May 31, 2010

Falafel burgers

I was trying to think of another way to make a vegetarian burger that was made out of beans. I often make black bean burgers, but wanted to make a different bean-based burger. I have been making baked falafels for a while and thought that the recipe would make a great burger recipe. I was correct. They turned out really well and were very flavorful. I bought some multi-grain mini pitas and split them in half to use as the bun. The recipe made four mini-burgers. I also made a yogurt sauce to go on top of these burgers. Both recipes as well as suggested toppings are below.

Falafel burgers
1 can chick peas, drained well
1/2 medium red onion, plus more sliced for topping
about 1/3 cup fresh parsley
about 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
about 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
about 1/3 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs (whole grain, if possible)
olive oil for cooking

In a food processor, pulse the onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, hot sauce, lemon zest, and all spices until smooth. In a large bowl, mash the chick peas with a potato masher or fork until the are pasty, but still have some texture and chunks. Add the mixture from the food processor to the bowl along with the baking powder and bread crumbs and mix to combine. Add the breadcrumbs slowly until the mixture looks fairly dry and holds together well. Form into four patties. Heat a skillet with olive oil until hot. Fry to patties until golden brown on both sides.

For the sauce:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (non-fat)
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
about 2 tablespoons finely diced cucumber
1 teaspoon dried dill
dash of salt

Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until serving time.

sliced feta
sliced cucumber
sliced red onions
sliced tomatoes

Serve hot on a split pita. Top with the yogurt sauce and any of the above toppings.

May 28, 2010

Buttermilk pancakes

If you haven't yet realized -- I love pancakes. Just scroll though some old posts and see... Plus, I'm always looking for ways to use up buttermilk. This recipe is from Martha Stewart. I agree that they are the best buttermilk pancakes and that the key is to not overmix your batter. Just mix it until it's combined - lumps are OK (good, even!). I added blueberries to my pancakes and served them with warmed maple syrup. I also added a bit of whole wheat pastry flour to my mix. I cut the original recipe in half and it would serve two to three people. Give these pancakes a try the next time you are wondering what to do with that leftover buttermilk in your fridge...

Buttermilk pancakes
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (plus more for the griddle)
about 1/3 cup blueberries (optional)

Whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the egg, buttermilk, and butter and whisk until just combined (not until smooth - leave some lumps).

Pour batter (about 1/4 cup at a time) onto a hot, buttered griddle. Once the pancakes set, drop some blueberries onto each one, if using. Flip when they begin to bubble and have turned golden on the underside. After the second side has turned golden, serve immediately with warm maple syrup. Repeat until all batter has been used.

May 23, 2010

Pear-ginger crisp

Ginger is one of my favorite things and I wanted to incorporate it into a dessert recently. I also thought it would be interesting to try a few different forms of ginger in this dessert. I absolutely love the single serving ramekins I got for my wedding shower last summer. I use them all the time. This was an easy week night dessert. Since we had some pears to use up, I thought that pears and ginger would make a great combination. I made one for myself and one for my husband. The below recipe is for one 6 oz. ramekin. If you don't have all of the forms of ginger below, you can substitute more of one for another. If you've never had crystallized ginger, I highly recommend picking some up. It's delicious by itself and for using in recipes such as this one.

Pear-ginger ramekins
1 small-medium pear, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
about 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
about 1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8-1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
a couple of dashes of cinnamon
about 1/4 cup oats
about 1 tablespoon of softened butter
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the pears, a teaspoon of flour, granulated sugar, all the ginger, a dash of cinnamon, and the salt in a bowl and mix well. Set aside while you make the topping. In another bowl, combine the remaining flour, brown sugar, oats, another dash of cinnamon, and the butter. Mix using your fingers until it's well-combined and has a "crumbly" look. Spray the ramekin with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the pears in the bottom and then top with the oat mixture. Place the ramekin(s) on a baking sheet and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden and the pear-ginger mixture begins to bubble around the edges. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

May 22, 2010

Roasted asparagus and goat cheese salad with honey-balsamic vinaigrette

Fresh asparagus. There's not much better, in my opinion, than a big bunch of fresh asparagus from a roadside farm stand on a spring day. My husband brought us home two big bunches, so we were eating asparagus omelets, pasta, and just plain asparagus. With the last of our asparagus, we ate this large and tasty dinner salad. This salad is a great spring dinner, lunch, or even a side dish. As with other salads, I am not going to post quantities of the salad ingredients. The quantities and proportions are up to you and also depend on if you are eating this for a meal or a side. I served this salad for dinner along with some herb bread my husband made.

Roasted asparagus and goat cheese salad
mixed baby greens (any you like)
goat cheese
slivered almonds, lightly toasted
dried cherries

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the asparagus and greens/lettuces. Hold the asparagus and try to bend it at the end. Where the natural "break" occurs, this is the tough part that needs to be discarded. Do that for all the stalks. Then cut them in half. Arrange them on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Place in the oven and roast until just tender (about 5-7 minutes), turning them about halfway through the cooking time.

While the asparagus roasts, arrange your greens/lettuces on your plate(s). Top with dried cherries and toasted slivered almonds. Break up your goat cheese into bite-sized pieces on top. When the asparagus is finished, place it on top (when you put the warm asparagus on top of the goat cheese, it will get slightly melty and gooey, making it even better). Top with this dressing below (place all ingredients in a dressing container or jar and shake well (or a bowl and whisk together). The sweet and tangy dressing really compliments this salad well.

honey-balsamic vinaigrette
2 parts balsamic vinegar
1 part honey
1 part extra virgin olive oil
dash of sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

May 18, 2010

Steak tacos with pico de gallo

We probably eat some sort of Mexican or southwestern type food at least once a week. We both really enjoy it a lot. I had been craving tacos and instead of using ground beef, I decided to try a grilled steak taco with a homemade pico de gallo. We also topped these tacos with some sliced avocados, shredded cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. I made a spicy marinade for the steak that complimented the freshness of the tomatoes, onions, lime, and avocado really well.

Steak tacos with pico de gallo
1 flank steak (about 1/4 lb per person)
2-3 garlic cloves smashed
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and about 1 tablespoon of the sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon honey

Place all of the ingredients above in a ziploc bag with the steak. Mix well and marinade the steak for at least one hour.

pico de gallo:
2-3 ripe but firm tomatoes (squeeze out most the the seeds/juice), diced
2-3 scallions (greens and whites), thinly sliced
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 jalapeno (seeded and pith removed), finely diced
juice of half a lime
about 1 teaspoon of olive oil
handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
dash of salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl right before serving.

Grill your streak to your likeness. Remove from heat and let rest. Slice thinly on the bias. Serve on top of flour tortillas topped with the pico de gallo. You may also top with other items as we did such as avocados, cheese, lettuce, and extra lime.

May 13, 2010

Slow cooker jambalaya

I made this jambalaya for my mom and company on Mother's Day along with some sweet cornbread and a strawberry rhubarb crisp. This recipe is great because you can put most of the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning and then just let it go on low all day. Then you just cook up some white rice and throw in a few last ingredients. You can adjust the heat level to your liking. I know this isn't a completely authentic jambalaya, but I've played around and found this combination is really good. This jambalaya was a hit and there were no leftovers.

May 12, 2010

Bog salad with maple vinaigrette

This is my take on a salad I had while we were traveling throughout southern Vermont on our honeymoon. I've been trying to find more salads that are satisfying enough for a main dish and, as I've said before, I am always looking for ways to mix in some meat free meals each week. I really enjoy this salad a lot. We ate this as our main course with a cup of tomato soup and a crusty roll.

There really aren't any "quantities" for the ingredients of the salad because it all depends on how large or small of a salad you want. Also, it depends on the proportion of toppings to greens you like. I'm just going to list what's in the salad and let you decide on the size and quantities!

Bog salad
bed of mixed greens (any you like)
dried cranberries
toasted walnut pieces
grape or cherry tomatoes
cubed white cheddar cheese (preferably a high quality cheese made in VT or NY)

Maple vinaigrette
1 part pure maple syrup
1.5 - 2 parts apple cider vinegar
1 part extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Arrange your salad on a plate or in a bowl. Whisk together all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Top the salad with the vinaigrette. Alternatively, you may warm to vinaigrette before drizzling over your salad.

May 6, 2010

Granola bars

I've made these granola bars a few times now using this recipe. They are awesome! The most important lessons I've learned are to make sure that your ratio of dry to wet ("glue") ingredients follow the recipe and that you should always use old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking). You can use any combination of seeds, nuts, dried fruits, and even grains that you want (just keep the total quantity of dry ingredients the same as in the recipe). Experiment and see. The below recipe is my modification of the original and my favorite combination thus far.

Homemade granola bars
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place parchment paper in a glass baking dish (about 9"x13") so that it is hanging 2-3 inches over the edges.

On a baking sheet, combine the following:
2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/4 ground flax seed meal
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the baking sheet in the oven to lightly toast. Keep your eye on them to make sure they don't burn. Stir as needed.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside once all the dry ingredients are fragrant and lightly golden.While the dry ingredients are toasting, add the following to a small saucepan.

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or honey)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons almond butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

Lastly, you'll need:
3/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Warm the "glue" in the saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are well combined and come to a simmer. Then, in a large bowl, add the dry ingredients along with the "glue" and stir until everything is equally covered. Add about 3/4 cup of dried fruit and stir to combine. Place the mixture into the baking dish covered in parchment paper and spread it evenly over the parchment paper using a spatula. Then using a measuring cup or your hands (folding over the excess parchment paper on top of the granola mixture), press the mixture down as hard as you can to make it flat and to stick together. 

Place in the oven for about 3-5 minutes. Remove and cool in the pan. At this point, I put some chocolate chips on top and spread them around as they melted, but that it also optional! Let the granola cool for about 3 hours. Then, remove the them (still on top of the parchment paper) and cut into bars. Place in a air tight container and enjoy for the week instead of the ones out of the box.

A good variation is to substitute peanuts, peanut butter, and golden raisins for the almonds, almond butter, and cherries/cranberries.