Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Orange Bourbon Street-Inspired Chicken

Orange bourbon chicken2

I always enjoyed the bourbon chicken from the cajun restaurant in the mall I used to live near. Maybe it was the macaroni and cheese side dish, the sweet sauce on the chicken, or the delicious red beans and rice, but the pizza place next door rarely tempted me away from the bourbon chicken.

Lately, I've developed a love for Trader Joe's frozen orange chicken dish - it's as good as take-out, but less expensive. However, the battered and fried chicken pieces aren't doing me any nutritional favors. So when I ran across this bourbon chicken recipe, I thought I might modify it a bit to satisfy both a bourbon chicken and an orange chicken craving.

The resulting sauce has the fantastic tang of orange chicken, the sweetness of both dishes, and a richness all its own. I added cornstarch to make the sauce really thick, but if you like a thinner sauce feel free to omit it.  We enjoyed this over rice with steamed broccoli and oven-roasted crispy potatoes (which I seem to be making at least once a week!).

Orange bourbon chicken

Orange Bourbon Street-Inspired Chicken
This recipe is my take on a bourbon chicken recipe. The sauce is sweet and tangy, and does not contain any bourbon. Feel free to add some crushed red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper to this dish to make it spicy.
Yield: 4 servings


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
Zest of one orange
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
To serve: hot brown rice

1. Combine all ingredients except chicken and olive oil in a bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved.
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
3. Add the sauce to the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/medium-low and simmer 15-20 minutes. You want the sauce to be coating the chicken pieces, rather than having the chicken swimming in the sauce.
4. Serve over hot rice. 

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Meatless Mondays: Quinoa Salad

 Quinoa salad

We had a great weekend, including our first 5k trail race (which was MUCH more difficult than I imagined!), and my first feature on foodgawker!  If you're here because of that post, welcome! Settle in, and have  a look around.

When preparing for the week, I find it helpful to cook a few large-batch recipes on Sunday afternoon. That leaves me with most of my lunches and dinners already prepared for the week. This quinoa salad is one of my favorites. It is simple to prepare, provides two vegan sources of complete protein (quinoa and edamame), and the leftovers are very tasty. It can also be doubled, tripled, or whatever you like very easily.

Quinoa salad2

If you haven't tried quinoa before, I encourage you to do so! It boasts a pretty solid nutritional profile,  and is a fun change-up from brown rice. For carb-based salads, I prefer whole grain salads to pasta salads (like wheat berry or quinoa salads) because I find they keep me much fuller and provide steadier energy. This salad is a great place to start.

This recipe is vegan (although, be sure to check your mustard ingredients, and note that some vegans do not consume honey). I used some leftover roasted bell peppers instead of fresh bell peppers, but I recommend fresh if you have them.

Quinoa salad3

Quinoa Salad
Yield: 4 servings

For Salad: 
1 cup dry quinoa
1 cup chopped red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup raisins
1 oz pumpkin seeds

For Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey dijon mustard

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. (I combine 1 cup quinoa with two cups of water in my rice cooker.)
2. While the quinoa cooks, combine remaining ingredients for salad in a large bowl. Stir to combine, and set aside. Combine ingredients for dressing in a smaller bowl, whisk together, and add to the salad bowl. Stir to combine.
3. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add it to the salad ingredients, and stir to combine. This salad can be served hot or cold. For easy lunches, portion leftovers into individual containers in the fridge - then just grab one to take for lunch.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Shrimp


This meal uses one of our favorite pastas - soba noodles. Soba is a Japanese noodle, shaped a lot like spaghetti, made with whole-grain buckwheat flour. We bought ours at a Japanese market, but you can probably find them in the international section of your supermarket. Soba is considered a good pasta choice for athletes.

The noodles are coated in a creamy asian-influenced peanut sauce, and topped with grilled shrimp. The peanut sauce is one of Nick's favorite things, so we've made this, or variations, several times. We top the dish various proteins and vegetables, but these shrimp were one of the best versions.


This recipe yields two generous servings, each of which is packed with complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. It's not diet food, but rather food designed to keep you fueled and energized. I especially like this meal on days where I had a long run or challenging workout.

Feel free to substitute chicken, tofu, slices of beef, or whatever other protein you like as a topping if you don't care for shrimp.

Soba with Peanut Sauce and Shrimp
Yield: 2-3 servings

6 oz soba noodles
8 oz raw shrimp, thawed if frozen

Shrimp Sauce:
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fresh, finely chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

To garnish: (optional)
Sliced green onions
Sesame seeds
Sliced avocado
Lime slices

1. Combine ingredients for shrimp sauce, and refrigerate for an hour or so to let the flavors meld.
2. Pre-heat grill for direct grilling over high heat. Place shrimp on skewers. Divide shrimp sauce into two containers; set one container aside. Brush shrimp on both sides with sauce.
3. Prepare soba noodles according to package directions. (I boiled them for six minutes in salted water.) While noodles boil, combine all ingredients for peanut sauce. Set aside.
4. Grill shrimp, 2 or so minutes per side, brushing with more sauce. When the shrimp are finished, place on a plate and pour the reserved sauce over them.
5. When the soba noodles are finished cooking, drain, then return to the pot and toss with the peanut sauce. Portion into bowls, and top with 3 to 6 shrimp per bowl. Garnish as desired. (Chopsticks optional.)

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Windowsill Garden February Update

Spider plant flower

It's been a while since I first told you about our windowsill garden, but we're still plugging away at this experiment! I say experiment, because as you will see, we've had some things that are going well, some things that we've managed to make go better, and some things that are clearly failing. (Ahem, cilantro.)

The picture at the top of the post is our spider plant. It grew a really long shoot that we thought would be a baby spider plant, but has instead been flowering for over a week! They are pretty little white flowers, that open and close each day. I'm not sure what will happen next, but the flowers are nice to look at. 

We've had some very cold days in the past few weeks, and the windowsill wasn't the warmest place. Aside from setting up a space heater in the room (because I work in this room, not just for the plants!), we also positioned a desk lamp over the plants to provide some extra light and heat. Since the weather has returned to more moderate winter temperatures, the desk lamp has returned to my desk.

We also added a UVB bulb (sold specifically for plants, Nick had it leftover from an aquarium), because I do not think our windowsill gets nearly enough light. The windowsill faces east, so we get some morning light, but it is not very strong (especially because it is winter).  I noticed that a lot of plants had sprouted, then stalled. They got their first two leaves, but didn't produce any more. Also, they were growing very scraggly/leggy - long and skinny, to the point some could not support themselves well. A brief amount of research indicated that insufficient light was more that likely the culprit. We added the UVB bulb less than a week ago, and we've already seen a huge improvement - the plants are all producing new leaves and just seem stronger.

The UVB bulb is in a cheap strip light that we have propped up on some boxes. Not exactly glamorous, but it works for now. (If you're trying your own windowsill garden, and think you might need one, fortunately neither the strip light or bulb cost very much, and you should be able to find them at Wal-mart or somewhere similar.)  In the next month or so, we'll be purchasing some items for seed starting and the outdoor container garden, so we plan to keep the setup as-is for now and re-evaluate later. 

Windowsill garden feb 16

I have not planted new seeds for any of the plants. I think I may harvest most of the mesclun micro greens and broccoli sprouts this week, and add some new seeds there. I'm wondering if I need to add new seeds to other pots where we've had little or poor germination. I might, because I can always thin sprouts - but if there are no sprouts, we won't have any plants!

I haven't been harvesting many bean sprouts - mostly because I'm enjoying watching them grow wildly. I will probably thin them soon, and perhaps try planting a few other beans from the pantry, just for fun.

Things that are still going well:

Our parsley continues to thrive. I've been harvesting some of it (I used it in this tofu falafel) and it seems to be quite healthy.


We have one adorable Tom Thumb lettuce baby plant.  This is one of the pots I think I need to add some new seeds to, because none of the other seeds germinated.

Tom thumb sprout

The mesclun greens sprouts are now micro-greens level. I plan to harvest most of these this week, and replant some new seeds. Same thing with the broccoli sprouts, which are definitely grown a little past where I planned. I'm hoping that with the UVB bulb, any new sprouts won't be quite so leggy.


We also still only have one chive that germinated. It's healthy, but lonely!

Our swiss chard has finally started growing more leaves, and I'm hopeful for big improvements with the UVB bulb. 

Swiss chard

The spinach looks very scraggly, but is improving with the UVB bulb. Unfortunately, it was one of the plants closest to the desk lamp I added for heat, and it looks like one of the sprouts may have decided to "bolt" or go to seed (this is usually caused by too-hot conditions). The wilted/shriveled looking leaves are actually the original sprout leaves, which withered away when the new baby plant leaves came in. 


The cilantro is in a sorry state. Although three seeds finally germinated, they shriveled and died shortly thereafter. The windowsill might just be too cold for them. I'm going to try re-planting this week, but we might not get any cilantro out of this windowsill. Perhaps I should just plant something else in that pot, to see if it will grow.

Finally, a neat idea I picked up on pinterest. If you place the white ends that you trim off of green onions (purchased from the store) in a glass jar with some water, they will grow new green onions. We started this a week or so ago, and the results are already quite promising! I've been changing the water every few days, and adding onion ends as we use them up. 

Green onion

So, now you know how our garden grows! Next month, we'll hopefully be starting some seeds for summer, and with any luck, there will be an even bigger improvement in the windowsill garden. 

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day: Love Pie

Love pie

Happy Valentine's day! Whether you're a "go big or go home" celebrator, or more of a stay-at-home celebrator (like us!) I hope you have a wonderful day. If you're celebrating at home, impress your loved one with a love pie - that is, a heart-shaped pizza! (Maybe you were thinking steak...but everyone loves pizza.)

This technique is pretty simple: make dough according to my favorite whole-wheat pizza crust recipe, or your favorite pizza dough recipe. Then, roll out the dough for one crust on a lightly floured surface into a roughly heart-shaped shape - so it is wider at the top, narrower at the bottom. No need to be perfect here, because the next step is to take a pizza cutter or sharp knife, and cut out the heart shape. Cut as large a shape as you can, given your dough (but be sure it will still fit on the pizza stone). Or, cut individual-sized pizzas. Then, proceed to bake the crust and pizza according to the recipe directions

Top these however you like - the pizza pictured is Nick's Hawaiian pie.

A few other valentine-related recipes:

Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
Chocolate caramels2


And if you're looking for more dessert ideas, here are cookies, and here are a few desserts.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Meatless Mondays: Tofu Falafel

Tofu falafel

Today's recipe is a take on a middle eastern classic: falafel. Traditionally made with a garbanzo bean/chickpea base and deep fried, this version uses tofu as the base for extra protein, and the falafel balls are baked, rather than fried. The result is a lighter variation on the classic that is simple to make at home. Also, this Meatless Monday recipe is vegan!

You'll notice the ingredient list is kind of long. I thought about trying to simplify it - about what, if anything, could be omitted. But all of the ingredients contribute to a complex and layered flavor, and I don't think they dish would be as satisfying if I simplified things.

I call for tahini, which I discussed in my hummus post. If you don't have tahini, and don't want to buy it just for this recipe, I think peanut butter would be a fun twist. But tahini is more classic, and really delicious, so it's worth giving a try.

Finally, a word on tofu. Tofu is a staple in many vegetarian dishes and diets, because it is a source of complete protein derived from plants. It doesn't have much flavor of its own, but readily absorbs flavors from whatever marinade, sauce, or other ingredients it is combined with. I call for extra-firm tofu here. If you cannot find extra-firm, I would suggest using firm tofu, but pressing it before use. To press, place the block of tofu on a plate (I usually put a few paper towels under it), place another plate (turned upside down) on top, and place a somewhat-heavy object on top of the plate - the sides of the block should bulge somewhat, but not split. Leave the tofu like this for 30 minutes, then drain the water from the plate and proceed with the recipe. Pressing tofu removes some water, so it better absorbs flavors and has a better texture.

Many people hesitate to try tofu, but I promise it is good - the whole secret is that you must give it flavor, since it has so little of its own. All of the spices, herbs, and oils in this dish do just that. 

To serve these, you can serve them with a few sauces, as I did, or on top of a salad, or stuffed into a pita as a sandwich. I put them over hummus, with greek yogurt mixed with some extra chopped herbs on top. (Note that the yogurt is not vegan.) If serving them on a salad, a tahini-based dressing would be a great topping.

Tofu falafel2

(The parsley in this recipe, and that photo, is from our windowsill garden!)

Tofu Falafel
This recipe was inspired by the Moosewood cookbook. It should take 30-40 minutes to prepare, start to finish.
Yield: 20 falafel balls, serves 3-5 (depending on your appetite!)

1 block (16 oz) extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed dry with paper towels
1/3 cup finely diced onion (about 1/4 a medium onion)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
hearty pinch of black pepper, or to taste
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp tahini
juice of 1/2 lime
tiny pinch of cayenne (or more to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mash the tofu with your fingers. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.
2. Line a baking sheet with a silpat liner, parchment paper, or spray it with cooking spray. Scoop heaping tablespoons of mixture into your hand, roll into a ball, and place on the baking sheet. (I used a 1 1/2 tbsp scoop for this, so the falafel would be uniform).
3. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the falafel are golden on the outside. Serve as desired - with sauces, on a salad, or in a pita sandwich.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chocolate Sea-Salt Caramels

Chocolate caramels3

These caramels are unbelievably simple to make. Although it requires some advance planning, the steps are all very easy, and the end product easily rivals store-bought chocolates. I started with this recipe: Microwave Sea Salt Caramels, but substituted honey for the corn syrup. I cooked the caramels for 6 minutes (for a softer, less chewy caramel), and I made the molded version. Really, glance through that recipe - it's quite easy and quick. Just be sure to coat your molds with plenty of cooking spray so the caramels release easily.

I used semi-sweet chocolate for the coating, but any kind you like - white, milk, dark - is fine. After coating the caramels in chocolate, you can sprinkle the top of these with sea salt, like I did, or just some colored sugar, or leave them plain. It's really up to you.

Although I made a molded version, you can certainly make the cut-shape version instead. Those will dip just as well as the molded version. Rectangles are fine, but a diamond-cut pattern would be very pretty. For my molds, I used novelty/shaped silicone ice-cube trays. One was from Target (the hearts), the other from IKEA (the stars). Each individual shape held about 2 tsp of caramel.

One note about the coating: I mixed a little canola oil in with the melted chocolate to make the finished coating shiny. The drawback to this is that the chocolate melts on your fingers even faster than usual. So you can omit the oil if you want, but the chocolates might not be as shiny-looking.

Chocolate caramels4

Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
Store these in the fridge, but let sit at room temperature for a few minutes before eating so the caramel is nice and soft. 
Yield: about 2 dozen, depending on mold/cut size

1 recipe Microwave Sea Salt Caramels, cooked soft (6 minutes), and molded or not, cooled
1 1/2- 2 cups chocolate chips (white, milk, semi-sweet, or dark - your choice)
1 tbsp canola oil
Sea salt and/or sprinkles, to decorate

1. Prepare the caramels according to the recipe directions. Once cooled, cut or remove from molds, and arrange on a parchment or foil (sprayed with cooking spray) lined baking sheet.
2. Place baking sheet in the freezer, and freeze at least an hour or overnight. (You need the caramels to get pretty hard so they won't dent or deform when you're dipping them in melted chocolate.)
3. When the caramels are done freezing, combine chocolate chips and oil in a glass measuring cup or wide-mouth mason jar. Microwave for 1 minute, stir well, and continue microwaving in 30 second increments until the chocolate is fully melted. Use caution, the chocolate and measuring cup will be hot. Once the chocolate is prepared, remove the baking sheet with the caramels from the freezer.
4. Working with a spoon, or (if you're comfortable) chopsticks, dip each caramel in the chocolate. The chocolate should be deep enough that you can submerge the candy to coat it fully. Gently shake off excess, then wipe the bottom on the edge of the cup so there is a medium-thin layer of chocolate on the caramel.   Every 3 or so candies, pause to sprinkle with desired decorations (before the chocolate coating dries).
5. When finished dipping and decorating, return the caramels to the fridge to allow the chocolate coating to fully set. You can trim any excess chocolate from around the edges once they're totally cooled and set. Store the caramels in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

See? Pretty easy. And guaranteed to impress!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blood Orange Sugar Cookies


Simple sugar cookies make a perfect afternoon treat. They seem to compliment everything, from coffee to ice cream. (Well, everything important, anyways.) This recipe is a slight twist on the traditional, adding the flavor of a blood orange to the cookie. The cookies are delicate and more crispy than chewy. I like to make these fairly small - I prefer large cookies for more hearty-flavored varieties, like cowboy cookies.

I had hoped the bright pink orange juice would lend some color to the cookies, but it did not. You could use whatever kind of orange you like here, but be sure it is a sweet, good-tasting orange. I like cara caras best.  You could also do a lemon or lime variation on the cookie.


These cookies disappeared fast - they are hard to resist!

Blood Orange Sugar Cookies
Really, you can use any variety of orange you like here. But blood oranges would be perfect for themed parties (twilight, true blood, nosferatu...no judgment). 
Yield: about 3 dozen small cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
Zest of one orange
3 tbsp fresh-squeezed orange juice
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups white-whole wheat or all purpose flour


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpats, and set aside.
2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients, except flour, until well blended.
3. Stir in flour until just blended.
4. Drop about 2 tsp of dough 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
5. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Meatless Mondays: Buttery Black Lentils

Black lentils 1

Today's recipe uses the flavors of Indian cuisine to liven up lentils. It is not, however, a curry; it relies on ginger, garlic, butter, a bit of chili powder, and some garam masala for flavor, and is overall mildly spiced. The meal is ready to serve in about 30 minutes. It serves 4; we eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Garam masala is a spice blend used in some Indian cuisine. Like curry powder, there are many different versions. For this recipe, I prefer a sweeter, more delicate version, like one that uses a lot of coriander. You can certainly blend your own garam masala (try googling for recipes).

I used black beluga lentils here, which cook faster than most other varieties of lentils. They are also fairly high in protein. If you can't find beluga lentils, you could use French/De Puy lentils, or  regular green or brown lentils, but the cooking time for the lentils will be 10-15 minutes longer.

Lentils don't require pre-soaking, so they are a good idea for a weeknight meal. To prepare them, you want to sort through the lentils, looking for any small rocks (which will be about the size and shape of the lentils), and remove the rocks. Then, place the lentils in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear. When cooking the lentils, you don't want to add any salt, or anything acidic, until the beans are done cooking, to avoid making them tough.

I'm deeming this recipe vegetarian, but vegan-possible: to make it vegan, substitute either your favorite butter substitute (like Earth Balance) or extra virgin olive oil for the butter. That's it!

Black lentils2

Buttery Black Lentils
While the lentils cook, cook some brown rice or quinoa to serve the lentils over.  Grate the ginger and garlic on a microplane grater to create a fine paste.
Yield: 4 servings

1 cup black beluga lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups water
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger, divided
3 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2-1 tsp pure chili powder - either hot, like cayenne, or mild, like ancho - to taste
1-6 oz can tomato paste
2 tbsp butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup light coconut milk, plus a bit more to serve
1 tsp garam masala
Chopped cilantro, to serve
Cooked rice or quinoa, to serve

1. Bring the water to a boil in a pan. Add the lentils, half of the ginger, and the garlic, and simmer, covered, over low to medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but still firm.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, and add the onion and remaining ginger. Sautee until the onion begins to take on some color, 5 to 10 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. When the lentils are done cooking, stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, and salt. Heat to a simmer, then stir in the butter mixture, garam masala, and coconut milk.Taste, and adjust salt and chili powder to your liking.
4. Serve over hot rice or quinoa, drizzled with a little more coconut milk, and topped with chopped cilantro.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Roasted Tri-Color Potatoes

Tricolor potatoes2

This is a riff on a Joy of Cooking recipe for oven french "fries".  We picked up a bag of pretty tri-colored potatoes at Trader Joe's last week, and I've been trying to come up with something fun to showcase their colors. I intentionally picked a bag with mostly purple potatoes...big surprise! (Purple is my favorite color.)

Tricolor potatoes1

I was craving roasted potatoes, and this recipe makes perfectly roasted, browned potatoes - totally satisfying. I call for 2 tbsp of oil, because that is the amount the original recipe used, but I probably could have used only one tablespoon.


You could certainly make this recipe using red-skinned potatoes, small yellow potatoes, or whatever other kind of potato you like.


Roasted Tri-Color Potatoes
Yield: probably 4 servings as a side (but we demolished these, so 2 servings as dinner)

About 1 lb potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Wash the potatoes. Slice into 1/2 inch thick slices, and soak in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes.
3. Drain the potatoes, and pat them dry on paper towels.  Toss with the oil, and arrange on a baking sheet. (I used a silpat liner, but I don't think that it was necessary.)
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring/flipping two or three times while they bake. They should be beautifully golden brown and crispy when they are done.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

We ate these over some steamed broccoli, topped with shredded cheddar cheese. I will definitely be making potatoes this way again!

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Healthy Blueberry Tarts


If I had to pick a favorite flavor of pie, it would be blueberry, hands-down. Maybe it's the weather lately (it got up to 70 degrees on Monday!), but this summer classic seemed like it could use a healthy make-over to me. Looking through recipes, I found a few themes: the filling wasn't bad, if you didn't add to much sugar, but the crust had too much butter. In my recipe, below, olive oil substituted nicely for some of the butter, and greek yogurt provided the remaining moisture and binding power I needed.


 The recipe makes individual tarts, which is a fun way to serve.  However, the filling holds together and slices easily, so you should have no trouble if you make a large tart. You might want more filling though, depending on the size of your tart pans. I have found that when miniaturizing a pie/tart recipe, less filling is needed for the same amount of crust. If I were making a full-sized tart, I would double the amount of filling.


Healthy Blueberry Tarts
If you don't have tapioca pearls, you can try tapioca starch here (which is found in many traditional recipes).  And as I've mentioned before, oat flour can be made by grinding up rolled or instant oats in your food processor until you get a flour-like consistency. 
Yield: 4 tarts

For the crust:
3/4 cup oat flour
3/4 cup white-whole wheat flour
pinch salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

For the filling:
2 cups blueberries (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch salt
2 tbsp tiny tapioca pearls
Zest of one orange
pinch of nutmeg

Start the crust and filling at the same time - both need a rest period. Then, while the crust blank-bakes, cook the filling on the stove top, so both will be ready to bake together at the same time. 

For the crust:
1. Combine flours and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the middle, and add remaining crust ingredients. Stir until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 4 four-inch miniature tart pans by spraying with cooking spray. Arrange on a baking sheet. Press 1/4 of the chilled dough into each tart pan, pressing up the sides to the edge of the pan.
3. Lay a small piece of aluminum foil in each pan, and fill with dried beans (or use pie weights).  Bake the tart shells for about 10 minutes.

For the filling:
1. Mash about half of the blueberries. Stir together all of the filling ingredients in a bowl, cover, and let sit while the tart dough chills (about an hour).
2. While the tart dough bakes, place filling in a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring very frequently, until the mixture becomes quite thick. Set aside until the tart shells are done baking.

Making the tarts:
1. Divide the cooked filling evenly between the tart shells, and return to the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the edges of the tarts are golden brown.
2. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.


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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pancakes 'O Love


To mark the first day of February, I thought I'd share my current favorite pancake recipe with you. And to make the post seasonal, I made the pancakes in heart-shaped molds. Note that this is absolutely unnecessary, and not something I usually do - although it's a fun Valentine's Day idea.  Also note that you can use a metal cookie cutter as a mold if you like - but do not use an enamel-coated one (mine bled coloring all over the pancake - that pancake went straight in the trash!!!), and definitely don't try to use plastic.  The directions given with this recipe assume you are using molds, but these can be made as normal pancakes too.

Play with flavor variations to keep things interesting here. I made raspberry chocolate chip, because it seems like a good valentine-y flavor. However, I have also made these with pecans instead of chocolate chips, and small chunks of banana in place of the raspberries. I imagine almond-blueberry would be a delicious combo.


Pancakes 'O Love
You can make these with molds, to be heart-shaped, or as regular pancakes. 
Yield: 2 servings, about 4 cakes each

1/2 cup white-whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup raspberries (I used frozen)
1/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat a skillet and molds over medium heat. Spray the pan and molds with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir. Add eggs, yogurt, and milk, and stir until combined. Fold in berries and chocolate chips.
3. Pour the batter into the molds (if using) about half-way up the sides. Let cook until bubbles appear in the middle, then carefully remove the molds (I used tongs, because they will be hot), and flip the cakes. Continue cooking until done.
4. Serve topped with butter, maple syrup, and/or jam, as desired!


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