Thursday, November 26, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These cookies are the best peanut butter cookies I've ever had. Whereas so many other peanut butter cookies tend to be dry, these are moist and delectable. I tend to make these to take to parties, and normally it's all I can do to keep my husband from eating all of them before we get to our destination. I think the original recipe is from a Hershey's cookbook, but I'm not certain. You're supposed to make a huge roll of dough and make can-sized cookies, but I just make regular-sized cookies and skip the log step. I use Skippy... not sure how they would turn out with natural peanut butter. Makes about 30 cookies.

J'adore: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
2 cups quartered mini peanut butter cups

Cream peanut butter and butter with a mixer or in a food processor. Add sugar, baking powder, and baking soda, and blend again. Add egg and vanilla, and blend again. Blend in flour slowly until just mixed. Stir in peanut butter cups, cover, and refrigerate for approx. 1 hour.

Form cookies into patties of desired size, and place on cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. The trick with these cookies is not to cook them for a minute too long! They have to be just starting to lightly brown to be prefect. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the trays before transferring to a cookie rack.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Staple and Side

Mollie Katzen's Spinach Ricotta Cheese Pie has been a favorite in my family for as long as I can remember. I always requested it for my birthday, my cousin always requested it for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my husband drops not-so-subtle hints every time it's been a while since I've made it, even a co-worker's mother demanded the recipe for days on end until I finally wrote it down for her. In short, it's one of the best savory pies I've ever had, and it has become a Thanksgiving tradition in our family. The recipe is from the original Moosewood Cookbook but was sadly omitted from the new edition. As usual, changes have been made over time. I'm also including a recipe for a side that I LOVE. The original recipe comes from a story I heard on NPR last year.

Je ne peux pas vivre sans: Spinach Ricotta Cheese Pie

1 pie shell (I use a store-bought deep-dish shell to save on time. Feel free to make your own!)

1.5 packages of chopped frozen spinach
1 small onion
1 pint ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh, frozen, or dried basil (fresh is always best)

sour cream

Steam spinach and drain thoroughly. Be sure to press out all excess water or you'll have a watery pie. Dice onion and saute in olive oil. Combine spinach, onion, ricotta, eggs, salt, cheddar, and basil in a mixing bowl. If you're afraid that the spinach is still too watery you can add a tablespoon of flour. Spread mixture evenly in pie shell. Spread sour cream over the top of the spinach mixture. You can use as much or as little sour cream as you want. I prefer to use a lot and spread it to the edges-- it's my favorite part of the pie. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

J'adore: Wild Rice Stuffing

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup wild rice*
1/4 cup dried cranberries (or other dried berry)
1/2 cup walnuts
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil and add the rice. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender (about 30 mins). Add cranberries, walnuts, salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Can be served inside a cooked acorn squash.

*I use half wild rice, half Brown Rice Medley from Trader Joe's, which has brown rice, black barley, and daikon radish seeds.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Potatoes All Rotten (Potatoes au Gratin)

I have no idea why, but for whatever reason we've always called potatoes au gratin "potatoes all rotten." It makes them sound less than appealing but a lot less snooty! They're a favorite of my potato-head hubby. I probably make them different every time, but here's the gist of the recipe.

J'adore: Potatoes all Rotten (aka Potatoes au Gratin)

Potatoes (maybe 6-10 medium-sized potatoes; I like to use red bliss)
1.5 Tbs margarine/butter (I use a combination of the two)
1 Tbs flour
1 cup half & half, cream, or milk (works best with at least some cream content... i.e. I wouldn't make it with skim)
1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt to taste

Peel and slice the potatoes. Place all potato slices into a pot and cover with cold water. Add a little salt to the water, and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes approx. 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are slightly tender.

In the mean time, add margarine/butter to a small sauce pan. Melt on low heat. When butter/margarine is melted, add flour and stir continually to make roux. When roux has started to thicken, add cream/half & half/milk (I use a combination of half & half and 1% milk), and continue stirring. Continue to heat on low, stirring constantly. Add shredded cheese a little at a time, and continue stirring. If mixture gets too thick, add a little milk to thin it. Add a little salt if desired. The consistency should be both a little thick and a little runny.

Drain off the potatoes and place in an oven-safe dish. Pour roux over potatoes. Nudge the potatoes around a little so that the roux coats all of the potatoes evenly. Place a lid on the dish and bake at 350°F for approximately 35 minutes.

Potato Leek Soup

Leeks are probably one of my favorite vegetables. This year I tried growing them in my vegetable garden and was thrilled with my success. The only thing is when you have a hundred of them (and they don't keep well) you have to think of good ways to use a bunch of them up in one recipe. Potato leek soup fits the bill. The trick is to save some of the potato chunks to add in after pureeing.

J'adore: Potato Leek Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced
3 leeks, white and light green parts chopped
3 cups potatoes, chopped (I used 1 baking potato, 3 small red potatoes, and 2 Yukon gold potatoes)
2 quarts vegetable broth
olive oil (no more than 1 tsp.)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute garlic, onion, leeks, and potatoes in olive oil in a large pot. When onions and leeks look transparent add vegetable broth and some salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook until potatoes are tender. Add fresh or dried thyme to taste (I think I used around 6 sprigs from the garden.) Once potatoes are tender, turn the heat off and ladle half of the soup into a blender. Puree. With a slotted spoon scoop some of the remaining potatoes and leeks out of the pot and set aside. Blend the remaining broth and return all pureed soup as well as potato and leek chunks to the pot. (You may have to do some finagling here; I poured the first batch from the blender into a storage container until I had finished blending the rest of the soup from the pot.) Turn heat back on and add salt and pepper to taste.

*Cream, half & half, or milk can be added for a creamier consistency. I intended to add half & half but didn't find that the soup actually needed it.

Vegetable Barley Soup

A little over a year ago I had one of the most amazing soups I've ever tasted. It was vegetable barley soup. I couldn't get enough of it. Sadly, when I asked for the recipe I was informed that it was much too complicated to pare down for a family-sized portion. Sadder still, the restaurant was in our hotel in the Swiss Alps. Since then I have been searching high and low for a vegetable barley soup recipe. I've looked through all of my recipe books, searched epicurious and, crawled the interwebs at large, and still haven't been able to find something that resembled that amazing soup. I finally decided to give it a shot on my own. It's not the same; not even comparable, really, but it's husband approved and pretty tasty. (I do have to admit that I drew ideas from The Papaya Chronicles and The Vegetarian Table: France)

J'aime: Vegetable Barley Soup

1/2 cup pearled barley
1 small onion, chopped
1 or 2 leeks, white and light green parts chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 or 5 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 quarts vegetable broth
approx. 2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Pour the barley into a medium-sized sauce pot. Turn the burner on low, and lightly toast the barley stirring constantly. When barley starts to smell toasted (approx. 3-5 mins.) remove from burner and transfer into a strainer. Rinse barley under water to remove any unwanted soil or dust particles. Return to pot and add 2 cups of water. Add a dash of salt, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for approx. 30-40 minutes.

Dice onion, leeks, carrots, celery, and potato and add to a large pot. Add minced/pressed garlic and a dash of olive oil. Turn heat to low and saute vegetables until onions and leeks are translucent. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer.

Once barley appears fluffy and cooked, drain if necessary, and add to the soup. Continue to allow soup to simmer. Add a dash or two of white balsamic vinegar as well as salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Simply the Best Bruschetta I've Ever Had

This recipe comes from my local farmer's market. Each week the market provides recipes that feature something for sale and in season that week. Once I sampled the bruschetta, I was addicted. It's very easy to make, just a little time consuming with all of the chopping. I tend to like my chunks pretty small, so it may take less time if you prefer larger pieces of tomato, mozzarella, etc. One thing I have noticed, though, is that a lot of the flavor depends on the variety of garlic used. We get our garlic from the market, our CSA, or from Trader Joe's, and it tends to be good and flavorful. Last summer I bought some garlic at the super market at the shore and the bruschetta wasn't nearly as good. For this recipe both the marinated mozzarella and the jarred sun dried tomatoes come from Trader Joe's. I'm sure that you could just as easily use dry sun dried tomatoes, but I prefer to use these. For more recipes, and to view this original recipe, check out the Glenside Farmer's Market's web page.

J'adore: Sun dried Tomato Mozzarella Bruschetta

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, finely diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced and diced
1/2 container (approx. 8oz.) marinated mozzarella balls, finely diced

Chop and dice all ingredients accordingly. Combine all ingredients and add sea salt to taste. Serve on toasted French bread.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Zucchini Bread Variations

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If life gives you zucchini, make zucchini bread. I've heard stories about towns where people sneak zucchini into each others' mailboxes, leave them on car seats, and pretty much have all out zucchini warfare. A student of mine has told me (on more than one occasion) that he can no longer stomach zucchini after his mother planted it in the garden one summer. I laughed at all of these stories, because I love zucchini, and, honestly, how bad could one little plant be? I suppose I learned my lesson when one weekend I had little zucchini and the next I had green clubs.

Our old neighbor, Sarah, once made us some zucchini bread, and I loved it. Luckily she gave us the recipe before she moved. The more I talked about zucchini and zucchini bread, the more people kept telling me about the different recipes they had. Who knew there could be so many variations? The best thing about zucchini bread, aside from its delicious flavor, is that it freezes well. In the summer I like it plain, but in the winter I like it slightly toasted with a little cream cheese. In any case, here are a few of the recipes I've tried:

J'aime: Vermont Summer Muffins

This recipe is originally from one of the Moosewood cookbooks. Although they're called muffins, they're really more like muffin-shaped biscuits. Scott has been eating these right out of the fridge and prefers them to the sweeter zucchini breads. I like mine warmed up in the toaster oven with a little butter. Makes about 20 muffins.

3 cups unbleached white flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated zucchini
3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2-3 Tbs. chopped scallions
1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
3. Add cheese, zucchini, scallions, and herbs, and toss lightly to mix.
4. In another bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the buttermilk and melted butter.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl and stir enough to blend.
6. Spoon batter into buttered muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full.
7. Bake for 30-35 mins. or until golden.

J'adore: Laura's Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips and Pecans

This recipe came to me thanks to Facebook. An old friend from high school sent me her favorite recipe when she saw that I was making zucchini bread. The original recipe is from An Endless Harvest. Laura suggested adding chocolate chips to the batter. The recipe calls for pecans, but Scott is not a big fan of nuts in breads or cookies, so I made two mini loaves with plain batter and three with chocolate chips and pecan pieces. This has been my favorite recipe so far, and I like that you can sub apple sauce for the oil. Makes 5 mini loaves.

3 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup apple sauce)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 cups grated zucchini (with skin)

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1. Grease and flour 5 mini loaf pans or two regular sized loaf pans.
2. Sift all dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl beat eggs slightly. Add oil (or apple sauce and oil), vanilla, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Beat briefly.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir.
5. Add zucchini and stir to blend evenly.
6. Add pecans and chocolate chips, if desired.
7. Batter will be thick and should be spooned into loaf pans. Fill pans approx. 3/4 full.
8. Bake at 325°F for approx. 45 mins. to 1 hr. depending on the size of the loaf pans. Bread should be golden on the top, and a knife should come out clean when inserted into the bread.

Jodi's Lemon or Lime Cheesecake

Several years ago a co-worker's wife gave me this recipe. I wish I had a scanner at home, because the recipe is written out very beautifully and artistically (which makes perfect sense since Jodi is a very talented block print artist). I've been meaning to make this for a while, but I just never seem to have a reason to make an entire cheesecake. Now that I've finally gotten around to making it I'm not quite sure why I waited so long. It's a delicious, albeit a bit laborious, result.

Note: If you are looking for a low-calorie cheesecake, this is NOT it.

J'adore: Jodi's Lemon/Lime Cheesecake


2 sleeves cinnamon graham crackers
3/4 stick melted butter

3 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temp.
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1 Tbs. lemon or lime zest
2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups sour cream
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup water
1/3 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 Tbs. corn starch
1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. butter
2 tsp. lemon or lime zest

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. For the crust: blend graham crackers and butter together. Press mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan. Bake for five minutes.
3. For the filling: gradually blend sugar into cream cheese. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Mix in lemon/lime juice, zest, and vanilla. Pour mixture onto crust. Bake for approx. 40 minutes until lightly puffed and slightly brown. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes.
4. For the topping: mix all ingredients together. Pour/spread topping over cooled cake. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 1 hour.
5. For the glaze: in a small saucepan slowly heat all glaze ingredients except butter and zest, stirring constantly until thick (approx. 20 mins.) Once thick, remove from heat and mix in butter and zest. Allow to cool.
6. When both cake and glaze are cool, spread glaze over cake. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vegetable Fajitas

I'm not sure if my mom came up with this recipe or if I did, but I think I've been making it for as long as I've been cooking. The measurements aren't too precise, but it's a wonderful summer recipe, especially with the bounty of home gardens and farmers' markets.

J'adore: Vegetable Fajitas with Caramelized Onions

1 zucchini
1 yellow summer squash
2 carrots
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
olive oil (or Persian Lime Infused Olive Oil)
balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
approx. 1/2 jar salsa
chili powder
juice from 1 large lime slice (optional)

1 or 2 onions, sliced or diced
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

grated cheddar cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

For the fajita filling:
1. Dice all vegetables and put into a large non-stick skillet. Add approx. 1 Tbs. of olive oil or lime olive oil, stir to coat vegetables, and turn heat on to medium-low.
2. Cook vegetables for about 5 minutes, then add approx. 1 Tbs. balsamic or white balsamic vinegar to the skillet. Add approx. 1/2 a jar of prepared salsa to the skillet. Stir to combine ingredients. Add chili powder to taste. Cook vegetables long enough that they are soft, but still a little crunchy. Remove from heat.

For the caramelized onions::
Slice or dice onions according to your preference. I prefer to half my onions and then slice them; Scott prefers them diced so that they're not too stringy and are easier to eat. Place onions in small non-stick frying pan with oil. Saute until tender. Sprinkle in brown sugar, stir, and continue to saute another minute or two.

Serving suggestions:
Heat tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave to soften. Layer grated cheese, caramelized onions, fajita vegetables, and sour cream onto tortilla. Fold and serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Erin's Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers

You know you have good friends when they make you home-made veggie burgers. We're still working on getting the burgers to hold together, but they taste just right!

J'aime beaucoup: Erin's Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers

1 6 oz. package Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice original recipe (6 oz. of any brown or wild rice may be substituted, just add extra herbs or a veggie bouillon cube)
1/2 an onion, diced
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. olive oil (I use Smokey Chipotle Olive Oil for extra flavor and punch)
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground chili powder
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste (use Chile Verde Sea Salt, Lime Fresco Sea Salt, or Haberno Heat Salt if you're feeling adventurous!)
Add diced chile, habanero, or chipotle pepper if desired.

1. Cook rice according to instructions. If using brown/wild rice combo with bouillon cube: bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add bouillon cube and stir until it is dissolved. Add rice, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, until all water has evaporated. Once rice has cooked, remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and allow to cool.
2. In a small skillet sauté onion, celery, and carrot in olive oil until tender.
3. In a large mixing bowl mash half of the black beans with a fork or potato masher. Add remaining beans, rice, vegetables, and all other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
4. Form 10 burger-sized patties and place onto an oiled tray or oiled glass dish. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Can be kept in the refrigerator overnight or frozen.
5. Pour approx. 1 Tsp. of olive oil or Smokey Chipotle Olive Oil onto skillet. Cook burgers approx. 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Add cheese if desired.

Serve burgers on whole wheat buns with lettuce and tomato. They are also tasty served with salsa and guacamole.

Birthday Staple: Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

My mom has been making this cake for us since we were little, so it's pretty much a birthday staple in our family. This cake is moist, chocolaty, and delicious.

J'adore: Mom's Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup margarine (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1. Blend sugar, margarine, vanilla, and eggs in a food processor or mixer. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
2. Butter and flour a bundt pan. Tap out excess flour before pouring in batter.
3. Pour batter into floured bundt pan and bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
4. Allow cake to cool completely before overturning bundt pan onto a cake plate. Ice and decorate as desired.

J'adore: Chocolate Icing

*These measurements are approximations; fine tune with taste testing.
1/2 stick margarine
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of buttermilk

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or mixer until icing is smooth. Taste test for desired sweetness.

*Note: I've added chocolate chips and blueberries to the cake batter before cooking. Serve with strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries on the side for extra color and flavor.

Summer Staple: Zucchini Fritters

I stumbled across this recipe in a magazine someone gave me. I'm not even sure what magazine it was, but this recipe is one of my all-time favorite dishes to make in the summer. It appears to originally come from a cookbook called Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson. There is nothing better than stepping outside in the summer and picking all of these ingredients fresh from the garden.

Je ne peux pas vivre sans:
Zucchini Fritters

2-3 zucchini, coarsely grated
6 or so green onions or scallions, finely chopped
6-8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 small bunch fresh dill, chopped
2 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
6-8 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. paprika
3 eggs, lightly beaten
scant 1 cup all purpose flour

2-3 limes
sour cream

1. Coarsely grate zucchini and place in a colander. Lightly salt and toss to mix. Place colander over a plate or in the sink and allow zucchini drain for approx. 30 minutes.
2. Once zucchini has drained, squeeze excess moisture out of zucchini with a clean kitchen towel. Place zucchini in a mixing bowl.
3. Add crumbled feta, chopped mint, dill, parsley, scallions, and flour to the bowl. Mix ingredients together. Add beaten eggs and mix thoroughly.
4. Pour a little olive oil onto a skillet. (I like to use Persian Lime Olive Oil for extra punch.)
5. Drop large spoonfuls of the mixture onto the heated skillet. Flatten them with a spatula or the back of a spoon so that they are roughly the size and shape of small pancakes. Cook patties until golden brown on each side.
6. Transfer to plates and serve with lime wedges and sour cream. Spritz fritters with lime juice as you eat.

Cucumber and Dill Potato Salad

I'm a picky potato salad person, but I love this recipe. I'm not very precise about the measurements, but it seems like one of those recipes that's better adapted to fit people's individual tastes. Here's the link to the original recipe.

J'aime beaucoup: Cucumber and Dill Potato Salad

6-10 small to medium sized red potatoes (1 qt. of mini red potatoes from the farmer's market works perfectly)
1/3 to 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream (I like it better more creamy)
10 or so cornichons, chopped
6-10 sprigs of dill, washed and chopped
1 European cucumber, thinly sliced and quartered (any seedless cucumber will do)
sea salt to taste

1. Scrub potatoes and cut to desired size. Place in a pot and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender.
2. Combine crème fraîche/sour cream, cornichons, dill, and cucumber in a bowl.
3. Drain potatoes and add to crème fraîche mixture. Toss to coat. Add freshly ground sea salt to taste, and serve immediately.

*Note: this dish tastes best served right away when the potatoes are still warm. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but it tends to dry out and doesn't taste nearly as good.
**Cornichons are little French pickles. You can find them in Trader Joe's; if you can't find cornichons, substitute another small pickle or modify the amount of whatever pickles you have on hand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles

Scott came home the other night asking what he could make for his work pot-luck lunch. We remembered this recipe which is a fast, simple, and plentiful dish to take to any gathering. Our friend Emily made this dish once for a party, and we've been making it ever since. The original recipe is from

J'aime: Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons chopped or grated peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped (although I probably use 2 or 3)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

3/4 lb dried spaghetti
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper cut into strips
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Puree all dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until noodles are cool to the touch. Transfer noodles into large mixing or serving bowl. Add peppers, scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and peanut dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Maeve's Southwest Quinoa Salad

A few months ago my mom sent me a link to a childhood friend's blog for vegetarian recipes, which is really what got me blogging in the first place. One of the recipes she had on her blog was for a Southwest Quinoa Salad. It looked delicious, so I decided to try it. (Maeve takes beautiful pictures of everything she makes as she's making it. To view her pictures click on the hyperlink above.) I have to admit that the first night I thought there were too many flavors competing for attention. It wasn't that I didn't think it was good... I just wasn't sure I'd be making it again. And then I took it for lunch the next day... and the day after that... and then I made it a week later... and now I'm pretty much hooked. Even Scott liked it, and he doesn't eat salad! I'll be making it tomorrow for Mother's Day, so we'll see if it passes the Mommo test.

I didn't really alter the original recipe, but I will note the following:
1. I tried using pre-roasted frozen corn from Trader Joe's. Not a fan. The corn tastes more charred than anything, so consider yourself warned.
2. I don't recommend using falvored orange juice for the glaze. I tried Orange Peach Mango juice the second time around and found it entirely too sweet.
3. DO add tomato chewies. In the summer, when cherry and grape tomatoes are in season and you have more of them then you know what to do with, do the following: slice the tomatoes in half. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Place tomato halves onto oiled baking sheet in a single layer with the skin side down. Turn the oven on to 200°F and bake tomatoes for at least an hour or two. You'll know they're done when they're shriveled and dried looking. Cool these and stick them into a container. Freeze them and use them all winter for fresh tasting roasted tomatoes in your salad.

J'adore: Maeve's Southwest Quinoa Salad


1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock

2 cups mixed greens, washed dried and torn into bite sized pieces
1 avocado, peeled cored and diced
1 mango, peeled cored and diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or tomato chewies (see above)
1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp roasted salted sunflower seeds or pepitas

4 1/2 inch slices firm tofu, pressed in a paper towel to removed excess water
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt to taste
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp chipotle ranch dressing, or substitute any southwest dressing

Combine quinoa and vegetable stock in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off heat and let cool slightly. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Meanwhile, prepare fruits and vegetables. Heat a small skillet to medium high (without oil). Toss in frozen corn kernels along with a pinch of chili powder and allow to blacken in spots, one or two kernels may pop out of pan. Turn out onto cutting board and allow to cool.

Lay tofu slices out in a single layer. Season liberally with chili powder and lightly with salt, press seasoning into surface, flip and repeat on other side. Heat a very small amount of vegetable oil - just enough to lightly coat the bottom - in a small frying pan on medium high. (This technique for cooking tofu is easy in a nonstick skillet, can be done in a well seasoned cast iron pan with a flexible spatula, and proves very difficult in a stainless steel pan.) Lay tofu slices in pan shaking pan after they're in place to make sure they do not stick. Allow to cook on medium high heat for about 2 minutes per side until a slight crust has formed. Quickly add orange juice, soy sauce, and honey to pan (they may spit at you, but it's worth it) allow to bubble away and reduce into a glaze, flip tofu slices, turn off heat and allow to cool slightly in pan.

To assemble salad, lay out a ring of mixed greens, pile quinoa in center, then sprinkle on black beans, corn, avocado, mango, and tomatoes. Then top with tofu slices drizzle on dressing and top with sunflower seeds.

Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese

This recipe appeared in the April 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. I've never been big on fake meats or fake cheeses mostly because I've never liked the taste of meat and I eat dairy products, but when I saw this recipe it looked good enough to try. I mostly taste the cracked peppercorns, but it's got just the right flavor and texture for me to make it again and again. I have not made any changes to the original recipe.

I recommend it on a sandwich with hearty bread, roasted red peppers, tomato slices, and basil. It's delicious.

J'aime: Pepper-Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese

3/4 cup raw cashews
6 Tbs. canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. tahini
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns or coarsely ground black pepper

1. Place cashews in large bowl; cover with 3 inches water. Soak overnight. (*I start them soaking on a Friday morning so that it can age overnight)
2. Drain liquid, rinse cashews under cold water, and drain. Puree cashews, oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and 2 Tbs. water in a food processor for approx. 6 minutes or until smooth and creamy.
3. Place a large strainer over a bowl and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon cashew mixture into cheesecloth. Fold sides of cloth over cheese and form into 6-inch-long oval loaf. Twist ends and secure with rubber bands or twist ties. Set in strainer over bowl and let stand 12 hours at room temperature. discard excess liquid. Chill at end of 12-hour period. (*If your kitchen is warmer than room temperature the cheese will get a little crusty on the outside. Best to do it on a cool day)
4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese and scrape into 7-inch-long log on cheesecloth. Rewrap and twist ends to secure. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes or until cheese becomes set on outside but still soft, turning occasionally. Cool and chill.
5. Unwrap cheese. Sprinkle or roll in cracked peppercorn, pressing to adhere.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spinach and Leek Risotto with Goat Cheese

This recipe was modified from a recipe in the April 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. Once they post it on their website I'll post the original recipe. Their recipe calls for a pressure cooker and fennel. 1. I do not have a pressure cooker, and after looking them up online, I'm pretty sure I don't want one, and 2. I don't do fennel or anything else that remotely resembles anything related to licorice.

J'aime beaucoup: Spinach and Leek Risotto with Goat Cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach (or more to taste)
8 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts)
1 leek, white and light green green parts chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 to 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, parsley, and oregano)
2 oz. aged goat cheese, grated (I used Midnight Moon)

Saute chopped leeks, green onion, garlic, and olive oil in a large sauce pan until tender/translucent. Rinse rice and add to the pot. Cook rice and vegetable mixture until rice is translucent, stirring regularly (approx. 5 mins.) Add spinach and stir. Add vegetable broth and a pinch of salt. Stir all contents together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover pot. Allow rice to absorb all moisture (approx. 30 mins.) Turn off heat once rice is cooked. Add goat cheese and chopped herbs and mix into rice. Add salt and pepper if desired. Serve and enjoy!

*I did not add pepper. I added a lot of oregano, but I think it was a little overpowering. Next time I'll use 2 or three sprigs of oregano and use more basil and parsley. I think this would also be good with asparagus, but Scott doesn't like asparagus, and since it was only for us I skipped it. If you like asparagus give it a shot.

Connie's Summer Pizza

This has been a favorite party recipe for a long time, only it's taken until now to get the recipe. I can't wait to make it for our next party. Thanks for sending it Connie!

J'adore: Summer Pizza

2-packages of Crescent Rolls (8 pack) in tube
1-8oz. package of Cream Cheese (you can use light)--bring to room temperature.
3 Tablespoons-Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (Dry mix) or 1 full pre-measured packet

Fresh Vegetables you like---DICED small. ** I always use broccoli, scallions (green onions), tomatoes.

Using a large jelly roll baking pan, flatten the crescent rolls into the bottom of the pan. Using your fingers, pinch together to make one large piece. Bake dough according to package directions---golden light brown. Cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, blend the cream cheese with the dry HV Ranch mix. After mixing, spread over the cooked dough---carefully. Use a cake knife or wide knife to get the job done.

Layer the broccoli first---gently press into cream cheese. Add the onions. Press gently again. Finally the tomatoes. If the tomatoes have a lot of moisture try to squeeze out excess juice before adding to top of pizza.

Using a pizza cutter (or sharp knife)---cut into bite size pieces.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ms. G-L's Famous Crepes

I'm not saying that I'm the best crêpe maker you'll ever meet, or even that I have the best recipe. What I will say is that my crêpes are famous among my students who start begging for them the first day of the semester. They get them once per marking period, mais c'est tout. There are sweet crêpes and savory crêpes, but this recipe is for sweet crêpes only. Fill them with whatever fruit, jam, syrup, or other sweet you have at your disposal, or eat them just as they are.

J'adore: Crêpes

scant 1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup (plus one tablespoon) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups milk

In a medium or large sized mixing bowl combine the sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, melted butter, water, salt, vanilla, and eggs. (I use a whisk since I find that the melted butter tends to coagulate when it comes in contact with the colder ingredients). Alternate adding the milk and flour, mixing well after each addition. Try to work out most of the lumps, but don't go too crazy with the whisk.

Grease a non-stick skillet with margarine or cooking spray and turn burner on to medium-low heat. Pour 1/8 - 1/4 of a cup of the batter into the skillet while holding the skillet above the burner. Quickly move the skillet around in a circular motion so that the batter coats the entire bottom of the pan. Depending on the size of your skillet you may have to play around with the amount of batter you use; crêpes should be thin like tortillas. When the top seems to have cooked, flip the crêpe over and cook the other side. The whole process for each crêpe should take less than a minute.

Fill and fold the finished crêpes as you like. When I make them at school I allow my students the choice of any combination of bananas, chocolate (usually hot fudge), and whipped cream. I fold them into triangles, but you can also make them like burritos. Scott likes them with strawberry jam. Fresh strawberries are wonderful with crêpes when they're in season. If you're a fan of nutella, that's another classic crêpe filling.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Best Homemade Pancakes We've Ever Had

We've been looking for a good pancake recipe for a while. I tried searching online everywhere, but I never found anything that looked that great. I grew up on whole wheat buttermilk pancakes; Scott grew up on Aunt Jemima's, but we didn't want either of those. We settled on Betty Crocker's recipe from a book I got for our wedding, but we still weren't satisfied. I finally looked on tonight and found a recipe that looked promising. Boy did it pay off! These pancakes were like diner pancakes. They were light and fluffy. They smelled delicious and looked scrumptious. This recipe will stick with us for many years to come. Find the original recipe by clicking the hyperlink. Below is what I did. We didn't have any buttermilk, so I used an old trick my mom taught me and mixed some milk with plain yogurt. Both of us agree that these are the best homemade pancakes we've ever eaten.

J'adore: Buttermilk Pancakes with Bananas and Walnuts

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups well shaken buttermilk*
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ripe banana**
1/4 cup walnut pieces**

*Note: if you do not have buttermilk you can substitute a mixture of plain yogurt and milk. I happened to have some plain Greek yogurt in the fridge. I mixed 1/2 cup of yogurt with 1 cup of milk. Whisk it to get a buttermilk-like consistency.
**Scott prefers his pancakes plain, so I added the banana and walnuts to half of the batter in another bowl. You can substitute any kind of fruit or nut that you like in your pancakes. Blueberries, strawberries, or even chocolate chips would probably be equally good.

Whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients and whisk again until combined. Fold in banana slices and walnuts (or other desired fruit, nut, etc.)

Make as you would any pancakes. Just be careful: these pancakes spread!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Menu for feeding 30 (Mom's 60th birthday bash)

It's always hardest trying to figure out how much food to make and what people will eat when having mixed company over for a party. I had no idea what to make at first, but then I remembered some favorites and, with the help of my sister, came up with the following menu:
  • Spinach and White Bean Crescents
  • Cheese Platter with fruit, nuts, and honey-wheat black bread
  • Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes
  • Stuffed Peppers
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Russian Tea Cookies
  • 7-Layer Bars
  • Fruit salad (pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, banana, and red grapes)
Additional items:
  • My Aunt Carol made chicken salad with cranberries on mini croissants that was apparently delicious.
  • My mom's friend Connie brought a summer pizza. It's one of my favorite party dishes. As soon as she sends me the recipe I'll post it. Yuuummmm!
  • My mom's friend Jan brought a salmon spread with crackers and white chocolate cherry cookies. I didn't try the spread, but I can vouch for the cookies!
  • My mother-in-law brought the birthday cake from a bakery in Vineland, NJ. We love this woman's cakes-- they are amazing. There were outcries when there wasn't enough for seconds!
(I also had everything needed for a green salad, but I just didn't get around to putting it out)

J'adore: Spinach and White Bean Crescents

I discovered this recipe in the November/December 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times. It originally calls for broccoli raab, but I substituted spinach for a milder flavor. Click on the hyperlink to take you to the original recipe. My modifications are below:

1 package of frozen spinach
1/2 jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, plus 1 Tbs. oil from jar (I use the ones from Trader Joe's)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed with garlic press
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

1. Thaw spinach and squeeze out most of the liquid. (I generally throw the frozen spinach in a strainer, run some warm water over it until it's thawed, and then squeeze out all of the water.) Add oil, garlic, and pepper flakes to a non-stick skillet and cook on low heat. Add spinach and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in sugar and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt. Remove from heat and stir in beans and sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside to cool.

2. Roll 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry onto floured work surface. (The thinner the pastry, the easier it is to stuff and the better the pockets hold together, but be careful not to make it too thin or the pastry will tear when you are folding it in half. Allow for a little bit of trial and error.) Cut out circles using a 3 ½-inch cutter. (Feel free to play with the size. I’ve used the rim of a jelly jar lid, which made very tiny pockets, or an over-turned plastic container for slightly larger circles). Cover baking sheets with parchment paper. Place pastry circles onto parchment paper. Spoon approx. 1 Tbs. of spinach mixture into the center of each circle. Brush or dab water around the edges of the pastry. Press edges together and press down with fork tines to seal. Repeat with scraps and remaining dough. Bake at 375°F for approx. 20 minutes or until golden brown.

J'aime: Cheese Platter with fruit, nuts, and honey-wheat black bread

Cheese platters can obviously be made with any assortment of cheeses, breads, crackers, fruits, or nuts. For ours we chose Saint-André, Port-Salut, Emmental, and some sort of bleu cheese (not sure which one specifically). The platters were decorated with almonds, walnuts, red grapes, strawberries, and dried cherries. Assorted crackers were available in a basket, and slices of a whole wheat baguette and honey-wheat black bread were arranged with the cheeses. We bought the baguette and the crackers at the super market, but the following is Abigail's recipe for the black bread. It is a modification of this original recipe.

Honey Wheat Black Bread

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) warm water
1 packet yeast
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
Scant ¼ cup honey
Scant ¼ cup molasses
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) unbleached Bread Flour
1 2/3 cups (6 3/4 ounces) Whole Wheat Flour
2-3 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Sprinkle yeast in warm water and let sit for approx. 2 mins. Add honey and molasses and stir, then add salt. Add all dry ingredients and stir (be sure to stir only in one direction) until it becomes hard to stir then knead in bowl until all flour is mixed into the dough. (If the dough seems too wet sprinkle in a small amount of additional flour).

Remove dough from bowl, clean bowl and lightly oil it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm oven until it doubles its size (approx. 1 hour). Remove bowl from oven and knead directly in bowl. Can be put into a liberally floured bread pan or can be divided into two pieces and placed onto a liberally floured baking sheet. Cover again with a damp light weight kitchen towel and let rise for another hour. Remove towel before baking. Bake at 350
°F for approx. 45 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when you tap on it.

J'adore: Roasted Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes

This recipe is simple, fast, and requires very few ingredients.

Asparagus (as much as you like)
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Olive oil

Wash asparagus and trim bottoms of stalks. Toss into a baking dish. Add olive oil to coat (maybe 1-2 Tbs.) Add minced or pressed garlic (at least 3 cloves, more for more punch!) Toss in halved cherry tomatoes. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (be liberal, but not overly liberal with the salt). Toss everything to coat and throw it into the oven at 400°F for approx. 10-15 mins.
*During the summer when cherry tomatoes are in peak season we like to half them and freeze them for winter use. They hold up great, maintain floavor, color, and freshness, and save you a lot of time and effort if you need them in a pinch for a dish like this one.

J'adore: Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

This recipe appeared in the February 2009 edition of Vegetarian Times. I haven't varied too much from the original recipe except to use a little less cumin, a little more celery, and more black beans.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-4 ribs celery, finely chopped
scant 1 Tbs. ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1 or 1.5 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup quinoa
3 large carrots, grated
1 1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
6 large bell peppers (red, yellow, and orange are best), halved lengthwise, ribs removed

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping 3/4-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

*We find that we always have too much stuffing left over, so the next night we make quesadillas. Place a whole wheat tortilla on a lightly oiled non-stick skillet. Spread stuffing evenly on half of the tortilla. Add some pepper jack, cheddar, or American cheese if desired. Fold tortilla over to cover stuffing and cook on each side until inside is warm and outer tortilla is crispy. Serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Leftovers never tasted so good!

Je ne peux pas vivre sans: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

See my March 10 post or go to Vegetarian Times February 2009 to see the original recipe. I didn't make any modifications (except to add more chocolate chips); this recipe is perfect as is!!

J'adore: Wendy's Russian Tea Cookies

I don't really know how Russian these cookies are. This recipe has been in the family for years, and we attribute it to my Aunt Wendy. My sister loves to make them for holidays and parties. They're nearly always the first to disappear from the cookie platter!

1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar with mixer or in food processor. Add all other ingredients and mix until smooth. Roll dough into small balls and press with thumb to indent. Fill indent with jam. OR roll dough into two long logs and press thumb down the center of the length of the logs to make a channel. Fill channels with jam. Bake at 325°F for 15-20 minutes or until light brown. Drizzle with confectioners' icing (confectioners' sugar mixed with a small amount of water or lemon juice). Once logs have cooled slice diagonally and place cookies on serving plate.

Je n'aime pas tellement: Seven-Layer Bars

I clipped this recipe out of Philadelphia Home Spring/Summer 2009 because I thought it looked tasty. I have to admit that I wasn't crazy about it; the bars were entirely too sweet for my taste. I was also pretty disappointed when I looked at the condensed milk can and found the same recipe! What the heck Philadelphia Magazine!?! Anyway, my dad, my uncle, and my grandfather all liked them, so if you know a sweet-tooth, this recipe might be for you! I'll be bringing the rest of mine in to school for my students. Teenagers live to eat! :)

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (I used Annie's Bunny Grahams: half cinnamon and half chocolate)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups peanut butter chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cranberries (I used dried cherries)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cups coconut flakes
cooking spray (or margarine)

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease an 8x8 or 9x9 pan or dish. Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and coat the bottom of the baking pan with mixture, pressing to bottom of pan. Combine chocolate and peanut butter chips and spread on graham cracker crust, pressing firmly. Continue to layer with almonds and cranberries/cherries. Pour condensed milk over mixture, top with coconut, and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool completely and cut into bars. Do not refrigerate. Can be kept overnight.

*A couple of notes: 1. Be sure to use unsweetened coconut. I didn't notice there was a difference when I was buying it at the store. 2. Only use a cup of the condensed milk, not the whole can. Again, I wasn't paying attention, BUT the recipe on the can does say to use the whole can, and, honestly, what are you going to do with a few extra ounces of sweetened condensed milk? 3. I froze them and then thawed them before serving and they were fine. I don't know why it says not to refrigerate them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is from the February 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. I haven't modified it because it's dangerous to modify recipes when baking, or at least I think so. These cookies are very moist, chewy, and highly addictive. I must stress that part of what makes them work is using the oat flour, so if you substitute another kind you are doing so at your own risk!

The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World
Vegetarian times Feb. 2009

2 cups walnuts
3 Tbs. canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oat flour (it's important to use this kind of flour. My neighbor tried whole wheat and they didn't turn out as good.)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips (I think I used about 2/3 of a bag. Obviously they don't have to be vegan.)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Parchment paper for cookie trays (I don't know if it's really necessary, but I used it)
2. Blend walnuts in food processor for 30 seconds, or until ground into a fine meal. Add canola oil, and blend 2 to 3 minutes more, or until mixture has the consistency of natural peanut butter, scraping down the sides of food processor occasionally.
3. Whisk together brown sugar and 1/2 cup of water into a sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Pour brown sugar mix into the food processor with the walnut butter and vanilla extract and blend.
4. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon to food processor and mix. Cool 10 minutes.
5. Transfer to mixing bowl and stir in oats first, then chocolate chips.
6. Shape cookie dough into balls and place on baking sheet. Flatten cookies with the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in water. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown and tops look dry. Cool three minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. (I thought the glass thing was really weird, but I did it and they turned out great. The less you cook them the chewier and moister they are. The ones that stayed in longer weren't quite as good).

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

I've made this recipe twice in the last two weeks. My neighbor turned me on to it. We found them equally delicious when we used corn tortillas and when we used whole wheat tortillas, so use what's available to you or whatever your preference is. These are my modifications from the following recipe: Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Makes 10 enchiladas when using small corn tortillas, 5 when using larger flour tortillas.


1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, rinsed, drained
4 cloves garlic, minced (I use my trusty garlic press)
1 or 2 limes, juiced (press firmly and roll them around on the counter first to loosen the juices)
3 sweet potatoes, cooked and diced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin plus a little extra
1/2 teaspoon chili powder plus a little extra
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro OR 4-6 cubes frozen cilantro
10 white or yellow corn tortillas OR 5 whole wheat or multi-grain tortillas
Olive oil
American cheese (optional)
Enchilada sauce
Shredded Pepper Jack cheese (optional)


Start by peeling the sweet potatoes and slicing them into approx. 1/4 in. rounds. Pour a little olive oil into a glass baking dish and coat all of the potato slices (by "a little olive oil" I probably mean at least 2 Tbs). Add a little ground sea salt and toss to coat. Heat your oven to 350°F and roast the potatoes for around 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes at least once while roasting/baking.

In a mixing bowl, combine the drained black beans, minced garlic, and lime juice. Add the cilantro, cumin, and chili powder. When your potatoes are done (they should be soft all the way through and a little crispy looking on the outside) dice them and mix them in with the beans and spices.

Pour enchilada sauce into the bottom of a baking dish (a long one is best). Be sure to use enough to coat the bottom so that the enchiladas won't stick to the bottom. (The real recipe has directions for a home made sauce. I just used Trader Joe's Enchilada Sauce.)

*If you are using flour tortillas skip to next part* To assemble the enchiladas, grab a skillet and heat a dash of oil. Lightly cook the corn tortillas to soften them, one at a time, as you stuff each one. (I was very skeptical about doing this, but it actually worked really well. Just be sure to heat both sides of the tortillas. If you prefer an oil-free method you can microwave them between two damp paper towels for a few seconds, although I have not tried this myself.)

Lay the first tortilla in the sauced baking dish. I placed 1 or 2 slices of American cheese on the tortilla, although this step can be omitted if you are trying to make it low fat or vegan. Spoon some of the sweet potato mixture down the center. Wrap and roll the tortilla to the end of the baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas (you may need to add more sauce to the bottom of the dish as you go because you'll be wrapping them IN the dish and using up the "buffer" sauce). Top with the rest of the sauce. Top with a sprinkle of shredded Pepper Jack cheese (optional). Be sure to wet all exposed parts of the tortillas with sauce in order to avoid having crunchy tops or ends. Note: I use the whole jar of T.J.'s sauce, and I even add a little water to it to thin it out and make it stretch.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the enchiladas are piping hot and the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Be careful not to overcook them or they'll get dry.


Several things are influencing me to start a blog:
1. I'm starting to feel like I'm falling behind technologically speaking.
2. My mom recently sent me a link to an old family friend's blog. (I do not aspire to make mine as good as hers.)
3. I'm getting tired of having to search in so many places for my recipes.
4. I figure this is the easiest way to share recipes with people who ask for them.

We'll see how long this lasts!