Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chipotle Pumpkin Soup

Perhaps you are ready for a little post-Christmas detox.  If you are like me, you ate about 200 cookies in the past 2 days.  This soup is low in fat and high in vitamins and fiber.  Just the thing to help you recover.  

We had three pumpkins for Fall decorations this year, one for each of us.  Two sugar pumpkins and one mini gourd for our mini guy.  In years past, our pumpkins mysteriously ended up with bite marks in them from the various animals we have prowling around at night out here in the country.  I was pleasantly surprised that this year they made it through the season unscathed, and when December rolled around, I declared it time to bring in the pumpkins and roast them up.

Since my lunches are usually spent inhaling my food while trying to keep up with my little - eating/hurling hummus around the room - machine, I like to keep it simple.  A big pot of soup I can eat all week is perfect. I made a roasted butternut soup with apples and curry last week.  You might be thinking I will post that next, but that would have required me to take a picture before eating it all.  In any case, I wanted this to be a little different, and spicy chipotle was perfect.  I wish blogger would stop telling me chipotle isn't a word, because it's stressing me out that I've made some huge grammar mistake on the internet.

You can make this with canned pumpkin, but if you have a couple of sugar pumpkins lying around on your front steps (just me? oh.) it's easy to roast them up.

Roasted Pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using your biggest and sharpest knife, slice the stem off the pumpkin.
Cut it in half vertically and remove the seeds and stringy insides.  Reserve the seeds and roast them up later.
I found that using an ice cream scoop worked well to scrape down the inside of the pumpkin, but a big spoon works as well.
Rub insides with olive oil and place face down on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.
Roast for 1 hour, or until skin is wrinkly and brown and can easily be pierced with a knife.
Allow to cool and then scoop out pumpkin flesh.
Puree in a food processor and use for whatever you like.  Can I suggest soup?

Chipotle Pumpkin Soup
from Simply Recipes

olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo (I like things spicy, so I used 3)
8 cups pumpkin (either roasted yourself or 3 cans)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, until softened.
Add in the garlic, cumin and chipotle and cook, stirring, for one minute.
Pour in the pumpkin, broth, oregano and salt.
Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes.   
If you'd like, puree the soup using an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor.  I left mine as is and it was delicious.
Garnish with cilantro and lime juice.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Orange Bread

Last week I bought tangerines.  I don't know why.  I think they were the first citrus I saw at the market and I got all excited because they were so cute and orange.  The problem with tangerines, though, is that they have about a million seeds in them.  I ate one, bit into a seed, and the rest sat on the counter while I ate clementines instead.  Not wanting to waste them, I decided to whip them into a little treat.  A few quick internet searches for ideas and I came up with this super quick, simple orange bread.  Or tangerine bread, as the case may be. 

Orange Bread

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 egg
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt (could use vanilla as well)
2-3 Tablespoons orange zest (tangerines aren't quite as zesty as oranges, so I only had about a tablespoon, more would be better though)

3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a loaf pan by coating with cooking spray or butter.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together melted butter, egg, orange juice, yogurt and zest.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and orange juice until thick but still pourable.  You might want to adjust the measurements a bit, so I recommend adding a little juice at a time.
Pour glaze over the bread.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Streusel Topped Apple Pie

I started writing this post right after Thanksgiving.  And now we're looking at Christmas.  The shame.  Good thing apple pie is appropriate for all holidays.

I've made a lot of apple pies, but this was a bit different.   We went to Friends-giving the weekend before the holiday and regular Thanksgiving, and I brought apple pie to both.  Although pastry crust is easy to make, I didn't want to do it twice, especially since Colin thinks the food processor is an evil demon sent to our house to scare him.  I made one batch of crust and opted for a streusel topping.  It's the best of apple pie and crisp combined.  Even after enduring the torture of the food processor, poor Colin is too young for pie.  I did sneak him a little bite of ice cream, though, and he seemed to forget the offense.

Streusel Topped Apple Pie

1/2 batch pate brisee (if you aren't making two pies, you can freeze the other crust)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg
1 Tbsp. flour
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Streusel topping:
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, flour and lemon juice.
Add the apples and toss until evenly coated.
Roll out the pastry dough and fit into a 9 inch pie plate.  Crimp the edges.
Pour the apples into the crust.
Prepare the streusel topping.
Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt and butter in a bowl.  Using your fingers (or a pastry blender) cut in the butter pieces until large clumps form.
Top apples with streusel.
Put pie on baking sheet (to catch any drips) and bake for one hour, or until apples are tender and bubbling and streusel is browned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baked Oatmeal : Pumpkin Apple Cranberry or Blueberry Banana

Lately, Jon hasn't been getting home from work until late.  This means that my dinners have been less than creative.  Leftovers and egg sandwiches are frequently gracing my coffee table while I watch the Food Network. It is a glamorous life I lead.  One thing I have been cooking, however, is breakfast.  I wake up starving.  Ready to gnaw my arm off starving.  It's best if I don't have to spend a lot of time dilly dallying in the kitchen.  These baked oatmeals have been perfect.  They are healthy, quick, and easy to whip up the night before (or even that same morning if you don't have the same arm-gnawing tendencies as me).  

I naively started writing this post after lunch while Colin toddled around.  I had to take several breaks to retrieve random containers he had removed from recycling and strewn around the house.  Then when I suggested he might want to stay nearby, he took all the cords out of the desk and chewed on them.  Babies are not great writing assistants. And thus I am finishing this post after bedtime.

I make two variations of this oatmeal, as you may have gathered from the post title.  The base is the same, but then I add either pumpkin, apple and cranberries or blueberries and banana.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup wheat germ (or more oats)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (can sub pumpkin pie spice for the the pumpkin apple oatmeal)
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds (or chopped walnuts)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 apple, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries


2-3 bananas, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a bowl, stir together oats, wheat germ, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, whisk together brown sugar, egg, milk, vanilla and either pumpkin or banana.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine.  
Mix in the apple and cranberries or blueberries.
Spread in the baking dish and sprinkle with nuts.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Reheat in the oven or microwave to serve warm.
If you're feeling fancy, drizzle with a little maple syrup.

Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Roasted Squash and Carrot Macaroni and Cheese

My lack of posting is correlated to the speed at which Colin moves.  Gone are the days when he would bounce in his exersaucer while I cooked.  Gone are the days when he would sit on the floor in the kitchen and play with toys.  Now he toddles around, I'm lucky if he stays in the kitchen, which means he is taking everything out of the recycling bins.  More likely, he is practicing his new climbing skills on the stairs, so that when I say "where's Colin?," he peers his little face around the corner and smiles at me.  Too cute, but not conducive to cooking.  We manage just fine, but I admit the new recipes and photographs have gone by the wayside.

I turned on the end of the Rachael Ray show a few weeks ago to see her plating up this mac and cheese.  Baked mac and cheese is a weakness of mine, and I love butternut squash, so I thought I would give it a try.  It was good, but next time I think I would skip the carrots and go with squash only.  

Roasted Squash and Carrot Macaroni and Cheese
recipe slightly modified from Rachael Ray

6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 1/2 pounds butternut, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 pound pasta
4 Tablespoons butter
3 round Tablespoons flour
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dry mustard
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
3 cups cheese (I used a combination of cheddar and monterey jack)   

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
On baking sheets, toss carrots and squash with olive oil, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta.  Under cook pasta by a minute or two, drain and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
Stir in flour and cook for a minute or two until lightly browned.
Add shallots/onions and garlic, sprinkle with mustard, salt and pepper.
Pour in Worcestershire and gradually whisk in the milk.
Cook, whisking frequently, until sauce has thickened.
Place half the roasted squash and carrots into a food processor with chicken stock and puree.
Whisk puree into milk sauce.
Stir 2 1/2 cups of cheese into the sauce.  
Add in the pasta and remaining vegetables.
Transfer to a casserole dish coated with cooking spray and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake casserole in the oven until lightly browned and bubbly.     

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Cookie Sandwiches with Cream Cheese Frosting

These cookies are so good, and perfect for the season!  I admit I jump all over the pumpkin bandwagon come fall.  I usually use the canned version from the market, but it's very easy to roast your own sugar pumpkins.  I have high hopes that our pumpkins will last through Halloween so I can cook them, but they usually get chewed up by some animal in the middle of the night.  Life in the country. 

Pumpkin Cookie Sandwiches with Cream Cheese Frosting

Original recipe modified from Food Network

Yield: About 20-25 sandwich cookies

1 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)
pinch ground cloves
pinch salt

2 (8 oz) packaged cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each.  Pour in maple syrup.
Add the pumpkin and mix until all wet ingredients are well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and salt. 
With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, portion onto cookie sheets lined with baking mats or parchment paper.
Bake for 10 minutes until lightly golden brown on the edges. 
Cool on racks.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer until light and fluffy.
Add in the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Add in the vanilla and lemon zest, and mix well.

When cookies have cooled, sandwich cream cheese frosting between them.  Store in the refrigerator if you have any leftovers. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

At Home With Colin

Hello, AHWA readers!  Colin here, sharing my perspective on life at 9 months old.

I know I'm 9 months old because my mom whispered it to me when we were spending some quality time together at 3:48 AM on October 4th.  She does this every month, I wonder if she's ever going to stop.  At least it's not every Wednesday anymore. 

My day usually starts with Daddy coming in to get me out of bed.  IT IS SO EXCITING - I LOVE DADDY!!!  This is usually our only time together during the day so I am very chatty and giggly. 

We all head downstairs and eat breakfast.  I have only recently started eating breakfast, but I can gobble down fruit like none other.  I did not care for oatmeal, and made that clear.

After Daddy heads to work, I play for a bit and then it's time for my first nap.  When I wake up, I jump up and down in my crib and sing until Mommy retrieves me.  This is when we head out for our first adventure of the day.  Sometimes we go to the playground. I am a big fan of the swings, and also enjoy walking around and picking up each and every wood chip.  I have tasted several.  I am not so sure about the slide.

Other times we head out shopping.  I keep my eyes peeled for flags, ceiling fans, and big lights.  When I see them I point and  yell so everyone can appreciate them, as well.  I love being out, and do not like getting back in the car to go home.  When Mommy tries to put me in my carseat, I show her how quickly I can flip over and stand up facing backwards.  She does not seem impressed.  Eventually she wrestles me in, and we head home.

We have some more playtime at home.  This generally involves me toddling around the house holding Mommy's hand and making my rounds of the refrigerator magnets, dishtowels on the stove handle, phone cord, air conditioning vents, and shoes.  During our entire day Mommy chases me around with the camera.  I don't stay still much anymore, so she gets a lot of blurry pictures.  I also want to play with the camera, so she gets a lot of pictures that look like this.

Next comes lunch time.  I can feed myself now and while it takes a little concentration, I get most everything in my mouth.  Today we had broccoli.  I know this because Mommy made up a cheesy song about it.  She doesn't seem to grasp the difference between laughing at and laughing with.  I indulge her.  Anyway, back to the broccoli.  These little trees are easy to pick up, so I keep shoving them in until they are all in my mouth at once.  This makes chewing a bit difficult as I only have one tooth, but I manage. 

Following my afternoon nap, we take a walk.  When we get home I like to toddle around the yard trying to pick up pine cones.  Mommy takes them away from me saying something about "sticky."  I don't know what that means, so I continue finding them until I have managed to get sap all over my hands and clothes.

Dinner time is much like lunch, but I usually manage to get even more food all over myself.  Next up is tubby time.  I love tubby time!  I splash as much as I can, soaking the bathroom, and also chew on my ducks.  Apparently I'm not supposed to stand up in the bathtub, but standing is my favorite, so there is usually some discussion about that.

Finally we read the nighttime books, have a snack and I eventually go to bed after trying to pull down the curtains and dismantle the sound machine.  Mommy and Daddy hope that I sleep for many hours, but I often have other plans. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Sandwich

Life is busy around here.  Now that Colin is on the move, I spend all my time chasing him around and holding his hands while he toddles.  I also try to prevent him from chewing wires, pulling all the paper out of the recycling bin, and licking shoes.  This means that my previous technique of preparing dinner in the afternoon while he played on the kitchen floor or in his exersaucer doesn't work so well anymore.  Leftover nights are my savior, but I still love to cook, and we still love to eat.

Fish is great because it takes just a few minutes to cook, so I can easily make it after Colin is asleep and before Jon gets home. I love sandwich night because it also means I get to eat sweet potato fries, and I can't get enough sweet potato fries. 

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

2 (or 4) tilapia filets
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Salt and Pepper
Canola oil, for frying

Heat canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Pat tilapia dry with paper towels.
In a shallow bowl, beat the egg.
In another shallow bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, Old Bay, salt and pepper.
Dip the tilapia in the egg wash, and dredge in the cornmeal mixture.
Fry for about 2 minutes a side, until cooked through and flakes easily.

I served these on toasted rolls with homemade tarter sauce, lettuce and tomato.  And sweet potato fries on the side, of course.

Only after I took this picture and ate the sandwich did I realize the baby monitor is in the background.  My constant dinner companion.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crustless Quiche with Goat Cheese and Tomato

My sister and her family came by for a quick visit last weekend on their way to Nantucket.  Amidst the craziness of a 6 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old who had been in the car for over 3 hours, they ate this quiche.  It met with positive reviews all around.

This is a basic recipe that can be customized however you like.  I made it last year with spinach and cheddar, but really any combination of vegetables, meat, or cheese works. 

Crustless Quiche with Goat Cheese and Tomato

6 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
3-4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tomato, sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a 9 inch ceramic dish or pie plate with cooking spray, or grease with butter.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Stir in herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Pour into baking dish and crumble goat cheese evenly over the top.
Lay slices of tomatoes over the top.  Attempt an attractive pattern.
Bake for 30 minutes until quiche is puffed and golden.
Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wheat Berry Salad

You know how when you order take-out Chinese food and you get way more fortune cookies than the number of people in your party?  The highly sophisticated formula for food per person used by takeout Chinese restaurants is a mystery to me.  Since we always order enough for leftovers, it's ok  to get four cookies for two people.  A few weekends ago we ordered from a new-to-us place that turned out to have extremely generous portions.  Our order of two appetizers and three entrees (we like variety) came with seven fortune cookies.  Seven.  We ate the food for three meals, Jon even had some for extra breakfast and we still ended up throwing some away, along with five of those fortune cookies.  The shame of ordering nearly enough food for a football team prompted me to make a little healthy salad for us to detox on Monday.

Wheat Berry Salad

1/2 cup dried wheat berries, steamed - I soak mine overnight, and then simmer in fresh water for about an hour - about 1 cup cooked
1/2 cup uncooked rice, steamed - about 1 cup cooked
1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 green onions, sliced
1 cucumber, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine cooked wheat berries, rice, chickpeas and vegetables.
Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad.

I served it over greens with crumbled goat cheese sprinkled on top.  And did not follow it up with a fortune cookie.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Apple Spice Bread

One Thursday a few weeks ago I went to the market, as I always do.  I carefully selected apples for the next week, inspecting each one to make sure they didn't have any bruises or weird spots.  On Monday morning when Jon was picking an apple to take with his lunch, they were all bad.  And not like, oh this has a little bruise bad, actively bad.  It was like some sort of apple gremlin came and ruined them all overnight.  I made an emergency trip to Whole Foods that day (and wandered around for an hour trying samples and getting things we don't need) to restock, and made apple bread with the reject fruit. 

Apple Spice Bread
adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups chopped apples, skins removed

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray an 8 x 4 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, all spice, and cloves.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.
Add in oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Add the sugar and mix until well combined.
Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in the wet ingredients and mix just until the flour is combined.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apple chunks.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter in the loaf pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until loaf is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


For a family that loves tacos as much as we do, I can't believe I haven't made something like this before.  A layered casserole like lasagna, but with taco filling instead of marinara and tortillas instead of pasta.  Use whatever taco filling you like.  I chose ground chicken and onions and peppers, but any ground meat would work, as would beans, sweet potatoes, or tempeh.

I went a little crazy buying corn tortillas because the package of 24 was on sale for 69 cents.  Needless to say, we had a lot to use up, and they aren't actually all that wonderful with tacos because they break and explode toppings all over your hands. They are perfect in this casserole, though.


Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pound ground chicken
14 oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
~12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 -2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings: salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, avocado, cilantro - anything you put on a taco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare your taco filling.
Heat oil in a pan and add meat.  Cook until browned.  Drain off excess fat, if necessary.
Add in onion and bell pepper.  Cook until vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Add in garlic and cook for one minute more.
Stir in spices.
Pour in tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.  I would normally use only 8 oz. of sauce for tacos, but you want this to be a little extra saucy.
In a casserole dish (I used an 8x11, but you can customize this to whatever size you want), spread a thin layer of taco filling on the bottom.
Cover with a layer of tortillas.  I tore mine in half and put the straight edges around the size of the dish.  I also neglected to take a picture of this so you will have to get this vague explanation instead.
Spread on a layer of taco filling and sprinkle with cheese.
I did two layers like this, and then ended with tortillas and topped with cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Remove foil and put under the broiler for a couple minutes to get the cheese extra toasty.  This is optional, but toasty cheese is a good thing.
Allow to cool for a couple minutes before serving.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Crispy Eggplant Bites

We've had these before, and they were even better this time around.  When I saw the mini eggplants in our CSA pickup a few weeks ago, my first inclination was to make mini eggplant parm, because that is by far the most searched recipe on my site.  I thought it might be ready for an upgrade, but then I got sidetracked, as I so often do these days.  In any case, these crispy eggplant bites are delicious.  We had them as part of a caprese salad, but they would also be excellent as an hors d'oeuvres with a tomato or pesto sauce for dipping.

Crispy Eggplant Bites

3 small eggplants, cut into cubes
kosher salt
1/2 cup flour
2-3 eggs, whisked
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Italian herbs (oregano, basil, parsley)
Cooking spray

Put cut eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Leave for at least an hour.  This takes out some of the extra moisture, as well as the bitterness.  If your eggplant are more mature, or have spent a few extra days in the fridge, peel them.  If they are young and fresh, feel free to leave the skin on.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Set up three bowls for your breading station.
In the first bowl, put flour.  Add the eggplant and toss liberally to coat.  You can do this in batches depending on the size of your bowl.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggplant, tapping away excess flour, and put into a bowl with beaten eggs.  Stir around until each piece is coated in egg. 
Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggplant from the egg wash, allowing excess to drain, and put into bowl with breadcrumbs and herbs.  Toss until coated.
Put eggplant pieces on baking sheet. 
Bake for about 20 minutes, flipping once, or until golden brown and crispy. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spicy Corn Chowder

I always thought corn chowder was kind of bland, which is why I hadn't made any yet this summer despite the abundance of corn.  But then, while flipping through the Pioneer Woman cookbook, I happened upon her recipe for Corn Chowder with Chilies.  Corn plus bacon, chipotles and chilies?  This was more up my alley.  I made it my own by subbing in the ingredients I had on hand (jalapenos instead of chilies and grilled corn instead of raw), and it was amazingly good.  It packed quite a kick, though, so much so that my brother-in-law, who ate a bowl after getting home late at night, was caught a bit off guard. He did confirm that it was delicious despite the somewhat mouth-burning quality.

Between the time when I started writing this post yesterday and now we have picked up 8 more ears of corn from our CSA.  Might be making another batch this week.  Good thing I have a kitchen helper.

Spicy Corn Chowder  

2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
5 ears corn, shucked, kernels removed (I used grilled, but boiled, raw, or frozen/thawed would work)
2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2-1 cup heavy cream
kosher salt, to taste
3 Tablespoons cornmeal
1/4 cup water

Put bacon pieces in a dutch oven or soup pot and cook for a few minutes until fat is rendered. 
Add in butter and onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes until bacon is done and onion is translucent. 
Add in corn, chipotle peppers and jalapeno.  Cook for a few minutes more.
Pour in chicken broth and heavy cream.  I also added a few spoonfuls of the adobo sauce.  I didn't really measure my cream, just did a turn around the pot until it looked sufficiently creamy enough. 
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal and water. 
Add cornmeal mixture into the soup pot and cook for about 10 more minutes until slightly thickened. 
Taste and add more salt, if necessary. 
This can simmer for a long time, and as you know, soup is always better on the second day.
Served with a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley, if you aren't Jon, who thinks he doesn't like those things. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Late Summer Quinoa

It's that time of year when we have more tomatoes, corn and zucchini than we know what to do with.  We got 8 ears of corn and several pounds of tomatoes in our CSA pickup last week, so our meals have been all about corn, tomatoes, corn and tomatoes. 

On Saturday we made homemade pizza (using this dough) and topped it with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, corn and basil.  I really liked the addition of the corn on pizza, but I would recommend leaving the basil off until after baking because ours got kind of toasted. We were at the beach, so we used cookie trays instead of the pizza stone for baking, and we could totally tell the difference in crust crispiness.  Pizza stones are well worth the investment.  Also, taking crappy pictures with the flash in bad lighting doesn't do it any favors, but I wanted to give you an idea of what it looked like.

Sunday night we had burgers, topped with tomatoes, and grilled corn on the cob.  I asked Jon to grill all the corn because I think it's better that way, and then it would be all ready to use for the quinoa and chowder later in the week. 

Quinoa lends itself to pretty much any addition.  Bring two cups of liquid to a boil, add one cup of quinoa, simmer for 15 minutes and you can throw anything into it and call it dinner.  Or lunch.  Or breakfast.  In this batch, I cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth for extra flavor and added all the veggies I could dig out of the refrigerator.

Late Summer Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 cob of corn, kernels removed (I used grilled, but boiled or raw would work)
2 cups chickpeas (or one can, drained and rinsed)
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 pint (about 10) cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups green beans, trimmed
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Optional toppings: feta or goat cheese and parsley

Prepare quinoa.  Bring two cups of liquid to a boil.  Add one cup of quinoa.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 15-20 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan.
Add in chopped onion and zucchini cook for about 5-7 minutes, until softened. 
Add in chopped garlic and cook 1 minute more.
In a pot bring a few cups of water to a boil.
Cook the green beans for about 5-7 minutes, until slightly softened but still crispy (or however you like to eat green beans).
Remove beans and plunge into a bowl of ice water.  This will stop the cooking and keep them bright green.
In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, zucchini, onion, garlic, beans and remaining vegetables.
Prepare a simple vinaigrette.  Whisk together 1 teaspoon or so of dijon mustard with a few (3) tablespoons of vinegar.  Slowly add olive oil in a stream while whisking until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over quinoa and top with goat/feta and parsley, if you like those things.  Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Low(er) Fat Banana Bread

While this is the best banana bread recipe ever, it's good to try new things.  New things that don't have six tablespoons of butter in them.  Especially since we can polish off a loaf of banana bread over the course of a weekend without much difficulty.  Also, I went on an applesauce buying bender for Colin a few weeks ago, so we have plenty around.  I considered trying to healthify up this recipe a bit more by subbing in wheat or wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose and cutting down the sugar, but then I didn't.  I'll let you know if I do, and if you do tell me how it goes. 

If you are a fan of AHWA on Facebook (and I hope you are!), you know that I made this in just a few minutes during naptime last week.  Then I thought about using all my extra time to clean the bathtub but opted to complain about it on Facebook instead. 

Lower Fat Banana Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In another bowl, mash the bananas, and mix in the applesauce, vanilla and eggs.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until just combined.
Pour batter into a loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.  We like the gooey center, so I did just shy of 50 minutes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pesto Bruschetta

This is a ridiculously easy dish to make, and works well as an hors d'oeuvres to bring to parties.  I double check the spelling of hors d'oeuvres every time I write it lest you think I'm a moron.  I can also tell you from experience that it is a good addition to appetizers-for-dinner night.  I hope we're not the only people who do that, because it's amazing.  It's the perfect way to justify chowing down on cheese and crackers and the like because it's a meal.  Anyway, I've wandered off topic again.

I made my own pesto for this, but you can certainly use store bought as well, making it even easier.  I've also done a variation where I subbed goat cheese for some of the cream cheese.

Pesto Bruschetta

1 french baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices (you can toast, or not)
8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature (light cream cheese works well here because it's a little easier to spread)
1/4 cup pesto (start with a couple tablespoons and adjust to taste)

In a food processor, or a large bowl, combine cream cheese and pesto.
Spread on baguette slices.
Garnish with tomato slices or basil, if you feel like it.  
Bring to a party and impress your friends.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Edamame Hummus

This is a nice twist on traditional hummus, and you know I usually can't get enough of the chickpeas.  Replacing the chickpeas with edamame and the traditional olive oil with sesame oil gives this an Asian flavor that pairs especially nicely with rice crackers.  I recommend the wasabi flavor if you like the spice.  The only part of this that I didn't like was peeling the skins off the edamame.  I know it gives the hummus a creamier texture, but it took a good 20 minutes during which time I was singing Disney tunes loudly to Colin in an attempt to keep him entertained and not chewing on the baseboards.  Next time I might just live dangerously and see what happens if I leave them on.

Edamame Hummus
recipe from Daily Garnish 

1 16 oz. bag frozen edamame
2 garlic scapes, roughly chopped (or one clove of garlic)
1/4 cup water (adjust as necessary)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons tahini
2 Tablespoons sesame oil

Cook edamame according to package directions.
If you are patient and want a very creamy texture, slip off the thin skins on the edamame.  This isn't difficult, but can be a bit time consuming.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients.
Process until desired consistency.  For me this was about 8 minutes.  Just turn it on and walk away!  Add more water if necessary. 
Adjust salt to taste and garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and sesame seeds, if you like. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Colin is 7 Months Old!

I should call this the 7 1/2 month update, because that's how far behind I am!

We have been having the best summer!  Seeing lots of friends and family and bouncing from one beach to another.  We were lucky enough to spend a few days with my best friend and roommate from high school, Megan, and her two little kids, who are 3 1/2 and 1.  They are adorable, and it was great (if a bit crazy) to hang out with all the kids together.  We've visited with both sets of grandparents, and spent the week in Maine with my parents, my sister and her family. 

I spend considerably less time on the beach baking in the sun and more time cleaning sand out of Colin's mouth, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Colin loves the beach.  He likes to be held standing at the edge of the water and stomping his feet, he likes to sit in tide pools and splash, and most of all he likes to eat sand.  The delicious organic peas I lovingly steamed and mashed for him, he does not care for, but he can't get enough sand. 

The adventures in solid foods have been going well, aside from the aforementioned peas.  Bananas, sweet potatoes, applesauce, avocado, watermelon and cantaloupe have all gone over well.  He did not get to eat this lobster, but he was certainly interested in what the heck it was. 

Some major changes happened this week.  A tooth!  A new car seat!  Scooting at lightening speed towards whatever is dirtiest/most dangerous/breakable!  We knew the tooth was imminent because you could see the actual outline through the gums and he was chewing even more than normal, if that's possible.  He has also been sleeping in far shorter increments at night, but who am I to blame the poor guy if his teeth hurt and he wants a midnight (and 2 AM, and 4 AM) snack.  I think I've spent more time sleeping in the chair in the nursery than my own bed in the past week. 

A few likes and dislikes:
Likes: ceiling fans, flags, digital clocks, other people brushing their teeth, water bottles, things to chew, laughing hysterically at anything Jon does

Dislikes: getting in the car seat, peas

All in all, another amazing month with the world's best (and biggest) baby. 

Soft and Chewy Molasses Cookies

I am sorry I left you for two weeks!  We were on vacation in Maine, and then have been having some major happenings in life with Colin.  All good things, but not conducive to sitting down and writing.  I had to choose between napping while Colin napped and writing, and I apologize, but the sleep won.  I am back, though, and have one of the most popular cookie recipes I bake to share with you.

Among the food I brought to Maine last week were these molasses cookies.  Also known as my Dad's Most Favorite Cookies.  The only change I would recommend is to store these in a container as opposed to a large plastic bag. I did the latter, and when I had to acrobatically climb into the backseat to attempt (unsuccessfully) to calm down our crying baby at hour 4 of the traffic jam, I landed on the bag of cookies. They did not fare well.  Still tasted delicious but less round than what you see here. 

Molasses Cookies
recipe from Joy of Baking

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar (if you only have light brown, go a little over on the molasses measurement)
2 teaspoons vegetable, canola or safflower oil
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar, for rolling

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the oil, molasses, egg and vanilla and beat until well incorporated.
Add in the flour mixture, mix until incorporated.
Cover and chill the batter for at least 2 hours.  I usually do this the night before, which means quick baking the next day.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Pour white sugar into a bowl.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.  A cookie scoop is ideal for this step.
Roll the balls in the white sugar and place on cookie sheets.  Flatten slightly.
Bake for 9-10 minutes until tops are crinkly at the edges but the centers are still very soft.
Allow to cool on wire racks.
Makes 32 cookies.
Store in an airtight container (I do not recommend a plastic bag - see above) for up to a week.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

And rainbow sprinkles, because that just ups the party factor. 

We had a few friends over this weekend to eat, drink, play bocce and meet Colin.  I figured cupcakes would be a good way to cap off the day.  Our lovely friends also brought delicious desserts, and gave us the leftovers, so I've been doing my best not to eat more than two a day.  Because two desserts a day is reasonable, and six is not.  Spoonfuls of leftover frosting from the fridge do not count towards this limit, in case you were wondering.

I used these recipes from Brown Eyed Baker.  They came out perfectly!  Plus, I finally made halfway decent looking frosting swirls.  The key was to use a real piping bag and not cheap out and try to use a ziploc.  Too many ziplocs have exploded frosting on me.  No more.

Vanilla Cupcakes
Yield: 12 regular sized cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  
In a standing mixer, combine butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla. 
Add in the flour mixture and beat until smooth. 
Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, divide batter evenly among cups.
Bake until cupcakes are pale gold and spring back when lightly pressed, about 20-24 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. 
I like to bake cupcakes the day before serving to be sure they are completely cool, and also save some time on party day.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar.  Once all the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase speed to medium-high, add the vanilla and whip until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
It was hot and humid when I made this, so my butter was super soft.  I put the frosting in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to firm up a bit before piping, so it wouldn't melt everywhere.
Leftovers keep in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature and whip to use, or eat with a spoon.  


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zucchini Chickpea Falafel

As Jon can attest, I've been experimenting with falafel recipes for quite a while.  Not wanting to deal with deep frying, I use a pan fry or oven bake technique.  I'm not ashamed to admit that my past attempts have been less than amazing.  The last batch was so dry that I had to drown them in hummus and hot sauce.  But no more!  Finally, this twist on falafel is a success, and it's all thanks to zucchini.  If you belong to a CSA, shop at farmer's markets, or can't pass up a sale in the produce section of the grocery store, you might find yourself with some extra zucchini on hand lately.  While I actually like zucchini bread (add enough flour, butter and sugar to anything and it's good), this is something a little different.

Zucchini Chickpea Falafel

1 large zucchini, shredded (about 2 cups)
28 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 4 cups)
1/2 medium red onion, shredded
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup ground flax seed
Handful parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

In a food processor, use the shredding disc to shred the zucchini and onion.  Transfer to a strainer and allow to drain, pressing with a wooden spoon or spatula to remove excess liquid.
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine chickpeas, breadcrumbs, flax seed, egg, parsley, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Pulse until mixed.
Add in zucchini and onion and pulse until combined and mixture sticks together when pressed. 

I baked these at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. I think they would also be good pan fried in a little olive oil.

Served on top of a greek salad, with an unpictured yogurt sauce for dipping.  Plain greek yogurt, finely chopped cucumber, lemon juice, dill and salt and pepper.  And hot sauce, of course.

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