Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

I'm slowly venturing into my own uncharted territory of eating eggplants. I don't know if it's my unfamiliarity with the squash or previous negative experiences but I fear eating eggplant. So...this middle eastern eggplant salad was a giant leap for me. Yum! I'm glad I took this jump. This salad is easy to make and surprisingly kid friendly seeing as my kids ate it up.

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Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

2 medium red bell peppers
1 medium tomato, peeled and seeded
3 Tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Dash of ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat broiler.
Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop.
Place tomato in a blender; process until smooth. Combine tomato puree, tomato paste, 2 Tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground red pepper, and garlic in a blender; process until smooth.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add eggplant; cook 30 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in bell pepper and tomato mixture. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper.

Who Dished it first? Cooking Light, July 2009

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cranburgers

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. If you have any leftover cranberry sauce or turkey gravy then I have the recipe for you.

My first reaction to this recipe was definitely not positive. I'm not a huge fan of cranberry sauce, especially jellied cranberry sauce. My husband on the other hand loves the mixture of cranberries and turkey. In honor of his taste preferences and because I love a good hamburger I decided to make this meal.

The verdict: Thanksgiving dinner in a bun. Serious!

The patties are moist and packed with Thanksgiving flavors of thyme, turkey, cranberry, and even gravy. I would definitely cook these in a fry pan instead of a grill because I'm not sure how well they will would hold together. The burgers held for me but they were delicate. I overlooked adding oil to my fry pan and since turkey is a leaner meat the patties were stickier than I would have liked so be sure to add the oil.

The best compliment I can hope for is my husband sincerely praising the dinner after each bite he takes.  This meal hit that nail on the head! He L.O.V.E.D. it! Gravy and jellied cranberry on a turkey burger. You might be surprised. No, you will be surprised.

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My photo was not pretty. It looked like a gravy bleeding burger. This photo is courtesy of Taste of Home.
Cranburgers

1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 cup turkey-flavored stuffing mix
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1-1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1 Tbsp. oil
6 lettuce leaves
6 hamburger buns
1/3 cup turkey gravy, warmed
6 slices jellied cranberry sauce

In a large bowl combine whole-berry cranberry sauce, stuffing mix and thyme. Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well. Shape into six patties.

In a large skillet, cook burgers in oil over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees and juices run clear.

Place burgers on lettuce-lined buns; top with a spoonful of gravy and a slice of cranberry sauce.

Who Dished it first? Taste of Home magazine October/November 2010

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baked Caramel French Toast

I love easy morning breakfasts that are warm and delicious. This breakfast casserole recipe includes preparing the dish the night before using a loaf of French bread and baking it in the morning.  Easy! I've eaten many variations similar to this but most use eggs as a main ingredient whereas the focus of this dish is bread and caramel. Delicious!

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Baked Caramel French Toast

1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1 inch slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup

Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish; arrange the slices of bread in the dish. In a large bowl beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.

Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Who Dished it first? AllRecipes

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Nerd Ice Cream Sandwiches

We still have a lot of Halloween candy in our house. I handed out 900+ pieces one by one to the swarm of kids at my door and I'm not exaggerating. My kids even donated some of their candy loot to the pot but we still have candy to get rid of. So, since I can't make these sweets go away as fast as I want we'll just eat and enjoy.

My kids were so excited when I told them what I made for dessert. Nerd ice cream sandwiches! Chocolate, ice cream, and candy all in one. What kid wouldn't be happy to eat one of these? My kids were all too willing to pull out their Halloween candy, contribute the Nerds, and roll away.

I liked the tart flavor and crunch the Nerds add to the cookie sandwich. The cookies held together when squished but I thought they were somewhat dry. The ice cream covered the dryness of the cookie but eaten alone (I snuck a bite fresh from the oven) they were not as enjoyable. Possibly they're meant to be dry so they don't crumble under the pressure (lame joke) or I might have over-baked them. Either way, the dough is fabulously rich in bittersweet chocolate flavor and we enjoyed our sweet treat.

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Nerd Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups tiny tart candies such as Nerds

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
Drop 24 slightly rounded Tbsps of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until firm around the egdes but slightly soft in the middle, 9 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Form sandwiches with 2 cookies and 1/4 cup ice cream. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes or up to 1 day. Before serving, place the candies in a bowl and roll the edge of the ice cream in the candies to coat.

Womens Day (October 17, 2011 magazine)

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Curry-Tomato Sauce with Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Chickpeas

In an attempt to eat healthier, save dollars, and rotate my long-term food storage I'm making an effort to cook more meatless meals. This dish is one of my new favorites. De-li-cious!!


What I love about this curry spaghetti meal is:

  • The whole wheat pasta adds a great nutty flavor to the dish.
  • I didn't have curry powder on hand so I used the substitution of the 5 spices listed below. I really liked the fresh flavor of the spices versus premixed curry and will definitely be using this fresh mixture in the future.
  • The fresh goat cheese topping adds a tart flavor that completes the blend of pepper heat and warm curry.
  • The Hawaiian chile pepper I had on hand is very hot so for the my kids' benefit I substituted a shake of cayenne pepper to give the dish some kick but not too much.
  • Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas. ("Tomato. Tomahto.") I love these little beans. They add a solidity to this dish making it more than just noodles and sauce. They're like the meatball to this Mediterranean pasta.


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Curry-Tomato Sauce with Whole Wheat Spaghetti and Chickpeas


1 lb whole wheat or other whole grain spaghetti
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 fresno or other fresh chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp mild curry powder (or about 2 tsp turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp each ground cumin and coriander, and a scant 1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and cardamom)
1/2 cup dry white wine, chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 can (28 to 32 oz) san marzano tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained
Grated aged goat cheese or tangy pecarino-romano cheese, for topping
Flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it and add the pasta. Cook to al dente; drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chile pepper and garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the curry powder (or your own curry blend) amd season the salt. Stir to toast the spices for a minute. Deglaze the pan with the stock.

Add the tomatoes and crush with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced, 15 to 20 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the sauce and reserved pasta cooking water to combine. Top with the cheese and parsley (or cilantro).

Who Dished it first? Rachael Ray

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing

I love green salads, preferably made with romaine or green leaf. For me Iceberg is like eating crunchy water and lacks the high vitamin content I want while spinach really feels too similar to eating leaves. I know, I am eating leaves. I just don't want to feel like I'm eating leaves. Know what I mean?

If you want your dark green leafy veggies but don't want to feel like a rabbit as my husband puts it, here's a fun way to eat your greens and enjoy great flavor. Kale is a vitamin-rich leafy green that's crisp and firm (not wilty like spinach) and the strong flavor of the leaf is masked by the peanut dressing. My husband the devout carnivore had seconds of this salad and I even heard a compliment or two.

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Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing

2 large bunches curly kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups)
1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper
2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup vegetalbe oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup salted peanuts
2 Tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup salted peanuts

Toss 2 large bunches curly kale, center ribs discarded, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups); 1 yellow, orange or red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, halved crosswise and thinly sliced lengthwise; and 2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise, in a large bowl.

Puree 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup salted peanuts, 2 Tablespoons packed light-brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in a blender until smooth.
Pour dressing over vegetables just before serving. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped.

Who Dished it first? Martha Stewart

Monday, November 14, 2011

Persimmon Milkshake

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Persimmons. This month I received some in my veggie/fruit coop box and didn't know what to do! Last year I made a bundt cake that was good but not my favorite. This year my persimmons sat on my counter waiting. They do make great fall decorations! These cute little orange fruits with a star center are so new to me I just don't know how to eat them. Some like their taste plain like apple slices but we're not yet accustomed to their taste.
When my neighbor sent me her recipe for persimmon milkshakes I was excited to try it out. This shake is sweet and light with a very distinct cinnamon flavor that reminds me of Christmas. Plus, it is low in calories without added sugar. Mmmm!

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Persimmon Milkshake

1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tray of ice (12 cubes)
2 persimmons, quartered
1 banana
dash of nutmeg
big pinch of cinnamon
add sugar if your banana is not sweet

Blend all ingredients until frothy and serve immediately.

Who Dished it first? My neighbor, the very one who introduced me to persimmons.
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