Chickpea Bajine

I love when I find an ingredient that I haven’t cooked before – it doesn’t happen all that often, so I get very excited.  My husband had been talking about quinoa a lot lately – he recently had it at a restaurant and told me how delicious it was.  I had also eaten it at restaurants before, but oddly enough, had never made it at home.

I was at Trader Joes the other week, and noticed a box of quinoa on the shelf – even though I had no idea what I was going to do with it, I decided it was time to try it out.  Luckily on the way home I remembered this recipe I saw in Cooking Light  that definitely looked intriguing.  Basically, anything with fennel in it looks intriguing to me…so I found the recipe, and gave it a try.  We loved it – the quinoa was nice and nutty, and the chickpeas added a different texture to the grainy quinoa - and then came the fennel with the fresh lemon juice – what a wonderful combination.  Oh – and did I happen to mention how ridiculously healthy this dish is?  Good thing I had some Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lavender Peaches left to balance out the meal…

Ingredients

Quinoa:

  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1  cup  organic vegetable broth
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  cup  uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt

Chickpea mixture:

  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)
  • 4  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2  cups  sliced fennel bulb (about 1 large)
  • 1 3/4  cups  (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  fennel seeds
  • 1/2  cup  white wine
  • 1  cup  organic vegetable broth
  • 4  teaspoons  chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1  (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (5-ounce) package baby spinach

Preparation

To prepare quinoa, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 garlic clove to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add 1 cup broth and next 4 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

To prepare chickpea mixture, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leek and 4 garlic cloves to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, fennel bulb, carrot, and fennel seeds; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are golden. Add wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir in 1 cup broth, 2 teaspoons thyme, and chickpeas; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and spinach.

Place about 2/3 cup quinoa in each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1 1/2 cups chickpea mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon thyme.

Serves 4-6

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: ChickPea Bajine

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Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lavender Peaches

There is something about lavender that just calms me.  Basically from when I wake up in the morning until I hit the pillow at night, I am running.  Yes, it does seem some days that I am running a marathon day after day.  There are very few things that actually get me to stop and breath deeply, when I am not in yoga class – and lavender is one of them.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and couldn’t wait to make it.  I was tempted to go outside and harvest my own lavender, but we were camping one weekend – and on the way home stopped at this farm stand.  They had fresh lavender all ready for baking, so I bought a package.  At that point I had no excuses not to make this.  The cake was fabulous – buttery and rich, with a deep vanilla flavor – but it was the peaches that made the entire dessert.  First of all – the lavender smell filled my house with such calmness, it was incredible.  My entire family loved this dessert – in fact, most of the time I share my goodies with the neighbors – this was wasn’t allowed to leave the house – yes, it was that good – even 2 days later…

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Lavender Syrup and Peaches

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
  • 4 medium firm but ripe peaches, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Preparation

Cake

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 3/4-inch metal loaf pan.  Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.  Sift 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl.  Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl;scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for lavender syrup).  Using an electric mixer, beat sugar mixture until fluffy.  Add egg, egg white, and vanilla extract;  beat until mixture is pale and thick, about 2 minutes.  Beat in sour cream.  Add flour mixture; beat just until blended.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. 

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 56-58 minutes.  Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes.  Turn cake out, then turn top side up.  Cook completely.

Lavender Syrup and Peaches

Combine 2 1/4 cups water, sugar, lavender and reserved vanilla bean in a saucepan.  Boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat; cover and let steep 10 minutes.  Strain syrup into medium bowl; discard lavender.  Pour 2 tablespoons lavender syrup into small bowl; reserve for whipped cream.  Cover and chill.  Return remaining syrup to same saucepan; add peaches and lemon juice and bring to boil.  Reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes.  Transfer peaches to bowl.  Boil syrup in pan until reduced to 1 cup, 12 to 14 minutes.  Pour over peaches.  Chill uncovered 2 hours.

Beat cream and 2 tablespoons reserved syrup in medium bowl to soft peaks.  Slice cake.  Serve with peaches, syrup, and cream.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Sour Cream Pound Cake with Lavender Peaches

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Roasted Radicchio with Lemon Vinaigrette and Breadcrumbs

The other week my CSA basket came with a beautiful bunch of radicchio.  A couple of days went by and I still hadn’t figured out what to do with it.  That evening I just happened to open my Bon Appetit, went to my favorite column (written by Molly Wizenberg), and what did I find?  A recipe for Roasted Radicchio with Lemon Vinaigrette and Breadcrumbs.  I have to admit, even I was a little weirded out about the whole thing – what are the chances?  Ok, I guess it is not unheard of that I have some interesting ingredient in the refrigerator that I am looking to use up – but I truly believe this was the first time I ever had radicchio in the refrigerator, and surely one of the few times when I read a recipe where radicchio was the main ingredient.

If you like the bitterness of radicchio, you will love this recipe.  The dressing was wonderful, and the breadcrumbs – now, what doesn’t taste better with breadcrumbs?  The only thing I didn’t like about the dish was that as soon as the radicchio began roasting, it lost its beautiful purple color.  So, sorry for the picture, but this is what it looked like.  So if you can move past the appearance, you will love it.  Now go get yourself some radicchio.

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

Breadcrumbs and Radicchio

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch cubes crustless country white bread
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 heads of radicchio (about 1 pound total), each cut into 6 wedges with some core attached to each wedge
  • Shavings of Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Preparation

Vinaigrette

Mix cheese, lemon juice, garlic, minced anchovies, and pinch of sugar in medium bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using.

Breadcrumbs and Radicchio

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in medium bowl. Add bread cubes, oregano, and crushed red pepper; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer bread cubes to prepared baking sheet.

Bake bread cubes until golden brown, tossing occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool. Transfer to work surface. Cover with paper towels. Using mallet or rolling pin, crush bread cubes into breadcrumbs.

Preheat broiler. Line same baking sheet with fresh sheet of foil. Place radicchio wedges in large bowl. Drizzle remaining 3 tablespoons oil over; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Arrange wedges on prepared sheet. Broil until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, turn radicchio over, fanning leaves out slightly. Broil until radicchio is soft and beginning to brown with some edges beginning to char, watching carefully to prevent burning, about 2 minutes longer.

Return radicchio to same large bowl. Drizzle enough dressing over to coat; toss. Arrange wedges on plates. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over. Top with cheese shavings and serve.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Roasted Radicchio with Lemon Vinaigrette and Breadcrumbs

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Golden Corn Salad with Fresh Basil and Arugula

Corn seems to be in season here for months.  Growing up on the east coast, I remember thinking that corn season was so short.  There were only a few weeks when the corn was perfectly sweet, and you had to stop at the local farm stand to get your fill.  I loved that time of year.  My favorite way to eat the corn – take a piece of bread, put a lot of butter on it, then spread it all over the warm cob – sprinkle some salt on top – and delicious.  

When I got older, I realized that corn on the cob was even more delicious without the butter and salt – you could actually taste the sweetness of the corn – instead of just a bunch of salted butter (which don’t get me wrong, was incredible).  What I also realized is that cutting the corn off the cob, and making something out of it – was even better sometimes.  There is really nothing like fresh corn, just off the cob.  The corn oozes with juice and sweetness.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, and decided that I had to buy the last of the corn at the farmer’s market to try this out.  Since corn is seriously in season all summer long (not sure how, but let’s go with it), there was no shortage.  I also picked up some fresh arugula, potatoes, red pepper, and queso fresco while I was at the farmer’s market – and when I got home, my husband had a small bowl of cherry tomatoes waiting for me – so I threw those in as well.  The result was a magical garden salad that was amazing.  The dressing was very light – and it was a perfect end of summer salad.

Ingredients

  • 8  ounces  small yellow Finnish potatoes or small red potatoes
  • 3  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
  • 2  cups  assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4  cup  minced shallots
  • 3  tablespoons  white balsamic vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  Dijon mustard
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 3  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6  cups  arugula, trimmed
  • 1/2  cup  torn fresh basil leaves
  • 2  ounces  queso fresco, diced

Preparation

Place potatoes in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 11 minutes or until tender. Drain and chill. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Combine potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and bell pepper in a large bowl.

Combine shallots and next 4 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly pour oil into shallot mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle over corn mixture; toss well. Add arugula; toss. Sprinkle with basil; top evenly with queso fresco.

Serves 4-6

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Golden Corn Salad with Fresh Basil and Arugula

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Blueberry Coffee Cake

I am slightly in denial about the fact that summer is basically over.  For us in the Pacific Northwest – it never really started – maybe that is why.  I am not actually a big fan of the sun – but I am a huge fan of the garden, and ours just didn’t produce like it normally does.  The one surprise crop we had were the blueberries that continue to ripen, even when the weather was not cooperating.

So, to celebrate the last of our blueberry harvest, I decided to make a blueberry coffee cake.  I adapted the recipe from my CSA market basket – which looked healthy yet scrumptious – and yes, it was everything I had hoped.  It was so moist and flavorful, and the crumb topping had just the right amount of sweetness.  The best part about this coffee cake?  It was even better the next morning – with a nice cup of coffee.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter

Topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup nuts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425.  Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixing blow.  Incorporate thoroughly, then gently fold in blueberries and lemon zest.  In a small bowl whisk together egg, milk, butter and add to flour mixture.  Stir carefully until well incorporated.  Spread mixture onto a greased 8×8 inch baking pan.  In a medium bowl mix together topping ingredients, cutting cold butter until large crumbles form.  Sprinkle over batter and place in center rack in oven.  Bake until top is golden brown, 20-25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blueberry Coffee Cake

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Gingery Pork Meatballs

Meatballs, my family cannot get enough of them.  One day my older daughter came home and announced that her favorite meal of all time is spaghetti with meatballs and parmesan cheese with garlic bread.  In reality though, it is all about the meatballs.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light - and it seemed exactly like something my family would devour.  The only problem was that I couldn’t decide if I should serve it with rice noodles, or steamed rice – both seemed like such great options.  I decided that I would make a huge batch, and serve them with rice noodles one night, then steamed rice the next.  The problem was that they were so good – we only had 4 leftover.  The fresh ginger mixed with the ground pork and cilantro couldn’t be any better.  These will definitely go on my short list of what to make for dinner – they were easy and delicious – my two favorite words.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

Place a foil-lined jelly-roll pan in the oven.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl; stir gently just until blended.  Cover and chill 30 minutes.  Divide pork mixture into 20 equal portions; shape each portion into a meatball.  Arrange meatballs in a single layer on the preheated pan.  Bake at 450 for 20 minutes or until done.

Serve with rice or rice noodles and bell pepper strips.

Serves 4 as a main dish.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Gingery Pork Meatballs

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Pita Crisps

 

The other week we took our kids to an Indian/Mediterranean restaurant for dinner.  I usually stay away from combo places like that, but this place in the University District just rocks.  The indian food is fantastic, and the humus is amazing, go figure.  We ordered mostly indian food, except that my older daughter was not sold on the chicken tandoori or chicken tikka masala – she wanted to try the mediterranean food.  So, she ordered a gyro plate – and except for the tahini sauce drizzled all over the meat, it was a winner.  On the side, she was served – no joke – at least an entire package of pita bread.

We ended up taking home a lot of food that night (we ordered way too much because we weren’t sure what the kids would like – turns out the chicken tikka masala was the big winner of the night) – and I decided to take home the pita bread as well.  I knew they wouldn’t serve it again, and heck, there was a ton of it that would have gone to waste.

The next few weeks went by, and I kept staring at the pita bread in the refrigerator – wondering when I was going to use it up.  Then I remembered what my grandmother used to do – make pita crisps!  I decided to try something new, and spray them with olive oil spray, instead of brushing them – it was much easier, and much healthier.  They were delicious!  In fact, they didn’t even last long enough to put in the pantry – they were gone almost instantly.  We just ate them plain, but they would have been amazing with this, this or this – the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

  • Pita Bread, cut into wedges and separated
  • Olive Oil spray
  • Kosher salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the pita triangles onto a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Spray the pita with the olive oil (or Pam) – then sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake for around 10 minutes or until lightly golden – but keep a watchful eye – once they start browning they go fast.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pita Crisps

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Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

GO STORM!!!  Storm fever, the latest sickness to hit our household.  In case you are not a WNBA fan – I am talking about the Seattle Storm.  They clinched the second round of the play-offs today, in an unbelievable game – they scored a 3 pointer in the last few seconds of the game to come from behind and beat the Phoenix Mercury.

When our second daughter was born, the dream that my husband had about watching professional sports with his children was pretty much done.  I have to say, that watching the Storm game with my girls – both completely interested in what is going on – is amazing.  I love it.  My husband is even starting to get into it.  Most of all, I love that it is women that we are watching on television, and screaming about in the stands.

It is not just little girls that love the games though, my older daughter’s good friend is quite the fan.  He comes to the games in his storm jersey with his face painted – and at the playoff game on Thursday night – I was looking at the little kids on the court who got to hi-five the players as they were introduced – wondering how they got to be so lucky – when there he was – with a brand new basketball in hand, given to him by Lauren Jackson!  Just at that moment – his mom texted me, and yes, it was him!!  What an experience that he will never forget.

Well Seattle Storm – these treats are for you.  Keep up the amazing work – and we will be cheering for you all the way!!

Ingredients

  • 30 marshmallows
  • 1/2 pound of milk or dark chocolate
  • assorted sprinkles or chopped nuts
  • 10 wooden skewers

Preparation

Line some parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Put 3 marshmallows close together at the sharp end of the skewer.  Using a strong pair of scissors, cut off the sharp point.  Place the chocolate in a shallow microwave safe bowl.  Heat the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring well between each time, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Dip the marshmallows in the chocolate and twist them around to make sure all the marshmallows are completely covered with chocolate.  Place them on the cookie sheet lined with parchment, and decorate with sprinkles.  Let them harden either at room temperature, or by placing them in the refrigerator.

Makes 10 skewers.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Covered Marshmallows

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Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

 

When I was little I went to see Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – and there was one part in particular that really made an impression on me.  When the bratty girl turned into a giant blueberry.  Although, I had a hard time saying the work blueberry, and it came out like “blueblerry.”  It definitely freaked me out – and to this day, I can’t see a blueberry and not think about that movie.

My younger daughter loves blueberry muffins – in fact, she can inhale them – it is extremely impressive to watch.  We have started muffin Mondays with Mommy at our house, and the fan favorite is blueberry.   I don’t make them every Monday, but if I can, I do – there is nothing like a blueberry muffin to start the day off right…

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and decided to give it a try.  I liked the addition of oats and whole wheat flour to make them just a little healthier – and cinnamon to give them an extra kick.  They turned out great – they were denser than I imagined, but still delicious.  I used fresh blueberries instead of frozen, so there were big chunks of fresh blueberries in every bite.  I think you could easily substitute raspberries as well.  The other trick I use so we don’t have muffins coming out of our ears for the rest of the week – I cut the recipe in half.  We have enough for a couple of days – and by the time the next Monday rolls around, everyone is craving muffins again.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3  cups  quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3  cup  all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/2  cup  whole wheat flour (about 2 1/3 ounces)
  • 3/4  cup  packed light brown sugar
  • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free buttermilk
  • 1/4  cup  canola oil
  • 2  teaspoons  grated lemon rind
  • 2  large eggs
  • 2  cups  frozen blueberries
  • 2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  tablespoons  granulated sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place oats in a food processor; pulse 5 to 6 times until oats resemble coarse meal. Place in a large bowl.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) to oats in bowl; stir well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture.

Combine buttermilk, oil, rind, and eggs in small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Toss berries with 2 tablespoons flour, and gently fold them into the batter.

Spoon batter into 16 muffin cups coated with cooking spray; sprinkle batter with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove from pans immediately. Place on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 16 muffins.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

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