Friday, April 29, 2011

Sweet Potato And Bell Pepper Salad

I love salad. I love running. I love my best friend. What do these three things have to do with each other? Two weeks ago I ran my first marathon with my wonderful sister, Chemist Cuisinier, PhD (this was marathon #5 for her). Among the group waiting for me at the finish line was my absolute very best friend in the entire world. After hugging and bawling our eyes out, she gave me the Greatest Ever Salads cookbook. I finally got a chance today to take a closer look at it and pick out a delicious recipe to make for us.

Because this salad is such a strange and unexpected combination of ingredients, I didn't really know what to, well, expect. I must admit, when I started slicing the eggplant I was slightly skeptical. Ok, maybe more than slightly. I even had to look up some pictures of sliced eggplant to make sure there wasn't something wrong with it. But after cooking everything and putting the salad together, I was pleasantly surprised with how delicious it was. The variety of textures--soft sweet potatoes, spongy eggplant, crunchy bell peppers--and flavors really enhance and compliment each other. The balsamic vinegar was not overpowering in the least bit, and really brought out the flavor of the eggplant. I give this salad 15/10! We ate it all up. Every. Last. Bit.

2 Sweet Potatoes, washed and cubed
1 T Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Large Eggplant, sliced
2 Red Bell Peppers, seeded and sliced
7 oz Mixed Salad Greens
3 Sticks Mozzarella Cheese  Sticks, sliced

1 1/2 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
3 T Olive Oil
1 tsp Herbs Provence

1. Preheat the oven to 375. In a bowl, mix the sweet potato with oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix in garlic. Bake for about 30 minutes, until soft and browned.

2. Preheat the broiler to high. Arrange the eggplant and bell pepper slices on the broiler pan and cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until soft.

3. To make the dressing, whisk the vinegar, garlic, herbs provence, and oil together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. To serve, divide the salad greens between 4 serving plates and arrange the sweet potato, eggplant, bell peppers, and mozzarella on top. Drizzle with dressing.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beer Bread

Beer bread is yet another one of my mom's famous recipes that I absolutely had to have. Because I cannot live without it. Neither will you, trust me. As an artisan bread, the crust is very chewy, while the inside is moist and full of flavor. Need another reason to make it? Here it is: it's easy. You throw this no-knead dough together and let it sit until you want to bake it. The longer the dough sits, the more the rich flavor develops. You will fall in love with this dense, flavorful bread. Guaranteed. This bread is usually made with a dutch oven, but if you're like me and dutch-oven-less, don't sweat it. My brilliant mother provided me with alternate baking instructions which I will, in turn, share with you.

3 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/2 tsp Salt
3/4 C plus 2 T Water, at room temperature
1/4 C plus 2 T Mild-Flavored Lager (I used Budweiser)
1 T White Vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using a rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8-18 hours.

2. Lay 12x18 inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10 inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10-15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam0side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6-8 qt heavy-bottomed dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using a razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6 inch long, 1/2 inch deep slit along the top of the dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot. Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown, about 20-30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

** If you don't have a dutch oven, just form your loaves into rounds after they have been kneaded. Put on a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper that has been lightly greased. Let them rise for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 450. Put an extra pan in the oven for steaming water. After oven reaches temperature, put loaves that have been slashed into the oven along with a cup of hot water. Cook for about 10 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 350. Cook for another 20-30 minutes.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Malted Peanut Butter Cookies

Oh, yeah.  I know what you're thinking.  She has completely lost it.  She's nuts.  These cookies will be disgusting.  Well, my thoughts pretty much ran along that track the entire time I created this recipe and made these cookies.  In fact, as I researched my idea online, I saw a blog page that said "Malted milk and peanut butter cookies (Not Together!)".  My thought when I read that? Doom. In fact, I couldn't even bring myself to taste the dough (not usually a problem that I have). The outcome?  A soft yet crispy peanut butter cookie studded with chunks of Easter colored malted milk balls and chopped chocolate.  I quite like them actually.  Okay, twist my arm.  They are delicious, and I am embarrassed to confess how many I actually ate. 

Malted Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup Chocolate Malted Milk Powder (I use Carnation brand)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces malted milk balls, coarsely chopped (or smashed with a rolling pin)
6 ounces chopped milk chocolate (I used a Hersheys candy bar)

Preheat the oven to 375F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the shortening, butter, malted milk powder, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and peanut butter.  Beat with an electric mixer until well blended.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.  In a separate bowl, stir together the oatmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients and beat until combined.  Stir in the malted milk balls and chopped chocolate.

Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough (about a heaping tablespoon size) onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until very lightly browned.  Cool on the pan for 2 minutes (this is very important!  The cookies will be very soft!), then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cranberry Swirl Pumpkin Bars

The pumpkin saga continues with Cranberry Swirl Pumpkin Bars.  You know the story by now, and you can probably guess that I had cranberry sauce hanging around from Christmas, too.  The funny part of this story?  Well, given that I almost ran out of granulated sugar on the last recipe, would you believe that I had no powdered sugar for the frosting on this recipe?  So, I had to get a little creative and go in a direction that I was not entirely comfortable with.  A cooked frosting.  Using flour.  Why have I never made this, you  might ask.  Well, to be honest, it grosses me out just a little.  However, I needed to frost these puppies (once you bake them, you'll see why) and I was not about to wake up my hungry puppy and pile in the car to drive 6 blocks to the store to get ONE thing.  No thank you.  Bring on the flour.  It actually worked.  Quite well.  The frosting turned out very fluffy and not grainy (which I was worried about).  It does NOT taste like flour (big sigh of relief here).  Verdict?  I added the recipe to my file.  Original recipe found here.

Cranberry Swirl Pumpkin Bars

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/3 cups brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or home made
2/3 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, warmed (to help is swirl more easily)

Cooked Frosting:
2 Tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and melted butter until well combined.  Beat in the egg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and vanilla extract.  Stir in the pumpkin puree.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Drop spoonfuls of the cranberry sauce on top of the batter, and swirl gently with a butter knife.  Bake the bars for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

To make the cooked frosting, in a small saucepan, combine the flour with a little bit of the milk (about 2 tablespoons) and stir to make a smooth paste.  Add the remaining milk and stir until smooth.  Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens.  Cool to room temperature. With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.  Add the cooled milk mixture, then continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and orange extracts and beat well.  Spread the frosting over the cooled bars.  Makes about 16 servings.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Here we go with another pumpkin recipe.  I like snickerdoodles, but rarely ever make them. In fact, I am not sure if I have ever made snickerdoodles.  So, true to form, I guess, when I do make them they are definitely not traditional.  Interestingly enough, as I am working to use up ingredients in preparation for the move, I almost ran out of sugar.  Wouldn't that just figure?  I thought that the addition of the pumpkin paired with the spiciness of the original cookie would be wonderful, and I was right.  The pumpkin does not overpower, but gives a different dimension to the classic flavor.  These cookies are also quite sturdy, which comes in handy when soaking them in milk for oh, about five minutes (which is about how long the cookie in the picture stayed in the milk - and didn't disintegrate).  The pictures today are starring my hungry puppies, who would much rather have held the cookie with their teeth.  This will definitely be a repeat recipe.  Original recipe found here.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree, canned or home made
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Sugar for Rolling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the pumpkin puree and beat well.  Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture gradually, beating until the flour is completely incorporated.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for about an hour, or until the dough is firm.

Preheat the oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Make the sugar for rolling by combining all of the sugar ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well.  remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator, and using a cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop out balls of dough.  Use your hands to roll the dough into balls if necessary, but if using a cookie scoop you don't need to roll them with your hands.  Roll the dough balls in the sugar mixture to coat very well.  Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Using the bottom of a glass, flatten each ball.  Dip the bottom of the glass in the sugar mixture to prevent the cookies from sticking.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are slightly firm to the touch.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pumpkin Biscuits

It is pumpkin week.  Yes, I do realize that it is April and not really pumpkin season,  but guess what.  I am still clearing out my freezer, so....pumpkin recipes in April.  I really enjoy biscuits, and thought that incorporating pumpkin  was very clever. These biscuits were really good, but not my favorite flaky airy biscuits.  They were fairly dense and almost cake-like (I think maybe because the butter was melted).  Perhaps next time I will try cutting the butter in instead.  The pumpkin and spice flavor was not incredibly pronounced, but rather understated, which was just fine.  These biscuits are a great way to break away from the traditional pumpkin recipes and use up that extra pumpkin.  Original recipe found here.

Pumpkin Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin, canned or fresh
1/2 cup milk
4 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and allspice.  In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, milk, and melted butter, and whisk until combined.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Drop the biscuit dough by large spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies

I have been really wanting to make these cookies again for such a long time.  This is a recipe that I have used over and over again, because every once in a while I think of these cookies, and can't resist the pull.  I have never come across another cookie quite like this.  Definitely not your typical, but fast, easy, and delicious.

These cookies are very rustic and craggy looking.  The cornmeal gives them a distinct flavor and a nice crunch.  The dried cranberries give this not too sweet cookie a nice burst of brightness, and the orange zest gives these cookies just a hint of citrus.  These cookies provide a nice change from the typical, and will keep you coming back.

Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies

1 cup (5 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated zest from one orange
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly spray the paper with cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder,  salt, and orange zest in a large bowl.  Add the cranberries and toss to combine.  Whisk together the eggs and the oil, then pour over the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened.  

Place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl or shallow dish.  Scoop the dough into balls using about a 2 Tablespoon scoop.  Roll the balls of dough (it will be very sticky) into the sugar until the balls are completely covered.  Place the  sugar-coated dough balls onto the prepared pan, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between each .

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about two minutes.  Transfer the cookies to a cooking rack to cool completely.  Makes 12 cookies.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cinnamon Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

So, I am still totally obsessed with cinnamon and coconut, which leaves no further explanation for these cookies necessary.  Well, except for maybe that they are amazing.  Even the dog liked them.  Yes, he is lucky to still be with us for stealing my cookies.  I got the original recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies last summer from my sister in law, Lalani.  I think that these are my absolute favorite oatmeal raisin cookies ever, so I just swapped out the raisins for coconut and added some extra cinnamon.  Incredible.  

Cinnamon Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup shortening (I used butter flavored)
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Cream together the shortening and sugars.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the cinnamon, oats, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add to the creamed mixture, beating just until blended.  Stir in the coconut.  Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool on the pan for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mango Cardamom Bread Pudding

I have found myself in possession of a mango. What does one do with a single mango? Bread pudding, duh! Ok, so maybe it's not quite that obvious. I really wanted to cook something besides some sort of smoothie, sauce, or roast duck with the mango salsa, but really had no idea what could be made. So I did a little research and discovered quite a few recipes calling for mango that sounded absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, most of them called for other strange ingredients that I have neither heard of nor know where to find. But out came one recipe--this one here--from the masses that sounded divinely fabulous. So I made it.

After surveying my pantry and reading the recipe reviews, I did a little modifying. Rather than white bread I used Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat Bread. I also decreased the amount of cardamom so it wouldn't be too overpowering. That was a good choice. Because I am not really a fan of warm fruit, I wasn't fond of this when it first came out of the oven. It wasn't bad by any means, but it wasn't my favorite. However. I stuck the rest in the fridge and gave it another try the next day...wonderful! The bread on top had a slight crunch while the rest of the dish was soft, dense, and full of flavor. Who knew that cardamom and mango would work so well together?

6 Slices Honey Whole Wheat Bread, torn into small pieces
2 Mangos, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 C White Sugar
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/4 C Milk
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
3/4 tsp Cardamom
2 T Butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9x11 baking dish.

2. Toss together the pieces of bread and mango, and place in the prepared baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla and cardamom. Pour over the bread. Dot with small pieces of butter.

3. Bake for 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until slightly puffed and golden brown.


Friday, April 8, 2011

How To Cut A Mango

Seeing as how I am now in possession of a mango, I should probably figure out how to cut it without making the biggest mess in the world. I looked up a couple different methods to find the best way. Here is what I came up with.

1. Wash the mango. You never know what sort of stuff can get on the outside, so make sure it's clean before beginning to cut.

2. Because the mango has a large seed in the middle, you should cut two slices, or "cheeks" on each side of the seed.

3. Set the middle section aside to cut later.

4. The first way is to slice through the mango flesh with a large knife. You will have to slice through the the sides of the skin, but do not slice the bottom.

5. Flatten out the mango and use a sharp paring knife to slice the base of the mango cubes.

6. The second--better and easier--way uses only a paring knife. Take the mango in your hand and carefully cut into it. You should feel the pressure of the blade against the mango's skin, but do not slice through it.

7. Next push up on the middle of the mango to invert it.

8. Use the paring knife to slice the base of the cubes.

9. Cut cubes into desired size.

10. Take the middle section and slice the edges off. Also try to scrape off as much from the seed as possible. This part is tricky because the seed is very slippery. Be especially careful while doing this, so as to not cut yourself.

11. Make vertical cuts into the mango. Then again, just slice at the base.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Filling

This is the best peanut butter filling ever.  You can use it as a filling for cookies or cake or brownies.  Spread it on graham crackers or on animal crackers.  Straight off of a spoon.  Take your pick.  It is good however you spread it.  You can even store it in the fridge and eat it for breakfast.  Please don't ask me how I know that. You can easily double this recipe.  Just a quick side note, my youngest hungry puppy (almost 2 years old) eats the peanut butter filling, pushes the slimed cookie shell away and says "yucky cookie", then asks for more.  How can you argue with a testimonial like that?

Peanut Butter Filling

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, mix the softened butter and peanut butter until well blended.  Add in the powdered sugar a little at a time and work it in with a spoon until it is completely incorporated.  Use as a filling or spread.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Monday, April 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

Here is another fabulous  peanut butter recipe.  I don't love peanut butter cookies.  Not at all.  In my entire life, I have only found one peanut butter cookie recipe that I like.  This recipe brings that number to two.  This cookie starts with a peanut butter cookie base and throws in some chocolate chips (or if you are me, chopped up chocolate Butterfinger bells left over from Christmas) and chopped Butterfinger candy bars.  Delicious.  Buttery, crispy, and almost flaky like the texture of the Butterfinger candy bar.  I adapted this from a Crisco recipe.

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups quick oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3 Butterfinger candy bars (2.1 ounce each), sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the shortening, brown sugar, sugar, and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well.  In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Gradually mix into the creamed mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips and candy bars, then cover and chill for 30 minutes.  Drop by tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove cookies from the oven and cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I have been having a little bit of a peanut butter fixation lately.  I can't explain it.  Peanut butter is yummy, but not usually an irresistible thing for me.  Only one thing to do.  Eat as much of it in as many applications as I can as quickly as I can.  Here goes.  I created these brownies.  And I am proud of them.  You will be proud of me too.  Oh yeah, and the peanut butter filling does actually taste like peanut butter cup filling.  

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

One 9x13 pan of brownies (use your favorite recipe or box mix)

Peanut Butter cup Layer:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, semi melted
1 cup peanut butter
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (you can use chips)
2 Tablespoons butter

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and peanut butter until fully incorporated.  Stir in the powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs until well blended and the mixture comes together.  Gently press the peanut butter mixture onto the prepared brownies in an even layer.

In a small microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds, then stir.  If necessary, repeat until the chocolate is melted.  Stir until smooth.  Pour the ganache over the peanut butter layer and spread evenly.  Refrigerate until firm.  Makes about 32 small (but decadent) brownies.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy
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