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Monday, September 10, 2012

Bad Boy Brownies

This recipe came about around 10pm tonight, when I was craving something sweet, and to fill my house with the warmth of the summer, now that fall has begun to nip at the edges of our nights. I have this cookbook put out by the New York Times in 1971 called simply Natural Foods Coobook, by Jean Hewitt. She was the home economist and food writer for the paper, and was an early advocate for cooking with whole, natural ingredients. Now, I don't do a lot of baking, I daresay, I'm pretty miserable at it. I have yet to sit down and figure out the science of it - I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cook. However, tonight I wanted brownies, and it just so happened that I had a cupboard full of wholesome ingredients. I based my recipe on Hewitt's, but gave it a few twists and turns. These bad boys might even be healthy for me - well, except for the flourish of peanut butter chips over the top.

Bad Boy Brownies

1 C raw sugar
2/3 C oil - be creative here, use coconut, peanut, or even sunflower
2 T honey
2 eggs
1/2 t vanilla
3/4 C wheat pastry flour
1/4 C quinoa flakes
1/4 C flax seed meal
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 C carob powder
1/4 C peanut butter chips (optional, but STRONGLY suggested)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 8 inch square/round pan. In a large bowl mix together oil and sugar. Add in eggs, vanilla and honey and mix thoroughly. Sift the flour, quinoa flakes, and flax seed meal into a separate bowl. Stir in baking powder, salt and carob powder. Mix the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour batter into buttered pan and sprinkle top with peanut butter chips. Bake for 30 minutes on middle rack. Remove from oven and cover the edges of the pan and brownie with tin foil to keep it from burning, and put back in oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Keep a close eye and remove when batter comes out clean in the center. Let rest on cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Honey & Melon Risotto Fried Spring Roll with a Honey Glaze

This Labor Day weekend was filled with food, drinks and friends....but most importantly food. I met a fellow foodie that shared my passion for spending time in the kitchen and talking about all things food, while whipping up some delicious eats. We had a splendid family dinner that required an equally splendid desert. I had originally planned on making some sweet risotto spring rolls. I had a fresh melon from my CSA and a jar of honey. I made up a delicious sweet risotto and left it to cool in the fridge. Come desert time, I wrapped up a few fresh spring rolls, and as we ate we realized that they needed something - to be fried! Time to take this healthy treat and make it full of fat and sugar. This test version was a success, but many more will follow.

Honey & Melon Risotto

1 C arborio rice
4-5 C green tea (steeped for 30 minutes)
1 T coconut oil
1/3 C honey (more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
1 1/2 C melon, chopped (I used cantaloupe and cucumber)
1 T vanilla flavoring

Heat oil in a large stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add rice and stir to coat in oil. Cook 3 minutes then pour in 1 C green tea and start stirring rice constantly until liquid has been absorbed. Add in another cup and repeat. With the third cup of tea, add in honey as well. Continue adding in tea 1 cup at a time until rice is al dente. Remove from heat and stir in melon and vanilla. Place in fridge and let cool for 2 hours.

Making into Fried Spring Rolls

Spring Roll Wrappers
Confectioner's Sugar

Heat a large pot of oil over medium high heat. Take a spring roll wrapper and soak in cold water until soft and pliable (about 30 seconds). Place on counter and spoon 2 tablespoons of risotto mixture onto one edge of roll. Fold sides over and roll like a cigar. Roll in flour to coat all sides evenly. Set aside and repeat with rest of filling and wrappers. When oil is hot, drop a few rolls in and cook until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Place on a platter and dust with confectioner's sugar.

Honey Glaze

1/2 C vanilla yogurt
3 T honey
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and drizzle over fried spring rolls. Save some on the side for dipping.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Italian Green Bean Casserole

As part of our Labor Day feast, I wanted to use up the large bushel of green beans that I had gotten from my CSA. However, we wanted something different than just steamed veggies, so this was born. I have never made the traditional green bean casserole you see normally on Thanksgiving tables, nor have I ever eaten one I enjoyed, so I went into this with blind. I opened the fridge, gathered a few basic ingredients, and went to work on something that would nicely compliment the lemon pepper marinated chicken and roasted beets and potatoes. Judging by the round of "mmmm's" and "yum's" that ensued once we all tasted this casserole, I think it is a sure fire win, and will definitely be gracing my Thanksgiving table. It may seem simple, but the flavors pop, adding a nice blast of Italian merriment in your mouth.

Italian Green Bean Casserole
(serves 6)

3 C green beans, chopped into 1" pieces
1 C mozzarella cheese
1/2C - 1C breadcrumbs
4 T butter
1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add in green beans and cook until al dente - overcooking will make for a mushy casserole. Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt butter and add in bread crumbs. Mix and cook for about 3-5 minutes, just until crumbs are starting to toast a bit. Set aside. Drain green beans and toss into a casserole dish. Stir in basil, salt, pepper and cheese. Press flat then add bread crumbs to top. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Hangover Eggs

This weekend I was at some friends house for the blue moon and we decided to have a few drinks to celebrate. Needless to say, we all needed a little hangover breakfast the next day. I had brought the veggies from my CSA, so we had a plethora of potatoes, green beans, summer squash and onions. They supplied the eggs and cheese. With a little coffee, a little elbow grease, and a lot of hungry people eagerly awaiting, we were able to concoct quite a delicious, and I might add, nutritious, egg casserole.

Hangover Eggs
(serves 6)

12 eggs
1/4 C cream
2 T fresh chives
2 C potatoes, chopped
1/3 C green beans, chopped
1/2 C summer squash, chopped
1/2 C onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 C parmesan cheese, grated
12 slices tomato
salt & pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and toss in onions and cook over medium heat until translucent. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to boil. Add potatoes and cook until just tender. Toss in with onions and stir mixture thoroughly. Add green beans to boiling water and cook 3 minutes, just until tender. Remove from water and add to potatoes. Saute for 2 minutes and add in summer squash. Stir thoroughly and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, seasoning with salt & pepper. Rub butter inside a casserole dish, coating bottom and sides then dump in veggies. Whisk eggs until fluffy and add cream, chives and parmesan cheese. Poor over the eggs. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top, then gently place tomatoes over it all. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, checking often. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.