Friday, March 22, 2013

Quinoa Pizza Bites

While I do still make food that isn't quite baby friendly (this week's mouth burning chipotle corn chowder, for example), I prefer to make one meal that we all enjoy.  It makes me so happy to eat with my little guy and see him try new foods, even if he mooches off my plate. 

These quinoa pizza bites were popular with everyone.  I love quinoa, but on it's own it can taste a little bitter and boring.  The herbs give it good flavor, and dried oregano always makes me think pizza.  These were easy to make, although a spazzy potholder move resulted in yet another burn on my wrist.  My cooking theme of the winter has been, how many things can I break or injure myself with in the kitchen.  Must slow down.  C and I will be having the leftovers today, and I can't resist anything that comes out of the mini muffin tin.  Easily customizable to suit your tastes, I can even see serving these as party appetizers if made bite-sized.

Quinoa Pizza Bites
adapted from So Very Blessed

Makes 24 mini-muffin tin sized bites.  

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, reserve some for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt (I omitted salt for my little guy)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium low heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Using a spoon (or cookie scoop), portion into mini muffin tins that have been sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil.  Press down lightly. 
Sprinkle additional cheese on top.
Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and quinoa bites are lightly browned around edges.
Serve with marinara sauce.

Here is an example of my elegant plating.  Served alongside roasted asparagus on a sectioned monkey plate. 

And eaten by my monkey.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I've had my Irish last name for nearly four years now.  While I'm not sure I'll ever get on board with traditional boiled dinner - Corned Beef and Cabbage doesn't do it for me, I did want to try some Irish themed dishes to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  We had Guinness Beef Stew, which was delicious, and tasted even better as leftovers.  For dessert I was inspired by my latest issue of Martha Stewart Living to make Sticky Toffee Pudding. 

I strayed from the original recipe a bit, and had to nearly double the cooking time, but I think it came out well.  The toffee is amazing, but after you eat this you will likely go into sugar shock. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding
modified from Martha Stewart Living

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for dish
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dish
8 ounces dates, pitted and chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter and flour a 2 1/2 quart baking dish (I used an 8x8 pyrex).
Place dates in a bowl and cover with boiling water, let sit for 15 minutes.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium and add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well.
Reduce speed to low, add half the flour mixture, and beat until combined.
Add date and water mixture and remaining flour.  Beat until just combined, do not overmix.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake until cake is puffed and springs back in the center when gently pressed.  This took about 40 minutes for me.

For sauce:
Combine butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens.  Be careful not to let the sauce boil over, that will make a huge mess.

Remove cake from oven and pierce holes at 1 inch intervals to bottom of cake using a skewer. 
Pour half of the hot sauce over the cake and let soak in for at least 20 minutes.
Serve warm with extra sauce for drizzling and whipped cream.
Reheat leftover cake in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes, and warm extra toffee in a saucepan.
I stored my toffee is a measuring cup and just placed it in a small saucepan of simmering water to reheat.

When I prepared to serve this Jon announced, "The middle piece is mine!"  Look at all that delicious toffee.

 Look closer.

In addition to the food, we celebrated St. Patrick's Day by dressing Colin is as much green as possible.

photo 1-1 photo 1-2