Saturday, October 23, 2010

Peppers, pumpkins, and red beans

We declared today "FAMILY DAY!" This means we are headed to a local Pumpkin Patch and Farm this afternoon. The weather is G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S, highs in the upper 70s! We will need sunscreen for sure! We are so excited for G to see real tractors and pet baby goats. Batteries are charged and camera cards are emptied in anticipation!

In anticipation of complete hunger and exhaustion that awaits later today, I am cooking up a huge pot of vegetarian red beans (New Orleans style). This is a "tried & true" recipe for me, and I have posted about it before. I made a few changes to my changes this morning -- I didn't have any carrots and couldn't go to the store (and didn't want to!), so I sorted baby carrots out of a bag of frozen veggies and used those in the saute. I also used pickled garlic cloves because we are out of fresh. The pot smells wonderful and I am looking forward to dinner when we get home tonight!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A grown-up meal

When I stop to think about what I eat  for dinner most nights, well, I am sad to say it is "nothing" or "cereal." Between teaching late, feeding and bathing G, and getting him to bed, I am usually too tired to do much in the kitchen. Last week, I decided I really wanted salmon. We had asparagus and potatoes. Thursday was a light day for me at work, so I picked up a really nice looking piece of fish at Publix, picked up G, then headed home. Of course, dinner wasn't until after G was in bed, but it was well worth the wait. I originally thought I would make mashed potatoes, but that plan quickly went south -- no time and I have no idea where my hand mixer is. So, we settled for baked (with butter and LF sour cream, yum!), and oven-roasted asparagus (super quick and tasty). I used a new recipe from the September 2010 issue of Cooking Light.  My two changes -- I didn't use the regular chili powder, and used avocado honey instead of maple syrup (it was all we had -- a souvenir from California). I had to bake my fish for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees F in addition to broiling. I like it cooked all the way through.

Photo: John Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr
Maple-Glazed Salmon (from Cooking Light, Sept. 2010)

Other Time: 20 minutes minutes
Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet)

1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 (6-ounce) Alaskan salmon fillets
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients; rub spice mixture evenly over flesh side of fillets. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Brush fillets evenly with syrup; broil 1 minute.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Three Sisters Nachos

Many of the ancient civilizations of the Americas relied on maize, beans, and squash as staple crops and dietary foundations. All three are domesticated plants native to the Americas -- with the most likely origin in Mesoamerica. There are so many foods and dishes that maize is a part of. Add beans and squash, and no wonder they have been called the New World Trinity.

I am watching my Florida State Seminoles compete against the Miami Hurricanes -- so a plate of Three Sister Nachos seems appropriate. These are not your typical pub grub. These are nachos that are mellow at their roots, but spiced up with chipotle pepper and Tabasco sauce (the chili pepper is also native to the Americas), these become gourmet bar cuisine.

I roasted a very large (ca. 3-4 lbs) butternut squash, cooked a pot of black beans (always from scratch) with a couple of bay leaves earlier in the day. These came together super quick.

Tortilla chips (made of maize, of course)
shredded cheese of your choice (I used extra sharp cheddar, hand shredded gives better melting characteristics)
1 1/2 cups cubed roasted squash
1/2 cup cooked black beans (pinto or adzuki would also be very good here)
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed and heated
cumin, to taste
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
ground chipotle pepper, to taste
diced avocado
sour cream

Layer the tortilla chips on a paper plate or other microwave safe plate. Scatter shredded cheese over the chips. Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds (depending on your microwave, may take more or less time).

Scatter black beans on top of melted cheese. Sprinkle with cumin, black pepper, and salt.
Scatter cubed squash on top of beans. Sprinkle with additional cumin (if desired), black pepper, salt, and chipotle pepper.
Scatter heated corn kernels and diced avocado on top. Place several dollops of sour cream on in middle and around sides. Serve with hot sauce of your choice!

 ** Apologies again for the low res picture. I cannot find the cord to my camera so am using my phone!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hoot Owl Cupcakes

We missed the birthday of one of G's daycare teachers -- I feel bad because I always try to bring them a treat for their birthdays. I decided we should make cupcakes for Mrs. C, but I wanted something different and not too difficult to make (since I am supposed to be working on any one of 5 papers that are due in the next week!). I came across a link to these on a blog, they are from the Land O' Lakes website. I used the cream cheese frosting recipe from the original LOL post, but added a good dose of cinnamon for extra yum. The cupcakes are an amalgamation of recipes, but based on a banana cupcake recipe from Cooking Light. Here are the original recipes, I will post the cupcake recipe I used at the bottom.

Land O' Lakes Halloween Hoot Owls

Cooking Light's Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

My Banana Cupcakes Recipe

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut

3/4 cup chocolate chips 

Preeheat oven to 350°.

Beat the granulated sugar, butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana to sugar mixture, beating well. Add in ground flax meal, and mix until combined. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture.Mix well. Add coconut and chocolate chips, stir to combine.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups lined with paper liners. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

I used the cream cheese frosting recipe from the Land O' Lakes website -- I did add in a good dose of ground cinnamon (and it was worth it!). I then directed the cupcakes as directed. I used LifeSavers Butter Rum candies and semi-sweet chocolate chips for the eyes.

*These pictures were taken with my phone, so apologies for the poor quality!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week: Bittman's Coconut and Nut Chews -- Wow!

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Baby G's teachers love him and take good care of him during the work week, we try to show our appreciation often! Ms. Lara and Ms. Meagan love when I bring in baked goods and other homemade treats. So, I thought I would make them something yummy, but easy since most of my baking stuff is still packed up.
Baby G happened to pull our copy of "Food Matters" by Mark Bittman off the living room shelf the other day. I had previously earmarked a number of recipes, and "Coconut and Nut Chews" was one of them. I knew these would be good, they definitely sounded interesting. I did vary my add-ins slightly, and I recommend waiting the 30 mins before peeling them off of the parchment. I did not and half of the first one was left behind. I will likely package them in stacks with small squares of wax paper between them -- they are a bit sticky, but definitely good and worth repeating.

Coconut and Nut Chews
"Food Matters" by Mark Bittman (page 289)

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
4 egg whites, lightly beaten until just foamy
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this I recommend).
3. Wet hands and make small balls about 1 Tbsp. in size, and put on prepared sheet about 1 inch apart.
4. Bake until light brown, about 15 mins. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack or at least 30 minutes. The keep well in a covered container for up to 3 days.

*Bittman notes, "as long as you keep the total volume (minus sugar and eggs) to 3 cups, you can make a 'kitchen sink' cookie that includes a bit of everything." I took him at his word.


1 cup sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup craisins
4 egg whites

First Saturday in October Lunch

I made homemade tomato soup with the last of the tomatoes. Cue the tears....
Grilled cheese sandwiches are the perfect counterpart to all that yummy tomato goodness. I decided to jazz up ours with caramelized onions (which I was making for another recipe, see below). I grilled the sandwiches in the same pan that I had caramelized the onions -- adding to their onion goodness. I think these sandwiches taste like a vegetarian cheese-steak. SO GOOD!

And finally, I made a house favorite -- Caramelized Onion Dip. This recipe is from Cooking Light, so you know it is tasty and not over the top on the fat and calorie charts. I have made this many times over the past 5 years and have never had leftovers. I love it best served with Snyder's of Hanover Butter Snaps pretzels (this is not an official endorsement of their product, it is truly my personal preference).  Of course good ol' wavy Lay's potato chips work well, too.

Hope you are enjoying this lovely fall weather!