Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones

I'm still not sick of pumpkin. Any food with pumpkin or pumpkin spice in the name immediately catches my attention and I'm constantly on the hunt for new recipes, especially baked goods, using pumpkin. I made and really enjoyed some Pumpkin Muffins a few weeks ago so I've been hunting for a whole wheat pumpkin scone recipe, of which there are surprisingly few. I generally get my recipes from well-known sources like Food and Wine, Epicurious (which aggregates Bon Appetit and Gourmet recipes), or Martha Stewart, but none of my go-to sources had a pumpkin scone recipe that I could find, so I resorted to Google. I found the basis for my recipe through Saveur, a great food magazine and tweaked it just a bit to my preferences. As usual, I have many more scones than I can eat on my own before they get stale, so I froze extras for satisfying breakfasts over the next couple of weeks. The spice and pumpkin flavors are clearly present and complemented by the nutty whole wheat flour, but not too aggressive and the delicate texture imparted by the whole wheat pastry flour makes these light and seasonal scones a healthy breakfast treat.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones
adapted from A Dash of Sass, via Saveur
makes 8 scones

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I recommend canned instead of fresh; it has a more concentrated flavor)
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream*
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed or grated and kept cold until needed
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 t. turbinado sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.) (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a SilPat.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the pumpkin, cream, vanilla and one egg until combined. Place bowl in the refrigerator while preparing the dry ingredients.

3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

4. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingers, quickly work the cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients. Work until the mixture resembles a crumbly, sandy mixture.

5. Add the cold wet ingredients to the crumbly mixture using a rubber spatula. Only stir until combined. Carefully add 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans and any additional add-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit). Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup chopped pecans to sprinkle on the top of the scones. Knead the dough briefly, if needed.

6. Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape dough into a 7-inch square. Using a large knife, carefully cut the square into quarters on the diagonal and cut each quarter into two pieces (8 pieces total). Place on lined baking sheet.

7. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush each scone lightly with the egg. Sprinkle each scone with 1/4 t. turbinado sugar and the remaining pecans.

8. Bake for 12 to 17 minutes or until scones are golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking time**, being careful not to overbake the scones (they will dry out).  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to a week (extras can also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen).

 *The hydration level of flour varies quite a bit depending on the ambient humidity, so how much liquid is required to bring the dough together will also vary.

**I suspect my oven runs a bit hot, so your baking time will probably be towards the middle or end of the range given, possibly even greater if your oven runs a bit cool. I would start checking at 12 minutes and keep an eye on them, as scones can go from golden to burnt (especially the pecan topping) in a short amount of time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cranberry-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

I've been really excited about cooking with cranberries, both fresh and dried, lately and was on the search for a dessert or scone recipe using cranberries when I came across this gem from King Arthur Flour, which I adapted just a bit to use whole wheat pastry flour. I often prefer whole wheat pastry flour because it retains the wonderful nutty flour of whole wheat flour, but has a light and delicate texture that is perfect in baked goods, pancakes, and waffles. These cookies are full of fruits, nuts, and whole grains (admittedly along with a healthy portion of butter and sugar) and are, most importantly, delicious!

Cranberry-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
adapted, slightly, from King Arthur Flour

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (1 7/8 ounces) trans-fat-free vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups (13 1/8 ounces) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1 cup (4 ounces) dried cranberries, packed
1 cup (4 ounces) golden raisins
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped pecans or almonds
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups (11 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, shortening, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; then add the maple syrup. Stir in the fruit and nuts, then the flour, beating gently until well combined. Add the oats last, making sure they’re thoroughly distributed throughout the bowl.

3. Now, you can make these cookies three different sizes. A tablespoon cookie scoop will make traditional 2 ½" cookies. A heaped scoop of dough, using a tablespoon cookie scoop (3 tablespoons, about 2 ounces), will make 3 ¼" cookies. A muffin scoop (1/4 cup) will make big 4" cookies, suitable to wrap individually and sell at a bake sale. Drop balls of dough onto the prepared sheets, leaving about 2" between them. Bake the cookies until they’re just barely set on top–about 12 minutes for the small cookies, 13 to 14 minutes for the medium cookies, and 16 minutes for the large cookies. Remove them from the oven, and cool them on the baking sheets, or transfer them to a rack to cool. 
Yield: about 4 dozen small, 30 medium, or 2 dozen large cookies.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Harvest Chicken Salad

After the success of Cranberry-Walnut Grilled Chicken Salad last week, I thought I'd try to put together another creative main dish salad, using some of the wonderful flavors of fall. I made this salad with grilled chicken, but I'd really be just as happy without it. The savory cheese and nuts contrasted with the sweet-tart cranberries and crunchy apples provide many layers of complementing flavors so any vegetarians who want to make this salad won't be disappointed.

Harvest Chicken Salad
serves 2

1 T. dijon, spicy brown, or other grainy mustard
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (approximately 1/2 pound)
4 oz. salad greens
1/4 c. sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped toasted pecans
1/4 c. shredded smoked cheddar cheese
1 small to medium tart apple, cored and cut into 16 pieces
Salad dressing (suggestion: balsamic vinaigrette)

1. Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of the chicken breast with mustard. Grill chicken breast until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F. Let rest at least 5 minutes and slice into bite-size pieces.

2. Divide salad greens between two large plates. Top each pile of greens with half of the grilled chicken, cranberries, pecans, cheese, and apple slices. Drizzle with your favorite salad dressing and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

For the past two weekends I've been making desserts on the healthier side, so this weekend I decided I was allowed to make something a bit more indulgent, although in the grand scheme of desserts, these aren't so bad. Made with whole wheat flour, old-fashioned oats, and heart-healthy pecans and dark chocolate, these bars are full of indulgent flavors without being completely unhealthy. These bars would also be good with walnuts or other nuts, and dried fruit in place of some or all of the chocolate chips.

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
adapted from Whole Foods

Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli 60% Cacao chips)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a (9-inch) baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

2. Put butter and sugar into a large bowl and mash together with a fork until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and stir well. In a separate medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and pecans until combined then transfer batter to prepared pan, smooth out evenly and bake until golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Set aside to let cool then cut into squares and serve.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cranberry-Turkey Melts

Whenever I make a turkey sandwich with Thanksgiving leftovers, I put a piece of jellied cranberry sauce on top of the turkey instead of mayo, mustard, or butter. I've gotten some weird looks from people before, but now many people are realizing the genius of the turkey-cranberry sauce combination. I just made a batch of Ginger Cranberry Sauce and had some excellent bread and cheese from the farmers' market, so putting these melts together to enjoy with the Packer game Sunday night was only natural. The sweet and tart cranberry sauce is the perfect contrast to the savory and salty cheese and turkey and a great preview for those who can't wait until the Thanksgiving feasts begin.

Cranberry-Turkey Melts
serves 2

4 slices whole-grain, sourdough, or french bread (I used Nut Brown Beer Bread from Silly Yak Bakery)
2 slices Swiss cheese (I used Swiss from Forgotten Valley Cheese)
4 oz. sliced turkey (I used Thumann's smoked turkey breast)
1/4 c. Ginger Cranberry Sauce (see previous post for recipe)
Canola oil cooking spray

1. Preheat a pan or grill pan over medium heat or preheat Cuisinart Griddler or similar appliance (this is what I used).

2. Place one slice cheese and half the turkey on each of two slices of bread. Spread the other two slices with half of the Ginger Cranberry Sauce and put the two halves together.

3. Spray Cuisinart Griddler (or pan) with cooking spray. (Note: if you are using a pan on the stove, you may want to spread each slice of bread with butter instead). Grill sandwiches until cheese is melted and turkey and cranberry sauce are heated through, flipping halfway through cooking if using a pan. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

What better start to a rainy Sunday morning than a big plate of hot pancakes? A cool fall morning is the perfect time to further indulge my obsession with pumpkin-flavored foods with a plate of warm pumpkin pancakes and a homemade pumpkin spice latte. The delicious of aroma of pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger filled the whole house with comfort and relaxation as these pancakes cooked on the griddle and was the perfect way to ease my way into a lazy Sunday. I froze the extras for a quick and satisfying weekday breakfasts.

The original recipe called for all-purpose flour, but I substituted it completely with whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat flour has a much more interesting flavor than white and the light texture of pastry flour is perfect for pancakes. I nearly always prefer whole wheat or other whole grain flours over white flour, but you may want to use all-purpose flour, especially since most people probably don't have whole wheat pastry flour in the pantry.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
makes 12 pancakes

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick). 
2. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. 
3. Brush large nonstick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches. Serve with syrup.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Cranberries made an appearance for the first time this year at the farmer's market last weekend and I can rarely resist buying whatever new product has just come to the farmer's market. Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries in the United States, accounting for over half of U.S. production, so enjoying cranberries is as natural as savoring cheese or beer for a Wisconsin native. I eat plenty of cranberry sauce every Thanksgiving, but it's a shame that I've only been enjoying it at holiday meals.

I made this cranberry sauce for more use as a condiment than a side dish, so I mashed the cranberries quite a bit and cooked it almost to a jam/jelly stage, a bit short of Concord Grape Jam (see that post for more detail about cooking and testing jam). For a side dish, a chunkier texture and thinner consistency may be more a appropriate. This sauce makes an excellent spread for sandwiches or toast or a tasty addition to oatmeal or yogurt. The original recipe says it keeps for up to 3 months in the refrigerator, but I doubt it will last that long (or that I'd want to eat it after so much time if it did).

Ginger Cranberry Sauce
adapted from Epicurious

1 lb. fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
Finely grated zest from 1 orange

1. Place 2 small plates in the freezer (for testing sauce). Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the berries pop open, about 10 minutes. Mash the berries with a potato masher to break them down further and continue cooking for another 5 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat, drop a teaspoonful on a chilled plate, and return to freezer for 1 minute. Tilt plate and observe consistency-this approximates the sauce at this stage of cooking once it has cooled. If the sauce is too thin, continue cooking at a slow boil, testing every 5 minutes, until it reaches desired consistency. Remove from heat. 

2. Skim foam off the surface with a metal spoon and discard. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 months.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prosciutto and White Bean Pizza

This pizza was inspired by Tuscan White Bean Burgers and Chorizo Pizza and is more or less a hybrid of those two recipes, as well as my desire to use up some odds and ends in my fridge and cabinets. Sometimes when my mind wanders I'll have a bolt of inspiration for a new recipe and I'll rush to write down my ideas before I forget what feels like a brilliant idea. Sometimes these turn out to be great recipes and sometimes I look back at the notes I leave for myself and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Luckily, this recipe falls into the former category. These non-traditional pizza toppings would also make a great panini, if you're not in the mood for pizza.

Prosciutto and White Bean Pizzaserves 4

1 onion, peeled
1 head garlic
1 T. plus 1/2 t. olive oil
15 oz. can cannellini beans (or other white beans), drained and rinsed
1/2 to 2 T. water
1/4 t. kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 c. pitted, sliced Kalamata olives
12-inch whole grain pizza crust
1 to 2 oz. sliced ham or prosciutto, cut into small pieces
1 c. shredded fontiago cheese

1. To caramelize the onions, tut the onion in half through the stem and slice into 1/8-inch-thick half-rings. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat and add onion, tossing to coat with oil. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until caramelized, about 30 minutes. If the onions begin to burn, lower the heat. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, roast the garlic. Break the head of garlic into individual cloves and remove the papery skins. Toss the cloves in 1/2 teaspoon of the oil and spread out on a small baking sheet (a toaster oven works well for this). Roast at 300 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring the cloves frequently until the largest clove can easily be pierced with a knife. Cool slightly.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (or as directed on pizza crust package). Place 1 c. beans, and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth, adding water as needed to achieve to desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Spread evenly over crust.

4.  Distribute caramelized onions, remaining beans, olives, and ham evenly over bean puree. Top with shredded fontiago cheese. Bake at 425 degrees F for 8 to 12 minutes, or as directed on crust package, until cheese is beginning to brown. Let cool slightly and slice into 8 pieces.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cranberry-Walnut Grilled Chicken Salad

I was really shocked when, as we were cleaning up after dinner, my husband said this was one of his favorite things I've made. He's typically a meat and potatoes kind of guy (although he does appreciate anything that tastes good), so I was really happy to hear that he really enjoyed one of the healthy meals I made him eat, instead of just tolerating it for my sake. Honestly, I'd like this salad just as much without the chicken. The salty cheese, rich walnuts, and sweet-tart cranberries hit all the taste buds and make for meal that is balanced and filling, without being at all heavy. Even with the cool fall weather, I still crave salads, but ones with more fall-like ingredients as opposed to the massive piles of vegetables I consume on a regular basis during the summer. After putting this together, I'm already envisioning more new creative combinations of ingredients for main-course fall salads.

Cranberry-Walnut Grilled Chicken Salad
serves 2

1 T. maple syrup
1 T. grainy mustard
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (approximately 1/2 pound)
4 oz. mesclun or other salad greens, in any combination (I used salad mix from Harmony Valley Farm)
1/4 c. sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
Salad dressing (suggestion: balsamic vinaigrette)

1. Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk maple syrup and mustard together until thoroughly combined. Brush both sides of the chicken breast with maple-mustard mixture and let marinate for at least 15 minutes. Grill chicken breast until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F. Let rest at least 5 minutes and slice into bite-size pieces.

2. Divide salad greens between two large plates. Top each pile of greens with half of the grilled chicken, cranberries, walnuts, and blue cheese. Drizzle with your favorite salad dressing and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Butternut Squash and Noodles with Coconut, Lime, and Cilantro Sauce

I've been eating a lot of squash lately, mostly roasted and pureed with a bit of butter and a few spices, although I've also had it sauteed and in soup this year. Last year I made one butternut squash pasta dish which I absolutely loved, so I was definitely open to trying out this Asian-inspired dish when I came across it searching for recipes to using udon noodles. Creamy and rich coconut milk melds with the sweet and comforting butternut squash and is cut exquisitely with the acidic lime juice and subtle spice of the curry paste. (If you like spicy food, increase the amount of curry paste). There is a quite a bit of prep work associated with this recipe, but it comes together really quickly once you start cooking. It is best to make the udon noodles as close to the end of the squash mixture cooking time as possible, as they tend to get a bit gummy and stick together when allowed to sit too long. For this same reason, this dish is best enjoyed right after it is prepared, but leftovers still make for a pretty good lunch the next day.

Butternut Squash and Noodles with Coconut, Lime, and Cilantro Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
4 c. cubed butternut squash (from 2 medium or 1 large squash)
1 cup canned vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup canned light unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
Season to taste with salt
8 ounces dried udon noodles or linguine
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add squash; sauté 4 minutes. Add broth, jalapeño and garlic; bring to boil. Cover; cook until squash is almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice and curry paste. Simmer uncovered until squash is tender and liquid is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

2. Meanwhile, cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain noodles. Return to pot. Add squash mixture and cilantro to noodles; toss to blend. Serve.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maple and Walnut Applesauce Cake

As with last week, this was my effort to make a quick and satisfying dessert a bit more on the healthy side of things. Most importantly, it is filled with flavors I love (maple in particular), especially in fall. A subtle maple sweetness flavors every bite of this cake, paired perfectly with walnuts and nutty whole wheat flour. It is sweet enough for a light dessert or snack, but substantial enough for breakfast alongside fruit, eggs, yogurt, bacon, or sausage. If it isn't quite decadent enough for you, a smear of butter or almond butter will make it even more rich and satisfying.

Maple and Walnut Applesauce Cake
adapted from Whole Foods
serves 12

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch square cake pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together syrup and oil. Whisk in eggs until combined. Whisk in applesauce and vanilla then add reserved flour mixture and whisk, beating well for 3 minutes. Stir in walnuts.

3. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Set aide to let cake cool in pan, then cut into squares and serve.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cheese, Apple, and Bacon "Quesadillas"

I eat apples at an amazing pace this time of year, but don't really cook that much with them beyond desserts. I had some sprouted grain tortillas leftover from Chipotle Black Bean Burgers, along with an abundance of different Wisconsin cheeses and wonderful local bacon, inspiring me to make these "quesadillas". (I hate to even use the word quesadilla to describe these, but I can't think of anything that conveys the idea more clearly.)

The crisp and fresh apples are a wonderful contract to the rich and salty bacon and cheese; I would recommend using an apple that is somewhat tart, but not something as tart as a Granny Smith as some degree of sweetness is a nice added contrast to the bacon and cheese. Cheddar and Swiss are my preferences for cheese, though provolone might be good as well, and smoked cheese is an added bonus. Flour tortillas are not rich enough in texture or flavor for this recipe, so make sure to use whole wheat or other whole grain tortillas for their nutty flavor and sturdy texture. If you don't have any tortillas, these ingredients would also make for a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich on some crusty whole grain bread.

Cheese, Apple, and Bacon "Quesadillas"
serves 2 (as a main dish) or 4 (as an appetizer)

4 slices smoked bacon
4 small whole wheat or sprouted grain tortillas
4 slices cheese (I used two cheddar and two smoked Swiss)
1 apple, sliced into 16 pieces
Canola cooking spray (or butter or oil)

1. Fry bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Break each slice into two pieces and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat electric panini press (such as a Cuisinart Griddler) or large frying pan.

2. Place one slice of cheese, 4 apple slices, and 2 slices of bacon (1 piece) on one half of each tortilla and fold in half.

3. Spray preheated panini press or pan with cooking spray. Place quesadillas on panini press and grill until cheese is melted (or grill in pan, flipping halfway through cooking). Serve warm.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chipotle Black Bean Burgers

A vegan diet isn't something that I ever want to follow (as a Wisconsin girl, I can't possibly imagine my life without dairy), but when I find food that's tasty and healthy that happens to vegan, I'm more than happy to eat it. Surprisingly, my husband, who's much more of a meat and potatoes guy, said that this is his favorite of all the veggie burgers I've made so far. It's similar to one of his favorite meals, a dish I created dubbed Laine's Mexsconsin Delight by my dad, that is a now a favorite and oft-made dish of many of my family members. I love black beans and corn together, which lead me to immediately bookmark this recipe when I got this cookbook. What held me back so long from making these burgers was the fact that TVP isn't something I already had in my cabinets. But I finally remembered to pick some up (it's actually pretty cheap) and I wish I hadn't waited so long to do so! These burgers are hearty and filling, with a nice kick from the chipotles. You can adjust the level of spiciness by leaving out or including the seeds and obviously by picking the size of the canned chipotles you use, as they vary quite a bit. I cut my burgers in half and ate them in small tortillas with salsa and greens (sour cream and cheese would also be good), but they'd also be good in pitas, on hamburger buns, or served with eggs for breakfast.

Chipotle Black Bean Burgers
from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
makes six 4-inch burgers

3/4 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
2/3 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 ear of corn, kernels slices off with a knife or 1/2 cup thawed frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, minced, plus 1 tablespoon sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper
3/4 cup toasted bread crumbs
2 tablespoons oil

1. Place the TVP in a small bowl, pour over the boiling water, and let sit for 10 minutes.

2. Combine 1/2 cup of the black beans and the onion in a food processor and pulse until coarsely pureed. Place the remaining 1 cup beans in a bowl and coarsely mash with a potato masher or a fork. Fold tin the reconstituted TVP, the bean-onion mixture, rice, corn cilantro, flour, minced chipotle and its sauce, lime juice salt, and dried chipotle. Fold in the bread crumbs. Let stand for 10 minutes so the crumbs can soak up as much moisture as possible. Shape into 6 patties.

3. In an oven-safe skillet or nonstick saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the patties and cook until browned on each side, 6 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the burgers are firm and cooked through.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

After my recent discovery of a deep love for roasted cauliflower, I couldn't not try this recipe from Cooking Light. What I like best about Cooking Light is that their light dishes are still full of flavor and real ingredients, not bland dishes made with artificial sweeteners and fats. For the most part, Cooking Light does a fantastic job of figuring out where dishes can be slimmed down and where fat and sugar are critical parts of the recipes. People are much too afraid of fat, instead of recognizing it as a critical part of our diet, necessary for energy and for ingestion of lipid-soluble vitamins, among many other biological functions. Stay away from trans fats, try and shift the balance towards unsaturated instead of saturated fats, and make sure you have plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and you'll be fine (provided you have no medical limitations).

The roasted cauliflower is has a deep, caramelized flavor, complemented by rich olives and cheese, and brightened with the fresh parsley and kick of spice from the crushed red peppers which goes perfectly on hearty and nutty whole wheat pasta. All of the elements of this dish fit perfectly together, although they may seem an unlikely combination. It's a healthy, satisfying, and affordable meal for vegetarians (and vegans, if you swap out the butter and cheese) and carnivores alike!

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta
adapted from Cooking Light
serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, peeled and cut into wedges
1 medium or 2 small heads cauliflower (about 1.5 lbs total), trimmed and cut into florets
1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
5 garlic cloves, crushed
8 ounces uncooked whole-wheat rigatoni (or penne)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place a small heavy roasting pan in oven. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Remove preheated pan from oven. Add butter and oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and cauliflower to pan; toss to coat. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Add olives and next 3 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; toss to combine. Bake an additional 7 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and browned.

3. Cook pasta in boiling water 7 minutes or until almost tender. Drain pasta through a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan over medium-high heat. Add reserved cooking liquid and cauliflower mixture; toss. Cook 2 minutes or until pasta is al dente, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; sprinkle with parsley, garnish with shaved cheese, and season with pepper to taste.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Barley Soup with Beef and Mushrooms

Fall is soup season. This weekend was unseasonably warm for fall, but I had plans to make this soup and was looking forward to it too much to take it off this week's menu. This soup really captured the flavors of the season because the onions, mushrooms, carrots, and celery were all from the farmer's market. I was actually inspired to make this soup because grass-fed stew meat from Black Earth Meats is on sale at the Willy Street Co-op this month and I wanted to find a way to use it. (In addition to striving to buy as much of food from local and organic sources as possible, I also am budget-conscious.) This soup is hearty, but not heavy, and made for an extremely satisfying meal alongside a nice side salad and slice of pumpkin wild rice bread from Cress Spring Bakery (also all from the farmer's market). The beer adds a lot of flavor to the soup with very little effort, but if you don't want to use beer, substitute additional stock or water. It was delicious for lunch the next day as well, with new flavors developing as the ingredients were allowed to sit together overnight.

Barley Soup with Beef and Mushrooms
adapted from Whole Foods
serves 4 to 6

1 pound beef brisket, London broil, stew meat, or chuck roast, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound small mushrooms, (creminis, button mushrooms, etc.), halved
4 cups beef broth
One 12-ounce bottle dark, full-flavored beer (porter, stout, etc.-I used Lake Louie Warped Speed Scotch Ale)
1/2 cup uncooked pearled barley
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
3 ribs celery, cut into bite-size pieces
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. Trim fat from meat. Heat oil in a large pot and brown meat on all sides. Pour off excess fat. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until onions are golden.
2. Add water or broth, barley, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots and celery and simmer 30 minutes longer or until vegetables and meat are tender, adding more water if necessary. Remove the bay leaf. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

Every fall, I'm obsessed with pumpkin. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin scones, pumpkin bread...the list goes on and on, and I just can't get enough. (My other fall obsessions are apples and maple). Today I've had both a pumpkin spice latte and a pumpkin cupcake, and I was still ready to bake yet another pumpkin treat. That being said, I've had a few more sweet treats than I probably should have lately, so I wanted to make a baked good that was a bit on the lighter side. I found this recipe at the Whole Foods website, which has tons of great recipes, including lots of healthier baked goods using whole grains. After being out and about all day, it was also nice to bake up a simple-to-prepare treat with very little clean-up.

This cake is an moist and fudgy chocolate spice cake, with a subtle pumpkin flavor on the finish of each bite. Although the cake is quite good as is, I think it would benefit from the addition of chopped walnuts, (and perhaps even some chocolate chips, if you want to make it more indulgent). Chocolate is definitely the dominant flavor in this cake, and I wonder how well other squash purees, such as butternut or acorn, would work in this recipe. Whole Foods claims this serves 12, but I cut it into 9 pieces instead. Maybe that means I'm having more dessert that I should, but I just don't care.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake
from Whole Foods
serves 12

1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an (8-inch) square baking pan with oil and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until well combined then transfer batter to prepared pan.

3. Bake until the cakes pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Set aside to let cool then cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar, if you like.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cauliflower Puree with Cumin

While I was really tempted to make Roasted Cauliflower again because it was so delicious, I decided I needed to branch out and try something new. The cauliflower puree was nice, but not nearly as flavorful as roasted cauliflower. The next time I try to make a cauliflower puree, I plan on roasting the cauliflower instead of boiling it so I'll get all the depth of flavor from roasting with the consistency of a puree. Pureed cauliflower is a nice alternative to mashed potatoes and can take on the flavor of any of your favorite spices.

Cauliflower Puree with Cumin
from Food and Wine
serves 4

One 2-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower florets until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.

2. In a food processor, combine the hot cauliflower with the butter, olive oil, cumin and the reserved cooking water and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuscan White Bean Burgers

My husband had to go out of town for a few days on a work trip, but that's no reason for me to stop cooking delicious and healthy dinners. He prefers burgers made from meat, so I decided to try out another veggie burger recipe while he was away. I'll admit, it's kind of a lengthy time investment, but it is totally worth it for not only the delicious, healthy dinner, but the wonderful, homey aroma that fills the air as the garlic roasts and onions slowly caramelize. Raw onions and garlic won't lend nearly as complex and pleasing flavor to the burgers, so don't cut those first steps short.

I cut my burgers in half and put them in pitas, but they would be equally as good on regular hamburger buns or on top of a nice green salad. These burgers are great hot from the oven and even cold the next day.

Tuscan White Bean Burgers
from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger

1 onion, peeled
4 T. plus 1/2 t. olive oil
1 head garlic
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (cannellini or navy beans)
1 egg
3 fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 c. sliced pitted Kalamata olives
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. toasted bread crumbs, or more if needed
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Caramelize the onions: Cut the onion in half through the stem and then slice into 1/8-inch-thick half-rings. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium-low heat and add the onion, turning to coat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally and lowering the heat if the onion begins to burn, until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Cool.

2. Meanwhile, roast the garlic. There are many methods, but I prefer this one: Break the head of garlic into cloves and clean off most of the papery skins. Toss the cloves in 1/2 teaspoon of the oil and spread out on a small baking sheet (a toaster oven work great for this). Roast at 300 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, shaking the pan and stirring the cloves around frequently, until the largest clove can be effortlessly pierced with a knife. Cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. In a food processor, puree 1/2 cup of the beans with half the roasted garlic, half the caramelized onion, the egg, and half the sage.

5. Chop the remaining onion and roasted garlic coarsely and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining beans and coarsely mash with a potato masher. Fold in the pureed bean-egg mixture, remaining sage, the olives, and lemon juice. Fold in the bread crumbs, adding more if necessary-just until the mixture begins to pull from the side of the bowl (it will be a wet mixture). Season with salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings. Shape into 4 patties.

6. In an oven-safe skillet or nonstick saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the patties and cook until browned on each side, 6 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until slightly firmed and cooked through.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Roasted Broccoli

Following the success of Roasted Cauliflower last week, I decided to try my hand at roasted broccoli after picking some up at the farmer's market this past weekend. While roasted broccoli isn't quite as good as roasted cauliflower in my book, it was still a healthy and delicious accompaniment to RP's Pasta smoked mozzarella tortelloni. Roasting brings out a whole new dimension of flavor and is a much flavorful alternative to steaming or boiling, perfect for fall and winter.

Roasted Broccoli
serves 2 to 4

1 lb. fresh broccoli
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. turbinado sugar (use granulated if you don't have any)

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a shallow baking pan inside. Cut the broccoli at the juncture of the stem and florets. Peel the stem and cut into approximately three-inch lengths and quarter each piece. Separate each floret and cut in half to create a flat edge. Place broccoli in a large bowl.

2. Toss broccoli with oil, salt, and sugar. Remove the baking pan from the oven and, working quickly, place the broccoli on the baking pan, cut side down. Return pan to oven and roasted for 9 to 12 minutes, depending on size of florets, until broccoli is lightly browned and cooked to desired degree of tenderness. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I've been so focused on apple recipes this fall, that I haven't made anything with one of my other favorite fall ingredients, pumpkin (although I have definitely enjoyed some pumpkin products). I also haven't baked any breakfast pastries for quite a while and making pumpkin muffins remedied both of those situations. These muffins light and moist and very flavorful, despite being quite healthy, and made for the perfect fall breakfast with a maple latte and apple.

Pumpkin Muffins
from Martha Stewart
makes 12 jumbo muffins

3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 large eggs
1 cup turbinado sugar, plus 2 tablespoons more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush 12 jumbo muffin tins (each with a 1-cup capacity) with oil; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk oil, pumpkin puree, yogurt, eggs, and 1 cup sugar to combine; add 1 cup walnuts and reserved dry ingredients. Mix just until moistened (do not overmix).

4. Divide evenly and spoon batter into muffin tins; sprinkle tops with remaining walnuts and sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan.