Weekend Recipes

These are the dishes we made over the weekend, but I’m sure they’ll taste just as good any day of the week. :)

2013-04-06-pumpkin-mushroom-soup

First up, Saturday night, was this very simple pumpkin soup recipe, adapted from Epicurious. We used fresh pumpkin instead of canned, fresh ginger instead of powdered, and a small, almost whole piece of star anise. The rye bread, pictured, was also freshly homemade.

  • 2 15-ounce cans pure pumpkin (we used a small pumpkin, about 3 pounds)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder*
  • 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced

Since we used fresh pumpkin, there were these added steps:

Cut skin off outside of pumpkin and discard. Cut pumpkin into approx. 1-1/2 inch chunks, making sure to cut away any of the stringy bits and seeds. Place pumpkin in boiling water and boil, covered, for about 3 minutes, until pumpkin is just about cooked through. You don’t want the pumpkin too soft since it will cook a little more in with the rest of the ingredients in the soup. Puree the cooked pumpkin chunks with just enough water to make it easier for the pumpkin to move around the food processor or blender. Puree until it looks like baby food—small pieces are okay.

Bring first 4 ingredients to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking often. Whisk in syrup, 2 tablespoons butter, and five-spice powder. Simmer soup 10 minutes, whisking often. Season with salt and pepper. (Soup can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Bring to simmer before serving.) Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Divide soup among 6 bowls. Sprinkle soup with mushrooms, dividing equally; serve.

* A blend of ground anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger available in the spice section of most supermarkets. We used fresh ginger instead of ground; since we were making our own spice blend. We chopped the ginger finely and then sauteed it with the mushrooms and put into the soup at the end.

2013-04-07-pita

Next, I made some pita, recipe slightly adapted from smitten kitchen. I made only 1/2 the recipe and used active dry yeast that I dissolved in the water for about five minutes before adding to the dough instead of the instant yeast.We like to eat pita, warm, with (homemade) hummus and possibly some restaurant-made felafel.

2013-04-07-asparagus

Dinner, Sunday night, polenta and mackerel and asparagus. We simply steamed the asparagus. Broiled the mackerel with this marinade and sauteed onions and mushrooms and added them to the polenta. We are still working on just exactly how to cook polenta correctly so that it comes out the the right consistency, so I’ll get back to you on that. Anyone have any polenta-cooking tips?
What did you cook/eat over the weekend? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, or you can share with me on my Facebook page!

What I’m Liking Wednesday {Recipe}

Balance. It can be a hard thing to do. It takes practice and concentration. When you are trying to balance everything in your life, you need to figure out what is most important to you and put everything into perspective. It might even mean changing some things around to make it all work. I am still concentrating on making it work for me.

I try to just go with the flow and make the system work, but sometimes I need to take a step back and realize that something needs to change to make the balancing work. I have a tendency to need to plan ahead and follow the rules and not break away from that system. Other times, I feel like I need to balance planning and going with the flow so that it works.

Most people say that they are afraid of baking because they cannot just add “a pinch of this or that” and cannot stray from the recipe. While this is somewhat true, this is part of why I like baking. Yes, you need to follow the ratio of flour, sugar, and butter to make a cookie dough work. (See my 1-2-3 Cookie Dough) However, there are some variations you can have with a recipe while baking. For example, I recently made these Slice & Bake Oatmeal cookies, but I altered the recipe to what I had on hand. I used cocoa powder instead of the whole wheat flour and I added ground ginger. I did not use any raisins because I don’t like them, but also because I didn’t think that these cookies needed them with all of the other flavors going on. This is a perfect example of balancing flavors to make it work. I would not have thought that this was going to work as well as it did had I not practiced and made other types of cookies previously.

These cookies were tempting to make as is, because I like the idea of having cookie cough on hand so that I can make only one or two at a time. I think the chocolate makes them even more tempting. I mean, who can resist chocolate? :) I believe these cookies, as modified, have the perfect balance of flavors, but also the right balance of textures. They are soft in the middle and have a chewy edge, sort of like a brownie. The oats give the cookies the typical oatmeal cookie chewiness also. The recipe does still need to be tweaked some, it was a little sticky, and probably does not need as much oatmeal as the recipe calls for. I need to work on balancing the ingredients to make them just that much more perfect. Like I said, balancing can be hard and take a lot of work, but it can be done. When balance is achieved, life (and recipes) is good! :)

Tell me, what do you do to keep things in your life balanced?

 

Original recipe found on Shutterbean. Modified/added ingredients/instructions in Italics.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats

Whisk  flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. (I sifted all ingredients into the bowl.) Using an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars on high speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend and scraping down bowl between additions. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine. Fold in oats.

Divide dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Using paper as an aid, roll up each piece of dough into a 1 1/2-inch diameter log. Wrap in plastic; freeze for at least 4 hours and up to 3 weeks.

Preheat oven to 350°. Unwrap dough and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (return unused dough to freezer); place 2-inch apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake cookies until edges are golden brown, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool. I baked mine for about 11 minutes, on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Easy Dinners {Recipe}

I have always been a fan of easy dinners, especially since I am sometimes eating dinner alone. It is always more exciting and better making/sharing dinner with someone else! For me, easy dinners are defined as having few and/or on hand ingredients, and take little time to make.

Here are some examples of easy dinners I’ve made that don’t necessarily require a recipe:

  • roasted vegetables & a grain: it is easy to just get out a large (casserole-sized) baking dish, toss veggies in oil, salt and pepper, and then throw the whole thing in a preheated (400-425ish) oven for just a few (15-20) minutes. I like serving the veggies over pasta, and to make it healthier, and for more protein, you could serve it over brown rice or quinoa. Play around with the veggie combos: squash, peppers, carrots, onion, garlic, broccoli, etc. Make it with a different grain: pasta, rice, quinoa, farro, etc.

roasted_squash

  • salads: basic components of a salad are just as simple as the above-mentioned roasted veggies & a grain. just swap out roasted veggies for fresh, replace the grain with a lettuce (although some grains, such as qunioa make for a good texture addition). Again, play around with the basics to make this meal exciting every time! Want more protein? Add tuna, chopped or shredded chicken or beef. A simple splash of oil & vinegar make for a fresh salad dressing.
  • Related recipe I’ve made (and liked): Tacos with Roasted Vegetables and Red Cabbage Slaw

Other recipes I’ve made recently that are easy and result in some awesome leftovers:

pasta

Basically, I am a fan of “set it and forget it” recipes that make a lot of portions so as to not have to worry about lunch the next day! ;)

What are your favorite easy dinners? Share with me in the comments!

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee! {Recipe}

First off, let me apologize for not writing anything for a long(ish) time. I have been busy with school and work and, well, have used my time to focus on other things (such as playing a certain game on Facebook) when I should have been editing photos and posting on here. So so sorry. Really. I love writing blog posts and everything, and sharing fun things with you. AND I am sorry I have not posted a recipe on here in an even longer time. So here’s just a few to get things rolling.

As you may already know, I like doing things in more than one way. This time around, I used coffee in three different recipes. For starters, I tried making coffee ice cream, but that turned out to be less than desirable.

The next recipe I tried was this Hot Fudge Pudding Cake, from Delish. Instead of making one large cake, I made cupcakes, which were good, but a bit sticky. I called them muddy cupcakes because they were so moist and soaked through with coffee.

The third recipe I tried was a version of rice krispies that involved chocolate and coffee, among other things. It had been years since I made anything in the rice krispie treat realm.

Anyway, my treats do not look as dark/chocolatey as the pictures shown on Shutterbean, but are just as tasty. Also, I did not add dried cherries or extra ‘mallows, as the recipe calls for. I figured it was chock-full of stuff as it was. Feel free to change up the mix-ins as desired.

Coffee Chocolate Marshmallow Krispies

from Shutterbean!

makes 12

recipe adapted slightly from Christina Tosi of Milk Bar via Rachael Ray Magazine

  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 2 bags (10 oz. each) mini marshmallows
  • 5 cups crispied rice cereal
  • 2 cups salted roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee (not instant)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • cooking spray

Line a 9 inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. In a 10-12 quart pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add 10 cups mini marshmallows and cook, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes; remove the pot from the heat.

Using a wet spoon or spatula, fold in the rice cereal. Sprinkle in the almonds, cherries, ground coffee & salt; fold quickly to distribute. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips and remaining mini marshmallows; fold gently to distribute.

Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish. Using slightly damp hands or a wet spatula, press into an even layer. Let cool completely and cut into square to serve.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

Today is my blogger friend, Annelies’ Food Poetry Party, in honor of her new website, The Food Poet. For the party, foodies are to share their favorite poems/poets and poets and writers are to share their favorite recipes or chef that inspires them.

So, this week, I have been reading a bit of poetry. For starters, I read the poems that were already shared on the Facebook page for the event. And I will share them with you:

I love
The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Valentine
by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

and now my favorite poem/poet:

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

What is your favorite poem/poet that inspires you? Do you have a favorite recipe or chef that inspires you? Join the party and share in the comments!