Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cranberry Orange Muffins

It's been almost two months.  I know.  Time seems to be flying by at an alarming rate these days, and I'm ashamed to say I've been opening up my blog more often to look up recipes than to write them.  But here I am with muffins!

Whenever I start cooking (or doing dishes) in the kitchen, my little helper arrives dragging his stool with him to see what's going on and "help."  Things often end up in a sea of flour, but we have a good time.  After making these he reached for the spatula in the bowl, hoping for a lick of batter and said, "would like to be delicious."  Me too, buddy, me too.

Cranberry Orange Muffins
based on Joyful Healthy Eats

2 cups flour (I used both all-purpose and whole wheat pastry with success)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 egg
3/4-1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (1 orange)
Milk or more orange juice, as needed to moisten batter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a muffin tin with cooking spray or paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest.
In another bowl, beat egg, orange juice, and coconut oil. 
Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined.
Fold in cranberries.
Portion between 12 regular sized muffin cups.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Applesauce Pancakes

The other night I was crawling around on the dining room floor cleaning up 90% of Colin's dinner when he dropped a handful of yogurt on my head.  Dining with toddlers can be a challenge.  I am always trying to switch up his meals and not get in a rut, because while some of us can eat the same thing for breakfast every day, others of us will take a half chewed piece and hurl it on the floor. 

These pancakes went over well with all my taste testers.  For now, at least.  With no added sugar and healthy fat from coconut oil, they are healthier than a traditional pancake. 

Colin thinks it's funny to take my griddle out of the cabinet, put it on the floor of the kitchen, and stand on it saying "wobbly, wobbly."  Apparently I need to upgrade that particular piece of cooking equipment to something not old and warped.  And always remember to wash it before using. 

Applesauce Pancakes
yield: 24 small (3 inch) pancakes

1 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry, but all purpose works, too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I omit this when adding blueberries)
1 cup applesauce
1/2-3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted (can substitute butter or other oil)
Optional: chopped apple, blueberries

Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon (if using).
In a separate bowl (I like to use my 2 cup measure), whisk together applesauce, milk, egg, vanilla and coconut oil.
Stir wet ingredients into dry.
Pour onto a griddle heated to medium (I spray mine with coconut oil spray).
Cook for a few minutes until edges look dry and bubbles pop through.
Flip and cook until golden brown.
Serve however you like pancakes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Roasted Garlic Hummus

We go through a lot of hummus.  It's one of my go-to meals for Colin, and Jon and I will make a pretty serious dent in a container during a snack session.  While Trader Joe's Mediterranean is my all time favorite, it's always good to whip up a batch at home. 

I had my usual kitchen helper at my side for this one, which meant a fair amount of lemon sucking, chickpea sampling, pressing buttons on the food processor and finally eating the finished product straight up with a spatula.  It's always a messy adventure in our kitchen these days.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

2 cups chickpeas or 1 can, rinsed and drained
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for garlic
Warm water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice the very top off the head of garlic and place on a piece of tin foil.
Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly.
Roast garlic for 1 hour and allow to cool before handling.

Once the garlic is cool, squeeze the cloves to remove the insides and put in a food processor.
Add in the tahini and lemon and run processor until mixed.
Add in chickpeas and salt and turn processor on.
Drizzle in olive oil and add warm water as necessary until it reaches the desired consistency. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Part of our CSA share last week was picking hot peppers. Colin, who has made it quite clear that he doesn't like peppers, going so far as to fish them out of a salad, or his mouth,  would not listen to my suggestion to steer clear of the jalapenos.  Instead, he took a few bites out of one raw.  He has since told me several times that it was "picy."

With a whole bag of jalapenos on hand, I considered my options.  Chopping and freezing to add to chili and cornbread is always good, but I also wanted to try my hand at poppers.  It's a safe bet that any attempts by me to deep fry would likely end up in a kitchen fire, so the oven baking method seemed like a good approach.

Baked Jalapeno Poppers
modified from SkinnyTaste

8-12 jalapeno peppers
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
2 scallions, sliced
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice jalapenos in half lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes.  I opted to wear gloves for this step because I have a particularly bad track record of touching my eyes after slicing hot peppers and causing near blindness.  Use caution.
In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, monterey jack and scallions.  Stir in spices.
In two separate bowls, beat eggs and season bread crumbs with salt and pepper.
Fill jalapeno halves with cheese mixture, dip in egg wash, coat with breadcrumbs and place on a baking sheet sprayed with oil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until filling is melted and tops are golden brown. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Apple Pie Chia Jam

Remember the giant bags of apples we picked last weekend?  Despite our best efforts, we still have quite a few.  They've graced our table as part of nearly every meal and snacks in between.  Some are destined to be made into applesauce, because these waffles are amazing.  And yet we still have more.

Colin loved this Apple Pie Chia Jam.  I've been using it to top yogurt, and he also goes for it straight up.  It would be delicious on ice cream or oatmeal.  Just another way to eat apples at every meal.

Apple Pie Chia Jam
recipe from Oh She Glows

3 large apples, peeled and diced (~3 cups)
3/4 cup 100% pure apple juice
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea or kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir.
Bring to a low boil, reduce to low and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

End of Summer Green Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad

Yesterday we had an unseasonably warm day, and I couldn't be happier about it.  Sure, during the summer I complain about the humidity during a heat wave, and turn on the air conditioning upstairs for sleeping (it's for the baby); but I'd take heat over cold any day. 

This salad is the perfect combination of all the wonderful late summer food; sweet corn, crisp green beans, juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil.  It makes an excellent side dish, we ate it last night alongside broccoli quiche and roasted potatoes, and it is also a perfect light lunch.  Especially if, like me, you're planning to use up some random marshmallows and make rice crispy treats later.  Or, just be healthy.  Whichever.

Green Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad
modified from Self

Salad Ingredients:
3-4 ears fresh corn, removed from cob
1 lb. green beans, blanched in boiling water and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
10 basil leaves, chopped
1 avocado, cut into chunks
Goat cheese, for topping
Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

In a large bowl, toss together all salad ingredients.
In a second bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, kosher salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil in a slow stream while whisking until emulsified.
Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.
Top with crumbled goat cheese to serve.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Applesauce Waffles

As if we didn't have enough apples and applesauce in our lives, we went apple picking this weekend.  It was Colin's first time out, and we went with my sister-in-law and some friends who also have a 20 month old.  The babies ate their weight in whole apples, and the parents wondered what they were going to do with pounds and pounds of fruit. I have plans for crisp and pancakes, and am planning to make several batches of these waffles to stick in the freezer.

Aside from being awesome for anyone, these waffles are excellent for kids.  They are portable and easy to eat, as well as being relatively healthy.  

Applesauce Waffles
modified from Chocolate Covered Katie

Yield: 4 waffles

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or other or butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat waffle iron.  I have this All-Clad Classic Round Waffle Maker (thank you, engagement present), and turned it to 4 1/2.  Check your directions and set to medium. 
Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, stir together applesauce, maple syrup, milk, coconut oil and vanilla.  If it's getting chilly in your house, you might need to warm your coconut oil so it turns to liquid. 
Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir to combine.
Prepare the waffle iron with oil or spray and pour 1/4 of the mixture onto the plates.  Cook until golden brown. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Apple Oatmeal Bread

This week we made applesauce with our friends Sarah and Brycen.  Sarah generously provided the apples from her parent's trees, and Brycen and Colin helped in the way only 1 1/2 year olds can.  We used our giant applesauce stash to do some baking together and made muffins, amazing waffles, and this bread.  Sarah said things like, "all these things will freeze really well, that's why it's ok we made so much."  Meanwhile, I was thinking, I hope these last until the weekend. 

Apple Oatmeal Bread
modified from Stonyfield Farm

1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 cup oats
1 egg
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup diced apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, combine yogurt and oats.
In another bowl, mix together egg, applesauce and brown sugar.
In a third bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Add all wet ingredients to dry and fold in apples.  Mix until just combined.
Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes until golden browned.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Corn and Feta Couscous with Basil Vinaigrette

There is more corn.  And more corn to come.  I'm building up my freezer stash to help remind myself of August when it's snowing.  In the meantime, fresh salads like this are versatile, adaptable and delicious. 

A couple weeks ago I was working on a different corn recipe; a summer squash and corn fritter.  My batter didn't hold together particularly well, and little pieces of corn were falling off into the pan.  As the oil in the pan got hotter, the corn kernels did as well, resulting in popping corn exploding all over the kitchen.  It ended with hurling the lid on the pan, running out of the room, and doing a full kitchen clean after dinner.   Needless to say, it didn't make it on the blog.  I'm happy to report that this recipe involved no corn-induced burns or late night swiffering.   

Corn and Feta Couscous with Basil Vinaigrette
based on Rachael Ray

1 cup couscous
3/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup corn kernels (2-3 ears)
6 ounces feta cheese
Salt and Pepper
Optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced (I would have included both of these but I didn't have them on hand)

Prepare couscous according to package directions.
In a food processor or blender, mix basil with vinegar.
With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil until emulsified.  You might need to adjust your quantities.
In a large bowl, mix corn with couscous.
Drizzle with dressing and mix well.
Top with feta for serving.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

I'm often saying that I made a new recipe and Colin gobbled it up.  He is a good eater, which is great for his little growing person, and because I love to cook.  He certainly has his favorites (salmon, smoothies, and don't get between him and a muffin), but he is willing to give most anything a try.  That being said, he did not love these, and I cleaned a fair amount of spinach and artichoke off of the floor.  Jon and I, on the other hand, enjoyed them quite a bit.  More for us.  

These were delicious as a vegetarian entree, but could also be made with little crimini mushrooms as an appetizer. 

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

6 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and stems and gills removed
Olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
2 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup greek yogurt
Parmesan cheese, for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a pan, heat olive oil over medium.
Add in garlic and saute for 1 minute.
Add in chopped artichoke hearts and spinach. 
Cook for a few minutes and stir in cream cheese and yogurt.
Portion between mushrooms and bake for 20-30 minutes, until heated through.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 5-7 minutes to melt.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Grilled Pork Sandwich with Lemon Basil Mayo

We received some boneless pork loin chops along with a Christmas gift from Omaha Steaks.  My first attempt at cooking the pork yielded tasteless, dry hockey pucks, so the remaining two pieces stayed in the freezer for several months while I mustered the courage to try again.  Then one day while watching Giada, everyone's favorite perky Italian, she made sandwiches with grilled pork loin chops and they looked delicious.  Even so, I wasn't all that excited about this meal, but it turned out very well.  Jon was the grill master, and I handled the toppings. 

Also, can we go ahead and ignore the ice cubes floating in my wine glass?  The wine wasn't chilled, and I'm not so secretly an 80 year old woman.

Grilled Pork Sandwich with Lemon Basil Mayo
 original recipe from Giada De Laurentiis

2 boneless pork loin chops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
1 lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 (1 pound) loaf ciabatta or rustic bread, ends trimmed, cut in 1/2 horizontally
lettuce leaves
smoked gouda cheese, cut into slices

Heat a grill pan or gas or charcoal grill.
Season pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper and herbes de Provence.
Grill until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees, about 10 minutes.
Allow pork chops to rest for 5-10 minutes, and then slice.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, basil, lemon zest, and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Layer the cheese, sliced pork, lettuce and basil mayo on toasted bread.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This Summer

At Home With Ann has been on a bit of a hiatus this summer.  We've been taking full advantage of the warm weather, and have been lucky to spend most of our days at the beach, playground, or running around in the yard.  I haven't been making too many new recipes, but here's a peek of a few things that have filled our plates.

 This pesto, eggplant, cherry tomato and bacon pizza was amazing.  In the summer, our weekly pizza nights often make way for grilled burgers, but this one was well worth cranking up the oven.

 Our CSA farm share has been chock full of tomatoes since the calender turned to August.  We've been having caprese salads nightly, and I've made a tomato sandwich for lunch every day for the past two weeks. 

 This past weekend some of my extended family gathered at the beach house for the weekend.  It was great to see them, even though my aunt made it clear in no uncertain terms that if I didn't update my blog from parsnip soup she would stop reading.  She did compliment my brownies and lemon bars, however.  They are always a hit.

For our anniversary dinner this year we ate sushi on our porch and followed it up with this key lime pie.  Meringue is pretty, but I prefer topping with whipped cream. I guess that means I'll have to make it again so I can share the recipe with you!

 As usual, we find ourselves overflowing with corn from our CSA farm share.  So far it's shown up in cornbread, chili, corn and black bean salad, and straight up with butter, salt and pepper.  Luckily, Colin has gotten the hang of eating it and no longer thinks it's a banana.

I have a couple recipes coming your way soon, one is a grilled pork tenderloin sandwich and the other is peach ice cream.  See you later this week!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

I came down with a cold.  This cold has done a number on my voice, which is seriously impeding my "If You're Happy and You Know It" singing abilities, but not decreasing the requests.  The only plus has been that the middle of the night coughing fits are the closest thing I've gotten to an ab workout in quite some time.  In any case, this is why I made soup when it's 85 degrees outside.

Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

Makes ~4 cups

3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
4-5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic, chopped
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
olive oil
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
On a baking sheet, arrange parsnips, carrots and onion in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for 20 minutes.
Stir, and add garlic and thyme sprigs.  Roast 10 more minutes.
Remove the thyme leaves from the stems and discard stems.
Transfer vegetables to a saucepan and add in broth.
Use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency.

Or, if you've blown out your immersion blender by using it on frozen raspberries, transfer vegetables to the food processor or blender and add enough broth just to blend.  Combine vegetable mixture and broth in a saucepan and heat through.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pink Lemonade Margarita

We were on vacation at the beach in Rhode Island last week.  During a heat wave there's no place I'd rather be.  Our days consisted of a nice little rotation of beach, other beach, salt pond and playground, all while enjoying Jon being home from work for the first week since August.  After Colin went to sleep at night (thank you, blackout curtains), we'd relax on the porch and enjoy the view of the water.  Vacations call for special cocktails, at least around our house, and Jon took the lead and whipped up this batch of Pink Lemonade Margaritas. 

Pink Lemonade Margarita
inspired by Ina Garten 

Makes 4 cocktails.

1 cup pink lemonade
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup triple sec
1 cup white tequila
2 cups ice
kosher salt

Run one of the juiced limes around the rims of the glasses and coat with kosher salt.  Set aside.
In a blender, combine lemonade, lime juice, triple sec and ice.  You might need to add the ice in batches, depending on how large your blender is.
Stir in tequila. 
Serve very cold, preferably with a view. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kale and Creamy Garlic Scape Pesto Crustless Quiche

You've heard me go on and on about how much I love our CSA from Tangerini's Farm.  This is our third year participating.  The first year I was pregnant and got bigger and bigger by the week until it got to the point in late October when I couldn't comfortably bend over to pick vegetables in the fields.  Last year Colin was 5-9 months old.  I'd carry him in the ergo or wheel his stroller out to the ends of the rows in the fields and wave every so often.  This year he runs all over the place, pointing out all the fans, of course, and visiting the animals.  When we pull in the driveway he starts saying, baby goat, baby goat, baby goat, mehhhh, mehhhh.  He has mustered the courage to pat them now, as long as they don't look at him.

This CSA summer season started up a few weeks ago, and among our first batch of vegetables were kale and garlic scapes.  Jon made kale chips from half the bunch.  I said I wasn't hungry, didn't want any, and proceeded to eat the better part of the tray.  Kale chips are good.  Garlic scapes are pretty and curly queued.  Slightly milder than fresh garlic, but still packing quite a kick, you can use them raw in hummus or other dips, or saute them as you would any other garlic or onion.  I will fully admit that due to the sad state of my basil plants that I used prepared pesto here, but of course it's better if you make it yourself.  I doubled the amounts of the cream cheese mixture (8 oz cream cheese, 1/3 cup pesto, 4 garlic scapes) and used the rest spread on french bread.  It's super garlicky, so make sure your date eats it, too.

Kale and Creamy Garlic Scape Pesto Crustless Quiche

~6 large stalks of kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
Olive oil
4 oz.  cream cheese or neufchatel, softened
1/4 cup pesto
2 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup milk, half and half or cream
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare a 10 inch quiche dish, or a pie plate by coating with olive oil or cooking spray.
In the food processor, combine cream cheese, pesto and garlic scapes.  Process until smooth.
In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add in kale and cook, turning frequently, until slightly wilted.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
Arrange kale evenly over the bottom of the baking dish.
Pour egg mixture over kale. 
Drop dollops of cream cheese pesto over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until quiche is puffed and golden.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Buffalo Cauliflower Salad

This is a veggie salad, but spiced (trashed?) up with hot sauce and blue cheese.  It fills your buffalo chicken cravings without the potentially weird chicken pieces.  If I'm eating chicken and I get a piece of cartilage or something it ruins the whole experience from me and I pretty much throw the rest at Jon and then complain about being hungry.

Coating the cauliflower in batter and baking gives them a slightly crispy exterior, which kind of negates the whole vegetable thing, but at least it's not deep fried.

Buffalo Cauliflower
from Skinnytaste

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup water
1 cup flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2-3/4 cup hot sauce

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, garlic powder and garlic in a bowl.  
Toss in cauliflower florets until coated and spread on baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and pour hot sauce over cauliflower.

Salad ingredients: Lettuce, carrots, celery, radishes, etc.

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing
based on Food Network 
1/4 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons chives, chopped
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup blue cheese (I used extra, because I like it cheesy)

Whisk together yogurt, mayo, buttermilk and lemon juice until smooth.
Stir in chives and blue cheese.
Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pan Seared Roasted Salmon with Lemon Orzo

Earlier this week, my local Whole Foods posted on Facebook that they were looking for food bloggers to post some new recipes featuring their Sockeye salmon, which is going on major sale this Friday.  A food blogger who loves salmon and Whole Foods?  Sign me up!  They graciously offered to provide me with a piece in advance to test my recipe, but you can bet with the great deal they are featuring, I will be going back.  Whole Foods is my favorite place to have lunch dates with my little guy, so I'm always happy to have an excuse to visit.

Now, some people say you shouldn't ever have cheese on the same plate as seafood.  I say food rules are meant to be broken and you should eat what you like.

Pan searing and then oven roasting the salmon gives it a slightly crispy exterior and a rich, almost buttery interior.  Paired with the orzo and the tart lemon vinaigrette, crisp cucumbers, salty feta, delicious green herbs and the slight bite from the onions, this is a keeper.  A perfect dish for summer!

Pan Seared Roasted Salmon with Lemon Orzo

Serves 4, with leftover orzo salad

1 pound orzo
1 seedless cucumber, sliced
4 scallions, sliced (~1/2 cup)
1/2 medium red onion, sliced (~1/2 cup)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dill, chopped
8 oz. feta, cubed

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

1 pound Sockeye salmon filet
olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook orzo for 8 minutes.  Drain.
Whisk together lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking until dressing is emulsified.
Pour dressing over orzo in a large bowl.
Add in cucumber, scallions, parsley, dill and feta.

In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
Season salmon with salt and pepper.
Sear on both sides for 2 minutes each.  Stand back, it sizzles!

Lay lemon slices over the salmon and add the red onion to the pan.  I do this because I find raw red onion to be a little overpowering, but if you like, just add it directly to the orzo salad.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 7 minutes.
Serve salmon over orzo salad.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Berry Lime Cake

I know I'm always saying things like, I don't like cake.  But I do like cake, I just don't like it when it's dry and tasteless or covered in that awful grocery store frosting.  This cake was neither dry nor tasteless, plus it looked so pretty in it's little bundt shape.

I love using buttermilk, it makes me feel all fancy.  Inevitably, I am left wondering what to do with the leftover buttermilk and keep it around until I can justify throwing it out.  Not this time, however.  Our Friday morning pancakes were given a boost and the Buffalo Cauliflower Salad (recipe to come...) was topped with homemade buttermilk blue cheese dressing.  If you don't want to buy buttermilk, you can add a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for a few minutes.  

Taking a cake out of a bundt pan is somewhat nervewracking.  I put the plate over the bottom, gave it a flip, said a silent prayer and heard the thunk when the cake released.  The moment of truth is when you lift up the pan to see whether it all came out or you need to frantically glue it back together with icing and eat an ugly piece yourself.

I made this with my kitchen helper.  It can be a bit of challenge to wrangle him and follow a recipe, but I put him on the very important task of measuring limes.

Berry Lime Cake
recipe from Joy the Baker

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a bundt pan by buttering and flouring.  Do not scrimp on this!  See note above about how scary it is to unstick a bundt cake.
In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and lime zest.  Use your fingers to combine until you have a lime scented sugar.
In a large bowl, combine lime sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, buttermilk and lime juice.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture is thoroughly combined.
Add the fresh berries and gently fold in until evenly distributed through the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve as is, sprinkled with powdered sugar, or with a simple glaze.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cod Cakes

I bought cod.  Cod can be so boring, and sometimes, kind of fishy.  Why did I buy cod?  It was on special and had that little "wild caught" sign in front. I picked up a filet and decided I'd figure out what to do with it once I got home.  Plain baked or broiled sounded exceedingly boring, and my basil plants weren't quite ready to be harvested for pesto.  I asked google for some suggestions and came upon cod cakes.  Always a fan of food in cake form, I went with it.  Good reviews from big and little diners, alike.  Jon and I ate them with snap peas done in the lemon-garlic style

Cod Cakes
Yield: 12 cakes
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup parsley (about 8 sprigs), chopped
2 cups potatoes, mashed (I used red potatoes and didn't peel them)
2 eggs, beaten
1-1 1/4 pounds cod
Old Bay (optional)
3/4-1 cup breadcrumbs
canola oil

Lightly saute or steam onion and mix with parsley, potatoes and eggs.
Season cod with salt, pepper and Old Bay.
Put in a covered pan with 1/4 inch water and steam until easily flaked with a fork, about 6-7 minutes.
Add cod to potato mixture combine.
Form patties and pan fry in canola oil, about 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown.
Keep warm or reheat in the oven.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lemon Garlic Green Beans

These are the best green beans.  The Best.  They are so good they make you excited about green beans.  Plus, they only take a few minutes to put together.  If you serve them with a very simple sauteed fish, like I did here, the whole meal takes about 10 minutes.  You could easily use this sauce with other vegetables, it would be delicious with asparagus. These measurements are approximate, I usually just throw all the ingredients in a bowl, so adjust to taste.

Lemon Garlic Green Beans

4 cups green beans
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Boil or steam beans until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.
Immediately immerse beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and maintain their bright green color.
In a large bowl, mix together lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Add in green beans and top with parmesan cheese.
Toss to coat and serve any temperature.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blueberry Muffin Top Cookies

The fluffy texture and blueberry lemon flavor is reminiscent of my favorite muffins.  But, the shape says cookie.  This just means you can eat them anytime of day.  Plus, since they use yogurt instead of butter or oil, we can go ahead and call them healthy.  The batch made quite a few, and even after sending some home with friends, we were left with a lot of cookies.  I tossed them in the freezer in an effort to prevent us from eating them nonstop, and they seemed to fare well.  You can take them straight from the freezer and reheat them for about 7 minutes in a 350 oven. 

Blueberry Muffin Top Cookies
original recipe from spoon fork bacon

Yield ~48 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 lemon, zested
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
In another mixing bowl whisk together sugar, yogurt, egg, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until fully combined.
Add the flour mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir well.
Lightly toss the blueberries in flour and then fold into the mixture.
Butter baking sheets, or line with silicone mats.
Using a cookie scoop, or a Tablespoon, drop 12 cookies on each sheet.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the edges barely begin to brown.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Monday, May 20, 2013

So Long, 1986 Kitchen

When we moved into this house, the kitchen was mostly functional, but ugly.  Our house was built in 1986, and the kitchen showed everything that the 80s had to offer by way of style.  Grainy oak cabinets, heavy hardware, beige laminate countertops, a white tile backsplash with little flowers painted on, and a weird tiny eat-in area that had been converted to a useless tile countertop that was impossible to keep clean.

In the three years that we have lived here, I complained about the ugliness of the kitchen approximately 8,888,888,888,888 times.  We discussed several iterations of this renovation ranging from taking down load-bearing walls, reconfiguring the layout, and gutting everything to just getting new cabinet hardware.  This winter, when we had a few months without too many commitments, we tackled the renovation.  Obviously, by we I mean that Jon did the bulk of the work, I complained about how many times I had to clean tile dust off the spatulas and Colin did everything he could to climb into the cabinets and followed our contractor around giving him about a foot of space. 

It started on President's Day weekend, ended on Mother's Day (I was fully expecting it to be an anniversary present... in July), and was worth every second (and penny).  We did as much work as we could ourselves because we wanted to and it's the most cost effective.  We were lucky our contractor, CJW Home Improvement (major recommendations!), was willing to work with us while we muddled along and called him in to do all the complicated parts.  In a (large) nutshell, the steps were as follows:

- Empty the cabinets, remove the doors, sand, degloss, prime and paint.
- Get a new refrigerator.  Realize that the new fridge won't fit under the cabinet above it.  Move the cabinet.  
- Sand, degloss, prime and paint cabinet doors.  2-3 coats of paint on both sides with 24 hours drying time, this took the longest.  Many a night we spent in the basement. 
- Remove weird tile counter in tiny eat-in area.  Discover that it was designed and installed to last forever.  Glue, cement, nails, stripped screws covered with wood filler.  They had it all.  

- Take down old tile backsplash.  Have fun using a chisel and use this as an opportunity to get out any aggression.  Completely destroy the drywall. 
- Get new cabinets, assemble, sand, prime and paint.
- Contractor sees sketchy electrical behind our now-destroyed drywall, so we end up adding a couple outlets and thanking our stars we didn't have a fire.  
- Contractor puts in new heating blower and air conditioning ducts and removes old scary baseboard.
- Contractor installs new cabinets, which requires him to cut the floor tile, thus creating a noise and a mess I'd never imagined before.
- Order granite counters.  Look at hundreds of slabs of granite in huge warehouses.
- Granite guy comes to make the template and tells us we need to have the old counters removed.
- Contractor removes the old counters and the sink.  Things look bleak when I'm washing dishes in the bathroom sink.

- Jon goes away for a bachelor party and I flee to my parents house where they have counters and a sink. 
- Granite gets installed.  It's so pretty.

- Contractor installs the sink.  It's large enough to swim in. 
- We spend several weeks agonizing over the backsplash.  Samples are purchased, propped up, and stared at.  We finally pick one.
- Home stretch.  Contractor installs backsplash, ties up loose ends, and grouts.  We're so close.
- Repaint the walls and call it done.
- And by done, we mean that now we need to replace the windows because the wood trim looks bad, and we're repainting the dining room.  But, DONE!
-Oh, and I love it! More counter and cabinet space than I know what to do with!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken

In my pantry I have two large mason jars with grains in them.  I'm fairly certain one of them is hard red wheat berries.  I determined this after comparing them to a bag I had, and getting really close to stare at them.  For a while, I thought the other jar held barley.  But then I got some barley and it looked different.  Instead of just cooking them and figuring it out, I ignored them for several months, and complained about the space they took up.  Finally, I used them for this recipe and determined they are soft white wheat berries.  Mystery solved.  The mystery of why I can't be bothered to label my jars is still out there, however.  Now I feel like I may have told you this boring story before.  Sorry.

This salad is great on it's own, but we had some leftovers from a roast chicken so I added it for some protein.  Chickpeas are a good vegetarian option.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken

1 cup wheat berries, soaked and then simmered for an hour (follow package directions)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cucumber, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Chicken, cooked and shredded

In a large bowl, combine wheat berries, tomato, cucumber and green onions.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour dressing over salad and mix well.
Top with cooked chicken and crumbled goat cheese.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Baked Lemon and Pesto Tilapia

This was so easy I won't call it a recipe.  I didn't even make my own pesto, so the whole thing was ready for the table in 20 minutes.  I used tilapia, because I like it and it was on sale at the market.  Use whatever fish you like.

I'm also happy to report that my little guy liked it, especially the pieces with pesto breadcrumbs, so if I have any readers who cook for little people, I'd recommend giving it a try.  Also, sorry about using the word moist later on.   

One more thing!  If you read via Google reader, word on the street is that it's going away.  I've switched my blog reader to Bloglovin, and it's working out well.

Baked Lemon and Pesto Tilapia

1 lb. tilapia fillets
1/2-1 lemon, sliced
1/4-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2-4 Tablespoons pesto
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Arrange tilapia in a single layer in a baking dish.
Drizzle with olive oil and turn to coat all sides.
In a small bowl, mix together breadcrumbs and pesto.  Add enough olive oil to keep it moist. 
Top fish with breadcrumb mixture, and arrange lemon slices over the top.
Cover with foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until it flakes with a fork. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Asian Style Salmon Salad

Now that it's May and Jon's birthday and corresponding pie was last week, we are making an effort to eat a little cleaner.  Sadly, this means cutting down on our consumption of things like nightly dessert.  Thankfully it does not mean we are going to stop going out to ice cream, because that's an important Sunday evening tradition for us in the summer.  At least for me, and I'm fairly certain I can get Colin in my corner.  This doesn't have much to do with anything, aside from the fact that this salad is healthy, filling and delicious.  And won't leave you craving peanut butter cups.  

I love salmon.  Love, love, love.  I always feel good after eating it, and it's so versatile.  Ina made this recipe originally with fresh tuna, but I never see that in the stores, and when I do it can be crazy expensive. I think this would also be good with any firm white fish. 

Asian Style Salmon Salad
inspired by Barefoot Contessa

1-2 pounds salmon
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black, plus extra for sprinkling
2 limes, zest grated
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 dashes hot sauce
1 to 2 ripe Hass avocados, medium diced
1/4 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
1/4 cup red onion, small diced


Cook salmon however you like.  I brushed it with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and cooked over medium high heat for about 4 minutes on each side.  You can also roast, broil or grill it. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, lime juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. 
Add the avocados to the vinaigrette.
Cut the fish in chunks and place it in a large bowl. 
Add the scallions and red onion. 
Pour the vinaigrette mixture over the tuna and carefully mix.
Serve over greens, or on rolls.  

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