Sunday, July 24, 2011

| heavenly zucchini pasta |

I saw this article on NPR a few weeks ago about the "glorious pasta of summer." I thought the recipes looked super tasty, so I decided to try the zucchini and basil one first. HOLY SMOKES. This is amazing. The zucchini flavor is so sweet and delicate and the texture is amazing. The sauce ended up tasting like the best alfredo I've had in a restaurant (and I didn't even use the heavy cream, just whole milk).

For once, I didn't mess around with the recipe and it was totally worth it. So good just as written.

We didn't use the pancetta, obviously, but if you're into that kind of thing I'm sure it would be delicious with that, too.

| peanut butter & jelly muffins |

I got this recipe from a friend of a friend on facebook. Man, I love me some facebook. If for no other reason than these fabulous muffins. My toddler and I just shared one (okay, two) hot out of the oven. I'm thinking they'll freeze well, too. You know, if they make it that far before I eat them all.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
Consider these muffins a breakfast version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Don't use a natural-style peanut butter in this recipe; it won't have enough sugar or fat to help the muffins rise.
YIELD: 1 dozen (serving size: 1 muffin)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/4 cup strawberry jam
Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla); add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Fill each cup half full with batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each cup. Spoon remaining batter on top to cover jam. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool on a wire rack.

Friday, July 15, 2011

| move over, hummus |

I got this FABULOUS white bean dip recipe from a friend who somehow manages to mother a baby, a preschooler AND write a great blog about natural living. I've tried a lot of white bean dip recipes before (correction: I've made up a lot of white bean dip "recipes" before) but this is FAR superior to any other. I love the addition of sun dried tomatoes and capers. And I have to say, it's a great reminder of the most critical bean dip rule....add more olive oil than you think is possibly necessary. You won't regret it.

Enjoy the dip....and head on over to Contentedly Crunchy to check out her other great food processor recipes.


WHITE BEAN DIP

Ingredients:
2 pint jars of great northern beans (or 2- 15oz cans), rinsed
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 jalapeño pepper
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. sun-dried tomato (preferably packed in oil, otherwise plunk them in boiling water for a bit)
2Tbsp drained capers
Juice of 1 lime
1tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano (or 2Tbsp fresh)
1/2tsp fresh-ground pepper
salt, if you desire (I don't find it necessary, since the capers are pretty salty, plus that whole low sodium diet thing)

Instructions:
-Preheat the oven to 400°
-In a small oven-safe dish (I usually use a pie pan or a Pyrex container), toss the garlic cloves and the whole jalapeño with 2Tbsp of the olive oil and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the jalapeño is soft and light golden brown.
-Slice the jalapeño in half and remove the stem and seeds
-Fit a food processor with the metal blade attachment, add all the ingredients to the bowl of the processor, and puree until smooth.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

| homemade crackers |

I have a toddler who would eat nothing but crackers and cheese, if given the option. So I found myself trying to think of ways to make the crackers more nutritious and did a little googling. I figured there had to be a way to sneak in some veggies. I found this recipe on a blog called Blommi.

I made them and they are awesome. Insanely tasty. My only complaint is that they're pretty time consuming (you know, as compared to just buying a box of crackers). I doubt that I'll be making ALL my own crackers anytime soon, but it's nice to have this as an option. These would be great for entertaining, too. I'm posting the recipe below and then my edits afterwards. Enjoy!

Spinach Crackers Recipe
1/3 cup of frozen loose leaf spinach
1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil)
1/2 tsp kosher salt ( or powdered chicken bouillon, like Goya)
1 1/2 tbs water
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Puree the spinach, oil salt, baking powder and water in a food processor or blender.

Combine the flour and the spinach mixture, either in the food processor, or a mixing bowl.
Knead the dough and form it into a nice ball.

Roll the dough out on a well floured surface. The dough should be rolled out very thin (like pasta dough).

Put the dough on a floured baking sheet.

Use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into squares.(a pizza cutter or knife will do if you don’t
have one)

Prick each cracker 2-3 times with a fork.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Thinner crackers and those on the edges will cook faster. Pull them out, and continue cooking those that are still soft. Crackers will crisp a bit more during cooling, but should be somewhat crisp when removed.

Crackers should be put directly on a kitchen towel to cool, to maintain their crispness.

This recipes will make a batch of spinach crackers equal to about 1/2 a regular size box of crackers. Store in an airtight container.

MY EDITS:
- I figured there was no way I was going to all this trouble for a 1/2 a box of crackers, and my package of frozen spinach was more like a cup, so I tripled the recipe.
- With a tripled recipe, I needed 3 total cups of flour. I used 2 cups of white flour, 2/3 c of whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup of wheat bran.
- I added quite a bit of freshly ground black pepper and powdered garlic.
- I used 2/3 canola oil and 1/3 olive oil (just because I'm cheap).
- I did all the fork pricking BEFORE cutting them into squares. Faster that way.
- I wanted to roll mine through my pasta crank to make the sheets, but it wouldn't go through. Just kept getting stuck. If anyone figures out how to solve this problem, please let me know!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

| mashed potato enchiladas |

Once upon a time, some friends had us for dinner and tried out a new vegetarian recipe on us. Now this sounds like the kind of thing that could end in disaster...but, in this situation, it most definitely did NOT. This has turned out to be one of our all-time-favorite recipes for everyday cooking, freezing, and making for friends. In fact, I have a batch sitting in my freezer right now, waiting to go to a friend that's on bedrest. I'll give you the original recipe first, and then some tricks and modifications I've made over the years.

Lest you think mashed potato enchiladas sound really weird, I promise they are not. The mashed potatoes basically just make everything taste cheesier without all the fat of a ton of cheese. And they're very filling!


MASHED POTATO ENCHILADAS

2 small zucchini -- diced
2 cups carrots -- diced
1 cup onion – diced
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup instant potatoes
10 ounces enchilada sauce, red
1/2 cup shredded cheese
4 pieces tortillas

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute carrots, zucchini, and onions in Pam. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine water and milk in pan and bring to boil. Add package of potatoes and remove from heat. Let stand 5-10 minutes, then fluff.

Pour some sauce into the bottom of the pan to coat. Dip tortillas in enchilada sauce. Place 1/4 cup potatoes, 1/8 cup cheese, and 1/4 of the veggies in each tortilla and roll. Top with any remaining sauce.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes (until heated through).

NOTES:
- This only makes 4 enchiladas. I almost ALWAYS at least double the recipe. After you've cooked them, take any extras and wrap them individually to freeze.
- I often add beans for protein.
- You can use any kind of veggies you want. I have often purchased a "mexican style" corn mix in the freezer section and used it instead of doing all the dicing and sauteeing.
- Instead of putting in potatoes, then cheese, then veggies, I just mix all the cooked veggies, potatoes, and cheese together in a big pot and then ladle that into the enchiladas. It's faster.
- When I feel too lazy to roll enchiladas, I just do this casserole style. I put a layer of tortillas in the bottom of the pan on top of the sauce, then put the potato mix on top, then another layer of dipped tortillas, etc., until I'm done with 8 tortillas. Then I put some cheese and sauce on top and bake.