Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chicken Soup with Enoki Mushrooms and Fresh Chiles

By some miracle D was snowed in with us today, and not snowed in at work! This made the day even more special, and why not top it off with him actually cooking dinner?

D rarely cooks a full meal in our house, but he does love to BBQ and oddly, he also likes to make chicken soup. I'm not such a fan of working with chicken, so I was more than happy to hand over the reins for this brothy poached chicken with mushrooms and fresh chili from the latest edition of Bon Appetit magazine.

We had both gravitated towards this soup the moment that we saw it in the magazine, and with all of us being sick this past week, I've been pining for this meal. Finally, on a snowy day and prepared by my man, it happened. And, I am SO glad that D obligued and made this soup. I chose to sub the mushrooms with enoki mushrooms, my favorite! The soup was full of flavor, yummy texture, and perfectly hot spice. The enoki gave it almost a noodle-like quality, and the broth was rich. Totally and amazingly fabulous! The best way to warm up on a really cold night.

The dinner was topped off with the chocolate babka-challah and these yummy meringes (prepared with the kids from the leftover egg whites from the bread dough). These were J's maple-meringues. Crispy, light, sweet, and perfect!

Chocolate "Babka-Challah"

Today was snow day #1 of the blizzard of 2015, and of course that means that there's lots of kitchen-action in our house. Thankfully the power held out, so we were able to make use of the time in the house. For most of the day the weather was literally too bad to enjoy the massive amounts of snow dumping down, but by mid-afternoon we did make it outside for a bit to frolic and sled down GIGANTIC snow piles.

I saw the recipe for chocolate cinnamon "babkallah" a while back in Bon Appetit. I filed it away for a special occasion. What better occasion than a snow day? So, today was the day that this baby got made!

I stuck to the recipe, but replaced the 1/2 c of milk with water. I find that for some reason my breads never proof and rise well when I use the milk. Since I make my favorite challah recipe with water, I knew it would be fine.
Let me start out by saying that this chocolate babka-challah creation was pure genius! It's a bit sweet like challah, flaky like babka and 100% declicious. Everyone in the house was commenting on "babkallah" and enjoying the indulgence. Stay warm!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

ChewyWhole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

We have been sick in this house ALL week. It's been brutal. Fever, colds, just generally feeling like crap! What better way to help everyone feel better, but cookies?

I saw a recipe for soft chocolate chip cookies with whole wheat flour on my favorite baking website: King Arthur Flour. I'm always in search of the perfectly soft and chewy cookie, and one that stays that was for a couple of days. Plus, the whole wheat flour really appealed to me.

These soft chocolate chip cookies were a total breeze to make, which was welcomed since we're all feeling "not our best" as J puts it. They are perfectly soft and chewy, and a definitely different flavor palate than the usual chocolate chip cookie. But, the kids and I really loved them! D was on the fence, until he ate his with some scotch;) And, my mom loved hers with some ice cream.

The espresso powder and cider vinegar are detectible, but perfectly so, I happen to think. And, the nuttiness of the wheat flour peeks through as well. I added 1/4 c of cane sugar (instead of the 1/3 c white sugar), and they were certainly perfectly sweet (but not too sweet) as well. These are a welcomed addition to the chocolate chip cookie recipe bank!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pasta with Fried Lemons

It's been a super long week, and unfortunately D is on-call all weekend, so it's not nearly over! And, too bad for him, but he never made it home tonight in time to enjoy this meal! Thankfully we had one of our favorite sitters around, to lend an extra post-work-for-mama hand, and join us for dinner.

I have been meaning to make this pasta with fried lemons dish for months now, ever since seeing it on the New York Times website. Something about the fried lemon rind was just calling my name.

The flavors in this dish were excellent. The lemon was both sweet, sour, and bitter all at the same time. And, the chili flakes added just the right amount of heat! The parsley is listed as "optional" in the recipe itself, but I think it's a must. My only complaint was that the pasta itself tasted a tiny bit starchy. I can only attribute this to the addition of the pasta water in the sauce. Not exactly sure how this can be avoided, but no matter because it truly was tasty!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Roasted Fruit and Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

 2 c beets, cubed
1 apple, sliced in 1" thick slices
1 pear, sliced in 1" thick slices
olive oil
salt to taste
3 c baby kale, washed and dried
1 c baby arugula, washed and dried
3/4 c dried cherries
1/2 c pecan halves
1/2 c goat cheese crumbles
lemon vinaigrette (juice from one lemon, emulse with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste)

Preheat oven to 450 F.
Toss the beets, apple, and pear wtih a couple of tbs of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast for around 12 minutes. Flip fruits/vegetables and roast for another 12-15 minutes.
Assemble the salad greens, cherries, pecans, and goat cheese. Top salad with the roasted beets and fruits, and toss in a lemon vinaigrette.

Tonight's dinner was courtesy of a major inspiration from the latest Fine Cooking magazine, and their spread on roasted fruit salads. This was definitely one of the best salads that I've ever made. The fruits made the beets even sweeter, and all the flavors and textures in this salad were fantastic! We ate it along side a defrosted (and oven heated) baguette from the other night. The kids even enjoyed these beets. This was another total winning meal!

Maple Granola

This family loves granola. We love to eat it on yogurt, with milk, in apple-peanut-butter-granola "sandwiches", or just plain. I've been true to my favorite granola base recipe for years now, but when I saw a recipe for maple cluster granola in my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook I got really excited. Maple flavored anything is a huge hit in these parts. Maybe it's my VT roots, maybe it's just that maple is SO tasty, but either way, maple syrup has a way of making anything better. Plus, anytime there are clusters in granola, it's simply amazing.

This granola is simple. Oats, walnuts, coconut, maple syurp and dried cherries.  I added some chia seeds (3 tbs) for extra fun and nutritional benefit. The cherries' tart flavor really works well with the pecans and the sweet maple. The granola was easy to make, and took considerably less cooking time than my go-to recipe. The flavors are spot-on, but I somehow managed to get virtually no clusters. That was a major disappointment, and I'm not sure why that happened. All of this being said, I will certainly make this granola again. It is SO SO tasty.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chocolate "Pudding"

1 avocado 
1 banana
1/4c cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c milk
1/2 c unsweetened coconut
2 tbs maple syrup

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree. Enjoy!

I saw a facebook posting from a chef who I used to work with way-back-when in college. She posted a picture of a "guilt-free chocolate pudding", so of course I had to inquire about the recipe. She was kind enough to obligue, and I only tweaked it slightly. Thank you JS!

It's always fun to give the kids a "treat", but one that I really don't have to think twice about. L was more than happy to assist me in making chocolate "pudding", and I have to say that this was the best "healthy pudding" I've made yet! The texture was just right...totally creamy, custardy, and just like the real thing. And, the taste was great too. It's certainly a bit banana-laden, and not too sweet, but it's more than good. Topped with some raspberries it was absolutely delicious. And, the kids agreed!

Side note: King Arthur Flour's triple cocoa powder is my new favorite cooca powder. Definitely not to be missed!