Free Cinnamon Sugar Blondies

I adapted this recipe for a friend who can't eat dairy for awhile -- I think it turned out really well and can barely tell the difference from the original recipe!

Snickerdoodle Blondies
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (+~2Tbsp flour for alt)
2 teaspoons baking powder (-~1/2tsp for alt)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup vegan shortening spread, softened
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread 1/2 the batter evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish; might help to use Pam on your fingers to spread without sticking).
Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle ~2/3 cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.
Spread remaining batter over top, sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar mix on top.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool slightly. While still warm, cut into bars with a sharp knife.Yields: ~20-25 servings

St. Patty's Day Minty Green Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This is a recipe I threw together based on combinations of others -- feel free to tweak according to your taste for mint!

1 batch favorite chocolate chip cookie dough batter
2 cups dark chocolate chunks
1 tsp sea salt
1 - 2 Tbsp creme de menthe
1/2 - 1 tsp green food coloring

Make chocolate chip cookie dough according to directions
Mix in desired amount of creme de menthe, to taste.
Stir in green food coloring to desired color.
Gently stir in chocolate chunks and sea salt.
Roll into balls and bake til firm on edges; top with a sprinkle more of sea salt if desired.
(~350/9-11min at sea level, add another 2Tbsp or so of flour, 325/10-12min at altitude...timing depends on size of cookie)

Chicken Tikka Masala (with Savory Spice seasoning blend)

This is another recipe for which you need a seasoning blend from Savory Spice here in Colorado. Or you could try to piece together your own and follow the other steps listed here.
This turned out really well and we'll definitely be making it again!

Chicken Tikka Masala

4 tbsp. Tikka Masala powder
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
12oz bag frozen vegetables* 1lb. chicken breast, cubed into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup half & half [I used yogurt in place of this, but if you can eat dairy I'm sure half and half is better]
Either 1 1/2 tsp. honey powder and 3 1/2 tbsp. tomato powder mixed into 8 oz. water OR 1 1/2 tsp. honey and 8 oz. tomato sauce

Following an Alton Brown tip, we used a frozen vegetable product that can be microwaved in the unopened bag. Cooked a little less than halfway, they stay crisp and cut the final prep time down. We also have a vegan version of this recipe.

Convert tikka powder into paste by following the instructions on the label and set aside. If using, thoroughly mix tomato powder, honey powder and water into a smooth sauce and set aside. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium/high heat. Meanwhile, cook veggies in microwave for 2-2 1/2 minutes. Lightly brown chicken; lower heat to medium, add veggies and stir in tikka paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally. Next, stir in lemon juice, sea salt and tomato mixture and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Mix together yogurt and half & half in a small bowl. Reduce heat to a simmer and thoroughly stir in the yogurt mixture. Cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes stirring occasionally.

Even though the spice mix is pretty spicy, I added some additional red pepper flakes just to kick up the heat factor a touch more.

Serving Suggestions:
Over rice with chopped cilantro and pita, tortilla or naan bread. Start cooking rice simultaneously and it should be ready to serve when the tikka masala is complete.
Yields: 4 servings

Irish Soda Bread

I love Irish Soda Bread and make sure to bake up a fresh loaf for St. Patty's Day every year.
This year's recipe comes from Baking Bites, and I really like the addition of oats here. I think I could have adjusted for altitude a little bit better, as my bread was sort of gummy (not really surprising, as my dough stayed pretty sticky)...but I strangely sort of like gummy bread centers so it worked.
I basically followed the recipe as posted, except substituted whole wheat pastry flour for about half the flour amount. Eaten warm with some melted butter, this was just the Irish Soda Bread perfection I was hoping for!

Oats and Honey Irish Soda Bread
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour*
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Add in honey and buttermilk and stir until dough comes together. Stir in raisins. Dough should be only slightly sticky, so that it is easy to knead. If it is too dry, add an additional tbsp or two of buttermilk.
Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead it for 1-2 minutes, turning the dough, pressing it firmly with the heel of your hand, then turning the dough and repeating. Shape dough into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Flatten dough until it forms a disc about 1 - 1 1/2 inches thick.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until loaf is golden brown.
Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf, serves 6.
* I used 1cup + 2Tbsp AP flour [extra 2 Tbsp for alt] + 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Monday, March 1, 2010

Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This recipe is another that comes from Baking Bites -- it is fairly basic in preparation, but the dark chocolate and sea salt combo gives it a little something extra. I also like the addition of the finely ground oatmeal -- give the cookies a good/more substantial consistency without have huge oatmeal pieces in them.

Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cup salted dark chocolate, chopped or 1 bag dark chocolate chunks + 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place oatmeal in the food processor and whiz until very fine.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, ground oats, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and egg until smooth. With the mixer on low speed or working by hand, gradually add in all the flour mixture, stopping when the dough has just come together and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in chocolate chips.Place 1-inch balls of dough on baking sheet.Bake for 9-11 minutes, until just golden around the edges (don't overbake -- looking slightly uncooked in the middle is about right).
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen.

Nutella Fudge Crumble

I got this recipe from Eat My Cake Now -- I like it and think it turned out pretty well, after a minor adjustment or two. Also, this may be obvious, but you definitely need to like nutella for this. If you don't, I'd recommend swapping it for some sort of thick fudge sauce or something similar. But the cookie base and topping is very light and buttery and delicious, and the whole thing is pretty amazing served warm with vanilla ice cream.

240 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
160 g (2 cups) old-fashioned (rolled) oats
270 g (1 1/2 cups) brown sugar
5 ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder
1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt
200 g (1 cup) butter, melted
600 g (21 ounces) Nutella

1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F(180°C).
Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Whisk together the flour, old-fashioned oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.
Pour the melted butter and stir to incorporate the butter.
Set aside 1½ to 2 cups of the mixture, then turn the remaining dough into the buttered pan.
Gently press the dough over the bottom of the pan.
Pour the Nutella over the oatmeal crust, then scatter the remaining oatmeal mixture over the top.
Bake for 15 min, then drizzle 1/3 melted butter over the top of bars as evenly as possible.
Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool for about 1 hour.