Monday, December 31, 2007

Red Chicken Chili

The following recipe comes from Cooking Light Magazine.

I love chili. I love how hearty it is and all the beans and vegetables. I tend to make it every few months in the fall and winter because it makes an easy lunch to bring to work.

I saw this recipe and had to try it. It looked easy enough.


Red Chicken Chili, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 1999

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups chopped onion


1/4 cup chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 16 ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 16 ounce can black beans, drained
1 14.5 ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat-extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup low fat sour cream


Preparation
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Add onion; saute 5 minutes.


Add chili powder and next 4 ingredients (powder through garlic); saute 30 seconds. Add Chicken Stock, beans, and tomatoes; bring to a boil.








Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 30 minutes.


Stir in chicken; simmer 15 minutes.










Serve with cheese and sour cream.








Yield
8 servings (serving size: 1 cup chili, 1 tablespoon cheese, and 1 tablespoon sour cream)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 280(30% from fat); FAT 9.2g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.3g,poly 1.6g); PROTEIN 24.5g; CHOLESTEROL 54mg; CALCIUM 150mg; SODIUM 743mg; FIBER 5.4g; IRON 3.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.6g


Cook's modifications:
1. I assumed I had both oregano and cumin in my spice collection. Not so much. Instead I substituted 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning. I figured there was oregano in it.
2. The chili powder. 1/4 cup seems like an awful lot. I put in more like 1/8 plus a couple of shakes.
3. I did not add salt. I figured the sodium from the stock and beans was enough.
4. I added 4 cups of chicken stock because that was the size of the container I bought. Also, I used a low sodium chicken broth after I read the label and discovered that one cup of broth had like a zillion mg of sodium in it.
5. Since I added an extra cup of broth, I threw in an extra can of black beans.
6. Just for kicks (and because the chili was lacking veggies) I added some frozen bell peppers to the onions.

7. I thought the whole buy a can of whole tomatoes, then chop them idea was dumb. It seemed like too much work, and you know how lazy I am. Instead I bought a can of diced tomatoes and they worked fine.
8. Again, because I am lazy, there was no way I was going to cook chicken and then dice it, so I shelled out some extra cash to buy the already cooked and diced chicken. It was not 3 cups worth, but I didn't care.

Thoughts:
1. This wasn't spicy enough, probably because I didn't have cumin. It needed a little bit of cayenne pepper.
2. I ate this for dinner last night and I was surprised at how full it made me. I couldn't even finish my bowl.
3. I wonder if we could make this vegetarian/vegan by switching to vegetable stock and cooked, diced tofu? And of course soy cheese and tofutti sour cream (which I actually used in place of real sour cream).



My dinner date:


Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yep, It's Vegetiarian: Savory Butternut Squash Gratin

I found the following recipe in a fall edition of Shape (or Health) Magazine. It looked good, plus it had cheese and squash, two of my favorite foods. And I love potatoes au gratin, so I figured this would rock my world.

Psych!

But here it is for all you squash lovers out there.

Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds); peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated Gruyere Cheese (or any type of Swiss)


Directions

1. Heat the oven to 350

2. Prepare the squash: Cut off and discard the stem of the squash. Divide the squash into two pieces by slicing through it horizontally. Peel each half with a sharp knife. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Then cut squash into 3/4 inch pieces, using knife or a food processor fitted with the slicing blade.

3. Place Squash slices in a large saucepan, cover them with water, and bring to a boil.


Cook over high heat for 2 minutes, then drain into a colander/

4. Pour a thin layer of vegetable stock on the bottom of a 9" x 12" baking dish and alternate layers of squash and Gruyere, saving some cheese for the top. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Top with remaining vegetable stock and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and add remaining cheese. Continue baking until cheese melts and is slightly browned (about 10 minutes).


Serves 2



Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes (totally not true. More like 40 minutes)

Per serving:
285 calories
7 grams fiber
13 grams protein

"A single serving provides half your calcium needs for the day."

Cook's notes:

I don't know what planet the writers were from, but this seriously made at least 4 servings. Also, 1/2 cup of cheese is not enough. I used at least a cup. Also, ignore the part about a cup of broth. It was too much and turned my gratin into soup, so I had to drain it after it cooked the first 30 minutes.

As it turns out, I don't like the taste of squash and cheese together, at least not swish.

It did however taste slightly better the next day, but I still wouldn't make it again.

Perhaps my problem was that I was expecting it to taste more like potato au gratin and the squash threw me off. Or perhaps it's just plain gross to begin with.

Totally unrelated: James while I was trying to wrap presents.

Grandma's Hot Mulled Cider

My grandmother served the following recipe for cider on Christmas. She made it last year only using apple cider, but the addition of cran-apple juice this year put it over the top. I practically had to fight everyone off with the soup ladle so that I could enjoy the half dozen or so cups I consumed.

This drink will be a fixture in my future holidays. It's garunteed to make family gatherings even more enjoyable.

I had to beg her for the recipe. Here it is:

"Heat half gallon apple or cran-apple juice in a crock pot. I used cran-apple this year, but apple was very good last year too.

Add two cups good quality red wine. I used a Red Rose because I like a sweeter wine.

Steep two heaping teaspoons of Williams-Sonoma Mulling Spices placed in a tea ball. I left mine in the pot even while serving the Mulled Wine. I had a very decorative tea ball that came with the Mulling Spices that Danielle had given me for Christmas several years ago. It had a little snowman on the end of the chain and I thought he looked cute hanging out of the crock pot. I may be peculiar, oh, well.

Also add one half cup of Savannah Cinnamon Mix. This mix comes in a bottle and is made and distributed by Savannah Cinnamon Co., Savannah, Ga. The company was founded by the Manning family in their own home. I found the mix in Blue Ridge, Georgia at their Farmer's Market Harvest Festival. "

Note: there are no photos because I drank it all before it occured to me to take them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Betty Crocker's Sugar Cookies

I have very little experience when it comes to baking cookies. Truth be told, I was a big fan of the fake and bake packages in the grocery dairy case or instant mixes until I saw they were full of trans fat and other gross things.

Since it is the holidays, and I did promise coworkers cookies, I set out to make some "easy" sugar cookies to decorate and give as gifts.

Easy my ass (sorry grandma)!

A quick scan of the ingridients led me to believe I had everything at home except for baking soda which I tossed after an unfortunate snickerdoodle incident last Saturday. I stopped at a 7-11 outside of my subway stop and paid $2.99 for a tiny box (it's like 50 cents at the market!). I was being lazy because it was 25 degrees and windy and my face was freezing off.

I got home and opened the fridge. Much to my horror I only had 1 stick of butter and the recipe calls for 2. I didn't want to leave my house (I was wearing flannel pjs), so I looked in every cookbook I owned to see if any had a different recipe, perhaps one that let me use canola oil. Nope. They all said the same thing: 1 cup butter.

So on went the coat and the snow boots and I trudged up the block to the corner market (I knew if I walked down the hill to whole foods I'd never make it back) to buy a package of $5 margarine.

On my way back I saw a rat the size of my cats running down the street and was horrified. I seriously hope rats haven't moved into my building. This guy was big enough he probably has a set of keys. Plus, I don't think my cats could defend my honor if faced with the giant rat. Josie would have to give it come hither looks while James wacked it on the head with a frying pan (I would be standing on the counter screaming). It was seriously gross.

Sorry if I ruined your appetite. I had to share. But before you think I live in a crack den or cardboard box, I should tell you I live on the crappiest street in the fanciest neighborhood in the city. A certain senator lives 2 blocks over. But considering how the hill is right next to the river and the houses are close to 150 years old, rodents like to try an move in.

But I digress.

Now the directions say the margarine has to be softened, so I left two sticks on the counter while I went and wrapped Christmas Presents and ate dinner. Then it was time for magic.

Ingridients:
1 cup butter or margarine, softended
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soad
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and egg with electirc mixeron medium speed. Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar. (note, by stir, does Betty mean by hand? I did it, but it was pretty tough)

COVER AND REFRIDGERATE FOR 2-3 HOURS

Are they serious?

2. Heat oven to 375. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured cloth-covered surface, roll each half 1/4 inch thick. Cut with 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter. On ungreased cookie sheet place cutouts 2 inches apart.

Here is where I ran into trouble (2 1/2 hours later). My dough was crumbly and did not want to flatten. I basically had to beat it. Why did it do this? Too much flour?

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until delicately golden. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.

By the time I got to the last step it was 11pm at night and I was tired. I said the heck with it and went to bed, leaving the cookies naked.

They turned out okay, but kind of hard, not soft and gooey like I wanted. I decided this is my trial run, I'll do the real baking this weekend when I make and decorate them using a top secret icing. You'll get photos once it's complete.

Wicked Good (and Easy) Veggie Stew

You'll notice this is quite similar to the beef and barley stew I previously posted.

I realized the other day that I had nothing to bring for lunch at work (well nothing I didn't have to fully cook first like pasta). On my way home from work I stopped at the store and picked up a bag of mixed veggies, a can of diced tomatoes, and a can of chickpeas. Later that night, I dumped a bunch of things in my crockpot and set it to low and went to sleep for 8 hours. I woke up to the most delicious smell!

For all you vegans and vegetarians and crunchy granolla people out there, I give you "Wicked Good Veggie Stew"

Ingridients:

4 potatoes (I used red), cubed 1/2 inch or smallish (note: leave the skin on)
1 yellow onion chopped
1 bag mixed veggies (carrots, corn, lima beans, green beans)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
1 cup uncooked barley
garlic (lots!)
8 cups of water with the appropriate amount of vegetable boullion cubes
salt and pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning (a couple of shakes)

Directions:
Throw everything in the crockpot or slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Enjoy!

This seriously tastes like classic vegetable soup. This is my new winter staple.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crockpot Classic: Beef Stew

I've had beef stew maybe twice in my life (that I can recall). Once was at a really good Irish Pub, the other was last weekend in a coffee shop. It was so good I decided I had to make it on my own.

I've also recently been obsessed with barely, so much that right after sampling the stew I went to the local health food store and bought a bunch from a bin for $1.

Fortunately I had about 7 beef stew recipes in a binder at home. I opted for a slow cooker recipe because I'm lazy and I like the idea of coming home and having dinner ready and waiting for me. Since I live alone, and my cats refuse to cook, this is my only option (unless Mr. Snowgoose happens to be in town).

The recipe was crazy simple and I actually had most of the indridients. I was a little nervous about buying beef stew meat, mostly because I never buy beef and cook it, and had no idea what to look for. But Whole Foods solved that problem for me. Sure enough in the packaged meat section there was one labeled "stew meat: beef." Bingo!


Beef and Barley Soup (ripped out of a health food magazine, but almost all the recipes looked the same)

Ingridients

1 tablespoon cooking oil
12 ounces beef or lamb stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 14 ounce cans of lower sodium beef broth
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried oregeno or basil, crushed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green beans, lima beans, carrots)
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup parsnip or potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices or cubes



2/3 cup quick cooking barley

Now I used everything but the celery, parsnip, and bay leaf. I actually used 2 28 oz containers of beef broth, but bullion cubes probably would have worked. I added an extra cup of mixed veggies and used a whole cup of barley.

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add meat and cook and stie until meat is browned. Drain off fat.


2. In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, combine meat and remaining ingridients. Cover and cook over a low setting for 8-10 hours or a high setting for 4-5 hours.

Serves 8




Calories: 168
Fat: 4 g
Fiber: 3 g

Notes:
1. I had no idea what kind of barley I bought bought and it was fine.

2. This would make an excellent vegetarian stew, just sub in veg broth for the beef, and omit the actual beef. I would add in several more cups of mixed veggies, tomatoes, and potatoes, and another half cup of barley.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vegan Cupcakes Just Took Over This Blog Part 4: Tiramisu Cupcakes, aka Butter and Booze Cupcakes

Last weekend I was in the Midwest visiting my friend Butter and her husband. I had wanted to bake a hostess gift (ie cupcakes), but Butter requested that I wait so that we could bake together.

So I packed my trusty Vegan Cupcake Book and let Butter choose the poison. After much debate, she chose the Tiramisu Cupcake because who doesn't like a little booze with their dessert?

We had to make a special trip to the local market to pick up some of the ingredients and Mr. Butter put his foot down and vetoed the vegan cream cheese that would become the vegan cream cheese icing. Instead we used regular cream cheese.

We also had to make a special trip to the liquor store to buy Kaluha.

We started the cupcakes around 5. You would think that making the cupcakes would be a breeze with two cooks, but no. These are fairly complicated cupcakes. So complicated that we took a long break between the baking and the icing of the cupcakes to go get pizza.

Tiramisu Cupcakes from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World"

Ingredients:

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup non hydrogenated margarine, softened
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup non hydrogentated margarine, softened, or 1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, caramel extract, or more vanilla extract

1/3 cup espresso or strong coffee
1/3 cup Kaluha or other coffee flavored liqueur
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 chocolate covered coffee beans or 12 chocolate chips or 12 coffee beans

Cupcake directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with cupcake liners
2. Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled.
Note: Butter was extremely grossed out by this part.
3. If using margarine: sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt into a large bowl and mix.
4. In a separate large bowl, use a handheld mixer at a medium speed to cream the margarine and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla and other extract, then alternate beating in the soy milk mixture and the dry ingredients, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times.




5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake 20 to 22 minutes until done. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool.



The next step (where things start to get crazy):
1. Mix together the espresso and Kahlua.


2. Use a measuring spoon, a regular spoon, or a paring knife to carve out a small cone in the center of the cupcake. Place spoon about 1 inch form center of the cupcake, then dig the spoon about 1 inch deep and cut a circle around the center. Carefully scoop out a cone, trying your best to keep the chunk as intact as possible.

3. Use a spoon to pour the Kahlua mixture into the cavity of the cupcake, making sure that all sides of the cavity are drenched, using up to 2 tablespoons of liquid per cupcake. Scoop out 2 Tablespoons of vegan cream cheese frosting into the cavity and smooth over with the back of a spoon (Make sure to reserve a few tablespoons of frosting to dollop on top of cupcake).
Dip the bottom of the cut-out chunk into the Kahlua mixture, but keep the top part dry. Place the cut out chunk on top of frosting and gently pat into place. Continue the process with the remaining cupcakes.


4. Place the chocolate and cinnamon in a small strainer and dust all of the cupcakes. Dollop a small amount of frosting on top and place a chocolate chip or espresso bean on the dollop. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.




Notes:
1. We wound up with extra Kalhua and coffee mix, so before the frosting on top part, we poured a bit more onto the cupcakes.
2. Also, I cut the cavities too large and we ran out of frosting. This is the first time I've run out of frosting making cupcakes. Make a match and a half of frosting so you have enough.
3. We didn't use a strainer to sprinkle cinnamon and chocolate on top. We did our own thing and just shook it on from the canisters.
4. These cupcakes are messing. The book recommends you serve it with a dessert fork. I vote you just eat it over the sink.
5. We made a double recipe because Butter didn't think 12 would be enough. These cupcakes turn out so big and rich and gooey, 12 is definitely enough.
6. When traveling with cupcakes, cookie tins make nice carriers, but it still may confuse the airport security on the x-ray machine.
7. We used chocolate covered cranberries on top of the cupcakes.
8. This was my first time using a real kitchen aid mixer (it was over 100 years old) and a flour sifter.

I had fun making these, and even more fun eating them (especially for breakfast with a cup of coffee). Will I make them again? Probably not. Well maybe if I was trying to impress someone with my baking skills. The cupcakes might not look pretty, but they taste divine.

Pictures to follow shortly.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vegan Cupcakes Just Took Over This Blog Part 3: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

A few weeks ago a coworker/friend had a "happy hour housewarming" gathering in her new condo. The vgeans, vegetarians, and carnivores in attendance demanded I bring vegan cupcakes. I flipped through my book in search of a good "fall" cupcake. I found some maple ones that looked yummy, but apple cider cupcakes called my name.

Procratinator that I am, waited until the day before the gathering to bother to look to see if I had the ingridients. I didn't.

Apparently, these are crazy ingridient cupcakes and my pantry was lacking agar flakes, whole cloves, whole allspice, apple cider, and apple butter. I was too lazy to run down the hill to Whole Foods, so I flipped through the book again and settled on pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes as I randomly had both a can of pumpkin and a bag of vegan chocolate chips in my pantry.

Here goes: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes form the "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

cinnamon icing:
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 tablespoon soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2. In a medium bowl, stor together pumpkin, oil, sugar, soy milk, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt. Stir together with a fork. Don't use a handheld mixer as it will make the batter gummy. Once well combined, fold in chocolate chips.
3. Fill liners 2/3 ful. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer tow ire rack and let fully cool before icing.

Icing Directions:

1. Place sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the margerine, soy milk, and vanilla and stir with a fork until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use. The mixture should look opaque abd honey brown.
2. To assemble, take a small plastic sandwich bag and cut out a tiny hole in one edge or fit a pastry bag with a small-holed decorating tip. Fill the bag with the icing and pipe it out Jackson-Pollack-style onto the cupcakes. Let the icing set at room temperature or refridgerate it.
Notes:

If you notice, the cupcakes look identical to the chocolate chip-pumpkin muffins that won the bakeoff last month. This led me to wonder: What is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?

The cupcakes were really easy to make and looked like the muffins. I tried their suggestion to pipe the icing on the cupcake with a sandwich bag, but it was a disaster. The icing was too runny and more of a glaze. But it was delicious. And all my coworkers loved them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Apple Cobbler

By popular demand:


Apple cobbler recipe

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup margarine or butter
6 cups sliced, cored, and peeled cooking apples
1 to 1 1/4 cups sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
ice cream

1. for topping in a medium bowl stir together flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon. cut in butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs. set aside.
2. for filling, in a saucepan combine the apples, the 1 to 1 1/4 cups sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup water. Let stand for 10 minutes. cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. keep filling hot.



3. In a small bowl stir together egg and milk. Add flour to mixture, stirring just to moisten. Transfer filling to a 2 court square baking dish. Using a spoon, immediately drop topping into small mounds atop filling.



4. Bake cobbler in a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into topping comes out clean. If desired, serve warm with ice cream,

Makes 6 servings




Yes, it's Vegan: Chickpea Curry

I attended a Vegetarian Food Festival last weekend and came home with this recipe for chickpea curry. I've been on an Indian kick as of late and was going to have company over for dinner, so this was the perfect dish. Plus, I actually had all the ingredients in the pantry.

Chickpea Curry

16 oz can of chickpeas
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups of water
1/8 teaspoon of chili powder
1/8 teaspoon of garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds


Note: I used a whole tomato (or one cup), a whole onion, and lots of minced garlic

1. In a heavy pan heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and add chopped onion (and garlic) and fry for about one minute.

2. Add chopped tomatoes and all spices. Mix properly and then add two cups of chickpeas and two cups of water.



3. Cover and cook for ten minutes or until chickpeas look soft. Press a few chickpeas with a spoon so gravy becomes thick and tasty.



4. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mix. Serve with warm bread or rice.


More notes: This wasn't very spice or thick so I added a can of tomato paste and about 2 tablespoons Pataks curry paste to the mix. I served the curry over brown rice.

It's super good. The best part of this meal is you can substitute almost anything in place of the chickpeas: 2 cups chopped potato cubes, two cups mixed veggies, ect.

Yes, it's Vegan (Chili)

Last week the weather was decidedly fall-like and having me crave a giant vat of vegetable chili. Of course, no sooner than I made it and began devouring it, it turned 80 again.

When I make chili I don't follow a recipe. I brown and soften in a pot (with olive oil) whatever veggies I have. This week is was two white onions, carrots, and celery.



After the veggies have softened, I start dumping in (drained) cans of beans: white beans, garbonzo beans, black beans, red kidney beans, and pink kidney beans. Then I dump in a couple of small cans of tomato sauce and a large can of diced tomoatoes (note, canned tomatoes are better for you than fresh tomatoes as they contain more lypocene).

Then I add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili powder to taste, dump in a bag of frozen corn, and then let it cook on low for about 20 minutes or until everything is softened.



It's a relatively easy and inexpensive meal to make. My vat made about 12 servings.

Battle of the (Apple) Crisps

When Mr. Snowgoose was here a few weeks ago, we went apple picking and filled my fridge with apples (note: store apples in the fridge in a crisper, not on the counter as they contain a chemical that causes fruit to ripen faster when paired with nature's laxative). Slowly I've been using them: an apple cobbler here, an apple-bacon salad there, and of course eating them like there's no tomorrow.

The bag from the apple orchard contained several helpful apple recipes, including one for an apple crisp:

"Peel and slice 4-5 apples into a baking dish. Sprinkle a crumb topping of 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream."

It seemed easy enough, so I started whipping it together, only I decided to be daring and use 1/4 cup white flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup brown sugar instead.



So into the oven it went. It came out looking like this:


It was like warm apples and some sugar, not so much a crisp. I felt like it was missing something, and I was right: oatmeal.

I found another recipe for an apple crisp. This one comes from Betty Crocker who knows her crisps. In fact, on the Better Crocker website the recipe was given 4 1/2 stars.

Here is her recipe:

Ingridients
4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cream or Ice cream, if desired


1. Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.
2. Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.




3. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with cream

I had Amy over for dinner last Thursday (leftover veggie lasagna and squash soup) and the fantastic hostess that I am, put her to work creating Apple Crisp #2.

It turned out very delicious and was even better than Crisp #1. It had to be the oats.

But lowfat caramel/ vanilla frozen yogurt didn't hurt either.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Crockpot Classic: Lentil Soup

I can't believe I haven't posted this before. Can it be I haven't made lentil soup in nearly a year?

I lost the recipe, but I feel like since I've made this so many times before I can do this from memory.

Note: this is a double recipe

Lentil Soup:

Ingredients
large yellow onion, chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves
bag of lentils
2 1/2 cups diced cooked ham, (about a 1/2 inch) or lots of bacon if you like
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
8 cups water or broth
1 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups fresh baby spinach

Directions
1. In a large crock pot combine everything but spinach. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4.
2. Add spinach and cook on high for 10 minutes.

It's pretty simple and you can make it spicier if you like. Vegans and vegetarians should omit the ham for obvious reasons. If you dare, combine the ham AND the bacon.



This makes at least 8-10 servings depending how hungry you are.

I served this with my Indian feast last week. I've been eating it ever since.

Update on the squash soup:
So I remade the recipe the other night, doing the full recipe with the entire squash and adding extra bacon and it came out much oranger than before. It almost looked like the photo! I would have liked it thicker. Perhaps next time buy a larger butternut squash and maybe add a half of an extra apple.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Veggie-palooza Lasagna

I love vegitable lasagna. I consider it to be a comfort food, but also the perfect meal to serve to guests.

Because it is so time consuming I only make it a)when I'm running in a giant race or b) when friends are over for dinner. This time I used both excuses to make it.

I adapted this recipe from a jar of Ragu (no, really).

It makes 12 servings.

Veggie No Boil Lasagna

Ingridients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwiseand thinly sliced
2 containers (15 oz) ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozerella cheese
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 jars pasta sauce
12 uncooked lasagna noodles


Before I begin with the directions, let me just add that instead of one red bell pepper, I used about a cup of frozen, mixed, bell pepper strips. I also added a yellow squash which I cut like the zucchini, and a box of frozen spinach.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a 12 inch nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and squash, stirring occassionaly until softened and browned (about 5 minutes).


3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, thawed spinach, 1/4 cup parmesain cheese, and eggs.


4. In a 13 x9 inch baking dish, spread 1 cup pasta sauce. Layer 4 unoocked noodles, then one cup sauce, half the ricotta mixture, and half the veggies. Repeat. Top with remaining uncooked noodles, and 2 cups of sauce.
5. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
6. Remove foil and sprinkle remaining mozerella cheese on top. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
7. Let stand 10 minutes.



Cook's notes:
1. I used less than 1 jar of sauce. I didn't want it all saucy.
2. Make sure to buy the noodles labeled "no bake."

It's Indian! (but not vegan) Keema Matar

Awhile back a friend made me Keema Matar (with lamb) and I loved it so much I was begging for the recipe with my mouth full of lamb and peas.

I took last week off as an at home vacation and did a lot of cooking. Mr. Snowgoose was in town, so I used him as an excuse to make this.

Keema Matar

Ingridients
1 pound ground lamb (or ground chicken, which is what I used)
1 small onion, or 1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 8 oz. can tomato paste
2-4 Tbs. Patak's Mild Curry Paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
chopped cilantro to garnish
Vegetable oil for sauteeing

Directions:
1. In a large skillet, brown the lamb until cooked through. Set aside.


2. Add vegetable oil as needed and sautee the onion for 2-3 minutes until browned. Add garlic during the last minute so it doesn't burn.

3. Spoon the lamb back into the skillet and add the curry paste, water, and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.


4. Add the peas and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. The sauce should be fairly thick. You can add more water if you want it thinner.

5. Garnish with the cilantro. Serve over warm rice.



Cook's notes:

1. Instead of the 1 cup of peas, I added an entire bag of frozen peas. It didn't steal too much from the chicken.

2. In addition to the rice (I cooked long grain brown rice) I served the Keema Matar with garlic naan bread (from the freezer at the store) and lentil soup.

3. I will play around with the recipie and try to make it vegan. Maybe I'll sub in chickpeas or some sort of tofu instead of the chicken.

4. Unfortunately this meal requires you to babysit the stove and stir frequently, but it comes out looking glamourous. After this, you'll never want to eat Indian takeout again!

And the winner of the bakeoff is....

Danielle

She narrowly defeated Mr. Snowgoose with the ever so tasty Low-fat Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins, as decided by Sharona. It was the moist goodness chock full of chocolate that pushed the muffins over the edge.

Really, chocolate chips will win every single time. Who can resist?

Mr. Snowgoose made a delicious apple cake (complete with homemade applesauce), but it was muffins hands down.

This recipe was passed on to me by a friend. It really does taste so good you forget it's healthy.

The recipe comes from the angry chicken blog: http://angrychicken.typepad.com/angry_chicken/2007/09/mackin-good-yal.html

chocolate chip pumpkin muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves (I actually omitted these as I had none)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cups apple sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix flours, spices, and all the other dry stuff together.

3. In a different bowl mix the eggs, oil, applesauce and pumpkin. Add the dry stuff- to the wet,then stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Bake 20 min.


Cook's notes:
1. On the blog where the recipe was hatched from, it is suggested that one could make cookies from the batter by dropping a tablespoon of batter on a cookie sheet and baking 8-10 minutes. The cookies came out all fluffy and tasted exactly like the muffins. Don't waste your time trying it.

2. These were possibly the easiest muffins I've ever made, and the easiest to clean up. They will probably become my fall standby!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Coming Attractions

Round Three of the Bakeoff will happen tomorrow. I spent last night baking what I think will be the winning muffins, but of course have to keep it top secret until I win.

After the competition is over, the winner and the loser baked goods will be presented. Winner gets breakfast in bed served by the loser.

Also coming this week, posts on:

vanilla birthday vegan cupcakes
Keema Matar
apple crisp
veggie lasagna
lentil soup

and more!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Breads of Champions

Here are the recipes for the two snowgoose breads that ganged up to trounce the competition in Bake Off 2.

Pumpkin Bread (from All New Joy of Cooking)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan

1. Whisk together:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder

2. Combine in another bowl:

1/3 cup soy milk (alternatively, add 1/3 cup water or milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla

3. In a large bowl, beat until creamy, about 30 seconds

6 tsbs unsalted butter

4. Gradually add and beat on high spead until lightened in color and texture, 3-4 minutes

1 cup sugar plus
1/3 cup brown sugar

5. Beat in 1 at a time:

2 large eggs

6. Add and beat on low speed until just blended:

1 cup pumpkin puree

7. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk milxture on 2 parts, beating on low speed.

8. Fold in:

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raisins

9. Bake for about 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to cool on the rack


Super Moist Apple Bread (from Secrets of Fat Free Baking)

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup apple juice (I used cherry cider)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped apples
1/4 cup raisins

1. Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda, stirring to mix well.

2. Add the juice and vanilla extract, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened

3. Fold in the apples and raisins

4. Spread the mixture evenly in a greased 8 by 4 inch pan and bake at 325 F for 55 minutes or just until a wooden toothpick inserted in teh center of the loaf comes out clean


These recipes provided some delicious breads and set the stage for the ultimate confrontation. Who is the baking champion? Decide in Bake Off 3: The Reckoning!

Battle of the Breads Part Two: The Loser Bread

I'm sorry to report that despite all my bragging, I lost this round of the bake off. Mr. Snowgoose and his pumpkin bread killed my apple bread. There was no contest. His bread was far more moist and spicy. By the end of my flight my bread was squished and had become more dense.



Here is the loser bread recipe. It's still good.

From Better Homes and Gardens:

Prep 15 minutes Bake 55 minutes Oven at 350.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded, peeled apple
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans

Directions:

1. Grease bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of 8x4x2-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. In another medium mixing bowl combine sugar , shredded apple, cooking oil, egg, and lemon peel. Mix well. Add dry mixture to apple mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in nuts.

3. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight.

1 loaf makes 16 servings.



This is what winning bread looks like. Recipe to follow soon.