Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

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Artichoke-Olive Dip

November 27, 2013

It’s green!

artichoke-olive dip

I’ve made this recipe twice: once as crostini, as the original recipe is written, and another time as a dip served with pita chips. Either way, it tastes great. And it’s crazy-quick to make! Olives, artichoke hearts, capers, garlic, and olive oil go into the food processor, and a couple of pulses later, it’s ready to eat. I used pimento-stuffed olives; the little red bits add some nice color.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy snack or appetizer, the recipe is here on Smitten Kitchen.

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Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside-Down Cake

November 26, 2013

An upside-down cake may sound daunting, but this is one is easy to make. The few extra minutes it takes to melt the brown sugar and layer the bananas on the bottom of the pan is more than made up for by the simple mix-by-hand cake batter.

Banana Upside-Down Cake

Surprisingly, this cake is low fat. I’m not going to call it health food, but I bake enough to know that 2 Tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of low-fat sour cream means that this is a heck of a lot less sinful than a lot of other cakes. But with caramelized bananas on top and chocolate chips throughout, you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. If you’re a banana lover, this is a must-try recipe!

Recipe notes:

  • You can find the recipe here on David Lebovitz’s website.
  • For the topping, he gives an option of water or butter – I used water.
  • For the cake, he gives an option of regular or low-fat sour cream – I used low fat.
  • There’s also an option for chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. I used regular-size chocolate chips. I don’t recommend using mini-chips or tiny pieces of chopped chocolate though  – a substantial bite of chocolate really adds something to the texture and taste of the cake.
  • I made the cake the day before and served it at room temperature. The recipe suggests serving it warm and adding whipped cream or ice cream, all of which sound wonderful.
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Sourdough Bread Stuffing

November 25, 2013

I’ve eaten plenty of stuffing over the years, but I don’t think I’d ever made it before. When I was deciding on recipes for an early Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws, I decided to wing it and try a new recipe rather than asking my mom or in-laws for their recipes.

Sourdough stuffing

And, sigh of relief, this recipe was a big hit. The sourdough bread adds a nice tang, the onions, celery, sage, and thyme add what I consider to be the classic stuffing flavors, and the mushrooms are a welcome addition to the other elements. And just like that, I have a go-to recipe the next time I need to make stuffing.

Recipe notes

  • The recipe for Sourdough Bread Stuffing is here on the Food Network’s website.
  • To get a jump on things, I cubed and toasted the bread and chopped the vegetables the night before. With the prep done, it was easy to finish and bake the stuffing after I put the turkey in the oven.
  • I cut way back on the butter. The recipe calls for 8 Tablespoons of butter, which sounded excessive to me. Instead, I sauteed the mushrooms in a little olive oil, then added 2 Tablespoons of butter with the onions and celery, and 1 Tablespoon of butter with the sage. I can’t compare my version to the full-butter version, but I thought it was plenty tasty with only 3 Tablespoons of butter.
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Baked Oatmeal from Super Natural Every Day

November 22, 2013

Baked oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast dishes to make because it reheats so well. There are just two of us in the house, and we usually don’t eat breakfast at the same time, so having something ready to warm up comes in handy. A while back, I got a copy of Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day from the library, and I flagged her version of baked oatmeal right away.

Baked Oatmeal

It’s got bananas on the bottom, berries on the bottom and top, and walnuts mixed in and sprinkled on top. So many flavors and textures, and it all adds up to a delicious, hearty breakfast.

I made this recipe along with my blogging friend Michele. Be sure to check in with her blog, Veggie Num Nums, to see how hers turned out!

Recipe notes:

  • The recipe, which appears here on Williams-Sonoma’s site, is almost the same as the one in the book. The recipe in the book provides an option of using 1/3 cup natural cane sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw), added to the oat mixture, instead of the maple syrup. I’m not a big maple person, so I opted for the sugar.
  • When I scooped it out of the baking dish, I noticed that there was some extra liquid on the bottom, even though the oatmeal was cooked through. I think using frozen berries might have caused this. It wasn’t a big deal, but next time I’ll thaw and drain them first.
  • My husband, not a nut fan, declared this good, but “too nutty.” I think it would work out fine to leave the nuts out and serve them on the side for sprinkling on individual portions. More nuts for me!

If you have the book, here are a few other recipes that I’ve tried and liked:

  • Lemon-Zested Bulgur Wheat: This is another great hot cereal that reheats well.
  • Chickpea Wraps: This was a welcome change from the usual sandwich selections. I used pita bread instead of a tortilla or wrap.
  • Cabbage-Chickpea-Curry Soup: Tons of curry flavor; perfect for chilly weather.
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Frozen Bananas with Magic Shell

November 18, 2013

Magic Shell, the ice cream topping that hardens when poured onto ice cream, is a blast from my past. When I discovered that you can make it with chocolate chips and coconut oil, I was thrilled. And then, America’s Test Kitchen improved on the recipe by adding vanilla, espresso powder, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla. Perfection! It’s super-chocolatey, hardens beautifully, and isn’t waxy.

Of course it’s great on ice cream. But what happens when you run out of ice cream? Well, you can put it on frozen bananas!

I got on a roll making chocolate-dipped frozen bananas when I saw this post on Sugar Hero. I made her version of the bananas a few times; toasted coconut is my favorite topping. Then one day I ended up with some leftover magic shell and no ice cream and wondered how it would work on a frozen banana. It worked quite well, thank you!

Chocolate-dipped frozen banana

Here’s how:

  • Peel bananas, cut in half horizontally, and insert a stick in each piece (I couldn’t find old-fashioned popsicle sticks, so I used cookie sticks). Wrap in waxed paper, seal in a plastic bag, and freeze a few hours or overnight.
  • Make the magic shell topping ahead of time so that it has time to cool to room temperature. I highly recommend America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe (you’ll need to scroll down a bit to get to the section titled Chocolate Ice Cream Shell.)
  • Remove bananas from the freezer and unwrap. Using a large spoon, spoon the magic shell over the banana. It hardens right away, so work quickly to evenly coat the banana. And, since it does harden so quickly, if you want to sprinkle it with any toppings, you’ll need to work incredibly fast – I recommend having a helper so one set of hands can do the coating and the other set can do the sprinkling.
  • Wait until the chocolate is completely hardened before setting the banana down. Serve immediately.
  • Note: I usually pop several bananas in the freezer at once and then pull out a couple at a time to dip and serve. I’ve left the undipped bananas in the freezer for several days with no problems.
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Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and Olive Sandwich Topping

November 15, 2013

Sandwich Topping

This sandwich topping combines so many things that I love: roasted red peppers, fresh and sundried tomatoes, plus olives and pickles. It’s my adaptation of a Jamie Oliver recipe for Stuffed Focaccia – in that recipe, a focaccia loaf is heated, split horizontally, and filled with a version of this topping. It’s delicious served that way, but also works well on other types of bread (I put it on some naan in the photo above), and tastes great as part of a more traditional sandwich, with sliced ham, turkey, and/or cheese. It would also be a welcome addition to a green salad.

I should probably call this Trader Joe’s sandwich topping, because many of the ingredients are things I stock up on there – all of the jarred items in the ingredients list are things I buy there. I got hooked on the cornichons a while ago and haven’t tired of them yet. As much as I love dill pickles, those tiny, sour pickles are addictive!

Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and Olive Sandwich Topping
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals

1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed
3 oz sundried tomatoes in oil (I use a little less than half of an 8.5 ounce jar)
10 kalamata olives, pitted
10 pimento-stuffed green olives or pitted green olives
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
6 cornichons (also known as gherkins)
small bunch of parsley
minced hot pepper, to taste (optional)
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Parmesan, for serving

Roughly chop first 7 ingredients (roasted red peppers through cornichons) and put in a medium bowl. Remove leaves from parsley and roughly chop; add to bowl. Add hot pepper, if using. Stir in lemon juice and olive oil. Store covered in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off. Serve on focaccia or as part of a sandwich. Tastes great with Parmesan grated on top.

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Sweet Bourbon Corn Pudding

November 13, 2013

The first time I had this dish was at my in-laws’ house. When I heard we were having corn pudding, I was thinking “yuck.” One bite and that yuck turned to yum! I must have gotten pretty excited about it, because my mother-in-law has made it for me several times since then, and now calls it “Jill’s corn.”

Bourbon Corn Pudding

This dish is a little sweet, a little bourbon-y, and full of corn goodness. Last year I made it for Thanksgiving instead of my family’s usual corn dish, and it went over really well. I made a double-batch to ensure that I had leftovers; it’s just as good reheated in the microwave the next day. 

Sweet Bourbon Corn PuddingFrom AARP The Magazine

3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups canned cream-style corn (note that this is 2 cups, not 2 cans – you’ll need a little more than 1 can)
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

  1. Spray an 8″ square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and bourbon.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until combined. Whisk in the cornstarch and bourbon mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir with a spoon. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 45-48 minutes or until lightly browned and no longer jiggly in the center. Serve warm.

Note: I usually have to bake it longer, especially if making a double-batch.

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