Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rugelach (A jewish pastry)

This may be my new favorite dessert. I am literally having daydreams about these suckers. I am not sure if I have ever had Rulelach before, perhaps I have, but nothing like this.

I stumbled on this recipe on one of my nightly readings of Barefoot Contessa's, "Barefoot Parties". After reading the ingredients and seeing the pictures I just had to make it. The next morning I woke up telling healthy boyfriend,
"I have to make rugelach, I have to." Confused he replied,
"What. What Arugela?"
"No baby, Rugelach."
"What, Arugela, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?"
Finally I had to break open the book and show him what I meant. The name may be funny, but this dish is no laughing matter. I mean, laugh if you want, but they are so tasty, I would be surprised if you can speak.

Are they healthy? They are as healthy as cookies are, which is healthy for the spirit and healthy for the body, in moderation.

I used a electric mixer but you can mix this by hand, it just takes some muscle. Though I think working for sweets is probably a good idea, know what Im sayin!

A few notes to make sure you get it right. This is not a difficult dish to make, but unfortunately it's time consuming. You have to make the dough, then let it rest an hour. Then you assemble them and have to let them chill for an additional 30 minutes. So it aint no quick cookie, and is probably a weekend project.   Because it's pastry you cannot cut corners, the temperature of the dough effects the way it bakes. So let your dough rest, it works hard :)

Freezing Note: Luckily they freeze well, and you can make a bunch and then save some for later. Simply freeze the unbaked cookies, and defrost them completely before baking them.

Jam Note: Make sure you blend the preserves in a food processor, they are too thick right out of the jar.

Room Temp Note: Do make sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. They will not cream together properly if they are not soft.

Rugelach (A jewish pastry)

The Goods: 
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 pound(2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
3/4 cup apricot preserves, pureed in food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk(or water) for egg wash

The Deal: 
1. Cream the cheese and butter in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add the flour slowly and mix until just combined.

2. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and roll into a ball. Cut the ball into quarters, and create a small ball out of each quarter. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap(or ziplock bag) and refrigerate for 1 hour.

dough in quarters, roll each into balls
3. To make the filling combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins and walnuts.

4. Once your dough has rested roll out each ball into a 9 inch circle(which is the same size as a standard pie plate). Spread the dough with 2-3 tablespoons of apricot preserves, making sure all the dough is covered. Then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the filling on each circle, again making sure its fully covered. Lightly press the filling into the dough.
healthy boyfriend rolling out the dough!
5. Cut each circle into 12 equal wedges, first cutting the circle into quarters, and then cutting each quarter into thirds. They will look like crescent rolls before you roll them. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Not a pizza, but just as tasty!
make sure to refrigerate them before baking

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

7. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browed. Remove from heat and serve warm or place on a rack to cool.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

about to be roasted!
This is one of my all time favorite salads. In fact it is one of my all time favorite things to eat. It is tangy, hearty, full of flavor and a healthy salad! What could be better?  I promise,  you will never buy caesar dressing again.

I first learned about this recipe from the Carmolas, close family friends of mine.  I was stunned by how delicious it was. I just could not believe what real caesar dressing was suppose to taste like, it is completely different than the thick flavorless muck you buy in the supermarket.

Caesar is much closer to a vinegrette, and less like ranch which many people don't know.

This recipe does not keep, so make it for a big group because leftovers are out of the question. The dressing itself keeps for a day or two, but that is it. This recipe is a good sized meal for 6 people, perhaps with extra bread on the side, just in case.

This is another recipe that you can follow exactly and still not get the perfect flavor. After you make this a few times you will be able to taste the dressing and know it needs more lemon juice, or worcestershire, it tastes a bit different every time.

Making your own croutons is so easy and WORTH IT. Again the croutons you buy in the supermarket taste like dog biscuits, once you have made your own. With 10-15 minutes of work, you will have the best croutons of your life!

I hope that everyone makes this at some point, its just out of this world. Once I've made it for people, they crave it constantly. Im telling you, with salad its ALL about a good, made from scratch dressing. It will make the non-salad eaters.....well salad eaters.

There are several notes below for this recipe, it is not hard to make, but there a few crucial steps that must be followed to make a banging salad.

This recipe is based on the one first taught to me by the Carmolas and also from Barefoot Contessa Caesar dressing from her book, "Barefoot Parties".

Parmesan Note: Grate the parmesan in a a food processor. You want it corsely grated like you buy in the store, not thinly shredded. In fact, this is one time when the store bought parm works just as well. The texture is just better.

Bread Note: Any good crusty bread will do, a french baguette or hard sourdough, you want a bread with a nice hard top that is soft inside. Do not use sandwich bread, or a soft bread, it will not work well.

Salad Note: Using a clean pillow case works as a great salad spinner in a pinch. Simply place the washed salad in a pillow case and hang it. The water will drip out of the pillow case leaving you with drier lettuce! Another trick I learned from the Carmolas, love them!

Egg Note: If you are nervous about using raw egg, you can use 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise or buttermilk. I have never had a problem, but I always buy local or cage free organic eggs.

 Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons
seriously, this is like eating heaven. 

The Goods: Serves 6-8

The Salad: 
3 large heads romaine lettuce
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese(see note)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter or earth balance
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cups sourdough bread cut into 1/2 cubes
2 cloves of garlic, minced

The Dressing:
1 extra large egg yolk at room temperature(see note)
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice(2-3 lemons)
1 cup mild olive oil
1/2 freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon anchovy paste(optional)

The Deal: 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until soft.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a large saute pan on medium low heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant about 1 minutes. Add bread cubes and mix into the butter oil mixture. Heat bread, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, and slightly crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
cooking croutons, yum!
4. Wash the lettuce leaves and spin dry in a salad spinner(see note). Once dry cut the lettuce crosswise into 1 1/2 inch thick slices. Place them in a large mixing bowl.

5. Once your tomatoes and croutons are ready, make your dressing. Place the egg yolk, mustard, garlic, worcestershire, lemon juice, anchovy paste(if using), salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor with a steel blade. Process until smooth. With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until thick. Then add 1/2 cup of parmesan and pulse 3-5 times, until just blended.

6. Toss your lettuce with the dressing, then add your tomatoes and croutons and toss again, just until all ingredients are lightly coated. Add parmesan at the end and put any leftover parmesan on the table for people to add onto their salad.

ENJOY a delicious homemade Caesar salad! Hail Caesar....Salad!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eggplant Gratin

Im gratin-ing yall! Not sure I can make that a verb, but I know I can make a awesome Gratin! I feel fancy just writing about it.

In fact I enjoyed this dish more than eggplant parmesan. There I said it. ITS TRUE!
I felt I could still really taste the eggplant, where often in a eggplant parm I just taste cheese and sauce. Its crucial for me to find dishes that enhance the flavor of the vegetable instead of covering it up.

Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a versatile vegetable and one I should use more off. Its great for us vegetarians(or fake vegetarians like me) who want something with a meaty texture. Eggplant is hearty and can prepared in so many different ways. I will be cooking more this stuff, because it is just so darn good.

I used two medium saute pans at the same time to speed up the cooking. You can use a large saute pan or two medium ones, mostly depends on how much time you have.

In this recipe she recommends using individual gratin dishes. It's unlikely Ill ever own a set of those, so I used a large pie plate, but any large shallow baking dish will do.

My picture is a bit misleading I accidently added WAY too much parmesan on top. It is suppose to be a light sprinkling, not the total coverage that I ended up doing. As mistakes go, this one was an awesome one, who doesn't like more cheese? But if you want it to be more traditional, add only a small amount of parmesan on top.

Regardless this dish is impressive and a great one to serve if you are having guest, especially vegetarian ones. It is delicate, yet hearty and the flavors work incredibly together. On the side you can serve a great recipe for zucchini: Zucchini with Parmesan

Note: To check if the oil is hot, get a couple drops of water on your hands and flick it into the oil. If it oil reacts, aka sizzles, then its ready for frying. If the oil does not react, wait.

Eggplant Gratin

The Goods: serves 4
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced 1/2 thick
1/2 cup skim milk ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup good Marinara Sauce, such as Newmans Own or Harvest Organic

The Deal:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil(just enough to coat the pan) in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking(see note) add several slices of the eggplant and cook, turning once until they are evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Once they are cooked transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain. Add more oil and repeat until all the eggplant slices are cooked.

3. While the eggplant is cooking, in a small bowl combine ricotta, eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

4. In your large baking dish, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with a pinch of parmesan, salt, pepper, and then spoon on the marinara sauce. Next add your remaining eggplants, more salt and pepper, the ricotta mixture and finish with 4 tablespoons of the parmesan.

5. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 375 and bake for another 20 minutes or so, or until the top is browned and the sauce is hot and bubbling.

Serve warm and enjoy! You have just made a gratin, you are moving up in the world!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Zucchini with Parmesan

I love Zucchini. Love. it. Its goes with so much, looks adorable, and is squashtastic. I am also making up for lost time. It wasn't until three years ago I started eating it so I feel the need eat my body's weight in it, apparently.

I found this recipe in Barefoot Contessa's "Family Style" which has a plethora great recipes. Many are meat oriented but she had tons of vegetables and neat ideas in general. Her books are very much worth checking out.

This is a simple yet incredibly satisfying recipe. This is a side dish that could easily overshadow a lesser main dish. It would go with pasta, pizza, or an Eggplant gratin: Eggplant Gratin!

I was really surprised how much I enjoyed the simple flavors of this dish, I wish I had better pictures because this dish was delightful.

As I mentioned above, this recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa, who I love so very much. She is so clever and has great recipes, they are just often not super healthy. I am learning that I can tweak her recipes and still get great dishes. Like last weeks ranch dressing, using low fat mayo and 0% fat greek yogurt still made an awesome dressing. The Barefoot, as I loving refer to her, is someone who I feel teaches me about cooking with her recipes. I like to read her for bed time just for fun, its oddly additive.

I used shallots in this recipe even though it called for yellow onions. I am on a shallot kick, but you can use either. What is wonderful about this dish is the onions lightly carmelize adding a lovely sweetness to the overall flavor. Onions and zucchini are like bread and cheese, they just always work. I also added the garlic, because why wouldn't you when eating zucchini and garlic? Plus garlic is great for your body, so use it if you have it, but no worries if you don't.

Please enjoy!

Zucchini with Parmesan

The Goods: Serves 2-3 as side dish
3 medium zucchini
1 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 shallots(or 2 large yellow onions), diced
1/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese
Good Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground pepper

The Deal: 
1. Remove the ends of the zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Then slice diagonally into 1/2 inch slices.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large saute pan and add garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant about 1 minute. Add onions and cook on medium low heat, until they start to brown, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the zucchini a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally for 10-15 minutes. They should be lightly browned and just cooked through.

4. Sprinkle with Parmesan and cook 30 seconds more and then remove from heat. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Faux Pigs in a Blanket

I call him "Pig Faux"
I feel pretty silly for posting this, hence the very silly picture. Also this is by no means healthy, simply less terrible than normal meat pigs in a blanket. It happens to be one of my all time favorites. ever. Plus they are the fanciest pigs in blanket you are likely to have. I use vegi dogs and find with the other additions I don't miss meat hot dogs and all their filler.
The scallions add an unexpected flavor and the sesame seeds are a crunchy delight.

This dish is not a meal, but would be a nice treat for a party.
One thing I am trying to do with this blog is take the normal, often boring recipes and give them a bit of a twist.

Anytime you are serving something with a lot of bread and cheese be sure you have a good vegetable to go with it. IE last night I had a big helping of steamed green beans with this meal. I also did not eat them all(though I could have, its real unhealthy how much I love these little puppies, I mean piggies!). I made sure half of my plate had a good simple vegetable, so I did not fill up on piggies(and then become one). It would have been better if I had brown rice instead of pastry and cheese, but Im getting there. Im getting there.

If you are having a party, serve these(or the miniature version, see note) and then have a big vegetable platter beside it. You can use homemade ranch for both!

I PROMISE something healthier to come in the next few days. With lots of vegetables, lots and lots. Eating healthy is HARD people. Remember these are for PARTIES, not night alone by yourself-ies *cough* me *cough*

 Note: For a larger party, you can also slice the fake dogs in 1/4s and the crescent triangles in half. You get the double the amount and they are more bite sized. Yum!

Faux Pigs in a Blanket
Right out of the oven, golden little non piggies!

The Goods: Makes 16 fake piggies
1 package of tofu dogs, each dog sliced in half
2 packages of immaculate baking crescent rolls(or any crescent rolls that aren't full of chemicals)
1 cup good cheddar, shredded( I prefer cabot for cheap yet still good cheddar)
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons sesame seeds

The Deal: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Grease 2 large baking sheets.

2. Pull apart a crescent roll triangle. Sprinkle a pinch of cheese and scallions on the triangle and lightly press into the dough. Then place half of one hot dog on the flat side of the triangle. Roll the dog towards the point. Then sprinkle sesame seeds on the top and sides, pressing lightly to help them adhere. Repeat with the remaining 15 dogs.

3. Place each fake piggie on a baking sheet and once they are all assembled place them in the oven and bake 12-15 minutes or until the roll is lightly browned(see picture above).

4. Serve hot with ketchup, honey mustard or homemade ranch on the side! How to make your own Ranch!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Potato, Scallion, and Goat Cheese Frittata

Simple ingredients=delicious dish
Yep, I was up to it again! On Sundays all I want to do is cook. The things I need to do: run, homework, clean the house, are all much less appealing then spending the day bopping around the kitchen.

I had a bunch of random leftover vegetables from various dishes so as I woke up disoriented from the time change, I decided to whip up a frittata with all my leftover vegetables. I hate hate hate throwing away produce, and one way to avoid that is using it asap. I try to have a plan before I buy produce, but having some leftovers is almost unavoidable.

I was surprised that I enjoyed the broccoli frittata more, but perhaps I am just in a greener mood. The frittata below was good but not perfect. I used a touch of rosemary, but next time I may use a touch more. Basil or thyme would also make a nice addition. I thought some crushed red pepper might add some nice heat and it did. Perhaps next time Ill try cayenne and see if I notice a difference. Havarti cheese would have been great with these flavors, but I still had goat cheese on hand so that's what I used.

Remember frittatas can be eaten the next day. I refrigerate mine, then leave them out about an hour before I want to eat them. It is good room temperature or re-heated in the toaster oven. They are best served the day they are made, but I think they make a fine lunch option if you have leftovers. At least this one did, that could change depending on the ingredients.

Just another fine example of how versatile the frittata is. I encourage anyone reading this to attempt your own frittata, especially with vegetables that are at risk of a sad garbage can fate. Save your vegetables! Eat them! To view my previous frittata click here: Frittata with Broccoli and Zucchini

Potato, Scallion, and Goat Cheese Frittata

The Goods: Serves 4
Hashed brown potatoes(recipe below)
1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
2 scallions, chopped green and white parts
1/3 cup goat cheese
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons half and half
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon butter or earth balance
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
 a couple pinches of red pepper(optional, I was craving heat so add if you desire heat)

The Deal:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whisk eggs and half and half until blended in a medium bowl. Then whisk in scallions, goat cheese, rosemary, potatoes(make sure they aren't hot), salt, pepper and red pepper if using.

3. Heat butter and garlic in a medium saute pan(that is oven safe up to 350 degrees) on medium heat for about one minute. Then add egg mixture and cook undisturbed for 8-10 minutes, until the bottom begins to firm.

4. Then place the pan in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is cooked. You'll want to check this about every 5 minutes, it is easy to overcook a frittata, which ruins the flavor. Once the top is cooked, remove from the oven and serve hot. This can also be served at room temperature.

Hashed brown potatoes
The Goods: 1 serving, enough for one Frittata
1-2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes
2 shallots
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

The Deal:
1. Place potatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes. While they are cooking heat the oil(or butter) in a medium saute pan with the garlic and shallots. Cook until fragrant about 1 minute. Drain and add potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to evenly brown all sides. Once browned serve warm. If using in a frittata, let them cool about 5 minutes before adding them into the egg mixture

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Homemade Ranch Dressing

all homemade, thats a southern meal!
Im from the South yall. Like any good southerner I am also a ranch addict. Hot damn, I love me some ranch. Fittingly enough I don't enjoy ranch on salads, I want it on sweet potato fries, pizza and oh yeah regular fries. Such a fat kid.

My boyfriend does not like my ranch addiction, especially because I like Kraft ranch. I have tried Annies healthy ranch and its just not the same. I get organic ketchup, avoid high fructose syrup at all costs, but DAMMIT, Kraft ranch is simply the best(aka full of terrible chemicals and bad junk for my body).

One night while reading my lovely Barefoot Contessa, I noticed a recipe for homemade ranch. I cannot eat of a lot the recipes Barefoot makes, because they are often focused more on flavor than nutrition, but I trust her when it comes to ranch.

all the ingredients, before blended
Making your own dressings is easy, once you know a few you like, and makes you look very fancy at parties. Homemade dressing takes a salad from an "ok", to a "that salad was my favorite thing, you are genuis" Soon I want to make my caesar dressing and ginger dressing from some family friends. Im telling you people, dressings, they are not just for supermarkets anymore.

There are a few different bases people use for ranch. Some used all mayonnaise, others yogurt and mayo, some sour cream, buttermilk, everyone had a slightly different version. I really enjoyed this version, using mayo, yogurt and buttermilk. I would stick to greek yogurt instead of regular, greek yogurt is creamier. Also I used a light mayo and think it tasted great. I did not make it with regular mayo, so I wouldn't know and plan to keep it that way.

Letting this dressing sit for an hour is crucial. I tasted it right after I made it, and then an hour later, and was delighted. Those flavors must have worked so hard developing in my fridge, they were so much more delicious after an hour.

Not sure how long it will last, I assume at least a week, but I will let yall know when it goes bad. I have 3 cups of ranch, and it will take even ME a while to get through it.

This recipe is not healthy per say....Its healthier than getting ranch from the store, but its not a balsamic vinaigrette. This is good to make if your having a party and it will all get eaten.

As I mentioned above this recipe is straight out of Barefoot Contessa's new book, "How Easy is that?"
And yeah, it was like....easy.

Homemade Ranch
ranch in a jar, adorable!

The Goods: Makes 3 cups
3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, lightly packed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard(I used whole grain dijon mustard, b/c its what I had)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup good mayo(I used Hellmans light)
1/2 greek style yogurt, plain
1/2 cup buttermilk shaken

The Deal:
1. Place the scallions, basil, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl of a food processor with a steel blade. Puree for 15-20 seconds or until the mixture is smooth.

2. Add mayo, yogurt and buttermilk and blend until smooth. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to let the flavors develop.

Use on your favorite salads, or if you are like me, dip your pizza in. DONT be like me, pizza AND ranch, who am I? A healthier salad dressing to come, I promise!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I posted these a while ago with a meal, but wanted to post it again on thier own, because they are just so delicious and if you haven't eaten them, PLEASE go out and buy some. Also I have better pictures this time.

Brussels Sprouts got a bad name for some unknown reason. In fact there have been studies done in England and America where it was voted the most hated vegetable. To quote the wise Cher from Clueless, AS IF!
They are crispy yet tender, healthy for your body, and are cute as balls(toy ones, NOT real ones people).

They are full of vitamin A, C, and beta carotene. They are also part of the Brassica family(as is broccoli, kale and collard greens) which is a family you want at the table. The brassica family of vegetables are healthy greens that may prevent certain types of cancer, like colon cancer. Of course eating greens if good for you all around, and if they prevent cancer, double score!

Thank goodness I have healthy boyfriend to challenge all my preconceived notions of vegetables and force me to try new things. Until this year, I was positive I wanted nothing to do with bsprouts. I was so clueless..... So much of eating them is in the way they are cooked. I think I had only tried boiled sprouts, which I did not like, but roasting them is a whole new sprout. I should try cooking them another way, thats for next time!

They go with so many meals, and make a great side dish. Now, go eat some, GO ON GO!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

The Goods: As a side dish serves 4-6
1 pound of brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A few good pinches of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

The Deal:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Cut in half. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

3. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt and serve immediately.
This recipe is based on how one of my faves Barefoot Contessa cooks them. One of her few recipes that isn't covered in butter. SA-WEET!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Frittata with Broccoli, Zucchini, Chives and Goat Cheese

love the rich colors of this dish
If you have never made a Frittata walk into the kitchen and start cracking those eggs. What is egg-tastic about frittatas is they can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner and are delicious hot or cold. I think they are best for brunch, but also I have a serious love of brunch. I would marry brunch, but I foresee some difficulties with that.

Frittatas are so flexible and versetile, once you figure out how to make them, they will be your new favorite way to cook for guests. They also sound fancy but are simple to make, which is great for a beginner cook like myself.

Traditional Spanish frittatas are made with potatoes and onions. When I was traveling I met a few people from Spain who first tickled my interest about the deliciousness of the frittata. Once I got home, I noticed all the different frittatas out there. Recently I realized how good vegetables frittatas can be, and for those of us who have little time to cook, they only take about 30 minutes. Yippee!

Some recipes say 1 cup vegetables to 5-6 eggs. I prefer having it be vegetable heavy, instead of egg heavy. Not only do the vegetables make it healthier, they also add texture and I think balance out the flavor. So I used about 2 cups of vegetables to 6 eggs and found I still got plenty of egg flavor, but the eggs werent the predominate flavor.

Looking into recipes, some added as much as a stick of butter and others only used 1/3 cup of milk. I add a splash of half and half to my scrambled eggs, I find it makes them fluffy. So I added a few splashes of half and half and I think it was plenty. You could use milk or a tablespoon of butter, I think a little fat helps make it a bit moister, but you certainly don't need heavy cream(I love Barefoot Contessa but she really does add a stick of butter or a cup of cream to everything).

Herbs of some kind are often used in Frittatas. Similar to pizzas, Frittatas are fun because you can combine ingredients endlessly. Next time I might use some thyme, or perhaps rosemary. Im cautious in using herbs because too much can overpower the dish, and I love tasting the vegetables. Perhaps next thyme I suppose.....(I was raised by a pun crazy father, you will have to get used to it)

The method of cooking a frittata varies depending on who you read. I have tried cooking it on the stove and found it ended up being dry and overcooked. An egg dish can go from moist and light to dry and overcooked within a matter of minutes. So I start cooking my frittata on the stove top and then move it to the oven to finish it off. Its cooked throughout, while still staying moist and eggy.  A cast iron is really the best to use, but any oven safe saute pan will work.

This dish is enough for a meal, though I would recommend some type of vegetable on the side to round it off. On this night, I made roasted brussels sprouts, but steamed green beans would have been just as delicious. If serving for brunch serve with a good fruit salad.

I looked at few different methods of cooking a frittata, but the ingredients I added were my own idea.
Try not to eat it all yourself...*cough* I ate half myself *cough*

Frittata with Broccoli, Zucchini, Chives and Goat Cheese
a little slice of vegi heaven
The Goods: Serves 4
6 large eggs
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped into quarters
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup herb goat cheese(plain is fine)
2-3 medium garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons half and half
2 tablespoons olive oil
a couple good pinches of sea salt and pepper

The Deal: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat in a medium saute pan(one that is oven safe). Once the oil is hot, add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add your broccoli and zucchini and cook until tender about 3-5 minutes.
cookin up greens, oh yeah!

2. Once your vegetables are cooked remove from heat and let cool for about 3 minutes(You dont want to put hot vegetables in eggs and risk cooking the eggs.)

3. While waiting for your vegetables to cool, whisk your eggs, half-and-half, scallions, goat cheese, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.

4. When the vegetables have cooled, add them to the egg mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat in the saute pan. Pour the egg mixture in the pan and turn heat to medium low. Add dollops of goat cheese, if you desire more than what you already added. Cook undisturbed until the bottom of the eggs are firm about 8-10 minutes.
Cooking the frittata on the stove
5. Then place the pan in the oven. Cook your frittata until the egg on the top are set about 15-20 minutes. Check your frittata about every 5 minutes, this dish is easy to ruin if it over cooks. To check if its ready, use the handle to jiggle the pan, if there is still liquid its not ready, once the jiggle stops, take it out.

6. Once the top is set, remove from heat. Serve hot or room temperature, slice into eights.

Frittata Fives all around!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vegetable Stir Fry with Marinated Tofu

Ah Stir frys. Nothing better than a recipe that has mostly vegetables and simple cooking.  Stir frys are great because you can use almost any kind of vegetable you want, add a few spices and/or sauces and it will be delicious. I find almost everyone likes stir fry and why wouldn't they? Plus you get to use your wok which is not only fun to say, but looks pretty.

I use normal pasta for my noodles, you can use whatever you have on hand. If you like/buy chinese noodles, then use them in your dish, but I find standard spaghetti noodles work great and I always have some around. Also if you put a dash or sesame oil or braggs in the noodles once they are cooked, they get more of an asian flavor.

Tofu. BAH! I used to really hate this stuff, it reminded me of eating a sponge. Over the years I've grown to appreciate it and even love it. The annoying things about tofu is drying it out and trying to get it flavorful. What I have found is marinades are your best friend and the longer you marinate them the happier your taste buds will be with you.

Everyone has different methods for drying tofu out. I place paper towels or dish towels on a plate, cut the tofu into strips and lay them on the towels. Then place more paper towels over the tofu and place another plate or heavy pan on top. I rotate the towels once they are soaked through, and do this for 30 minutes or up to a few hours if I have the time. Basically you need your tofu dry, so use my method or find one that works for you.

Healthy boyfriend knew he wanted to have tofu in the next few days, so he found the simple marinade below and let it sit for two days. It can be hard to remember to plan ahead of time, but not impossible. A good rule, is if you know you'll eat tofu within the week, just whip up the marinade on monday and let the tofu soak. It will keep in the fridge for a few days and one day you'll come home and have nice flavorful tofu! The marinade could also be baked, or sautéed in a regular pan.

Neat trick: When cooking pasta, put the strainer over the pasta bowl in the sink. When you drain your pasta the hot water goes into the bowl, heating it, which helps keep your pasta warm until its ready to be served. Great trick I learned from my parents.

Bummer Note: This tofu was not as crispy as I wanted it. Tofu is something I still struggle with, I think next time I will bake the tofu. The rest of the dish is great and the tofu was good, just not as cripsy as I desired. If you have a great way of cooking tofu that always works for you, then just cook it that way and stir fry your vegetables as directed below.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Marinated Tofu

The Goods: Serves 2-3

Marinated Tofu, cut into small cubes(recipe below)
1/2 package whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1 ear of corn, kernels chopped off
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 large zuchhici, sliced into discs
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil(or olive oil)
4 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

The Deal: 
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook spaghetti as instructed on the package.

2. Heat oil in a wok or large saute pan on medium high heat. Heat until hot, about 1 minute, and then add garlic. Saute until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.

3. Increase the heat to high and add tofu and marinade. Saute until crispy about 5 minutes.

4. Add the broccoli and zucchini and cook until tender about 3-5 minutes. About 3 minutes after you added your broccoli and zucchini, add corn.

5. Once your vegetables are tender, remove from heat and serve over pasta.

Marinated Tofu

The Goods: enough for one package of tofu
1 package extra firm tofu, as dry as possible
1/3 cup soy sauce or braggs
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup oil
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons ketchup

The Deal: 

1. Combine all ingredients besides tofu in a shallow bowl. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch strips or cubes.
Toss tofu in marinade and let soak for at least one hour or up to 3 days.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vegetarian Eggs Benedict "Eggs Benny"

Now THATS a breakfast!
Friday night fun can often lead to a Saturday morning of silly exhaustion. Went out drinking last night, but drank a bit too much. I was feeling very tired and hungover this morning.  It reminded me of my years in college, when my favorite hungover cure was eggs benedict from a small local breakfast place in Cambridge. I wish I craved something slightly healthier, but alas, I was having an intense yearning for a buttery, eggy overload.

If you read this blog regularly you probably notice I tend to indulge myself on the weekends. I would love to just desire vegetables and grains, and often I do, but I find if I dont make some of my classic favorites every now and then I get food cranky.
I hope to continue to eat healthier, while also learning how to make the classic dishes that I have always loved. I do try to keep my indulgent dishes to the weekends, and keep the weekdays full or vegetables and all that healthy stuuuuff.

Usually eggs benedict, or eggs benny as a friend refers to them, is made with canadian bacon. When cooking with healthy boyfriend everything has to be vegetarian because he is. I think the avocados were great, but next time I think Ill try a little roasted asparagus. I ate asparagus four days in a row this week, so needed a bit of a break(literally my pee smell was becoming out of control. TMI I know, and don't care).

For this recipe you do have to poach eggs which can be a bit of a crap shoot. If you have never done it, do not worry if your first attempt is an egg white disaster. I did not take a picture of my first attempt, but it was a nightmare. Luckily healthy boyfriend was there to help, and after watching some videos and getting tips, we figured out a way to do them right. I can see now why people have fancy egg poaching devises, though with a little patience and practice, I think anyone can get the hang of it.

Here is a link to video of how to poach an egg, its helpful to watch someone do it: Poach an egg

Note: Three things that seemed to be crucial in poaching an egg. 1. Have the egg cracked and in an individual bowl before it goes in the water. 2. Using a generous amount of vinegar in the water. 3. Having the water simmering, not boiling and stirring it right before adding the egg, creating a mini vortex so the whites form around the egg and don't separate.

Instead of using all butter I used half butter, half earth balance. Using a butter substitute makes it slightly healthier, but no matter what, this dish is a calorie, fat disaster. If you are trying to lose serious weight, do not make this dish.

Hollandaise is easy to mess up if you whisk it by hand, so I have found using a food processor or blender insures a delicious sauce every time.

This dish is a bit difficult, but lots of fun, and I hope you enjoy it.

This is based on a few different recipes, and as always with a bit of my own ideas.

"Eggs Benny"
A buttery indulgent heart stopping treat

The Goods: Makes 1 cup, serves 4

Hollandaise Sauce:
5 tablespoons earth balance
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
a few dashed of cayenne(add more or less depending on your desire for heat)
1 teaspoon of sea salt, more to taste

Other ingredients: 
4 english muffins, sliced in half
2 avocados, pitted and sliced
8 eggs
1/2-3/4 cups white vinegar

The Deal:
1. To make the hollandaise, melt the butter on medium high heat in a small saucepan. Do not boil the butter, just warm it until completely melted.

melted butter. mmmmmm.....
2. Place egg yolks, cayenne, salt and lemon juice in the food processor. Pulse until the yolks lighten in color, about 8-10 pulses. Once the color is lighter, place food processor on the lowest speed setting and drizzle the butter in slowly, keeping the motor running. Continue to mix once all the butter is added for another few seconds, making sure the butter is fully mixed.
egg yolks anyone? 
3. Taste the sauce, if too buttery, add more lemon juice and salt, adding slowly, only pulsing the food processor a few times to blend. You do not want to overly blend the sauce. Once it tastes as you desire, place in a pan you melted the butter in and keep covered on the stove to keep warm until the rest of the dish is ready.

eggs in their own bowl, no sharing!
4. Bring a pot of water to a simmer and add vinegar. Crack each egg in an individual small bowl. Stir the pot creating a vortex with the water and add your egg to poach. Remove from heat and cover for 4 minutes. Repeat until all eggs are cooked, keeping your poached eggs in a covered dish.

Poached egg, much better than poached animals :)
5. While poaching your eggs, toast your english muffins. Once all the eggs are poached, plate your dish in this order. Toasted muffin, then avocado, followed by the poached egg and drizzle the hollandaise sauce over, covering the entire dish. Place additional sauce in a dish for people who desire extra.
Muffin and avocado

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Popcorn! It is probably one of the easiest snacks around. Its SOOOO simple to make yourself, and lots of people never have.

Its a fairly healthy snack for those of us with a salt addiction *cough* ME *cough* Its high in fiber, and low in fat and calories.

The topping are endless, if you can think it, you can put it on popcorn. Now of course, eating it plain or with just a dash of salt is the healthiest, anything you add will probably add fat and sodium.

I started popping my own corn in California, often my roommates and I would bring our own popcorn to the movies. If you dont know, eating the popcorn they serve at the movie theater usually has more calories than you are suppose to consume in a day. Yikes! I know its delicious, but its bad bad bad. Do not eat the movie popcorn..... Pouring butter directly into your mouth would probably be healthier(also pretty gross). I know its annoying, I LOVE movie popcorn, but its not worth my daily calories. Damn you movie popcorn!!!

There are lots of different types of popcorn and its basically trial and error of which type you like. I have tried yellow, white and blue. I like the blue the best, but I haven't actually popped all three and compared them in one sitting. Perhaps a movie night soon...
The picture above is of yellow and blue mixed, which just looks pretty I think. Yellow popcorn is the widest available, next is probably white and then blue. I haven't seen a lot of red or black, but Im sure its out there.

I didn't want to post some of the more sinful popcorn topping, this is suppose to be a healthy blog. If you are interested here is a site with some less healthy popcorn toppings:Indulgent popcorn toppings

Here is some info on the types and difference in taste: types of popcorn


The Goods: serves 2-3
1/3 cup popcorn
2-3 tablespoons canola oil

Optional toppings: use sparingly
Parmesan, freshly grated
Melted butter with herbs

The Deal:
1. Place popcorn and oil in a medium pot. Shake the pot so all the kernels are lightly coated with oil.

2. Cover pot and place on medium heat. After about 3-5 minutes, you will hear the kernels begin to pop.

3. Wait until you hear the popping decrease dramatically or there is more than 5 seconds between popping, then promptly remove from heat.

Serve hot. Thank me later :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Classic Guacamole

Welcome to one of the easiest, most delicious things you will ever make. Healthy boyfriend was the first to introduce me to how easy homemade guacamole is, it may be what I first fell in love with. Im kidding.....ish.....

But for reals, its so easy to make and so good. Everyone loves guacamole, or everyone you want to talk to anyway. Its great as a dip, and goes with almost all mexican style cooking.

It does need to be served immediately. Avocados, once opened tend to brown quickly. You can make it and bring it to a party, but I wouldn't recommend making it a day in advance. It can be eaten the next day, but may look brown. A dash of lemon juice will help boost up the flavors.

Its important to get a ripe haas avocado. In the store, test to see that the avocado gives a little, but its not mushy. Its similar to how you want a ripe peach or pear.

As far as the recipe goes, guacamole is one of those things that never really has an exact amount for each ingredient. Sometimes you need more onion, or less tomato. Sometimes you need more salt or garlic, it all depends on the size and freshness of the vegetables you get. So if you aren't satisfied with the first guac you make, just keep trying. You will find the guacamole thats right for you. Then you can do the happy guacamole dance(again, different for every person).

Also if you forget a jalapeno you can always use a dash of cayenne in a pinch. Use a pinch in a pinch....these things just come to me.

Note: for a fancy addition add 1/3-1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds. Stir in at the very end, they are a juicy surprising treat!

Classic Guacamole

The Goods: Makes 1 1/2 - 2 cups
2-3 large haas avocados
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 small plum tomato, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced(add in small amount, can get spicy very fast)
1 small garlic clove
1/2 of one lemon, juiced
Sea salt to taste
Bag of good quality chips

The Deal:

1. On a cutting board, mince your garlic and then add a dash of salt and mix it into the garlic, creating a garlic paste.

2 Slice the avocados length wise all the way around. With a sharp knife remove the pit and scoop out the flesh of the avocado with a spoon. Place avocado flesh in a bowl and squeeze the lemon juice over the flesh. Use one hand to squeeze the lemon juice and the other hand over the bowl to catch any seeds from the lemon.

3. In the bowl with the avocados, add onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and your garlic paste, mashing with a fork creating a chunky dip. DO NOT overly blend, you want it nice and chunky. Add additional salt if desired.

Serve with chips, and try not to eat it all by yourself!