Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

Returning from vacation is no fun.  Normally it is bad, but this time I literally felt like I jumped into a deep pool of cold water – I can hardly catch my breath.  I am just hoping that Friday gets here quickly – I am definitely looking forward to getting back to the kitchen – although I haven’t had a minute to think about what I will make.  That is a good problem to have.

We ate extremely well last week – so well, that when I went to the cafeteria yesterday (I actually had 10 minutes of free time to run downstairs), nothing looked appetizing.  I hate that.  I ended up with a salad – which worked out fine – but as I walked upstairs, I thought about the amazing Asparagus Souffle I had for lunch the previous Monday.  Every bite was perfect – and just melted in my mouth.  I can’t wait to go back for more.

Before we left on vacation, my husband was travelling for work – which means break out the pasta and the dairy.  This time I let the girls make all the decisions, and I must say they did quite well picking out our dinners – this one from Cooking Light.  Chicken Tetrazzini is one of those dishes that I often crave.  There is nothing quite like a big casserole of noodles, chicken and a tasty white creamy sauce.  The girls were not thrilled with the peas, but they ate most of them anyway because the rest of the dish was so delicious.  This was a little more involved than I thought it would be – but completely worth it.  The best part, this definitely serves a crowd – we invited our neighbors over at the last minute, and we still had leftovers.  Exactly what I could use this week…

Ingredients

  • 10 ounce uncooked linguine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk
  • 2.5 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 ounces French bread baguette, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add stock and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cream cheese, salt, and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, garlic, and thyme; sauté 3 minutes. Add wine; cook 1 minute. Combine milk mixture, mushroom mixture, pasta, chicken, and peas; toss to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in a food processor; drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Process until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano; sprinkle evenly over pasta. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Top with parsley.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken Tetrazzini

About these ads

Meyer Lemon and Mango Sorbet

Meyer Lemon and Mango Sorbet

Sometimes you just need a little mango in your life.  It is spring, and the markets are starting to carry all the different produce that just make you want to have a picnic, or open your windows and let that spring air come through.  Of course in Seattle we get a few days here and there, but for the most part it stays cold and rainy until July.  So, we have to do other things to make us think that the sun is shining brightly outdoors.

My daughters love dessert – but what they love even more is getting dessert at a fancy restaurant.  They don’t get to go to fancy restaurants all that often, in fact, hardly ever.  I think because of that, it is even more special.  It just so happens that recently my younger daughter had the privilege of eating somewhere very unique – and for dessert she ordered mango sorbet.  Well, that in and of itself would have been exciting enough, but they brought the sorbet with a beautiful assortment of fresh fruit, and a delicious madeleine.  I swear she has never looked more excited.  She was almost squealing with delight at the thought of digging into this.  She enjoyed it immensely, and it was so much fun to watch.

The other week I was at the market and they had the most beautiful meyer lemons you have ever seen.  They were almost orange in color, and just as soft as can be.  I immediately grabbed them and then slowly walked around the produce section deciding what to do with them.  It was when I saw the pile of mangos that it hit me.  A meyer lemon and mango sorbet – yes!  It was so easy to make up this recipe, I basically just threw the ingredients in a blender then off to the ice cream maker.  It was delicious – entirely spring tasting, and just such a treat.  There is nothing like being able to whip up a batch of sunshine whenever you need to…

Ingredients

  • 2 mangos (about 2 cups of cut up mango)
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice

Preparation

To make the simple syrup, put 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan.  Heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Cool completely.  Add mangos, simple syrup and lemon juice in a blender and puree until smooth.  Put in the refrigerator until nicely chilled.  Add the mango mixture to an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Freeze for about 4 hours before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Meyer Lemon and Mango Sorbet

Fruit-Filled Scuffins

Scuffins

I am not even sure what this are called, but I love taking two baked goods and combining them.  Not that I have done it often, but I am dying to create my own.  Ever since I posted these, I have been racking my brain for what other fusions I could make.  For some reason I have been in this complete brain lock.  I can’t think of anything!  I know when I least expect it, something will come to me. I would like to know how someone thought of the cronut – just brilliant.  Come on, who wouldn’t love a croissant that ran into a donut.

So needless to say, I was super excited when my good friend emailed me about the Scuffins that she found in the New York Times.  For some reason I keep wanting to call them Scruffins, but they are a combination of scones and muffins – so there you have it. These sounded amazing, but seriously, these were really made for me.  As I stood in the pantry trying to decide which type of jam I would use, I suddenly felt like this is what I had been waiting for.  I ended up using some Damson Plum Jam and Strawberry Vanilla Jam.  Both excellent choices.

They came out wonderfully – they were slightly heavier than muffins, though slightly lighter than scones.  My daughter was super excited about having breakfast treats, and rationed them out.  She warmed them up for a few seconds in the microwave each morning, and she said they were great.  So, there goes another one – there must be more – what about a cookcake? A cookie meets a cupcake?  Or maybe it should be called a cakie?

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons for buttering muffin cups
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal or wheat germ (1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown or raw sugar (2 ounces), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup fruit jam, conserves, preserves or fruit butter (do not use jelly or marmalade)

Preparation

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave or over very gentle heat. Using a pastry brush, butter the cups of a standard-size (3 1/2-ounce-capacity) 12-cup muffin tin. Let each coat of butter cool, then apply another coat; continue until the 2 tablespoons are all used.

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter, add to dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk and cream. Add to dry ingredients and mix to combine (the dough will be quite sticky).

Reserving about a quarter of the dough for topping, scoop 2 tablespoons dough into each cup. Using the back of a spoon, press dough gently down into the cups. The dough will move up the sides, and there should be a shallow well in each dough cup. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the top; there should be about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the dough and the rim of the cup.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon jam into each well. Using your fingers, pinch remaining dough into small clumps and scatter evenly over the jam in each cup, making a bumpy topping. Sprinkle sugar over the tops.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack; run a blade around the sides of each scuffin before turning out.
Yield 12 scuffins

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fruit-Filled Scuffins

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet potatoes are a bit of an enigma to me.  I always thought that sweet potatoes were orange, but then one day I bought some and was surprised when I peeled one that the flesh looked just a tiny bit more orange than a regular potato.  It was the skin that was different.  For some reason I thought the magic would happen when the potato cooked – but seriously, I am not sure what I was thinking.  The cooked potato looked exactly like the raw one – and it wasn’t orange.

The next time I was in the market to buy some sweet potatoes, I noticed how the yams were different – the flesh actually looked orange.  So, that’s what I bought – and sure enough, it was as orange as can be.  And absolutely beautiful.  Ok, so I know that sweet potatoes and yams are supposed to taste the same, but for some reason the orange yams taste better to me.  It is amazing what a little color can do to your taste buds.  Ok, this has got to just be in my head.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and it was the color that attracted me.  I am not a huge sweet potato soup fan, but I knew that with a color like that, and some bacon crumbles – how could I not love it.  It was a very simple soup – one of the simplest I have made – but the recipe was all wrong.  It called for sweet potatoes, and I knew that if I really used them, it would have no color at all.  So – I used yams – and sure enough, orange like the sun.  This soup was not only delicious, but as my neighbor described it – velvety – and that was exactly the texture.  The bacon crumbles gave it a nice salty taste that was a perfect balance with the sweet soup.  The only thing left to change now, is the name…but Creamy Yam Soup just doesn’t sound as good, right?

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds yams, halved lengthwise (about 2 large)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

Preparation

Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave-safe baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 1 minute or until translucent. Stir in cumin and red pepper. Add stock to pan; bring to a boil. Place half of sweet potato and half of stock mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters); blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining sweet potato and stock mixture. Stir in salt. Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese evenly over top. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Johnnycake Bread

Johnnycake Bread

What exactly is an “acquired taste?”  I use the phrase when I am describing something that I didn’t like at first, and then it grew on me.  I wouldn’t say I can put my finger on too many things like that, although artichokes definitely come to mind.  I remember sort of liking them the first time I tried one, and then over the years they completely grew on me to the point that I now consider them almost a delicacy.  My daughters were exactly the same way – the first time they weren’t crazy about them, but now they beg me to buy them in the market at this time of the year.

My daughter is still on this breakfast treat kick that she has been on for quite a while.  She just thinks that it is much easier to enjoy a slice of banana bread or a muffin in the morning, than to take the time to make toast, or even eat a bowl of cereal.  When your bus comes at 7:10 in the morning, I think there is always a little bit of a panic…what if I don’t have time to eat breakfast at home, what could I throw in my backpack and eat on the way?

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit ages ago, and it has been sitting patiently in the pantry waiting for its chance.  I didn’t think it looked overly sweet, but for some reason I was intrigued.  When my daughter asked what I was going to make for breakfast for her – I showed her the recipe.  She didn’t say no, which I thought was a good sign.

I absolutely LOVED this bread.  It was the cross between a brown bread and a cornbread.  Now, there was a certain way to eat this though after the first day and it was hot out of the oven.  I actually toasted this with some butter – and it sung in my mouth.  The best part, you can enjoy this bread at any meal.  The more I ate it, the more I loved it.  My daughter on the other hand took one bite, and that was enough.  This was not her type of breakfast treat.  Cereal for her.  Oh well, I guess my acquired taste was not contagious in this case.  Hey, more Johnnycake Bread for me…!!

Ingredients

  • ¼  cup vegetable oil, plus more for pans
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple sugar or raw sugar

Preparation

Heat oven to 325°. Lightly oil two 5×2½” loaf pans (or one 8½x4½” loaf pan). Whisk flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add eggs, milk, molasses, and ¼ cup oil, and whisk in dry ingredients. Divide between pans. Sprinkle with maple sugar.
Bake breads until golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes for small loaves (50–55 minutes for large loaf). Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before turning out.

Do Ahead:  Breads can be made 1 day ahead. Store wrapped tightly at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Johnnycake Bread

Crispy Broccoli-Carrot Fritters

Crispy Broccoli-Carrot Fritters

My daughters are very adventurous eaters – compared to most kids their age.  Last night when we were driving home, I asked my younger daughter was she wanted for dinner, and would you believe she asked me to make something new?  What 8 year old asks for that?  I would have expected her to say – macaroni and cheese, pizza or a big cheese quesadilla – but no, she wanted to try something different.  I guess I dug my own grave there.

I love that they are willing to try just about anything – now, that doesn’t mean they like everything – but at least they are open to trying.  There are a few things though that each of them still won’t touch with a 10 foot poll.  The problem is that they are not obscure things – they are the basics.  Fortunately there are not that many – although they usually are in the vegetable category.  My younger daughter can’t stand cooked carrots.  She actually likes them raw – but cook them, and forget it.  She hates the taste, but more than that she complains about the texture.  Go figure.

In the fall we have a tradition of going to a German restaurant to get some delicious Schnitzel.  We used to drive all the way across town to go to this place we loved, but over the years it just went downhill.  So this year we decided to try a new place that had just opened up in our neighborhood.  It is a great neighborhood joint, and the owner is from Germany.  The food is delicious – and he plays this little game with the kids.  If you eat all of your carrots, you get a big plate of Gummy Bears topped with whipped cream.  Wow, that was quite a dilemma.  Of course my older daughter wasted no time eating her carrots.  She saw the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – but my younger daughter just couldn’t do it.  The owner came back to the table quite a few times, and told her she had to eat her carrots, and I swear she almost burst into tears.  We made her eat one, and seriously that was all I could watch.  We helped her with the rest so she could also get her treat.  There was no way we were leaving that place without the prize.

Recently I was looking through Cooking Light, and found this recipe that looked just scrumptious.  Ok, just about anything fried has me sold - but then dipping it into a yogurt dill sauce?  Come on.  So, I had to give these a try.  I knew that keeping the carrots in the recipe was risky, but I figured if she can eat them here, that is at least a start.  Would you believe she actually scarfed these down completely?  She loved every bit of them, and remarked that she couldn’t even taste the carrots – score!  It is the little victories that count – and the fact that she was willing to give them a try.  I will give her a pot of gold for that any day.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1.5 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Preparation

Place 4 cups water, broccoli, and carrots in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes; drain. Pat broccoli mixture dry with paper towels; finely chop. Place broccoli mixture and flour in a large bowl; stir to coat. Add cheese, salt, pepper, onions, and egg to broccoli mixture; stir to combine.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Spoon 1/4 cup broccoli mixture into a dry measuring cup. Pour mixture into pan; flatten slightly. Repeat procedure 7 times to form 8 fritters. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Combine yogurt and dill in a small bowl. Serve yogurt mixture with fritters.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Crispy Broccoli-Carrot Fritters

Triple Nut Energy Bars

 

Triple Nut Energy Bars

It is amazing to me how biased people can become.  Not just on food, but on anything.  You buy something – you love it, and then all of a sudden everything that company makes is amazing.  Some people would call that brand loyalty, I would actually call it something different.  That can happen just as easily with people.  You are impressed by what someone does – and maybe that happens a few times, but is that a reason to let your guard down and think that everything that person does is mind-blowing?

It is hard to describe what I have experienced over the past several days – but in some ways, it has helped me tremendously to focus on what I want to do next.  There is no reason to sit back any longer.  I thought my plan was pretty clear before last night – but as the evening wore on, things solidified even more.  Last night I experienced something truly unique.  Something that many people will never have the opportunity to be a part of.  I felt honored to be included, and both my husband and I were blown away.  It was exactly what I needed – I swear the trees parted ways in my head.  I am on a mission, and I can hardly wait to get started.

Now of course there will be bumps in the road, but in any venture, it is all about how you recover.  As I have mentioned, I have been on a KIND Bar kick lately – every weekend I make a batch for the week.  Surprisingly we have not become sick of them yet – but wouldn’t you know that last month’s Cooking Light had an article about energy bars?  They had a bunch of recipes for a similar bar, and of course I decided I had to compare.  Now remember – I never look at the ratings of recipes before I make that – that would take all the fun out of everything.

So – I whipped up a batch of these bars (adapting slightly to our tastes) and they looked wonderful.  That was until I tried to cut them.  They basically just crumbled into a mess.  There was no way I was getting nice rectangular shapes out of this batch.  So, I did what I could – I cut as many square bars as I could, then the rest of the crumbs I put in a container for on top of yogurt.  I gave the bars to my husband to bring to work – even though they were crumbly – I must say, they were delicious.  The crunchy quinoa was such a welcome treat, and the nut butter combined with coconut was just perfect.  Turns out, the people at his worked LOVED them – they were gone in a matter of hours.  So – what I thought was an absolute bust – turned out to be quite the opposite.  A lesson that can be applied anywhere…and I am sure one that will get a lot of use over the next year.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup salted, dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 1/3 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal or wheat germ
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted creamy almond butter
  • 6 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread oats and quinoa on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Place oat mixture in a large bowl, and stir in cashews, almonds, pistachios, coconut, flaxseed meal, and chocolate.

Combine almond butter, agave, oil, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour almond butter mixture over oat mixture; toss well to coat. Press mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in dish. Cut evenly into (1 x 4-inch) bars – or just crumble and serve on top of yogurt or ice-cream.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Triple Nut Energy Bars

Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Even since I made this for lunch many weeks ago, I have been trying to do something a little more special for lunch on Sundays.  It used to be that Sunday was my big day to cook a grand meal.  But then the Big Green Egg came along, and we have renamed Sunday “Egg Day.”  Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to “Egg Day” each week, but it has finally caught up to me that I miss my cooking day.  Baking stuff for the kid’s lunches is great, and making breakfast treats is awesome, but I miss making that one big meal that you can sit down and really be proud of.

I am not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden I started focusing on Sunday lunches.  It used to be that every Sunday I would just eat leftovers, or make myself an egg sandwich.  Usually I exercise in the morning, so by lunch I am craving some protein – and an egg sandwich hits the spot.  So instead of egg sandwiches, I started thinking about other egg dishes that would hit the spot.  I found this recipe a while ago in Cooking Light, and have been waiting until asparagus season to try it out.  I was actually waiting to make this for dinner one night – but wouldn’t it be an even better lunch?  Of course!

As I was preparing my dish, my younger daughter looked over at what I was doing with intrigue.  I asked her what she wanted to for lunch, and she quickly said, “whatever you are making!”  I loved it.  She was so excited to have her own beautiful Sunday lunch.  We felt like we were eating at a restaurant.  We both gobbled this down so quickly, I could have eaten two portions.  Scraping up that yolk with the asparagus, and then taking a bite of toast was just plain gleeful.  I can hardly wait for next Sunday…not just for dinner, but for lunch too.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 ounces kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 12  (1/2-ounce) slices whole-wheat baguette
  • 6  large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Preheat broiler to high.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; keep warm.

Combine rind, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Place remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, capers, fennel seeds, olives, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped.

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until golden, turning after 1 minute.

Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar. Break each egg into a custard cup. Gently pour eggs into pan; cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Carefully remove eggs from pan using a slotted spoon.

Spread tapenade evenly onto toasts; place 2 toasts on each of 6 plates. Drizzle asparagus with dressing, tossing gently to coat. Divide asparagus evenly among plates. Top asparagus with 1 poached egg; sprinkle eggs evenly with pepper and salt. Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies

Salted Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies

Life is all about choices.  What seems like a rather insignificant decision at one point in your life, can completely turn into something quite impactful.  When you stop and look at your life today, think back to how you got there, and you will be quite astonished, at least I am.  I think about how I met my husband in college, and if I had not gone to that school, where would I be now?  He was the main reason we came to Seattle, where I have spent the last 18 years of my life.  I look at my amazing children and think…wow, it was all because I saw that cat in the library.  And fortunately my husband and I ended up in the same freshman dorm.  Who knows if we would have met otherwise?

I guess you can do the same with mistakes you have made.  One wrong turn, and it can come crashing down.  And believe me, it is not pretty.  It is those times that you wish you could look back and make a different decision,
but often times it is too late.

For the most part I am a fairly decisive person.  Although, I absolutely have a right to change my mind.  I tend to work so quickly though, I don’t like to get bogged down.  Once I have the data I need, I move forward.  Now of course that is not always the case with food. Particularly when I am at a restaurant with too many good choices.  Thank goodness those decisions don’t usually have lifelong impact.  Cooking is a whole different game.  I usually know what I am after, and I make it happen.

On my continued quest to make homemade treats for lunches, with the added twist of baking dairy-free, I made a tough decision to substitute earth balance sticks for butter.  I found the recipe in Bon Appetit, and for the most part, their recipes are on the mark.  I think they do a really good job testing their recipes, and I am good at following directions, which makes for a very good combination.  I decided on earth balance as opposed to oil (which is what I normally bake with), because I thought the oil would make the bars too dense.  Well, turns out that the earth balance sticks were the same way.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we still polished off the entire tray of these, but they could have been just a little lighter.  But seriously – the homemade strawberry jam that I used, really made the entire dessert.  Fortunately for me, that decision will not have any life long consequences…at least I think so.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons  strawberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon chopped honey-roasted peanuts

Preparation

Whisk together 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. kosher salt. Whisk together 2 large eggs, 1 ½ cups light brown sugar, ¾ cup smooth peanut butter, ½ cup melted unsalted butter, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract; fold in dry ingredients. Scrape batter into a buttered 8×8″ baking pan. Dollop with 2 Tbsp. strawberry jam; top with 1 Tbsp. chopped honey-roasted peanuts. Bake at 350° until a tester comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies

Chocolate Chip Ricotta Scones

Chocolate Chip Ricotta Scones

Here we are back to breakfast.  My daughter got sick of the banana bread that I made every week for the past month.  The good news is that I finally used up the huge bag of frozen bananas we had in the freezer.  So of course I got the question on Sunday morning, “What am I going to eat for breakfast this week?”  I guess cereal was not the answer she was looking for.  Why is it that they can listen to the same song over and over again, but they get sick of my wonderful banana bread after a month?

To digress just for a moment, for some reason as I was looking at these beautiful scones typing away, the song Waltzing Matilda came into my head.  Why?  I have no idea how my mind works sometimes.  But nevertheless, it did.  I started singing the song, and asked my husband if he remembered it – of course he did.  We only listened to it about 100,000 times – it was on a Dan Zanes album that the girls absolutely loved when they were little.  And if you have small kids, you know that when they enjoy a song in the car – you keep playing it.  When I Binged it – the first YouTube video that was listed was by Slim Dusty.  Wow.  What a blast from the past.  My husband and I were in the office singing at the top of our lungs – of course intriguing my older daughter who was trying to finish up her homework, and all of a sudden the three of us were in the office having a little sing-a-long.  Gotta love that song…

Back to the scones – so needless to say, cereal was not going to cut it – fortunately Cooking Light came to the rescue – with some very interesting looking scones.  I adapted them to fit my daughter’s tastes – which of course has to include some chocolate.  These scones were soft and flakey and absolutely delicious.  She actually rationed them out so they lasted the entire week.  Just 30 seconds in the microwave was all they needed in the morning, and they were as fresh as can be.  Let’s see how many weeks in a row she can eat these – surely not as long as Waltzing Matilda – but maybe longer than banana bread?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (such as Calabro)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon fat-free buttermilk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4.5 ounces whole-grain pastry flour (about 1 cup)
  • 3.4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture. Add 1/3 cup buttermilk and canola oil to remaining ricotta mixture, stirring until smooth.

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add chocolate chips; toss. Add buttermilk mixture; stir just until combined.

Turn dough onto a counter lighted dusted with flour.  Pat into a 1 inch thick circle, and then cut into eight wedges shaped pieces. Combine egg and remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk, stirring with a whisk. Gently brush top and sides of dough with egg mixture. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake at 425° for 15 to 16 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool slightly on a wire rack. Beat the reserved ricotta mixture at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. Serve with warm scones if you would like.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Chip Ricotta Scones