Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet and sour acorn squash

This recipe is from a Mario Batali cookbook that a co-worker brought in for me to borrow. While I do really want to try some of the pasta and other more complicated recipes in the cookbook, this side dish jumped out at me as a perfect recipe to try. We still have quite a bit of winter squash from our stock-up at the end of the farmer's market last fall so I'm always looking for different ways to use them. Plus I like to try out new, interesting side dishes for vegetables. This squash was sweet, tangy, and slightly spicy. And, while the original recipe did not call for salt, I added a pinch of fine sea salt at the end to compliment all of those other flavors. I also used a little less oil. I didn't have any mint, which was the garnish in the book. Below is my slightly modified recipe. It should provide a nice side dish for about four people. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken braised with Meyer lemons, fennel, and olives

Meyer lemons are in the grocery store right now so I bought a bag the other evening. I've never cooked with Meyer lemons before, but I knew that they were sweet and tart. I've always loved olives, and lately I've been really wanting to incorporate them into more dishes. So I thought about it for a while and I thought that the combination of the Meyer lemons, fennel, and green olives would work well together. I combined them with a few other ingredients and some chicken and this dish was the result. For a starchy side, I cooked up some noodles (plus they were useful for eating up the remaining braising liquids). This dish turned out good, but I thought the leftovers the next day were even better. This dish should serve about 4 people. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Roasted eggplant and white bean dip

This eggplant recipe is my entry to this month's Healing Foods event which features eggplant. Eggplant is a healthy choice because it is full of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and many other nutrients. I wanted to create a light way to enjoy the eggplant and a recipe that also involved roasting it. I combined it with great northern beans, but any white beans would work well and lots of garlic. The results were this recipe. You can serve this as a dip with vegetables, pitas, or crackers. You can also use it more like a spread to make a wrap with vegetables. I served it with toasted multigrain flatbread wedges, kalamata olives, and cucumber slices.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cashew chicken korma

Chicken korma is one of my favorite dishes when we go out to the nearby Indian restaurant. I wanted to recreate it at home. I read a lot of recipes to research how to make it. The recipes I found didn't use much tomato sauce and the chicken korma I've eaten is always really red in color. I'm not an expert on what would be considered the traditional recipe, but the one I made turned out to be very reminiscent in flavor to the restaurant version. Maybe one day I'll get to India and be able to try the real thing, but for now, this version will definitely suffice. I used this recipe as a guide.

The sauce is full of great spices and flavors -- garlic, ginger, cumin, cashews.... The dish itself is mild to medium, but you can add more heat (cayenne pepper) if you would like a hotter dish. Serve this dish with some basmati rice and/or some naan or other flatbread for a complete Indian take-out meal at home. I recommend the bread because it will allow you to easily sop up all the yummy sauce. This recipe should serve 2-4 people, depending on the side dishes you serve with it (but, to be honest, my husband and I ate it all ourselves!).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chocolate chip-banana-oatmeal muffins

Yes, it's another muffin! These muffins were just too tasty to wait around for me to post them at a later time. I have said before that I usually make a muffin, quick bread, or granola pretty much every Sunday so that we have them for the work week. I also try to make them fairly healthy. These muffins are full of oats, flax meal, bananas, and other healthy things with a bit of chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. Plus, bananas and chocolate go very well together. It's actually rather rare that we buy bananas -- mostly because of the distance they must travel to get to us. But, sometimes I break down and buy some. Although I strive to use organic ingredients whenever possible, bananas are one of the items I will NOT buy if they are not organic. If you want to know more about why that is, you can check out this article and this website. But if you find yourself with a couple browning bananas, these muffins are a great way to use them up. This recipe will make a dozen muffins. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Skillet pasta puttanesca

I had never had puttanesca sauce before so I wasn't really sure what to expect. But, my husband and I both really like olives (and pasta and cheese), so I thought that this would be a hit. I found a recipe on my friend Christine's blog, Christine's Cuisine, which she had made from a Cook's Illustrated recipe. The recipe was really easy and it was tasty. An extra bonus was that it was a one skillet meal (Thanks, Christine)! We ate this on a blustery day with some fresh garlic bread and were quite happy. The recipe below is a slightly modified version. My husband is very salt sensitive, so I lowered the salt amount - especially with the salty olives, anchovies, and Parmesan cheese. We also love garlic and red pepper, so I bumped these ingredients up. I also used penne pasta instead of ziti because I couldn't find organic ziti. But, overall the recipe is basically the same. I never cooked with anchovies before, but they were not all all offensive in any way and probably help to give the sauce a depth of flavor. This recipe will serve 4 to 6 people. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Carrot-coconut muffins

I've been trying to develop healthier muffin recipes. We like to have muffins or granola to grab during the week for a quick breakfast or a mid-morning snack at work. I just bought my first jar of coconut oil to try as a cooking oil. I thought that incorporating the coconut oil into a muffin would be a good first way to use it. The muffins turned out really moist and tasty. I also had some carrot juice on hand, so instead of using a cup of buttermilk, I used half a cup of each. It gave the muffins a nice orange color and even more carrot flavor. If you don't want to use carrot juice, you can use 1 cup of buttermilk. This recipe will make one dozen muffins.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Creamy spinach and artichoke pasta

One of my favorite things to eat is a big bowl of pasta. To me, it's even better when it's covered in a rich and creamy sauce. This sauce is a variation on a traditional alfredo sauce. It's creamy and cheesy and garlicky. My husband and I love garlic. If you don't like garlic as much, you can leave out a clove or two or omit the extra garlic powder. I made this recipe with baby spinach and artichoke hearts. I like this combination and have used it before on pizza. The salty artichokes are a nice companion to the creamy sauce and spinach is the perfect companion to both pasta and artichokes. You can add any vegetables and/or meats you like though. As I've mentioned before, we try to eat about half the week's meals as vegetarian. We both come from big "meat and potato" families -- so this was a bit of a challenge at first. I think that I've been getting better at it and more creative along the way. I'm always interested in hearing people's favorite vegetarian recipes, so if you have any, please share! 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chana palak

Spicy chickpeas and spinach are one of my favorite dishes when we go out for Indian food. Chana palak is always on the dinner buffet when we go to our favorite Indian restaurant around the corner. It seems so simple in ingredients, but so flavor-packed and satisfying. I set out to re-create this vegetarian dish at home. I read a whole bunch of recipes and this is what I came up with to try. I think that it turned out really well. Plus, it's a snap to make up for an easy weeknight dinner. I wouldn't say that mine is as delicious as the Indian restaurant version, but I think it's pretty good for a first attempt. You should be able to find garam masala fairly easily at most large grocery stores, or you can make up a batch of it for yourself. Serve this dish up with some basmati rice (or any other long grain rice) and some naan (or pita). This should serve about four people. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pecan-crusted chicken

This chicken is so simple, yet so tasty. Probably everyone out there has had pecan-crusted chicken at some point. It's a great alternative to fried, breaded chicken. I've made this twice over the past few weeks and we have really enjoyed it. Both times I served the chicken with a big salad. The salad in the photos here was full of radicchio, romaine, pear, pomegranate seeds, and goat cheese. The last time I made salad of mixed greens with oranges and roasted beets. Both times I made a honey-mustard vinaigrette (this one was extra pretty and flavorful because I put pomegranate juice in it), which paired perfectly with not only the salads, but the chicken as well. 


If your chicken breasts are large or thick, or of they are just differently sized, you may want to cut them in half and/or pound them out so that they cool evenly. The free-range, organic chicken breasts I buy are often much smaller than the conventional chicken breasts, so I don't find it to be necessary. Make yourself a big salad full of winter greens and fruits and cook up some of this chicken to go with it. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sausage gravy

Happy New Year! I'm always surprised at how quickly each year seems to pass. 2011? Really? I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions, but I am committing to continuing to learn to cook and record the recipes and experiences. 2010 was my first full year of this blog and I'm really enjoying it so far. I'm really happy when I receive a comment or have someone tell me that they tried a recipe and liked it. It makes my day!

The recipe I'm posting today is certainly not a healthy recipe and it's not something that you can eat too often. It pretty much negates almost every food rule I try to follow, but it has been a staple at my family's Christmas breakfast as long as I can remember. I did not make it this Christmas because I was not feeling well and had made an easy cranberry-walnut quick bread to take instead. My husband really looks forward to the sausage gravy though, so I promised him that I would make it for us another day. I decided that it would make a good New Year's breakfast, so I just made it this morning. It's a delicious treat that is full of sage flavor that really reminds you of the holidays. I'm not exactly sure where the original recipe came from for the sausage gravy. This is my slightly modified version of the recipe I got from my mother. It will serve about four people.