Monday, September 26, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopee Pies

Here is the much requested recipe for Pumpkin Whoopee Pies. These were amazing! Cook's Illustrated has the best recipes ever!

Pumpkin Whoopee Pies

Makes 18 (This made more like 30 for me)
Ingredients

Cookies

* 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
* 2 large eggs
* 3/4cup vegetable oil
* 2cups granulated sugar
* 2teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
* 4cups all-purpose flour
* 4teaspoons baking powder
* 2teaspoons baking soda
* 1teaspoon table salt

Filling

* 8tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
* 4ounces cream cheese (1/2 package), at room temperature
* 3/4cup Marshmallow Fluff (3 1/2 ounces)
* 1/4teaspoon table salt
* 1teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 1/4cups confectioners' sugar , sifted

Instructions

1. For the cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in large bowl until blended. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until well incorporated.

3. Using small ice cream scoop (#30 is the perfect size) or tablespoon measure, drop 2 tablespoons of dough on prepared baking sheet. Spread the dough into 2-inch rounds about 1/2 inch thick and spaced 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 14 minutes until lightly browned, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. Cool on cooling racks, still on parchment. Cool baking sheets (I run cold water over them until they are cool), line with fresh parchment paper, and repeat with remaining dough.

4. For the filling: Beat all ingredients except the confectioners' sugar together on medium/high speed with your mixer. Scrape down bowl. Reduce speed to low and gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute.

5. Spread 2 tablespoons filling on center of flat side of one cookie. Place flat side of second cookie on filling and press cookies together to bring filling to edges. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. (Cookies can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 4 days).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Meal Plan for the Week of 9-Apr-2011

Here is my meal plan for the week!

Sunday: Pad Thai
Monday: Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce
Tuesday: New Potatoes and Spinach in a Garlic-Red Chile Sauce
Wednesday: Broccoli Cashew Teriyaki Seitan Stir Fry
Thursday: Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: burgers and fries

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black Bean and Bell Pepper Chili with Cornbread

Tonight, we had a classic meal: chili with cornbread. This recipe is actually my favorite vegetarian chili recipe that I've tried. The chipotle powder adds a really smoky flavor. The cornbread was amazing too.
Yummy cornbread!


Black Bean and Bell Pepper Chili


1 1/2 cups dried black beans sorted and rinsed (or 2 cans black beans, do not drain!)
3 cups water (if using dried black beans) or 1 cup water (if using canned black beans)
1-4 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced (it is ok to use any combination of 3 bell peppers)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 tsp chipotle powder
2 2-inch cinnamon sticks
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
Kernels from 2 ears of corn (or frozen corn to taste)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp pure maple syrup
coarse sea salt


  1. If using dried beans, combine the beans with the water and 1 tbsp olive oil in a pressure cooker and cook at full pressure for 30 minutes.
  2. If using chicken, cut up and saute the chicken until thoroughly cooked, but not dry.
  3. In a heavy pot, over medium heat add 1-3 tbsp of olive oil.
  4. When the oil is warm, add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.
  5. Add the bell peppers, garlic, cumin, bay leaves, chipotle powder, and cinnamon sticks. Saute for 10 more minutes. Reduce the heat and stir occasionally to prevent sticking until the vegetables soften.
  6. Add the beans to the pan with their cooking liquid (or 1 cup of water, if using canned beans).
  7. Process the diced tomatoes in a food processor or pass them through the medium holes of a food mill and add to the pan.
  8. Raise the heat and bring to a boil.
  9. Lower the heat and stir in the corn kernels, oregano, vinegar, and maple syrup.
  10. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  11. Add salt to taste (usually 1-2 tsp) and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks before eating.
Cornbread

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp table salt
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
3/4 cup frozen corn (3 1/2 ounces), thawed
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Spray a 9 x 5 inch baking dish with cooking spray (or an 8 x 8 square pan).
  4. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl until combined. Set aside.
  5. In a food processor or blender, mix the brown sugar, thawed corn kernels, buttermilk, and eggs for about 5 seconds.
  6. Add the wet ingredients (including the butter) to the dry and gently fold the mixture until barely combined.
  7. Pour the batter into a prepared baking dish.
  8. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.
  9. Cut and serve.

Thai Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Tofu

This recipe was incredible. Really really incredible. Especially considering how easy it was and how few ingredients it took. For curries, I'm used to a giant list of spices, but in this case, it just called for some red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand). I wasn't sure how I'd like sweet potatoes in a curry, but it was absolutely divine. So much so that I'm going to try a different stir fry with sweet potatoes again this week.

Thai Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Tofu
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients

14 oz extra-firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
4 tsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 medium red bell pepper and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 lb snow peas, strings removed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt

Instructions

Prepare tofu:
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes.
  3. Gently flip the tofu and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.
Prepare the curry

  1. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in the coconut milk, fish sauce, light brown sugar, and water.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and tofu.
  5. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Add the red bell pepper and snow peas, increase the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the peas are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.
  8. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil and lime juice.
  9. Season with salt to taste.
  10. Serve immediately.

Crepes with Ricotta and Spinach Filling

I am a creature of habit. This means that my weekly menus usually consist of a couple of stir fries, some pastas, and some Indian food. I don't tend to vary much outside of this pattern. So this week, I deliberately tried at least one thing that was not my usual fare.

The answer: savory crepes! I had tried these in Paris, but wasn't terribly thrilled. But these were delicious. It really was a lot like making spinach lasagna but stuffing it all in a crepe instead of layering it between noodles.

Crepes with Ricotta and Spinach Filling
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients

Crepes
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
6 tbsp water
1 cup bleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp table salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter melted

Filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
1 package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces), thawed and pressed dry (I use paper towels to press out the liquid)
10 oz whole-milk ricotta (1 1/4 cups)
4 oz Gruyère cheese, grated (2 cups)
Pinch ground nutmeg
If desired, several slices baked ham (preferably in 6- to 7-inch rounds) (I actually used Canadian bacon, which I had sitting in my freezer)

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to the top middle position.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan.

Filling:
  1. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté onion and garlic until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
  4. Add spinach, ricotta, 1.5 cups Gruyère, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Set aside.

Crepes:
  1. Mix all ingredients (except extra melted butter) in food processor or blender, 3 to 4 seconds.
  2. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
  3. Remove from refrigerator and stir gently.
  4. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the pan with butter.
  5. Pour 1/8 cup (or larger, if desired) onto the skillet. Gently rotate the pan to form the crepe. If you have trouble with this, there are many videos on YouTube to illustrate the technique.
  6. Cook until the batter looks pretty dry.
  7. Gently lift the crepe with your fingers or a spatula. Cook about 30 seconds longer.

Assemble:

  1. One at a time, lay out one crepe.
  2. If using ham, place one ham slice on the crepe.
  3. Spoon 3 tbsp filling into the crepe.
  4. Gentle roll the crepe over the filling.
  5. Place the assembled crepe into the baking pan.
  6. Top with remaining Gruyère cheese.
  7. Cover the pan with foil.
  8. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately.

Meal Plan for the Week of 23-Jan-2011

Sunday: Chili with Cornbread
Monday: Chicken Stir-fry with Yams, Red Cabbage, and Hoisin
Tuesday: Tortilla Casserole
Wednesday: Spicy Potatoes and Spinach with Blackened Chiles and Coconut Milk (Ulli Ishto)
Thursday: Pad Thai
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Lazy day: leftovers/spaghetti with sauce/burgers with fries

Monday, January 17, 2011

French Macarons!


Here are the results of my first try making French Macarons!


The recipe is found here. It took me a few tries to get the macaron shells to pipe out in the right shape/size, but even the funny-looking ones taste delicious.

Sunday Night Feast: Stir-Fried Seitan (or Chicken) with Bok Choy and Crispy Noodle Cake/Spring Rolls

I wanted to have kind of a special dinner that would be similar to going out to a Chinese restaurant complete with one of my favorite foods in the world: fresh spring rolls.

Spring rolls are really a pretty straight forward food to make, if you can find spring roll wrappers. I also found a recipe for peanut dipping sauce. The sauce was...ok. Not my favorite. It is going to take some experimentation to find the right sauce.

To make spring rolls, you first have to decide what you want in the spring rolls. We made pretty straightforward spring rolls.

Spring Rolls

Ingredients:
spring roll wrappers (we were able to find these at Cub and at Whole Foods)
1/2 cucumber, peeled with seeds removed and cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
rice vermicelli/rice sticks, prepared
unsalted dry roasted peanuts, chopped
mint leaves
cilantro leaves

You may also want to add meat, tofu, or mock duck. I've had spring rolls with pork and shrimp, the options are pretty limitless.

  1. Soften the spring roll wrapper in lukewarm water, this takes very little time, maybe 10 seconds.
  2. Spread the spring roll wrapper on a plate. If you have problems with the spring roll wrapper sticking, you may want to use a lettuce leaf to cushion the spring roll wrapper.
  3. Spread about 5-6 mint leaves on the spring roll wrapper.
  4. Spread about 5-6 cilantro leaves.
  5. About 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the spring roll wrapper, lay down the carrot matchsticks, cucumber matchsticks and a small handful of the rice vermicelli.
  6. Sprinkle peanuts on top of the filling.
  7. Wrap spring rolls. Fold over the sides first, then wrap the bottom of the spring roll wrapper over the filling and the folded over sides and roll the spring roll up.
To add more flavor, you may want to consider tossing the ingredients with a tbsp or so of fish sauce and lime juice with about 1/2 tsp sugar. Serve with a peanut-based dipping sauce. I'm not posting my recipe because I didn't like it that much. If you find any other recipes you like, please share!

For the main course, I found a recipe on Cook's Illustrated for Stir-Fried Chicken with Bok Choy and Crispy Noodle Cake. I had to vegetarian-ify it for Garison's sake. Fortunately, the substitutions were pretty simple. I used seitan cut into strips to replace the chicken and vegetarian oyster sauce (based on mushrooms). Another substitution I had to make was to replace Chinese egg noodles with standard vermicelli. I would not make this substitution if not absolutely necessary. If you must, cook the noodles past al dente, so they are nice and soft.

The recipe turned out exactly like the kind of food you'd find in a Chinese restaurant. The consensus was we don't really need to go out for Chinese food anymore.

Stir-Fried Seitan with Bok Choy and Crispy Noodle Cake

Ingredients

Noodle Cake
9 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh) or vermicelli
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Stir-Fry Sauce
1/4 cup broth (I used vegetable broth)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon oyster sauce or vegetarian substitute
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Seitan
1 package seitan (regular or chicken-style) cut into small pieces or strips (if not a vegetarian, go ahead and use about 1 lb of chicken, cut into small strips)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

Vegetables
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 medium clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
8 teaspoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 head bok choy, stalks sliced into 1/2-inch slices, and greens cut into small pieces
1 small red bell pepper , cut into 1/4-inch strips

Instructions

Prepare ingredients:
  1. Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. When done, drain thoroughly.
While the noodles cook:
  1. Whisk together the sauce ingredients; set aside.
  2. Toss the seitan with the soy sauce and sherry; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, cornstarch, and flour; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the ginger, garlic, and 1 teaspoon peanut oil.
  5. Chop the vegetables if you have not done so already.
Once the ingredients have been prepared, make the noodle cake:
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Spread the noodles evenly across the bottom of the skillet and press with a spatula to flatten into a cake. Cook until crisp and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Flip the noodle cake over carefully.
  4. Cook until golden brown on the second side, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Move the noodle cake onto a plate or cutting board and let sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing into wedges and serving.
Prepare the seitan:
  1. Stir the marinated seitan into the sesame oil-cornstarch mixture until coated.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons peanut oil in the skillet over high heat until smoking.
  3. Add the seitan to the skillet in a flat, even layer. Cook, without stirring, until golden brown on the first side, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the seitan and cook until lightly browned on the second side; about 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer the seitan to a bowl. Cover to keep warm.
Stir-fry the vegetables and assemble the stir fry:
  1. Add the remaining tablespoon peanut oil to the skillet and return to high heat until just smoking.
  2. Add the bok choy stalks and red bell pepper and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Push the vegetables to the sides of the skillet to clear the center.
  4. Add the garlic-ginger mixture to the clearing and cook, mashing the mixture with a spoon, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds.
  5. Stir the garlic and ginger into the vegetables and continue to cook about 30 seconds longer.
  6. Stir in the bok choy greens and cook until beginning to wilt, about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the cooked seitan.
  8. Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add to the skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 30 seconds.
Serve!
  1. Cut the noodle cake into wedges.
  2. Spoon the stir fry on top of the noodle cake and serve.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bounty!


Today, I am baking for a teambuilding party at work. I thought, why not chocolate chip cookies. They smell/taste so good, not sure how they'll make it to work, though.

I use the standard Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookie recipe found here. I did some reading on chocolate chip cookies and one article said to leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight for a richer flavor. I have to say, the flavor definitely was more rich than usual. More toffee flavored.

Also, always use real butter!

Sweet Corn Pancakes


This is week 2 of corn pancakes! This week's recipe comes from the Smitten Kitchen. You can find the recipe here.

These pancakes were light and fluffy. Much less cornmeal-focused than the Lemon-Cornmeal Pancakes. Cooking the corn until browned also gave it a very strong corn flavor. I highly recommend them!