March 31, 2010

Portobello mushroom paninis

Making vegetarian meals is something we try to incorporate into our week at least a couple of times. This sandwich is a really easy and very tasty. I bought the ciabatta bread from the bakery, so I cheated in that sense... You can put any combination of veggies that you like on this sandwich, but this combination is one of my favorites. If you have a panini press, you can use that. I use a grill pan and then place a heavy skillet on top of the sandwiches to weigh them down and get nice grill marks. This made two sandwiches (with some left over for a small sandwich the next day).

Portobello mushroom paninis
ciabatta bread, cut into sandwich sized pieces and halved lengthwise
2 portobello mushroom caps
roasted red peppers (you can make these yourself or get them from a jar)
fresh mozzarella
half of a small red onion, thinly sliced into rings
two handfuls of fresh baby arugula (or spinach)
about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
about 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, add the basil, lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine. Slowly add the olive oil until it's well blended and smooth. Spray the grill pan with some cooking spray or olive oil and pre-heat the pan. Grill the mushroom caps and onions until soft. Then place the bottom of each sandwich on the pan. Top with bread with the basil olive oil. Then add a layer of the fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, the mushroom cap, and onion (in any order you like). Put the top piece of bread on and then press down with the heavy skillet. Flip the sandwiches over when the cheese begins to melt and the bread turns golden and gets grill lines. Once the other side is golden, remove the sandwich. Remove the top and add the arugula before serving.

March 28, 2010

Peanut butter banana pancakes

As I've previously expressed on this blog, I really love pancakes. I especially love making different kinds of pancakes from scratch. I have been wanting to make a peanut butter pancake for a while now. I found this recipe which I modified slightly for the below recipe. This recipe will make about ten 4-inch panckes. I added some bittersweet chocolate chips to mine, too -- but these are optional. I used all natural peanut butter in my pancakes because that's all we have. I think it worked out just fine, it's just not as sweet as other types of peanut butters (but with the bananas and the chocolate chips, I don't think we missed the extra sweetness).

Peanut butter and banana pancakes
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon fine cane sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons of milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup all natural peanut butter
1 ripe banana, mashed with a fork
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

Add all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and mix until combined.

In a large bowl, beat the egg with a whisk. Then add the milk and olive oil and whisk together. Add the peanut butter and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the banana and stir until it's broken apart and combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (about 1/3 at a time). Stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.

Heat a skillet or grill pan until warm. Melt butter on the pan. When it's warm, add the batter about 1/4 cup at a time. Flip when the batter begins to bubble and the pancake turns golden brown. Repeat until all batter is used. Top with warm maple syrup and maybe some extra banana slices.

March 27, 2010

Fish tacos

Before maybe two years ago, I would have never thought of eating a fish taco. I thought it sounded weird and gross. But then they started showing up everywhere. The more I saw them on TV and read about them on food blogs and magazines, the more I wanted to eat them. I've made these many times now and I like them a lot. I never make them quite exactly the same in terms of the toppings and the fish I use. But, this recipe covers the pretty standard way I like to make my fish tacos and my favorite sauce for topping them. If you've never tried them, I'd encourage you to give them a try! This recipe serves two to three (makes four to five tacos).

Fish tacos
about 12-14 oz. of a firm white fish (I used mahi mahi, but have used others like tilapia)
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or some olive oil. Mix the zest and all of the spices in a small bowl. Rub the mixture on your fish. Place the fish in the baking pan and bake until it turns white and flaky (about 30 minutes).

While the fish is baking, you can make the sauce and prepare the toppings.

For the sauce:
3/4 cup of either low fat sour cream or non-fat plain Greek yogurt (or a combination)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
handful of cilantro stems and leaves
1-2 (depending on how hot you want it) chipotle in adobo sauce peppers and a teaspoon of the sauce
dash of salt

Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Put the sauce in a bowl and refrigerate until serving time.

I always top my fish tacos with thinly sliced red cabbage, diced avocado, and cilantro (along with serving with lime wedges for squeezing some fresh lime juice on top of my fish). This time I also used some thinly sliced scallions and diced mango. I really liked this combination. The spicy sauce along with the sour lime juice, creamy avocado, sweet mango, and crispy cabbage really provides a lot of texture and hits all of your taste buds (and the colors are lovely, too).

When the fish is finished, flake it apart with a fork. Serve on soft tortilla shells. Top with any or all of the above toppings (or choose some of your own) and the sauce.

March 15, 2010

Creamy lemon tart with blueberries

This tart is another recipe from Gourmet Today. This book has a lot of fabulous dessert recipes, including a lot of tarts! I decided to try this tart because it was no-bake (except for the crust). Also, it seemed to be a lighter dessert and I like that it incorporated some fresh fruit. I am really loving my tart pan and am getting much better at getting the crust up the sides to stay and bake in place as well as be more even. My only complaint about this tart was that I didn't think it was very lemony (but others did). Also, I think that a little more filling would have been nice - just to fill up the crust a bit more. I think almost any berry or mixture of berries would make a good topping. I made a few changes to the recipe, which is below.

For the shell, I used the same graham cracker crust recipe as I did for my lime tart.

Creamy lemon tart filling
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light sour cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 8-oz package of light cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
about 1-2 cups of fresh blueberries

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, sour cream, and vanilla until the brown sugar is dissolved (this will take a couple of minutes). In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixture until it is smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream mixture and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and beat until just combined. Spread the filling evenly into the cooled tart shell. Top with blueberries and remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.

Refrigerate until the mixture is cool and set, about 2 hours.

March 14, 2010

Green chile and cheese cornbread

I was looking for a cornbread recipe that used whole corn because I really like texture in my cornbread. I found this recipe from Simply Recipes and I knew that I had to try this one. I made this bread to go with some pulled pork sandwiches, red cabbage slaw, and sweet potato fries that we had when a couple of friends came over for dinner. The bread turned out really well. I made a few changes to the above recipe and they are shown below. The recipes make a lot of bread - you'll get about 12 pieces from the pan.

Green chile and cheese cornbread
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal (I used white)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup fine cane sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups low fat buttermilk
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 can (about 4 medium) green chiles, diced (the can I found was 8.75 oz. and they only came in mild. It was approximately 1/2 cup of diced chiles).
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced (green and whites)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray (or butter) an 8x12 inch glass baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and sugar until fluffy. Then beat in the sour cream and eggs until well mixed. Then add the milk and beat until just combined. Begin to add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, about a third at a time, mixing with a spoon until just combined. Then add in the green chiles, cheese, scallions, and corn and mix until just combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the top is browned and a toothpick comes out cleanly. Let cool before cutting and serving.

March 8, 2010

Jasmine rice pudding

This was my first attempt at making rice pudding and it turned out well. I wanted to try something a little different. My husband is not a fan of raisins (I love them), so I wanted to try a rice pudding that was without raisins. I've had a Thai version of rice pudding before that is made with black sticky rice and coconut. So I decided to try jasmine rice and to use a cinnamon and toasted coconut topping -- sort of combining regular rice pudding with the Thai version. Jasmine rice is so floral and wonderful smelling. I liked the combination of the crunchy and sweet coconut with the smooth and creamy rice pudding. Next time I may try it with some coconut milk, too. The below recipe will make about 4 servings.

Jasmine rice pudding
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cup jasmine rice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups milk (I used 2%), divided
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
about 2-3 inches of vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (or about 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
about 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, bring the water, salt, and rice to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, stir, and cover. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes. While the rice is cooking, toast the coconut on a baking pan or toaster oven at 300 degrees for only 2-3 minutes. Keep an eye on it because it can burn quickly. After it's toasted, sprinkle the cinnamon on top and toss with your fingers to coat.

In a medium saucepan, add 1-1/2 cups of milk, cooked rice, and sugar (I like to use a new saucepan instead of potentially scorching the milk by adding it to the hot pan). Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy (about 15-20 minutes). Add vanilla and stir. Add the beaten egg and remaining 1/2 cup of milk and stir. Continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes.

Serve warm and top with the toasted cinnamon-coconut mixture.

March 7, 2010

Apple-spice oatmeal pancakes

I really love to make pancakes and I make all different kinds. Previously, I've written about whole wheat blueberry pancakes and cornmeal pancakes with fresh cranberries. These oatmeal pancakes are very hearty; full of whole wheat, oats, apples, and walnuts. Since I've starting cooking more and really trying to make things homemade, I've realized how easy it is to make pancakes from scratch rather than a box mix. The below recipe will make about ten 4-inch pancakes. 

Apple-spice oatmeal pancakes
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1-1/2 cups milk (any kind you like)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium apple, peeled and diced (I used granny smith)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cups toasted walnuts, chopped (for serving)
real maple syrup, warmed (for serving)
butter for skillet

In a medium bowl, add the oats and the milk and let soak while you are preparing the rest of the pancake batter. In a large bowl, add the flours, salt, and baking powder and mix together. Put the peeled and diced apple in a small bowl and add the lemon juice (to keep from browning), cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg and stir until the apples are covered. Set aside. In the bowl with the milk and oats, add the vanilla, brown sugar, olive oil, and egg. Whisk together until just combined. Slowly combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the apples. Warm up your grill pan or skillet until warm and spread butter over the pan. Once the butter is warmed, use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop batter onto the skillet. Flip the pancakes when they begin to bubble and the underside is golden. Repeat until all batter is used.

Serve immediately topped with the walnut pieces and warm maple syrup.

March 5, 2010

Tomato, garlic, and basil spaghetti

This spaghetti is really simple, yet flavor-packed. This is a great week night dinner and a great vegetarian meal. I found some fresh spaghetti at the grocery store that I used this time, but I usually just use boxed spaghetti. You will have some very garlicky breath after eating this pasta! That's OK with us though, because we love garlic. You can use less or more garlic... we like lots!

I like to serve it with some crusty bread. I often slice the loaf in half lengthwise and then make a mixture of baby spinach, garlic, olive oil, and fresh Parmesan cheese pulsed until smooth in the food processor. Then I spread spread it all over the bread and warm it up in the oven. The below recipe serves 2-3 people.

Tomato, garlic, and basil spaghetti
about 6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 box of spaghetti, cooked until al dente (reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water when draining)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
about 1 cup fresh basil leaves (larger ones torn)
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
fresh grated Parmesan cheese

In a deep skillet, warm the olive oil over very low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan and the reserved pasta water. Toss until combined. Toss in the basil. Serve immediately and top with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese and more red pepper, if desired.

March 4, 2010

Southwest turkey burgers

I really love these burgers and I think that people that I've made them for enjoy them, too (or so they say). They always seem to be a crowd-pleaser. The amounts for the spices in the burgers themselves are just estimates. You can adjust them to your liking, but I find that the turkey needs to have a bit of spice to it. You can even change around the toppings. I almost always use lettuce, red onion, tomato, and avocado (my favorite part). This time I used a sharp cheddar, but I've used pepper jack and monterey jack before - both are great. I often make these with a lime and cilantro mayo (recipe below).

Southwest turkey burgers
1 lb ground turkey (I use dark meat)
2-3 scallions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated

1 tablespoon cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined (but don't over mix). Form into 3-4 burgers and cook on a grill (indoor or outdoor) or in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil. Cook until the inside temperature reaches 165-170 degrees, turning halfway through.

Lime and cilantro mayo
about 1/4 cup mayo
dash of salt
about 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
juice and zest of half a lime
about 1 tablespoon green onion tops, thinly sliced
dash of hot sauce

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

cheese (cheddar, pepper jack)
sliced avocado
red onion

Serve on a fresh roll.