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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Maple Cornbread

Real maple syrup makes most anything better. Especially cornbread. We made this for an evening snack, but it would also be delicious with dinner. Serve warm topped with butter and more maple syrup and everyone who eats it will be happy!

Maple Cornbread

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (4 3/4 ounces) yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon (3/8 ounce) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
1/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) maple syrup
1/4 cup (2 ounces) melted butter
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 425. Grease an 8x8" or a 9" round pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients and then stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the middle should come out clean.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWD: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

These tartlets were fun to make! These ended up being a lot easier than I thought they would be, especially using my food processor to make the crust. Basically you make a pie crust with cocoa added and then fill it with a chocolate, butter, sugar, and egg mixture. The filling is pretty similar to chocolate chess pie, but with some different mix-ins: biscotti, white chocolate and milk chocolate. The texture was fun, but unfortunately I slightly overbaked my crust on the pre-baking so the crust wasn't the best, but at least the filling turned out pretty good. I think in the future I'd bake the filling less too so that it would be a little gooier. I think I prefer the chess pie, but I'd have to give these another try to know for sure.

Sadly the sun had set by the time I finished, so you get to see some weird coloring

The tarts were especially good with some black raspberry dark chocolate ice cream!

You can find the recipe here, here, here, or here on our lovely host blogs!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Smoked Paprika Chickpea Soup

You know a recipe is both delicious and simple if we make it twice in one week. That's exactly what this recipe is. No fresh vegetables but onion and celery? No problem. In fact, you could probably even leave one of those out and it'd be fine. You'll only need pantry staples for this recipe. The first time we made this soup we used the stovetop. The second time we used the slow cooker. If you try that, I'd recommend reducing the water by half because the slow cooker traps moisture inside and doesn't reduce at all. 

If you don't have smoked paprika, I highly recommend getting some for this recipe. Smoked paprika gives this soup it's distinctive flavor and regular paprika isn't quite the same. I'd recommend smoked chipotle powder as a substitute and maybe regular paprika in a bind.

Smoked Paprika Chickpea Soup
great with oat soda bread

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 celery stalks, chopped small
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 14.5 oz cans chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans of water
Coarse salt and black pepper

Cook the onion, garlic, celery and rosemary in the oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and puree half the soup in a blender. Stir the puree back into the soup and serve.

When we used the slow cooker, we microwaved the garlic, onion, celery, rosemary, tomato paste, and smoked paprika for 5 minutes. Then we added all of the ingredients to the slow cooker (remember, use half the water) and cooked on low for 6 hours. Puree half like above. After cooking, ours stayed on warm for another couple hours until we came home and was still great!

Oat Soda Bread

Oh no! Dinner's in 45 minutes and I need some bread to go with my soup! Oat Soda bread to the rescue!

Sure, you could run to the store, but lately we've been trying to save money on groceries by cutting down on spontaneous trips. So, we decided to make this bread instead, and it was the perfect accompaniment to our smoked paprika chickpea soup

My friend Naomi told me about this awesome bread before, but I hadn't gotten around to making it yet. In order to get the bread done quickly enough I baked it in 4 mini loaf pans so that it only took a little over 20 minutes to bake. If you need an emergency rescue bread, this is it!

Oat Soda Bread

butter or baking spray for the pan(s)
2 cups  rolled oats (7 oz)
   (if you have oat flour you can use 2 cups/7 oz of that instead)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 oz)
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk or soured milk (plus more for brushing)
sesame seeds (I also did a loaf with fennel seeds, but didn't like it as much)

Preheat the oven to 400 with a rack in the middle. Prepare your pan(s) by buttering or spraying. Pulse the oats in the food processor until fine, like flour. Mix all the ingredients until they just come together and then turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until it comes somewhat into a ball (it took me about one minute). If you're using mini loaf pans, divide into 4 and make 4 balls. Shape loaves (or loaf) and put into pan(s). Brush the top with some buttermilk and sprinkle on sesame seeds. Place in the oven and bake. 
Small loaves:
Bake for 10-15 minutes then move the bread rack up a level to brown the top. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you knock and a hard crust forms.
Big loaf:
Same process, but the initial time is 30 minutes and the second time is 20 minutes.
When done, take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Then, remove from pan and cool on wire rack.


Chili Mac

This made for a easy, quick weeknight meal that was still tasty and pretty nutritious. We followed the recipe from Martha Stewart except using whole wheat penne, because that's what we had, and adding some crushed red pepper for a little heat.

Chili Mac
Serves 4-6
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Salt and pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depends on your desire for heat)
3/4 pound whole wheat tubular pasta
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 pound ground beef 
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup corn kernels
1 small zucchini, diced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 ounces cheddar, grated (3/4 cup)

Cook and drain the pasta. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in the oil until translucent (3 minutes) and add the garlic for another minute. Increase the heat (medium-high) and add the ground beef. Break up and cook until no pink remains. Add cumin and crushed red pepper and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add zucchini and corn and cook for another couple minutes until the zucchini is somewhat tender. Then, add the tomatoes with their juices. simmer the mixture for three to five minutes until it is hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the meat sauce over the pasta and top with cheese. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Chess Pie

This is a picture of the last remaining piece of two pies, so please forgive it's scraggiliness, but let it's small size stand as evidence of it's deliciousness. 

This is an awesome and easy pie recipe to go with the pie crust I shared a little while back. It's basically like a really really fudgy brownie in a very flaky pie crust. What's not to love?

Chocolate Pecan Chess Pie
Adapted from epicurious

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 9-inch pie crust

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 325°F.  If you desire a more well done pie crust, you can blind bake it for 10-15 minutes according to the directions in my pie crust post. (I blind baked this one). In a small saucepan over low heat, stir the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Remove the pan from heat and cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together. Add the chocolate/butter mixture until combined. Then add the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. After that is all combined, add the pecans. Pour the filling into the pie crust and set on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes. The pie is done when the filling edges are puffy and slightly cracked, but the center is just set. Cool completely on a cooling rack. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tomato Soup Slow Cooker Style

Yes the cheese sandwich is in a weird position

Since I've been sharing a lot of baked goods lately I figured I'd share a healthier meal idea with you. I don't know about where you live, but the weather has been quite wintry around here lately. Winter is cold and when I'm cold I crave warm soup! Here's an awesome recipe that is really nice to come home to after a long day. It calls for 4-6 hours of cooking, but we've left it in the slow cooker for 8 to 9 hours and it's been fine. There's a little bit of advance prep (about 15 minutes) the night before or the morning of, but it's totally worth it!

Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Soup
adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (plus more as needed)
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream (we've made it with less and it's still been good)
pinch cayenne pepper

In a 12 inch skillet on medium high heat, melt the butter. Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes and reserve the juices. After the butter is melted, add the tomatoes, onion, brown sugar, tomato paste and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are slightly browned. Add the flour and cook for another minute. Then, whisk in a cup of broth, scrape up browned bits, and move the mixture to the slow cooker. Add the rest of the broth, tomato juice and bay leaves. Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low. The soup is done once the tomatoes start to break down, but it's fine to leave it a little longer. Puree the soup in batches, making sure to discard the bay leaves first. Transfer the pureed soup to a saucepan and heat. Add cream, cayenne, and more broth as desired. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy with cheese sandwiches!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesdays With Dorie: White Loaves

So what exactly is Tuesdays With Dorie? It's a group of bakers that bake recipes together from a book by Dorie Greenspan, who is one of my favorite cookbook authors. In the past they did Baking: From My Home to Yours. I wish I had known about it then because I have that book and absolutely love it! Now they're baking through Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers (Yes, that's Julie Child). I just bought this book and it looks great as well. Just flipping through the pages, it seems to have a basic recipe for everything you'd ever want to bake as well as a lot of fun recipes I never would have thought of. If you like baking, you should buy the book and bake along!

For some reason I've always been afraid of making sandwich bread. I don't know why, but I it's just seemed very intimidating. This recipe was not that hard though, probably because it had directions for using a stand mixer for the kneading. I sped these up a bit because I didn't have a ton of time before church to make them, so I did the first rise in the oven. I heated my oven to 150 and turned it off. I put the dough in there to rise with the door cracked open for about thirty minutes. I got a little distracted so it rose a little too much, but I just made the second rise shorter (20 minutes). 

The bread was delicious! Kyle and I finished off most of a loaf in just a few hours. It took a lot of self-control not to finish off the whole loaf! You can find the recipe at the TWD blog or better yet in the wonderful book!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lemon Sparkle Cookies

This picture's been on my blog header since the beginning but I've never posted about it. I guess I figured there was some unwritten rule about not posting a recipe unless you made it while you were a blogger. My awesome friend found a picture of these on facebook and asked for the recipe, so I figured I'd share it with all of you.

I made these for Christmas, but they'd be awesome anytime. You can coordinate the colors to whatever holiday you're celebrating, like red for Valentine's Day! Basically they're scrumptious little bites of lemon-flavored goodness. And yes, they can be addicting. 

I got the recipe over at the kitchen and they have some awesome step-by-step photos so I'm just going to direct you over there