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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quinoa Chili

So yummy and filling.  The flavors just blend together perfectly.

3 cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained (or whatever beans you like)
1 T canola or olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced (or 2 small/medium onions)
2 sweet green or red peppers, chopped
3 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in warm water &amp drained;
1-1 1/2 cup frozen corn
2 cans tomato sauce (12 oz)
2 cups water

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté until tender and starting to caramelize 5+ minutes. Add salt, garlic, pepper and spices; sauté for 5 more minutes. Add rinsed quinoa and stir in. Add corn, tomato sauce, and water.  Simmer together 20 minutes. Add beans to the pot and simmer another 10 minutes. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, sliced avocadoes or whatever else you like to put on chili.  Makes 6-8 (1 Cup) Servings.  From Feed Your Family.  Excellent served with corn chip dippers or corn bread.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chocolate Monkey Smoothie

This is one of Curly's favorite snacks.  It sounds a bit strange, but it's totally good!  It's also a great way to get kids to eat a LOT of spinach!!!

1-2 ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups of milk (I like to use vanilla soymilk)
3+ Tablespoons of Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 cup of fresh baby spinach (I usually just put in a big handful but you can adapt to taste)

Put all the ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth (ideally until you no longer see little green flecks from the spinach and everything is well incoprated) about 2 minutes.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Old Fashioned Coconut Cream Pie

A super coconutty and creamy pie that will definitely be making frequent appearances on our table if Baldy has anything to say about it! Makes a 9 inch pie. From My Kitchen Cafe.

1 can coconut milk
Half-and-half or heavy cream (enough to add to the coconut milk to make 3 cups)
3 egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 recipe graham cracker crust
Fresh Whipped Cream, lightly sweetened (1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract).

In a medium saucepan, combine half and half, coconut milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Bring to a boil over medium to medium-low heat, stirring frequently at first, then constantly as mixture starts to thicken and begins to simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. Once mixture simmers, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer.  Mixture will become very thick. Remove from heat, and stir in ¾ cup of the toasted coconut, coconut extract and the vanilla extract. Pour into baked and cooled graham cracker crust and chill 2-4 hours covered with plastic wrap. Top with whipped cream and the remaining ¼ cup of toasted coconut.

*To toast coconut, spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake at 325 degrees, tossing often, until lightly toasted, about 5-10 minutes. Watch closely it will turn golden quickly, lower oven to 300 degrees if using a dark non-stick pan.

Baked Manicotti

This really is an amazing recipe. It's innovative because it uses no bake lasagna noodles to roll up the cheesy yummy filling instead of trying to stuff the tricky manicotti tubes. The homemade tomato sauce is amazing.  We love it so much that we have also used it for plain spaghetti or on pizza.   Serves 6 to 8 Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and My Kitchen Cafe.

Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (in juice)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried basil

Cheese Filling and Pasta
3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (I usually use 1/2 teaspoon dried basil)
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I use the Barilla brand – apparently they are supposed to be the most similar to homemade pasta and I love them, both in this and in lasagna)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan chese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs; set aside.

To assemble, pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.

Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Using soupspoon, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. (You should be able to fit 8 manicotti in each row, allowing all 16 to fit in the dish). Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.

Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

The manicotti can be prepared right up until the baking step then covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Graham Cracker Crust

Graham Cracker Crust
9 graham crackers , broken into rough pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and warm

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In food processor, process graham crackers until evenly fine, about 30 seconds (you should have 1 cup crumbs). Add sugar and combine. Then add warm melted butter in steady stream; stirring until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer crumbs to 9-inch glass pie plate; form crust using 1/2-cup dry measuring cup to help pack down and mold crumbs to the pie plate. Bake crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 15 to 18 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool completely while making filling.

Chinese Chicken Salad

A yummy entree salad recipe from Jill Hunter.  This recipe feeds 6 adults as a full meal (aka it makes a lot).  Excellent served with a side of pot stickers.

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 head of iceberg lettuce, torn
1 head of redleaf lettuce, torn
1/2 package of wonton wrappers, cut into strips (about thirds) and fried*

1 cup of canola oil (or less, Jill often uses about 3/4 of a cup)
3/4 cup of seasoned rice vinegar (found in the Asian food section)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 cup of sugar (or less to taste)
4-6 green onions, cut into 2 inch pieces (Jill usually doesn't cut them)

Put all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Then toss the lettuce, chicken, wontons in a large bowl.  Right before serving add the dressing.

*To fry the wontons, warm up oil over medium high heat.  Place a couple in and let them puff up and brown on one side for about a minute.  Watch that they don't burn.  Then flip them over with tongs and cook the other side.  Remove and let cool on paper towels.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Buttermilk Cornbread

This is our favorite cornbread--super moist with just the right amount of sweetness.  Definitely my go-to recipe if I have buttermilk (it really does taste better with real buttermilk).  It stands on its own or is excellent with soup, chili, honey, butter, or honey butter.  From Favorites, Ivory Family Recipes.

1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir together and pour into greased *9-inch square pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Original recipes calls for an 8-inch pan and baking for 30 minutes.  I just prefer it a little less tall and a little less baking time.

Cranberry Lemon Scones

·          1½ T freshly grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
·          2½  cups all-purpose flour
·          ½ cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries
·          1 tablespoon baking powder
·          ½ teaspoon salt
·          ¾ stick (6T) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
·          1¼  cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse
·          1 large egg
·          1 large egg yolk
·          1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  With a vegetable peeler or box grater remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.  In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl (Since I don't own a large food processor I use my pastry cutter).  In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture.  In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Dough will be sticky.  On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary.  I've also patted the dough in a 1-inch-thick round and then cut it into wedge shapes. Arrange rounds or wedges about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Favorite Pizza Crust

I've tried lots of other crusts and just keep coming back to this one.  I love it's taste.  I love that it's super easy.  I love that I can make it ahead of time (like during nap time) and then quickly add the toppings during that last minute dinner rush.  I love that it works great with whole wheat flour, uses honey instead of sugar.  It's my ideal thickness--a thin crust but still not too crispy.  It holds its own on many different kinds of pizzas from traditional pepperoni to simpler pizza margarita.  from Favorites, Ivory Family Recipes

***Update 10/5/12 this is still my preferred recipe if I want the crust half-cooked beforehand for quicker prep right before dinner or a pizza lunch party or something.  But we prefer the Whole Wheat recipe more overall.***

Time: 15 minutes prep, 15-20 minutes rising, 12 minutes baking
Makes: 2 medium pizza crusts

• 1 T or 1 package dry yeast
• ¼ c warm water
(it should feel warm on the inside of your wrist).
• 2½-3 c flour
(I like to do about half wheat & white)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 T olive oil
• 2 T honey
• ¾ c cold water
• Corn meal

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for 10 minutes (yeast should be a bit bubbly or foamy after 10 minutes).
2. Meanwhile in a mixing bowl combine 2 ½ cups of flour, salt, olive oil, honey, and cold water.
3. Add yeast mixture and knead with dough hooks for about 2 minutes or by hand for 5 minutes, adding a little more flour if needed.  Dough should pull away from sides of bowl and make a slapping sound.
4. Form dough into a ball and place in a oiled bowl. Then flip dough over so some oil is on top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise for about 1 hour. (Longer with whole wheat flour).  If a longer rising time is needed, you can put the dough in the refrigerator for several hours after its risen for at least 45 minutes at room temperature.
5. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 12 inch pizza round. Place dough on a cookie sheet lightly oiled and sprinkled with corn meal or use non-stick spray.  (Note:  you can freeze the dough at this point to use another day. Just wrap tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Then pull them out the night before or morning  you want to use it and let thaw in the fridge. We often make this recipe and eat one crust for dinner and freeze one for later).
6. Prebake crust for 10 minutes at 425 degrees*
7. Add pizza toppings as desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted.

*Note you can also prebake and bake this crust on a pizza stone.  Just preheat the stone in the oven for at least half an hour at 475 or 500 degrees.  It seems to work better for this recipe to have the stone on the middle rack of the oven.