31 October 2011

A preview of what's to come

Sorry for letting blogging fall by the wayside so quickly and not posting last week, but that's what Snowtober will do to a New England transplant living in Pennsylvania!

As hibernation season sets in, though, I tend to spend more time in the kitchen, so you can expect another post this week (or maybe even a third) to make up for my absence last week. Already on the menu for this week are renditions of the following, so get ready!
Getting into the holiday spirit, I'm also looking forward to recreating some of my favorite comfort foods. So far I know I want to tackle a hearty vegetarian chili and a healthful version of loaded baked potato soup, as well as (vegetarian) pot pie, but surely I'm missing some cold weather classics. Any suggestions?

Also coming up on the calendar is my participation in the first annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! That's right! Come this December, I will be exchanging three dozen cookies with three other food bloggers! Exciting, right? Sign-ups are still open if you are interested. If not, at least stay tuned to see what cookie recipes I test out before finding the perfect one to send out to other food bloggers. You don't want to miss this!

18 October 2011

Secret Ingredient Lasagna

This is a recipe for those days where you want to snuggle up with a big bowl of something warm and hearty, but realize that you don't necessarily want the full-blown food coma that comes after, because maybe you should be productive at some point during the day. Or maybe, it's that you don't want to feel guilty that you didn't go for a jog to balance off all of the scrumptious calories you just consumed, but instead would prefer to remain cocooned under a layer of blankets and your comfiest pajamas. Either way, this is for you.

Secret Ingredient Lasagna
(Based on TheKitchn)

Serves 12-15

  • 1 box (or 1 lb.) of no boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 and 1/2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 15-oz package of extra firm tofu
  • 1 c part skim ricotta
  • 2 c 2% shredded mozzarella
  • 3/4 c shredded parmesan
  • 1 15 oz jar of roasted pepper (I used in peppers that were stored in water and they still provided a ton of flavor!)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Ladle
  • 9 x 13" baking dish or 7 x 11" AND 8 x 8" baking dishes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In large mixing bowl, prepare to get messy! Using your hands, combine tofu, ricotta, and mozzarella with the paprika and nutmeg until all are well incorporated.
  3. Spray all sides of baking dish(es) with cooking spray. Line bottom of dish(es) with thin layer of pasta sauce.
  4. Place first layer of lasagna noodle directly on top of pasta sauce.
  5. On top of noodles, assemble thin layer of roasted red peppers.
  6. Create 1/4-1/3" layer of tofu and cheese mixture on top of the red peppers.
  7. Spread layer of pasta sauce over tofu and cheese mixture.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 until pan is filled high and you have ended with a layer of noodles on top. Now spread final layer of pasta sauce and cover generously with parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake lasagna until cheese is at your desired consistency. It will take roughly 25-30 minutes to get the cheese bubbly and an additional ten minutes or so for the cheese to brown and begin to form a crust. If cheese begins to brown earlier and you are concerned, cover the pan loosely with foil and resume baking!
(Note: Picture of lasagna is to come! Also, please see the side toolbars to the left of this recipe for fun following and sharing options!)

12 October 2011

Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with 'C'!

As promised, here I am posting a week later, my invisible internet friends! This week has certainly had its ups and downs, but so long as at the end of a long day I can find time to spend in the kitchen I can collect my cool and brace myself for the next day just fine.

Today's post has been inspired by finally getting my hands on pumpkin! Alright, yes, it is from a can this time, but my CSA did just provide me with a rather adorable little pumpkin of my own, so I just might try my hand at making that into soup later this week! If not, I have another can of organic pumpkin puree in my cabinet.

Now while I wanted to make some pumpkin-infused molasses cookies, molasses was not something in my cupboard nor was it something I thought to purchase earlier this week. Instead, I bring to you what I can only think to call Autumn's Cookies. I realize now that they have a very similar flavor profile to the muffins I posted about last time, but I hope you can appreciate them nonetheless!

Autumn's Cookies

Yields: 35-40 cookies

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (I used quick cooking oats)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 - 2 cups finely chopped apple
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare cookie sheet by coating with favorite cooking spray or lining with a silicone mat.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together fluffy.
  3. Add flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt to butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. Fold in dried fruits, nuts, and chopped apple.
  6. Drop tablespoon-sized globs of cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheets in your desired size. These cookies do not spread out a ton, so if you want them bigger or smaller this is really up to you, but be sure to watch them carefully as their cooking time is bound to change. Also, if you want them flatter, be sure to press them down before you send them into the oven. Otherwise, you will have a fuller, puffy cookie. Either way- delicious and deceptively light and healthy tasting!
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. This may be hard to discern, so feel free to take out the sheet after 13 minutes and insert a toothpick in one and see if it comes out clean. You can also test whether they are done by seeing if the top of the cookie still moist. You do not want this, because it means your cookie is going to stay uncomfortably similar to the texture of the original pumpkin puree.
  8. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes or until they can be transferred safely to a cooling rack without the chance of them crumbling apart during the move.
  9. Enjoy once they're cool enough to consume!

03 October 2011

Carrot Banana Muffins

Well, hello there blog and winter, I mean, fall! I am not sure where time has gone, but I'm pretty sure it slipped away from me as I grasped onto the last bits of freedom before graduate school began and a lot has changed in these few months. I took up running via the Couch 2 5K program and even got serious with portion control. So long as I can still be a foodie and enjoy my favorite flavors, I suppose I can work on portion control. And running? Why, it's not half bad! It's actually empowering, since I never thought I'd be able to jog and enjoy myself during it. I've already completed my first 5K and have registered for two others!

Along with these lifestyle changes I have made has been the readjustment to being in school again! Juggling coursework, studying, and reading journal articles? Say it ain't so! Really, I'm thankful for the new found runner within me and my always stable culinary side during this time of transition, otherwise I might have already lost track of who I am and what matters most to me- happiness! I'm also so very appreciative to be part of a great cohort of first year graduate psychology students and can only imagine where I'd be without them.. Most likely with a kitchen full of freshly baked and cooked goods and not enough empty stomachs and discerning palates to pawn said goods off on!

Since that is not the case, here we are with a new recipe and a new audience to hold me to updating this blog once a week like I so desperately want to do. Oh, and my favorite response I received upon biting into one of these muffins? "Why do I even bother baking with butter!?" Seriously, folks, these are that good!

Carrot Banana Muffins
(adapted from Eating Well)

Yields: 16-20 muffins

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick oats (or whatever oats you may have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used Silk's Light Vanilla Soy Milk and it was a great substitute!)
  • 1/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt (my favorite being 0% Fage)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 cups shredded carrots (a food processor or box grater comes in handy here)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 2 small bowls
  • Fork
  • Spatula
  • Muffin tin
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. Insert liners in muffin tin or coat with cooking spray of your choice.
  2. In one of the small bowls, add the raisins and then fill with hot water until raisins are covered. Set aside. This will result in plump, rehydrated raisins.
  3. In large mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients, except for the sugar, and the dry spices. Mix together using the spatula.
  4. In the other small bowl, whisk together the egg whites until frothy. Once frothy, mix in the sugar until dissolved. Then add in the mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, and vanilla, and stir until they are as well as incorporated as you can get them.
  5. Add wet mixture into the dry mixture using the spatula. Fold these two mixtures together gently until just incorporated, as to not activate the gluten in the flour. If you over mix these mixtures you will yield tough muffins!
  6. Lastly, drain the raisins from the water that has not been absorbed. Fold in the raisins, shredded carrots, and walnuts if being included, to the batter.
  7. Pour the batter into the muffin tin until each compartment is filled 3/4 of the way to the top.
  8. Bake until the muffins no longer jiggle when the tin is being moved. For me, this occurred after 15 to 20 minutes and resulted in golden brown tops. If you're desiring a darker and crunchier top, leave in for an additional ten minutes or until the tops are at your preferred color.
  9. Let muffins cool for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack until no longer piping hot and enjoy!