Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fava Bean Stew with Bulgur

I bought some frozen fava beans a while ago, just because I hadn't seen them before, and I had nothing to do with them.  They have been taking up space in my freezer for months.  I am going down the list looking for recipes to make with the ingredients I have in my freezer, and I found a recipe for Fava Bean Stew with Bulgur from the NY Times Recipes for Health section.  Bulgur is one of those grains that I have on hand in my refrigerator and never used, so I decided to make the stew this past week.

It was pretty good.  The flavors were very delicious - the cinnamon and the heat from the cayenne went really well with everything else.  It was great over the bulgur, which was extremely easy to make.  It reminded me just a bit of steel cut oats, so maybe I'll try it as a breakfast grain.  One thing I'm now thinking I did wrong was regarding the frozen favas.  Based on pictures from a quick internet search, I'm not sure the kind I bought were skinned.  They were not inedible by any means, but I think it would have come out better had I thought of this before.  The bag was a little more than a pound, so I'll have to try peeling them for whatever I do with the rest of the beans.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Canning: Peaches!

Honey Spiced Peaches
It took me a while to get around to using these, but I thought they were very tasty.  I thinly sliced the wedges and laid them neatly on the raw side of a pancake while the other side was cooking, then flipped them over and let the peaches caramelize a bit and cook into the pancakes.  This was a great use of these peaches and I will definitely be using it again.

Peach Salsa
I was pleased when I popped open a can of peach salsa.  It was pleasantly spicy!  There were also sweet notes from the peach.  I had it with tortilla chips, but I think it would be good over fish or chicken as well (warmed up of course).

Peach Rum Sauce
This is the only canning recipe I got to try that day, as there was almost a full jar left over.  I made it twice - it is SO delicious!  I reduced it like, forever, so it was super thick and the alcohol was mostly gone with only the flavor remaining.  I tried it plain (yum), stirred into plain Greek yogurt (double yum), and on vanilla ice cream, which I didn't care for after a few bites because the vanilla overpowered the flavor of the sauce and conflicted with it in not the best way.  This did make me wonder, though, whether I could stir this into a plain custard ice cream base BEFORE making the ice cream - peach rum ice cream.  Sounds delicious!!!  Later, I used the peach rum sauce as a base for a spicy barbecue-ish sauce with braised chicken breasts.
I looked at both the original recipe in the Ball book and the recipe linked here, and decided to modify the linked recipe slightly by using an extra 1/2 cup of sugar (regular) and only 1 cup of rum.  In the future, I might reduce the sugar slightly, but it was delicious so I'm not sure whether it's necessary.  I ended up making a second batch (1.5 times the original recipe) and leaving it as-is.

Note: I waited to post this entry until I had tried all the products in order to note suggestions for next year.  All of these things were canned in August, except the second batch of Peach Rum Sauce, which was done in September.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't make cookies often.  Even when I want to, it's usually more of a project than I care to take on.  When I do make cookies, I make oatmeal cookies, and I use the recipe from Mark Bittman's book Food Matters, because they're not very sweet but they are very chewy and that's the way I like them.

As I've mentioned, Heidi's new book is coming out, and while I'm waiting so patiently for it, I've been working through some of the recipes in her previous book.  I got a bit of mesquite flour for Christmas with these cookies in mind, so I finally went ahead and made them.

These cookies are amazing.  Really, they are.  They are entirely whole wheat, they have chocolate in them, they have oats in them(!), and I am satisfied by only one or two of them.  Everyone who has tried them so far says they are delicious.

As I said, I don't make cookies very often, and I was easily satisfied by a small number of these, so I scooped most of the dough into balls in freezer bags and froze them to bake another time.  That way, it's easy to do 4 or 8 at a time.  I made them for just us a few times after dinner, for some friends who came for lunch, and to bring to a family gathering, and I still have a few left.  These are not something you want to eat every day, but with this freezer setup, you can eat them ANY day!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fettuccine with Asparagus Puree

Here's another one from Super Natural Cooking - Fettuccine with Asparagus Puree.  I've been trying to get rid of certain things in my freezer and I quickly got sick of eating microwaved frozen asparagus as a side to things.  When I saw this recipe, I thought it would be perfect to try.  I'm a fan of vegetable "pesto" on pasta - lots of nutrients without having to spear each piece.  You basically just puree asparagus, spinach, and common pesto ingredients - lemon, grated cheese, garlic - and use it as a sauce for pasta.  The recipe called for pine nuts, but since I don't have any and they are $$$ right now, I opted for blanched slivered almonds, which worked just fine.  You could feed this (and the Winter Pasta) to kids and call it Monster Pasta or something.  It's neon green, so what better way to coerce children into eating veggies?  (It might work for adults, too.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Amaranth Porridge

I've got a stockpile of grains in my fridge that could probably replant Earth after the apocalypse.  It's a little bit ridiculous, especially considering some of them are never used, so I'm always on the lookout for super easy ways to integrate them into my everyday cooking and eating.  I saw a recipe for Amaranth Porridge on the NY Times Recipes for Health section and I finally got around to trying it out.  It's very simple: cook the amaranth with water on the stove, then add a splash of milk and some brown sugar.  I liked that it had a bit of a crunch to it.  I added a little more sugar than I like, but it was still tasty.

My favorite part, though, is the little curly tails.  Amaranth pops out little tails when it cooks, just like quinoa.  You can see them in the picture up above.  They're just too cute!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweet Roasted Winter Vegetables

This was inspired by a recipe in the NY Times.  I did not measure anything out, but I trimmed and halved a few handfuls of Brussels sprouts and tossed them with a Granny Smith apple, cut in large chunks, and some larger-sized butternut squash cubes I had in the freezer.  I tossed them all with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup.  I sprinkled some walnuts on top before tossing it in the oven.

I served it with chicken braised in my home-canned peach rum sauce with about 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper, based on this recipe.  I did not like it that much, and it was very un-photogenic, so I don't have a picture of that.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kiwi Pear Smoothie

I have really been enjoying smoothies lately.  I had a few kiwis left, plus a slightly over-ripe pear, so I did a search for recipes with those ingredients.  I found a recipe using them, plus yogurt, which I really like in my smoothies, so I made it!  It was tangy and delicious.  I couldn't really taste the pear, only the kiwis, but I think the pear helped to sweeten it up.  This recipe made a bit more than I cared to drink at the time, so I recommend sharing with a friend if you're not super hungry.  I left the last bit in the fridge, and it did not taste very good a few hours later.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Harissa Spaghettini

I always buy produce for a certain purpose and never get around to using it.  I had some kale that had been meant for a dish that I never ended up making, and I needed a quick, easy recipe to use it up.  I skimmed through some kale recipes online and decided on the Harissa Spaghettini recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

The harissa oil was super spicy!  We added feta, which gave it some saltiness as well as a cooling element.  I tried the chopped black olives that were in the recipe, but I preferred it without them.  We used blanched slivered almonds instead of the pine nuts, which I didn't have on hand (plus they're so expensive now!).  I forgot the lemon zest, which is too bad because I'm sure it adds a fresh refreshing flavor, but I'll be sure to try it next time.  This was pretty good and was an easy, quick weeknight dinner and a nice way to use up kale.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rose Bakery's Classic Pancakes (with a little twist)

The featured cookbook for March and April over at the 101 Cookbooks Library is Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery.  I was going to sit this one out... until I found a list of the recipes in the book.  Hazelnut Brownies, Ricotta Pancakes, Maple Syrup Scones, Brownie Cheesecake, Raw Muesli, Cheddar Cornmeal Scones, Quinoa and Pepper Salad, Coconut Custard Slices, Honey Granola, Courgette and Millet Risotto, Oat and Coconut Cookies... Within minutes I had ordered it from Amazon.

I was determined to make Sunday morning's breakfast from this book, but being the poor planner that I am, didn't choose a recipe until I woke up and was already hungry for breakfast.  I sprung for the Classic Pancakes, because who doesn't have the ingredients for pancakes, and I decided I would use some thinly-sliced honey-spiced peaches from last summer's peach canning frenzy to sweeten them up.

Right from the start, I decided to make some changes.  First, I used half whole wheat pastry flour.  I can't justify to myself using only all-purpose flour in any recipe when it is so easy to substitute better-for-you whole grains.  Then, as I made the batter, I discovered that I had been moving too slowly, and my melted butter had turned back into tiny little solids after I added the cold milk - I should have mixed it right away, but I was too busy making my coffee.  Oops!  I tried to get them to re-melt but eventually just decided to finish the batter as-is and hope it worked out.  I'm not sure if it worked out the way the recipe intended, but our pancakes came out fine!  The batter was super airy, like the Hazelnut Muffins and Millet Muffins - I think it may have had something to do with the butter, but maybe not.  As a result, though, the pancakes were super thick and did not spread very well.  (This worked out for us later when we went to put the last two pancakes in a rectangular container, and they actually fit pretty well because they hadn't spread to the sides of the round pan!)

While the first side of the pancakes were cooking, I thinly sliced the honey-spiced peaches and laid the slices neatly on the uncooked top side of the pancake.  When I flipped them over, they caramelized a little bit.  It added the perfect amount of sweetness for me.  Although this pancake recipe was good, it was not amazing - and the amount of butter makes it more of a special-occasion recipe.  I probably will not make it again, but only because there are so many other pancake recipes out there to try.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Steel Cut Oatmeal and Blueberry Muffins

I have been really into the NY Times Recipes for Health lately.  Recently, the week's recipes were whole-grain muffins.  The main article was posted, along with the first recipe, the day before the rest - and I was so excited to see those recipes, I kept checking back until they appeared!  I happened to have some extra cooked steel-cut oats in the fridge, so I started with the Steel Cut Oatmeal and Blueberry Muffins.

I used frozen blueberries and didn't bother tossing them with flour as suggested.  I think next time I will try it, though, as the berries smeared the batter with purple streaks.  The muffins weren't very sweet.  I like them this way, and I think with fresh Jersey blueberries in the summer, they will be perfect.  Ken wanted more sugar in them, though.  I think they would be a nice side to an omelet or similar savory breakfast.  Next time I will also try to eliminate the 1 cup of all purpose flour that is included in the batter, although they did rise beautifully and form nice domed tops, but it's worth a shot.  This is a great recipe for when you cook steel-cut oats for the whole week but get sick of them by Friday - the leftovers can just be stirred into the muffin batter!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

I made this Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons from Super Natural Cooking for dinner a few nights ago and I made a few changes. First, I wanted some heat, so I doubled the Thai red curry paste, then ended up adding about 1/2 tsp of a red curry powder near the end to bring it up to where I wanted it. I used about 1/2 the amount of turmeric.

Second, I started with frozen cooked wild rice, about 2 1/2 cups. I sauteed the onion mixture for several minutes longer than intended since it wouldn't be simmering for 40+ minutes. Then, when you're supposed to add the dry rice and the water to cook it in, I just put in the cooked rice with about 1/2 cup of water and let it go for a few minutes to absorb the flavors. I followed the rest of the recipe as written except for using a little more than 1 cup of water near the end (about 1 1/2 cups). This worked out perfectly for me - the soup was delicious and it was done in much less time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie

I try to include some milk and yogurt in my diet, but since I don't like milk and you can only stomach so much yogurt, I often use dairy in smoothies to make it tastier.  I found this recipe for Kiwi Strawberry Smoothie in the NY Times Recipes for Health section.  I split a box of Costco kiwis with my mom last week, so I had quite a few of them to use up, and they were great in this smoothie.  It's sweet but mostly tangy and tastes kind of like candy.  It's refreshing but still filling.  I think I'll be making this every time I buy kiwis.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lentil Stew with Winter Squash

When I am miserably bored I like to search for recipes.  So most of the time, I have a ton of tabs open on my browser, and usually they stay there for weeks and I end up making none of them.  Recently a friend was here for dinner and she can't eat any fat, which you would think is impossible in my house, but as I was flipping through my open recipe tabs, I noticed that one of the NY Times Recipes for Health that I had open, Lentil Stew with Pumpkin, had the nutrition information, and zero grams of fat.  I had pretty much all the ingredients, so I made it for dinner and sent her home with the leftovers.  (I also made her some very low-fat brownies.  Delicious.)

The soup was pretty tasty.  I personally do not prefer the texture of lentils and split peas, but they happened to taste good, which made up for it.  I didn't eat a lot, though.  The spices and aromatics added some good flavors to the soup.  I used what I think is ambercup squash - that was pretty good too.  According to Ken, this is a regular lentil soup.  But I thought it was pretty good, and I hope my friend enjoys the leftovers!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Millet Muffins

These Millet Muffins are from the sampler PDF for Heidi Swanson's new cookbook.  I made them almost immediately after seeing the sampler.  And they are SO GOOD!  They reminded me of corn muffins.  The lemony flavor is delicious and the millet adds a crunch, a much softer crunch than I thought it would.  Millet is one of those grains that is good for you, and you should eat it, but there's not all that much you can do with it.  I had some in the fridge (it's kinda old) so I will make these muffins to use it up.  They are super quick and easy, tasty and healthy.  Next time I will try using applesauce instead of some of the butter, just to see what happens.  Butter is good and all, but if I can cut down on it, I will feel better about eating two of these the minute they come out of the oven :)

Coming soon in my next post: photos from my brand-new digital SLR!  Yay!