September 20, 2012

Triple Chocolate Brownies

  • You won't be disappointed. These were DELICIOUS. Double the recipe and bake in a 13x9 inch pan instead of a square pan.
  • The only thing I would have modified is that I should have pulled them out 3 minutes earlier than I did so watch them closely. You want there to still be a few wet chocolate crumbs on a toothpick stuck into the middle of the pan when you take it out.
  • Recipe from Annie's Eats
  • 5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (use a baking bar)
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (use a baking bar)
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into quarters
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ c sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
1. Place an oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. (Double the recipe and do it in a 13x9 in pan if you want).
2. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. This will take about 10 minutes. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated.
4. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer.
5. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 30-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2-2 hours. I removed the brownies by lifting the foil on either end and transferring to a cutting board. Once cool, I cut into squares and stored in an airtight container. However, they got stale quickly so next time I make them I will probably forgo the foil and just lightly oil the pan then once cool, cut brownies out of the pan as we want to eat them.

Homemade Pesto Focaccia

  • This was really good and enjoyed by all at the dinner I took it to.
  • Don't let the "homemade" part of the focaccia scare you! It's as easy to make as pizza dough.
  • The focaccia recipe is modified from
  • 2 tsp rapid-rise dry yeast
  • 1 c warm
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt dissolved in 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Pesto - make your own or use store bought. You'll need about 3/4 cup
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. In the bowl of your standing mixer, combine the yeast, water and sugar. Stir to dissolve, and let sit about 3 minutes or until frothy.
2. With the mixer fitted with the dough hook, turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add 3 1/2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Add the dissolved salt (doesn’t have to be completely dissolved) and slowly pour in the olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Add the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough is too sticky. You want the dough to stick to your finger if you press it but then it should pull away cleanly.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead a few times before forming the dough into a round ball. Place the dough ball into a large oiled bowl, turning it so that it is coated with olive oil. Leave the dough ball in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and coat a sheet pan with olive oil. Turn out the dough on your work surface. Roll and stretch the dough roughly into a rectangular shape; the dough should be about a 1/2 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the oiled sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 minutes.
6. Uncover the dough and use your fingertips to make dimples in the dough. Brush the dough with extra-virgin olive oil and then brush the dough lightly with 1/2 of the fresh pesto. Shred some Parmesan over the top. Bake the bread in the lower third of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden. Once removed from the oven, dot the bread with more of the fresh pesto.

September 18, 2012

Week 59, Recipe 1: Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

  • A vegetarian but totally satisfying meal. We used herbed ciabatta rolls for the added flavor. Plain ciabatta or a plain/herbed foacaccia would also be good.
  • I've been salting and letting my eggplant sliced sit/drain before grilling or sauteing. It seems to remove some of the moisture and bitterness. Recipes say to let it sit for anywhere between 40 minutes to 2 hours so note that in your prep time.
  • Focaccia or ciabatta rolls (see NOTE above)
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 red onion, cut into sliced
  • Jarred roasted red peppers or roast one in your oven (optional)
  • 1/2 c. mayo
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • Italian herbs (dried), about 1 tbsp
1. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch sliced. Spread out on counter/tray and sprinkle both sides of slices with salt. Layer in a colander and then place a large ziplock bag filled with water over the eggplant (to weigh them down). Let sit for 40 minutes or more. Remove bag of water and press down on eggplant with hands to squeeze out any extra moisture. Rinse eggplant then pat dry with paper towels.
2. Meanwhile, mix mayo with chopped basil and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Lightly brush dried eggplant with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with Italian herbs. Slice your rolls and brush both cut sides with olive oil too.
4. Grill the eggplant until slightly browned on the bottom and turn. Top the grilled side with cheese and grill another few minutes, or until tender. Grill the bread, cut side down, just until lightly toasted.
5. To assemble sandwiches, spread both cut sides with the basil mayo then layer the eggplant and cheese, sliced red onion, sliced tomato, and roasted red peppers, if using. If desired, drizzle a little balsamic and/or red wine vinegar over the veggies before topping with bread.

Week 59, Recipe 2: Better than Take Out Chicken Stir Fry & Veggies

  • I combined 3 different recipes to come up with this and then added the veggies I had on had. It was delicious! I would double the recipe below if you want any leftovers.
  • 1 - 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I think they're tastier than breasts in stir-fry but chicken breasts will work), chopped into bite-size pieces
  • For marinade:
    • 2 tsp fresh ginger juice (grate a chunk of fresh ginger then squeeze it between your fingers to get the juice)
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp white cooking wine + 1 tsp sugar (or 2 tbsp Japanese sake)
  • For stir-fry sauce:
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 3 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • For stir-fry
    • Grated ginger, about 2 tsp
    • Grated/minced garlic, about 2 cloves
    • Cut veggies of choice - I used broccoli, diagonally sliced carrots, green pepper and green onion
    • Hot, cooked rice (jasmine is my favorite for stir-fry) - we usually cook about 1 1/2 - 2 c. which is enough for dinner, not leftovers. Cook at least 2 c. if you want enough for leftovers.
    • Chopped green onions, for topping
1. Mix marinade in a large container and stir-fry sauce in another. Be sure to grate enough garlic and ginger for marinade and then about 2 tsp grated ginger and 2 cloves garlic for the stir-fry.
2. Add chopped chicken to the marinade and let sit for at least 30 minutes, up to all day in the fridge.
3. Heat a large sauce pan or wok with about 1 tbsp canola oil over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade spread out evenly in pan/wok. Cook, undisturbed for about 5 minutes (or until starting to brown on the bottom) then stir and cook another 3-5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a plate/bowl.
4. Add a little more oil if necessary and stir-fry grated ginger and garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds), then add veggies - start with broccoli and carrots first then add peppers, mushrooms, etc. after a few minutes. Stir fry until just crisp tender (about 5 minutes or so). Add chicken back in along with stir fry sauce. Bring to a light simmer and cook for a minute or so until sauce has thickened. Serve over rice and sprinkle with green onions.

Week 59, Recipe 3: Marinated Steaks with Pepper Rub & Zucchini Saute

  • A great grilled steak and zucchini recipe. Perfect for the end of the summer!
  • Note that the steaks are marinated for 2-8 hours so they can be done ahead of time.
  • For rub:
    • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Steaks of choice
  • For zucchini saute:
    • 1 green zucchini, sliced
    • 1 yellow squash, sliced
    • 1 small onion, sliced
    • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    • 1 ear fresh corn, cut from the cob
    • Salt and pepper, any fresh herbs you have on hand - chopped basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, etc. (optional)
1. Mix the rub ingredients and rub over steaks. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and marinate in fridge 2-8 hours.
3. To make zucchini saute: saute zucchini, squash and onion over medium heat in olive or canola oil or until zucchini are starting to brown a little. Stir, add corn, and saute another few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and throw in freshly chopped green onions and any other herbs you have on hand (optional).
4. Grill steaks on a oiled grill grate until desired doneness is reached.

Week 59, Recipe 4: Healthy Homemade Chicken Nuggets

  • I was skeptical of the flax seed but these turned out great! Even my husband wanted more!
  • Mix the panko ingredients together ahead of time and store at room temp until ready to use. Chop up the chicken and store in the fridge ahead of time as well for a quick prep.
  • Recipe modified from Deceptively Delicious
  • 1 c. panko breadcrumbs (put in a ziplock bag and roll a rolling pin across them several times to make them finely crushed)
  • 1/2 c. ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small chunks
  • cooking oil
1. Place flour in one shallow bowl, lightly beaten egg mixed with 1 tbsp water in another shallow bowl, and the panko with the next 5 ingredients (through the onion powder) in a third shallow bowl.
2. Heat a layer of cooking oil in a skillet.
3. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt then dip them, one by one, into the flour, then egg mixture then the panko mixture. Fry in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan, and cook until crisp and golden on one side (3-4 minutes0. Turn, and cook until golden brown all over, 4-5 minutes longer.

Week 59, Recipe 5: Ham & Mushroom Quiche

  • I love quiche. They are easy to assemble and make great leftovers. Double the recipe and make 2 if you want!
  • 1 pie crust
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 small container white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 c. diced ham
  • 3/4 c. shredded cheese (I used Swiss but Cheddar would also be good)
  • 1/2 c. whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • Salt and pepper (approximately 1/2 tsp each)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1. Preheat oven to 425 and place a cookie sheet on the oven rack in the lower middle position. If using a frozen crust, let thaw at room temp about 10 minutes. Prick several times with the tines of a fork and cook for about 8 minutes or until starting to look dry.
2. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms in 2 tbsp butter until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chopped green onions and saute 1 minute.
3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Add salt, pepper, and dry mustard.
4. Remove hot pie crust on the cookie sheet. Lower oven temp to 375. Layer half of the cheese on the bottom of the crust then add the ham and mushroom mixture. Pour the egg mixture over top and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
5. Return pie on the cookie sheet to the oven and bake 40-55 minutes or until top is browned and puffy and egg is set. If the top starts to brown too much before egg is set, cover with foil.

September 11, 2012


Here are links to some of my favorite soups. Perfect for this cooler fall weather!

Easy vegetable soup (just made this a few weeks ago and froze two batches for later)
White chili (this is on my stovetop right now!)
Creamy chicken & wild rice (so good)
Slow cooker loaded potato soup
Slow cooker Mexican chicken soup
Au gratin potato chicken chowder (make while you can still get fresh sweet corn!)
Panera Bread's creamy tomato soup
Shrimp & corn chowder with bacon (recipe 1 of that week)
Black bean soup (recipe 4 of that week)
Chicken tortilla soup (recipe 4 of that week)
Chicken & corn chowder (recipe 3 of that week)

Side note: You MUST make these soft garlic rolls with your soup. Delicious.

September 10, 2012

Heavenly Garlic Herb Rolls

  • This recipe is from Annie's Eats
  • These are SOOO good. My favorite dinner roll recipe by far and easy to make.
  • The trick to a soft roll is keeping the dough sticky but not so sticky that it sticks to you after you touch it will your finger and pull away. It might stick for a moment but then pulls cleanly away. If you are using the dough hook and your mixer (which I recommend for ease), you can also test dough by looking in the bottom of your mixer bowl. If the sides of the bowl are clean but there is a just a tiny bit sticking to the bottom as the mixer spins the dough, it's perfect.
For the dough:
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
For the glaze:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • ½ tsp. Italian seasoning

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, milk and water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough then wwitch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. 
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.
3. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions.
4. Roll each piece into a 10-inch rope and tie into a knot. Take the end lying on the bottom/underneat and bring it up over the top of the knot, tucking the end of it down into the middle of the knot. Take the end that is lying on top/over the knot and tuck it into the middle of the knot underneath.
5. Transfer rolls to a lightly greased cookie sheet/parchment covered cookie sheet/slipmat covered cookie sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise about 45 minutes or until puffy.
6. Make the glaze by mixing the garlic and seasoning with melted butter then brush lightly over the top of the rolls.
7. Bake at 350 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned but do not overcook. Leftovers reheat nicely the next day. by microwaving for 20-30 seconds.

Overnight Oatmeal Pancakes

  • These are great to make on a Friday or Saturday night to have ready for the weekend morning. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Mixt the oats and buttermilk and refridgerate overnight. Wake up the next morning, mix dry & wet ingredients then cook!
  • We ate all but 1 pancake of the recipe below so double if you have more than 3 eaters or want leftovers.
  • Recipe modified from Simply in Season
  • 2 c. old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
1. Mix together oats, buttermilk and vanilla the night before; cover and store in fridge overnight. Mix dry ingredients ahead of time as well if desired in a large bowl; cover and leave at room temp.
2. In the morning, stir 2 eggs and 1/4 c. oil into oat mixture.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix briefly (do not overmix!). Fry in/on a greased skillet.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

  • It's the end of summer! Use up those tomatoes before it's too late. I made some for dinner then froze several quart-size bags for later this winter. It was DELICIOUS.
  • Recipe modified from Simply in Season Cookbook
  • Feel free to vary the amounts of herbs. I used more (probably 1 tbsp more each of fresh herbs) than what was in the original recipe.
  • To blanch tomatoes, dip whole tomatoes in boiling water for approximately 30 seconds. Remove to a large bowl of ice water to cool then remove and peel off skin. It should come off easily.
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 3 tsp dried)
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 dried)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 dried)
  • 6 c. peeled and chopped tomatoes (see NOTES above for directions on how to blanch). Once blanched, I used my food processor to chop them loosely. Much faster than hand chopping.
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Saute onion and garlic over medium low heat until soft in 2 tbsp of olive oil.
2. Add carrots through herbs and stir well.
3. Add rest of ingredients and simmer 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf, let cool slightly and add more s & p to taste. Cool completely before freezing into quart-size ziplock bags.