Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cornbread Mix Take 2

I guess I must be on a cornbread kick...because the other day, around midnight, for no apparent reason, I had a sudden urge to make cornbread breakfast muffins! I decided to see what I could muster up from the cornbread mix I used for the biscuits that I made with my chilli the other day, and came up with these (based off the recipe on the mix):

Cornbread Muffins
2 c. cornbread muffin mix
½ c. white whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. egg whites
1 ½ c. skim milk
4 tbsp. honey

1.     Preheat oven to 375F.
2.     Mix all ingredients together until well-combined.
3.     Pour into lightly-greased muffin  tin and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

The muffins turned out really well, but I knew that something was missing. The next morning I cut one in half, toasted it, and drizzled it with about 1 tbsp. of honey...and it was great, but I knew that it needed something else. Then I figured it out! What they were missing was berries! So the next day I went out and got a bunch of berries and some agave nectar and made me some summer berry jam!
Gluten-free Blueberry-Raspberry Jam
1 carton blueberries
2 small cartons raspberries
4 tbsp. agave nectar (adjust to suit your taste)

1.   Cook all together over low heat for about 30-45 minutes, or until the berries have stewed down to a smooth consistency and reduced slightly.
2.   Take off heat and let cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then pour into glass jar and refrigerate.
3.   Will keep in refrigerator for up to a month.

Needless to say, the next morning I toasted one of the muffins and spooned on some of the jam (warning: it's a bit runny), and it was perfect! Definitely love how the carb-y sweetness of the cornbread is balanced out by the freshness and slight tartness  of the jam! Anyway, this is a really great summer breakfast food, especially when some of those summer berries are starting to go over the hill!


Inspired recipe of the day: Beer Mac& Cheese 
Drool-worthy dessert: Peanut ButterPretzel Ice Cream 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rainy Day Chilli

So it's been a while since my last post...over 2 years in fact. But I've decided that it's time I got back to this. I've been fairly lazy recently and have been eating out or picking up take-out a lot, so I figured that getting back to blogging will motivate me to start cooking and baking for myself more! I also figured that it was time to expand beyond just baking to cooking and savory dinner-like foods too! In that last obsession is soups. They're so easy to make, and as a vegetarian, constitute a complete one-pot meal! Since beans and vegetables comprise most of my diet, chilli is an obvious choice...and on a gross, rainy day like today, it's so warm and comforting! My chilli dinner today was actually left over from Saturday night when I made chilli and cornbread biscuits with my friend who was newly returned to NYC from a summer abroad. The chilli was something I had made a few times before, but the biscuits were a new, super easy, and quite successful endeavor! The great thing about this chilli: it's simple to make and re-heats beautifully!

Three-Bean Veggie Chilli

1 28 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
14 oz. water (approximate - to thin out the tomato base a bit)
4 cloves garlic, minced (or grated on a microplane)
3 tbsp. hot sauce (or more!) - my favorite is the Bone Suckin' Habanero Sauce
2 tbsp. cumin (this is just an estimate...I love cumin so I put in a ton)
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
salt (and a lot of it)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
2 ears fresh corn (or 1 can corn)
1 small-medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 small-medium orange bell pepper, chopped
1 small-medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1. Combine tomatoes, water, and spices in a large soup pot. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until spices are well-incorporated.
2. Add beans and vegetables to tomato base. Cook for at least half an hour.
3. Serve!

Red Pepper Cornbread Biscuits

1 8 oz. can corn niblets, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. cornbread mix
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/2 c. skim milk
1/2 small red bell pepper, finely diced

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. In a food processor (or using a wand blender), puree corn niblets until smooth.
3. Combine cornbread mix and salt in a mixing bowl, and whisk to incorporate.
4. Mix in pureed corn, milk, and red bell pepper.
5. Scoop biscuits onto a baking sheet using 1/3 c. measuring cup, ensuring that they are well-spaced on the sheet.
6. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.
7. Cool on a baking rack, and enjoy with (or without) your chilli!

Together these made the perfect rainy day meal...and no-fuss leftovers! To reheat, just microwave a bowl of chilli for about 2 minutes, stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds, and chilli!

Bon appetit!

Inspired recipe of the day: Butternut Squash Noodles with Curry-Peanut Sauce
Drool-worthy dessert: Dulce de Leche Rice Pudding

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dessert for a Dinner Party

The other day my Dad had a few of his colleagues over for dinner, so I decided to try out something new for dessert! I settled on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for dulce de leche cheesecake squares since we had a bunch of neufchatel in our fridge! I changed it up a tiny bit, though since I was using a rectangular tart pan, and I also added my own embellishment to it to snaz it up a bit!

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares

yield: around 20 large squares

for the crust:
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp,. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, melted

for the dulce de leche filling:
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. skim milk
8 oz. neufchatel (or cream cheese), softened
2 large eggs
a dash of salt
dulce de leche*

for the chocolate glaze:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
4 tsp. Lyle's golden syrup
  1. First, make the crust: preheat the oven to 325F. In a food processor, process graham crumbs and sugar until finely ground, then pour in melted butter. Pour out into a rectangular tart pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes, then let pan cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Next, make the filling: pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over, and let stand for 2 minutes. In a mixer, beat together cream cheese, eggs, salt, and gelatin mixture until well-combined. Then, gently stir in the dulce de leche. Pour filling into crust and spread it out evenly. Bake it in a hot water bath in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until cheesecake is set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 6 hrs. (preferably overnight).
  3. 2 hours before serving, make the glaze: heat all glaze ingredients in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Pour over cheesecake, spread it out evenly, then refrigerate, uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  4. While chilling, make the brittle (recipe below).
* To make dulce de leche, pour a 14 oz. can of fat-free, sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler and cook, stirring every so often, for about an hour, or until light caramel-colored and thick.

Orange Hazelnut Brittle

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. orange extract
1/2 c. roasted chopped hazelnuts
  1. Sprinkle roasted chopped hazelnuts onto a silpat, and spread out evenly.
  2. In a saucepan, combine first 3 ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a light caramel color, and comes to a rolling boil (it will also thicken considerably).
  3. Pour sugar mixture over hazelnuts, and spread around to cover all of them.
  4. Let cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. When ready to serve cheesecake, cut into small pieces and put on top of each cheesecake square.
These were soooooo good and sooooo rich, and everyone seemed to love them (including me)! The brittle definitely was a nice accompaniment, and I loved how the graham, dulce de leche, and chocolate flavors combined so smoothly! Definitely an indulgence, but so worth it!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Super easy, spur-of-the-moment cookies!

I've managed to bake a bunch of things since my last post, but have been such a lazy bum recently and haven't gotten around to posting them yet! However, I did make these cookies today that I thought turned out really well, and were a quick way to satisfy my need for freshly-baked cookies!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

yield: around 15 small cookies

1 c. smooth peanut butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
dash of vanilla (probably around 1/2 tsp.)
1/3 c. quick-cooking oats
1 tbsp. honey
1/3 c. m&ms (or chocolate chunks/chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together all ingredients (except for m&ms) until well-mixed. Fold in m&ms.
  3. Drop in tablespoon-sized balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten them out to about 1/2" thick.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
These cookies were really tasty, and perfect for an easy, yummy, after-work snack!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fresh Jam

The other day my family lucked out: our neighbors had gone peach-picking and brought over some of the literal fruits of their labor (I pun) for us! Since we had already bought some peaches the day before, I decided to use some of the grocery store peaches and a couple tahitian mangoes we had to make some fresh jam!

Fresh Peach-Mango Jam

yield: about 32oz. of jam

2 c. chopped peaches (about 4 small peaches)
1 c. diced tahitian mangoes (about 2 mangoes)
1/2 c. granulated suagr
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/8 c. water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, and mash with a potato masher until it is the desired consistency.
  3. Cook for another 5 or so minutes, or until the mixture reaches a rolling boil for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a heat-proof mason jar, screw on lid, and let sit for about 24 hours for jam to settle.
  5. After jam has settled, store it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
I was too lazy to preserve the jam by boiling the jar (so it can be stored outside of the fridge), but it's a small enough amount of jam that I think we'll be able to eat it in 3 weeks. I also didn't have any pectin, which many jam recipes called for, hence my addition of extra light brown sugar. It definitely is not a very thick jam (it's fairly runny), but I think the consistency is pretty good...and it tastes pretty great too!

The only problem was that I woke up the morning after putting it into the fridge craving the jam on honey whole wheat bread...which we didn't have. So, being the frantic baker I am, I decided to bake some! I used the "lighter version" of this quick bread recipe from the NYT website...but changed slightly.

Honey Whole Wheat Quick Bread

1 2/3 c. skim milk
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
scant 1/2 c. honey
  1. Heat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
  2. Mix together the flours, salt, and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together the milk, egg, and honey. Pour this into the dry mixture and stir until well-mixed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan, smooth out, and bake for roughly 50 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
This bread was soooooo good, and went perfectly with the jam!

Side-note: the jam was also really good as a topping for Haagen Dazs' low fat tart frozen yogurt!


Monday, July 6, 2009

Using Up Summer Berries

Yesterday I noticed that we had soooooo many fresh berries that were on the verge of going bad, so I decided to make a simple berry crisp to use some up! It was a perfect easy summer dessert that involves almost no prep work!

Fresh Summer Berry Crisp

2 c. fresh summer berries (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)
1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/3 c. instant oats
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 tbsp. butter, cut into about 9 pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Prep berries by rinsing them, and halving cherries/blackberries and quartering strawberries. For my crisp I used a combo of strawberries, blueberries, and cherries.
  3. Pour berries into an 8x8" glass baking dish or an 8" round (oven-safe) souffle dish (what I used).
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, sugar, oats, and salt until ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
  5. Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over berries, and top with pieces of butter .
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the crisp topping is golden-brown.
It may not be beautiful, but it is so tasty and especially good eaten warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! The perfect summer treat - warm/cold, gooey/crispy, and tart/sweet! Yummy!

Buon Appetito Tutti!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Red White and Blue Treats

After spending this morning watching the men's Wimbledon final and seeing Roger Federer win his 15th Grand Slam and regain his #1 spot in the rankings, I figured I would post the desserts I made for yesterday's 4th of July BBQ my family went to! I wanted to try something new and, of course, make it red/white/ I decided to make red velvet sandwich cookies/whoopie pies with white and blue cream cheese frosting! I found a recipe for red velvet sandwich cookies that looked kind of cakey, so I decided to try them out! I filled the cookies from that recipe with a simple cream cheese frosting, and I think they worked out pretty well!

Patriotic Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

yield: around 18 sandwich cookies

for the cookies:
1 1/3 c. flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. skim milk
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites
red food coloring (the amount depends on how red you want them to be)

for the cream cheese filling:
1/4 c. butter
4 oz. neufchatel
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. confectioner's sugar (may need more)
food coloring (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with a silpat (or parchment paper).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar, then beat in the egg whites. Once combined, fold in the applesauce, milk, vanilla, and food coloring.
  4. Using teaspoons, drop the batter onto the lined baking sheet making sure that the cookies are about 2 inches away from one another. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for a couple minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, cream the butter and cheese in a mixer, add vanilla and food coloring (if you want it), then slowly add the confectioner's sugar until it gets to the desired consistency. When I made these cookies, I divided the frosting into 2 batches and dyed half of it blue!
  7. Once the frosting is done and the cookies are cool, sandwich every 2 cookies together with cream cheese frosting.
I liked these cookies a lot, but expected them to be a bit more cakey...they still tasted great though and looked very festive! I also put them in a red/blue basket (thanks Aunt Mary!), which I lined with red and blue napkins...overkill? I think not...

I was also kind of worried that they would not appeal as much to the chocolate-lovers in the crowd (and the little kids), so I made a batch of my lower-cholesterol chocolate chip cookies as well. I upped their patriotic factor by omitting the chocolate chips and instead using red and blue M&M's! The only hard part about this was sorting through 2 enormous bags of M&M's to pick out all the red and blue we now have a huge jar in my house full of orange, yellow, green, and brown M&M's!

These were also served in a red/blue/star-covered basket (thanks again Aunt Mary!)...and yes, I realize I get way too into holidays...but I love 'em!

Happy belated 4th and congrats to Federer on his 6th Wimbledon victory!