Monday, February 28, 2011

Raisin Challah

What can I say about Challah? Only that it is the best, most delicious, wonderful bread in the world, but only when it's done right. Lots of thing qualify as Challah, but the Challah I am talking about is the delicious eggy, slightly sweet, braids of amazingness. Growing up we always had a loaf from the local kosher bakery, but as I am no longer around the block from that, I decided to be brave, let the yeast adventures continue, and make my own. And I am so very glad I did, it was delicious and massive. The braiding was the hardest part, but well worth the effort since it makes the crust to inside parts at the perfect ratio. It is the best bread for French toast and bread puddings, but it also just tastes wonderful on it's own (and I mean on it's own, no butter or jam or anything else on it, trust me).

Raisin Challah:
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsbp of honey
4 eggs, divided
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp of salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of raisins (optional)

In a large bowl dissolve yeast into water and let stand until foamy, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in sugar, honey, 3 eggs, salt, butter, and 4 1/2 cups of flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, adding additional flour or water if neccesary, but do not over flour. The dough should be soft, smooth and just slightly tacky, about 5-7 minutes. (This is an easy dough to work with by hand because of the eggs and butter). Shape into a ball, and transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, let rest 10 minutes then knead in the raisins. Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil or partchment paper and grease lightly. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long thick robe, about the length of cookie sheet. Line the ropes up horizontally and close together. Braid the challah (see below). Place the braided loaf on the cookie sheet and and loosely in plastic wrap. Refriderate over night. Position the oven rack in the lower third and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the remaining egg and brush the challah with the egg. Bake until golden and crust sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes. Enjoy. (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

Bring the ends together on one side, but don't pinch them together. Cross the strand farthest from you across all the other strands so it is closest to you. Next, cross the strand that is next to that strand (second from you) over the other two strands so it is now farthest from you. *Position the two outer strands so they point out slightly, and the two inner strands straight. Bring the strand closest to you in between the two inner straight strands. Bring the strand furthest from you up and to the opposite side of the strand you moved one step before. Now your original inner strands are the outer strands. Adjust the strands so the new inners are strainght and the outers point out slightly. Bring the strand farthest from you down between the two straight strands, and then the strand nearest to you to the opposite side of that. Repeat from the * until you reach the end of the ropes. Pinch the ends together.

Happy Eating.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Soba Stir Fry in Peanut Sauce

I have been on a bit of a healthy kick lately, and I guess it was noticed by some lovely readers. So Ace Health, a wonderful resource for health and fitness articles asked me to do a guest post (you can check out their other lowering cholesterol specific site here), healthy recipe for them. I choose a fast, easy, delicious, and of course healthy stir fry, in a lightened up peanut sauce. Yum (I actually have the leftovers all set for lunch today). So head over to Ace Health to check out my recipe!

Happy Eating.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

My seafood adventures continue. Trying to find new and fun ways to make a satisfying meal for a fish lover (me) and a not so much (the boyfriend). After spending 15 minutes in the super market convincing him he would like tilapia and that it was very mild, I figured I better make it very delicious. What is better than crusted and fried? How about the appearance and taste of being crusted and fried, while still being extremely healthy and not a million calories. Perfection. The tilapia is mild and firm, which makes it a perfect fish for crusting, I choose cornmeal for a little texture, flavor, and whole graininess. This delicious dinner was done in about 10 minutes too (well the asparagus took a little longer than that, but you could choose a super fast side), so this dinner is perfect for a lazy and healthy week night meal.

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia:
2 tilapia fillets, a little less than a pound
1/4 cup of cornmeal
1/4 tsp of salt, plus additional
1/2 tsp of pepper, plus additional
1 tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 a lemon
1 1/2 tbsp of canola oil, approximately

Slice the tilapia fillets along the natural split, so you have four pieces. Squeeze lemon juice over the fillets on both sides and lightly salt and pepper. In a bowl mix together the cornmeal 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, and the parsley. Dredge each piece in the cornmeal mixture on both sides. Heat the oil in a large skillet, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the two larger pieces and cook for 3 minutes. Add the smaller pieces and and flip the larger pieces. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes then flip the smaller pieces, cook everything for another 1 1/2 minutes. In case that was confusing, the larger pieces cook for 3 minutes on each side, and the smaller pieces cook for about 1 1/2 minutes each side. Serve and enjoy.

Happy Eating.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Soft Pretzels

I have been slowly branching out into the world of yeast. Trying to build up to a point of confidence to conquer loaves of bread. In the meantime, until I feel ready to to handle that, I am having lots of fun with the little yeast adventures. So far I have made angel biscuits (which came out so delicious and perfect), garlic knots (which were very good, but not amazing), and now soft pretzels! I love soft pretzels, and these came out pretty good. My one complaint is that they don't last, I mean a soft pretzel from the store, still tastes good and soft at room temperature, these HAVE to be eaten hot. They re-heat nicely though, so problem semi-solved. My absolute favorite part of making the pretzels was parboiling them, they puff up like crazy and it's really fun to watch. My least favorite part was twisting them into the shape, I found this pretty hard, and not all of them came out so pretty, next time I think I would just make nubs. Looks aside, when hot, they tasted amazing!

Soft Pretzels:
1 1/2 cups of warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp of salt
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of bread flour
1 heaping tbsp of baking soda
Water for boiling
1 tbsp of butter
sea salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl whisk yeast into warm water. Add in brown sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Put flour in the bowl of the food processor (or stand mixer with paddle attachment) fitted with dough blade and pour the water-yeast mixture over it. Blend until a dough forms. Knead with dough blade (or dough hooks if using a mixer) for about 5 minutes, adding more flour or water if necessary, the dough should be slightly tacky. Remove from the mixer/processor and knead dough a few times by hand and then shape into a ball. Wash out and oil the bowl from before, and put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise somewhere warm until it has doubled in size, about an hour. Cut dough into 12 equal sections (or less if you want larger pretzels). Line 2 cookie sheet with parchment. Roll out each section of dough into a long snake about 1/2 inch thick. Twist into a pretzel shape (or cut into nubs) and lay on parchment. Repeat with remaining dough. Let the pretzels rest for 20 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Scoop in the heaping tablespoon of baking soda. Drop the pretzels in, 3 at a time (more or less depending on the size of your pot), enough so that they have enough space to reach the surface. Boil for 2 minutes, then flip the pretzels over and boil for another two minutes. Return pretzels to parchment and repeat until all pretzels have been parboiled. Melt the butter, and brush the tops of the pretzels with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake until the pretzels are golden brown, switching the top and bottom rows halfway through, about 20 minutes total. Serve immediately from the oven, or re-heat in a toaster or a 350 degree oven before serving. (adapted from Sprinkles of Parsley)

Happy Eating.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Upside-Down Honeyed Cheesecakes

Well I suppose you waited long enough, my wonderful Valentine's dessert was cheesecake (find the dinner here). But not just any cheesecake, the most delicious, petite, adorable cheesecakes, with a lovely caramelized honey topping. These were so delicious, that I ate half of one before dinner, right from the fridge while they were cooling. I meant to just test a bite, to make sure they were worthy, and I looked down and it was half gone! (and no it didn't stop me from having more for dessert). I cannot wait to try this full sized as well, this cheesecake is magical. It's richer and a little less sweet than your average cheesecake, but then it has the honey topping to sweeten it up. They take a little extra effort to bake/assemble because of the upside-downess, but they are totally worth it. The recipe makes 6 but it divides in half easily, if you remember that 3 tsp equals a tbsp and 16 tbsp equals a cup. Enjoy!

Upside-Down Honeyed Cheesecakes:
8 graham crackers
2 tbsp of honey
4 tbsp of butter
1/2 tsp of salt

4 tbsp of honey
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of butter
3 tbsp of water

12 oz of cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 cup of Mascarpone cheese
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Pre-heat the oven to 425. Grease 6 ramekins. Make crust: In a food processor or blender, process graham crackers until they are all crumbs and no large pieces remain. Add butter, salt and honey and process until a incorporated. Press 1/6 of the mixture into the bottom of each ramekin. Bake until lightly golden and firm, about 5-7 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the crust to loosen. Invert ramekins onto a piece of parchment paper and tap gently to release. Allow crusts to cool on the parchment. Wipe out the ramekins and re-grease. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Make topping: In a small pot over medium heat the topping ingredients; butter, honey, sugar, and water until melted and smooth. Raise heat to high and boil until a candy thermometer reads 300 degrees, be careful not to let it burn. Pour the topping into the ramekins, dividing evenly. Allow to cool slightly while you make the cake. Make cheesecake: In the food processor, or in a bowl using a mixer, blend together the cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Add in Mascarpone, lemon juice and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and blend until just incorporated. Divide mixture evenly amongst the ramekins. Put ramekins in a roasting pan and fill with hot water, enough to come half way up the ramekins. Bake until just before the cheesecakes are set, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and gently press a crust on top of each cheesecake and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool on the counter until you can touch the ramekins with your bare hands then transfer to the fridge. Chill for at least an hour, up to 2 days (I chilled mine overnight). To serve: Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecakes and invert onto a plate, tap gently until you feel the cheesecake drop. Serve with fresh fruit. Some of the topping will be stuck to the top. You can microwave the ramekins to loosen it and drizzle it over the fruit, if you want. (adapted from epicurious)

Happy Eating.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

You may have seen these bad boys floating around the food blogs lately. They were popping up all over the place recently, and when I saw them, I knew it was destiny. Some things are too epic not to try. And they do not disappoint, I am not even a huge Oreo fan, but these are incredible and awesome. If you are going to tackle these, the double stuff is an absolute must. Grab your sweet tooth and your appetite and prepare to bite into an insane cookie, that also happen to be the size of a biscuit.

The monsters getting ready to bake in the oven:

The giant "biscuit" sized cookie, whole:

2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cups of dark brown sugar
3/4 cups of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp of vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
12 oz bag chocolate chips
Double stuffed Oreos

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease. Cream butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add in the salt, baking soda and 1 cup of flour and mix until well incorporated. Add in an additional 1 ½ cups of flour and mix in. Add in the remaining flour and mix until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop one spoonful or ice cream scoop of dough onto each side of an Oreo, then pinch the edges together until you can’t see the Oreo anymore. Space the cookies wide apart (I baked 8 cookies per cookie sheet). Cook until they are golden, about 12-15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet. (adapted from Picky Palate)

Happy Eating.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Dinner for My Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I have a special post for you today, the delicious Valentine's day dinner I made for my special someone to celebrate yesterday (leaving us free to go out tonight). When thinking about what to make for this dinner, my head was literally swimming with ideas, but I realized most of them were things that I love, not necessarily the boyfriend's favorites. So I did some thinking and some editing and here is what I came up with.

1. Saying I love you with fine Italian meats and cheeses.

We have an arugala salad with shaved Parmesan in the middle. And it is surrounded by pepperoni and prosciutto; mozzerella, provolone, and Pecorino Toscano Fresco cheeses; roasted red peppers and stuffed cherry peppers. We ate this platter as our afternoon snack/late lunch. I also served it with these Garlic Knots, which were the easiest yeast bread I have ever attempted.

The stuffed cherry peppers were on an antipasto platter we had in a restaurant a few weeks ago, and the boyfriend literally could not stop talking about them, so I had to put them on my tray. They are so easy to make.

Stuffed Cherry Peppers:
1/2 jar of pickled hot cherry peppers
sliced pepperoni
fresh mozzarella

Cut the tops off the cherry peppers and remove the seeds. Wash any remaining seeds out. Slice the pepperoni into thin strips and cube the cheese. Take two thin slices of pepperoni and wrap it around a mozzarella cube. Stuff the wrapped cube into a cherry pepper. That's it! Spicy deliciousness is your's to enjoy.

2. For dinner, try a little something new, with an old favorite.

It's a little hard to guess what it is, but I am proud to say that it is Rabbit Armando, with risotto made from fresh rabbit stock, and stuffed artichokes. Risotto is the old favorite. I had never made rabbit before, I in fact only have had it once, when we were in Argentina, but I loved it so much I have been on a quest to find it ever since. It was easy to make and very affordable. My rabbit came whole and not de-boned (which was slightly unexpected, and I didn't notice until it thawed). So I de-boned it myself (leaving the leg bones in), using this Martha recipe as a guide, and made stock from the bones. Then I used the stock to make the risotto.

Braised Rabbit Armando:
1 whole rabbit, cleaned, spine removed, about 2 lbs
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 shallot
A small handful of fresh oregano
A handful of fresh parsley
8 oz of shitake mushrooms
4 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 thick slices of Pancetta
3/4 cup of white wine

Cut the rabbit into big serving pieces (legs, loin, etc). Chop the onion, and shallot. Mince the garlic and herbs. Put rabbit in a plastic bag, and add the chopped herbs and veggies, mushrooms, olive oil and vinegar. Chop the Pancetta and add that as well. Let marinate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the rabbit mixture to the pan and brown for a few minutes, then stir and flip the rabbit pieces and brown, about 5 minutes total. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow to cook until rabbit is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. (adapted from Mario Batali)

1 cup of arborio rice
3 thick slices of Pancetta
1 garlic clove
1 shallot
1/2 cup of white wine
4-6 cups of rabbit stock (or beef stock)
1 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small pot, over medium-high heat, cook the Pancetta. Remove the Pancetta from the pan and set aside, leave the rendered fat. Cook the garlic and shallots until slightly softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. and the rice and toast until opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and stir until almost all absorbed. Add 1 cup of stock and cook until absorbed. Keep adding stock 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, until rice is cooked and creamy, about 4-6 cups, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese, until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in reserved Pancetta. Serve with additional cheese sprinkled on top.

Stuffed Artichokes:
2 artichokes, cut in half and chokes removed
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp of olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the panko, cheese, garlic and olive oil. Stuff each choke with some of the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a small baking dish (I used a pie pan) and fill with 1/2 inch of water. Cover with tinfoil and bake until the breadcrumbs are browned, about an hour. (adapted from Martha)

3. Wait a little while after eating, to enjoy dessert. And the same goes for all of you. So, coming soon, our very special dessert.

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Eating.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Well football season might be over, but you never know when another party is around the corner, so I still think this amazingly delicious dip is still relevant, even post Super Bowl. In the weeks leading up to the big game, I started to see recipes for this stuff popping up all over the place, and I was intrigued. I had never heard of buffalo chicken dip, but the boyfriend is a wings fanatic, so as soon as I heard about it I knew I would have to try it. I read a million different variations and then just kind of "winged" it (lol, puns). The result was beyond, creamy, cheesy, spicy, and decadent goodness.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 16 oz bottle of buffalo style hot sauce
1 16 oz bottle of blue cheese dressing
2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbled, divided
1 8 oz bag of shredded mozzarella cheese

Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil, and boil chicken until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Let chicken cool and then shred. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place shredded chicken in the bottom of a deep baking dish and pour hot sauce over chicken. In a large bowl microwave cream cheese until softened, about 45 seconds. Pour blue cheese dressing into cream cheese and stir until smooth. Pour over chicken and add 1 cup of blue cheese. Stir everything together until incorporated and mixture is light pink. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining blue cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden and melted. The dip can also be made in advance and covered and refrigerated before baking. Serve with tortilla chips, celery, pita chips, or just about anything you can dip. Enjoy!

Happy Eating.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

These cookies are not for the faint of heart. They are definitely for the true chocolate lover. And well, that just makes them perfect for Valentine's day, which is so obviously a holiday for the chocolate lover. These cookies are magical for a number of reasons, first, they have over a pound of chocolate in them, and that can't be anything but good. Second, they are the perfect make ahead cookie. The dough can be made ahead, and the cookie tastes better the second day (in my opinion). If you (or your sweetheart) don't like butterscotch (which apparently a good number of people don't), definitely leave it out or swap it with some more chocolate. You can taste the butterscotch, in addition to the chocolate in every bite, despite their not being a lot of it in the cookies. So whip up a delicious batch of chocolate heaven as part of your Valentine's day celebration or whenever the chocolate cravings strike! Enjoy!

Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies:
8 oz of bittersweet chocolate
8 oz of semisweet chocolate
1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
1 3/4 cups of brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp of sea salt
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup of butterscotch chips
1/2 cup of sliced almonds

Break the chocolate into pieces and slice the butter, add to a heat-proof bowl. Microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring in between, until chocolate and butter are melted. Put bowl in the refrigerator to cool. In a large bowl beat sugar and eggs until very fluffy, about 5 minutes with a mixer. Add in vanilla extract and slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Beat until incorporated. Add in flour, baking powder, salt, and sea salt. Stir until just combined, do not over mix. Add in chocolate chips, butterscotch and almonds, and stir gently. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least an hour, but up to overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and grease or Pam lightly. Drop the cookies by heaping tablespoons, and then flatten slightly. Bake until the tops are cracked, about 12 minutes. (adapted from epicurious)

Happy Eating.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Turkey with Mushroom Pan Gravy

The cold rages on and on. This winter has been impossible long, leading me to cook hearty meal after hearty meal. A lot of times, they take time. You need a few hours to roast, or a day to slow cook, an hour or more to do a pasta bake. Sometimes that's too slow. So here is something that took me about 35-40 minutes from start to finish. It's fast, easy and so warm and comforting, a delicious pan roasted turkey breast with gravy! I served mine with roasted Brussels sprouts and a grain medley I picked up at Wegmans (it's the golden jewel blend, if you have a Wegmans, and I highly recommend it). Turkey breast makes a great change from chicken breast, a lot more flavorful (and bigger). All and all a great, easy, and fast week night dinner.

Turkey with Mushroom Pan Gravy:
1 1.5 lb split turkey breast
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp of dried thyme
1/2 tsp of dried rosemary
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 shallot
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 cups of low sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup of Shitake mushrooms
2 tbsp of flour
1/2 tbsp of butter

Heat oil in a medium pan, over high heat. Season the turkey breast with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Place the breast in the hot pan, skin side down, and brown for about 3 minutes, until skin is caramelized. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and shallot. Flip the turkey over and add the garlic and shallot to the pan, lower the heat to medium-low. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, then pour in 1 cup of chicken broth. Cover pan and simmer turkey breast until it is cooked through (internal temperature of 160 degrees), about 30 minutes (will vary based on size). If at any point in the cooking process the broth has all cooked out, add more broth to keep the turkey moist, I added an additional half cup of broth about 5 minutes before my turkey was done. After turkey is cooked through, remove from pan and cover with tinfoil to let rest. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook uncovered, until any remaining broth has evaporated and mushrooms are tender, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour until incorporated. Add 1 cup of broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Whisk until well combined and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Adjust seasoning to taste. Slice turkey, and serve with gravy on top or on the side. Enjoy.

Happy Eating


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Almond Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

One of my favorite things about the weekend is breakfast. Time to cook and enjoy a delicious, healthy meal to start your day. During the week, it's all oatmeal and yogurt, but on the weekends I can expand my breakfast horizons. I am usually an eggs kind-of gal, but every once and awhile I get a crazy pancake craving and will except no substitutions. I adapted this recipe from my latest cook book obsession Whole Living's Power Foods, which is full of amazing information and wonderful recipes that I can't wait to try. Just reading it makes you want to eat your veggies. But anyway, back to the pancakes. They are absolutely delicious, the boyfriend could not tell that they were "healthy" (and I waited until he had scarfed down several pancakes to let him know), and they are served with a delectable blueberry sauce. The yogurt and almond flour pack in some delicious extra protein, and makes these much more filling than your average pancake. So whip up a delicious and guilt free batch this weekend!

UPDATE: This recipe is featured on Maple Syrup World, a really awesome site for all things Maple Syrup. Check them out on Facebook or Twitter. As an added bonus they are offering a 10% discount to the first 20 Eat, Knit, Grow readers who need to fill their maple cravings. Just use the code EATKNITGROW when you place your order.

Almond Pancakes:
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of almond flour or almond meal
2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp of butter, melted
1 tbsp of maple syrup
1 egg
3/4 cup of Greek yogurt, nonfat
Any optional mix-ins you want (almonds, chocolate chips, bananas,etc)

In a large bowl mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour in the melted butter, maple syrup, egg, and yogurt. Mix until well combined, and smooth. Stir in any mix-ins or leave plain (I choose plain). Heat a griddle pan over medium heat, and grease or Pam. Spoon batter into small circles and use the back of the spoon to smooth them down and shape them a bit (the batter is slightly thicker than regular pancake batter). Repeat until pan is full. Cook until bubbles form in the center and bottoms are golden. Flip pancakes and cook until done all the way through. I had enough batter to make 13 small pancakes. To serve all the pancakes hot (if your pan isn't that big, like mine), leave them in a 200 degree oven while you are cooking the others. To be 100% guilt free, this recipe serves 4, about 3 pancakes each. (adapted from Power Foods)

Blueberry Sauce:
2 cups of blueberries
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1 tsp of corn starch
zest of half a lemon, plus one light squeeze of juice

Heat a small sauce pan to high heat with blueberries and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then cook covered until all the blueberries have burst, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and whisk in corn starch, lemon juice, and starch. Stir until sauce thickens slightly. Serve warm with pancakes. (adapted from Power Foods)

Happy Eating


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Classic Lasagna

It is so cold and rainy and snowy and grey out. All I can think about is warm comforting meals. Soup, casseroles, cheesy pastas, etc. I just want to eat warm heavy things, so I made lasagna. I decided to put my pasta maker to work and I made noodles, using the same spinach pasta dough I made before. I rolled the noodles out to a 7 on the pasta machine, and then cut them into large strips by hand. The spinach in the pasta means I sneaked another serving of veggies into my meal, and I further healthied/lightened up this classic by using part-skim ricotta, low fat mozzarella, and chicken sausage. The lasagna can be made in advanced and frozen, or cooked as soon as it's assembled, it's equally delicious, and warming on these cold winter days.

12-15 Lasagna noodles, bought or homemade, cooked al dente
Ricotta Mixture
1 cup of 2% Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese

1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 yellow onion
1 medium shallot
8 oz of chicken or pork sausage
3 cloves of garlic
1 29 oz can of tomato sauce
2 tbsp of tomato paste
2 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
salt, pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Split open the sausage to remove the meat from the casing and add the meat to the pan to brown. Dice the onion, shallot and garlic and add to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and raise heat to bring to a simmer. Slowly stir in the the paste. Season with spices, and reduce heat to low. Cover, until needed.

Cheese Mixture:
2 1/2 cups of part skim ricotta
1 cup of Parmesan
1 egg
1 tsp of salt

In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta, Parmesan and salt. Check flavor, and add more salt if necessary. Mix in egg.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large casserole dish, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom, trying to get as little sausage as possible. Top the sauce with a layer of noodles. Top noodles with half of the ricotta mixture, and sprinkle 1/3 of a cup of mozzarella on top. Add half of the remaining sauce, then another layer of noodles, then the rest of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 cup of mozzarella, then the rest of the sauce. Add final layer of noodles and top that with remaining mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. At this point, the lasagna can be frozen or refrigerated for later use. If cooking now, cover with tinfoil and cook for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. If you like a crispy top (like me), turn the broiler on and carefully broil for 3-4 minutes until top is golden brown. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Happy Eating.