Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sautéed Baby Squash with Basil and Feta

Oh how I love thee, my feta cheese!
Our garden is overflowing with summer squash. (The other day my kids took two wagon loads to neighbors to try to thin our squash supply.) This recipe is a perfect way to eat your crook-neck squash even if you're so sick of eating squash you secretly want your plants to die. I've also attempted to grow an herb garden this year and the fresh basil tastes great. (Don't be shy in adding plenty of basil as it's flavor is surprisingly subtle.) Enjoy!!

Sautéed Baby Squash with Basil and Feta

(Recipe courtesy
Cooking Light April 2008, photo courtesy Taste and Tell)

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups baby pattypan squash, halved (about 18 ounces)
2 cups sliced leek (about 2)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat; heat 20 seconds. Add squash and leek to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in salt and pepper. Transfer squash mixture to a serving platter. Sprinkle with cheese and basil.

Carrot Cake

We celebrated my husband's birthday with this divine dessert. I am not a huge fan of cakes and carrot cake is normally a cake I wouldn't request but this recipe is so good! Carrot cakes in my opinion usually have a somewhat dry and coarse texture but the use of yogurt really adds moisture to this recipe. I especially loved the caramelized crispy edging of the cake so I only frosted the top of the cake and left the sides alone in their crispiness. The Food Network strikes again!

Carrot Cake

Unsalted butter, for the pan
12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
3 large eggs
6 ounces plain yogurt
6 ounces vegetable oil
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.

In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt. With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Yield: approximately 2 cups

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mongolian Beef

I went searching the other night for a good Mongolian Beef recipe. In truth, I was looking for something as similar to PF Chang's as possible and THIS IS IT!! Delicious!

PF Chang's Mongolian Beef

2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil

1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large green onions

Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of oil in medium saucepan over med/low heat. Don't get the oil too hot or you'll get spatter when adding the other liquids. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4 inch thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a 45 degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch and apply a thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks. (I just tossed cornstarch in a Ziploc bag with the beef and gave it a good shake. This was much faster then individually dipping the meat.)

As the beef sits, heat one cup of oil in a wok (or skillet). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and saute for 2 minutes or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. You don't need a thorough cooking here since the beef will go back on the heat later. Stir the meat around a little so it cooks evenly. After a couple of minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and place it on paper towels, then discard the leftover oil.

Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and simmer for one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions. Cook for one more
minute, then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate.

You can also substitute chicken for the beef, if you prefer it.

*I wanted to serve this with broccoli so I steamed some and layered it between the rice and the beef. Yummy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Warm Asparagus and New Potato Salad

We ate this warm potato salad for dinner tonight with baby potatoes from my garden. I never knew fresh potatoes could taste so good! I was hesitant when I read that blue cheese is the topping for this yummy salad but if you buy a good quality cheese the taste really compliments the potatoes.
Warm Asparagus and New Potato Salad
(Recipe courtesy of AOL Foods)
  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths and steamed until just tender
  • 1 lb small new potatoes (red or brown), unpeeled, boiled in salted water to cover until just tender, about 10 minutes, drained, and halved or quartered depending on size
  • 1 bunch (6-8) green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 crumbled blue cheese
In a large bowl toss together the asparagus, potatoes and green onions. Season well with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl beat together the parsley, oil and vinegar. Toss some of the dressing with the vegetables. Continue to add dressing until the salad is well moistened.  Serve just warm, topped with the blue cheese.
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